Weekly Snapshot
8-14 July 2018

1. US Service member killed in Afghanistan

This week a US service member was killed by an Afghan security force member. The attack happened in the southern province of Uruzgan. The attack, which killed four and left several wounded (including two other service members), comes just over a year after an Afghan soldier killed three US soldiers in the eastern province of Nangarhar.
These attacks are known as “green on blue” attacks, and while their frequency has gone down in recent years, they are still happening. The US and coalition forces have tightened security and added extra barriers for protection against attacks like these, hoping to eliminate them as a threat altogether.

While these types of attacks affect the US and coalition fighters in country, they affect the Afghan forces the most. This year alone there have been 47 incidents where Afghan soldiers turn on their own units.

2. Mexican Drug Cartel Takes a Big Blow to its Leadership

One of Mexico’s most notorious drug cartels, Sinaloa, had one of its leaders extradited to the US. Sinaloa is best known for being led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who escaped from a high-security Mexican jail in 2001. He was then captured again in 2014, where he escaped again.

Guzman was found again in 2016 and was then extradited to the United States in 2017 where he is facing criminal charges.

Damaso Lopez was a senior member of the Sinaloa Cartel and is believed to be responsible for Guzman’s 2001 escape. He was captured by Mexican officials in May and this week extradited to the United States. He will hopefully be the key witness in the criminal case against Guzman. Lopez fought for power with Guzman’s son after Guzman’s arrest in 2016, when Lopez rose to one of the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel.

3. Terrorist strike in Mogadishu

Al-Shabab, an Islamist militant group, has once again stuck the Somali Capital. Two car bombs went off outside the Somali Ministry of the Interior and National Security building, killing 10 and injuring 20. This is the first major attack since the start of Ramadan this past May. Al-Shaba has been known to intensify attacks during the Holy month, leading Somali officials to increase roadblocks and checkpoints.

After the blast, Al-Shabab immediately took responsibility for the attack. The car bombs were just the beginning of the attack, afterward storming the Ministry of Interior and National Security where a two-hour gun battle took place. The Mogadishu police confirmed that all the attackers were killed in the gun battle.

Mogadishu has been a recurring target for Al-Shabab after the government forced them out of the capitol. Al-Shabab continues to fight the government, seeing them as western puppets. Al-Shabab has been the perpetrators of several attacks in Mogadishu including the attack last October that leftover 500 people dead.

4. Tensions Continue to Rise Between the US and China

With both China and the US trading punches on trade, the trade war continues as no one seems to be backing down. Tensions are high, but that is no reason to lighten up on other disputes between these two countries. This week the United States sent two US Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait. These two destroyers were just passing between the South China Sea and the East China Sea. This move brought anger from the Chinese who believe that Taiwan should still be a part of their domain. The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound to help defend it. This is the first passage by a US Navy ship in a year and comes after a series of Chinese military drills around Taiwan.

This action has not helped the tensions between these two countries but was much needed in order to reaffirm the United States commitment to protect Taiwan. This passage is seen as a sign of support, even as tensions continue to rise.