All posts by Samuel Lewendon

Sam is currently studying towards an MA in Terrorism, Security and Society at King's College London. He holds a BA in Political Science from Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. His main areas of interest include the strategies of terrorism, public responses to terrorism, and the political implications of terrorism.
Arctic Ice

Il dominio dell’Artide e le conseguenze per la sicurezza globale

Il controllo dell’Artide è stato per lungo tempo oggetto di un dibattito intenso e di dispute tra Canada, Danimarca, Norvegia, Russia e Stati Uniti. Il risultato della controversia potrebbe avere un impatto significativo sulla sicurezza globale. 

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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]l dominio sull’Artide è stato per lungo tempo al centro di un acceso dibattito e di varie dispute tra Canada, Danimarca, Norvegia, Russia e Stati Uniti. Ciascuno di questi Paesi rivendica la sovranità di parte dell’Artide. Secondo la Convenzione delle Nazioni Unite sul diritto del mare (UNCLOS), uno stato interessato dispone di dieci anni di tempo per rivendicare la sovranità su zone della piattaforma continentale. Tale periodo inizia con la ratifica della Convenzione da parte dei soggetti coinvolti. Ad oggi, il suddetto lasso temporale è stato già superato da Norvegia e Russia, mentre Canada e Danimarca si stanno avvicinando alla scadenza (prevista, rispettivamente, nel 2013 e 2014). Dal canto loro, gli Stati Uniti rivendicano la sovranità di alcune parti dell’Artico per via della vicinanza con il territorio dell’Alaska, sebbene non abbiano ancora ratificato la Convenzione.

Ci sono state dispute per la sovranità di alcune zone particolari dell’Artico. Le aree contese comprendono il Passaggio a nord-ovest, il Mare di Beaufort, l’isola Hans e il Polo Nord. Per il Canada il Passaggio a nord-ovest fa parte delle sue acque interne, il che gli conferisce la possibilità di applicarvi le leggi nazionali in materia di pesca e ambiente e imporvi tasse e restrizioni doganali. Al contrario, gli altri Paesi, Stati Uniti in testa, considerano il Passaggio a nord-ovest appartenente alle acque internazionali. Se quest’ultima interpretazione fosse unanimemente condivisa qualsiasi imbarcazione avrebbe la facoltà di esercitare il proprio diritto di passaggio, limitando in tal modo l’autorità canadese sull’area.

Il Mare di Beaufort si estende dalle coste dello Yukon (in Canada) a quelle dell’Alaska (negli Stati Uniti). Il Canada sostiene che la sovranità debba essere riconosciuta in base all’estensione dei confini territoriali, mentre gli Stati Uniti non appoggiano tale tesi. Questi ultimi, infatti, hanno autonomamente stipulato contratti di affitto per alcuni di quei territori sui quali il Canada rivendica la sovranità per le estrazioni petrolifere. La disputa non è ancora stata risolta, ma si presume che si debba attendere il giudizio di un tribunale internazionale non appena gli Stati Uniti ratificheranno la Convenzione UNCLOS.

Attualmente la Danimarca e il Canada hanno intavolato negoziati per la spartizione dell’isola Hans. Benché piccola e disabitata, l’isola ha attratto l’attenzione di entrambi i governi. Se la mappa elaborata nel 1967 per la determinazione della sovranità sull’isola la localizzava all’interno delle acque canadesi, le più recenti immagini satellitari hanno rivelato che, invece, il confine tra i due stati si trova proprio al centro dell’isola stessa. Nel 1984, 1988, 1995 e 2003 il governo danese ha issato la propria bandiera sull’isola di Hans. Per tutta risposta nel 2005, durante un viaggio in territorio artico, il ministro della Difesa canadese attraccò sull’isola, provocando ulteriori attriti tra i due governi.

In realtà, le più acute controversie riguardano il Polo Nord. La sovranità sul Polo Nord è stata rivendicata da diversi Paesi, anche se non è stato ancora stabilito a quale piattaforma appartenga ufficialmente. Infatti, dopo che nel 2007 un sottomarino russo issò la propria bandiera sui fondali del Polo Nord, seguirono numerose critiche internazionali. Il ministro degli Affari Esteri canadese Peter MacKay stigmatizzò tale atto dimostrativo, poiché implicava l’inequivocabile rivendicazione della sovranità di Mosca sulla regione. L’immediata replica del corrispettivo russo, Sergey Lavrov, puntò a minimizzare l’accaduto come mero atto celebrativo, paragonandolo al gesto americano sul satellite lunare. Ciò nonostante, il ministro delle Risorse Naturali, nonché collega di Lavrov, ha di recente sostenuto l’appartenenza del Polo Nord alla piattaforma sub-continentale russa: pertanto, il suo Paese rivendica di fatto il diritto a disporre delle vaste risorse naturali presenti nel territorio polare.

Le conseguenze delle dispute per la sovranità sull’Artico potrebbero avere un impatto significativo sulla sicurezza globale. Stando a quanto sostiene il Gruppo Intergovernativo di Esperti sul Cambiamento Climatico, l’industria marittima potrebbe iniziare a utilizzare l’Artico come rotta marina principale, man mano che la calotta glaciale continuerà a sciogliersi. Questo implicherà un maggiore sforzo per la protezione delle frontiere, oltre alla possibilità di tassare le imbarcazioni. Si crede, inoltre, che l’Artico sia una vasta riserva di gas naturale e petrolio. Considerando le scadenze imminenti della Convenzione ONU e gli alti incentivi economici, l’ipotesi di un conflitto appare sempre più veritiera.

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 Articolo tradotto da: Valentina Mecca

Articolo originale: The Security Implications of Arctic Sovereignty

Photo Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Arctic Sovereignty

The Security Implications of Arctic Sovereignty

Arctic sovereignty has long been the subject of intense debate and dispute between Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States. The outcome of the battle for it could have a significant impact on global security.

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Arctic Sovereignty

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Arctic sovereignty has long been the subject of intense debate and dispute between Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States.  Each country claims ownership of part of the Arctic.  In accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) countries have ten years to make claims for sovereignty over extended shelf areas.  The ten year period begins when each country ratifies the UNCLOS.  The deadlines for Norway and Russia have already passed while those of Canada and Denmark are approaching quickly (2013 and 2014 respectively.)  While the United States claims sovereignty over parts of the arctic due to its northern territory of Alaska it has yet to ratify UNCLOS.

There have already been disputes for sovereignty over particular areas of the Arctic.  Disputed areas include the Northwest Passage, the Beaufort Sea, Hans Island and the North Pole.  Canada considers the Northwest Passage to be internal waters which entitles Canada to the right to enact fishing and environmental laws, to enforce taxation and import restrictions.  The United States and others consider the Northwest Passage international waters.  This would entitle ships to a right of passage and limit Canadian authority over the area.

The Beaufort Sea covers the boundary between the Yukon (in Canada) and Alaska (in the United States.)  Canada maintains that sovereignty should be distributed based on extensions of the land border while the United States disagrees.  The United States has leased land under the sea that Canada considers to be its own to search for oil.  The issue has yet to be resolved but would probably be settled by a tribunal if the United States ratifies UNCLOS.

Denmark and Canada are currently negotiating the division of Hans Island.  The island is small and uninhabited but has received significant attention from both governments.  The maps originally used in 1967 to determine ownership of the island showed the island to be in Canadian waters but recent satellite imagery has revealed that the boundary between the countries falls directly in the middle of the island.  In 1984, 1988, 1995 and 2003 the Danish government planted flags on the island.  In 2005 the Canadian defence minister stopped on the island during a trip to the Arctic which resulted in another dispute between the governments.

Perhaps the most intense dispute in the Arctic has been and will be over the North Pole.  The North Pole has been claimed by many countries but it is yet to be determined which shelf it is attached to.  In 2007 a Russian submarine planted a Russian flag at the seabed of the North Pole and sparked a major international controversy.  Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay criticized the Russians for planting the flag as though it entitled them to sovereignty over the North Pole.  Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov responded that it was merely a celebration of national accomplishment akin to putting the American flag on the moon.  Despite this Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry claims that results from samples taken on the expedition indicate that the North Pole is an extension of Russia’s continental shelf and that Russia is entitled to the vast natural resources that it may hold.

The outcome of the battle for Arctic sovereignty could have a significant impact on global security.  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the shipping industry could begin to use the Arctic as a major shipping route as the ice cap continues to melt.  This has consequences for border protection and the rights to charge levees on shipments.  Beyond that the Arctic is believed to have vast reserves of natural gas and oil.  With the impending deadlines and high economic incentives to gain sovereignty there is little doubt that conflict will arise.

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Photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Graffiti in Derry

The New IRA: A Legitimate Threat?

While the new Irish Republican Army (IRA) will have the capability to conduct small scale operations, and likely pose a threat to the security services and police officers, they will not be able to muster a campaign comparable to those of the historical IRA.

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Graffiti in Derry

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[dropcap]S[/dropcap]everal Republican dissident groups in Northern Ireland announced recently that they would be merging to present a unified face of Republicanism and intensify attacks on British security forces and targets. The primary components of this new group are the Real Irish Republican Army, and the Republican Action Against Drugs vigilante movement. There are also several smaller Republican groups involved in the merger, but many of them are unnamed or are not noteworthy. They are to merge under the constitution of the IRA, and believe unity will promote greater cooperation and increase their strength. While the premise of a renewed IRA is excellent at grabbing attention in newspaper headlines, what capabilities and support will this new group actually have?

This merger could potentially result in a new force of several hundred members, but that does not necessarily equate to great strength or capability. In fact, police say the threat posed by Republican groups has not changed since the announcement. This implies that the prospect of a united front for Republican dissidents has not been successful as a ‘call to arms’ for the new IRA. Security journalist Brian Rowan said that the relationship between these groups is not particularly steady, and that calls for unity and cooperation can quickly be replaced by fragmentation and disagreement. Beyond that Rowan said that the new group will lack the support to run a terrorist campaign. This does not mean that the groups are not dangerous, but rather that they lack the capacity to conduct large scale attacks.

Historically both of these groups have had a propensity for violence, but their attacks have been small in scale. The Republican Action Against Drugs group has murdered one man and shot more than forty others, as well as threatened to shoot dozens of others unless they moved out of town since 2008. These attacks were primarily aimed at alleged drug dealers and head shops, but in June they claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) has repeatedly threatened to attack police officers and soldiers, but has not been very effective in recent years.  Some of the people involved in the smaller groups are believed to be responsible for the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr in 2011. In January of 2008 Michael Campbell, a member of the RIRA, was apprehended during a weapons buying sting operation by MI5 in Lithuania. This shows that the RIRA was trying to procure weapons, presumably for an attack, but does not indicate the degree to which they have been successful doing so.

It takes more than weapons to run a successful terrorist campaign. Support is an important element of any terrorist campaign, and can often make the difference between a group achieving its political ends or meeting its demise. Both the RIRA and the Republican Action Against Drugs group lack widespread support. Opportunity Youth, an organization in Northern Ireland that provides drug and alcohol support to young people, has criticized the Republican Action Against Drugs group and urged them to bring an end to their violence. They believe that violent punishment will not help solve drug issues, and that those who are dependent on drugs need to be helped through supportive methods. The Real Irish Republican Army has also been the target of much criticism as a result of killing three young children in an attack aimed at police forces in 2010. Additionally, both unionist and nationalist politicians have publicly expressed their opposition to the founding of a new violent group.

Ultimately the new incarnation of the Irish Republican Army will have the capability to conduct small scale operations, and likely pose a threat to the security services and police officers, they will not be able to conduct the kind of maintained intense campaigns the IRA has historically be known for. More than anything this announcement seems to be a cry for attention, a group trying to grab a few headlines for their cause at a time when concern over the threat of terrorism is already elevated due to the Olympic Games in London.

M6 traffic

Are The Olympics Raising Suspicion Levels For Terrorism?

If the Olympics were not approaching, smoke coming from a bag on a coach would probably have resulted in a fire prevention response rather than a counter-terrorism response.

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M6 traffic

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Olympics will be bringing large crowds, world leaders, and a global audience to London this summer. The Olympics have been identified as an ideal target for terrorist activity because the increased population density of London during the Olympic Games will offer greater anonymity, greater destructive power, symbolic targets, and a major media presence.  Despite the significant effort the security services are making to ensure any threats during the games are identified and prevented, many people are worried about the possibility of an attack taking place. Recently some events have occurred that under normal circumstances would not raise suspicions of being related to terrorism, but as the games approach people are becoming more suspicious of one another.

Yesterday, the 5th of July, a passenger on a Megabus coach from Preston to London noticed another passenger was pouring liquid into a box, and that the box started to emit smoke. This would usually be dealt with by the coach driver using an onboard fire extinguisher, or in extreme cases perhaps the closest fire department. In this particular case a team of armed police, sniffer dogs, forensic officers, military personnel, and paramedics responded. Their response also included a decontamination tent, and resulted in the closure of part of the M6 toll road for about four hours. Once officers had arrived they determined that the source of the smoke was an electronic cigarette. Responding to false alarms such as this one results in a significant expenditure of resources and may appear unnecessary, but it is important to consider the implications of not responding to suspicious behaviour.

The other major terrorism related event that occurred yesterday was the arrest of six terrorism suspects in London. While the security services insist the suspect’s plot was unrelated to the Olympics and was not an imminent threat, it is important to consider whether this threat would have been detected had suspicion levels not been raised by the upcoming games. By the time an arrest is made the security services have gathered enough evidence to be certain that an attack is being planned, but the initial evidence that sparked their interest in the group would likely have been something small. Without knowing the specifics of their investigation it is difficult to say, but one would expect it would have been an intercepted communication or a tip by a member of the public. Initially this case could have looked very similar to the Megabus incident, and could easily have been overlooked.

There is an argument to be made that it is better to respond when a response is not necessary, than to fail to respond when a response is necessary, and as such any mildly suspicious event should warrant a response. There is some merit to this view, and it could also be argued that standards should be maintained regardless of whether or not a high profile event is approaching. Perhaps, rather than highlighting the observational powers of a suspicious public, the reaction to the false alarm highlights how passive the public can usually be about potential terrorist threats. If the Olympics were not approaching, smoke coming from a bag on a coach probably would not have resulted in a counter-terrorism response rather than a fire prevention response. It is important to consider whether being selective in which reports to respond to with a counter-terrorism measures is desirable. If the Megabus incident was overlooked, the suspects in London, or those involved in the liquid bomb plot could easily have been overlooked as well. Perhaps it is better to respond to any report with even a minimal potential for being terrorism related as a terrorist event until it can be proven to be otherwise.