Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights- February 21, 2023
Global Security Matters
- President Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv to reaffirm American backing of Ukraine. Biden announced the US will provide Ukraine an additional $500 million in military aid and will back Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” In what might be a response to the visit, Putin has announced Russia’s withdrawal from the START nuclear arms treaty, an agreement up for renewal in 2026, which the U.S. State Department recently reported has been violated by Russia.
- North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles in its second test in three days. Both missiles landed in waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Many tests conducted by North Korea have been in warnings in response to U.S.-South Korean military drills. In response to the tests, South Korea sanctioned four individuals and five institutions they believe were involved in illicit activities that supported North’s nuclear arms development. Japan requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
- The Islamic State (IS) attacked an army checkpoint near the central town of Sukhna in Syria, killing at least 53. The attack targeted the army checkpoint and people collecting wild truffles nearby. The Observatory for Human Rights believes that IS took advantage of the February 6 earthquake. According to the Observatory, this was the deadliest attack by the group in 2023.
- An attack claimed by the Taliban left three security forces and one civilian dead in Pakistan. The Taliban conducted a suicide attack on the Karachi police headquarters. In addition to the four killed, 18 security forces were wounded. Two of the suicide bombers were also killed and another blew himself up after entering the building. This attack came only two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 101 at a mosque in Peshawar. Pakistan has faced a surge in attacks since the Pakistani Taliban ended a monthslong cease-fire with the government in November.
- A helicopter raid led by US forces in northeast Syria killed a senior leader of the Islamic State (IS) and left four US servicemen wounded. The senior leader of IS was identified as Hamza al-Homsi. The raid was conducted in partnership with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
- Several researchers were taken hostage at gunpoint in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The hostages include local academics and an Australian professor on a study trip. While a larger group had initially been taken, many of them were released. It is unclear how many hostages remain, but a ransom has been demanded. Earlier in February, a New Zealand pilot was taken hostage by separatist fighters in Indonesia near the Papua region.
- According to the Gun Violence Archive, 81 mass shootings have been reported in the United States since the start of 2023.
- Multiple shootings have occurred since Friday, including:
- At least one person killed and four injured in a shooting at Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
- A shooting on a Chicago freeway left three people dead, including a baby, and three others wounded.
- Two related shootings in Memphis left one man dead and ten others wounded.
- A shooting rampage in Arkabutla, Mississippi resulted in six dead in three locations.
- The U.S. Navy will no longer consider Covid-19 vaccination status when making decisions about sailor deployments – a reversal of more than a year of service policy.
- China’s top leaders declared a “decisive victory” over Covid-19, claiming the world’s lowest fatality rate, although experts have questioned Beijing’s data.
- California Governor Gavin Newsom is winding down state assistance for Covid-19 testing and vaccination for migrants seeking asylum.
- U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories
- CISA: nation-state cybersecurity threats and other resources for cybersecurity matters.
- CDC Covid-19 Travel Guidelines & CDC Covid-19 facts page
- Our most recent blog posts look at natural disaster preparedness.