Weekly Analysis - 11 March

  • 14 Mar 2016 16:19
The G4S Risk Analysis team produces weekly risk analysis pieces on current events pertinent to security and business operations. Please see below for excerpts of our weekly analysis for the week ending 11 March.
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UK/Northern Ireland: Dissident republican groups pose increased threat ahead of Easter Rising anniversary

On 4 March, a bomb exploded under a van in east Belfast, injuring one prison officer. The bomb partially detonated when the officer was driving on Hillsborough Drive at 0700hrs local time. The dissident republican group, the New IRA claimed responsibility for the incident and in a statement said it was in response to a dispute between prison officers and republican prisoners at HMP Maghaberry. Furthermore, the officer was allegedly targeted due to his involvement in training other guards at a young offenders detention centre, near Lisburn. To read more, sign up here

Iran:  Elections confirm overwhelming public support for nuclear deal
On 26 February, millions of Iranians turned out to vote in parliamentary elections, as well as for the Assembly of Experts (AoE), a traditionally conservative clerical body which appoints Iran’s Supreme Leader, the head of state who sits above the democratically-elected president. The elections were the first major poll since President Hassan Rouhani reached a landmark nuclear deal with the international community in July last year to lift economic sanctions. The election was therefore widely perceived to be a public referendum on whether Iranians supported the deal. The country has unanimously spoken and almost all those who were openly critical of the deal failed to win their seat. To read more, sign up here

Afghanistan: Taliban reject peace talks amid deteriorating security
On 5 March the Taliban confirmed that it would not be joining a new round of multilateral peace talks scheduled to take place in Pakistan this month. The talks, facilitated by delegates from the US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan under the auspices of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), were characterised by Afghan officials as the first major step in reviving a nascent peace process, which ended suddenly in July 2015 amid a leadership struggle within the Taliban. According to a statement posted on the Taliban’s official website, the group reiterated that it will boycott future negotiations indefinitely unless certain conditions are met, including the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Afghanistan and cessation of all combat operations; the removal of senior Taliban members from a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) blacklist; and the release of several prisoners. To read more, sign up here

Colombia:  ELN rebels intensify attacks ahead of peace deal with FARC
The ongoing peace negotiations between Colombia’s main rebel group – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – and the government have been the main security and political topic in the country in the past four years. There is widespread expectation that the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement, scheduled on 23 March, will mean the end of a 50-year-old guerrilla conflict in Colombia. However, while reaching a peace deal with FARC would be a significant step towards national conciliation, the National Liberation Army (ELN), the country’s second-largest group, has recently stepped-up attacks and has benefited from internal divisions within FARC ranks, complicating Colombia’s security operating environment. To read more, sign up here

South Sudan: President reappoints rebel leader as vice-president, but localised fighting likely to increase
On 11 February, President Salva Kiir reappointed rebel leader Riek Machar as vice-president in accordance with an August 2015 peace agreement intended to end South Sudan’s civil war. The civil war was sparked by a political dispute in December 2013 between President Kiir and former vice president Machar. The peace agreement mandates the formation of a government of national unity and Machar’s re-appointment is a crucial step forward in the transition process. However, Machar remains in exile in Ethiopia and it will take time for a national unity government to be formed given ongoing disagreements between Kiir and Machar over the demilitarisation of the capital, Juba, and Kiir’s controversial October 2015 administrative decree dividing the country into 28 new states. In addition, while the warring parties appear to be making some progress towards the implementation of a power-sharing arrangement in Juba, fighting continues across the country and is unlikely to end. To read more, sign up here

Japan: Nuclear power station shut down threatens energy reform 

Otsu District Court ordered Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) to halt operations at two nuclear reactors at Takahama plant on 9 March in the country’s first injunction issued to halt a nuclear plant. KEPCO says it will appeal, but this will likely take several months. The injunction comes around the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster that resulted in all nuclear power plants being shut across the country. Although some plants have been coming back online since August 2015, opposition to nuclear power continues across the country, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s energy reform plans that envisage nuclear plants generating 20-22 percent of electricity by 2030. To read more, sign up here

Congo-Brazzaville: Unrest looms as presidential election on 20 March approaches
Tensions are likely to increase across the country due to the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for 20 March. Campaigning started on 4 March, and eight candidates are running against President Denis Sassou-Nguesso who has been in power for the past 32 years. Sassou-Nguesso is the favourite by far to win the poll. In October 2015, the public overwhelmingly voted to approve constitutional changes to allow Sassou-Nguesso to run for a third term in the upcoming elections. Before the amendment, the president would have been unable to seek re-election due to his age and his previous two terms. The change sparked violent protests in the political capital, Brazzaville, and in the economic centre, Pointe-Noire. Sassou-Nguesso is not expected to tolerate any serious challenge to his position, particularly after the downfall of President Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso in 2014 in comparable circumstances. To read more, sign up here