Global SITREP for Wednesday, 07 February 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Wednesday, 07 February 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 07 February 2024. 

  1. NATO DEMANDS NEW COLD WAR, ESCALATION, AND CONTAINMENT: At a panel interview for permanent representatives to NATO, representatives from Slovakia, Estonia, and Poland demanded extreme escalation of the Ukraine War, tied NATO’s fate to total Ukrainian victory, and highlighted a split opinion in NATO’s membership.
  • Poland’s Representative Tomasz Szatowski said that NATO needed to be prepared to send tens of thousands of troops to their death and that NATO needs to send a strong signal to the world that they are open to partnership with all nations under threat.
  • Slovakia’s Representative Peter Bator advocated for a return to Cold War mentality, a hard barrier wall between NATO and Russia, and a NATO escalation to ensure a total Ukrainian victory: “If we do not escalate, we simply cannot win.”
  • Estonia’s Representative, Juri Luik, said that NATO’s fate hinges on a total Ukrainian victory without which the alliance appears weak, nuclear deterrence is not enough because it is not credible, there needs to be a post-war containment strategy for Russia, and Ukrainian victory hinges on the $60 billion aid package sitting in Congress.

Why It Matters: There is a bloc within NATO that intends to do whatever it takes to achieve total Ukrainian strategic victory and also reduce Russia’s fighting capability to the point that it can be contained, and they have made it an existential threat to the alliance. All of these will require at least boots-on-the-ground escalation since Ukraine simply does not have the manpower to achieve victory alone, but they also hinted at using nuclear escalation. These steps seem unlikely but, as we saw with the Polish farmer-Ukrainian missile incident, could be triggered with an Article V declaration over an indirect attack. – J.V.

  1. SAUDI ARABIA: NO RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL WITHOUT PALESTINE: Saudi Arabia issued a statement to the United States that they would have no diplomatic relations with Israel without an independent Palestine with the pre-1967 borders in response to National Security Spokesman John Kirby saying normalization talks would continue.

Why It Matters: Saudi Arabia is directly refuting and taking a stance against U.S. foreign policy. Additionally, while the statement does not say Saudi Arabia is aligned with China, this does meet China’s preferred end-state of a two-state solution. This is a de facto alignment with Iran and China. – J.V.

  1. “CHINESE CREW” PROTECTS SHIPS FROM HOUTHIS: Ships are setting their Automatic Identification System (AIS) to read that they have “all Chinese crew” or “armed guard – China” as their destination as they transit the Red Sea.
  • The Houthis have not attacked China’s ships to date.

Why It Matters: Being perceived as Chinese now confers a protection that being perceived as American does not. This is a massive looming shift in the perception of who actually protects the global commons. As shipping companies take notice, they will likely seek protection from the Chinese Navy to back up the implicit threat of a Chinese retaliation. – J.V.

  1. PHILIPPINES INCREASING TROOP ROTATIONS NEAR TAIWAN: The Philippines’ Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro just wrapped up a visit to the northern forces and announced an increased Operational Tempo (OPTEMPO) in the remote Batanes and Mavulis Islands.
  • Batanes and Mavulis are between the Philippines and Taiwan in the Luzon Strait.
  • “What you’re doing here in Mavulis is essential to our territorial defense, in safeguarding our sovereignty, and in the performance of our mission as protector of the people and the state. I am very thankful to all of you,” Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Romeo Brawner said at the announcement.

Why It Matters: The Filipino buildup is probably pre-empting a Chinese claim over the Luzon Strait in response to threats in the South China Sea and China’s daily patrols around the Senkakus northeast of Taiwan. Whoever controls the islands in the Luzon Strait controls traffic trying to avoid the Taiwan Strait, so it is in China’s interest to assert a claim over those islands if it intends to enact a blockade on Taiwan.  – 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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