Global SITREP for Tuesday, 06 February 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Tuesday, 06 February 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Tuesday, 06 February 2024. 

  1. STATE DEPT LAUDS INDIAN NAVY IN RED SEA, UNDERMINES HEGEMONY: Assistant Secretary of State Geoffrey Pyatt touted India’s capacity to provide security in the Red Sea following several instances of India’s Navy responding to Houthi attacks.
  • “The Indian Navy intervened to save a tanker ship that was on fire as a result of a Houthi missile strike. It was the Indian Navy that came to the rescue of that ship. It illustrates India’s capacity as a net security provider in the wider region, which benefits the United States,” Pyatt said in an interview on Monday.

Why It Matters: In the short term, India’s actions free up U.S. Navy assets to conduct other operations, but statements like this directly undermine international faith in the U.S.’ ability to secure the global commons. Ultimately, Pyatt’s statement plays into China and India’s national interests while undermining the U.S.’ interests. – J.V.

  1. NATO SECGEN: NATO MUST PREPARE FOR ENDURING CHINA COMPETITION: At a talk with the Heritage Foundation, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO would have to organize itself for an enduring competition with China. Stoltenberg had two significant quotes on the matter:
  • “China is modernizing its military and developing new weapons without any transparency or any limitation. It is trading unfairly, buying up critical infrastructure, bullying its neighbors, not least Taiwan, and seeking to dominate the South China Sea.”
  • “They are threatening our free world. They are openly contesting American power. And [it’s] not just America. They are trying to trample over the global rules that keep us all safe.”

Why It Matters: This is not the first time Stoltenberg has placed NATO in opposition to China. NATO is a military alliance, is de facto headed by the U.S., and has three non-American Carrier Strike Groups heading to the Asia Pacific over the next two years. China is likely to use these factors as propaganda tools to enhance relationships with the global South and also shame European allies with accusations of “neocolonialism” to weaken the alliance. – J.V.

  1. GUATEMALA TO EST. TRADE W. CHINA, DIPLOMATIC SWITCH INCOMING: Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martinez announced that the small Central American country would establish trade ties with China but remain diplomatically tied to Taiwan.
  • “We are making it public. This is not an ambush against Taiwan or the United States,” Martinez said in an interview with Reuters.

Why It Matters: Guatemala is taking the first step toward recognizing the People’s Republic of China as the one true China and may do so within the year. China is unlikely to allow this relationship to remain merely trade and may even demand diplomatic recognition before establishing trade ties with Guatemala. Last year, Taiwan publicly acknowledged that it cannot hope to compete against China in buying recognition and is unlikely to do anything other than issue a statement against these actions. – J.V.

  1. SAUDI-IRAN TO BOOST DEFENSE TIES, ANOTHER NOTCH IN CHINA’S BELT: Generals from the Saudi Arabian and Iranian General Staffs met on the sidelines of a defense expo in Riyadh yesterday to exchange an invitation from the Iranian Defense Minister to Saudi Arabia’s Chief of General staff to Tehran to re-establish defense ties.
  • The Saudi General publicly acknowledged the invitation and agreed that the two nations should increase defense ties.

Why It Matters: A unified Middle East establishes a power bloc there that plays directly into China’s foreign policy goals in two ways. First, it is one more step toward China’s stated goal of a multipolar world. Second, as both nations agreed to reestablish relations at China’s behest, this shows China, once again, to be a peacemaker in the Middle East while the U.S. is conducting missile attacks throughout the region. Other nations and regions are likely taking note, and we could see further diplomatic distancing from the U.S. despite dollar dependency. – J.V.

  1. PNG MULLING SECURITY DEAL WITH CHINA: Papua New Guinea is in talks with China about a security and policing deal after a riot broke out in its capital last month, leaving dozens dead and Chinese businesses looted.
  • Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko stressed that nothing is finalized but that they are seeing if China will duplicate what Australia and the U.S. are offering. This includes information sharing, defense consultation, police training, and the use of maritime and airports.
  • Papua New Guinea is less than 100 miles away from Australia’s mainland and only 30 miles from its outlying islands.

Why It Matters: Papua New Guinea mutually broke off from Australia in 1975 and has maintained good relations with them. They are unlikely to break off with the West fully, so we may see China’s deal ratified in addition to the deals with the West. This would give China surveillance power over policing structure, defense response, and port visits in Papua New Guinea and throughout the Torres Strait, which separates them from Australia. – J.V.

As a side note, the Solomon Islands saw a similar riot-security deal chain of events with China in 2021 and ‘22. China may be conducting very low-level gray zone warfare on vulnerable Pacific Island states to build up their Pacific Fence around Australia. – 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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