National security wrap

The Beat

Are drug cartels moving to Australia?

Australia commands some of the world’s highest prices for drugs so it should come as no surprise that Mexican drug cartels are looking to hone in on this lucrative market. An article in The Age this week looked at the push of Mexican drug cartels into Australia, and made some recommendations for Australian law enforcement agencies to better address this emerging threat. The article was based on a new report from the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre at the ANU on ‘Mexican Drug Cartels and Dark-Networks: An Emerging Threat to Australia’s National Security’, which you can download here (PDF). And if you were wondering about the ethics of buying cocaine, Vice combed through the data to show how the presence of cocaine cartels increases local murder rates.

Debating how to measure and handle corruption

The Beat’s focus on corruption continues this week. An article over at The Conversation examines how corruption indexes are deceptive—based, as they are, on perceptions rather than hard data—and looks at the links between the politics of corruption and the promotion of democracy around the world. In India, the world’s largest democracy, a non-profit organisation called 5th Pillar is addressing the country’s problem of corrupt officials by making bribes with fake money—with their ‘Zero Rupee’ note designed to shame officials into changing their behaviour.

CT Scan

US airstrike kills Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor

In what President Obama has described as an ‘important milestone’, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor was killed in a US air strike on 24 May, one year after he was appointed leader of the group. US officials announced the strike took place via a drone attack in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province as Mansoor was travelling back from Iran. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has described the attack as ‘a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, ’ with The New York Times claiming that by using the US military’s JSOC rather than CIA to complete the operation, the US denied Pakistan the ability to claim they had been consulted beforehand—a courtesy it previously extended the nation. The event will pose new challenges for recently appointed replacement Maulavi Haibatullah Read more here.

Melbourne man ‘not guilty’ of terrorism offence

Melbourne man Adnan Karabegovic was acquitted of terrorism charges on 23 May. Prosecutors alleged Karabegovic obtained a copy of al-Qaeda’s magazine Inspire which instructed readers on bomb building techniques. The court heard that that he planned to use a home-made bomb to start a bushfire. Karabegovic had been under police surveillance for suspected terrorist activities since 2012. Read more on the case here.


Another brick in the

‘Europe will soon have more physical barriers on its national borders than it did during the Cold War,’ so said The Economist back in January. Their claim is corroborated by a study released in the middle of last year that showed that since the conclusion of World War II approximately half of the 51 fortified boundaries constructed between countries were built between 2000 and 2014. But are walls and fences successful in achieving their aims? That’s the question now being asked in the US election campaign, with US President Barack Obama suggesting that they aren’t effective in todays interconnected world—in sharp contrast with Donald Trump’s intention to build a wall at the USMexican border. (For the fiscally inclined, someone has put together a list of stocks you should invest in if this wall ends up being built…). Walls may be powerful political symbols but their ability to fulfil their purpose is contentious, often having inadvertent results. Those structures are likely built by affluent countries to keep inhabitants of other nations out—as is the case in Europe, which is struggling with the influx of refugees and migrants.

For those interested in the movement of those migrants, the Pew Research Center has recently produced an interactive graphic showing the total number of migrants living around the world as of 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2015.

First Responder

New scheme for disaster readiness

A group of 20 at-risk countries will receive funding to better prepare for natural disasters, thanks to a new scheme launched by UN agencies and the World Bank on Tuesday. The Global Partnership for Preparednessintroduced during this week’s World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbulwill seek funding of up to US$130 million to help countries attain a minimum level of readiness for future disaster risks by 2020. The participants will be selected from the 43 countries belonging to the Climate Vulnerable Forum, and backers are hopeful the program will be expanded to 50 countries within five years. The funding will allow access to risk analysis and early warning systems, contingency planning and develop the basic services and delivery systems required to respond to shocks.

Index for cities’ resilience

Cities will be better prepared for the shocks associated with climate change, terrorism and natural disasters, with The Rockefeller Foundation and Arup announcing the creation of a City Resilience Index last week. The index is designed as a self-assessment tool, allowing users to generate a resilience profile to reveal a city’s specific strengths and weaknesses, create a baseline plan for action, and measure future progress. Cities are required to answer 156 questions as part of the online test, with a focus on four key areas: health and well-being, economy and society, infrastructure and environment, and leadership and strategy.