Interfor’s Weekly Security & Covid Digest – October 18, 2022
Global Security Matters
- The White House released President Biden’s National Security Strategy. Read the strategy here.
- Russia launched a wave of attacks on Kyiv using a fleet of Iranian-supplied drones. At least four people were killed on Monday. The Russians have increasingly targeted civilian infrastructure to disrupt electricity and fuel supplies before winter hits. In the wake of the drone attacks, the West has pledged to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses.
- Eight prisoners have died as a result of a fire at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Iran’s judiciary blames “rioters” for setting the fire but did not describe measures taken against the protestors. The fire broke out as anti-government protests are escalating nationwide. For decades, the prison has been known as the main holding facility for political detainees and a centerpiece of Iran’s systemic crushing of dissent.
- Israel and Lebanon have reached a historic maritime agreement expected to avert the threat of conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The deal may eventually help limit energy shortages, enabling energy companies easier access to extract gas from the Mediterranean Sea. The deal would allocate drilling rights at one contested gas field to Lebanon and affirm Israeli control of another.
- Islamic militants are advancing further into Mali, seizing territory and displacing thousands of people. Hundreds of citizens have been killed since March by Islamic State-linked fighters according to the UN Secretary General’s report issued to the Security Council. The UN has reinforced peacekeeping patrols in Menaka city, where over 25,000 people have been displaced due to the instability which began in 2012.
- The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported that global piracy and armed robbery incidents in the maritime industry are at their lowest levels in decades. The latest report details 90 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first nine months of 2022, the lowest level since 1992. The IMB also reports a significant decline in incidents in the waters off west Africa, a region that emerged as the world’s biggest piracy hotspot in recent years.
- State institutions of Bulgaria have been hit by a distributed denial of service cyber-attack. The attack targeted the ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs, and Defense. Russia is thought to be behind the attack, as evidence points to the attack originating from Magnitogorsk, located deep inside Russia. Bulgaria joined many EU countries in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Total Deaths: 6,545,561 (1,059,806 in United States)
US Hospitalization Rate: 8% decline in the past week
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,is sounding the alarm about a pair of “pretty troublesome” Covid-19 variants. The two descendants of omicron’s BA.5 subvariant, called BQ.1 and BQ.1.1.
- The rollout of the updated Covid-19 booster shots in the US is off to a slow start. Between 13 and 15 million have received the updated shot, about 5% of those eligible. The booster shot has been available for six weeks.
- Governor Gavin Newsome announced that he plans to end California’s Covid-19 state of emergency, citing a dramatic decrease in hospitalizations and deaths due to public vaccination efforts.
- Rising Covid-19 cases in Europe are setting off warnings that the US could experience a new surge this winter. Previous jumps in the US have followed a pattern in which cases first rise in Europe, making officials nervous about a spike in cases as the weather turns cooler.
- World Health Organization officials are struggling to identify and track new Covid variants as testing and surveillance are rolled back in many countries.
Global cases: 73,604 US cases: 27,317
- Monkeypox cases continue to decline in the United States. Average case numbers were the lowest since June 29, when infections began climbing.