GCN Weekly Security Bulletin: Money, money, money.
Money becomes chief focus of national and international politics
Two nations saw chaos and violence over internal monetary issues this week.
On November 7 in a surprise move, the Indian government announced its plan to demonetize 500 and 1000 Rupee notes – rendering them useless. These two currency notes being the highest denomination were frequently used as black money and for illegal transfers. This measure was adopted to curb the prevalence of black money in the economy; a central feature of Prime Minster Modi’s campaign. Shockingly, out of India’s 1.2 Billion population, less than four per cent of its people are able/do pay their taxes.
New notes with greater security features have been introduced into the economy. However, the transition to these new currency notes was fraught with inefficiency and incompetence leading to protests and the deaths of 47 people.
The move is also criticized for being ineffective at combating the prevalence of black money. Many suggest instead that this the Modi government attacking the rival cash flows of political parties before state elections. If successful in the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh (India’s most populous state, his party (which is guided by a strong Hindu nationalist ideology) will continue to increase in power and pose a serious challenge to India’s secular fabric.
In its turn, this will pose a major challenge to the religious minorities of the country which include 30 million Christians.
In Zimbabwe, government security forces kidnapped, arrested and threatened activists and journalists ahead of a massive protest in Harare, the capital.
The protest was against the government’s move to introduce pseudo-currency into the cash-short economy. This pseudo-currency is essentially government bonds backed by the U.S. dollar. It amounts to printing and adding new money into the economy. Activists fear that this fresh effort to reprint money will return Zimbabwe to a level of hyperinflation in the country.
In 2009, inflation hit 500 billion percent inflation (and this is not a typing error). In a state of hyperinflation basic amenities become far out of reach of the middle class, which in turn leads to a severe state of insecurity as violence, looting, robbery and kidnapping become more frequent. The Mugabe dictatorship has always ruled with an iron-fist and this week’s crackdown on the protest and his opposition to the #thisflagmovement serves as another demonstration of his utter disregard for democratic practices.
Global Terrorism Index – 2016
This week, the Institute of Economics and Peace released its fourth annual Global Terrorism Index- 2016. This Index is created based on data collected at the START Consortium at the University of Maryland.
The index revealed that overall deaths caused by terrorism decreased in 2015, but it is troubling to see the concentration of terrorist activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Nigeria, and the increasing fluidity of the attacks.
The influence of Boko Haram and so-called Islamic State was reduced in both cases, but IS overtook Boko Haram as the most lethal organization in 2015. The scope of the Taliban dramatically increased in South Asia with a 29 per cent increase in its activity.
With a global total of 29,376 deaths, the report announced that 2015 was the second deadliest on record since data was first collected in 2000. One of the most interesting findings, is that in 2015, 74 per cent of all terrorist attacks were carried out by four major groups – Boko Haram, Islamic State, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. All of these groups operate in developing countries largely Africa and Asia.
With a world media dominated by western sources it is important to understand that though the threat and pain felt in the West about the prospect of terrorism, the reality of it is found where accurate and comprehensive news coverage cannot reach.
Knowing this may help guide responses to terror.
Angela Merkel will run again
This week Angela Merkel announced that she will campaign for her fourth term as German Chancellor. Merkel, who came to lead Germany in 2005, remains the most experienced leader of any western country. Her experience will come at a time of great transition and uncertainty in throughout Europe – impacted by the migration crisis; an assertive Putin; Brexit; the rise of extremist parties and the threat to NATO posed by election of Donald Trump.
In her announcement, Merkel rubbished the claim that she was the last ‘defender of liberal west’ following the end of President Obama’s term in January. Yet she is expected to maintain her important role in maintaining Europe’s fragile security climate if the German people return her to power.
She will receive stiff competition from the far-right, AfD (Alternative for Germany) party, emboldened by the rise of populist movements and who have repeatedly attacked her on immigration.
At the time of her announcement, polls showed that her party, the Christian Democratic Union, would secure the most number of seats in parliament with 32 per cent. Interestingly, 55 per cent of Germans were happy with her decision to run again and 39 per cent opposed it.