October Preview

October Timeline

What to look out for this month:

1 October

National Day of the People's Republic of China

LOW RISK
China marks its founding on this date with a holiday. While festivities are often com- memorated in the mainland, however, the day tends to be a bit chaotic in Hong Kong, one of its special administrative regions, due to pro-democracy protests. Despite this, a repeat of large and violent protests in the territory is highly unlikely due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and a security law imposed in 2020. Nevertheless, smaller demonstrations cannot be ruled out, especially several days leading to the National Day celebrations.

1 October

Independence Day in Cyprus

LOW RISK

2 October

Independence Day in Guinea

MEDIUM RISK

3 October

Unity Day in Germany

LOW RISK
Unity Day is celebrated to commemorate the unification of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic into a single federal Germany on the same date in 1990. A public holiday, the day is characterized by concerts, com- munal meals, speeches by politicians, and fireworks.

10 October

World Mental Health Day

NEGLIGIBLE RISK
The day is observed to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and continue to maximize efforts to improve mental wellness. People are more aware of this day due to a growing percentage of sufferers feeling fluctuating stress levels amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The activi-ties take place worldwide through events coordinated by local organizations and practitioners to navigate the complex world of mental health.

10 October

Parlimentary election in Iraq

MEDIUM RISK-
HIGH RISK

11 October

Colombus Day in the United States

LOW RISK

14 October

Navatari celebration in India and other Hindu communities globally

LOW RISK

16 October

World Food Day

NEGLIGIBLE RISK
The primary focus of this day is to promote global awareness and action for those in hunger and highlight the need to ensure healthy diets for all. On a more personal level, World Food Day aims to provide education to individuals on ways they can change simple daily habits and decisions that impact the world’s food supply.

24 October

Parlimentary election in Chad

LOW RISK-
MEDIUM RISK

24 October

Presidental election in Uzbekistan

LOW RISK

26 October

National Day in Austria

LOW RISK

31 October

Halloween celebration in most of the world

LOW RISK
Risk Level Categories
NEGLIGIBLE RISK
LOW RISK
MEDIUM RISK
HIGH RISK
CRITICAL RISK
Future of Afghanistan
Safeture Analysis Afghanistan

World ponders future of Afghanistan with the return of Taliban

After being deposed in 2001 following the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban once again marched into Kabul in a blitz offensive that saw it taking over the south Asian nation in a matter of weeks in August. With the western-backed government tumbled within days, the world was left reeling as images of foreign nationals and Afghans who were unsure of their future fleeing the country through the capital’s main Hamid Karzai airport were captured.

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Now that the dust has settled with the Taliban securing a firm grip, attention will be directed toward governing and how the group has or has not changed after 20 years of mounting an insurgency from the mountains and valleys of this violence-rife country. Questions will remain on what the future of Afghanistan holds with this latest development and how the Taliban seeks to present itself to the populace and the rest of the world following its victory.
The ball got rolling on 7 September when the Taliban announced the formation of the caretaker government of Afghanistan, with Mullah Hassan Akhund being appointed as the acting prime minister. Seen as a vital step and steppingstone for the Taliban to legitimize their government, at least domestically, the announcement also saw the return of many old faces, though Akhund himself was regarded as a compromise candidate between hardliners and moderates of the group. In a political view, legitimization is a crucial ingredient to gain recognition in the eyes of the people and international communities. Amid fears of oppression, the group has sought to promote the message that the Taliban of the 21st century is no longer the Taliban of the 20th century.
A paradigm shift is visible such as in 2019 when Taliban representatives agreed to use diplomacy rather than bullets to negotiate for a peace deal. Furthermore, the caretaker government also announced allowing women to work, establishing a segregated tertiary education, and permitting, especially for men, to enjoy numerous sports. It has also promised to honor women’s rights within the spectrum of Islamic law though some have remained skeptical due to the group’s history, prompting women’s rights protests to erupt in several cities.
From a religious perspective, Taliban is known as a believer of Hanafi school with taqlid doctrine — the unquestioning acceptance of legal decisions (Islamic law) of another without knowing the basis of those decisions. Therefore, Taliban is anticipated to implement policies and laws that are inspired by their own interpretation of Islamic law as well as Islam. Freedom, equality, and other forms of value will be based on these facts, and whether they can juxtapose well with the group’s interpretation of Islam from now on will remain to be seen.
Despite the transition, the security levels remain unchanged and highly volatile. Internally, the threats of crimes, violence, kidnap, protests, and target killing still linger across the country. Moreover, the Taliban also needs to deal with the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), mainly in Panjshir and ISIL-K. As mentioned earlier, due to its strategic location and mountainous terrain, Afghanistan is apposite to be the nest of terrorism. Security experts have expressed grave concerns about such conflict and its implications, including the resurgence of terrorism, refugee flows, migrant movements, and countless forms of trafficking. Besides, long-term instability may plunge Afghanistan into a risk of civil war and humanitarian crisis. Therefore, cooperation between Taliban and international communities is essential to rebuild the war-torn country and ensure peace and stability.
On a final note, Taliban will remain in the limelight. Every movement will be scrutinized as they are still in a transitional phase. The first order of business that the Taliban needs to do is establish law and order for the entire country and institutionalize good governance. Neglecting these elements would erode the reputation and the integrity of the ruling authorities in the eyes of the Afghans.

Staying Safe in Afghanistan amid Taliban takeover

Taliban Afghanistan bulletpoints
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Military coup Guinea
Guinea analysis

Military coup overshadows Independence Day celebrations in Guinea

Guinea is set to mark its 63rd Independence Day anniversary on 2 October under the clout of a military coup that deposed decade-long leader, Alpha Condé. In early September, the president was overthrown in a nearly bloodless coup, bucking up regional trend that saw leaders being ousted in Mali and the Central African Republic earlier in the year.

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Condé’s demise did not come as a large surprise since his popularity has been waning, following his move to seek a controversial third presidential term in 2020. Although he successfully amended the constitution and subsequently won the election, discontent among the populace has al-
ready been growing as he was accused of rounding up opponents and mismanagement and rampant corruption. Celebrations erupted as news of Condé’s ouster spread in the capital, Conakry. The man who was once regarded as the first freely elected president of the country was caught on television, looking disheveled, as the military announced a takeover. His fall mimicked other regional leaders who overstayed their terms before a popular uprising that prompted the military to intervene and in- stalled a new government. 

Coup leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya had said their action was taken as the coun- try’s economy and well-being have continued to decline, but some have said a dispute over salary cuts for military officials with the government was also among the rea- sons. It was not clear if Doumbouya had support from all within the military ranks though his action to release at least 80 political prisoners detained during Condé’s presidency was cheered upon. Guinea’s main opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, indicated his willingness to participate in the transition government.
Alpha Condé

Alpha Condé

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya

Although the domestic reactions to the coup news were largely positive, the international community was slightly skeptical. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Guinea’s membership and announced that it was sending mediators into the country to assess its situation after the coup. The African Union (AU) also suspended the country from the bloc. At the same time, the US State Department condemned the takeover but did not mention any specific action it would take following the latest development. The concern from the international community is understandable as many assumed Guinea has turned over a new page when it comes to military-backed coups. Fears of a return to military-style leadership are not unfounded, as the country had witnessed bloodshed during the brief tenure of Captain Moussa “Dadis” Camara, who was accused of killing dozens of anti-coup protesters in 2009.
While the coup this time around was largely welcomed, there is no guarantee the calm on the streets of Conakry will remain, so if the military leaders’ participation in the government last longer, that it should. A transitional government comprised of civilians is expected to be formed soon, but the military is likely to play a key role until a new election is being held. Till then, security forces in the country will remain on heightened alert. Measures such as checkpoints at some critical areas, including the presidential palace and other administrative centers, particularly in the Kaloum peninsula, as well as a curfew, will continue though they could be adjusted accordingly. The military will also be on the lookout for any attempt by Condé’s supporters to destabilize the nation ahead of the Independence Day anniversary. However, there is very little indication that it is going to take place.
Tigray war Ethiopia
Figure 1. Known massacres in Tigray, Ethiopia from November 2020 to September 2021. Each incident is colored-coded by an assailant and grouped by size to visualize the number of casualties. Territorial control as of September 2021 (coloured polygons). Created with a Voronoi algorithm based on data from Wikipedia
Safeture analysis Ethiopia

Ethnic cleansing in Tigray region amid unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Ethiopia

Unique numbers show that up to 205,000 civilians have died in murders and massacres during the ongoing Tigray War in Ethiopia.

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The estimate is based on data consisting of 122 known massacres* of civilians between 4 November 2020 and 15 September 2021. This gives median estimates of the fraction of people executed as 2.6 percent minimum and 2.9 percent maximum. Assuming that similar killings took place in all the locations for which we do not have data, then for a total Tigrayan population of 7,070,260 (2020 population estimate), this gives 196,000 to 205,000 people executed (full methodology available upon request). 

Following a surprise turnaround in the war in June, where Tigrayan military (TDF and TPLF) beat the Ethiopian and Eritrean national armies, two of the largest armies in Africa, out of the Tigray region, few new known massacres have occurred. However, deliberate and widespread cut- off from aid and food has caused a humanitarian crisis for the region. With Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and other belligerents joining the coalition resistance with TDF in August, dormant conflicts of marginalized societies and ethnic rivalry will eventually fragment Ethiopia.

* More than five unarmed civilians were killed on the same day at the same location.

On the radar

Safeture analysis Belarus Poland

Tension flares between Belarus and Poland due to influx of refugees at border region

The relationship between Belarus and the European Union (EU) continued to be on a downward spiral following a spat over the influx of refugees into several members of the bloc in the Baltics and Eastern Europe. The most recent escalation came from Poland as refugees from Afghanistan as well as other parts of the Middle East were stranded at the border with Belarus after being refused entry by the former. The EU has accused Minsk of worsening the crisis by pushing the migrants to the border to promise that they will be granted entry by the bloc. Amidst the worsening situation, Poland declared a state of emergency that will ban gatherings and limit movements in areas along the border. However, such a move is not without controversy as there have been reports of migrants being pushed back into Belarus while the areas were off-limits to journalists. Protests were held in Warsaw against the extreme measure, and there is also a risk that the prolonged crisis could raise ire from activist groups, prompting clashes in the border regions. The situation is also dire for the migrants who have nowhere to go with warning of humanitarian consequences and even unrest should there be no solution from both sides soon.
Safeture anlysis Iraq

Iraqis to cast a vote for parliament line-up on 10 October amid unrest over government cor- ruption

Millions of Iraqis will be casting their vote on 10 October to decide the next line-up of political parties to fill 328 seats of the Council of Representatives. The parliamentary election has been brought forward from 2022 following widespread civil unrest in Baghdad and southern provinces since October 2019 against endemic corruption and the inability of the government to provide basic security and services. To promote the election’s legitimacy to skeptical voters, the current government has approved a new electoral law that promotes a better chance for political independents. Furthermore, international observers have been invited to monitor the voting process. However, the latest measures are not the comprehensive political and economic reforms demanded by protesters and sway the balance of power only ever so slightly from the political elites. Furthermore, there are concerns that some of these parties will use paramilitary groups with impunity to help influence the vote using violence. Ultimately, the onus will lie with these very parties to restore the confidence of voters by undertaking the requested reforms when back in the office. Failure to address key protest demands could once again see violent unrest quickly spread across the country.
Safeture analysis Algeria Morocco

Growing differences prompt diplomatic breakdown between Algeria and Morocco

The Algerian government announced on 24 August its decision to sever all diplomatic ties with Morocco amidst a backdrop of relations that have been fraught for decades. The move came after a period of intensifying accusations by the Algerian government against Morocco of various alleged transgressions, including involvement in recent wildfires in Algeria. According to some, the allegations by Algeria against its neighbor are largely intended to divert criticism from domestic issues and to garner nationalist sentiments. Recent developments may have influenced their decision, such as the United States’ acknowledging Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara, Morocco’s rapprochement with Israel, and recent hostilities between Morocco’s armed forces and Polisario, which Algeria supports. The direct impact of the decision is expected to be limited since the border between the two countries has been closed since 1994, and diplomatic ties have otherwise been sparse. The risk of a significant military escalation is considered unlikely by most. There is, however, a risk that either side could complicate the transfer of gas through the MEG pipeline to use it as a bargaining chip, which could also affect the energy security of Spain and Portugal.

Disease watch: Covid-19

Safeture analysis covid-19
Figure 2. Despite rising cases, Singapore had so far refrained itself from imposing any lockdown as it moved toward treating Covid-19 as endemic. Sources (s): The Guardian, CNBC, Straits Times, BBC, Our World in Data

Shift in global Covid-19 fight as focus turns to live with the virus

In July, Singapore became the first country in the world to announce that it will begin to treat Covid-19 as endemic as the vaccination rate reached 40 percent of the population.

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The announcement marked a shift from the country’s strategy of strict measures in keeping cases close to zero toward one where the virus will become part and parcel of life among the city state’s six million citizens. Singapore’s shift came at a time when Covid-19 cases continued to surge worldwide amid the presence of multiple variants such as Delta and Lambda. The pivot will see the number of new cases no longer being treated as the main yardstick to determine the seriousness of the epidemic. Instead, other indicators such as ICU, hospitalization, and reproduction rates will be the key determinants to
prevent a collapse of the healthcare system. Since then, many countries have also announced plans to move away from the “zero-Covid” strategy as prolonged lockdowns take a toll on their citizens’ economy and social aspects. In Europe, Denmark has already lifted all restrictions since September. Countries such as Malaysia and Australia have also laid out plans to enter a similar phase by year-end in Asia and Oceania. While such a move offers a glimpse of life under Covid, governments and societies alike are still required to be cautious, as seen in Singapore, where authorities paused the reopening process and introduced several measures to limit social interactions in September due to a spike in the reproduction rate.
Sources (s): The Guardian, CNBC, Straits Times, BBC, Our World in Data

Disease watch: Cholera

Safeture analysis cholera
cholera
Figure 2. Despite rising cases, Singapore had so far refrained itself from imposing any lockdown as it moved toward treating Covid-19 as endemic. Sources (s): The Guardian, CNBC, Straits Times, BBC, Our World in Data

Cholera outbreaks in Nigeria and Niger infect thousands in communities with poor sanitary conditions

In recent months, a cholera outbreak in Nigeria has spread to multiples states and infected more than 60,000 people.

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Most cases have been registered in the north, where recent flooding and difficult terrain have hampered containment efforts. Due to lax border controls, the outbreak has also crossed into neighboring Niger, infecting thousands more in several southern regions that border Nigeria. The virulent waterborne disease is transmitted mainly by fecal contamination of water and food and spreads rapidly in poor hygiene conditions. Main symptoms include vomiting and acute diarrhea. While easily treatable, extreme cases

can lead to death by severe dehydration without proper medical care. In affected regions, health workers are ramping up efforts to improve sanitation systems to ensure more people have access to clean water. At the same time, awareness campaigns on good hygiene practices and the importance of vaccination are also being conducted. However, the ongoing rainy season will continue to disrupt operations in both countries, especially in remote areas, and provide fertile ground for the bacteria to spread.
Sources (s): The Guardian, CNBC, Straits Times, BBC, Our World in Data

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