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Weekly Spotlight: 27 August 2023


1. Mexican Cartel Assassins Detained in Belize

Police authorities have seized seven Mexican nationals believed to have been dispatched by a cartel to assassinate a prominent drug dealer active within Belize. While the suspects claim to have entered the country to engage in road construction consultancy work, police detained the individuals due to their possible connections with the Caborca cartels from Mexico’s Quintana Roo region, which borders Belize’s north-western regions. Belize Police Commissioner Chester Williams stated that investigations were ongoing alongside Mexican security agencies to determine the activities of the seven suspects, and that discussions have been initiated on how to better prevent the flow of drugs and organised crime across the shared border between the two nations.


2. Sierra Leone’s Regional Maritime University and Maritime Administration Announce Partnership to Train Seafarers

On 25 August, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Sierra Leone’s Regional Maritime University (RMU) and the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA) detailing new plans for providing education and training to Sierra Leonean and West African maritime workers. The SLMA and the RMU have agreed to provide training in accordance with International Maritime Organisation standards for essential skills courses such as International Ship and Port Facility Security Awareness and Designated Security Duties (ISPS-Awareness), Personal Survival Techniques (PST), and Elementary First Aid (EFA). A joint statement between the SLMA and RMU emphasised both groups’ excitement regarding the collaboration, elaborating that they were “confident that the joint efforts will contribute to safer and more secure maritime operations in the region.”


3. Cabo Delgado Jihadist Leader Killed by Mozambique Government Forces

According to Mozambique’s Ministry of Defence, the leader of an Islamist insurgent group based in Cabo Delgado was killed alongside two associates by state forces on 22 August. Bonomade Machude Omar, also known as Abu Sulayfa Muhammad and Ibn Omar, had previously led a jihadist insurgency against the central government and foreign businesses in the Cabo Delgado region since 2017, and was subsequently labelled a “terrorist leader” by the US State Department in August 2021. Whilst this news shows the success that the joint Mozambique and Rwandan force has enjoyed in quelling the region’s insurgency, President Filipe Nyusi cautioned during a press conference on 25 August that the “fight against insurgency was not over.”


4. India Successfully Lands Lunar Spacecraft on South Pole of the Moon

At 1804hrs (local time) on 23 August, the Vikram landing craft successfully touched down on the moon’s south pole, marking India’s ascension to the exclusive pantheon of nations whose members have successfully landed on the moon. The Chandrayaan-3 mission is India’s third lunar mission, which aims to gather images and data of the south pole’s physical characteristics such as temperature, tectonic activity, and material composition to assess whether this area of the moon contains water-based ice. This remarkable achievement demonstrates the significant advances in aerospace technology made by India in recent years, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described as “a joyous occasion.”


5. Fiji Hosts Indo-Pacific Commanders for Defence Conference

From 12–17 August, Fiji hosted the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) Chiefs of Defence conference in the town of Nadi, which was attended by delegations from over twenty-five nations, including several Commonwealth member states. During the discussions, defence leaders discussed pertinent global security issues such as protection against cyber threats, cross-border criminal organisations, and the mitigation of the detrimental physical effects of climate change. The United Kingdom was represented by General Jim Hockenhull, as well as Strategic Command’s Sergeant Major Sara Catterall, whilst senior defence officials from Brunei, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Australia also attended to discuss contemporary Pacific security issues in a multilateral setting.

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