1 November 2018

India, Russia Sign $950 Million Deal For 2 Guided-Missile Frigates

By Franz-Stefan Gady

India and Russia signed a contract for the procurement of two Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 11356) guided-missile frigates destined for service in the Indian Navy earlier this month, according to Indian media reports.

“Sources told [The Economic Times] that while final clearances for the long-pending project came before the summit earlier this month between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the deal was signed last week after price negotiations,” The Economic Times reported on October 29.

A follow-on contract for the construction of two additional Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates is expected to be signed in the near future. Notably, neither India nor Russia officially confirmed the signing of any agreement.

Why China will change: The Tibet factor (An Interview with Lodi Gyari)

Lodi Gyari Rinpoche is no more. He passed away yesterday morning in a San Francisco hospital, where he was being treated for liver cancer. 

Rinpoche was 69. His family members were reported to be with him.
Gyari Rinpoche was born in 1949 in Nyarong in eastern Tibet, where he received a traditional monastic education as the tulku of Khenchen Jampal Dewe Nyima from Lumorap Monastery. 

In 1959, he fled with his family to India. 

In 1970, Rinpoche had been one of the founding members of the Tibetan Youth Congress.

In 1982 and 1984, he was a junior member of the delegation which went to China to 'negotiate'. 

Trouble at the Pakistan-Iran Border

By Muhammad Akbar Notezai

It is increasingly apparent that all is not well between Pakistan and Iran, despite the fact that the two countries officially use every chance to deny that there is friction.

In mid-October, it was reported that around a dozen Iranian security personnel were kidnapped along the border with Pakistan’s Balochistan province. After that, Iran not only sought help from Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to recover the kidnapped guards, but also fired mortar shells into a bordering town in Chaghi district called Talaap. Thankfully, there were no causalities.

It is worth mentioning that this is not the first time Iranian security personnel have been kidnapped along the border, or mortar shells have been fired into bordering towns in Balochistan province. There have been such incidents in the past, and it’s reasonable to expect more occurrences in the future.

Afghanistan: We Must Decide on a New War Strategy

By David Craig

Sunday marked the 17th anniversary of the start of war in Afghanistan, the “War on Terror.” Originally referred to as Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. invasion was America’s response to the attacks of 9/11, still the deadliest terrorist strike in world history. Home to the training camps and masterminds behind the 9/11 carnage, Afghanistan was the proper target for an aggrieved and angry nation intent on punishing the perpetrators – and preventing future attacks. But somewhere along the line, this operation evolved into a conflict that historian Andrew J. Bacevich Sr. termed the “Permanent War for Permanent Peace.” And it has left our nation weary, if not apathetic.

Costing somewhere between $1.5 trillion and $5.6 trillion and the lives of nearly 6,000 U.S. service members (including 2,347 OEF deaths as of August 2018), the ultimate burden of war has been borne by an increasingly small portion of the population. And while support for OEF in the wake of 9/11 was overwhelming, the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq made the overall “war on terror” increasingly unpopular and Afghanistan a distant concern.

Why Does Pakistan’s Release of a Key Taliban Leader Matter?

By Adrian Hänni

The Pakistani government recently released Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund.

Mullah who? Behind this seemingly innocuous name hides one of the key leaders in the history of the Afghan Taliban. At the time of his arrest in 2010 he was second only to Mullah Omar. Last Wednesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid officially confirmed that“Mullah Baradar is now a free man and has joined his family.” Most details are still unclear. Anonymous Pakistani intelligence officials told the Associated Press that Baradar had been freed “after high-level negotiations.” But who was involved in these negotiations?

Sri Lanka's Constitutional Crisis: Where It Came From and How It'll Affect Regional Geopolitics

By Ankit Panda and Prashanth Parameswaran

The Diplomat‘s Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) and Prashanth Parameswaran (@TheAsianist) discuss the new constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka and its regional implications.

Click the arrow to the right to listen. If you’re an iOS or Mac user, you can also subscribe to The Diplomat’s Asia Geopolitics podcast on iTunes here. If you use Android, you can subscribe on TuneIn here. If you like the podcast and have suggestions for content, please leave a review and rating on iTunes and TuneIn.

How Russia, China and Iran spread propaganda in the US

By: Justin Lynch 

Facebook said it has uncovered “sophisticated” efforts, possibly linked to Russia, to influence U.S. politics on its platforms. The company said it removed more than 30 accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in “coordinated” behavior and appeared to be fake.  Facebook announced Oct. 26 that it has taken down 82 pages, groups and accounts originating in Iran that spread political propaganda targeting the United States and the United Kingdom. More than 1 million users followed the fake pages, according to Facebook, and its discovery comes amid a flurry of allegations by U.S. officials regarding political propaganda from Iran, China and Russia.

“We are concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies,” read an Oct. 19 joint statement from four U.S. government agencies.

The Essential Mao Zedong our Urban Guerillas forget.

Mohan Guruswamy

The outpouring of outrage over the arrest of "Urban Maoists" on patently spurious charges reminds me about what that great darling of the radical chic - Mao Zedong – thought of chattering guerilla. We might be confused, but Mao was clear what he thought of them. He wrote: "A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another." (From Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan).

It was not Mao Zedong who transformed China, but it was Deng Xiaoping. Mao had set back China’s development with costly experiments. It is estimated that the Great Leap Forward alone cost 20-45 million lives and qualifies him to be the greatest mass murderer in history. It was not that like Hitler or Stalin Mao deliberately condemned people to mass slaughter. But it was by harebrained policies that would not have been implemented but for the adulatory and mass worship hysteria he whipped up. The clamor to praise our Modiji by the BJP and RSS spokespersons and top leaders despite of the glaring evidence of the failure of Demonetization is reminiscent of what happened in China during the Great Leap Forward years of 1959-62.

Trump May Revive the Cold War, but China Could Change the Dynamics

By David E. Sanger and Steven Erlanger

Over the past few days the shape of what many in Europe and the United States call a new Cold War has begun to emerge — with threats and nuclear weapons that resemble the old one, punctuated by new dynamics, in part because of the rise of a rich, expanding and nationalist China.

The change was evident as President Trump explained his decision to abandon a 31-year-old arms-control treaty with Russia — hinting he was ready to plunge into a new arms race with both Moscow and Beijing, and as the Justice Department filed charges, for the third time this year, against Russians accused of interfering in American elections.

US Must Protect Itself in Cyber War With China


The storm of controversy has yet to subside following the Oct. 4 Bloomberg Businessweek blockbuster story that San Jose, California-based Super Micro Computer Inc.’s made-in-China computer motherboards were secretly “hacked” by the People’s Liberation Army over a two-year period. It was another episode in the China cyberwar saga.

This particular hack potentially enabled back-door access to the computers of companies such as Apple and Amazon and U.S. government agencies including the Department of Defense, CIA, NSA, and the Navy.

Immediate security implications for the United States and many other countries are enormous, so it’s not surprising that, weeks later, denials of the report far exceed affirmations.

To prevent war, prepare to win


“The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

It’s a pithy quote of dubious parentage — often attributed to Lenin or Stalin. But no matter who came up with those words — or when — one could easily imagine them being uttered today by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Beijing enjoys a $500 billion dollar trade surplus with the United States, and it is using those riches to develop an array of advanced high technology weapons that may defeat us in any future conflict.

These weapons are not designed for military parity with the United States but military supremacy. The threats to the United States include potential attacks against ships at sea, hypersonic missiles to penetrate our defenses, and space arms that could block our military communications and operations.

China's anti-terrorism tactics should not be seen as targeting Uygurs, says ‘Eastern Nato’

Rashid Alimov, secretary general of the China-Russia led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), said: “We don’t divide terrorists in terms of their nationalities, their geographical adherence or religion. Because terrorism does not have any of that.

"It does not matter what terrorists claim to do or the highest purpose they claim to serve to justify terrorism. Because every terrorist's goal is to kill. It's number one goal is to kill peaceful people."

Alimov, a former foreign minister of Tajikistan – one of eight member countries of SCO – was responding to global criticism of China’s forceful, systematic detention and enforced political education of up to one million ethnic Uygurs and other Muslims.

China has called these camps “vocational training centres” to “educate and transform” people influenced by extremism.

Japan's Relationship With China Evokes Cold War Memories

By Evan Rees

The histories and fortunes of Japan and China have mutually defined geopolitics in the Western Pacific for the past two centuries. The U.S.-Japan Cold War alliance dictated the degree to which Japan could reach out to China. With China-U.S. tensions on the rise once more, Japan risks being caught in the middle again. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's landmark state visit is part of an effort to separate China-Japan relations from China-U.S. relations, allowing Japan to address its tensions with China without being entirely beholden to U.S. goals.

"Red or white, China remains our next-door neighbor. Geography and economic laws will, I believe, prevail in the long run over any ideological differences or artificial trade barriers."

The Saudis Are Killing America’s Middle East Policy

Source Link

U.S. President Donald Trump could kill someone on the White House lawn and Washington would still be talking about the disappearance and presumed murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It has been an extraordinary three weeks inside the Beltway. Not since Monica Lewinsky’s daily dash from a car to the lobby of her lawyer’s office building on Connecticut Avenue in 1998 has the city been so focused on a single story.

There are four reasons for this fixation. First, Khashoggi wrote a column for the hometown newspaper in a place where people make news, write about news, and obsess about news. Second, there is the Trump administration’s apparently close relationship with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is suspected of ordering the columnist’s death. This gives the episode a certain partisan bent, even if there are prominent Republicans who want to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.” Third, it raises uncomfortable questions about Riyadh’s influence among Washington’s elite. Finally, and most importantly, it heightens an ongoing debate about the wisdom of Washington’s ties with Saudi Arabia’s apparently heedless crown prince, who along with killing poor Khashoggi may also have killed American Middle East policy.

Israel Could Expand Its Anti-Iran Fight to Iraq and Yemen

Yemen does not present an existential threat to Israel, but Israel could move against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen to foster better ties with Saudi Arabia. Iran's decision to supply militias in Iraq with ballistic missiles could provoke some form of Israeli response. Any strike on Iranian proxies in Iraq, however, would increase anti-American sentiment and potentially push Baghdad even more toward Tehran. Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a two-part assessment. The first part assessed the burgeoning ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran and Israel have been ideological and strategic enemies, although the implacable foes have largely limited their battles to the Palestinian territories and the Levantine states of Lebanon and Syria. Now, however, the United States is turning up the pressure on Iran, a country that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also view as a threat. Both factors present an opportunity for Israel to act against Iran well beyond the traditional Levantine theater — and bring Israel closer to key Gulf states.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE Consider the Cost of Israeli Ties

In the face of the Iranian threat, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are increasingly likely to coordinate their actions against Tehran. For Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, the domestic ramifications of collaboration with Israel might not be as deep as before, but the global backlash could hurt their standing throughout the Muslim world. Fears of a potential backlash will convince the two Gulf countries to keep their relations with Israel under the surface, yet they could upgrade them if they feel the United States is failing to properly address the Iranian threat.

Editors Note: This is the first installment of a two-part assessment. You can read the second part here

This Is How We Radicalized The World

Ryan Broderick

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — From the balcony of BuzzFeed’s São Paulo office right now, you can hear screams of “Ele Não” echoing through the city’s winding avenues. It’s the same phrase I’ve seen graffitied all over the city this month. The same one I heard chanted from restaurants and bars all afternoon. It means “not him” — him being Bolsonaro. But his victory tonight isn’t a surprise. He’s just one more product of the strange new forces that dictate the very fabric of our lives.

It’s been a decade since I first felt like something was changing about the way we interact with the internet. In 2010, as a young news intern for a now-defunct website called the Awl, one of the first pieces I ever pitched was an explainer about why 4chan trolls were trying to take the also now-defunct website Gawker off the internet via a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. It was a world I knew. I was a 19-year-old who spent most of my time doing what we now recognize as “shitposting.” It was the beginning of an era where our old ideas about information, privacy, politics, and culture were beginning to warp.

Encryption by Default Equals National Security

By Steven Bellovin, Susan Landau 

The New York Times reported a mind-boggling story on Oct. 24. The president of the United States routinely ignores the advice of his aides and calls old friends on an unsecured iPhone “no different from hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world.” There are policy reasons why this is bad. These calls don’t get logged by the White House and hence aren't noted by his senior aides. But there's also a serious security issue: According to the Times, apparently both the Russians and the Chinese are listening in to these unsecured calls.

We are paying the price for decades of government opposition to widespread, strong cryptography. Security and privacy researchers have been warning about this but were ignored—and the consequences are serious.

The president’s calls on his iPhone were unencrypted and have been intercepted, most likely on the radio link from the president’s phone to the nearest cell tower. In March 2018, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that fake cell phone towers capable of intercepting communications had been placed in the nation’s capital by parties unknown.

Justice Dept. Accuses Russians of Interfering in Midterm Elections

By Adam Goldman
Source Link

WASHINGTON — Russians working for a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin are engaging in an elaborate campaign of “information warfare” to interfere with the American midterm elections next month, federal prosecutors said on Friday in unsealing charges against a woman whom they labeled the project’s “chief accountant.” 

The woman, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, managed a multimillion-dollar budget for the effort to “sow division and discord” in the American political system, according to a criminal complaint. She bought internet domain names and Facebook and Instagram ads and spent money on building out Twitter accounts and paying to promote divisive posts on social media.

She worked for several entities owned by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch sometimes known as “Putin’s chef” who was among 13 Russians indicted in February by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on charges of interfering in the election two years ago.

In Brazil, Any Anti-Corruption Mandate Will Meet Political Obstacles

The next Brazilian administration will come to power with a mandate to deepen anti-corruption probes and deliver greater results against perceived graft. Brazil's new government will have two general choices at its disposal: create institutions to more effectively detect and deal with corruption, or work within the existing institutions to indirectly target corruption through legislative amendments, including enacting stricter criminal penalties. Obtaining funding to support extensive institutional reforms, balancing anti-corruption pursuits against competing political priorities, negotiating for legislative change with Brazil's highly fragmented National Congress and other bureaucratic obstacles will shape the next administration's anti-corruption policy.

Top NSA official skeptical of ‘hack back’

Justin Lynch 

Can companies unmask hackers through offensive cyber operations?

Despite what appears to be growing support among the cybersecurity community and some government officials, there are others pushing back against the idea that private firms should be allowed to “hack back,” or retaliate in cyberspace. Senior Adviser to the National Security Agency Rob Joyce criticized the idea that private businesses should conduct offensive operations in cyberspace during an Oct. 23 event hosted by Palo Alto networks. “I am a firm believer that ‘hack back,’ or ‘cyber hack’, is escalatory and not de-escalatory, which is one of the reasons we believe that is an inherently governmental operation,” Joyce said.

“Hack back” can have a number of meanings to observers — from active defense to destroying a hacker’s infrastructure as a retaliation for a cyberattack. But the various definitions of the idea have been proposed to deter hackers from attacking businesses.

Experts have been skeptical the idea could work.

Not Cyber Offensive Enough

U.S. Cyber Command has started launching its first offensive operations against Russian operatives trying to hack the midterm elections. Judging from the news accounts so far, I’d say they’re not quite offensive enough.

According to articles this week in the New York Times and Washington Post, Cyber Command has notified oligarch-funded hackers (or perhaps the oligarchs themselves, it’s not clear) that we know who they are and see what they’re doing. Beyond that, the stories report, no direct threats have been made, but it’s implied that the U.S. could indict or sanction the guilty parties.

This may deter further meddling if the contacted hackers like to travel in the West. Last week, U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against the chief accountant of a large company run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch known as “Putin’s chef.” It’s a good start, but indictments are a limited tool; the Kremlin won’t be extraditing the accountant, much less the oligarch.

How To Prevent Your Business Becoming Collateral Damage Of Geopolitical Cyber Conflict

Davey Winder

According to Bryan Becker, an application security researcher at WhiteHat Security, the United States is "woefully behind the entire developed world in terms of cybersecurity." Defensively, he insists, it would "easily take us a decade" and then some to catch up with allies and competitors alike. Does this mean that it's up to the cybersecurity industry, rather than the military, to protect systems and data from nation-state attack? I've been exploring the role of cybersecurity vendors when it comes to cyberwarfare, and what business needs to do in order to prevent becoming a collateral damage statistic in the ongoing geopolitical cyber conflict.

'Cyber Pearl Harbor' Unlikely, But Critical Infrastructure Needs Major Upgrade

Taylor Armerding

A high-voltage transformer and fire control system at power plant.

Top U.S officials have warned for decades of a “cyber Pearl Harbor” or “cyber 9/11” kind of attack on the nation’s critical infrastructure by a hostile nation state or terrorist group.

One of the latest came just this past July from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who said “the warning lights are blinking red again,” in much the same way they were prior to the 9/11 attacks.

Yet, while there have been multiple cyberattacks on infrastructure in the U.S. and other parts of the world, especially during the past decade, none has taken down even major portions of the grid for weeks or months – a nightmare scenario envisioned in former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel’s 2015 book “Lights Out: A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath.”

The West Holds A Cyberwar Trump Card, But Victory Would Be Pyrrhic

Davey Winder
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Who would win if cyberwar were to break out between Russia and the West?

Given the fragile nature of the geopolitical landscape, along with the increasingly sophisticated capabilities of nation states to launch cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and businesses alike, the question of cyberwar has never been more relevant. But what do we mean by cyberwarfare and who would likely win in the event of a cyberwar between Russia or China and the West?

As I reported earlier this week the Royal Navy's biggest ever aircraft-carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, has been in New York hosting the inaugural Atlantic Future Forum. On Monday, aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Atlantic Future Forum Accord was signed to formalize a commitment from the UK and US to work with industry leaders in the fields of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. UK Defense Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has referred to this as "combining our technical excellence, our professionalism, our war fighter ethos to design and increasingly use our offensive cyber capability."