Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights – March 7, 2023
Global Security Matters
- Four Americans were shot and kidnapped by gunmen in northern Mexico. According to a Mexican official, three men and one woman were kidnapped. Mexico’s president stated that the Americans crossed into Mexico to buy medication. Two have just been found dead, and two survived.
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
- A suicide bomber on a motorcycle rammed a police truck in the Baluchistan province of Southwest Pakistan, killing 10 police officers and wounding 12 others. According to authorities, this was one of the deadliest attacks on security forces in recent months. Tehreek-e-Jihad, a newly formed militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack.
- An attack on the village of Aorema in northern Burkina Faso killed 12 civilians. Suspected jihadists opened fire at a group of young people sitting at a kiosk. A curfew, which prohibits the movement of vehicles and people between 10 pm and 5 am until March 31, was implemented in the entire northern region of Burkina Faso and other regions after the attack. Burkina Faso has faced increased violence attributed to jihadist groups since the beginning of the year.
- A US intelligence report concluded that the “Havana syndrome” did not result from the actions of a foreign adversary or an energy weapon. The years-long assessment aimed to explain why those in service in US missions abroad, including diplomats and intelligence officers, experienced mysterious trauma and symptoms which were first reported at the US Embassy in Havana. While afflicted personnel believed they were being deliberately attacked, five of the seven Intelligence agencies that participated in the review believed it is very unlikely a foreign adversary is responsible.
Cyber Security and Technology
- The White House announced a new cybersecurity strategy. China and Russia are highlighted as the most prominent cybersecurity threats to the US. Officials explained that the strategy aims to put pressure on Russia to change its behavior and understand the consequences of malicious activity. The strategy calls for implementing an executive order to require cloud companies to verify the identity of foreign customers.
- Two men from Kansas were arrested by the Justice Department for illegally exporting aviation-related technology to Russia. Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky and Douglas Robertson owned and operated KanRus Trading Co. which allegedly supplied the technology to Russian companies. According to the formal accusation, they conspired to evade US export laws since 2020. This comes as the US has been ramping up sanctions and charging people and firms that export to Russia since the invasion of Ukraine.
- The United States has issued a new round of sanctions the State Department said are designed to further reduce Iranian energy exports. The State Department has targeted six shipping companies from China, Vietnam, and the UAE that are being used to facilitate Iran’s petroleum and petrochemical trade. In addition to the six companies designated under the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) program, a total of 20 vessels were listed. The US cautions that anyone conducting transactions involving the companies or vessels would risk exposure to sanctions.
- Delegates of the United Nations completed the first High Seas Treaty. The UN High Seas Treaty is a crucial step to preserve marine life and biodiversity. It provides for strict limits on fishing activity, mineralization, shipping lanes, and environmental impact assessments. A coalition that included the US, UK, EU, and China help finalize the agreement. Additionally, the EU has pledged $42 million to facilitate the ratification and implementation of the treaty.
- A Pentagon official said China will not invade Taiwan because China understands the cost of an invasion. Ely Ratner, assistant secretary for the Indo-Pacific, believes the US can deter Beijing from attacking Taiwan and that in the past year the US has built up capabilities to ensure that coercion and threats from attacks don’t succeed. The US is increasing the number of exercises conducted in the region due to threats from China and North Korea. According to Ratner, the US is focused on readiness and deterrence.
- After the Department of Energy released it’s findings (with low confidence) that the virus was the result of lab leak in Wuhan, US lawmakers state that it remains impossible to determine the origins of Covid-19, due to the continued obstruction by China’s government.
- US 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 how one reputation laundering firm helps their clients bury the past and NATO’s Role in the Russia-Ukraine War.