Week 27: 29 June – 05 July

Global Intelligence Summary

  • Ongoing gang attacks on Haitian institutions are almost certainly aimed at complicating the situation of the UN-led mission, whose first contingent of Kenyan police was recently deployed.
  • Hurricane Beryl, which caused widespread destruction in the Caribbean, is the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season’s first hurricane, a season which is highly likely to be particularly severe.
  • If confirmed, reports of the new Islamic State Caliph being the leader of its Somali branch almost certainly prove the increasingly central role played by Africa in IS governance and operations.
  • The announced disbandment of Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia will highly likely lead to the emergence of splinter cells and the formation of new regional alliances.


Haiti: Gangs accelerate anti-police attacks after UN mission arrival

Caribbean Region: Hurricane Beryl causes widespread destruction

Red Sea and Gulf of Aden: Putin considers arming the Houthis

Somalia: ISSP leader revealed as possible IS Caliph

Nigeria: Four coordinated suicide bombings in Boko Haram heartland

India: Stampede at “godman” event kills more than 120

Indonesia: Disbandment of major Islamist group announced

  • Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year, will take place on 7 July. The holiday is officially recognised in different Muslim-majority nations and is informally celebrated in several other states. There is a possibility of limited traffic and business disruptions and closures on the day.
  • On 9 July, adherents of the Baháʼí Faith commemorate the martyrdom of the Báb. The date is considered to be a holy day in the Baháʼí calendar, and will likely coincide with public commemorations in states that have a large Baháʼí minority, including Iran, India, the US, Canada, the UK, Brazil and Kenya.
  • On 9-11 July the NATO Alliance will celebrate its 75th anniversary summit in Washington DC. The summit will likely address wide-ranging issues and have global implications as the US shifts its strategy more towards the Indo-Pacific and European powers are forced to bear more responsibility for their own continent.

Haiti: As Kenyan police begin operations, gangs intensify attacks on Haitian institutions.

So far, approximately 200 of the 1,000 police officers promised by Kenya to restore order in Haiti have arrived in the country. The force is part of a 2,500-strong UN-backed intervention mission, which is expected to be deployed in the coming months.

Gangs, which currently control much of Haiti and approximately 80 per cent of the capital Port-au-Prince, are assessed as numbering about 12,000 members in total. Following the deployment of the first Kenyan police, gangs reportedly intensified attacks on local police and government institutions. On 2 July, gang members reportedly attacked a police station in Port-au-Prince, killing more than 20 police officers.

Solace Global Assessment: 

The gangs, who recently released statements calling Haitians to oppose the “imperialistic” UN intervention, almost certainly do not have any plan to transition the country out of its ongoing state of chaos. Rather, gangs almost certainly highly benefit from the breakdown of government, as it allows them to more freely operate within the country, and to benefit from international smuggling routes, including the influx of illegal firearms from the southeastern US.

Reports indicate that the “Viv Ansamn” coalition of gangs is currently the most influential in Haiti’s capital. However, there is a high likelihood that the network of gangs and criminal groups in Haiti remains highly disorganised and prone to infighting. Gangs are also highly armed due to the high presence of smuggled arms, and currently likely outgun the depleted Haitian police. Gangs will likely seek to undermine Kenyan efforts to secure control of residential areas by attacking the local population. While there is a realistic possibility of gangs opting for occasional “frontal attacks” against the UN-backed forces, the path of low-intensity operations to discourage civil society from collaborating with the police mission is more likely.

The Caribbean Region: Hurricane Beryl carves a path of destruction through the Caribbean.

The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season’s first hurricane entered the Caribbean Sea on 30 June, peaking at category five with maximum windspeeds of 269 kilometres per hour and causing at least ten deaths. Multiple countries were impacted, including Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Venezuela. Hurricane Beryl has now weakened to category two and is currently making landfall in Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula, prompting multiple alerts for tourist hotspots including Cancún and Tulum.

Solace Global Assessment: 

Many Caribbean island nations are particularly vulnerable to hurricanes due to fragile architecture, poor infrastructure and limited state capacity, and approximately 2.8 million people were in the impact zone.

Beryl has already caused widespread property damage and flooding. SVG was especially affected, with widespread destruction reported on the southern Union Island and Canouan. Grenada also suffered a notably significant impact, and in Jamaica, roofs were ripped off and the airports were closed. While at least ten deaths have so far been reported, it is almost certain the death toll will increase as emergency responders access the affected areas. While Beryl has weakened to category two, the hurricane’s imminent landfall in Mexico through the Yucatan Peninsula still poses a high risk, prompting tourists to rush to Cancún International Airport despite mass flight cancellations. Beryl is the earliest category five hurricane of an Atlantic hurricane season on record, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has previously predicted that the 2024 season is highly likely to be particularly severe, due to extremely high sea temperatures, La Niña conditions in the Pacific, reduced wind shear and low Atlantic trade winds.

There is widespread consensus amongst climatologists that climate change is a major contributing factor to increasingly intense hurricane seasons, due to higher sea temperatures conditioning stronger hurricanes. The prime minister of SVG condemned Western Europe and the US for failing to tackle climate change and raised concerns about accessing aid. The 2024 hurricane season is highly likely to pose continued major challenges in Caribbean nations, exacerbated by their increased vulnerability.

Due to disruptions to law enforcement, the impact of property destruction and pre-existing problems with poverty, hurricanes can significantly increase crime rates in their immediate aftermath – it is likely, therefore, that the threat posed by crime will increase as a result of the hurricane in the impacted countries.

Politics, Economics and Civil Unrest

On 1 July, the Cuban government announced new drastic economic measures to combat the country’s high fiscal deficit and inflation. Previous attempts by Havana to pass services, welfare and subsidy cuts, especially targeting fuel, resulted in unusually vocal protests. Likely for this reason, the new measures instead focus on fighting tax evasion, reforming state-run businesses, and favouring foreign exchange. Still, the prospect of renewed civil unrest following further government measures remains a realistic possibility.

Panama’s new President Jose Raul Mulino was sworn in on 1 July. Mulino ran on an anti-immigration platform, primarily directed at addressing the increasing migrant flows through the dangerous Darien Gap, where gangs and human traffickers operate. The president’s oath was followed almost immediately by the signature of a memorandum of understanding with Washington, focused on the Darien Gap issue. As part of the memorandum, the US will foot the bill for the repatriation of migrants from Panama to southern countries. There is a possibility that the prospect of economic returns will increasingly drive the securitisation of the border area, which may negatively affect not only the migrants themselves but also humanitarian organisations active in southern Panama.

The Venezuelan presidential campaign began on 4 July, with President Maduro aiming to retain power despite low approval ratings. Nationwide protests and highly charged political rallies are highly likely until the campaign period concludes on 25 July, with significant gatherings in Caracas and other major cities.

On 5 July, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was formally accused of embezzlement for allegedly misappropriating luxury gifts that he received from Saudi Arabian officials while he was head of state. This represents the second time Bolsonaro has been formally accused of a crime, the first dating back to March 2024 and being related to allegations of faked Covid records. There is a high likelihood that, if the accusation progresses and reaches the courts, it will drive civil unrest, with a realistic possibility of violence.

Security, Armed Conflict and Terror

On 1 July, a man opened fire and wounded seven of his neighbours in Crete, Nebraska. The man, who killed himself following the shooting, allegedly was a “recluse” and may have carried out the attack because of extremist ideology, as the seven victims are all Guatemalan migrants. If so, the attack represents a case of lone-actor terrorism and may have been motivated by recent media discourses on migration into the US, a topic that is particularly central to the presidential election season which may inspire similar attacks.

Colombia’s national government and the Second Marquetalia (FARC-SM), a faction of dissidents within the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), announced a unilateral ceasefire agreement on 29 June. In 2016, a peace deal was signed between FARC and Bogota,  which although largely successful, led to the creation of several splinter groups such as FARC-SM who continued engaging in armed insurgency. FARC-SM reportedly has approximately 1000 members, and their commitments to release captives and de-escalate conflict will like reduce the threat of armed conflict. However, the Colombian government has yet to formally agree to a cessation of hostilities, with a meeting promised no later than July 20 to present a formal agreement that will then need to be implemented by Presidential Decree. Additionally, it is likely that small numbers of FARC-SM fighters will form splinter groups or join other dissident groups to continue fighting.

On 4 July, Ecuador’s police freed more than 40 hostages being held by the Los Lobos gang, active in the southern Azuay province. Gangs in Ecuador are highly armed and can often match the firepower of security forces. The recent operation likely testifies to the high level of internal organisation of the gangs, allowing them to simultaneously hold dozens of hostages, a prospect that will challenge President Noboa’s attempts to pursue the same path as President Bukele in El Salvador.

Environment, Health and Miscellaneous.

A rapidly growing wildfire in north California has prompted the evacuation of at least 25,000 people in the vicinity of Sacramento. The region is particularly at risk from severe wildfires and, in July, the threat is exacerbated by hot and dry temperatures. Most wildfires are started by humans, and there is a high likelihood that the 4 July weekend will drive an increase in fires across the US, also due to the widespread use of fireworks in celebrations.

On 3 July in Colorado, a fourth case of bird flu resulting from the current outbreak amongst dairy cows was announced. The other cases were previously reported in Michigan and Texas. All the cases have involved dairy farm workers, who are susceptible due to their consistent close contact with infected cows. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that there is currently only a low risk to the general public.

Authorities in Boyacá, Colombia have declared a state-wide health emergency over a dengue outbreak with over 1,000 cases recorded since the start of the year. Whilst dengue fever is a year-round nationwide threat in Colombia, projections for 2024 suggest that transmission rates have increased despite the release of genetically modified mosquitoes to curb the prevalence of the disease.

Israel, Palestine & Lebanon: Ceasefire deal progress, Khan Yunis operations, new West Bank settlements, and Hezbollah strikes.

During the last reporting period, Israeli and Hamas officials made progress regarding a long-discussed ceasefire plan for Gaza. On 4 July, Tel Aviv announced that it would send a delegation to Doha to negotiate with the Hamas leadership in Qatar. Despite moves towards a ceasefire, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have ordered a further series of evacuation zones in Khan Yunis, north of Rafah, in preparation for new ground operations. In the West Bank, the Israeli government approved three settlements, Givat Hanan, Machane Gadi, and Kedem Arava, and the construction of new homes, which a local NGO assessed as the largest land annexation of the kind “in 30 years”.

The announcement came amidst further reported attacks on West Bank Palestinians by Israeli settlers. On 3 July, the IDF carried out a successful decapitation strike that killed Muhammad Nimah Nasser, a senior official of the Iranian proxy group. In response, Hezbollah fired up to 200 rockets and 20 drones into northern Israel in one of its largest relatiations to date which caused minor damage and wildfires near the border.

Solace Global Assessment: 

The progress recorded by Israeli authorities likely reflects a greater willingness on behalf of Hamas to negotiate the terms of the disengagement of IDF troops from areas of Gaza during the early stages of the hostage exchange process. Hamas and Israeli disagreements are likely focused on the question of the Philadelphi Corridor, the border between Gaza and Egypt from which Hamas has access to a vital supply of material and weapons.

There is a realistic possibility that Tel Aviv will agree to some limited withdrawal from the border while retaining the ability to monitor border crossings. IDF forces have likely made significant progress in dismantling the network of tunnels used by Hamas operatives under the Philadelphi Corridor, and Israeli officials may assess that Hamas will remain incapable of building or repairing its underground infrastructure, thus being forced to rely on weaponry smuggled through the crossings themselves.

The evacuation orders for Khan Yunis almost certainly continue to highlight Hamas’s capacity to reinfiltrate areas previously cleared by the IDF. There is also a realistic possibility that much of the Hamas leadership left in Gaza will be in Khan Yunis or its proximity, having moved to the area during the IDF’s Rafah offensive. Finally, it is important to note in the context of negotiations that there may be a difference of opinions between the Hamas leadership in Qatar and that in Gaza. Moreover, the low profile that the Gaza leadership necessarily needs to take due to ongoing IDF operations will highly likely have isolated some Hamas units (or what is left of them) from the central command, possibly driving them to operate independently. Consequently, even if a ceasefire agreement is achieved, independent Hamas fighters or other Palestinian militias may continue to attack IDF forces, possibly hindering the hostage exchanges.

The developments in the West Bank also may reverberate in Gaza. Recent reports of settler violence being enabled or tacitly supported by IDF troops in the area may further spur Palestinian dissatisfaction with the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA continues to verge on collapse due to long-standing economic issues and a lack of perceived legitimacy. The acceleration of the settlement-building process may further embolden anti-PA factions, especially ones affiliated with Hamas.

The Hamas Doha leadership likely sees an increase in power in the West Bank as a desirable strategic development and may seek – possibly through covert Iranian support – to accelerate instability there. At the Israel-Lebanon border, the wave of Hezbollah strikes almost certainly reflects the group’s desire not to lose face following a further successful Israeli decapitation strike but is still likely under the threshold of provoking all-out war. Israel’s ability to effectively detect and eliminate senior Hezbollah leaders is expected to severely impair the group’s operational capabilities and may ultimately provoke war. This development is likely a major concern for Tehran, as it seeks to avoid full-scale conflict with Israel to safeguard Hezbollah’s substantial rocket and drone arsenal, which serves as a crucial regional deterrent and tool for power projection for Iran.

Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden: Putin considers arming Houthis with maritime capabilities.

Uncorroborated reports citing an unnamed US intelligence official indicate that Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked Saudi Arabia’s permission to arm Yemen’s Houthi Movement with anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). The discussions reportedly took place after Putin’s December visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Solace Global Assessment: 

Russia maintains an open dialogue with the Houthi Movement and has strong relations with its primary backer, Iran. Moscow has also previously struck a deal with the Houthis to guarantee that Russian ships can safely transit the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden without being targeted by the group and abstained from voting in a UN Security Council resolution which condemned the militant group’s attacks on merchant shipping.

Furthermore, the Kremlin has set a precedent of arming anti-Western groups, with two major examples being the arming of Libyan rebels with advanced weaponry via the Wagner Group and accusations of arming the Taliban to fight coalition forces. Whilst Russia is in critical need of various types of weaponry for its war in Ukraine, it could easily divest itself of much of its ASCM capabilities as the Ukrainian Navy has no ships and is almost solely reliant on asymmetric capabilities such as uncrewed surface vessels (USVs).

Russia is also becoming heavily dependent on Iranian military aid and Tehran may leverage this to convince Moscow to help supply its Axis of Resistance against Israel- especially if a new front is opened against Hezbollah. Such a conflict may also bring Russia more into the fold if Washington directly supports Israel.

However, Russia is also courting rich Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE in its attempts to challenge US influence in the Middle East. Several Arab nations have previously been at war with the Shia Houthi Movement. They will likely protest this development, with unverified reports suggesting Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has already intervened. Should Russia pursue this course of action, it will likely involve the transfer of legacy weaponry such as the P-800 ONIKS (NATO: SS-N-26) or ASCM. However, these systems are still supersonic (Mach 2.5), have a range of 300km and have relatively advanced features such as electronic countermeasures and active radar homing. The cruise missile’s low trajectory makes them hard to detect and would provide air defence less time to react, increasing the threat to international shipping, especially at a time when the Houthis are also improving their USV capabilities.

For the Kremlin, the Houthis’ use of these systems could overstretch and potentially undermine coalition navies, divert resources from Ukraine and serve as payback to the West for supplying Kyiv. It would also impose a higher financial burden on the West, as Russian systems are invariably cheaper than the advanced air defences used by the West to intercept them.

Somalia: Islamic State Somalia Province leader possibly identified as Caliph.

Reports released during the reporting period indicate that the leader of the Islamic State’s Somalia Province (ISSP), known primarily as Abu Hafs al-Hashimi al-Qurashi or Abdulqadir Mumin has been identified as the overall leader or Caliph of the Islamic State (IS). Mumin is a Somali-born British citizen, who escaped to Somalia and declared allegiance to then-Caliph al-Baghdadi in 2015. The information, which is as of yet unconfirmed, was released on a channel of IS defectors. The ruling fifth Caliph of IS was reported by Turkish forces to have been killed in Syria in 2023, while US forces targeted Mumin in May 2024. However, this new information states that al-Qurashi is still alive and operating out of the Somalian breakaway region of Puntland.

Solace Global Assessment: 

While the Somalia Province is much smaller compared to many of IS’ other provinces like Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) or Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), it has played a major role in the financial facilitation of IS operations. The al-Karrar office, in Puntland, which is almost certainly run by Mumin himself, was reportedly able to channel donations from South Africa and other Subsaharan states towards the provinces in the broader Middle East as early as 2020.

With decapitation strikes and territorial losses decreasing IS’ operational capabilities in the Levant in the late 2010s and early 2020s, funds from Subsaharan Africa likely played an important part in boosting ISSP’s importance within the broader IS network. The al-Karrar office has played a major role in the transfer of funds from Yemen to Afghanistan, enabling the most active branch, ISKP. ISSP has also likely been able to grow in significance with regional counterterrorism operations concentrating on its local rival, the al-Qaeda-aligned al-Shabaab.

There is also a growing concern that a stronger ISSP is forcing al-Shabaab to develop ties with the Houthis, with recent intelligence indicating the transfer of arms from Yemen to Somalia. While little information on Mumin exists, he is known as having played a fundamental role in radicalisation networks and networks seeking to entice foreigners, especially Britons, to travel to IS units in the Middle East. Given his European connections, Mumin’s appointment may also inspire IS to recalibrate its operations more towards European targets.

Russia is likely to be nominated as a prime target as its Africa Corps expands its counterterrorism operations in Africa, especially if Mumin holds considerable influence over ISKP which recently took credit for a major terror attack in Moscow. However, the credibility of Mumin’s appointment has yet to be assessed and this could be disinformation designed to deflect from the true Caliph, given the success rates against former IS leaders. All of IS’ former leaders have been Arab as well as the majority of its Delegated Committee. Many members will likely protest Mumin’s leadership which would represent a major political change, which may also account for Mumin’s nom de guerre, which includes the patronyms al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, claiming direct links to the Prophet Muhammed.

Nigeria: Coordinated suicide bombings kill dozens in Boko Haram heartland.

Four almost simultaneous suicide bombings were conducted in the Nigerian town of Borno state on 29 June. Government officials on 2 July released a statement indicating that the death toll had reached 32, with dozens more requiring hospitalisation. A wedding and a funeral were two of the locations targeted by the suicide bombers. All of the attacks included female suicide bombers, and the attack that targeted the wedding venue purportedly involved a suicide bomber carrying a baby on her back.

Solace Global Assessment: 

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but the jihadist group Boko Haram is known to operate in the area around Gwoza, a town they once declared the heart of their self-proclaimed caliphate. Furthermore, the use of female suicide bombers to attack mass gatherings is an established tactic of Boko Haram and one championed by their former leader Abubakar Shekau.

This tactic has been a source of friction between Boko Haram and its regional counterpart, the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) which has denounced this methodology. In addition, research conducted by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point indicated that Boko Haram has used females in at least 244 of its 434 suicide bombings between 2014-17. Boko Haram have likely employed this tactic to arouse less suspicion, avoid security searches, encourage more thorough searching of females (which in turn generates outrage), and because of the psychological impact it produces, especially when the bombers are accompanied by children. Furthermore, the group has been involved in multiple mass kidnappings of young females whom they have likely been able to indoctrinate in captivity to conduct suicide attacks.

Boko Haram was ousted from Gwoza in 2015 by a joint Nigerian and Chadian military offensive and has since been largely confined to attacks in rural areas. The organised and coordinated nature of the attacks may indicate a resurgence in the group’s capabilities. Junta governments have expelled Western military forces from countries where Boko Haram has historically operated, such as Niger and Mali and Nigeria’s domestic security is likely being overstretched by a host of issues ranging from kidnap gangs in the northwest to a revival of the Biafra movement in the southeast. These trends are potentially shaping the conditions which a resurgent Boko Haram could exploit to increase the frequency and scale of their attacks.

Politics, Economics and Civil Unrest

The UK parliamentary elections were convincingly won by the centre-left Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer. The election results are unlikely to drive large-scale civil unrest in the United Kingdom, although there is a realistic possibility that left-wing minority groups, including environmentalist and pro-Palestine activists, will take advantage of the transition of power to stage symbolic demonstrations, possibly leading to minor and localised disruptions.

The first round of the French National Assembly elections was won by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN), which finished ahead of a populist left-wing coalition and President Emmanuel Macron’s Ensemble Party (EN). The results’ announcement drove almost immediate mass protests across France’s main urban centres, with reported cases of clashes between protesters and police. The centre and left candidates have agreed on an ad hoc cordon sanitaire strategy, meant to prevent RN candidates from being elected at the second round runoff vote.

So far, more than 200 third-place candidates from Ensemble and the left-wing coalition have withdrawn their candidacies to try centralising the anti-RN vote. The strategy has been effective before, most importantly twice barring Le Pen from winning the presidency, and there is a high likelihood that it will result in the RN not reaching its stated goal of an absolute parliamentary majority. Still, the positive results of the right are highly likely to continue driving civil unrest and possible political violence, likely posing a security threat during the Olympic Games, now only weeks away.

In the Netherlands, a new right-wing coalition government was installed after months of negotiations that followed the November 2023 general election. The government includes the far-right populist Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders, the conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the Christian-democratic New Social Contract (NSC), and the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB), a populist, big tent group representing farmers’ interests. The government, which has a populist right-wing orientation, is led by independent bureaucrat Dick Schoof.

The ministry split, with BBB obtaining the agriculture and housing ministries, and the PVV securing control over immigration, foreign aid, security and justice. This almost certainly demonstrates that while unlikely to pass any major economic reform (the VVD remains solidly at the helm of economic and fiscal institutions), the new government will seek to pass wide-ranging social and travel reforms, which will likely have an important impact on Brussels. In reaction, protests took place at Huis ten Bosch Palace, The Hague on July 2, though these had low attendance, with further unrest likely in the coming weeks.

Turkish authorities have arrested almost 500 people in connection to anti-Syrian riots that resulted in multiple violent confrontations with the security services. The riots were ignited in response to accusations that a Syrian refugee had assaulted a Turkish child in the city of Kayseri in Central Anatolia. Riots and protests have spread to multiple Turkish cities including Ankara, Konya and Istanbul. The riots have instigated issues outside of Turkey’s border, with reports of deadly clashes between Turkish forces and protestors in northwest Syria and Syrian refugees were reportedly attacked by ethnic Turks on the streets of Berlin.

At least three people were killed in election protests after President Ghazouani was re-elected in Mauritania. The authorities used heavy-handed tactics, internet suspensions and mass detentions to suppress dissent in the town of Kaédi, an opposition stronghold near the Senegal border. The protests were motivated by accusations of electoral fraud, a factor that will likely concern the African Union with President Ghazouani currently holding the chairmanship of the regional bloc.

Turkey has initiated mediation talks between Somalia and Ethiopia regarding a port deal Ethiopia signed with the breakaway region of Somaliland earlier this year. The negotiations aim to repair diplomatic ties strained when Ethiopia agreed to lease 20 km of coastline from Somaliland in exchange for recognition of its independence, with Ankara likely attempting to increase its influence in Somalia where it has built schools, hospitals and other infrastructure and established a military base. The Horn of Africa has become increasingly important for Turkey because of its geographical position, maritime access, mineral wealth and potential for development. Because of this, Ankara has likely calculated that a war between Somalia and Ethiopia would be hugely deleterious to its objectives.

Thousands of Kenyans have continued to protest against the Ruto administration despite the overhauling of the controversial tax bill. Looting and violent clashes between protestors and the authorities have occurred in Nairobi, Mombassa and several smaller towns and cities across the country, leading to over 40 deaths and hundreds of arrests. Protestors are demanding the resignation of President Ruto and will likely sustain unrest until he either steps down or makes major concessions.

On 1 July, South Africa announced its new cabinet government, led by a coalition of parties involving the African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA). The coalition government is unprecedented and follows ANC’s failure to win a majority of seats at the latest parliamentary election. The new right-liberal government is likely to reassure foreign investors in South Africa. However, the inclusion of DA, perceived by many as a quintessentially “white” party, will likely result in cases of civil unrest and possible inter-ethnic strife in the coming months. A significant driver of unrest is the government’s probable rejection of calls for sweeping land reform and expropriation, which are strongly favoured by the political left, including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF) which has historically been accused of inciting violence against white farmers.

Security, Armed Conflict and Terror

Several US bases throughout Europe have been placed on high alert, or Force Protection Condition “Charlie”, in response to undisclosed intelligence relating to a planned terrorist attack, according to officials from the US European Command (EUCOM). The security shift likely indicates EUCOM has received information of an active and credible threat as it has not raised its alert level to Charlie for over a decade. The change coincides with high-profile events and dates such as the Euros in Germany, the Paris Olympics and the 4 July celebrations which will be celebrated by  US service personnel throughout the continent. Terrorist actors may exploit these events and dates for publicity and may take advantage of a current overstretching of domestic security services.

On 1 July, the Financial Times released an interview with a senior UK Ministry of Defence official, Rob Johnson. Johnson assessed that the UK’s armed forces are currently unprepared for a “conflict of any scale”, citing large issues with weapons and ammunition procurement, as well as recruitment. The article, which was almost certainly aimed at reintroducing the issue of the armed forces in the political debate days before the elections, follows months of warnings about the state of the British military.

On 29 June, a security guard outside the Israeli embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, was shot with a crossbow. The guard, who survived, managed to kill the attacker, who early investigations allege was a radicalised Islamist extremist who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State. The attack is almost certainly a case of lone-actor terrorism linked with the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. While most lone-actor attacks do not follow specific events, this case may have been partly influenced by the Israeli ambassador’s statement, in April 2024, that Tel Aviv would not categorise the 1995 Srebrenica massacre as a genocide.

On 2 July, Kazakh government critic Aidos Sadykov died in Ukraine, only days after being shot by unidentified gunmen. There is a high likelihood that Sadykov’s killing was orchestrated by Kazakh intelligence, highlighting how the ongoing war in Ukraine may have created a more permissive environment with reduced security for third-party operations in the region.

On 5 July, the Turkish Interior Minister announced the detention of 45 suspects across 16 provinces linked to the Islamic State during BOZDOĞAN-48 counterterrorism operations. The operations also led to the seizure of large amounts of foreign currency, Turkish Lira and digital material. Turkish counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State frequently trigger reprisal attacks, with the group primarily targeting the security forces, places of worship and symbols of Western decadence.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be invited for an official visit, when speaking to journalists at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Kazakhstan on 5 July. While Ankara historically supported some rebel groups fighting against Assad in the Syrian Civil War,  tensions between Turkey and Syria have eased in recent years. Erdogan likely is seeking to promote better relations with Assad to assist their current primary strategic objective in Syria, which is defeating the Kurdish separatist groups that have a foothold in northern Syria as well as neighbouring Iraq.

A jihadist attack on 3 July in central Mali near the town of Bandiagara killed over 20 civilians, likely suggesting that extremist groups are continuing to exploit a weak government and the retrograde of Western forces from the region. In addition, around 60 bodies have been discovered near Abeibara, in the Kidal region of northeast Mali close to the Algerian border. The victims, many of whom were found in mass graves, were largely civilians and are thought to have been killed in late June. It is suspected that the killings were conducted by Malian troops in cohort with the Russian “Africa Corps”, its rebranded Wagner Group. The incident may point to an increased trend of brutal tactics used to counter extremist groups, with the intimidation of civilians suspected of harbouring or assisting extremist groups being used to reduce militant groups’ freedom of movement and to disrupt their support networks.

The Tutsi-led and reportedly Rwanda-backed M23 rebel group has captured two more strategic towns in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu province, causing mass displacement and placing further pressure on the humanitarian situation. In addition, two employees of the UK-based NGO Tearfund were killed on 1 July after their convoy was attacked by gunmen likely belonging to the M23 group whilst operating in the North Kivu province. M23 has conducted mass executions and human rights abuses in the past and by targeting international aid workers the group may be attempting to decrease foreign access and oversight of their operations.

In a separate incident in the DRC, six Chinese nationals and at least two Congolese soldiers were killed on 4 July by suspected militants from the Development of the Congo (CODECO) militia group. The attack occurred at a mining site near Abombi, Djugu Territory, Ituri Province in the northeast of the country.

The largely ethnic Lendu CODECO group is notorious for its brutal tactics and has its roots in disputes over land and resources. The group has likely targeted Chinese nationals as it perceives China and the DRC government are exploiting resources that belong to the Lendu people, with its long-term strategy aimed at deterring international investment.

The Iranian presidential election runoff takes place on 5 July. The two remaining candidates to succeed President Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in mid-May, are Saeed Jalili and Massoud Pezeshkian. Pezeshkian, who represents the reformist front, obtained the most overall votes during the first round of the elections. However, Jalili is likely to win, as he was implicitly endorsed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and as the reformist candidate is likely to be particularly damaged by the low voter turnout. The first round of the elections only had a 40 per cent turnout, the lowest in Iran’s post-1979 history and likely a demonstration of widespread dissatisfaction with the oppressive Shia regime.

Environment, Health and Miscellaneous

Almost unprecedented temperatures of above 35 degrees Celsius were recorded in Moscow during the reporting period, caused by a severe heatwave that is affecting much of European Russia. There is a realistic possibility that the high temperatures will result in the outbreak of further wildfires. Due to Russia’s extensive forest cover and particularly carbon-rich soils, wildfires risk having an especially negative impact far beyond Russia’s borders, possibly accelerating the release of large volumes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

At least seven people have been killed and several remain missing after severe flooding caused by torrential rain that began on 30 June hit parts of southern Switzerland, southern France, and northern Italy. Further rain is forecasted in much of the region, increasing the risk of landslides, flash floods and falling trees which have already caused widespread transport disruption.

On 5 July, the Etna and Stromboli volcanoes, in Sicily, erupted, releasing large quantities of ash and leading to temporary closures of the airport in Catania. Italy has a large number of active volcanoes and eruptions are common, however, they do not always result in transport disruptions. The recent eruptions are unlikely to directly threaten the inhabited areas of Sicily, although there is a realistic possibility of further volcanic activity.

At least 1,000 acres of forest have been burned by ongoing wildfires on the Greek island of Zante. The fires are especially focused on the island’s mountainous areas and have not threatened residential areas as of the time of writing. Fires and extreme heat have been reported in other parts of the country, with hotels being evacuated in Kos and Chios, as well as fires developing on the outskirts of Athens. July is the hottest month of the year in Greece, and the summer of 2023 had extremely severe wildfires that were exacerbated by especially high temperatures. The current weather forecasts make a repeat of last year’s crisis a realistic possibility, with temperatures commonly exceeding 35 degrees Celsius.

India: Deadly stampede causes more than a hundred deaths at religious event.

In Hathras, Uttar Pradesh state, at least 120 people died following a crowd crush that took place at a religious event hosted by a “godman”, known as Bhole Baba. According to early reports, about 250,000 people gathered at an event hosted at a venue that could accommodate less than 80,000. The stampede reportedly was caused by the attendees’ attempts at collecting soil on which the godman and his entourage had treaded upon exiting the venue. Notably, at least 110 of the casualties were women

Solace Global Assessment: 

Godmen and other gurus are not a new phenomenon in India or the broader Indian subcontinent. Popular gurus play an important role in local and national politics. Candidates from religiously-affiliated parties, such as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have formally or informally endorsed local preachers, likely in efforts to bolster appeal with local communities.

Observers have remarked that the popularity of religious personalities likely has economic, class- and caste-based implications, with many faithful often coming from disadvantaged groups. In many cases, the attendees at these events hope to gain material riches from touching or interacting with the godmen. However, this creates risks to attendees. Improvised, ad hoc religious events are often held in areas and venues with insufficient capacity or few safety features and are likely to attract more attendees through social media. Stampedes are common as the attendees try to approach the godmen, with little regard for others in the crowd.

Travellers who are not familiar with these events may be tempted to approach large impromptu gatherings. However, the risk of becoming involved in a stampede is high. Albeit much less impactful and influential, it is important to note that charismatic preachers are not solely popular in Hindu contexts. Pakistani Muslim communities also have a history of preachers drawing a considerable number of followers by espousing various religious messages. A contemporary example is a preacher and blogger known as “Muhammad Qasim” who, in addition to sharing visions of God and Prophet Mohammed, blends apocalyptic and millenarist messaging with endorsements of former Prime Minister Imran Khan which has enabled him to draw large crowds.

Indonesia: Senior leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah announce disbandment of the Southeast Asian jihadist group.

On 30 June, 16 senior leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) released a video statement from Bogor, Indonesia, announcing that the transnational jihadist militant network based in Southeast Asia would be dissolved. The statement also declared commitment to the Republic of Indonesia and the changing of teachings in JI-run schools to orthodox Islam.

Solace Global Assessment: 

JI is a major terrorist group in Southeast Asia with established links to al-Qaeda, that is known to operate in Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Philippines, Singapore, Brunei and southern Thailand. In 2021, Indonesian security forces estimated that JI had approximately 6000 active members in Indonesia alone.

The group are most infamous for having conducted the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed over 200 people, mostly foreign tourists. However, this attack was reportedly carried out without the support of JI’s leadership. The group are also suspected to have conducted several other notable attacks targeting foreign nationals between 2002-2005. While historically significant and still a prominent force, the group has had a gradually declining influence in Southeast Asia.

The announcement is likely driven by a combination of factors. Firstly, JI runs many religious schools, a key asset, and aims to shield them from government suppression. Secondly, JI’s leadership may be seeking political legitimacy by aligning with the Indonesian Republic, akin to the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy in the Middle East and North Africa. Thirdly, Indonesian counterterrorism efforts, led by Detachment 88, have successfully foiled plots, arrested senior members, implemented deradicalisation programs, and engaged with JI-aligned intellectuals, putting significant pressure on JI’s leadership.

The decision is highly likely to have implications in both Indonesia and wider Southeast Asia, where the group has also historically operated. In the short term, the announcement will likely enable greater success for JI-affiliated schools and it is a realistic possibility that the leaders will, to varying degrees, enter public life. While the leaders who made the statement are assessed to have considerable credibility within the organisation, active splinter groups are highly likely to emerge.

These splinter groups may seek to publicly assert themselves and gain legitimacy amongst jihadists by conducting terrorist attacks. They may have a much greater disposition towards terrorism, supported by the 2002 Bali bombings being conducted by more extreme JI members without the approval of senior leadership. Dissidents may also seek closer relations and affiliation with more extreme jihadist groups, namely the Islamic State (IS) who already have an established presence in Indonesia through affiliate groups such as Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD). Considering the historical modus operandi of JI terror attacks, as well as the prevalence of Westerners in heavily touristed areas of Indonesia, high-value targets for terror attacks will likely include major tourist resorts, premium hotels and buildings associated with Western governments such as embassies and consulates.

Politics, Economics and Civil Unrest

Residents of Karachi staged protests on 1 July over prolonged load-shedding-driven losses of power in the city’s old town. Pakistan suffers from obsolescent and poorly maintained infrastructure, and the high temperatures currently being recorded in the country have exacerbated difficulties in delivering consistent power to densely populated communities. More than 1,000 deaths were reported in Karachi over the past week due to heatstroke, and recent reports signal that most took place in areas where load-shedding was underway, possibly due to the disruption to domestic and public air conditioning, and delays in the reporting and managing of health emergencies.

In Astana, Kazakhstan on 04 July, during the final day of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, Russian and Chinese presidents, Vladamir Putin and Xi Jinping called for the establishment of a new Eurasian security club. This reflects the increasingly close ties and strategic visions of Moscow and Beijing, who both desire a multipolar world order to counter perceived US and NATO hegemony. The proposal remains in its early stages, and although it is unlikely to be implemented imminently, the deal could result in substantial shifts in the geopolitical landscape. Moscow and Beijing are also likely seeking to expand their power in their respective Eurasian spheres of influence; the newly proposed security pact could be a vehicle to enable these goals. However, given Russia’s and China’s historic rivalries and areas of future competition, an alliance that emulates the same levels of inter-operability as NATO is highly unlikely.

Ten Cambodian environmentalist activists were jailed for “plotting” against the government and for “insulting the king”, and sentenced to up to eight years in prison. The activists had previously reported on the mismanagement of the country’s natural resources by leaders, including the monarchy. The case is highly likely similar to others that occurred in Thailand, where lese majeste laws are often used as a pretext to silence opposition voices from outside of the political establishment.

Over 800,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the impeachment of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. The number of people attempting to sign the petition was so great that significant issues with accessing the National Assembly’s website arose. The president is deeply unpopular, and the petition’s extensive engagement is reflective of this widespread dissatisfaction. While civil unrest in South Korea is generally peaceful, it is highly likely that protests against the president will continue, in tandem with the ongoing doctors’ strike which has caused disruptions to medical treatment since February 2024.

Security, Armed Conflict and Terror

Despite often tense relations, the Pakistani and US infantry have begun a two-week joint anti-terror exercise at the National Counter-Terrorism Centre in Pabbi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The exercise aims to share counter-terrorism experiences, refine drill procedures, and enhance marksmanship skills during urban warfare and is likely being conducted to help Pakistan counter the rise of ISKP in western Pakistan.

Also in Pakistan, Baluch leaders associated with the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) have accused China of being politically responsible for the ongoing Azm-e-Istehkam counterterrorism operations, targeting BLA and Pakistani Taliban (TTP) militants. The BLA has sought to target Chinese interests, nationals, and physical assets in Pakistan, likely with the strategic aim of undermining Islamabad and discouraging foreign investment. Perceptions of growing Chinese influence on Pakistani authorities’ security policy may become a driver of further attacks, and will likely result in China becoming a more frequent target for extremist propaganda in the region.

A senior Australian diplomat has indicated that adding partners to the AUKUS defence pact would be “complicated”, a development that will almost certainly be welcomed by China. The 2021 agreement was established to counterbalance China’s power and maritime capability. The collective security arrangement involves Australia’s acquisition of sensitive nuclear-submarine technology and it is unlikely that Washington will sanction the further circulation of these capabilities.

On 2 July, police in Sydney Australia arrested a 14-year-old boy after a stabbing at the University of Sydney, which resulted in a lockdown of the university’s buildings. To boy’s ideology or motivation has yet to be determined, however, New South Wales police have expressed concerns over increased rates of young people being radicalised online. The incident also follows the recent stabbing of a bishop in Sydney by a teenage assailant and a mass stabbing attack at a Bondi area shopping mall.

Environment, Health and Miscellaneous

On 1 July, Indian authorities announced that the New Delhi domestic flights airport terminal is scheduled to remain closed for a “few weeks”, after a portion of the terminal roof collapsed on 29 June, killing one and destroying numerous vehicles. The collapse followed heavy rains and resulted in limited closures of the Indira Gandhi International Airport. The accident is likely to result in localised travel disruptions and may have a limited adverse political impact on the ruling Modi government.

Thousands of people have been trapped in their homes in Kachin and Sagaing provinces in northern Myanmar after major flooding caused by several rivers overflowing, with further rain forecasted. Rescue and humanitarian efforts will almost certainly be stretched by the ongoing civil war, with the central government highly unlikely to provide any support in rebel-held areas.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued an alert for heat-related illnesses as a heatwave is set to affect much of eastern and western Japan, with dozens of people already hospitalised. The agency has warned that temperatures may hit a record 39.3 degrees Celcius in Shizuoka City, with temperatures in Tokyo already exceeding 35 degrees Celcius. The extreme heat is forecasted to last until mid-July.

On 5 July, a tornado in Dongming County, Shandong Province in northeast China has resulted in at least one death, dozens of injuries and extensive property damage. Tornadoes are rare in this area but may become more frequent due to the altering of atmospheric conditions caused by climate change. Moreover, buildings are likely to be unprepared for tornadoes and there is a lack of shelters, factors that will increase pressure on the authorities.