1. Regional Security System (RSS) and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) strengthening maritime security in the Caribbean.
The CDB have agreed to support the RSS in funding the formation of new maritime security strategies across the region intended to improve the security of seaports and wider maritime spaces in the Eastern Caribbean.
Captain Errington Shurland , Executive Director of the RSS, pointed to the underlying foundations of the programme, “The Eastern Caribbean region is highly dependent on the maritime space for its economic survivability. The maritime space is 128 times larger than the land space of the seven RSS Member States combined and forms part of the Blue Economy…… In order to preserve the Blue Economy for generations to come we must develop coordinated maritime strategies to effectively harmonise activities and promote the sustainable use of that space,”
The project is intended to increase coordinated action at marine ports and within the wider maritime boundaries in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
2. Kenya and UK sign new 5-year Defence Cooperation Agreement.
Building on already close ties, Kenya and the United Kingdom have signed a new 5-year Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) during three days of senior governmental talks in London between the two Commonwealth nations. The DCA was penned jointly by UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, and Kenyan counterpart, Dr Monica Juma. British Government sources have lauded the impact of the DCA, pointing out the intentions behind the agreement: The signing of the DCA comes six months after the two defence secretaries met in Nairobi, agreeing a refreshed Security Compact to deepen wider stability and security cooperation, part of the Kenya-UK strategic partnership. The new DCA, once ratified by the Kenyan and UK Parliaments, will allow our militaries to share expertise, experience and techniques, making both forces more effective.
3. India to prioritise maritime security, technology, peacekeeping and counter-terrorism during UNSC presidency.
India, having returned to the UN Security Council at the start of the year, will assume the body’s presidency in August, and has set out what it sees to be the priorities to address. Writing in the Times of India, TS Tirumurti, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, set out three key themes to the Presidency: maritime, technology, and peace-keeping/counter-terrorism. Specific to maritime security, TS Tirumurti pointed to India’s overarching strategy in the region as SAGAR – Security And Growth for all in the Region.
4. Maldives Police identify 10 suspects in attack against former President and current Speaker Nasheed.
10 suspects have been rounded up by Police in the Maldives accused of involvement in the attempted assassination of former Maldives President, and current Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed was targeted with an improvised explosive device on 6 May 2021, and although severely injured, was thankfully not killed.
The 10 suspects are not known to have direct links with what remains of the IS group, though police have indicated their ideology is heavily aligned. Violent Islamic fundamentalism has grown in recent years in the Maldives, and it is likely that Nasheed was targeted due to his well known liberal approach, and campaigns against radical Islam in the country.
5. Samoa’s new leader cancels Chinese port investment and seeks middle ground in escalating regional competition.
Samoa’s new Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa, has cancelled a multi-million dollar Chinese port development in the country in a move intended to put Samoa’s interests first, and to avoid the risk of being used as a pawn in the escalating geostrategic competition in the South West Pacific. The port development programme was due to cost in the region of $100 million, and would have likely put Samoa into even greater debt to China, with the Pacific island nation already in debt to China to the sum of $200 million dollars 40% of Samoan external debt. The Asia Development Bank had already deemed the project unviable.
The South West Pacific has experienced a rise in Chinese interest and investment in recent years as China looks to establish greater access to critical resources, and spread its influence across the wider Indo-Pacific, and beyond. Prime Minister Mataafa’s position is to maintain a middle ground between China and the US.