When we look over the international panorama, we get the false impression that Portugal and the Portuguese people won’t be directly affected by terrorist or criminal organizations’ actions, neither by political, economic and social changes. This impression is far from being accurate, if we just briefly analyse the new circumstances and the characteristics of the most recent terrorist attacks or criminal actions in foreign soil, and its probable developments, and even recent political, economic and social events, in States that appear to be solid and very unlikely to change in the near future.

In this sense, understanding this new reality is now more and more important to companies, to its leaders and the various organizations, with the important help of experienced professionals, who, looking into political, economic and social matters, gather a series of information – collected online and in the field, from connections and sources – which are used as a yardstick, the day they are released, to the most common and instant risks in the territory they focus on.

We will now explain the importance of IntellCorp’s reports to the client, with a few arguments and examples:

  1. Terrorism;
  2. Political issues;
  3. Economic issues;
  4. Social issues.

(1) Terrorism:

If these recent attacks alert us to a kind of violence Europe was not used to, these actions are nothing new to what should be expected for quite a long time, and to what Governments have been trying to anticipate and prevent, unfortunately, unsuccessfully in those communicated cases.  However, many other cases – not announced live but known afterwards, for obvious security measures – have been avoided by Intelligence Services and Security Forces.

The new side of terrorism takes the form of non-traditional or low-intensity war between a large number of States (mostly western) and tribal groups and subgroups, guided by their own interests and with principles that are not very consistent, but they are shared among them, with a flexibility that makes it hard to anticipate their new actions. These groups, which organize and reorganize themselves, expand easily in a “where there’s one member or cell, the group is represented” basis, and, not looking to accomplish their purpose in medium or long terms, they invest in low cost actions, by integrating member in the field or by using members who are apparently integrated, to cause the highest damage, with the lest resources.

If we take a look at the Global Terrorism Index 2015[1], by IEP/START, supported by American Administration and different federal agencies and Intelligence Services, regarding the ranking for the States that were most affected by terrorism and with the highest risk of representing a target for future attacks, we can see that Portugal is positioned in 110th place – Lowest impact of terrorism. This tells us that we don’t have to worry much about terrorism, internally. But only if we don’t go beyond a basic data analysis and interpretation. In fact, we can equally see that Belgium’s positioned in 82th place – Lowest impact of terrorism – which indicates a similar low risk. And, unfortunately, we recently had the opportunity of confirming that this risk was clearly underestimated, with the triple attack to Brussels, which caused 32 deaths and 300 other victims.

At this stage, no growing company, travelling executive or any other kind of organization, in its daily activities, can underestimate this increasing threat, terrorism, and its direct consequences to its operations’ and its employees’ safety and morale.  It is important to note, although, that Portugal recently reinforced its antiterrorism prevention measures and that the existence of a direct terrorism threat to Portugal was recognized by the Portuguese Counterintelligence Services – SIS, Security Intelligence Services.

[2] Political issues:

At this point, a first thing that comes to most people’s minds is a putsch. In fact, between 2010 and 2016, there were nearly 30 putsch attempts (some were successful, other failed), of which Turkey’s was the last one. But there were more than 70 revolution attempts, popular uprisings and organized protest movements against the State (disruptive) and over 40 big general strikes.

If this is not enough to worry any company, let’s consider the fact that the policies and laws are the work of current and past governors and might be changed. There are also privatizations and nationalizations. There are sudden policies changes, for electoral purposes, and changes of government representatives, such as cases of certain ministers’ fails, which lead to his resignation; or the developments of a certain politician’s image, which oblige them to do some renegotiations with syndicates; or the companies’ bounding or sacrifices, in order to achieve a temporary social pacification.  There are sudden political scandals.  There are Government’s external influences.  There is a large number of possibilities to be considered, when you follow a certain geopolitical area that is hardly monitored by public institutions or organisms, or resumed in generic survey or spaced reports, such as the ones provided to companies intending to expand to the outside of their national territory.

In practice, when monitoring a Government’s political level – including the levels of defence and security and their main representatives – searching for their strengths and vulnerabilities is a job that can hardly be done by employees of a non-specialized company or even through the available official literature compilation, which is often created to “disguise” and “attract” the open source news. These are naturally guided by the media’s specific interests, and their target is the widest audience, rather than investigating matters that meet the IntellCorp’s client interests.

[3] Economic issues:

At this point, notwithstanding the fact that the companies are well-informed, they end up ignoring certain signs and not having interesting data, crucial to a good decision making. If this wasn’t true, many of the recent cases involving banking institutions could have had different outcomes, perhaps a happier ending to some of its depositors and to the companies involved.

Whoever works in Intelligence cannot afford to ignore signs that were clearly shown beforehand, that some institutions would be having serious problems, in the near future. There were plenty of speeches by representatives and international sectors, delivering reports or simple statements, allowing a foresight of what was coming.

The Intelligence’s part in this field is to combine a strict, but wide research that allows a permanent supervision and an adequate prevention, allowing companies to avoid being caught unaware. IntellCorp’s part as regards the client, as Intelligence professionals, is to follow the most recent events and circumstances, at all levels and by all means, giving companies’ leaders access to a service that is usually available to Heads of State only.

[4] Social issues:

Social issues are frequently underestimated or overestimated by who’s looking from the outside. This may be caused by believing in the representatives’ lack of organisational or coordination capacity, or by an excessive optimism regarding their real influence in the public opinion, or by wanting many different things to change in the social field, or even by believing in the capacity or the external help that some representatives or movements seem to count on.

By seeing strikes that paralyze a local geographic area, bigger or smaller reactions in its sub-region or region, and the representatives individual part and their actual interests and political agenda, a company seeking to analyse a State in which it intends to invest or strengthen, frequently comes across the same dilemma: do I really know all the related matters?

IntellCorp’s job is precisely to be constantly aware and connected to the field of excellence, which allows us to help the client making informed decisions. Its job is to break alarmism apart, as well as to warn against possible risks. Its experience is essential in this research and analysis, for it is the reflection of a fair, out of the box vision, but also aware of the different standards, in which new events fit.

There are many other examples, regarding the companies’ need to resort to specialized Intelligence and Security services IntellCorp understands that both fields are internally connected and that knowing these and other specific fields, such as diplomatic, defence, corporative and social, as well as transversal matters, benefits the client and makes a difference in its capacitation.

Will Country Risk Report be enough to close the gaps? Certainly it won’t close all gaps, but it will be a good start. We provide developed and extensive services and adapt them to the client’s budget. However, having access to our most basic services and support and being basically well-informed is always better than having to let luck decide for you.

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