Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 06 December 2023.
- ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR UPDATE: Israeli officials say their war in Gaza remains the “most intense” since the war began, citing “close-quarter and face-to-face” engagements with Hamas fighters.
- “We are in the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation – in terms of terrorists killed, the number of firefights, and the use of firepower from the land and air. We intend to continue to strike and secure our accomplishments,” Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Southern Command’s Major General Yaron Finkelman said.
- Israeli officials also apologized for inadvertently killing a Lebanese soldier during strikes on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.
- Meanwhile, Turkey is rejecting Israel’s plan to create a “buffer zone” in Gaza and denounced U.S. support for Israel, which Turkish President Erdogan says created the current situation.
- Erdogan also warned that the Israelis “will pay a heavy price” if Israeli intelligence kills Hamas officials living in Turkey.
Why It Matters: The Israel-Hamas war continues threatening to send the region into a larger armed conflict. So far, there is a significant unwillingness from Iran and Turkey to get militarily involved. The Saudis don’t want a larger war. Iran doesn’t want a larger war. Turkey doesn’t want a larger war, as it would end their opportunity to grow economic ties and eventually join the European Union. But the civilian death toll in Gaza is pushing the boundaries of U.S. support and increasing international support for labeling Israel a pariah state. This week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that Israel was at risk of losing at the strategic level, which is to say that Israel is at risk of losing all support for the Jewish ethnostate. – M.S.
- U.S. NAVY CONSIDERS ANOTHER MIDDLE EAST TASK FORCE: U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced that the U.S. is considering standing up another naval task force in the Red Sea as a response to the Houthi attacks on Israeli shipping this weekend.
- Four other maritime task forces are permanently stationed in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Bab al-Mandeb Strait, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean.
- The task force would be an international effort, as are all of the other task forces in the region.
Why It Matters: Aside from continuing to overcommit forces to the region, the nature of this task force would require air defense systems integration with partner nations. That requirement would necessitate NATO involvement or involving unorthodox partners, such as the Japanese, Indians, or even Chinese. Very few regional nations have air defense assets continually available to shoot down drones and anti-ship ballistic missiles. China is one of the few nations that already keeps air defense assets in the region. The United States is risking exposure of coalition force integration tactics and, potentially, being pigeonholed into sharing air defense data with the Chinese to maintain stability in the region. – J.V.
- BRAZIL: WE SEE NO RISK OF ARMED CONFLICT: Despite the Venezuela referendum to annex Guyana’s Esequibo region on Sunday, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira says he sees no risk of war between Venezuela and Guyana.
- Brazilian intelligence officials were among the first to warn about a potential conflict between the two countries, and the Brazilian armed forces have continued to deploy additional troops to the shared border region.
- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered state-owned oil companies to “immediately” begin oil exploration projects in Essequibo.
- Meanwhile, Guyana officials cast doubts about the reliability of the referendum results, adding that low turnout sent a message to Maduro that Venezuelans largely opposed the annexation.
Why It Matters: Guyana officials warned last week that Venezuela was entering a “strategic trap” because its leaders were on the hook for delivering the Esequibo region if the referendum passed. According to the latest from both Brazilian and Guyana officials, they don’t expect an armed conflict with Venezuela, but that does not preclude limited armed violence against encroachment in the region. – M.S.
- BRITAIN, ITALY, JAPAN TO JOINTLY DEVELOP NEW FIGHTER JET: Defense officials from Britain, Italy, and Japan are scheduled to meet in Tokyo next week to advance plans to jointly produce a new fighter jet.
- BAE Systems (British), Mitsubishi (Japanese), and Leonardo (Italy) are the prime contractors on the next-generation Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), although others may join. Saudi Arabia is reportedly interested in joining the project.
Why It Matters: Defense cooperation between European and Asian countries continues to support the “Global NATO” narrative. While it’s not an official organization, growing ties between Britain and Japan, and increasing French ties to the Philippines and Vietnam, create a de facto Global NATO military alliance. Britain and Japan both agreed to move forward on bilateral security ties last month, citing their desire to counter China. Britain is scheduled to deploy a carrier strike group to the Indo-Pacific in 2025 and will reportedly receive Japanese support. – M.S.
- MALI, NIGER CONTINUE STEPS TO EJECT FRENCH INFLUENCE: The North African countries of Mali and Niger have revoked their taxation agreement with France and will now begin taxing French individuals and businesses in both countries.
- A previous tax agreement sought to avoid double taxation for French nationals and companies doing business in Mali and Niger, but both countries reneged on the agreement citing tax shortfalls.
Why It Matters: The Sahel continues its decapitation of French influence as they seek economic benefits from their patron state, Russia, which has promised food, fertilizer, and other humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, France is seeking new military cooperation agreements in Asian countries like the Philippines and Vietnam and is reminiscent of the French post-World War II shift from Asia to Africa. In an effort to rebuild their empire, France focused heavily on rebuilding African colonies following their defeat in Indochina. This appears to be a similar but opposite shift today. – 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.