National security wrap

The beat

Losing the war on drugs

Ten years after it was adopted, the United Nations Political Declaration and Plan of Action on illicit drugs has failed to reduce demand and production despite global efforts to eliminate or significantly reduce the availability of drugs by next year. A new report by the International Drug Policy Consortium, a global network of NGOs, revealed that poppy cultivation and cocaine production have risen since the 2009 declaration. The report notes that the strategy has targeted the most vulnerable—drug users, subsistence farmers involved in illegal crop cultivation and small-scale traffickers—because they’re easier to apprehend than wealthy and well-connected people. It urges an approach based more on prevention and treatment.

Hate crime rise may be linked to Brexit

UK police have warned that hate crime could rise as Brexit negotiations continue. Their assessment is based on the large spike in hate crimes that occurred in the aftermath of the Brexit vote in June 2016. Monitoring group Tell Mama, which tracks anti-Muslim incidents, also reported a spike in abuse after the vote. Incidents of hate crime already rose by 17% over the year to March. Last month, leaked contingency plans revealed UK police feared crime would spike with a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Drone poaches poachers

British police have had a series of successes using drones equipped with thermal imaging scanners, including finding a young rape victim and a missing dementia patient. Britain’s first police thermal imaging drone was launched in July 2017 and the technology was formally adopted in August last year to address crime in rural areas. Most recently, Lincolnshire Police used a thermal imaging drone in the arrest of suspected deer poachers.

CT scan

ASEAN members to share terror intel

A year after the last Islamic State–affiliated fighters were driven out of the Philippine city of Marawi, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations defence ministers meeting in Singapore concluded with a proposal requiring ASEAN’s members and partners to develop a joint database and an intelligence-sharing platform to combat terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism. Under the ‘Our Eyes’ proposal, senior defence officials from ASEAN’s member states will meet fortnightly to share intelligence on terrorist activities and other non-traditional threats.

Taliban commander killed

A key Taliban commander is among 21 militants killed in Kunduz province by Afghan security forces on Sunday. Mullah Mansoor’s death followed last week’s deadly insider attack, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility. Senior Afghan officials were killed in that attack, including Kandahar’s police chief, while US Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was wounded. The Sunday crackdown resulted in the Taliban being driven out of several villages in the province, according to an Afghan official.

Indonesian group poses terror threat

Indonesia-based terror group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an affiliate of Islamic State, is active and presents a significant threat, according to the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta. The institute says a significant crackdown on JAD has not diminished the group’s capability to launch a terror attack in the near future, particularly in central and west Java—areas known as a hotbed for militancy and home to many JAD supporters. This year a Jakarta court declared JAD a forbidden organisation after it was found to be responsible for a spate of terror attacks that included the 2018 Surabaya bombings and an attack in Jakarta in 2016.


Tensions brew in the EU

Relations between Paris and Rome have soured over unauthorised migration and illegal crossings of the French–Italian alpine border. Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, accused French border guards of ‘dumping’ illegal migrants in Italy on multiple occasions—the most recent involving foreign minors near the ski village of Claviere. Salvini, who’s known for his anti-immigration stance, said ‘Italy is no longer the refugee camp of Europe’.

Checkpoint on the new Silk Road

A new checkpoint will be built on the Azerbaijan–Georgia border, which both countries say will improve relations and contribute to the construction of a ‘new Silk Road’. The shared border, which is contested and littered with landmines, has been a cause of political tensions between the neighbours. The Georgian ambassador to Azerbaijan said customs projects like the checkpoint contribute to better relations, and the chairman of Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee said the new Silk Road initiative, which aims to link Europe and Asia through railway networks, will promote cooperation through economic engagement.

Border post to improve Nigeria–Benin ties

The presidents of Nigeria and Benin opened a joint border post at Seme-Krake in Nigeria’s Lagos State. The post is located on the Abidjan–Lagos corridor, through which 70% of subregional trade passes, and was financed by the European Commission. The initiative is intended to enhance the movement of people and goods between the two countries and to improve data and intelligence sharing between their governments.

First responder

Disasters strike Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago has been hit by a series of natural disasters, first by an earthquake and then by torrential rain which caused flooding and landslides. The devastation has left thousands stranded and inundated parts of the country. The Red Cross assisted in the aftermath and Caribbean states and the UN have offered aid. The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States says it will share disaster-mitigation strategies with the island nation’s government.

Ebola containment program suspended

Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern region of Beni have stepped up attacks at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak there, killing 15 civilians and abducting children. Those killed included two health workers who were trying to contain the outbreak. That led the World Health Organization to immediately suspend its activities, which have helped stop the spread of Ebola to other parts of the country. Since the first case was reported in August, 202 cases of Ebola have been confirmed and 118 fatalities have been registered by the health authorities. The WHO has warned that the number of new cases is set to more than double, and will rise even further with the suspension of the vaccination program.

Typhoon strengthens

A typhoon in the Pacific may become a Category 4 or Category 5 storm. A warning has been posted in Guam and citizens in the Northern Mariana Islands are being told to prepare for Typhoon Yutu, which is expected to pass near the islands today. The area was hit by Typhoon Mangkhut in September.