By Ladd Serwat
Northern Africa: Anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrations spread across the region
Following the 7 October Hamas-led attack on Israel and the Israeli military operations in Palestine, over 600 demonstrations were reported between 7 and 31 October in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. Numerous political, student, and religious groups mobilized movements to support Palestine and denounce Israel’s occupation, often gathering at mosques after Friday prayers or at embassies of countries viewed as supporting Israel. The demonstrations remained overwhelmingly peaceful, with less than 2% turning violent. Demonstrations in Egypt led to the most significant change from the average number of events over the past year, increasing exponentially — from an average of less than six events per month to 143 in October — but were most numerous in Morocco, where ACLED records more than 260 events across the country. Organizations such as the Moroccan Front for Supporting Palestine and Against Normalisation and the Moroccan Commission for the Support of the Islamic Nation Causes spearheaded popular mobilization. The Moroccan government’s normalization of relations with Israel led to a high turnout among opposition groups to denounce the regime’s foreign policy.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Battles escalate between M23 and Wazalendo in North Kivu
In October, battles rose by 50% from the average over the past year in North Kivu province. Fighting increased between the March 23 Movement (M23) and Wazalendo, youth self-defense groups also known as the Awakening of Patriots for the Liberation of Congo (EPLC). The clashes reinvigorated claims of proxy warfare between the Congolese and Rwandan governments, reportedly supporting the Wazalendo and M23, respectively. The relationship between Wazalendo and FARDC has been precarious despite the shared adversary of the M23. State security forces have both clashed with and made widespread arrests of Wazalendo combatants. In October, additional armed groups claimed to join the Wazalendo, including Mayi-Mayi Yira, which, through its cultural association, has long communicated the need to stop the M23.
Madagascar: Rising demonstrations ahead of November presidential elections
In the lead-up to the November presidential election, demonstrations spiked in Madagascar, increasing nearly five times in October compared to the previous month. Demonstrations were concentrated in Antananarivo and have increased in frequency since 29 September, after opposition parties collectively boycotted the election campaign and mobilized on a daily basis. Eleven of the 13 presidential opposition candidates have claimed that the incumbent, President Andry Rajoelina, should be disqualified from running for another term due to his French citizenship. In addition, they demand the creation of a special electoral court and a restructuring of the electoral commission. Several civil society associations, traditional leaders, religious communities, and opposition groups called for the cancellation of elections. Demonstrators engaged in violence in one-quarter of all events, with security forces deploying tear gas and rubber bullets, and making arrests to disperse the gatherings.
Mali: Escalating violence in Kidal region
Intense confrontations between parallel efforts of the al-Qaeda offshoot Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) and Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP) — a collective of armed factions in northern Mali resisting the ruling junta — against the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) and the Wagner Group contributed to a spike in violence in Kidal region. Violence increased by six times compared to the previous month and reached levels not seen since the French military operation in 2013. The joint FAMa and Wagner forces continued their northward offensive, with violent events occurring in the Kidal and Tessalit communes. The joint forces eventually captured the town of Anefis and the United Nations peacekeeping mission’s (MINUSMA) former Amachach base. Despite numerous clashes, the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and suicide car bombs, JNIM and CSP forces were unable to stop the large joint convoy. As Wagner and FAMa forces reinforced their presence at the Amachach base, the area became a flashpoint for further violence, with the CSP attempting to encircle the base and JNIM targeting MINUSMA, FAMa, and Wagner cargo aircraft with heavy gunfire. The FAMa and Wagner offensive led to violence targeting civilians, reportedly killing more than 30 civilians, and destroying schools, homes, and businesses.
Sudan: The RSF seizes Nyala
On 26 October, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) claimed control of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur and the second-most populous metropolitan area in Sudan, after seizing the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) 16th Infantry Division headquarters and capturing several other areas in the city. Nyala is home to eight military bases, with 13 additional military bases in its surroundings — second in military capacity only to Khartoum. The majority of the violence in October comprised clashes between the RSF and SAF, but other actors continue to join the fighting (for more on these new conflict actors, see Sudan: Ethnic Strife Amid Escalating Power Struggles). These battles in Nyala resulted in over 130 reported fatalities and the displacement of over 670,000 people. The capture of Nyala provides a strategic economic and military position for the RSF to consolidate its control over Darfur.