By Nikki Pfadt, Senior Analyst, Subsaharan Africa Section Analytical Question: State of democracy and human rights in Ethiopia | Date: 26 March 2020 International organizations have recently called upon the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, to end an internet shutdown in the Oromia region of the country that is blocking millions of Ethiopians from …
Over the past few of weeks, COVID-19, the life-threatening disease that is caused by SARS-COV-2 (novel coronavirus) has wreaked havoc on the United States. Thus far, this pandemic has brought unprecedented orders by public officials, such as school cancellations, restaurant and bar closures, and even limitations as to when and who can venture in public. This new reality raises the question of what extent federal and local governments will go to in order to maintain virus-containment and public order. This question has brought the term martial law into the spotlight. Martial law is commonly defined as the act of suspending all civil authority, such as state and local governments, and placing the areas in their jurisdiction under the control of the US Armed Forces. In addition, the implementation of martial law can include the temporarily suspension of various constitutional rights.
For countries that are currently enforcing strict national lockdowns, such as Italy, Spain, and previously China, it can be stated with low confidence that non-essential international travel bans will last for at least three to five months. If countries like the US and the UK, which have not yet imposed strict measures, go into a national lockdown within the next week, it can be stated with low confidence that the travel ban will last for the next three to five months. However, if such countries choose not to implement lockdowns, it can be stated with low confidence that travel bans will last no more than two months. For countries that have seen COVID-19 cases, but have not been majorly effected, nor have implement lockdowns, such as many of the Latin American and African countries, it can be stated with low confidence that travel bans will last no longer than two months.
Following a seven month ban of social media, the Indian government has eased Internet restrictions in India’s Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory. We assess, with moderate confidence, that this will result in decreased political stability and increased police activity in the Jammu and Kashmir region, which will likely result in increased ethnic tensions in the region. On March 4, the Home Department of Jammu and Kashmir released an order restricting Internet speed to 2G. As the new order does not include “white-listed” websites or place restrictions on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as past orders did, it marks the end of a ban on social media sites that had been in place since August 2019. The current order is active through March 17, unless modified earlier.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the US Marshalls Service have reportedly arrested Jessica Johana Oseguera Gonzalez, aka “La Negra,” the daughter of the Jalisco New Generacion Cartel’s (CJNG) leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes. This arrest, which took place on , on February 27, may point to an increased focus by both US and Mexican officials on dissolving drug trafficking organizations along their shared border. Oseguera Cervantes was attempting to visit her brother, Rubén Osegura-González following his extradition to the US. His recent extradition may indicate renewed counter-narcotics cooperation between the US and Mexico. While it is possible that future endeavors will aim to neutralize drug trafficking across the US- Mexico border, it is too soon to state with confidence that future operations will prioritize detaining the family members of prominent drug trafficking organizations.
It is certain that Iran will continue to retaliate to the killing of Soleimani; however, the attack on the Ukrainian plane has served as a significant barrier for Iranian plans. With tensions of a potential civil war and the world powers watching closely, Iran appears to be backing off momentarily. Although it is quieter than before, we believe more attacks will be seen in the upcoming months. It can be stated with moderate confidence that Iran will continue its attempt to push US forces out of Iraq by proceeding to sporadically attack US bases in the region. It can also be stated with moderate confidence that we may see the awakening of some form of sleeper cells, to include cyber, within the US in the future.
A militia ambush in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has left three people dead, and seven others injured. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) took responsibility for the attack. Despite this recent ADF attack, it can be stated with moderate confidence that Sunni militant groups will not gain a stronghold in the eastern DRC in 2019.
Following the inability of North Korea and the United States to sign a nuclear deal at the Hanoi summit in February, and recent threats made by North Korea to halt nuclear talks, US president Donald Trump stated on March 22 that the US would not be imposing any additional sanctions on North Korea. Although this may help keep nuclear diplomacy with North Korea alive, it could be stated with high confidence that this decision will not contribute to a nuclear deal being signed between the US and North Korea in 2019.
The Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) carried out numerous low-scale operations against primarily government targets in the past week, showcasing the relative freedom the ELN has to operate in certain regions of Colombia. Since the ELN continues to carry out operations relatively uninhibited, our assessment is reinforced, with high confidence, that the organization is growing in power in 2019.
By: Morgan Clasgens, Analyst, Asia Section Analytical Question: Current and projected state of the Pakistani Taliban The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on March 20, 2019, which killed six Pakistani police officers in the Balochistan region of Pakistan. This attack, along with the multiple other attacks carried out by the Pakistani Taliban this …
Recently, prosecutors in Mexico announced the discovery of 19 plastic bags containing human remains in the western state of Jalisco, an area already embroiled in cartel violence due to the dominant presence of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). This development indicates a probable continuation of the surging levels of violence that has gripped Mexico for more than a decade.
The Houthi rebels, a contender in the Yemeni civil war, have reportedly threatened to increase their use of violence against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) if the Stockholm Agreement, a ceasefire that is in place at the port of Hudaydah, is breached by their adversaries. This threat could indicate a potential failure of the Stockholm Agreement in the port of Hudaydah due to rising escalations between the Houthi rebels and Saudi Arabia, as well as the provision of weaponry to the Houthi rebels by Iran.
The Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) has increased bombing operations against state-owned pipelines in Colombia, amid major oil sanctions placed on the Venezuelan government by the United States. This increase in attacks reinforces our assessment, with high confidence, that the ELN is growing in power.
Following his third and most recent arrest by Mexican authorities and his subsequent extradition to the United States, guilty verdicts were recently announced in the trial of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera. While this individual conviction is significant for US and Mexican authorities, it is unclear whether the removal of Guzmán from the leadership of the Sinaloa cartel will significantly impact the group’s operational capacity or stability in the near term.
The 2018 maritime piracy report, which was recently released to the public, gives a detailed report on piracy incidents that happened in the past year. The data in the report points to a rise in piracy in some areas with a drop in others, but it is still too early to state with confidence if the war against maritime piracy is being won overall.
Despite a drastic reduction in tensions and increased dialogue between North Korea and the United States, North Korea has not taken any major steps in dismantling its nuclear weapons program since the leaders of both countries first met back in June of 2018. Now a second summit between US President Donald Trump and the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un is scheduled to take place between February 27 and 28. It could be stated with moderate confidence that this summit will not result in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
A War Powers Resolution limiting the United States’ aid in Saudi Arabia, a major contender in the Yemeni proxy war, has reportedly passed through the United States House of Representatives and is currently making its way through the Senate. If this resolution were to pass, it would indicate a possible deceleration for the proxy war in Yemen due to the degree of involvement that Saudi Arabia has in the war, with American assistance.
Sinaloa cartel kingpin Dámaso López Núñes has struck a deal with United States federal officials and might agree to testify against Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán in his upcoming trial. This important development adds to our assessment with high confidence that the Sinaloa Cartel is in decline because of the arrest of head kingpin El Chapo’, whose trial is about to begin.
Talks between Russia, China, and North Korea have resulted in a tripartite call for the gradual relief of sanctions on North Korea. This may indicate that Russia and China are looking to exert their influence on Pyongyang’s denuclearization negotiations, and in doing so undermine the United States’ strategy of maximum pressure.
US President Donald Trump recently fired and then replaced two key members of his cabinet who had significant influence on foreign policy and national security. The firing of the National Security advisor and the Secretary of State, as well as the replacements for those positions, indicate that the US will withdraw from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018.