Newsletter: Intellifusion


Friday 10th December 2021

Hi Dhananjaya,

Here’s your weekly rundown of the global security landscape, highlighting key incidents that have taken place from each region in the last seven days;

MIDDLE EAST & ASIA

Iraq

An IED hidden inside of a motorcycle detonated close to the al-Jumhouri Hospital in Basra City. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Initial reporting claimed that the attack was carried out by Islamic State, however, the group’s comparatively weak presence in southern Iraq and the low yield of the explosives used would represent a change in tactics for the group, who typically seek to maximise civilian casualties in such attacks. Following the attack, Iraqi government officials released statements claiming that the attack intended to target an officer involved in investigating the murder of two journalists, thought to have been killed by militias operating in southern Iraq. Muqtadr al-Sadr has also referred to the attack as politically motivated, seemingly blaming militias as he called on the government to restrain powers of certain militia groups.

If the incident is confirmed as being politically motivated and carried out by militia forces, then the attack represents the most recent incident in the broader confrontation between the Iraqi government and Iran-backed militias operating across the south of the country. The ongoing conflict between government and militias has seen the Iraqi government struggle to implement control and oversight onto militia forces and has also led to assassinations targeting government/security forces personnel as well as activists critical of militia activity.

NORTH AMERICA

Minneapolis, United States

On 8th December opening statements began during the trial of former police officer Kimberly Potter. Potter shot dead a 20 year old black man identified as Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Centre on 11th April 2021. Wright had an outstanding warrant and was shot as he attempted to flee the scene.

Potter has pleaded not guilty to charges of first and second degree manslaughter and claims to have shot Wright after mistakenly grabbing her service weapon rather than her taser. Potter can be heard in body-camera footage shouting: “Sh*t, I just shot him … I grabbed the wrong f**king gun. I shot him”.

The shooting led to violent clashes between protesters and police in Brooklyn Centre as well as the resignations of Potter and Police Chief Tim Gannon. The trial is taking place in the same courtroom where former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd.

People and businesses should be aware the trial is expected to last until Christmas Eve, and of the possibility of demonstrations outside the courthouse, wider Minneapolis and the United States. Violent protest is also possible in the wake of several other recent high-profile trials including those of Derek Chauvin and Kyle Rittenhouse.

EUROPE

United Kingdom

On 8th December, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Plan B COVID-19 restrictions which include proof of vaccination status in limited circumstances, mandatory masking and other additional regulations. Following the announcement, an already planned Kill The Bill protest at Westminster became noticeably more hostile towards police and attracted more participants; reporting indicates more protests are planned in response to these restrictions later in the week.

This protest and upcoming protests – with a noticeable hatred towards COVID-19 regulations and their enforcement – come at a time where increased COVID-19 restrictions across Europe (mainly France, Belgium, Italy and Austria) are seeing protests become increasingly violent. Alongside these riots are what appears to be incidents where individual citizens are taking a zero compliance attitude towards COVID-19 enforcement; often becoming violent towards police or employees trying to enforce government rules on their premises.

With these recent restrictions in the UK and elsewhere across Europe, the increasing intolerance will likely see protests becoming riots more often. Additionally, businesses will need to consider an increasing possibility of hostile reactions from clients/customers towards any effort to enforce COVID-19 restrictions.

AFRICA

South Africa

A series of protests were held on 5th December in cities across South Africa regarding Shell’s planned seismic survey off the eastern coastline of the country, between Morgan Bay and Port St. Johns. Protests have been led by Oceans Not Oil, which is a coalition of individuals and groups, including Extinction Rebellion. Calls for boycotts of Shell’s fuel stations have also been made..

The seismic survey was meant to have started on 1st December but has been delayed due to a legal challenge filed in court by environmental activists, including Greenpeace. Activists are not only opposed to the environmental impacts that the seismic survey could have, as well as the impacts to coastal communities, but also claim that Shell does not have the right permits for the survey. Protests against the planned seismic survey have also been held by Extinction Rebellion outside the Shell Centre in London, United Kingdom.

SOUTH AMERICA

Venezuela

On 5th December, two top ex-FARC commanders were shot dead in the state of Apure in Venezuela. Darío Velásquez, alias ‘El Paisa’, and Henry Castellanos Garzón, alias ‘Romaña’, were both high-ranking members of the Second Marquetalia faction. They were allegedly killed in separate attacks by FARC dissidents of a rival faction, known as the 10th Front..

The Second Marquetalia and the 10th Front have been fighting each other in the state of Apure, where they are involved in extortion and the export of cocaine via clandestine airstrips. The Second Marquetalia have suffered heavy losses this year, with one of their leaders being killed by Colombian special forces in May. Meanwhile, the 10th Front seems to be gaining in strength. With the support of a network of FARC dissidents in Colombia led by Miguel Botache Santillana, alias ‘Gentil Duarte’, the 10th Front managed to win a battle with the Venezuelan military in April, when they killed at least 12 soldiers and captured eight more. The captured soldiers were only released after the Venezuelan military retreated from the area in May.