Global SITREP for Monday, 05 February 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Monday, 05 February 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Monday, 05 February 2024. 

  1. ISRAEL SIGNALS IT WILL EXPAND WAR WITH HEZBOLLAH: Israel Foreign Minister Israel Katz said time is running short for a diplomatic solution to Hezbollah’s presence on the Israel-Lebanon border.
  • Israel Homeland Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said he would oppose any deal with Hamas that includes freeing Palestinian prisoners held on terrorism charges or ends the war before Hamas is completely defeated.
  • Gvir added that Israel plans to repopulate the Gaza Strip with Israeli settlers, and a global conference should be held to determine which countries will take the Palestinians.
  • Alma Research and Education Center director Tal Beeri said, “No one wants this war,” but he believes an armed conflict between Israel and Lebanon is inevitable.
  • According to polling by the Israel Democracy Institute, the majority of the Israeli public opposes Israel giving in to pressure from the Biden administration to end the war, and a majority of Jewish Israelis support the current National Unity government.

Why It MattersThe Biden administration is trying to prevent the war from escalating. However, the Israeli government’s strategic interests include re-establishing a deterrent against future attacks and a sense of security for Israeli citizens, which puts Israel’s interests at odds with the Biden administration. The exchange of fire between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah has increased over the last four months, and IDF exercises and signals from both sides point to a likely escalation. – R.C.

  1. FMR PHILIPPINES PRESIDENT CALLS FOR SECESSION: Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Vice President Sara Duterte, and her father and former President Rodrigo Duterte fell out over the weekend, resulting in Rodrigo Duterte calling for his home province of Mindanao to secede from the Philippines.
  • Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and National Security Advisor Eduardo Año vowed to use force to maintain the Philippines’ territorial integrity.
  • Marcos said he and the VP still had a working relationship on Friday.
  • Constitutional changes are reportedly at the center of the dispute, with Duterte claiming Marcos is just seeking to stay in power and Marcos claiming they will just boost business-friendliness.

Why It Matters: This is unlikely to come to fruition. However, any success in destabilizing the Philippines will only benefit China. A destabilized Philippines would halt the security agreements with Japan, allow China to seize the disputed South China Sea (SCS) reefs, and open up the southern approach to Taiwan. The U.S. could also be put on the horns of a dilemma as it considers shoring up Filipino stability but would have to enter a counterinsurgency campaign to do so. – J.V.

  1. JAPAN, U.S. DISCLOSE CHINA AS ENEMY & TAIWAN “EMERGENCY” PLAN: Japanese media reports that, for the first time, the U.S. and Japan disclosed China as their hypothetical enemy in the biennial Keen Edge exercise. They also disclosed that the allies have a draft plan regarding an “emergency” in Taiwan that was completed at the end of last year.
  • Keen Edge is a computer-based, command and control predecessor exercise to the live implementation of the plans in the Keen Sword exercise next year. They happen in alternating years to account for planning.
  • The maps accurately reflect Taiwan’s geography for the first time, according to Chinese state-run media.

Why It Matters: Japan and the U.S. are openly planning to intervene in an emergency situation around Taiwan that likely includes a military or police blockade or a full-scale invasion. This will undoubtedly raise tensions in the region and may lead to further sanctions and gray zone warfare from China. Additionally, this may influence China to take the least violent option to avoid a multi-front war in the Pacific. However, this could also embolden Taiwan’s President Lai to push for independence since it is becoming clearer that major regional players are likely to get involved if China attacks Taiwan. – J.V.

  1. CHINA PREPARING FOR SURVEILLANCE SITES IN MALDIVES: India and the Maldives have agreed to a multistage Indian troop pullout from the Maldives between March and May.
  • Indian stationed troops in the Maldives to help guarantee their security against Islamic terrorism in 2009.
  • Chinese defense experts are framing this as a matter of sovereignty for the Maldives and that India is morally incapable of justifying a continued troop presence.

Why It Matters: Indian troops are in the Maldives because the archipelago cannot guarantee its own sovereignty. All Indian efforts since 2009 have been to boost Maldivian capabilities through surveillance equipment and cross-training. China is likely exerting influence behind the scenes in the Maldives to drive India out, create a security crisis in the islands, and provide their own troops for security. This would give them a powerful surveillance position in the Indian Ocean, which is also in the middle of the primary Sea Line of Communication across that ocean that East Coast American naval and marine forces would have to use if they intended to reinforce any Pacific forces in a potential war. A security threat to India like this is also likely to prompt them to join an anti-China coalition. – J.V.

  1. IRAN, RUSSIA, CHINA NAVAL EXERCISE AIMS TO REPLACE U.S. SECURITY: Iran announced a trilateral naval exercise to practice maritime security with Russia and China in the Persian Gulf by the end of their calendar year on 20 March.
  • Iran has hosted several similar exercises in the past few years.
  • Pakistan, Oman, Brazil, India, South Africa, and the Caspian littoral states are invited as observers. 

Why It Matters: This is aimed at providing an alternative to American security in the Persian Gulf. Exercises among these groups tend to be highly scripted, but scripted exercises are necessary precursors to dynamic exercises. Dynamic exercises are unlikely to come about for several years. However, this should be seen as a stepping stone to supplanting American global security. – J.V.

THAT’S A WRAP: This does it for today’s edition. Thank you for reading. If you know folks who would also like to receive this email, would you please forward it to them? We appreciate you spreading the word. – M.S.

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