Weekly Analysis 23rd September
Falkland Islands: Argentina and UK announce cooperation on the Falkland Islands
On 14 September, the UK and Argentine governments signed an unprecedented memorandum of understanding that paves the ground for a diplomatic rapprochement and cooperation on trade and development on the disputed Falkland Islands. Although the agreement is a positive advance following more than a decade of bilateral tensions, the issue of sovereignty over the archipelago remains controversial and will likely be an obstacle for the implementation of new commercial services.
United States: NY and NJ bombings underscore moderate domestic extremism threat
A series of bombing attacks in New York and New Jersey have demonstrated the moderate risk of domestic extremism in the United States. The violence began on 17 September with the failed bombing of a military charity run in New Jersey that was followed by an attack that wounded 29 people on West 23rd Street in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. The explosion, caused by a pressure cooker device packed with shrapnel, occurred at approximately 2030hrs local time while large numbers of civilians were on the streets. A separate device was discovered and made safe by police on nearby 27th Street shortly after the initial blast, with police destroying a backpack filled with explosives discovered near the Elizabeth railway station in New Jersey in the early hours.
India: Militant attack at Uri tests Indian response
On 18 September, four suspected Pakistan-based militants attacked a military base in Uri, in Indian-controlled Kashmir near the Line of Control (LoC), killing 18 Indian soldiers, the highest total in a single incident in Kashmir for 25 years. The four attackers were killed in the ensuing firefight. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condemned the attack with immediate blame apportioned to Pakistan, which has called on India to provide actionable evidence of their support for the attackers. Nevertheless, the initial posturing over the attack has mellowed with New Delhi preferring to stick with a diplomatic response amid sporadic incidents involving the two countries’ troops along the border and burgeoning public outrage over the incident.
Azerbaijan: September referendum sets worrying precedent for future democracy
On 26 September, Azerbaijan will hold a national referendum on amendments to the existing constitution, which was last altered under similar circumstances in 2009. The vote is attracting significant domestic and international concern, with civil society and pro-democracy groups in Azerbaijan denouncing the move as another attempt by President Ilham Aliyev to further tighten his grip on power. Protests have punctuated preparations with rallies opposing the referendum on 17 and 18 September, some of which have resulted in arrests and violence. It is anticipated that the build-up to 26 September will see further tension, including a tougher line from the government.
DR Congo: Unrest presages volatile outlook
The outlook is gradually deteriorating in the DR Congo as it becomes clearer that President Joseph Kabila has no intention to submit to constitutional term limits and is highly likely to seek a third term in office in elections next year. Kabila’s mandate will expire on 19 December and presidential elections that were scheduled for November have now been delayed, pending issues such as an outdated voting register. Although the opposition is united for the first time behind veteran leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the government’s repression of demonstrations on 19 September indicates that it may yet rely on force to cling onto power and all the lucrative patronage streams that come with it.