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Weekly Spotlight: 16th July 2023

1. Belize Volunteer Force Aims to Restore Military Base Damaged by Coastal Erosion

On 09 July, the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV), led by Wil Maheia, announced plans to restore a security presence and to renovate the abandoned Sarstoon Forward Operating Base in the north of the country. Despite opening in 2016, the strategically located base was abandoned due to structural damage sustained from coastal erosion. Despite remaining tensions regarding the granting of official permission, Belize’s Ministry of Defence also acknowledged the need to upgrade the facility in December 2022, leaving potential groundwork for cooperation between the BTV and the Belize Defence Force.

2. President Tinubu Declares National Emergency over Food Insecurity

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu declared a national state of emergency due to food insecurity on 13 July. Dele Alake, Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communications, and Strategy, revealed the announcement during a briefing at the Presidential villa in Abuja, during which he promised an “organic synergy between the Ministry of Agriculture and the use of water resources to ensure…that food is available all year round.” The state of emergency now means that all matters related to food and water production and distribution have come under the purview of the National Security Council. This example shows how non-traditional threats such as food shortages are posing increasingly significant security challenges for nations across the Commonwealth.

3. SADC Mandate Extended in Northern Mozambique

In a communiqué released on 12 July, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) announced its intention to extend the mandate of its regional counterinsurgency taskforce deployed in Northern Mozambique by one year. The initial deployment was requested directly by the Government of Mozambique to quell Islamist militant activity in the mineral rich Cabo Delgado region, and has been acknowledged to have improved the security situation within the area. SADC leaders described the mandate extension as a way to “further enhance stabilisation processes and facilitate the safe return of internally displaced persons to their places of origin.”

4. Bangladesh Government Agencies Suffer Cyber Attack

Following a cyber attack which exposed the personal data of approximately 50 million citizens, the Bangladeshi Office of the Registrar General, Birth, and Death Registration temporarily closed its website on 10 July. Hackers reportedly accessed personal information such as phone numbers, email addresses, and national ID numbers, which prompted an immediate investigation from Bangladesh’s e-Government Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT). A CIRT press release described the investigation as “leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of understanding the extent and impact of the data breach”, with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal also confirming that a full investigation was underway.

5. Malaysia hosts Cyber Defence and Security Conference

From 10-13 July, Malaysia hosted the CYDES cyber defence and security conference in Kuala Lumpur. Arranged by Malaysia’s National Security Council and National Cyber Security Agency, the conference sought to connect multiple national and international stakeholders in order to develop new ideas for safely navigating the digital landscape of the future. This year’s overall conference theme was “building cyber resilience: safeguarding the digital future”, and included discussion panels chaired by private and public sector speakers.


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