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Forecast: Monsoon season begins in India and Pakistan, Kenya and Somalia reopen land borders, and Russia deploys tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus

U.S. President Joe Biden is signing a paper in the Oval Office. This photo is a close up of the action of signing.

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.

As the summer monsoon advances across India and into Pakistan, the rains that bring much needed water to crops also carry the risk of dangerous floods. In this week’s Factal Forecast podcast, Senior Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Halima Mansoor discuss the season’s outlook as well as the monsoons’ knock-on effects.

Listen now or download on your favorite platform. 

Week of June 30-July 7
A Look Ahead

June 29 – New SCOTUS opinions  

With time running out before its scheduled summer recess, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to release at least one new decision on Thursday, with several key cases outstanding, including ones regarding affirmative action, LGBTQ+ protections and student debt cancellation. 

What’s happened so far  
In two related cases stemming from lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, justices will determine whether post-secondary institutions can continue using race as a factor in admissions decisions. Meanwhile, a Colorado website designer has challenged that state’s public accommodation law, arguing it violates her First Amendment rights by forcing her to create custom sites for same-sex weddings against her religious beliefs. Finally, a group of Republican-led states challenged the Biden administration’s student debt relief framework, claiming the president and his education secretary did not have the authority to authorize loan forgiveness

The impact 
With a 6-3 conservative majority, many observers expect the court to strike down affirmative action and force colleges to find new avenues to foster diversity on campuses. Others believe the justices “appeared sympathetic” to the arguments made by the Colorado designer, something critics fear could open members of protected groups to discrimination by private businesses. 

July 1 – Kenya-Somalia partially reopen land border 

Three border crossings between Kenya and Somalia will reopen by Saturday, following an agreement struck between the two nations in mid-May.

What’s happened so far 
Kenya closed its land border with Somalia in 2011 following several incursions onto Kenyan soil by the militant group al-Shabab, which remains in control of large swaths of Somalia and continues to stage attacks against military and civilians. Following a bilateral meeting earlier this year, the two nations agreed to a phased reopening of the border, initially at three key crossing points, in a bid to improve trade and information sharing in response to al-Shabab. 

The impact 
This reopening signals a further thawing of relations between Kenya and Somalia following several years of tensions over militant activity, a shared maritime border and Kenyan acknowledgement of the breakaway Somaliland region. Kenya’s President William Ruto has faced domestic criticism for his decision to reopen the crossings after border regions experienced a spike in attacks attributed to al-Shabab, but has stood by his decision.

July 1 – Tour de France begins

Cycling’s biggest race will start on Saturday in Bilbao, Spain, with more than 100 of the best bikers in the world set to race more than 2,000 miles through Basque country and France over three weeks. 

What’s happened so far 
The Tour de France involves thousands of people, including participants, organizers and security personnel, and attracts millions of in-person spectators, who gather along the route to watch the race. A publicity caravan that stretches more than six miles in length preceding the cyclists is also a major draw.

The impact 
Tour de France organizers announced strict anti-coronavirus measures earlier this month, reportedly banning riders and team staff from eating outside of their hotels and signing autographs. The popularity and prestige of Tour de France also tends to attract protests to the event, including last year when officials paused the race to drag climate protesters off the road.

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July 2 – Municipal elections in Peru 

Voters in eight of Peru’s regions will once again choose new municipal leaders Sunday after 2022’s election results were tossed out.

What’s happened so far 
A total of 11 districts in eight regions will hold a vote after the municipal election results of 2022 were voided in 12 districts due to lack of participation, an excess of null ballots and other irregularities. Campaigning restrictions were enforced Monday and political rallies and demonstrations were banned starting Friday. A dry law also will also be enforced between Saturday and Monday, with fines and jail time for those who sell alcoholic beverages. The district of Ninabamba is the only one among the 12 that will not hold new elections after failing to present a pre-candidates list.

The impact 
More than 22 million Peruvians are eligible to vote to elect 12 mayors and 60 local officials in the first polls since mass anti-government protests erupted across the country in December. Demonstrators demanded early elections last year when Dina Boluarte replaced ousted President Pedro Castillo after he dissolved Congress (members’ link). A report by Amnesty International found that Peruvian security forces killed at least 25 protesters, including six children, in “extrajudicial executions.” Government supporters hope the municipal elections can serve as an alternative to the dissolution of the current government.

July 3 – Thailand’s new parliament meets  

Thailand’s king will open a new parliamentary session on Monday in what will be the first time the country’s newly elected lawmakers meet following the May 14 general election. 

What’s happened so far 
The election gave the progressive Move Forward Party (MFP) a victory while also delivering a resounding rejection of royalist conservatives allied with a military that has led or backed the government since the coup in 2014.

The impact 
With the opening ceremony completed, the Thai House of Representatives is expected to meet on Tuesday to elect a speaker. Following that, the speaker will call for a joint session of parliament to vote for a new prime minister — a process that could bring more political turmoil. While MFP’s leader, 42-year-old Harvard graduate Pita Limjaroenrat, says he has enough support to become prime minister, his coalition is short dozens of seats needed to guarantee a majority and getting support from the Senate may prove to be a challenge considering all 250 Senators were appointed by the last military junta.

July 4 – India to host virtual SCO Summit

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday, which will include officials from countries such as Russia and China.

What’s happened so far 
The defense and foreign ministers of the bloc made up of China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan attended an in-person meeting in India earlier this year where India’s foreign minister said they were focused on “resolving outstanding issues” and “ensuring peace and tranquility in the border areas.” In this month’s meeting, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia have also been invited as observers, with the rising threat of terrorism in Afghanistan expected to be discussed.

The impact 
It is not exactly clear why India opted to host the meeting in a virtual form now that coronavirus measures have been lifted, with most meetings now taking place in person. Some have suggested that tensions between some member states, such as India, Pakistan and China, could be part of the reason, as well as lack of preparation in the lead up to the event. Kazakhstan will take over the SCO presidency from India after the summit.

July 7 – Russia deploys tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus  

Russia is set to start deploying tactical nuclear weapons into the territory of key ally Belarus when special storage facilities are completed by Friday, though some weapons have already arrived in the country.

What’s happened so far 
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in March that he would station nuclear weapons in Belarus, comparing the move to NATO’s nuclear weapons sharing agreements that allows weapons to be stationed with allied military partners. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed his country has started taking delivery of the weapons but did not give details on how many or whether new facilities to house them had been completed.

The impact 
Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya warned that deploying nuclear weapons in Belarus would be transferring weapons into the hands of a “crazy dictator.” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia will retain control over the weapons and will make decisions on their usage. Lukashenko promised rewards for those who join Russia and Belarus, proclaiming “there will be nuclear weapons for everyone” in an interview with state television.

What Else Matters

Two aid workers deliver water as several local people collect water. Two children look at the camera.
Baitulmaal, a Dallas-based humanitarian organization, provides water to residents in Pakistan’s Karachi during record-level flooding in September 2020. (Photo: Baitulmaal)

Uptick in Honduras violence 

Honduras has begun a gang crackdown, taking a page out of neighbor El Salvador’s book, after a surge of violence ended in a prison massacre that left 46 people dead last week. As a result, Honduran President Xiomara Castro put the military police in charge of the country’s dangerously overcrowded prisons. After a preliminary search, officers found numerous weapons and inconsistencies in the prison system, including one high-profile inmate who was in a different prison than the one he was assigned to. Castro also promised “raids, captures and checkpoints 24 hours a day” and ordered nightly curfews in two northern cities. 

Watch for: Similar to El Salvador’s criminal crackdown, human rights groups have accused the Honduran government of violating civil liberties during its raids. Police countered by saying the criminals also violated human rights. The Honduran public may not approve of the crackdown as much as the people of El Salvador, which could lead to further anti-government sentiment, analysts believe. The crackdown could also spark more gang violence if police are outmanned and outgunned in some parts of the country.

Monsoon season in India, Pakistan 

The summer monsoon is advancing across most of India and just arriving in neighboring Pakistan. While the torrential rains are bringing relief to the Indian plains where an earlier heatwave killed more than 90 people and destroyed tomato crops, the monsoon season remains high-risk in South Asia. More than 20 people have died in India already this year, and another 21 were killed in pre-monsoon incidents in Pakistan. Last year, Pakistan’s disaster management agency estimated 1,739 people died between June and November due to historic floods that covered a third of the country at their peak. 

Watch for: Pakistan is not expecting the above average rain it received in 2022, however, its Meteorological Department has not ruled out extreme events such as floods in major rivers, urban flooding, hill torrents and increased snow melts, each of which come with associated long-term effects such as disease, water-logging and displacement. Indian authorities are also predicting an average monsoon season across most of the country. Monsoon is known as the “lifeblood” of the regional economy which is in large part agrarian. In India, almost half of all farmland depends on the monsoon to grow crops, without which food inflation would likely soar. Without adequate rains, densely populated cities such as Mumbai will feel drought-like effects due to reservoirs running low. 

Extended Outlook

What’s on our radar in the coming weeks…

June 30-July 7 

June 30

  • U.K. government challenge to COVID inquiry

July 1

  • Closure of Russian embassy office in Lappeenranta, Finland
  • Kenya and Somalia reopen three points on land border
  • Jordan, Iraq power link to start production
  • Deadline for all volunteer units in Ukraine to sign Russian defense ministry contracts by decree
  • Turkey raises minimum wage
  • Tour de France begins
  • Georgia’s trans health care ban comes into effect

July 2

  • Municipal elections in Peru
  • British train drivers on London to Scotland line to strike 

July 3

  • Wimbledon begins
  • Thailand’s new parliament meets

July 4

  • U.S. Independence Day
  • India hosts Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit virtually

July 5

  • Scotland hosts coronation celebrating for King Charles

July 7

  • Russian nuclear weapons deployed to Belarus

July 8-14 

July 9

  • Snap election in Uzbekistan 

July 11

  • MLB All-Star Game in Seattle
  • NATO summit in Lithuania
  • Wrestling Federation of India holds elections

July 12

  • New minimum wage for NYC food delivery workers comes into effect

July 15-21 

July 17

  • Black Sea grain deal expires

July 20 

  • Women’s World Cup 2023 begins
  • Election to replace U.K.’s Boris Johnson

July 22-28 

July 23 

  • Cambodia elections
  • Spain elections

July 25 

  • Guatemala elections

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