AKE International, the political and security risk management specialists, have released their latest "Ones to Watch". This week the Myanmar government rejected a one-month ceasefire declared by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgent group, and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has pardoned Russian-Israeli blogger Aleksandr Lapshin and ordered the release of Mehman Aliyev, director of the independent Turan news agency.
The full list of "Ones to Watch" can be seen below:
Americas: Government relationship with Mapuche community grows tense
Key Risks: political violence; civil unrest; disruptive protests
In Argentina, tension between the government and the indigenous Mapuche community is expected to increase further as authorities continue to investigate the disappearance of indigenous-rights activist Santiago Maldonado, who went missing on 1 August following a protest in the southern Chubut province. Although the Mapuche community have so far remained removed from mainstream politics, Maldonado’s disappearance has unexpectedly put the issue in the political agenda. The government could suffer a backlash should it be confirmed that Maldonado was taken by the security forces. In unrelated developments, oil companies claimed that indigenous Mapuche communities in Neuquen’s province threaten the development of Vaca Muerta, the world’s second-largest shale fields, by demanding increased cash payments and blocking oil wells. Momentum for Mapuche-related claims may lead to an increase in protests and demands, although they are unlikely to severely impact land rights, companies operating in the southern province or overall political stability.
Asia-Pacific: Myanmar government rejects ceasefire in Rakhine
Key Risks: internal conflict; political violence; terrorism
The government rejected a one-month ceasefire declared by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgent group, refusing to ‘negotiate with terrorists’. An ARSA assault on police posts and an army base on 25 August triggered a violent counter-offensive. An estimated 270,000 Rohingya have since fled Myanmar into Bangladesh. Myanmar National Security Adviser U Thaung Tun has said that only refugees who could prove their citizenship would be allowed to return to the country. Myanmar’s 1982 citizenship law effectively stripped the Rohingya of citizenship rights, raising concerns the government is using the crisis to purge Rakhine state of Rohingya. Criticism of the government and State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi is growing, with the Organisation of Islamic States condemning the country and the top UN human rights official Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein labelling the treatment of Rohingya a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing.
Eurasia: Azerbaijan looks to dampen criticism; Russian opposition shock win in Moscow
Key Risks: political stability; sanctions
On 11 September Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev pardoned Russian-Israeli blogger Aleksandr Lapshin and ordered the release of Mehman Aliyev, director of the independent Turan news agency. The moves came three days after US Senator Dick Durbin introduced an amendment to sanction Azeri officials over the Turan director’s arrest and six days after the release of the “Azerbaijan Laundromat” leaks revealing widespread corruption and the bribery of European officials. The scandals will raise pressure on Baku but international action remains unlikely. On 10 September Russia held local elections, which produced the expected outcome in all regions but saw opposition groups pick up more than 100 local council seats in Moscow. Such councils have little-to-no influence but the result is symbolic.Recounts or other political manoeuvring to avoid causing the Kremlin blushes over the result risk prompting protests.
Europe: Norwegian voters head to the polls
Key Risks: political stability; frustration of process
On 10 September voting began in Norway’s national parliamentary election and continues into 11 September. Polls indicate the result is too close to call. The current government is a coalition of the Conservatives and populist anti-immigration Progress party. The main centre-left party, Labour , is behind the Conservatives for the largest vote-share in some polls, which would be an unprecedented result. The result is expected to be announced early on 12 September. The ability of either the Conservatives or the Labour party to lead a government will likely depend on whether a number of smaller parties are able to clear the 4 per cent threshold. The Green party is polling at 4 per cent and if it makes it into parliament its support would likely be needed for a Labour-led government, which could lead to difficult and protracted negotiations as the party’s current platform demands a halt to all new oil exploration, the lifeblood of Norway’s economy.
MENA: Trump’s attempted Gulf mediation ends in further crisis
Sectors: trade; energy; banking and financial sectors
Key Risks: contract frustration; frustration of process; sanctions
On 8 September in Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad telephoned Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to express the potential for dialogue between Qatar and the anti-Qatar quartet. The call was brokered by US President Trump after he had offered his skills as a mediator during a press conference on 7 September with the Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. Following the call, the Qatari Foreign Ministry released a statement welcoming Muhammad bin Salman’s suggestion of bilateral peace envoys. The Saudi Foreign Ministry responded it was suspending all further dialogue, apparently offended by a breach of protocol and the suggestion of diplomatic weakness on the part of the Saudis by relenting first. President Trump is unlikely to be the honest broker who will successfully end the crisis. A resolution between the Gulf countries looks increasingly distant.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Magufuli continues to ‘bulldoze’ multinational mining companies
Sectors: mining and extractives
Key Risks: confiscation, expropriation and nationalisation; license cancellation; populist policy
On 7 September Tanzanian President John ‘the bulldozer’ Magufuli ordered a review of a contract belonging to London-listed Petra Diamonds Ltd, while two ministers resigned following a corruption probe. A parliamentary committee stated that there were ‘gross irregularities’ in the way the Tanzanian government had diluted its shareholdings, and found a top government official received a ‘gift’ of diamonds worth US$200m. Magufuli also ordered an investigation of allegations of under-declared diamond exports, and on 10 September ordered the confiscation of diamonds worth an estimated US$29.5m after accusing the company of under-declaring the value of the gemstones. The move highlights an increasingly populist policy stance, with the government expected to further clamp down on companies seen to be exploiting Tanzania’s natural resources without paying adequate royalties or tax. Magufuli’s anti-corruption drive is also set to continue.