What Our Analysts Are Reading – June, 2023

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. Our analysts also keep abreast of open source reports to inform their work. Below, these analysts have summarized and contextualized the most important pieces they have read and listened to over the past month.


The festering rivalry between the government of Nikol Pashinyan and the Armenian Apostolic continues to worsen, as Pashinyan’s policies toward Azerbaijan and more specifically Nagorno-Karabakh have caused widespread dissatisfaction in many parts of Armenian society. Over the past year, as Pashinyan’s administration continues its pursuit of peace agreements with the Aliyev regime in Baku, the Church has broken with tradition and begun openly criticizing Pashinyan, with some senior Church officials even calling for the PM’s resignation in April 2023. On June 15, the Church again attacked Pashinyan, renouncing the administration’s stance on Nagorno-Karabakh and referring to the entire policy as a “dangerous situation.” The worsening of relations signifies a further breakdown of Armenian civil society in the fallout from Armenia’s defeat in the 2020 Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. Furthermore, the Church’s open denunciation of Pashinyan and siding with opposition parties represents significant risks to Pashinyan’s continued grip on power.

Burkina Faso

The author of, “Connecting Malian and Burkinabe women’s local experiences of livelihood security to how they participate in politics,” conducted in-depth interviews with 160 women and men in a rural cross-border zone of Mali and Burkina Faso to determine how women’s livelihood pursuits affect their political participation. She found that women who experienced greater livelihood security were more likely to seek elected positions, whereas women who experienced less livelihood security were more likely to make claims to the government as a result of this insecurity. Based on these findings, the author advocated for attention to gendered, local political economies as well as the impact of seasonal livelihood security to better understand women’s political participation.


Iran’s entry in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as its ninth member, joining China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan shifts the dynamics of the security and political group which was formed in 2001. Iran previously held Observer status in the organization. India currently holds presidency of SCO and has already faced challenges as it walks on a political tightrope between the West and joint Russia-China initiatives. These challenges will likely increase as Iran’s role solidifies in the coming months.


Written just a week before one of the Mediterranean’s worst migrant shipwreck tragedies unfolded in mid-June when a vessel originating in Libya sank off Greece, this piece by the Egypt-based media organization Mada Masr investigates recent developments in the migration policies pursued by eastern Libyan authorities. A cash-strapped Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar and increasingly his sons, is seeking to tap into new funding sources through offering to expand cooperation with European countries on the migration file in return for financial support. Three weeks after visiting Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni in Rome, Haftar launched an anti-migration crackdown in the eastern district of Butnan, detaining and deporting and 4,000 migrants. While Italy has long supported western-based armed groups in an attempt to curb migration across the Mediterranean, the article suggests that the expansion of this policy to parallel authorities in eastern Libya would further add fuel to the fire of heavy-handed and abusive treatment of migrants at the hands of European-backed Libyan militias.


In response to growing levels of food insecurity across the country, the government of Niger has launched a program to distribute free food to thousands of farmers affected by poor harvests. A member of the Prime Minister’s office noted that around 270.6 billions CFA francs (the equivalent of around $450 thousand US dollars) will be injected into a “support plan for vulnerable populations.” Distributions have started in the western region of Tillaberi, which borders Mali and Burkina Faso, and will continue to the other seven regions of the country until August, corresponding with the summer “lean season”. According to the UN, around 17% of Niger’s population is likely to need humanitarian assistance this year, primarily due to climate shocks and ongoing conflict, which has displaced around 362,000 people as of March this year. Furthermore, Niger hosts around 255,000 refugees from neighboring Mali and Nigeria. Food insecurity is particularly high in areas affected by armed group activity, where violence as well as security restrictions hinder agricultural production and market access.


A recent report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reveals grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the ongoing armed attack by Russia against Ukraine. The report, covering the period from February 24 to May 15, 2022, highlights a deteriorating human rights situation. It records over 8,000 civilian casualties, including deaths and injuries, and substantial damage to infrastructure, such as medical and educational facilities. The conflict has caused mass displacement, with millions fleeing the country. The report also documents unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and other human rights abuses. Urgent action for accountability and respect for international law is stressed.


On June 23rd, the European Union followed the example of the U.S. government and placed sanctions on two Uzbek companies that are seen as lending support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The companies, Alfa Beta Creative and GFK Logistic Asia, join a growing list of Uzbek companies sanctioned by Western political apparatuses under the guise of punishing Moscow. Uzbekistan is increasingly seen as a conduit for trade between Russia and third-party countries, as bilateral trade between Uzbekistan and Russia increased by 23 percent year-over-year in 2022 and Uzbek exports to Russia grew by nearly 150 percent. Accompanying this increase is an additional surge in Uzbek imports from non-traditional trading partners, including a doubling of imports from the United Arab Emirates, a 59 percent increase from Brazil, a 54 percent increase from Germany, and a 42 percent increase from India. While at least a portion of the increased trade could represent a growing Uzbek economy, the simultaneous growth in bilateral trade with Russia suggests some of the new imports are being forwarded to Russia.


Boskalis, through its subsidiary SMIT Salvage, is making progress in the operation to remove oil from the decaying FSO Safer, a floating storage facility off the coast of Yemen. Recent activities include inspections and reinstalling equipment on board the facility, as well as underwater hull inspections by professional divers. Two tugboats have arrived to assist with berthing the replacement tanker, and oil booms will be installed for precautionary measures. The multipurpose vessel Ndeavor has berthed alongside the Safer for inspections and preparations, including transferring inert gas generators and assessing structural integrity. Gas measurements were taken, and operational steps were initiated. Further preparations will continue as the operation progresses.