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Weekly Round-Up

1. Level of foreign interference in Canada at “cold war levels” says CSIS

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) released its annual report this week which noted that the amount of foreign espionage activity against Canada had reached levels “not seen since the cold war” during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CSIS 2020 Public Report noted that “Foreign threat actors — including hostile intelligence services and those working on their behalf — have sought to exploit the social and economic conditions created by the pandemic” to gain valuable intelligence and threaten Canada’s interests. Large numbers of people working from home has created vulnerabilities in both public and private sector digital systems and this has encouraged foreign cyber-attacks. CSIS Director, David Vigneault, said in a statement that “despite this societal stress, CSIS remained vigilant of national security threats, both old and new, and carried out its mission to protect Canada”.

2. SADC agrees troop deployments to Mozambique

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) conducted an extraordinary summit of the regional heads of state in Maputo last week, during which it was agreed that troops would be deployed to Mozambique. During the meeting regional leaders “noted with concern, the acts of terrorism perpetrated against innocent civilians, women and children in some of the districts of Cabo Delgado Province of the Republic of Mozambique; condemned the terrorist attacks in strongest terms; and affirmed that such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response”. It was agreed as a result that a “technical deployment” of troops would be dispatched to Mozambique. It remains unclear exactly what form this deployment will take, or what remit the troops will have, but this will hopefully be a turning point in Mozambique’s ongoing struggle with violent extremism.

3. US withdrawal from Afghanistan poses security challenges to many Commonwealth nations

US President Joe Biden announced this week that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the 11th of September, a date chosen to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This poses a number of security risks to Commonwealth militaries. Both Pakistani and Indian military officials have expressed concerns that this could further destabilise Kashmir and Pakistan’s shared border with Afghanistan, both regions plagued by extremism. Indian General Bipin Rawat expressed fears that the “vacuum that will be created by the withdrawal of the United States and NATO” could create space for “disruptors”. Pakistani officials stressed that foreign troop withdrawals must coincide with “progress in the peace process”. The Australian military will also conclude its draw down of military support from Afghanistan by September with Prime Minister Scott Morrison affirming that Australia “will continue to support the stability of Afghanistan through our bilateral partnership and in concert with our other nations”. Similarly, the United Kingdom has signalled its intent to now pull out of the beleaguered country, with Chief of the General Staff, Nick Carter, commenting that the US decision was “not what Britain wanted”.

4. Plans for Chinese “super-dam” provoke water-security concerns for India.

Indian security officials are facing water security concerns after China has announced plans to build a “super-dam” over the Tibetan portion of the Brahmaputra River. The project is expected to dwarf the dam that is currently the world’s largest, the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China. Indian security analysts believe that this dam would allow China an unprecedented amount of control over South Asia’s water supply. In reaction to this news India is now looking at building its own dam on the Brahmaputra river to gain more control over its water reserves. Water security is a key issue for India, with many cities, such as Chennai and Mumbai, already experiencing shortages.

5. Tribal violence in Papua New Guinea kills nineteen.

Violence between warring tribes in Papua New Guinea has killed nineteen people near Kainantu in the east of the country. High-powered firearms and hand grenades were used during the fighting between the Agarabi and Tapo clans. It is believed that the conflict between the two groups originated due to disputes over land ownership. Security forces in the country say that although the fighting has subsided, there are fears that it could reignite, with both factions believed to hold large weapons stockpiles.


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