Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights – September 12, 2023
Global Security Matters
- A 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco on Friday with the death toll now surpassing 2,800 and at least another 2,500 wounded. The earthquake created the most damage in the Al Houz province in the High Atlas Mountains. This was the strongest earthquake to hit Morocco in 120 years.
- The Biden administration released $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds and agreed to release five Iranian citizens held in the US in exchange for the release of five American citizens detained in Iran. The names of the Iranian prisoners have not been released.
- An incident has come to light involving the disruption of a Ukrainian naval drone attack by Elon Musk’s by Starlink in September 2022, in which operators were relying on the satellite communications technology to launch a surprise attack on Russian naval vessels off the coast of Crimea. Musk refused to allow Ukraine to use Starlink due to his belief that Russia would retaliate with a nuclear attack. Starlink use in the war has been facilitated by the Pentagon. The incident raises the question as to how much influence can be entrusted to one individual or company when it comes to national security and diplomatic interests.
- China is recruiting U.S. Air Force service veterans and troops, warned Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “C.Q.” Brown in a memo. The memo stated that “hundreds” of allies and service members could be targeted by China’s People’s Liberation Army for their military knowledge. An Air Force press release highlighted that this often occurs in the form of contracts or subcontracts that could “gradually pull them into covert activities that serve the interests of the Chinese government.”
Cyber & Technology
- China’s disinformation campaigns are evolving as pro-Beijing propaganda accounts are being set up on Gab.com, a US social-media site. Cybersecurity researchers found 114 user accounts affiliated with a covert Chinese campaign known as Spamouflage on Gab. One such post read, “The hostility of the United States to China is becoming more and more obvious, as can be seen from the reports of their various social platforms and state-owned media.” Meta platforms said last week that it removed thousands of accounts linked to Spamouflage across its social-media services.
- The FDA approved updated Covid-19 vaccines, making the newest shots available to most Americans. The CDC still has to sign off and is due to meet on Tuesday. Hospitalizations from Covid are on the rise but are lower than the same time last year.