Sponsored by Exensor
04 Nov 22. Pakistan: Nationwide protests raise security risk for bystanders and supply chain disruption. Today (4 November), Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is currently holding a nationwide protest, condemning yesterday’s attack on Khan that led to violent unrest across the country (see Sibylline Alert – 3 November 2022). Senior PTI leaders last night issued a video statement saying Khan has blamed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and army’s Major General Faisal Naseer for being behind his apparent assassination attempt; the video was later taken down by the government. In his planned address to the nation this evening, Khan will lay out the PTI’s plan of action going forward. He will likely demand the arrest of the three men and early elections, which will further inflame the elevated tensions between the government and PTI supporters. There is a high risk of episodes of vandalism, with houses of officials and political establishments likely targets, not just today but in upcoming protests. The expected significant turnout will cause significant supply chain disruption across major cities till the end of the day. (Source: Sibylline)
04 Nov 22. Brazil: Pro-Bolsonaro protests, civil unrest will continue despite dismantling of roadblocks. On 3 November, President Jair Bolsonaro asked his supporters to dismantle roadblocks erected following his election loss. Although protesters are still partially blocking highways in 24 locations across five states, this number has decreased from 126. The roadblocks were mainly organised by truck drivers and farmers. They were first erected on 30 October after Bolsonaro narrowly lost the presidential run-off to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Supreme Court Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes has previously stated that protests contesting the outcome of the election are illegal and undemocratic, and that those involved will be held responsible under the law. Although protests are being dispersed along highways, further demonstrations will likely take place in public squares and near landmarks in major urban centres. The risk of domestic unrest remains high, as evidenced by a hit-and-run incident in Mirassol, in the interior of São Paulo on 2 November that left several protesters injured. (Source: Sibylline)
04 Nov 22. Senegal: Opposition leader’s trial will remain flashpoint for protests. On 3 November, opposition leader Ousmane Sonko made his first court appearance in Dakar in connection with allegations of rape made against him. He maintains his innocence and claims that the charges are politically motivated. When Sonko was initially arrested in connection with the allegations in March 2021 his supporters launched several days of violent protests, including rioting and looting, which led to 12 deaths. Prior to his court appearance, Sonko called on his supporters to remain calm amid a heavy security presence in Dakar. Tensions around the case remain elevated and further developments in the trial will remain likely flashpoints for unrest. As such, days in which court developments are anticipated will likely see a heavy security deployment, disrupting movement within the capital. While Sonko’s legal team expects the charges to be dropped, if the court decides to proceed with the case, it will likely trigger disruptive protests in Dakar. (Source: Sibylline)
04 Nov 22. UK statement on the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia. An FCDO Spokesperson issued a statement on the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the conflict in Ethiopia, two days after the signing of a peace agreement between the Ethiopian Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. FCDO Spokesperson: ” The UK welcomes the important step towards peace taken by the Ethiopian Government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front in signing a cessation of hostilities on 2 November, and commends their choice to end the devastating two-year-long conflict. We are grateful to the leadership shown in brokering this critical agreement by African Union Commission Chairperson Faki, African Union High Representative to the Horn of Africa Obasanjo, former South African Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Kenyan President Kenyatta, and the South African Government in hosting the talks. It is now crucial that all parties in Ethiopia, with support from its friends in the international community, move to implement the agreement. Most critically, humanitarian aid must be urgently delivered to all those in conflict-affected areas. Peace creates opportunities for justice, reconciliation and reconstruction. The UK, as a longstanding friend and partner of Ethiopia, stands ready to work alongside the Ethiopian Government and others to support the recovery of conflict affected areas. We look forward to seeing the benefits of peace for the people of Ethiopia.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
03 Nov 22. Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia warns over hypersonics.
Australia’s venture into the development of hypersonic missiles with its AUKUS allies could cause instability in the region, according to Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia.
Siswo Pramono called the progress an “arms race” in an interview with The Guardian and raised concerns it could stifle economic progress because the research was “very expensive”.
“The point is that please have more dialogue to prevent the very expensive hypersonics arms race in the region,” he said.
In April, it was announced the UK would join Australia and the US in developing hypersonic missiles capable of being fired from aircraft such as the Super Hornet and F-35.
A statement on behalf of the then-leaders of the three countries said their collaboration had increased in response to Russia’s “unprovoked, unjustified, and unlawful invasion of Ukraine”.
Australia was previously working with just the US to develop the missiles, under what was known as the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE).
While hypersonic tech — defined as flying at least five times the speed of sound — is nothing new, countries are currently in an arms race to develop the next generation of missiles that are so manoeuvrable in mid-air that they can’t be intercepted or detected.
There are currently two major ways it’s thought manoeuvrable hypersonic vehicles and missiles could work.
The first, known as a hypersonic cruise missile, would see a rocket blast to Mach 5 before using an air-breathing engine, or scramjet, to maintain its momentum.
The second, known as a glide vehicle, sees a rocket blast into the sky before releasing a separate hypersonic missile that has built up enough velocity to travel under its own speed. The two-step system means it can cruise along in the upper atmosphere with enough atmosphere to maintain lift but without too much to create drag.
In July, Defence Connect’s sister brand, Australian Aviation, reported how carbon fibre composites manufacturer Quickstep would work with Defence to try and identify the materials necessary to build the next generation of hypersonics.
When objects fly so quickly, the friction created can increase temperatures to more than 1,000 degrees. Quickstep will therefore work with UNSW on the “Hype-X” project to identify and test materials that can survive extreme conditions.
Initially, the research will focus on the applicability of existing materials before exploring novel materials and manufacturing processes to fill capability gaps.
Quickstep is expected to obtain commercialisation rights to any newly developed intellectual property (IP), with Defence retaining the IP ownership. (Source: Defence Connect)
03 Nov 22. Israel: Right-Religious Gains. On 1 November, Israel held its fifth legislative elections in four years. It was a much-anticipated tight race between Likud, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, and current caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party. Polls were held amid heightened socio-political and ethno-religious tensions across Israel and the Palestinian Territories, with attacks and violent unrest over recent months (see Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 18 October 2022).
- With over 90 percent of votes counted at the time of writing, Netanyahu is slated to head a governing coalition with a 65-seat majority out of a total of 120 in the Knesset. While the finalisation of electoral results is expected later today, 3 November, current results are likely to ensure a swift government formation and deliver a return by the Likud leader as Israel’s next prime minister. This will take place less than two years after the ‘government of change’ of Lapid and Naftali Bennett, the now-retired leader of the New Right party, ousted Netanyahu.
- Polls have also confirmed significant gains by Religious Zionism, now holding 14 seats. The joint alliance between the parties of Itamar Ben-Gvir (Jewish Power party) and Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism party), now represents the third party in Israel’s parliament, only behind Yesh Atid with 24 expected seats. The advance is likely to secure senior ministerial or cabinet-level positions for Ben-Gvir and Smotrich. The inclusion of politicians with open ultra-religious, anti-Arab or anti-LGBTQI+ positions will further shift an executive led by Netanyahu to the right.
- As of 0350 hrs local time, today, Meretz stood at 3.17 percent just below the 3.25 Knesset threshold. However, the most recent numbers officially confirm the party will not be part of the new parliament. The possibility of Meretz meeting the required votes, and securing between four to five seats, had elevated concerns over the majority prospects of Netanyahu’s bloc. Elections have further resulted in major losses for another left-wing party, Labor, projected to secure only four seats and the Arab nationalist party Balad, not expected to be part of the Knesset’s new makeup.
In the immediate term, the gains of the right-religious conservative bloc led by Netanyahu are likely to sustain the current volatility of the security environment in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Electoral campaigning and political rhetoric have been substantial factors in the West Bank flare-up, resulting in attacks and violent confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians, as well as with Israeli settlers. Further incidents took place on election day and in the aftermath of the vote, including a stabbing attack today in Jerusalem’s Old City, which caused the wounding of three Israeli police officers.
As such, the increased likelihood of continued low-level stabbings, car rammings and shooting incidents will persist in the coming weeks. Urban centres in the West Bank, Israeli settlements and mixed Arab-Jewish communities, including Lod and Ramla, will represent hotspots for violent incidents and attacks. Equally, the electoral results are likely to further encourage disruptive and violent action, also by Israeli settler groups, targeting Palestinians and Arab Israeli citizens.
The soon-to-be opposition parties, including Yesh Atid, are unlikely to lead protests that drive major bouts of violent unrest. However, protests from the so-called ‘anti-Netanyahu camp’ are likely to trigger calls for counter-protests from Netanyahu’s supporters and allies, elevating the risks of demonstrations resulting in broader disruption and confrontation. This will sustain the likelihood of short-term operational disruptions for businesses, as well as physical security risks for staff and assets.
Similarly, celebratory events in the coming days by supporters of Ben-Gvir and his Knesset allies are likely to represent a flashpoint for elevated ethno-religious tensions resulting in violent unrest and clashes. The leader of the Jewish Power party has already taken part in several inflammatory demonstrative acts, which have a realistic possibility of emboldening additional actors. Jerusalem, particularly within the Sheik Jarrah neighbourhood, the al-Aqsa Mosque and surrounding areas, and urban centres near the city will remain hotspots.
While the confirmation of the second ballot count is expected in the coming hours, parties within Netanyahu’s coalition already started celebrating since the release of preliminary exit polls early on 2 November. However, the Central Elections Committee will have until 9 November to publish the final tally, with electoral results subject to appeal until 23 November. Final and official results will kick-start consultations between Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Knesset parties to identify, no later than 16 November, which lawmaker will be asked to form a government, with Netanyahu highly likely to be the choice. The latter has already started informal negotiations, ahead of the formal negotiation period to secure a governing majority.
Local media reports also highlight that the Likud leader is aiming to have a government in place, as well as a new Knesset speaker, by 15 November. However, coalition negotiations will still have to discuss policy goals and cabinet positions, likely to highlight divergent positions on portfolios, including the recent maritime demarcation deal with Lebanon, within Netanyahu’s bloc, sustaining political instability risks. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Nov 22. Ethiopia: Peace Deal. On 2 November, the Ethiopian government and the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) agreed to a “permanent cessation of hostilities”. The ceasefire includes several concessions by the TPLF, including the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of TPLF-aligned militias, and commits the government to facilitate the delivery of aid, rebuild infrastructure and restore services. However, the agreement leaves a number of issues unaddressed which will now be the focus of an announced framework to settle political differences.
- The government’s multi-pronged offensive towards Mekelle over the past month significantly elevated pressure on the TPLF to reach a peace agreement. Ethiopian forces’ capture of Alamata exposed Mekelle to a southern assault, Eritrean and Amhara regional forces captured Adwa and were advancing gradually down the C23 to the west of the city, and Eritrean and Afar regional forces at Abala were threatening the city from the east. A conventional military defeat was likely inevitable, which would have forced the TPLF to revert to guerrilla warfare. The effectiveness of this strategy would be undercut by significant supply challenges in Tigray and would have likely resulted in widespread human rights abuses against Tigray’s civilians.
- Similarly, Ethiopia was also incentivised to speed up the agreement of a peace deal by economic factors. US sanctions against Ethiopia, particularly the removal of Ethiopia from the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), allowing duty-free access to the US, from January 2022, significantly exacerbating foreign currency shortages and driving unemployment. To counteract these shortages and drive growth Ethiopia has sought debt relief. Bilateral creditors have agreed in principle but progress is dependent on an IMF deal, which has been stalled due to the state of conflict.
- However, several issues remain unaddressed by the current agreement, elevating threats to the efficacy of the peace process. Critically, the talks did not indicate what would happen to territory that has been captured by parties that dispute its ownership with Tigray. This includes Eritrea, a key military contributor to the federal offensive, that was not a party to the agreement. Furthermore, although there will be a transitional framework to ensure that federal control is re-established, it appears that the TPLF will be allowed to continue as a political entity. This may be particularly contentious, particularly in Amhara, due to alleged TPLF war crimes in Amhara, driving unrest over accountability.
In the short term, a broad cessation of fighting in northern Ethiopia is likely. Aid deliveries will increase, although the Ethiopian government will seek to heavily regulate this process, particularly while TPLF fighters remain armed, driving some disruption to the activities of aid agencies and sustaining the threat of harassment to NGO staff. Ethiopia will likely call on the international community to assist with rebuilding, putting pressure on the IMF to agree to the funding package which is vital for debt restructuring under the G20 Common Framework process. This will also increase the likelihood that the US begins to lift sanctions on Ethiopia, reducing compliance risks.
Resolving long-standing political disputes will likely be a drawn-out process, during which the peace process will be vulnerable to breaches. Territorial claims, particularly those of Eritrea and Amhara, as well as questions over the future of the TPLF as a political party, will act as a key flashpoint for unrest. It is almost certain that the TPLF will demand the return of the occupied territory to the people of Tigray, and although there may be an opportunity for concessions, outright rejection would significantly increase the likelihood of the ceasefire breaking down. Concern over its capacity to exercise this option will likely slow TPLF engagement with disarmament, likely to prove another highly contentious issue.
By contrast, if the Ethiopian government makes considerable territorial concessions, protests are highly likely in Amhara, as well as Addis Ababa where there is a large Amhara population. The government has previously indicated its willingness to clamp down on Amhara militia groups, increasing the likelihood of violent clashes around such demonstrations. There is a realistic possibility these would endure over a number of weeks, heightening threats to government stability.
Furthermore, the agreement did not include the TPLF’s ally rebel groups in Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz regions in central and western Ethiopia. As such, conflict with these groups will likely endure, elevating the risk of attack to overland movement, particularly throughout western and southern Oromia. However, the agreement will enable Ethiopia to redirect troops to Oromia, further mitigating the threats of attack in Addis Ababa. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Nov 22. North Korea: Heightened missile activity likely prologue to new nuclear test, sustaining elevated regional tensions. On 3 November, North Korea launched multiple missiles including a possible intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which triggered an emergency alert for residents in parts of northern Japan to seek shelter for the second time this year (see Sibylline Alert – 4 October 2022). Although the ICBM appeared to have failed in flight and did not enter Japan’s airspace, the activity came a day after North Korea fired a record number of missiles in a single day (see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update – 2 November 2022). The recent sequence of missile launches, which poses a latent threat to commercial shipping and aviation, signals an increased likelihood Pyongyang will conduct its seventh nuclear test in the coming days, possibly coinciding with the US midterm elections. The likely firm response from the US (and its allies) to a North Korea nuclear test will perpetuate tensions on the Korean Peninsula, further diminishing the prospects of a diplomatic breakthrough in the short term. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Nov 22. Ethiopia: Territorial and political disputes will remain a potential spoiler for ceasefire. On 2 November, the Ethiopian government and the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) agreed a ceasefire. The ceasefire includes a number of concessions by the TPLF, including the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of TPLF-aligned militias. The government’s multi-pronged offensive towards Mekelle left the TPLF with few options. While it was possible the TPLF could return to guerrilla warfare, this would have resulted in widespread human rights abuses and its effectiveness would have been undercut by food insecurity. Alongside commitments to rebuild infrastructure in the region, resume services and deliver humanitarian aid, the agreement also mentions the establishment of a framework to settle political differences. These peace talks will act as a key flashpoint for unrest and a potential spoiler for the ceasefire, particularly over the issue of the land currently occupied by Amhara, threatening to drive either a return to hostilities or widespread protests in Amhara. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Nov 22. Brazil: Supporters of President Bolsonaro continue to hold rallies calling for military intervention, sustaining elevated risk of domestic unrest. On November 3, protesters supporting President Bolsonaro held rallies in at least 24 of Brazil’s 26 states, as well as in the capital Brasilia, calling for the military to intervene and prevent presidential poll winner, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, from entering office. Several organised demonstrations have taken place after the results of the presidential election were announced (30 October), leading to partial blockades of main roads across the country. President Bolsonaro has recently called for the roadblocks to be lifted but has not dissuaded protests in major cities. The protesters claim the elections were rigged and that Brazil’s highest court of justice favoured Lula. While the demonstrations have been peaceful, domestic unrest risks will likely remain elevated in the near term. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Nov 22. Israel-Palestinian Territories: Electoral gains by right-religious bloc will increase risk of violent confrontations, low-level attacks. Preliminary results of the 1 November elections indicate that Likud party leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will almost certainly become the country’s next premier, with his right-religious conservative bloc set to win 65 out of 120 Knesset seats. Final results are expected in the coming hours. Soon-to-be opposition parties are unlikely to lead protests that would incite major bouts of violent unrest. However, demonstrations by Netanyahu’s critics are likely to face counter-protests by supporters of Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc in the coming days, increasing the risk of clashes and localised disruptions to overland transport routes. Jerusalem and nearby urban centres such as Shuafat refugee camp and Sheikh Jarrah will represent hotspots for unrest and violent confrontations, particularly in the vicinity of the Old City and al-Aqsa Mosque, heightening bystander risks. Low-level stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks are also expected, particularly in these areas and the wider West Bank, in the coming days. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Nov 22. 54th Security Consultative Meeting Joint Communique.
- The 54th United States (U.S.)-Republic of Korea (ROK) Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) was held in Washington, D.C. on November 3, 2022. The U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and ROK Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup led their respective delegations, which included senior defense and foreign affairs officials. On October 19, 2022, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Kim Seung-Kyum presided over the 47th ROK-U.S. Military Committee Meeting (MCM).
- The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the shared vision of both nations for a global comprehensive strategic alliance as contained in the May 2022 U.S.-ROK Presidential Summit in Seoul. They emphasized the commitment of both countries in promoting democratic norms, human rights, and the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region. They further shared their common understanding that the U.S.-ROK Alliance is based on the same principles and shared values including: mutual trust, freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
The Secretary and the Minister assessed that the U.S.-ROK Alliance is strong and reaffirmed the two nations’ mutual commitment to a combined defense posture consistent with the U.S-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty to defend the ROK. The two leaders resolved to continue to strengthen the Alliance to remain postured to defend against and respond to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) aggression and preserve stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.
The Secretary and the Minister noted that the SCM has played a pivotal role in the continued development of the U.S.-ROK Alliance, and is to continue to be a cornerstone venue to discuss and affirm national commitments. Both sides pledged to continue to develop the Alliance—the linchpin of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Indo-Pacific region— into a deep and comprehensive strategic relationship.
In particular, marking the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-ROK Alliance in 2023, the Secretary and the Minister recognized the value of the Alliance and pledged to hold various joint events to lay a foundation for the development of the Alliance in the future.
- The Secretary and the Minister reviewed the current security environment in and around the Korean Peninsula and the region and discussed cooperative measures between the two nations. The Minister expressed concern about DPRK violations of the ‘Comprehensive Military Agreement,’ including repetitive multiple rocket launcher firings. The Secretary and minister strongly condemned the DPRK’s escalatory activities and violations of United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including ballistic missile test launches, multiple rocket launches, and firing of coastal artillery and called upon the international community to hold the DPRK responsible for its actions. Both sides also expressed concern that the DPRK’s ongoing efforts to develop nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, as well as its escalatory rhetoric regarding the use of tactical nuclear weapons, and its proliferation activities. They noted that these actions present profound challenges to the international community and pose an increasingly serious threat to the security and stability of the region and the world. Secretary Austin also expressed his concern on the DPRK’s attempts to develop various nuclear weapons, as well as means of delivery. Secretary Austin reiterated the firm U.S. commitment to providing extended deterrence to the ROK utilizing the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities and advanced non-nuclear capabilities. He noted that any nuclear attack against the United States or its Allies and partners, including the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons, is unacceptable and will result in the end of the Kim regime. They pledged to further strengthen the Alliance’s capabilities, information sharing, and consultation process, as well as joint planning and execution, to deter and respond to DPRK’s advancing nuclear and missile threats. Both leaders also reaffirmed the commitment of the U.S. to deploy United States strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula in a timely and coordinated manner as necessary, to enhance such measures, and identify new steps to reinforce deterrence in the face of the DPRK’s destabilizing activities.
The two leaders assessed that bilateral mechanisms such as the Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD), the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG), and the Deterrence Strategy Committee (DSC) serve to strengthen the Alliance combined deterrence posture. They pledged to continue close consultation through these mechanisms to identify means to further strengthen extended deterrence. The Secretary and the Minister applauded progress on revising the Tailored Deterrence Strategy (TDS) within the DSC, which upon completion is to provide a framework on deterrence and response in order to better prepare for the DPRK’s advancing nuclear and missile threats. The two leaders encouraged the DSC to make significant progress toward completion of the TDS ahead of 55th SCM. The Secretary and the Minister further pledged to conduct the DSC Table-top-exercise (TTX) annually, which is to include a DPRK nuclear use scenario, in response to recent changes in DPRK nuclear strategy and capabilities. Going forward, the two leaders concurred on the importance of focusing efforts to deter DPRK nuclear weapon use and pledged to seek new measures to demonstrate Alliance’s determination and capabilities. The Secretary and the Minister also expressed their determination to maintain close Alliance coordination, especially with regards to strategic communication, to respond effectively to any future provocation.
The Secretary and the Minister closely consulted on both nations’ policies to effectively deter and respond to DPRK’s nuclear and missile threats, including the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), Missile Defense Review (MDR), and the reinforcement of the ROK 3K Defense System. The Secretary and the Minister noted the efforts to strengthen Alliance’s missile response capabilities and posture by establishing the two subordinate groups under the DSC: the newly established Counter-Missile Working Group (CMWG) and the reactivated Program Analysis Working Group for the U.S.-ROK Missile Defense (PAWG) in response to advancing DPRK missile threats.
- The two sides pledged to continue coordination and cooperation toward achieving the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as well as pursuing steps to encourage the DPRK to choose a path leading to denuclearization and a brighter future. Secretary Austin welcomed the ROK’s Audacious Initiative as a positive effort to encourage progress towards denuclearization. The Secretary and the Minister stressed the importance of efforts to resume diplomacy and dialogue, and called for full implementation of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) by the entire international community, including the DPRK. The Secretary and the Minister urged the DPRK to abide by its obligations under the existing UNSCRs as well as its previous commitments and agreements. The Secretary and the Minister also concurred on the need for a concerted effort by the international community to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula, while noting that next year marks the 70th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement. The Secretary and the Minister concurred that the efforts by the ROK and the DPRK to faithfully abide by the Armistice Agreement and previous agreements in a mutual manner is necessary to ease military tensions and build trust on the Korean Peninsula. Minister Lee further conveyed the ROK’s position that the Northern Limit Line (NLL) has been an effective means of separating ROK and DPRK military forces and preventing military tension. The two leaders reaffirmed that they would continue to closely cooperate in pursuit of these objectives, expressed their support for diplomatic efforts as the most preferred path, and concurred that such diplomatic efforts must be backed by a robust and credible combined defense posture.
- The Secretary and the Minister also reflected on the critical role that U.S. forces in the ROK have played for more than 69 years, and reaffirmed that U.S. Forces Korea USFK is to continue to play an important role in preventing armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula, and in promoting peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
Secretary Austin also noted that the Indo-Pacific region is the Department of Defense’s priority theater, reaffirmed the ironclad commitment of the United States to the combined defense of the ROK, and reiterated the U.S. commitment to maintain current USFK force levels in order to defend the ROK. He highlighted the increased frequency and intensity of U.S. strategic asset deployments, consistent with the Presidents’ commitments to enhance rotational deployments of U.S. strategic assets in and around the Korean Peninsula, as tangible evidence of the U.S. commitment to defend the ROK.
Secretary Austin and Minister Lee also reaffirmed the role of the United Nations Command (UNC) in maintaining and enforcing the Armistice Agreement and coordinating multinational contributions to security on the Korean Peninsula. Both leaders reaffirmed that the UNC has contributed to the successful maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula for over 70 years, and that it will continue to carry out its mission and tasks with the utmost respect for ROK sovereignty.
The Secretary and the Minister recognized ROK efforts to establish the conditions for the stable stationing of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery at Camp Carroll. The Secretary and the Minister committed to continuing close cooperation for normalizing routine and unfettered access to the THAAD site.
- The Secretary and the Minister received a report on the results of the U.S.-ROK MCM from the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command (CFC) Commander, General Paul J. LaCamera. Based on the report, they committed to enhance combined defense capabilities against DPRK threats, strengthen nuclear and WMD deterrence and response posture of the CFC, conduct the systematic and stable transition of operational control (OPCON), and update relevant operation plans (OPLANs). The two leaders also assessed that there was significant progress in effectively responding to a variety of security challenges following changes to the strategic environment.
- The Secretary and Minister concurred on the need to enhance combined exercises and training events to strengthen readiness against DPRK nuclear and missile threats, particularly given the security environment following the DPRK’s most recent missile tests. The two leaders assessed that the Combined Command Post Training (CCPT) 22-1 and the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise contributed to maintaining combined readiness. In particular, they recognized that the UFS exercise restored a realistic theater-level combined exercise system. They also assessed that the combined field exercise intensively performed in conjunction with the UFS exercise OPLAN added strength to the U.S-ROK combined defense posture and military readiness. Both leaders pledged to closely cooperate to return to large-scale field exercises in line with combined exercises in 2023, noting that training for defensive and deterrent purposes is a critical component of maintaining Alliance readiness. The two sides assessed that the U.S.-ROK Alliance must continue to focus on combat readiness and on the combined defense posture to address dynamic changes on the Korean Peninsula.
- The Secretary and the Minister emphasized that continuous training opportunities for USFK are critical to maintaining a strong combined defense posture. Secretary Austin noted the efforts of the ROK’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) for the improvement of the combined training conditions and the two leaders pledged to maintain close cooperation to achieve additional progress. Both leaders concurred on the importance of communication and cooperation between USFK and MND to coordinate the joint use of ROK facilities and airspace for U.S. and ROK training to maintain effective combined readiness. The two leaders also noted that the ROK Government’s plan to establish a combined joint multi-purpose live-fire training complex is a strategic approach to significantly improve the training conditions of both nations, and shared a common understanding on the need to expedite efforts to establish the complex.
- The Secretary and the Minister recognized the Combined Forces Command (CFC) as the symbol of the Alliance and core of the combined defense system, and its central role in deterring war on the Korean Peninsula and defending the ROK since its establishment in 1978. The two leaders also expressed their expectation that the CFC Headquarters relocation would contribute to a stable transition of wartime OPCON in accordance with the Alliance Guiding Principles and the Conditions-based OPCON Transition Plan (COTP). Furthermore, the Secretary and the Minister pledged to work together to establish a strong combined defense posture based on further and enhanced Alliance spirit and operational efficiency capabilities at Pyeongtaek base (U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys), a new cradle of the Alliance.
- The Secretary and the Minister assessed that significant progress had been made in meeting the conditions for wartime OPCON transition. After reviewing the progress on directed tasks from the COTP, the two leaders discussed the way forward for wartime OPCON transition to the Future Combined Forces Command (F-CFC). The Secretary and the Minister also reaffirmed that the conditions stated in the bilaterally approved COTP must be met before the wartime OPCON is fully transitioned to the F-CFC.
The two leaders applauded the progress made in completing all eight COTP Annexes and approved the completed set of the COTP annexes with appendices and tabs recommended by the 22-2 COTP Permanent Military Committee. The Secretary and the Minister also noted that all assessment tasks met the criteria after the successful Full Operational Capability (FOC) assessment of the F-CFC and committed to complete the bilateral evaluation of Conditions #1 and #2 capabilities and systems and to review the overall status of acquiring bilateral approved-upon levels of capabilities and systems, before discussing FOC certification. They also confirmed the progress of the joint assessment of the ROK’s critical military capabilities and the Alliance’s comprehensive response capabilities against DPRK nuclear and missile threats and assessed that significant progress had been made in meeting the conditions for the transition. The Minister reiterated that the ROK military is to continue to acquire defense capabilities necessary to lead the future combined defense and to pursue efforts to meet the conditions in a systematic as well as stable manner. The Minister and Secretary concurred that further management of Bridging and Enduring Capabilities is to be accomplished within the OPLAN planning process. The Secretary and the Minister also committed to cooperate closely to ensure the development of comprehensive and interoperable Alliance capabilities. The two sides pledged to engage in regular evaluation and review of the progress in wartime OPCON transition implementation through annual SCM and MCM to maintain a steadfast combined defense system.
- The Secretary and the Minister decided to continue strengthening cooperation in various areas, including space and cyber, in order to ensure an effective joint response against newly emerging threats and to bolster comprehensive Alliance response capabilities. The Secretary and the Minister acknowledged the efforts of the respective defense authorities working to promote the security of critical infrastructure, including information and space systems. The two leaders applauded the work of the Space Cooperation Working Group and pledged to explore measures to strengthen space cooperation given the signing of the U.S.-ROK Space Policy Joint Study. The two sides pledged to explore further cooperative measures to strengthen space capabilities as an Alliance, such as space situational awareness information sharing systems, and to expand bilateral and multilateral exercises and training events including the Space Cooperation TTX. The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen Alliance cyber cooperation in light of the increasing scope of cyber security threats. They highlighted the work of the May 2022 Cyber Cooperation Working Group and committed to enhance close communication and coordination in the cyber domain including increasing U.S.-ROK combined response cooperation, the establishment of a bilateral cyber exercises and training, and information security requirements.
- The Minister and the Secretary concurred on the need to strengthen the national defense capabilities of the Alliance, and to establish more efficient and effective collaboration in the development, acquisition, and employment of these capabilities. The two sides noted the importance of expanding and deepening cooperation in the areas of defense research and development, industrial cooperation, capability acquisition, and logistics and sustainment, with a focus on strengthening the national defense capabilities of the Alliance as well as interoperability.
- The Secretary and the Minister pledged to continue exchange activities between U.S-ROK consultative bodies that address defense research and development, as well as industrial cooperation, capability acquisition, lifecycle logistics, and technology security, and concurred on the necessity to advance Alliance priorities in the areas of capability development, interoperability, acquisition, and sustainment.
- The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to evaluate and evolve bilateral consultative bodies to strengthen efficacy and timeliness of cooperation in areas of defense industries and research and development. The two leaders reaffirmed that U.S.-ROK science and technology cooperation has expanded in various domains such as space, quantum, sensor/electronic warfare, cyber defense, artificial intelligence, automation, and directed energy. They also pledged to seek cooperative measures in the area of 5G and next-generation mobile communications (6G). The two sides assessed that such cooperation is continuing to develop in a way that furthers ROK-U.S. mutual interests. Going forward, the two sides pledged to continue to devise and deepen cooperative efforts through the regular consultative bodies that support these domains, and to work together on continued reform of those consultative bodies to strengthen their alignment with Alliance policy and strategy.
- The Secretary and the Minister shared a common understanding that the U.S.-ROK Alliance plays a critical role in the security, stability, and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region. As such, in consideration of the complex regional and global security situation, the Secretary and the Minister pledged to continue promoting defense and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and the world, in order to better respond to regional and global security challenges. In this context, the two leaders committed to seeking cooperation between the ROK’s Indo-Pacific strategy framework and the U.S. vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the sea, lawful unimpeded commerce, and respect for international law including freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful use of the seas, including the South China Sea and beyond. They further expressed their intent to work together for that purpose. The Secretary and the Minister also acknowledged the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, as reflected in the May 2022 Joint Statement between President Biden and President Yoon. They reaffirmed support for Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) centrality and the ASEAN-led regional architecture.
The two leaders concurred on the need to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law both at home and abroad, and also reiterated their commitment to ongoing efforts to bring peace, stability, and prosperity to the region including counter-piracy operations, stabilization and reconstruction efforts, regional security cooperation initiatives, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
- The two leaders also committed to seek synergies in U.S. and ROK regional strategies to maintain the peace and security of the Northeast Asian region through trilateral and multilateral cooperation. They committed to continue U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral security cooperation such as information sharing, high-level policy consultation, trilateral exercises, and personnel exchanges. In particular, the two leaders committed to continue missile warning and anti-submarine warfare exercises, which help strengthen the response posture of the three countries to the DPRK nuclear and missile threat. The Secretary and the Minister also reaffirmed their commitment to continuing to promote and expand trilateral security cooperation through regular defense consultations, such as the defense trilateral talks (DTT).
- Amidst the DPRK’s continued development of nuclear and missile programs, the Secretary and the Minister recognized the necessity of continued sanctions monitoring missions in the region and welcomed continued multinational contributions to counter-proliferation activities in the region. The Secretary expressed appreciation for the ROK’s contribution to various global security efforts, including the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and both leaders concurred on the importance of upholding and fully implementing all relevant UNSCRs. They reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing cooperation to address existing DPRK sanctions evasion tactics and illicit cyber activities, and committed to seek additional opportunities for responding to WMD threats from the DPRK. Additionally, the two leaders resolved to continue strengthening cooperation to enhance CWMD capabilities through measures including U.S.-ROK Counter WMD Committee (CWMDC) and U.S. DOD Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs, which have enhanced Alliance CWMD capabilities. The Secretary and the Minister applauded the work done over the last year in the CWMDC to enhance the Alliance’s combined response capabilities to prevent the acquisition and use of DPRK’s WMD, and to respond to mitigate WMD threats.
Secretary Austin expressed his gratitude that the ROK is contributing towards ensuring a stable stationing environment for U.S. Forces Korea. The Secretary and Minister also assessed that the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) has greatly contributed to the strengthening of the U.S.-ROK combined defense posture.
- Secretary Austin and Minister Lee expressed appreciation for the courtesy, hospitality, and work by both sides that contributed to the success of this year’s SCM. Both leaders affirmed that the discussions during the 54th SCM and the 47th MCM contributed to substantively strengthening the U.S.-ROK Alliance and further developing the bilateral defense relationship into the U.S.-ROK global comprehensive strategic Alliance. Both sides expect to hold the 55th SCM and 48th MCM in Seoul at a mutually convenient time in 2023. (Source: US DoD)
03 Nov 22. U.S.-South Korea Take Stock of Alliance, Pledge More Cooperation. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup affirmed that the U.S.-South Korea alliance has been tested in war and peace and remains rock-solid. Austin and Lee met for the 54th Security Consultative Meeting at the Pentagon today. The men reviewed the status of the alliance and examined ways to make it even more interoperable and more effective in deterring North Korea.
The meeting came after North Korea’s “illegal and destabilizing launch of an intercontinental continental ballistic missile last night, as well as additional missile launches today,” Austin said. “I’ve consulted with Minister Lee and we’ve decided to extend Vigilant Storm, which is our long-scheduled, combined training exercise to further bolster our readiness interoperability. We’ll continue to work closely together to develop options to protect the United States and our allies in the region.”
The Security Consultative Meeting brings U.S. and South Korean defense leaders together to discuss challenges and opportunities and to develop strategies to deepen cooperation and friendship. The U.S.-South Korean Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in 1953. South Korea had been ravaged by the Korean War — begun in 1950 when North Korean troops stormed across the 38th parallel.
South Korea is now the 10th largest economy in the world and a world-class military that has fought alongside the United States in Vietnam and Afghanistan. “For nearly seven decades, this alliance has been an anchor of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and across the broader Indo-Pacific,” Austin said. “And today, is a tremendously capable ally and a provider of security in the region and a defender of the rules-based international order that keeps us all secure.”
North Korea was an obvious discussion point in the meeting, and Austin reiterated that the U.S. commitment to the defense of the South Korea is “ironclad.”
He said deterrence includes the full range of U.S. nuclear and conventional and missile defense capabilities. The secretary often speaks of integrated deterrence, and he pointed to the deployment of fifth generation fighters and the visit of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to the peninsula earlier this year as examples of that extended deterrence.
“On the peninsula, we’re returning to large-scale exercises to strengthen our combined readiness and our ability to fight tonight, if necessary,” he said. “We’re committed to building on these efforts to strengthen integrated deterrence and to ensure that this alliance continues to bolster security and stability on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the Indo-Pacific.”
In his remarks, Minister Lee stressed the “robustness of the ROK -U.S. military alliance and the steadfastness of the combined defense posture.”
Lee also addressed North Korean threats from nuclear weapons “Secretary Austin and I affirm that any nuclear attack by including the use of tactical nuclear weapons is unacceptable and result in the end of Kim Jong Un regime by the overwhelming and decisive response of the alliance,” he said through a translator.
The United States and South Korea want North Korea to turn away from its destructive path.
The two defense leaders also spoke about trilateral talks that include Japan, Lee said.
“For decades, U.S. and service members have fought side-by-side to defend the ideals of freedom,” Austin said. “This alliance is founded on that shared sacrifice. So, we will confront the challenges of the future the same way that we have for nearly 70 years — by standing shoulder-to-shoulder as proud allies. I’m enormously proud of what we’ve accomplished together, and I’m very grateful for the Republic of Korea’s partnership.” (Source: US DoD)
03 Nov 22. Pakistan: Threat Of Unrest. A shooting occurred on 3 November targeting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan during his ‘long march’ rally (see Sibylline Alert – 27 October 2022) near Zafar Ali Khan chowk in Wazirabad. Khan was shot in his right foot however and is not in a critical condition. He has been transported to Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore where he will spend the night.
- At least nine people have been injured including senior PTI leaders, while one person has been killed. The shooter fired multiple shots but was tackled by a nearby PTI supporter. The shooter has consequently been arrested. In a video released by a local news outlet, the attacker was in custody and claimed to have attempted to kill Khan because he believed that Khan was “misleading the country”. He added that Khan was his only target and that he acted alone.
- The PTI said that the incident was an “assassination attempt” and called for a mass protest at Lahore’s Liberty Chowk and Rawalpindi’s Allama Iqbal park. Several PTI followers via social media have called for people to take to the streets to push for the resignation of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief General Nadeem Ahmed Anjum. PTI are blaming both the army and the Shehbaz Sharif government, claiming that authorities have “crossed their red line”. Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry has called for “revenge”, while PTI official Shireen Mazari stated that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah should be arrested.
- The army and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the incident and called for an investigation to be conducted by the Interior Ministry. Several other federal ministers have also condemned the event. However, the government has provided no details thus far regarding their plan to respond to the PTI’s call for revenge.
While PTI leaders formulate their next move, protests have already broken out in different parts of the country including Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Mansehra, Skardu, Multan, Karak, Muzaffarbad, Jhelum, and Quetta. Demonstrations are likely to spread in the coming hours causing localised transport disruptions. A large protest gathering is being held outside the house of Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah in Faisalabad. Additional high-risk areas for protests include public squares – known locally as chowks -, government establishments, and key roads and highways. Episodes of vandalism targeting houses of government officials and offices are also plausible, raising threat levels for bystanders.
Emotions will continue to run high in the country in the coming days and senior officials of the PTI have called for supporters to continue the ongoing long march protest. The incident has instilled additional vigour in Khan’s anti-government campaign, with the march likely generating greater participation as a result. The protest was expected to reach Islamabad by 11 November, though this schedule may be delayed again because of the incident.
The impact of this event coupled with emerging conspiracy theories surrounding it will continue to polarise society in upcoming weeks, with targeted fake news campaigns also highly likely to occur. This will raise the risk of sole perpetrator attacks by PTI supporters against symbols and personnel of the government and army. PTI activists will unlikely settle for only an investigation into the incident and will also likely reject its outcome. If protesters or PTI activists converge on the capital of Islamabad, the army will likely be deployed, and localised internet shutdowns can be expected.
There will likely also be smaller-scale protests by PTI overseas chapters, such as in London, in the upcoming hours. However, these will likely be peaceful rallies, with potential locations being the respective embassies of Pakistan or local government establishments. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Nov 22. North Korea ICBM may have failed in flight, officials say; allies extend major drills.
- Residents in Japan told to shelter after launch
- S.Korea, U.S. to extend Vigilant Storm exercises
- N.Korea also fired two short-range missiles
- Pyongyang has criticised allied drills
North Korea fired multiple ballistic missiles on Thursday, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that triggered an alert for residents in parts of central and northern Japan to seek shelter.
Despite an initial government warning that a missile had overflown Japan, Tokyo later said that was incorrect.
Officials in South Korea and Japan said the missile may have been an ICBM, which are North Korea’s longest-range weapons, and are designed to carry a nuclear warhead to the other side of the planet.
South Korean officials believe the ICBM failed in flight, Yonhap news agency reported, without elaborating. Spokespeople for the South Korean and Japanese ministries of defence declined to confirm the possible failure.
Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the government lost track of the missile over the Sea of Japan, prompting it to correct its announcement that it had flown over Japan.
Retired Vice Admiral and former Japan Maritime Self Defense Force fleet commander Yoji Koda said the loss of radar tracking on the projectile pointed to a failed launch.
“It means at some point in the flight path there was some problem for the missile and it actually came apart,” he said.
Although the warhead came down in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, debris, which would have been travelling at high speed, may still have passed over Japan, Koda added.
North Korea has had several failed ICBM tests this year, according to South Korean and U.S. officials.
The United States condemned North Korea’s ICBM launch, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “This launch is a clear violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions,” he said.
It also demonstrates the threat from North Korea’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes, Price added.
The launches came after Pyongyang demanded the United States and South Korea stop large-scale military exercises, saying such “military rashness and provocation can be no longer tolerated”.
It has said that a recent flurry of missile launches and other military activities were in protest of such drills.
The allies have been conducting one of the largest air exercises ever, with hundreds of South Korean and U.S. warplanes, including F-35 fighters, staging around-the-clock simulated missions.
After Thursday’s ICBM launch, the allies agreed to extend the drills past Friday, when they were scheduled to end, South Korea’s Air Force said in a statement.
“A strong combined defense posture of the ROK-U.S. alliance is necessary under the current security crisis that is escalating due to North Korean provocations,” the statement said, using the initials of South Korea’s official name.
North Korea also launched two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday.
The launches came after North Korea fired at least 23 missiles on Wednesday, the most in a single day, including one that landed off South Korea’s coast for the first time.
South Korea issued rare air raid warnings and launched its own missiles in response after Wednesday’s barrage.
After the first launch on Thursday, residents of Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata prefectures in Japan were warned to seek shelter indoors, according to the J-Alert Emergency Broadcasting System.
“We detected a launch that showed the potential to fly over Japan and therefore triggered the J Alert, but after checking the flight we confirmed that it had not passed over Japan,” Hamada told reporters.
The first missile flew to an altitude of about 2,000 kilometres and a range of 750 kilometres, he said. Such a flight pattern is called a “lofted trajectory”, in which a missile is fired high into space to avoid flying over neighbouring countries.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the long-range missile was launched from near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
About an hour after the first launch, South Korea’s military and the Japanese coast guard reported a second and third launch from North Korea. South Korea said both of those were short-range missiles fired from Kaechon, north of Pyongyang.
South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman strongly condemned North Korea’s series of missile launches as “deplorable, immoral” during a phone call on Thursday, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.
In brief comments to reporters a few minutes later, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, “North Korea’s repeated missile launches are an outrage and absolutely cannot be forgiven.”
U.S. President Joe Biden and his national security team was “assessing the situation,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement, which added that the United States would take “all necessary measures” to ensure security.
After North Korea’s launches on Wednesday, including one missile that landed less than 60 km (40 miles) off South Korea’s coast, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol described the flights as “territorial encroachment” and Washington denounced them as “reckless”.
The flurry of launches led to inconsistent and sometimes conflicted reports from authorities in Japan and South Korea. The U.S. military, which wields some of the most advance tracking technology in the region, only said it was “aware” of the launches, without providing details.
Japan and South Korea have a history of mischaracterizing North Korean missile events, said Ankit Panda of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“Neither country has the highly reliable and desirable space-based infrared sensors available to the United States that allow for prompt detection of missile stages as they ignite,” he said.
On Oct. 4, North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years, prompted a warning for residents there to take cover. It was the farthest North Korea had ever fired a missile. (Source: Reuters)
02 Nov 22. Iran-Saudi Arabia: Iranian Threat.
On 1 November, Saudi Arabia and the US raised alert levels for domestic and regional military forces after Saudi intelligence indicated an ‘imminent’ attack by Iran. In tandem, the Commander of the Iranian Air Force announced yesterday that there will be ‘good news in the air defence field for the Iranian people in the coming days’.
- Tehran has repeatedly condemned Saudi Arabia’s perceived role in inciting protest activity across major Iranian cities. Last month, Major General Hossein Salami, a senior commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), warned against the Kingdom’s continued distribution of activist footage on social media and television networks based in the Middle East and Europe. As such, Iran likely seeks to retaliate to demonstrate its power and influence to the Iranian population as anti-government sentiment soars.
- The warning represents a significant deterioration in geopolitical tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, after months of relative quiet. Tit-for-tat hostilities between the two states have traditionally taken the form of physical or cyber attacks on critical infrastructure and maritime assets, such as the IRGC-led drone attack on the Saudi Aramco facility in Abqaiq in September 2019. Additionally, inflamed Saudi – Iranian ties elevates the possibility of attacks on the Kingdom by Iran-backed proxy networks, including the Yemen-based Houthis.
- Saudi intelligence indicated that attacks are also likely in northern Iraq, specifically Erbil, where the IRGC and Iran-backed militia in the area have previously targeted US forces (see Sibylline Alert – 13 March 2022). These groups continue to maintain a presence in this area as demonstrated by a significant increase in IRGC-launched attacks against Kurdish opposition groups, whom Iran blames for inciting protests, in recent weeks.
Iran will likely maintain a hard-line rhetorical stance towards foreign actors whom they accuse of instigating demonstrations, specifically Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK and the EU. This narrative is expected to intensify in the coming days and weeks as anti-government sentiment accelerates. Iran’s threat of physical retaliation and political posturing aligns with established IRGC tactics, with an uptick in external attacks representing an opportunity to scapegoat foreign interference for worsening economic and social conditions.
The ‘imminent’ warning indicates a return to tit-for-tat hostilities between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which elevates the threat of cross-border aerial attacks by Iranian proxy networks based in Yemen and Iraq. Renewed fighting in the Yemen conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi militants will strengthen Iran’s narrative that they are retaliating against Saudi aggression, likely prompting increased coordination between Iran and its proxies. As per previous reporting, southern provinces including Abha, Jazan and Asir will remain most vulnerable to targeting.
There is a realistic possibility that Iranian proxies will launch low-level strikes on critical infrastructure and disruptive cyber attacks in the coming days. However, while still possible, we assess that large-scale attacks launched directly by Iran are less likely in the coming days, as it represents a lose-lose scenario for Tehran. Continued military and security cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the US, despite recent geopolitical fissures, will largely mitigate the impact of aerial threats in the near future.
Finally, we assess that foreign forces in northern Iraq, specifically Duhok and Erbil, face heightened physical risks from IRGC-launched drone or missile attacks in the coming days, due to weaker defence capabilities and the notable presence of Iranian militia in the area. Such Iranian attacks will expose businesses and organisations operating in Kurdistan to greater bystander and mobility disruptions, particularly those in the vicinity of US assets. (Source: Sibylline)
01 Nov 22. Pakistan: Extension of red zone increases securitisation in the capital, commuters likely to be impacted. On 31 October, the government extended the high-security red zone area in Islamabad to the zero point interchange, covering Faisal Avenue, Margalla Road, Bari Imam and Fifth Avenue areas. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah commented that the red zone was the government’s “red line”. The army will be deployed to protect the extended red zone, within which section 144 is imposed – this prohibits the gathering of more than five people. The PTI is seeking permission to stage a sit-in on the Srinagar highway between H-9 and G-9 sectors. Imran Khan’s long march was earlier scheduled to enter Islamabad on 4 November, however, it will likely be delayed into next week. Security arrangements continue to tighten in and around the capital with the Islamabad administration reportedly also deploying snipers to less commonly used entry points into Islamabad. Tensions, therefore, remain high with violent clashes also likely. (Source: Sibylline)
01 Nov 22. Libya: Haftar’s call for military escalation will exacerbate government instability and disrupt business operations. On 1 November, General Commander of the Libyan National Army, General Khalifa Haftar, threatened to “restore the Libyan state” after asserting that foreign forces had failed to enact any political change. General Haftar’s inflammatory comments mimic remarks made at the end of September, after he announced his support for a public uprising following armed clashes between militia in Tripoli and Zawiya on 26 September. Haftar’s narrative underscores Libya’s deepening political fragility as feuds between opposing western and eastern-based governments intensify ahead of potential elections in December. General Haftar and rival militia will seek to exploit Libya’s political divisions in the coming weeks, targeting state buildings to undermine government infrastructure. The possible targeting of critical infrastructure, particularly following a warning released by the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) on 30 October, will further disrupt Libya’s oil production levels, also heightening physical security risks for personnel and assets in this sector. (Source: Sibylline)
02 Nov 22. Finance Ministry must assist if SANDF is to retain sharp end on land and at sea. Given the miserliness with which the national defence force is treated by the Ministry of Finance’s National Treasury (NT) it’s not surprising the latest recommendations by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) includes Minister Enoch Godongwana. Its budgetary review and recommendation report (BRRR) is contained in the 31 October Announcements, Tablings and Committee (ATC) Reports document.
One of the five recommendations for NT concerns an appeal to ring fence funds for upgrading the SA Navy (SAN) Valour Class frigates and Heroine Class Type 209 submarines. Similar recommendations were made to the keeper of the national purse last year, the year before and in 2019.
Explaining the recommendation, the PCDMV suggests “a staggered approach”. This will limit the fiscal impact and “ensure midlife upgrades of all frigates and submarines over, for example, the next seven to 10 years, starting in 2023/24. This will allow the SAN to appropriately plan vessel availability, adjust sea hour targets accordingly and report more accurately to Parliament. It would add significant capacity in terms of maritime security currently characterised by very limited naval patrols”.
The SA Air Force (SAAF) and the Scrooge-like approach adopted towards it, along with the rest of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), was also under the PCDMV microscope with a recommendation for NT. It reads, in part, “the committee is concerned about the ability of the SAAF to effectively provide logistic and reinforcement support to SANDF members deployed outside South Africa due to limited strategic airlift capacity” and recommends – again – a ring fenced allocation to address SAAF strategic airlift shortcomings.
The long-running and seemingly going nowhere Project Hoefyster to provide a replacement infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) for the SA Army Infantry Formation was another red light for the PCDMV. “Stagnation” and “lack of investment” introduce Project Hoefyster with the ATC going on to state the infantry formation’s “capability has been worsened by the non-finalisation” of the project.
The PCDMV “recommends engagement between NT, the DoD (Department of Defence) and Armscor to consider further funding for Phase 2 of Project Hoefyster”. Should this not be “feasible”, upgrading of the still in service Ratel fleet to extend serviceability should be considered for funding.
“NT, the DoD and Armscor should jointly report back to the PCDMV on envisaged plans to address the Infantry capability constraints. These should be included in the DoD and Armscor Annual Performance Plans (APPs) for 2023/24 and Treasury should consider a statement to this effect in the 2023/24 Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE),” according to the ATC. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
02 Nov 22. Kenya: Al-Shabaab ambush underlines moderate threat near Somali border. On 1 November, suspected al-Shabaab militants in Mandera county ambushed an ambulance travelling to Elwak hospital. The vehicle was commandeered, and four passengers were abducted. Increasing pressure on al-Shabaab by the security forces in neighbouring Somalia has reduced the rate of attacks by the group in Kenya. However, militants retain the capability to conduct cross-border operations, sustaining a moderate threat near the border. This includes IED and small-arms attacks against security and government facilities. This activity primarily threatens aid agency workers and other NGOs engaged in development projects in the region. The incident is consistent with the established scope of al-Shabaab’s operations and does not indicate an increased threat to major urban centres or more central parts of Kenya, including the capital Nairobi. (Source: Sibylline)
02 Nov 22. DRC: UN withdrawal from Rumangabo military base will drive further violent protests. Earlier on 2 November, the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) announced the withdrawal of its troops from Rumangabo military camp, located around 28 miles (45km) north of Goma (North Kivu province). The announcement follows the withdrawal of the armed forces (FARDC) from Rumangabo on 29 October. The loss of Rumangabo will enable rebels to dominate areas surrounding the camp, allowing them to continue disrupting access to the N2 road following their recent capture of the towns of Kiwanja and Rutshuru (both North Kivu, see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update – 31 October). While the withdrawal does not mean there is an imminent threat to Goma, it is likely to exacerbate criticism over the UN’s failure to ensure security. This will drive further violent anti-UN protests and elevate incidental bystander risks to NGOs working closely with the UN. (Source: Sibylline)
02 Nov 22. Korean Peninsula: Tit-for-tat missile launches mark further escalation in regional tensions. Earlier on 2 November, South Korea test-fired three missiles in response to North Korea’s launch of at least 17 projectiles as part of a tit-for-tat exchange which has escalated tensions on the peninsula. According to Seoul, one of the North’s missiles landed close to the Northern Limit Line – the de facto maritime border disputed by Pyongyang – triggering air-raid sirens on the South Korean island of Ulleung, located about 103 miles (167km) away. North Korea’s latest missile activity follows a period of inflammatory rhetoric in recent weeks, which is likely a result of a series of ongoing joint exercises involving South Korean and US armed forces. In addition to fueling already elevated regional tensions which induce market volatility, flurries of missile activity with little or no warning pose an underlying threat to commercial shipping around the Korean Peninsula. (Source: Sibylline)
02 Nov 22. Ecuador: Threat of attacks will remain elevated in Guayaquil following co-ordinated bombings. Five police officers were killed between 31 October and 1 November in separate IED attacks across Guayaquil (Guayas province). The authorities have indicated that the attacks were carried out by local criminal groups linked to the Mexican-based Cartel Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) criminal group in response to prisoner transfers from overcrowded penitentiaries. In response to the attacks, the government announced a 30-day state of emergency (SoE) for Guayas and Esmeraldas provinces. The SoE involves a curfew from 2100hrs until 0500hrs (local time) and allows the government to expand a police presence in the affected areas. IED attacks and targeted shootings are common in Guayaquil; the threat of further incidents is likely to remain elevated in the near term. (Source: Sibylline)
02 Nov 22. North Korean missile lands off South Korean coast for first time; South responds with own launches.
- Multiple missiles launched into sea, S.Korea’s military says
- One landed south of disputed inter-Korean maritime border
- S.Korea president vows N.Korea will ‘pay the price’
- N.Korea calls allied military drills ‘provocative’
A North Korean ballistic missile landed less than 60 kilometres off South Korea’s coast on Wednesday, the first time an apparent test had landed near the South’s waters, prompting South Korea to issue rare air raid warnings and launch missiles in protest.
The missile landed outside of South Korea’s territorial waters, but south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed inter-Korean maritime border in what South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called an “effective act of territorial encroachment.”
South Korean warplanes fired three air-to-ground missiles into the sea north across the NLL in response, the South’s military said. An official said the weapons used included an AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, which is a U.S.-made “stand-off” precision attack weapon that can fly for up to 270 kilometres (170 miles) with a 360 kg (800-pound) warhead.
The South’s launches came after Yoon’s office vowed a “swift and firm response” so North Korea “pays the price for provocation”.
The North Korean weapon was one of three short-range ballistic missiles fired from the North Korean coastal area of Wonsan into the sea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. The JCS later said as many as 10 missiles of various types had been fired from North Korea’s east and west coasts.
The JCS said at least one of the missiles landed 26 kilometres south of the NLL, 57 kilometres from the South Korean city of Sokcho, on the east coast, and 167 kilometres from the island of Ulleung, where air raid warnings were issued.
“We heard the siren at around 8:55 am and all of us in the building went down to the evacuation place in the basement,” an Ulleung county official told Reuters. “We stayed there until we came upstairs at around 9:15 after hearing that the projectile fell into the high seas.”
A resident on the southern part of the island said they received no warnings.
Nuclear-armed North Korea has tested a record number of missiles this year, and officials in Seoul and Washington say the North has completed technical preparations to conduct a nuclear weapon test for the first time since 2017.
North Korea continues to test ballistic missiles despite multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions that ban all ballistic and nuclear tests by the country
The launches came just hours after Pyongyang demanded that the United States and South Korea stop large-scale military exercises, saying such “military rashness and provocation can be no longer tolerated.”
Despite Yoon’s declaring a national week of mourning after more than 150 people were killed in a weekend crowd surge in Seoul, the United States and South Korea began one of their largest combined military air drills on Monday. Dubbed Vigilant Storm, the exercises involve hundreds of warplanes from both sides staging mock attacks 24 hours a day. read more
MAJOR MILITARY DRILLS
North Korea had said that a recent flurry of launches were in response to allied drills.
Pak Jong Chon, secretary of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a statement on Wednesday that the number of warplanes involved in Vigilant Storm proved the exercise was “aggressive and provocative” and specifically targeted North Korea. He said even its name imitated the U.S.-led Operation Desert Storm against Iraq in the 1990s.
“The hostile forces’ inordinate moves for military confrontation have created a grave situation on the Korean peninsula,” Pak said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.
On Tuesday in Washington, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price responded to North Korea’s warnings about a “powerful” response to the drills by saying that Pyongyang appeared to be “reaching for another pretext for provocations it has already undertaken, potentially for provocations that it might be planning to take in the coming days or coming weeks.”
He said that the drills were “purely defensive in nature” and that the United States had made clear to North Korea that it harboured no hostile intent towards the country.
Price added that the United States and its allies had also made clear that there would be “profound costs and profound consequences” if North Korea resumed nuclear testing, which would be a “dangerous, destabilising step”. He did not elaborate on the consequences.
In a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foreign Minister Park Jin called the North Korean missile launch “unprecedented” and a “grave act of military provocation”. The two officials condemned the launch and agreed to cooperate against North Korean threats, Park’s office said in a statement.
LAUNCHING MISSILES IN ‘NEW WAYS’
South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said that because of the launches, some air routes over the sea between North Korea and Japan would be closed until Thursday morning.
A spokesman for the South Korean military said authorities were analysing the launches to see whether the missiles’ flight paths were intentional or whether one had gone off course.
Japan defence minister Yasukazu Hamada said the government believed at least two ballistic missiles had been launched from North Korea, one flying east and another southeast.
The first flew 150 kilometres to a maximum altitude of approximately 150 kilometres, while the second covered a range of 200 kilometres to a maximum altitude of 100 kilometres, he said to reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday morning.
It was the first time a North Korean ballistic missile had landed near South Korean waters, JCS said.
“Our military can never tolerate this kind of North Korea’s provocative act, and will strictly and firmly respond under close South Korea-U.S. cooperation,” JCS said in a news release.
North Korea’s actions threaten the peace and stability of Japan, the wider region, as well as the broader international community, and are utterly unacceptable, Hamada said.
“North Korea has been repeatedly launching missiles at an unprecedented rate, in new ways that we have not seen before,” he said.
Japan has lodged a complaint and protested the actions via diplomatic channels in Beijing, he added. (Source: Reuters)
31 Oct 22. Brazil: Election Result. Former left-wing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a run-off election on 30 October, by a margin of 1.8 percentage points. International observers have indicated that no foul play was identified during the election. At the time of writing, Bolsonaro has not publicly conceded defeat, raising concerns that he may contest the election results. This will likely increase the risk of domestic unrest and isolated incidents of political violence.
The results match Sibylline’s election forecast (Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 28 October 2022), indicating that Lula would win by a margin smaller than 3 percentage points.
Numerous roadblocks have been set up since the election results were announced late on 30 October. The main protest groups are made up of truck drivers’ unions, agricultural workers and right-wing activists. These demonstrations do not appear to be coordinated, and are largely taking place in main thoroughfares. This increases the risk of transport disruptions in the near term. No incidents of clashes with police or counter-protesters have been reported.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of roadblocks and protest locations:
- Via Dutra – the main thoroughfare linking Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro – reported roadblocks between Km 277 and 287 of the federal highway (BR-116), near Barra Mansa.
- In western Bahia, protesters burned tyres and blocked the BR-020 with trucks in the city of Luis Eduardo Magalhaes, which is one of the country’s main agribusiness hubs.
- In Parana, several blockades have been set up at Km 340 of the BR2277 in Guarapuava. On Km 667 of the BR 277 in Medianeira there was also a protest with about 40 people and partial closure of the highway. Also, on BR 163 at Km 88 in the city of Marechal Candido Rondon, a road was blocked.
- In Santa Catarina, there is a total blockade on points of BR 101, near the cities of Joinville, Garuva, Itajai and Palhoca (metropolitan region of Florianopolis) and also on SC-418, in Sao Bento do Sul.
- In Rio Grande do Sul, protests have taken place in Ijui, on the BR-285 highway, near the intersection with the RS-522 and RS-342.
- In Mato Grosso, blockades were reported on the BR-163 highway, around the cities of Nova Mutum, Lucas do Rio Verde, Sorriso and Sinop.
The risk of isolated incidents of political violence remains high. This assessment is based on recent precedents and increased social polarisation in the lead-up to the ballot. Past incidents, which include stabbings, shootings and IED attacks, have targeted both high-profile officials and political supporters. Protests, political rallies and the expected inauguration of President Lula da Silva (1 January) may attract significant attention from possible actors.
Risk of Coup
Sibylline currently places the risk of a coup d’état as low, sustaining its previous base case scenario. This is largely based on previous public reassurances by high-profile military leaders that the Armed Forces will not interfere in the elections and a lack of social media chatter by mid-level officers suggesting that any military action will take place.
Protests and roadblocks may continue through early November, severely disrupting transport services in the south of the country. Various pro-Bolsonaro protests may also take place in cities such as Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. There is an elevated risk of clashes with counter-protesters or police, as well as isolated incidents of political violence. There is no evidence to suggest that the military will intervene in the near term, siding with Bolsonaro in order to allow him to remain in power.
Triggers for Escalation:
- Bolsonaro or political proxies publicly reject the election results citing foul play.
- High-ranking military personnel suggest that the Armed Forces may resist any government led by Lula da Silva or indicate that fraud may have been committed during the election.
- Bolsonaro or political proxies call for further roadblocks or major protests in urban centres.
- Left-wing activists attempt to lift blockades or clash with pro-Bolsonaro supporters.
- Judicial figures publicly announce that Bolsonaro may be prosecuted for offences committed during his time in office.
Triggers for De-escalation:
- Bolsonaro publicly concedes defeat.
- Bolsonaro’s political allies accept election results or distance themselves from comments made by the president.
- High-ranking military personnel confirm that they will not interfere throughout the transition of power.
- Lula da Silva rejects calls for mobilisations by left-wing supporters.
31 Oct 22. Brazil: Former President Lula secures narrow victory against President Jair Bolsonaro, risk of civil unrest remains elevated. Former president Lula da Silva secured 50.9 percent of the vote in the country’s presidential run-off election on 30 October against incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, who received 49.1 percent, returning to power after a 12-year hiatus. The Brazilian armed forces and international observers have confirmed that the election was conducted effectively, finding no fault in the voting system or other signs of major fraud. Bolsonaro has yet to publicly accept the results. However, he has reportedly assured election authorities that the end result will be respected. There are numerous videos circulating online suggesting Bolsonaro supporters plan to blockade the country’s main highways, calling for a military coup to prevent Lula from taking power. The authenticity of these videos has not been corroborated. The risk of civil unrest will remain elevated throughout the week and has the potential to escalate if Bolsonaro does not accept the results. (Source: Sibylline)
31 Oct 22. Somalia: Elevated threat of mass casualty attacks will remain amid ongoing offensives. On 29 October, al-Shabaab killed at least 100 people and wounded 300 others during an attack on the Ministry of Education near the K-5 junction in Mogadishu. The attack comprised two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), with the first hitting the ministry perimeter wall and the second detonating after people gathered to help victims. Al-Shabaab frequently utilises VBIEDs in their attacks and often targets centres utilised by government officials and local elites, including ministry facilities and hotels in Mogadishu. The attack is consistent with a broader effort to demonstrate al-Shabaab’s enduring influence within major cities in response to mounting pressure in its strongholds in central and southern Somalia (see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update – 24 October). As these offensives continue through the coming months, the threat of attacks within major cities will be elevated. The concentration of government buildings and hotels within densely populated areas of central Mogadishu will heighten the risk of bystander casualties, posing significant incidental risks to staff. (Source: Sibylline)
31 Oct 22. Nigerian Air Force getting multiple new aircraft types as recapitalisation drive continues. The Nigerian Air Force will be getting multiple new aircraft types, including T-129 attack helicopters, and C295 transports, amongst others. The Nigerian government’s 2023 budget proposal makes provision for the payment of N27bn ($61m) towards the acquisition of T-129 attack helicopters from Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). This comes after TAI CEO Temel Kotil revealed during the Farnborough International Air Show in July that Nigeria will receive a total of six T-129s, with deliveries in the near future. The T-129, based on the Leonard Helicopters A129 Mangusta, is in service with the Turkish military and has been exported to the Philippines.
It appears Nigeria will also be getting 12 Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters from the United States – in April this year, the US approved the possible sale of 12 AH-1Zs to Nigeria under a potential $997m deal that includes weapons and equipment. Nigeria has for some time shown interest in acquiring AH-1Z helicopters, but the deal was put on hold over concerns about possible human rights abuses by the Nigerian government.
Last week, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Oladayo Amao revealed that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) would be receiving a multitude of new aircraft, including the 12 AH-1Z Vipers, but provided little further detail.
He also confirmed the delivery of two AW109 Trekker helicopters from Leonardo Helicopters – the 2023 budget proposal allocates N2 bn ($4.5 m) for the balance payment of these two aircraft.
Amao further revealed that the NAF would be receiving two C295 transport aircraft from Airbus under a pending deal – in March, it was reported that the NAF had shown interest in acquiring these aircraft, and held discussions with the Spanish ambassador to Nigeria on this. As far back as 2016, Nigeria has expressed interest in acquiring C295W light transports from Airbus, with a delegation visiting Nigeria that October.
Speaking during a seminar in Ibom State on 27 October, Amao also said 24 M-346 jet aircraft would be acquired in the future from Leonardo – for some time, rumours have been circulating that the NAF would receive these aircraft to replace its Alpha Jets, but budget allocation for the M-346s, C295s and AH-1Zs do not appear in the latest budget proposal.
Nigeria’s 2023 budget proposal does include funding for the maintenance of L-39ZAs, Alpha Jets, and the establishment of an air-launched rocket assembly line at the Air Force Research and Development Centre.
It also suggests N2.7bn ($6m) for three “Magnus MF 212 surveillance/attack aircraft”, and N3bn ($6.8m) for three Bell UH-1D helicopters, but it is not clear if these contracts have been approved.
The MF 212 is a single engine light sport aircraft built by Magnus Aircraft in the Czech Republic. This is powered by a 100 hp Rotax engine, giving a cruising speed of 215km/h and maximum range of 1 100 km, although other engine options are available. Magnus Aircraft offers the Fusion UL ultralight and Sentinel, which is equipped with a camera system for surveillance, target tracking etc.
Belarussian company BVST (Belspetsvneshtechnika) has developed the MF 212 into an armed aircraft ideal for homeland security, surveillance and patrol tasks. It can apparently be fitted with an iSKY-30 HD electro-optical gimbal, and R-60-NT-L or R-60-NT-T-2 missiles. Although BVST has not provided any detail on its development of the aircraft, Greek company International Armour lists the BVST MF 212 in its sale catalogue. BVST has previously worked with the Nigerian Air Force, providing maintenance for Mi-35 helicopters as well as training.
Amao last week made no mention of the MF 212 or UH-1D when announcing the dozens of new aircraft that are being acquired for the NAF. Instead, he said that the Air Force will take delivery of two Beechcraft King Air 360 turboprops, four Diamond DA 62 surveillance aircraft, and three Wing Loong II unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in addition to the T-129s, M-346s, and C295s.
The King Air 360 acquisition will be to partly replace the King Air 350 that crashed in February 2021. As for the Wing Loong IIs, this acquisition follows on from previous UAV contracts with China. In 2020 it was reported that the NAF would be receiving two Wing Loong II, four CH-4 and two CH-3 aircraft to enhance the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) as well as strike capabilities of the NAF. At the time, Wing Loong IIs were seen in Nigerian markings under construction in China.
Amao said that the new orders will be delivered from December this year, while other aircraft will arrive from 2023. The latest acquisitions come amid a steady stream of procurements over the last decade, with three dozen manned aircraft delivered since 2015. This includes five Mi-35Ms delivered from December 2016 to April 2018; four AW109E Power helicopters delivered from April 2019 to January 2020; ten MFI-17 Super Mushshak delivered between July 2017 and January 2018; 12 A-29 Super Tucanos delivered between August 2021 and September 2021; two Mi-171Es delivered between February and December 2020; three JF-17 Thunders delivered between March and April 2021; and two Bell 412Eps (seized by customs and transferred to the Nigerian Air Force).
In addition to acquiring new aircraft, the Nigerian Air Force is training new pilots in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Egypt, as well as domestically. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
31 Oct 22. Moldova: Potential return of US-sanctioned former leader will likely undermine government stability and stoke political polarisation. On 31 October, Vlad Plahotniuc, a Moldovan oligarch who ruled the country between 2017-2019, announced his plan to return to politics and organise a political movement. Plahotniuc was forced to flee the nation in 2019 following the formation of a political alliance by the currently ruling pro-EU party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) and the Socialist party (PSRM). Last week he was sanctioned by the US Treasury for allegedly corrupting Moldova’s key judicial, political and economic institutions. As the popularity of the nation’s pro-West president begins to decline amid weekly anti-government protests and deteriorating socio-economic conditions, the potential return of Plahotniuc and continued Russian attempts to subvert the political landscape will risk destabilising Moldovan politics over the winter, particularly as the energy crisis worsens. (Source: Sibylline)
31 Oct 22. Bolivia: Pro-government protest march expected to enter Santa Cruz, increasing the risk of domestic unrest. Pro-government protest groups are expected to enter the city of Santa Cruz on 31 October, to demonstrate against an ongoing indefinite strike in the city which has paralysed food and fuel distribution in the area. The strike, led by the conservative-leaning Pro Santa Cruz Committee, began an indefinite strike in the region on 22 October to protest the delay of a census that has stalled the disbursement of economic resources. The province of Santa Cruz is the country’s largest producer of livestock and agricultural products. Pro-government groups have clashed with protesters on several occasions, leading to at least one reported death and several injuries. There is continued high risk of domestic unrest, including clashes with counter-protesters and police. Transport disruptions as well as food and fuel shortages in the area are likely to continue in the near term. (Source: Sibylline)
31 Oct 22. Haiti: High-profile political leader assassinated in apparent gang attack amid ongoing speculation of international military force deployment. The head of the centre-left Rally of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP) party, Eric-Jean Baptiste, was assassinated in an apparent gang attack outside Port-au-Prince on 28 October. Baptiste was reportedly travelling through the Laboule 12 area, which is currently the site of a turf war between the Ti Makak gang and a separate criminal group allegedly headed by a local entrepreneur known as Toto Borlette. The attack comes as the US and Canada continue to discuss the possibility of deploying an international military force to suppress gang activity, which has prevented the delivery of basic services and displaced over 100,000 people. High-profile incidents of political violence will likely increase internal calls for an international military deployment. US officials have suggested that a decision to launch a military aid contingent could be announced by early November. (Source: Sibylline)
31 Oct 22. Jordan: Cabinet reshuffle likely to support economic reform efforts; macroeconomic and structural conditions will drive unrest. On 27 October, Prime Minister Bisher Al-Kahasawneh led a government session after his announcement of a Cabinet reshuffle, which changed approximately one-third (11) of government ministers. The interior, finance and foreign ministers have remained in their respective positions. The reshuffle and reappointment of Finance Minister Mohamad al Ississ are likely to support the implementation of IMF-backed structural reforms as part of an almost USD 2 bn, four-year IMF programme aimed at improving Jordan’s public finances. This follows the government’s rollout of a ten-year economic development programme in June which aims to attract USD 41 bn in investments (approximately 30 bn JOD) via free-market reforms previously obstructed by conservative administrations. Consequently, the reshuffle is likely to boost investor and business confidence. Nevertheless, macroeconomic and structural economic conditions such as increased inflation and unemployment levels and will sustain the risk of domestic unrest, particularly in major cities, through the end of 2022. (Source: Sibylline)
31 Oct 22. Lebanon: Expiration of presidential mandate will create an executive vacuum; increasing governance, policy risks for businesses. Today, 31 October, marks the last day in office of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who has already left the presidential Baabda palace. So far, four electoral sessions in parliament have failed to reach a consensus on a new candidate, causing a political vacuum. Lebanon has previously faced prolonged presidential voids, as observed between 2014-2016. However, the current situation, with a presidential vacancy coupled with a caretaker cabinet with limited powers since May, marks a first. The absence of a formal government will raise constitutional concerns over the legitimacy of the caretaker administration led by Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati taking on presidential powers. As the election of a new president is required for the approval of a new cabinet, a government is unlikely to be formed without an agreement on a unifying candidate in the coming weeks, due to persistent political divisions. Constitutional uncertainty will further deepen institutional paralysis, elevating governance instability and policy risks for businesses in the near term. (Source: Sibylline)
31 Oct 22. South Africa and Saudi Arabia sign defence MoU. Defence was high on the agenda during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia, where he was accompanied by defence minister Thandi Modise and an Armscor delegation. Ramaphosa was in Saudi Arabia from 15 to 16 October, and was hosted by Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud. The Presidency revealed that 17 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were signed between the two countries, covering everything from energy to defence.
“Having started in 2018 with a commitment by Saudi Arabia to invest 10 bn dollars into the South African economy, in many ways was planting the seed and that seed has been germinating and thus far one bn dollars has been invested in South Africa through a company called ACWA Power”, said Ramaphosa after the visit.
The Presidency added that an MoU covered “cooperation in the field of military industries and procurements.”
Armscor told defenceWeb that the MoU signed between South Africa and Saudi Arabia “is intended to establish a framework of cooperation between the two countries. It relates to the cooperation between the two countries on matters of defence and the development of their respective industries. As and when the cooperation develops, specific announcements will be made by the two countries, respectively.”
While in Saudi Arabia, Modise met with Governor of the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI), Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Ohali. The meeting was also attended by Armscor CEO Solomzi Mbada. Local media reported the two discussing cooperation and partnership in the field of military industries, and the “next action steps between the GAMI and the Armaments Corporation of South Africa.”
Armscor chairman Phillip Dexter, in the latest Armscor annual report, wrote that this coming year “must see greater success in building partnerships and growing the commercial side of Armscor”. African and global markets are growing and Armscor “must be positioned to take advantage”. He wrote that he sees a capital injection coming thanks to agreements concluded with Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Defence cooperation between South Africa and Saudi Arabia is not a new development, and there have been multiple engagements over the years. For example, in March 2016, then President Jacob Zuma visited Saudi Arabia and toured Military Industries Corporation facilities after Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) helped establish a munitions manufacturing facility. This is able to produce 60, 81 and 120 mm mortars, 105 and 155 mm artillery shells and aircraft bombs.
“The visit sought to promote South Africa’s defence military industry and strengthen areas of cooperation in the field of defence procurement partnership between South Africa and Saudi Arabia,” the Presidency said at the time.
In July 2018, then defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula met Consultant at the Secretariat General of the Cabinet Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khatib in Saudi Arabia – Al-Khatib was also chairman of the board of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI).
African Defence Review Director Darren Olivier notes that GAMI and other Saudi defence companies and institutions have for decades worked with South African defence companies and research institutions to develop technologies and products, including the Saqr-1 unmanned aerial vehicle, and set up optronics research facilities. Denel division Spaceteq has supplied satellites to Saudi Arabia, such as the SaudiSat 3 and 5. Saudi Arabia even attempted to acquire a stake in Denel, but this never materialised.
Defence relations with Saudi Arabia have not all been smooth sailing, as South African firms, including Denel, have seen Saudi Arabia (and the United Arab Emirates) poach engineers and other skilled personnel, while the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) effectively blocked arms sales to the UAE and Saudi Arabia for a couple of years by introducing strict end user certificates that made provision for on-site inspections. This had been resolved by the beginning of this year, but R2bn in defence sales to the Middle East were lost. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
31 Oct 22. U.S. plans to deploy B-52 bombers to Australia’s north -source. The United States is planning to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to an air base in northern Australia, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday, amid heightened tensions with Beijing.
Dedicated facilities for the bombers will be set up at the Australian air force’s remote Tindal base, about 300 km (190 miles) south of Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern territory, said the source, who declined to be identified because they are not authorised to speak publicly on the issue.
The development was first reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC)’s Four Corners programme, citing U.S. documents.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia engages with the United States on defence alliances “from time to time.”
“There are visits, of course, to Australia, including in Darwin, that has U.S. Marines, of course, on a rotating basis stationed there,” Albanese said during a media conference.
Australia’s Northern Territory is already host to frequent military collaborations with the United States. Thousands of U.S. Marines rotate through the territory annually for training and joint exercises, started under President Barack Obama.
Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles’ office declined to comment.
The United States has drawn up detailed plans for what it calls a “squadron operations facility” for use during the Northern Territory dry season, an adjoining maintenance centre and a parking area for the B-52s, the ABC report said.
The ability to deploy the long-range bombers to Australia sends a strong message to adversaries about Washington’s ability to project air power, the U.S. Air Force was quoted as saying in the report.
Last year, the United States, Britain and Australia created a security deal that will provide Australia with the technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, riling China.
Putting B-52s, which have a combat range of about 14,000 km, in Australia will be a warning to Beijing, as fears grow about an assault on Taiwan, Becca Wasser, senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Centre for a New American Security, told the ABC.
This year, the U.S. deployed four B-52s to its Andersen Air Force base in Guam. (Source: Reuters)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Homeland Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company