Australia – The United States is believed to be preparing to send six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to an air base in northern Australia. It’s understood that Washington had drawn up detailed plans to build dedicated facilities for the aircraft at the Tindal Air Base, about 300km (185 miles) south of the city of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory.
US Air Force stated that its “ability to deploy bombers to Australia sends a strong message to our adversaries about our ability to project lethal air power.” Security analysts believe the move is a warning to China amid fears it could invade the self-ruled island of Taiwan.
The tensions with China have made northern Australia a crucial defence hub for the US and it has committed to spending $1bn to upgrade its military assets in the region. The long-range heavy bomber has been the mainstay of the US Air Force and is able to deploy both nuclear and conventional weapons.
The move is likely to inflame tensions with China, which has already condemned the plan and cited the pact between Australia, the US and the United Kingdom in 2021 that proposed to give Canberra the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.
At the time, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said the historic AUKUS pact risked “severely damaging regional peace” and “intensifying the arms race”
DR Congo – Thousands have protested in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) city of Goma, denouncing Rwanda’s alleged support of M23 rebels, as Kinshasa recalled its interim acting ambassador from Kigali in a further souring of relations.
The protests on Monday come as M23 have tightened their grip on the surrounding countryside.
A mostly Congolese Tutsi group, the M23 resumed fighting in late 2021 after lying dormant for years, accusing the Congolese government of failing to honour an agreement to integrate its fighters into the army. The group’s resurgence has destabilised regional relations in central Africa, with the DRC accusing its smaller neighbour Rwanda of backing the rebel group. The front line between the Congolese military and the M23 had been calm for several weeks, but fresh clashes from 20th October saw the rebel group make advances across North Kivu province.
Rebels recently seized the towns of Kiwanja and Rutshuru, along a strategic highway leading to the provincial capital Goma, which lies on the Rwandan border. On 30th October, the DRC’s government ordered the Rwandan ambassador, Vincent Karega, to leave the country within 48 hours. Rwanda stated that it had noted the decision “with regret”.
Brazil – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s presidential election victory over rival Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil has spurred renewed hope for the country and the future of the world’s largest rainforest, as the left-wing leader pledged to combat the climate crisis and reverse some of his predecessor (Bolsonaro’s) policies. However, there are concerns that the divisions over climate change could lead to a deterioration of the security situation in the South American country.
On Monday, truckers and other protesters blocked highways, burned tyres and set vehicles alight in several Brazilian states in an apparent protest over Bolsonaro’s election defeat.
Road blockages were also seen in at least five other states, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, according to local media.
Lula – who won by a narrow margin of 50.9% support, compared to Bolsonaro’s 49.1% on 30th October – will need to work hard on reconciliation given how polarised Brazil has become. Many security analysts are concerned that the divisions will result in violence across the country.
Qatar – Football fans travelling to Qatar for the World Cup will no longer need to present negative COVID tests and preregister on a government app to enter the country.
The Qatari government has cancelled the majority of travel restrictions related to COVID-19 ahead of the start of the World Cup that kicks off on 20th November.
From 1st November, travellers no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 PCR or Rapid Antigen tests to enter the country. Visitors entering Qatar are not required to preregister on the government’s Ehteraz health application before their arrival. A green health status on Ehteraz is now required only to access the country’s health facilities.
A COVID vaccination certificate is also no longer required to enter Qatar. The arriving fans, players, officials, staff and media are by far the biggest influx of visitors seen in Qatar, which has a population of approximately 2.9 million. Qatari citizens and residents also no longer need to take a PCR or rapid antigen test within 24 hours of returning from abroad, according to the Ministry of Public Health.
Mike Bisley, Chief Security Analyst
The TRIP Group