Global SITREP for Tuesday, 01 August 2023 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Tuesday, 01 August 2023

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for  Tuesday, 1 August 2023..

  1. FIRST UP: Burkina-Faso and Mali form alliance with Niger, stating any Western military move against Niger will mean war with all three.
  • Niger’s former president Mohamed Bazoum was ousted in a military coup on 26 July.
  • Niger’s new leaders have accused France of plotting a military intervention.

Why It Matters: Niger was a key partner in U.S. and European counterterrorism operations in Africa. Western governments are now concerned that Russia and Iran will make new inroads into Africa through Niger’s ruling military junta. – M.M.

  1. FRANCE TO LEAVE NIGER: French officials announced Tuesday that they intend to evacuate their citizens and any other European Union citizens from Niger.
  • Niger closed its borders to all commercial flights following the military coup last week.
  • On Sunday, supporters of the new junta burned French flags and attacked the French embassy in Niger’s capital, Niamey.

Why It Matters: France has done the lion’s share of Western counterterrorism operations in the Sahel and has been roundly criticized by host governments for their mediocre performance. It is likely that France, along with the U.S., Germany, and the U.N., has outlived their welcome in the Sahel after 20+ years of “assistance” to struggling African governments beset by Islamic insurgencies. It is too soon to tell whether the U.S. will maintain the dominant power position in Niger and the surrounding Sahel countries. – M.M.


  1. CHINA ON THE LOOKOUT FOR SPIES: China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) said on Tuesday that all citizens should join in counter-espionage work, including creating channels for individuals to report suspicious activity.
  • The MSS, which monitors all social media and communications, commented on its first-ever post on the Chinese social media giant WeChat.
  • The call for community counter-espionage follows a new draconian national security law that took effect last month, which bans transferring all information the state deems critical or important.

Why It Matters: Beijing is cracking down on internal security as it attempts to isolate itself from Western interference in its goal to become a world power. China is a primary target of Western intelligence agencies, and China’s own intelligence apparatus has likely penetrated some Western agencies to a degree – possibly giving them insight into foreign espionage efforts. The MSS comments come after several unexpected senior-level military and government officials were “reassigned” or disappeared in the past few weeks. – M.M.

  1. MR. KISHIDA GOES TO WASHINGTON: Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced he will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol separately on the sidelines of the Trilateral summit in mid-August.
  • The summit is scheduled for 18 August at Camp David.
  • The three reportedly plan to discuss North Korea, China and strengthening the free and open liberal rules-based order.

Why It Matters: Washington is busy pulling in allies in the Pacific to increase its options against China, and Japan and South Korea are key partners. While recent North Korean saber-rattling has been in the news, Pyongyang is only interesting in its increasingly close alliance with regional hegemon China. Kishida will likely gauge the Biden and Yoon administrations’ seriousness to restrain China’s ambitions in the first island chain and seek additional arms and military cooperation commitments. – M.M.

  1. IRAN AND SAUDIS NOT SO FRIENDLY: Iran and Saudi Arabia are involved in an escalating dispute over a gas field in the Arabian Gulf, despite attempts by China to mediate an agreement between the two former adversaries.
  • Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have joined in a claim to the offshore Al-Durra gas field, which Iran also claims.
  • Iran’s foreign ministry said on Monday that it would not tolerate any infringement on its rights to the gas field.

Why It Matters: China’s increasingly close relations with Saudi Arabia and its brokering of greater diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Tehran appeared too good to be true in March of this year. This latest dispute over vast oil and gas reserves in the Arabian Gulf is a reminder of the structural issues responsible for tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. If left unresolved, this dispute could take some of the shine off of Beijing’s remarkable new diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East. – M.M.

DON’T MISS my next Early Warning report, focusing on developments in the global balance of power. It’s released to DailySA subscribers each Friday.

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.

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