Tag Archives: Security

Former Crown Prince’s April 3 video message expressing criticism of state governance constitutes unprecedented, highly notable development – Jordan Analysis

Executive Summary

  • On April 3, an international news agency released a video of an address by former Crown Prince of Jordan, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, who claimed to be under house arrest and stated that the Kingdom had become “stymied in corruption.” This followed a report on April 3 of an alleged plot to “unseat” the King, which prompted the arrest of up to 20 senior officials.
  • Although the foiling of a coup plot remains unconfirmed, the very public expression of criticism by a prominent member of the royal family directed towards King Abdullah II due to the alleged endemic state corruption constitutes a highly notable and unprecedented event within Jordan, which has largely been one of the most stable states within the Middle East over recent years.
  • The dissemination of the video by Prince Hamzah is likely to legitimize other actors who may harbor anti-monarchy sentiments within Jordan and may foment protests. However, the King’s current control of the state security apparatus renders it unlikely that any efforts to unseat him or undermine his rule will succeed, at least at the current juncture.
  • Travel to Amman may continue while adhering to all security precautions regarding civil unrest and COVID-19 regulations. Consult with us at [email protected] or +44 20-3540-0434 for itinerary-based consultation and on-ground contingency support options.

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Video by Prince Hamzah bin Hussein

  • During the night hours of April 3, a prominent international news agency released a six-minute-long video message by Jordan’s former Crown Prince, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the half-brother of King Abdullah II. In the video, Prince Hamzah, sat with a picture of his father, the late King Hussein in the background, and alleged the following:
    • He was placed under house arrest after he was visited by the Chief of Staff of the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF). He stated that the Chief of Staff informed him that he is not allowed to “go out [and] to communicate with people.”
    • The Chief of Staff stated that the reason behind the move was that in meetings in which Prince Hamzah participated, “or on social media, relating to visits that I have made, there had been criticism of the government, or the King [Abdullah II].” The Chief of Staff allegedly stated that Prince Hamzah was not himself critical of the King at these meetings in answer to this question.
    • Several people he knows, including his friends, have also been arrested by authorities. His security detail has also been removed.
    • His own internet and telephone have been cut and that he released this video using a satellite internet connection, which he was informed is going to be cut off as well.
    • “I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, for the corruption, and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years and has been getting worse by the year. I am not responsible for the lack of faith that people have in their institutions.”

Other Related Developments, Statements

  • During the evening hours of April 3, Jordan’s official news agency reported that following a security investigation, several Jordanians, including officials, were “arrested for security reasons.” The report added that “an investigation is underway.”
  • An unconfirmed report in a prominent US-based news agency indicates that former Crown Prince, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, and up to 20 other officials, were detained “amid an ongoing investigation into an alleged plot to unseat King Abdullah II.”
  • Jordan’s official news agency reported during the night hours of April 3 that Prince Hamzah is neither under house arrest nor has he been detained “as reported by some media outlets.”
  • Several prominent news outlets in Jordan published reports on the developments on April 4. The news agencies largely voiced support for the monarchy.
  • On April 4, Queen Noor, the widow of Prince Hamzah’s father, the late King Hussein, and mother of Hamza, published a message on social media condemning the actions against her son, stating that she is “praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander.”
  • During the afternoon hours of April 4, the President of the Jordanian Senate, Faisal al-Fayez stated that “the King is a red line” and that “we will confront every trembling hand seeking to tamper with the security of Jordan” in response to what he said were “malicious plots being hatched in secret.”

International Responses

  • An Israeli diplomatic correspondent reported that Jordanian officials sent a message to Israel that “the situation is under control” and that there is no threat to the stability of Jordan against the backdrop of the development.
  • Several governments, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt, extended their public support to Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

 

Former Crown Prince’s Video & Reported Foiling of Coup Plot

  1. This ongoing development is highly notable given that public criticism of Jordan’s state governance from within the Jordanian royal family is largely unprecedented. This is given that such accusations of endemic corruption and nepotism, implicitly accuses the monarch. Moreover, although unconfirmed, if even parts of the report that elements within Jordan sought to stage an “alleged plot to unseat” the King are true, this would constitute an even more noteworthy development. This is because the Kingdom of Jordan has overall been one of the most stable states within the Middle East region over recent years and a strategic partner to the West. Although protests against the Prime Minister-led government and its policies are periodically recorded, public expressions of dissent within the upper echelons of the Kingdom against the monarch, and certainly calls for his removal, remain marginalized and extremely rare in Jordan.
  2. Based on the current information and Prince Hamzah’s indication of the stipulated reason for his arrest, namely, criticism towards Jordanian authorities during meetings he had participated in, it is less likely that Jordanian authorities were responding to an imminent armed coup attempt. It is more likely that the operation was an effort to curtail criticism of the monarchy from within the royal family and higher political echelons of the country. This is partially supported by the lack of reported armed conflict in Jordan, although it is unlikely at this stage that any coup plot within Jordan, especially one tied to members of the royal family itself, would have involved the use of force. Regardless, if any coup plot were imminent, the plotters would have likely used the April 3 arrest raids, as well as Prince Hamzah’s video message, as justification to execute their plan, prior to a likely prolonged crackdown by authorities on perceived dissidents following the current events.
  3. Given the reported scale of arrests and seniority of the arrestees as well as the public and direct criticism by the Prince regarding the functioning of the state, it remains possible that such a plan existed, albeit in a nascent stage. In this context, the current arrests highlight the monarch’s ability to monitor and clamp down on prominent forces within the Kingdom that express criticism towards him. The public nature of the detentions and the high-profile targets also constitute a show of force by Abdullah II and an effort to convey the message that public criticism towards the functioning of the monarchy is intolerable, especially from within the royal family. This is because such expressions of perceived dissent point to a lack of cohesion within the monarchy, which has constituted a source of stability within the Kingdom. To this end, the King and his supporters within the political system have used all means at their disposal to protect the monarch amid an overall effort to secure the stability of the state.
  4. The very fact that the arrests were carried out, likely at the King’s direct behest, and the April 4 publications in several of Jordan’s news agencies largely voicing support for the monarch, affirm that Abdullah II retains control over state security forces and indicates that influential figures within the country continue to defer to his rule. FORECAST: Taken as a whole, the materialization, successful or otherwise, of an organized coup against the current monarch and systematic effort to unseat him is unlikely at the current juncture, particularly one that uses military force. The King evidently continues to maintain control over the most critical and influential organs within the security and governmental apparatus, which will help to ensure any future organized dissidents or plots are swiftly repressed. In this context, going forward, to cement his control further, the King is liable to act with increased caution and vigilance and only allow a group of specific loyalists to be privy to the running of the state.

Background, Timing, and Potential Impact of Developments

  1. It cannot be ruled out that other dissident groups or individuals seeking to overthrow King Abdullah II have organized themselves within Jordan and have aspirations to gather support with the aim of ending his rule. This is indicated by the video message transmitted by Prince Hamzah, which suggests these elements hold support among influential factions within the monarchy itself. This is especially given that Hamzah is known to maintain strong relations with certain tribal leaders and is popular among segments of the wider population. The video release itself indicates that Prince Hamzah is undeterred by his placement under alleged house arrest and is willing to continue expressing his grievances towards how the Kingdom is being ruled. This points towards a level of confidence or resolve harbored by the Prince and perception that he has support for his actions within the Kingdom. This also indicates that a rift within Jordan’s high-ranking political echelon is gaining traction, as was also highlighted by the arrests of other senior officials.
  2. The fact that Prince Hamzah’s statements in the video were made in English signals an effort to reach out to Western actors. This is likely important for the Prince given the overall support that regional and international powers, such as the US and UK, extend to the Kingdom and the monarchy. He thus likely aims to undermine the King on the international as well as domestic level, which will increase the spotlight on the alleged failings of the current monarch’s governance and policies. The picture of his father, late King Hussein, which was apparent in the background during his remarks, further constitutes a symbolic measure by the Prince to project his credentials and legitimacy. Hamzah’s motivation also likely derives from the fact that his designation as Crown Prince was revoked by King Abdullah II himself and he therefore likely harbors very personal grievances against the current monarch, beyond his denunciations pertaining to policy and governance.
  3. The timing of the development is also crucial. It comes amid significant manifestations of unrest in Jordan over the recent weeks, particularly against the backdrop of public criticism over the authorities’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, its resultant adverse economic impact, and the prolonged travel and business restrictions it entails. Most significantly, after seven people died from oxygen depletion in a hospital in Salt on March 13, anti-government protests were recorded in multiple cities in which some protesters chanted slogans such as “Salt, rise up, let’s topple the regime.” Reports also indicated that riot police dispersed and arrested activists in Amman on March 24 during protests that were set to mark the tenth anniversary of the “Arab Spring.” Taken as a whole, these instances highlight the prevalence of some anti-monarchy sentiments among segments of the Jordanian population and may have emboldened the arrestees to take action in the more immediate future, at a time that is perceived to be more favorable to their cause.
  4. In this context, Prince Hamzah’s appeal to the “loss of hope that is apparent in pretty much every Jordanian” and his statement that “the situation will improve if we are able to come together and make our voice heard” is likely aimed at highlighting the perceived wrongdoings by his half-brother and thus undermine the latter’s legitimacy. FORECAST: In light of these comments, segments of the Jordanian population will likely perceive Prince Hamzah’s remarks as a legitimization of criticism of the King and his policies and a direct call to rise up i.e. “come together and make our voice heard”. This may foment anti-monarchy sentiments and calls for protests in the Kingdom over the coming days and weeks. This may manifest in protests in major Jordanian cities, including in cities that already witnessed demonstrations in recent weeks, such as Amman and Salt.
  5. FORECAST: As a measure to restrict further possible developments, including the emergence of a movement against the monarchy, as well as to repress any potential attempts to unseat the King either from within the royal family itself or by external elements, Jordanian authorities will likely implement elevated security protocols throughout the country, particularly in and around Amman, over the coming days and weeks. Measures will likely include a significant physical presence of security forces in and around central cities and the establishment of roadblocks and checkpoints near strategic facilities linked to the monarchy, such as the royal palaces. The government may also attempt to clamp down on any calls or circulation of anti-monarchy content on the internet and may employ restrictive cyber measures, as was reported on March 15 amid protests to condemn the government’s incompetence over the medical failure in Salt. Furthermore, Jordanian authorities will likely resort to further arrests of high-ranking officials that may be perceived to have participated in activities that undermine the state authorities and the monarchy in Jordan over the coming days and weeks.
  6. FORECAST: All of these actions taken together, and the monarchy’s continued control over key state security apparatus, will likely succeed in curbing any emerging movement against the King within Jordan, at least at the current juncture. Regardless, the development will have major implications within the upper echelons of the Jordanian political landscape and will significantly raise tensions between supporters and detractors of both King Abdullah II and Prince Hamza, who will likely be perceived as a traitor by some of the King’s supporters. These tensions also pose a potential threat to the security environment within Jordan over the coming weeks and months.

Recommendations:

  1. Travel to Amman may continue while adhering to all security precautions regarding civil unrest and COVID-19 regulations. Consult with us at [email protected] or +44 20-3540-0434 for itinerary-based consultation and on-ground contingency support options.
  2. Those operating or residing in Jordan on April 4 and over the coming days, particularly in Amman, are advised to maintain heightened vigilance given the aforementioned developments. This is particularly given the prospects for further arrests in Jordan over the coming hours and days.
  3. Keep a low profile and refrain from publishing or circulating any material pertaining to the current development, as this may be perceived by state authorities as potentially supportive of any anti-government or anti-monarchy plot.
  4. Maintain heightened vigilance in the vicinity of the Fourth Circle, al-Husseini Mosque and al-Nakheel Square, given that the area is the traditional route of opposition marches.
  5. Please be advised that there is a heightened risk for foreigners traveling outside of major urban centers in Jordan due to instances of civil unrest in the Kingdom’s more remote areas.
  6. Those operating or residing in Jordan are advised to avoid the immediate vicinity of the Jordanian-Syrian border, while avoiding nonessential travel to the vicinity of the Jordanian-Iraqi border due to an increased risk of militancy and potential for spillover violence.

Israel’s March 23rd election results likely to prolong political stagnation; may pose challenges to strategic business operations – Israel Analysis

Executive Summary:

  • On March 23, Israel held its fourth round of parliamentary elections in the past two years, which produced another stalemate. Rather than the left and right, the political fault lines in Israel are currently divided along the pro-Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu bloc and the anti-Netanyahu bloc. At present, neither has been able to form a viable coalition.
  • Even if either bloc succeeds in forming a coalition through complex political maneuvering, any potential government’s longevity will likely be limited in time. Therefore, the years-long period of political deadlock in Israel is likely to persist due to the lack of a conclusive outcome.
  • The political stagnation will hinder the implementation of a long-term budget and comprehensive government planning, which will disrupt proper governance, cause some economic damage, limit the ability for strategic long-term security planning, and hamper Israel’s foreign relations with key allies.
  • This is liable to pose challenges for long-term strategic business operations in Israel, especially those requiring high-level government collaboration. However, regardless of the political situation, essential services and infrastructure remain operational and the country is largely functioning as normal. The highly successful COVID-19 vaccine campaign has significantly reduced restrictions on business and commercial activities, with domestic and foreign companies and organizations able to operate without major hindrance.
  • Those operating or residing in Israel are advised to remain abreast of the ongoing political situation, which is liable to result in some challenges to long-term business operations requiring state collaboration. Consult with us at [email protected] or +44-20-3540-0434 for more information.

Result of Israel's general elections (seats)


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Implications of the political deadlock

As well as leading to an unprecedented situation in which four elections have been held in the past two years, the political stalemate has had, and will continue to have, an impact on the functioning and governance of Israel in various fields. These range from budgetary and economic issues to foreign relations and long-term security doctrines. Below are the primary areas in which the political deadlock is liable to impact until a conclusive outcome is reached and a stable government is formed.

Economy, budget, and domestic governance

  1. The political situation in Israel has had an impact on the country’s economic functioning and ability to strategically plan ahead. As a result of the political stalemate, the Knesset has not passed an annual budget or comprehensive spending plans since March 2018, which has hindered the capacity of ministries and other government-funded organizations to operate effectively. This concern has been shared by Israel’s economic leadership, as evidenced by comments on April 9 by Bank of Israel Governor, Amir Yaron, who reiterated that “without a stable government that operates long-term” Israel will not be able to implement a multi-year economic plan to effectively emerge from the COVID-19 health and economic crises. This view highlights the importance of both the formation of a stable and cohesive government as well as its longevity for proper governance and economic growth. This is particularly in light of the pandemic, which had a severe impact on the Israeli workforce, with unemployment reaching a high of 27 percent early on in the health crisis and falling to 9.8 percent by March amid the opening up of the economy. Prior to the pandemic, unemployment had reached a record low of 3.8 percent.
  2. FORECAST: Payments to furloughed workers in Israel are set to expire at the end of June. Many furloughed workers have preferred to continue receiving state payments instead of returning to the workforce and will thus likely be compelled to return to part-time unemployment when these payments end in June. That said, parts of the population will likely remain indefinitely unemployed. This will require government-funded training programs and investment, potentially in cooperation with the private sector, to assist these individuals to reenter the workforce. This is especially because several sectors, particularly those depending on tourism, continue to operate at lower than pre-pandemic capacity and there are therefore fewer jobs in these fields. In the absence of a stable government able to strategically implement such initiatives, hundreds of thousands of people are liable to be in a precarious final situation, which will place strain on the government and the wider economy as their consumption will be reduced.
  3. The political situation has partly impaired Israel’s ability to respond to pressing needs in a timely manner. This is most saliently evidenced by a reported delay in Israeli payments to vaccine production companies as the Israeli cabinet has not convened to pass this budget due to political infighting in the current Likud-Blue & White caretaker coalition. This is due to the cancellation of a cabinet meeting by Defense Minister Gantz as a result of Netanyahu’s alleged refusal to permit the appointment of a Justice Minister, which also hinders the Knesset’s ability to pass key legislation. The void in the Justice Ministry is one of multiple senior roles, including in the security and defense sectors, that have not been filled due to government infighting. The fact that this led to Gantz’s cancellation of the cabinet meeting underscores the potential for multiple other issues of an important and strategic nature to be hindered or delayed due to political stagnation. The ministers were slated to vote on a 2.1 billion USD procurement of new vaccine doses, which is essential for Israel to sustainably combat the COVID-19 pandemic over the long-term and keep the economy open and thus provide crucial income for individuals and revenue for the state. FORECAST: Although the government will likely find a solution to this specific issue, the development highlights multiple aspects of the current political impasse on proper governance.
  4. The failure to pass a budget has impacted the government’s capacity to fund infrastructure projects and major national initiatives. This has affected multiple sectors and fields. For instance, the lack of a budget hindered the start of the academic year as the Knesset was forced to pass a special budget in order for schools to open while other state-funded educational services were impacted. More generally, the lack of a long-term budget poses challenges in terms of structural economic reforms and for ministries to provide essential services, including physical and mental healthcare, social provision, and education, which require increased investment in order to meet rising inflation and demand.
  5. FORECAST: Although the government has managed to pass a series of short-term spending plans and special budgets to cover specific needs, the longer the political deadlock continues, the more that certain services and infrastructure plans will be impacted. Furthermore, even if a coalition is formed, if its primary components lack a shared vision beyond replacing the current Netanyahu-led government, this will also hinder state funding and the passing of a viable long-term budget due to disagreement over policy and economic priorities. Taken as a whole, the political situation will continue to have a relative impact on the functioning of the state over the coming months at least. It may also reduce the desire of international firms to commit to invest and set up offices in Israel until a stable government is in place that can facilitate such operations and work in collaboration. This is also evidenced by a warning by an international credit ratings agency from March 31 indicating that while the present situation does not pose immediate risks to Israel’s economic rating, shown by the fact it kept Israel’s credit rating at AA-, if the political situation persists, it will elevate the fiscal risks due to the difficulty in reducing the deficit. Bank of Israel governor Yaron reinforced this concern, stating that “credit ratings companies are worried by the government’s instability and the failure to pass a budget.”
  6. Regardless of the political situation, essential services and infrastructure remain operational and the country is largely functioning as normal. The highly successful COVID-19 vaccine campaign has significantly reduced restrictions on business and commercial activities, with domestic and foreign companies and organizations able to operate without a major hindrance. FORECAST: The political stagnation in the country is more likely to pose a challenge to foreign companies potentially seeking to initiate major investments or launch large-scale projects within Israel. This is because government ministries face both budgetary issues and obstacles in the decision-making process. This may also affect collaboration with ministries or state-funded organizations, but routine operations of existing companies within Israel will continue regardless, albeit delays can be expected when receiving permits, regulatory approvals, or other activities that depend on legislation.

Foreign Relations

  1. The political situation is also somewhat affecting Israel’s ability to forge relations and gain international influence. As a result of political infighting, the current caretaker government, even when it managed to convene on a fairly regular basis, struggled to project a united message to the international community regarding Israel’s policies as senior members of the Likud and Blue and White parties frequently undermined each other. This is particularly the case in sensitive issues of foreign and defense policy, with the latter portfolios being held by Blue and White’s Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz, respectively, but many diplomatic and security matters being directed by Netanyahu. These competing points of authority have likely posed problems for various states when dealing with Israel. FORECAST: The failure to establish a viable and stable government led by ministers appointed for the long-term will likely pose a challenge for Israel’s efforts to forge relations in essential sectors such as trade and commerce. Foreign governments may be reluctant to commit to such agreements with caretaker officials, while the latter may be restricted by legal obstacles placed upon an interim government.
  2. The current impasse has resulted in a situation wherein 36 new ambassadorial appointees, which have been approved by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) appointments committee are not yet fulfilling their roles. This situation has been ongoing since November 2020 and many of the ambassadors are reportedly ready and set to be posted on diplomatic missions on an immediate basis. Reports state that this delay is due to a refusal by Netanyahu to bring their approval to the cabinet for its consent. The absence of new ambassadors is a significant issue that is liable to harm Israel’s diplomatic, trade, and security interests. This situation can hinder Israel’s ability to conduct diplomatic campaigns and strategic discourse with other international actors as well as to advance visits of economic delegations to other countries.
  3. Most importantly for Israel, the lack of government can undermine the country’s relations with key strategic allies such as the US. Continued political paralysis within Israel has likely somewhat hindered its ability to build strategies and coordinate with its allies on matters of essential policy and national security. This is because these allies may be reluctant to engage in long-term planning in the absence of a stable government, especially one that may be perceived as volatile and potentially liable to fall as soon as a political crisis emerges. This may impact Israel’s positions on the Iranian nuclear agreement, especially amid international efforts to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); and any US engagement with the Palestinians.
  4. Another area that the political situation can impact in terms of foreign policy is the pre-election, US-brokered normalization trend that was recorded, consisting of diplomatic agreements between Israel and four Arab states (the UAEBahrain, Sudan, and Morocco). These deals are extremely important and strategic for Israel’s diplomatic, security, and economic interests as they enable Jerusalem to garner additional international support against its adversaries and forge trade and investment relations. FORECAST: This trend is likely to slow down or be suspended altogether in the absence of a stable Israel government that other potential Arab states perceive to be a long-term partner. The regional actors that are most likely to reach a normalization agreement with Israel tend to be relatively risk-averse and attach great importance to stability. Thus, if the political deadlock continues or an unstable government is formed, further normalization agreements are unlikely.

Security

  1. In terms of security, the political deadlock will have an impact on the procurement of military hardware and weaponry. It may also impact the development of advanced security doctrines based on these weapon systems and long-term, large-scale organizational planning. This is due to various budgetary obstacles and challenges posed to the decision-making process. However, over the past two years, despite the political stalemate, Israel has continued to act to safeguard its security interests across multiple arenas. Military activity, both overt and covert, has been reported in various theaters of operation throughout the Middle East region. That said, although these operations are informed by a guiding strategy that has been formulated by previous governments and continues to be updated by Israel’s security agencies, especially vis-a-vis the regional threat posed by Iran and its proxies, the lack of a cohesive government is liable to affect proper governance and the decision-making process. This is shown for instance by the Israeli government’s apparent lack of strategy regarding the best way to manage the threat of militant groups based in the Gaza Strip, which is an issue that periodically emerges with a potentially decisive operation indefinitely put on hold until a stable government is formed. Taken as a whole, despite the political situation dictate, Israel can continue to respond to any threats to its national security and continue to formulate a military strategy to defend these interests.
  2. FORECAST: This situation will impact Israel’s security in the strategic realm and possibly lead to long-term damage as Israel’s adversaries can gain an edge on delays to procure and develop weaponry due to budgetary and decision-making challenges. However, the ability of Israel’s security apparatus to mitigate and thwart security within Israel itself will remain intact over the coming period. The Israeli security agencies have proven during this period of relative political instability and throughout periods of far greater security volatility that the vast majority of local and regional threats, namely along its northern borders and vis-a-vis Palestinian militants in the West Bank and Gaza, are manageable. Thus, the political situation will not lead to a fundamental destabilizing of the security environment within Israel over the coming period.

Election Results and Political Blocs

  • On March 23, Israel held its fourth round of elections for its parliament (the Knesset) in the past two years.
  • During this two-year political deadlock, a government was formed in May 2020, which was led by Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party alongside Benny Gantz, his political rival from the“Blue and White” party. The government’s functioning was hindered by in-fighting and discord between the rival political factions, which eventually led to the dispersal of the Knesset in December 2020, resulting in the March election.
  • The results of the election can be seen below. The political fault lines within Israel since the first election in March 2019 have revolved around the parties’ willingness to join or rejection of a government led by PM Netanyahu, who is on trial having been officially indicted in November 2019 for breach of trust, bribery, and fraud.
  • The debate on Netanyahu’s political and legal status has transcended the traditional left-right discourse within the Israeli political landscape. In this context, parties that are part of the right-wing political camp in Israel, such as former Likud member Gidon Saar’s “New Hope”, have formally declared themselves to be part of the “anti-Netanyahu” or “change” bloc. Other parties, such as Naftali Bennett’s right-wing “Yamina” and Mansour Abbas’ Islamist “Raam”, remain unaffiliated with either of the pro- or anti-Netanyahu blocs.
  • This has resulted in a situation that neither the pro-Netanyahu bloc, primarily made up of right-wing and religious/ultra-Orthodox parties nor the ideologically diverse anti-Netanyahu bloc has been able to form a coalition, which requires a 61-seat majority in the Knesset.
  • On April 6, Netanyahu was given a four-week mandate to form a government by President Reuven Rivlin. He has until May 4 to try to assemble a viable coalition and can thereafter request a 14-day extension at the discretion of the president. If he fails, Rivlin can ask a second person or return the mandate to the Knesset. If these alternatives fail to yield a government, the Knesset will automatically dissolve and another election will be held.

Affiliations of political parties

These are the various political parties and their affiliations and policies.

Pro-Netanyahu blog: Parties, leaders, policies

Anti-Netanyahu bloc: Parties, leaders, policies

Unaffiliated Parties: Leaders, policies


Main options for government coalitions – likelihood and longevity

Option 1: Pro-Netanyahu bloc & Yamina government plus Raam external support in Knesset

  • Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Coalition Components: Likud, United Torah Judaism, Shas, “Religious Zionism”, and Yamina (59 seats)
  • External support for government votes: Raam (4 seats)

Netanyahu-Led government, Raam supporting from outside

Analysis:

This option is somewhat feasible as it includes various political parties with broadly similar ideological agendas and worldviews in government. Although the Raam party would likely not be a formal part of the government, but an external support bloc, its inclusion poses the greatest challenge to the formation of the government. The “Religious Zionism” party has explicitly stated and reiterated that it will not be part of a government that depends on Raam’s support and this is likely to hinder any progress on this option. This is compounded by major concessions that Netanyahu may have to make to Bennett for the latter to join a government led by the former. In terms of longevity, the Raam party’s leadership is able to cooperate with the religious factions in this potential government, particularly over social policy and support for religious institutions. However, its overall Islamist agenda and links to the Palestinian cause are liable to create complications for the government’s functioning, which would be exacerbated during periods of escalation or religious sensitivities.

Option 2: Pro-Netanyahu bloc & Yamina government plus defectors from the anti-Netanyahu bloc

  • Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Coalition Components: Likud, United Torah Judaism, Shas, “Religious Zionism”, Yamina + 2 members of anti-Netanyahu bloc shift allegiances (61 seats)

Pro-Netanyahu bloc, Yamina, Defectors from anti-Netanyahu bloc

Analysis:

This government is unlikely due to the reluctance of members of the center or center-right parties to renege on their pledges not to join a government led by Netanyahu amid his indictment on corruption charges. The “Blue and White” party has insisted it will not join a Netanyahu-led government following its previous power-sharing experience with the incumbent prime minister while “New Hope” members, more likely to defect, have so far insisted they will not join the pro-Netanyahu bloc. Although individual members of these parties may choose to join Netanyahu under the pretext of preventing another round of elections, the parties themselves are unlikely to do so due to the potential for a fifth vote and the impact this would have on voters who will perceive this as the violation of election pledges. In terms of longevity, a government made up of the Netanyahu bloc, Yamina, and two defectors from the anti-Netanyahu bloc would likely be more stable on key policies than a Raam-backed coalition. However, with legislation pertaining to Netanyahu’s legal complications, this government would likely face substantial hurdles as several members of Yamina and most potential defectors are unlikely to support any perceived efforts by Netanyahu or his supporters to release him from or evade the legal process.

Option 3: Anti-Netanyahu bloc plus external support from Raam

  • Prime Minister: Naftali Bennett/Yair Lapid (Rotation)
  • Coalition Components: Yesh Atid, Blue & White, Yisrael Beitenu, Labor, Meretz, Yamina, New Hope (58 seats)
  • External support for government votes: Raam (4 seats)

Anti-Netanyahu bloc with support from Raam

Analysis:

In terms of the likelihood of formation, this government faces multiple challenges due to the ideological diversity of the parties it would include and the pressure within both the left-leaning (Yesh Atid, Labor, Meretz) and right-leaning factions of the potential coalition (Yamina, New Hope) to extract concessions from the other. The former parties seek to ensure Yesh Atid’s Labor is the prime minister (PM) or first in any rotation, while the latter right-leaning bloc insists on Bennett as PM and first in the rotation. The right-leaning parties will also aim to block the left-leaning parties from holding key cabinet posts and thus advancing a left-wing agenda as well as blocking their entry to the security cabinet. Even if this government does materialize, it would likely be hindered by major in-fighting and its longevity is thus very low.

Option 4: Netanyahu chooses/forced to sit aside; right-wing government formed

  • Prime Minister: Consensus among right-wing parties
  • Coalition components: Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Yamina, New Hope, Religious Zionism (65 seats)

Right-wing government without Netanyahu

Analysis:

This option is extremely unlikely due to Netanyahu’s widespread popularity among the Likud party and the Ultra-Orthodox parties that support the Likud. Members and voters of these parties would consider any attempt to coerce Netanyahu to step down as anti-democratic, which would create major tensions within Israeli society. Netanyahu also continues to hold significant support among parliamentarians in his and other supporting parties, while even some of his detractors may oppose legislation that prevents him from being prime minister due to its targeted nature. This is evidenced by the failure of anti-Netanyahu parties to pass such legislation over the past years despite their overall opposition to his continued premiership. Taken as a whole, this option is highly unlikely and its longevity is thus negligible.


BOTTOM LINE

Overall, given that all of the above-mentioned options pose considerable challenges to political actors in terms of both the formation of a viable coalition and the longevity of any government, the most likely scenario is either a fifth election with a similar outcome along pro- and anti-Netanyahu lines or an unstable government that fails to complete its term and thus elections are again called.


Recommendations:

In light of the current situation:

  1. Those operating or residing in Israel, or seeking to do so, are advised to remain abreast of the ongoing political situation, which is liable to have an impact on business continuity.
  2. It is advised to allot for obstacles to cooperation with public sector bodies and ministries as well as other state-funded organizations.
  3. Allot for disruptions to processes that require government permits, regulatory approvals, or other activities that are liable to depend on legislation.
  4. More generally, allot for continued restrictions on entry to Israel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consult with us at [email protected] or +44-20-3540-0434 for guidance on entry to Israel amid the current limitations.

General Recommendations:

  1. Travel to Israel may continue at this time while adhering to security precautions regarding militant attacks, while avoiding the immediate vicinity of the Syrian, Lebanese, and Egyptian borders, due to the persistent risk for cross-border violence.
  2. Those traveling in the 40 km area surrounding the Gaza Strip should continue adhering to all safety precautions regarding early warning sirens for incoming rockets. Remain cognizant of the situation along with the Lebanese and Syrian border areas, as minor hostilities between various groups can escalate into a broader conflict. In case you hear a siren, seek shelter in a protected area and remain inside for at least 10 minutes.
  3. In major Israeli cities, remain vigilant in crowded commercial areas or public transport hubs, as these locations have been targeted by militant groups in the past. Alert authorities to suspicious, unattended packages in these areas.
  4. As a general precaution, avoid nonessential travel to the vicinity of Jerusalem’s Old City, particularly in the vicinity of Damascus Gate, due to the increased potential for acts of militancy and civil unrest. For those seeking to travel to the Old City, it is advised to contact us for a security-oriented travel guide.

Maoist insurgency to remain significant internal security risk in central India despite growing security offensive – India Analysis

Executive Summary:

  • On April 3, dozens were killed as Maoist militants ambushed a contingent of security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region in the most deadly attack since 2017, underscoring continued tactical capabilities despite leadership losses and ceding significant territory in recent years.
  • The latest ambush highlighted the authorities’ flawed intelligence gathering and limited operational competencies in Maoist strongholds, largely due to their lack of knowledge of the terrain, compounded by support from local tribes for Maoist elements.
  • Going forward, insurgent attacks are expected to recur in central India, as Maoists make a concentrated effort to portray strength and bolster recruitment amid a tightening security grid in neighboring states that have forced cadres to retreat to Chhattisgarh.
  • Travel to Delhi and other major Indian cities can continue, while travelers are advised to maintain general vigilance for security risks associated with potential insurgent threats targeting government buildings, security installations, and large crowded public places.

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Current Situation:

  • On April 3, 22 soldiers were killed and 31 injured following an encounter with Maoist insurgents along the border between Sukma and Bijapur districts in Chhattisgarh’s southern Bastar region. Nearly 400 Maoists ambushed a joint contingent of forces conducting an anti-Maoist operation, leading to a three-hour encounter. Maoists in an official statement claimed that four of their members were killed in the clashes, contradicting the government’s earlier announcement that 12 Maoists were killed.
  • The attack came amid days of counterinsurgency operations in the region, with reports indicating that several teams of around 2,000 security personnel were deployed. Operations were ongoing following intelligence reports stating the presence of Maoist squads along with Madvi Hidma, the commander of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) Battalion No. 1, who has been linked to major attacks since 2010. The latest intelligence suggested his location in the forests in Bijapur, along with a large number of Maoist cadres. The April 3 attack was reportedly orchestrated by Hidma.
  • This incident closely followed the first major Maoist attack in nearly a year, during which five security personnel were killed and 14 injured in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district, on March 23.

Madvi Hidma


Background:

  • The left-wing extremist (LWE) movement is rooted in the violent rural community uprisings against landlords in West Bengal’s Naxalbari area in 1967. It has taken several forms over the years but gained momentum after two Maoist groups merged to establish the Communist Party of India (Maoists) [CPI (Maoists)] in 2004.
  • Under the banner of the CPI (Maoists), insurgents conducted violent attacks against security forces and state installations, which included low-intensity guerrilla ambushes and large-scale attacks. The violence has claimed the lives of thousands of security personnel and civilians over the years, with the insurgency being termed as the “single biggest internal-security challenge” by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. During its peak years, Maoists were active in more than 200 districts across more than 20 states in India.
  • The rebel movement has waned since 2010 due to a concentrated effort by security forces to crack down on LWE groups while simultaneously conducting on-ground development projects. As of 2020, there were 90 Maoist-affected districts in 11 states, with the 30 worst-affected districts largely concentrated in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, followed by Andra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Telangana. While incidents of violence have significantly reduced since 2004-2010, Maoists continue to carry out deadly attacks against the state apparatus, with several major ambushes recorded over the last decade.

Major Maoist attacks and death tolls in Chhattisgarh


Assessments & Forecast:

Maoists look to demonstrate continued capabilities despite operational setbacks 

  1. The Maoist attack on April 3 is highly notable given the significant number of casualties, making it the most deadly LWE encounter since the 2017 attack in Sukma. The latest plot appeared to be a calculated and well-planned ambush, with reports indicating that the insurgents carried out a “U-shaped” trap, wherein rebels lured the team of security personnel into flat land before firing at them from the surrounding high ground. These developments, coupled with the attack just weeks prior on March 23, suggest an effort by Maoists to project their continued operational capabilities.
  2. This was likely informed by the fact that LWE activities, which have been on a declining trend in recent years, were further hit by the strict nationwide lockdown imposed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The movement restrictions that included strict controls at inter-district and inter-state borders served to constrict the Maoists’ supply chains for food, medicines, and other essential commodities, thereby, significantly hampering their capabilities. The insurgents reportedly also faced difficulties in procuring weapons from their arms factories in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, further impeding their capacity to conduct tactical offensives.
  3. The latest attacks are also notable as they were timed to coincide with the annual Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) from March to June, the core of the Maoists’ strategy, during which insurgents carry out recruitment drives and conduct major plots to showcase their tactical proficiency. This is relevant since there was reportedly a 40 percent decline in violence during the 2020 TCOC period as compared to the year prior. The alleged use of light machine guns (LMGs), IEDs, and crude rockets during the April 3 ambush also serves to display the Maoists’ capacities.

 

The latest attack highlights major lapses in counterinsurgency intelligence and operations in Maoist strongholds

  1. While the Chhattisgarh state government ruled out intelligence and operational failure as the reason behind the April 3 encounter, the details of the attack that dealt heavy casualties to security forces suggest otherwise. The information regarding the presence of Maoist commander Hidma and other cadres in the area was not incorrect but the ambush indicates that the intelligence was flawed in terms of the intention and scale of the Maoist presence in the region, resulting in security forces walking into a trap.
  2. There are two main reasons behind the recent tactical failure. Firstly, security forces in Chhattisgarh are largely dependent on human intelligence to gather information about Maoists. This serves as a major problem in Bastar, a Maoist bastion, where the insurgents have strong support from the locals who keep them informed of security movements. This was also evidenced by the fact that Maoists allegedly vacated locals from the villages near the encounter zone days before the ambush to prevent civilian casualties. Such acts are liable to heighten goodwill towards the rebels among the villagers in Bastar, ensuring future support and possibly boosting recruitment.
  3. Secondly, the Maoist rebels have an undisputed advantage vis-a-vis knowledge of the terrain since the cadres are largely composed of individuals from the area, including Hidma, who was reportedly born in Sukma. In this context, the deployment of 2,000 security personnel in the weeks before the attack was a major oversight in the counterinsurgency operation. The large number of troops moving in the Maoist stronghold lands was a highly overt operation , underscoring the difficulty in formulating an effective strategy in countering the insurgents in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region.
  4. FORECASTUnless security forces recalibrate their strategy and intelligence gathering techniques in the stronghold of Bastar, the Maoist insurgency is expected to remain a major threat in central India. Instead of conducting large operations, smaller special operations units are more likely to succeed in infiltrating the stronghold and carrying out targeted operations against key Maoist leaders. This is especially given reports that top leaders like Hidma are reportedly protected by a multi-layered security cover, making it particularly hard to breach with direct offensives. Authorities are also seeing problems due to their inability to adequately adopt a more population-focused approach, which includes development strategies in the tribal regions, to sway local sentiment away from the Maoists.

Maoist insurgency - Affected states in India

 

Insurgency attacks to sustain for foreseeable future despite losing ground in recent years 

  1. The latest developments suggest that the Maoist insurgency is not in its last stages despite the steady decline in LWE-related incidents of violence since 2010. While the group has ceded significant territory and lost several leaders in recent years, the outfit remains a major security threat in central India. That said, the recent incident does not signify that the outfit is regaining dominance or expanding into lost territories; rather, it points to a concerted effort to portray strength and bolster recruitment in the Maoist bastion amid a tightening security grid in neighboring states that has forced cadres to retreat to strongholds in Chhattisgarh.
  2. FORECAST: In this light, LWE attacks are expected to continue for the foreseeable future, especially in Maoists’ core areas where they have the capacity to conduct high-visibility attacks. This is particularly given the increasingly assertive tactics adopted under Basavaraj, the former head of the outfit’s Central Military Commission (CMC), who was appointed as chief of the CPI (Maoists) in 2018. His leadership reinvigorated violent plots by the group through large-scale IED-based attacks and multi-pronged ambushes on security forces as well as high-value targets, such as prominent politicians. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that Hidma is set to head the CMC, which oversees all guerrilla activities in India, increasing the risk of attacks in restive regions.
  3. FORECAST: While insurgents are expected to predominantly attack security operatives and the state apparatus, civilians residing or traveling in Maoist-affected regions can be potential targets, particularly if they are suspected of being police informants or of holding links to the government. Maoists may also target infrastructure projects as well as local industries and businesses in a bid to extort money. In the near term, security forces are liable to increase the frequency and intensity of anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh, as well as in other Maoist-affected regions in the “Red Corridor”, which mainly encompasses parts of Andhra Pradesh Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Telangana. Such measures may include intensified combing operations and the deployment of additional security personnel, increasing the risk of clashes.

Recommendations:

  1. Those operating or residing in Chhattisgarh over the coming months are advised to maintain heightened vigilance, particularly in rural districts, due to the risk of Maoist attacks and the threat of collateral damage from increased security operations.
  2. Travel to Delhi and other major Indian cities can continue, while travelers are advised to maintain general vigilance for security risks associated with potential insurgent threats targeting government buildings, security installations, and large crowded public places.
  3. We advise against all nonessential travel to rural and tribal areas of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha states given their restricted travel status with the government. Travel to urban areas, such as Bhubaneshwar, can continue while maintaining heightened vigilance.
  4. It is advised to consult with India’s Bureau of Immigration for a full list of restricted areas within India which travelers must obtain special permission to visit.
  5. Given the continued militant threat in India, maintain heightened vigilance for suspicious individuals and unattended baggage, particularly in public places including major hotels, government installations, transport hubs, markets, restaurants, entertainment venues, and places of worship.

Social, security, and economic reforms implemented as transition continues, country further opens to investment – Sudan Analysis

Executive Summary

  • The government signed an agreement with the SPLM-N al-Hilu rebel group that notably established a shift toward a secular government. Major social reforms have enabled progress in the peace process but have also triggered pushback from conservative elements of society.
  • Efforts to incorporate all rebel groups in the peace process into a joint force with the Sudanese security apparatus is likely to be difficult and delayed, with the situation to remain volatile in Darfur.
  • The military’s willingness to divest from the economy in some sectors will bolster the government’s efforts to open the country’s markets to private and foreign investment. However, military elites will likely remain heavily involved in newly privatized industries.
  • Economic reforms including the removal of subsidies, devaluation of the Sudanese Pound, and allowing non-Islamic banking will likely have positive effects in terms of economic growth and enabling foreign investment.
  • The government is expected to struggle in persuading the public that the reforms will take time to take effect and the subsidy cuts in particular will be unpopular. Protests over the economic situation are thus expected to persist over the coming months.

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Current Situation

  • On March 26, the World Bank stated that the Sudanese government had cleared its arrears and would now be able to secure financing from the World Bank Group and other multilateral institutions under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HPIC) initiative. This was made possible by a 1.15 billion USD bridge loan from the US government on January 6 that was specifically intended to help clear Sudan’s debts.
  • Sudan’s inflation rate rose to 341 percent in March according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, despite the implementation of subsidy cuts and currency devolution. These measures and the rising cost of living has led to recurrent protests in Khartoum and other cities.
  • On March 29, the government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) faction led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu signed a Declaration of Principles (DOP) in Juba, South Sudan.
    • The parties agreed that: “No religion shall be imposed on anyone and the State shall not adopt any official religion.” The state will also “guarantee freedom of religion” and “these principles shall be enshrined in the Constitution”.
    • The DOP also stated that the government will sanctify human rights, including for women and children, and take adequate measures to accede to international and African human rights charters that are currently unratified.
    • In addition, the SPLM-N al-Hilu and the government agreed to the formation of a “single apolitical professional army” beginning with the gradual integration of rebel forces.
  • The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid al-Nur (SLM-AW) had a leadership figure meet with the government in Khartoum on April 3. However, the rebel group released a statement on April 29 stating that it is not interested in negotiating with the current authorities or cooperating with the South Sudanese mediation team.
  • Sudan’s Security and Defense Council said on April 10 that it is seeking to form a joint force of 20,000 government troops and rebel fighters drawn from peace agreement signatories to deploy in Darfur. This was decided upon after large-scale intercommunal clashes in El Geneina, West Darfur State on April 3-6 resulted in hundreds of casualties.

Assessments & Forecast

Agreement to separate state & religion regarded as landmark advance of transition, peace process

  1. The signing of the declaration of principles between the Sudanese government and SPLM-N al-Hilu is a historic step and significantly advances the political transition and peace process. This follows the signing of a comprehensive peace deal with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) in August 2020 and signifies continued positive momentum in bringing rebel groups into the mainstream. Coming to an agreement with the SPLM-N al-Hilu is important as the group controls substantial tracts of land in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State, and this will help stabilize the region. A major stumbling block had long been that al-Hilu consistently maintained that a secular Sudanese state is required as many of the population in the group’s territory is Christian and animist, unlike the majority of Sudan. The Sovereign Council’s decision to accede to this demand is highly notable given the country’s long Islamist identity.
  2. The Sovereign Council likely also decided to agree to a separation of religion and state as a means to garner favor with the international community, who have largely welcomed the agreement as a sign of Sudan’s intent to accelerate democratization and instill liberal values. This would also further sideline the National Congress Party (NCP), which was the ruling party under former President Omar al-Bashir and had enshrined religious principles and the use of Sharia law in state jurisprudence. This comes as a broader shift toward secular governance during the transition. This was best exemplified by the repeal of the “Public Order Law” in November 2019 that had allowed for harsh penalties, including death, for women whom authorities deemed to be violating social norms. The government’s notably decisive actions to institute social changes, particularly for women, have also met international favor. The commitment to these changes was underscored by the transfer of the Khartoum police chief to a minor political post on March 28 after he called for the reinstatement of the Public Order Law, with the government releasing a statement rejecting his call.

Notable social reforms implemented in 2020-2020 - Sudan Analysis | MAX-Security

  1. FORECAST: Given the wide-ranging social impact of these reformist policies, there will continue to be pushback from conservative segments of society and government. In addition, the youth and women who led the 2019 revolution and turned away from Bashir’s Islamist policies often tied those policies to the widespread corruption in the government. If the transitional government is able to provide basic services to its citizens and tackle corruption, the move away from Islamic jurisprudence is likely to be accepted more optimistically by the population. However, if the government is unable to deal with these systemic issues, a new set of religious leaders may galvanize a movement toward reinstating Islamic law as a means to achieve these social objectives. In that sense, the popularity of social reforms is tied heavily to the overall perception of the government’s progress.
  2. In addition, Islamist elements within the country who are supportive of a return to Sharia-based governance such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the disbanded NCP would likewise aim to support any move to roll back social reforms. FORECAST: This support is likely to be in the form of protests against the transitional government, which would be suppressed by local authorities that have consistently prioritized maintaining public order. Conservative leaders are likely to use Islamist sympathizers within the bureaucracy and security agencies, such as the former Khartoum police chief, to push for a return to more religious social norms. Such practices are likely to be the biggest challenge facing the government in its attempts to secularize governance in the coming months and could raise tensions over what is considered acceptable conduct in public spaces.

 

Efforts to launch unified joint force in Darfur likely to be difficult, delayed

  1. With the new agreement with the SPLM-N al-Hilu, nearly all major rebel groups have been officially demobilized and slated to integrate into the new security structure, with the exception of the SLM-AW operating from Jebel Marra. Regardless, in the wake of large-scale intercommunal violence in El Geneina in early April, the Security and Defense Council announced plans to create a new joint force composed of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and fighters of signatory rebel groups that will be capable of “rapid intervention” across Darfur. This has been a long-awaited step in fulfilling the August 2020 peace accords, which would be crucial to stabilizing Darfur and ensuring the success of the transition in the periphery. FORECAST: However, it will likely face significant challenges in implementation and authorities have yet to release any clear timeline for the plan or indication that funding has been allocated to this project.
  2. The work of unifying the force will be difficult given longstanding intercommunal hostilities. While a force with representation from Arab and non-Arab tribes will be promoted as a mechanism to build public confidence in the security forces and increase inter-ethnic cooperation, it will also likely be fraught with tensions, internal divisions, and disputes over organization and leadership. The prime example of this may be the role of the government’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary, whose origins are in Arab militias implicated in atrocities in Darfur. These militias fought the war against the rebel groups that will now integrate into the joint force and there is likely to be significant mistrust that could jeopardize cooperation. This will likely demand intensive reconciliation and confidence-building measures, and it is unclear if the government has the capabilities to do this.
  3. The need for increased security deployments in Darfur has particularly been emphasized since the December 2020 withdrawal of the UN – African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeepers. Although the RSF has launched its own “Peace Shield Forces” initiative to fill the security vacuum, this has been controversial in areas that have been victimized by RSF militias in the past. RSF operations without the SAF or rebel fighters risk stoking further intercommunal violence, and this can cast further doubt on the eventual ability of all of these parties to eventually integrate.
  4. FORECAST: With the joint force in its infancy, the SAF is expected to continue to enforce state of emergency measures in conflict zones across Darfur and mitigate further large-scale intercommunal violence. With this, local civil society groups and professional organizations are likely to continue sit-in protests in El Geneina, El Fasher, Nyala, and other cities across Darfur to demand improved security and government accountability for military misconduct. Although the government has made some progress in responding to public demands by removing soldiers’ immunity and promising that troops involved in human rights abuses will face prosecution, tensions between Darfuri communities and existing security apparatuses are likely to persist. Consequently, the risk of further small and large-scale intercommunal clashes remains high.

 

Markets likely to open to foreign, private investment, though military elites to remain heavily involved

  1. As part of security sector reforms, the transitional government pledged to ease the military’s traditional control over state resources, including gold, food staple production, rubber, weaponry, and other resources. For decades, the security sector has controlled the majority of the economy, most notably with a monopoly over the gold mining industry. The military has also been exempt from paying taxes or being transparent about the earnings of industries under its control, all of which left the government with a small budget and lack of hard currency. Until January 2020, the Central Bank was the sole procurer and exporter of gold, which restricted the market and allowed for extensive smuggling and embezzlement of gold resources. This fact that this system benefits the military as well as RSF leader and Sovereign Council Vice President Mohammed Hamdan “Hemetti” has slowed the process of military divestment from the economy during the transitional process.
  2. PM Abdallah Hamdok and other transitional officials recognize that military divestment from the economy and a restructure of the state budget is critical for economic growth, access to currency, and the opening of Sudanese markets to private and foreign investment. In this context, Hemetti pledged to turn over the Jebel Amer gold mines in North Darfur to the transitional government with mining and production to be regulated and eventually privatized. FORECAST: Other military-owned companies were similarly handed over in recent years, and this is likely to slowly reduce the security apparatus’s control over public sectors and make way for the development of new industries. This includes the development of civil industries, which could become taxable, shareholding companies. However, given that top RSF and military officials remain heavily involved in various industries, including private mining companies, with Hemetti serving on the board of directors of a company tied to Jebel Amer mines, means that these military elites will continue to directly benefit from revenues, including black market revenue streams.
  3. FORECAST: Although military elites will likely remain involved behind the scenes in private mining company operations and other industries, the fact that the military and RSF have agreed to rescind control in some sectors is likely to bolster the government’s efforts to open the country’s markets to private and foreign investment in the coming months. With a properly regulated gold market, investment opportunities are likely to increase and thereby attract interest for the development of other industries once monopolized by the military. That being said, given that the military has yet to dissociate from the mining sector altogether, and that it continues to benefit financially from its control over many public works programs, water, and fuel distribution, it’s unlikely that the military will allow for the complete liberalization of Sudan’s economy.

 

Social, security developments underpinned by public economic reforms including subsidy cuts

  1. The changes to laws on social norms, religious identity, and the security sector would likely not have been possible without the implementation of crucial public economic reforms. Over the past six months, the Sudanese government has enjoyed an increase in political capital and an opportunity to re-engage with the wider international community. The normalization of relations with Israel and removal of Sudan from the US “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list have been crucial steps. The delisting allowed Khartoum to bypass a barrier in accessing funds from international financial institutions, bolstered by US assistance to help the government clear its arrears. However, these warmer relationships have been weighed against Sudan’s pledges to cut subsidies on major commodities such as fuel, wheat, and electricity, which is controversial among a public in which many people rely on the subsidies for basic goods and services.
  2. Subsidies were said to account for 40 percent of the national budget, which the former Bashir government was unable to borrow money to cover due to sanctions. Instead, the Bashir administration printed money, resulting in rampant inflation. The subsidy system under Bashir kept some commodity prices down for a period, but also led to periodic shortages of key items, as supply chain actors smuggled subsidised goods out of Sudan for sale at higher market prices in neighboring countries. In this context, the transitional government partially cut fuel subsidies in October 2020 in efforts to remedy the situation despite inflation continuing to climb, which was welcomed by the international community as a necessary austerity measure. The government attempted to ameliorate the effects of this by announcing a system of money transfers to people below the poverty line, though 65 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Nonetheless, there have been recurrent protests since January 2021 in many states over the high costs of fuel, bread, and electricity.

Sudan's inflation rate, January 2020 - Sudan Analysis | MAX-Security

  1. Given these conditions, despite new economic policies, the government will likely struggle to persuade the public that the reforms will take time to take full effect. This will be further exacerbated by the doubts over the effectiveness of the cash transfer system due to endemic levels of corruption within the government. FORECAST: As the cash transfers are supported by the World Bank and other donors, it is possible that the COVID-19 pandemic could result in a shortfall in international aid as donor countries focus on improving their own economies in a post-pandemic scenario. It remains likely that periodic protests over the economic situation will persist in the coming months. While security forces have been relatively lenient regarding protests held by smaller groups in Khartoum, any attempts to organize a larger-scale protest movement against the government will likely result in a security clampdown.
  2. FORECAST: Ultimately, the reform process in terms of the removal of subsidies and the devaluation of the Sudanese Pound is likely to have positive effects on economic growth over the coming months. Reforms such as the decision to allow for non-Islamic banking will further encourage foreign investment in the country, with these investors now more able to benefit from projects in Sudan given the opening up of credit avenues and issual of credit cards for the first time. However, the business environment is likely to remain enmeshed in the interests of traditional elites, including the military. While these elites have signaled a willingness to adapt to economic reforms, these power brokers will remain a prominent part of the economy in the coming years.

Recommendations

  1. Travel to Khartoum can continue while adhering to general security precautions regarding the threat of crime.
  2. We advise against all travel to the Darfur region as well as South Kordofan and Blue Nile states given the volatile security situation caused by ongoing violence between the government and armed rebel groups as well as intercommunal clashes.
  3. Maintain vigilance in remote areas of northern and eastern Sudan given the risks of crime and lower presence of security forces.
  4. Avoid nonessential travel to the borders with Egypt and Libya due to the risk of violent crime, kidnappings, and general lawlessness.
  5. Avoid the vicinity of all large gatherings or political demonstrations given the associated risk of violent security crackdowns.

President Farmajo calls for elections as allies withdraw support; Mogadishu to remain volatile – Somalia SITUATION UPDATE

Executive Summary:

  • President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s April 27 announcement that he will not pursue a two-year term extension is highly notable. With tensions escalating in Mogadishu and having lost support from allies, Farmajo likely had no other option but to back down on his desired term extension and to pursue elections.
  • However, it remains unclear how electoral stakeholders will proceed with inclusive dialogue and the implementation of the September 2020 electoral agreement after facing months of failed discussions over the same issues.
  • Given the extent of opposition and public anger toward Farmajo, any unfavorable outcome from the May 1 parliamentary sitting could elicit further backlash and demonstrations in Mogadishu. In turn, Farmajo may aim to subvert the narrative and blame the opposition for endangering national security. Such a scenario heightens the possibility of further violent clashes in the coming days.

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Please be advised:

  • In the evening hours of April 27, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo addressed the nation, announcing that he will not pursue a two-year term extension and will hold a special parliamentary session on May 1 to relaunch the electoral process.
  • Farmajo further called for the immediate resumption of unconditional dialogue between electoral stakeholders and reiterated his commitment to the September 2020 electoral agreement.
  • Earlier on April 27, Hirshabelle State President Ali Guudlawe and Galmudug State President Ahmed Kaliye, alias Qoor Qoor, withdrew their support for President Farmajo’s two-year term extension and called for the implementation of the September 17, 2020, electoral agreement along with the resumption of dialogue between electoral stakeholders.
  • Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble also issued a statement welcoming the announcement by Hirshabelle and Galmudug leaders and called for all five Federal Member States (FMS) to commit to renewed, inclusive dialogue and to prepare for elections.
  • Furthermore, PM Roble called for Somali National Army (SNA) and opposition force commanders to withdraw their troops from Mogadishu and to “cease all hostilities.”
  • Opposition presidential candidates including leader Abdirahman Abdishakur and former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud also expressed support for these statements on social media.
  • The US Embassy in Mogadishu issued a statement on April 27 in support of these announcements, and called for President Farmajo to accept “a clear path to dialogue and peace.”
  • Meanwhile, in Mogadishu, pro-government and opposition security elements remain deployed across the city, with several neighborhoods throughout the Hodan, Hawlwadag, Shibis, and Yaqshid districts under the control of opposition forces. Residents, primarily from Hodan and Hawlwadag districts, reportedly continued to flee Mogadishu on April 27 fearing renewed clashes.
  • The capital reportedly remained calm on April 27, however, sources indicate that President Farmajo recalled additional pro-government forces to Mogadishu from Dhusamareb in Galmudug, Baladweyne in Hirshabelle, and Gedo Region in Jubaland to secure his position.

Main Tenets of FGS-FMS Electoral Model Agreement September 2020 - Somalia Situation Update


Assessment & Forecast:

  1. With tensions rapidly escalating in Mogadishu, the statements by Hirshabelle and Galmudug Presidents, and the subsequent endorsement from PM Roble, have effectively united all five FMS against President Farmajo’s attempts to remain in power for an additional two years. Hirshabelle and Galmudug State Presidents had remained staunch supporters of Farmajo and his administration until this point, backing Farmajo’s position at repeated FGS-FMS discussions before and after the February 8 election deadline and initially supporting the Lower House of Parliament’s resolution to extend his term. However, with the opposition mobilizing extensive support from clan militias, police commissioners, and certain SNA units in recent days, and demonstrating their ability to successfully counter pro-government security elements in Mogadishu, it is plausible that the Hirshabelle and Galmudug leaders were pressured to either withdraw support for Farmajo or enter into armed conflict on his behalf.
  2. While the exact circumstances that motivated their announcement remain unclear, it is possible that urgent negotiations among political figures and clan leaders facilitated by PM Roble convinced Qoor Qoor and Guudlawe that such action was necessary to defuse the situation in Mogadishu. Moreover, given PM Roble’s immediate expression of support for the Hirshabelle and Galmudug statements and his efforts to quell tensions in Mogadishu, it appears that he has significantly distanced himself from Farmajo in recent days. While PM Roble had previously attempted to maintain neutrality throughout the electoral impasse and repeatedly facilitated negotiations with Farmajo’s opponents including Jubaland and Puntland states and the Presidential Candidates Union (PCU), electoral stakeholders continued to perceive him as Farmajo’s closest ally. Therefore, his break with Farmajo is notable and could have also motivated Qoor Qoor and Guudlawe to do the same.
  3. Having lost support from allies within the FGS, FMS, and from international partners like the US and EU, Farmajo likely understood that his current position was untenable, and thereby has no other option but to back down on his desired term extension and to resume the electoral process. FORECAST: However, despite the significance of his announcement, it’s unclear how electoral stakeholders will proceed with inclusive dialogue and the implementation of the September 2020 FGS-FMS electoral agreement after facing months of failed discussions over the same issues. For instance, although Parliament will likely rule to renew the electoral process on May 1, with the Lower House allied to Farmajo, the body could vote to delay elections for some time to provide for sufficient stakeholder dialogue, which in turn will allow Farmajo to remain in office for an indefinite extended period. Furthermore, although all parties reiterated their commitment to inclusive dialogue as a way forward to elections, the parties are likely to once again disagree on the conditions for negotiations as Farmajo has already called for “unconditional” talks while PCU members will likely demand Farmajo’s resignation before discussions move ahead. Ultimately however, Farmajo remains unlikely to resign, further entrenching the mistrust between all parties.
  4. FORECAST: Given the potential for these same issues to derail renewed discussions and the electoral process, it is possible that international partners, particularly the US, will ramp-up pressure on stakeholders to agree to the conditions for negotiations. In this context, the US endorsement of the position adopted by Hirshabelle and Galmadug, is notable and may likely result in other international partners such as the EU, UK, and Norway endorsing the same position. While such a scenario further reduces Farmajo’s thus far relatively steady international support, it remains highly unlikely that international actors will intervene, apart from further threats, and the possible imposition of sanctions on specific FGS or FMS leaders, additional reduction of humanitarian and security aid.
  5. FORECAST: In terms of the security environment, given that pro and anti-government forces remain deployed across Mogadishu, the security situation is poised to remain extremely volatile with a heightened risk for further clashes. Although some opposition contingents have reportedly withdrawn from various areas of the capital and may heed PM Roble’s call, given that additional pro-Farmajo SNA troops are slated to arrive in Mogadishu, opposition elements are likely to remain on high alert and prepared for potential confrontations. Additionally, given the extent of opposition and public anger toward Farmajo, any unfavorable outcome from the May 1 parliamentary sitting could elicit further backlash and opposition demonstrations in Mogadishu. Given this possibility, Farmajo is likely to aim to subvert the narrative, and blame opposition forces and protesters for endangering national security, and may use loyalist forces to repress the opposition. Such a scenario heightens the possibility of further violent clashes in the coming days.

Recommendations:

  1. Those operating or residing in Mogadishu on April 28 and in the coming days should minimize movement throughout the city due to the potential for renewed clashes between pro-Farmajo and anti-Farmajo forces in multiple districts.
  2. Those in Mogadishu are advised to consider organizing contingency and evacuation plans.

Far-right groups to continue successful radicalization and recruitment campaigns in 2021; raising the potential for attacks and unrest

Executive Summary:

  • While successful far-right militant attacks have decreased in 2020, Europe continues to see significant levels of radicalization.
  • A number of arrests and investigations have been made among law enforcement and security forces, as far-right extremists continue to attempt to gain access to training, weapons, and highly trained recruits.
  • Far-right extremists are capitalizing on COVID-19-related grievances, infiltrating anti-lockdown protests and rallies in an attempt to become more visible and push their agenda.
  • Radicalization among children and youth has seen a significant increase during COVID-19, as far-right groups target vulnerable individuals, both online and through physical events.
  • The development of transnational links among far-right groups across the region has heightened the risk of far-right militant attacks.
  • While extremist groups are increasingly likely to attempt large scale coordinated attacks and campaigns, radicalized lone wolf attackers are still more likely to succeed due to lesser surveillance.
  • Travel to Europe may continue while maintaining vigilance for militant-related activity.

Current situation

Notable Far-right Incidents in Europe

  • Europe has witnessed a number of notable incidents linked to the far-right in 2020:
  • On December 12, Austrian authorities seized dozens of weapons, explosives, and 100,000 rounds of ammunition that were intended to be used to set up an armed far-right extremist militia in Germany’s southern state of Bavaria. Five suspects were arrested in Austria and two in Bavaria.
  • On December 10, two individuals were arrested in Andalusia and Navarre in Spain for selling drugs to buy weapons to instigate a “future race war,” a focal point in white supremacist ideology.
  • On October 4, a Jewish student was seriously injured in an attack outside a synagogue in Hamburg. The assailant wore military-style clothing, similar to that of the German army. A note with a swastika was found in the suspect’s possession.
  • On February 19, eleven people were killed and five injured in a far-right attack at two shisha bars in HanauGermany. The perpetrator, Tobias Rathjen, published his manifesto online, purporting right-wing extremist views and expressing hatred for migrants.

Far-Right Radicalization in 2020

  • Far-right radicalization in Europe in 2020 has seen a shift in trends as a result of the COVID-19 pandemicSuch reports have found that far-right extremists are using the COVID-19 pandemic to purport conspiracy theories and disinformation on social media. Major theories have included the claim that COVID-19 is a bioweapon, that the pandemic was orchestrated to influence US politics, and that COVID-19 was created by Big Pharma to push a mass vaccination program. Central figures targeted by these theories have included George Soros and Bill Gates.  Moreover, the pandemic is being used to repurpose pre-existing extremist tropes as an opportunity to attack a range of minority communities. In addition to theories claiming that the virus was created by the “Jewish elite,” others claim that migrants brought COVID-19 to Europe, exacerbating existing anti-migrant sentiments.
  • In October, Germany released its first nationwide report on right-wing extremism in the security services, revealing hundreds of related incidents across the police and military. In total, there were 1,064 cases among military personnel and 370 incidents among police and intelligence officers between January 2017 and March 2020. On December 9, German intelligence agents in Baden-Wuerttemberg put the Querdenken 711 group, which has organized and participated in anti-lockdown protests, on a watch-list due to its links to far-right extremism and growing concerns regarding radicalization.
  • On December 5, Spain’s Defense Minister Margarita Robles called on the Prosecutor’s Office to open an investigation on an online chat group in which retired military officials appeared to be disseminating far-right content, including support for military uprisings and mass executions
  • In December 2020, the UK released a report stating that a total of 17 under 18-year-olds have been arrested for militancy related charges between January and the end of September 2020, compared to 11 in 2019. The number of referrals of right-wing extremist content rose by 43 percent between 2019 and 2020. Nearly 1,500 children aged 15 and under have been identified as being at risk of radicalization. A total of 682 children were referred to the government’s counter-terrorism program over concerns about their involvement with the far-right in 2017-2018. The figure shows a five-fold increase since 2014-15. Of the 682 children, 24 were under the age of ten. In total, the government recorded 1,404 referrals related to right-wing radicalization, 62 percent of which were related to individuals under the age of 20.
  • In May, the Council of the European Union issued a report on far-right extremist groups exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to radicalize, recruit, and fundraise for their cause. Similar reports were issued by the United Nations in April.

Assessments & Forecast

Far-right groups are using COVID-19 to repurpose existing narratives and enter the mainstream 

  1. That far-right extremists are infiltrating anti-lockdown protests and rallies throughout Western Europe, as evidenced by extremists attending protests in Germany, Spain, and the UK, indicates such groups are taking advantage of COVID-19 related anxieties and grievances in the public to become more visible and push their agenda. This is evident by far-right groups criticizing COVID-19 restrictions, particularly reimposed lockdowns during the second wave of the pandemic, as well as concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccines, to undermine government officials.
  2. Considering that anti-lockdown protests have witnessed unrest, including clashes, these demonstrations present a threat to bystanders. Most notably, these anti-lockdown protests hold a high potential for radicalization. This was evident in the German region of Baden-Wuerttemberg’s decision to put the Querdenken 711 group under surveillance due to its ties to the far-right and increasing risk of radicalization.
  3. The dissemination of COVID-19-related conspiracy theories and disinformation online reiterates the continued use of online platforms by far-right extremists to purport their ideologies. That discussions of far-right conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 have surged, with one major social media platform seeing posts increase by 815 percent and another by 750 in March alone, further suggests far-right groups are capitalizing on public concerns. Given that many of these posts do not appear to be overtly far-right in nature, with a significant number focusing on lockdown measures and anti-government sentiments, the pandemic has allowed far-right extremists to increase their public base as well as their exposure, with the content being increasingly shared and normalized online. Further, far-right extremists globally are utilizing similar COVID-19-related conspiracy theories, allowing movements to form transnational links and share strategies.
  4. FORECAST: As lockdowns are eased, and countries begin to roll out mass vaccination programs, it is likely that far-right extremists will increase discourse on vaccinations, with disinformation and protests related to COVID-19 vaccines expected to increase. Governments are likely to increase surveillance among groups and forums sharing such information in the near term, as well as potentially restrict related protests and rallies, due to the potential for being hotbeds of radicalization.

 

Far-right extremist groups to increase membership base by appealing to vulnerable groups both online and through physical events 

  1. Reports by law enforcement agencies regarding increased radicalization among children and youth indicate that far-right extremists are utilizing various strategies aimed at recruiting children. In particular, online strategies, such as first-person shooting video games, videos, and online forums, are providing vulnerable individuals with a sense of belonging. Given that the pandemic has exacerbated grievances and led to an increase in internet usage, the risk for radicalization among vulnerable segments of the population has risen.
  2. The widespread use of remote teaching since March has resulted in less monitoring, both with regard to online activity and changes in behavior among youth. With that, the pandemic has not only increased the potential for radicalization but also the ability to monitor such activity. In the UK, the closures of schools and reductions in social care and mental health provision have led to a decrease in referrals to police about possible radicalization for the country’s PREVENT counter-terrorism program.
  3. In addition to online tactics, far-right extremist groups continue to focus on violent sports, particularly mixed martial arts (MMA), as well as music and music festivals. Given MMA’s general popularity, the far-right’s use of the sport offers an ideal recruitment tactic, with MMA events serving as fundraising and propaganda dissemination opportunities.
  4. Considering that these events, such as the white supremacist Shield and Sword MMA festival held in Ostritz, Germany, as well as music festivals regionwide, are often attended by individuals from multiple countries, they provide far-right groups with the possibility of forming transnational links.
  5. FORECAST: As COVID-19 related restrictions and concerns continue, far-right extremists are expected to focus primarily on online methods of radicalization, given the potential for events, such as MMA and music festivals, being canceled. Moreover, considering that remote learning is liable to continue for an extended period, it is likely that far-right groups will primarily focus on vulnerable youth.
  6. FORECAST: Additionally, far-right extremists are likely to utilize recent Islamist militant attacks in Austria and France as a way to increase anti-Islam and anti-Migrant sentiments, potentially attracting new members.

Radicalization in law enforcement and security forces likely to continue throughout Europe

  1. The instances of far-right activity within law enforcement and security forces, most notably in Germany, where security services recorded more than 1,400 cases of suspected far-right extremism in the three years as of March 2020, suggest far-right groups are attempting to infiltrate these forces.
  2. Reports indicate that individuals with far-right and nationalist views are often attracted to joining the police and armed forces, as they often see themselves as individuals able to “defend their communities”. Furthermore, many of the concepts common among far-right ideologies overlap with those often found within military structures, such as strong national identity and physical “superiority”. Consequently, the potential for radicalization is considerably higher among armed forces and security forces, given the presence that groups are able to recruit trained people. As such, it is possible that law enforcement screening for far-right sentiments is lacking.
  3. Additionally, it is likely that far-right extremists are infiltrating security forces in an attempt to gain access to tactical training and weapons. As such, the infiltration and radicalization within security forces present a significant threat, given the potential access to weapons.
  4. FORECAST: Instances related to far-right activity among security forces are likely to surface in the near term. Consequently, Western European countries are liable to increase surveillance among their law enforcement and security forces in an attempt to stifle concerns among the public. Potential raids and arrests, particularly in Austria and Germany, in suspected cases of far-right activity are likely.

Transnational links throughout the region to increase the potential for militant attacks

  1. The arrests in Austria and Bavaria highlight increasing transnational links among far-right groups. Considering that multiple far-right groups, including the Nordic Resistance Movement, have shared an interest in coordinating and focusing efforts on establishing transnational links, networks between far-right extremists are likely being developed. The fact that Austrian authorities seized large quantities of weapons and ammunition highlights how this increasing cooperation raises the risk of far-right militant attacks across the continent, particularly in Austria and Germany.
  2. The arrests of two German and one British national in Malaga, Spain in connection to an international arms ring reiterates ties between criminal and militant groups, as well as transnational links. Such links heighten the threat level for potential militant attacks, given that extremist groups have access to firearms and explosives necessary for staging attacks across the region.
  3. Additionally, the presence of youth gangs in various urban areas, including London and Berlin, has increased the prevalence of knives, guns, and grenades. As a result, these weapons are becoming more available for radicalized individuals, particularly youth.
  4. FORECAST: Given the potential for transnational links, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, far-right groups are expected to increase coordination throughout Western Europe. While fragmentation among far-right extremists is expected to continue, the threat posed by the far-right is liable to increase in the coming months. Considering the growing focus on creating a so-called “race war,” far-right militant groups are likely to attempt large scale coordinated attacks and campaigns in an attempt to bring this goal into fruition.
  5. FORECAST: Based on recent developments, militant groups are expected to attempt a series of attacks throughout Western Europe. While these groups pose a threat, attacks carried out by radicalized lone wolf attackers are still more likely to succeed due to lesser surveillance. Given that the risk for far-right radicalization has risen due to the pandemic, it is possible that lone wolf attacks are likely to increase as well. Such attacks are expected to target Muslim and Jewish individuals, as well as political opponents and migrants. While extremist groups may plot attacks, these are less likely to come to fruition due to increased surveillance by law enforcement.

Recommendations

  1. Travel to Europe may continue while maintaining vigilance for militant-related activity.
  2. Security plans should be updated to reflect the relevant threats associated with far-right militancy, particularly with regard to online radicalization among vulnerable groups. Pay attention to differing threats from organized cells and lone-wolf individuals.
  3. Public, private, and third sector organizations are advised to increase their awareness of threats on social media through the use of threat monitoring services, including among fringe groups with potential ties to far-right extremists. Increased awareness of an organization’s political footprint and perceptions from fringe online groups can help uncover potential violent actors and plots before they occur.
  4. Alert authorities immediately upon witnessing suspicious items or behavior.

New unified interim government to face challenges, security situation in country to remain largely static over coming months – Libya Analysis

Executive Summary

  • A new unified interim government for Libya, known as the Government of National Unity (GNU), was voted in on February 5, approved by the House of Representatives (HoR) on March 10, and officially sworn in on March 16. The GNU’s main prerogative is the organization of national elections in Libya on December 24. Its mandate will end on this date.
  • This development is a strategic gamechanger for the political landscape of Libya as this is the first time that the country has had a unified government since 2014. It represents a major breakthrough in the political deadlock that has characterized Libya over recent years.
  • However, there are several challenges that lie ahead for the GNU, which will hinder its ability to effectively dispense its duties over the coming months. This includes challenges arising from local skepticism surrounding the GNU’s legitimacy, political infighting within and between various state institutions, and the proliferation of local militias across the country.
  • Therefore, while the formation of the GNU will at least partly stabilize the country in the coming months, the security situation of Libya will remain largely static due to the prevalence of militant groups and militias as well as the lack of a unified security apparatus under the GNU’s command.
  • It is advised to defer all travel to Tripoli at this time due to the current political instability and the risk of a broad deterioration of security conditions. Travel to Benghazi, Misrata, and Tobruk should be for essential purposes only, while adhering to all security precautions. Contact us at [email protected] or +44 20-3540-0434 for itinerary and contingency support plans.

Read more about the on-ground implications of this development for Libya

Download full report - New unified interim government to face challenges, security situation in country to remain largely static over coming months - Libya Analysis


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Global Travel Risk Map 2020

Securing Dredging Operations in a Hostile Environment

Large Dredging Project in the Middle East Requires Security Consulting

MAX Security was contacted to propose and provide consulting to a large dredging project in the Middle East.  This part of the Middle East involved complicated risks and threats.  The MAX operations team needed to ensure that the project could be completed efficiently and safely.

RISK, THREAT, & VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT (RTVA)

Given the instability of the region and the numerous incidents that had taken place within it, MAX conducted a comprehensive RTVA to gain a complete picture of the threats facing the project and the likelihood of each threat’s occurrence during the operations.  It was determined that criminal and terror activity such as IEDs (improvised explosive devices), sabotage, active shooting incidents, theft and extortion were the main threats against the project and its team.  The availability of local security forces was also deemed inadequate and their deployment in case of emergency could not be counted on.  By understanding the various threats to the project, MAX was able to design specially tailored procedures to ensure the safety of the workers, project managers, equipment, and dredging sites.

SOLUTIONS EMPLOYED

With the threats in mind, the MAX operations team developed several solutions to ensure project security.  With both water and land-based areas to secure, regular patrols (boat, foot, and vehicle) were implemented throughout both terrain environments.  Security perimeters were created with access controls and checkpoints, and clear guidelines on the reporting of abnormal events were established.  Coordination and communication were also enhanced between the project coordinators and local security forces.  For extra layers of protection, all movements by project staff were assisted by MAX Security personnel, and a quick reaction force was retained in the event of serious security incidents. A MAX Security senior operations manager was embedded within the project staff to supervise the security implementation.

 

 

MAX’S VALUE

With decades of experience in planning and executing large-scale security projects, MAX was able to assist in ensuring the safety of workers, project managers, and the construction site.  Providing effective physical security solutions means planning every small detail around the client’s needs and tailoring those to the operating environment.  MAX’s operators along with a world-class intelligence team create a synergy unmatched in the industry and can account for every detail from the macro to the micro to create the safest atmosphere possible.

The more chaotic the world becomes, the more you can rely on MAX to keep your business running as usual.

For more information on our operations services email [email protected]

Protecting Critical Infrastructure in Nigeria

Engineering Firm Repairs Critical Infrastructure in Nigeria

MAX was contacted to provide services to an engineering firm hired by the Nigerian government to repair dams and turbines critical to the nation’s water supply. The company needed to work on two dams in remote areas of the country and hired MAX to provide security and safety solutions during routine and emergency situations.

ADVANCE PLANNING

Prior to any work beginning, it was necessary to conduct a pre-mission RTVA (Risk, Threat, and Vulnerability Assessment) in order to understand the security situation and design a comprehensive operational plan. Given that many African nations (this one included) are rooted in tribal culture, it was a key aspect to build relationships with the tribal leaders and peoples nearest to the areas of operation in order to move freely and safely, as well as understand the local customs and cultures. Local security forces and law enforcement were also consulted and included in the project as drivers and security agents, as well as consultants on local laws and regulations. Building and maintaining these relationships allowed the client and MAX team to move and work without interfering with society.

PREPARATION & TRAINING

When working with a local team, one of the major challenges that i required to be addressed is training. The MAX ground team spent several months training the local drivers and agents in effective security strategies, operating in a convoy, driving armored and unarmored vehicles, armed and unarmed engagements, and first aid. It was also critical for the team to understand that the goal was to assist the client in maintaining standard business operations. Therefore, the goal of providing security was to allow the engineering team to complete their tasks without feeling suffocated by EP agents. Working in remote environments such as this creates the need for the team to be self-sufficient and MAX was able to meet that requirement. Planning for proper food, water, and fuel consumption allowed the security and engineering teams to operate as normally as possible in a challenging environment. Driving routes always had multiple options, emergency services were always on call, communications equipment was readily available, and every possible contingency was planned for.

MAX’S VALUE

Providing physical security does not mean providing only EP agents; it is planning every small detail and event to ensure the client can operate normally in an abnormal situation. MAX’s experienced operators along with a world-class intelligence team create a synergy unmatched in the industry and can account for every detail from the macro to the micro to ensure our clients’ safety.

For more information on our operation services email [email protected]