1. Guyana enhances military presence on Venezuelan border
After Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowed last week to “reconquer” the oil-rich Guyanese province of Essequibo, Guyana’s defence forces have enhanced their presence on the border between the two countries. Guyana’s army chief, Godfrey Bess, noted that the armed forces had “changed [our] postures on the border” and that they were “more alert and ready to constitutionally continue to preserve Guyana's patrimony”.
2. CARICOM Calls for Global Vaccine Summit
The Caribbean Community has called for a global vaccine summit in order to address the growing inequality in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines between more and less developed nations. In a statement the organisation’s leaders noted their concern “at the current prospect of inequitable access to vaccines to address the pandemic, especially for frontline workers and vulnerable populations”. They continued to say “the reality is that small states will find it difficult to compete in the marketplace to ensure equitable access for vaccines. Given the transmissibility of the virus, all countries are vulnerable and should work together”.
3. Nigerian soldiers regain military base taken by Islamic State and Boko Haram
Nigerian Defence Forces regained a military base in a confrontation with the combined forces of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram. Using small arms, including machine guns mounted on vehicles, extremists were able to seize Marte, a town in Borno state, and the nearby military base on Friday the 15th. After a tactical withdrawal, the army was then able to cut off insurgent reinforcements and regain the base after a short land battle.
4. Mozambican President places army in charge of fight against militants
The President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, has handed control of the fight against the country’s growing insurgency to the military. Until this point it had officially been in the remit of the police. On the 14th of January, General Eugenio Mussa was promoted to Chief of Staff of the armed forces and will assume responsibility for managing the countries response to the insurgency. Commentators have noted that this will bring counterinsurgency operations more closely under the control of central government. The Armed Conflict Location Event Data Project (ACLED) note that “a move to turn operational control of the conflict over to a trusted lieutenant suggests that Nyusi will play a more active role going forward in developing counter-insurgency strategy”.
5. Pakistan’s security apparatus makes headway in the fight against terrorism
This week, Pakistani security forces announced several successes in combatting Islamic extremists in the region. A university student, believed to be an IS financier, was apprehended in Karachi. The individual was allegedly collecting funds from sympathisers in Pakistan and funnelling them to IS operations in Syria using mobile money. Simultaneously, the Pakistani military raided a Taliban hideout near the country’s border with Afghanistan and eliminated two “senior” terrorists whilst taking a third into custody. The men were believed to be expert bomb-makers and “terrorist trainers” who were responsible for attacks on security forces throughout the region. Apprehending them represents a major blow to the Taliban’s activity in the Waziristan region.