Global SITREP for Tuesday, 16 May 2023 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Tuesday, 16 May 2023

THE WHAT: The Global SITREP is a free daily email briefing about geopolitics and defense from Forward Observer. 

THE WHY: We want to share five important global developments shaping Cold War 2.0.

BOTTOM LINE: We’re sending out this email Monday through Friday on a trial basis through the end of the month, so be sure to let us know if you want it continued. Thank you! – M.S.

  1. FIRST UP: DOD doesn’t actually track foreign arms shipments
  • In a rare sign of bipartisanship, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) accused the Defense Department of not tracking weapons after delivery to countries like Yemen and Ukraine.
  • The Defense Department’s Golden Sentry and Blue Lantern programs track the delivery of U.S. weapons but not how they are used on the battlefield, according to the senators. Neither program tracks where the weapons go after delivery, either. 

Why It Matters: Black market sales of U.S. arms can create regional non-state threats, such as terrorist and separatist groups. The U.S. Government would strongly object to China or Russia arming anti-U.S. organizations across Latin America. Let’s hope none of those arms pop up coming over the U.S.-Mexico border.

  1. TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY: Russian FSB sending agents to infiltrate the U.S.
  • According to Russian media outlet Meduza, the Russian FSB recruited Islamic State fighters to infiltrate Ukraine, Turkey, and the United States.
  • A former Islamic State fighter describes his recruitment by FSB, the Russian intelligence service, to be a spy in Ukraine and Turkey. He was given a passport and other official documents under a new identity.
  • Earlier this year, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) warned that 21,000 Russian nationals had attempted to cross the Mexican border into the United States. One terrorist researcher reports that 50 suspected FSB agents have been detained at the border by U.S. authorities, citing confidential information from DHS.

Why It Matters: The Biden administration’s loose border and “catch and release” policy risks allowing adversarial intelligence and special operations personnel into the United States. Both Russia and China are likely using non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to facilitate the movement of personnel.

  1. FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES: Russia and Iran seen growing closer
  • U.S. officials are reporting increased military cooperation between Russia and Iran, with Iran providing over 400 suicide drones since August 2022.
  • In return, Russia is providing Iran with Russian-made Su-35 Super Flankers, one of the world’s most sophisticated 4.5-generation fighters.

Why It Matters:  Despite sanctions and public threats from Western nations, Russia has successfully acquired advanced technology from its allies and sold cutting-edge military hardware to U.S. adversaries. 

  1. EARLY WARNING: China mulling preemptive strikes on U.S. bases
  • China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is considering preemptive attacks against key U.S. bases in Japan, according to Dr. Toshi Yoshihara, a former professor of strategy at the Naval War College and currently a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessments.
  • Potential targets include Yokosuka Naval Base on the Japanese mainland and Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa.

Why It Matters: If China is unable to capture Taiwan politically, then it will use military force, making this preemptive strike scenario more likely.

  1. DE-DOLLARIZATION?: Iraq bans use of U.S. Dollar
  • The Iraqi government announced a ban on the use of the U.S. dollar, reportedly in an attempt to bolster the stability of the Iraqi dinar.

Why It Matters: Argentina is another country where holding dollars is technically illegal but also widespread, resulting in substantial black market demand. Expect to see more countries officially ban dollar use to stabilize national currencies while they see dollar usage proliferate.

And that does it for today’s edition. If you want us to keep going, let us know in the comments or via email. And sign up below to receive this report in your inbox each day, Monday through Friday.

Mike Shelby is a former Intelligence NCO and contractor. He's now the CEO of Forward Observer.


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