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Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security Insights - June 4, 2024

Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights – June 4, 2024

Global Security Matters

Israel

  • President Biden called on Israel and Hamas to accept Israel’s three-phase ceasefire proposal. The first phase of the deal would establish a “full and complete” ceasefire for six weeks, alongside a partial withdrawal of IDF forces and the return of “some” hostages and Palestinian prisoners. The second phase would see the release of all hostages and a “permanent cessation of hostilities.” Lastly, the third phase, yet to be ironed out in detail, would focus on reconstructing Gaza. Despite it being an Israeli proposal, Netanyahu rebuked the deal publicly after Biden’s speech. He claimed that anything short of the destruction of Hamas was a non-starter for Israel. Importantly, Netanyahu faces strong political pressures at home.
    • The ceasefire discussion has added pressure to existing cracks in Israel’s governing coalition. Two far-right members of the coalition, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, have threatened to resign should the ceasefire deal be passed, which would topple Netanyahu’s governing majority. On the other hand, Benny Gantz (centrist War Cabinet and Unity Party member) and Yoav Gallant (Minister of Defense) have threatened to resign should the war drag on with no clear political strategy for the “day after.”
    • In an interview with Time Magazine published today, President Biden commented that “there is every reason for people to draw [the] conclusion” that Netanyahu may be prioritizing his own political survival over ending the war.
  • Netanyahu will speak before a joint session of US Congress in the coming months. On Friday, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell extended the invitation to “highlight America’s solidarity with Israel.” While no date is set, the address would happen in the height of the US election season and is likely to stoke partisan tensions on Israel-Palestine issues. Progressive congress-members including Bernie Sanders have already denounced the invitation, citing the ICC’s ongoing investigation into Netanyahu over Israel’s prosecution of the war in Gaza. 

International Affairs

  • On Friday, French authorities indicted a Chechen teenager on preliminary terrorism charges. The suspect is accused of planning a violent attack on the Paris Olympics, specifically, on upcoming soccer matches. French investigations indicate that the man planned to target spectators and police forces and that he wanted to “die as a martyr.” The Olympics begin in just eight weeks and France is on high alert. There are significant security concerns related to the opening ceremony, specifically, with an exposed procession set to take place along the Seine, rather than within the confines of an athletics stadium. This and other protocols may shift in the coming weeks should there be more instances of suspected terror plots.
  • Claudia Sheinbaum won a landslide victory this weekend and will become Mexico’s first female president. Sheinbaum is a close ally of her predecessor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and has pledged to stand by his policies and social programs, which are widely popular, despite criticisms of López Obrador for failing to combat cartel violence and undermining democratic institutions. Among the first topics Sheinbaum will be expected to face are cartel violence, fentanyl smuggling, and the peso’s recent drop in value.
  • The Biden Administration authorized Ukraine to use US weapons to hit Russian military targets in Russian territory near the border. Since Biden’s announcement on Friday, several NATO states have similarly softened restrictions on weapons use in Ukraine. Previously, weapons shipments from NATO countries had been approved on the condition that Ukraine not use them to strike within Russian territory. Importantly, the reported US policy change is not a blanket license for US and/or NATO weapons to be used however Ukraine sees fit. In the US case, Ukraine may use a subset of weapons against targets inside of Russia for “counter-fire purposes,” according to US officials. In response, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated the US could face “fatal” consequences should it go forward with the decision. 
  • The US and Britain struck 13 Houthi targets on Thursday in response to a surge in attacks on international commercial vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. According to US officials, targets included underground facilities, missile launchers, and command and control sites, among others. The Houthis claim that the attack killed at least 16 and wounded 42 and that many of these casualties were civilians. This claim has not yet been verified by independent sources. Houthi spokesperson Mohammed al-Bukhaiti tweeted that the militant group would respond with force. This exchange of blows, while more destructive than previous incidents, follows the pattern we’ve seen over the past several months of an undeterred Houthi force continuing to disrupt global trade.
  • President Biden is expected to announce an executive order that would effectively shut down asylum claims at the southern border once the daily average reaches 2,500. The remaining migrants would be able to request an appointment, though could not formally file an asylum application, enabling border security to turn migrants away. Unaccompanied minors would be exempt from this policy. Immigration would resume once the average drops to 1,500. Though this order would mark an aggressive shift in immigration policy for Biden, it pulls from the policies put forward in a bipartisan Senate deal and enables Biden to demonstrate his willingness to compromise with Republicans ahead of the November elections. 

Cyber / Defense Technology

  • The European Union is discussing the possibility of a defense shield by introducing air defense systems for its 27 member countries. This move comes as the Russia-Ukraine War threatens to spread beyond the borders of Ukraine. Greece and Poland have proposed the idea to European Union President Ursula von der Leyen, who has expressed her support for the initiative, emphasizing the importance of defending EU airspace.
    • At the height of the Russian onslaught in 2022, Germany launched the European Sky Initiative, a group of 21 nations committed to collaborative efforts to enhance EU defense capabilities. While Greece is part of this pact, Poland’s president has resisted joining. Some countries have expressed their support, while others, like Germany, have refrained from commenting.
    • If the initiative proceeds, the EU will likely need to look beyond its member countries to purchase the necessary systems. The U.S.-made Patriot system and the Israeli-made Arrow 3 system are both ideal options for the EU to consider.
  • United States law enforcement, in collaboration with German, Thai, and Singaporean authorities, have dismantled the world’s largest botnet, which had been used by cybercriminals to steal from global companies and financial institutions. Yunhe Wang, a Chinese national, was arrested in Singapore for his role in managing the botnet, along with two of his associates. Wang reportedly earned nearly $99 million from his criminal enterprise. Through his botnet, Wang allegedly sold access to 19 million Windows users worldwide, including 613,000 in the United States. Due to the impact on users in the United States, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned multiple Chinese nationals linked to the botnet. 

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