Americas: Government and dissident former FARC rebel faction to open peace talks in Colombia
Key Risks: targeted attacks; violent clashes; violent crime; kidnapping
In Colombia, on 9 July President Gustavo Petro’s government and the Estado Mayor Central (EMC) dissident former FARC rebel group agreed to open peace talks, though an official start date has yet to be specified. The EMC is the country’s largest dissident former FARC rebel faction, with between 3,000 and 3,500 members. A temporary bilateral ceasefire agreement – similar to that reached between the government and the ELN guerrilla group on 9 June effective from 3 August – will be discussed in the negotiations. On 31 December 2022 the government and the EMC announced a six-month bilateral ceasefire but the government suspended the deal on 22 May following the 17 May the killing of four indigenous teenagers by the EMC. If an agreement is reached, it would mark a key milestone in Petro’s ambitious goal to achieve ‘total peace’.
Asia Pacific: MFP supporters rally ahead of 13 July parliamentary vote on new Thai PM
Key Risks: political instability; political impasse; civil unrest
In Thailand, on 9 July hundreds of Move Forward Party (MFP) supporters took to the streets of Bangkok in support of leading prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat ahead of the upcoming 13 July parliamentary vote to select a new prime minister. Limjaroenrat already secured the support of 312 MPs in the eight party pro-democracy coalition led by the MFP in the 14 May general election. However, he must secure a majority in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate, or a total of 376 votes. The process of government formation remains challenged despite the compromise reached between the MFP and the Pheu Thai on 4 July over which party should occupy the house speakership. Political uncertainty and the risk of civil unrest will persist in the coming weeks.
Eurasia: UN and Turkey to increase diplomatic efforts to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative
Key risks: supply chain disruption
Turkey and the UN are expected to further intensify diplomatic efforts aimed at convincing Russia to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative due to expire on 18 July. On 8 July Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that he was pressing the Kremlin to extend the deal by at least three months. On 9 July Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan to discuss the deal after Lavrov stated on 4 July that he did not consider any further extension of the deal possible. Moscow demands several concessions to extend the deal, including the reconnection of its Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT banking system and the resumption of the “Tolyatti-Odesa” ammonia pipeline. Despite ongoing negotiation efforts, the risk that Moscow will refuse to extend the deal remains high.
Europe: Increased tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina amid Dodik’s attempts to undermine OHR
Key Risks: political instability
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 9 July President of Republika Srpska – one of Bosnia’s two autonomous entities – Milorad Dodik announced that he had filed a ‘criminal complaint’ against High Representative (OHR) Christian Schmidt. Dodik claimed that Schmidt had been “dealing with the affairs of the high representative without authorisation of the UN Security Council”. The move came amid a series of attempts to undermine the role of the OHR and of Bosnia’s central authorities in Republika Srpska. On 8 July Dodik signed into law changes – approved by the entity’s National Assembly (NA) on 21 June – that will allow it to disregard the OHR’s decisions and laws. On 21 June the NA voted to suspend constitutional court rulings. Dodik’s moves violate the 1995 Dayton peace agreement and undermine the current political system. The risk of political instability will remain high.
MENA: Israeli academic abducted in Iraq caught in Israeli-Iranian power plays
Key Risks: political violence; regional stability; external conflict
In Israel, on 5 July Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli-Russian academic, was being held by Iran-backed militia Kata’ib Hizbullah. Tsurkov was reportedly abducted in March in Baghdad while conducting research on Iraqi Shi’ah militias. On 7 July the Iraqi government launched an investigation into the abduction. Tsurkov could face jail time as Israeli citizens are forbidden from travelling to Iraq. However, reports indicate that the abduction may have been ordered by Tehran in a bid to put pressure on Tel Aviv to release an Iranian operative kidnapped in an Israeli operation in Iran for allegedly participating in a plot to kill Israelis in Cyprus. While the incident is likely to increase tensions between Tel Aviv and Tehran, indirect talks on a prisoner exchange involving Tsurkov, mediated by Moscow, are expected to take place in the coming weeks.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenyan opposition parties to continue to hold countrywide protests
Key Risks: political violence; civil unrest
In Kenya, on 7 July supporters of several opposition parties protested countrywide – including in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Kisii – to denounce the high cost of living and the recently approved Finance Bill 2023 which introduces a wide array of new taxes and tax increases. At least three people – two in Kisumu and one in Migori – were killed by the police as officers dispersed protesters with tear gas, live ammunition and rubber bullets at various demonstrations. The protests came after the High Court on 30 June suspended the implementation of the newly signed finance law that was set to double fuel tax, but the government raised fuel prices anyway. Raila Odinga, leader of the Azimio la Umoja opposition coalition, stated that his supporters plan to protest on 12 July and to hold at least one demonstration every week. Further similar violent unrest cannot be ruled out.