National security wrap

The beat

Oui, oui: French–Australian drugs ops

From theoretical cooperation to practice: After the French Navy seized almost 1.5 tonnes of cocaine from a vessel in the South Pacific—presumably heading to Australia—the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission is now investigating. Its director stated that international collaboration via joint operations ‘demonstrates the importance of international law enforcement and intelligence agencies working together to effectively target transnational criminal enterprises’.

Commonwealth partners: a model for cooperation

The changing conflict environments in international operations call for stronger collaboration between military and civil police, argues Sergeant Gary Jones of the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police. Joint training between the Canadian Forces Military Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police could serve as a role model for extending the skill sets of both the ADF and the AFP so that they’re prepared ‘to deal with all aspects of security, police and emergency management’, particularly in ‘post-conflict law enforcement’.

Interpol versus ISIS’s future foot soldiers

A different kind of military–police cooperation has enabled Interpol to acquire a list of 173 potential suicide bombers, which Iraqi troops allegedly found in Mosul and passed on to US intelligence. Interpol shared the data with members’ national security and intelligence services. Circulating the information helps to make ‘vital policing information’ available, according to an Interpol spokesperson.

CT scan

US moots airstrikes on Mindanao 

The battle to retake Mindanao from an ISIS-affiliated group has stretched into its third month. The US Department of Defense has confirmed that it’s considering air strikes to assist Philippine government efforts to retake the city. The efficacy of air strikes in supporting local ground forces has been demonstrated in the anti-ISIS campaign in Iraq. The move by the US reflects concerns from regional governments that Mindanao may be used as a base for ISIS to spread into Southeast Asia. At this week’s ASEAN meeting, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and described himself as a ‘humble friend’ of the US.

Time trials: counterterror raids ahead of Southeast Asian Games

Malaysian police have conducted a massive counterterror operation, ahead of the Southeast Asian Games. As a part of the operation, 409 people, mostly migrant workers, were arrested. More than half were released immediately when their documents were found to be in order. One man, however, was discovered with 62 forged passports and a machine for making fake passports. The operation was carried out after Turkey deported several suspected militants to Malaysia without informing the government and is further evidence of the heightened tension in the region over terrorist threats.


(Not-so-foreign) fighters returning to Syria

The process of relocating 8,000 Syrian rebels from Lebanon to northern Syria has begun after the fighters surrendered to the Lebanese Hezbollah military group last week. The relocation deal was a win for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and his Lebanese allies, and was honoured immediately as the rebels and their family members began the journey to Idlib province in Syria to a border area still controlled by rebel factions.

Kurds prepare to fight for independence in Iraq

The Kurdish Independence Party of Iran, whose members have been exiled to parts of Iraq, are congregating along the Iraq–Iran border according to a report by Al-Jazeera this week. Iraq is preparing for a referendum on Kurdish independence on 25 September, a move that the US has criticised as being a distraction from conflicts that could further destabilise the region.

Misery in the Med: Italy sends ships to halt Libyan migrants

Italy is attempting to stem the flow of migrants coming from Libya by authorising its navy to support Libya’s coast guard. While Italy’s defence minister has promised that the exercise will not involve a hostile naval blockade, there has been opposition to the plan in Libya. Khalifa Haftar, the chief of the Libyan National Army, has vowed to deter ‘any naval vessel that enters the national waters without permission’.

First responder

More multilateralism: disaster risk reduction in Iraq

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are joining together to promote a program of child-centred disaster risk reduction in Iraq. They will be engaging with school authorities to prepare evacuation plans and temporary evacuation centres. Another priority for the UNDP is emergency preparedness in the case of a Mosul Dam failure. Mosul Dam, formerly known as Saddam Dam, is the largest dam in Iraq and was held by ISIL until 2014. If the dam were to collapse, up to 1.5 million people would be killed. In a 2006 report, the US Army Corps of Engineers labelled the Mosul Dam as the ‘most dangerous dam in the world’ (PDF).

Humanitarian aid in South Sudan

Is a good thing always a good thing? Simon Little, a humanitarian consultant with 20 years of experience, attempts to answer that question in his piece about the difficulties and extreme danger humanitarian organisations face while administering aid in South Sudan.

FARC ceasefire fails to stop displacement

Displacement of local population groups in Colombia has continued to increase since 2016 despite the peace agreement between FARC and the government. The upheaval has disproportionately affected indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, and has primarily been caused by other armed combatant groups moving into areas formerly held by FARC.