National security wrap

Image courtesy of Flickr user MKMSCR.

The Beat

Mexican narco-crime surging

The latest data released by the Government of President Enrique Peña Nieto indicates that Mexico’s counter-narcotics strategy is stalling amid declining law enforcement results, rising illicit drug production, and increasing crime rates. The disappointing results come despite US authorities dismantling a national heroin smuggling ring and seizing US$13 million worth of product last week. Statistics sourced from the UN and the Mexican and US governments show an overall decline in organised crime arrests, seizures of military grade weapons by 40% and illicit drugs—methamphetamines seizures are down 99%, heroin 16% and others 80%. In addition to increasing heroin and methamphetamine production, Mexico’s infamous Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel are violently competing over smuggling routes leading into the lucrative US heroin market and appear to be displacing Colombian groups from retail distribution in the US.

Paw enforcement

NSW’s sniffer dog program has reduced the number of searches to a five-year low, but there are still high levels of false positives (68% down from 73% in 2014). The Canine Drug Enforcement Unit’s been a contentious program among civil society advocates. Under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002, police are empowered to search individuals in specified public areas based on the dog’s positive identification rather than the traditional standard of ‘suspicion on reasonable grounds’. Critics allege the sniffer dogs’ high rate of false positives undermine this justification and lead to rights violations.

CT Scan

Intelligence sharing

On 20 September the CIA and George Washington University co-hosted the third ‘Ethos and Profession of Intelligence Conference’ (watch panels one, two, three, four, and five here). Panel three, hosted by CIA Director John Brennan, featured MI6 Chief Alex Younger, Director-General of ASIS Nick Warner, and the Director-General of the Afghan National Directorate of Security Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, in a frank and insightful discussion of the challenges surrounding terrorism and intelligence cooperation.

European security services working overtime

Two more women have been arrested in France for suspected contact with prominent Daesh recruiter Rachid Kassim, who’s believed to have played a role in radicalising French youth over social media apps like Telegram. He’s been linked to more than a dozen plots throughout France, including a plan earlier this month to bomb a Paris railway station, which saw four women arrested. European authorities have been scrambling to deal with the threat posed by ‘remote-controlled’ jihadi terrorism. The heightened threat level is straining inter-community relations. On Monday night, two bombs targeting a mosque and the International Congress Centre went off in the German city of Dresden. No one was injured, but police suspect a xenophobic motive.

Lastly, check out the Atlantic Council’s latest forum, ‘Islam and Politics in the Age of ISIS: A Smarter Strategy for Countering Violent Extremism’ (73 mins).


Border force on strike

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff have begun a two-week strike after negotiations over pay and employment conditions between the Community and Public Sector Union and the federal government broke down. Delays to passengers and freight operations are expected as staff conduct rolling 30 minute stoppages every day at international airports, cargo facilities and cruise ship terminals across Australia.

Kashmir update

India–Pakistan relations continue to nosedive over the Kashmir issue. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that he won’t attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit to be held in Pakistan in November. On Monday, Modi also reviewed the Indus Waters Treaty which divides control of the Indus River’s tributaries between the two countries. Senior Pakistani official Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan would consider the revocation of the treaty as ‘an act of war or a hostile act against Pakistan’. Professor Chaulia from India’s Jindal Global University argues that the next US President will have no choice but to intervene.

First Responder

Trumpeting denial

Climate change got a fleeting mention in Monday’s presidential debate, with Secretary Clinton briefly discussing green energy policy and chiding Trump’s stance on climate change. Last Tuesday, 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences—including 30 Nobel Laureates—penned an open letter warning about the dangers of a ‘Parexit’ from the Paris Climate accords. For an overview of how the two candidates differ on environmental policy, head over to Business Insider.

The day after tomorrow

Following up on the Climate and National Security Forum (1hr 38mins—also publications here and here) and calls from senior national security officials, President Obama signed a memorandum last week urging federal agencies to consider the consequences of climate change when formulating national security policy. On the same day, the National Intelligence Council released a report, ‘Implications for US National Security of Anticipated Climate Change’ (PDF), which assesses the impact of a changing climate, including stability, political and social tensions, food shortages, and the spread of disease. According to the authors, the US military and coalition forces will be increasingly called upon to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies.