The weekly briefing, 3 February 2014

  • Source: Intelligence unit
  • Published: 3 February 2014
  • Filed: 3 February 2014
  • No responses

Briefing

Africa: Renamo adopts a more flexible approach to dialogue in Mozambique.

Americas: ICJ ruling on maritime border dispute gives symbolic victory to Peru over Chile.

Asia and Pacific: Philippine peace deal is marred by offensive against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Europe: Ukrainian government grants concessions to the opposition as international outcry grows.

Middle East: Violent clashes continue in the north and south of Yemen.

Polar regions: Shell calls off Arctic oil exploration.

Africa

Renamo adopts a more flexible approach to dialogue in Mozambique

On 31 January, the spokesman for the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), Fernando Mazanga, indicated that the demand for parity with the incumbent Fremilo party – which came from the December 2012 electoral reforms – may no longer prove a prominent sticking point for further dialogue on the National Election Commission. The announcement marks a move towards a more flexible engagement in the negotiation process, following the recent Renamo party boycotting of negotiations with delegates of the government.

There has been an increase in military activity from both Renamo and the Mozambique Armed forces (FADM). Renamo military activity has now been noted in the northern province of Nampula, the central province of Sofala and, more recently, the southern province of Inhambane. Heavy fighting continues around the Gorongosa district in close proximity to Afonso Dhlakama’s former bush headquarters in Satunjira. It was here that the first outbreaks of violence occurred on 21October 2013 following a FADM operation. Attacks in Muave, Morrumbene and Homoine suggest that Renamo is sending fighters south from Gorongose to the less densely populated areas of Inhambane province. On 7 January, Renamo briefly re-occupied its main war-time base at Nhamungue in Pembe, southern Inhambane province, but was subsequently driven out of this position by government forces. It is probable that Renamo is attempting to consolidate its national interests in Mozambique. Against the backdrop of the atrocities of the 1981-92 civil war, this increased activity from Renamo, particularly throughout Inhambane, is creating significant levels of internal displacement as frightened civilians either abandon their homes or are forced to relocate to temporary refugee centres.

The relative successes of government forces in combating Renamo’s recent violence, coupled with a corresponding failure of Renamo to consolidate and operate from strategic interests throughout Mozambique, is indicative of the group’s reduced capacity to engage in sustained violent conflict in comparison to their civil war capabilities. The recent shift towards a more flexible stance on negotiations may indicate a recognition by Renamo of the limitations of military action, and represent an encouraging shift towards renewed political engagement in the run up to the general elections on 15October. The pursuit of a solution to the recent outbreak of violence and displacement will ultimately rest on the ability of Mozambique’s democratic institutions to capitalise on a softening of Renamo’s political approach, and the ability of FADM to maintain a minimum level of security with selective and proportionate military action against rebel activity. There is a serious danger that the adoption of draconian measures by FADM forces in order to combat Renamo could result in high civilian casualties and human rights abuses within Mozambique, further destabilising the country.

Other developments

The donor conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, concluded on 29 January with the announcement of $314 million in international donations to fund the 5,000-strong African-led peacekeeping mission (MISCA) in the Central African Republic (CAR).The operational costs for the mission are estimated at $409 million, and suggestions have been put forward to fund the remaining deficit with assessed contributions from African Union members. This development occurs against the backdrop of UN concerns that the current security situation is limiting access to citizens outside the capital, Bangui, requesting $152 million from the Security Council to fund a three-month emergency intervention initiative. The United Nations aims to provide additional security and aid to approximately 1.2 million CAR citizens following the outbreak of widespread sectarian violence between Christian anti-Bakala militia and Muslim Séléka forces.

A large body of Boko Haram combatants attacked Kawuri village in Borno State, Nigeria, on 27 January. The militants detonated prepositioned explosives and set fire to local residences, resulting in 52 deaths. On the same day, an attack occurred on a church congregation in Waga Chakawa village, Adamawa State, killing 22 and resulting in a four-hour hostage situation. These recent attacks continue to highlight concerns that the Nigerian government has been unable to quell the activities of the US-designated terrorist organisation following the sacking of President Goodluck Jonathan’s military high commander on 16January.

Concerns were raised at an African Union summit that the Ugandan deployment in South Sudan is exacerbating peacebuilding efforts. Ugandan withdrawal is a key demand of the South Sudanese rebels, who accuse Ugandan forces of repeated ceasefire violations. In contrast, the South Sudanese government has stated that it will only sanction the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from its territory upon the complete cessation of hostilities. The development occurs as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has directed a team of special envoys to monitor the current ceasefire agreement, while UN peacekeeping forces in South Sudan (UNMISS) seek to verify reported human rights abuses.

On the radar

  • Kenya’s Attorney General, Githu Muigai, is expected in The Hague in two weeks’ time.
  • Mozambique’s Fremilo party is to select new presidential candidate.
  • Following the recent grenade attack, further attacks are possible in Rwanda during the period commemorating the 1994 genocide.
  • Potential for protests at Platinum mining sites in South Africa during ongoing strike over wages, despite a court prohibiting further strikes.

Americas

ICJ ruling on maritime border dispute gives symbolic victory to Peru over Chile

On 27 January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled in favour of Peru in a maritime border dispute. The ruling put an end to a border dispute that tainted the bilateral relationship since the War of the Pacific (1879-83). The border had been redrawn to Peru’s detriment following its defeat in the conflict, during which Peru lost 25% of its territory and Bolivia lost its access to the sea. In Peru, the unresolved dispute fed into nationalist rhetoric that portrayed Chile as an imperial power. The recent judgement will ease tensions by awarding Peru some 22,000 square kilometres of ocean. The maritime zone situated at the north of Chile and South of Peru is considered to be one of the world’s richest fishing grounds, with an annual catch of over $100 million. According to the redrawn maritime boundary, Peru will gain economic privileges on a zone that spans from 80 up to 200 nautical miles west of the Chilean northern city of Arica. However, this means that the fish rich coastal zone, from Arica up to 80 nautical miles west, will remain in Chilean possession.

While the ruling was received with much relief in Peru, Chile’s reaction was more negative. Nationalist protests against what is perceived as an outrage for Chilean sovereignty were staged by fishermen in Arica. In a national transmission on 27 January, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera called the ICJ decision a ‘regrettable loss’ for the country. In contrast, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said the ruling gave Peru ‘grounds for satisfaction’. Nevertheless, the ruling has in overall favoured the Chilean position by only marginally modifying the Chilean northern maritime border with Peru. Furthermore, the lucrative fishing grounds that are situated near the coast will remain in Chilean waters. As such, the ruling mostly represents a symbolic victory for Peru’s wounded national pride but will have little impact in economic terms.

Moreover, the ruling has opened a new chapter in Latin America’s regional integration. Political and economic ties between Peru and Chile have dramatically increased in the last decade with bilateral trade growing to over $3 billion a year. The two countries are also part of the Pacific Alliance, a free-trade block that includes Mexico and Colombia that was formed in 2012. This precedent is likely to bolster the role of international intuitions in the settlement of international disputes in the region. Chile’s President-elect Michelle Bachelet, who will take office from 11 March, has pledged a gradual implementation of the new borders as the exact geographic coordinates are yet to be agreed upon. The success of both countries in cooperating in the implementation of the ruling is likely to pressure Colombia to soften its refusal to apply an ICJ ruling last year that granted a swathe of Caribbean waters to Nicaragua. In addition, Bolivia filed a demand in 2013 against Chile to negotiate on its claim for sovereign access to the sea.

Other developments

A leading local newspaper in Ecuador was fined over a satirical cartoon. The Ecuadorian government fined El Universo for a cartoon pointing to the oil industry corruption of government officials that was published on 27 December 2013. According to the national media watchdog, the cartoon was defamatory and promoted social unrest. As a result, El Universo has been sentenced to pay a fine equal to 2% of sales during the fourth quarter of 2013. The decision raised further concerns about press freedom in Ecuador, where President Rafael Correa has regularly criticised the media since his election in early 2007.

The Mexican government has legitimised the formation of civil militias in the state of Michoacán. On 27 January, an eight-point agreement was reached between the federal government and the state of Michoacán to institutionalise the vigilantes. The civil militias emerged a year ago in response to the limited presence of the military amid the growing influence of the Knight Templar cartel in the region. In the week of 20 January, the government deployed troops in the region but clashes with the vigilantes occurred as they refused to give up their weapons. The recent agreement reveals the government’s willingness to relinquish its monopoly on the legitimate use of armed force in exchange for short-term peace. Many critics have emphasised the risk of the militias creating a state of their own.

The National Assembly in Nicaragua has passed reform allowing for the indefinite re-election of the president. On 28 January, a reform was approved that modifies 40 articles of the constitution to endow further powers on the president. The reform was supported by President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation front (FSLN), a left-wing party that forms a majority in the assembly. The altered constitution allows for the indefinite re-election of the president and the possibility for a direct presidential election with simple majority. This reform clears the way for the populist president to run for a third successive term in 2016.

On the radar

  • Mexican President Peña Nieto is to meet US President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Toluca, Mexico, on 19 February.
  • Widespread fuel shortages in French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe to continue in the short term due to a strike by petrol station workers.
  • The US Embassy has issued an emergency warning of a spike in criminal activity in the Bahamas.

Asia and Pacific

Philippine peace deal is marred by offensive against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters

At least 40 fighters have been confirmed killed in a heavy artillery barrage during a fresh offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao province, the Philippines, on 30 January. Around 10,000 villagers fled their homes in fear of being caught in the crossfire. President Benigno Aquino III ordered the military to launch this assault in retaliation for attacks in southern Maguindanao.

BILF oppose peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). BIFF broke away from MILF in 2008 and vowed to continue their separatist efforts, as they believed talks would not lead to a separate Bangsamoro territory in Mindanao. However, the landmark peace deal between the Philippine government and MILF was concluded on 25 January. The government agreed to give MILF control over an autonomous area of Mindanao and a share in its resources in return for the gradual surrender of weapons. The government deny there is any direct link between the peace deal and the offensive against BIFF but understand that the image of peace has been spoilt.

Government officials hoped the peace deal would make the Mindanao more peaceful and prosperous. It is clear, however, that fighting will continue as BIFF will continue to try and undo the implementation of the peace agreement. Nonetheless, BIFF are increasingly isolated, as all other players are determined that the peace process should be successful.

Other developments

Hundreds of people in Delhi, India, protested on 1 February against the death of a university student. Nido Tania, a student from northeast India, was beaten to death by shopkeepers on 29 January. Protestors believe this highlights the entrenched racism against minorities from northeast India. Indigenous northeastern Indians are ethically close to the Burmese and argue they encounter frequent and often violent racism from the rest of the country.

Chinese state media report that six people were killed in explosions in Xinjiang region and another six were shot dead by police on 31 January. However, information leaving Xinjiang is tightly controlled and these reports are difficult to verify. Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur minority and sees sporadic clashes, the frequency of which has increased since the Tiananmen Square car explosion in late October 2013 and the repressive measures that have followed.

On the radar

  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party will soon challenge Japan’s constitutional interpretation, which bans collective self-defence.
  • Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry on 7 February to discuss the relocation of the US Marine Corps bases in Japan.
  • Hong Kong visa restrictions will be enacted against Philippine officials because of President Benigno Aquino’s refusal to apologise for the bungled handling of the 2010 Manila bus hostage crisis.
  • The main Islamist opposition party in Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami, have rescheduled a nationwide shutdown strike for 5 February.

Europe

Ukrainian government grants concessions to the opposition as international outcry grows

On 31 January, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed into law a bill that repealed the controversial anti-protest law, which had fuelled violent demonstrations and clashes with police around Ukraine during January. The repealed law banned unauthorised tents in public areas, the prohibited the wearing masks and helmets during protests and authorised the jail term of up to five years for protesters who blocked public buildings. The new law, which was backed by Yanukovych’s Regions Party, granted concessions to the opposition and amnesty to protesters who have been detained since the beginning of the protest on 21 November. However, the Ukrainian government added a late clause to the bill, in which it insisted that the protesters vacate occupied government buildings within 15 days; this was met with anger by the opposition. Yanukovych hopes that these new concessions will bring stability to the country following two months of civil unrest. However, they came at the same time as missing opposition activist Dmytro Bulatov re-emerged, claiming that he had been abducted and tortured, with some reports claiming that Ukrainian security forces were involved.

On 28 January, the prime minister, Mykola Azarov, had resigned in another bid to ease tensions between the government and the opposition. The position had been offered to and rejected by opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk on 26 January. Azarov has instead been replaced in the interim by his deputy, Sergiy Arbuzov, and it is not clear who the permanent candidate will be. Later that day, the Ukrainian parliament voted to repeal the anti-protest law at a special parliamentary session. Claims of vote rigging later emerged after photographs were published of parliamentary allies to Yanukovych using the voting terminals of their absent colleagues. The opposition had initially rejected the amnesty law, fearing that the new legislation meant that the jailed protesters would remain hostages until the opposition freed government buildings. They later welcomed the bill once it was clarified that demonstrators would be allowed to remain in locations of peaceful protests and thus protests could continue on Kiev’s Independence Square, where protests have been the symbol of the movement.

The new concessions are unlikely to calm the civil unrest and the reappearance of Bultov has added fire to the protest movement and increased the Ukrainian government’s international criticism. Vitali Klitschko of the UDAR party and leader of the opposition movement said that the torture of Bulatov had been a warning by the regime to other protesters. The UN’s human rights office, Amnesty International and Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, called on Ukraine to launch independent investigations into reports of deaths, kidnappings and torture since the beginning of the political unrest. Ashton also warned Ukrainian authorities to decease immediately their targeting of activists. The US embassy, which released a photo of Bulatov’s beaten face, voiced concerns over the fate of another 27 activists who have gone missing. On 1 February, Ukraine’s opposition leaders met US Secretary of State John Kerry and stressed the need for an action plan, not only vocal support, from the West.

Other developments

Russia and the European Union held a joint summit on 28 January. The short meeting had been cut down from a planned two-day summit amid growing tensions between Moscow and Brussels. Ukraine dominated the discussions. On the same day that Catherine Ashton was due to visit the country, Russia rejected the need for any international interference in the political crisis and argued that international envoys were adding to the unrest. At a conference following the summit, President Vladimir Putin defended the loan Russia had offered the Ukrainian government in December 2013, arguing that it had offered better terms than the IMF package. However, reneging on his previous commitment to Yanukovych, the Putin announced that Russia would suspend a loan to Ukraine until a new government was formed.

On 1 February, at the 50th Munich Security Conference, the US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, stated that the United States sought an increased partnership with the EU for defence against security threats and would seek a closer collaboration with the union. On 30 January, during a visit to Warsaw, Hagel announced that the United States was still planning to deploy an anti-missile shield in Poland, which is expected to happen in 2018 with the implementation of the European of the anti-missile system. The increased cooperation between the United States and Poland, such as in air force exercises and Poland’s active role in NATO, has been greeted poorly by Russia, who believes that it is the target of the anti-missile shield.

On 31 January, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande agreed to greater cooperation between the two countries in defence, climate policy and nuclear energy at the UK-France Summit 2014. The two leaders set in motion plans for joint investment in the procurement of defence equipment, the development of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (an Anglo-French joint military and training operation) and a study into a potential future Anglo-French combat air system. Other agreements included French investment in the British nuclear weapons base, the Atomic Weapons Establishment, and working together on security issues, such as terrorism and drugs and arms trafficking. However, the two leaders sharply disagreed over EU treaty reform.

On the radar

  • The European Commission will publish an anti-corruption report on 3 February.
  • The Serbian government has called for snap elections, which will be held on 16 March.
  • Denmark’s prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, is expected to announce six new ministers this week, after the Socialist People’s Party withdrew from the coalition government.
  • Catherine Ashton, Europe’s foreign policy chief, will return to Ukraine to try and ease the escalating political crisis.
  • MEPs and representatives of the Greek EU presidency will hold their fourth trialogue meeting with the European Parliament aimed at brokering a deal on an EU bank fund in Strasbourg this week.

Middle East

Violent clashes continue in the north and south of Yemen

Sectarian violence erupted on 27January in the villages of the Arhab mountains, north of the capital city, Sana’a, killing 21 and injuring dozens. The attacks were carried out between opposing Shi’ite Houthis and ultra-conservative Sunni Salafis two weeks after reaching ceasefire agreements in the region, ending weeks of violent conflict that have left hundreds dead. Houthi militants have been blamed for the clashes, with claims that attacks on Salafi positions in the highlands represent a strategic attempt to drive tribesmen from their lands and impose Shia Islam upon the region. Prominent Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdel-Salam, has criticised the government for supporting Salafi rebel groups.

On the same day, clashes between Yemeni troops and separatists in the southern city of Ataq occurred during a protest against the newly agreed constitutional federalist reform, which aims to reconcile the northern and southern provinces. Protests are likely to continue in the following weeks as political radicals in favour of an independent south continue to reject the conditions of the Yemeni dialogue conference. The south was independent following British colonial rule from 1967 until the formation of the Yemeni Republic in 1990, attempting succession in 1994 that resulted in a bloody civil war. Since the ousting of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012, the separatist movement has grown in strength in many areas of the south, leading to increased tensions.

The violence is likely to cause embarrassment to the region’s poorest country, and threatens to undermine developments praised by the international community following the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference the previous week. The UN-backed transitional president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour, faces challenges in uniting the state’s fractious ideologies responsible for escalating violence within the southern provinces, and in combating increasing sectarian tensions in the north.

Other developments

An Egyptian interior ministry official was shot dead outside his home in Cairo on 28 January. General Mohamed Saeed was gunned down by Islamist militants on a motorcycle hours before the deposed Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, appeared in court on jailbreak charges. Insurgency group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for the attack. The latest assassination was met with a coordinated military crackdown across the troubled Sinai Peninsula, home to the group with suspected ties to Hamas. Egyptian armed forces launched air offensives and engaged militants in the northern towns of Sheikh Zuweid and Al-Arish on 29 January, killing a reported 10 Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis members.

Lebanese military prosecutor has charged 13 with links to organised terror groups. On 29 January,state commissioner to the military court Judge Saqr Saqr charged the individuals of Lebanese and Palestinian descent with plotting terrorist attacks within the county. The individuals, with connections to al-Qaeda, Abdullah Azzam Brigades and Nusra Front, face the death penalty if convicted. Jamal Daftardar, believed to be a leadership candidate in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, faces further charges of terrorist recruitment; identity card fraud; illegal transfer of recruits to neighbouring Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen; and explosives charges. Saqr also announced charges against Sunni cleric Omar Atrash for conspiracy to form terrorist cells comprised of Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian militants. The investigation continues.

Six gunmen and suicide bombers stormed a government building in Baghdad, Iraq, on 30 January. The assault on a state-led transportation company, led to clashes between security forces and militants. Reports confirm state police shot dead four attackers, though a further two detonated suicide vests in the building’s entrance. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. On the same day, two car bombs exploded in the capital, killing nine and wounding dozens. Sectarian violence continues to escalate in Iraq as Sunni militants clash with the Shi’ite-led government. The latest attacks have raised the 2014 death toll to over 900 – three times higher than the figure for January 2013.

On the radar

  • Second negotiated deadline of Syrian chemical arms sequestration on 5 February. Concerns have been raised by the international community over the likelihood of this target being met.
  • 11 February marks the anniversary of the overthrow of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
  • National Day on 25 February celebrates the founding of the state of Kuwait in 1961.
  • The anniversary of the 2011 civil uprising in Yemen is on 11 February.
  • Syrian oppositional leader Ahmad Jarba is to visit the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow on 4 February, as Russia continues to hold significant influence on Syria’s future.

Polar regions

Shell calls off Arctic oil exploration

Royal Dutch Shell’s CEO, Ben Van Beurden, has said that the oil major will not proceed with planned exploration and drilling in Arctic waters off the Alaskan coast in 2014. The announcement was delivered on 30 January to a room full of investors and journalists during a press conference called to discuss the company’s fourth-quarter 2013 results. It was accompanied by revelations of a steep drop in earnings and a pledge by the new CEO to restructure operations to improve the company’s cash flow. The plan to return to Arctic waters in the Chukchi Sea was announced in November last year and itself followed from a disastrous exploration season in 2012. It has now been cut in the interests of this new regime. Van Beurden also cited a recent court ruling that has cast serious doubts on the future of currently active oil leases in the Arctic; an appeals court agreed with environmental and Alaska Native groups that the federal government had underestimated the scale of oil drilling that would follow the licenses it sold in 2008.

Shell’s position, while not a promise to abandon the Arctic completely, demonstrates a number of the problems that frustrate the efforts of oil majors to exploit the believed potential of Arctic energy resources. First, there are the technical difficulties of drilling in such extreme climates; in Shell’s disastrous 2012 Arctic exploration season, heavy storms grounded a mobile rig that was being towed out of the Beaufort Sea, causing damage that may see the $200 million rig scrapped. These are compounded by the lack of infrastructure in nearby ports and the limited capabilities of search and rescue teams. Second, there is the dogged and highly visible campaigning of environmental groups, whose recent lobbying of governments has frequently been successful. Third, there is the massive cost of arctic drilling in a period when the activation of new sources of shale gas and tar sands is sending global oil costs plummeting. All companies seeking to extract oil and gas in the Arctic face these problems, and many environmentalists and some business analysts question the potential for profitable extraction in this region

While these difficulties are universal, it is the legal and political dimensions that seem likely to determine the final decisions of oil majors in their Arctic investment policies. These dimensions have considerably undermined Shell’s efforts in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, as the recent ruling (and the massive fines for breaking air pollution limits levelled against the firm in 2012) aptly demonstrates. Yet there is considerable variation. In Russia, national companies such as Rosneft and Gazprom enjoy the protection of the courts, whilst international companies can fall foul of them and consequently include such risks in their calculations. Thus, while BP suffered from its cooperation with Rosneft, Exxon is still engaged in a $3.2 billion partnership for Arctic resources with the company. In Norway, the current oil-friendly government is considering abolishing an oil tax introduced by the former government in an attempt to make field developments more profitable, and the 23rd Norwegian licensing round received a lot of attention from energy companies. However, the success of many of the sites which border Russian waters is threatened by the possibility of interference from Moscow, and given the widespread scepticism of the Norwegian population towards oil exploration in the Arctic there is no guarantee that the government’s oil-friendly policies will continue into the future. Thus, while environmentalists are wrong to cite Shell’s recent difficulties as evidence that arctic oil exploration will never be profitable, the case highlights the crucial importance for potential investors of politics in the region.

Other developments

Russian gas producer Novatek has announced that it will build a second liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the Yamal Peninsula in Russia’s Far North. The federal government has approved the plans and project development is due to start in 2018. Novatek controls several large gas fields in the region, which together are believed to hold up to 1.8 trillion cubic metres of gas. Much of the LNG produced will be shipped out through the Northern Sea Route.

The White House has published an implementation plan detailing policy recommendations at federal, state, private sector and NGO levels for the realisation of the US National Strategy for the Arctic Region, which was published in May of last year. The ‘lines of effort’ that the report cites as guiding principles for the implantation of US strategy are quoted as ‘the advancement of US security interests’, ‘the pursuit of responsible Arctic region stewardship’ and ‘the strengthening of international cooperation’. In terms of the latter, it is recommended that the White House press for Congress to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as proposing that a special summit of the Arctic Council should be held in 2016 to mark the international body’s 20th anniversary. The document fails to make any commitment to the purchasing of the icebreakers, which the US Navy called for earlier this month.

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has released an advisory on navigation along the Northern Sea Route to support ship owners and operators intending to transit shipping routes through the Arctic seas. The document’s publication comes at a time of heated discussion over the international regulation and technical practicalities of shipping along the route. The advisory, developed together with Russia’s Central Marine Research and Design Institute, includes an appendix listing Russian shipping and icebreaking services.

On the radar

  • Academics and engineers will meet in London 4-5 February at the 2nd IMarEst Arctic Shipping and Technology Conference. The discussion will focus on how to prepare vessels for Arctic conditions while ensuring shipping remains profitable.
  • Scientists and glaciologists will meet in Ottawa 3-5 February to discuss the modelling and mapping of Arctic glaciers.
  • The roundtable discussion ‘The Implementation of Infrastructural Support for the Realisation of the Arctic Strategy – 2020’ will take place in Norilsk, Russia, on 4 February.

Analysts: Laura Hartmann, Tancrède Feuillade, Gary Chan, Claudia Wagner, Daniel Taylor, Patrick Sewell and Chris Abbott.

Bradburys Global Risk PartnersPublished with intelligence support from Bradburys Global Risk Partners, www.bradburys.co.uk.

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