Global Security Briefing – July

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Hong Kong 

Hong Kong has banned all flights from the UK, in what it claims to be an attempt to curb the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19. The ban will come into place on 1st July 2021 and is in response to the UK being classified as “extremely high-risk” by Hong Kong’s authorities. 

The ban affects anyone who has spent more than two hours in the UK and they will be banned from boarding flights to Hong Kong from any airport. This creates a serious problem, not only for businesses but also for parents in Hong Kong, who have children at school in the UK, and comes at a time of rising tensions between the UK and China.

The UK has recently supported 1,000’s applications for Hong Kong citizens to move to Britain after China imposed a national security law in the former colony. The UK government said the new law “restricts the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration”. The ongoing strain in relations between the UK and China is likely to continue, certainly in the short term.

Algeria

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained every country in one way or another. Arguably one of the most impacted has been Algeria. The international demand for petrol and natural gas plummeted as nations went into lockdowns, resulting in prices going down in parallel. Oil and gas products make up 40% of Algeria’s total exports and it was hoped the new leadership within the country, elected in on the 12th June 2021, would guide the country through the hardship. However, the election had a record-low turnout of 23% participation and this is perhaps an indicator of the lack of trust which exists within the current political system.

This has highlighted the need for the Algerian government to attract foreign investors and diversify the economy. As youth unemployment rises, the government is limited in its ability to provide jobs and welfare, it seems an economic crash is somewhat of an inevitability. Added to this, the Palestinian group, Hamas, has expressed a desire to visit Algeria and meet top public officials. This would raise concerns regarding the stability of the security situation in Algeria and be a cause for concern among neighboring countries, as well as the wider international community.

Jordan 

A scandal in the Jordanian Royal family has been fermenting for a few months and is centered around an alleged insurrection led by the former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein. Since losing the title of ‘Crown Prince’, there has been an element of tension within the family. 

Recently this has been exacerbated as Hamzah bin Hussein has been seen in the company of people who are openly critical of the royal dynasty and accused of destabilizing the state. 

In early April the BBC was sent a video of the prince, via his lawyer, in which it accuses the King, his half-brother, of corruption, nepotism, incompetence, and harassment; and describes that he (Hamzah bin Hussein) is currently under house arrest with no access to the internet and his phone lines have been cut.  He also alleges other royal benefits have been denied him, including having his security detail removed. The video includes a denial of any connection to a “nefarious backed group” or being part of any foreign-backed entity. 

Currently, two senior confidence to the prince have been charged with sedition and if found guilty could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The suspects have pleaded “not guilty” in the court and the trial is ongoing. The outcome of this trial will definitely have an impact on the royal family and foreign and diplomatic relations as both the US and Saudi Arabia back the Jordanian State. Any change in the stability of the Kingdom will invariably have a destabilizing impact on the wider Middle East.

Belarus

It’s been nearly a year since the Belarus general election which spawned the largest protests against Alexander Lukashenko’s reign, after what has been widely condemned as a rigged election. Recently the opposition movement has been dealt a fresh blow, as Belarussian authorities forced a Ryanair flight, bound to Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, to land in Minsk, under the guise of investigating a bomb threat onboard the aircraft. This has widely been condemned as a ploy to arrest opposition journalist Roman Protasevich who was on the flight. However, while other key members of the opposition have disappeared off the front pages of the international press, Protasevich’s detention has renewed pressure on the Lukashenko Regime. 

The exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya has urged for the release of Protasevich claiming him to be a “political prisoner”. Since 25th June he has been moved from jail into house arrest while he awaits trial. Some have seen this move as trying to appease the international community as fresh sanctions have been imposed.  It is yet to been seen how this will impact opposition protests and how this move will be seen in the international community. 


James Fergusson – Security Analyst 

The TRIP Group

For more information on travel safety and security please contact the TRIP Group on +44 (0) 333 939 0024 or info@thetripgroup.com

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