13 November 2016


Makhan Saikia

The situation in Iraq must change. Prime Minister Abadi, in the wee hours of starting the Mosul battle against ISIS, said, “The hour has struck. The campaign to liberate Mosul has begun. Beloved people of Mosul, the Iraqi nation will celebrate the victory as one.” Hope this come true

Mosul is the second biggest city of Iraq which was overrun by the jihadists of the Islamic State (ISIS) in mid-2014. Over the last two years, the city has witnessed mass exodus of people, genocide of the minority communities and holy seat of the ‘Caliphate’. Alas! This city has set the final stage for the elimination of the once powerful and dreaded Sunni Islamists who were literally creating havoc across the world. Still they are no less than a global menace. But their reach, speed and volume of atrocity have substantially come down in the recent months. The battle for retaking of Mosul by the Iraqi Army is already making international headlines, but for some very serious reasons. This battle has been termed as one of the most complex military operations in Iraq since the country was invaded by America in 2003, during the heydays of its President Saddam Hussein. As international experts opine, whoever loses and whoever wins, will matter so much that it will set the future course of action of Iraq. A fight to finish battle from the ISIS is absolutely on the move. The challenge for the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) is to secure Mosul and provide a stable governance system, once the ISIS is out from the city.

Climate Change: India’s Severe Domestic Equity Gaps – Analysis

By Niharika Tagotra*
NOVEMBER 11, 2016

India’s stance on the global climate change negotiations is evidently contradictory. While New Delhi argues at the international level that the developed world should effectively take responsibility for the historic emissions and cut down its ‘luxury emissions’ drastically, domestically, it assumes a completely contrary position that favours the interests of its historic polluters and luxury consumption over the survival interests of its poor.

The net result of the Paris Climate Change summit for India was that while it agreed to emission targets, it secured more carbon space for itself using its usual mantra of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR). This position is rooted in India’s historical stance at climate change negotiations that call for differentiating between the “luxury emissions” of the north and the “subsistence emissions” of the south. Additionally, New Delhi has strongly spoken for accounting of emissions on a per capita basis and factoring in historical responsibility. But in adhering to the age old north versus south binary, India’s stand imposes the exact same inequities domestically.

According to an estimate by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the average per capita emission in India stood at 1.6 tonnes CO2e per person per year. While the, per person, per year tonnage of carbon emission for the poorest 10 per cent stood between 0.4 and 0.8, the richest 10 per cent emitted between 3.4 and 5.1. Emissions of the richest 2 per cent in India were even higher, at between 4.6 and 6.8. This meant that the richest in India emitted 17 times more tonnes of carbon than the poorest. This is one of the clearest indicators of India’s lop sided development.

Will India and Pakistan Cripple the SCO?

By André Hantke
November 09, 2016

With the declaration of the 2016 Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states put forward the formal admission of India and Pakistan as full members of the Organization in 2017.

The basic principles regarding the expansion of the SCO were expounded at the 2014 Dushanbe Summit, while the decision to admit both countries as full members was taken at the 2015 summit in Ufa, Russia. This decision prompted great efforts within the SCO to expedite the start of the organization’s historic expansion. India’s and Pakistan’s signing of the memoranda of obligations on the occasion of this year’s summit finalized the technicalities of the process of the SCO’s expansion in 2017.

Both India and Pakistan, which formerly were observers within the SCO framework, applied for full membership in order to play a more significant role in the ongoing regional development. However, the SCO initially focused on the completion of its vertical consolidation before starting to expand horizontally. In this regard, not all members were fully comfortable with the accession of new states — possibly worrying about new challenges that would come along with expansion. While China raised concerns about an Indian entry and insisted on admission “when conditions are ripe,” Russia and Kazakhstan were in favor of its accession, eyeing the benefits of the new organizational arrangement.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

At the summit in Tashkent, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi suggested further development goals for the SCO. He noted that the organization’s expansion has to be an ordered process. The accession of India and Pakistan means a new maturing phase of the organization’s development, which must be based on an improved organizational structure and the member states’ consensus “through consultation.”

Chinese Put Their First Nuclear Attack Sub on Display

November 10, 2016

A Chinese Nuclear First

Three years after China featured its nuclear subs in the Chinese media for the first time they put their first nuclear sub (SSN or nuclear attack sub) on public display. This was only the third time any country had done this. Plans for this were revealed during their 2013 media campaign as well as the fact that the boat in question, the Type 091 Long March No. 1 had been demilitarized (taken apart to remove the nuclear reactor and then reassembled) and cleaned up for display. This is a very expensive process and so far only the United States (the USS Nautilus in 1965) and France (the SSBN Redoutable in 2002) have done this. The Nautilus was the first SSN (attack sub) in service and Redoutable was one of the early (1971) ballistic missile carrying subs.

This first Chinese Type 091 sub entered service in 1974 after being under construction for nearly a decade. This first Chinese SSN was retired in 2000 but three of the five o91 SSNs are still in service. The theme for the 2013 media promotion was that in 42 years of operation no Chinese nuclear sub has ever suffered a nuclear reactor accident. This was an indirect dig at the Russians, who are the only nation with nuclear subs to have suffered nuclear accidents in part because most nuclear subs ever built were Russian. During the first 60 years of existence several hundred billion dollars has been spent on developing and building nuclear powered submarines. Some 400 have been built so far, most of them Russian.

Nuclear subs have been used in combat only once (in 1982, when a British SSN sank an Argentinean cruiser). When the Cold War ended, Russia began scrapping its large nuclear sub fleet, which included dozens of older boats that were more trouble than they were worth to maintain. In 2000 China joined this club and retired it’s first “nuke.” With the demise of the Russian sub fleet the U.S. Navy submarine force, which peaked at 100 boats at the end of the Cold War, shrank to about 70 today. China currently has about a dozen nuclear subs in operation (eight SSNs and four SSBNs) and their track record since 1974 has been dismal. The Chinese SSNs are noisy (easy for Western sensors to detect) and unreliable. Chinese SSNs rarely go to sea, which is one reason they have had no nuclear accidents. Chinese SSBNs (ballistic missile carrying nuclear subs) are basically enlarged SSNs and have never been on a combat patrol, just brief training missions.

Coalition Closing in on Heart of Islamic State, But Not its Head

Jeff Seldin, Voice of America
November 10, 2016 

For weeks, Iraqi forces backed by U.S. and coalition air power have moved ever closer to the city of Mosul, the heart of the Islamic State terror group's holdings in Iraq.

Yet for all the progress, these forces would appear to be no closer to cutting off the group's head, the elusive cleric Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"We don't know where he is," Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. John Dorrian told Pentagon reporters via a videoconference from Baghdad last week. "If we knew where he was, he would be killed at once."

In the place of certainty, there is rumor.

In recent weeks, Iraqi military officials have insisted that the 45-year-old Baghdadi was hiding in tunnels and bunkers in Mosul, directing the defense of the city himself.

More recently, reports from Iraq quote various sources as saying Baghdadi is in Mosul preparing for his own death and in the process of selecting a replacement.

Western intelligence officials are highly skeptical. They say that even though IS and its predecessor groups have strongly embraced martyrdom — to the extent that some see it as a sort of death cult — the group's leaders have consistently opted to live to fight another day.

Where is He?

‘Never Trump’ Becomes ‘Maybe Trump’ in Foreign Policy Sphere

NOV. 10, 2016

Michael T. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general and Trump adviser, disdains many George W. Bush security officials, saying they helped push the United States into “too many conflicts that just seem too perpetual.”CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Like no other part of the Republican establishment, the party’s foreign policy luminaries joined in opposition to the idea of aDonald J. Trump presidency.

Loyal Republicans who served in the two Bush administrations, they appeared on television and wrote op-eds blasting him. They aligned under a “Never Trump” banner and signed a letter saying they were “convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

For his part, President-elect Trump has maligned them as bumbling and myopic, architects of “a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.”

The coming weeks will determine whether both sides decide they need each other.

On the establishment side, the opposition is now softening for some — driven either by a stated sense of patriotic duty to advise a new president with no foreign policy expertise, or a somewhat less noble motive to avoid years of being excluded from Washington power circles.

“Never Trump” has become “Maybe Trump.” But whether he would have them is another matter.

Mr. Trump, a man known to nurse grudges long after doing so is beneficial, has boasted for months that he has a better understanding of how to best serve the nation’s security interests than nearly anyone who has made policy in the area for the past decade. At the same time, his transition team faces the daunting task of filling hundreds of jobs in a constellation of national security agencies.


NOVEMBER 10, 2016

Jihadist strategy has always been dynamic and opportunistic. Militant groups, which are typically outgunned and outspent by their state opponents, have long sought to exploit both adversaries’ errors and also changes in the operating environment. Seismic strategic shifts by these groups have been common, not because they lack strategy, but rather because — like start-up firms in the economic sphere — their strategy relies on acting decisively in response to new opportunities. We are about to witness a major, and in many ways distinctive, shift in jihadist strategy spurred by the ongoing battlefield losses experienced by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). (Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president is likely to have further strategic impacts, but it is too early to analyze them comprehensively.)

The main challenge that confronts ISIL is sustaining itself as an organization even as its “state” becomes non-viable, and as its claims to being a universal caliphate appear increasingly outlandish. As Mosul comes under assault at the same time that U.S.-backed forces have launched an offensive to retake Raqqa, one obvious path for ISIL is leveraging its spectacularly successful terrorist attacks throughout the globe to try to sustain itself as a preeminent jihadist brand. But ISIL faces a dilemma: The group’s state made it so potent at planning and executing major terrorist attacks, and as its state declines, so too will its terrorist capabilities.

As it tries to find a way to thrive despite this problem, ISIL will no doubt return to the age-old jihadist debate about the relative merits of centralized and decentralized militant models. In doing so, one place ISIL will look is to the principles articulated by some of the movement’s most prominent strategists, including Abu Musab al-Suri. But ISIL is in a very different place than al-Qaeda was when the latter group had to adapt to the loss of its Afghanistan safe haven just after the 9/11 attacks. ISIL has operated across a larger contiguous geographic area than anything we have seen previously from jihadists, and has been able to take advantage of advanced encryption that did not exist in 2001. Thus, if it survives as an organization, ISIL will almost certainly forge its own unique twist on the question that proceeds from a position of strength relative to what Suri envisioned, and that anticipates a faster return to territoriality.

Leaderless Jihad vs. Leader-Led Jihad

What Comes Next for Iran's Defense Doctrine?

November 10, 2016

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, in a speech delivered on the occasion of the National Army Day on April 18, 2015, characterized Iran’s defense doctrine as “defensive.” He emphasized that the military strategy of Iran was based on “active deterrence for establishment of peace and security in Iran and the regional countries.” In its modern history, Iran has initiated no war against a foreign country, but has been a victim of foreign interventions and “imposed” foreign wars (Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran, for example). Iran’s military policy is also defined by a “no-first-strike doctrine” and an unwavering determination to fend off foreign invasions, whatever might be the human and material costs, while not being an aggressor itself.

The deterrence-based defense doctrine seeks to raise the aggressors’ risks and costs of military invasions to an unacceptably high level, to make the enemy (read: the United States) seriously think of its adventurous and reckless military actions against Iran. It is designed to avoid a conventional war against a technologically superior and vastly powerful enemy, and aims to employ asymmetric warfare tactics to confuse the enemy and maximize passive defenses by relying on strategic depth, manpower mobilization and psychological warfare to strike fear in enemy’s mind. Mindful of the hostile regional environment surrounding Iran, the doctrine mostly relies on Iranian domestic capabilities, including its missile inventory, to fight a lengthy war and survive. In case of a shooting war with the United States, Iran’s armed forces would also seek to close the Strait of Hormuz—the lifeline of the global oil supply—to internationalize the conflict by driving up oil prices to astronomical heights and thus win the war of wills against the enemy. The defense doctrine, in a nutshell, would ensure Iran’s security and survival by inflicting highly punishing damage on the enemy and its possible partners in the war.

An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler

November 10, 2016

Editor’s Note: The following was reprinted from An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler by Peter Fritzsche. Copyright © 2016. Available from Basic Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

The Germans made a point of displaying the hardness they had learned and their willingness to use and even exult in violence all along the mission’s journey to Smolensk. In response, the Swiss diarists recorded unsettling revelations about the central role of killing in German conduct in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. The talk between cousins was much more open than the more guarded and infrequent references to the deaths of Jews, partisans, and other civilians in soldiers’ letters or in the secretly taped discussions among Germans held prisoner by the Allies. The showmanship of death began in Minsk and never let up, ending only on the return journey after several Swiss nurses and doctors had toured the Warsaw Ghetto and boarded the train back to Berlin and home. Albert Oeri, the editor of the Basler Nachrichten, was not wrong to refer to the Swiss venture as a “swastika mission.”

As the train sat in Minsk, one Wehrmacht soldier was brutally frank about the murder of Jews. “The Jews,” Elsi was told, “they are fast dis­appearing. We already bumped off 1,600. There are just thirty left, mostly shoemakers and handymen. For now they have to work for us, then it will be their turn. They are rounded up, have to dig deep ditches, and then ‘piff-paff.’ And all of them, the elderly and children.” The German soldier explained that “we have had more than enough of that lot.” The violence was both self-evident (“piff-paff”) and spectacular (“bumped off 1,600”).

US Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, Versus Drone Strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia

Micah Zenko
November 10, 2016

US Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, Versus Drone Strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia

Yesterday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) published an updated estimate of civilian casualties from U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Previously, the Pentagon had acknowledged just 55 civilian casualties for the air war that began in August 2014. The new CENTCOM estimate listed a total of 24 civilian casualty incidents, which “regrettably may have killed 64 civilians.” This makes the new official estimate of civilian fatalities 119.

During this period, the United States conducted 12,354 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, which killed “45,000 enemies taken off the battlefield,” according to Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland in the latest publicly provided body count for the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Thus, using the U.S. government’s data, 12,354 airstrikes over 27 months have killed 45,000 ISIS fighter and just 119 civilians. This means that for every 103 airstrikes there is a civilian fatality, and for every one airstrike there are 3.64 IS fighters killed.

As I have written previously, this claim of nearly infallible target discrimination and weapon precision is simply unbelievable in a combat environment where civilians and combatants are so closely intermingled. IS fighters have employed civilian-designated facilities for its own purposes, and reportedly used human shields in its headquarters sites and during the movement of its fighters. Meanwhile, as noted, U.S. military officials, analysts, and pilots make inevitable human errors of judgment, and violate established protocols, resulting in unintentional civilian deaths. It is misleading to believe U.S. airstrikes are so precise.

Autocracy: Rules for Survival

Masha Gessen

Protesters outside Trump Tower the day after the election, New York City, November 9, 2016

“Thank you, my friends. Thank you. Thank you. We have lost. We have lost, and this is the last day of my political career, so I will say what must be said. We are standing at the edge of the abyss. Our political system, our society, our country itself are in greater danger than at any time in the last century and a half. The president-elect has made his intentions clear, and it would be immoral to pretend otherwise. We must band together right now to defend the laws, the institutions, and the ideals on which our country is based.”

That, or something like that, is what Hillary Clinton should have said on Wednesday. Instead, she said, resignedly,

We must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle [that] we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.

Hours later, President Barack Obama was even more conciliatory:

We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world….We have to remember that we’re actually all on one team.

How Important Is the US President – or Any Leader?

By George Friedman
Nov. 10, 2016

An election is always followed by the elation and respect of supporters, and the despair and contempt of opponents. This is a natural part of democracy. When Barack Obama was elected, his supporters were rapturous, while opponents were convinced it meant disaster. When George W. Bush was first elected, and then re-elected, the same thing happened. The degree of worship and contempt varies, but it is a constant in not only U.S. democracy, but in most democracies.

This phenomenon is composed of two dimensions. The first is that voters are searching for a solution to their problems and unhappiness and look to the political sphere for solutions. In doing this, they imbue leaders with extraordinary powers. A leader becomes an icon of all the hopes and fears of a nation. The second dimension is that different sorts of leaders drawdifferent sorts of followers. They differ by region, class, ethnicity and a host of other distinctions. Constant hostility very often occurs between these groups because all societies are divided. An election forces a confrontation between these different groups, their competing hopes and mutual contempt. The distinct groups want to elect a leader who will help them and punish the others. In the end, most of the political maneuvering entails convincing enough people that you speak for them and not the others.
The front page of New York City newspapers on Nov. 9, 2016 in New York City. John Moore/Getty Images

Leaders aren’t iconic, they are human beings. The idea that they will rebuild society in a manner that is more just to one group vastly overstates their power. Obama is a case in point. He was expected to end all wars, end the rage against the United States in the Islamic world that led to terrorism, create jobs and so on. He likely believed in many of these things, and he may well have expected to accomplish them as president. The expectations were global. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize merely for his good intentions.

Mapping the Trump factor: 10 countries and regions feeling the heat

Our writers outline what is at stake for those around the world likely to be immediately affected by Donald Trump’s presidency
Donald Trump at a rally in Pennsylvania in October. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

An estimated 150,000 of America’s 1.4 million armed forces personnel are stationed abroad. There are an estimated 35,000 US service personnel dotted about the Middle East, but the US does not release precise information on all their locations

Afghanistan barely featured in the election campaign, but when Donald Trump takes office he will not be able to ignore what is now America’s longest war. Thousands of US troops are still stationed there, the security situation is deteriorating as the Taliban threaten cities and consolidate control of rural areas, and Isis has joined the war.

Although American forces are not officially in a combat role, 11 have died there this year, making it a deadlier theatre of operations for the US military than Iraq or Syria.

The Taliban responded to the US election result by calling on Trump to withdraw America’s troops, but advisers will warn him that without the backing of foreign airpower and other military expertise the country is likely to fall to the Taliban.

His strong stance on fighting Isis and “Islamic terrorism” means he is unlikely to hand control of a country – where thousands of American troops died – to a scarcely less hardline group. He has also expressed concerns about nuclear weapons in neighbouring Pakistan.

The 8 Biggest Foreign Policy Challenges Facing Donald Trump

Donald Trump will become president at an uncertain time for international relations.

Here are the top eight foreign policy challenges the Trump administration will confront upon taking office.

As the Pentagon acknowledges, climate change presents a significant long-term national security threat. But it’s down here at number 8 because Trump and the Republican party disagree, making their response straightforward.

Almost the entire world thinks the international community should reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the likelihood of worst-case scenarios:
In November 2014, the US and China reached a bilateral agreement to reduce carbon emissions.
In December 2015, the world signed the Paris Agreement, setting voluntary carbon reduction targets and creating the Green Climate Fund to help poorer countries establish less carbon-intensive development paths.
And in October 2016, over 170 countries signed a binding agreement to cut hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), a coolant used in refrigerators and air conditioners that traps 1,000 times as much heat as carbon dioxide.

The president-elect calls global warming a Chinese hoax, and the Republican party platform rejects climate science, so the administration’s path forward is clear: renege on the deal with China, pull out of the Paris Agreement, and reverse Obama’s emission-reducing policies.

Trump already took a big step in this direction, appointing prominent climate skeptic Myron Ebell to run his EPA transition team.

The foreign policy aspect of this strategy isn’t particularly challenging.

Leading the world is hard, but abdicating global leadership is easy.

How to Defeat the Missile Defense of the Future

November 10, 2016

Taking a good look at U.S. and Russian strategic missile defense systems’ capabilities, we have come to the conclusion that these systems will not be able, neither at this moment nor in the foreseeable future, to influence the results of a hypothetical global nuclear war. Thus, it is possible to say with a high degree of confidence that in the next fifteen to twenty years, threats of nuclear deterrence will not arise, and therefore there will be no global war. Nevertheless, strategic security issues require at least indicative long-term forecasting. To do so, one must consider what ways of dealing with current and future missile defense systems could emerge.

Hypersonic Maneuvering Gliders: Coming in Ten Years?

The topic of hypersonic weapons is now very popular. Major military powers—namely, the United States, Russia and China—are actively developing different varieties, from cruise and antiship missiles to aircraft. Hypersonic gliders are among such weapons: special gliders carrying a nuclear or conventional warhead, delivered by a conventional intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to the target area, after which the glider enters the atmosphere and approaches the target.

At first glance, they do not differ from conventional warhead ICBMs, which also fly at hypersonic speeds of up to seven kilometers per second. In reality, gliders is different, because they enter the atmosphere much earlier, and a significant part of their trajectory is spent at a relatively low altitude, which significantly complicates exoatmospheric kinetic interception by means of missile-defense systems, such as the American GMD (Ground-Based Midcourse Defense) or Aegis. After entering the atmosphere at high speed, a cloud of hot plasma is created around the glider, which makes accurate interceptor guidance toward the target almost impossible. In addition, the hypersonic glider being developed in Russia (Izdelie 4202, or U71) has the ability to maneuver, making it virtually impossible to destroy.

Donald Trump Is About to Become America's President. Here's What His Foreign Policy Should Be.

November 10, 2016

Few people expected there to be a President-elect Donald Trump. Winning the election wasn’t easy. Governing will be much tougher.

Although the Americans who voted for him likely are most interested in domestic and economic reform, international challenges are likely to prove more pressing. Indeed, the world may be messier in January than today. And the usual coalition of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists undoubtedly will press him to embrace current policy and treat Uncle Sam as Globocop.

However, Trump has an opportunity to dramatically reshape a conventional wisdom that has consistently failed America. The United States has been constantly at war since the end of the Cold War. Belief in America’s “unipolar” movement led to disastrous, militarized hubris. The bipartisan presumption that Washington could use military force to simultaneously reshape reality, maintain stability, protect humanity, and promote democracy—especially in the Middle East—has proved to be a tragic fantasy.

Trump’s foreign policy views are sometimes inconsistent and often ignorant. His bombastic rhetoric and undisciplined nature is no boon for diplomacy. Nevertheless, he remains more likely than Hillary Clinton to follow a new approach.

Indeed, he challenged the presumption that Americans must forever subsidize wealthy allies. He told Republican voters that George W. Bush’s Iraq invasion was a catastrophe. And he rejected Republicans’ and Democrats’ common enthusiasm for confronting nuclear-armed Russia. He is more likely than a President-elect Clinton to emphasize protecting Americans’ interests rather than attempting to transform the rest of the world.

What should the incoming administration’s priorities be?

Russian hackers accused of post-election attacks on U.S. think tanks

November 11, 2016

Russian hackers accused of post-election attacks on U.S. think tanks

A Russian hacking group began attacking U.S.-based policy think tanks within hours of Donald Trump’s presidential election victory, according to cyber experts who suspect Moscow is seeking information on the incoming administration.

Three cyber security firms told Reuters that are tracking a spear-phishing campaign by a Russian-government linked group known as Cozy Bear, which is widely suspected of hacking the Democratic Party ahead of the election.

“Probably now they are trying to rush to gain access to certain targets where they can get a better understanding on what is going on in Washington after the election and during the transition period,” said Jaime Blasco, chief scientist with cyber security firm AlienVault.

Targets included the Council for Foreign Relations, said Adam Segal, a security expert with the think tank. His colleagues include former U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV and former Reagan administration State Department official Elliott Abrams.

Representatives with the Russian Embassy in Washington could not be reached for comment. Moscow has strongly denied that it was behind the hacks.

Spear-phishing campaigns use malware-tainted emails to infect computers of carefully selected staff at target organizations. They typically appear to be from people whom the victims know and on subjects of interest to them.

Some of the emails appeared to be from Harvard University under the subject line, “Why American Elections are flawed,” according to Washington-based cyber security firm Volexity.

Tinker, Tailor, Hacker, Spy

November 11, 2016

“THE COMPUTER WAS born to spy,” says Gordon Corera, who covers intelligence for the BBC, Britain’s national broadcaster. The earliest computers, including Colossus and SEAC, were used by signals intelligence (known as SIGINT) in Britain and America to help break codes. But computers also happen to have become supremely good at storing information. Searching a database is a lot easier than searching shelves of files like those compiled by the East German secret police, the Stasi—which stretched for 100km.

The job used to be to discover what a hostile country was up to by attaching crocodile clips to telephone lines emerging from its embassy, intercepting communications, collecting data and decrypting them. It was an industrial process. Breaking code was laborious, but once you had succeeded, the results endured. “Twenty years ago we had a stable target, a stately pace of new technology and point-to-point communications,” says a senior intelligence officer. Cryptography evolved slowly, so “when you cracked a code it could last from ten to 30 years.”

The internet changed everything. Roughly $3.4trn a year is being invested in networked computers, phones, infrastructure and software. The pace is set by businesses, not spooks. Individual packets of data no longer travel on a dedicated phone line but take the route that is most convenient at that instant, blurring the distinction between foreign and domestic communications. Signal intelligence used to be hard to get hold of. Today it gushes in torrents. The trick is to make sense of it.

GCC States To Boost Economic Integration

NOVEMBER 11, 2016

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, said GCC as a bloc has the potential to become the sixth largest economy in the world if it acts wisely in the coming years.

He was speaking at the first meeting of the GCC’s Commission of Economic and Developmental Affairs at the Conference Palace in Riyadh on Thursday.

The prince said: “Today we should try to take advantage of opportunities, knowing that we live in an era of many economic fluctuations around the world, and we are in need of cementing a bloc in the era of blocs.
“We want, through this meeting, to proceed toward realizing the goal of the GCC leaders and people, which is to achieve growth and prosperity.”

The deputy crown prince stressed that many achievements have been attained recently, “which have had positive returns and benefits for our countries and people,” adding that many more opportunities can be grasped in order to ensure further economic prosperity, growth and security in the GCC countries.

The meeting was attended by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE’s deputy prime minister and minister of presidential affairs; Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, representative of the King of Bahrain for humanitarian and youth affairs; Khalid bin Hilal bin Saud Al-Bousaeedi, minister of the Royal Court of Oman and his country’s representative at the commission; Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassem Al-Thani, Qatari minister of foreign affairs; Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, Kuwaiti minister of state for Cabinet affairs; and Abdullatif Al-Zayani, secretary-general of the GCC.

How Will Trump’s Energy Policy Affect Global Oil Market? – Analysis

By Leman Zeynalova
NOVEMBER 11, 2016

The ability of Donald Trump as the US president to influence the oil market will not be concentrated in the US but in three other places – Libya, Venezuela and Russia, Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS), a Washington based think tank focused on energy security, and a senior adviser to the United States Energy Security Council, told Trend Nov.10.

“Trump will re-engage with Libya and bring about to its reconstruction. This will mean, among other things, restoring Libyan production which alone could easily bring one million barrels a day to the market,” he said.

The expert pointed out that Trump administration will work to expedite the fall of the Venezuelan government and this will trigger turmoil in the short run, but a rebound of the country some years later.

Regarding the US-Russia relations, Luft said that the improvement in the relations with Russia will result in lifting of the sanctions and reopening of the Russian oil sector.

Further, he noted that on the demand side, Trump administration will emphasize greater utilization of natural gas and its products as automotive fuel which will lead to greater diversification of the fuel supply and reduction in domestic demand for gasoline and diesel.

The US held presidential election November 8. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump won the election.

How Will Donald Trump Handle The Caucasus? – Analysis

By Giorgi Lomsadze 
NOVEMBER 10, 2016

On the cusp of what appears a new era of unpredictability in international affairs, countries in the Caucasus, that sensitive borderland between East and West, are wondering what to expect from Donald Trump, the United States’ choice for president.

In what many see as schadenfreude, Moscow is the only place in the larger region where politicians unabashedly hail Trump. The State Duma, in fact, met the news of Trump’s victory with a standing ovation.

“Man to man, I don’t envy Bill Clinton because his old lady, for whom he trailed around all the states like a threadbare backpack, will be going through the roof over losing,” predicted Sergei Mironov, leader of the social-democratic Fair Russia.

“Our dear Trump, congratulations on your victory,” chimed in the Liberal Democratic Party’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an ultranationalist known for his ebullient pre-election endorsement of Trump. “Babushka Hillary should go have a rest,” he advised.

For his part, President Vladimir Putin refrained from gloating and said he looks forward to working with Trump to end the crisis in US-Russian relations. One Facebook spoofer, however, could not resist depicting him signing a decree naming Trump head of the “North-American federal district [округ].”

While Russian officials could well be rubbing their hands at the sight of a divided and weakened US, many Russians think they get Trump because they know the type. He has been compared to the “new Russians” of the 1990s; a breed of new-money philistines often sporting tracksuits and gold chains.

Twilight Zone Conflicts: Employing Gray Tactics in Cyber Operations

October 27, 2016

Twilight Zone Conflicts: Employing Gray Tactics in Cyber Operations

In an opening that would perhaps make Rod Serling proud: There is a fifth dimension of warfare known to man as cyberspace – it is a dimension of infinite possibilities, representing an uncertain middle ground between peace and war. An amorphous realm, wherein actors are strategically employing gray tactics via cyber operations in ‘twilight zone conflicts.’ And while gray tactics like information operations, sabotage and economic coercion are not new to the pages of history, the medium for leveraging such tactics is.

Here, the impetus for applying a new terminology – twilight zone conflicts – is to recast how policy makers and the defense community might evaluate gray strategy cyber campaigns. A term which deftly captures the paradoxical appeal of gray tactics in cyberspace, as well as society’s hopes for cooperation in this domain and its fears of conflict. This article therefore explores the emergence of gray tactics in cyber operations, their utility as a political instrument, and reasons that twilight zone conflicts are no longer a mere science fiction fantasy.

What is the Appeal of Twilight Zone Conflicts?

From a revisionist actor’s standpoint, the appeal of twilight zone conflicts is perhaps best understood from examining John Perry Barlow’s manifesto, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. Writing from Davos, Switzerland in 1996, Barlow praised cyberspace as “a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.” It is this same starry-eyed precept, however, that also makes cyber operations an attractive opportunity for revisionist actors wishing to challenge the geopolitical order.

Cyber Support to Corps and Below: Digital Panacea or Pandora’s Box?

October 19, 2016 

Cyber Support to Corps and Below: Digital Panacea or Pandora’s Box?

The thunder of artillery interrupts the frenzied activity in the Stryker Brigade Tactical Operations Center. Moments before, the video feed from an InstantEye® Unmanned Aerial Vehicle confirmed the presence of a Buk-M3 Target Acquisition Radar (TAR) hidden in a makeshift refugee camp. The courses of action developed during the abbreviated military decision making process to address this threat leaves the Brigade Commander troubled. A direct assault or kinetic strike will result in numerous civilian casualties, but the third option is fraught with uncertainty. The Brigade Cyber Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) cell recommends disabling the radar using Offensive Cyber Operations (OCO). A similar scenario was exercised during pre-deployment training; however, the dynamic nature of the current operation leaves doubts if the multi-agency coordination required can be completed in the expedited timeline required.

The unrelenting tempo of combat operations at the Corps and below level in the Army creates unique challenges for the execution of (OCO). U.S Army Cyber Command’s efforts to provide cyber support to Corps and below have already generated significant successes integrating operational cyberspace capabilities at the tactical level during multiple National Training Center rotations. [1] While OCO conducted to support Corps and below operations may provide desired effects at the tactical level of war, there is potential for this OCO support to have significant negative strategic, operational and tactical ramifications. A primary concern surrounding the conduct of OCO at the tactical level focuses on how operations with potentially strategic effects can be executed in the rapid, decentralized manner required by the breakneck operational tempo (OPTEMPO) typified at the tactical level of war. There are also secondary concerns regarding the loss of capabilities and access, and always present risks of digital fratricide and OCO retaliation that must be considered.

The Risk to Civil Liberties of Fighting Crime With Big Data

NOV. 6, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO — People talk about online security as a cat-and-mouse game of good guys and bad guys. It’s true for good old-fashioned crime, too.

Technology, particularly rapid analysis and sharing of data, is helping the police be more efficient and predict possible crimes. Some would argue that it has even contributed to an overall drop in crime in recent years.

But this type of technology also raises issues of civil liberties, as digital information provided by social media or the sensors of the internet of things is combined with criminal data by companies that sell this information to law enforcement agencies.

The American Civil Liberties Union, citing reports that the Chicago Police Department used a computer analysis to create a “heat list” that unfairly associated innocent people with criminal behavior, has warned about the dangers of the police using big data. Even companies that make money doing this sort of work warn that it comes with civil rights risks.

“We’re heading to a world where every trash can has an identifier. Even I get shocked at the comprehensiveness of what data providers sell,” saidCourtney Bowman, who leads the privacy and civil liberties practice at Palantir Technologies, a company in Palo Alto, Calif., that sells data analysis tools. He has lectured on the hazards of predictive policing and the need to prove in court that predictive models follow understandable logic and do not reinforce stereotypes.

Some of this shift to data-based policing seems to be a matter of simple automation. The RELX Group, formerly Reed Elsevier, has for some years been buying and building up databases of police information. One product, called Coplogic, is used by 5,000 police departments in the United States.

The Next President Will Face a Cyber Crisis. Here’s How to Handle It

NOVEMBER 8, 2016

The next administration should focus on creating ‘serious' cyber strategies and templates for action, experts say. 

The next U.S. president will face a cyber landscape of unparalleled complexity with little time or flexibility to bring it under control.

Begin with a federal government proved unable to defend itself against breaches at the White House, State Department, Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of Personnel Management. Add a private sector that’s suffered breach after breach and 16 sectors of poorly secured critical infrastructure where a destructive hack could prove deadly.

There are nation-state adversaries, one of whom, Russia, has brazenly hacked a major political party and another, China, that continues to pilfer company secrets for economic advantage. TheU.S. also faces ongoing cyber threats from Iran, North Korea, and terrorist and criminal groups.

The next president will inherit initiatives to shore up federal agency cybersecurity and to improve cyber information sharing within critical infrastructure sectors, studies on the tradeoffs between strong encryption and national security and how to secure cyberspace for the next decade, and proposals to rejigger how cyber is managed in both the Defense and Homeland Security departments.

There will also surely be new crises. The research and advisory group Forrester predicted last week the 45th president will face a major cyber incident during her or his first 100 days in office. 

Given these competing priorities and an uncertain future, it will be extremely difficult for the next president to make progress. Here are five high-level priorities that experts and former federal officials tell Nextgov should guide the next president.

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