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09 Sep 22. Burundi: Further reshuffles likely amid elevated threats to government stability. On 7 September, Gervais Ndirakobuca was sworn in as Burundi’s new Prime Minister, replacing Alain Guillaume Bunyoni. This comes after President Evariste Ndayishimiye warned last week of a potential coup attempt amid deteriorating relations between himself and Bunyoni. Ndayishimiye came to power in June 2020, the hand-picked successor of late president Pierre Nkurunziza, who died shortly after Ndayishimiye was elected. After Nkurunziza’s death, Ndayishimiye began to break from his predecessors’ rule. This primarily included efforts to re-establish international relations, elevating tensions with numerous internationally sanctioned generals concerned that this might culminate in anti-corruption investigations. With domestic unrest now rising due to double-digit inflation and fuel shortages since the start of the Ukraine conflict, the threat of a potential coup attempt has risen. This will likely prompt the replacement of further senior figures in government and the military, elevating policy uncertainty. If a coup attempt materialises this would elevate the threat of violence in Bujumbura and Gitega, as was the case in 2015. (Source: Sibylline)
09 Sep 22. North Korea: Nuclear policy hardening intended to boost Kim’s legitimacy, raising risks of military miscalculation and worsening regional tensions. On 8 September, the Supreme People’s Assembly passed legislation that granted the country’s right to automatic pre-emptive nuclear strikes under five conditions, including against attempts, perceived or otherwise, to eliminate North Korea’s leadership or its nuclear command and control systems. The move represents a shift from nuclear deterrence (second strike) to nuclear combat (see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update – 29 April 2022), and likely seeks to deter greater military coordination between US and South Korean forces (see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update – 22 August 2022). Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un stated the country “will never give up nuclear arms or denuclearise first”, effectively diminishing the prospect of future diplomatic efforts. The ambiguity and powers granted by the legislation are likely an asymmetric response to check the perceived conventional military inferiority vis-à-vis South Korea and the US. The law also boosts Kim’s legitimacy in the context of worsening national socio-economic health conditions. Washington and Seoul may also feel increasing pressure to undertake negotiations with North Korea to reduce the risk of strategic ambiguity leading to military miscalculation. (Source: Sibylline)
09 Sep 22. Burkina Faso: Anti-French protests elevate threats to bystanders and French business assets. On 8 and 9 September, the M30 Naaba Wobgo movement, a coalition of civil society and political groups, will hold anti-French demonstrations in Ouagadougou, coinciding with the visit of a senior French military official. The M30 movement has already launched numerous demonstrations demanding that the Burkinabe military government terminates cooperation agreements with France. Demonstrations over the next couple of days are likely around Thomas Sankara International Airport and government facilities in central Ouagadougou. Security forces will likely violently disperse demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets, though sporadic uses of live ammunition remain possible, elevating threats to bystanders. Protests may result in the vandalisation of some street-level assets of French businesses. In the longer term, repeated outbreaks of anti-French protests will elevate threats to the viability of France’s local military operations, undermining counter-insurgency operations. (Source: Sibylline)
09 Sep 22. Azerbaijan: New legislation will restrict political opposition still further, consolidating regime’s monopoly on power. On 9 September, Azerbaijan’s parliament submitted a new piece of legislation that will place further restrictions on political parties and make it extremely difficult to create new ones. MPs in the ruling New Azerbaijan Party are claiming the law is necessary in order for the country to continue on its current trajectory towards democracy. If adopted, the draft legislation would require new political groups to have a minimum of 200 members who have lived in Azerbaijan for the last 20 years uninterrupted, meaning exiled opposition leaders would be excluded. Other elements of the legislation target existing political groups with the threat of closure. This most recent crackdown on political freedoms will only reinforce the extremely repressive nature of the Azerbaijani state and President Ilham Aliyev’s total grip on power. (Source: Sibylline)
09 Sep 22. Mozambique: Attacks in Nampula province underline insurgents’ increasing operational range. On 7 September, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killing of four Christians including an Italian nun during a raid on a Chipene village in Nampula province on 6 September. Mozambican authorities corroborated the attack, claiming that IS local affiliate Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaa (ASWJ) beheaded six people in the districts of Erati and Memba, Nampula province, since the start of September. The attack on Chipene represents the furthest south that ASWJ has launched an attack, while this latest offensive is the group’s second push into northern Nampula, with ASWJ first attacking Nampula in June. The incidents underline ASWJ’s capacity to replicate southern offensives into the province, extending their operational range, and elevating threats to NGOs on the border of the conflict zone. However, attacks are largely limited to isolated rural settlements and were likely conducted by a raiding party that will be forced to return to the group’s support networks in northern and central Cabo Delgado, reducing the threat of sustained violence in Nampula.(Source: Sibylline)
09 Sep 22. Haiti: Large-scale protests caused significant disruption, with further protests likely in the coming weeks. On 7 September, thousands of Haitians protested in the capital Port-au-Prince and other major urban centres against general insecurity, rising prices, and fuel shortages and to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Large-scale protests were recorded in the capital, as well as in Port-de-Paix, Petit-Goave and Jeremie, where protesters erected roadblocks with trucks and burning tyres. Whilst the police used force to disperse the protests, using tear gas, no serious violence was reported. Major demonstrations have been carried out over the past few weeks, with protesters making similar demands, resulting in violent unrest and one fatal confrontation. It is likely that large-scale unrest will continue to pose travel disruption and physical risk to bystanders in the coming days and weeks as it is unlikely that the general security and socio-economic crisis will be resolved in the short term. (Source: Sibylline)
09 Sep 22. Chile: Students disrupt and destroy public transport in several locations of Santiago, widespread unrest remains unlikely. On 7 September, students blocked and destroyed public transport infrastructure and units in protest at the result of the constitutional referendum, prompting the government to condemn the acts of violence and state they would prosecute the individuals involved. The protests follow the overwhelming rejection of a constitutional proposal presented by the now dissolved Constitutional Convention (see Sibylline’s Alert on 5 September). While public transport disruption and small violent protests will likely continue over the following weeks, widespread protests remain unlikely to gain ground, particularly as public disruption tends to weaken support for the protesters. University and high school students will likely remain the primary leaders of these movements, making disruption around public education institutions likely. Targeting of private firms remains unlikely, but the use of violence against third-party individuals has been registered over the past three days, increasing immediate risks to staff. (Source: Sibylline)
08 Sep 22. Readout of U.S.-India 2+2 Intersessional and Maritime Security Dialogues. Department of Defense Spokesperson John Supple provided the following statement: Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Dr. Ely Ratner co-chaired the sixth U.S.-India 2+2 Intersessional Dialogue in New Delhi on September 7 alongside Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, Joint Secretary Somnath Ghosh of the Indian Ministry of Defense, and Additional Secretary Vani Rao of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. Assistant Secretary Ratner, Assistant Secretary Lu, and senior Indian officials subsequently chaired the fifth Maritime Security Dialogue, last held in 2019 in Monterey.
The 2+2 Intersessional Dialogue advanced an ambitious set of initiatives across the breadth of the U.S.-India partnership, including defense and security, science and technology, climate, public health, trade, and people-to-people ties. On the defense side, Assistant Secretary Ratner and his counterparts discussed a range of leading regional security issues, including recent developments in East Asia. The officials also reviewed progress toward operationalizing major bilateral initiatives on information-sharing, defense industrial cooperation, and joint service engagements to support combined, multi-domain operations. They committed to launching an inaugural Emerging Defense Capabilities Dialogue later this fall, as the two sides expand cooperation in new domains such as space, cyber, artificial intelligence, and other defense technology areas.
During the Maritime Security Dialogue on September 8, the U.S. and Indian officials discussed ways to expand U.S.-India collaboration both bilaterally and within multilateral networks, including with Australia, Japan, and European partners. They identified new opportunities to coordinate capacity-building activities in South and Southeast Asia, deepen logistics cooperation, and drive forward high-end Navy-to-Navy cooperation to address challenges, including in the undersea domain. Assistant Secretary Ratner reaffirmed the Department’s commitment to continue positioning the U.S.-India partnership at the center of its approach to the region as the United States and India work together to advance our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. (Source: US DoD)
08 Sep 22. Mozambique: Attacks.
On 7 September, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killing of four people including an Italian nun during a raid on a Chipene village, Memba district, in the Nampula province on 6 September through their local affiliate Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaa (ASWJ). This follows another attack in Nampula province on 2 September, in which 20 militants attacked Kutua village in Erati district. Mozambican authorities claim six people were decapitated in the attacks.
- The recent attacks have raised concerns about the potential for ASWJ’s expansion from Cabo Delgado province, where the insurgency has been based since 2017, to Nampula province. The group has previously recruited from Nampula, with maritime patrols frequently intercepting the movement of persons claiming to have been offered payment to join the insurgency. With the group having lost the majority of its territorial holdings in 2021 when Rwandan and Mozambican forces retook the town of Mocimboa da Praia, it is possible that fighters will have returned to Nampula, providing the group with local assets to conduct attacks and expand the insurgency.
- However, this appears not to be the case in this instance, with the latest attacks likely being conducted by a raiding party of insurgents based in central Cabo Delgado. Late last month a group of insurgents conducted attacks in Cabo Delgado’s southern Ancuabe district, from here the group spread to Chiure district on the border with Nampula. As such, it is likely this raiding party is the same group that conducted these latest attacks.
- As such, while the incident in Chipene represents the furthest south the group has been able to conduct an attack, it reflects the known mobility of ASWJ, with the group previously conducting a raid into Nampula province with an attack on Lurio village, Nampula province in June.
- Additionally, though the incident reflects the known capabilities of ASWJ, targeting relatively soft civilian targets in isolated rural communities, the IS statement, blaming the killing of the nun on her attempts to spread Christianity, potentially underlines rising threats to foreign personnel. To bolster ASWJ’s local support, the group may be attempting more ideological targeting. In June, ASWJ killed two security guards in an attack on a graphite mine in Cabo Delgado, subsequently IS claimed the incident, stating they were threatening the economic security of Christians.
The incident currently does not represent a sustained and significant expansion of the conflict to Nampula province. As with the June attack, and subsequent assaults into southern Cabo Delgado, raiding parties will be forced to return to northern and central Cabo Delgado to access their local support networks, or risk being isolated and eliminated.
However, the group’s capacity to repeatedly launch raids far from their base of operations into Nampula underlines the highly mobile nature of their operations, elevating threats to communities previously considered to be on the border of, or outside of, the conflict zone. This will sustain the threat of further raids and cross-border attacks into northern Nampula province over the coming months.
This threat remains concentrated in rural areas of the province and relatively isolated communities and roadways. The group cannot conduct attacks in larger urban centres and has not previously demonstrated an interest in carrying out suicide bombings or attacks in which their fighters would not be able to extricate themselves. However, as demonstrated by recent IS statements, efforts to bolster local support may result in more ideological attacks against foreign persons and assets active in the local community. This primarily presents a threat to NGOs working on development projects in northern Mozambique and especially those engaged in missionary work, but also presents a threat to businesses in the extractive sector working in isolated rural areas.
The incident also threatens to further delay the resumption of construction at Total’s Natural Gas development project in northern Cabo Delgado. To contain ASWJ attacks, the government may be compelled to relocate troops from northern Cabo Delgado to Nampula province. This will prevent the government from effectively clamping down on the insurgency, delaying the return of displaced people to Cabo Delgado. This is one of Total’s key terms for restarting the construction of its onshore refinery on the Afungi peninsula. Without this Mozambique’s gas exports will be limited to those from its offshore projects, undermining profits and its capacity to exploit rising demand from European markets through the coming year. (Source: Sibylline)
07 Sep 22. Brazil: Protests.
On 7 September protests and parades are scheduled to take place across the country to celebrate Brazilian Independence Day. As President Jair Bolsonaro continues to trail behind former president Lula da Silva in polls, Bolsonaro has called on supporters to take to the streets in nationwide demonstrations, with thousands of pro-Bolsonaro supporters already gathered in major cities.
- Tensions are high as the local press has reported that Bolsonaro is seeking to allow trucks into the Esplanada dos Ministérios, Brasilia, an avenue that provides access to the Supreme Court (STF), Congress and other governmental buildings. Whilst federal district governor, Ibaneis Rocha, has refused to authorise their passage, there is a possible risk of a repeat of last year’s Independence Day demonstrations when pro-Bolsonaro truck drivers destroyed a police barrier to enter the Esplanada dos Ministérios, threatening to storm the STF building. Speaking before his appearance this morning, President Bolsonaro stated that ‘history can repeat itself’, after citing several incidents of democratic breakdown, including the 1964 military coup.
- Social media disseminated videos and photos of thousands of pro-Bolsonaro supporters this morning where Bolsonaro made an appearance and greeted supporters at the Esplanada dos Ministérios in Brasilia. However, local reports suggest that at the beginning of the day, the number of protesters was noticeably lower compared to last year when over 100,000 Bolsonaro supporters gathered in Brasilia. Yet these numbers are likely to increase during the day.
- Social media posts also show videos of pro-Bolsonaro supporters beginning to gather in other major cities across the country. For example, this post by @Terra displays supporters with Brazilian flags and banners with others handing out pro-Bolsonaro leaflets in Rio de Janeiro. At present, the gatherings are generally peaceful, with no notable risk of violent escalation.
- Whilst the 7 September Independence Day will likely be dominated by pro-Bolsonaro supporters and demonstrations. Anti-Bolsonaro protesters and left-wing supporters will likely be present, with isolated clashes and confrontations between opposing groups likely. Reports of confrontations between such groups have already appeared in Brasilia. This post by news outlet @correio reported that a woman with a PT flag was harassed by Bolsonaro supporters.
Demonstrations are scheduled to take place as follows (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro state): Copacabana Fort at 0800hrs, Uruguaiana, Presidente Vargas Avenue at 0900hrs and Aterro do Flamengo at 1500hrs
- Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo state): Praca da Se at 0900hrs and Paulista Avenue at 1000hrs
- Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais state): Praca Vaz Melo to Passarela da Lagoinha at 0900hrs and Afonso Pena Avenue at 0900hrs and 1000hrs
- Curitiba (Parana state): Civic Parade on Candido de Abreu Avenue at 1000hrs and Civic Center at 1400hrs
- Fortaleza (Ceara state): March from Arena Castelao to Praca Portugal at 1400hrs and Terminal Lagoa at 0900hrs
- Porto Alegre (Rio de Grande do Sul state): Pontal do Estaleiro at 1000hrs, Sao Jose do Murialdo Church at 0900hrs
- Recife (Pernambuco state): Parque Treze de Maio at 0800hrs and on Boa Viagem Avenue at 1400hrs
- Salvador (Bahia state): Ladeira da Barra at 0630, Campo Grande at 0830hrs and Farol da Barra at 0900hrs (Source: Sibylline)
06 Sep 22. Angola: Court’s rejection of UNITA petition to overturn electoral results will likely drive protests in Luanda. On 5 September, the Constitutional Court rejected the leading opposition National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola (UNITA) party’s petition to invalidate the results of the 24 August election. The Court’s decision cannot be appealed, allowing President Joao Lourenco to be sworn-in for a second term. Since issuing the challenge UNITA leader Adalberto Costa Junior has published numerous documents alleging to show inconsistencies between results tallied at polling stations and those announced by the electoral commission. UNITA has not yet announced formal protests. However, Costa Junior has signalled on social media that the party intends to contest the results and will not disappoint expectations for regime change. The statements indicate the likely organisation of protests in the coming weeks, particularly in Luanda and central Angola, where police will attempt to forcibly disperse demonstrations, heightening threats to bystanders around protest hotspots such as Largo da Independencia. (Source: Sibylline)
06 Sep 22. Brazil: STF suspends executive orders easing access to weapons and ammunition, heightening unrest concerns on 7 September. On 5 September, the Justice of the Supreme Federal Court (STF), Edson Fachin, suspended a number of executive orders issued by President Jair Bolsonaro several years ago aimed at easing access to guns and ammunition. The decision follows a series of high-profile incidents of political violence and attempts to reduce the potential impact of the 7 September protests on Independence Day in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro. The demonstrations have created significant tensions, with the armed forces’ participation elevating concerns about the politicisation of the defence sector. Similarly, the lack of a unified response to the protests from the government elevates the likelihood of violence and heightened disruption. Recently a large group of truck drivers attempted to occupy the Esplanada dos Ministérios in Brasilia. Fachin’s decision will likely fuel tensions among Bolsonaro’s supporters ahead of the 7 September demonstrations, increasing unrest and political violence concerns. Protesters could target the judiciary or left-wing parties and leaders. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Sep 22. Biden seeks more Ukraine aid. The Biden administration asked Congress on 2 September to approve USD11.7bn in additional Ukraine-related security and economic assistance, including USD4.5bn to provide military equipment to Ukraine and replenish Pentagon stocks. The request also includes USD2.7bn for “continued military, intelligence, and other defence support”, and USD4.5bn to help Ukraine’s government continue operating. The funding would back the war-torn country during the first quarter of US fiscal year (FY) 2023, which begins on 1 October. Although Congress approved USD40 bn in aid for Ukraine in May 2022, that money was intended to last till September, and it is running out as anticipated, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). (Source: Janes)
06 Sep 22. German soldiers arrive in Lithuania to secure Nato’s eastern flank. Over 100 soldiers, along with equipment, will set up a Forward Command Element in Lithuania. Nato has announced the arrival of over 100 German soldiers to Lithuania to strengthen the alliance presence in the eastern flank.
The deployment follows a commitment made by Nato members during the recent Madrid Summit to strengthen the alliance’s battlegroups up to brigade level, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The soldiers attached to Germany’s 41st tank brigade, along with equipment for command and control, communications and logistics, will set up a Forward Command Element (FCE) in Lithuania.
Comprising infantrymen, reconnaissance officers, and logistic soldiers, the FCE will be responsible for enhanced vigilance activities (eVA).
Panzergrenadier brigade 41 ‘Vorpommern’ commander brigadier general Christian Nawrat said: “This advanced command post will be separated from the enhanced forward presence (eFP) alliance and led by the army.”
While the brigade’s command staff will be positioned permanently in the nation, combat units will be deployed on a rotational basis for various exercises.
Nato spokesperson Oana Lungescu said: “The arrival of the first German troops as part of the Nato brigade represents an important step in strengthening Nato’s deterrence and defence at a critical time for our security and sending a clear message that Nato will defend every inch of allied territory.”
In February this year, Germany provided 350 soldiers for the eFP in Lithuania. So far, nearly 1,500 German soldiers are deployed in the country.
The eFP battalion serves as subordinate to the Lithuanian Iron Wolf Brigade. Nato initially set up four battlegroups in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland in 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
To address security concerns amid the Ukraine crisis, four new battlegroups are being formed in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. (Source: army-technology.com)
06 Sep 22. Kenya: Opposition acceptance of court ruling significantly reduces threat of unrest. On 5 September, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld William Ruto’s presidential election victory, rejecting claims of electoral irregularities by opposition leader Raila Odinga. Following the ruling, Odinga complied with previous pledges, stating that while he disagreed with the court ruling, he would accept it. Additionally, despite some limited protests in the immediate aftermath of the election results, public unrest following the polls has been highly limited. This largely reflects greater levels of voter apathy during the recent polls and a wider desire not to repeat outbreaks of violence following the 2007 election. As such, the threat of protests in the coming weeks, including in cities such as Nairobi, is significantly reduced, though some limited protest action around the 13 September inauguration ceremony remains a possibility. (Source: Sibylline)
06 Sep 22. Burkina Faso: Application of siege tactics elevates threats to overland travel and will undermine the legitimacy of the military government. On 5 September, jihadists killed 35 civilians and injured 37 others in an attack on a military escorted supply convoy transiting along the N22 highway between Bourzanga, Bam province, to Djibo, Soum province in northern Burkina Faso. The attack, which involved an improvised explosive device (IED), was likely perpetrated by either al-Qaeda- or IS-aligned jihadists, both of whom are active in the north. The incident is part of a wider siege campaign by jihadist groups that have been disrupting supply deliveries to Djibo since February. Efforts to increase influence over rural towns across Burkina Faso will drive the repeated use of this tactic, elevating threats to overland movement. Additionally, the continued escalation of high casualty attacks on civilians will undermine the legitimacy of the military government, which rests on its stated commitment to enhancing security, threatening to drive domestic unrest in Ouagadougou. (Source: Sibylline)
06 Sep 22. Iraq: Disagreements over electoral law will delay polls and sustain volatile security environment. On 5 September, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, President Barham Salih, UN representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and members from the Co-ordination Framework (CF) agreed to host fresh elections to address Iraq’s political stalemate. As expected, Shia Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s bloc was absent from discussions, but his supporters continue to extend their support for new polls. Recent developments occur amid an uptick in political violence in Baghdad and southern provinces (see Sibylline Alert – 31 August 2022), with al-Sadr-aligned activists rejecting the growing influence of Iran-backed parties in the CF. Whilst all political parties agree, in principle, to arrange new elections, warring sides fundamentally disagree over Iraq’s electoral system. Moreover, despite al-Sadr’s withdrawal from political life, it is a realistic probability that he will strategically return before elections to force legislative change, sustaining the threat of sectarian-based unrest and Iraq’s hostile security environment in the coming days and weeks. (Source: Sibylline)
06 Sep 22. India-Pakistan: Violation of the ceasefire in Jammu is unlikely to escalate into a military stand-off. On 6 September, Pakistan Rangers fired upon Indian Border Security Force (BSF) troops patrolling the international border in Arnia sector in Jammu. The BSF public relations officer said the Indian soldiers gave a “befitting reply to the unprovoked firing” and added that there were no casualties on the Indian side. India and Pakistan agreed to a renewed ceasefire along the Jammu and Kashmir border in February 2020, and there have been very few minor incidents since. The Pakistan army has not released a statement regarding the exchange of fire. it is unlikely that the incident will escalate militarily and raise the threat of cross-border attacks. However, there will potentially be an increase in patrols on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir, raising tensions with the local population and disrupting local agricultural production. (Source: Sibylline)
06 Sep 22. China: South China Sea archaeological underwater surveys will sustain regional tensions, suspicions regarding China. Chinese media reported the discovery of archaeological relics in the South China Sea between China’s southern coastline and the contested Paracels Islands during part of a five-year (2020-2025) archaeological survey of China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative. A team of 10 Chinese research institutes, including the government-sponsored Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), participated and used various dual-use technologies, including towed sonars and manned-unmanned capabilities. While the origin of the relics was not immediately confirmed, Beijing will likely use this as historical evidence of its territorial claims in the South China Sea, further undermining prospects for the agreement of a code of conduct for the region between China and ASEAN. Moreover, surveys and the use of such dual-use technologies by government-affiliated institutions will sustain regional tensions, driving military posturing and suspicions of China, as these could mask wider security and defence purposes, as was the case with previous surveys in the Indian Ocean. (Source: Sibylline)
02 Sep 22. Mexico seeks to expand military roles as defence budget increases. Mexico’s defence sector is also expected to weather political differences between administrations across the US border.
Mexico is seeking to increase the militarisation of civilian activities, ranging to national park to domestic anti-crime operations, with a plan under the premiership of President López Obrador to bring the country’s National Guard under military control.
“Troops have run over 2,500 branches of a state-development bank, constructed a new airport in Mexico City, and run various customs centres,” says Madeline Wild, associate defence analyst at GlobalData.
Mexico’s defence budget is now expected to grow from $6.9bn to $8.8bn by 2027, according to GlobalData. “These activities all require funding, thus driving continued growth in the defence budget,” continued Wild.
Military control extending
In a state-of-of-the-nation address on 1 September, Obrador outlined plans to further empower Mexico’s military authority, asking Congress to transfer control of the National Guard away from citizen control and into military command structures.
The National Guard was created in 2019, the same year the Mexican constitution was changed to allow the President to use the military in various roles to support the civilian authorities. Removal of civilian control of the National Guard would be contrary to Mexico’s constitutional structure and Obrador does not have the votes to make constitutional change, rather seeking a simple majority to pass a motion making the change.
There is significant public support for participation of the country’s armed forces in the fight against the drug cartels, with a La Nación poll indicating 80% of the public are in favour of their role combatting organised crime.
GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Mexico Defense Market Size and Trends, Budget Allocation, Regulations, Key Acquisitions, Competitive Landscape and Forecast, 2022-2027’, notes that Mexico’s defence industry will showcase a positive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5% between 2023 and 2027, which is a faster rate of growth compared to the 2018-22 period, which saw a positive CAGR of 4.4%.
Mexico’s defence industry benefits from a close relationship with the US
The US and Mexican defence industries have long been intertwined; the resolve of their cooperation tested recently by political change in both states. Mexico and the US had both been deeply involved in the Merida Initiative, an agreement aimed at strengthening the rule of law and providing funding for counter-narcotic operations.
However, political tensions between the administrations of López Obrador and US President Joe Biden are making many question the viability of this arrangement. A successor to the Merida Initiative is still uncertain while the original deal approaches its date for renewal.
“Counter-narcotic and anti-organised crime operations under the Merida Initiative had been key drivers of Mexican defence spending. The decline of these will impact the division and allocation of defence funds,” says Wild, who believes Obrador’s unconventional use of the military will counterbalance operational funding requirements.
While Mexico may have seen a reduction in financial and operational cooperation with the US Department of Defense, Maquiladora Investment Incentives in Mexico (IMMEX) may still benefit the industrial relationship.
“Unless relations decline substantially enough to threaten USMCA, this beneficial relationship looks set to stay.”
IMMEX offers vast reductions on various taxes and significantly reduces barriers to trade. As an example, Mexico imports raw materials tax free with an assurance they are then exported later as manufactured goods.
Wild continues: “Mexico’s defence industry benefits from a close relationship with the US due to the large presence of US firms operating in Mexico under IMMEX rules.
“Manufacturers benefit from cheap labour costs and fewer regulations when carrying out manufacturing procedures on Mexican soil, whilst Mexico gains knowledge transfers, a greater industrial skills base, and an increase in the operations of smaller Mexican firms that may have the opportunity to engage in the supply chains of US firms operating in Mexico.
“The IMMEX programme is compounded by the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA, the NAFTA successor). Thus, unless relations decline substantially enough to threaten USMCA, this beneficial relationship looks set to stay.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
05 Sep 22. Australia, France eye new defence industry framework.
Canberra and Paris are set to explore new opportunities to develop a “mutually beneficial” defence industry network.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles has met with Sébastien Lecornu, French Minister for the Armed Forces to explore ways to bolster bilateral defence and security ties as part of the bilateral roadmap proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in July.
Opportunities to “foster stronger two-way industrial and technological defence partnerships” was among the principles agreed to by the counterparts, aimed at supporting the capability requirements of both the Australian and French militaries.
This is set to involve dialogue between armaments officials in the coming weeks, centring on the development of a new, “mutually beneficial bilateral framework”.
The framework will be reportedly designed to “guide defence equipment and industry collaboration”, addressing the nations’ key defence procurement programs across the maritime, air and space sector.
This is tipped to include land and missile systems development projects.
Additionally, Ministers Marles and Lecornu agreed to explore collaboration opportunities for the development of space defence capabilities, including Earth observation satellites, satellite communication or space domain awareness.
Underpinning these ambitions would be a “deepening of institutional linkages” between the defence organisations of Australia and France.
This would involve expanding information sharing, increasing personnel exchanges, and facilitating closer cooperation between strategic think tanks and academia.
Ramping up defence engagement between the Australian Defence Force and the French Armed Forces was also among the topics of discussion.
This would involve more joint regional deployments and training activities — such as Exercises Talisman Sabre and La Perouse — and increasing mutual access to military infrastructures and expanded secure communications links to improve intelligence exchanges.
This forms part of a broader commitment to strengthen the rules-based order “in the face of an increasingly contested strategic environment”.
Australia and France also agreed to increase humanitarian aid and disaster relief cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and to enhance military cooperation in the Indian Ocean, including with the European Union. (Source: Defence Connect)
05 Sep 22. Chile: Rejection of Amendment. On 4 September, Chileans overwhelmingly rejected a new constitutional text in the constitutional plebiscite by 61.86 percent to 38.14 percent. The reject vote won in all provinces by at least three m ballots. President Gabriel Boric and parties from across the political spectrum called for a new constitutional assembly based on party politics, limiting the ability of independents to run.
- The defeat for the constitutional changes reduces the risk of an immediate spike in domestic unrest. However, it is unlikely to prevent further violent protests in the Santiago Metropolitan region and other large urban areas in the longer term.
- Similarly, the existence of an agreed mechanism to deal with the crisis improves the government’s stability and weakens incentives for the middle class to protest. Nonetheless, the risk of demonstrations by younger generations with ties to left-wing moments is likely to remain. These have a tendency to become violent near central landmarks in Santiago, such as the Plaza Italia or Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins.
- The right-wing opposition’s approval rating has recovered since the Constitutional Convention election, with President Gabriel Boric’s support falling behind at 39 percent. These approval ratings have prompted the ousting of the Minister Secretary-General of the Presidency, Giorgio Jackson, and the Interior Minister, Izkia Siches, suggesting a move from Boric to lean more towards the centre.
- The opposition rejected an invitation by Boric to a dialogue in the presidential palace on 5 September, arguing that the executive must reflect on the results of the constitutional plebiscite. However, a new process to address the crisis will reportedly be agreed before 11 September.
In the short term, widespread protests are unlikely due to the significant margin of the reject victory and the existence of a crisis mechanism consensus. If protests do occur, any attempt by security forces to disperse crowds will increase the potential for violence. While protesters do not regularly target international firms, private property can be vulnerable to damage near protests in central Santiago. The direct threat to foreign staff is also low but any attempt to travel through large protest gatherings – particularly in vehicles with no association with the state or the opposition – increases the risk of a physical altercation.
The current position of the right-wing opposition represents a marked difference to the situation in May 2021, when their approval ratings were at an all-time low due to the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and the response to the 2019 protests. These approval ratings and the use of more traditional and predictable institutions (i.e. political parties) to launch candidacies and generate consensus will likely reduce the policy risks of a second constitutional process, particularly for the mining and financial sectors.
The president’s decision to oust Jackson and Siches will likely reduce tensions with right-wing parties and reduce immediate policy risks. However, internal coalition pressures are highly likely to increase, undermining government stability and weakening policy predictability.
05 Sep 22. Afghanistan: Explosion underlines mounting threats to assets of nations engaging with Taliban. At 1050 hours local time on 5 September, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive after being shot by armed guards as he approached main gate of the Russian embassy in Kabul, killing at least two embassy staff with further casualties being reported. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but it comes amidst a string of attacks against pro-Taliban clerics by the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), including on 2 September in Herat (see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update- 18 August 2022). Russia is also one of the few countries that has a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan despite not formally recognising the Taliban. The Taliban and the Russian government are currently discussing an agreement for Russia to supply gasoline and other commodities to Afghanistan. In the short term investigations into the incident and a heightened security presence will disrupt movement in the Darul Aman area of southwestern Kabul. (Source: Sibylline)
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