Intellifusion Newsletter: 5 Incidents to catch up on


Friday 7th January 2022

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

Kazakhstan

Protests began in the Mangystau region of Kazakhstan this week over high fuel prices and quickly escalated into full riots in cities and towns across the country. Kazak security forces quickly lost control as protesters stormed into government buildings, clashed with police, looted stores and in some cases torched government offices.

Whilst clashes during protests were reported in many of Kazakhstan’s population centres, Almaty has seen the most sizeable clashes, with protests converging around Republic Square and the local government building. Protesters in Almaty also marched towards the International Airport where stores were looted and flights were severely disrupted. As of the night of 6th January, security forces backed by Russian-led peacekeepers sent by the CSTO have begun a crack down in Almaty in which multiple casualties have been reported. Due to internet blackouts in the country, details from the operation remain unclear however, multiple videos and images released on social media show heavy gunfire in the city as security forces cracked down on the protest. Casualty figures are unclear.

The heavy suppression of the protests not just in Almaty but in other cities too appears to have restored an element of order but will likely contribute to long term pre-existing resentment against the government. To address this, Tokayev has attempted to appease protesters with promises of economic reform but the simultaneous suppression of the protests and the support from the CSTO to restore security is expected to reduce the impact of these promises. The exact role of the CSTO personnel in ongoing operations and how long the mission will last is currently unclear.See how the protests in Kazakhstan escalated here

NORTH AMERICA

Gonaives, Haiti

On Saturday, 1st January, gunmen opened fire on Haitian president Ariel Henry as he left the cathedral in Gonaives while accompanied by members of the government and high ranking police officials.

Henry had been taking part in the celebrations for the 218th anniversary of national independence, and came under fire when leaving to give an address to the nation in the Place d’Armes outside from gunmen that appeared to have surrounded the venue unchallenged. The president was eventually bundled into a vehicle in a somewhat shambolic display by his security detail, leaving one person killed and at least two injured.

Henry attended the service despite threats made against him by local armed group “Les Révolutionnaires”, who shot and injured a carpenter constructing a podium in the Place d’Armes a few days earlier and attempted to barricade the area with burning tires. The attack highlights the state of lawlessness, especially since the assassination of Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, that has spread across the country. Henry has been vocal in his commitment to tackle the growing power of the gangs, who have been responsible for numerous kidnappings and even seized control of much of the nation’s gas distribution in Port-au-Prince, where some districts have been completely overrun by armed gangs in the last year.

EUROPE

Russian Gas Pipelines

For the past 17 days (at the time of this report), monitoring of natural gas flows at the Gascade Metering Point in Mallnow has reported continuous eastward flow of natural gas on the Yamal-Europe pipeline; with none heading west due to Russian energy firm Gazprom not booking any capacity on the pipeline to send to western Europe.

During this period, Gazprom and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been making several public statements regarding the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Nord Stream 2 is now at capacity, ready to deliver natural gas to Europe once the pipeline has been certified by the German government.

The timing of these two circumstances is too close to be a coincidence. Prior analysis on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has assessed that natural gas provides Russia with a very effective form of economic leverage, should Nord Stream 2 be certified this leverage will become even more effective and further reaching. These current circumstances on the Yamal-Europe pipeline appear to be Gazprom and the Russian government using current supplies as leverage to certify Nord Stream 2; which will enable Nord Stream 2 to be used in a similar fashion in the future.

Read more of our prior analysis on Nord Stream 2 here

AFRICA

Limbe and Mutengene, Cameroon

Separatists are reported to have detonated two IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in the South West Region of Cameroon on the evening of 5th January, with one IED detonated in the Half Mile area of Limbe and a second detonated in Mutengene. The bombings are alleged to have been carried out by the Fako Action Force. Another IED detonation is reported to have taken place at a restaurant in Limbe on 29th December 2021. The bombings have taken place ahead of the start of the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.

The Tunisian, Malian, Mauritanian and Gambian football teams who will play their matches in Limbe and train in Buea have reportedly received threats from separatists and jihadist groups. There are also fears that the opposition MRC party (Cameroon Renaissance Movement) are planning to hold protests during the football tournament, although its president Maurice Kamto has urged party members to refrain from disrupting the tournament. The SDF (Social Democratic Front), however, plan to hold protests in Douala on 8th January to demand the release of imprisoned MRC members and anglophone citizens.

SOUTH AMERICA

Dept. of Arauca, Colombia

Since 2nd January, at least 26 people have been killed and 50 are missing in the department of Arauca due to fighting between FARC dissidents and ELN guerillas. The armed actions have primarily affected the municipalities of Tame, Saravena, Fortul, and Arauquita, and has also caused the displacement of several families. The Ombudsman’s Office has issued an alert about the activities of the armed groups, the displacement of families, and the recruitment of minors by the groups, particularly from the municipalities of Saravena and Arauquita. The government has deployed additional soldiers to the area and have set 7th January as a date by which they plan to have regained control of the area. The violence is said to have been started by the assassination of the second in charge of the ELN’s Domingo Lain Saenz Front.

The department of Arauca has been the site of significant armed activity by FARC dissidents and ELN guerrillas historically due to its location on the border of Colombia and Venezuela, allowing for control of drug routes, drug production, and allowing for other criminal enterprises like extortion due to a lack of strong government presence. The most recent wave of violence has also pushed Venezuela to deploy additional troops to the border. Despite the additional military presence on both sides of the border, the activities of both groups are likely to continue, and further displacement of families from more remote areas will put pressure on urban centres in the department.