Interfor International - Weekly Security Matters Digest - July 12

Interfor International – Weekly Security & Covid Digest – July 12, 2022

Interfor’s Weekly Security & Covid Digest – July 12, 2022

Global Security Matters

  • Senior ISIS leader al-Agal killed in US drone strike in northwestern Syria today. No civilian casualties report. 
  • The United States believes the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with hundreds of drones to help Moscow with its ongoing assault on Ukraine. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the Iranians are preparing to train Russian forces to use the unmanned aerial vehicles as early as this month. Iran has supplied similar weapons to the Houthis in Yemen to help launch attacks against Saudi Arabia.
  • A top police official in Tokyo acknowledged possible security lapses that allowed an assassin to get close enough to shoot Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Despite being out of office, Abe was still highly influential in the governing Liberal Democratic Party. Supporters said his legacy was a stronger U.S.-Japan relationship that was meant to bolster Japan’s defense capability.
  • A UN Security Council mandate for UN aid deliveries to 4 million people in Syria from Turkey expired on Sunday. Russia vetoed a one-year extension and then failed to get a six-month renewal passed. The United States, Britain, and France have said a six-month extension is not long enough for aid groups to plan and operate effectively. Russia argued that the UN aid operation violates Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • In a joint appearance, directors of the FBI and MI5 reaffirmed previous concerns about Chinese economic espionage, through hacking and human intelligence. They said China is using threats, bullying, and economic power to obtain Western intellectual property in a strategy to become the dominant world power. Additionally, the FBI Director warned that China may be getting closer to an invasion of Taiwan. According to the MI5 director, the CCP is focused on using Western democratic, media, and legal systems for its gain.
  • While the Indo-Pacific is the new focal point of U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East remains essential for U.S. regional interests. Maintaining a U.S. naval presence in the Gulf remains critical for the U.S. and its partners in the region. As the Red and Arabian Seas become more challenging security environments, these waters must be the focus of U.S. maritime operations and security cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Covid-19 Updates

Total Deaths: 6,349,044 (1,017,837 in United States) 

At least one vaccine dose administered: 68% globally (United States: 79% of population)

  • The BA.5 variant is now the most dominant strain of Covid-19 in the US, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). While an exact count is difficult, indications are that reinfections and hospitalizations are increasing.
  • US health officials are urgently working on a plan to allow second Covid-19 boosters for all adults, a senior White House official confirmed. The US Food and Drug Administration is making it a high priority, the official said.
  • As the BA.5 variant spreads across Europe, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety called on member states to roll-out second boosters for everyone over the age of 60 as well as all vulnerable persons immediately.
  • The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with the US Department of Defense(DOD), has secured 3.2 million doses of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine is still pending approval.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that pharmacists can begin prescribing Paxlovid, which has been shown to curb the worst effects of Covid-19. Previously only physicians could prescribe the antiviral drug.
  • Tension is spreading through Shanghai as residents watch the Covid-19 caseload tick higher, fueling fears they’re headed back into lockdown, little more than five weeks after exiting a two-month lockdown.
  • Pfizer has struck an agreement with several African countries to increase supplies of Paxlovid across the continent at cost.