Weekly Risk Roundup – Week 38

Headlines From This Week

  • UN General Assembly – The annual General Debate of the UN General Assembly began on 19 September and will finish on 25 September. President Trump was the most high-profile speaker at the UN where he continued much of the rhetoric which has become a hallmark of his presidency to date. His two primary targets were Iran and North Korea. He threatened to use US military might to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea unless Pyeongyang fell in line; something that shocked many world leaders in the room. He also called the Iran nuclear deal into question. This drew only reluctant support from European allies.
  • Mexico Earthquake – A powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Puebla, about 150km south of Mexico City on 19 September. At present, more than 270 fatalities have been confirmed as dozens of buildings collapsed or suffered significant damage in Mexico’s capital. Many more are still believed to be trapped and the death toll is expected to rise. This is the deadliest quake to hit Mexico since 1985, when about 10,000 fatalities were reported. This was the second powerful quake in less than two weeks.
  • Catalan Independence – The debate over the planned independence referendum for the Catalan region of Spain reached boiling point this week after at least 12 Catalan officials were arrested by Spanish police. This was part of a crackdown on planning for the independence referendum which, at present, will still be held on 1 October 2017. The government of Spain opposes Catalonian independence (and the vote), with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisting the referendum will not go ahead. Polls indicate about 49 per cent of Catalans are against independence, with 41 per cent in favour.
  • Hurricane Maria – Maria is the second major hurricane in the Caribbean this month (after Irma), and one of the strongest to hit Puerto Rico in the last 90 years. An estimated 15 people were killed on the island, in addition to streets flooded, power knocked out, and homes destroyed. 14 deaths were also reported on the island of Dominica. A number of other islands have also been impacted and death tolls are likely to increase as search and rescue operations continue.
  • Kenya Unrest – Protests were reported outside Kenya’s Supreme Court in Nairobi this week, after President Kenyatta criticised the court for committing a “coup” on the election. The re-run has been delayed and will now be held on 26 October 2017, although there continue to be doubts whether the voting process will be reformed in time. Political tensions remain high in Kenya, raising concerns of a return to violent clashes in the country.
  • Eastern Congo Flooding – Floods in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have killed 10 people, with another 92 still missing. Emergency services have been dispatched to the town of Bihambwe to search for the missing.

What To Look Out For Next Week

  • German Elections – Federal elections will be held on 24 September to determine if Chancellor Angela Merkel, will remain for another four years. Although initial projections will be available on Sunday, a definitive result may only be reached by Tuesday. Polls suggest Merkel, with the Christian Democratic Union, will remain in power with approximately 36 per cent of the vote. Their closest rival, the Social Democratic Party is expected to receive 22 per cent of the vote. Berlin will also host its annual marathon on 24 September, making travel very challenging.
  • UC Berkley ‘Free Speech Week’ – Far-right, controversial activists are due to speak at UC Berkeley’s ‘Free Speech Week’ between 24-27 September. In the past, fearing violence, speeches by far-right figures have been cancelled. Recent events have demonstrated political and racial friction in the US (including at Charlottesville). It is likely that this event will bring protestors and the potential for clashes between rival groups.
  • Kurdish Independence Referendum – There are significant concerns regarding the impact of the referendum planned to be held on 25 September 2017. The result of the vote is likely to be yes, but will not lead to an immediate secession of Kurdistan from Iraq. The UN Security Council has warned of the destabilising impact the referendum may have on the region; the referendum may divide Iraq and spark a wider regional conflict. The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has stated the referendum is unconstitutional.

Significant Dates & Events

  • 23 September – Saudi Arabia National Day
  • 24 September – German election and Berlin Marathon
  • 24 September – Guinea-Bissau National Day
  • 24 September – Pro-independence rallies to be held in Catalonia
  • 25 September – Anti-corruption protests due to take place in Slovakia
  • 25 September – Further anti-labour law strikes in France
  • 28 September – Iceland Elections
  • 29 September – Formula One weekend begins in Malaysia

Click link to Download PDF: Weekly Risk Roundup – Week 38 The Weekly Risk Roundup highlights significant events from the last week and what to look out for next week. Week 38 Weekly Risk Roundup was compiled by Solace Global’s in-house intelligence team.