Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Thursday, 27 July 2023.
- FIRST UP: Dead cargo ship carrying electric vehicles on fire off the Dutch coast.
- The cargo vessel reportedly has roughly 3000 automobiles on board, some of them electric vehicles.
- The ship was bound for Egypt from Germany and had an Indian crew. The fire started in an electric vehicle and reportedly ran through the entire vessel.
Why It Matters: The cargo ship is one of several that have caught fire and burned over the past year. While this could result in a major environmental disaster if the ship sinks, firefighters and salvage crews are working to keep it afloat and extinguish the fire so it can be brought into a facility for reclamation. The International Maritime Organization plans to evaluate new measures for ships transporting electric vehicles in light of the growing number of fires on cargo ships. – M.M.
- THAT WILL BE ALL MR. PRESIDENT: Nigerian military removes president in a coup over deteriorating security and bad government.
- Niger’s borders are closed, a nationwide curfew has been declared, and nearly all of the government bureaucracy is suspended.
- The military takeover marks the seventh coup in the West and Central Africa region since 2020.
Why It Matters: Niger is a major partner in Western counterterrorism operations against Islamic extremists in the Sahel. Disappointment with Western assistance after continuing attacks by terrorist groups has been a common thread in the latest military coups in the region. Although several European countries, the United Nations, and the U.S. condemned the coup, it is doubtful they can intervene and restore Niger President Mohamed Bazoum due to his unpopularity in the country. – M.M.
- EL SALVADOR PLANS MASS TRIALS IN GANG CRACKDOWN.: El Salvador is planning mass trials for the 79,000 gang members recently arrested in its gang crackdown.
- Human rights activists are alleging the new law passed by congress to allow mass trials of gang members denies individual due process rights.
- El Salvador’s gang crackdown is an attempt to destroy the Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gangs which had taken over much of the country.
Why It Matters: About 1% of El Salvador’s total population has been arrested in the gang crackdowns, and many were subject to mass arraignments without legal representation. Arrests in the gang crackdowns were often based on where a person was found and their appearance. Mass trials will also, by their nature, prevent due process for individuals claiming their innocence. While many in El Salvador applauded the crackdowns, questionable arbitration of criminal charges may be a bridge too far and result in calls to moderate the anti-gang tactics. – M.M.
- KREMLIN SEEKS ALLIES IN AFRICA: African leaders arrived in St Petersburg on Wednesday for a two-day Russia-Africa summit that begins today.
- The Kremlin accused Western powers of “outrageous” efforts to pressure other African heads of state not to attend.
- Moscow is looking for allies in Africa as they navigate the global polarization that has resulted from the war in Ukraine.
Why It Matters: Africa is one of the largest voting blocks in the United Nations and has been the most resistant to Western demands for sanctions on Russia. Although only 17 African heads of state will attend the summit in St Petersburg, the remaining 32 will be represented by senior government officials. Russian President Vladimir Putin is counting on picking up allies from countries like Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, and Mali, which have faced Western ire and sanctions over various internal issues within their countries. – M.M.
- INDIA: WE COULD BE WORKING TOGETHER BUT… CHINA: India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval commented at the BRICS summit that BRICS could be making progress on its counterterrorism cooperation if it let go of politics.
- Doval was implying that China’s continued blocking of Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba from being designated as a terrorist group was hurting BRICS cooperation.
- Lashkar-e-Taiba routinely conducted terrorist attacks against Indian targets and was responsible for the Mumbai attack in 2008 that killed 58 and wounded 300 people.
Why It Matters: While BRICS is focused on finance and trade, the alliance has some geopolitical aspects. India and Pakistan are in a constant low-level conflict with each other, and China is Pakistan’s all-weather ally. Accordingly, China has routinely blocked India’s attempts to sanction Pakistani terrorist groups that conduct operations in India. This is likely because Lashkar-e-Taiba is a proxy for Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), which conducts operations on behalf of Islamabad. This friction within BRICS could keep it from fully challenging Western financial networks and may make India more amenable to supporting and cooperating with the U.S. – M.M.
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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.M.