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EU Security Union Strategy: Connecting the dots in a new security ecosystem

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European Commission sets out a new EU Security Union Strategy for the period 2020 to 2025, focusing on priority areas where the EU can bring value to support Member States in fostering security for all those living in Europe. From combatting terrorism and organised crime, to preventing and detecting hybrid threats and increasing the resilience of our critical infrastructure, to promoting cybersecurity and fostering research and innovation, the strategy lays out the tools and measures to be developed over the next 5 years to ensure security in our physical and digital environment.

Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, said: “Security is a cross-cutting issue which goes into almost every sphere of life and affects a multitude of policy areas. With the new EU Security Union Strategy, we are connecting all the dots to build a real security ecosystem. It is time to overcome the false dichotomy between online and offline, between digital and physical and between internal and external security concerns and threats. From protecting our critical infrastructure to fighting cybercrime and countering hybrid threats, we can leave no stone unturned when it comes to our security. This strategy will serve as an umbrella framework for our security policies, which must always be fully grounded in our common values.

Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Home Affairs, said: “Knowing you are safe, online, in public, in your home, for your children, builds trust and cohesion in society. With today’s Security Union Strategy, we focus on areas where the EU can make a difference in protecting people throughout Europe, anticipating and tackling evolving threats. In the coming years, my work on the EU’s internal security will build a system that delivers, starting today with action on child sexual abuse, drugs and illegal firearms.

This strategy lays out 4 strategic priorities for action at EU level:

A future-proof security environment

Individuals rely on key infrastructures, online and offline, to travel, work or benefit from essential public services; and attacks on such infrastructures can cause huge disruptions. Preparedness and resilience are key for quick recovery. The Commission will put forward new EU rules on the protection and resilience of critical infrastructure, physical and digital.

Recent terrorist attacks have focused on public spaces, including places of worship and transport hubs, exploiting their open and accessible nature.The Commission will promote stepped up public-private cooperation in this area, to ensure stronger physical protection of public places and adequate detection systems.

Cyberattacks have become more frequent and sophisticated.  By the end of the year, the Commission should complete the review of the Network and Information Systems Directive (the main European cybersecurity legislation) and outline strategic cybersecurity priorities to ensure the EU can anticipate and respond to evolving threats.  

In addition, the Commission has also identified the need for a Joint Cyber Unit as a platform for structured and coordinated cooperation.

Lastly, the EU should continue building and maintaining robust international partnerships to further prevent, deter and respond to cyberattacks, as well as promote EU standards to increase the cybersecurity of partner countries.

Tackling evolving threats

Criminals increasingly exploit technological developments to their ends, with malware and data theft on the rise. The Commission will make sure that existing EU rules against cybercrime are fit for purpose and correctly implemented, and will explore measures against identity theft.

The Commission will look into measures to enhance law enforcement capacity in digital investigations, making sure they have adequate tools, techniques and skills. These would include artificial intelligence, big data and high performance computing into security policy.

Concrete action is needed to tackle core threats to citizens, such as terrorism, extremism or child sexual abuse, under a framework ensuring the respect of fundamental rights. The Commission is putting forward today a strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse online.

Countering hybrid threats that aim to weaken social cohesion and undermine trust in institutions, as well as enhancing EU resilience are an important element of the Security Union Strategy. Key measures include an EU approach on countering hybrid threats, from early detection, analysis, awareness, building resilience and prevention to crisis response and consequence management – mainstreaming hybrid considerations into broader policy-making. The Commission and the High Representative will continue to jointly take forward this work, in close cooperation with strategic partners, notably NATO and G7.

Protecting Europeans from terrorism and organised crime

Fighting terrorism starts with addressing the polarisation of society, discrimination and other factors that can reinforce people’s vulnerability to radical discourse. The work on anti-radicalisation will focus on early detection, resilience building and disengagement, as well as rehabilitation and reintegration in society. In addition to fighting root causes, effective prosecution of terrorists, including foreign terrorist fighters, will be essential – to achieve this, steps are under way to strengthen border security legislation and better use of existing databases. Cooperation with non-EU countries and international organisations will also be key in the fight against terrorism, for instance to cut off all sources of terrorism financing. 

Organised crime comes at huge costs for victims, as well as for the economy, with €218 to €282 billion estimated to be lost every year. Key measures include an Agenda for tackling organised crime, including trafficking in human beings for next year. More than a third of organised crime groups active in the EU are involved in trafficking illicit drugs. The Commission is today putting forward a new EU Agenda on Drugs to strengthen efforts on drug demand and supply reduction, and reinforce cooperation with external partners.

Organised crime groups and terrorists are also key players in the trade of illegal firearms. The Commission is presenting today a new EU Action Plan against firearms trafficking. To ensure that crime does not pay, the Commission will review the current framework on seizing criminals’ assets.

Criminal organisations treat migrants and people in need of international protection as a commodity. The Commission will soon put forward a new EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling focussing on combatting criminal networks, boosting cooperation and support the work of law enforcement.

A strong European security ecosystem

Governments, law enforcement authorities, businesses, social organisations, and those living in Europe all have a common responsibility in fostering security.

The EU will help promote cooperation and information sharing, with the aim to combat crime and pursue justice. Key measures include strengthening Europol’s mandate and further developing Eurojust to better link judicial and law enforcement authorities. Working with partners outside of the EU is also crucial to secure information and evidence.  Cooperation with Interpol will also be reinforced.

Research and innovation are powerful tools to counter threats and to anticipate risks and opportunities. As part of the review of Europol’s mandate, the Commission will look into the creation of a European Innovation hub for internal security.

Skills and increased awareness can benefit both law enforcement and citizens alike. Even a basic knowledge of security threats and how to combat them can have a real impact on society’s resilience. Consciousness of the risks of cybercrime and basic skills to protect oneself from it can work together with protection from service providers to counter cyber-attacks. The European Skills Agenda, adopted on 1 July 2020, supports skills-building throughout life, including in the area of security.

Background

In recent years, new, increasingly complex cross-border and cross-sectorial security threats have emerged, highlighting the need for closer cooperation on security at all levels. The coronavirus crisis has also put European security into sharp focus, testing the resilience of Europe’s critical infrastructure, crisis preparedness and crisis management systems.

President von der Leyen’s political guidelines called for improved cooperation to protect all those living in Europe. Today’s EU Security Union Strategy maps the priority actions, tools and measures to deliver on that objective, both in the physical and in the digital world, and across all parts of society.

The strategy builds upon progress achieved previously under the Commission’s European Agenda on Security 2015-2020 and focuses on priorities endorsed by the European Parliament and the Council.

It also recognises the increasing inter-connection between internal and external security. Many work strands will build on a joined up EU approach and implementation of the strategy will be taken forward in full complementarity and coherence with EU external action in the field of security and defence under the responsibility of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The Commission will regularly report on the progress made and will keep the European Parliament, the Council and stakeholders fully informed and engaged in all relevant actions.

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The Proxy War of Libya: Unravelling the Complexities

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The African continent has been infamous for its desolate conditions and impoverished lifestyle for years. The violence has not spared the region either since the extremely unstable Middle-East has set the vendetta throughout the region, verging Africa in the east. Whether it comes to the spreading influence of ISIS under the flag of Boko Haram; a terrorist organisation operating in Chad and North-eastern Nigeria, or the rampant corruption scandals and ream of military cops in Zimbabwe, the region rivals the instability of its eastern neighbour. However, one conflict stands out in Northern Africa, in terms of high-stake involvement of foreign powers and policies that have riven the country, not unlike Syria in the Middle-East. Libya is one instance in Africa that has faced the civil war for almost a decade yet involves not only local powers but is also a focal point that has caused the NATO powers to be at odds.

Libya, officially recognised as the ‘State of Libya’, is a war-torn country in the Northern periphery of the African continent. The country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the North, Egypt lies to its East and Sudan and Tunisia border in the Southeast and Northwest respectively. Apparent from the topography, Libya stands as an epicentre to the countries ridden with conflicts, stands the ground that was the central root of the infamous Arab Spring uprisings taking a rebellious storm right off its borders in Tunisia back in 2011. While the NATO-led campaign garnered success in overthrowing the notorious dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, and thus bringing the draconian regime to an end, it failed to account for the brewing rebels and militias in pockets throughout the state of Libya.

Over the following years, weaponry and ammunition was widely pervaded across the region in spite of strict embargo placed. The pilling artillery and unregulated rebels cycled the instability in the country leading to the successive governments to fail and eventually split the country in two dominant positions: The UN-recognised Government National Accord (GNA), led by Tripoli-based leader and prime minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by the tailing ally and successor to Gaddafi, General Khalifa Haftar.

While both GNA and LNA vied for the control on Libya, foreign powers involved rather similar to the labyrinth of stakes in Syria, each state split over the side supporting their part of the story and ultimately serving their arching purpose of interference in the region. Despite of the ruling regime of Al-Sarraj since the controversial election win of GNA in 2016, Haftar-led LNA controls an expansive territory and has been launching offensive attacks against the GNA alliance. GNA enjoys the support of US, Turkey, Qatar and Italy; each serving either ideological support or military backing to secure the elected government of Libya. Meanwhile, LNA is backed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. While the western powers see GNA as an economically stabilising solution to the Libyan crisis, Russia and France eye Haftar as a key ally to expand influence in the African region and reap control of the oil-rich resources under control of Haftar’s troops in the oil-crescent territory.

The Turkish regime, on the other hand, eye Libya as a direct answer to the Russian influence in the Syrian war that has been pushing the Kurdish alliance stronger along and within the southern borders of Turkey. This has led to recent clashes and direct escalation in the proxy war waged in Syria. Turkey plans to incentivise the leveraging position against Russia in Libya by deploying military advisory to Tripoli to strengthen their position against the Russian-backed Haftar to ultimately deter the alliance from spreading far in the African region.

The power split in Libya was exacerbated in 2017 following the Gulf crisis that led to the boycott of Qatar by the Arab quartet led by Saudi Arabia. Libya stood as a battle ground for both strategic and military positions to one up the other alliance in external power games while the internal matters of Libya are long forgotten and population left clueless and desperate for welfare. Since then, the vested interests in Libya have side-lined yet the peace process has been encouraged by both UN and Merkel-led ‘Berlin process’ in support to the UN efforts to restore peace in Libya. However, the strained relations and foreign demarcation is still apparent even though no escalation has been in action for months.

Now the ceasefires have been in talks for a while and except for a few skirmishes, the powers have been curbed since June 2020. The silence could imply room for diplomatic efforts to push a much-awaited resolve to this complex proxy war. With the recent turn of events in the global political canvas, wheels of the betterment might turn in favour of Libya. Saudi Arabia has recently joined hands with Qatar, opening all borders to the estranged ally and resuming diplomatic relations. Turkey is eying the coveted spot in the European Union since the UK exit. The US in redefining its policies under the revitalising administration of Joseph Biden while Russia deals with the tensed relations with the Gulf since the oil price war shattered the mutual understanding shared for years. The core players of the Libyan Proxy war are dormant and may remain passive due to external complexities to handle. Yet, with regional powers like Egypt threatening invasions in Libya and both GNA and LNA showing no interest in negotiation, a conclusive end to the Libyan crisis is still farfetched.

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Pakistan Army’s Ranking improved

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According to data issued by the group on its official website, Pakistan Army has been ranked the 10th most powerful in the world out of 133 countries on the Global Firepower index 2021.Especially the Special Services Group (SSG) is among the best in the world.  Just behind; 1- United States PwrIndx: 0.0721,  2- Russia PwrIndx: 0.0796, 3- China PwrIndx: 0.0858, 4- India PwrIndx: 0.1214, 5- Japan PwrIndx: 0.1435, 6- South Korea PwrIndx: 0.1621, 7- France PwrIndx: 0.1691, 8- United Kingdom PwrIndx: 0.2008, 9- Brazil PwrIndx: 0.2037, 10- Pakistan PwrIndx: 0.2083.

Global Firepower (GFP) list relies on more than 50 factors to determine a nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.

Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. In the form of bonuses and penalties, special modifiers are applied to further refine the annual list. Color arrows indicate a year-over-year trend comparison.

The geopolitical environment, especially the regional security situation, is quite hostile. Pakistan is bordering India, a typical adversary and has not accepted Pakistan’s independence from the core of heart, and always trying to damage Pakistan. The Kashmir issue is a long standing issue between the two rivals. On the other hand, the Afghan situation is a permanent security threat for Pakistan. Bordering Iran means always facing a danger of aggression from the US or Israel on Iran, resulting in vulnerabilities in Pakistan. The Middle East is a hot burning region and posing instability in the region. The growing tension between China and the US is also a source of a major headache for Pakistan.

Under such a scenario, Pakistan has to be very conscious regarding its security and sovereignty. Although Pakistan’s ailing economy is not supporting its defense needs, it may not compromise strategic issues for its survival. Pakistan focuses on the quality of its forces instead of quantity. The tough training makes a real difference—the utilization of Science and Technology-enabled Pakistan to maintain its supremacy.

Pakistan is situated at a crucial location – the entrance point to the oil-rich Arabian Gulf is just on the major trading route for energy. Pakistan is at the conjunction of Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and China. Pakistan is a pivotal state and always focus of world powers.

During the cold war era, Pakistan sided with the US and protected the region’s American interests. The US military establishment knows well that as long as Pakistan stands with the US, it can achieve all its strategic goals in the region. However, It was the American choice to give more importance to India and ignore Pakistan.

Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and struggling for the promotion of peace globally. Pakistan always raises its voice at the UN and other international forums for oppressed ones and against any injustice. Pakistan. In the history of seven decades, Pakistan was never involved in any aggression against any country. Pakistan’s official stance is, “We are partner for peace with any country, any nation, or individuals.” Pakistan is a partner and supporter of any peace-initiative in any part of the world. 

However, Pakistan is always prepared to protect its territorial integrity and will not allow any aggressor to harm our sovereignty at any cost. Pakistan is determined for its independence and geographical integrity.

Pakistan is no threat to any country or nation. Neither have any intention of expansion. But always ready to give a tough time to any aggressor.

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Israel continues its air strikes against Syria after Biden’s inauguration: What’s next?

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A family of four, including two children, died as a result of an alleged Israeli air strike on Hama in northwestern Syria on Friday, January 22, Syrian media said. In addition, four people were injured and three civilian houses were destroyed.

According to a military source quoted by Syrian outlets, Israel launched an air strike at 4 a.m. on Friday from the direction of Lebanese city of Tripoli against some targets on the outskirts of Hama city.

“Syrian air defense systems confronted an Israeli air aggression and shot down most of the hostile missiles,” the source said.

The Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that there were loud sounds of explosions in the area.

In turn, the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on alleged strikes resulted in the death of Syrian citizens.

Over the past time, Israel significantly stepped up its aerial bombardment. This incident was the fifth in a series of Israeli air attacks on targets in Syria in the past month and the first after the inauguration of the U.S. President Joe Biden. Foreign analysts and military experts said that Tel Aviv intensified air strikes on Syria, taking advantage of the vacuum of power in the United States on the eve of Biden taking office as president.

While the Donald Trump administration turned a blind eye on such aggression, a change of power in the United States could remarkably limit Israel in conducting of military operations against Syria and Iran-affiliated armed groups located there. As it was stated during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden intends to pursue a more conciliatory foreign policy towards Iran. In particular, he unequivocally advocated the resumption of the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In this regard, Tel Aviv’s unilateral actions against Iranian interests in Syria could harm Washington’s plans to reduce tensions with Tehran.

By continuing air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Israel obviously sent a massage to the United States that Tel Aviv will consistently run anti-Iran policy, even if it will be in conflict with the interests of the Joe Biden administration. On the other hand, such Israeli behavior threatens to worsen relations with the United States, its main ally.

In the nearest future, the US reaction on the Israeli belligerent approach toward Iran will likely determine whether the relations between Tehran, Tel Aviv and Washington will get better or the escalation will continue.

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