Global SITREP for Tuesday, 02 January 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Tuesday, 02 January 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Tuesday, 02 January 2024

  1. RED SEA UPDATE: FIRST LETHAL ACTION BY THE USN: Numerous significant actions happened in the Red Sea over the New Year weekend, including the first kills by the U.S. Navy (USN) and Iran entering the sea.
  • Two U.S. Navy helicopter crews sank three Houthi craft after being fired upon with crew-served weapons on Sunday morning. The helicopters were initially responding to a distress call from a merchant under attack by the same Houthis. Houthi media said ten fighters were dead or missing after the skirmish.
  • The Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group regrouped in the Eastern Mediterranean after the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group departed for homeport.
  • The IRIS Alborz reportedly entered the Red Sea on Monday. The Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) operates the frigate. The IRIN frequently operates in the Red Sea, the Gulfs of Aden and Oman, and the Arabian Sea.

Why It Matters: Houthi forces are likely to retaliate directly against the USN now that blood has been spilled. The confrontation was interrupting one of their now-routine boarding and redirection efforts against merchant ships near Yemen. The Iranian frigate is probably not a response to the confrontation as it would already have been heading toward the area, and it showed up alone. Iran has been operating in the area since 2009, so this is not a deviation from the norm. – J.V.

  1. UKRAINE SINKS RUSSIAN LANDING SHIP IN PORT: According to a British Defence Intelligence release, Ukraine destroyed one of Russia’s Tank Landing Ships while it was in port in Feodosia on 25 December 2023.
  • A secondary explosion caused the ship to sink and likely damaged two additional landing ships.

Why It Matters: The release points toward a larger effort to disrupt Russian amphibious landing capabilities. However, one of the landing ships cited as destroyed was part of a decommissioned class and was not likely to be used. Russia also maintains over a dozen other landing ships between the Black Sea and Northern Fleets, which the Defence Intelligence notes are already consolidating. This does not significantly degrade Russia’s amphibious capabilities. – J.V.

  1. XI JINPING PROMISES REUNIFICATION IN NEW YEAR’S ADDRESS: Chinese President Xi Jinping promised reunification in his New Year’s address during his segment on what to expect in 2024.
  • “China will surely be reunified, and all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should be bound by a common sense of purpose and share in the glory of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” Xi said in the speech.

Why It Matters: President Xi is effectively promising to reunify Taiwan with the mainland in 2024. This is the third year running that he has addressed the Taiwan issue, but the first year that he put it in the context of what he hopes to achieve. Xi is likely doing this to affect the Taiwanese election in 11 days but also could intend to start the reunification by force this year as the Democratic Progressive Party is projected to retain the presidency. – J.V.

  1. RUSSIA TAKES BRICS CHAIRMANSHIP, PUTIN OUTLINES GOALS: Russia began its year as chairman of the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) economic alliance.
  • In a speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that BRICS will focus on three key areas this year: politics and security, economics and finance, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation. 
  • Putin added that BRICS would continue growing under the principles of “sovereign equality, respect for the chosen path of development, mutual consideration of interests, openness, consensus, the aspiration to form a multipolar international order and a fair global financial and trade system, and the pursuit of collective solutions to the top challenges of our time.”
  • BRICS+ has expanded to 10 countries, with Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates joining last year. In his speech yesterday, Putin said that BRICS is considering interest from 30 additional countries.

Why It Matters: Putin’s speech on multilateralism and the new multipolar world is similar to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speeches on the topic, especially parts about respecting the “chosen paths” of foreign governments. Xi has used the multilateral line of criticism against the United States’ unilateral decisions, a topic which Putin reinforced in his speech. This year’s BRICS Summit is scheduled for October, where we should see other countries join to oppose the U.S.-led “international rules-based order.” – M.S.

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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