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National security wrap

Posted By , , and on February 2, 2017 @ 13:49


The Beat

AFP to stay in PNG

Australian Federal Police involvement in Papua New Guinea has been extended [1] until November 2018, when Port Moresby will host an Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. $48 million in funding will enable 56 AFP personnel to train PNG counterparts in security capabilities, while 17 other officers will continue to support [2] best practice. The AFP’s presence strengthens Australia–PNG relations—something Canberra’s keen to do to prevent Beijing ‘filling the breach [3].’

Youth crime in the NT

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced [4] on Tuesday a small task-group to reduce youth crime. 18 police officers will work directly with at-risk youths, implementing early intervention strategies. The move continues government action and facility upgrades [5] aimed at curbing rising crime—even as advocacy groups argue that the related ‘crime-wave’ rhetoric is unjustified [6].

Coups, then and when

Turkey has commenced trials of 270 people [7] accused of participating in the attempted coup last July, including the alleged mastermind and cleric Fethullah Gulen, trialled in absentia.

In the meantime, researchers have predicted the global likelihood of coups [8] in 2017. Using statistical modelling [9], countries are ranked according to their risk of coup d’état. Dubious first place honours go to troubled [10] Burundi, which has a coup probability of 0.12; Thailand and the Central African Republic tie for second, while Australia [11] jostled for the wooden spoon, having the sixth lowest probability of coup in the world, with just 0.006.

CT Scan

Trump: week one

Employees of the State Department this week drafted a ‘dissent letter [12]’, warning the White House that the decision to temporarily ban immigration from seven Muslim countries could weaken US counterterrorism operations and threaten national security. Unsurprisingly, they aren’t the only ones with concerns; Patrick Skinner of the Soufan Group called the order a ‘simple insult to a complex problem [13]’ and warned that its implication could increase local opposition in the blacklisted countries, thus complicating CT operations. The Atlantic meanwhile argues that Trump’s order serves to reinforce the victimhood narrative [14] at the core of the Islamic State’s recruitment methods, potentially hindering counterterrorism efforts and undermining the government’s counternarratives. A thought-provoking piece by Robert Pape, ‘Trump is making ISIS great again’ [15], is also worth a look.

De-radicalisation through repluralisation?

Wired has published a seriously interesting piece on a controversial new CVE program which aims to reform home-grown terrorists through a process known as ‘repluralisation’ [16]. The process involves the careful reintroduction of alternative values and behaviours into a radicalised individual’s life in an effort to engage and remind individuals of their lives before turning to jihadism. For more info on the process and the project itself see here [17]. For a similar, evidence-based approach to CVE, visit the Moonshot CVE [18] webpage. This program aims to build digital capacity in an effort to counter jihadi narratives online and effectively respond to violent extremism.


Coming to America? Not under Trump

A series of executive orders [19] have recently been handed down from the White House in order to enact President Trump’s controversial border protection policies. Looking at the effects on home soil, the White House has backtracked [20] from earlier assurances [21] to follow through with the refugee resettlement deal, saying that it’s still under consideration. This has caused confusion. But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull remains confident [22] that the deal will sail ahead, despite reports [23] that Trump called it ‘the worst deal ever’ during their phone call last weekend. Turnbull’s apparently enjoyed greater success in extracting a promise to exempt Australians with dual citizenship [24] from the “Muslim ban”. Were the US to honour the deal, it would only be because of its ‘longstanding relationship with Australia’ [21], and refugees would be subject to extreme vetting procedures. Indeed, how this all plays out may set the mood [25] [paywalled] for how the Trump administration approaches future cooperation with Canberra.

A wall order

Adding insult to injury, Trump also signed an executive order [26] to commence construction of the wall along America’s border with Mexico. Who’ll pick up the bill is another question: Executive orders aren’t able to appropriate funds [27] from the US Treasury, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has again refused to shout [28] this round. A feasibility study for the wall can be found here [29], but economists agree [30] that the devastating effects on both US and Mexican economies would ironically increase illegal migration.

Asia’s thriving drug trade

For a fascinating read unrelated to Trump, see Roderic Broadhurt’s piece [31] on how East Asia’s increasingly wealthy urban class has revitalised the region’s thriving drug trade. Interestingly, the proliferation of FTAs and infrastructure connectivity in the region have also enabled the expansion of its drug networks. [32]

First Responder

Critical infrastructure takes centre stage

The Australian government launched [33] the Critical Infrastructure Centre (CIC) on 23 January. The CIC will take a whole-of-government approach to national security risk assessments of critical infrastructure, including identifying critical infrastructure, providing coordinated security advice, developing risk management strategies and supporting compliance. The government says the CIC provides more ‘certainty and clarity to investors and industry on the types of assets that will attract national security scrutiny [34].’ Initially, its focus will be on the electricity, water and port sectors; a discussion paper which sets out the anticipated challenges and asks for comment is expected soon. See here [35] for a take on what the CIC means for foreign investment.

Radio silence

As of 31 January, the ABC’s shortwave radio service to parts of the Pacific and Papua New Guinea has been turned off [36] (though it looks as though fisherman in the Top End have been thrown a temporary lifeline [37]). The shortwave service has long communicated critical emergency information, and was able to continue broadcasting weather warnings even if local stations were cut off [38]. The move was part of the ABC’s commitment [39] to phase-out outdated technology in favour of digital radio and online services, but that’s cold comfort to residents of those many remote places with limited or no access to the internet or a FM signal. See here [40] for some analysis from ASPI’s Graeme Dobell.

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URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/national-security-wrap-52/

URLs in this post:

[1] extended: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/afp-mission-in-png-extended-two-years-to-cover-apec-summit/news-story/58aac612b0940cbe3de0c07cb867463b

[2] continue to support: https://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/our-work-overseas/international-operations

[3] filling the breach: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-01/australia-bankrolls-png-summit-costs/8228208

[4] announced: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-31/nt-government-unveils-new-police-in-youth-crime-crackdown/8226880

[5] government action and facility upgrades: http://newsroom.nt.gov.au/mediaRelease/22771

[6] ‘crime-wave’ rhetoric is unjustified: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-13/nt-crime-wave-rhetoric-questioned-by-justice-groups/8179422

[7] commenced trials of 270 people: https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2017/Jan-31/391625-turkey-puts-gulen-269-others-on-trial.ashx

[8] global likelihood of coups: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/01/31/where-are-coups-most-likely-to-occur-in-2017

[9] statistical modelling: https://predictiveheuristics.com/2017/01/27/coup-forecasts-for-2017/

[10] troubled: http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46474:iss-can-burundi-bury-the-ghosts-of-its-troubled-past

[11] Australia: https://github.com/andybega/mireg-blogs/blob/master/forecasts/coup-forecasts-2017.csv

[12] dissent letter: https://www.wsj.com/articles/state-department-expected-to-issue-cable-protesting-trump-immigration-ban-1485790811

[13] simple insult to a complex problem: http://soufangroup.com/patrick-skinner-op-ed-on-newsweek-trumps-immigration-ban-is-a-simple-insult-to-a-complex-problem/

[14] reinforce the victimhood narrative: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/01/trump-executive-order-isis-propaganda/514968/

[15] ‘Trump is making ISIS great again’: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/01/30/trump-making-isis-great-again/x9ZG80DbA02sumVnehehkN/story.html?event=event25

[16] ‘repluralisation’: https://www.wired.com/2017/01/can-you-turn-terrorist-back-into-citizen/

[17] here: http://girds.org/projects

[18] Moonshot CVE: http://moonshotcve.com/

[19] series of executive orders: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/executive-orders

[20] backtracked: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-02/donald-trump-refugee-deal-with-australia-still-unsure/8234442

[21] earlier assurances: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-01/white-house-backtracks-on-australia-refugee-deal/8228336

[22] remains confident: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/02/01/trump-wants-progress-australian-refugee-deal-turnbull-says-despite-confusion

[23] reports: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/no-gday-mate-on-call-with-australian-pm-trump-badgers-and-brags/2017/02/01/88a3bfb0-e8bf-11e6-80c2-30e57e57e05d_story.html?tid=sm_tw&utm_term=.3fdb9edd8069

[24] exempt Australians with dual citizenship: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-31/turnbull-says-dual-nationals-will-not-be-affected-by-trump-ban/8225596

[25] set the mood: http://www.afr.com/news/politics/world/australias-refugee-deal-will-be-early-test-of-relations-with-trump-20170112-gtqow6

[26] executive order: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/executive-order-border-security-and-immigration-enforcement-improvements

[27] aren’t able to appropriate funds: http://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/5-things-to-know-about-us-executive-orders

[28] refused to shout: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38753826

[29] here: http://fortune.com/2017/01/31/donald-trump-border-wall-mexico-paying-nafta-negotiations/

[30] economists agree: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/economists-trump-paying-wall-least-your-worries-n714756

[31] piece: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/01/31/cooperation-critical-to-dealing-with-organised-crime/

[32] enabled the expansion of its drug networks.: http://www.unodc.org/toc/en/reports/TOCTA-EA-Pacific.html

[33] launched: https://www.ag.gov.au/NationalSecurity/InfrastructureResilience/Pages/default.aspx

[34] ‘certainty and clarity to investors and industry on the types of assets that will attract national security scrutiny: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Mediareleases/Pages/2017/FirstQuarter/Keeping-australias-critical-infrastructure-secure.aspx

[35] here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/security-test-puts-heat-on-foreign-bids/news-story/25fa86a7acfb8c4c21abedb6a16edab7

[36] turned off: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-09/pacific-nations-lose-shortwave-radio-services/8108032

[37] temporary lifeline: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-30/abc-shortwave-radio-transition-little-hope-for-fishermen/8223756

[38] cut off: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/323555/rnzi-remains-essential-voice-of-the-pacific

[39] commitment: http://about.abc.net.au/press-releases/shortwave-radio/

[40] here: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/silencing-australias-shortwave-voice-south-pacific/

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