Americas: Heightened CEND risks as Pemex temporarily occupies hydrogen plant in Mexico

Sectors: oil and gas
Key Risks: frustration of process; CEND; business risks

In Mexico, on 29 December the government decreed the immediate temporary occupation by state-owned oil firm Pemex of a hydrogen plant – operated by French company Air Liquide since 2017 – at the state-owned Miguel Hidalgo refinery in Tula de Allende, Hidalgo state. Air Liquide had pledged to supply hydrogen to the oil facility for 20 years under former president Enrique Pena Nieto’s government’s plan to reduce Pemex’s costs. The decree, signed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), stated that Pemex would compensate the plant’s operators following a government-conducted appraisal, with the transaction amount remaining unspecified. The government, without providing concrete reasons for the move, mentioned in the decree that the state-owned refinery currently pays a fixed fee for hydrogen supply, resulting in higher costs at lower crude processing levels. Resource nationalism and heightened CEND risks will persist during the remainder of AMLO’s term.

Click here to access Mexico’s Global Intake country profile. 

Asia Pacific: Bangladeshis to vote in contentious general election amid opposition boycott

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

In Bangladesh, on 7 January voters will head to the polls in a contentious general election already guaranteed to deliver another term for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chose to boycott the vote over concerns that it would be neither free nor fair – an assessment largely shared by civil society groups and international observers. Over the past year, the country has been marred by political violence incidents amid an impasse between the ruling Awami League (AL) and the BNP over the terms in which the upcoming election should be held. Prolonged protests and successive nationwide strikes called by the opposition have been met with an extensive security and legal crackdown. Hasina’s continued rule will likely entrench her control over the state security and electoral apparatus, further sustaining the crackdown and heightening political violence risks.

Click here to access Bangladesh’s Global Intake country profile.

Eurasia: Russian President Putin warns attacks on Ukraine will intensify after strikes on Belgorod

Sectors: all
Key Risks: war on land

In Ukraine, on 29 December at least 41 civilians were killed and over 70 others were injured in a nationwide Russian missile and drone barrage. Kyiv claimed that Moscow fired at least 158 missiles and kamikaze drones – the largest combined such attack to date and the largest missile barrage since 24 February 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion. On 30 December 24 people were allegedly killed and over 100 others were injured in Ukrainian artillery strikes on Russia’s Belgorod, Belgorod Oblast – to which Moscow retaliated with missile strikes on Kharkiv in neighbouring Kharkiv Oblast. On 1 January Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that such attacks would intensify in response to Kyiv’s strikes on Belgorod. Moscow has built up its missile stocks in recent months. Both sides will likely escalate aerial attacks in the coming days.

 Click here to access Ukraine’s Global Intake country profile.

Europe: RS President Dodik vows to continue attempts to secede from Bosnia’s institutions

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political stability; secession; geopolitical tensions

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 29 December President of Republika Srpska (RS) – one of Bosnia’s two autonomous entities – Milorad Dodik vowed to continue his moves to bring the entity closer to secession. Dodik warned that he would respond to any attempts to use international intervention to strengthen Sarajevo’s shared institutions by completely abandoning the institutions holding the country together. Dodik began pulling RS from state institutions and threatened to secede in April 2022. RS’s Parliament voted to suspend constitutional court rulings and decisions by an international peace envoy in June, triggering US sanctions on four RS officials. On 28 December Washington warned that it would act if anyone tried to alter the fragile 1995 Dayton peace agreement that upholds the country’s multiethnic institutions. Tensions will likely continue to rise over Dodik’s attempts to secede.

Click here to access Bosnia’s Global Intake country profile

MENA: Israeli Supreme Court deals blow to Netanyahu’s government

Sectors: all
Key risks: political stability; civil unrest

In Israel, on 1 January the Supreme Court struck down the ‘reasonableness’ law, passed on 24 July 2023. The law is an amendment to the country’s Basic Law that would prevent courts from evaluating the ‘reasonableness’ of the executive’s administrative decisions. The judicial review of the law – the first of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned judicial reforms – began on 12 September 2023 and was billed as a showdown between the executive and the judiciary. The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the law will undoubtedly trigger further confrontations between the government and the judiciary. The judicial reforms sparked months of nationwide demonstrations – which ended with the start of the Israel-Gaza war – denouncing the government’s attempts to subvert democratic institutions. The ruling deals a further blow to Netanyahu amid overwhelming unpopularity, thereby increasing the likelihood of an impending government collapse.

Click here to access Israel’s Global Intake country profile.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Ethiopia’s MoU with Somaliland to escalate tensions with Somalia

Sectors: all
Key risks: regional escalation; political instability

In Somalia, on 2 January the government described Ethiopia’s agreement with Somaliland to access the Red Sea as an ‘act of aggression’. On 1 January Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with President of the self-declared republic of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi granting Addis Ababa naval and commercial access to the Red Sea port of Berbera. In return, Addis Ababa agreed to recognise Somaliland’s independence at some point in the future. Addis Ababa lost access to the Red Sea when Eritrea seceded in 1993 and currently relies on Djibouti for most of its maritime trade. While the MoU is null and void as Somaliland is not an internationally recognised state, it will escalate diplomatic tensions between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu. However, the conflict is unlikely to lead to a full-scale war.

Click here to access Somalia’s Global Intake country profile.