Americas: Nine killed, 10 injured in latest attack in Ecuador as gang-related violence escalates

Sectors: all
Key Risks: gang-related violence; organised crime; violent crime

In Ecuador, on 31 March nine people were killed and 10 others were injured in a shooting attack in the Guasmo neighbourhood in Guayaquil, Guayas province. The attack came amid an uptick in violence in recent days. On 29 March five tourists were killed in a shooting attack at a resort in Ayampe, Manabi province. On 28 March three inmates were killed in a prison riot in Guayaquil, Guayas province. On 22 March a mayor and her communications director were killed in a shooting attack in San Vicente, Manabi province. President Daniel Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency on 8 January – extended for another 30 days on 8 March – and an “internal armed conflict” against organised crime on 9 January following a nationwide surge of violence. Despite the measures in place, the risk of further gang-related violence will remain high across the country.

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

Asia Pacific: Malaysia’s KK Super Mart face continued attacks amid socks controversy

Sectors: retail
Key Risks: business disruptions; targeted attacks

In Malaysia, on 31 March a KK Super Mart branch was targeted in a petrol bomb attack in Kuching, Sarawak state, becoming the third attack on the convenience store chain following similar incidents on 30 March in Kuantan, Pahang state and on 26 March in Tapah, Perak state. While no injuries were reported, the attacks came amid intense religious backlash after on 13 March socks bearing the word ‘Allah’ were found on sale at a KK Super Mart outlet in Petaling Jaya, Selangor state. On 26 March executives from the chain and Chinese-owned supplier Xin Jian Chang were charged for wounding religious feelings. Despite official apologies from the two firms and appeals for calm from Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, communal tensions will likely remain heightened in the coming weeks and further similar targeted attacks cannot be ruled out.

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

Eurasia: Russia and Ukraine escalate attacks against each other’s energy infrastructure 

Sectors: all; energy; oil and gas
Key Risks: war-on-land, power supply disruptions; energy price volatility

In Russia, on 2 April three Ukrainian drones struck the Alabuga Special Economic Zone (SEZ) near Yelabuga, Tatarstan – 1,300 km from the Ukrainian border – in one of Kyiv’s deepest strikes within the country to date. One drone caused a fire at energy firm Tatneft’s massive Taneco oil refinery. On 22 March reports emerged that Washington had urged Kyiv to halt strikes on Moscow’s energy infrastructure over fears of retaliation and increased global oil price volatility after Kyiv struck six oil refineries within two weeks. Russia also escalated its attacks against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. On 30 March Ukraine’s largest private energy firm DTEK stated that five of its six thermal power plants had been struck in recent days – with 80 per cent of generation capacity lost – and warned that repairs would take up to 18 months. Further strikes by both sides are likely.

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

Europe: Slovakia heads for close run-off in presidential elections on 6 April

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political stability

In Slovakia, on 6 April citizens will vote in the second round of presidential elections. Former foreign minister Ivan Korcok – who won the first round on 24 March with 42.5 per cent of the vote – will face off against parliament speaker Petr Pellegrini, who came second with 37.1 per cent. A victory for Pellegrini – who leads the Hlas party, a coalition partner of populist Prime Minister Robert Fico –  would enable Fico to consolidate his rule. The president has no executive powers but can shape public debate, play a role in government appointments and veto laws. Korcok would likely continue the policies of outgoing President Zuzana Caputova, who is a vocal opponent of Fico’s government. The vote will follow months-long demonstrations against the government’s criminal law reform, which prompted concerns of democratic backsliding. The race is expected to be close.

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

MENA: IDF strike on Iranian Embassy in Damascus reignites fears of regional escalation

Sectors: all
Key risks: external conflict, regional escalation

In Syria, on 2 April two senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders were killed in an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) airstrike on the consular annex of the Iranian Embassy in Damascus. The strike marked a significant escalation of Israeli operations against Iran – which it accuses of supporting hostile militant groups against Israel, including the Lebanese Hizbullah and Yemen’s Huthis. Considering the protection of consular premises under international law, the strike is likely to be widely perceived as a unilateral escalation of the Israeli-Iranian dispute. Although Tehran vowed to retaliate against the Israeli airstrike, a direct Iranian attack on Israeli targets is unlikely. Tehran’s response is likely to involve its regional proxies carrying out limited attacks on perceived Israeli interests in the coming weeks. Moreover, similar attacks targeting US military targets in the region cannot be ruled out.

Click here to access Iran‘s Global Intake country profile.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Somalia’s constitutional amendments to increase political instability risks

Sectors: all
Key risks: political instability; civil unrest

In Somalia, on 30 March the federal parliament unanimously approved amendments to the transitional constitution and reintroduced universal suffrage. The new constitution establishes three national political parties and allows direct elections for the head of state, putting an end to the country’s complex clan-based indirect voting system which has been in place for decades. It also gives the president the power to appoint and remove a prime minister. On 31 March the semi-autonomous state of Puntland announced its withdrawal from the country’s federal system and declared that it would govern itself independently until the constitutional amendments passed by the federal government were approved in a referendum. Puntland – a region in the northeast – declared itself an autonomous state in 1998 and has historically sought to manage its own affairs. The risk of political instability will likely increase in the coming months.

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