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Hajjah Governorate, Yemen, photographed by a Navanti researcher this summer.

Navanti’s data collection and analysis are based on networks of on-the-ground researchers from all walks of life: journalists, academics, and humanitarian workers, to name a few. But our analysts also keep abreast of open source reports to inform their work. Below, Navanti analysts have summarized and contextualized the most important articles they read over the past two weeks. Some of these articles are breaking news items, while others are academic studies published months ago; all will advance the reader’s understanding of current conflict dynamics.

To see the complete roundup, which features many more article summaries and additional context, click here.

East Africa

Ethiopian officials arrested several members of Al-Shabaab, and the Islamic State in Somalia (ISS), who were allegedly planning to conduct attacks in the country. Military sources said that there is evidence that ISIS “has recruited, trained and armed some Ethiopians.” The group’s expansion into Ethiopia is facilitated by the country’s shared porous borders with Somalia, where ISS activity has been rising for the past few months. — Africa News

A Navanti researcher in Jijiga—located in the Somali region of Ethiopia—said the following, regarding IS’s recent release of a video featuring a chant in Amharic: “IS sees in Ethiopia a potential opportunity, the group has been expanding its influences and its activities across Africa quite aggressively—so far with small results in much of the continent, although they are persisting.”

Rivalries between the countries participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are distracting from the main objectives of AMISOM’s intervention, with countries attempting to influence competing Somali regional actors. These political conflicts may exacerbate the impact of AMISOM’s planned withdrawal from Somalia in 2021. AMISOM contingents should focus on ensuring the Somali National Army (SNA) is prepared to prevent Al-Shabaab from retaking liberated territories in post-AMISOM Somalia. — The East African

West Africa

An increase in violent extremist activity in Burkina Faso over the past four years has forced the closure of some 2,000 schools, causing about 330,000 students to forgo their education. Extremist groups have commonly begun to threaten and assassinate teachers, primarily in the country’s northern and eastern border regions, leading to over 9,000 teachers fleeing. — Le Monde (French)

The recent withdrawal of rebel factions from Mali’s national dialogue demonstrates the instability of the 2015 Algiers Accord. While substantial progress on negotiations has been made, including large commitments to reintegrate fighters, violence in the area and mutual suspicions threaten the peace process. Nevertheless, participating parties remain committed to it. — Deutsche Welle (French)

North Africa

Wolfram Lacher addresses common misconceptions surrounding the structure of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Libyan National Army (LNA) coalitions in the Libyan conflict. Lacher argues that hardline Salafists and pro-Gaddafi regime forces form a central component of Hifter’s LNA, while the GNA alliance is mostly made up of volunteers resisting a perceived return to authoritarianism, rather than just predatory militias. — Small Arms Survey

A Navanti researcher from the oasis town of Zellah in southwest Libya had this to say on his country’s ongoing conflict: “The Salafists are trying to recruit fighters on both sides to control the gears of the state behind the scenes. They are more dangerous than both Hifter’s forces and the GNA."

Yemen 

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) issued a new report assessing dire outcomes for poverty in Yemen: if the current war continues through 2022, Yemen will be the poorest country in the world. Currently over 80% of Yemen’s population requires humanitarian assistance and 30% are malnourished. Nearly half could be malnourished if fighting continues through 2022, and nearly 80% could be below the poverty line. — UNDP

Houthi forces claimed to capture 2000 Saudi-led Coalition soldiers during an operation in Najran, Saudi Arabia. Saudi-led Coalition (SLC) spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki dismissed the claim as Houthi "theatrics," attributing it to a wider Houthi disinformation campaign. Given other recent Houthi fabrications, such as the widely contested claim to the recent Aramco attacks, Houthi forces are likely exaggerating their success in order to bolster threat projection. — Al-Hurra (Arabic)

Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hadrami condemned the UAE for supporting the Southern Transitional Council (STC) and launching airstrikes on National Army (NA) positions during a speech at the UN General Assembly. Pro-Emirati and even pro-Saudi news outlets cut coverage of the speech short, potentially indicating a desire to mitigate perceptions of the Saudi-led Coalition as fractured. — Al-Khaleej (Arabic)

Iraq

Iraqi president Barham Salih met with four Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leaders to warn them that Baghdad plans to cut the KRG’s share of the federal budget, including salaries for KRG employees, if Erbil does not deliver on promises to send 250,000 barrels per day to the state oil organization.Al-Monitor

Syria

Syria and Iraq have reopened the al-Qaim — Albukamal border crossing, with Iranian and Russian support. This will facilitate Iran’s supplying of proxy militias in Syria and Lebanon, and provide an economic lifeline as Tehran suffers under strict sanctions, but the move might also provoke an Israeli response. A series of airstrikes, most likely Israeli, have recently struck Iranian positions near the crossing. — Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (Arabic)

Eastern Europe & The Balkans

Armenia's delicate strategic position means its reformist leader must navigate complicated political waters as Putin and others visit Yerevan. — Eurasianet

A battered economy in Moldova's breakaway region of Transnistria has left its small Jewish community looking for an exit plan. — Times of Israel

For many more article summaries and additional context, take a look at the complete roundup here.

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