• OSINTSUM
  • Posts
  • OSINTSUM: Tuesday 23 October 2023

OSINTSUM: Tuesday 23 October 2023

Estonian government believes cable damage incidents linked, US warns it will defence the Philippines against China, and Nigeria records 800 extra-judicial killings in last three years

Tuesday, 23 October 2023

Headlines

International
Energy: IEA says demand for fossil fuels likely to peak before 2030

Africa
Gabon: US ends assistance after declaring coup took place
Kenya: UN summit affirms goal to end female genital mutilation by 2030
Niger: EU agrees framework for sanctions on military government
Nigeria: 800 incidents of extra-judicial killings recorded in last three years

Asia/Oceania
Afghanistan: Herat suffers fifth major earthquake since 7 October
Afghanistan: US says Taliban are diverting international aid
Armenia: France to provide air defence capabilities
New Zealand: Enquiry into 2019 mosque shooting opened
Pakistan: Imran Khan facing possible death penalty for contravening secrets act
South China Sea: US warns it will defend the Philippines against China after collisions

Europe
Belgium: Brussels shooting perpetrator had escaped from Tunisian prison
Estonia: Government believes cable damage incidents are linked
Hungary: Prime Minister ramps up criticism of EU ahead of European parliament elections
Kosovo: Prime Minister accuses Serbian minister of heading paramilitary group
Switzerland: Right-wing Swiss People's Party wins general election
Turkey: Erdogan sends Swedish NATO accession protocols to parliament

Latin America/Caribbean
Argentina: Economy minister and right-wing populist in presidential run-off
Haiti: Transition Council chief urges UN intervention
Venezuela: Marina Corina Machado likely to be chosen as unity opposition candidate

Middle East
Iran: Rights groups decry jailing of Amini reporters
Iraq/Syria: US accuses Iran of "actively facilitating" attacks on US bases
Israel: Military holds screening of captured Hamas bodycam footage
Israel: US advises IDF to hold off Gaza ground invasion

US/Canada
Canada: Government highlights Chinese disinformation campaign
US: Chinese foreign minister to visit ahead of potential Biden/Xi meeting
US: State Department approves missile sales to UK, Lithuania, and Finland

International

Energy: IEA says demand for fossil fuels likely to peak before 2030
The International Energy Agency (IEA) believes global demand for fossil fuels is likely to peak by 2030, as increasing geopolitical shocks to the global energy supply are encouraging a more rapid transition to renewables.

This is the first time it has forecast the peak would occur before the end of this decade, and said some of the main drivers were Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Gaza conflict.

It said the use of coal, oil, and natural gas would account for 73% of global energy supplies by 2030, down from 80% where it has been hovering around for decades.

 

Africa

Gabon: US ends assistance after declaring coup took place
The US has formally determined that a coup took place in Gabon on 30 August and has ended officially ended its assistance to the country.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the US would resume its assistance when the military government took "concrete actions" towards returning the country to democratic rule.

The Prime Minister installed by the junta, Raymond Ndong Sima, urged Western nations not to tar all military takeovers with the same brush, saying Gabon's coup had prevented unrest and was conducted due to long-standing concerns over corruption.

Analyst Comment: US aid to oil-rich Gabon was minimal prior to the coup attempt, so it is unlikely this pause in aid will have a significant impact.

Gabonese military leaders overthrew Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose family had ruled the country for over 50 years, in August after he won an election which was widely criticised for irregularities.

 

Kenya: UN summit affirms goal to end female genital mutilation by 2030
A summit in Kenya which saw members of the UN Population Fund and UNICEF address the topic of female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, and affirm their goal to end both practices by 2030.

The event, which was led by women and young people, took place in Nairobi between 18 and 20 October, and saw 236 participants from 237 countries take part, including politicians, FGM experts, investors, and influencers.

It was held that achieving the 2030 target would necessitate collective and well-funded actions as well as innovative approaches to community awareness of the harm the practices cause.

Analyst Comment: An estimated 650 million women and girls were child brides worldwide, including 130 million Africans. Globally, almost 200 million women and girls have undergone FGM in 31 countries across three continents, with 80% of cases occurring in Africa.

 

Niger: EU agrees framework for sanctions on military government
The EU member states have adopted a framework for imposing sanctions on Niger's military government in response to its July coup.

It will allow the bloc to sanction individuals and entities responsible for threatening the peace, stability, and security of Niger, undermining its constitutional order, and serious violations to human rights or international humanitarian law.

Any sanctions imposed by the EU will be tailored to mirror and strengthen measures imposed by the Economic Community of West African States bloc, and will likely consist of asset freezes and travel bans.

 

Nigeria: 800 incidents of extra-judicial killings recorded in last three years
International rights group Global Rights has recorded over 800 incidents of extra-judicial killings across Nigeria between 2020 and June 2023, with 127 of these taking place this year alone.

The group released a report to coincide with the three year anniversary of the #EndSARS movement, which saw thousands of people protest against the activities of the now-disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) which was frequently accused of brutality and corruption.

Despite SARS being shut down, (often fatal) brutality by law enforcement has endured and Global Rights say very few of the perpetrators face justice for their actions, leaving Nigerians living in fear.

 

Asia/Oceania

Afghanistan: Herat suffers fifth major earthquake since 7 October
A fifth major earthquake since 7 October struck Afghanistan's Herat province early yesterday (23 October) morning, sending many residents back onto the streets.

The magnitude 4.4 earthquake follows a magnitude 6.3 earthquake on 7 October and subsequent aftershocks on 11, 13, and 15 October which have killed over 2,000 people and displaced over 100,000.

The earthquakes are some of the worst to hit the country in over 25 years, and the effects are being exacerbated by Taliban policies which have restricted access to aid for women unless they are accompanied by male relatives.

Analyst Comment: Over 90% of those killed and injured in the earthquakes are women and children, who are generally in the home during the day while the local men are working in the fields.

The UN's World Food Program appealed for $19m in aid last week to provide emergency food for those affected by the earthquakes.

 

Afghanistan: US says Taliban are diverting international aid
The US watchdog for aid to Afghanistan has accused the Taliban of diverting international aid through fraudulent practices.

A report from the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), found that the Taliban was benefitting from American-funded education programming through the generation of tax revenues, establishing fraudulent NGOs, and extorting legitimate ones.

The report added that the diversion was contributing to an overall reduction in the quality of education in the country since the Taliban returned to power, which has seen legitimate teachers replaced by unqualified community members or Taliban officials.

Analyst Comment: The Taliban have exerted increasing control over NGOs since returning to power in 2021, banning women from working with them and pushing out foreign organisations from the education sector.

 

Armenia: France to provide air defence capabilities
France is to help Armenia improve its air defence capabilities by selling it three radars and agreeing to sell it Mistral anti-air missiles in the future according to French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu.

The move comes weeks after Armenia retook the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in a 24-hour offensive which led to nearly all the region's 120,000 ethnic Armenian residents fleeing to Armenia.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said the agreement, which will also see France training Armenian ground defence forces and helping it reform its military, could trigger a new conflict in the South Caucasus.

Analyst Comment: France is home to one of Armenia's largest diasporas and seeks to present itself as an ally of the country, which has seen its traditionally strong relationship with Russia deteriorate in recent months.

 

New Zealand: Enquiry into 2019 mosque shooting opened
New Zealand has opened an enquiry into the 2019 mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch which saw 51 Muslims murdered by an Australian white supremacist.

Deputy Chief Coroner Brigitte Windley said the aim of the hearing was to shine a light on what happened and understand how to reduce the chances of it ever happening again.

The inquiry will take six weeks and examine 10 issues, including the response by emergency services and hospital staff, whether the culprit had direct assistance from other actors, and the cause of death for each of the deceased.

Analyst Comment: Brenton Tarrant was armed with high-capacity semi-automatic weapons when he carried out the murders on 15 March 2019. He released a racist manifesto shortly before the attack and streamed the shootings on Facebook. After being convicted of 51 counts of murder and 40 of attempted murder, he was sentenced to life without parole.

 

Pakistan: Imran Khan facing possible death penalty for contravening secrets act
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been indicted along with his deputy Shah Mehmood Qureshi under the country's Official Secrets Act on charges which can can result in the death penalty.

Khan and Qureshi, who are both currently incarcerated, are accused of making the contents of a diplomatic cable between the US and Pakistan public in contravention of the act, an action described as "against the interest of the state of Pakistan".

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party say the charges were applied in a behind-closed-doors trial, and that they would be contested at the High Court.

Analyst Comment: Khan and his PTI party claim the cable contained a threat from the US to overthrow it while he was in office, and that the charges are the latest in a line of trumped-up legal action against him aimed at preventing him from returning to power.

 

South China Sea: US warns it will defend the Philippines against China after collisions
The US has repeated its warning that it is treaty-bound to defend the Philippines in the case of an armed attack after a series of collisions between Filipino supply ships and Chinese coast guard vessels.

In the most recent incident, a China Coast Guard vessel hit a Philippine Navy-contracted civilian ship en route to resupplying Philippine personnel stationed at the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands, shortly before a Chinese maritime militia vessel hit a Philippine Coast Guard ship.

The US State Department said the US stands with the Philippines in the face of illegal Chinese efforts to obstruct its vessels following the incident, which Filipino Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro denounced as a "blatant violation of international law".

Analyst Comment: According to the 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty between the US and the Philippines, both parties recognise that an attack on either in the Pacific Area would compel the other to "act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes".

There was some ambiguity over whether this applied in the South China Sea until 2019 when then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Manila and explicitly stated it applied to Filipino forces operating there.

 

Europe

Belgium: Brussels shooting perpetrator had escaped from Tunisian prison
The gunman who shot dead two Swedish football fans in Brussels on 16 October had escaped from a Tunisian prison before crossing the Mediterranean and arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Abdesalem Lassoued was sentenced to 26 years in prison for crimes including attempted murder in 2005, but escaped in 2011 and eventually sought asylum in Belgium after making the crossing to Europe.

Meanwhile, French authorities have announced they detained two men over possible links to Lassoued as part of an investigation into a suspected "criminal terrorist conspiracy".

Analyst Comment: Tunisian authorities requested Belgium deport him in August last year, but despite receiving the request officials failed to process it. Belgium's Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne resigned over the incident last week, calling it a "monumental and unacceptable error".

 

Estonia: Government believes cable damage incidents are linked
Estonia's government believes that two incidents in which telecoms cables and a gas pipeline between Estonia and Sweden and Finland are linked.

An undersea gas pipeline and telecoms cable between Estonia and Finland were damaged on 8 October in what Finnish investigators believe may have been deliberate sabotage, while last week Sweden announced a telecoms cable between it and Estonia had also been deliberately damaged at roughly the same time.

Estonian and Finnish investigators are both investigating the Chinese NewNew Polar Bear and Russian Sevmorput ships over the incidents.

Analyst Comment: NATO has increased patrols in the Baltic Sea following the incidents, deploying a mine-sweeping vessel and stepping up aerial surveillance.

 

Hungary: Prime Minister ramps up criticism of EU ahead of European parliament elections
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has begun his campaign for next year's European Parliamentary elections by criticising the bloc's leadership.

He made the comments at a speech being held to mark the failed 1956 uprising against Soviet rule, adding that while Moscow was a "tragedy", Brussels was a "bad contemporary parody".

Hours after the speech, thousands of people gathered in Hungary's capital Budapest, which generally votes in support of the opposition. Some attendees voiced fears that the country may leave the EU under Orban's rule, claims he has repeatedly denied.

Analyst Comment: Tensions between Orban and the EU have remained high during his 13-year tenure due to concerns over his administration's attitude to LGBT+ and migrant rights as well as its tightening of controls over NGOs, the media, and justice system.

The EU has suspended billions of euros of funding for Hungary due to these concerns, which is hindering Orban's efforts to take his country out of its longest technical recession since records began.

 

Kosovo: Prime Minister accuses Serbian minister of heading paramilitary group
Kosovo's prime minister has accused Serbia's defence minister of running a paramilitary terrorist group known as the Novi Sad Clan.

Albin Kurti said Milos Vucevic heads the group, which he said was responsible for the 24 September attack in northern Kosovo which led to a Kosovan police officer being shot dead.

Kurti did not offer any evidence for his claims, which were strongly denied by the Serbian defence ministry as "blatant lies".

Analyst Comment: A group of 30 Serbian armed men crossed the border into Kosovo on 24 September and shot dead a Kosovan police officer before barricading themselves in a monastery. Three of the group were subsequently shot dead in a shootout with Kosovan police.

 

Switzerland: Right-wing Swiss People's Party wins general election
The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) won the country's general elections with 28.6% of the vote after campaigning against mass immigration and political correctness.

It beat left-wing Social Democrats (18%), centre-right The Centre 14.6%), and right-wing FDP.TheLiberals (sic) (14.4%). The Greens failed to replicate their 2019 gains and only received 9.4% of the vote.

SVP President Marco Chiesa said he hoped to forge alliances with other parties to address voters' concerns, which he said included population growth, energy security, and Swiss independence and neutrality.

 

Turkey: Erdogan sends Swedish NATO accession protocols to parliament
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has sent accession protocols for Sweden's membership of NATO to parliament, paving the way for a vote on whether to formally ratify its membership.

The proposal must make its way past a parliamentary commission and then be voted on by the main floor of the parliamentary assembly.

Erdogan's parliamentary majority makes it highly likely parliament will vote to ratify Sweden's NATO membership provided it gets to the voting stage. However, no timeline for the process has yet been revealed.

Analyst Comment: While the move is a major step forward in Sweden's attempts to join NATO, Turkish ratification would not see it join the bloc immediately. Hungary also needs to approve its membership before it can join, and last month Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his country was in no rush to do so.

 

Latin America/Caribbean

Argentina: Economy minister and right-wing populist in presidential run-off
Argentina's Economy Minister Sergio Massa will face right-wing populist Javier Milei in a presidential after they came first and second respectively in the first round of voting in Sunday's (22 October's) elections.

Some Argentinians who voted for Massa said they did so reluctantly out of fear of a Milei presidency, after Massa successfully pushed the message that Milie's proposals to cut the size of the state would negatively impact day-to-day life.

Milie, a self-described "anarcho-capitalist" who admires former US President Donald Trump, is calling for the elimination of the Central Bank and the replacement of the Peso as the national currency with the US dollar.

 

Haiti: Transition Council chief urges UN intervention
The head of Haiti's High Transition Council (HTC), Mirlande Manigat, has urged the UN Security Council to "move from words to actions" over a plan to deploy international troops to combat the country's gang crisis.

Over 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to the increasing gang-related violence in the country, particularly in the vicinity of the nation's capital Port-au-Prince.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry has promised to hold elections after security is reestablished, which the HTC is attempting to prepare for. However, these efforts have faced various setbacks including the kidnapping of its secretary-general last week.

Analyst Comment: Two million people in Haiti now live in areas under gang control according to UN estimates.

Last month, the UN ratified deploying an international force, but few countries have pledged troops and Kenya, which offered to lead the operation, has been barred from providing security forces by its own courts.

 

Venezuela: Marina Corina Machado likely to be chosen as unity opposition candidate
Early results from a vote by Venezuelan opposition parties to choose a unity candidate in the 2024 presidential elections show Marina Corina Machado has 93% of the votes with a quarter of the ballots counted.

Machado, who is leading against nine other potential candidates, is currently unable to hold office after an ally of President Nicolas Maduro, Elvis Amoroso, barred her for 15 years over unproven allegations of corruption.

It is not clear whether the ban will be lifted before the election, but the recent sanctions-easing on Venezuela's energy sector by the US is dependant on Maduro's administration reversing such bans on opposition candidates by the end of November.

Analyst Comment: Most opposition parties boycotted Venezuela's previous presidential election in 2018 after their candidates were imprisoned or banned from running.

 

Middle East

Iran: Rights groups decry jailing of Amini reporters
Press freedom organisations have condemned the jail sentences handed to two reporters who exposed the case of Mahsa Amini last year, saying they were simply doing their jobs.

Niloufar Hamedi was sentenced to 13 years for reporting on Amini's condition in hospital before her death while Elaheh Mohammadi was jailed for 12 years for reporting on her funeral.

Both were arrested shortly after making the reports and eventually tried by Iran's Revolutionary Court on charges of collaborating with the US, which both women vehemently deny.

Analyst Comment: Mahsa Amini died in police custody last year after being beaten by Iran's morality police for failing to adhere to the country's strict hijab laws.

Following her death, months of anti-government protests broke out in one of the largest challenges to the Regime's authority since it came to power.

Iraq/Syria: US accuses Iran of "actively facilitating" attacks on US bases
The White House has accused Iran of actively facilitating rocket and drone attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria by pro-Iranian militia groups.

Spokesman John Kirby said there had been an increase in such attacks over the last week, particularly in the last few days, and the US would not allow them to go unchallenged.

He added that he believed the groups were being backed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian government, which is also backing Hamas and Hezbollah.

Analyst Comment: The Islamic Resistance in Iraq militia group conducted four cross-border attacks on US bases in Syria in one day yesterday, including striking one by the Al-Omar oil field in Dier el-Zour province and another in al-Shaddadi further north. Hours before, they conducted drone attacks on the al-Tanf garrison near Syria's Jordanian and Iraqi borders. No major injuries have been reported as a result of any of the attacks so far.

 

Israel: Military holds screening of captured Hamas bodycam footage
Israel's military has held a screening for journalists of raw footage captured by Hamas body cameras of the 7 October massacre of civilians and soldiers.

The footage was cut together with clips of CCTV, dash-cams, and mobile phone footage from both Hamas members and victims, and made into a 43-minute long film to portray the severity of the attack.

The military also released documents recovered from dead Hamas members which contained evidence of detailed operational planning and instructions for attacking civilian neighbourhoods and taking hostages.

 

Israel: US advises IDF to hold off Gaza ground invasion
The US has advised the Israeli Defence Forces to hold of a ground assault in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and is keeping Qatar informed of its talks with Israel.

The US priority is to allow more time for negotiations aimed at securing the release of more of the over 200 hostages taken on the 7 October incursion after Hamas released two more hostages yesterday (23 October).

A US official said it was mindful of Doha's role as an intermediary with Hamas - whose leadership lives in a Doha hotel - and would keep Qatari officials informed of its advice to Israel so they were up-to-speed as negotiations continue.

Analyst Comment: European governments, many of whom also have citizens being held hostage, are also suggesting Israel refrain from conducting a ground offensive to give more time for hostage negotiations.

Israel - which has called up a record 300,000 reservists - has increasingly signalled that such an invasion could be imminent, but has not given any firm timeline.

 

US/Canada

Canada: Government highlights Chinese disinformation campaign
Canada's government has reported a China-linked campaign which saw bots posting disinformation and propaganda comments on the social media feeds of Canadian members of parliament.

The campaign used networks of new and hacked social media accounts to post bulk messages between August and September on accounts of politicians from across the political spectrum.

The posts included accusations of legal and ethical violations, deepfake videos, and a claim that the US military caused the Hawaii wildfires with a secret "weather weapon".

Analyst Comment: The practice of posting bulk messages on others' social media accounts to boost disinformation and propaganda is known colloquially as "spamouflage".

Relations between Canada and China deteriorated in 2018 after Canadian police detained a Chinese telecoms executive and China arrested two Canadians on spying charges shortly after. All three have since been released.

 

US: Chinese foreign minister to visit ahead of potential Biden/Xi meeting
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due to meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday (26 October) as part of a three-day visit aimed at keeping a dialogue between the two superpowers open.

They will discuss a range of issues, including the Israel-Hamas conflict, the Ukraine war, and the recent collisions between Chinese and Filipino vessels in the South China Sea.

The trip takes place three weeks before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, where it is possible that US President Joe Biden will meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Analyst Comment: US/China relations have deteriorated significantly since 2018 over a variety of topics including trade imbalance, human rights in Xinjiang, the South China Sea dispute, Taiwan, and Covid-19.

If Biden and Xi were to meet in San Francisco, it would be the first time they had face-to-face talks since meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November.

 

US: State Department approves missile sales to UK, Lithuania, and Finland
The US State Department has approved a potential sale of 3,000 joint air-to-ground missiles by Lockheed Martin to the UK in a deal worth $957.4m according to the Pentagon.

It also stated it had approved a $500m sale of 150 advanced anti-radiation guided missiles from Northrop Grumman to Finland, and a sale of 35 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles from Raytheon to Lithuania.

Subscribe to keep reading

This content is free, but you must be subscribed to OSINTSUM to continue reading.

Already a subscriber?Sign In.Not now

Join the conversation

or to participate.