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Forecast: Clashes erupt between Armenia and Azerbaijan, EuroPride banned in Serbia, and Britain mourns Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth's coffin was taken from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster in a solemn procession on Wednesday, where she will lie in state until her funeral on Monday.

Welcome to Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories from the editors at Factal.

We publish our forward-looking note each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead.

Week of Sept. 16-23

A Look Ahead

Sept. 16  NATO meeting in Estonia  
Chiefs of defense from NATO countries will meet starting Friday in Tallinn, Estonia, where they will discuss the bloc’s military strategies.

What’s happened so far 
Members will discuss how to implement measures agreed upon during the NATO summit held in Madrid in June, including a large increase in the number of troops deployed across Europe in case of Russian aggression toward NATO countries. For the very first time, Finland and Sweden will attend the conference as invitees, after formalizing their accession to the alliance, which is still being ratified by state members.

The impact 
Last week, Estonia, which shares a border with Russia, joined other Baltic countries with a decision to ban Russian citizens from entering. Discussion about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine could be also on the table, though the alliance hasn’t officially put the matter on the agenda. The Baltic countries that share borders with Russia, however, have already raised concerns about the conflict’s consequences on their territories. 

Sept. 16  Independence celebrations in Mexico City
Mexico will commemorate the 212th anniversary of its independence from Spain on Friday with a military parade marked with extensive security measures.  

What’s happened so far 
More than 18,000 members of the country’s armed forces will participate in the event at the center of Mexico City, where more than 15,000 civilians are expected to gather for the celebration. The city’s government began implementing enhanced security measures earlier this month in preparation, including banning fireworks and gunpowder on public transport and strictly monitoring transit stations. The state’s security office will deploy at least 1,455 police officers in the capital and additional resources like ambulances.

The impact 
Alcohol will be banned in least five local municipalities of Mexico City — Tláhuac, Xochimilco, Tlalpan, Iztapalapa and Cuajimalpa — starting Thursday night in an effort to minimize altercations during the festivities. Public transport will operate on a special schedule with travel impacts expected due to closures at some stations. Roads near the military parade will be closed for the duration of the event. Special security measures will also extend beyond the capital between Thursday and Friday amid nationwide celebrations. 

Sept. 16  Lebanese 2022 budget announcement  
Last week, Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called for a three-day plenary session on the 2022 budget, with a decision on its passing expected Friday.

What’s happened so far 
Lebanon’s 2022 budget draft law was first passed on to the Council of Ministers in late January, which, among other repressive policies, called for the raising of exchange rates and hiking import trade fees. Analysts criticized it as being a “continuation of past policies with an inflation adjusted factor” as the country continues to feel the effects of its 2019 financial crisis that saw banks paralyzed and a debt of 150 percent of the national output. On Monday, Lebanon’s Central bank said it would stop providing dollars for gasoline imports, a move that is likely to put further pressure on the local value that continues to lose value.

The impact 
Lebanon’s government hopes to use its 2022 budget to alleviate the country’s mounting debt, estimate state expenditures and imports and also ensure it can fund sustainable development plans. With many of the country’s banks controlled by the political elite, it’s unlikely officials will amend the highly criticized budget law prescribing a multiple rate system, despite this being one of the requisites needed to unlock billions of dollars in foreign aid from the International Monetary Fund.

Sept. 17  2022 EuroPride march in Belgrade, Serbia  
Despite a last-minute ban, organizers of Serbia’s annual EuroPride parade say they plan to go ahead with the Belgrade march Saturday

What’s happened so far 
Last month, President Aleksandar Vucic announced he would not permit the week-long EuroPride event to take place in Belgrade. He acknowledged it was a “violation of minority rights,” but cited several reasons for the decision, including border tensions with Kosovo and concerns about protests. Then last week, the country’s interior ministry banned both a EuroPride parade and a march by right-wing, anti-LGBT groups, citing the risk for violence. Serbia has held Pride events in recent years without incident, but some in the early 2000s faced violence from far-right nationalist groups. 

The impact 
If the EuroPride march and the anti-LGBT counter-protests move forward despite the ban, the risk of conflict will be high in Belgrade on Saturday, not only between EuroPride participants and counter-protesters, but also with law enforcement attempts to crack down on both movements. On Wednesday, Serbia’s Interior Ministry rejected an appeal by EuroPride organizers who argued the ban is unconstitutional.

Sept. 18  End of planned power cuts in Havana  
On Sunday, Havana’s utility company will halt planned power cuts that have affected the Cuban capital for over a month.

What’s happened so far 
At the end of July, planned blackouts were announced for the month of August in Havana, and they continued into the first weeks of September. The pandemic’s heavy hit on tourism, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fatal fire in the Matanzas oil depot and debilitating U.S. sanctions have all deteriorated the situation. Protests against the blackouts erupted in various areas of the country, a continuation of the massive social unrest seen in 2021 in a large part due to frequent power outages. 

The impact 
Cuba’s economy has severely struggled due to worldwide trends and decades-long sanctions. That blackouts have had serious impacts on residents, particularly in the summer months with appliances unusable and food going to waste. Havana’s power grid is old and needs investment, and, with Venezuela stopping its oil supply to Cuba, it’s been difficult to maintain the current system. While planned blackouts are expected to stop, random power outages will continue to occur across the country until December at the earliest. It’s possible the frustrated population will continue to protest. 

Sept. 19  Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II  
Monday’s state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history, is expected to draw large crowds to London and nearby Windsor. World leaders, royalty and dignitaries will attend, including U.S. President Joe Biden, leading to a major security operation.

What’s happened so far 
Following her death in Scotland, ceremonial processions and her lying in state at Westminster Hall have drawn hundreds of thousands of people, with lines at the public visitation in London stretching along the banks of the River Thames. According to the funeral plan, the lying in state is scheduled to end early Monday morning, hours before the funeral at Westminster Abbey. The service, scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. local time, is a short journey from Westminster Hall. After the proceedings, the queen’s coffin will be driven to Windsor Castle, west of London, for a service and committal in the royal chapel.

The impact 
The funeral is expected to pose unique challenges for London and the surrounding regions. Large crowds of up to a million people or more are expected to gather on the Mall outside Buckingham Palace and in royal parks to watch the funeral on large screens. Transport for London says services are expected to be busy and stations in central London may close. Numerous road closures are in effect across central London, especially in Westminster. The day of the funeral has been declared a public holiday, with many businesses choosing to close, and it will end the 10 days of national mourning following her death.

Sept. 20  Biden in New York for UN General Assembly  
U.S. President Joe Biden is likely to travel directly from the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London to New York to give a speech at the United National General Assembly on Tuesday.

What’s happened so far 
The 77th U.N. General Assembly kicked off Tuesday. Every September, the organization meets to appoint the secretary-general on the recommendation of the Security Council, elect non-permanent members and approve the U.N. budget. Delegations from several countries are expected to attend though Biden and other officials were forced to adapt plans in order to attend the conference after the queen’s funeral.

The impact 
While some leaders have yet to confirm if they will be able to attend the assembly due to the funeral, Biden is expected to fly back in time in order to attend both events. Given this year’s theme of “transformative solutions to interlocking challenges,” Biden’s speech is expected to focus on the ongoing crises such as the energy shortage partly driven by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sept. 20  Buyback window closes for El Salvador bond program  
Holders of sovereign debt bonds maturing in 2023 and 2025 from El Salvador have until Tuesday to take part in a voluntary buyback effort of up to $360 million

What’s happened so far 
When the buyback plan was first unveiled earlier this summer, some saw the effort as a way to counter speculation about a potential default, with the announcement sparking a double-digit jump in the price of the junk-rated securities. El Salvador has bet big on Bitcoin — establishing it as legal tender last September — but is down approximately 50 percent on its investments in the cryptocurrency. That move also put strain on the relationship between the country and the traditional credit market, as well as the International Monetary Fund.

The impact 
Despite skepticism from analysts, President Nayib Bukele said in July the country has the liquidity “not only to pay all of its commitments when they are due, but also purchase all of its own debt (till 2025) in advance.”

What Else Matters

Locations of September 2022 clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan are marked in red on a map.
Locations of September 2022 clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan are marked in red. (Illustration: Viewsridge / Wikimedia Commons)

Armenia-Azerbaijan flare up
Clashes erupted on multiple fronts along the Armenian border with Azerbaijan and in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Monday. Though tensions have periodically escalated to open clashes in the two years since the 2020 war, this week’s flare up marks the most significant since Baku seized wide swaths of territory from Yerevan in the intense six-week war that killed thousands. Armenia confirmed the loss of at least 105 soldiers in the renewed fighting, with Azerbaijan losing at least 50, marking the deadliest clashes since 2020. Armenia announced a ceasefire had been reached late Wednesday, though Azerbaijan has yet to publicly confirm the truce.

Watch for: Though the clashes are notable for their intensity, Armenia’s confirmation that Azerbaijan penetrated its sovereign state border marked a stark escalation, prompting Yerevan to take the unprecedented step of seeking Russian intervention through the Moscow-led CSTO alliance. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan countered with claims that Armenia struck its positions in the strategic Nagorno-Karabakh heights of Lachin and Kalbajar. The former is notable, as it was recently returned to Azerbaijan after two years of being administered by Russian peacekeepers, and it sits along the key corridor that links Armenia with Stepanakert, the capital of Armenia’s Artsakh breakaway state. Azerbaijan for its part has moved closer to the European Union’s orbit as Brussels seeks to diversify its energy portfolio away from Russia.

Syria cholera outbreak
Health officials are sounding the alarm about a deadly cholera outbreak that erupted in Syria this last week. Experts believe it stems from people drinking contaminated water from the Euphrates River and using it in crops. Dozens of cases have been confirmed with hundreds more suspected. The United Nations is rushing supplies to the area, including tests, medicine and clean water.

Watch for: The continued usage of contaminated water in Syria underscores how dire the situation is. Climate change has led to higher temperatures, less rain and lower river levels. Syrians are forced to use contaminated water because the ongoing civil war has destroyed the nation’s water and sanitation infrastructure. The outbreak is very likely to spread, according to the World Health Organization, especially after cholera was found in a factory in Aleppo that makes ice cubes.

Extended Outlook

What’s on our radar in the coming weeks…

Sept. 15-23 

Sept. 15

  • Party lists due in Israel’s Knesset
  • Biden gun violence summit
  • Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan hold talks
  • Angolan president inauguration

Sept. 16

  • NATO meeting in Estonia
  • Possible U.S. rail strike

Sept. 17

  • Munich Oktoberfest begins
  • Detroit auto show begins
  • EuroPride planned in Belgrade, Serbia
  • Indian PM Modi to launch cheetah reintroduction project at Kuno National Park
  • Plebiscite on splitting Maguindanao, Philippines

Sept. 18

  • Overnight fast train service between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to start

Sept. 19

  • Queen Elizabeth’s funeral
  • British port workers plan two-week strike
  • NASA plans launch period for Artemis launch

Sept. 20

  • Chad peace talks
  • Massachusetts primaries
  • U.S. Fed policy meeting
  • President Biden expected to attend UNGA

Sept. 21

  • Intergovernmental commission between Russia and the Republic of the Congo meets 
  • Ottawa People’s Commission on the Convoy Occupation launches public hearings

Sept. 23

  • Ontario school workers strike

Sept. 24-30 

Sept. 24

  • UK Labour party conference
  • Arizona abortion law enters effect

Sept. 25

  • BMW Berlin Marathon
  • Sao Tomean National Assembly Election
  • Cuba family code referendum
  • Italy elections

Sept. 26

  • IAEA 66th General Conference
  • Border between Colombia and Venezuela opens

Sept. 27

  • Japan’s former Prime Minister Abe’s state funeral
  • UN Security Council to meet on Afghanistan

Sept. 28

  • President Biden hosts leaders of Pacific Island nations in Washington

Sept. 29

  • Kuwait parliamentary elections
  • Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health at the White House
  • President of South Korea meets U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in Seoul

Sept. 30

  • EU plans summit on emergency energy plans

Oct. 1-7 

Oct. 1

  • Latvia elections
  • Kurdistan parliamentary elections

Oct. 2

  • Brazil presidential election
  • Bulgaria elections
  • London Marathon
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina House of Representatives election

Oct. 3

  • Eurogroup meeting

Oct. 4

  • UK’s National Grid emergency exercise

Oct. 5

  • Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez meets German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Madrid

Oct. 6

  • EU-Israel Association Council will resume negotiations after a decade
  • Nobel Prize for Literature announced
  • EU heads of state summit in Prague

Oct. 7

  • Lesotho general elections

Oct. 8-14

Oct. 9

  • Austrian presidential election

Oct. 11

  • EU Informal meeting of energy ministers
  • Alex Saab trial in Miami

Oct. 13

  •  EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting

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Top photo: Queen Elizabeth’s coffin was taken from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster in a solemn procession on Wednesday, where she will lie in state until her funeral on Monday. (Photo: Royal Family / Twitter)