Security in Context Media Roundup

This is a roundup of news articles, reports, and other materials focusing on (in)security issues and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of Security in Context . The goal is to shed light on knowledge production on security related issues that are of public interest from different perspectives. Entries may include academic journal articles, think tank reports, non-governmental organizations releases, official documents or government commissioned research, and regular news items. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each roundup to admin@securityincontext.com

March-April 2020

Climate Change & Security

COVID-19 Could Help Solve Climate Riddles (April 17, 2020)

Pollution declines from pandemic shutdowns may aid in answering long-standing questions about how aerosols influence climate

A Pandemic That Cleared Skies and Halted Cities Isn’t Slowing Global Warming (May 8, 2020)

The comeback of economic activity when lockdowns ease might wipe out these changes as fast as they happened. The first signs are visible in China, where cities have relaxed quarantine rules, factories have restarted and people have returned to work. That turnabout is good news—and it can be measured almost immediately in bad news for the planet.

Security and International Relations
Iran in the time of corona (March 24, 2020)

In Iran, the health system is in particularly dire straits. Under the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, the hardening of US sanctions and internal corruption and speculation, thousands of people already in economic difficulty face unemployment, without any fallback. The unemployment rate and inflation will keep rising at a feverish pace as long as Covid-19 continues. Economic pressures, as well as the climbing curve of the virus, are a crushing weight on the population. At a moment like this, embargoes become criminal — especially the one on healthcare supplies.

The Thing That Determines a Country’s Resistance to the Coronavirus (March 30, 2020)

Francis Fukuyama argues that the major dividing line in effective crisis response will not place autocracies on one side and democracies on the other.

The World Needs The World Health Organization, Now More Than Ever. So Why Is Trump Cutting WHO’s Funding?(April 15, 2020)

Contrary to what Trump would have the public believe, as early as January, WHO experts were posting daily reports on their website providing details about COVID-19 cases in affected countries and what was being done for preparedness in other nations. 


W.H.O., Now Trump’s Scapegoat, Warned About Coronavirus Early and Often (April 16, 2020)

The World Health Organization, always cautious, acted more forcefully and faster than many national governments. But President Trump has decided to cut off U.S. funding to the organization.


'Closing borders is ridiculous’: the epidemiologist behind Sweden’s controversial coronavirus strategy  (April 21, 2020)

Anders Tegnell, an epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency, talks to Nature about the nation’s ‘trust-based’ approach to tackling the pandemic.


Inside The Russian Imperial Movement: Practical Implications of U.S. Sanctions. (April 23, 2020)

Over the past several years, high-profile terrorist attacks by violent white supremacist extremists have gained worldwide attention and thrust the movement onto the front page of the news. From the deadly mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand to a violent rampage motivated by xenophobia in El Paso, Texas, the violent white supremacist movement is on the offensive and is gaining momentum. Its legions of followers congregate online to spread propaganda, recruit new members, and intimidate minorities. And as the movement continues to grow, it has sought to expand its network globally.


Trump expands battle with WHO far beyond aid suspension (April 25, 2020)

President Trump and his top aides are working behind the scenes to sideline the World Health Organization on several fronts as they seek to shift blame for the novel coronavirus pandemic to the world body, according to U.S. and foreign officials involved in the discussions.


Coronavirus Travel Restrictions, Across the Globe  (May 8, 2020)

Nations across the world have imposed travel restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Here, the current list of countries and territories limiting entry.


Migration and Displacement

12 changes to the US immigration system during the coronavirus pandemic (March 18, 2020)

As the United States responds to the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration has made sweeping changes to the country's immigration apparatus, altering daily operations and disrupting the lives of thousands.


Syrian refugees adapt to life under coronavirus lockdown in Jordan camps (April 2, 2020)

While there have been no cases of COVID-19 so far, UNHCR is helping some 120,000 refugees living in the region's largest camps do what they can to mitigate threat.


Coronavirus Border Expulsions: CDC’s Assault on Asylum Seekers and Unaccompanied Minors (April 13, 2020)

The Trump administration’s novel COVID-19 border ban invokes public health authority to erect a shadow immigration enforcement power in violation of the Refugee Act, legal safeguards for unaccompanied minors, and fundamental procedural rights. Relying on an obscure 1944 provision that provides no authority for immigration removals, the Centers for Disease Control purports to authorize summary Border Patrol expulsions of asylum seekers.

US using coronavirus pandemic to unlawfully expel asylum seekers, says UN (April 17, 2020)

CDC recently issued order encouraging immediate deportation of non-citizens without valid documents, citing obscure quarantine law.


Unprepared for the Worst: World’s Most Vulnerable Brace for Virus (April 26, 2020)

Crowded camps, depleted clinics and scarce soap and water make social distancing and even hand-washing impossible for millions of refugees.


Beware long-term damage to human rights and refugee rights from the coronavirus pandemic: UNHCR (April 24, 2020)

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that 167 countries have so far fully or partially closed their borders to contain the spread of the virus. At least 57 states are making no exception for people seeking asylum.


‘Distancing is impossible’: refugee camps race to avert coronavirus catastrophe (April 24, 2020)

From Bangladesh to Somalia, researchers and aid workers are taking different steps to protect people among the most vulnerable to the pandemic.


Covid-19, Capitalism, and Economy
The oil price war (March 10, 2020)

An aggressive move from Saudi Arabia caused oil prices to collapse and sparked the heaviest stock market sell-off since the 2008 financial crisis. Why might the US be the hardest hit? Here’s the best of this week’s opinion and analysis


Monitor and Punish? Yes, Please! (March 16, 2020)

Slavoj Zizek asks “No wonder that (at least the way it looks now) China, which had already widely practiced modes of digitalized social control, proved to be best equipped for coping with catastrophic epidemics. Does this mean that, at least in some aspects, China is our future? Are we approaching a global state of exception? Have Giorgio Agamben’s analyses gained new actuality?”


Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How. (March 19, 2020)

A crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. Here are 34 big thinkers’ predictions for what’s to come.


Mike Davis: The Coronavirus Crisis Is a Monster Fueled by Capitalism (March 20, 2020)

This history—especially the unknown consequences of interactions with malnutrition and existing infections—should warn us that COVID-19 might take a different and more deadly path in the dense, sickly slums of Africa and South Asia. With cases now appearing in Lagos, Kigali, Addis Ababa and Kinshasa, no one knows (and won’t know for a long time because of the absence of testing) how it may interact with local health conditions and diseases


“Chinese Virus,” World Market (March 20, 2020)

By now, the numbers of new deaths and cases inside Asia are far outweighed by those outside. Can we still plausibly call this the “Wuhan virus”? It is clear that no matter its origins, it is now a global virus, and the threat of its spread will test the collective capacity of the entire world to act responsibly and distinguish between long-term goals and short-term interests. Above all, the next few weeks will act as a referendum on the irrational system of politics and profiteering that we have installed in the 21st century—a system that thus far is failing us now, at precisely the worst moment

Is factory farming to blame for coronavirus? (March 28, 2020)

Scientists are tracing the path of Sars-CoV-2 from a wild animal host – but we need to look at the part played in the outbreak by industrial food production


Economic Consequences of COVID-19 in the Middle East: Implications for U.S. National Security (April 1, 2020)

The aggregate economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to be very large, with the most recent data now suggesting that the global economic impact will be comparable to the 2008–2009 Great Recession, in which GDP contracted by more than two percent worldwide and in the Middle East countries by more than 11 percent. 


Assessment of COVID-19’s Impact on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (April 10, 2019)

This assessment by Jennifer Huang Bouey, a senior policy researcher and Tang Chair in China Policy Studies at the RAND Corporation, describes the epidemic patterns in China, China’s actions, and the combined impact on China’s economy in three stages


COVID-19: Economic impact, human solutions (April 10, 2020)

In the latest event in the Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19 series, some of the nation’s leading economists and policy experts said the effort will require expansive additional measures to relieve workers, state governments and businesses. And they agreed that the recovery program must focus on workers and communities of color who are bearing the brunt of the crisis.


 Interview: Noam Chomsky on How Bosses Are Making Coronavirus ‘Worse, for Their Benefit’ (April 13, 2020)

For decades Noam Chomsky has been a leading intellectual troublemaker. His books and speeches have helped to explain how a world run by corporations and billionaires has led to endless war and catastrophic climate change. Now he is helping to explain how corporations and billionaires are actually making the coronavirus pandemic worse by pursuing savage policies that benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else.

COVID-19's historic economic impact, in the U.S. and abroad  (April 16, 2020)

As the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak shifts from Italy to the U.S., SAIS Europe's Filippo Taddei discusses the economic fallout Americans should brace for


US oil price below zero for first time in history (April 20,l 2020)

US oil prices crashed into negative territory for the first time in history as the evaporation of demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic left the world awash with oil and not enough storage capacity — meaning producers are paying buyers to take it off their hands.


House passes $484 billion coronavirus aid package as U.S. jobless figures soar (April 23, 2020)

The House on Thursday passed a $484 billion aid package to replenish a small-business loan program that was overwhelmed with demand. Trump has said he will sign the bill, which also includes funding for hospitals and a new coronavirus testing program.


Tug of class war: Agamben vs Zizek on the impact of Covid-19 (April 25, 2020)

This article analyses a war of words which has broken out between two well-known political philosophers over the nature of State reactions to Covid-19 and the possibilities for liberatory politics, while trying to find a constructive synthesis of their key points.


Gender, Race, Ethnicity and SexualityThe coronavirus and the long history of using diseases to justify xenophobia (February 14, 2020)

Outbreaks often have been attributed to marginalized groups in society, or the “other,” experts say. Asian Americans are still seen as “forever foreigners,” no matter how long they’ve lived in this country. Time and again, they have been blamed for importing diseases.


White Supremacists and the Weaponization of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) (March 25, 2020)

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread worldwide, fringe groups and violent extremists, including white supremacists, are pointing to ‘theories’ and works of fiction in an effort to motivate individuals to take violent action.


New Site Collects Reports Of Racism Against Asian Americans Amid Coronavirus Pandemic (March 27, 2020)

 Russell Jeung, a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, started tracking these attacks on a new website he helped launch called Stop AAPI Hate. In the site's first eight days, it received more than 650 reports of discrimination — largely against the Asian American community.


As the coronavirus spreads, so does online racism targeting Asians, new research shows (April 8, 2020)

Fears of the coronavirus have fueled rising anti-Chinese sentiment online as a combination of traditional slurs and new terms such as “kungflu” conflate the pandemic with ethnic and national identity, say social media researchers who tracked surging expressions of hostility for papers published Wednesday evening.


Why are Blacks dying at higher rates from COVID-19?  (April 9, 2020)

This article argues structural conditions that inform pre-existing conditions and health disparities are the main culprit for the epidemic within the pandemic which is ravaging Black communities across the U.S. A decade ago, 


Abolition in the Time of Covid-19 (April 9, 2020)

This article examines the unequal and devastating effects of Covid-19 in the South through a focus on racial capitalism as a mode of ordering vulnerability by spatially and racially organizing exposure to harm. 


Black Americans Face Alarming Rates of Coronavirus Infection in Some States (April 14, 2020)

Data on race and the coronavirus is too limited to draw sweeping conclusions, experts say, but disparate rates of sickness — and death — have emerged in some places.

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems (April 14, 2020)

Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump – neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative?


US Government Should Better Combat Anti-Asian Racism (April 17, 2020)

Two weeks after launching its Coronavirus Anti-AAPI Racism Incident Report platform in mid-March, a coalition of Asian-American groups has received over 1,100 reports of incidents of coronavirus-related attacks and racial discrimination.

The mistreatment of Africans in Guangzhou is a big threat to China’s coronavirus diplomacy (April 22, 2020)

Many Africans in Guangzhou, including Nigerians, Ugandans and Ghanaians, have been subject to unfair treatment. Some have being evicted by landlords or rejected by hotels, and some even left homeless. The city, and the government in Beijing, are now facing a full-blown diplomatic crisis and PR disaster amid accusations of racism. 


The Case for Prison Abolition: Ruth Wilson Gilmore on COVID-19, Racial Capitalism & Decarceration (May 5, 2020)

The spread of COVID-19 threatens the lives of more than 2.3 million people locked up in prisons and jails throughout the United States. We look at how the call to release prisoners during the coronavirus pandemic makes the case for prison abolition, with scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore, co-founder of California Prison Moratorium Project and Critical Resistance and the author of “Golden Gulag: Prison, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California.” Her forthcoming book is “Change Everything: Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition.”


Arms, Weapons, and Military Industrial ComplexCrisis in the Sahel becomes France’s Forever War  (March 29, 2020)

For two days, dozens of armored vehicles carrying 180 elite soldiers with the French Foreign Legion lumbered over West Africa’s scrubby savanna to reach a suspected hide-out for Islamist militants.


Five reasons why the COVID-19 crisis is related to arms control  (April 3, 2020)

It is still too early to identify all the lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 crisis, which affect issues such as global health, the economy, governance and leadership, remote work, international cooperation and more. However, there are already at least five correlations between the pandemic and arms control and the role of the military that can be considered in the upcoming weeks and months.


How the Military-Industrial Complex Is Using the Coronavirus (April 17, 2020)

Arms industry lobbyists are addressing this pandemic and preparing for the next by pushing weapons sales.


No, the coronavirus is not a biological weapon  (April 27, 2020)

 Accusations that epidemics or pandemics are “biological warfare” are not new. Humans rightly have an innate fear of disease. “This plague is a deliberate attack” is a trope that is thousands of years old. Disease outbreaks have long been blamed on convenient scapegoats, from medieval plagues, which were often blamed on the Jews or heretics, to more recent conspiracy theories.

Technologies of surveillance/Data Analytics/AICoronavirus Spy Apps: Israel Joins Iran And China Tracking Citizens’ Smartphones To Fight COVID-19 (March 14, 2020)

 Israel joins Iran and China in the deployment of state-level intel gathering tools to track its population as it tries to prevent its coronavirus outbreak from getting out of control. Geolocating phones is a simple tech—in tandem with the carriers, the granularity can be pretty precise in urban locations. The fact this is being presented as a counter-terror intel tool suggests it is more than just a basic policing-level solution, more than just simple geofencing.


COVID-19, surveillance and the threat to your rights (April 3, 2020)

People across the world are currently facing an unprecedented global health emergency due to the outbreak of COVID-19.  Technology can and should play an important role during this effort to save lives, including by spreading public health messages and increasing access to health care. However, in the name of combatting the disease, some governments are rushing to expand their use of surveillance technologies to track individuals and even entire populations.


Human SecurityExplosive Munitions in Syria - Report 2 (January, 2020)

The Carter Center recorded at least 94,792 uses of explosive munitions based on 16,147 conflict events in Damascus city and Rural Damascus Governorate between July 2013 and May 2019. 


Social Contagion: Microbiological Class War in China (February 12, 2020)

Beneath the four furnaces, then, lies a more fundamental furnace undergirding the industrial hubs of the world: the evolutionary pressure cooker of capitalist agriculture and urbanization. This provides the ideal medium through which ever-more-devastating plagues are born, transformed, induced to zoonotic leaps, and then aggressively vectored through the human population.


When viruses become pandemics (March 2020)

In this month’s podcast, science journalist and expert on pandemics Sonia Shah discusses how a virus such as Covid-19 emerges and spreads, and looks at the deeper causes of pathogens that originate in wild animals.


The microbes, the animals and us (March 2020)

The novel coronavirus came out of a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan. We don’t know its animal origin, but we do know that if we protect wildlife habitats, animal microbes are less likely to cross over into humans.

Europe fails to help Italy in coronavirus fight (March 7, 2019)

EU countries have so far refused Italy's plea for help fighting coronavirus, as national capitals worry that they may need to stockpile face masks and other medical gear to help their own citizens.


The Nexus between Human Security and Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism. (March 12, 2020)

Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) approaches are unlikely to succeed in the long term without addressing a range of structural factors, specifically political, economic and social drivers including public perceptions of policing; the socio-economic exclusion of particular communities and ethnic, race, religion or gender groups; and the lack of economic opportunities for young people, all of which create the sense of injustice on which violent extremism feeds.


America has no real public health system – coronavirus has a clear run (March 15, 2020)

Trump’s response has been inadequate but the system is rigged anyway. As always, the poor will be hit hardest


Trump's attempt to buy a coronavirus vaccine shows why big pharma needs to change  (March 16, 2019)

“Profit is what drives decision-making in the pharmaceuticals industry. It’s why we don’t have drugs to treat diseases such as tuberculosis, which kill millions of the world’s poor every year – and it’s also why we aren’t closer to finding a vaccine for Covid-19.”

Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How. (March 19, 2020)

A crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. Here are 34 big thinkers’ predictions for what’s to come.


Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus  (March 20, 2019)

Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation. The decisions people and governments take in the next few weeks will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture.


COVID-19 pandemic: Syria’s response and healthcare capacity (March 25, 2019)

According to available data and research, our team has estimated that the maximum number of COVID-19 cases that could be adequately treated in Syria is currently 6,500. This is based on the number of available Intensive Care Unit beds with ventilators across Syria, which we estimate to be 325, and the calculation based on international COVID-19 research that an approximate 5% of the total COVID-19 cases would require critical care.


To Reduce the Risk of Pandemics, We Must Ban Factory Farms Now (April 7, 2020)

Regulating the factory farming industry is not enough to minimize its risks. A total ban is necessary because it expresses that factory farming is deeply harmful to humans, animals, and the environment.


Prison uprising put down as US inmates demand protection from coronavirus (April 10, 2020)

Prison officials thwarted an uprising of dozens of inmates at the Lansing correctional facility in Kansas on Friday, the latest example of unrest in US prisons amid concern about rising numbers of coronavirus infections among inmates.


We Need to Rethink Our Food System to Prevent the Next Pandemic (April 13, 2020)

The problem goes way beyond food markets in China, implicating food production systems on all continents. Addressing that problem won’t stop this pandemic, but if the world’s experience of Covid-19 has a silver lining, it could be that it galvanizes us to take seriously our role in manufacturing our own diseases.


Food historian comments on wet markets and COVID-19  (April 23, 2020)

The global threat of pandemics will not go away by closing wet markets. The same factors that make the Huanan Market in Wuhan, China, a possible source for the present outbreak can be found elsewhere. There has been an increase in the frequency of zoonotic disease outbreaks in recent decades because of two trends, which are global trends: 1) an increased human population living in close quarters to dense animal populations, and 2) greater human mobility (especially with air transport) that links a local epidemic to its global spread. 


Medical Sources 
Bat Coronaviruses in China (March 2, 2019)

During the past two decades, three zoonotic coronaviruses have been identified as the cause of large-scale disease outbreaks–Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome (SADS). SARS and MERS emerged in 2003 and 2012, respectively, and caused a worldwide pandemic that claimed thousands of human lives, while SADS struck the swine industry in 2017. They have common characteristics, such as they are all highly pathogenic to humans or livestock, their agents originated from bats, and two of them originated in China. Thus, it is highly likely that future SARS- or MERS-like coronavirus outbreaks will originate from bats, and there is an increased probability that this will occur in China. 


The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2 (March 17, 2020)

SARS-CoV-2 is the seventh coronavirus known to infect humans; SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 can cause severe disease, whereas HKU1, NL63, OC43 and 229E are associated with mild symptoms. Here we review what can be deduced about the origin of SARS-CoV-2 from comparative analysis of genomic data. We offer a perspective on the notable features of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and discuss scenarios by which they could have arisen. Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.


COVID-19

Updates on the emerging novel coronavirus from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.


Maps and ChartsCOVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University

New Cases of COVID-19 In World Countries

This analysis uses a 5-day moving average to visualize the number of new COVID-19 cases and calculate the rate of change. This is calculated for each day by averaging the values of that day, the two days before, and the two next days. This approach helps prevent major events (such as a change in reporting methods) from skewing the data. The interactive charts below show the daily number of new cases for the 10 most affected countries, based on the reported number of deaths by COVID-19.


Turkey's Military Buildup in Syria's Idlib Province (March 31, 2020)

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) deployed roughly a division (over 20,000 soldiers) to Greater Idlib Province between February 1 and March 31, 2020. The deployments include experienced Turkish special forces, armored units, and light infantry (aka "commando") units that participated in prior Turkish operations in Afrin and northeast Syria, including the 5th Commando Brigade, which specializes in paramilitary operations and mountain warfare. These forces established a new front line against pro-Assad regime forces west of the M5 highway, changing the military balance in Idlib and thereby compelling Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to a new de-escalation deal on March 5. However, Russia and Turkey have already failed to implement key elements of the deal, including joint patrols along the M4 highway. Turkey continues to reinforce its positions in Idlib in preparation for possible resumption of hostilities. This map provides a partial assessment of which types of units Turkey deployed to each location based on publicly available information.


February, 2020

Climate Change & Security

A climate terrorism assemblage? Exploring the politics of climate change-terrorism-radicalization relations(May 2020)

Despite a series of claims from Bernie Sanders (2015), Barack Obama (2015), and others arguing that climate change, radicalization, and terrorism are connected by complex causal relationships, there is very little academic examination of the politics of these claims...Specifically, a climate terrorism assemblage is characterized by strategic territorialization: context-specific, multi-scalar points at which political claims of causal links between climate change, terrorism, and radicalization are crystallized


Impacts of Climate Change on the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East and North Africa Region and the Water Energy Nexus (August 2019)

Manfred A. Lange elucidates impacts of climate change on the availability and security of water and energy in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA region; including the Eastern Mediterranean) in the context of the water energy nexus.


Technological Revolution, Democratic Recession and Climate Change: The Limits of Law in a Changing World (September 9, 2019)

This article provides a reflection on how the Law has attempted to deal with some of the main afflictions of our time, facing demands that include the needs to (i) keep the technological revolution on an ethical and humanistic track, (ii) avoid that democracy be perverted by populist and authoritarian adventures and (iii) prevent solutions to climate change from coming only when it is too late.


Security and International Relations

Trump Administration Adds Six Countries to Travel Ban (January 31, 2020)

President Trump added Africa's biggest country, Nigeria, as well as Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and Tanzania, to his restricted travel list.

Renewed Great Power Competition: Implications for Defense Issues for Congress (January 31, 2020)

This document explains and reflects the paradigm shifts in the US Military towards great power competition primarily with China and Russia. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Many observers have concluded that the post-Cold War era of international relations which began in the early 1990s and is sometimes referred to as the unipolar moment (with the United States as the unipolar power) began to fade in 2006-2008, and that by 2014, the international environment had shifted to a fundamentally different situation of renewed great power competition with China and Russia and challenges by these two countries and others to elements of the U.S.-led international order that has operated since World War II.”

[Note: CRS serves as nonpartisan shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress.]


Regional security cooperation in Africa: An evaluation of the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord's Resistance Army (December 5, 2019)

This article provides an analysis of less traditional forms of regional security cooperation in Africa through the case study of the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord's Resistance Army (RCI-LRA) in Central Africa. It explores the progress and shortcomings of this task force. It argues that although its successes were limited by its militarized mandate and approach, the operation has been largely effective in downgrading the threat status of the Lord's Resistance Army.


Migration and Displacement

Recent Developments in Northwest Syria - Flash Update - As of 6 February 2020(February 6, 2020)

From 1 December 2019 to 2 February 2020, some 586,000 people fled from their homes in northwest Syria as a result of ongoing hostilities. Many of them have been displaced many times throughout the Syria crisis, eroding the resilience of families and communities.


Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal 2020 [EN/AR](January 31, 2020)

Palestine refugees in Syria continue to face severe and multiple needs as a consequence of nine years of conflict and associated hardship. This has resulted in extensive casualties, large scale and protracted displacement, destruction of civilian infrastructure, a decrease in the provision of public services and the devastation of the economy...Palestine refugees remain heavily reliant on UNRWA emergency assistance to meet their most basic needs. Ein el Tal, Dera'a and Yarmouk camps, where previously more than 30 per cent of Palestine refugees in Syria were registered, have been largely destroyed, leaving many Palestine refugees in a situation of protracted displacement, unable to return to their homes, burdened with additional expenses and confronted with persistent humanitarian and protection needs.


Sudan country refugee response plan

(January 2020 - December 2020)

Sudan has a long history of hosting refugees and asylum seekers, with over 1.1 million individuals estimated to be living in Sudan (as of 30 November 2019). This includes refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, who have arrived in search of safety from violence, persecution and other hazards in their countries of origin. The South Sudanese refugee emergency remains the largest refugee crisis in Africa, and Sudan hosts one of the largest populations in the region with more than 840,000 South Sudanese refugees reported to be living in Sudan, as of 30 November 2019.


North-west Syria: Cross-border Humanitarian Response Fact Sheet (December 2019)(December 31, 2019)

Through its partners, in 2019, UNHCR assisted more than 358,000 individuals with core relief items, shelter material and house rehabilitation. UNHCR sent 344 trucks across the border in 2019, carrying humanitarian supplies like blankets, hygiene kits, mattresses and tents.



Economic Warfare

Companies caught in EU-US sanctions crossfire(January 29, 2020)

Not only did international businesses have to contend with the resumption of US sanctions, they also had to navigate EU rules that can make it illegal to comply with the American measures, leaving them caught in the geopolitical crossfire.


Russia: adapting to sanctions leaves economy in robust health (January 29, 2020)

Moscow's resilience has called into question the power of the extraterritorial restrictions imposed by the US and EU, and their worth as a foreign policy tool.


Export controls emerge as way to curb China's rise(January 29, 2020)

Last year, the US commerce department placed Huawei, the Chinese telecoms network company, on its entity list, preventing American companies from doing business with it in the absence of a government license. The move by the Trump administration was met with strong opposition in Beijing and plenty of angst among US companies, from chipmakers to internet platforms, that sell their products to Huawei.


Trump administration leans on sanctions to shape foreign policy(January 29, 2020)

The Trump administration's predilection for economic sanctions comes despite criticism. There are doubts about their effectiveness, in that they often reinforce regime hardliners. There are concerns over their morality, in that they often damage the most vulnerable citizens. There is also disquiet about their long-term effects, particularly the danger that they could accelerate moves away from the dollar as a reserve currency and could force US companies to irredeemably lose market share abroad.


Gender, race, ethnicity and sexuality

In their own voices: Women's experiences, roles and influence in Community Based Dispute Resolution and Mediation in Myanmar(February 6, 2020)

Myanmar's transition is at a critical point with the social contract between citizen and state shifting, latent and active sub-national conflicts continuing, and the peace process mired in process rather than political dialogue. In this context, inter- and intra-communal conflicts can escalate into violence and quickly take on state/ regional or even national dimensions when the necessary conditions for peace - justice, trust, and stability - are not present. Women and girls suffer disproportionately from the impacts of armed conflict, experiencing death, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, conflict-related sexual violence, labour exploitation and trafficking (Kamler, 2015), as well as constrained educational opportunities and poor health (AGIPP, 2015) and specific challenges in accessing justice or community-based resolution of disputes (Justice Base, 2016; UN Women, 2016). Women's participation in conflict resolution process at the national and community level has been very limited.

We Don't Get Services, We Will Die: Tanzania's Anti-LGBT Crackdown and the Right to Health(February 3, 2020)

This 112-page report documents how since 2016 the government of Tanzania has cracked down on LGBT people and the community-based organizations that serve them. The Health Ministry in mainland Tanzania has prohibited community-based organizations from conducting outreach on HIV prevention to men who have sex with men and other key populations vulnerable to HIV. 


Demeaned and Humiliated: What Happened to These Iranians at U.S. Airports(January 25, 2020)

Since August, at least 16 Iranian students have been turned away at airports, losing their chances to study at prestigious universities, amid new tensions between the U.S. and Iran.


Challenging the sponsor-proxy model: the Iran-Hizbullah relationship(November, 2019)

This article attempts to demystify the Iran-Hizbullah relationship and to challenge the widespread conceptualization of this partnership as one between a sponsor and proxy. Amal Saad argues that the proxy model is not only politically irresponsible but also over simplistic in that it reduces a complex, multidimensional relationship that is bound by ideational and normative factors to a materially-driven, transactional relationship.



Arms, Weapons, and Military Industrial Complex

U.S. Military Forces in FY 2020: The Strategic and Budget Context

The administration's FY 2020 budget proposal continues defense spending increases to align U.S. military forces with a national defense strategy (NDS) focused on great power competition. This strategy prioritizes capability over capacity.


A Mutual Extortion Racket: The Military Industrial Complex and US Foreign Policy (December, 2019)

This major new report from Transparency International Defense & Security examines the underlying processes and pathways to influence between the American defense export sector, the federal government, the defense bureaucracy, and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) governments. These pathways enable American defense firms to export arms and defense services to MENA countries despite many regime's poor human rights and governance records, lack of transparency and accountability, and questionable outcomes for US foreign policy.


US Should Think Again About Reversing Landmine Policy(February 4, 2020)

The Trump administrationannounced that the United States will re-start using and producing antipersonnel landmines. The United States has not used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, has not exported them since 1992, has not produced them since 1997, and has destroyed millions of mines from its stockpiles.The new policy follows the U.S. retreat from multilateralism and its dismissal of several arms agreements. In December 2017, the Trump administrationended a 2008 policy that committed the U.S. not to use unreliable cluster munitions and to destroy its stocks.


World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 2019(December 2019)

This edition of World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers (WMEAT), WMEAT 2019, published in December 2019, covers the eleven-year period from 2007 through 2017.


[Note: WMEAT responds to a statutory requirement, codified at 22 USC 2593b, that the U.S. Department of State annually publish detailed, comprehensive and statistical information and in- depth analyses regarding military expenditures, arms transfers, armed forces, and related economic data for each country of the world]



Technologies of surveillance/Data Analytics/AI



Federal Agencies Use Cellphone Location Data for Immigration Enforcement (February 7, 2020)

The Trump administration has bought access to a commercial database that maps the movements of millions of cellphones in America and is using it for immigration and border enforcement, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.


Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy (December 19, 2019)

Every minute of every day, everywhere on the planet, dozens of companies ”largely unregulated, little scrutinized” are logging the movements of tens of millions of people with mobile phones and storing the information in gigantic data files. The Times Privacy Project obtained one such file, by far the largest and most sensitive ever to be reviewed by journalists. It holds more than 50 billion location pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans as they moved through several major cities, including Washington, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.



At CES 2020, surveillance tech will find a prime spot to make its pitch(December 19, 2019)

Companies want to bring facial recognition to the mainstream, sparking concerns from privacy advocates.


Homeland Security drops plan to use facial recognition on traveling US citizens(December 5, 2019)

US Customs and Border Protection, which is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, said Thursday that it is no longer seeking a regulation change that would have enabled it to use facial-recognition technology to identify all people entering and leaving the United States, including US citizens. The change follows CBP consultation with Congress and privacy experts.


Born Without Civil Rights: Israel's Use of Draconian Military Orders to Repress Palestinians in the West Bank(December 17, 2019)

The Israeli army has deprived generations of Palestinians in the West Bank of their basic civil rights, including the rights to free assembly, association and expression, regularly drawing on military orders issued in the first days of the occupation.


Facial Recognition Technology in Public Housing Prompts Backlash(September 24, 2019)

This year in Detroit, crews working for the city's public housing authority cut down a row of bushy trees that had shaded the entryways to two public housing units known as Sheridan I and II. Their aim: to give newly installed security cameras an unobstructed view of the hulking, gray edifices, so round-the-clock video footage could be made available to the Detroit Police Department and its new facial recognition software whenever the Detroit Public Housing Commission files a police report.


One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority(April 14, 2019)

In a major ethical leap for the tech world, Chinese start-ups have built algorithms that the government uses to track members of a largely Muslim minority group.


Human Security


Horn of Africa: Locust Infestation - Oct 2019-Ongoing (February 10, 2020)

A Desert Locust infestation has been ravaging crop and pasture-land, as well as trees and other vegetation since June 2019 in parts of Afar, Amhara, Somali and Tigray regions. The swarms have produced hopper bands that have covered more than 174 square kilometers (in 56 woredas and 1085 kebeles) and are consuming approximately 8,700 metric tons of green vegetation every day...In Afar region, the Desert Locust is spreading to Gewane and Amibara woredas.


Yemen Gardens of Death (February 1, 2020)

Rights Radar for Human Rights in the Arab World issued a comprehensive report on mine casualties in Yemen, including huge numbers and terrifying stories about the casualties who were exposed to the explosion of these mines in their bodies during the current war in Yemen which completed its fifth year.


Libya Humanitarian Needs Overview 2020 (January 2020) (January 31, 2020)

Libya is in its ninth year of instability and conflict following the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011. In 2019, escalations in conflict, in both the south and in the country's capital, Tripoli, saw fighting move into more populated urban areas. The use of explosive weapons in this environment has put civilians at high risk of indiscriminate harm. Civilian casualties, displacement and damage to civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities, have increased. Protracted political and economic instability, which has severely impacted governance structures, has resulted in a significant deterioration in basic services provision. With each passing year, people's well-being and living standards have been eroded, with the most vulnerable increasingly relying on negative coping strategies.


Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition(December, 2019)

With nearly half-a-billion of the world's undernourished people living in Asia-Pacific“ and with the 2030 deadline for Zero Hunger just a decade away“the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are calling for urgent actions to address hunger and malnutrition in all its forms.


Food Security & Conflict in Syria(May, 2019)

Food was systematically used as a tool of war by warring parties to achieve political gains even after the decline of the armed operations...More than eight years of a morbid conflict in Syria dramatically impacted the food security of the ordinary people in particular and its indicators in general. The food security index dropped sharply by 40 % between the years of 2010 and 2018. The most severe deterioration was registered in accessing food products reaching as low as 46% due to sieges, forced displacement, restrictions on movement and the declining of purchasing power and income sources. Both components of food production and food use declined by 38%, while its sustainability component declined by 36% during the same period. Despite the relative moderate improvement in the index of food access (3%, due to the decline of the absolute number of sieged areas and the intensity of armed operations in 2018), availability, stability and employment components continued to decline.


Report on the Legal Framework Regulating Proxy Warfare(December, 2019)

The report examines how global and regional powers increasingly rely on state and non-state partners in the course of ongoing hostilities, particularly those occurring in the Middle East and North Africa. Research suggests that such support of armed proxies increases the risk of civilian casualties and protracted conflict. In response to these concerns, the ABA's Center for Human Rights convened an Expert Working Group to examine whether gaps in the law have contributed to the adverse impacts of proxy warfare and make recommendations on how to reduce these risks. The report examines a number of case studies, including the ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Syria.


Conflict Maps

Syria Situation Report: January 8 - 21, 2020

The following Syria Situation Report (SITREP) Map summarizes significant developments in the war in Syria during the period January 8 - 21, 2020. Key SITREP events during this period include open protests and insurgent activity against Bashar al-Assad regime in Southern Syria, likely attempts by Iran to move military shipments through Syria, and pro-regime forces' violation of a Russo-Turkish ceasefire agreement.


The South China Sea Conflict Maps (2020)

The site features links to a series of conflict maps regarding the Chinese incursion of the South China Sea, from 2012 to present.


UPCOMING EVENTS

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