Americas: Government, ELN six-month bilateral ceasefire to take effect in Colombia

Sectors: all; oil and gas; transport; electricity
Key Risks: terrorism; insurgency; violent crime; targeted attacks; kidnapping

In Colombia, on 3 August a six-month nationwide bilateral ceasefire agreement – announced on 9 June – between President Gustavo Petro’s government and the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group is set to take effect. On 9 June head of the ELN delegation Pablo Beltran stated that kidnapping and extortion – main funding sources for the guerrilla’s operations – would not necessarily cease under the agreement. This, along with the group’s decentralised structure, will pose significant challenges to the full and successful implementation of the deal. Although the risk of ELN attacks on infrastructure – particularly oil pipelines – and security force personnel and assets has the potential to gradually decrease under the agreement, such risks will persist. Should the ceasefire be successful, it will serve as a model for similar agreements with other illegal armed groups as part of Petro’s efforts to achieve ‘total peace’.

Asia Pacific: Political violence in Bangladesh escalates ahead of January 2024 general election

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political instability; civil unrest; violent clashes; arbitrary arrests

In Bangladesh, since 29 July over 700 people have been arrested over clashes between opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters and security forces as well as the ruling Awami League supporters amid BNP-led opposition rallies in and around the capital Dhaka. At least 20 police officers were reportedly injured as tens of thousands of participants attended one of the largest opposition rallies in recent months. Clashes were observed in Nayabazar, Dholaikhal, Jatrabari, Matuail, Uttara and Abdullahpur across Dhaka division. The show of force aimed to push for the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and for the forthcoming January 2024 general election to be held under a neutral caretaker government. The clashes came amid increased international scrutiny and concerns over election-related violence. More opposition rallies are planned in the coming weeks and further clashes are likely.

Eurasia: Azerbaijan continues to block humanitarian convoy to Nagorno-Karabakh

Sectors: all
Key risks: war on land; civil unrest; humanitarian crisis

In Nagorno-Karabakh (NK), on 26 July Baku refused Yerevan’s convoy delivering humanitarian aid to the breakaway region to pass through the Lachin Corridor – the only road connecting Armenia and NK. Baku officially blocked the corridor on 15 June, but traffic on the road had been limited since December 2022 when Baku-linked activists first blocked it. The blockade has caused severe food shortages in NK. On 25 July Yerevan announced plans to send 360 tonnes of groceries. Baku claimed that the move was a “provocation” and an “attack on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity”. Tensions soared after Baku moved to establish a checkpoint on the corridor, triggering border clashes and protests in NK. Baku’s latest move risks aggravating the humanitarian crisis in the region.

Europe: North Macedonia on path to continue EU accession process

Sectors: all
Key Risks: economic; political stability

In North Macedonia, on 30 June the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) – the largest party representing the Albanian ethnic minority – offered to withdraw its seven ministers from the government. The move appears aimed at unblocking the approval of constitutional changes which include the recognition of the Bulgarian minority. Attempts to approve the amendments – which Skopje agreed on in July 2022 in exchange for Bulgaria lifting its veto on North Macedonia’s EU accession talks – have been blocked by the main opposition VMRO-DPMNE nationalist party. In June VMRO-DPMNE indicated that it would be willing to vote for the amendments if DUI left the government and new elections were held. DUI conditioned the withdrawal of its ministers on VMRO-DPMNE approving the constitutional amendments. Skopje can only continue EU accession talks after the constitutional amendments are approved.

MENA: Rival Palestinian factions meet for reconciliation talks in Egypt

Sectors: all
Key risks:
political stability; political violence

In Egypt, on 30 July representatives of rival Palestinian political factions, including the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) – controlled by Fatah – and Gaza-based Hamas, gathered in the coastal town of al-‘Alamayn for reconciliation talks. The administration of the Palestinian Territories remains split since the Fatah-Hamas conflict in 2006, which saw a Hamas legislative election victory. Other minority groups – such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – boycotted the meeting to denounce the detentions of some of their members by PA security forces in the West Bank. The talks aim to unite Palestinian groups and outline a roadmap for Palestinian elections with hopes of forming a unified government. However, reports indicate that Fatah and Hamas remain far apart in the negotiations, with significant disagreements on armed resistance and the structure of the PA.

Sub-Saharan Africa: ECOWAS threatens military intervention after Niger coup

Sectors: all
Key Risks: war on land; political instability

In Niger, on 26 July a spokesperson for the Nigerien Air Force announced that soldiers – calling themselves the National Council for the Protection of the Homeland (CNSP) – had deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, dissolved the constitution, suspended all institutions and closed the country’s borders. The announcement came hours after troops from the Presidential Guard surrounded the Presidential Palace in Niamey and detained Bazoum and several ministers. On 30 July the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc demanded that Niger return to constitutional rule within the week, failing which the bloc would consider military action against Niamey. There is a high likelihood that the CNSP will offer some concessions such as releasing Bazoum, announce a palatable transitional timetable and provide guarantees to protect foreign commercial interests and citizens. In turn, ECOWAS will likely maintain sanctions but call off an intervention.