After Iraqi Election, a Shiite Leader Emerges as an Unlikely U.S. Ally

Years ago when the US forces began occupying various countries in the middle east, including Iraq, Muqatda al-Sadr began to form a militia army to combat the occupying US forces, and in 2004 the US wanted to capture Muqatda al-Sadr. But after a recent election, in the Iraqi parliament, Muqatda al-Sadr gained a seat in the Iraqi parliament system. Muqatda al-Sadr has become an unlikely ally to the US after this recent election to help prevent Iraq from leaning further into the Iranian political axis, as US security forces withdrawal from Iraq, which is said to be completed by December 31. Muqatda al-Sadr has begun to create relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate while their rulers are not very open to Iraq’s predominantly Shiite government, so the fact that a relationship between these two countries is possible is a big deal. Muqatda al-Sadr while still, an Iraqi nationalist has begun to create changes in the country since winning the recent election.


Pentagon Panel and Change?

During this past summer, a special Pentagon panel suggested a major shift in how the United States military handles sexual assault and misconduct cases. While the Pentagon has had a history of resistance to taking these cases out of the state of command’s control, the panel has looked into other potential options to address this issue within the military. Such changes have been at the forefront of several Congresspeople’s agendas as reports of this matter have revealed shocking levels of sexual assault within the military. Specifically, “in 2019 when the Pentagon reported that around 20,500 service members” experience sexual assault, which was a 37% increase from 2017.  With this, Senator Gillibrand, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, has led efforts to address and end the epidemic of sexual assault within the U.S. military. Thus, as the security issue of sexual assault in the military is exposed, there is not only a greater acknowledgment of the severity of this matter but also a potential shift in how the United States combats this security concern.

-Keegan H Fredrick


Poverty in Relation to Health and Security

An issue typically overlooked when researching health and security is individuals living in poverty. When individuals are living in poverty, they are at risk of spreading infectious diseases and starting conflicts with other countries. These conflicts could become devastating for countries that are already in a state of poverty. It would damage their health security because of the many soldiers from either countries that will enter and spread the disease. An example of this happening was in Afghanistan, “malaria had been eliminated by the end of the 1970s, due to implementation of vector control programs. However, with the onset of civil war in 1978, which continued in the following decades, the healthcare system and vector control programs collapsed, resulting in the reemergence of malaria. Today, 50% of the population lives in malaria-endemic areas,” (Mary Martin, para.10). This country was previously in danger of malaria and once it was eliminated, a conflict came along and completely turned around the progress that this country had already accomplished. This left Afghanistan to rebuild the progress again all because of one conflict.

When examining health and security there should be an emphasis more on the damage that conflict can create for countries that are living in poverty. If there is no emphasis on these countries then they continue to live in poverty and spread infectious diseases to their own people and to other countries. Once that cycle begins to happen it could mimic something similar to the pandemic that we are currently in. Poverty and infectious diseases that could stem from poverty should be taken seriously in the world of health and security. The world would have an extremely difficult time trying to recover from another infectious disease spreading. 

-Olivia Lewis


Health as human security

Feared Jihadist Leader Dead

Earlier last week the Nigerian Army confirmed the death of notorious terrorist Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the leader of the Islamic State’s affiliate group in West Africa, ISWAP. al-Barnawi was the previously a member of fellow Islamist group Boko Haram (JAS) before the two groups split in 2016 over leadership struggles. Under al-Barnawi, ISWAP eclipsed JAS as the preeminent terrorist group in the Lake Chad area, and the group’s power has since extended beyond Lake Chad into areas of the Sahel under what was previously IS in the Greater Sahara.

While news of deaths among the top leadership are common, this recent claim by the Nigerian Army appears to be holding more weight than usual. And while we do not know the details of his death, particularly whether he was killed by the Nigerian Army, another military, or whether he died in clashes with JAS. If it was in clashes with the rival group, this would make it the second death in such clashes, after the death of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of JAS (and ironically, al-Barnawi’s rival during the initial split between JAS-ISWAP).

ISWAP has not confirmed the death, and has actually been active last week with a large-scale attack on a Nigerian Army base in Borno State, close to the border with Cameroon. That attack apparently killed up to five Nigerian soldiers, however, information is still sparse. If the death of al-Barnawi is legitimate, it is not immediately clear that it would have much of an effect beyond being a huge propaganda win for Nigeria and other allied nations, as leadership among ISWAP especially has changed hands repeatedly and often. For now we will just need to wait and see.



EU Leader Meets with Iran to begin more JCPOA talks

Since the Biden administration took the reins of the United States, the reorganization of the JCPOA has tried to begin again following the withdrawal by President Trump in 2018. On October 14th, the European coordinator of Iran talks is planning to meet with the Iran foreign ministry. This meeting is hoping to begin the reunification and surveillance that began in 2015 and reduce Iran’s capabilities that they have increased in the last year, breaching the JCPOA 5 times in 2019.

I think that this is going to be very important and will be interesting to see what comes from this talk and see what Iran says. They have previously said to return to the agreement, the US would have to remove the sanctions on the country. It will be interesting to see the Biden response and how the US will move forward, as they both have different stipulations but things that also don’t want to give up.

Kenya Rejects ICJ Ruling That Granted Somalia Control of Disputed Waters

A few days ago, the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) deliniated a new maritime border off the coast of the Horn of Africa, which determined that Somalia should gain control over disputed waters. The dispute is between Kenya and Somalia, and it concerns 38,000 square miles of mineral-rich water in the Indian Ocean. The president of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, described the ICJ decision as a victory for the country. However, Kenya rejected the ICJ ruling, claiming that the ICJ’s decision was an imposition on its soverignty. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, claimed that the ICJ  “had neither jurisdiction nor competence” to settle the dispute, and he argued that the decision would strain relations between Somalia and Kenya.

While the ICJ decision is legally binding, the ICJ does not have the power to enforce this ruling. As a result, this decision is unlikely to be followed through on. While the ICJ decision does legtimize Somalia’s claims over the disputed waters, it is unclear if Somalia will actually be able to take advantage of these waters. Kenya is unlikely to allow Somalia access to waters that it still considers Kenyan territory; also, if Kenya were to comply with this decision, it would loose access to the significant mineral resources and oil in the disputed waters, so it is not in Kenya’s economic interest to comply. Right now, it seems unlikely that this dispute will be resolved, unless it is able to be resolved through diplomacy between Somalia and Kenya.

Anna Bedal

“Qatar urges engagement with Taliban amid humanitarian crisis”

Qatar, the country that has been hosting negotiations with the Taliban as well as being greatly involved in the chaotic departure of civilians from the Kabul to the Qatari airport, has put a greater emphasis on engagement with the group towards humanitarian aid and rights’ solutions over official recognition of the Taliban government. Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, an envoy to Qatar’s foreign minister, discussed why Qatar wants engagement with the group, in hopes of avoiding big terrorists attacks. Al-Qahtani believes in treating the Taliban as the de facto authority while urging them to return to their promise of respecting the rights of women to work and education as well as allowing the safe passage of passengers and working on getting the Taliban to work towards creating an inclusive government. According to the envoy, the way to get this is through “more collaboration, cooperation, and assistance”. The United States said it had discussed providing humanitarian assistance whereas the EU had announced an aid package of an estimated amount of $1.15 billion.


These discussions are happening because until now, most nations are not sure of the best method of approaching the issue of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and all the threats they pose internally and externally. The issue is that engagement with the Taliban cannot be stalled for too long since the worst humanitarian crisis has been happening in Afghanistan and no matter the authority in power, the people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. This will not be offered however if certain requirements of the Taliban are not met such as returning rights of work and education to women. It’s a tricky situation because on one hand the Taliban has is lacking successful governing skills and are facing an economical crisis that is affecting everyone and so they understand that they need foreign aid and investment yet what is being asked of them goes against their radical and political ideology. Just as the United States was pulling its hands off of matters in Afghanistan, it will most likely find itself being economically and politically involved once again.



Recent Developments Between France and Mali

In the Sahel region, France has been the lead European state against terrorism by the Islamic State with the United States being active in the region as well, supporting French efforts. Recently, France has declared their intention of withdrawing from the region they have occupied since 2013 in an effort to aid Mali against the terrorist threats in south Mali but in recent years the Islamic State has infiltrated other countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso. France’s withdrawal plan will start in the coming year with the recall of 2,000 troops and this system will continue for a few years. While France has stated their intention to withdraw they have also said that they will continue to help their allies in the Sahel region against the extremist threats. 

The relations between Mali and France are very important recently because France’s intention of withdrawal could stem from the change of governments in Mali where there have been two successful coup attempts in recent years. President Macron has criticized the military state in Mali and this may have influenced the French withdrawal from the region. After the intention to withdraw was made by the French, Mali began looking at a private military company out of Russia, the Wagner Group to supply the protection against the extremist threat in the Sahel region. From this development a recent news report has discussed that Russia has given Mali evidence that France is training a known terrorist group, Ansar al-Din, that is also allegedly associated with al-Qaeda.

The relationship between Mali and France is very important and strategic in the Sahel region for a number of reasons. One is to successfully defeat the threat of extremism and protect the citizens of Mali as well as the neighboring countries. However, another important reason is the strategy and the need for influence in the Sahel region as well as continuing to support allies in Africa. The relationship between Mali and France needs to be rebuilt but it stems from internal problems within Mali’s government and France’s handling of diplomatic affairs towards Mali. The two countries need to reach a consensus that will benefit both states’ interests and protect the people in the Sahel region from extremist actors.


Japan’s Kishada and Biden Have First Talks

Japan’s new Prime Minister Fukui Kishida has had his first talks with president Biden since his election. The conversation was mostly about strengthening the alliance between the two countries and furthering the cooperation in regional security. More specifically, security against China and North Korea. Additionally, president Biden has assured the Japanese prime minister about the U.S’ commitment to the defense of the Japan-controlled Senkaku island. While the conversation was only over the phone, both Biden and Kishida have agreed to start calling each other by their first names and to meet face-to-face at an early date.

This is great news for both the American and Japanese governments. Japan is an important ally for the US in east Asia, and losing that relationship would be detrimental to the U.S’ foreign policy in East Asia. Also, with Japan having China and North Korea as neighbors, having the U.S by its side helps their fight against them. Overall, the U.S’ allyship with Japan is quintessential for both of the nations.



Is Your Healthcare Data Truly Secure?

There is nothing more terrifying than going to the doctor’s office to find out if you have a medical condition or not, but what is even more terrifying is that medical data information could be released to hackers without your knowledge. Healthcare providers are trying to become more progressive in their way of allowing patients to view their medical information online but that has also opened a loophole to hackers. Virtru states, “If you store your data in unencrypted folders in the cloud, or if you send your results to your mom via email, you pave a simple pathway for a hacker to access your most personal data,” (para 5). If the patients are on unsafe networks, have a weak password or are careless with viewing their information this allows hackers to sneak into the people’s most confidential information. 

Not only are the patients viewing their own information being unsafe, so are healthcare workers on their systems at their job. Healthcare data security is currently operating on outdated operating systems, applications and legacy systems which makes it easier for hackers to access the medical health of individuals. This poses a threat to national security because any hacker is able to hack into a hospital system and view patient’s personal information. This does not only include their medical history but also their home address, social security, legal name and much more confidential information. Having this access, hackers are able to access hundreds to millions of people’s information and then use it against them in a variety of ways. These people that could be potentially hacked through their healthcare information are not only everyday people but also military soldiers, politicians, CIA, FBI workers who try to conceal their personal information the most for obvious reasons. Healthcare data security should be a higher concern within the government. We, as Americans, should feel safe enough to share our information with doctors or nurses and not have the fear of it being hacked and stolen. There are different methods that could be examined more extensively to assist and encrypt our personal information such as the use of data encryption, the use of anti-virus/malware/spyware apps, ransomware protection, employee training and more. 

-Olivia Lewis


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