Americas: President-elect to call on supporters to protest efforts against MS party in Guatemala

Sectors: all
Key Risks: civil unrest; political stability

In Guatemala, on 15 September president-elect Bernardo Arevalo stated that he was planning to rally  his supporters in the coming days to protest repeated efforts to derail his presidency before he is set to take office on 14 January 2024. Arevalo temporarily suspended his participation in the government transition on 12 September after the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) raided facilities run by the main electoral tribunal and opened vote boxes. The AGO has been pursuing multiple investigations related to the registration of Arevalo’s leftist Seed Movement (MS) party, which saw the MS temporarily banned from 12-13 July and from 28 August to 3 September. Former first lady Sandra Torres – the runner-up in the 20 August presidential runoff – has also made electoral fraud allegations despite lack of evidence to support the claims. The risk of protests with the potential to turn violent will remain heightened.

Asia Pacific: Beijing urged to halt “destructive, unilateral” military activities in the Taiwan Strait

Sectors: all
Key Risks: accidental conflict; war at sea; trade disruptions 

In the Taiwan Strait, on 18 September the Taiwanese National Defence Ministry urged Beijing to halt “destructive, unilateral” military activities following a show of force by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which saw 103 of its aircraft identified since 17 September – a 24-hour record. The Ministry added that 40 of the aircraft had crossed the de facto median line or entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ). Beijing has intensified its military operations near the self-governing island to pressure Taipei and assert its sovereignty claims, particularly since the then-US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited in August 2022 and incurred Beijing’s fierce condemnation. PLA activities around the Strait have since become increasingly normalised and continued median line incursions will likely heighten the risk of accidental conflict and further aggravate cross-Strait relations.

Eurasia: Ukraine’s President Zelensky, US President Biden to meet in Washington

Sectors: all
Key Risks: war-on-land

On 21 September Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to meet his US counterpart Joe Biden at the White House in Washington. According to some reports, Zelensky also plans to meet members of Congress on Capitol Hill. The meetings will come amid debates in Congress on Biden’s request to provide Ukraine with an additional US$24bln worth of military and humanitarian aid. It will also come amid rumours that Biden’s administration could approve supplies of long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems – known as ATACMS – which Kyiv claims are needed to make advances on the frontlines. Zelensky is expected to lobby for ATACMS and for additional assistance as US-provided equipment is crucial for the Ukrainian ongoing counteroffensive.

Europe: Budapest signals further delays to ratifying Sweden’s NATO bid

Sectors: all
Key risks: war on land; geopolitical tensions

In Hungary, on 18 September parliament speaker and senior lawmaker of the ruling Fidesz party Laszlo Kover stated that Budapest was not certain that it would vote in favour of Sweden’s application to join NATO. Kover’s comments signal further delays to the ratification of Stockholm’s bid and came after Budapest’s Foreign Minister wrote a letter to his Swedish counterpart accusing Swedish politicians of making “biased and unfair” accusations against the Hungarian government. Stockholm applied to join NATO in May 2022 following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but Hungary and Turkey have yet to ratify Stockholm’s bid and are closely coordinating their stance. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported Stockholm’s NATO application on 10 July, but Ankara’s parliament is yet to officially ratify Sweden’s application and the timeline for that remains uncertain. Further delays of the ratification – from both Ankara and Budapest – are likely.

MENA: Iraqi Kurdish finances in dire straits despite Baghdad’s lifeline

Sectors: all
Key risks: economic; political stability; civil unrest

In Iraq, on 14 September Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani arrived in Baghdad to meet federal officials, including Prime Minister Mohammad Shi’ah al-Sudani, for emergency talks on budgetary issues amid tense Erbil-Baghdad relations. The Kurds had hoped to obtain assurances from federal authorities for the transfer of a share of the federal budget. However, the talks yielded only temporary reprieve for the cash-strapped Kurdish government: Baghdad agreed to lend the equivalent of US$535m monthly to the KRG until November, primarily to address the issue of unpaid public sector salaries – which has sparked sporadic protests in the Kurdistan region. However, with Kurdish oil exports through Turkey currently stopped since 25 March, there is little prospect for economic recovery in the short-term. Moreover, Baghdad is likely to exploit the KRG’s precarity to undermine Kurdish autonomy and strengthen federal authority over northern Iraq.


Sub-Saharan Africa: Tuareg rebels claim control of military base in Mali’s Timbuktu region

Sectors: all
Key Risks: war on land

In Mali, on 17 September the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) – a coalition of ethnic Tuareg rebels – announced that they had taken control of two military bases in Lere in the Cercle of Niafunké, Timbuktu region. The Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) confirmed that the town of Lere was attacked by armed assailants and that reinforcements were on the way without providing further details. Fighting between Tuareg separatists and the FAMa has sporadically occurred since August, triggered by the departure of UN troops who had been overseeing the fragile peace deal that was signed by the CMA and the previous civilian government in 2015. The uptick in clashes suggests that the peace deal has collapsed. On 11 September a CMA spokesperson stated that they were “in a time of war” with the ruling military junta. Further clashes in the northern region are expected.