Flashpoints For October, 2022

Here we are six days into October and it’s apparent the remainder of the month will be an active one around the world. Multiple situations deserve monitoring from the continuing war in Ukraine to the effects it is having in Europe and other places. In China the twice-a-decade Communist Party congress is less than two weeks away. President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a third term in office, prompting speculation about this will mean for the Taiwan situation, relations with the United States, and China’s lackluster economic growth of late.

Newcomers to the potential hotspot table this month will be North Korea and the simmering Hellenic-Turk rivalry in the Aegean Sea. North Korea just recently fired an MRBM over Japan, prompting the end of a heavy missile test schedule in the later days of September and early October. There is growing speculation that Pyongyang will schedule its long-expected nuclear weapon test for the days leading up to the Communist Party congress’s start in China. The North’s last test look place in September, 2017 a short time before the commencement of a BRICS conference in China. Despite China being North Korea’s closest ally, a test on the eve of the Communist Party congress would strain relations at least for a brief period, while sending a message to the rest of the world about the pace and direction of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. On the flip side, a nuclear test has been anticipated by the US, South Korea and Japan since around late April and it has yet to materialize. There is no solid data indicating a test will take place in the coming days or weeks.

Meanwhile, relations between Greece and Turkey have become more strained since late summer over what Ankara claims is a Greek military buildup on islands in the Aegean Sea. Following a brief ease of tensions earlier in the summer months Ankara and Athens are increasing the rhetoric. This occurs periodically, but the danger of the rivalry becoming a military clash is always present.  

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