Security news

ReCAAP reports near two-fold increase in piracy, armed robbery cases across Asia

By Ridzwan Rahmat 17 July 2020
Waters across Asia saw a nearly two-fold increase in reported piracy and armed robbery incidents for the first half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.  Singapore-based ReCAAP has reported a nearly two-fold increase in piracy cases for the first half of this year. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)  According to figures released by the Singapore-based intergovernmental body, Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) on 16 July, a total of 51 incidents were recorded in the region during...

New peace negotiations highlight fragmented separatist movement and intransigent government in Anglophone Cameroon

By Hilary Matfess 10 July 2020
In early July, peace negotiations began between one of the Anglophone Cameroon separatist groups (led by incarcerated leader Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe) and representatives of the Cameroonian government. Although the ‘Anglophone question’ is a long-standing feature of Cameroonian politics, it has become particularly acute in recent years. What began as a series of peaceful protests in October 2016 demanding that the Cameroonian government abide by the constitution has since escalated into a brutal conflict between Anglophone separatists and the...

UK to resume defence exports to Saudi Arabia

By Charles Forrester 09 July 2020
The UK is set to begin processing licences for the export of defence equipment to Saudi Arabia that could potentially be used in Yemen again, according to a written answer provided to parliament by the Secretary of State for International Trade, Elizabeth Truss, on 7 July.  In June 2019 the UK Court of Appeal ruled that arms exports to Saudi Arabia were unlawful as UK authorities had made “no assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) in the past, during the Yemen conflict,...

Islamic State attack in southern Philippines underlines group's links to Sulu

By Ben Pierce 09 July 2020
On 25 June, the Islamic State claimed to have killed and wounded 10 Filipino soldiers in an attack in the southern Philippines, which the group alleged had taken place on 23 June. The claim was released via Islamic State-affiliated channels on messaging platforms Hoop and RocketChat in the name of the group’s regional affiliate Wilayat Sharq Asiyya, or its East Asia Province. According to the claim, the attack took place in the village of Bangayaha, located in the Patikul area of Jolo Island in the country’s Sulu province, and that the milita...

Covid-19: South Africa pushes for Denel reform as PMP operations put up for sale

By Charles Forrester 06 July 2020
A joint meeting of the South African Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance and Select Committee on Finance, held on 3 July, has heard how the country’s bleak financial outlook as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic is requiring significant action to reduce the economic effect of the disease and associated lockdown, including major reform within state-owned enterprises such as local defence company Denel.  Examining public submissions on the country’s proposed supplementary budget for 2020, representatives from the Treasury noted that South...

Taliban peace deal at risk amid renewed internal divisions and regional rivalries

By Antonio Giustozzi 03 July 2020
As the end of 2019 approached, Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada appeared on course to finally fully consolidate the group and its multiple fronts and factions under his leadership, having eliminated the competing centres of power that have characterised the Taliban throughout its existence. The powerful hardline Haqqani Network appeared to have somewhat receded from its overt position of seeking a military, rather than political, resolution to the insurgency, which was likely a consequence of pressure exerted by the faction’s Saudi and P...

Australia shifts focus of defence posture and boosts capability expenditure over next decade

By Julian Kerr 01 July 2020
A major shift in Australia’s defence posture will see the country prioritise its geographic focus on the Indo-Pacific region while spending about AUD270 billion (USD184 billion) over the next decade on new and upgraded defence capabilities, including long-range missiles.  Releasing a 2020 Defence Strategic Update and a 2020 Force Structure Plan on 1 July, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a speech to Australian Defence Force (ADF) cadets that the new strategic objectives of the force were to ensure that Australia was able – and understood...

Risk of Sahel insecurity spillover into Gulf of Guinea highlighted by deadly attack in Côte d'Ivoire

By Boukje Kistemaker 30 June 2020
Dozens of militants attacked a frontier post in Kafolo, northeastern Côte d’Ivoire, on the border with Burkina Faso, on 11 June, from 0300 h onwards. Local reports stated it was a two-pronged attack and included both a military base and the military checkpoint on the border. The post was occupied by soldiers and police. In a communique by the Ivorian Ministry of Defence, 10 security force personnel were killed and six others were wounded, with two police officers reported missing. One militant was reportedly neutralised during the standoff. M...

Targeted killing of senior Al-Qaeda loyalists in Syria may degrade links with central leadership

By Olivia Harper 30 June 2020
On 14 June, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) missile strike targeted a vehicle and killed a senior commander of Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Tanzim Huras al-Din (THD), identified as Jordanian national Khaled al-Arouri (alias Abu al-Qassam al-Urduni), and another senior THD militant, identified as Bilal al-Sanani, in the western outskirts of the city of Idlib in Syria’s Idlib governorate. A United States Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesperson, identified as Navy Commander Zachary Harrell confirmed US responsibility for the airstrike on 15 June. T...

Targeted killing of senior Al-Qaeda loyalists in Syria may degrade links with central leadership

By Olivia Harper 26 June 2020
On 14 June, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) missile strike targeted a vehicle and killed a senior commander of Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Tanzim Huras al-Din (THD), identified as Jordanian national Khaled al-Arouri (alias Abu al-Qassam al-Urduni), and another senior THD militant, identified as Bilal al-Sanani, in the western outskirts of the city of Idlib in Syria’s Idlib governorate. A United States Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesperson, identified as Navy Commander Zachary Harrell confirmed US responsibility for the airstrike on 15 June. T...

Covid-19: US Navy expands testing to decrease virus transmission

By Michael Fabey 25 June 2020
Thanks to increased Covid-19 testing capacity, the US Navy (USN) has developed a surveillance-testing programme meant to create virus-free deployments and other operations by minimising Covid-19 transmission across the force, USN officials said in a 25 June statement.  The goal, USN officials said, is to ultimately create a virus-free bubble around units prior to their deployments and while they are deployed.  To accomplish this goal, the USN established Sentinel Surveillance Testing (SST) to test asymptomatic service members, which will hel...

Update: Covid-19: US lawmakers seek further investigation into Roosevelt virus outbreak

By Michael Fabey 25 June 2020
Key members of the US Congress and Senate called on 19 June for a further investigation into the response of the US Navy (USN) to the late-March Covid-19 outbreak aboard the aircraft carrier USS   Theodore Roosevelt  (CVN 71). The move followed the release earlier that day of a USN report into those events.   The USN report lays most of the blame for the outbreak response issues at the feet of the ship’s former commanding officer, Captain Brett Crozier, who was relieved of his command at the time. Admiral Michael Gilday,...

UK MPs press PM to publish ISC report

By Robert Munks 24 June 2020
Anti-Brexit protesters urge UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to release the Intelligence and Security Committee report examining Russian infiltration in British politics on 18 January 2020 in London. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)  UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under renewed pressure in late June over the government’s refusal to release a potentially damaging report by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) into alleged Russian influence operations in the United Kingdom, including through polit...

Development of eco-fascist narratives demonstrates evolution of extreme-right threat

By Paul Jackson 23 June 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to fresh attention on ‘eco-fascism’, or the blurring of environmentalist politics with extreme right-wing activism. For example, in the United Kingdom at the end of March 2020, images of stickers plastered on lampposts stating ‘CORONA IS THE CURE HUMANS ARE THE DISEASE’, alongside an Extinction Rebellion (XR) logo, went viral on social media after being tweeted by a fake XR East Midlands Twitter account. Extinction Rebellion activists quickly dissociated their left-wing environmentalist campaign from such activis...

Fragile infrastructure challenged by recent spike in militant attacks on Afghan electricity network

By Gabriela Serrano 23 June 2020
JTIC data recorded eight attacks targeting electricity infrastructure across Baghlan, Kabul, and Parwan provinces, all within the first week of May. On 4 May 2020, four workers of state-run utility firm Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) were wounded when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) was detonated in the Chimtala area in the capital Kabul. Two days later, in an unidentified location in Parwan province, a senior worker of the same company was killed in a similar attack. As a consequence of these attacks, for which no...

Increase in ADF attacks targeting civilians highlights continued and growing threat posed to local populace in northeast DRC

By Heather Nicell 23 June 2020
At least six civilians were killed during an overnight raid by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militants targeting the village of Kekele in Ituri province in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 17 and 18 May. Local administrative official Njiamoja Sabiti told AFP the next day that four men and two women were among those either killed with an edged weapon or shot by the militants, adding that a search for further victims and survivors was underway, and that the number of fatalities could yet rise further.  The Kek...

Covid-19: Newport News Shipbuilding considers extra measures to counter new virus spike

By Michael Fabey 17 June 2020
The Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division is eyeing stronger mitigation efforts in its Virginia shipyard in the wake of a recent spike of Covid-19 cases, NNS President Jennifer Boykin has announced.  Nearly two-thirds of the total NNS cases thus far have been confirmed over the past two weeks, according to Boykin.  “Today’s Covid-19 update confirms five new cases for June 15,” she said in an online update on 16 June. “Four of those are on a ship located at Outfitting Berth 1 (OB1).”  The Pentagon has a...

Covid-19: Despite virus effects, work on carrier Kennedy outpaces Ford

By Michael Fabey 16 June 2020
While Covid-19 has affected the construction of aircraft carrier John F Kennedy (CVN 79), the ship is still outpacing its predecessor, carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), when it comes to putting sailors onboard, according to Rear Admiral John Meier, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic.    Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding launched aircraft carrier   John F Kennedy  on 16 December 2019.  (Huntington Ingalls Industries)  “From a construction perspective, we’ve made significant improvement in...

UK again extends helicopter deployment to Mali

By Gareth Jennings 15 June 2020
The United Kingdom is to extend operations of three Royal Air Force (RAF) Boeing Chinook heavy-lift helicopters that have been deployed to Mali since July 2018, the government announced on 12 June.  Having supported French operations in North Africa since mid-2018, the three UK Chinooks will remain in-theatre for a while longer. (Crown Copyright)  This second extension to the mission will see the Chinook HC.5 (fat tank) helicopters and almost 100 personnel that have provided intra-theatre air mobility support to French forces engaged in the O...

Risk of Sahel insecurity spillover into Gulf of Guinea highlighted by deadly attack in Côte d'Ivoire

By Boukje Kistemaker 14 June 2020
Dozens of militants attacked a frontier post in Kafolo, northeastern Côte d’Ivoire, on the border with Burkina Faso, on 11 June, from 0300 h onwards. Local reports stated it was a two-pronged attack and included both a military base and the military checkpoint on the border. The post was occupied by soldiers and police. In a communique by the Ivorian Ministry of Defence, 10 security force personnel were killed and six others were wounded, with two police officers reported missing. One militant was reportedly neutralised during the standoff. M...
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