Global Security Briefing – September 2021

Lithuania 

Recent COVID-19 restrictions announced by the Lithuanian government have caused growing unrest and discontent among citizens. From 13th September 2021, unvaccinated citizens will not be allowed to visit salons, bars, restaurants and shopping centres. 

On 10th August 2021, thousands of protesters gathered outside the parliament building in Vilnius to express their disagreement with the restrictions.  Whilst originally the protests were peaceful, eventually protesters clashed with the police, causing tear gas to be deployed and 26 people to be arrested. 

The unrest has also been enhanced by the growing number of illegal immigrants entering the county from Belarus. Currently the country is constructing a 500km fence running along the border with Belarus in order to mitigate illegal immigrants. 

Looking forward, these tensions are likely to rise, and along with a deepening of anti-government and xenophobic sentiments, the result may be further protests and potential unrest.

Lebanon

Lebanon is experiencing renewed unrest following the decision by the Central Bank to remove fuel subsidies. The shortage of fuel has further deteriorated living conditions state-wide, leaving hospitals and homes without power. This has been accompanied with a shortage of medical staff and medical supplies. 

At present there are serious concerns over access to water supplies and waste water systems. The country’s main electricity provider, Electricité du Liban (EDL), has prevented power access to the water authorities, cutting off several main lines affecting roughly four million people across the country. The reliance of the nation’s infrastructure on fuel and the inability of the state to provide and distribute fuel resources brings further uncertainty about the future of the country and its citizens. It is likely that already poor socio-economic conditions will be exaggerated leading to further unrest and a potentially large-scale humanitarian crisis. 

Tunisia

There have been growing concerns about an Arab Spring 2.0 following the suspension of the Tunisian parliament by President Kaes Saeid. Potentially, this could result in a return to a more autocratic state with executive powers being monopolised under his authority. A month on, emergency measures are still in place with no appointment of a prime minister. 

The tourist dependent country has been heavily impacted by COVID-19 and high levels of unemployment among those with good levels of education has fuelled growing unrest. The inability of the government to resolve economic inequality gives rise to frequent protests.

Despite these concerns, there is potential for more stability in the country as this intervention appears to have widespread popular support. The previous system meant that often laws and changes were hard to pass due to lack of consensus within the government. Therefore, this autocracy may be able to bring around changes that the population are asking for. 

Afghanistan 

The collapse of the Afghan government and rapid seizure of the country by the Taliban has sent shock waves around the world. Much of the West as well as many terrorist groups will be watching carefully the Taliban’s strategies and whether there will be a return to brutal violence. If the Taliban are able to learn from their mistakes and effectively rule the state this could serve as an inspiration for other terrorist groups. 

This also raises questions about the efficacy of foreign intervention as seen by the West’s mistakes in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, given that terrorist groups thrive in unstable and poorly governed states, a lack of foreign intervention could also have detrimental impacts. The withdrawal of international troops brings concerns about the country’s ungoverned spaces becoming a safe haven for terrorist training camps and operations particularly that of Al-Qaeda who already have a stronghold in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. 

Looking closer to home, the response of western governments and the solidarity with Afghans will likely meet criticisms from western citizens. Further, the potential increase of refugees and tensions regarding terrorism are likely to cause unrest among far-right nationalist groups in the oncoming months. 

Flora Hawthorn, Security Analyst

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