The UN Security Council has warned that the increasing rate at which sea levels are rising poses a serious threat to 900 million people living in low-lying coastal areas. After the council’s first major session on sea-level rise earlier this month, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that in the coming decades entire populations would be at great risk. He described the rising oceans as a ‘threat multiplier’ that could result in conflicts over land and mass migration.
Some of the world’s largest cities face major impacts from the predicted rises and, closer to home, communities in the Torres Strait could be forced to leave their islands and move to mainland Australia. Guterres noted that sea-level rise is having effects on some Pacific countries up to four times more intense than the global average.
A UN report last year predicted that global temperatures could rise by 2.4°C by the end of the century—nearly 1°C higher than the Paris climate accord goal.
Peru’s government has extended a state of emergency to suppress ongoing protests against President Dina Boluarte’s rule. The country has been gripped by political strife since the arrest of former president Pedro Castillo on 7 December following his attempt to dissolve Congress and rule by decree. Demonstrators are demanding the dissolution of Congress, a new constitution and Boluarte’s resignation.
Boluarte is Peru’s sixth president in six years that have been marked by severe political instability. The current protests reflect the population’s longstanding distrust of government institutions and Peru’s ruling elite. So far, Lima has sought to forcibly suppress the protests, but the government’s opponents say it has not addressed the underlying grievances.
More than 60 civilians have died in clashes with security forces, and Amnesty International says excessive force driven by systemic racism has been used to counter the protests led by Indigenous Peruvians. Even if this heavy-handed approach succeeds, it’s feared that the root causes of the unrest will remain, providing the seeds of future conflict.
On 14 January, a Russian propaganda campaign aimed at sowing anti-French sentiment in Africa surfaced on Twitter. It featured an animated video depicting members of the Wagner Group, a Russian private military company, defeating French ‘zombies’ in Mali and Burkina Faso. The video was widely circulated on social media and pro-Kremlin Telegram channels and was apparently designed to provoke strong emotional responses and shape perceptions in an easily digestible format.
This messaging aligns with previous examples of Wagner’s animated propaganda and suggests a larger Russian effort to gain support in the Sahel and exacerbate anti-French hostility, particularly in countries where jihadist insurgency has led to coups against elected leaders. France has established a monitoring and strategy team led by an army general to find ways to deal with the Russian campaign.
Recent reports indicate that Russia’s involvement in West Africa has led to increased violence against civilians and strengthened extremist forces.
Follow the money
Russia is gearing up to use the digital rouble as a new form of national currency from April, while its central bank plans to develop a cross-border payments model using the digital currency. Technological capacity constraints and geopolitical shifts, however, have limited Russia’s opportunities to integrate its central bank digital currency platforms with BRICS members Brazil, India and South Africa. That leaves China as the only viable partner.
As bilateral cooperation on cryptocurrencies intensifies, so will Russia’s growing dependence on the Chinese yuan. During 2022, Russia’s efforts to ‘de-dollarise’ pushed yuan–rouble trade to an average of almost 9 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) per day, more than 80 times the level in February.
This interplay adds another dimension to Russia’s ‘no limits’ partnership with China. Beijing has previously raised ‘questions and concerns’ about the war in Ukraine, now officially into its second year. Should relations deteriorate, Russia may face reserve losses and payment disruptions.
The militant network Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP; also known as the Pakistan Taliban) has claimed responsibility for a suicide-bomb attack on the police headquarters in Karachi that killed at least three members of the security forces and a civilian. The attack occurred just weeks after a suicide-bomb blast at a mosque in a Peshawar security compound killed more than 100 people, mostly police and officials.
The attacks mirror a trend in TTP violence of targeting police and security personnel. At a time when Pakistan is reeling under political instability, a crippled economy and the aftermath of devastating floods, the TTP is targeting the nation’s security institutions and personnel to reduce its capacity to retaliate.
There has been a surge in TTP violence since 2021, attributed to the Afghan Taliban’s return to power. The Afghan Taliban’s inability and unwillingness to shut down TTP bases in Afghanistan has already strained relations with Islamabad. The attacks will inevitably exacerbate fissures between Pakistan and Kabul’s rulers.
February 24, 2023 Published by The Aspi Strategist.