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Inside Five Eyes – the world’s most powerful secret intelligence alliance

From sharing spooks to secret technology — everything you need to know about the Five Eyes alliance. The intelligence network of secret services that includes MI5 and Washington

Boris Johnson and Joe Biden have set out plans for a new security partnership between the US, UK and Australia called AUKUS.

The partnership will allow the countries to share secret intelligence and technology, allowing Australia to deploy a fleet of nuclear powered submarines in the Indo-Pacific ocean.

The move is widely seen as a reaction to the growing power of China in the region and is built upon an old alliance that dates back to the Cold War — Five Eyes.

Five Eyes is an old intelligence-sharing arrangement between five English-speaking democracies: the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

But what exactly is Five Eyes and why does it exist? Here’s everything you need to know about the world’s most powerful secret intelligence alliance…

What is Five Eyes?



Five Eyes is widely considered the world’s most powerful intelligence alliance
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Image:

Getty Images/iStockphoto)




Five Eyes is a partnership that evolved during the Cold War as a mechanism for countries to monitor the Soviet Union as a collective — sharing classified intelligence.

The surveillance capabilities of the alliance were essential for the war on terror following 9/11, and they have tracked notable figures including Charlie Chaplin, Nelson Mandela and even Princess Diana.





The majority of the intelligence comes from Washington, however the UK also contribute a large amount of information, pooling insight from GCHQ, MI6 and MI5.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand contribute significantly less.

Often considered the world’s most successful intelligence alliance, the foundations of Five Eyes have been shifting in recent months.



Most of the Five Eyes intelligence comes from Washington
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Image:

Getty Images)




In 2020 the alliance agreed to expand its role away from just secret security to a more public stance on respect for human rights.

However New Zealand was absent from a recent joint statement by the other four members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance about China’s Hong Kong policy.





Many believe this is due to New Zealands trade alliance with China.

Regardless, New Zealand has diplomatic autonomy beyond Five Eyes and remains involved in the core premise of the alliance —sharing secrets.

Despite the recent AUKUS developments and New Zealand’s distancing, Five Eyes remains strong and is looking to expand its network.

In its annual policy bill in September, the House Armed Services Committee said that it was looking into “opportunities to expand intelligence sharing with” four additional countries — Germany, India, Japan and South Korea.


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