21 April 2024

There’s No Fancied Winner In The Maldivian Electoral Race – Analysis

P. K. Balachandran

The Maldivian parliamentary elections due to be held on April 21 differ from those held in the recent past in a striking way. This time around, there is no party or leader that the voters can bet on.

Parties in the fray have either split or are faction-ridden. There are no towering leaders who can set appealing agendas and inspire voters to support them. There are no over-riding issues firing the imagination of the people and stirring political action.

Observers say that there is ennui among the voters, a palpable sense of fatigue, as successive governments have failed to give the people a stable, well-thought-out and realistic policies.

Dr. Mohamad Muizzu won the Maldivian Presidency in October 2023 convincingly on a platform promising to throw off the yoke of Indian domination and look to China for support.
But he has been unable to translate his ideas into action.

Months after this stinging statements against India, Muizzu had to eat his words, seek Indian economic cooperation and woo Indian tourists, who were boycotting Maldives because of his pro-China tilt and his vituperative comments on India.

No doubt, Maldivians did not like the Indian military presence (or for that matter any foreign military presence) in their midst. They supported Muizzu’s call for the removal of the Indian military. But they did not approve of his call for the wholesale alienation of India and casting the lot entirely with China.

The Maldivians have close historical and people-to-people ties with India, a kind of relationship they do not have with China or the Chinese. Maldivians highly appreciate the way the Chinese execute the projects they undertake, but they have little to share with the Chinese as a people or as a culture.

Why Modi Is So Popular

Amelia Lester

It’s easy to see Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a strongman, says FP’s editor in chief, Ravi Agrawal. A magnetic figure and a brilliant orator, Modi looks likely to win a near-unprecedented third term in the country’s upcoming elections. But it would be a mistake to see the Hindu nationalist changes he’s brought to the country purely as an example of top-down management, Agrawal cautions in this FP Live discussion—and as he argues in the magazine’s most recent issue, in an article called “The New Idea of India.” People are increasingly aware of Modi’s policies and measures, Agrawal says, “and so when people vote for him, there must be at least some broader desire to go along with” his vision of what India is, and should be.

‘India Out’ Fizzles Out On Eid, Noboborsho – OpEd

Subir Bhaumik

“What India Out,” exclaims an angry Mir Mostaque Ahmed Robi, a former Bangladesh lawmaker. “In last 2 days, I have purchased leather goods worth 20000 Indian rupees, essential medicines worth quite as much for me and my ailing wife, and panjabi(kurta) worth 15000 rupees.”

His angry outburst was in response to the “India Out” campaign launched in Bangladesh by few opposition bloggers and politicians, and which gained some traction when senior Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi set fire to his Kashmir shawl during a public protest against Indian goods, provoking PM Sheikh Hasina to dare him and his party colleagues to set fire to sarees in the wardrobes of their wives.

Ruling Awami League figures like MP Tarana Halim have joined PM Hasina in challenging the “India Out” campaign. Halim argued in a recent article that Bangladeshis buy Indian goods because they are valued and varied. “I buy many sarees when in India not because we don’t produce good sarees but because Indian sarees are relatively cheaper and there is enormous variety on offer,” she told Federal.

“And where outside Bangladesh can I buy sarees — China, US or UK?,” she asks sarcastically. “Last time I was in India, I bought a dozen sarees down South until I ran out of money.”

Halim also punches a hole in arguments put forward by opposition bloggers and YouTubers like Pinaki Bhattacharya who justify the boycott of Indian goods on grounds that India has helped Hasina “murder democracy.”

X working with Pakistan govt to 'understand concerns' over ban

The platform, formerly known as Twitter, has been rarely accessible since February 17, when jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's party called for protests following a government official's admission of vote manipulation in the February election.

"We continue to work with the Pakistani Government to understand their concerns," X's Global Government Affairs team posted, in their first comments since the site was disrupted.

The Interior Ministry on Wednesday said X was blocked on security grounds, according to a report submitted to the Islamabad High Court where one of several challenges to the ban is being heard.

On the same day, the High Court of the southern Sindh province ordered the government to restore access to social media platform X within a week.

"The Sindh High Court has given the government one week to withdraw the letter, failing which, on the next date, they will pass appropriate orders," Moiz Jaaferi, a lawyer challenging the ban, told AFP.

The court's decision has yet to be published.

"The court order gave the government one week to decide what it wants to do," lawyer Jibran Nasir, another petitioner, told AFP.

High court orders apply provincially, but can act as a precedent for other top courts.

Both the government and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had for weeks refused to comment on the outages.

Risks are higher than ever for US- China cyber war


Last month the Justice Department published a press release announcing that seven Chinese nationals have been charged with “conspiracy to commit computer intrusions and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.”

This announcement came on the heels of warnings from Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly and National Cyber Director Harry Coker that Chinese hackers are making a strategic shift to target critical infrastructure, are likely able to launch cyberattacks that could cripple that infrastructure, and are increasingly exploiting Americans’ private information.

It’s apparent then that a conflict between China and the United States would include disruptive, dangerous cyberwarfare. Indeed, as U.S.-China military-to-military communications restart, cyber needs to become a key part of these conversations to develop bilateral crisis management mechanisms.

Unfortunately, cyber crisis management is still in its infancy. The United States and China have engaged in multiple bilateral and multilateral dialogues on cyber-related issues in the past. For example, the 2015 summit between President Obama and Xi Jinping created a series of agreements — tacit and explicit — on cyber espionage, the joint investigation of cybercrimes, and a process that eventually produced the U.S.-China High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues.

However, direct U.S.-China official dialogues have not led to substantial cooperation. President Biden warned Xi during a recent call against China using cyberattacks to target sensitive infrastructure, but no solutions nor potential dialogues appear to have been brought up.

Minxin Pei Says More…

Minxin Pei: The Chinese government can still do quite a lot to revive the economy, but that does not mean that it will.

For example, China’s government could give ordinary people vouchers redeemable for daily necessities, thereby stimulating household consumption and offsetting, at least partly, the effects of an imploding real-estate bubble. Similarly, reining in its “anti-espionage” campaign – including by releasing the private entrepreneurs that have been wrongfully imprisoned – could help to lure back foreign investors that are now afraid to engage with China.

These measures, both substantive and symbolic, would go a long way toward bolstering China’s growth prospects. But China’s government is unwilling to pursue them. It prefers, instead, to offer empty talk alongside small, incremental monetary stimulus. That is why the economy is still struggling – and will continue to do so.

PS: By hyping growth, China’s leaders hoped to reassure private investors and mollify “popular frustration” with “draconian zero-COVID restrictions” followed by “the botched exit from the policy.” How does the Chinese public view their leaders’ performance on the economy, and does President Xi Jinping’s handling of geopolitical issues – including his “saber-rattling” over Taiwan – strengthen or undermine public satisfaction?

MP: Because the Chinese government does not allow independent public-opinion polling – it does not publish any opinion polls at all, independent or otherwise – it is very difficult to know what ordinary Chinese people think of Xi or his performance.

On domestic policy issues, such as Xi’s handling of the economy, we can infer the public’s likely impression based on official economic statistics. And based on factors like deflation, high youth unemployment, and falling housing prices, it is safe to assume that Xi’s image as a capable steward of the economy has been dented.


Ken Klippenstein, Daniel Boguslaw
Source Link

THE UNITED STATES shot down more drones and missiles than Israel did on Saturday night during Iran’s attack, The Intercept can report.

More than half of Iran’s weapons were destroyed by U.S. aircraft and missiles before they ever reached Israel. In fact, by commanding a multinational air defense operation and scrambling American fighter jets, this was a U.S. military triumph.

The extent of the U.S. military operation is unbeknownst to the American public, but the Pentagon coordinated a multination, regionwide defense extending from northern Iraq to the southern Persian Gulf on Saturday. During the operation, the U.S., U.K., France, and Jordan all shot down the majority of Iranian drones and missiles. In fact, where U.S. aircraft originated from has not been officially announced, an omission that has been repeated by the mainstream media. Additionally, the role of Saudi Arabia is unclear, both as a base for the United States and in terms of any actions by the Saudi military.

In calculating the size of Iran’s attack and the overwhelming role of the United States, U.S. military sources say that the preliminary estimate is that half of Iran’s weapons experienced technical failures of some sort.

“U.S. intelligence estimates that half of the weapons fired by Iran failed upon launch or in flight due to technical issues,” a U.S. Air Force senior officer told The Intercept. Of the remaining 160 or so, the U.S. shot down the majority, the officer said. The officer was granted anonymity to speak about sensitive operational matters.

Asked to comment on the United States shooting down half of Iran’s drones and missiles, the Israel Defense Forces and the White House National Security Council did not respond at the time of publication. The Pentagon referred The Intercept to U.S. Central Command, which pointed to a press release saying CENTCOM forces supported by U.S. European Command destroyers “successfully engaged and destroyed more than 80 one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA UAV) and at least six ballistic missiles intended to strike Israel from Iran and Yemen.”

Emboldened Iran Makes Dangerous Gamble on Open Confrontatio

Jared Malsin and Benoit Faucon

For two decades, Iran stayed in the shadows and relied on militias that it funded around the Middle East in its deadly fight with Israel. Its direct attack on Israel last weekend marked a strategic shift, and a major gamble.

Iran had long known it had a weaker conventional military compared with Israel and its top ally, the U.S. For most of its existence since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Tehran had few friends in foreign capitals to support a straight-on attack on a U.S. ally.

Iran’s massive drone and missile strike on Israel—which its military took full credit for and vowed to do again if Israel retaliated—came after years of building stronger diplomatic ties with American rivals such as Russia and China, mending fences with neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and building up its economy through illicit oil sales. It marked a dramatic illustration of Tehran’s shift away from accommodation with the West and toward open confrontation with the U.S. and its allies.

Now, Iran and Israel stand on the brink of an escalatory cycle of violence that poses extreme dangers for both sides. Israeli war cabinet members have said the country will strike back at a time and place of its choosing, with U.S. officials saying it is likely to come soon.

A growing faction of Iranian hard-liners has been calling for tougher action against Israel, as it inflicted heavy damage on Tehran’s network of militias, including a strike this month on a diplomatic facility in Damascus that killed senior military officers. For many Iranian hard-liners, that attack demanded a paradigm-shifting response.

“We have decided to create a new equation,” said Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the powerful paramilitary organization that carried out Saturday’s attacks. “From now on, if the Zionist regime attacks our interests, assets, figures and citizens anywhere, we will reciprocally attack it from the origin of Iran,” he told state television Sunday.

Military briefing: Israel’s options to strike Iran

Neri Zilber and James Shotter 

From cyber attacks against nuclear sites to mysterious explosions at military bases, Israel has mounted dozens of covert operations against Iran during its decades-long shadow war with the Islamic republic. In one case blamed on Israel, a prominent nuclear scientist was assassinated outside Tehran using a remote-operated machine gun. 

But Israel has never before had to respond to an event like Iran’s barrage on Saturday night, during which more than 300 armed drones and missiles were fired at the Jewish state — the first time Tehran has targeted the country directly from its own soil. 

Israel is still weighing the manner, scope and timing of its retaliation. But Israeli officials say a response is all but certain, despite western pleas for restraint, the impact it could have on the conflict in Gaza, and the potential that any retaliation could push the Middle East to all-out war. 

“The intent is to send a painful message to Iran. This can’t be something cosmetic,” one Israeli official said on Tuesday, adding that deterrence needed to be re-established after Tehran’s unprecedented attack. 

Attacking ‘offshore’ Iranian targets and proxies 

Israel has for years targeted Iranian military assets and allied militias in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and beyond. Indeed, Iran launched the weekend assault after a suspected Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate this month killed several senior Revolutionary Guard commanders — an attack it called a violation of its “sovereignty”. 

Opting to again launch air strikes against Iranian personnel and proxies outside the Islamic republic, analysts said, would be a lower-risk form of retaliation. It also has the benefit of re-emphasising that Israel will not be deterred from taking action in future to protect its security. 

Ukraine Military Situation: Both Sides Focused On Positional Fighting Along Multiple Fronts – Analysis

Can Kasapoğlu

1. Battlefield Assessment

This past week, Russian and Ukrainian forces continued positional fighting along multiple fronts, most notably in Donetsk and Kherson Oblasts and the Robotyne bulge, where Russia’s 58th Army led the fighting. Intense clashes also raged along the left bank of the Dnipro River.

The Kremlin is pushing along multiple axes to break Ukraine’s lines of defense. Russia is employing intensive heavy glide bomb salvos to break the stalemate in critical sectors, attack nested drone operators, capitalize on recent tactical gains, and eliminate Ukrainian positions around the cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, which Russian forces already control.

Geospatial evidence and battlefield reports indicate that Russian units are currently preparing for a new offensive. To that end, Moscow has focused its efforts on Chasiv Yar. Russian forces seek to use the city, which is situated on tactically important high ground, as a springboard to expand into deeper positions. Assault units have advanced toward the area, where Ukraine faces a pressing need to fortify its defenses.

New footage suggests that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are playing important roles in the fight for Chasiv Yar: a recent video shows a Russian Mavic drone identifying and destroying a Ukrainian long-endurance Baba Yaga UAV. The future of robotic warfare has already arrived on the battlefields of Ukraine.

Russia has also continued aerial attacks on Ukraine’s military facilities and civilian infrastructure. Between April 8 and 10, Russian forces hit several drone production plants inside Ukraine in strikes that employed modified S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, Iranian Shahed loitering munitions, Iskander-M missiles, Kinzhal aeroballistic missiles, and several other unspecified projectiles. The Ukrainian Air Force’s interception rateagainst these munitions has now dropped below 70 percent, an alarmingly low figure.

The enormous risks and uncertain benefits of an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities

Assaf Zoran

Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel on April 13 has significantly escalated the tensions between the countries. For the first time, a declared and extensive Iranian military operation was carried out on Israeli territory. Now, the decision on how to respond rests with Israel. A direct war between the two countries now no longer seems unlikely.

Israel now realizes that it underestimated the consequences of its attack on an Iranian facility in Damascus that killed several senior members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps earlier this month. However, the exceptionally large scope of Iran’s response and the direct impact on Israeli soil is viewed in Israel as a disproportionate action that significantly escalates the conflict.

Despite the interception of most of the weapons launched by Iran and the lack of significant damage on Israeli territory, the outcome of the Iranian attack could have been vastly different due to the uncertainties of combat. Consequently, in Israel, there is a strong focus on Iran’s intentions and Tehran’s willingness to risk a direct confrontation.

Since Israel does not want to depend solely on defense and aims to prevent the normalization of attacks on its territory, it appears resolute to respond, reinforce its deterrence, and inflict a significant cost that will make Iran’s decision-makers think twice before attacking similarly again.

While some in Israel advocate for a robust immediate response to project power and display independence despite international pressures, others prefer a more cautious and measured reaction to limit the risk of escalating into a major regional war.

Several main response options are under consideration, possibly in combination: a diplomatic move, such as forming a regional defensive coalition against Iran and its armed allies in the “axis of resistance,” or revitalizing international efforts against Iran’s nuclear program; a covert kinetic operation, like past operations attributed to Israel targeting nuclear or missile facilities; or an overt kinetic military initiative, such as a missile or aircraft strike on Iranian territory.

The Five Futures of Russia

Stephen Kotkin

Vladimir Putin happened to turn 71 last October 7, the day Hamas assaulted Israel. The Russian president took the rampage as a birthday present; it shifted the context around his aggression in Ukraine. Perhaps to show his appreciation, he had his Foreign Ministry invite high-ranking Hamas representatives to Moscow in late October, highlighting an alignment of interests. Several weeks later, Putin announced his intention to stand for a fifth term in a choiceless election in March 2024 and later held his annual press conference, offering a phalanx of pliant journalists the privilege of hearing him smugly crow about Western fatigue over the war in Ukraine. “Almost along the entire frontline, our armed forces, let’s put it modestly, are improving their position,” Putin boasted in the live broadcast.

On February 16, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service announced the sudden death of the opposition activist Alexei Navalny, aged 47, in a penal colony above the Arctic Circle, from which he had continued to reach his millions of followers with instructions on how to protest Putin’s plebiscite. A month later, the most one could say was that the Kremlin had at least waited until after the voting was staged to announce Putin’s victory.

Putin styles himself as a new tsar. But a real tsar would not have to worry about a looming succession crisis and what it might do to his grip on power in the present. Putin does; that is partly why he must simulate elections. He is now set in his office until 2030, when he will be in his 78th year. Male life expectancy in Russia does not even reach 67 years; those who live to 60 can expect to survive to around 80. Russia’s confirmed centenarians are few. Putin might one day join their ranks. But even Stalin died.

Google Fires 28 Workers for Protesting Cloud Deal With Israel


Google fired 28 employees Wednesday after they participated in protests against Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion cloud contract with Israel’s government that also includes Amazon.

Workers at both companies have claimed the deal makes advanced technology available to Israel’s security apparatus that could contribute to the killing and harming of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The Intercept and Time have reported that Project Nimbus provides services that can be tapped by the Israel Defense Forces.

The 28 firings, confirmed by Google, come hours after nine employees were detained by police late Tuesday for sit-in protests in the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian in Sunnyvale, California, as well as a company office in New York. All nine of those workers were fired, in addition to 19 other protest participants.

Google spokesperson Anna Kowalczyk said in a statement that the employees were terminated after “internal investigation” concluded they were guilty of “physically impeding other employees' work and preventing them from accessing our facilities.” She added that “after refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.” The Nimbus contract is “not directed” at classified or military work, she said.

Tuesday’s action against Project Nimbus comes after the reported death toll from the IDF’s offensive on Hamas in Gaza has climbed to more than 34,000 Palestinians. The military offensive began after Hamas killed about 1,100 Israelis on October 7.

The sit-ins at Google were accompanied by protests of more than 100 people—including many Google workers—outside company offices in New York, Sunnyvale, and Seattle. Google’s Kowalczyk characterized the participation by employees as “a small number.”

Google's workforce comprises the vast majority of employees of parent Alphabet, which reported a headcount of more than 180,000 employees at the end of 2023. Several protesters at Google’s New York office told WIRED that they have support within the company beyond those who directly participated in Tuesday’s protest.

Hackers Linked to Russia’s Military Claim Credit for Sabotaging US Water Utilities


Russia's military intelligence unit known as Sandworm has, for the past decade, served as the Kremlin’s most aggressive cyberattack force, triggering blackouts in Ukraine and releasing self-spreading, destructive code in incidents that remain some of the most disruptive hacking events in history. In recent months, however, one group of hackers linked to Sandworm has attempted a kind of digital mayhem that, in some respects, goes beyond even its predecessor: They've claimed responsibility for directly targeting the digital systems of water utilities in the United States and Poland as well as a water mill in France, flipping switches and changing software settings in an apparent effort to sabotage those countries’ critical infrastructure.

Since the beginning of this year, a hacktivist group known as the Cyber Army of Russia, or sometimes Cyber Army of Russia Reborn, has taken credit on at least three occasions for hacking operations that targeted US and European water and hydroelectric utilities. In each case, the hackers have posted videos to the social media platform Telegram that show screen recordings of their chaotic manipulation of so-called human-machine interfaces, software that controls physical equipment inside those target networks. The apparent victims of that hacking include multiple US water utilities in Texas, one Polish wastewater treatment plant, and, reportedly, a French water mill, which the hackers claimed was a French hydroelectric dam. It’s unclear exactly how much disruption or damage the hackers may have managed against any of those facilities.

A new report published today by cybersecurity firm Mandiant draws a link between that hacker group and Sandworm, which has been identified for years as Unit 74455 of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency. Mandiant found evidence that Sandworm helped create Cyber Army of Russia Reborn and tracked multiple instances when data stolen from networks that Sandworm had attacked was later leaked by the Cyber Army of Russia Reborn group. Mandiant couldn't determine, however, whether Cyber Army of Russia Reborn is merely one of the many cover personas that Sandworm has adopted to disguise its activities over the last decade or instead a distinct group that Sandworm helped to create and collaborated with but which is now operating independently.

Preparing for Cyber Warfare: 6 Key Lessons From Ukraine

Hadi Shavarini

As the conflict in Ukraine enters its third year, the global community is confronted with the grim reality of modern warfare, where cyber operations have emerged as a pivotal battleground. Reflecting on past events and the ongoing crisis, it's evident that cyberattacks have become a constant threat, leaving no sector untouched and rendering the Ukrainian people and their systems vulnerable to relentless aggression.

In January 2022, as tensions loomed, I was tasked with outlining the potential consequences of a Russian attack on Ukraine to a private equity client with operations in the region. Little did we know that the scenarios we discussed would soon transition from hypothetical to harrowing realities.

Fast forward to 2024, and the dire situation persists. Recent cyberattacks targeting Ukrainian state agencies, including the state-owned energy company, and financial institutions such as Monobank, Ukraine's largest mobile-only bank, underscore the severity of the ongoing digital onslaught. The infiltration of Ukrainian telecommunications giant Kyivstar by Russian hackers further highlights the magnitude of the threat, leaving millions without vital services for days.

How to Prepare for Cyber Warfare

Israel’s near-perfect missile success had a special line of defense

Rebecca Grant

Diplomacy and deterrence failed, but on Saturday night the U.S. military stepped in to help protect Israel against the unprecedented attack from Iran. Credit a near-perfect missile defense, beginning with U.S. planes and warships, for bringing down 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles.

As Iran geared up, the Biden White House once again tried to stop military action by revealing that Iran’s military preparations were being watched. It didn’t work against Iran (or with with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine in 2022.)

The "Don’t" warning is now defunct. Biden’s foreign policy team has to wake up to the reality that right now, their language of deterrence is broken.

Fortunately, the men and women of the U.S. military deployed to the Middle East had Israel’s back. Years of work on technology and training came together with a lot of tactical lessons learned from operations in the Red Sea since last fall. Young military officers and enlisted personnel from the U.S., Great Britain, France and Jordan just carried out a massive save.

Note for China and Xi Jinping: every component of this missile defense from destroyers to fighters to Arrow, Patriot and Iron Dome can be positioned to protect Taiwan, the Philippines or any other U.S. ally. Just saying.

Here’s how it worked Saturday night.

First, intelligence from both Israel and the U.S. picked up early indications that Iran was marshalling drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missile launchers. This was the crucial item: satellites, aerial reconnaissance, cyber sleuths, electronic signals specialists and good old human spies watched for "indications and warning" as Iran’s military and militias got the weapons and crews ready.

Drone-and-Missile Warfare Tests Supply-Strapped Defense Systems

Alistair MacDonald, Doug Cameron and Heather Somerville

The near-complete defeat of Iran’s drone-and-missile barrage against Israel on Saturday marked a success for air-defense systems, but was also a sobering reminder that weapons capable of intercepting these sorts of attacks are in short supply.

Countries around the world have moved to bolster their air defenses in recent years, spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine, concerns about tensions in the Asia-Pacific region and renewed conflict in the Middle East. Yet the companies that produce air-defense systems are struggling to meet the surging demand, and countries ordering the technology are grappling with long waits and high costs.

After years of underinvestment, a global scramble for missiles has meant it now takes around two years or more to deliver some air-defense interceptors. A lack of some components, like rocket motors, contributes to that lag.

An image taken from video posted on social media shows objects flying over Amman, Jordan, over the weekend after Iran launched drones and missiles at Israel. 

“I am concerned that we’ve taken a bit of a holiday and that we are playing some catch-up here,” John Hill, deputy assistant secretary for space and missile defense, told lawmakers last week.

Iran's Attack on Israel: Four Important Lessons for Ukraine and World

Can the world prevent a global war, and can Ukraine effectively "close" its skies?

Of course, the consequences of Iran's attack are not as significant as they could have been. Virtually no damage was done to either Israel's military or civilian infrastructure. An almost absolute result: 99% of air targets (over 300 missiles and drones) were destroyed, and not even over Israel. We know what the secret is: Israel's three-tiered air defense system, as well as assistance from its allies-the United States, Britain, France, and Jordan-whose aircraft and permits helped repel the attack.

In any case, this could be considered an official declaration of war. But the leaders of the United States and Europe (as well as the countries of the region) are actively trying to dissuade Israel from retaliating against Iran. How convincing their arguments will be, and whether Tel Aviv will listen to them, remains to be seen. However, the first lessons of what happened are already clearly visible.


Lesson 1. Aviation has proven its high efficiency

In a commentary to Ukrinform, Israeli Defense Forces officer and military analyst Yigal Levin emphasized that aviation played an extremely important role, if not a key one, in countering the Iranian air threat. Kamikaze drones and cruise missiles are aerodynamic targets, meaning they can easily be shot down by fighter jets.

Iran’s Strike Was Not Symbolic, And It Can Happen Again – Analysis

Can Kasapoğlu

What Happened and Why Was It Important?

Overnight on April 13, Iran unleashed a barrage of drones and missiles in an aerial offensive targeting Israel. Dubbed Operation True Promise, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) executed the campaign, and Tehran claimed responsibility. The strike marked the first time the mullahs have dared to attack Israel from Iranian territory, suggesting the worrisome weakening of United States–led deterrence mechanisms in the Middle East.

The Political-Military Assessment of the Strike

Many analysts have suggested that Iran’s attack was merely symbolic, designed to save face but spare Israel from severe damage. This narrative is dangerously misleading.

The Islamic Republic did not unleash this salvo simply to keep up appearances. Open-source defense intelligence suggests that Tehran launched a large-scale, synchronized, and multifaceted strike package, employing loitering munitions, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. The strike unfolded along the same pattern that Russia has established in its joint drone and missile warfare efforts in Ukraine.

Iran designed its barrage of Shahed-136 loitering munitions to overwhelm Israeli defenses, setting the stage for a follow-on ballistic missile onslaught. Tehran launched its Shahed-136 loitering munitions hours before its arsenal of ballistic missiles. The staggered design of the assault caught many analysts off guard, leading to flawed assumptions that the Islamic Republic’s strike was solely a drone wave. Fortunately, Israel and its strategic partners’ air defense capabilities prevented severe casualties and destruction.

Despite Israel’s incredible interception rates in the air, drone and missile warfare carries an offense-dominant military-strategic calculus. Should Tehran opt to repeat this week’s effort, even a proportionally low penetration rate could favor Iran. Lessons learned in Ukraine confirm this bitter fact almost every week.

How World Wars Begin


The great historian Victor Davis Hanson titled his book on World War II The Second World Wars because the conflicts that evolved into that global war began as separate wars: Japan versus China; Italy versus Ethiopia; Japan versus Soviet Russia; Soviet Russia and Germany versus Poland; Soviet Russia versus Finland; England and France versus Germany; Italy versus France; Germany versus Soviet Russia; Japan versus the United States and England; and Germany and Italy versus the United States. Similarly, in 1912 fighting broke out in the Balkans; then Austria-Hungary went to war against Serbia; Germany declared war on Russia; Russia waged war on Austria-Hungary; Germany attacked Belgium and France, and England declared war on Germany. Later, Italy and the United States joined the war. Those conflicts also evolved into a global war waged on five continents, on the high seas, and in the air.

Writing in his 1919 geopolitical masterpiece Democratic Ideals and Reality, Sir Halford Mackinder noted that “[W]e have had a world war about every hundred years for the last four centuries.” Some historians identify the Seven Years War (1756≠1763) as the first global conflict — a war that began on the North American Continent between Britain and France (we know it as the French and Indian War) and spread to continental Europe and beyond. The wars of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars (1789–1815) likewise began as separate wars between Britain and France and spread throughout continental Europe and on the high seas.

New Russian ‘Turtle Tank’ Emerges On The Battlefield, Features Electronic Warfare System


Anew example of a Russian 'turtle tank' with a shed-like metal cover on top to help protect against drone attacks, especially by highly maneuverable first-person view (FPV) kamikaze types, has emerged on the battlefield. Three of these field-modified monstrosities have now appeared just in the past week or so, and this one looks to have the largest covering seen to date. This particular example is also equipped with an omni-directional counter-drone electronic warfare jammer with eight antennas, a design that has been increasingly seen on other Russian tanks and armored vehicles.

The newest turtle tank is said to have been involved in an attack on Ukrainian positions near the city of Krasnohorivka in the country's eastern Donetsk region. This is the same area where the first Russian tank configured in this way emerged early last week. Reports subsequently emerged that the initial example was destroyed when Ukrainian forces struck the warehouse it was parked in. A second iteration then appeared just days later, but it is unclear where that tank was spotted. From the pictures and videos that have emerged so far, it is not entirely clear what specific types of tanks are being used as the basis for these conversions, though the first one may have been a T-72 variant.

The sheet metal structure on top of the third turtle tank is visibly taller than the ones seen installed on the the previous two examples, but has a broadly similar trapezoidal shape. It remains unclear if any of the three turtle tanks seen so far have additional protection, like netting or chain link fencing, to help shield the open front and rear ends of their shed-like structures. Not doing so would seem to call into question the utility of installing the additional top covering in the first place, which also severely limits the traverse of the tank's turret and the crew's overall situational awareness. The weight and ungainly structure would also significantly reduce general mobility.

‘Nightmare Scenario’: The Risks Of Escalation As Israel Mulls Iran Response – Analysis

Kian Sharifi

Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel has put the Middle East in uncharted territory.

Tehran fired scores of drones and missiles at Israel on April 13, its first-ever direct attack on its archfoe.

In the wake of the assault, Israel has been weighing up its options, which analysts say could range from a diplomatic offensive to isolate Iran to directing military strikes on the Islamic republic.

With the risk of escalation higher than ever, the worst-case scenario of an all-out war between Iran and Israel is a distinct possibility, analysts say.

“Israel will have to take intentions into account, not just results, and this means there is a case that is going to be made in Israel for a response inside Iran — with all the risks that come with it,” said Michael Horowitz, head of intelligence at the Bahrain-based Le Beck International consultancy.

While neither Iran nor Israel may want an escalation, “the dance they’ve engaged in — trying to ‘out-deter’ the other — is a very dangerous one,” Horowitz said.

Iran’s attack was retaliation for the suspected Israeli air strike on the Iranian Embassy’s compound in Syria on April 1 that killed seven Iranian commanders, including two generals.

Suspected Israeli air strikes have killed at least 18 members of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the elite branch of Iran’s armed forces, in Syria since December.

Generative Artificial Intelligence Threats to Information Integrity and Potential Policy Responses


The advent of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and the growth of broader AI capabilities have resulted in many questions about the technology’s impact on the body politic and the role of information and trust in a functioning democracy. Even before the 2022 generative AI breakthrough when OpenAI released ChatGPT and DALL-E, the United States and other nations suffered from what RAND researchers have referred to as truth decay, or the decline of the role of facts and analysis in public life.1 However, generative AI opens up even newer avenues of both malicious use and unwitting misuse of information, which can lead to sweeping implications for election cycles, the empowerment of dangerous nonstate actors, the spread of both misinformation and disinformation, and the potential to undermine electoral processes.

The purpose of this paper is to provide policymakers and scholars with a brief and high-level review of potential threats that generative AI might pose to a trust worthy information ecosystem.3 We offer a summary of policy initiatives that could mitigate these threats. In this paper, we avoid offering specific recommendations for policy initiatives, but we try to summarize the strengths and limitations of major proposals. We conducted this review by examining a variety of published resources on generative AI threats to the information space and papers that highlight potential policy options.4 For a more comprehensive take on policy initiatives, we encourage readers to seek additional sources.

Artificial Intelligence And Irrational Fears – OpEd

Jim Fedako

Where’s Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead? Seriously, what list of the greatest rock guitarists of all time would not—could not—include him? Sure, I know the internet article was just some teaser to get me to mindlessly click through an ad-laden list. But still, no Garcia. I object: Who wrote this article?

And that is the question of the day: “Who wrote this article?” Was it really written by the suspicious name on the byline—as if the author is the protagonist in some cheap novel, such as Ima Riter? Or, as happens more frequently these days, were the words the product of a large language model (LLM), a class of artificial intelligence (AI) models and a sibling of the seemingly ubiquitous ChatGPT, though under the byline of Ima Riter?

Yes, the AI model, the complex statistical models whose genesis, as the hysteria goes, we will rue when it rules our future. Lately it’s hard to scan a media site without finding at least one headline declaring that AI models are intelligent and sentient entities, capable of creating information in a manner that exceeds the abilities of both the creator and user. Models that will destroy jobs and abrogate totalitarian powers. But is that true?

Despite assertions otherwise, AIs (LLMs in particular) are simply models that provide probabilistic responses to language prompts. At a basic level, ask an LLM to fill in the missing word in the phrase “I ran up the . . . ” and it will return “hill.” Not because the model is intelligent or sentient. No. The LLM returns “hill” because that is the statistically likely response to the prompt.

Challenge it, since the word you are looking for is not “hill,” and the LLM will reach into its statistical memory, based on the decomposed works it was trained on, and provide the next likely response. You can then converse with it, so to speak. After the second or third iteration of entering “That is not the word I am looking for,” the LLM will, like any good conversationalist, ask for additional context to provide a more appropriate answer.

Space Threat Assessment 2024



WELCOME TO THE SEVENTH EDITION of the Space Threat Assess - ment by the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). For the last seven years, CSIS has used open-source information to produce an annual assessment of threats to U.S. national security space systems, referred to as counterspace threats, and trends in counterspace capabilities. Each report in this series catalogs yearly developments, uses, and advancements of counterspace weapons and enablers to provide policymakers and the public with accessible insights into the global space threat landscape.

Today, there are more satellites and systems in space providing services, information, and capabilities to people on Earth than ever before. 1 While many of these systems have a civilian mission and are built and run by companies instead of governments, they also support U.S. national security. As noted in past assessments, these civilian and commercial space systems face expanding threats from foreign adversaries, which increasingly include cyber and espionage threats.

Given the criticality of services and capabilities provided by space systems to U.S. national and economic security, the authors believe that policymakers should think in terms of threats and risk as they resource and prioritize miti - gation measures. In addition to threats, a risk assessment includes analysis of vulnerabilities as well as the likelihood of and impacts from undesired events.