What Our Analysts Are Reading – October, 2021

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.


Prominent journalist Yuri Drakokhrust explores four possible paths forward for his native Belarus in the wake of the political upheaval of 2020. The first, he posits, is the continuation of repression and power-hoarding, comparable to policies in enacted by Prime Minister Erdogan in Turkey or al-Sisi in Egypt. Another possibility is a renewal in the resistance movement, spurred by a fresh injustice or crisis, though this option is being actively prevented by the administration through arrests and forced exiles of dissidents. The third path envisioned by Drakokhurst is reconciliation, a series of concessions by the regime that would allow citizens to once more buy in to civic society in Belarus. The fourth, and seemingly most likely, is an interminable slide into fatigue, with all sides excepting the unsatisfactory status quo out of sheer exhaustion. Yet, Drakokhurst clarifies the fatigue is not forever; after a period of dormancy, the Belarusian people may again rise up.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The European Commission released its report on Bosnia and Herzegovina for 2021 on 19 October 2021. The report came in the midst of a political crisis in Bosnia that has only worsened in the last month, with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) pushing for transparency as the country continues to face a deadlock in its path towards electoral reform. Scars from the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia remain, with ethnic Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks disagreeing on the country’s path forward.

Islamic State of the Greater Sahara

On 17 August, a Malian-French airstrike targeted an Islamic State of the Greater Sahara (ISGS) stronghold, killing 10 ISGS affiliates. Among them included Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the leader of the group and a veteran of Islamist insurgency in the region. It is in the organizational disorder sewn from al-Sahrawi’s absence that Crisis Group discuss the unique opportunity for state-jihadist dialogue. As the authors suggest, local ISGS commanders are under continual pressure to ensure the welfare of their communities; furthermore, local affiliates are unlikely to have as much confidence or deference toward their new leader as they had for al-Sahrawi.  While regional governments – particularly in Niger, where ISGS activity has been greatest – have previously dispelled the possibility of such negotiations and extremists are not incentivized to trust state actors currently, the potential for non-violent disarmament nonetheless holds fleeting promise.


In this article, the author discusses the coercive use of purposefully created migration and refugee crises. In a challenge to conventional wisdom, which portrays this type of coercion as rarely used and even more rarely successful, the author uses historical case studies to argue that this type of coercion is in fact relatively common and effective, particularly when leveraged against liberal democratic targets. The author then discusses the implications of these findings, both within the specific context of migration and conflict and more broadly, as weak actors can seek to exploit political diversity and normative inconsistencies in order to gain leverage over more powerful targets.


Moldova declared a one-month state of emergency after its gas contract with Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom expired, with both sides failing to reach an agreement on the conditions of a new contract after Gazprom reduced its supply by a third and hiked prices. This, coupled with Gazprom’s closure of transit pipelines across Ukraine in favor of the subsea TurkStream pipeline, has created an increasingly worsening gas situation in Moldova. Being nearly 100 percent reliant on Russia for shipments of gas through Ukraine, the shortages of gas since October 1st have plagued the country, causing long lines at gas stations and dramatically increasing energy prices throughout the country. While Gazprom has agreed to continue to supply a limited quantity of gas to Moldova in the short term, Moscow has given Moldova until December 1st to negotiate a new contract with Gazprom before shutting off supplies entirely. Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister said the country will be forced to pay $590 per thousand cubic meters in the interim, a steep hike from the $150 per thousand cubic meters paid under the previous agreement. Many throughout the West have suggested this aggressive energy tactic from Gazprom is an attempt by the Kremlin to leverage its position as chief supplier of gas to Moldova to influence the newly elected, pro-EU government under Maia Sandu. Additionally, Moscow is suspected to be using this tactic to force its southeastern European clients to utilize the TurkStream pipeline, which bypasses Ukraine and undercuts Ukraine’s profitability as a gas transit company. This would require Moldova to buy gas which has transited Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania, increasing the costs and potential political crises associated with gas imports.

A story from the Financial Times has been published which notes that Gazprom has offered Moldova a new gas deal in exchange for weaker EU ties. Specifically, Gazprom has requested Moldova adjust its free trade deal with the EU and delay energy market reforms that had been previously agreed upon with Brussels. In return, Moldova will once again receive cheaper gas supplies from Gazprom.


Ongoing devaluation of Yemen’s riyal (YER) has driven food prices up 60 percent since the beginning of the year in parts of the country, intensifying food insecurity. For the first time ever, the exchange rate in areas under control of the internationally recognized government (IRG) surpassed 1,000 YER per USD. Basic food commodities have become substantially more difficult for ordinary people to afford. According to a recent OCHA report, the cost of the national minimum food basket (MFB), a cost of living indicator which includes wheat flour, beans, cooking oil, sugar, and salt, increased 36 percent since the beginning of the year and 45 percent in IRG-controlled areas specifically. Recent WFP data indicated 40 percent of the population in 12 of Yemen’s 20 governorates experience inadequate food consumption.

Meanwhile, efforts to end Yemen’s ongoing conflict have stalled as Houthis await the end of a blockade of northern ports and Sana’a airport by the Saudi-led coalition before agreeing to ceasefire talks. Worried about security, Saudi Arabia wants ceasefire talks to begin before the blockade is lifted, and has appealed to the United States for help with defenses.