The Political Violence market remains in a flat and stable state. Minor reductions are still being offered on the least exposed of risks, dependent on situation and occupancy, for the tightened coverage of Sabotage and Terrorism only. Higher rating continues to be realised on the broader cover in delicate and volatile countries for Full Political Violence.
Although not reported in the news on a regular daily basis as has been commonplace in recent months, the uprising in Syria continues to escalate, with the UN estimating that over 60,000 people have been killed. With no peaceful end in sight, more than 2,500,000 people have now been displaced from their homesteads, with humanitarian efforts to assist them being hindered by the dire risks being faced by the aid workers trying to secure safe passage for the Syrian people fleeing the hostilities.
The fighting in major cities such as Damascus, Homs and Aleppo continues unabated, where in almost 2 years of fighting in Syria, these cities in particular have seen intense conflict between Government and opposition forces, with neither side being able to force the other to retreat.
In other parts of the world on January 15th 2013 a powerful suicide car bomb struck the local headquarters for the party of a key Kurdish leader in the disputed Iraqi city of Kirkuk, killing at least four people and injuring dozens of others. The Kurdish Democratic Party is led by Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdish region, who has frequently sparred with Iraq’s central governor in Baghdad. The blast comes amid rising tensions among Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian divide, between Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, who all have competing claims to the area which contains vast reserves of oil.
The ceasefire between Israel and Gaza continues but with periodical pockets of trouble erupting. In early January a 21 year old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops while trying to cross the barrier near the Southern West Bank town of Dura. Israel maintains that the barrier is meant to protect it from militant attack. Palestinians regard it as a means to take land inside the West Bank.
Outside of the Middle East a roadside bomb killed 14 Pakistani soldiers and wounded 20 more in the troubled north-western province of North Waziristan, an area said to be a stronghold of Taliban militants. Pakistan’s tribal regions have long been used as bases by both local militants and al-Qaeda.
In Colombia Tarc rebels say that their ceasefire will end on Sunday 20th January, as peace talks with the Government of Colombia start up again.
The most recent news however, involves the taking hostage of several foreign nationals in a gas facility in Amenas, Algeria. The complex is operated by the Algerian state oil company, Sonatrach, along with BP and Norways’s Statol.
A heavily armed “terrorist group” Belmohtar – the Khaled Abu al-Abbas brigade and the Signed-in-Blood Battalion are believed to be behind the kidnapping. However, al-Qaeda links are also said to be a possibility. Before the hostages were held in the east wing of the compound, the attackers ambushed a bus killing a Briton and an Algerian. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed the captives included “a number of British nationals”, adding that this was a “very dangerous situation and the UK Government was working around the clock to resolve the crisis.” As this Market Update was filed, there were further press reports of an escape and the numbers involved remain unclear, but some 30-40 Algerians and 15-20 foreign nationals are believed to have escaped.
In Africa, Mali is the latest failed state of choice for the discerning al-Qaeda terrorist subsidiary but (re)insurance markets are likely to escape the current turmoil largely unscathed since large corporations including a number of mining giants have previously announced that they had no political risk cover in the region. In the long-term, however, Mali may offer cover and training to Islamist terrorist organizations in much the same way that Afghanistan did to Osama Bin-Laden. Mali will no doubt come under increasing scrutiny from national security establishments, assuming of course that France and her allies fail to drive al-Qaeda-linked groups out of the territory over the coming months.
Contact me for more information on the global War and Terrorism insurance market.