Global SITREP for Wednesday, 21 February 2024 – Forward Observer

Global SITREP for Wednesday, 21 February 2024

Good morning, and welcome to the Global Situation Report for Wednesday, 21 February 2024. 

  1. PHILIPPINES: CHINA IS POISONING OUR FISHERIES: The Philippines is building a case that China is using cyanide to fish in historically Filipino fishing grounds on the Scarborough Shoal.
  • Cyanide fishing is a method where sodium cyanide is sprayed into the water to asphyxiate and incapacitate fish. This allows for live capture of adult fish but kills young fish quickly and coral after repeated use.
  • The Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) started a rotational deployment of the Scarborough Shoal to collect hard evidence of Chinese cyanide fishing.
  • The BFAR reported that China was using cyanide fishing to intentionally destroy the shoal and prevent Filipino access to the area. Other government agencies are colluding to bring this to an international court.
  • China officially denies the allegations but interrupted the BFAR’s fact-finding deployment.

Why It Matters: While China might be using this as a form of gray zone warfare, it is more likely that this is just how they fish in shallow waters full of prized tropical fish. The fact that it can be interpreted either way allows the Philippines to potentially make a case in international court that China is waging a destructive form of economic warfare against a regional rival while also poisoning one of their main food supplies. China is unlikely to comply with any international court ruling, and the Philippines is unlikely to respond militarily even if it is declared an act of war. However, if China goes unpunished for this, other Pacific nations will have another reason to militarily prevent an expansionist China as the peaceful mechanisms fail. – J.V.

  1. INT’L POSTURING ON CEASEFIRE DEGRADES INT’L ORDER: The United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution demanding a total ceasefire in Gaza in favor of submitting its own ceasefire resolution.
  • Total hostage release, canceling the Rafah campaign, and a six-week mandated ceasefire are in the U.S. resolution, while the other was just a ceasefire demand.
  • China is leading several other nations in criticizing the U.S. for its veto. This includes suggesting that the U.S. is “greenlighting genocide.”
  • Meanwhile, Israel intends to launch its Rafah campaign at the start of Ramadan (11 March) if its hostages are not returned by then. Israel also intends to limit prayer at the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims, during Ramadan.

Why It Matters: This demonstrates another failure of the Rules-based International Order at the highest level. The resolutions are non-binding while also criticizing a war and not bringing either belligerent to the table. Continual failures of the primary peacemaking mechanisms are likely to bring about a new age of Might Makes Right as countries realize they are ineffectual. – J.V.

  1. MADURO: VENEZUELA TO JOIN BRICS: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that Venezuela would soon join the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) economic alliance that is replacing the “old colonial world with wars, interventions, genocide, and a superiority complex.”
  • Maduro said this global transition is already underway and “irreversible.”

Why It Matters: Last month, the Associated Press, citing secret memos, reported that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) planted undercover agents in Venezuela to build drug trafficking cases against senior leaders, including Maduro. Maduro accused the United States of pursuing regime change and is likely looking for added protection as a BRICS alliance member. Venezuela was already a proposed BRICS addition and looks to be gaining traction ahead of October’s annual summit. Last year, core members voted to expand BRICS by an additional six countries and are likely to continue expanding this year. Venezuela would join other energy-rich countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Algeria. – M.S.

  1. INDIA TO REMAIN THORN IN CHINESE-LED WORLD ORDER: Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar took a veiled jab at China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in a recent speech, saying the world still needed transparent and viable trade routes without “hidden agendas.”
  • Jaishankar also proposed linking the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC) to the Trilateral Highway, which connects India to Myanmar and Thailand.
  • “The world has created an economic model that is unstable and unfair. In the name of globalization, we have seen over-concentration in the world. Production has been shifted to a limited number of countries. The economies of many countries have been hollowed out,” Jaishankar said in a separate interview with German media.

Why It MattersSince the 2020 supply chain crisis and near-shoring/friend-shoring efforts, India has promoted itself as a destination for manufacturing investment and a source for global supply chains, positioning itself against China as a safer and more reliable trade partner. Jaishankar is continuing to offer the EU an alternative manufacturing partner for when or if the EU joins U.S. sanctions on China over its eventual action against Taiwan. India has also undertaken a campaign to root out Chinese shell companies and financial fraud in India, in addition to pushing back against China’s tech encroachment in consumer electronics, especially cell phones. – 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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