August 3, 2022. Lilly Blumenthal, Caitlin Purdy, and Victoria Bassetti, Brookings. Speculation is mounting that China will take advantage of the power vacuum created by the 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and seek dominance over that country’s mineral resources, particularly its lithium deposits. These resources play a key role in the global energy transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable resources. Given its global role in exploiting critical minerals, China’s possible activities in Afghanistan raise both security and good governance challenges to the West. In this piece, we unpack several reasons to be skeptical of near-term Chinese-led investment in Afghanistan’s lithium sector while outlining the broader geopolitical interests that may be driving China’s moves in this space. Chinese investment in Afghanistan’s lithium sector: A long shot in the short term
AROUND THE WORLD
- April 4, 2022. HRW. Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis cannot be effectively addressed unless the United States and other governments ease restrictions on the country’s banking sector to facilitate legitimate economic activity and humanitarian aid, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch issued an updated question-and-answer document outlining the economic crisis and steps to overcome it. Afghanistan: Economic Crisis Underlies Mass Hunger
- August 3, 2022. James Cunningham, Ryan Crocker, Hugo Llorens, P. Michael McKinley, Ronald E. Neumann, and Earl Anthony Wayne, Atlantic Council. Since coming to power last year, the Taliban has increasingly reverted to form on almost every level. The killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a Kabul safe house on July 31 only underscores the group’s continued close ties with the Taliban, particularly the Haqqani network. Taliban leaders are also steadily reimposing the world’s most extreme restrictions by far on women and girls, returning to their old practices of “disappearing” women by closing off their education, restricting their travel, dictating their dress, and limiting their movement. It’s time to block Taliban leaders’ trips abroad
- August 3, 2022. Joseph Asunka, E Gyimah-Boadi, Carolyn Logan, Chatham House. Across Africa, recent years have been marked by both encouraging democratic highs and troubling anti-democratic lows. Notable advances from last year include the Gambia’s successful presidential election, a ruling-party transition in Zambia and the first democratic transfer of power in Niger. In the lead up to this, add Malawi’s retake of its flawed presidential election in 2020 and an earlier succession of oustings of long-serving autocrats in Sudan, Zimbabwe and the Gambia. Will Africans’ calls for better democracy be met?
- August 4, 2022. Muhammad Ersan Pamungkas, The Interpreter. The idea of an “official language” for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been a contentious subject over the years. Recently, the issue has resurfaced. Does ASEAN really need an official “second language”?
- August 3, 2022. Grigory Ioffe, The Jamestown Foundation. On July 27, Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk “people’s republic,” paid a visit to the city of Brest, Belarus. He laid a wreath at the eternal flame in front of the Brest Fortress commemorating its defenders’ feats at the start of the Nazi German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. “Today it is time to liberate Russian cities founded by Russian people: Kyiv, Chernihiv, Poltava, Odesa, Dnepr, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, and Lutsk,” Pushilin declared during the ceremony. Interestingly, Belta, Belarus’s official press agency, made no mention of Pushilin’s visit. Perhaps more importantly, no national-level official accompanied Pushilin on his trip. Instead, he was accompanied by the Russian ambassador to Belarus, Boris Gryzlov, and United Russia party chair, Andrey Turchak. Yury Drakakhrust of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty believes that these circumstances constitute “yet another step in reducing and foiling Belarus’s sovereignty” (Svaboda, July 27). Belarus’s Sovereignty and Political Opposition Risk Losing Relevance
- August 4, 2022. Kailing Xie, Ying Huang, East Asia Forum. Between 24 December 2021 and 22 January 2022, China’s Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests was opened up to the public so they could offer amendment proposals. This is the third proposed set of amendments since the law was passed in 1992. During this period, the public was able to propose changes to the existing legislation on a government website. Protecting women’s rights in China
- August 3, 2022. Afrobarometer. Selon la plus récente enquête Afrobarometer au Gabon, la majorité des citoyens gabonais affirment que les femmes et les hommes ont les mêmes chances d’avoir un emploi payant et d’hériter ou de posséder des terres. Les Gabonais soutiennent la politique du gouvernement sur la promotion des droits des femmes, selon l’enquête Afrobarometer
- August 3, 2022. Zachary Coles and Nicholas Carl, ISW. Iran may direct its proxies to attack American and partner targets in the Middle East in the coming weeks. Iranian proxy group Ashab al Kahf accused NATO, the UK, and the US of stoking political tensions in Iraq on August 1 and vowed to attack their embassies and military bases in Iraq, Syria, and possibly Jordan. Ashab al Kahf is likely a front group for Iranian proxy Asaib Ahl al Haq (AAH) and possibly other Iranian-backed militias. AAH has likely claimed attacks on US and Turkish military bases under the name Ashab al Kahf since 2019 to generate deniability for its actions. Iranian proxies in Iraq frequently claim attacks under such front groups to complicate attribution and obfuscate their responsibility. Iran Warning Update: Iranian Proxies May Attack US in Response to Iraqi Political Crisis
- August 2, 2022. Afrobarometer. Kenyans overwhelmingly oppose the use of physical discipline against women, the latest Afrobarometer survey shows. Kenyans oppose the use of physical discipline against women, but see gender-based violence as a private matter
- August 3, 2022. Chatham House. This episode of Africa Aware explores the elections in Kenya on 9 August 2022, in which Kenyans will select a new president and national lawmakers, as well as the governors and assemblies of the country’s 47 counties. First, Waihiga Mwaura discusses the main political groupings and policy issues that voters will decide on. Then Sylvia Katua examines issues around political inclusivity of marginalized groups, including in the context of Kenya’s devolved system. Finally, Mulle Musau assesses the status of electoral preparedness and public confidence in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Africa Aware: Kenya’s 2022 Elections
- August 3, 2022. Gregory B. Poling, CSIS. The recent executions of four anti-regime activists, including former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw and civil society leader Kyaw Min Yu, known as Ko Jimmy, by the Burmese junta have caused global uproar. Time for Difficult Choices on Myanmar
Papua New Guinea
- August 4, 2022. Mihai Sora, The Interpreter. It has been a difficult election period for Papua New Guinea. Outbreaks of violence in the nation’s capital Port Moresby and other parts of the country have disrupted voting and counting, leading to the PNG Governor General granting a two-week extension to 12 August for the return of writs. This has been pared back to 5 August. PNG’s troubled election should be a wake-up call for Australia
Russia-Ukraine (on the ground-impact)
- August 4, 2022. Chatham House. How can Ukraine rebuild while coexisting with Russia? In this final episode of our special series, we speak to Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko and Professor Georgiy Kassianov to find out the answer. War in Ukraine: Rebuilding Ukraine
- August 4, 2022. Phil Muncaster, Infosecurity. Ukrainian law enforcers claim to have dismantled a large bot farm used by Russian special services to spread disinformation and propaganda in the country. Ukraine Shutters Major Russian Bot Farm
- August 3, 2022. Emanuele Scimia, The Jamestown Foundation. In the lead-up to snap parliamentary elections planned for September 25, Italy’s likely next ruling coalition is already divided on Russia’s re-invasion of Ukraine. Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi is a staunch supporter of the Ukrainian fight against the Russians, and Rome’s allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union are concerned that a center-right government will soften Italian opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. Putin’s War Against Ukraine Divides Italy’s Likely Next Ruling Coalition
- August 3, 2022. Mykola Vorobiov, The Jamestown Foundation. The war in Ukraine is gaining momentum as neither side is ready for reconciliation, as the conflict continues to escalate. On July 29, the Kremlin claimed that 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs), including those captured at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, were killed and dozens were wounded by shelling from the Ukrainian side. The prison where the POWs were held is located in Olenivka village of Donetsk region, currently occupied by Russian military forces (Pravda.com.ua, July 29). As Ukraine Focuses on Retaking Southern Territories, Moscow Raises Stakes
- August 3, 2022. Kateryna Stepanenko, Katherine Lawlor, Karolina Hird, Angela Howard, and Frederick W. Kagan, ISW. Russian forces are likely using Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Enerhodar to play on Western fears of a nuclear disaster in Ukraine, likely in an effort to degrade Western will to provide military support to a Ukrainian counteroffensive.International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi said on August 3 that Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which is currently occupied by Russian forces, is “completely out of control” and that “every principle of nuclear safety has been violated” at the plant. He warned that Russian forces are not respecting the physical integrity of the plant and pleaded with Russia and Ukraine to quickly facilitate a visit of IAEA monitors to the complex. Russian Zaporizhia Occupation Administration Head Evgeniy Balitskyi responded that the IAEA was welcome at the plant: “We are ready to show how the Russian military guards it today, and how Ukraine, which receives weapons from the West, uses these weapons, including drones, to attack the nuclear plant, acting like a monkey with a grenade.”. Russian officials are framing Ukraine as irresponsibly using Western-provided weapons and risking nuclear disaster to dissuade Western and other allied states from providing additional military support to Ukraine’s looming southern counteroffensive. Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, August 3
- August 3, 2022. Chatham House. Experts examine the implications for Taiwan, China and the United States of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island. Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan: What lies ahead for China and the US?
- August 4, 2022. Mark Harrison, The Strategist. The visit to Taiwan by a US congressional delegation led by Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has once again pushed the Taiwan Strait to the front of international attention. It shows Taiwan’s role as a metaphor for fundamental questions about the nature of the international system and whether, for all its aspirations to peace and human progress, it is ultimately a system wrought by the hard power of states, whether China’s or the US’s, in their interests. Beijing will wipe out a vibrant democracy if it seizes control of Taiwan
- August 4, 2022. PLA Navy surrounds Taiwan with a massive naval exercise The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) promulgated exercise areas surrounding Taiwan in response to Nancy Pelosi’s arrival on the island by aircraft on August 02, 2022. The exercise areas overlap Taiwan’s territorial waters.
- August 3, 2022. Atlantic Council. She went there. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other island officials today—despite warnings from China (and some US officials) that the visit could escalate cross-Strait tensions. In response, China announced military drills around Taiwan this week and import restrictions on the island. With Pelosi now wheels-up from Taipei, what’s coming next in the US-China showdown? And how will the trip shake up life in Taiwan? Our experts map out the terrain. The coming aftershocks from Pelosi’s Taiwan trip
- August 3, 2022. Anna Pederson, John O’Malley and Arona Baigal, CNAS. President Biden’s recent Middle East tour was vital in presenting U.S. foreign policy in the region. Other geopolitical developments including the killing of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, ongoing Iran nuclear negotiations, the state of Afghanistan one year after the United States withdrew troops, and Russia’s growing ties to the region have demonstrated that continued U.S. engagement is vital. Sharper: Middle East
Climate Change & Sustainability
- August 2, 2022. Kir Nuthi, Center for Data Innovation. This summer has proven to be one of the hottest for the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK). Last month, the UK faced its hottest days on record while EU member states like France, Portugal, and Greece continue to struggle with wildfires. These are concrete examples of weather emergencies and natural disasters Europe will continue to face as it tackles climate change. And these climate disasters are precisely why access to sustainability data—including geospatial, earth observation, and mobility data—is more critical for Europe than ever before. To improve access to this data, the EU should create supranational open data legislation that can promote and power sustainable innovation that tackles climate change. An EU Open Data Plan Can Help Combat Climate Change
- August 4, 2022. The Center for Climate and Security. The chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), Gen. Tom Middendorp (Ret.) recently published a book titled Klimaatgeneraal, or “Climate General.” The book builds on his tenure as the Chief of Defense of the Netherlands to illustrate the relationship between climate change and security risks, before turning to positive solutions to address these interconnected challenges. CCS Research Fellow Elsa Barron spoke with Gen. Middendorp about his identity as a “climate general,” the evolution of the climate security field, and opportunities for climate adaptation and mitigation in the security sector. The Making of a Climate General: An Interview with IMCCS Chair, Retired General Tom Middendorp
- August 1, 2022. Brigitte Hugh, The Center for Climate & Security. In January 2022, food prices were already higher than normal. Pandemic-driven supply chain and labor complications combined with intensifying climate hazards had negatively affected global food availability. Then Russia invaded Ukraine, which has drastically reduced grain exports from Europe’s breadbasket, compounding the situation. Among other devastating humanitarian consequences, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to higher global food prices, escalating shipping costs, decreased agricultural output, and limited fertilizer availability, increasing the number of people facing acute food insecurity from 276 million to 323 million. Yellow Card: Global Food Crisis Underscores Need for Systemic Security
- August 3, 2022. Bouke Berns, Asyl Undeland, World Bank blogs. Tuning in for climate action: How a new podcast from Indigenous Peoples and local communities is helping others Get REDDy for REDD+ This kind of engagement for climate emission reductions programs in forest landscapes has been very challenging, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- August 2, 2022. Richard Fontaine, Paul Scharre, Lisa Curtis, Carrie Cordero, Christopher D. Kolenda, and Dr. Jason Dempsey, CNAS. Center for a New American Security experts offer insight into the ramifications of the CIA-led killing of al Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri and the lasting legacy of the global war on terror. CNAS Responds: Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri killed in drone strike
- August 4, 2022. Alessandro Mascellino, Infosecurity. Cyber-attacks in the gaming sector have increased by 167% in the last year, according to a new report by cybersecurity firm Akamai. Gaming Sector Cyber-Attacks Up 167% in Last 12 Months
- August 4, 2022. John Ward, Infosecurity. New research has brought something significant to light. Passwords of the length and complexity deemed compliant by regulatory bodies are found everywhere within breached lists. Relying on compliant passwords does not protect your network. Join us as we take a deeper look into this issue and what can be done about it. Compliance vs Security: A Look into Passwords
- August 4, 2022. Phil Muncaster, Infosecurity. Threat actors have stolen over $5m from blockchain platform Solana, although the exact modus operandi is still being investigated. Hackers Steal $5m+ From Blockchain Platform Solana
- August 4, 2022. Phil Muncaster, Infosecurity. Football fans have been warned to exercise caution online after news emerged that fraudsters are increasingly taking to social media to sell non-existent tickets. Experts Warn of Fake Football Ticket Scams
- August 4, 2022. Naval News. Curtiss-Wright Corporation announced on 03 August that it has been awarded contracts valued in excess of $220 million to provide propulsion valves, pumps, and advanced instrumentation and control systems for the U.S. Navy’s Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, Columbia-class submarine and Ford-class aircraft carrier programs. Curtiss-Wright to support critical U.S. Navy platforms
- August 4, 2022. Malcolm Davis, The Strategist. The Labor Party’s pre-election promise of a defence force posture review has now taken shape as a much more expansive strategic review encompassing the Australian Defence Force’s structure, posture and investment requirements over the next 10 years and beyond. Listen carefully and you’ll hear the gentle noise of a white paper being prepared. Strategic review must drop business-as-usual approach to Australia’s defence
- August 4, 2022. John Coyne, The Strategist. On 14 July, after months of controversy, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare publicly ruled out the possibility that his security pact with Beijing would result in a Chinese military base in his country. Many Indo-Pacific nations no doubt welcomed his assurance that ‘there is no military base, nor any other military facility or institutions, in the agreement’. Sogavare’s embrace of Chinese policing ignores Solomon Islanders’ needs
- August 4, 2022. Harriet Farlow, The Strategist. Late last month, Australia’s leading scientists, researchers and businesspeople came together for the inaugural Australian Defence Science, Technology and Research Summit (ADSTAR), hosted by the Defence Department’s Science and Technology Group. In a demonstration of Australia’s commitment to partnerships that would make our non-allied adversaries flinch, Chief Defence Scientist Tanya Monro was joined by representatives from each of the Five Eyes partners, as well as Japan, Singapore and South Korea. Two streams focusing on artificial intelligence were dedicated to research and applications in the defence context. Artificial intelligence isn’t that intelligent
- August 3, 2022. Alessandro Mascellino, Infosecurity. Security researchers from ThreatLabz have uncovered a new strain of a large-scale phishing campaign using adversary-in-the-middle (AiTM) techniques along with several evasion tactics. Large-Scale Phishing Attacks Targeting Microsoft Enterprise Email Services
- August 3, 2022. Aaron Mehta, Andrew Eversden, Breaking Defense. The US Senate has ratified its support for Sweden and Finland to join the NATO alliance with an overwhelming 95-1 vote. US Senate ratifies Sweden, Finland NATO membership
- August 3, 2022. Theresa Hitchens, Breaking Defense. A killer asteroid has become the subject of myriad online jokes and memes, but “planetary defense” is a deadly serious international security endeavor involving scientists around the world — with NASA set in September to undertake a world-first effort to deflect a (non-threatening) asteroid off its natural course. As NASA’s asteroid impact mission nears, similar Chinese efforts raise eyebrows
- August 3, 2022. Arie Egozi, Breaking Defense. Israel plans to pour about $150 million into the development of its laser air defense system known as Iron Beam, after the US apparently declined for now to take part in the funding. Israel to spend $150 million on laser defenses, after US hesitation
- August 3, 2022. Jacqueline Feldscher, Defense One. The Senate overwhelmingly approved the addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO on Wednesday, taking a step toward extending the alliance’s border with Russia by more than 800 miles. Senate Votes To Add Finland, Sweden to NATO
- August 3, 2022. Lauren C. Williams, Defense One. Establishing a culture of “fluency and expertise in digital technologies” would be one of the first items on the agenda for the Biden administration’s pick as the first cyberspace ambassador at large for the State Department, Nathaniel Fick said Wednesday at his nomination hearing. Cyber Ambassador Pick Wants to Bring ‘Coherence’ to Tech Diplomacy Efforts
- August 3, 2022. Courtney Albon, Defense News. If all goes as planned, the U.S. Space Force will have a complete constellation of Space-Based Infrared System satellites on orbit by Thursday, the culmination of an often fraught, decades-long effort to bolster the nation’s ability to detect and track missile threats from space. Space-Based Infrared satellite launch to complete missile warning system
- August 3, 2022. Colin Demarest, Defense News. As telecom companies struggle to complete the transition to the fifth-generation, or 5G, mobile standard, the Pentagon is backing an effort focused on 6G research and technologies amid a military-wide push to modernize communications and connectivity. Remember 5G? Pentagon backs 6G hub tied to Army Research Lab
- August 3, 2022. Megan Eckstein, Defense News. The biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise usually has a certain cadence to its scenario: a hurricane blows through an already tense island chain, but humanitarian relief efforts are hampered by adversarial attacks. Four ways to kill a ship: How US Marines are focused on controlling the seas
- August 3, 2022. Catherine Buchaniec, Defense News. The U.S. most likely used an MQ-9 Reaper drone launched from a country in the Arabian Peninsula in the strike that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul on July 31, security experts said. Which drone was used in Al-Zawahiri strike? Experts point to General Atomics’ Reaper
- August 3, 2022. Joe Gould, Defense News. The U.S. Marine Corps in recent months took the quiet step of putting its Force Design 2030 plans to work in Europe, using forces to monitor Russian naval forces in the Baltic Sea. How US Marines put Force Design 2030 to work in Europe and monitored Russian naval forces
- August 3, 2022. Daniel L. Byman, Brookings. Ayman al-Zawahri, who led al-Qaida since Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011, is dead from a U.S. drone strike on a residential area in Kabul. Al-Zawahri’s death is an end of an era — he was an early member of al-Qaida and an active jihadi for decades before that. The al-Qaida he left behind endured despite an aggressive and devastating U.S. counterterrorism campaign, but it is also weak, with far less operational capacity and political influence than it had around the time of 9/11. A more charismatic and capable leader might revive al-Qaida, but he will face many difficulties in trying to revive the once-dominant jihadi organization, not least of which is a well-institutionalized U.S. and global counterterrorism apparatus. Al-Qaida after al-Zawahri
- August 3, 2022. Bruce Jones, Brookings. The U.S. economy relies heavily on the global flow of goods — consumer, commercial, energy — across the ocean. That fact has been brought vividly to life by supply chain interruptions — in the Suez Canal and the Port of Long Beach — and their inflationary effects. True there are vital industries like finance and software that rely on the flow of data, not goods. However, over 90% of all data in the world flows through undersea cables that line the ocean floor. There’s no part of our prosperity that would not be adversely affected if ocean-based trade were impeded or slowed. Navigating great power competition – A serious planning start
- August 3, 2022. Atlantic Council. It was a landslide. With a tally of 95-1, the US Senate voted on Wednesday to ratify an amended NATO treaty adding Sweden and Finland to the Alliance. The bipartisan blowout means that twenty-three of the thirty allies have now approved the expansion inspired by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. What political hurdles remain and what will Brussels, Helsinki, and Stockholm be up to in the meantime? Our NATOlogists break down the big news. The Senate emphatically backs NATO expansion. What’s next?
Digital & Tech
- August 3, 2022. Riccardo Puliti, World Bank blogs. The world needs a digital lifeline From the COVID-19 pandemic to violent conflicts and natural disasters, being connected has allowed us to continue working, learning, and communicating.
- August 4, 2022. Giovanni Ganelli, Pau Rabanal and Niamh Sheridan, IMF blog. The lingering pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are dealing a setback to the global economy. This is affecting trade, commodity prices, and financial flows, all of which are changing current account deficits and surpluses. Global Current Account Balances Widen Amid War and Pandemic