October

Yemen by Alistair Galloway

Houthi rebels in Yemen named the former governor of Aden, Abdel Aziz Saleh Habtour, as their prime minister on 3 October. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a large rise in cholera cases in Yemen since the outbreak in early October. Samantha Power, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations (UN), called for an end to the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen on 31 October. Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad, put forward a roadmap for peace in Yemen during a UN Security Council meeting on 31 October. Saudi Arabia is under investigation by UN experts for an airstrike that killed 140 in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on 8 October. Five members of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist organisation were killed in Yemen by an American airstrike on 21 October. A 72 hour ceasefire took place from 19 to 22 October in Yemen. United States (US) Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan announced that the US has intercepted four weapon shipments from Iran to Yemen since April 2015 on 27 October. Houthi rebels in Yemen requested donations to the Yemeni central bank in order to alleviate the economic crisis facing the country and help fund the conflict against the Saudi government. Yemen’s central bank in Aden was attacked on 29 October in an attempt to further destabilise the country’s economy.

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Turkey by Alistair Galloway

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced that it will introduce a bill to parliament that will include a new constitution and a shift to a presidential system. Turkey announced that it has extended its state of emergency by another three months, and continues to detain suspected PKK sympathisers. Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said that Turkey and Russia have different views on the future of the Syrian government. President Erdogan pledged Turkey’s continued involvement in Syria and Iraq. Turkey and Russia signed an agreement that the construction of a gas pipeline was back on, signalling normalized relations between Ankara and Moscow. Tensions and conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish government have continued to rise. Cavusoglu also claimed that Turkey is being targeted by multiple terror groups. The United States (U.S.) government ordered the families of those working at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul to depart the area. October marked the second consecutive month that inflation of the Turkish Lira (TRY) has slowed, but many forecast that the inflation rate will climb again before the end of the year. The government’s reaction to the July coup has discouraged foreign investment in Turkey, putting the Turkish economy in danger. Moody’s Investors Service lowered Turkey’s rating to a non-investment grade. Turkish economic growth remained strong when compared to the global average, but it has been slowing over the year, and some projections expect the growth rate to continue to decrease. The value of the Turkish Lira continued to fall, and reached a record low on 17 October.

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Somalia by Alistair Galloway

The militant group Al-Shabaab is a major threat to security and political stability in Somalia. With upcoming elections within the next month, Al-Shabaab has increased its attacks across the country to incite political upheaval. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has implemented measures to normalise conditions in the country, but has asserted that Somalia is not yet ready to have a “one person, one vote” election yet. This year’s election will be one of indirect voting through the electoral colleges of the different regions. Mr Hubert Price was instated as the Head of the United Nations (UN) Support Office in Somalia. Ethiopian troops in Hiraan, Halgan and Bakool regions have withdrawn from the AMISOM mission, citing lack of finances as the reason. Kenya has announced the closure of Dadaab and has accelerated the repatriation of Somali refugees, resulting in unhygienic living conditions for displaced persons. The USA and the UK have maintained an active presence in the political restructuring of Somalia. A report by the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea has identified problems of resource mismanagement, corruption and lack of cooperation by the Federal Government as some of the key issues in the state. Forecasted low-rainfall indicates low agricultural production rates for the second consecutive season.

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Sierra Leone by Alistair Galloway

Sierra Leone’s ambassador to China met with the Chinese ambassador to Sierra Leone to discuss points of cooperation and development. A new project funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development to facilitate the transition and increase completion rates of girls in secondary school. It will address security issues girls face in getting to school and will help them get back to school after leaving. Since schools have re-opened after the Ebola crisis, a number of students have tried to return to complete their educations. However, girls who became pregnant during the hiatus are facing obstacles and discrimination. Parliament approved over $150 million for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. The National Polio Round Four Campaign began, which will target children under the age of five. Investigations began into a man accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in Wilberforce, a neighbourhood in Freetown. Bolloré Ports launched the Freetown Containers Terminal Extension Project, which will create a new, modern dock and will allow larger boats to come into the port. Sierra Leone is cutting government spending to combat economic issues the country is currently facing and will put a hold on new domestically financed capital projects. The European Union (EU) is suspected of planning to terminate its trade deal with countries like Sierra Leone and Nigeria over their failure to sign an economic partnership agreement.

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Russia by Alistair Galloway

Russia and India will sign a multilateral agreement that includes provisions for increased cooperation among air defence and energy sectors. On 5 October, President Vladimir Putin once again had a cabinet shakeup, appointing Sergei Kiriyenko as the new State Domestic Policy Strategist. Russia vetoed a United Nations (UN) resolution that would end air strikes in Aleppo. President Putin exited nuclear security pact meetings, citing 'hostile actions' by the United States. Following several meetings between President Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two nations announced future economic, energy, and military cooperation. Russia moved nuclear capable missiles into Kaliningrad, sparking concern among neighbouring states. President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia is ready to join Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) effort to limit oil supply. The United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) are considering additional economic sanctions on Russia following its actions regarding military action in the United Nations Security Council. 

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Pakistan by Alistair Galloway

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi referenced Pakistan as the mothership of terrorism at the eighth BRICS Summit. China defended Pakistan against the comments. China extended its hold on India’s bid to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to take action against Masood Azhar, founder of Pakistani based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The National Assembly of Pakistan passed legislation attempting to tackle honour killings. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was given notice by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Panama Papers leaks case. Leader of the opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf announced a plan to hold a protest sit-in in Islamabad on 2 November. Supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf clashed with police on 28 October. Sixty-one police cadets were killed after heavily armed suicide attackers assaulted a police academy in Quetta on 25 October. Five Shia Muslims were killed in a sectarian attack by terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Pakistani and Indian border tensions in the Kashmir region intensified throughout October with exchanges of fire on multiple days. Intelligence Bureau found that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is under threat from potential sabotage attempts by terrorist groups and Afghani and Indian intelligence agencies. The Chinese embassy called on Pakistani politicians to resolve their differences over CPEC. The World Bank (WB) stated delay in the project could hamper investment and growth. WB published a report highlighting Pakistan as one of ten countries to have made the biggest improvements to their business regulations in 2016. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged Pakistan to continue reforms and reduce public debt. Pakistan Finance Minister announced foreign exchange reserves were at $24.5 billion on 14 October. The Finance Minister announced the successful issuance of a five-year $1 billion sukuk bond on 6 October.

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Nigeria by Alistair Galloway

The militant group the Niger Delta Avengers resumed their attacks on oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta. Despite the deployment of 3000 government troops, the waterways of the Delta are essentially un-policed, allowing militants to act with impunity in an area essential to the country’s economy and position as Africa’s second largest oil exporter. The militants are demanding that their region actually see the benefit of oil revenues. The First Lady announced she would not support her husband if he were to run for re-election, citing his lack of leadership. Twenty-one of the 200 Chibok school girls abducted in 2014 were released on 13 October. It is likely that significant social stigma will prevent them from returning to their original homes. The security situation in Nigeria is poor. Despite government gains against Boko Haram in the recent year, its insurgency remains powerful in the north eastern province of Borno, and it proved it retains its operational capacity by carrying out a suicide bombing on 12 October and a double suicide bombing on 29 October. Following a Boko Haram attack on a military base, 83 soldiers are missing in action, although it is not guaranteed they have been captured by Boko Haram. Oversupply in the oil market has kept prices low and Nigeria has struggled with low capacity due to infrastructure being damaged by militants earlier in the year, both having a significant negative impact on oil revenues. Nigeria cut the prices of 20 of 26 grades of oil by at least $1 in attempt to regain market share. The central bank has been spending foreign reserves heavily to prop up the naira, which has been weakening due to the lack of oil revenues.

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Morocco by Alistair Galloway

Morocco’s current party of government, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), won the most seats in the country’s parliamentary elections on 8 October. The European Union (EU) signed several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Moroccan non-government organisations on 20 October. Morocco was criticised by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee in its 118th session for its poor record on women’s rights. The Moroccan Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Mohamed Aujjar, stressed on 26 October that only a mutually acceptable political solution would end the Western Sahara issue. Morocco was elected as a member of the UN’s Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. Rwandan president Paul Kagame announced on 29 October that Morocco would return to the African Union (AU). The Moroccan Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation dismantled an all-female Islamic State (IS) cell. The Moroccan Royal Armed Forces arrested six Algerian soldiers along with several Polisario Front fighters on 17 October. There were widespread protests across Morocco against police brutality on 30 October following the death of a fishermea, Mouhcine Fikri, during a dispute with police. The British bank Barclays completed the sale of its Egyptian business to Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank. France was the largest foreign investor in Morocco from 2000-15. Research from Stanford University shows that Morocco could run on 100 per cent green energy by 2050. The World Bank ranked Morocco 68th in the world in its Doing Business 2017 report. Fitch, the ratings agency, confirmed Morocco’s latest credit rating as BBB- on 25 October.

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Kuwait by Alistair Galloway

Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Emir, dissolved the Kuwaiti parliament on 17 October. John Kerry, the United States’ Secretary of State, emphasised the strong bilateral relations between the United States (US) and Kuwait during the first round of the Kuwait-US Strategic Dialogue on 21 October. Seventeen agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed by Kuwaiti and Mexican officials during talks between the two nations on 26 October. Kuwait was selected as the Deputy President of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Arab World Heritage Committee on 25 October. The Kuwaiti government donated $5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on 28 October. An Egyptian man was detained after attempting to attack a car carrying five Americans on 8 October. The US State Department approved the sale of military radar systems to Kuwait for $194 million on 14 October. Khaled Al-Jarellah, Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister, announced on 25 October that the Kuwaiti government is well prepared to tackle any threats from the Daesh terrorist group on Kuwaiti soil. The price of Kuwaiti oil decreased $0.31 this month and is now worth $46.42 per barrel. Crude oil exports from Kuwait to China have continued to rise and are now at record levels of 463,000 barrels per day. It was announced on 21 October that the new Arab commercial arbitration court will be situated in Kuwait.

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Iran by Alistair Galloway

The United Nations (UN) released its annual report on Iran, condemning its human rights abuses, which Iran responded to with accusations of bias. Iran sentenced multiple Iranian-American citizens to jail, charging them with collaboration with a foreign government. German-Iranian talks were called off following the German economic minister’s requirement of Iran to formally recognise Israel. From 28 October to 30 October, the European Union (EU)’s foreign policy chief visited Tehran for talks on the conflict in Syria. On 28 October, Iranian diplomats met with Syria and Russia in Moscow to discuss the Syrian conflict. In the Red Sea American and Iranian military forces met with increasing tension. United States (US) forces were fired upon by Iranian-backed Houthis, and the US destroyed Iranian radar stations in Houthi territory. Houthi forces directly supported by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired missiles into Saudi Arabia, only 50 miles from Mecca. Iran unveiled two new drones, one of which was copied from a captured American drone, and the other of which can be deliberately crashed into targets while loaded with explosives. On 3 October the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a statement after their visit to Iran, predicting positive economic growth. From 3 October to 5 October a German trade delegation visited Iran, resulting in the signage of multiple economic agreements, including one with German company Siemens. On 3 October Iran reported that it had sold fuel condensate to British Petroleum (BP) and on 8 October AT&T verified that it was providing service to American cell phones in Iran. 

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