Tag Archives: Security

Iranian Army Holds Unannounced Drill near Turkey Border

The Iranian Army Ground Force staged a war game in the country’s northwestern regions near the common border with Turkey on Wednesday.

The unannounced military exercise has been held in regions near Oroumiyeh, capital of the northwestern province of West Azarbaijan, with Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi in attendance.

The military drill involves rapid reaction units, mobile and offense brigades, and helicopters from the Army Ground Force’s Airborne Unit.

Held with the theme “One Target, One Shot”, the exercise is aimed at evaluating the combat preparedness of Army units and their mobility and agility in the battlefield.

Iran’s Armed Forces hold routine military exercises throughout the year.

Iranian officials have repeatedly underscored that the country will not hesitate to strengthen its military capabilities, including its missile power, which are entirely meant for defense, and that Iran’s defense capabilities will be never subject to negotiations.


Security tight as election materials land in Afghanistan

Election material has arrived in Afghanistan for the presidential vote which is just over two weeks away.

With the US-Taliban talks over, for now, the Afghan government has scheduled presidential elections on September 28.

But escorting the material safely is a priority for security forces who want to shield it from the Taliban, who is against the Afghan people participating.

Election material has arrived in Afghanistan for the presidential vote which is just over two weeks away.

With the US-Taliban talks over, for now, the Afghan government has scheduled presidential elections on September 28.

But escorting the material safely is a priority for security forces who want to shield it from the Taliban, who is against the Afghan people participating.


Belarusian MIA predicts increase in card money theft

The crime situation in Belarus remains under control this year, but in some areas the number of crimes can increase, said Interior Minister Yury Karayeu during his meeting with the President of Belarus on September 5.

The head of the Interior Ministry said that the share of especially serious and serious crimes in the country is decreasing, reported the press service of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

At the same time, the Minister noted the trend of increasing number of high-tech crimes.

They are mainly related to the theft of money through manipulation with plastic cards and hacking user accounts.


NATO, US discuss current security issues

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday discussed security issues, the alliance’s chief said.

“Great discussion with @SecPompeo on current security issues. #NATO fully supports efforts to achieve peace in #Afghanistan. I condemn recent horrific attacks & NATO remains committed to supporting Afghan forces,” Stoltenberg said on Twitter after a closed-door talk.

Later Tuesday, Pompeo will meet with European Parliament President David Sassoli.

During his two-day trip to Brussels, he has met with NATO and EU leaders to discuss Transatlantic cooperation on economic and security issues.

On Monday, he met with incoming EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“I’m happy to welcome @SecPompeo to Brussels. Great to getting to know each other better and talking to him about the #transatlantic relationship between the #EU and #US,” she said on Twitter.


Peru to Boost Border Security After Stricter Entry Rule for Venezuelans

LIMA – Peru plans to beef up security at its border with Ecuador to prevent illegal immigration, after stricter entry requirements for Venezuelans led to a 90% drop in legal crossings, a government official said on Monday.

More than 850,000 Venezuelans have fled their homeland for Peru in recent years, part of a mass exodus from the Caribbean nation as it faces a crippling economic crisis.

But in June, Peru started requiring Venezuelans who arrive to already have visas, part of stricter policies for Venezuelans in some South American nations.

“The entry of Venezuelan migrants to our country has dropped dramatically and today it’s 90% less than what we saw in June,” Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio told journalists.

Popolizio said his ministry was working with the interior ministry and police to make sure Venezuelan migrants were not evading the new requirements by crossing illegally.

“We’re engaged in a very direct coordination … to ensure more protection all along our border and to avoid illegal entries,” Popolizio said.

Popolizio said Peru was one of 11 countries in the region trying to coordinate their policies on handling immigration from Venezuela.

After Peru started requiring visas of Venezuelans, Chile and Ecuador implemented similar measures. All three countries also now require Venezuelans to have passports, a document that is hard to obtain for the growing ranks of poor Venezuelans.


In northern Israel, local leaders demand action on stalled security plan

Local leaders in northern Israel met Monday near the site of a Hezbollah missile strike on an IDF base a day before, demanding the government implement a stalled program to bolster fortifications for communities close to the border with Lebanon. 

The plan, which is estimated to cost NIS 5 billion, was presented a year and a half ago but frozen soon after.

According to the head of the forum of local leaders, Moshe Davidovich, tens of thousands of Israelis have no way to protect themselves in the event of an attack other than lying down on the ground and sheltering themselves with their hands.

The tensions in the north reached a peak on Sunday when Hezbollah fired several anti-tank missiles towards an IDF base in the area of Moshav Avivim.

According to the head of the forum of local leaders, Moshe Davidovich, tens of thousands of Israelis have no way to protect themselves in the event of an attack other than lying down on the ground and sheltering themselves with their hands.

The tensions in the north reached a peak on Sunday when Hezbollah fired several anti-tank missiles towards an IDF base in the area of Moshav Avivim.

There were no Israeli casualties, but civilians living 4 kilometers or less from the border were instructed to seek shelter and remain indoors for several hours before they were told it was safe to return to normal.

Amit Sofer, the head of Marom Hagalil Regional Council and host of the meeting, said Sunday’s events were a reminder of the importance of increasing preparedness in the area.

“We need to remember that the events yesterday were on the military front. If it had been the civilian front, we all know what would have happened,” he said.

“The plan that was formulated is a life-saver and we should implement it immediately,” he said.

Davidovich, who is head of Mateh Asher Regional Council, said that Hezbollah was capable of causing widespread damage, and urged the govenment to take action.  

“We need to make decisions now,” he said, “as the government’s ineptitude in fortifying the north is apparent. The people are living with no adequate shelter, Hezbollah has the tools it needs to cause a lot of destruction and casualties in the area.

“We are committed to the protection of our people and call for the government to get itself together,” he said.

Meanwhile, Giora Zeltz, the head of the Upper Galilee Regional Council, also warned of an impending disaster.

“There’s a real dissonance between the government’s claims and its actions,” he said. “According to the government, more than 100,000  missiles are expected to land from Rosh Hanikra (in the west) all the way to Mount Hermon (on the Golan Heights). Think about the day when those missiles fall on populated areas.”

He added: “More than 50% of the people in these areas don’t have shelters, and when a major event happens there will be hundreds of thousands with no shelter to protect them. We’re talking about a very large area with zero response time. We need to fortify all the public and educational buildings by the end of 2020. With all the stupidity floating around, nothing is happening.”

Oded Forer of Israel Beytenu told Ynet on Monday that the fortification plan was neglected without his party leader Avigdor Liberman at the Defense Ministry, and that the blame for inaction should be placed on the Netanyahu-led government.

“Liberman transferred NIS 5 billion to the government while he was minister of defense, and the plan was abandoned the day he left the ministry,” Forer said. “it needs to be said that fortifying the north is very low on the government’s agenda, in contrast to what is actually needed and funded.

“The responsibility is in the hands of the prime minister first and foremost. Apparently, the north is less important than other areas.”


Erbil security arrest ISIS member in refugee camp

 A suspected Islamic State militant was arrested on Sunday following an investigation after a man was killed in Erbil’s Debaga Camp the night before, Erbil security said.

Erbil security forces (Asayish) said in a statement following the arrest that the culprit was a 15-year-old named Ahmed Khalifa who lived at the camp. Khalifa and four of his friends were reportedly instructed by the Islamic State to kill a civilian living at the camp, the security added.

“The deceased was a displaced person from the surroundings of Shargat district named Yousef Amer, who was found beheaded in the Debaga Camp in Erbil,” the statement informed.  

“Following the discovery of the body, the security forces began their investigation enabling them to capture one of the culprits,” it added.

“The accused will be held responsible in the court of law as the investigation continues to apprehend the rest of the criminals.”   

The Debaga refugee camp in southern Erbil mainly houses Syrian refugees. However, following the Mosul liberation operation, the camp was filled with displaced persons who escaped the battlefield.

Such incidents are uncommon in the Kurdistan Region camps as authorities continuously conduct a thorough screening of displaced citizens to ensure no Islamic State militants hide among civilians upon arrival.

Islamic State sleeper cells have recently increased their activity in the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil, exploiting the security void between Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces. 


What’s Behind the Rising US-Southeast Asia Coast Guard Cooperation?

Over the past few weeks, we have seen a number of engagements between the coast guards of the United States and Southeast Asian states. While these interactions themselves may not attract many headlines in and of themselves, they deserve mention as part of a broader trend of increasing collaboration between the United States and the coast guards and maritime law enforcement agencies of Southeast Asian countries as part of Washington’s broader approach to Indo-Pacific security.

U.S. cooperation with Southeast Asia’s coast guards itself is not new. Indeed, Washington has played an important and often underappreciated role in assisting regional states with the development of their navies and newer maritime law enforcement agencies (MLEAs) over the years through various means including education, training, or capacity-building, even though the spotlight tends to be on select initiatives such as the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) or the Gulf of Thailand Maritime Law Enforcement Initiative (GOTI).

Nonetheless, the trend has been intensifying over the past few years as well. Part of this is a reflection of the rising role – whether actual or potential – that MLEAs play in the maritime security of Southeast Asian states themselves. And part of it is also a reflection of the recognition by Washington that engaging these actors is important in helping the United States navigate gray zone security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, including the South China Sea and China’s involvement there which relies on the use of non-military vessels to advance Beijing’s objectives beyond the threshold of war. Back in June, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander Linda Fagan told a conference call that growing Coast Guard involvement in the region could help with law enforcement and capacity-building to address a range of maritime security challenges.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

We have seen manifestations of this put into practice this year as part of ongoing collaboration. Back in May, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf – one of the vessels deployed within the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet – held a joint search-and-rescue exercise with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and then made a port call to Manila, which Fagan told a conference call was the first visit of its kind in seven years. And from a more multilateral perspective, in terms of publicized engagements, back in June, there was an engagement held under the Southeast Asia Maritime Law Enforcement Initiative (SEAMLEI) – hosted by Indonesia’s coast guard, BAKAMLA, and supported by the United States, that featured involvement from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam – that included a workshop as well as an exercise. Coast guard involvement has also been seen as part of ongoing U.S. exercises with Southeast Asian states, including in this year’s iteration of the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercises which are set to wrap up later this week before the launch of the first-ever U.S.-ASEAN Maritime Exercise.

In a continuation of this trend, increasing coast guard cooperation between the United States and Southeast Asian states has been in the spotlight over the past few weeks as well with some significant firsts. For instance, from August 9-11, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted its first-ever joint exercise with BAKAMLA of its kind. And following that, from August 14-18, this year’s iteration of the U.S.-Malaysia Maritime Training Activity (MTA), MTA Malaysia 2019, featured the inaugural participation of the coast guard forces on both sides as well, with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

These engagements themselves ought to be viewed as building off of existing U.S. collaboration with Southeast Asian MLEAs, rather than new developments in and of themselves. And they are only one aspect of Washington’s efforts in this vein, with ongoing work in areas such as education and equipment transfers and also collaboration with other allies and partners also active in the maritime security domain, including Japan. Nonetheless, they do underscore the United States’ growing efforts to work with individual MLEAs including coast guards more directly and extensively as part of its wider regional security approach.

To be sure, it is still early days in the trend of rising U.S. collaboration with Southeast Asian coast guards, and U.S. officials have indicated that much more is in the works as well. There are still limitations to consider too – whether on the U.S. side, where officials, including Fagan herself, have previously testified to constraints that limit the U.S. Coast Guard’s capabilities, or on the Southeast Asia side, where there are serious capacity shortfalls among coast guard forces, many of which have only recently been formed and are still hobbled by manifold challenges including the lack of coordination in maritime security policy and fierce bureaucratic rivalries.

Nonetheless, the general trend of rising coast guard collaboration between the United States and Southeast Asian states continues to be an important trend to watch. It is a development that could factor into broader implications for the United States and specific Southeast Asian countries, but also for the regional security order more generally.


Taliban See Resurgence In Northwestern Pakistan

The Taliban have returned to a northwestern Pakistani region where thousands were killed and millions displaced as Islamabad claimed to end years of insurgent control in a major military offensive a decade ago.

Security officials, lawmakers, and locals agree that the notorious Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or movement of the Pakistani Taliban, have returned to the mountainous district of Buner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

But they disagree over the threat posed by the insurgents or how successful they are in trying to assert influence by tormenting locals and challenging the government’s authority.

“We are engaged in search and strike offensives day and night but have so far not succeeded in arresting them,” Buner’s top police official, Muhammad Irshad, told Radio Mashaal.

He says the military and the police are engaged in a joint offensive against the militants, but the region’s mountainous geography favors the insurgents.

“We are concentrated on Elam Mountain, which is a 46-square-kilometer area with thick forests,” he said this week. “Now that the maize crop is ripe [the insurgents have more places to hide]. But our efforts have been going on for a week.”

But many locals have seen the Taliban. They say the insurgents are bent on establishing control.

Bakht Afsar, a resident of Buner’s Sultan Wass village, says the insurgents roam freely and have even established check posts in some regions.

“What we are witnessing here from the past two months tells us that the government, state, and law are absent,” he told Radio Mashaal. “They [the Taliban] patrol villages. They have established check posts on the main roads, they check IDs of locals and search their vehicles. They are even seen during the daytime.”

The return of the TTP first came to light earlier this month when a lawmaker publicized a purported threatening letter he had received from the militants. Sardar Hussain Babak, a leader of the secular Awami National Party (ANP), represents a Buner constituency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s provincial assembly.

He told Radio Mashaal that a handwritten letter he received on August 13 included threats.

“The letter demanded we pay them to help them in their activities,” he said. “They warned us that if we failed to comply, they would unleash their suicide bombers and assassins.”

In 2009, an ANP-led provincial civilian administration ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the military conducted a large-scale operation to cleanse Buner and the neighboring districts of Swat, Shangla, Dir, and Malakand, which are all part of the larger region called Malakand Division. Operation Rah-e Rast, as the offensive was officially dubbed, displaced more than 3 million predominately Pashtun residents of Buner and Swat.

Thousands of civilians died in militant attacks and military offensives after the emergence of the Taliban in Swat in 2006. The local Taliban group joined the TTP in 2007, which was an umbrella alliance of Taliban factions across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Their local leader, Maulana Fazlullah, had a long history of violence and used his fiery sermons to win support for his radical ideology.

The resurfacing of the Taliban in Buner has raised local fears over a possible comeback of past horrors. But in a purported statement on August 17, the TTP rejected tormenting locals by asking for extortion payments.

Lawmaker Riaz Khan, a leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf political party, also represents Buner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s assembly. He told Radio Mashaal that their administration is doing all it can to counter the emergence of the Taliban.

“The government is doing everything in its power to end terrorism, but it does not have Aladdin’s magic lamp to change things overnight,” he said.


Denmark to Boost Military Cooperation With Greenland After Trump’s Sale Offer

Earlier, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen described Donald Trump’s intent to buy Greenland an as “absurd discussion”. The US President responded by announcing that cancellation of his visit to Denmark, which had been slated for early September.

Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen and Greenland’s Minister of Education, Culture, Church and Foreign Affairs Ane Lone Bagger have agreed to boost bilateral military cooperation, according to the Danish Defence Ministry.

“We need to establish a closer and regular dialogue with Greenland and the Faroe Islands on defence policy-related issues,” Bramsen said, referring to the importance of the Danish military presence in the Arctic region.

She added that as far as security policy issues are concerned, Denmark would help to train personnel from Greenland and the Faroe Islands under the Defence Academy programmes, and that Greenland firefighters will be offered additional emergency training courses.

Ane Lone Bagger also emphasised Greenland’s readiness to expand cooperation with Denmark in this field.

“The Government of Greenland is highly satisfied with the results of the joint exercises that were [recently] held in Greenland. We would like to see more such drills in order to be better prepared to grapple with accidents and disasters,” said Bagger.

Trump-Frederiksen Diplomatic Tit-for-Tat Over Greenland

The two leaders’ statements come against the background of a showdown between Donald Trump and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen over the US President’s “strategic interest” in buying Greenland.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Frederiksen reiterated that the island was not for sale.

“A discussion about a potential sale of Greenland has been put forward. It has been rejected by Greenland Premier Kim Kielsen, and I fully stand behind that rejection,” she said, adding that she was “disappointed and surprised” by Trump’s decision.

Earlier, Frederiksen called the US President’s push to buy Greenland an “absurd discussion,” expressing “strong hope” that “this is not meant seriously”.

Trump, in turn, described the Danish Prime Minister’s statement as “nasty” adding that “it was not a nice way of doing it.” 

“She could have just said, ‘No, we’d rather not do it.’ She’s not talking to me, she’s talking to the United States of America. They can’t say: ‘How absurd’”, Trump added.

The remarks followed Trump’s move to postpone his meeting with Frederiksen in Denmark, due to be held in two weeks, which he said was prompted by Frederiksen’s reluctance to discuss the purchase of Greenland with the US President.

Late last week, the Wall Street Journal quoted several unnamed sources as saying that Trump had recently been asking his advisers if Washington could purchase Greenland. The sources claimed that Trump was very interested when he learned about Greenland’s natural resources and its geopolitical status.  

An autonomous region within the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland is home to just 60,000 people even though it is bigger than Mexico in terms of territory. Denmark has been in charge of issues pertaining to Greenland’s foreign affairs, military and constitution as of since 1979, with Greenland only dealing with internal affairs on an independent basis.