Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Sitrep - 27 Jan, 2016

The UN-backed proposal for a unity government in Libya was rejected this week by the Tobruk parliament. Based in the east of the country, the parliament remains at odds with a rival government in Tripoli. The retired General Khalifa Hifter’s militia appears to have the lead over other groups, but the country is teetering on fragmentation once again.

However, elements of the Islamic State have gained a foothold in the centre of Libya, attracting the potential for a foreign military intervention in the coming months. Should an intervention be organised, some sort of unity between the militias will be necessary. The oil fields and which group controls them will be the connecting factor.

Chinese President Xi Jinping continues with his risky overhaul of the People’s Liberation Army. The reforms reflect more attempts by Mr Xi to consolidate control over both the government and the military in what some suspect is a direction of becoming a dictator.

Up to 300,000 troops may be disbanded while various military forces are streamlined in a “joint” concept. These reforms are in line with other modern militaries’, including the US, to streamline and lower the manpower requirements for an increasingly tech-heavy modern fighting force. For the CCP’s survival, the party needs the PLA to remain loyal. These reforms will be a crucial test of that loyalty.

In Portugal, a centre right government returns to control of Lisbon. The election of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa replaces a leftist party which managed to make many enemies with its poorly planned financial and banking reforms in the short two months it was in power.

However, despite the new government’s wide popularity, it faces immediately an instable parliament and upcoming legislative elections. A dissolution of the parliament is likely before April which will weaken Mr de Sousa’s already toothless Presidency. Mr de Sousa will also need to strike a new agreement with Brussels for extra financial assistance.

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