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21 Dec 22. Democratic Republic of Congo: Increasing competition for influence in DRC likely to bolster capabilities of security forces. On 20 December, the UN Security Council renewed the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), MONUSCO, and removed requirements for UN member states to notify the Security Council of arms sales or military support to the DRC. The Congolese government has repeatedly sought the removal of this provision to allow it to better combat rebel groups in eastern DRC, claiming a shipment of arms purchased for use against the M23 rebel group was recently blocked. Despite both Russia and China selling arms to the DRC, France’s decision to draft the resolution likely reflects efforts to bolster its influence in the region, following shortly after France also condemned Rwanda’s support for M23. Increased competition for influence in the DRC will likely enhance local security capabilities, bolstering access to western arms and reducing the threat posed by rebel groups. (Source: Sibylline)
21 Dec 22. Pakistan: TTP will aim to carry out revenge attacks in KP following security forces’ rescue operation. On 20 December, Pakistani security forces managed to retake the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) station in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) held by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants since 18 December. 25 of the 35 TTP fighters, one hostage and two commanders died during rescue operations. In a statement, the TTP warned the US against interfering in their ‘war’ against the Pakistani state, a likely response to the State Department’s comment that the US would offer unconditional support to counter the TTP and similar groups. The incident highlights the TTP’s growing capabilities and will likely contribute to its increasing popularity. Indeed, a spokesperson recently announced on the group’s Telegram channel that 100s of fighters from three different militant groups in KP had pledged allegiance to TTP leader Noor Wali Mehsud. The TTP will likely also seek to avenge the loss of fighters in the CTD incident, raising the threat of attacks in KP in the coming weeks. (Source: Sibylline)
21 Dec 22. Fiji: Increase in communal tensions and violence possible during upcoming power transition. On 20 December, the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), which became the key powerbroker following the recent general election that returned a hung parliament, announced that it would partner with the People’s Alliance Party (PAP) and the National Federation Party (NFP) to form a coalition government. This move has effectively ended Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s leadership after 16 years in office. The PAP’s Sitiveni Rabuka will become prime minister, though the parliamentary session to confirm this is delayed as lawmakers await the president’s proclamation. Given the election’s close results and numerous allegations of voter fraud, the upcoming power transition will likely represent a period of heightened political instability and potential domestic unrest, which could lead to an uptick in communal violence. The police chief has urged all Fijians to respect the political process following reports of minor vandalism targeting the homes and businesses of ethnic Indians. (Source: Sibylline)
21 Dec 22. Peru: Congress approves election timeline as regional tensions and risk of protests remain elevated. On 20 December, the Peruvian Congress passed a bill shortening presidential and congressional terms to July 2024, which would effectively bring forward elections to April 2024. The decision must still be ratified in a second vote. Protests have taken place in the country since 7 December, following the impeachment and detention of former president Pedro Castillo. Mexico and several other left-leaning governments have criticised Castillo’s detention and suggested they would grant Castillo asylum. Castillo’s family is expected to arrive in Mexico on 21 December. The Peruvian government has retaliated by declaring Mexico’s ambassador in Lima ‘persona non grata’. Regional tensions are expected to remain elevated, while protests are also expected to continue through December. (Source: Sibylline)
21 Dec 22. Mexico: High risk of retaliatory incidents, including armed attacks and arson, following arrest of CJNG leader. The brother of Cartel Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) leader, Nemesio Ortega, was arrested by security forces in Guadalajara (Jalisco state) on 20 December. Antonio Oseguera Cervantes, brother of Ortega, was reportedly transported to a local detention centre following his arrest. Oseguera Cervantes is accused of engaging in money laundering and purchasing illegal weapons. Authorities in Guadalajara said police will remain on high alert, citing the risk of possible retaliation by the cartel. The CJNG has previously attacked security personnel and blocked highways with burning vehicles as retaliation for high-profile arrests. The majority of incidents have taken place in the states of Jalisco, Colima, and Michoacan. It is likely that CJNG operatives will target security officers or government facilities through December, increasing risks to personnel and assets. (Source: Sibylline)
20 Dec 22. New Japanese strategy to up defense spending, counterstrike purchases. Japan has committed to acquiring long-range weapons and to continue increasing its defense budget as part of its latest National Security Strategy, citing regional threats as the driving force behind its decision.
The government released its National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy and Defense Buildup Program on Friday, marking the first time all three documents were unveiled simultaneously.
The National Security Strategy noted that Japan’s need for counterstrike capabilities stems from the continued threat of ballistic missiles from China and North Korea, noting that in recent years “there have been dramatic advances in missile-related technologies, including hypersonic weapons.” It also said that “missile forces in the region have significantly improved in both qualitative and quantitative terms.”
The document added that while Japan will “continue its steadfast efforts to both qualitatively and quantitatively enhance its missile defense capabilities,” it will “become increasingly difficult to fully address missile threats with the existing missile defense network alone.”
As such, weapons that can hit enemy territory would “enable Japan to mount effective counterstrikes against [an] opponent to prevent further attacks,” the report continued.
This puts an end to the 1956 government policy that shelved capability to strike enemy targets and only recognized the idea as a constitutional last-ditch defense.
The National Defense Strategy said that acquiring a counterstrike capability was “key to deterring invasion against Japan,” citing that Ukraine’s insufficient defense capabilities meant it was unable to deter Russia from invading the country neighbor in February.
However, it stressed that no country can deal with myriad security threats alone, adding that “there is a renewed recognition of the importance of cooperation with allies who have the intention and capability to respond to invasion jointly in order to deter invasion from outside.”
The Defense Buildup Program projected Japan will increase its defense spending to about 2% of its gross domestic product, which would total about 43trin yen (U.S. $315bn) through 2027. The new spending target will eventually push Japan’s annual budget to about 10trn yen, the world’s third largest after the United States and China. This would mark a 56% increase from Japan’s current five-year plan.
The increased defense spending will enable Japan to pursue various counterstrike capabilities. The country plans to purchase American-made Tomahawks and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles. The country has also expressed a desire to increase the range of its Type 12 land-based anti-ship missile to 1,500 kilometers (932 miles).
Japan will also develop other types of arsenals, such as hypersonic weapons as well as unmanned and multirole vehicles for possible collaboration with the F-X next-generation fighter jet Japan is developing with Britain and Italy for deployment in 2035.
Japan, lacking sufficient cybersecurity and intelligence capability, will have to heavily rely on the United States in the areas of launching long-range cruise missiles at intended targets, experts say.
“Without cybersecurity, Self-Defense Force superiority or Japan-U.S. interoperatibility is difficult to achieve,” according to the five-year defense program, also adopted Friday, acknowledging the need to ensure cybersecurity within the military and the domestic defense industry.
This is a welcome development for the United States, as the Japanese government’s weak cybersecurity has been “a critical impediment to deeper alliance cooperation and expanded information-sharing,” according to Christopher Johnstone, senior adviser and Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Japan now plans to spend 8trn yen over the next five years on cross-domain defense, including cybersecurity and space. (Source: Defense News)
20 Dec 22. Sudan: Repression of protesters will drive further domestic unrest over issue of immunity. On 19 December, security forces wounded around 155 protesters during demonstrations in Khartoum, on the fourth anniversary of the launch of the protest movement which removed President Omar al-Bashir. As in previous protests, police deployed across Khartoum North, Omdurman and outlying districts in order to prevent protests from converging on key sites in central Khartoum. Bridges in particular were closed down, with reports that police used tear gas and live ammunition to prevent crossings. The clashes come only weeks after the military signed a political framework agreement with key civilian factions. This will elevate tensions over the issue of immunity for key military figures in connection with the repression of protesters. If immunity is granted in order to secure a civilian government, this will likely drive further protests in Khartoum and other major cities in the coming weeks. (Source: Sibylline)
20 Dec 22. Colombia: Operations by dissident ELN groups likely to sustain risk of armed attacks despite Christmas ceasefire. On 19 December, the ELN guerrilla group announced a ceasefire over the Christmas period (24 December – 2 January 2023). The group added in a statement that the ceasefire would apply to operations against security officials, but that individual fronts reserve the right to defend themselves against any offensive. The move comes after the government and the ELN’s top command ended the first round of demobilization talks held in Caracas on 12 December. Dissenting ELN units, however, have continued to target security officials and stage ‘armed strikes’, which prevent the movement of people and assets in specific areas. These dissident groups – especially the ones on the Venezuelan border – are likely to contravene agreements made by the ELN’s negotiating party, sustaining the risk of armed attacks through the ceasefire period. (Source: Sibylline)
22 Nov 22. Indian Army progresses integrated warfare strategy. The South Western Command (SWC) of the Indian Army has conducted an Integrated Battle Group (IBG) exercise along the country’s western border with Pakistan. The integrated firepower exercise took place on 21 November and was conducted by the SWC’s Chetak Corps (X Corps) at the Mahajan Field Firing Range (MFFR) in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan. During the exercise, attended by Janes, the Indian Army performed a series of combat operations and displayed firepower on different land and air platforms. The IBG exercise also demonstrated the joint operations of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. The Indian Army demonstrated Light Combat Helicopters, K9 Vajra-T self-propelled howitzers (SPHs), 155 mm Sharang artillery guns, T-72 main battle tanks (MBTs), Grad BM-21 multiple rocket launcher, BMP-2K Sarath infantry combat vehicles (ICVs), and T-90 MBTs. A senior Indian Army official told Janes that the exercise was conducted as part of the Indian Army’s efforts to progress the IBG concept. (Source: Janes)
19 Dec 22. South Africa: Re-election of president will reduce policy risks. On 19 December, Cyril Ramaphosa was re-elected as president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. He secured 2,476 votes, beating the former health minister Zweli Mkhize (who won 1,897 votes). The election was much closer than initially anticipated, underscoring the impact of the Phala Phala farm scandal. The controversy has emboldened factional opponents and undermined Ramaphosa’s credibility as an anti-corruption figure. The result will reduce policy risks and ensure broad commitment to economic reforms and the restructuring of state-owned enterprises. However, internal challenges within the ANC will delay legislation, while the fallout from the Phala Phala scandal will prompt anti-government sentiment and protests in the coming months. (Source: Sibylline)
19 Dec 22. Tunisia: Unified political opposition will challenge government stability, driving civil unrest. On 18 December, opposition leaders called on President Kais Saied to resign after only 8.8% of the population voted in parliamentary elections over the weekend. This was Tunisia’s lowest ever official turnout. The polling was the first to take place since the suspension of parliament in July 2021. Since then, President Saied has taken steps to extend his executive authority and to restrict political and civil freedoms. The final results have not yet been published, though the incoming House of Representatives will likely support President Saied’s economic and political agenda. Calls for President Saied’s resignation will continue in the coming days. Union leaders will urge public resistance and stoke concerns regarding government legitimacy. This will increase the likelihood of large-scale rallies and prolonged industrial action in major urban centres, elevating bystander risks and travel disruption for businesses based in Tunisia. (Source: Sibylline)
19 Dec 22. Israel-Palestinian Territories: Use of explosive devices will increase bystander risks in West Bank. Earlier on 19 December, local media outlets reported that Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian shop and nursery in the al-Sawiya village of the West Bank’s Nablus city. The reports suggest that the settlers attempted to cause a large explosion with a gas cylinder. They were ultimately unsuccessful. The incident follows the killing of two Palestinians by an Israeli settler during a car-ramming incident on 17 December in Nablus. While recent attacks are largely on-trend with the current volatile security environment and increased settler violence, a possible increase in the use of explosives by emboldened Israeli settlers is concerning. The increased circulation and deployment of informal explosive devices in urban areas will further elevate physical security threats and bystander risks, particularly in the vicinity of Palestinian businesses near Israeli settlements. In addition, further bouts of industrial action will be triggered in the event of any Palestinian residents’ deaths. A general strike was called in Qalandia in response to Saturday’s incident. (Source: Sibylline)
19 Dec 22. Pakistan: Hostage situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa underscores growing militant capabilities. As of 19 December, around 15 likely Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants continued to hold at least eight security force personnel hostage at the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) building in Bannu district (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province). On 18 December, militants took control of the CTD compound. They are demanding safe passage to Afghanistan in return for the hostages’ release. The provincial government has said that the situation is under control. Roads around the CTD building have been closed to reduce risks for bystanders. The incident highlights the growing capabilities of militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The province has experienced a spike in targeted attacks against law enforcement and security personnel. Military personnel and infrastructure such as police stations, checkpoints and convoys remain the most likely targets for future militant attacks. Bystander risks in the vicinity of these entities are elevated. (Source: Sibylline)
19 Dec 22. Fiji: Short-term government instability will follow elections; protests are possible. On 18 December, the final results of the Fijian general election revealed that the FijiFirst party – led by Frank Bainimarama, who has been prime minister since 2007 – lost its parliamentary majority. FijiFirst secured 26 of the 55 available seats, while the People’s Alliance Party (PAP) secured 21 seats. The National Federation Party (NFP) and Social Democratic Liberal Party (Sodelpa) won five and three seats, respectively. Given that the PAP and NFP agreed to form a coalition prior to the election, Sodelpa is now effectively the ‘kingmaker’. Sodelpa will negotiate with both sides, before making a decision on 1 January. Uncertainty will remain while a new government is formed. Potential triggers for unrest include accusations from political leaders of electoral fraud, as well as any moves by the Bainimarama government to arrest opposition leaders. (Source: Sibylline)
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