1) 23 Muslims killed in Nigeria is suspected attack by Christian militants.
A convoy of 90 Muslim Nigerians returning from an event to celebrate Islamic New Year have been attacked by Christian youths, with early estimations of 23 dead. The attack by members of the predominantly Christian Irigwe community took place just outside the city of Jos in Nigeria’s central Plateau state. As a result of the attack the state governor has imposed a curfew from 6pm to 6am in order to calm rising tensions between the different religious groups, and to ensure no reprisals take place that could lead to more prolonged violence.
2) Rwandan troops support Mozambican defence forces in retaking Mocimboa de Praia.
The strategically important port of Mocimboa de Praia in northern Mozambique has been retaken from ISIS affiliated jihadists by Mozambican forces aided by Rwandan troops. Rwandan commander Colonel Ronald Rwivanga confirmed by text message that the jihadists stronghold had been captured by Rwandan and Mozambican forces and that Mocimboa da Praia “was the last stronghold of the insurgents, marking the end of the first phase of counter-insurgency operations which is dislodging insurgents from the stronghold”.
Rwandan forces deployed to Mozambique to shore up local forces last month, with 1000 Rwandan troops arriving. Since then, Rwanda has helped Mozambique record some significant victories over the insurgents, with the seizing of Mocimboa de Praia the most notable to date.
3) India uses UN Security Council presidency to champion law of the seas.
India has seized the opportunity presented by its presidency of the UN Security Council to highlight the continued importance of the UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Seas). Prime Minister Modi chaired the first-ever independent discussion on maritime security in the UNSC. The session incurred the ire of China, which has been accused of acting illegally and with scant regard to the norms and legal strictures asserted by UNCLOS. The Chinese voiced their disapproval with India’s championing of maritime security by sending a junior minister to attend the online discussion, which saw President Kenyatta of Kenya also attend as one of only two other heads of government to join.
4) India-Maldives-Sri Lanka to boost security cooperation.
India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka have pledged to increase security cooperation across ‘four pillars’: marine security, counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, and human trafficking. The agreement, which was set out during an online conference chaired by General LHSC Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of Army of Sri Lanka, follows an earlier agreement between the three Commonwealth countries to improve intelligence sharing.
5) COMMENT: Fall of Kabul to Taliban raises questions for a number of Commonwealth countries.
The collapse of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIROA), and likely replacement by the Taliban under the banner of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, presents huge consequences for regional and global security, and will be particularly felt by Pakistan, India, and the United Kingdom.
For Pakistan, Afghanistan’s long conflict has been a source of great instability on its western border, with a significant Pashtun population in Waziristan and the North West provinces. The re-emergence of the Taliban as Afghanistan’s primary political authority raises questions as to how Pakistan can help prevent the country once again becoming a hotbed for international terror, and what relationship the Taliban will have with their neighbours.
As a number of foreign diplomatic missions flee the Taliban advance, including those of the United Kingdom and India - both countries with heavily established relations with the out-going authorities – questions are being asked of whether the speed of the Taliban offensive could have been stymied even without the support of the United States of America.
Preventing Afghanistan becoming a breeding ground for terror and ensuring the assertion of Taliban suzerainty doesn’t lead to humanitarian crises are now the two overwhelming priorities of the international community. While the opportunity to monitor each of these from a position of moral and military strength has been squandered, an active role by Commonwealth member states is as necessary now as it was under the recently fallen GIROA.