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Political and security risk updates
Africa: Somali go ernment and !frican "nion recapture to#n from al$Sha%aa% in rene#ed military offensi e& Americas: President Maduro a erts 'military coup( amid political crisis in )ene*uela& Asia and Pacific: +orth ,orea launches t#o missiles into the Sea of -apan prior to high$le el talks& Europe: .he /est coordinates further sanctions on 0ussia and e1presses concern o er the deployment of 0ussian troops on the "krainian %order& Middle East: 2gyptian court sentences 324 mem%ers of the Muslim Brotherhood to death& Polar regions: 0ussian President )ladimir Putin orders !rctic army de elopment&
Somali government and African nion recapture town from al!Shabaab in renewed military offensive 5n the latest ad ance against al$6aeda$affiliated al$Sha%aa%7 the Somali go ernment and !frican "nion forces ha e sei*ed the to#n of 2l Bur in the central Somali 8algaduud region7 a key outpost of the militant group& On 29 March7 the !frican "nion Mission in Somalia :!M5SOM; announced that7 follo#ing a three$day operation7 its forces regained control of the to#n 330 kilometres northeast of the capital7 Mogadishu& 2thiopian and Somali troops #ere am%ushed %y militant fighters as they entered the to#n7 and residents %egan to flee the area& 5n contrast to earlier offensi es7 #here al$Sha%aa% #as su%se<uently a%le to reoccupy the to#n7 the militant group is no# considered to %e ha e %een nota%ly #eakened %y the recent operation& =our years ago7 al$Sha%aa% controlled large areas in the centre and south of the country7 including the ma>ority of the capital7 Mogadishu? ho#e er7 since the %eginning of the rene#ed !M5SOM and go ernment offensi e in =e%ruary7 the group has %een dri en from 10 ma>or to#ns& @o#e er they remain in control of a num%er of southern to#ns&
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Aespite the rene#ed effort to com%at the militants and the deployment of o er 227000 !frican "nion troops and police personnel in Somalia7 sporadic al$Sha%aa% attacks continue& Most recently7 the presidential palace in Mogadishu #as attacked in =e%ruary& Political tensions #ithin the country are adding another dimension to the fight against the groupB on 24 March7 the president of SomaliaCs northeastern Puntland State alleged that the separatist administration of Somaliland7 #hich unilaterally declared its independence in 1441 :recognised internationally as an autonomous region;7 #as financing al$Sha%aa%& =ighters fleeing from the !M5SOM onslaught in southern and central Somalia are fre<uently passing through Somaliland and crossing into Puntland& #ther developments The continuing $oko %arem insurgency has killed more than a thousand people in &igeria since 'anuary( affecting at least three million people in total7 according to the +igerian 2mergency Management !gency :+2M!;& !t least a <uarter of a million ci ilians ha e %een displaced in the predominantly Muslim northeast of the country7 #ith the states of !dama#a7 Borno and Do%e %eing the #orst affected& +2M!Cs assessment is one of the first official accounts of the de astating impact that the intensifying iolence has had on !fricaCs leading oil$e1porting country& )enya has ordered refugees living in urban areas to return to their camps in a security measure aimed at *uelling retaliatory attacks by armed groups in response to )enya+s intervention in neighbouring Somalia, 5n his State of the +ation !ddress on 2E March7 President "huru ,enyatta #arned that the -u%ilee go ernment #ould not tolerate terrorist acti ities and announced a range of countermeasures7 including increasing the police force and installing FF.) cameras across ma>or cities& .he resettlement of internally displaced ci ilians is ongoing7 and ,enyans ha e %een asked to report any refugees or illegal immigrants li ing outside the o ercro#ded camps of Aadaa% and ,akuma& +eigh%ourhoods and refugee camps #ith large Somali populations ha e increasingly %een used as %ases to prepare retaliation attacks %y al$Sha%aa% sympathisers& A former -vory .oast minister has been charged with committing crimes against humanity during the clashes following the "/1/ elections, Fharles Ble 8oude7 #ho led the Doung Patriots militia7 is a close ally of former President Gaurent 8%ag%o7 #ho is also a#aiting trial at the 5nternational Friminal Fourt :5FF; at .he @ague& Ble 8oude7 #hose e1tradition last #eek caused protest among 8%ag%o supporters7 is accused of %eing an 'indirect perpetrator( of crimes7 including rape7 murder and persecution& 5n the post$ election iolence %et#een Aecem%er 2010 and !pril 20117 an estimated 37000 people #ere killed #hen 8%ag%o refused to admit defeat against his ri al !lassane Ouattara& #n the radar • The E is urging African governments to attend the E !Africa summit commencing on 2 !pril7 follo#ing an alleged %oycott directi e %y the !frican "nion& • • -ncreased security e0pected in across &igeria1s capital( Abu2a( follo#ing recent gunfire& Activist group $arakat3 4Enough35 is planning to protest outside the provincial government head*uarters in $62a7a( Algeria( on 2 !pril& • The & Security .ouncil is calling for continued international support for Sierra 8eone following the closure of the & mission as the country enters a more de elopment$focused stage& Open Briefing | "
President Maduro averts :military coup1 amid political crisis in ;ene<uela On 23 March7 )ene*uelan President +icolHs Maduro announced the detention of three air force generals in ol ed in an alleged anti$go ernment conspiracy& 5t #as said that the generals had fostered links #ith the opposition and had %een denounced %y fello# officers of the +ational !rmed =orces of the Boli arian 0epu%lic of )ene*uela :=!+B;& .he affair #as re ealed at a meeting #ith the "nion of South !merican +ations :"+!S"0; commission7 a regional delegation set up to %roker a peaceful solution to the current crisis& Since the %eginning of =e%ruary7 iolent clashes %et#een radical opposition groups and pro$ go ernment militia ha e erupted throughout the country& Both sides claim to represent the #ill of the people in a crisis that has turned into psychological #arfare& On one hand7 the opposition accuses the go ernment of operating a terror campaign? on the other7 the go ernment denounces the opposition for nurturing an insurrection& 5n that sense7 Maduro(s recent pu%lic statement is part of a %roader communication campaign to strengthen his legitimacy at home and also in the eyes of foreign o%ser ers& Since the esta%lishment of the Boli arian 0e olution under the no# deceased former president7 Gieutenant Folonel @ugo FhH e*7 a ne1us of the ci ilian and the military sectors has go erned the country& 2 en no#7 most of the ca%inet mem%ers of the Maduro administration are military reser ists7 and the president of the national assem%ly and figurehead of the Boli arian mo ement7 Aiosdado Fa%ello7 a former soldier7 #as designated commander of the =!+B last Aecem%er& @istorically7 the )ene*uelan military has played a prominent role in times of crisis %y either supporting or undermining go ernment rule& .he memory of the 11 !pril 2002 coup attempt7 #hich #as supported %y a fringe of the military and imprisoned FhH e* for 4I hours7 is still ery much present7 and Maduro has %een #orking hard to retain the allegiance of the =!+B during the current political crisis& 0egardless of the truth or not of the alleged plot in ol ing three air force officers7 recent e ents ha e demonstrated the am%iguous nature of )ene*uela(s military& /ary of this comple1ity7 Maduro has attempted to consolidate the ci ilian$military %ond %y appointing nota%le mem%ers of his "nited Socialist Party of )ene*uela :PS"); to prominent roles #ithin the =!+B& Moreo er7 most of the military officers that took part in the 2002 anti$Fha e* coup #ere remo ed in su%se<uent purges& @ence7 it is unlikely that a similar coup mounted %y the opposition #ill take place in the current conte1t& ! more plausi%le scenario #ould %e a 'soft coup( in #hich the military #ould refuse to follo# go ernment orders to repress acti ists& +onetheless7 the army has until no# pro ed its allegiance to the Boli arian 0e olution in general and to Maduro(s administration in particular& #ther developments $olivia has announced the creation of an anti!drug division in response to the rise of drug trafficking in the Santa .ru< department, Gast #eek7 the minister of the presidency7 Farlos 0omero7 confirmed the creation of a military anti$drug di ision in the city of DapacanJ& .he pro>ect is an initiati e of President 2 o Morales7 and is funded %y the 2uropean "nion7 in order to fight drug trafficking in the region& But local leaders ha e protested against the initiati e7 as they fear an escalation of iolence& 5n the past t#o years7 national authorities ha e sei*ed 13 tons of cocaine and destroyed 97000 drug la%oratories in the area&
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#n "> March( Paraguay endured its first national strike in "/ years, .he strike #as called %y agricultural organisations and arious la%our unions that demanded %etter #ages7 a fairer agrarian reform and lo#er costs of pu%lic transport& !ccording to the organisers7 I0K of union mem%ers took part in the national strike7 during #hich marches caused congestion in the country(s capital7 !sunciLn& President @oracio Fartes con ened a roundta%le and addressed some of the most salient issues& 5n recent years7 the country has %enefited from dramatic economic gro#th at the cost of rising ine<uality& 8ast week( the Ministerial Police of the State of Michoac?n( Me0ico( arrested 11 false militiamen, !t the start of the year7 President 2nri<ue PeMa +ieto incorporated ci ilian igilantes into a national coalition against drug cartels& But is has %een re ealed that some drug cartels7 such as the ,nights .emplar7 ha e in turn infiltrated the militias& =ollo#ing similar arrests at the start of the month7 the local authorities ha e stated that such a%uses #ill not %e tolerated& @o#e er7 the recurrence of infiltration cases %y criminal organisations seriously undermines the ia%ility of the military$ci il coalition& #n the radar • A special police operation is scheduled in the @Ao de 'aneiro favela of &ova %olanda( $ra<il( in order to 'pacify( the area ahead of the =5=! /orld Fup in -une& • • • Protests to continue in ;ene<uela1s main cities amid the ongoing political crisis, " April marks Malvinas Bay in Argentina( the 30th anni ersary of the 14I2 =alklands /ar& 11 April marks the anniversary of the failed coup attempt on former ;ene<uelan President %ugo .h?ve< in "//",
!sia and Pacific
&orth )orea launches two missiles into the Sea of 'apan prior to high!level talks +orth ,orea launched t#o missiles at 02B33 local time on 29 March& .hey #ere medium$range 0odong %allistic missiles7 #hich tra elled appro1imately 400 miles %efore landing in the Sea of -apan& .hese most recent tests follo# a num%er of short$range SF"A missile tests earlier this year7 though this is the first time in nearly four years that +orth ,orea has launched missiles of this range& .he launch came se eral days %efore meetings %et#een -apanese and +orth ,orean officials %egan in Bei>ing on 30 March7 attended %y the -apanese foreign ministry(s !sian and Oceanic !ffairs Bureau chief7 -unichi 5hara7 and +orth ,orean !m%assador Song 5l @o& .his is the first official diplomatic meeting of -apanese and +orth ,orean officials in o er a year& Aespite the recent launches7 the -apanese delegation seeks to negotiate #ith the +orth ,oreans on the issue of international a%duction& .he +orth ,orean go ernment is allegedly responsi%le for ordering the a%duction of -apanese citi*ens in the 14E0s and 14I0s for the purpose of teaching +orth ,orean spies a%out -apanese culture and society& 5n 20027 the +orth ,orean authorities admitted to 13 kidnappings& Since then7 +orth ,orea has reported that eight of the a%ducted -apanese ha e died and the remaining fi e ha e returned home& +e ertheless7 .okyo has indicated that if progress can %e made on this issue7 they are #illing to reduce sanctions on +orth ,orea& -apan imposed unilateral sanctions on +orth ,orea follo#ing a nuclear test and se eral missile launches in 2009&& .he sanctions prohi%it the import of all +orth ,orean goods7 the e1port of lu1ury goods to +orth ,orea7 and port calls %y +orth ,orean ships&
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.he +orth ,orean en oy has noted that no specific agenda has %een set for the meeting& Song has7 ho#e er7 reportedly indicated that he is not precluding the possi%ility of reopening a%duction in estigations& +e ertheless7 the +orth ,orean go ernment did agree to further in estigate the issue in 200I %ut failed to fulfil -apanese e1pectations& -apan and +orth ,orea do not ha e formal diplomatic ties and it is unlikely that these talks #ill result in tangi%le progress to#ards esta%lishing such ties7 %ut may #ork to impro e %ilateral relations and reduce tensions surrounding the a%duction issue& #ther developments 8arge!scale demonstrations resumed in $angkok( Thailand( on "D March ahead of senate elections on 9/ March, Protesters ha e called for the resignation of Prime Minister Dingluck Shina#atra7 #ho currently faces negligence charges surrounding a rice su%sidy programme& Protests %egan in late 2013 and clima1ed iolently during -anuary and =e%ruary of 2014& 5n early March7 protesters scaled %ack their demonstrations to pu%lic parks in Bangkok& Gast #eek(s demonstrations #ere not reported to %e iolent and #ere not e1pected to interfere #ith the elections& !fter the demonstrations7 participants #ere reported to ha e returned to their positions in the pu%lic park area& -ust o er 307000 people participated in the protests& !fter failed elections in =e%ruary for .hailand(s lo#er house of parliament7 ma>or political factions are struggling for control o er the upper house of parliament& #n "D March( Taiwanese President Ma Eing!2eou announced that protests by student groups in Taipei will not prevent a meeting between .hinese President Fi 'inping and Ma1s government, On Monday 24 March7 police iolently remo ed hundreds of .ai#anese students from the .ai#anese go ernment head<uarters7 #hich they had %een occupying& Police employed #ater cannons and %atons7 lea ing nearly 140 in>ured& !ppro1imately 90 demonstrators #ere arrested& .he students oppose a ne# .rade in Ser ices !greement #ith the Fhinese mainland that7 if appro ed7 #ill promote cross$straits in estment& .he iolence has stirred memories from 144E #hen nationalist 8uomindang forces killed more than 107000 anti$go ernment protesters in .aipei& +e ertheless7 Ma(s go ernment %elie es that impro ing trade relations #ith the mainland #ill assist .ai#an in >oining the .rans Pacific Partnership :.PP;7 spearheaded %y the "nited States7 and the 0egional Fomprehensi e 2conomic Partnership :0F2P;7 consisting of 10 mem%er states& Gooking for#ard7 tensions are likely to persist #ith protesting student groups7 %ut further iolence is unlikely& $uddhist mobs in @akhine State( Myanmar( attacked the residences and workplaces of foreign aid workers, 0akhine has often %een the site of iolent conflict %et#een Buddhists and 0ohingya Muslims& 5nformation from Sitt#e7 the capital of 0akhine7 indicates that a foreign aid #orker from the 8erman organisation Malteser 5nternational reportedly disrespected a Buddhist flag& .he #orker is said to ha e remo ed the flag from the outside of organisation(s %uilding in Sitt#e& Buddhist flags are %eing displayed on many %uildings in their area to signal disappro al of 0ohingya Muslims #ho are seen as un#elcome intruders from Bangladesh& .he iolence comes one month after the aid agency MNdecins Sans =rontiOres :MS=; #as e1pelled from the region& Mean#hile7 Myanmar(s first census has %egun and is e1pected to %e completed %y 10 !pril& .he census has pro oked #idespread international concern since the 0ohingya are not officially recognised as an ethnic group& .he census is likely to further agitate ethnic tensions in the region and the risk of ethnic conflict remains ele ated&
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#n the radar • -ncreased security is e0pected in )arachi and 8ahore( Pakistan( follo#ing reports of terrorist threats at #ell$kno#n historical sites& • Around "// protesters are e0pected to gather at the information ministry building in .ambodia1s capital( Phnom Penh( on 91 March( in an unauthorised protest organised %y opposition acti ist and o#ner of Phnom PenhCs Beehi e radio station7 Mam Sonando& • The nited Gront for Bemocracy against Bictatorship 4 BB5 has called for a rally on C April in Thailand& .he time and location ha e not yet %een disclosed& • -ncreased security to be e0pected in -ndia and Sri 8anka surrounding Puthandu 4Tamil &ew Eear5 on 14 !pril& • %eightened security e0pected during the final stage of sub!district elections in $angladesh,
The Hest coordinates further sanctions on @ussia and e0presses concern over the deployment of @ussian troops on the krainian border !t the 2"$"S summit in Brussels7 the 2uropean "nion and the "nited States confirmed their support for "kraine and their unity in sanctions against 0ussia& .he 8E met in Brussels on 24 March7 the first time the leading industrialised countries ha e met #ithout 0ussian in ol ement since 144I& .he countries agreed to hold their o#n summit this -une instead of attending the planned 8I Summit in Sochi7 0ussia& .he 8E has agreed to suspend participation in the 8I unless 0ussia changed its stance on neigh%ouring "kraine7 and has #arned 0ussian President )ladimir Putin that further desta%ilising acti ities in "kraine #ill result in damaging economic sanctions for certain sectors of the 0ussian economy& 5t #as also announced that the 8E countries( energy ministers are #orking to reduce their dependence on 0ussian oil and gas& On 2I March7 the "+ 8eneral !ssem%ly appro ed a sym%olic resolution designed to reaffirm the territorial integrity of "kraine7 and declared the Frimean referendum illegal :100 for7 11 against and 3I a%staining;& ! higher num%er of countries oted than anticipated7 signifying that there is #idespread international opposition to 0ussia(s anne1ation of Frimea& Before the ote7 )italy Fhurkin7 0ussian am%assador to the "nited +ations7 had tried to dissuade his counterparts7 calling the resolution confrontational and arguing that it #as counterproducti e to challenging the referendum& On 23 March7 Oleksandr .urchyno 7 "kraineCs acting president7 ordered "krainian troops to #ithdra# from the peninsula and the acting defence minister7 5hor .enyukh7 #as later sacked after it emerged that only a <uarter of troops stationed in Frimea #ere pledging allegiance to "kraine& .he 0ussian foreign minister7 Sergei Ga ro 7 denied 0ussia had intentions to in ade mainland "kraine7 despite a %uild$up of 0ussian troops on the "krainian %order& @o#e er7 the head of +!.O forces #arned that the troops gathered for military e1ercises also posed a threat to other former So iet "nion countries& Auring the recent 2"$"S summit7 the president of the 2uropean Founcil7 @enry )an 0ompuy7 #elcomed 0ussia(s #illingness to allo# o%ser ers into Frimea and for meeting #ith the "krainian foreign minister& On 2I March7 "S President Barack O%ama made contact #ith )ladimir Putin to urge the 0ussian president to remo e 0ussian troops from the %order and respond to diplomatic solutions put for#ard %y the "nited States earlier in the #eek& .he "nited States has estimated that 407000 0ussian troops are currently on the peninsula& Open Briefing | >
"kraine took steps to mo e for#ard last #eek& On 2I March7 Dulia .ymoshenko7 the former "krainian prime minister7 announced her intention to run for presidency in elections due to %e held on 23 May after %eing released from >ail last month after ser ing t#o years of a se en$year term issued in 2011& .ymoshenko has pre iously ser ed t#ice as prime minister %ut narro#ly lost to ousted President )iktor Danuko ych in the presidential elections in 2010& @o#e er7 .ymoshenko has already %een at the centre of a 0ussian smear campaign7 #hen she #as forced to deny the authenticity of a recording that urged the '#iping out( of ethnic 0ussians in "kraine& .he recording #as e1tensi ely %roadcast on 0ussian tele ision on 24 March& On 2I March7 the 5M= announced a pledge to pro ide the "krainian go ernment #ith loans of up to P1I %illion in order to support the country(s economy& Gast #eek7 the interim prime minister7 !rseniy Datsenyuk7 also presented plans to put "kraine %ack on track7 including raising ta1es7 free*ing the minimum #age7 and increasing energy prices7 and also #arned that the country #as facing %ankruptcy& .hese reforms are likely to impact the ast ma>ority of "krainians and could cost the current go ernment po#er& On 2I March7 the "S Fongress appro ed an O%ama$%acked aid package to "kraine7 #hich #ould pro ide the country #ith a P1 %illion loan? ho#e er7 the @ouse of 0epresentati es is e1pected to ote again on 3 March to address oppositions to the %ill %efore it is sent to the /hite @ouse& #ther developments The Turkish government has increased efforts control social media( #ith a ne# %an last #eek on Dou.u%e after the #e%site #as used to spread an audio recording of a security meeting %et#een go ernment7 military and spy officials discussing potential military action in Syria& Mean#hile7 an administrati e court in !nkara challenged the go ernment on 29 March7 o erruling the %an on .#itter& .he court ordered that the telecommunications regulator .5B reinstate access to the social media #e%site #ithin 30 days& Aeputy Prime Minister Bulent !rinc said that the company #ould o%ey the court order7 though the decision could %e appealed& On 23 March7 the "nited +ations called for the .urkish go ernment to cease the %locking of .#itter7 claiming that .urkey could %reach its international rights o%ligations& -ndependent candidate Andre2 )iska has been elected as Slovak president, .he 31$year$old millionaire entrepreneur7 #ho does not ha e a communist past7 co$founded a num%er of consumer loan companies %efore selling them to create 8ood !ngel7 a charity foundation that supports families and children suffering from serious illness and facing financially difficulty& @e scored 34&4K of the ote7 compared to current Prime Minister 0o%ert =ico(s 40&9K7 during the presidential run$off on 24 March& ,iska has o#ed to '(re$esta%lish the peopleCs trust in the office of president( and make politics 'more human(& ,iska #ill %e s#orn in to office on 13 -une& #n "I March( the )a<akh Befence Ministry announced that )a<akhstan was immediately suspending all @ussian rocket and missile tests on )a<akh territory, .he decision came after a 0ussian meteorological rocket7 launched from the ,apustin Dar testing site7 crashed close to the illage Shungai in /est ,a*akhstan& .he ,a*akh authorities stated that there had %een no casualties or serious damage7 %ut that further tests #ould not %e carried out until the causes of the crash are kno#n& ,apustin Dar testing site is a large facility reaching from the 0ussian southern !strakhan 0egion to /est ,a*akhstan7 #hich is rented from the ,a*akh go ernment& .he 0ussian defence ministry claimed that the rocket had crashed due to a failure of the rocket(s engine system& Aespite close political and economic ties %et#een the t#o countries7 tensions ha e risen in recent years o er unsuccessful rocket launches& Open Briefing | I
#n the radar • • E !Africa Summit to be held in $russels on 2$3 !pril& Public sector strike planned for D April in Kreece( in protest against the go ernment(s austerity measures& • S Secretary of State 'ohn )erry is scheduled to meet the @ussian foreign minister( Sergei 8avrov( on 1 !pril& • • Meeting of &AT# ministers to be held on 1 !pril in Brussels& E ! S Energy .ouncil to be held on 2 !pril in Brussels&
Egyptian court sentences C"D members of the Muslim $rotherhood to death ! court in the 2gyptian city of Minya took >ust t#o sessions to sentence 324 mem%ers of the Muslim Brotherhood to death on 24 March& .he defendants #ere charged #ith offences including the murder of a police officer7 the attempted murder of t#o police officers7 storming a police station and attacks on citi*ens and property& Si1teen people #ere ac<uitted %ecause la#yers argued that they #ere una%le to mount a defence %efore the >udgement #as made& Many of the defendants #ere arrested in the southern pro ince of Minya follo#ing the forced dispersal of t#o pro$Morsi demonstrations in Fairo in !ugust 2013& O er 400 people #ere killed in the su%se<uent unrest& Aefence la#yers claim that the erdict is the largest mass death sentence handed out in 2gypt(s recent history& .his is the latest and most prominent action taken %y the military$%acked esta%lishment in dri ing the Muslim Brotherhood underground& 2gypt has %een in turmoil since the military remo ed the democratically$elected 5slamist president7 Mohammed Morsi7 in -uly 2013& Pro$Brotherhood supporters ha e staged regular rallies and protests in defiance of the current go ernment& Some 197000 political dissidents ha e since %een arrested7 though the real figure may %e as high as 237000& .he same court ad>ourned a second mass trial of 9I3 defendants and pro$Morsi supporters on 23 March for charges relating to murder7 inciting iolence and sa%otage& Sentencing is no# due to take place at a hearing on 2I !pril& .he mass sentencing has %rought the integrity of the 2gyptian legal system into <uestion and Brotherhood supporters accuse the court of acting on %ehalf of the military& 5n contrast7 a police captain found guilty of gassing to death 3E prisoners in !ugust 2013 recei ed a more lenient 10$year >ail sentence& .he draconian sentences issued %y the court ha e attracted #idespread condemnation7 %oth domestically and a%road7 and the "nited +ations has e1pressed concerns o er the fairness of the trial that took place o er the duration of t#o days& 5n 2gypt7 students and demonstrators ha e clashed #ith police in Minya and !le1andria& @o#e er7 the interim go ernment has defended the court(s decision& 5t is unlikely that the sentencing #ill %e carried out7 gi en the #idespread condemnation and the ad>ournment of a similar trial on the follo#ing day? a retrial is likely to %e filed& .he go ernment crackdo#n on the Muslim Brotherhood #ill continue and further trials can %e e1pected&
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#ther developments Two employees of the nited &ations( an -talian diplomat and his Eemeni driver( were kidnapped and freed unharmed in the Eemeni capital of Sanaa on "C March, .heir ehicle #as sei*ed %y gunmen in the @ada district of the city %efore %eing freed %y Demeni security forces hours later& Police officers tracked the kidnappers to a house and follo#ing an initial e1change of gunfire7 negotiated the release of the hostages& ,idnapping is common in Demen and the country(s security situation remains olatile& .hose in ol ed in kidnapping ary from opportunists7 tri%esmen seeking to resol e disputes #ith the go ernment and militia intent on terrorising foreign isitors to the country& The Taliban has stepped up its campaign of violence in the run up to Afghanistan1s presidential election ne0t month, 5nsurgents attacked an electoral commission office in ,a%ul on 23 March7 killing fi e people& Suicide %om%ers also attacked a %ank in ,unar pro ince and a sporting e ent in ,undu*7 killing at least 10 people& On 2I March7 .ali%an insurgents also attacked a ,a%ul guesthouse used %y a "S$%ased aid group& !fghan security forces killed fi e attackers and safely e acuated se eral foreigners #orking for 0oots of Peace& =urther incidents of iolence are highly likely in the run up to the poll& Gield Marshall Abdul Gattah al!Sisi stepped down from his role as Egypt1s military chief and announced his presidential bid on "> March, .he announcement has long %een speculated and al$Sisi is e1pected to %ecome 2gypt(s ne1t president gi en the lack of legitimate opponents and the current crackdo#n on those that criticise the military$%acked go ernment& !l$Sisi #as responsi%le for the o erthro# of 5slamist President Mohammed Morsi in -uly 20137 the suspension of the constitution and the introduction of a technocratic interim go ernment& .he #idespread crackdo#n on supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood has su%se<uently di ided the country and al$Sisi remains a contro ersial figure& 2lections ha e yet to %e confirmed %ut are e1pected to take place in -uly& #n the radar • • Afghanistan1s presidential election is scheduled to take place on C April, A report from the #rganisation for the Prohibition of .hemical Heapons 4#P.H5 says that Syria has pledged to remove all chemical weapons by 19 April, • nofficial campaigning will begin in -ra* as parliamentary candidates seek to gain a foothold ahead of elections on 9/ April, • 1C April marks the anniversary of the rioting in Ahwas( -ran( in "//C( #hich resulted in the deaths of appro1imately 100 people& • 8ebanon1s first offshore gas bidding round is due to open on 1/ April, 5n estment in Ge%anon(s natural gas deposits #ill %e #elcomed7 as the country is %attling #ith the o erspill from Syria(s conflict&
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@ussian President ;ladimir Putin orders Arctic army development 0ussian President )ladimir Putin has called for officers and %ureaucrats of the armed forces and defence ministry to implement the de elopment of an increasingly sophisticated 0ussian military presence in the !rctic& .he 0ussian president charged the heads of the rele ant institutions #ith the task during a speech gi en in the ,remlin to formalise the promotions of arious high$ranking officers on 2I March& !ccording to the ,remlin(s #e%site7 Putin also placed a special emphasis on !rctic military de elopment during a %riefing #ith the Security Founcil later on the same day& .he Security Founcil is a go ernment %ody that unites representati es of the e1ecuti e #ith arious heads of ministries to discuss foreign policy and security concerns& 0ussia has already strengthened its military presence in the !rctic in the last fe# years& Particular focus has %een on the #estern part of the !rctic and the Barents Sea? the area is not only the most de eloped part of the 0ussian !rctic and the most crucial for 0ussia(s economic strategy %ut7 as Putin #arned in a speech last year7 also presents a possi%le a enue of attack for "S su%marines carrying nuclear #arheads& 0ussia(s +orthern =leet %ased out of the Murmansk region is to recei e ne# su%marines to counter this potential threat& 0ussia(s military %uild$up in the !rctic has nota%ly accelerated o er the last year #ithB the reopening of formerly a%andoned So iet$era %ases :first in the +e# Si%erian 5slands and more recently in the ,ola Peninsula;? the +orthern =leet e1ercises conducted along the +orthern Sea 0oute last autumn? and e1ercises conducted %y other di isions of the armed forces7 most nota%ly an airdrop operation in the +e# Si%erian 5slands7 of a scale and technical sophistication unprecedented in the !rctic& /hile Putin(s military interest in the !rctic is not a ne# phenomenon7 the international en ironment in #hich this de elopment is taking place has changed dramatically o er the last fe# #eeks in reaction to 0ussia(s anne1ation of Frimea& .he !rctic +!.O states of the "nited States7 Fanada and +or#ay ha e all cancelled >oint military e1ercises #ith 0ussia7 and on 1I March former "S Secretary of State @illary Flinton called on Fanada and the "nited States to present a united front against #hat she portrayed as 'heightened aggression( %y 0ussia in the !rctic& /ith rhetoric heating up in %oth 2astern and /estern foreign policy announcements7 and the #ithdra#al of information sharing as a result of cancelled >oint e1ercises7 the situation in the !rctic7 particularly in the Barents Sea7 has %ecome increasingly unpredicta%le& +e ertheless7 #hile such unpredicta%ility is un#elcome7 the e1istence of immediate threats in the !rctic should not %e e1aggeratedB the meeting of Senior !rctic Officials of the !rctic Founcil #ent ahead #ith 0ussian participation this #eek7 pro iding a reassuring sign that despite posturing7 the long history of close cooperation %et#een !rctic states continues to pro e more alua%le than short$term political goals&
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#ther developments Senior Arctic #fficials 4SA/s5 met at Eellowknife( .anada( on "C!"I March( in the second meeting of S!Os to take place under Fanada(s current chairmanship of the !rctic Founcil& .he S!Os appro ed a num%er of proposed and ongoing pro>ects at the meeting& .hese included the creation of an !rctic 2conomic Founcil and a report into a set of guidelines into systems safety management for !rctic offshore oil and gas de elopments& Fhair of the Senior !rctic Officials7 Patrick Bor%ey7 #as <uoted as %eing 'pleased #ith the meeting outcomes(7 remarking that the officials and #orking groups are 'making good progress on the Founcil(s priority initiati es(& @ussia1s -nstitute for Strategic Studies 4@-SS5 has opened a new analytical centre( in the northern city of Arkhangelsk( tasked #ith focusing on 0ussian security policy in the !rctic& .he analytical centre is %ased at the +orthern !rctic =ederal "ni ersity :+!r=";7 one of 0ussia(s specially funded research centres and also an acti e participant in the international coalition of northern research centres kno#n as the "ni ersity of the !rctic& /hile the director of the 05SS7 Gieutenant 8eneral Geonid 0eshetniko 7 used his speech at the 2E March opening ceremony to criticise "S and 2" foreign policy o er "kraine7 he also pledged that the centre is open for cooperation #ith other international research institutions& @ussian aerial military e0ercises conducted close to the Ginnish border on the evening of "> March caused some concern for the residents of a number of Ginnish towns( #ho contacted local rescue ser ices to report sightings of #hat they %elie ed to %e emergency flares& .he reports came in from the eastern =innish to#ns of 5matra7 -oensuu7 ,uopio7 5lomantsi7 0antasalmi and Puumala& =inland(s defence ministry declined to comment on the matter& #n the radar • Economists and business owners in Ginland are closely watching the e0change rate of the @ussian rouble, !lready hit %y foreign in estor panic in the #ake of the Frimea crisis7 a further dip as a result of a possi%le e1pansion of economic sanctions could dri e many =innish %usinesses dependent on the 0ussian e1port market to %ankruptcy& • 8ufthansa pilots have called a three!day strike to begin on 1 April, .he strike is likely to cause the cancellation of hundreds of flights7 including many to +ordic countries and 0ussia& • An Arctic Shipping Gorum will be held on J!1/ April in %elsinki( Ginland, Ship design for ice$ going essels #ill %e discussed in light of the 5nternational Marine Organisation(s recommendations under the ne# Polar Fode&
Published with intelligence support from Bradburys Global Risk Partners | www,bradburys,co,uk
Analysts: Fhris !%%ott7 Matthe# Fouillard7 Aerek Frystal7 .ancrOde =euillade7 Gaura @artmann7 Patrick Se#ell7 Aaniel .aylor and Flaudia /agner& Open Briefing | 11
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