Germany, especially through his Minister for Foreign Affairs Steinmeier, has long been saying to the Atlantic Alliance that a change of strategy towards the Russian Federation is needed. On June 18 last, The German Minister for Foreign Affairs warned NATO not to “inflame” the relations with Russia so as to avoid tensions which would also lead to open warfare. Vladimir Bokovsky, the dissident who was exchanged for the leader of the Communist Party of Chile, Luis Corvalan, in Zurich in 1976, said that “the Russians’ great power of endurance is their true secret weapon.”
Better not to corner Russia which, on the contrary, would be an ideal partner in the Mediterranean, in Central Asia and in the Middle East. Our truly global danger is the sword jihad, not the Russian desire to regain a global role.
Furthermore, the German military decision-makers are now considering a stand-alone doctrine towards Europe and, above all, towards the Eurasian project typical of the China-Russia pair.
Last August Minister Steinmeier stated he perceived a new version – although in new ways and with new tools – of the Cold War between the West and the Russian Federation, a project which would see Germany as first war victim and main war theatre, as in the old Cold War model.
It is also worth recalling that Minister Frank-Walther Steinmeier is the OSCE current Chairman-in-office.
The new “Cold War” would mark the end of the recent German reunification, as well as the end of Germany’s wellbeing and stability – a country which lives also on exports, especially to the East, and therefore intends to expand its own presence in Eurasia.
Even though on July 18 last Russia arrested the Ukrainian OSCE observer who monitored the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine, on charges of espionage, the current OSCE Presidency invited also the Russian experts to monitor the forthcoming presidential elections in the United States.
Moreover Russia officially invited OSCE to monitor the next Russian parliamentary elections scheduled for September 18 next.
Hence, while NATO is focusing on the project of a new “Cold War” to curb the Russian Federation’s expansion and relegate it to the role of a “medium power”, the European States are experiencing the gap between their strategic interests and the Atlantic Alliance’s. Hence a new forum for taking international decisions shall be envisaged, such as OSCE, which can temporarily put aside the North Atlantic Treaty and resume the thread of a Eurasian project from which Western Europe cannot remain alien.
Moreover, the NATO idea of compressing and relegating Russia in what Raymond Aron called “the great European plain” and of remotely controlling the People’s Republic of China in Central Asia is being accomplished in a phase in which the United States are de facto leaving the European Union to its fate, especially after Brexit.
The United States have decided to quadruple their military budget in Eastern Europe as early as March 2016 – and this has taken place out of the Atlantic Alliance’s framework and with a clear anti-Russian intention, even though masked by military projection onto the Persian Gulf and Iran, in particular.
The new Atlantic Alliance will be more asymmetrical than usual: there will be important countries, such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania, as well as less important countries, such as Italy, France, Spain and Germany itself, which will witness a reduction of NATO strategic commitment and shall necessarily think to defend themselves on their own.
As the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, explicitly stated, if he wins the US presidential elections, the United States will not accept the automatic mechanism of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty on the Alliance’s integrated defence.
Conversely, if Hillary Clinton becomes the new US President, she will increase the unfortunate and often irrational operations against the “tyrants” in the Middle East, by trying to involve the EU allies, although with mixed results.
And with long and dangerous destabilization in key areas, which would be detrimental especially for the EU Member States and the NATO European Pillar.
It is also worth adding that the very recent Italian project of a Unified Military Force between Italy, Germany and France – initially proposed by General Camporini – results from the rational assessment of a post-Brexit British indifference towards the European Continent and the awareness of a NATO ever more distant from the European interests and closer – more than usual – to the US projects.
Furthermore, in all likelihood, the new Tripartite Force will have a more rational posture towards the Russian Federation and the Mediterranean.
A project that is bound to be interesting also for Israel, which will be in a position to redesign its foreign and defence policy, thus becoming a Mediterranean player.
Hence Israel will later discover, in the Mare Nostrum, the security bulwark which can defend its territorial position, in the context of the new tensions generated by the Caliphate’s jihad and its upcoming end.
It is worth recalling that OSCE was created with another name by the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.
The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was held in the Finnish capital, was a success of the USSR – which saw the inviolability of national borders accepted – but also a success of the United States and the other Atlantic Alliance’s Member States, which saw the inviolability of human rights and democratic freedoms recognized in the Final Act.
Currently OSCE deals mainly with the monitoring of the election regularity and is mostly known for this activity.
However it must also check many other functions relating to the international balance of power, such as control over the spreading of tactical and strategic weapons, by maintaining ten missions in “hot spots” (Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, Serbia, Skopje, Tajikistan, Ashgabat, Ukraine and Uzbekistan).
The OSCE additional functions include the fight against terrorism and the trafficking in human beings; the prevention and resolution of conflicts; the economic activities; the activities for environmental protection, for the protection of human rights and for guaranteeing the freedom of the press and of the other media; cooperation in the security sector and the rules against discrimination.
A sequence of tasks and functions mostly comparable to those carried out by NATO, which is also an organization coordinating military structures that are and will remain national.
Hence if we want to draw a comparison with the Atlantic Alliance, we can see that OSCE is present in ten hotbeds of crisis, namely those previously mentioned, while NATO is currently active in six strategic regions and particularly in Afghanistan, where it led the International Security Assistance Force (ASAF) from 2003 to 2014 joining as many as 51 NATO and non-NATO members – the longest operation ever conducted by the Atlantic Alliance.
Furthermore the Atlantic Alliance is also operating in Afghanistan with Resolute Support, active since January 1, 2015.
The effects of these two Atlantic Alliance’s operations are there for all to see: the Taliban, the “students” politically born in the Pakistani madrasahs, are still masters of the Afghan soil, while the “new Qaedists” keep on infiltrating from Syria, Tajikistan and even from the Chinese Islamist Xinjiang.
Currently the training of the Afghan security forces is certainly not an effective and rational military goal: the Kabul government is strongly linked to drug trafficking, as indeed many of the Taliban factions.
In Kosovo, the pseudo-State recognized by the United States one day after the declaration of independence of the Albanian statelet from Serbia, on February 17, 2009, things are no better.
Today, it is mainly a hub for the Daesh-Isis foreign fighters.
Kosovo has provided to Isis as many as 125 foreign fighters for every million inhabitants; hence it is the State most “rich” – so to speak – in Caliphate’s foreign fighters in the world.
A further Atlantic Alliance’s operation is Active Endeavour, which controls and protects the Mediterranean against terrorism.
Said NATO action will soon be transformed into the wider Operation Sea Guardian, which will see the contribution of countries not belonging to the Alliance.
In 2015 terrorism hit in over 100 countries, as compared to 59 in 2013. As stated by NATO itself, it is not particularly present in the Mediterranean region but, as is well-known, it operates in some Middle East countries and, with Isis, in continental Europe with the terrible attacks we all know.
The latest statistics indicate a toll in the West of 229 deaths for acts of terrorism, especially jihadist terrorism, including 49 in the United States, 44 in Turkey and even 292 in Iraq.
Indeed, if we want to be clear, “terrorism” does not exist. There rather exists the sword jihad, which is governed and evolves according to its own specific strategic doctrine, which is alien to the Clausewitzian Western universe.
The acts of terror are parts of this sequence of Islamist military operations; they are neither the jihad goal nor its primary combat technique.
Not surprisingly, so far the best fight against jihadism has been China’s, which has a military doctrine still ranging from Sun Tzu to the “36 Stratagems”. The same holds true for Russia, which has used a mix of traditional warfare and new “hybrid warfare” strategies to fight against its Chechen territorial jihad, and for Israel, which has always pursued an original mix of intelligence, preventive war and outright military action.
Therefore, according to NATO analysts, the Mediterranean is a means of terrorism, not a region marked by the presence of a homogeneous jihad based on coast-to-coast maritime operations.
Another NATO mission is active in Kosovo where there is the Atlantic Alliance’s operation which, in 1999, was initially called KFOR, until the Normalization Agreement between Serbia, Kosovo and the EU was signed in 2003.
An additional important operation is the anti-piracy one known as Ocean Shield, organized by the Atlantic Alliance in the Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean – an activity which was officially started in 2008.
As scheduled, it will end in December 2016, although maintaining some early warning mechanisms in that region.
With a view to supporting the African Union (AU), since 2005 NATO has been operating with this organization, which has 54 members all belonging to the Black Continent.
Nevertheless the Atlantic Alliance’s primary goal is to support AMISOM (the AU Mission in Somalia) which heads the African Standby Force, always with the support of non-NATO countries.
Basically, the dangerous mix of “peace missions”, “interposition missions” and peace enforcement ones enables NATO to freeze problems, but not to solve them.
When the Atlantic Alliance mission goes away, the conflict starts again as before or, as happened in Kosovo, the local Albanians’ ethnicist nationalism is replaced by the jihad.
Something else would be needed, but the higher the number of countries from Africa or other crisis areas which participate in the Atlantic Alliance’s operations, the less likely a political solution is – as well as a real stabilization of the strategic areas in which each regional player continues to exert its hegemonic role.
These are the NATO operations currently in place.
And what about OSCE’s? In addition to the OSCE actions already mentioned, there is for example the Forum on Security Cooperation, which regulates the exchange of military intelligence between the Member States and tries to keep the proliferation of “small weapons” under control. It also monitors the spreading of weapon of mass destruction and checks the implementation of multilateral reports and decisions among the 57 OSCE Member States.
Therefore the real problem is that also the Russian Federation – which had resumed its post-Soviet foreign policy with the NATO-Russia Council created in 2002 – is an OSCE member.
In the aftermath of the Soviet regime’s collapse, Russia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in 1999 after having joined the Partnership for Peace program a few years earlier, in 1994.
Today, the Georgian issue of August 2008 (which is considered by NATO a “disproportionate reaction”) and, above all, the Russian action in Ukraine of April 2014 have blocked any kind of relationship between the Atlantic Alliance and Russia.
A serious mistake: Russia has always considered both Georgia, where Stalin was born, and Ukraine (where Khrushchev was born) autonomous areas, although still subject to the Russian strategic design.
What would happen if an alliance close to NATO conquered Iran, a Russian traditional ally? Or if Moscow sent troops to Sicily?
Hence the Russian Federation operated against the US-led “orange revolutions” in the two Caucasian countries particularly with a view to protecting its own sovereignty and the autonomy of the oil and gas pipelines.
Georgia finally signed the Association Agreement with the EU on July 1, 2016, but Russia promptly diversified its oil and gas supply lines to the EU with the creation of the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) in mid-March this year – a transfer line which will bring also the Azerbaijani gas to European markets.
The TANAP gas will arrive in Turkey in 2018 and will be then distributed to Europe, while the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) starts from Kipoi, on the border between Greece and Turkey, transits through Greece and Albania and will connect to TANAP in Turkey.
For TANAP, Azerbaijan and Turkey will also open to Turkmenistan.
Hence, reacting to this geoeconomic project only with the “orange revolutions” seems, in principle, tantamount to taking a mallet to crack a peanut.
In fact, there is no possible counteraction of the Atlantic Alliance to this project of pro-Russian natural gas transfer lines – a project which can be controlled only by indirect strategic activities, particularly with the “hybrid warfare” techniques put in its place precisely by the Russian Federation.
It is worth recalling that, as early as 2011, Vladimir Putin has repeatedly expressed his intention of getting out of the dollar area used for energy transactions and creating a “parallel market” based on the rouble only.
Moreover OSCE is the only international forum in which all Member States are treated equally – hence it is the ideal organization to reopen the strategic dialogue with the Russian Federation,
Considering that the OSCE strength is also to monitor and manage regional conflicts, its already active 57 members should cooperate also with Israel, where the tension with the Palestinian Authority – which is bound to be a failed State – can be kept under control and limited precisely by using the full panoply of techniques, skilled staff and political authority the Organization has shown so far.
Hence reducing the OSCE role only to the monitoring of the election regularity is extremely simplistic, even though objectively necessary.
The German Foreign Minister and current OSCE Chairman-in-office suggested that OSCE must also deal with the monitoring and verification of conventional weapons, which are and will be the weapons actually used in future wars.
The nuclear balance is eminently political and strategic. Those “weapons are made for being never used”, as said many years ago by a NATO Secretary General, the British Lord Ismay.
In addition, OSCE could combine its environmental protection efforts with economic and “development” cooperation – a new function which could operate in a decisive context for the world’s future, namely the one uniting the Partnership for the Mediterranean with the wide Asian and Eurasian region.
While NATO is closing eastwards, thus repeating the conditioned reflex for which it was created, we now need effective and inclusive organizations, which open to the strategic, economic and military “new world” Asia will be, where the EU will regain its true geopolitical mission and the Mediterranean, but especially Israel, will be in a position to ensure their multilateral security.
It is worth recalling that Italy will chair the OSCE Mediterranean Dialogue throughout 2017 and it will be good not to reduce this opportunity to a sort of “European Semester”, full of conferences but which we hope will be soon over.
Italy as a means and instrument of the new OSCE life but, more importantly, as the country enlarging the Organization to Eurasia and, simultaneously, to the Mediterranean.
Engaging with Local Stakeholders to Improve Maritime Security and Governance
Illicit activity in the maritime domain takes place within a complex cultural, physical, and political environment. When dialogue is initiated with a diverse range of stakeholders, policy recommendations can take into account region-specific limitations and opportunities. As noted in the Stable Seas: Sulu and Celebes Seas maritime security report, sectors like fisheries, coastal welfare, and maritime security are intrinsically linked, making engagement with a diverse range of local stakeholders a necessity. This collaborative approach is essential to devising efficient and sustainable solutions to maritime challenges. Engagement with local stakeholders helps policymakers discover where in these self-reinforcing cycles additional legislation or enforcement would have the greatest positive impact. Political restrictions against pursuing foreign fishing trawlers in Bangladesh, for example, have allowed the trawlers to target recovering populations of hilsa while local artisanal fishers suffer. In the context of the Philippines, the Stable Seas program and the Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation recently conducted a workshop that highlighted the importance of consistent stakeholder engagement, resulting in a policy brief entitled A Pathway to Policy Change: Improving Philippine Fisheries, Blue Economy, and Maritime Law Enforcement in the Sulu and Celebes Seas.
Consistent communication with local stakeholders on regional anomalies allows policymakers to modify initiatives to adjust for the physical, cultural, and political context of a maritime issue. The physical environment affects how, where, and why illicit actors operate in the maritime domain. Knowledge held by local stakeholders about uninhabited coastlines, local currents, and the locations of important coastal communities helps policymakers find recognizable patterns in the locations and frequency of maritime incidents. The 36,289 km of coastline in the Philippine archipelago means that almost 60 percent of the country’s municipalities and cities border the sea. The extensive coastline and high levels of maritime traffic make monitoring coastal waters and achieving maritime domain awareness difficult for maritime law enforcement agencies. A Pathway to Policy Change outlines several recommendations by regional experts on ways to improve maritime domain awareness despite limitations imposed by a complex physical environment. The experts deemed collaboration with local government and land-based authorities an important part of addressing the problem. By engaging with stakeholders working in close proximity to maritime areas, policymakers can take into account their detailed knowledge of local environmental factors when determining the method and motive behind illicit activity.
Culture shapes how governments respond to non-traditional maritime threats. Competition and rivalry between maritime law enforcement agencies can occur within government structures. A clearer understanding of cultural pressures exerted on community members can help policymakers develop the correct response. Strong ties have been identified between ethnic groups and insurgency recruiting grounds in Mindanao. The Tausug, for instance, tend to fight for the MNLF while the MILF mostly recruits from the Maguindanaons and the Maranao. Without guidance from local stakeholders familiar with cultural norms, correlations could be left unnoticed or the motivations for joining insurgency movements could be misconstrued as being based solely on extremist or separatist ideology. Local stakeholders can offer alternative explanations for behavioral patterns that policymakers need to make accommodations for.
Local stakeholder engagement allows policymakers to work on initiatives that can accommodate limitations imposed by the political environment. Collaboration with local stakeholders can provide information on what government resources, in terms of manpower, capital, and equipment, are available for use. Stakeholders also provide important insights into complex political frameworks that can make straightforward policy implementation difficult. Understanding where resource competition and overlapping jurisdiction exist enables policymakers to formulate more effective initiatives. Despite strong legislation regulating IUU fishing in the Philippines, local stakeholders have pointed out that overlapping jurisdictions have created exploitable gaps in law enforcement. In A Pathway to Policy Change, local experts suggested that the government should lay down an executive order to unify mandates in the fisheries sector to address the issue. Similarly, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is highlighted as a region that heavily influences maritime security in the Sulu and Celebes seas. Working with government officials to understand how policy initiatives need to adjust for the region’s semi-autonomous status ensures maritime issues are properly addressed. BARMM, for instance, issues fishing permits for its own waters in addition to government permits, which can cause inconsistencies. Working alongside local stakeholders allows policymakers to create initiatives that take into account special circumstances within the political system.
Private Sector Engagement
Extending engagement with local stakeholders to the private sector is particularly important during both the policy research and implementation processes. Encouraging private stakeholders to actively help counter illicit activity can help policymakers create a more sustainable and efficient solution to security threats. As A Pathway to Policy Change highlights, private companies already have a strong incentive from a business perspective to involve themselves in environmental and social issues. Governments can encourage further involvement of private stakeholders like blue economy businesses and fishers by offering tax breaks and financial compensation for using sustainable business practices and for helping law enforcement agencies gather information on illicit activity. Offering financial rewards to members of the Bantay Dagat program in the Philippines, for example, would encourage more fishers to participate. Governments can also double down on educational programs to raise awareness of important issues threatening local economic stability. By communicating consistently with local stakeholders, policymakers can both more accurately identify maritime security needs and more comprehensively address them.
The unique physical, cultural, and political context in which maritime issues take place makes the knowledge of local stakeholders an invaluable asset. While many important types of information can be collected without working closely with stakeholders, there are also innumerable important aspects of any given context which cannot be quantified and analyzed from afar. Engagement with stakeholders provides a nuanced understanding of more localized and ephemerial factors that affect regional maritime security. Engaging with local stakeholders allows policymakers to capitalize on opportunities and circumvent limitations created by the political, cultural, and physical environment surrounding maritime issues in order to create sustainable, long-term solutions.
Turkey Faced With Revolt Among Its Syrian Proxies Over Libyan Incursion
Relations between Turkey and Syrian armed groups that used to be considered cordial due to massive support provided by the Turkish authorities to the Syrian opposition are rapidly deteriorating over Turkey’s incursion into the Libyan conflict, according to sources among the Syrian militants fighting in Libya.
Last month, over 2,000 fighters defected from Sultan Murad Division, one of the key armed factions serving the Turkish interests in Syria. The group’s members chose to quit after they were ordered to go to Libya to fight on the side of the Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). This marks a drastic shift in the attitude of the Syrian fighters towards participation in the Libyan conflict: just a few months ago there was no shortage of mercenaries willing to fly to Libya via Turkey for a lucrative compensation of $2,000 – 5,000 and a promise of Turkish citizenship offered by Ankara.
Both promises turned out to be an exaggeration, if not a complete lie. The militants who traveled to Libya got neither the money nor the citizenship and other perks that were promised to them, revealed a fighter of Ahrar al-Sharqiya faction Zein Ahmad. Moreover, he pointed out that after the fighters arrived in Libya they were immediately dispatched to Tripoli, an arena of regular clashes between GNA forces and units of the Libyan National Army despite Turkish promises of tasking them with maintaining security at oil facilities.
Data gathered by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights shows that around 9,000 members of Turkey-backed Syrian armed factions are currently fighting in Libya, while another 3,500 men are undergoing training in Syria and Turkey preparing for departure. Among them are former members of terror groups such as Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, as confirmed by reports of capture of a 23-years-old HTS fighter Ibrahim Muhammad Darwish by the LNA forces. Another example is an ISIS terrorist also captured by the LNA who confessed that he was flown in from Syria via Turkey.
By sending the Syrian fighters to Libya Ankara intended to recycle and repurpose these groups for establishing its influence without the risks and consequences of a large-scale military operation involving major expenses and casualties among Turkish military personnel. However, the recent developments on the ground show that this goal was not fully achieved.
The Syrian fighters sustain heavy casualties due to the lack of training and weaponry. Total count of losses among the Turkey-backed groups reached hundreds and continue to grow as GNA and LNA clash with intermittent success. Until Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan curbs his ambition, destructive nature of involvement of the Syrian armed groups in Libya may result in the downfall of Turkey’s influence over the Syrian opposition.
Covid-19: A New Non-traditional Security Threat
Authors: Dhritiman Banerjee & Ayush Banerjee
Traditional Security vs Non-traditional Security
There exist various types of threats that a nation faces in today’s world. These primordial threats, in turn, affect a nation’s security dilemma in ways more than one. These can be of two primary type- traditional security threats and non-traditional security threats. Traditional security threats are threats to national security that arise out of conventional international issues such as water sharing, land sharing, etc. These disputes often result in a full-scale war or conventional conflicts among the nations involved.
Similarly, non-traditional security threats are the concerns that a nation faces due to the increased complexity in the conduct of foreign relations after the wake of the new world order, post-1945. As more nations gained their independence and as more international organisations were formed, these threats spread throughout the world resulting in diplomatic tensions and, intra-state and inter-state armed conflicts. At times these conflicts also involve non-state belligerents as well. Large scale migration, environmental degradation and climate change action, intensification of ethnocentrism towards ethnonationalism leading to ethnic conflicts, cyberspace security risks, terrorism and violent extremism, etc. are examples of such non-traditional security threats.
Traditional security threats were directly aimed at the system of governance of the involved international actors, often involving various proportions of military conduct and an aggressive foreign policy coupled with intelligence operations. Meanwhile, non-traditional security threats are complex systems of organised opposition to a dominant entity or actor. These may not involve armed warfare or an aggressive foreign policy as such. For instance, the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in the United States by Al-Qaeda affiliates amount to a non-traditional security threat, in general, and terrorism, in particular. This attack was not directly aimed at toppling over the regime in power, rather spread the message of radical extremism globally by a non-state actor of violent nature. Such threats are becoming more and more predominant in the 21st century.
Another instance of a non-traditional security threat stemmed out of the growing resentment for the authoritarian regime in power in Syria, which triggered the Syrian refugee crisis in 2011-12. The rapid displacement of people in rural locals within the nation created large scale dissatisfaction in terms of the economy with a rise in unemployment rates and poverty among with the loss of their means of livelihood. This displaced populace travelled beyond the already fragile Syrian border into several European states that triggered a spillover of the Syrian refugee crisis resulting in a security risk for most south European states such as Greece and Italy. Invariably, most of the European states shut down their borders due to an imminent security risk from extremism and rising ethnocentrism that may have resulted from integrating the refugees into their formal economies. More recently, India shut down its borders on the displaced Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, stating the probable cause of extremism being imminent within such a marginalised, persecuted populace.
The Case of Covid-19
This year shook the global political order. By March 2020, the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan turned into a full-scale health crisis across the world. The virus had spread throughout the globe and new epicentres were discovered almost every week. Nations such as the United States, Spain, Italy, India, United Kingdom, among others have been severely affected ever since. However, alongside the health risks associated with the virus, as most governments focus on the research and development of a safe vaccine, the security risks are becoming more important as a part of this discourse with each passing day. There are restrictions on fundamental freedoms such the freedom of movement and assembly. While most major channels of information have shifted to the domains of cyberspace, governments have become heavily reliant on data infrastructures and domestic resource capacities. The transportation industry alongside others has been severely affected, affecting the national economy. The food supply chain has frayed. There have been no practical international trade operations except for highly politicised transfers of essentials and medicare. Millions have lost their employment and means of livelihood. Fear and panic have spread among the public at large. In a few nations, internal displacement has risen hundred folds.
However, as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads chaos, non-traditional security issues may not result in a nuclear catastrophe, but it may directly or indirectly threaten the survival of States. This time period is extremely important for all governments to reshape their policy processes to curtail the social, economic, political, diplomatic and human security risks associated with the outbreak. While many governments have opted to follow a phased lockdown model to tackle the health-related issues associated with the outbreak, they have failed to implement public policy to curtail the other risks associated with it. This nonchalance has resulted in a new age security dilemma that coerces the States into taking policy actions they never planned to adopt.
There are several security threats that pose a risk to major governments due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the economic context, Covid-19 has increased market volatility such that the price of risk assets has fallen sharply with economies both large and small recording a significant drop of at least 30% at the trough. Tobias Adrian and Fabio Natalucci estimate that “Credit spreads have jumped, especially for lower-rated firms. Signs of stress have also emerged in major short-term funding markets, including the global market for U.S. dollars. Volatility has spiked, in some cases to levels last seen during the global financial crisis, amid the uncertainty about the economic impact of the pandemic. With the spike in volatility, market liquidity has deteriorated significantly, including in markets traditionally seen as deep, like the U.S. Treasury market, contributing to abrupt asset price moves.” It is said that all jobs created since the financial crisis in the US, have been completely wiped away during this Covid-19 outbreak. This creates an atmosphere of public agitation against the government that continues to trigger mass protests and activism. The financial security, housing security, employment security concerns are paramount in this distraught for the public and government alike. International trade is at a standstill affecting all the export-oriented economies around the globe. These nations are now bound by self-reliance on domestic industries creating a need to romp up securitisation efforts at the domestic level itself.
Moreover, Covid-19 is set to increase political instability in countries such as Japan, South Korea, India, Italy, China and the US due to the economic repercussions of the lockdown and also due to the public reaction to governmental policy in efforts towards eradicating the virus. In fact, if the virus causes a global economic meltdown or a global recession, it will perhaps be due to the economic perils the US economy shall face in the coming years. This will also considerably influence Trump’s reelection campaign, as he may be forced to prioritise digital media campaigns over public campaigns due to the risks emanating from Covid-19. There will be rising security concerns with regard to the same considering the fact that there has already been illegitimate involvement of foreign actors in the previous election campaigns wherein Cambridge Analytica was allegedly charged for deliberating manipulating audience content with the help of the Russian Federation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the dependence on cyberspace as software applications such as Google Meet, Skype and Zoom gain in popularity. This gain has been noticeably triggered by the idea of working from home and due to the conversion of physical classroom education to online learning modules. This brings into focus the need for an enhanced cybersecurity mechanism that can allow easy access while also protect the private and personal data of the users. There have already been reports which suggest that the security at Zoom has already been breached. This called for close inspection and proper securitisation of the features to ensure its clients’ next-generation data protection, as a remarkable landmark in the domains of cyberspace security. It is also said that the spread of Covid-19 will increase strategic disinformation campaigns leading to the spreading of propaganda, fake news and manipulated content. Much of this content may also undertake dubious angles on the virus outbreak itself inciting public dissatisfaction leading to panic and mass hysteria. While governments may also attempt at withholding valuable information and data on the actual consequences of the virus especially by downlisting the rate of mortality and infection behind the veil of public security.
The Council of Europe Cybercrimes division has reported that there is valuable evidence that malicious actors are exploiting the cyberspace vulnerabilities to cater to their own advantage. For example, it stated that phishing campaigns and malware distribution through seemingly genuine websites or documents providing information or advice on Covid-19 are used to infect computers and extract user credentials. Attacks against critical infrastructures or international organizations, such as the World Health Organization are becoming seemingly probable. Such agents also use ransomware targeting the mobile phones of individuals using applications that claim to provide genuine information on Covid-19 in order to extract financial information of the user. They can also obtain access to the systems of organisations by targeting employees who are teleworking or video conferencing. Fraudulent schemes where people are tricked into purchasing goods such as masks, hand sanitizers and fake cheap medicines claiming to prevent or cure Covid-19 are also being used for the same purpose by the cybercriminals. These are a few instances that add to the security dilemma the nations face due to the rapid spread of Covid-19 across the world.
Alongside these, the defence industry is set to experience a major slowdown due to the pandemic. Production, manufacturing facilities and supply chains could be affected as the requirements shift towards civilian and police equipment from heavy military equipment. More importance will be given to recovery and aid systems than weapons and ordnances. However, defensive readjustments continue to remain important for ensuring adequate security especially with respect to border control, protection of personnel and institutions, protection of natural resources from exploitation, ensuring law and order as law enforcement and paramilitary operations remain the primary preventive measures at the monopoly of the governments. This crisis will also have profound geopolitical consequences, particularly for the US-China relationship.
Tarık Oğuzlu believes, “the years ahead will likely see the geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and China intensify. This power competition will likely transpire within a post-liberal international order in which neither the U.S. will continue to act as the chief provider of global public goods nor China will acquiesce in the role of norm-taker.” We already know that the USA under President Trump’s presidency has already begun questioning the liberal international order from within. Notwithstanding Trump’s reelection in November, the isolationist and nationalist tendencies within the current American society will continue to grow more radical and dominant. There may be smear campaigns that could affect the well-settled Chinese populace in order to expunge them from the integrated American society. Instances of racism and ethnocentrism will grow and lead to civic hostilities threatening public order and human security norms. Similarly, China under President Xi Jinpinghas adopted a more assertive and claimant role in international politics, and China has changed its course from the ‘bide your time and hide your capabilities’ dictum in history. Trade between the two major powers has already come to a standstill.
In the words of Ahyousha Khan, “…it is essential for states to counter non-traditional security threats because they can potentially reduce national resilience of states to prosper. The consequences of these threats would be more damaging for developing world, where there is population density, lack of medical facilities and most importantly economic vulnerability of the state to handle such threats for a prolonged period of time.” It is evident from the aforementioned instances that Covid-19 is, in fact, a non-traditional security threat in ways more than one. It leads to multitudes of security concerns hat encompasses most major domains of politics including the economy and cyberspace. Securitisation and protection services are of paramount importance in the same regard. It can be stated that the need to protect the civilians from such non-traditional security threats will lead States to assume a more authoritarian role whereby the State will increase surveillance on its citizens and will curtail the freedoms of movement and expression. Political leaders often exploit these non-traditional security threats to fulfill their own political interests and to secure their own position as the leader of the party. Such is the security risk arising out of the pandemic at large.
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