Americas: Gang-related violence set to continue to rise in Panama
Key Risks: gang-related violence; organised crime; violent crime
In Panama, on 3 September Gilberto Hernandez – a player for the country’s national football team – was killed and seven others were injured in a shooting by a group of unidentified assailants in Colon’s Barrio Norte neighbourhood, Colon province. It remained unclear whether Hernandez was the target of the attack or what the motive was. No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting. The violence came as the number of homicides in the city of Colon has increased in recent months – with over 50 people killed in the city so far in 2023 – due to an ongoing turf war between two rival drug-trafficking gangs aiming to secure control of key smuggling routes. The country remains an important transshipment point for drug trafficking between South America and the US. Gang-related violence is set to continue to consolidate in the country.
Asia Pacific: New Thai government set to be finalised this week
Key Risks: political instability; policy continuity; economic risks
In Thailand, on 5 September Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is expected to be formally inaugurated by King Maha Vajiralongkorn. On 2 September Thavisin finalised his cabinet line-up, in which he will concurrently serve as Finance Minister. While most posts are allocated to Thavisin’s Pheu Thai Party (PTP), the military-backed Palang Pracharath (PPRP) and United Thai Nation (UTN) parties feature in the energy and environment portfolios. Thavisin met with the incoming leadership of the country’s powerful military on 3 September as he sought to consolidate support for and within his tenuous coalition. The PTP-led government is expected to further flesh out their policy agenda before Thavisin is due to deliver his policy statement to parliament on 8 September. With the PTP’s control of key economic ministries secured, the government will likely focus on cost of living issues and on revitalising the country’s sluggish economic growth.
Eurasia: Ukraine anti-corruption drive expands as billionaire Kolomoisky arrested
Key risks: corruption; political stability
In Ukraine, on 2 September Ihor Kolomoisky, one of Ukraine’s richest men and a former close ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky, was arrested and charged with fraud and embezzlement by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Kolomoisky was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship in July 2022. Zelensky had been criticised for allegedly favouring him prior to the launch of Moscow’s invasion in February 2022, but the charges against Kolomoisky signal Kyiv’s resolve to step up its anti-corruption crackdown. At the same time, the SBU’s involvement has been criticised as the agency is insufficiently reformed compared to other anti-corruption agencies. Separately on 3 September, Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov resigned from his post following a series of corruption scandals in the ministry. Authorities will likely continue with their corruption crackdown as Kyiv grows dependent on Western aid and seeks to join the EU.
Europe: Tensions over immigration issues on rise in Cyprus as anti-migration rally turns violent
Key Risks: civil unrest, political violence
In Cyprus, on 1 September at least five people were injured and 20 others were arrested after an anti-migration rally turned violent in Limassol, Limassol district. According to local police, protesters reportedly set alight rubbish bins and demolished several shops. Police used water cannons to disperse the crowd of approximately 500 people who joined the march. Reports on social media indicated that foreigners were attacked during the march, including a group of visitors from Kuwait. However, those reports have not been officially confirmed. Tensions over migration are rising in the country. On 29 August clashes broke out between immigrants and residents of the village of Chlorakas in Paphos District. Police used teargas and water cannons to separate the two groups and arrested 20 participants in the clashes. Further violence over immigration issues cannot be ruled out.
MENA: Fighting in northern Syria escalates
Key risks: civil unrest, interstate violence
In Syria, on 3 September at least 23 people were killed in fighting in Tal Tamr, Hasakah province. Violent clashes reportedly started after the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army militia group attempted to infiltrate an area split between regime troops and Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPJ), affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF). This outbreak of violence is separate from interfactional fighting between the US-backed groups, the SDF and the Dayr al-Zur Military Council in the country’s eastern Dayr al-Zur province. Ankara has launched several incursions into northern Syria since 2016 allowing it to gain control over areas along its border, thereby strengthening its ability to combat secessionist Kurdish groups and militias. The recent incursion followed Ankara’s request that Baghdad class the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation. Further incursions by Turkish-backed militias into northern Syria are likely.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria’s election tribunal to announce verdict on election challenge
Key Risks: political instability
In Nigeria, on 6 September the Presidential Election Tribunal in Abuja will announce its verdict on petitions contesting the results of the 25 February election in which Bola Tinubu of the ruling All People’s Congress was elected president. Tinubu’s victory is being contested by five opposition parties – including his two main opponents, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, who came in second and third respectively. Among several complaints, the petitioners alleged that Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima were not eligible for the poll because they did not meet the constitutional requirements. They also alleged widespread irregularities and malpractices in the election which affected the outcome. There is a low likelihood that the election results will be overturned given the ruling party’s influence over state institutions.