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Security Brief: IFET Week of December 13, 2021

Week of Monday, December 13, 2021 | Issue 53

Chandi Haripriya Guduru, Tatiana Vasquez, Illicit Finance and Economic Threats Team


Room representing college classrooms[1]


Date: December 14, 2021

Location: Nablus, Palestine

Parties involved: An-Najah National University students; Hamas; Israeli security forces

The event: Israeli security forces arrested 11 An-Najah National University students suspected of supporting Hamas. The students are suspected of transferring funds to the terror organization, organizing pro-Hamas rallies, and spreading Hamas propaganda under the supervision of senior Hamas members. The students were members of the University’s Islamic Bloc which is a Hamas-affiliated organization that is active on multiple Palestinian campuses.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The funds transferred by the students to Hamas could likely be used to support the group’s operations. The An-Najah National University students involved in transferring funds will likely be arrested under administrative detention, which could likely result in the indefinite confinement of the students. The confinement of these individuals will likely lessen the support for the group at the University, likely resulting in a reduction in the spread of Hamas’s ideologies in student life at the University.

  • The arrest of the students will likely reduce recruitment activity, causing Hamas to experience reduced opportunities to further strengthen their organization through affiliates at the University. However, financial incentives by the terror group could likely enable them to acquire newer members at the University. Students will likely be persuaded by the incentive as it will very likely help them make tuition payments.

Date: December 15, 2021

Location: Myanmar

Parties involved: Myanmar Military Junta; US Government; Oil and gas industry of Myanmar; Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE); Total and Chevron Energies; Multinationals companies (MNCs)

The event: There appears to be a strong push among Myanmar citizens within the US, inside both the government and public, to advocate for sanctions on the oil and gas industry of Myanmar, the largest revenue earner for the military junta.[3] Yadana gas field, for example, is a major source of revenue for the junta, supplying electricity to neighbouring Thailand and to most of the population in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.[4] These sanctions would cut the junta’s funding for weapons and push them towards peace negotiations. In the letters discovered among military officials and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), it was found that profits from the oil industry are crucial for the revenue of the junta, including for paying the military officials. The involvement of certain multinational companies, such as Total and Chevron Energies, has created certain issues for sanctions, such as lobbying in the US and unemployment problems in Myanmar if the sanctions are imposed.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The sanctions are likely to help in cutting funding to the military junta. Loss of pay to military officials and budget constraints for the military’s maintenance will very likely influence the junta’s decisions towards continuing the civil war.

  • The potential discontinuation of the Yadana gas field would likely create severe electricity shortages in Yangon, as the city’s energy sector relies heavily on the oil and gas industry. Sanctions in the industry will therefore likely create major electricity problems that have a direct effect on other sectors, including health and education.

  • It is likely that the involvement of multinational companies (MNC)s such as Total and Chevron Energies would interrupt the efforts to impose sanctions due to potential lobbying. Due to the high amount of profits and human capital involved alongside numerous indirect stakeholders, imposing sanctions could also likely backfire due to the potential reactions of the junta as well as civilians. It could also likely trigger increased violence among the junta and create new problems for the civilian population as they face electricity constraints.

Date: December 18, 2021

Location: Serbia

Parties involved: Serbian people; Serbian Government; National Bank of Serbia

The event: The number of cryptocurrency owners in Serbia has risen to 200,000. Interest in the cryptocurrency markets is also increasing in the country. At the end of June 2021, Serbia passed the Digital Assets Act (DAA) which recognizes cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, as virtual assets. The cryptocurrency trading platform in Serbia currently operates under a temporary permit which allows users to buy and sell coins. It will likely receive permanent authorization from the National Bank of Serbia in the early months of 2022, which would allow cryptocurrency payments to be processed for goods and services.[6]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The cryptocurrency market will likely contribute to the Serbian economy through the taxation of cryptocurrency investments. Tax payments in Serbia will likely increase as the cryptocurrency market will likely globalize, and more Serbians will become cryptocurrency holders. Despite double taxation treaties, it is still likely that Serbia will generate funds by taxing non-residents from cryptocurrency-friendly countries.

  • Considering requirements under the DAA, the Serbian Government will likely have a heightened sense of awareness of cryptocurrency affairs in the country. With these regulations along with the permanent authorization of the cryptocurrency trading platform, Serbian individuals will be further encouraged to engage in the cryptocurrency market. However, financial requisites to become a digital asset provider in Serbia would likely encourage some individuals to develop illicit digital asset service companies.

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[1]Black and Brown Wooden Chairs in Room” by Pixabay licensed under Pexels

[2] Israel Arrests 11 Nablus University Students for Pro-Hamas Activities, The Times of Israel, December 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/israel-arrests-11-nablus-university-students-for-pro-hamas-activities/

[3] Myanmar public urges gas sanctions to stop military funding, AP News, December 2021, https://apnews.com/article/myanmar-us-france-resist-oil-gas-sanctions-against-military-26960605aebc2ddb7b537a803f01f336

[4] Yadana Gas Pipeline, The World Bank Group, https://ppi.worldbank.org/en/snapshots/project/Yadana-Gas-Pipeline-523

[5] Myanmar public urges gas sanctions to stop military funding, AP News, December 2021, https://apnews.com/article/myanmar-us-france-resist-oil-gas-sanctions-against-military-26960605aebc2ddb7b537a803f01f336

[6] Crypto Owners in Serbia Reach 200,000 as Country Regulates Digital Assets, Bitcoin.com, December 2021, https://news.bitcoin.com/crypto-owners-in-serbia-reach-200000-as-country-regulates-digital-assets/


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