Security news

Covid-19: Virus tests national responses as countries prepare for second wave

By Lewis Smart 03 September 2020
A zoonotic virus that emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 has now spread to almost every country in the world. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19) pandemic had, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), caused 23 million cases of infection at the time of writing, resulting in approximately 800,000 deaths by 24 August 2020. The virus has also caused substantial global economic disruption that could yet have a prolonged effect on global health and economic security.  In June and July 2020, co...

China now has world's largest navy as Beijing advances towards goal of a ‘world-class' military by 2049, says US DoD

By Andrew Tate 02 September 2020
China now has the largest navy in the world, an expansion driven by Beijing’s aspirations to “return” the country to a position of strength and leadership on the world stage, the US Department of Defense (DoD) said in its 2020 report on military and security developments involving China.  Published on 1 September the report, often referred to as the ‘China Military Power Report’, states that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) now has “a battle force of approximately 350 platforms, including major surface combatants, submarines, ocean-g...

Brazil's weakened president likely to avoid impeachment

By Carlos Caicedo 01 September 2020
The election of right-wing outsider Jair Bolsonaro as Brazilian president in October 2018 was explained by voters’ anger over economic recession, corruption, and deteriorating public security. Bolsonaro’s popularity rating remained at around 50% in his first year but declined sharply in early 2020 before rebounding to 37% in July. Currently not associated with any political party, Bolsonaro lacks a solid base in Congress, weakening his administration.  Governability was initially helped by leaders of Congress sharing common ground with the g...

PKK faces survival challenge in northern Iraq

By Jonathan Spyer 26 August 2020
The Turkish armed forces’ ‘Claw Eagle’ and ‘Claw Tiger’ operations began in June 2020 and are the culmination of a gradual intensification of Turkish air activity against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê: ‎PKK) targets in the area. This is the latest round in the long-running conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK, with approximately 40,000 people having died since the start of the PKK insurgency in 1984, according to a 20 July 2016 report by the Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group (ICG). A 2...

Mexico's CJNG drug cartel adopts military posture

By Erwan de Cherisey 25 August 2020
In July 2020, a series of videos was released on social media in Mexico, depicting groups of heavily armed men claiming to belong to the so-called ‘Elite Group’ (Grupo Élite) of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación: CJNG). The first was released on 17 July, a day after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador visited the state of Jalisco, the home turf of the CJNG.  Founded in 2009, the CJNG is the most powerful and dangerous cartel in Mexico after the splintering of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel in 2008....

Huawei plugs into Russian 5G network

By Lincoln Pigman 24 August 2020
As he toured Central and Eastern Europe on a week-long trip in August 2020, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded a triumphant note. “The tide is turning, there is no doubt about that, against untrusted networks and toward the values of free nations,” he said in Prague on 12 August, touting the success of Washington’s years-long campaign against Chinese telecommunications firms Huawei and ZTE.  During the Munich Security Conference in February 2020, Pompeo referred to the companies as “Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence”....

German authorities' efforts to unmask public-sector far-right extremists face hurdles

By Rory McKittrick 20 August 2020
The 2nd Kommandokräfte (Commando Forces) Company of Germany’s Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) special forces command was disbanded on 1 August owing to increasing far-right sentiments among its personnel. In May 2020, the arrest of a sergeant major in the Germany Army (Bundeswehr) attached to the KSK underlined the risk of extremist employees serving in Germany’s military and its security and intelligence services. As of June 2020, the Bundeswehr had recorded approximately 600 cases of personnel harbouring links to far-right extremism and other...

Iranian IRGC consolidates primacy in intelligence operations

By Eric Randolph 19 August 2020
Since its formation in 2009, the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps - Intelligence Organisation (IRGC-IO) has gained increasing dominance over the domestic security sphere in Iran. Under the direct control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, it has targeted officials, journalists, lawyers, activists, and dual nationals, severely undermining the policies and status of successive elected governments. In doing so, it has encroached upon, and in many respects sidelined, the government’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).  The creation of the...

Greek and Turkish warships collide in the Aegean Sea

By John Pagni & Kerry Herschelman 18 August 2020
A Greek and Turkish warship were involved in a minor collision during a standoff in the eastern Mediterranean on 12 August.  The Turkish survey vessel Oruç Reis is pictured being escorted by Turkish Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean on 10 August. (Ministry of National Defense/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)  The incident occurred amid rising tensions between the two countries after Turkey dispatched a geological survey vessel, Oruç Reis, to chart an area claimed by both sides for possible hydrocarbon deposits accompanied by five Tu...

German authorities' efforts to unmask public-sector far-right extremists face hurdles

By Rory McKittrick 17 August 2020
The 2nd Kommandokräfte (Commando Forces) Company of Germany’s Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) special forces command was disbanded on 1 August owing to increasing far-right sentiments among its personnel. In May 2020, the arrest of a sergeant major in the Germany Army (Bundeswehr) attached to the KSK underlined the risk of extremist employees serving in Germany’s military and its security and intelligence services. As of June 2020, the Bundeswehr had recorded approximately 600 cases of personnel harbouring links to far-right extremism and other...

Covid-19: Virus impacts force US Navy schedule reassessments for carrier Kennedy and other programmes

By Michael Fabey 13 August 2020
The US Navy is reassessing the impact of Covid-19 on the schedules and costs for major shipbuilding programmes with the virus taking its toll on shipyard workforce numbers.  “We are watching with some concern workforce levels at all our shipyards,” James Geurts, assistant secretary of the navy for research, development, and acquisition, said on 12 August.  Geurts told reporters during a telephone news conference that he was particularly worried about Newport News Shipbuilding, the Huntingtin Ingalls Industries (HII) yard in Virginia, “given t...

France reinforces military presence in Eastern Mediterranean

By Nicholas Fiorenza 13 August 2020
France is temporarily increasing its military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean in coming days, President Emmanuel Macron announced in a tweet on 12 August. In a previous tweet, he explained, The situation in the eastern Mediterranean is worrying. Turkey's unilateral decisions on oil exploration are causing tensions.    Turkey’s research vessel   Oruç Reis  being escorted by Turkish warships.  (Turkish MND)  Turkey issued an international maritime safety message (Navtex) on 10 August announcing that itsresearc...

Covid-19: Finland announces delay to HX acquisition process

By Charles Forrester 12 August 2020
Finland’s Ministry of Defence announced on 11 August that there would be a delay to the issuing of best-and-final-offer (BAFO) requests to replace the country’s fleet of Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet aircraft under the HX programme.  As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to adhere to strict guidelines to prevent transmission of the virus, BAFO requests are to be issued either later this year or at the beginning of next year, according to a statement issued by the HX programme office. The fourth round of negotiations and performance...

Trump confirms plans to further reduce US troop numbers in Afghanistan

By Gabriel Dominguez 05 August 2020
US President Donald Trump has confirmed that he plans to further reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan from currently 8,600 to possibly as low as 4,000 by the time the US presidential election is held on 3 November.  In an interview with the ‘Axios on HBO’ news programme Trump said, “We are largely out of Afghanistan ... We’ll be down in a very short period of time to 8,000 [troops], then we are going down to 4,000. We are negotiating right now. We have been there for 19 years. We’ll be getting out.”  During the interview, which aire...

Arakan Army's Twitter activity identified using open-source analytics

By Ben Pierce 03 August 2020
Myanmar was, at the time of writing, enforcing the world’s longest internet shutdown across swathes of Rakhine State to disrupt the Arakan Army (AA), an armed insurgent group fighting for greater autonomy in western Myanmar. Established in 2009, the AA describes itself on its website as a “revolutionary armed organization of the peoples of Arakan”, a historical region that largely overlaps with Rakhine State. The AA has been blamed for a number of attacks against Myanmar and Bangladesh’s security forces and is estimated to have several thousa...

USMC amphibious assault vehicle accident leaves 1 dead, 8 missing

By Ashley Roque 31 July 2020
One US Marine is dead and eight others are missing after an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) “mishap” off the coast of Southern California on 30 July.  Sixteen troops were in the vehicle at the time – 15 Marines and one sailor – as part of a routine training exercise by the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MUE) and Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group near San Clemente Island.  “At approximately 5.45 pm PST [Pacific Standard Time], Marines in the AAV reported taking on water,” the service announced the following day.  The USMC is searching for...

Mexican government details internal military deployments

By Alejandro Sanchez 30 July 2020
Mexico has deployed 173,776 military personnel throughout the nation for a variety of operations including combating criminal networks and helping with the government’s coronavirus response, according to recently released government statistics.  Troops involved in the internal deployment are from the army, air force, navy and National Guard, and include 85,646 troops involved with internal security missions, labeled as peacemaking operations (Operaciones de Construcción de Paz), according to a 20 July press release issued by Mexico’s Defence...

UAE reveals export controls list

By Charles Forrester 28 July 2020
The UAE has issued a list of equipment and technology that are subject to export controls. (Getty Images)  The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) export control authority, the Committee for Goods and Materials Subject to Import and Export Control, has released a list approved by the UAE Cabinet of equipment subject to export control restrictions.  Published on the authority’s website on 22 July, the list was approved through the Cabinet Resolution 50 of 2020; and is an annex to the existing Federal Law number 13 of 2007 that introduced export cont...

North Korea's leader says nuclear deterrence will ‘guarantee' national security

By Gabriel Dominguez 28 July 2020
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said that Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme will “guarantee” the country’s security and future, despite what he referred to as continuing outside pressure and military threats.    In a 27 July speech car...

Task Force Takuba reaches IOC in Mali

By Jeremy Binnie 21 July 2020
A new French-led multinational special forces task force reached its initial operating capability (IOC) on 15 July in Mali, the French Ministry of Armed Forces announced five days later.  Operation Barkhane commander Major General Pascal Facon inaugurates Task Force Takuba on 15 July. (French Ministry of Armed Forces)  The ministry described Task Force Takuba as a “new example of strong co-operation between European countries” and said it will eventually become the fifth tactical desert group (GTD) of its Operation Barkhane regional counterte...
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