Sponsored by Exensor
13 Jan 23. Colombia: Intensifying fighting between militant groups sustains heightened security risks in Arauca. Since 10 January, clashes between the ELN guerrilla and FARC dissidents in Puerto Rendon (Arauca department), near the Venezuelan border, have left at least 11 dead. The armed groups are fighting over territorial control of the wider area, which serves as a narcotics corridor to Venezuela. Some 352 people were murdered in Arauca in 2022 due to fighting between guerrilla groups, according to authorities. President Gustavo Petro is currently in negotiations to demobilise the ELN guerrilla, however, talks have appeared to stall in recent weeks. There is significant uncertainty surrounding the prospects for a prolonged ceasefire and demobilisation efforts which underpins the risk of attacks in the region. Further confrontations are likely in the medium term.(Source: Sibylline)
13 Jan 23. Benin: Final election results will likely trigger protests, sustaining bystander safety risks. On 12 January, the leader of Benin’s primary opposition party rejected the preliminary legislative election results, citing allegations of ballot-box stuffing and vote buying. The preliminary results indicate that parties allied with President Patrice Talon won 81 of the 109 seats contested. Opposition parties had been expecting to perform significantly better, with widespread reporting on the day of the election from observers that the opposition was likely to secure a major breakthrough. Despite opposition parties actually being able to contest the election, unlike the 2019 vote, many voters and opposition supporters regard the unexpected outcome as further evidence of Talon’s authoritarianism. The announcement of final results today (13 January), will likely prompt the calls for nationwide protests, with the largest demonstrations in Cotonou and Porto Novo. Security forces will likely employ excessive force to disperse demonstrations, elevating safety risks to bystanders and causing disruption to movement within cities. (Source: Sibylline)
13 Jan 23. Peru: Protests continue to target key infrastructure; risk of operational disruptions remains elevated. On 12 January, anti-government protests occurred in several areas of the country, including Lima. Authorities pre-emptively closed operations at Cuzco’s Velasco Astete Int. Airport (CUZ) – which serves the tourist hotspot of Machu Pichu – after protesters attempted to enter the facility. Protesters also targeted Glencore’s Antapaccay copper mine, burning two vehicles and vandalising residences in the area. Over 2,000 workers were evacuated from the site. Operations were also suspended at Minsur’s San Rafael tin mine. Violence in anti-government protests which began in December 2022 following the detention of former president Pedro Castillo has left around 42 dead. Protests are likely to continue through January-February. Anti-government activists will also continue to target key infrastructure, including airports, mines and highways, leading to significant operational disruptions. (Source: Sibylline)
13 Jan 23. Morocco: Joint security operations likely to mitigate threat of major terror attacks. On 11 January, Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) reported that Moroccan and Spanish authorities dismantled an Islamic State (IS)-linked extremist cell and arrested three of its members in a joint operation. Moroccan security forces carried out one of the arrests in the rural, southern region of Chtouka Ait Baha, while Spanish authorities arrested two others in Spain’s south-eastern region of Almeria. The BCIJ reported that the suspects were engaging in recruitment activities and had been in contact with Sahel-based IS militants. The arrests highlight the latent terror threat in Morocco and Spain, elevated by IS hotspots in neighbouring regions such as the Sahel. Nevertheless, the joint operation underscores increased counter-terrorism coordination between Moroccan and Spanish authorities. In the coming months, joint operations are highly likely to support the relative success of Moroccan authorities in mitigating the threat of terrorist attacks, as evidenced by the absence of major incidents in recent years. (Source: Sibylline)
11 Jan 23. Chinese Activity Near Senkaku Islands Demonstrates Greater Need for Maritime Awareness. The Senkaku Islands are an uninhabited group of isolated rocky islands positioned between Japan and Taiwan.
As tensions escalate between China and Japan in the East China Sea, Japan continues to plan for the deterrence of Chinese aggression in and around the waters of the Senkaku Island region.
Strategies for defending the East China Sea, a place notoriously wrought with antagonistic behavior by bad actors, necessitate greater maritime awareness. HawkEye 360’s Radio Frequency (RF) data and analytics are delivering greater visibility of the Senkaku region, providing partner organizations with valuable insights into dark vessel activity, illegal fishing, encroachment on Economic Exclusion Zones (EEZs), and suspicious rendezvous.
Given a more complete picture of the region using HawkEye 360 data and analytics, Japan and other countries of the region may deploy patrols more efficiently to reduce Chinese attempts to assert control over the disputed islands.
The Senkaku Islands, or Diaoyu Islands to the Chinese, feature sovereignly contested land and surrounding waters with claims from Japan, China, and Taiwan. Each country claims to have economic rights in an EEZ of 200 nautical miles from its coast, but that space overlaps. The Senkakus provide the basis for measuring the EEZ.
The Senkakus are home to diverse plant and animal habitats and desirable fishing grounds. In addition, oil and natural gas reserves are suspected to exist there. Finally, the proximity to prominent shipping routes also makes these islands economically attractive and strategically important.
In 2008, a joint statement of China and Japan affirmed joint responsibility for ensuring peace, stability, and growth in the Asia-Pacific. Since then, China and Japan have repeatedly accused each other of violating their sovereignty. Chinese fishing fleets may be armed and patrolling the waters of the East China Sea, which includes the areas closest to the Senkakus.
RF-First Approach to Maritime Awareness
Through an RF-first approach, HawkEye 360 enables a broad area search for indicators of IUU fishing activity, becoming the tipping source for a comprehensive multi-source analysis. These insights supply intelligence for strategic response and remediation tactics.
Tracking vessels at sea — including location, route, rendezvous, and maritime events — is important for national security. HawkEye 360 monitors marine RF activity over an immense field of view, offering rapid revisits of the entire South and East China seas. The unique RF data can pinpoint hotspots of disconcerting vessel activity, so authorities can quickly task other resources such as EO imagery, UAVs, or Coast Guard patrols.
Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global concern. Cooperative vessels broadcast AIS data as required by international law, but if a vessel ceases to broadcast its position, it disappears from common tracking tools. Some of the most egregious acts of IUU fishing each year take place in the South and East China seas when vessels attempt to hide their activity by not broadcasting AIS. However, HawkEye 360’s RF geolocations can find these dark vessels by using a range of UHF, VHF, L-Band, X-Band, and S-Band signals.
China reportedly possesses the world’s largest fishing fleet, providing subsidies to large vessels that can cover a great distance and harvest massive amounts of fish. When working together in fleets, these vessels often cause grave impacts on the marine environment and can intimidate smaller fishing vessels. These vessels require careful monitoring to make sure they are compliant, especially when operating in disputed regions such as the Senkaku Islands.
During the high fishing season, HawkEye 360 examined vessel activity around the Senkakus. Class-B AIS records showed many Chinese-flagged fishing vessels within the disputed region, and RFGeo signal data pointed out sites of UHF activity originating in multiple locations where there were no AIS signals (Image 1).
HawkEye 360 identified sites where Chinese fishing vessels were likely emitting UHF signals (Image 1, Site A). These signals were fairly unique, suggesting the vessels were using alternative UHF push-to-talk radios to coordinate activities instead of standard VHF maritime radios.
During Fall 2021, HawkEye 360 geolocated UHF signals from several places around the claimed Japanese region of the Senkakus, indicating the presence of Chinese fishing vessels (Site A) and then using those signals to discover dark vessel activity at Site B.
HawkEye 360 leveraged this information to analyze a second site also emitting UHF signals (Image 1, Site B). Site B had a gap in AIS signals, seemingly without vessel presence. But HawkEye 360’s RFGeo signals pointed to similar communication signals as seen at Site A, potentially indicating dark Chinese fishing vessels. Planet imagery for Site B provided further evidence of multiple dark fishing trawlers. (Image 2).
A Common Thread
China continues to exert influence over vessels in the East China Sea, laying claims to greater areas of sea and land, sometimes taking advantage of the escalated tensions. Japan tracked an alarming increase in Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia activity around the Senkakus and has consistently protested activities. In July 2022, Japan also formally reported a pair of Chinese Coast Guard vessels that chased a Japanese fishing boat through the 12-nautical-mile waters.
Fishery agreements between China and Japan extend to vast areas in the South and East China seas – though not the contested area around Senkaku. In August 2021, Japan informed China that fishing vessels are not allowed to operate without permission in these waters. The Japanese Coast Guard issued more than 80 exclusion orders to Chinese fishing vessels suspected of illegally operating in Japanese waters in the Senkaku region alone as of April 2021. Still, China launched more than 10,000 fishing vessels in the East China Sea that year, leaving Japanese fishermen fearful and leading to a marked decline in the Japanese fishing industry.
Greater transparency into regional activity is critical to any strategy deterring China from further aggression. Since AIS is not effective at finding dark vessels, countries need improved maritime domain awareness tools. With HawkEye 360’s RF data, Asia Pacific nations can develop a more complete picture of the region and direct patrols to better monitor China’s illegal fishing activity. (Source: AMR)
12 Jan 23. DOD, Japan MOD Sign Technology and Security of Supply Arrangements. On Jan. 12, 2023, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Japan Minister of Defense HAMADA Yasukazu signed a bilateral Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and a bilateral, non-binding Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA) between the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Japanese Ministry of Defense (MOD).
The RDT&E MOU is a legally binding agreement in which DoD and MOD commit to increasing opportunities for U.S.-Japanese collaboration on emerging technology to improve defense capabilities. The MOU will support the Alliance’s efforts to maintain its technological edge in critical and emerging technologies, such as high-power microwaves, autonomous systems, and counter-hypersonics. The MOU also updates the Project for Cooperative Research (PCR) MOU to simplify processes as well as adjust for current laws, policies, and standards of practice for United States-Japan for RDT&E activities.
Through the SOSA, the United States and Japan agree to exchange reciprocal priority support for goods and services that promote national defense. The arrangement creates a streamlined mechanism for DoD and MOD to request expedited handling of industrial resources to resolve unanticipated supply chain disruptions to meet national security needs.
Secretary Austin and Minister Hamada signed the RDT&E MOU and the SOSA at a ceremony at the Pentagon on the margins of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”), which occurred at the Department of State on January 11, 2023.
“Today, I am delighted for Minister Hamada and I to sign two defense enabling arrangements to increase our opportunities for expanded and deepened cooperation on advanced technologies and defense supply chains,” said Secretary Austin. “To support U.S. forces and enhance Alliance cooperation towards these ends, the United States and Japan must focus our efforts to collaborate on sharpening the competitive edge of the Alliance to meet future force requirements and sustained logistics. This is a consequential moment for Japan and the U.S.-Japan Alliance as we embark on new forms of cooperation together.”
For information on RDT&E MOUs, please see the website of the Office of Director for International Cooperation, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Sustainment) at https://www.acq.osd.mil/ic/international-agreements.html.
For additional information on SOSAs, please see the website of the Office of Defense Production Act (DPA) Title I, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Sustainment) at https://www.businessdefense.gov/security-of-supply.html.
Finally, for more information about the Department of Defense’s critical technology areas and activities, please see the website of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) at https://www.cto.mil/.(Source: US DoD)
13 Jan 23. Why Japan is seeking military ties beyond its U.S. ally.
Before meeting President Joe Biden in Washington D.C., Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Italy, France, Britain and Canada, in part to forge security ties that could help it fend off China, North Korea and Russia.
In June, Japan’s defence minister at the time, Nobuo Kishi, said his country was surrounded by nuclear-armed nations that refused to adhere to international norms of behaviour.
In the wake of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, Kishida has described security in East Asia as “fragile.”
At the top of Japan’s threat list is China, which it worries could attack Taiwan or nearby Japanese islands. Chinese military activity is intensifying around the East China Sea, including joint air and sea drills with Russia.
At the same time, North Korea has fired missiles into the Sea of Japan, and in October lobbed an intermediate-range missile over Japan for the first time since 2017.
For the past seven decades, Japan, which gave up the right to wage war after its defeat in World War Two, has relied on the United States for protection.
In return for its promise to defend the country, the U.S. gets bases that allow it to maintain a major military presence in East Asia.
Japan hosts 54,000 American troops, hundreds of military aircraft, and dozens of warships led by Washington’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier.
DEFENCE BUILD UP
As China’s military power grows alongside its economy, the regional power balance has shifted in Beijing’s favour.
China’s defence spending overtook Tokyo’s two decades ago and is now more than four times larger.
Encouraged by the United States, Japan in December unveiled its biggest military build up since World War Two, with a commitment to double defence spending to 2% of GDP within five years.
That will include money for missiles with ranges of more than 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) that could strike targets in China.
Beijing, however, is expected to continue expanding its military capabilities, and is likely to field ever more sophisticated weapons.
For that reason, and again with Washington’s support, Japan is seeking new security partners to back it up both militarily and diplomatically.
That effort, for now, has focused on countries that are also strong U.S. allies, including Australia, Britain and France. Tokyo is also looking for closer security ties with India, which since 2004 has met regularly with Japan, the United States and Australia to discuss regional diplomacy as a member of the Quad group.
In London on Jan. 11, during his tour of fellow G7 countries, Kishida signed a reciprocal access defence agreement with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that will make it easier for the two countries to conduct military drills in each other’s territory.
Japan is chair of the G7 this year and will be host to its leaders in Hiroshima in May.
As Britain tilts more towards Asia, it has sought closer defence ties. In 2021, it sent the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier on a visit to Japan, and announced that it would permanently deploy two warships in Asian waters.
In December, Japan announced it would build a new jet fighter with Britain and Italy, its first major international defence project with a country other than the United States since the end of World War Two.
Since the start of the Ukraine war, Japan’s sometimes-troubled relationship with neighbouring South Korea has also improved, opening up the possibility of closer military cooperation between the two U.S. allies. (Source: Reuters)
12 Jan 23. Afghanistan: Foreign ministry bombing underlines elevated terrorism threat targeting countries forging ties with the Taliban. On 11 January, a suicide bomb explosion killed at least 20 people outside the foreign ministry building in Kabul. The Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The bomber was likely targeting a Chinese delegation reportedly visiting the ministry on the day, though there was no damage to the building itself. The incident came after another attack targeting Chinese personnel at the Logan hotel. It also follows an announcement of a USD 540m oil exploration agreement between Beijing and Kabul. There remains an elevated threat of attacks targeting government buildings, particularly related to the foreign ministry, as well as venues with connections to China or frequented by Chinese nationals. The ISIS-K has criticised Beijing for alleged human rights violations against Uighur Muslims. The group also seeks to undermine the Taliban government as Kabul attempts to explore economic cooperation with foreign countries. (Source: Sibylline)
12 Jan 23. Kenya: Al-Shabaab attack underlines persistent threat in cross-border counties. On 11 January, an al-Shabaab IED killed four Kenya National Highways Authority workers on the Bura-Garissa road, near the border with Somalia in Garissa county. Heightened security is highly likely in Tana River and Bura East over the coming days, with additional vehicle checks likely disrupting movement. The recent attack is consistent with the group’s sustained campaign to pressure Kenya to withdraw its forces from Somalia and does not indicate an increased threat of attack in Nairobi. Ongoing Somali government offensives in central Somalia are likely to degrade al-Shabaab’s capacity to conduct attacks in Kenya in the medium term. However, the threat of cross-border raids in Kenya’s border counties will likely continue over the coming months. Although attacks are likely to target security and government personnel and assets, this will sustain incidental risks to staff, particularly during overground movement. Additionally, al-Shabaab operations will increase attack risks to local infrastructure projects connected to the Lapsset Corridor Programme. (Source: Sibylline)
12 Jan 23. Brazil: Government’s continued crackdown on pro-Bolsonaro protest leaders sustains high domestic unrest risks. On 11 January, federal prosecutors launched investigations into three congressional allies of former President Jair Bolsonaro, for allegedly inciting the protest in Brasilia which invaded several government buildings. To date, authorities have detained 1,843 individuals in connection with the 8 January protest, though around 600 have been released on humanitarian grounds. President Lula da Silva has stated that individuals involved in the protest will have the right to defend themselves but any proven wrongdoing, including financing the protest, will result in judicial repercussions. Pro-Bolsonaro activists’ attempt to organise a nationwide protest on 11 January appeared to have not materialised. A separate nationwide strike is scheduled from 14 to 31 January. The risk of domestic unrest is likely to remain elevated in the near term. (Source: Sibylline)
11 Jan 23. Japan to OK new US Marine littoral regiment on Okinawa. Japan on Wednesday will formally approve U.S. plans for a new Marine quick-reaction force on Okinawa and unveil plans to deepen military cooperation on Japan’s remote southwest islands near Taiwan, according to U.S. officials.
The new Marine littoral regiment would be stationed by 2025 and have advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, anti-ship, and transportation capabilities, U.S. officials said. The formal recognition is slated to come in a joint statement Wednesday after high-level talks between U.S. and Japanese national security officials.
The talks come as Tokyo signals its willingness to take on a more offensive role in the Pacific given its view of China as its biggest strategic challenge, newly outlined in Japan’s defense strategy last month. There are growing concerns in Japan and the U.S. that Taiwan may become a military flashpoint in the region as China regards the self-governing island as part of its own territory.
The joint statement will welcome Japan’s new aim to acquire “counterstrike capabilities” ― part of the nation’s plans to double its defense budget. The planned expenditure would make Japan the world’s third biggest military spender.
Wednesday, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will meet with American counterparts Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will then meet with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday.
“The leaders will discuss our shared vision of a modernized alliance that will tackle 21st century challenges in the Indo-Pacific and around the world,” Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said Tuesday. “China certainly will be a topic of discussion with our Japanese allies during the consultative meetings this week.”
Ryder said the meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how to modernize the alliance and maintain a stable and secure Pacific, but declined to provide details on the new agreement.
The U.S. Marine Corps said publicly months ago it plans in 2025 to transform the Okinawa-based 12th Marine Regiment, an artillery unit, into a 12th Marine Littoral Regiment. However, Yomiuri Shimbun broke the news this week that Japan would formally agree to the quick-reaction force, meant to counter Chinese adventurism in the disputed Senkaku Islands.
Reportedly, the U.S. would not add troops on Okinawa, but reorganize some into a Marine littoral regiment, usually made up of 2,000 Marines. There are roughly 18,000 Marines in Japan, and while the Japanese government mostly supports U.S. bases, the presence of U.S. military personnel is unpopular among many Okinawans.
Okinawa Prefecture’s office in Washington said in a statement “it’s necessary to demand a firm explanation” of the planned changes from both governments. Okinawans are anxious about militarizing the southwestern islands, and strengthening them runs counter to their desire to reduce the base burden.
“We believe that the maintenance of order and stability in the region requires not only increased deterrence, but also constant diplomatic efforts,” said the statement.
The force structure changes compliment Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s Force Design 2030, a plan to refashion the Corps with units that can be dispersible, highly mobile and hard to track.
The first of three planned units, the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, stood up last March in Hawaii. Officials have said the units will be armed with Navy strike missiles mounted on unmanned Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and able to target enemy ships; MQ-9A Reapers for unmanned extended-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and a Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar, or G/ATOR.
U.S. officials describing the joint statement said the unit is the Marine Corps’ most advanced formation and would provide a stand-in force able to defend Japan and quickly respond to contingencies.
Tokyo, wary of rankling China, was long hesitant to allow such force posture changes, but it’s likely China’s launch of ballistic missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in recent months helped upend that thinking, said Eric Sayers, a former senior adviser to U.S. Pacific Command who is now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
“Having these modern, mobile, lethal Marine Corps units in the southwestern islands that can operate independently, operate alongside Japanese units, is sending a pretty strong signal to Beijing that the alliance will continue to upgrade itself and deter a [Chinese] course of action in Taiwan,” Sayers said.
The two countries were also expected to hail the U.S. Air Force’s deployment of MQ-9 Reapers to Kanoya Air Base in southern Japan, where they have been conducting reconnaissance flights. Their patrols can collect information about Chinese military activity in the area — including signs it may be preparing to invade Taiwan — and about North Korea, which recently fired a ballistic missile over Japan.
Japan in December committed to acquiring long-range weapons and to continue increasing its defense budget as part of its latest National Security Strategy. Japan is seeking to buy U.S.-made Tomahawks and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles that can reach potential targets in China ― and extend the range of its Type 12 missile.
In the new joint statement, the U.S. and Japan commit to exploring more effective alliance command-and-control relationships to improve interoperability and responsiveness, U.S. officials said this week.
According to former Biden National Security Council official Christopher Johnstone, the Japanese counter-strike capability would set the stage for a far deeper level of command-and-control integration with the U.S. than exists today. That’s because Japan will likely rely heavily on U.S. intelligence and targeting support as it develops the capability.
“Any scenario in which Japan is launching long-range cruise missiles at targets in China or North Korea would almost certainly coincide with U.S. military action; the allies therefore will need to develop an integrated process for target identification, prioritization, and deconfliction to maximize the effectiveness of U.S. and Japanese strike operations. This capacity does not exist today,” Johnstone, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a recent paper.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies separately recommended, based on its recent war games of a Taiwan scenario, the U.S. prioritize deepening diplomatic and military ties with Japan. Based on its projections that the U.S. and Japan would suffer devastating losses of vital aircraft on the ground to China’s missiles, CSIS called for working with Tokyo to harden bases and plan for the use of civilian airfields.
For a Chinese takeover of Taiwan to be thwarted, it’s critical for the U.S. and its warplanes to be able to operate out of its bases in Japan, the think tank concluded. Without U.S. fighters based in Japan for escorts, U.S. bombers would be vulnerable to Chinese fighters armed with extreme-range air-to-air missiles ― and China would be able to concentrate on targets in Taiwan. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
12 Jan 23. Commonwealth, PNG reveal framework for PNG-Australia Bilateral Security Treaty. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and PNG Prime Minister James Marape released a framework for the Papua New Guinea-Australia Bilateral Security Treaty, subject to negotiations and agreement by both countries.
The joint statement of commitment released by the leaders details how both nations will enhance their security partnership through a legally binding framework for security cooperation – covering topics including regional security, climate change and a recognition of shared interests.
The leaders hope to conclude the negotiations by 30 April 2023.
The joint statement of commitment states that the Papua New Guinea-Australia Bilateral Security Treaty will:
• Reinforce mutual respect and enable both countries to protect and enhance their independence, sovereignty and resilience;
• Strengthen position as vital security partners and assist both countries to protect and enhance sovereignty and resilience;
• Build on the strong platform of existing bilateral agreements and understandings;
• Solidify Pacific regional agreements and understandings, including the PIF Leaders’ consensus on the concept of regionalism and a Forum family first approach to peace and security;
• Reflect the evolving nature of shared security interests, recognising that non-traditional security challenges, such as climate change, cyber security, and economic elements of statecraft, affect our strategic environment;
• Recognise that because security interests are intertwined, including by virtue of geography, decisions taken by one country affect the security of the other;
• Commit to deeper and more regular information sharing and exchanges on security and strategic challenges;
• Enhance the scope and depth of ongoing practical cooperation and facilitate joint security operations and activities and greater interoperability;
• Capture the breadth of security cooperation while providing a mandate for future work in areas of shared interest;
• Be public and transparent, consistent with each other’s treaty practices and national laws; and
• Remain a contemporary reflection of shared interests, including through regular consultations on its implementation.
Excerpt from the joint statement of commitment: Prime Ministers Anthony Albanese and James Marape.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this morning became the first international leader to address the PNG Parliament, pledging enhanced education, healthcare and defence cooperation – while committing to streamline the visa application process.
During the address, Prime Minister Albanese evoked the enduring relationship between Australia and its northern neighbour, referring to interactions between Torres Strait Islanders and PNG traders through to more recent humanitarian cooperation.
The Prime Minister also pledged to deepen the education and healthcare cooperation between the two nations – supporting greater vocational training and healthcare readiness in the Pacific nation.
“The government I lead is committed to strengthening Australia’s education partnership with PNG,” the Prime Minister told Parliament.
“Working with you on the important priorities you’ve identified: including the early years and vocational education and training.
“And making sure that equality for women and girls goes far beyond the opportunity to attend school.
“Australia will continue to provide support to PNG’s health priorities, including in infectious diseases, such as TB, HIV, child and maternal health and malaria.”
The address further committed greater support to PNG’s infrastructure requirements, delivering economic advantages for the Pacific nation.
(Source: Defence Connect)
11 Jan 23. Joint Statement of the 2023 U.S. – Japan Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”). Secretary of State Blinken, Secretary of Defense Austin, Minister for Foreign Affairs Hayashi, and Minister of Defense Hamada (referred to collectively as “the Ministers”) convened the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC) in Washington, D.C., on January 11, 2023.
Recognizing the convergence of their nations’ new national security and defense strategies toward bolstering deterrence in an integrated manner, the Ministers provided a vision of a modernized Alliance postured to prevail in a new era of strategic competition.
The Ministers firmly reiterated their commitment to champion a free and open Indo-Pacific region, heralding the U.S.-Japan Alliance as the cornerstone of regional peace, security, and prosperity. They resolved to advance bilateral modernization initiatives to build a more capable, integrated, and agile Alliance that bolsters deterrence and addresses evolving regional and global security challenges. The Ministers affirmed that the Alliance is stalwart in the face of these challenges and steadfast in support of shared values and norms that underpin the international rules-based order. They renewed their commitment to oppose any unilateral change to the status quo by force regardless of the location in the world.
The Ministers welcomed the release of their respective National Security Strategies and National Defense Strategies, and confirmed unprecedented alignment of their vision, priorities, and goals. This forms a solid foundation for their efforts to constantly modernize the Alliance in order to address the increasingly severe security environment.
Japan reiterated its resolve, under its new strategies, to fundamentally reinforce its defense capabilities, including counterstrike, through a substantial increase of its defense budget. Japan also reaffirmed its determination to lead in its own defense and to expand its roles, in cooperation with the United States and other partners, to actively engage in maintaining regional peace and stability. The United States expressed its strong support for Japan’s updated national security policies as a significant evolution that bolsters Alliance deterrence.
The United States expressed its determination to optimize its force posture in the Indo-Pacific, including in Japan, by forward-deploying more versatile, resilient, and mobile capabilities. Japan supported the U.S. plan to optimize its force posture and welcomed its strong commitment to maintain a robust presence in the region.
The United States restated its unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan under Article V of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear. The Ministers held an in-depth discussion on U.S. extended deterrence for Japan, as well as on the recently released U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, and reaffirmed the critical importance of ensuring U.S. extended deterrence remains credible and resilient, bolstered by Japan’s capabilities. They reiterated both countries intend to deepen the substantive discussions at the Extended Deterrence Dialogue as well as through various senior-level meetings.
In accordance with their new strategies, the Ministers decided to accelerate work on evolving Alliance roles and missions and to employ interoperable and advanced capabilities, to address current and future security challenges. The Ministers also resolved to jointly strengthen Alliance activities with allies and partners within and beyond the region.
A New Era of Strategic Competition
The Ministers concurred that China’s foreign policy seeks to reshape the international order to its benefit and to employ China’s growing political, economic, military, and technological power to that end. This behavior is of serious concern to the Alliance and the entire international community, and represents the greatest strategic challenge in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
The Ministers reiterated their strong opposition to China’s intensified attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the East China Sea, including through actions that seek to undermine Japan’s longstanding administration of the Senkaku Islands. The United States reaffirmed that Article V of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands. The Ministers condemned China’s dangerous and provocative military activities around Japan, including China’s ballistic missile launches in August 2022, during which some missiles landed in waters near Japan’s Sakishima Islands. They shared their continuing concerns regarding China’s ongoing and accelerating expansion of its nuclear arsenal, which is also characterized by its lack of transparency.
They also reiterated their strong objections to China’s unlawful maritime claims, militarization of reclaimed features, and threatening and provocative activities in the South China Sea. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for unimpeded lawful commerce and full respect for international law, including freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea. In this context, they recalled with emphasis that the July 12, 2016, Award in the South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China), constituted under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS), is final and legally binding on the parties to that proceeding. They confirmed, also in this context, that they will work together closely to address non-market policies and practices as well as economic coercion. The Ministers stated that their basic positions on Taiwan remain unchanged, and reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as an indispensable element of security and prosperity in the international community. They encouraged the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues. They expressed serious concerns about the state of Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms as well as human rights issues, including in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The Ministers strongly condemned North Korea’s unprecedented number of unlawful and reckless ballistic missile launches over the past year, including of multiple intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)-class missiles, and of the ballistic missile that overflew Japan. They expressed strong concern over North Korea’s stated policy to enhance its nuclear arsenal at maximum speed, both in quality and quantity, and reaffirmed their commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea. The Ministers urged North Korea to abide by its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions and confirmed the need for an immediate resolution of the abductions issue. The Ministers also committed to deepen cooperation between and among the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, which is critical to addressing the grave threat North Korea presents and to promoting security, peace, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
The Ministers strongly condemned Russia’s brutal, unprovoked, and unjustifiable war against Ukraine. They recognized that Russia’s violation of the UN Charter and its attempts to unilaterally change borders by force, including through its ongoing aggression against Ukraine, present a serious security threat for the European region and shake the foundation of the international order. The Ministers condemned Russia’s reckless nuclear rhetoric and its attacks against civilian infrastructure, and they reiterated the need for Russia to be held accountable for its atrocities in Ukraine. The Ministers also highlighted with concern Russia’s growing and provocative strategic military cooperation with China, including through joint operations and drills in the vicinity of Japan.
Modernizing the Alliance
In light of evolving Alliance roles and missions, and enhancing interoperable capabilities to meet the aforementioned security challenges, the Ministers decided to accelerate their consultations, including on the following areas:
1. Alliance Coordination
The Ministers reemphasized the necessity to further enhance bilateral coordination through the Alliance Coordination Mechanism in order to cope with the full spectrum of possible situations in a timely and integrated manner. In this context, the United States welcomed Japan’s decision to establish a permanent joint headquarters. They committed to exploring more effective Alliance command and control relationships to enhance interoperability and responsiveness. The Ministers also shared the need to improve effective coordination with partner countries for more robust policy and operational cooperation.
2. Allied Efforts in Peacetime
The Ministers underscored the critical importance of joint efforts in peacetime to deter an armed attack against Japan and destabilizing activities in the region. They decided to deepen bilateral coordination, including on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and flexible deterrent options. They welcomed the U.S. deployment of MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles to Kanoya Air Base and the launch of the Bilateral Information Analysis Cell to increase intelligence sharing. In order to maximize the effects of these efforts, they decided to further expand their cooperation in the field of asset protection missions, broader engagement of partners, and strategic messaging. They welcomed the joint/shared use of additional facilities on Kadena Ammunition Storage Area by JSDF. They also committed to expand joint/shared use of U.S. and Japanese facilities and to increase bilateral exercises and training in areas including Japan’s Southwest Islands.
The Ministers stressed the importance of flexible use of air and seaports to ensure the resiliency of defense assets and their operational effectiveness in a contingency. Accordingly, they decided to work together through exercises and planning to enable such use.
3. Allied Capability to Deter and Respond
The Ministers concurred that Alliance efforts, consistent with new strategy documents, should focus on mission areas such as integrated air and missile defense, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, mine warfare, amphibious and airborne operations, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISRT), logistics, and mobility. They decided to deepen bilateral cooperation toward the effective employment of Japan’s counterstrike capabilities in close coordination with the United States. The Ministers welcomed the steady progress on bilateral planning for contingencies as well as on realistic training and exercises such as Keen Sword 23, Resolute Dragon 22, Orient Shield 22, and MV-22 low altitude training.
The Ministers underscored the critical importance of strengthened cross-domain capabilities, particularly integrating the land, maritime, air, space, cyber, electromagnetic spectrum, and other domains.
4. Space, Cyber, and Information Security
Recognizing the growing importance of outer space to the peace, security and prosperity of the Alliance, the Ministers renewed their commitment to deepening cooperation on space capabilities to strengthen mission assurance, interoperability, and operational cooperation, including through enhanced collaboration in space domain awareness after the operationalization of Japan’s Space Situational Awareness system scheduled in 2023.
The Ministers consider that attacks to, from, or within space present a clear challenge to the security of the Alliance, and affirmed such attacks, in certain circumstances, could lead to the invocation of Article V of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The Ministers also affirmed that a decision as to when such an attack would lead to an invocation of Article V would be made on a case-by-case basis, and through close consultations between Japan and the United States, as would be the case for any other threat.
The Ministers emphasized the foundational importance of cybersecurity and information security for the Alliance. They welcomed the establishment of JSDF Cyber Defense Command in March 2022, and concurred to intensify collaboration to counter increasingly sophisticated and persistent cyber threats. The United States welcomed Japan’s initiatives to bolster its national cybersecurity posture such as the creation of a new organization to coordinate whole-of-government cybersecurity policies, and the introduction of a risk management framework, which would provide a foundation for a wider range of U.S.-Japan cooperation. The Ministers welcomed progress in strengthening industrial cybersecurity, including Japan’s efforts to establish the Standards on Cybersecurity Measures for Defense Industry. Lastly, the Ministers highlighted important progress made so far under the bilateral information security consultations.
5. Maintaining the Technological Edge
Emphasizing the importance of integrating technological developments into Alliance capabilities, the Ministers committed to bolster technology cooperation and joint investments in emerging technologies to further sharpen the competitive edge of the Alliance. The Ministers also emphasized that resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains of defense equipment are essential to ensure national security.
In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Projects and the Security of Supply Arrangement as well as the substantial progress on the Reciprocal Government Quality Assurance.
With these achievements as well as steady progress on defense science and technology cooperation, including discussions on joint research projects on high-power microwaves and autonomous systems, the Ministers concurred to further promote their efforts toward joint research and development of defense equipment. Based on the progress of joint analysis on counter-hypersonic technology, the Ministers concurred to begin joint research on important elements including advanced materials and hypersonic testbeds. The Ministers also concurred to begin discussion on potential joint development of a future interceptor. The Ministers also shared the importance of deepening technological cooperation with like-minded allies and partners, which complements bilateral efforts.
Expanding Alliance Partnerships
The Ministers renewed their commitment to further advance their partnership with Australia by building on outcomes from the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue in August 2022 and Trilateral Defense Ministers Meeting in June and October 2022 and by taking advantage of the expanding activities under the Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation signed in October 2022. In this context, they highlighted the successful completion of the first coordinated asset protection mission among the three countries in November 2022. They also expressed their determination to increase trilateral training and exercises to enhance interoperability, including on ISR, as well as to explore opportunities for technological cooperation. In this context, they reaffirmed the importance of increasing trilateral training opportunities including in northern Australia, based on the Joint Statement on Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations issued in December 2022. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to supporting quality, transparent infrastructure development that addresses the needs of Indo-Pacific partners and welcomed the renewal of the Trilateral Infrastructure Partnership MOU with Australia.
The Ministers also emphasized the importance of further deepening their cooperation with the Republic of Korea and exploring opportunities for multilateral and trilateral exercises and other activities, including in areas such as ballistic missile defense, anti-submarine warfare, maritime security, search and rescue, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief.
The Ministers reaffirmed their strong support for ASEAN’s unity and centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. They acknowledged the importance of further promoting economic and security cooperation with partners in Southeast Asia and Pacific Island countries through such activities as joint training, capacity building, and potential transfers of defense equipment. The Ministers welcomed further cooperation under the Partners in the Blue Pacific Initiative, which will support the Pacific Islands Forum’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. The Ministers reconfirmed the importance of the Quad, which has made positive contributions to the region through promoting practical cooperation in various fields.
Noting that likeminded nations are facing similar, and mutually-reinforcing threats to the global rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and Euro-Atlantic regions, the Ministers welcomed greater engagement in the Indo-Pacific by Euro-Atlantic partners—both bilaterally and through multilateral entities such as NATO and the EU. They expressed support for expanded exercises and deployments, facilitated by Japan’s new bilateral agreements including forthcoming Reciprocal Access Agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom. The United States endorsed Japan’s efforts to finalize its NATO Individually Tailored Partnership Program, and welcomed Japan’s enhanced emphasis on European security through its provision of assistance to Ukraine. The United States likewise hailed Japan’s increased cooperation with NATO, and Japan’s leadership role in NATO’s Asia Pacific partners’ group. From this perspective, the United States welcomed Prime Minister Kishida’s attendance at the NATO Summit in Madrid in June 2022—the first time a Japanese Prime Minister has participated in a NATO Summit.
Optimizing Alliance Posture
The Ministers affirmed the need to optimize Alliance force posture based on improved operational concepts and enhanced capabilities to address increasing security challenges in the region, including for the defense of the Southwestern Islands of Japan.
Facing a severely contested environment, they confirmed that the forward posture of U.S. forces in Japan should be upgraded to strengthen Alliance deterrence and response capabilities by positioning more versatile, resilient, and mobile forces with increased intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, anti-ship, and transportation capabilities.
In line with such policy, the Japan-U.S. Roadmap for Realignment Implementation, as adjusted by the SCC on April 27, 2012, will be readjusted so that the 3rd Marine Division Headquarters and the 12th Marine Regiment will remain in Okinawa. The 12th Marine Regiment will be reorganized into the 12th Marine Littoral Regiment by 2025.
The Ministers reiterated their commitment to the basic tenets of the 2012 Realignment Plan, and confirmed that these readjustments do not affect the lands scheduled to be returned in the Okinawa Consolidation Plan, nor continued progress for the Futenma Replacement Facility at Camp Schwab.
The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to achieve an end-state for the U.S. Marine Corps presence in Okinawa consistent with the levels envisioned in the Realignment Roadmap as revised in 2012.
The Ministers also confirmed that these readjustments do not require any changes to Japan’s cash contribution and construction projects based upon the amended Guam International Agreement.
To further strengthen Alliance maritime mobility in Japan, the Ministers welcomed the establishment of the Composite Watercraft Company at Yokohama North Dock scheduled in 2023.
The Ministers affirmed that these initiatives demonstrate the steadfast commitment of the United States to the defense of Japan and share the same direction with Japan’s fundamental reinforcement of its defense capabilities. They confirmed that the optimized posture of the U.S. forces in Japan, with enhanced JSDF capabilities and posture in areas including the Southwestern Islands, would substantially strengthen Alliance deterrence and response capabilities.
The Ministers decided to continue close consultation on these initiatives and ways to further optimize U.S. force posture in Japan.
The Ministers also reconfirmed the steady implementation of ongoing projects supporting realignment of facilities and areas of U.S. Forces in Japan and the importance of relationships with local communities. The Ministers underlined their commitment to continue construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility at the Camp Schwab/Henokosaki area and in adjacent waters as the only solution that avoids the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The Ministers welcomed the progress and future prospects for the development of the SDF facility on Mageshima, which will be used for purposes including Field Carrier Landing Practice. They confirmed the importance of accelerating bilateral work on U.S. force realignment efforts, including construction of relocation facilities and land returns in Okinawa, and the relocation of Marine Corps personnel from Okinawa to Guam beginning in 2024. The Ministers affirmed the importance of continued bilateral coordination for sharing timely information on incidents and accidents, enhancing environmental cooperation, as well as mitigating impacts on, and supporting strong relationships with, local communities while communicating with them about the importance of Alliance activities. (Source: US DoD)
11 Jan 23. Colombia: Targeting of vice president in Cauca underscores elevated risk of further attacks. Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez announced on 10 January that an unexploded IED was found near her family home in Suarez (Cauca department). Marquez added that the discovery constituted an assassination attempt, but did not disclose further details. Left-wing political leaders have historically been targeted by paramilitary groups in Colombia. The government is currently in demobilization talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerilla group. Dissident fronts within the ELN have previously carried out high-profile attacks against the security forces and political leaders in order to disrupt the talks. The government and the ELN have reportedly scheduled an ‘emergency meeting’ in Caracas (Venezuela) in the coming days to discuss a recent ceasefire U-turn by the guerrillas. The risk of further attacks against high-profile political figures remains elevated. (Source: Sibylline)
11 Jan 23. Nigeria: Insecurity raises likelihood of 25 February general election being postponed. On 10 January, government officials stated that they intend to hold elections as scheduled. This follows recent statements by the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission suggesting that the 25 February election could be postponed or cancelled due to insecurity. While it remains unlikely that the election will be cancelled, there is a possibility that polls will be postponed, as they were in 2019. Security threats are higher than in 2019. Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a jihadist group, conducted a series of attacks near the capital Abuja in 2022 via allied armed groups known locally as bandits. If delayed, it is unlikely that the election will be postponed beyond the constitutional limits of President Muhammadu Buhari’s term, which expires at the end of May. Constitutional scholars have also suggested that the term limit could be extended by six months. This will mitigate the need for a transitional government, reducing the risk of a significant spike in domestic unrest. (Source: Sibylline)
11 Jan 23. Nepal: Prachanda seals Prime Minister spot; government will likely remain susceptible to instability. On 10 January, newly elected Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (also known as Prachanda) won a parliamentary vote of confidence, securing 268 votes from 275. Prachanda will run an 11-party coalition government, with his Maoist Centre Party being the third largest. He has entered a power-sharing agreement with the former prime minister, KP Sharma Oli, who will take over the post of prime minister after two and half years. Although Dahl won a significant majority, the coalition will remain susceptible to instability in the long term. Indeed, Prachanda and Oli were rivals and formed a post-poll alliance after the general election in December 2022 resulted in a hung parliament. Furthermore, although Prachanda stated that he would follow a balanced foreign policy, he is known to be closer to China than India. This will likely raise regional tensions. New Delhi considers Kathmandu a strategic neighbour, as both India and Nepal share a border with China. (Source: Sibylline)
11 Jan 23. Japan: Plans to strengthen defence will likely encounter local opposition in Okinawa. Japanese and US foreign and defence ministers will hold a meeting in Washington on 11 January over deepening bilateral security ties in response to threats posed by China and North Korea. The ‘two-plus-two’ talks will take place as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tours other G7 nations with a primary focus on security. Tokyo’s latest diplomatic engagements underscore the recent shift in its security strategy as it seeks to boost defence spending and military capabilities to counter China’s growing influence and assertiveness. The prospects of redeployment/reorganisation of US Marine forces in Okinawa will possibly strengthen military readiness and deterrence vis-à-vis China’s ambitions towards Taiwan and the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. However, these moves will likely face notable opposition and possible protests from the local population given the longstanding resentment of the US military presence among Okinawans. (Source: Sibylline)
11 Jan 23. Kyrgyzstan: Protests against border deal with Uzbekistan are unlikely to lead to large-scale unrest. On 10 January, the police in Bishkek detained dozens of activists demanding the release of 26 Kyrgyz politicians and activists who protested against a border deal with Uzbekistan in October 2022. The government recently charged those arrested for planning riots over the border deal, which continues to drive tensions in the west of the country (see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update – 18 November 2022). Limited protests against the border deal and demands for the release of the jailed politicians are likely to continue in the coming weeks. However, these protests are likely to remain relatively small in scale and are unlikely to escalate into large-scale anti-government unrest. (Source: Sibylline)
11 Jan 23. Bolivia: Risk of domestic unrest will remain elevated following anti-government protests. On 10 January, anti-government demonstrations took place in the cities of Beni, Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, La Paz, Oruro, Potosi, Santa Cruz and Tarija. In the capital La Paz, demonstrators clashed with pro-government activists before being dispersed by the police. No major casualties were recorded. Demonstrations were peaceful in the other cities. The latest anti-government protests come after several spates of domestic unrest which began in Santa Cruz in November 2022. These followed demands for a census to be carried out in the country and the arrest of several political figures. Government officials have signalled that they are unwilling to discuss political demands emanating from opposition officials. The risk of domestic unrest will likely remain elevated in the near term. (Source: Sibylline)
10 Jan 23. Peru: Anti-government protests leave at least 17 dead in Puno; risk of domestic unrest heightened. On 9 January, demonstrators clashed with security forces in Juliaca (Puno region), near the Inca Manco Capac Int. Airport, demanding early elections and the release of jailed former president Pedro Castillo. The clashes killed 17 people and injured 68 others, with bullet wounds identified on some of the fatalities. The latest casualties raised the death toll of anti-government clashes to 39 since the protests began in early December 2022 following the removal and arrest of Castillo. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said it would conduct a visit to Peru from 11 to 13 January, visiting Lima and other cities to evaluate the situation. The government has mobilised the armed forces to protect key infrastructure, however, it is likely that protests will continue to target transport hubs such as stations and airports in the short term. (Source: Sibylline)
10 Jan 23. Sudan: Political agreement on transition timeline likely to act as flashpoints for protests. On 9 January, Sudanese political parties began talks to finalise an agreed civilian-led government over a two-year transition period. The deal, outlined in the framework agreement that the parties signed last month, will reduce the military’s political influence (see Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 7 December 2022). Parties will also reach agreements on contentious issues that remained unresolved last month including investigations into the military’s killing of protesters. The announcement of a possible decision will likely act as flashpoints for protests in major urban centres including Khartoum and Port Sudan. Security forces are likely to use water cannons and live ammunition to disperse protests, significantly elevating physical risks to bystanders. However, once an agreement is finalised, the lack of organisational support from the key civilian faction, the Forces for Freedom of Change (FFC), will likely result in a reduction in protests. (Source: Sibylline)
10 Jan 23. Armenia: Cancellation of participation in CSTO exercises reflects growing disillusionment with Russian alliance, rising anti-Russian unrest risks. Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan announced on 10 January that his country will not hold Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) exercises in 2023 due to the ongoing Lachin Corridor blockade. The announcement reflects Yerevan’s growing disillusionment with the Russian-led CSTO and its ability to ensure Armenian security. The inability or unwillingness of Russian peacekeepers to intervene and lift the Lachin Corridor blockade is escalating tensions between Yerevan and Moscow. Rising anti-Russian sentiment is also increasing unrest, with protests at Gyumri military base on 8 January (see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update – 9 January 2023) and further anti-Russian demonstrations across the country likely over the coming weeks. However, Armenia’s withdrawal from the CSTO remains unlikely as such a move would exacerbate Yerevan’s vulnerability to border tensions with Azerbaijan driven by its geographic isolation. (Source: Sibylline)
09 Jan 23. Brazil: Risk of unrest will increase due to federal intervention in response to large protests in Brasilia. On 8 January, President Lula da Silva ordered the federal security forces to deploy across the capital Brasilia (Federal District) after supporters of the former president, Jair Bolsonaro, held large protests in the city. Protesters invaded the National Congress, the Superior Court of Justice and the Planalto Palace, which were all subsequently vandalised. They are calling for the removal of Lula. More than 40 people were injured in the unrest. The police arrested around 300 protesters, while Brazil’s top court removed Brasilia’s governor – a former ally of Bolsonaro – for 90 days, citing security flaws. The court also ordered several social media platforms to block various accounts. Further judicial scrutiny of firms associated with the unrest is likely. Left-wing groups which support the current government are reportedly organising a march on 9 January in key Brazilian urban centres, raising the risk of domestic unrest and clashes with counter-protesters. (Source: Sibylline)
09 Jan 23. Iraq: Protests, attacks will act as triggers for entry restrictions to Baghdad’s Green Zone. On 8 January, the authorities dismantled checkpoints and reopened major roads and tunnels to Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, which holds government buildings and foreign embassies. The Green Zone will be open to car traffic between 0500hrs and1900hrs (local time) daily, though trucks will not be allowed to pass through the area. The authorities want the area to be open for 24 hours a day, and are working to make this happen in the coming days. The move aims to reduce traffic congestion in Baghdad by approximately 40%, which will likely reduce the frequency of traffic accidents. The improvement of the security situation in Baghdad in recent months has facilitated the move. Any deterioration in the local security environment is therefore highly likely to prompt the authorities to restrict vehicle and public access to the area. Mass protests or attacks in Baghdad, particularly those targeting the Green Zone, will act as trigger events for the reintroduction of checkpoints and travel restrictions.
06 Jan 23. Burkina Faso: Wagner Group Agreement.
• Recent developments indicate that there is an increasing likelihood that Burkinabe authorities are in the process of seeking an agreement with the Wagner Group, Russian private military contractor firm.
• Ongoing negotiations will encourage Russia to escalate cyber and social media operations designed to bolster domestic anti-French sentiment, raising the likelihood of further anti-French protests in the coming weeks.
• The deployment of Wagner Group contractors is likely to undermine Western security agreements, likely prompting the withdrawal of French and European forces and worsening Burkina Faso’s security environment, driving further jihadist expansion.
On 5 January, the French Foreign Minister announced that France will continue to support its Ambassador in Burkina Faso after the Burkinabe ruling military junta requested his expulsion in December. The incident marks a further deterioration in relations between France and the new Burkinabe military junta which French diplomats recently claimed is forming relations with the Russian private military contractor, Wagner Group.
Further deterioration of relations with France indicates an increasing likelihood that the junta will reach an agreement with the Wagner Group
Recent events indicate that Burkinabe authorities are seriously considering a Wagner deployment, which would bolster Moscow’s regional influence and likely displace French military resources. Anti-French sentiment has been mounting in Burkina Faso since the new junta leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, seized power in September due to disputes within the military about the continued expansion of jihadist violence. This has raised concerns that, as in Mali, military authorities will seek additional military assistance from the Wagner Group. Shortly after Wagner entered Mali, authorities expelled the French Ambassador in January 2022 and then broke off all defence accords with France in May 2022.
Recent French claims that Burkina Faso is forging relations with the Wagner Group follow allegations by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo in December that the Burkinabe military junta had already reached an agreement with the group, securing troop deployments in exchange for a mine in southern Burkina Faso. While Burkinabe authorities have denied the mine sale, and an agreement has not been confirmed, Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin has offered to work with Traore and the Burkinabe interim prime minister visited Moscow in December allegedly to consolidate relations and strengthen counter-insurgency efforts.
To increase pressure on Burkinabe authorities to finalise an agreement, Russia will likely bolster organised social media campaigns to exacerbate anti-French sentiments in the coming weeks. As such, further anti-French protests are likely as negotiations endure, elevating threats to the street-level assets and personnel of French businesses active in major Burkinabe cities. Protests in Ouagadougou are likely to be concentrated around the French Embassy and key government buildings elevating localised incidental risks to bystanders.
Deployment of the Wagner Group will likely undermine Western security agreements and exacerbate regional instability
The deployment of Wagner personnel will likely force France to withdraw military support from Burkina Faso, resulting in a decline in counter-insurgent capabilities. Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron cited the presence of Wagner personnel as a key reason for the withdrawal of military resources from Mali, stating Wagner was incompatible with French military operations.
The loss of rapid response capabilities provided by France and other European nations will increase jihadists’ capacity to coordinate attacks and sustain their southern expansion. This will increase the likelihood of attacks in areas surrounding Ouagadougou, threatening overland movement from the city and bystanders near military and government facilities in outlying parts of the city, as well as raising the risk of kidnap. Moreover, worsening security conditions are also likely to undermine support for the military junta and increase government instability which jihadists will likely capitalise on.
As in Mali, Wagner operatives would likely cooperate with Burkinabe security forces, including local militia, in targeting communities deemed to be supportive of jihadists, driving human rights abuses. This will both reinforce jihadist messaging – driving recruitment – and disrupt the operation of international counter-insurgent operations. This will likely elevate threats to humanitarian workers operating in communities across the country, both from jihadist groups bolstering their rural influence and from authorities seeking to quash reports of abuses.
In the broader region, the withdrawal of Western forces from Burkina Faso will undermine efforts to contain jihadists, elevating threats to coastal West African states. This will increase the rate of cross-border attacks in countries including Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, elevating attack and kidnap risks to business staff and assets active in the border regions of these countries over 2023. (Source: Sibylline)
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