Interfor International - Weekly Security Matters Digest - July 20 2022

Interfor International – Weekly Security & Covid Digest – July 20, 2022

Global Security Matters

  • Details of planned chemical attacks against Europe were revealed in an ISIS weapons program.  The U.S. launched a mission in 2015 to kill the key weapons expert tasked by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to produce chemical weapons.
  • At the end of President Biden’s Middle East trip, he addressed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), affirming that the U.S. will not exit completely which would leave an opening for China, Iran, or Russia to gain influence.  Biden said the U.S. would continue to ensure stability in the region amid concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  In Israel, he signed a joint declaration with Israeli PM Yair Lapid, including a commitment to never let Iran develop nuclear weapons.
  • The Saudi National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) signed a memorandum for cybersecurity cooperation.  Both sides agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in cybersecurity to safeguard the cyberspace of both countries.  The cooperation with Saudi Arabia comes as the U.S. is attempting to gain cyber influence in a region that Chinese technology dominates.
  • The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) concluded its evaluation of equipment and training programs in partnership with the National Coast Watch System (NCWS). The review aimed to enhance the Philippines’ maritime awareness.  The DTRA has provided over $64 million to the NCWS since 2012 and has assisted in the acquisition of advanced equipment for the NCWS.  On the global scale, the Philippines is at a crossroads of international shipping routes that pass through the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca. Having a leading maritime security entity in the Philippines is integral for security of international trade routes.

Covid-19 Updates

Total Deaths: 6,367,076 (1,020,775 in United States) 

At least one vaccine dose administered: 68% globally (United States: 79.1 % of population)

  • Covid-19 is surging, driven by a spike of BA.5 subvariant cases around the United States in what experts consider the most transmissible variant of the pandemic yet. Hospitalizations have climbed by 20 percent in the past two weeks. 
  • Advisers to the CDC will meet this week to discuss who should receive the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine. This latecomer vaccine would offer unvaccinated Americans another choice.
  • The CDC has removed its voluntary Covid-19 reporting program for cruise ships. The program was installed to provide cruise lines interested with the tools and accountability to monitor Covid-19 cases onboard ships in US waters.
  • Authorities in southern China have apologized for breaking into the homes of people who had been taken to a quarantine hotel. Meanwhile, several large Chinese cities, including Shanghai, are rolling out new mass testing or extending lockdowns.
  • Australia is offering everyone over age 30 (in special cases, younger people), a fourth Covid-19 vaccine, calling it a ‘winter shot.’