Americas: International military intervention remains unlikely in Haiti
Key Risks: gang-related violence; targeted attacks; disruptive unrest
In Haiti, on 5 February Canada deployed a military aircraft over the country to support efforts to disrupt the activities of gangs that expanded their territorial control after the 2021 assassination of former president Jovenel Moise. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has continuously requested foreign military support to fight the gangs. On 1 February Jamaica claimed it was ready to send troops and El Salvador offered “technical assistance” to the violence-stricken country. In a January survey, 69 per cent of nearly 1,330 Haitians stated that they would support an “international force” as called for by the UN in October 2022. Despite these results and Jamaica’s apparent readiness to send troops, most other countries remain reluctant to do so given local animosity towards previous international interventions. Rampant insecurity and the risk of gang-related violence will remain extremely high across the country.
Asia Pacific: Sunrise joint venture commits to study focusing on gas delivery to Timor-Leste
Sectors: oil and gas
Key Risks: economic risks; business risks
In Australia and Timor-Leste, on 6 February the Sunrise development joint venture announced that it would conduct a select study with a ‘strong focus’ to deliver the LNG extracted from the Greater Sunrise fields to Timor-Leste. The development had stalled for decades amid contentious maritime boundary disputes and over whether the gas should be delivered for processing at an LNG plant in Australia, in Timor-Leste or on a floating platform in the Timor Sea. No deadline to reach a decision was given but it marks the first time Australia’s Woodside Energy – the project’s operator – formally considered delivering the LNG to Timor-Leste after long maintaining that it was not economically feasible. Nonetheless, the development still lacks regulatory and fiscal certainty as negotiations between the Australian and Timorese governments – including over the production sharing contract – remain ongoing and are unlikely to be concluded in the near term.
Eurasia: Ukraine’s President Zelensky considers visit to EU summit in Brussels
Key risks: war on land
In Ukraine, on 6 February unnamed EU officials reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky may attend a summit in Brussels in the coming week. Zelensky’s potential trip has not been confirmed due to security concerns but would mark his second visit outside of Ukraine since Moscow’s invasion began in February 2022, with his first trip to Washington taking place in December 2022. His anticipated visit would follow an EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv on 3 February where EU leaders pledged to continue supporting Ukraine but did not offer Kyiv fast-track accession to the EU as Zelensky hoped they would. Zelensky is expected to address a special session of the European parliament at the Brussels summit on 9 February. His planned visit would also come amid growing warnings from Kyiv of an imminent Russian offensive ahead of the invasion’s one-year anniversary on 24 February.
Europe: Largest strike in NHS history threatens already-weakened healthcare system in the UK
Sectors: all, health services
Key Risks: civil unrest
In the United Kingdom, on 6 February tens of thousands of health personnel including nurses and ambulance workers began the largest nationwide strike in the 75-year history of the National Health Service (NHS). The strike marks an escalation in the dispute between medical staff and the government over income raises, which began with several strikes in December 2022 and mid-January. The NHS has been under intense pressure with overcrowded waiting lists and thousands of people failing to receive emergency care each month. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) trade union has asked the government for a wage rise of 5 per cent above inflation, which hit a 40-year high of 11 per cent in Q4 2022. The RCN has since offered to meet the government “half way” but the two sides have failed to reach a deal. Strikes are expected to continue throughout the coming week.
MENA: Deadly earthquakes in Turkey and Syria deal new blow to the region
Key Risks: economic; political stability
In Syria and Turkey, on 6 February two earthquakes of 7.8 and 7.6 magnitude and subsequent aftershocks hit Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep provinces in southern Turkey and were felt in northern Syria and across the region. The provisional death toll stands at 2,300 confirmed dead in both countries, thousands injured and catastrophic material damage. The economic fallout from the earthquake will likely be acute, particularly in northern Syria as Bashar al-Assad’s regime – which is under international sanctions – is severely under-equipped to deal with a natural disaster of this scale and the ensuing reconstruction effort. Similarly, Turkish authorities will likely be compelled to divert resources to the rescue effort amid an ongoing economic crisis. The security implications of the earthquake remain unclear. However, with Turkish and Syrian authorities occupied with post-disaster management, militant groups are likely to regroup along the border provinces.
Sub-Saharan Africa: South African Deputy President resigns ahead of expected cabinet reshuffle
Key Risks: political stability; policy uncertainty
In South Africa, on 4 February Deputy President David Mabuza announced his resignation, clearing the way for Paul Mashatile – who was elected as the deputy leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) at the party’s conference in December 2022 – to succeed him. Mabuza’s announcement came ahead of a cabinet reshuffle, which will likely be announced in the coming days. President Cyril Ramaphosa is facing growing pressure to replace underperforming ministers, including the Minister of Public Enterprises, who oversees state-owned companies such as the power utility Eskom which has struggled to maintain a reliable electricity supply. The country has faced more than 100 consecutive days of blackouts resulting in approximately US$56m of lost economic activity per day. No major policy changes are expected following the upcoming cabinet reshuffle. The ANC intends to maintain policy certainty ahead of the upcoming 2024 general election.