Weekly Global Security Updates from Intelligence Fusion 5/14/2022




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Friday 13th May 2022

 

Here's your weekly rundown of the global security landscape, highlighting key incidents that have taken place in each region in the last seven days;

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EUROPE

Austria

Multiple climate change (Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future) and left wing activist groups intend on protesting against the construction of the Lobau and City Highways at the Schwedenplatz, Vienna on 28th May 2022. These construction projects have been targeted before by these groups through the setting up of various camps at/near construction sites between July to September 2021. Additionally, the roadblock tactics employed by Insulate Britain in 2021 have migrated across Europe in recent months and Schwedenplatz is a large, public, open space with major traffic intersections and a highway travelling through it.

 

With the previous sustained campaign against the Lobau and City Highways and tactics which have been employed by these groups, the upcoming protest on 28th May could be the beginning of another sustained campaign featuring frequent roadblocks in this area of high foot and vehicle traffic.

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NORTH AMERICA

Mexico

On 10th May 2022, Mexico celebrated its Mother’s Day with justice-seeking demonstrations. Mothers staged protests as disappearances and femicides are on the rise in Mexico; from 2020 to 2021, cases of missing migrants have increased nearly fourfold. Migrants from countries including Ecuador, Cuba, Honduras, Venezuela, and Guatemala are subjected to kidnappings, murders, and rape by drug cartels awaiting in the Mexico-US border. The rising violence is mostly affecting the female population with tens of thousands having gone missing.


Thousands of women blocked the traffic whilst chanting and carrying pictures of their missing relatives. The protests started in Tapachula, the first city migrants reach when entering the country, and continued in Mexico City, Ciudad de Juarez, Puebla, Tijuana, Veracruz, Monterrey and La Paz.


Despite the emphasis on justice, while the Mexican president expressed his support, the country has so far failed to implement a plan against enforced disappearances. Civil servants have been blamed for either their inaction or their participation in such crimes, as only 6% of disappearances have actually been prosecuted.

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MIDDLE EAST & ASIA

Philippines

This week saw Ferdinand Marcos Jr claim victory in presidential elections in the Philippines. Marcos Jr will inherit a poor economic situation, partly as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, and Marcos Jr is expected to attempt to introduce short term economic reform in order to stabilise his first months in power.

 

As part of this, Marcos Jr has announced that he intends to 'hit the ground running' and will focus on the economy, prices, jobs and education. In the long term, Macros Jr gave few specifics regarding foreign policy during his campaign, but he is expected to continue to improve relations with China, likely intending to balance the relationship with China with that of the USA at a time of high tensions in the region between the two powers. Marcos Jr's relationship with the US will be somewhat undermined by a contempt of court order relating to a case from 1995, though for the time being, the USA appears willing to overlook previous incidents, with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stating that Washington will collaborate closely with the Philippines.

 

Marcos Jr's election win has brought on protest from elements of society in the Philippines, as many recall the political repression of Marcos Sr's rule which ended in 1986. Regardless, and despite the rule of his father, Marcos Jr won the election with a high percentage of the vote, suggesting that he may enjoy an element of stability in the early period of his presidency as voters give Marcos Jr the benefit of the doubt and wait to see what they can expect from their new president. From a security perspective, Marcos Jr is expected to continue to hard line anti-drugs crackdowns as well as proactive counter-insurgency operations in the country's south against militant groups such as Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Intelligence Insight Weekly - What's Happening in Africa?

AFRICA

Togo

On 10th May, a group of militants, reported to be 60 in number and on motorcycles, carried out a night-time attack on the Togolese army in Kpinkankandi in the Savanes Region near the border with Burkina Faso. The government claim the attack left eight soldiers dead and 13 more wounded. This is the first successful attack carried out by jihadists, presumed to be linked to Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), in Togo.

 

The militants are likely to have carried out the attack after crossing the border from Burkina Faso’s Est Region. Despite increased Togolese military presence in the north of the country since 2018 and numerous counter-offensives in the Est Region of Burkina Faso, the jihadist threat has not subsided. Togolese forces repelled a previous attack by militants in November 2021 in the Kpendjal Prefecture, but there has been at least one report of jihadist activity in northern Togo in recent months. The latest attack also took place in the Kpendjal Prefecture.

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SOUTH AMERICA

Ecuador

On 9th May, a riot was reported at the prison in Santo Domingo de Los Tsachilas in Ecuador. The riot and clashes inside the prison led to over 40 deaths and dozens of others injured, as well as at least 220 prisoners escaping. The authorities have since recaptured most of inmates. The riot is said to have been started due to fighting between the Los Lobos and Los R7 gangs and is also reportedly linked to a prison riot in April 2022 in Cuenca. One of the leaders of Los R7 gang had been transferred to the prison on the same day, prompting Los Lobos to attack. After the riot, gang leaders were transferred to other prisons in the country.


Ecuador has had significant issues policing prisons in recent years. Amnesty International has reported that at least 316 prisoners died in prison riots in the country in 2021, with one of the worst riots reported in September 2021 in Guayaquil when 119 inmates were killed. Weapons, both knives and firearms, have been used in clashes, playing a factor in the number of casualties. Criminal groups in Ecuador have been linked to Mexican cartels, supporting their drug trafficking operations, and the violence outside prisons to control drug trafficking routes often spills into prisons. The prison system in the country is overcrowded, and despite the President’s attempts to pacify the gangs inside, as well as release some prisoners of minor crimes early, the situation has not made the improvements needed to prevent future riots.

 

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Click here to learn more about Ecuador's gang problem in our recent crime and safety report

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