Week 26: 21 June – 28 June

Global Intelligence Summary

  • The final approval of Argentine President Milei’s “bases bill” is likely the first major victory for the libertarian president, and will highly likely lead to further sweeping economic reforms.
  • The recent ISCP attack in Russia’s Dagestan region likely shows severe vulnerabilities of Russian intelligence, and almost certainly demonstrates growing Islamist efforts to destabilise the region.
  • The Houthis’ claimed acquisition of hypersonic anti-ship ballistic missile capabilities will almost certainly improve the militant group’s targeting success in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
  • In Kenya, widespread and violent civil unrest provoked by a controversial finance bill will likely continue despite the bill’s revocation with protestors demanding the president’s resignation.  


US: Homeland Security report 400 illegal migrants are linked to IS

Bolivia: Failed coup attempt in La Paz

Argentina: Milei bill passed in parliament as recession begins

Russia: Islamic State targets Dagestan

Israel, Palestine and Lebanon: Tensions at north border grow

Red Sea and Gulf of Aden: Houthi claim hypersonic capabilities

Kenya: Protesters set fire to parliament in response to fiscal bill

Pakistan: Hundreds of people dead due to severe heatwave

India: Inter-religious tensions continue with Mosque demolitions

Several elections are scheduled to take place over the coming week (28 June – 5 July):

  • Iran (Presidential) – 28 June
  • Mongolia (Parliament) – 28 June
  • Mauritania (Presidential) – 29 June
  • France (National Assembly, 1st round)- 30 June
  • United Kingdom (Parliament) – 4 July

An investigation conducted by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicates that as many as 400 migrants who illegally entered the country in the last four years were enabled by a human smuggling network reportedly connected to the Islamic State (IS). The investigation has prompted an additional review of the identified individuals.

The report suggests that the primary objective of the network was to smuggle in people, and not to facilitate the entry of terrorists into the US. However, the smuggling network is assessed to have direct links to another network with established ties to the trans-regional violent extremist (VEO) group that expedited the entry of a group of Uzbek nationals.

The 400 migrants that will require further investigation are mostly from Central Asian nations, and the report has been released after an operation in early June by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which arrested eight Tajik nationals with alleged ties to IS.

Solace Global Assessment: 

Reports of IS-linked groups smuggling migrants into the US will likely be used during the current presidential campaign to undermine President Biden’s record on border security and immigration. On 26 June, House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green released a statement suggesting that there is no one the Biden administration won’t allow into the country. The Republicans will likely exploit the timing of this report for political gain, with polls indicating most Americans trust Trump over Biden regarding border security and immigration.

The investigation has already resulted in the apprehension of over 150 migrants, but the whereabouts of at least 50 remain unknown, a development likely to evoke fear in the US. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that the Central Asian migrants are planning on conducting attacks within the US, and the vast majority are likely economic migrants with no real connections to terrorism. The most likely threat posed by the operation is that it is being used by members of the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISKP) to generate money, which is then used to fund ISKP activity.

The ISKP is primarily based in Afghanistan, but its senior leadership is predominantly Tajik and is successfully recruiting Central Asians. Likely, elements of ISKP within Central Asia will also target the families of the smuggled individuals to extort a portion of their remittance payments. There is also a realistic possibility that some of the 400 are vulnerable to radicalisation after entry to the US and potentially susceptible to IS propaganda if struggling with isolation or economic hardship. However, the lack of current evidence regarding planned attacks is unlikely to blunt concerns in the US.

The report was released shortly after a resurgence in ISKP activity, characterised by an increase in external attacks in places like Russia, Iran, and Pakistan. Long-term, ISKP is likely to exploit funds through smuggling to consolidate its power within Afghanistan and increasingly so in neighboring countries like Pakistan, Tajikistan, and other Central Asian countries. This is likely to put it in a stronger position to conduct future external operations, which will likely include coveted Western targets and interests, with the group using the remote, mountainous, and destabilised parts of Afghanistan and Central Asia in a similar manner to how the Taliban did prior to 9/11.

Whilst this revenue stream will only play a minor part in ISKP’s financial operations, the fact that the US’ weak southern border is being exploited to fund its enemies’ activities is likely to be highly contentious and exacerbate political tensions during an already heightened time in the US.

Bolivia: Short-lived attempted coup neutralised after troops try to storm presidential palace

On the afternoon of 26 June, the commander of the Bolivian Army, General Juan José Zúñiga, led an attempted coup d’état against leftist President Luis Arce. Hundreds of soldiers, equipped with armored vehicles, moved into Plaza Murillo in central La Paz, Bolivia’s capital. They then attempted to storm Casa Grande del Pueblo, the presidential palace, with an armored vehicle, reportedly slamming into the palace doors. Zúñiga publicly called for a restructuring of democracy and a change of government.

In the days prior, Arce had relieved Zúñiga of his post following threats allegedly made by Zúñiga to arrest former President Evo Morales should Morales run for president again in 2025. Arce personally confronted Zúñiga at the presidential palace, and Zúñiga was arrested shortly afterward. Along with Zúñiga, Vice-Admiral Juan Arnez Salvador, head of the navy, has also been arrested.

The attempted coup only lasted a few hours and was condemned by regional leaders in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Chile, Venezuela, and the Organization of American States (OAS). The US, UK, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief also condemned the attempted coup. Zúñiga reportedly urged his troops to withdraw after it became clear the coup had failed, and newly appointed Army commander, José Wilson Sánchez, ordered soldiers to return to their barracks.

Solace Global Assessment:

Zúñiga cited dismay with Bolivia’s endemic issues as his motivation for the coup. However, it is likely that personal motivations served as the primary catalyst for the coup due to his recent dismissal by Arce. Alternatively, another key trigger may have been large-scale protests that have recently gripped La Paz due to growing economic insecurity.

Arce is presiding over a challenging period for Bolivia, with a financial crisis crippling currency reserves amid low gas exports and nationwide fuel shortages. In March, approval ratings for Arce were reported to be as low as 38 percent. There has been discontent from across the political spectrum. From the right-wing, there has been longstanding severe dissatisfaction with the far-left Movement for Socialism’s (MAS) return to power under Arce in 2020, after former president Morales’ removal from power in 2019. The right-wing former interim President Jeanine Anez, however, condemned the coup. A major contributing factor to the military coup’s failure was highly likely to be a lack of support from the political right.

From the left wing, there has also been considerable discontent and divisions arising within MAS. Morales has stated his intent to stand in Bolivia’s 2025 election, ousting Arce. It was Zúñiga’s threats against Morales in anticipation of this that reportedly sparked the general’s initial dismissal.

While very short-lived, the failed coup reveals the continued threat posed by the military and exposes fundamental weaknesses in Bolivia’s democratic system. Arce is likely to receive a boost in his ratings amid almost universal international condemnation of the coup. However, there has been speculation that the coup was actually organised by the government themselves to galvanise such support in the face of a political crisis. While the veracity of such claims is unclear, these claims are likely to be believed by a significant proportion of Bolivia’s anti-Arce groups.

The threat posed by civil unrest in Bolivia is likely to increase in the short-to-medium term, with disgruntled right-wing groups lamenting the coup’s failure and leftists being called to march in solidarity with the government. However, the coup’s critical failure is likely to bolster the government’s grip on power, although this is unlikely to persist in the medium to long term as Bolivia’s economic poor performance is almost certain to continue.

Argentina: President Milei’s austerity measures approved by parliament.

Argentina’s parliament, the National Congress of Argentina, has approved President Milei’s economic reform package after months of debate and revisions to the bill within the country’s upper and lower houses. Milei described his first real major legislative victory as the “greatest fiscal adjustment” in Argentine history and has castigated the opposition for delaying the bill.

Solace Global Assessment: 

This legislative victory essentially provides President Milei with the tools he has demanded for months to reform the Argentine economy. The legislation will enable him to introduce a raft of controversial right-wing policies aimed at incentivising investment, privatising state-owned entities, restructuring taxes, and cutting away at Argentina’s large public sector. Milei’s policies to date have helped reduce Argentina’s inflation and have brought about the country’s first fiscal surplus in years. However, they also have incited widespread civil unrest and resulted in many job losses.

Recent reporting indicates that Argentina has officially entered a technical recession in the first quarter of 2024, with GDP shrinking 2.6 percent from the previous quarter, marking the second consecutive contraction. Under Milei, the jobless rate has risen to 7.7 percent, resulting in 300,000 more unemployed people, and many services and goods have spiked in price. Spending cuts have halted infrastructure projects, causing significant job losses in construction, while triple-digit inflation and the recession have severely impacted consumers. Despite achieving a fiscal surplus that boosted markets, poverty and homelessness have increased, though Milei insists these measures are necessary as part of his long-term recovery plan.

However, the announcement of a technical recession will likely be interpreted as a failure of Milei’s austerity measures, and his impending implementation of further measures following his victory in parliament will almost certainly be a catalyst for further civil unrest.

Politics, Economics and Civil Unrest

The first US presidential debate was held on 27 June in Georgia, a key battleground state for the 2024 election. Observers have stated that, although Republican candidate and former President Donald Trump’s performance was marked by numerous false statements, incumbent President Biden almost certainly “lost”. In particular, Biden repeatedly seemed to lose his train of thought and gave somewhat incoherent responses to otherwise straightforward questions.

Some Democrat Party politicians informally raised the possibility of asking Biden to step down in favor of an alternative candidate before the party’s national convention. This remains a remote possibility, as replacing Biden would be incredibly challenging due to party rules and would likely result in a Trump victory. Still, it is highly likely that the debate largely improved the controversial former president’s chances.

The Honduran ex-President Juan Orlando Hernández was sentenced to 45 years in prison on 26 June. He was found guilty of accepting millions of dollars in bribes to protect US-bound cocaine shipments belonging to traffickers. The case likely illustrates the extent of corruption present in Honduras as individuals in government use their position of power for personal gain, neglecting the interest of citizens.

Security, Armed Conflict and Terror

On 25 June, the first contingent of Kenyan police, numbering 400, arrived in Haiti following repeated delays. Much of the country is still under gang control, with rival groups increasingly targeting institutions likely in the hope of reducing officials’ ability to restore order to the country. The Kenyan mission, whose stability is already likely compromised by the severe protests currently taking place in Nairobi, will almost certainly face extreme logistical difficulties in its attempts to re-establish order in Port-au-Prince and the rest of Haiti.

There is a high likelihood that the UN-backed force’s first task will be securing key locations in the capital, allowing for a safer environment for the carrying out of humanitarian and governance operations. However, there is a high likelihood of retaliation from the well-armed gangs, many of which have decried foreign intervention as a fundamental threat to their interests.

Authorities in Colombia have started talks with a third guerrilla group that broke away from a 2016 ceasefire deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC). The Segunda Marquetalia faction, which reportedly has around 1,600 members, launched a new rebellion in 2019 and has yet to subscribe to President Petro’s “total peace” plan.

Successfully signing a peace deal would help stabilise the country, reduce violence, and improve national security. However, Petro has had mixed success with other groups like the National Liberation Army (ELN), and there are fears that rebel groups are using ceasefires to expand their influence, appropriate more territory, and recruit more members.

Environment, Health and Miscellaneous

Research studying the 2023 wildfires that affected much of Canada revealed that the fires resulted in the release of 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), equivalent to the total emissions of the global airline industry for 2022. The 2023 fires were among the most severe ever recorded, with Canada alone accounting for more than a quarter of global tree cover loss over the year.

As the warmest months of the year begin, the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) office warned of a “high probability” of above-average temperatures in July and August. Warm and dry conditions are especially conducive to exacerbating the severity of wildfires, highlighting ongoing concerns about climate impacts and the potential for further environmental and atmospheric consequences.

In Mexico City, thousands of citizens have been forced to evacuate their homes as storms and heavy rainfall continue. As of 21 June, the death toll had reached 30, including six children. Warnings have been issued for wind speeds up to 70 kilometers per hour and waves up to 3 meters around the Gulf and Caribbean coasts.

These extreme weather patterns are attributed to Storm Alberto, which has caused significant economic losses for Mexico due to widespread damage to infrastructure and the displacement of thousands of citizens.

28 June an earthquake of magnitude of 7.0 struck near the coast in southern Peru’s Arequipa region. No deaths have been reported, but eight people have been injured. Arequipa has been hit with four aftershocks of 4 to 4.6 magnitude, creating landslides on local roads. There’s the potential for further damage which will add additional pressure on the region’s infrastructure and the need for emergency response efforts.

On 23 June, six gunmen from the Islamic State Caucasus Province (ISCP) carried out a series of attacks in the cities of Derbent and Makhachkala in Dagestan. The attacks resulted in the deaths of at least 22 people, with more than 40 wounded, and significant damage to two synagogues and two churches. These incidents follow a rise in Islamist terror activities in the region and across Russia.

In late October, anti-Semitic riots occurred in Dagestan, including in the same cities targeted by ISCP. In March, the IS’ Khorasan branch (ISKP) carried out a deadly attack at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, killing 145 people. More recently, supporters of the Islamic State staged a prison uprising in Rostov. Additionally, reports indicate that cooperation between Russia and Turkey led to the dismantling of an IS cell that was planning further attacks in Moscow.

These events underscore ongoing security challenges posed by Islamist extremist groups in Russia and the broader Caucasus region, prompting heightened vigilance and counterterrorism efforts by authorities.

Solace Global Assessment: 

The various branches of the Islamic State (IS) have likely identified the ongoing war in Ukraine as an opportunity to destabilise the Russian state. Russia’s internal security is primarily managed by the Russian National Guard, but many of its forces have been redeployed to occupied parts of Ukraine, border security, and protecting the Kremlin post-Wagner rebellion, leaving other areas of Russia less secure.

Russia’s extensive counterterrorism efforts in Syria, the broader Middle East, and through its Africa Corps in the Sahel have likely strained its security and intelligence capabilities, making Moscow a desirable target for Islamist violent extremist organisations (VEOs). Recent improvements in Russia’s relations with the Afghan Taliban regime, potentially nearing full diplomatic recognition, may further embolden groups like the IS Khorasan Province (ISKP) and IS Caucasus Province (ISCP) to target Russian civilians and assets.

The Caucasus region, with its history of Russian domination and conflicts such as the Chechen wars, coupled with economic stagnation and lack of socioeconomic progress, provides fertile ground for Islamist sentiments. The resurgent IS has found receptive audiences for recruitment in former Soviet republics, particularly Tajikistan, where local governments are viewed as oppressive toward Islam, echoing similar grievances in Chechnya and Dagestan.

The involvement of family members of a local government official in the attacks underscores the penetration of extremist ideologies among educated youth, possibly indicating growing social acceptance of violent forms of Salafi Islam among elites. The Russian government’s relatively muted response following the attacks, compared to previous incidents like the Crocus City Hall attack, reflects Moscow’s concern over public perception of its ability to prevent Islamist violence. The implication of a local government official in the attack adds to Kremlin embarrassment.

While some officials have attempted to shift blame for the attacks onto Ukraine or the West, claiming stable interfaith relations within Russia, tensions likely persist. Anti-Islamic sentiment in European Russia contrasts with growing sympathy for Islamist causes in the Caucasus, potentially fueling further disorder.

The aftermath of these attacks may embolden Christian Orthodox nationalists to perpetrate mob violence against Muslim communities in Russia and increase the likelihood of further lone-wolf attacks by radicalised individuals, particularly in major cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Israel, Palestine and Lebanon: Fears of escalation continue, as Tel Aviv masses troops on northern borders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his administration have remarked that the phase of most intense fighting in the ongoing war in Gaza is approaching its end, and have increasingly shifted attention to the Israeli northern border, where Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah continue to trade a growing volume of tit-for-tat airstrikes. Most notably, on 21 June IDF airstrikes targeted a compound belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran located in al-Bukamal, Syria. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant recently threatened to send Lebanon “back to the stone age”. The approval of a controversial draft bill, which allows for the state to force Orthodox Haredi Jews into partaking in a period of mandatory military service, has simultaneously resulted in demonstrations and growing discontent with the Netanyahu government.

Solace Global Assessment:

An Israeli offensive into Lebanon would most likely be extremely costly for Tel Aviv. Hezbollah is comparatively much better equipped than Hamas and has access to more solid positions, as well as clear support and logistics lifelines via its “Axis of Resistance” allies through Iraq and Syria. Despite this, the plan is viewed favourably by the more hawkish figures in the Netanyahu administration, which likely consider the continuation of a Hezbollah conventional threat at the border as an unacceptable long-term security vulnerability.

On the Axis of Resistance side, there likely is not a clear consensus on the possibility and desirability of a conflict with Israel. An outbreak of open conflict between the IDF and Hezbollah will likely be used by other Iranian proxies, such as the various Iraqi militias, to widen the conflict and target US assets in neighbouring countries, such as Jordan, with a broader aim of destabilising the region.

However, Tehran likely perceives this as risky, both due to the risk of the rise of Sunni insurgent groups, and due to that of rapidly worsening already tense relations with regional powers. Tel Aviv’s statement that the IDF has defeated the remaining Rafah battalion, and will therefore move to a stage of occasional raids and “management” of Hamas is highly likely premature. The Palestinian militant group likely still retains an ability to recruit new fighters, and manufacture or acquire weapons to replenish its arsenals, and will almost certainly continue carrying out re-infiltration operations in areas cleared by the IDF.

While it is unlikely that these actions will result in anything more than a manageable level of attrition for the IDF, the continuation of IDF deployments in Gaza is likely to become increasingly costly for Tel Aviv. Moreover, the Hamas leadership in Gaza continues to evade Israeli intelligence, and its survival is almost certainly politically unacceptable for Netanyahu, who has indicated the destruction of Hamas as his key objective of the war.

In the West Bank, Axis of Resistance groups are highly likely continuing their attempts to smuggle weapons to Hamas fighters and other Palestinian groups in the area with the intention of opening an additional front – a development that will become increasingly important if a confrontation in the north breaks out.

Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden: Houthi Movement claims to have developed hypersonic ballistic missiles.

On 24 June, the Houthi Movement claimed to have used a “new” ballistic missile to carry out a direct hit on the Liberian-flagged vessel MSC SARAH V in the Arabian Sea, which it claims is linked to Israel. The vessel was targeted whilst heading to port at Abu Dhabi at approximately 04.45 hours UTC about 450 kilometres (246 nautical miles) southeast of Nishum, a Yemeni town near the Oman border.

The vessel’s operators claim that it was not hit by the missile but landed just 50m off the starboard side of the ship. The Houthis have stated that the missile used was the Hatem/Hadim-2, a domestically produced hypersonic missile which the militant group claims can reach speeds of up to Mach 8 (eight times the speed of sound).

Solace Global Assessment: 

The attack on the MSC SARAH V marks one of the longest-range Houthi attacks on merchant shipping and was likely launched to coincide with the withdrawal of the USS Dwight Eisenhower-led carrier group that spearheaded allied efforts to combat the Yemeni group.

Whilst the Houthis claim that the missile was domestically produced, the Hatem-2 anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) bears a strong resemblance to the Iranian “Kheybar Shekan” ASBM. Iran has a track record of providing its proxy groups with capable weapon systems so that Tehran can indirectly attack or influence its enemies with a high degree of plausible deniability.

Moreover, it is highly unlikely that the Houthi Movement have direct access to the technology or the domestic capability to produce an ASBM similar in nature to one of Iran’s most capable anti-ship systems. The Kheybar Shekan ASBM is purported to have a range of 1,450 kilometres (782 nautical miles); can reach altitudes of 135 kilometres; has a circular error probable (CEP) of under 20m; and according to some sources can reach speeds of up to Mach 8.

In addition, the missile uses a solid-propellant so doesn’t require fuelling before launch which would reduce the Houthis’ targeting cycle. Whilst it is unlikely that the Houthi variant is as technologically advanced as the Iranian model, if the Houthis have acquired some of this technology and are capable of proliferation, it will increase their ability to target international shipping.

The Houthis’ capability will be further augmented if their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) are provided by Iran, allowing the proxy group to detect and track ASBM targets outside the ranges of their organic targeting assets.

The missile’s potential speed, ability to manoeuvre at speed if equipped with advanced control systems, and its parabolic trajectory may enable it to bypass coalition air defence and radars by reducing response times, creating unpredictable flight paths, and exploiting gaps in radar coverage.

This development could help to overstretch coalition naval assets currently providing air defence in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and the weapon system will almost certainly be nominated as a high-value target for US and UK strikes.

Kenya: Protesters set parliament on fire as civil unrest escalates.

On 25 June, the Parliament of Kenya was set on fire after being stormed by crowds of protesters, gathering in opposition to a finance bill proposed by the government, which would have increased taxes on a wide range of goods. Despite a heavy-handed and violent police response, civil unrest has continued, with crowds calling for the resignation of President William Ruto, despite the withdrawal of the bill.

More than 20 deaths and hundreds of arrests and injuries have resulted from the protests as of the time of writing. On 28 June, the Kenyan High Court barred the police from using violent crowd dispersal methods, including water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition, following widespread cases of police brutality.

Solace Global Assessment:

The bill was proposed by the government of President William Ruto, who is trying to portray Kenya as a modern and stable African country and sees the reduction of the country’s USD 80 billion debt as vital to this end. Related to this is Ruto’s support for a UN-sponsored policing mission to Haiti to combat the recent wave of severe gang-led violence, as part of which 400 Kenyan police officers were deployed to the country last week.

The Ruto administration’s decision to increase taxes on a multitude of common goods such as bread, milk and sanitary towels, while pursuing the costly Haitian expedition, has almost certainly been the main trigger for civil unrest in a country where millions live below the international poverty line and are struggling to pay for basic commodities. The demonstrations are likely to continue and expand to other cities in Kenya’s south, beyond the epicentre of Nairobi.

Reports of cases of looting of assets owned by pro-government politicians in Nairobi and other cities highly likely indicate the important class dimension of the protests, and how the civil unrest is also linked to a broader dissatisfaction with the Kenyan political elite. The protests are likely to cause significant damage to infrastructure and result in a decrease in the government’s administrative capacity in the short term. This may create opportunities for further unrest and violence in the short-to-medium term, especially in the south.

There is a high likelihood of the protests impacting Kenya’s economy directly and indirectly, affecting business and travel within the country. The willingness of the government to employ violent crowd dispersal methods, and repeated failures of police forces to protect government assets, make it likely that the Ruto administration will have to deploy the military to curb the unrest. Such a scenario would likely further increase the risks faced by foreign humanitarian organisations operating in Kenya.

The suspension of internet services and damage to infrastructure will likely further complicate the provision of healthcare and limit opportunities to evacuate the country. Finally, the widespread reports of police brutality are likely to create important worries regarding the potential damages that the Kenyan police deployment may cause in Haiti, where conditions are even more chaotic than in their home country.

The repeated instances of police officers using extreme levels of brutality to target protesters likely demonstrate a significant and structural lack of oversight, which, if transferred to Haiti, could undermine the legitimacy of the UN-backed mission and bolster the gangs’ position and authority in the country.

Politics, Economics and Civil Unrest

Ursula von der Leyen was re-elected as President of the European Commission, and Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was elected as the EU’s next foreign policy chief on 28 June. Portuguese former Prime Minister Antonio Costa was nominated as President of the European Council. These nominations were expected and received support from a cohesive coalition of the European People’s Party (EPP), the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), and the liberal Renew Europe group.

Von der Leyen will now proceed to the European Parliament to seek reconfirmation for her second term. The significant aspect of the vote was the abstention of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which von der Leyen had actively courted in recent months. The parliamentary vote is expected to compel the EPP-led bloc to either maintain its alliance with the S&D or risk losing support from the left in favor of Meloni’s ECR and other smaller right-wing groups.

The UK general election is scheduled to take place on 4 July. The Labour Party led by Keir Starmer is highly likely to win in a landslide. However, there is a realistic possibility of some minor demonstrations following the vote, especially from left-wing groups who feel disappointed by Starmer’s moderate policies and positions on the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The first turn of the French National Assembly snap election will take place on 30 June. The right-wing National Rally (RN) is likely to win the most votes in the first round, with a broad left-wing coalition led by the France Unbowed party (LFI) likely securing the second spot. Both are considered radical and outside of the “traditional” French centre-right and centre-left spheres. Consequently, it is almost certain that civil unrest will continue, and likely intensify after the first round and into the Paris Olympics.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was selected as NATO’s next secretary-general, scheduled to take over the post from Stoltenberg on 1 October. Rutte’s appointment, which was guaranteed after the Romanian candidate, President Klaus Iohannis, withdrew his candidacy, ensures a continuation of Stoltenberg’s status quo.

On 22 June, an estimated 30,000 Hungarians held a Pride rally in Budapest in defiance of the country’s anti-LGBTQ laws. The rally follows a joint statement by 44 embassies in the Hungarian capital protesting the Orban government’s restrictions on LGBTQ rights.

Moldova, Ukraine and the EU began membership talks on 25 June. The timing of the talks was likely arranged to predate the beginning of Hungary’s EU presidency on 1 July. The two countries’ candidacies for EU membership are almost two decades old, and, despite this step, there is a high likelihood that the timeline of their membership bids will continue to extend relatively far into the future. The announcement of talks is therefore likely a symbolic move, meant to respond to both Russophiles within the union, and to Russia itself, following Putin’s proposal of a “peace plan” which would have included major territorial concessions as well as Ukraine’s pledge to remain essentially isolated from the West. In Moldova, there is a high likelihood that pro-Russian separatist groups will intensify civil unrest and possible violence against institutions.

The parliament of Georgia passed the first reading of a new anti-LGBTQ law that emulates similar procedures passed in Russia. The ruling Georgian Dream coalition, which has faced massive protests due to its controversial “foreign agents bill”, is highly likely using “traditionalist” and anti-LGBTQ talking points to try to recuperate some support and embolden its conservative base. The law’s approval is likely going to further stoke anti-government sentiment and may open further space for violent police crackdowns on dissent.

Presidential elections will be held in Mauritania on 29 June. Incumbent President Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ghazouani is almost certain to win. Despite gradually moving in the direction of greater political pluralism, Mauritania remains unstable and there is a high likelihood that the vote will coincide with greater civil unrest and possible violence.

The Iranian elections’ first round is taking place on 28 June. Two hardline candidates dropped out on the eve of the vote, likely to bolster the victory chances of the two remaining conservatives aligned with Ayatollah Khamenei’s views. The one moderate that was allowed to run, Massoud Pezeshkian, remains unlikely to win. His candidacy was likely allowed to progress to bolster low voter turnout figures, which the Ayatollah sees as proof of the regime’s low popularity following years of protests.

Security, Armed Conflict and Terror

The French Interior Ministry ordered the dissolution of multiple extremist groups, either associated with identitarian or Islamist movements, in the days before the election. These include the identitarian Groupe Union Défense (GUD), one of the major neofascist organisations in Paris. There is an increased likelihood that supporters of the groups will carry out actions to stoke violence during the elections.

An attack by an unspecified terrorist group in Tassia, Niger, resulted in the deaths of 20 Defence and Security Forces (FDS) troops and one civilian. The village, located in the Tillaberi region close to Mali and Burkina Faso, was targeted in a sophisticated attack, involving armed gunmen and suicide bombers. It is highly likely that the attack was perpetrated by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), whose fighters conducted another attack in Tillaberi in March. The EU will also end its military mission to Niger on 30 June, citing the country’s “grave political situation”, a move that will likely encourage further attacks and influence Niger to increasingly court Russian assistance.

On 21 June, Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) militants reportedly attacked a village in the province of Ituri, northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). CODECO is an armed militia with an ethnoreligious character and is linked with the Lendu tribe. It carries out frequent attacks especially targeting the Hema tribe. The Ituri province is rich in gold, and competition over mineral resources continues to be a fundamental driver of inter-ethnic conflict. The attack, which resulted in the deaths of more than 20 civilians, highly likely demonstrates the DRC government’s waning control over its eastern provinces. Rwanda and other international powers continue to more or less directly back armed groups operating in the DRC’s eastern border regions, with the aim of informally securing control over the area’s mineral deposits and controlling the smuggling of minerals out of the country.

On 24 June, Somalia’s ambassador to the UN accused Ethiopia of carrying out an “incursion” into the country’s territory. Ethiopia currently deploys 3,000 troops as part of the peacekeeping African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), aimed at containing al-Shabaab’s growing influence in the Horn of Africa. ATMIS is committed to withdrawing by the end of 2024, and the Somali government has announced that it expects to be able to contrast the Islamist group. However, with al-Shabaab having recently made significant territorial conquests, these statements are likely far too optimistic. Mogadishu is likely experiencing far too excessive domestic pressures to mount a significant challenge to al-Shabaab. These include tensions with the breakaway regions of Puntland and Somaliland, as well as a host of other security and economic issues.

Bandits have conducted a series of attacks in Nigeria’s Katsina State. Multiple attacks have now occurred throughout June, forcing farmers to abandon their land which has resulted in higher food prices. The trend of attacks in Nigeria’s rural communities has been partially responsible for the country’s high inflation. Multiple commodities such as beans, beef, bread, rice and a host of vegetables have more than doubled in price during the last year, high food prices often sustaining periods of civil unrest throughout the country.

Senior leadership from the United State’s Africa Command (AFRICOM)  and NATO met with multiple African defence chiefs in Botswana from 24 to 26 June. The conference addressed multiple security issues confronting Africa and is being used to bolster defence relationships in a continent where the West continues to cede ground to Russia and China. Containing the spread of jihadist groups was almost certainly on the agenda and the US attendees were reportedly seeking new bases in West Africa after their prompt withdrawal from Niger.  

Environment, Health and Miscellaneous

The UN has warned that Nitazenes, a group of synthetic opioids stronger than fentanyl, are spreading across Europe after previously circulating in the US. The UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stated in its most recent World Drug Report that synthetic opioids have now been detected in the UK, US, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Belgium and Canada, stoking fears over a new drug epidemic, strains on public health services and spikes in associated crime.

Wildfires in the Russian Arctic territories have caused the third-highest levels of emissions for this period of the year over the last two decades. Wildfires in carbon-rich soils such as the Russian tundra and boreal forest tend to be particularly damaging in terms of CO2 emissions. This year, the increase in severity in regional wildfires has been recorded weeks earlier than the usual peak of July and August, making it likelier that the warmest part of the summer will record even more severe statistics.

An outbreak of toxic strands of E. Coli bacteria, reportedly originating from grocery store products, has affected more than 200 people across the United Kingdom and killed at least one person. Symptoms of the infection include gastrointestinal issues and flu-like effects such as a temperature and headaches. Infection can be especially dangerous for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

At least one person was killed and hundreds were displaced after heavy rains caused flash floods in the southeastern Misox valley of the Swiss canton of Grisons. Weather conditions in Switzerland are variable, and forecasts indicate that the country may face a heatwave in the immediate aftermath of the floods.

On 23 June, crewmembers of a yacht in Greece were arrested after allegedly starting a fire by firing fireworks towards the island of Hydra, resulting in the destruction of 300,000 square metres (30 hectares) of pine forest. Greece faces a high threat from wildfires, most of which are started by humans, and exacerbated by the country’s summer dry and hot conditions. The incident is highly likely to cause increased scrutiny of over-tourism and luxury tourism in Southern Europe and may inspire acts of vandalism by environmental activists. For more information on the threat of “Ecotage” – or vandalism carried out by environmentalists – further information can be found here.

Also in Greece, the number of tourists reported as having died due to the ongoing heatwave affecting the country has risen to six. It is notable that June is not the hottest month in Greece, and that temperatures are likely to marginally increase in July. The climate change-related extreme heat affecting southern Europe, and Greece in particular, in recent years has exacerbated the severity of the risks faced by travellers to the country. There is a high likelihood that the threat from high temperatures will have impacts on Greece’s economy, especially damaging the tourism sector.

More than 400 people were reported to have died in Karachi between 22 and 25 June alone due to the extreme heatwave currently affecting the country. The Sindh province, where Karachi is located, had multiple consecutive days of above-40 degrees Celsius temperatures. In May, it, alongside regions of India, recorded a temperature of more than 52 degrees Celsius. Conditions in Karachi are worsened by the high levels of humidity.

Solace Global Assessment: 

The casualty numbers are likely understated, as they only account for identified bodies with clear causes of death assessed. Many of those who perished were homeless, complicating accurate reporting. The prolonged heatwave in Pakistan is expected to exacerbate health conditions, particularly impacting the poorer segments of the population disproportionately.

Additionally, the high temperatures have sparked fires and led to electrical failures, causing numerous power outages worsened by Pakistan’s inadequate energy infrastructure. This situation is likely to increase the use of diesel generators, contributing to additional pollution. Both India and Pakistan have experienced extreme heat over the past year, the hottest on record globally.

Factors such as poor sanitation, high humidity, overcrowded urban areas lacking green spaces, which help mitigate heat and lower nighttime temperatures, put the Indian subcontinent at heightened risk from extreme weather events. Apart from causing significant human suffering, heatwaves are also expected to adversely affect the economy by disrupting business activities and travel throughout the day.

With climate projections indicating a trend towards more frequent and severe heatwaves, countries like Pakistan face an escalating climate-related threat that demands urgent adaptation and mitigation measures.

India: Inter-religious tensions continue.

In the first month of its third consecutive term, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued implementing policies aimed at targeting the country’s Muslim minority. In June alone, several Mosques were demolished, often on pretence of alleged encroachment, in Delhi alone. On 27 June, a severed cow’s head was found near a Hindu temple in Delhi, and a BJP local politician responded to the incident by threatening to “slaughter” 200,000 of the city’s Muslims.

Solace Global Assessment:

Inter-religious tensions have been a central element of the BJP’s electoral strategy, with elected officials frequently endorsing conspiracy theories portraying Muslims as foreign agents aiming to destabilise the Indian state. Some BJP leaders advocate for transforming India into “Bharat,” a Hindu nationalist non-secular state. However, the BJP’s underperformance in the 2024 parliamentary elections, where it failed to secure a simple majority and was unexpectedly forced into a coalition, suggests that this identitarian domestic focus may not be as popular as previously thought.

Despite this setback on the national stage, BJP politicians at the local level are persisting in efforts to curb Muslim influence and presence in society. There is a significant likelihood that the continuation, and even escalation in some instances, of anti-Muslim policies in places like Delhi reflects efforts by local BJP officials to regain public support following the party’s electoral setbacks.

This approach carries the risk of provoking inter-communal tensions and potentially sparking violence, particularly in major urban centers where communal fault lines are more pronounced. The prospect of such tensions erupting into severe clashes remains a realistic concern, especially amidst a backdrop of heightened political polarisation and societal divisions.

Politics, Economics and Civil Unrest

Mongolians will vote in parliamentary elections on 28 June, with the ruling party expected to retain its majority despite concerns over corruption, inflation, and the state of the economy. The Mongolian People’s Party, led by Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene, is likely to benefit from a booming coal sector, but major frustrations remain over economic inequality and corruption which were some of the main drivers of the 2022 protests.  

Vietnam has announced that is ready to hold talks with the Philippines over its overlapping claims in the South China Sea, in a diplomatic approach that contrasts with China’s assertive approach and use of grey zone tactics. Hanoi is responding to Manila’s submission to the UN’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to extend its exclusive economic zone to 350 nautical miles, which has created rival claims in the Spratly Islands. If both nations settle the dispute diplomatically and in line with the rules established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it could help to undermine China’s claims and activities in the South China Sea, leading to international pressure for Beijing to follow suit.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, returned to Australia after more than a decade-long battle against extradition to the US, where he faced potential life imprisonment for publishing classified documents demonstrating that US troops committed crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as thousands of sensitive information and diplomatic cables. It is unlikely that the development will result in civil unrest.

Civil unrest has erupted again on the French territory of New Caledonia after seven pro-independence activists were arrested and flown to mainland France for detention, including the leader Christian Tein. The Indigenous Kanak people will likely interpret the moving of their leaders to France as “colonial tactics” and as a further challenge to their sovereignty, and may sustain unrest until those arrested are returned to New Caledonia.

Security, Armed Conflict and Terror

On 29 June, Hindu pilgrims will head to Pahalgam in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir for the start of the annual Amarnath Yatra. The region has seen a spate of attacks against Hindu pilgrims in recent months and the pilgrimage has been targeted by Islamist extremists in the past, such as during the 2017 Amarnath Yatra massacre. It is almost certain that the pilgrimage remains a high-profile target for VEOs in the area and the Indian authorities will be forced to increase security during the event.

On 22 June, India and Bangladesh strengthened their defence relationship by signing agreements to enhance cooperation in maritime security, the ocean economy, space, and telecommunications during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi. India’s Prime Minister Modi celebrated Bangladesh’s decision to join the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative- a regional initiative aimed at enhancing regional maritime security, sustainable use of marine resources, and fostering cooperation among countries in the Indo-Pacific region, likely viewing this as a strategic move to draw Bangladesh away from China.

Environment, Health and Miscellaneous

In Hwaseong, South Korea, a battery factory fire killed 23 workers. Surveillance video footage reveals that the fire followed the sudden explosion of multiple lithium batteries, which started a chain reaction that led to the destruction of much of the building. As of the time of writing, it is unclear what caused the batteries’ explosion, which resulted in a particularly destructive chain reaction. The incident is likely to spark significant security concerns, and possibly have important impacts on battery manufacturing in South Korea.