26 June 2017

***If China Does Build a Naval Base in Pakistan, What Are the Risks for Islamabad?

By Umair Jamal

The United States Department of Defense recently released a report concerning China’s military power. According to the report, China may be considering a large naval base in Pakistan as its potential second overseas military installation, after Djibouti.

Conventionally, Pakistan has maintained cordial relations with China for several decades and is now set to attract major investments from the latter as part of Beijing’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. While Pakistan may not be overtly averse to the idea of a Chinese military base in Pakistan for different economic and security reasons, the country has had similar experiences in the past. Those experiences showed Pakistan the negative aspects of being a client state and had several unintended negative consequences.

During the late-1950s, the United States set up a military base in Pakistan as part of Washington’s security pact with Islamabad to contain the former Soviet Union. In the late 1970s and most part of the 1980s, Pakistan allowed the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) presence in the country to contain Moscow’s military intervention in Afghanistan and beyond. Following the 9/11 attacks, the regime of President Pervez Musharraf permitted the United States to set up military bases in Pakistan to conduct operations inside Afghanistan. The presence of American intelligence agencies in Pakistan was facilitated in different ways too: not only were CIA military installations were put in place in Pakistan, but there were also periods of close collaboration between the intelligence agencies of the two countries.

***India-US: Convergences and Divergences

Chintmaani Mahapatra

When Narendra Modi won the landslide victory in 2014 general election, eyebrows were raised in concerned circles about the future of India’s relations with the US. The UPA II government had already witnessed the bottom low in the relationship with the US in the wake of a dysfunctional economic policy, rampant corruption allegations and a diplomatic row sparked by the arrest of an Indian diplomat by the New York police.

Many were watching the Modi wave during bitter election campaigns and some foreign leaders, including those from Europe, had already begun to engage with Modi as the prospective prime minister. But Washington was still very cold towards him. The then Barack Obama administration in the US was not in a hurry to politically engage a man to whom they had denied a visa consecutively for nine years. 

Modi-Obama: Expanding the India-US Strategic Partnership

The scenario completely changed when Modi emerged as the leader who would rule India for at least the next five years. Several foreign policy analysts wondered whether Prime Minister Modi would be interested in seriously engaging the US. However, he clearly demonstrated that he thinks out of the box, takes bold steps and springs surprises, when he promptly accepted the invitation to visit the US extended by President Obama during their congratulatory conversations. 

Modi’s first visit to the US as India's prime minister was a grand success. In one stroke he was able to undo the damage caused to the relationship and restored the momentum of an India-US strategic partnership. His address to a huge gathering of Indian Americans in New York, penning of an article in the Wall Street Journal to woo corporate America, one-on-one conversations with a host of CEOs, summit meeting with President Obama, and the release of a joint statement, titled “Chalein Saath Saath” (Lets walk together) had a magical effect in the bilateral relationship. All stalled dialogues, including ones related to energy, defence, trade and investment, resumed in the relationship.

***Can Pakistan’s Banned Organizations Rejoin the Mainstream?

By Syed Arfeen

“Though Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) is not listed as a political organization but it is a political entity, we want to register JuD as a political party. We played a positive role in the politics and we want to continue it,” said Hafiz Masood in Islamabad on March 27 this year.

Masood, brother of JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, was speaking in a closed-door session on “Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Different Brands of Militants.” The discussion, organized by the think tank Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), centered on the reintegration of banned outfits like Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), and Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ).

Later, during a press briefing on April 26, the spokesman of the Pakistan Army, Major General Asif Ghafour, released a confessional video statement from Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesman of the banned Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

According to Ehsan, India’s intelligence agency (the Research & Analysis Wing or RAW) and the Afghan intelligence arm National Directorate of Services (NDS) aim to destabilize Pakistan and both are funding anti-Pakistan elements.

The back-to-back crucial developments sparked a debate about the reintegration and mainstreaming of banned outfits in the country.

**Energy in Central Asia: Who Has What?

Each summer, BP releases a statistical review of world energy. The review — in its 66th year — is well regarded and draws on a variety of sources, giving one of the most comprehensive views of energy reserves and consumption around the world.

Buried amid the tables are Central Asia’s three energy-rich states: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. As energy plays a central role in the economies of these states, it’s worth taking stock of where the last few tumultuous years have left them.

Of course, what happens in Central Asia’s energy markets is necessarily impacted by global trends. In the review’s intro, BP CEO Bob Dudley writes, “Global energy markets are in transition.” He points to Asia a major arena of growth, rather than “traditional markets” in the OECD. A focus on efficiency has led to stagnating consumption and “environmental needs and technological advances” are shifting consumption toward cleaner sources. For oil, 2016 was a “year of adjustment” and for gas, “global production was essentially flat” with the exception of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

How do these global trends look in Central Asia?

Let’s look at Kazakhstan first. The 2014 cratering of the oil market, a product of geopolitics far beyond the steppe, hit Kazakhstan particularly hard. Oil production in Kazakhstan fell for the third consecutive year (-1.4 percent from 2015 to 2016) to 1.672 million barrels per day. Nonetheless, Kazakhstan remains one of the top producers in the Europe and Eurasia region, behind Russia and Norway and ahead of Azerbaijan.

*How Stable Is Saudi Arabia?

 Speculating about the future of Saudi Arabia has become one of the more common guessing games among Middle East experts. Since the onset of the Arab uprisings in 2011, if not before, doubts about the political stability of Saudi Arabia have been raised with almost metronomic frequency. The concern is understandable: Saudi Arabia is a major energy supplier and any sustained interruption caused by internal turmoil would likely roil markets around the world. Serious unrest, moreover, could undermine stability elsewhere in the Middle East and cause profound alarm throughout the Muslim world over the security of holy sites.

Yet for all the confident assertions that it is just a matter of time before the kingdom succumbs to internal unrest and even regime collapse, Saudi Arabia has remained one of the most stable countries in the region. It has weathered a major downturn in global oil prices and reduction of state revenues, managed what could have been a contentious royal succession, and prosecuted a costly military intervention in neighboring Yemen without facing major domestic blowback, all contrary to the expectations of many outside observers. So is Saudi Arabia the proverbial dog that regularly barks but never bites? Or is there only a false sense of calm for now, before the underlying risks of instability suddenly materialize? Put differently, how worried should we be?

IDSA STRATEGIC COMMENTS : Ten Imponderables in the Strategic Partnership Scheme

Amit Cowshish

The missing seventh chapter of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 entitled “Revitalising Defence Industrial Ecosystem through Strategic Partnerships” was finally notified by the Ministry of Defence less than a month ago.1 The strategic partnership scheme, intended to produce a ‘transformational impact’ on defence manufacturing through the involvement of the private sector, will initially be rolled out in four segments: fighter aircraft, helicopters, submarines, and armoured fighting vehicles/main battle tanks. More segments may be added later, if required.

There is no denying that private sector companies continue to operate on the periphery of defence manufacturing even 16 years after the sector was opened for their participation. There is also no denying that all efforts made since then, such as the introduction of the ‘Make’ procedure in 2006 or the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ category in 2008, have had little impact. More than a decade after the ‘Make’ procedure was adopted for indigenous design and development of prototypes, not a single development ‘Make’ contract has been awarded and very few ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ projects have been awarded to the private sector because of the difficulty in identifying Indian companies to which the Request for Proposal (RFP) could be issued.

Private sector companies have also hardly ever been nominated as an Indian Production Agency (PA) in ‘Buy and Make’ cases since the MoD has not been able to figure out how to choose a private sector entity as its nominee. The ‘Buy and Make’ category, it may be recalled, entails outright purchase of a specified quantity of equipment from a foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), followed by manufacture of the remaining quantity in India by an MoD-nominated PA, which could be from the public or private sector.

GHAZWA-e-HIND – Revival and Re- assertion is dangerous to Indian Security:

Source Link
By R. Upadhyay

The Indian Media on June 5 mentioned about a recorded message of Zakir Musa the former Hizbul Mujhahideen Commander of Kashmir that slammed the Indian Muslims for not joining Islamic jihad for ‘Gazwa-e-Hind’(the final and last battle for the conquest of India). This provocative audio message included the following excerpts: 

"They (Indian Muslims) are the most shameless Muslims in the world. They 

should be ashamed of calling themselves Muslims. Our sisters are getting 

abused and dishonoured and Indian Muslims keep screaming that 'Islam is 


"They are the most 'beghairat qaum' (shameless community) who cannot speak 

up against oppression and injustice. Is this what our Prophet and his 

'salafs' (followers) have taught us? They gave their blood during the wars 

and martyrdom for the honour of our sisters". 

"You still have a chance to stand up and join us. Come forward or it will be too late for you."



Next week will mark Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fifth visit to the United States as prime minister and his third official audience with a U.S. president. His last four visits occurred against a backdrop of more than a decade of bipartisan political support in Washington and New Delhi for increasing strategic engagement between the two countries.

But this time, things are different on the American side. There is yet no publicly articulated U.S. policy toward India from the Trump administration and no appointed ambassador to India. Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the U.S. government can boast only one short visit by a U.S. senior official — the national security advisor — to India and it was on the back-end of a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan. India sees a drift, apathy, or both creeping into the bilateral relationship. Modi will be looking to allay these fears.

He has a scheduled short, “no frills, business-only” audience with Trump on Monday, June 26. While an important meeting, it should not be oversold. Expectations for this meeting and Modi’s overall visit should remain low.

Afghanistan 2017 Offers "No Exit" Options to the United States:

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Sensing that the violent paroxysms of the Pakistan Army-Taliban combine in 2017 in disrupting Afghanistan brook no conflict-resolution, the United States this week wisely decided to reinforce US Forces in Afghanistan by another 4,000 troops, possibly, politically signalling a ‘Statement of Intent’ that more troop surges could follow.

Contemporaneously in 2017 Afghanistan emerges as even more pivotal for United States national security interests than ever before. As pointed in my recent SAAG Papers on the subject that the United States cannot afford to abandon or abdicate from its security commitments on Afghanistan and leave it to the machinations of the China-Pakistan-Russia Trilateral.

US President Trump has wisely delegated authority to his Defence Secretary General Mattis to solely decide the troop’s requirements to stabilise Afghanistan. This is a welcome step moving away from the past years of micro-management of Afghanistan military operations by the political establishment in Washington.

Since Afghanistan in 2017 offers ‘No-Exit’ options to the United States, it becomes incumbent that the United States policy establishment should recognise some essential home-truths to achieve the end-aims of stabilising Afghanistan and making it secure against the terrorism.

How Not to Win an AI Arms Race With China


A lawmaker’s proposal to curb Chinese investment in U.S. artificial-intelligence firms has more than a few critics.

The idea of a Chinese-U.S. arms race for artificial intelligence conjures up images of an army of swarmbots defeating self-driving tanks on a smoldering, depopulated hellscape. It’s an idea so captivating that Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wants to make it harder for the Chinese to invest in U.S. technology development, including in companies developing artificial intelligence, out of fear that Beijing will use small investment positions in Silicon Valley firms to erode U.S. national security and technological advantage. But tech entrepreneurs, academics in the field, and former senior officials in the White House and Pentagon think the proposal would do more harm than good.

Cornyn pitched his idea at a Council on Foreign Relations event on Thursday, citing a 2016 Defense Department report that explored how various Chinese investment activities might affect U.S. national security. The report, produced under former Defense Secretary Ash Carter and sometimes referred to as “the DIUx paper,” is not classified but has not been made available to the public. (Defense One has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain it.)

The Battle for Marawi City

by Time Magazine

On what was to be her wedding day, Stephanie Villarosa ate chocolate-flavored rice porridge out of a styrofoam cup. Under normal circumstances—rings exchanged, fidelity promised, bride kissed—she and her family would have been feasting on lechón, roasted suckling pig, a delicacy in her fiancé’s hometown of Iligan City on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Instead, Villarosa was huddled on an institutional plastic chair 38 km south of Iligan, inside Marawi City’s provincial government building. Outside, sniper fire crackled over the mosque-dotted hills to the east and military FA50 fighter jets thundered overhead. Wedding or no, the porridge was nourishing, and Villarosa was happy: “God is good. Today we survived.”

Survival has become a daily battle in Marawi, the capital of Mindanao’s Lanao del Sur province and whose mostly Muslim 200,000 population make the city the biggest Islamic community in what is otherwise an overwhelmingly Catholic country. Villarosa, a teacher in Marawi, was handing out wedding invitations when black-clad fighters of what the locals call Grupo ISIS swarmed the streets. She ran, hid, and took shelter in a nearby house with 38 other people. Outside, she heard, her workplace Dansalan College was burning, and Christians were being killed. “We rescued ourselves—no military,” says Villarosa. “We had to run, walk, crawl.” Seven of her colleagues, including the school’s principal, were unaccounted for, but, low on food and water, and with news that the military was set to bomb the area, Villarosa decided to get to the sanctuary of city hall. “It looked like a movie outside, it looked like The Walking Dead,” she says, referring to the post-apocalypse U.S. TV series.

Report: Russia may have accidentally revealed new military satellites

Source Link

WASHINGTON — Russia may have accidentally revealed its new military satellites, according to an IHS Markit report.

On June 6, a group of Russian defense officials, including Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu, toured the ISS Reshetnev satellite factory near Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Photographs from a Russian news agency were posted by the Russian MoD on the agency's website and appeared on the Press Association and Getty websites. 

Analysis by Jane's Intelligence Review identified what could be a previously unknown Russian military satellite program.Photo Credit: IHS Markit/PA via Business Wire

The photographs included information on the never-before-seen Repei satellites. The two geostationary satellites, Repei-S and Repei-V, have a pair of large antennae, meaning they could either be communications or intelligence-collecting satellites.

Theresa May's Troubles and 'The Troubles'

Meghan L. O'Sullivan

On Monday, the newly elected Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, emerged from his meeting with his British counterpart, Theresa May, promising good news. Varadkar said he was satisfied May would not jeopardize the peace agreement in Northern Ireland in her efforts to secure the support of that province’s Democratic Unionist Party for her government.

Yet even if this is true, it is unrealistic to hope that a deal between the Tories and the DUP will have no impact on the politics of Northern Ireland. And if Varadkar is wrong, we could be headed toward a political stalemate or worse, and a possible economic crisis in that corner of the United Kingdom.

May needs the DUP, which is dedicated to keeping Northern Ireland part of the U.K., to join in a “confidence and supply” arrangement, in which its representatives in Westminster would vote with her Conservatives on votes of no-confidence or other key matters such as the budget. This would give the DUP outsized influence, which some worry might be used to put off a referendum on whether the province should remain part of U.K or join Ireland, which was allowed for under certain circumstances by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended the “The Troubles.” Varadkar says he’s confident May will not yield to any DUP request to put off the vote.

Russians in Estonia: A Case Study in Offensive Structural Realism

Cody L. Zilhaver

Russia’s power politics, demonstrated through its nationalistic tendencies, have the biggest influence on Estonia’s national security. Russia maintains a capability to influence a quarter of Estonia’s population who speak Russian, most of whom are disenfranchised by the government and are highly susceptible to Russian coercion through modern mainstream media emanating from Moscow. Due to these circumstances, Russia is in a position to cultivate Russian nationalism and influence Russian speakers in Estonia, who can elect leaders that will return Estonia back to Russia’s sphere of influence and undermine the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance. An alternative view is that Estonia’s NATO membership provides enough security to dissuade Russia from exerting its influence in Estonia. In rebuttal, I offer that Russia’s potential to leverage Estonia’s democratic process to enact laws and policies sympathetic to Russia, renders Estonia’s membership in NATO irrelevant and incapable of mitigating this threat. 

Russia has a long-standing history of pursuing hegemony over its neighbors through multiple means. Small European nations like Estonia are highly susceptible to Russian dominance due to their proximity to Russia, history of belonging to the former Russian Empire, and subsequently their membership in the Soviet Union. Russia’s recent occupation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine and at South Ossetia in Georgia provide examples of how the Russian military seizes control in portions of neighboring sovereign nations that belonged to the Russian Empire and Soviet Union.


By Sally Deboer

CIMSEC was recently joined by Captain John Watkins, the first commanding officer of the Naval Information Warfighting Development Center (NIWDC). Read on to learn about this new command’s role in shaping the U.S. Navy’s information warfighting skills and capabilities.

SD: We are joined by CAPT John Watkins, the first commanding officer of the newly opened Naval Information Warfighting Development Center. It is truly an honor to have you here. Before we begin, can you share a bit about yourself and your background?

JW: Thanks first and foremost for having me, it’s an honor for me as well. I came into the Navy in 1992 as a Surface Warfare Officer and completed various tours in engineering. I did that for roughly five years and really enjoyed it, but subsequent to those tours I attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California where I achieved a Master’s degree in IT Management during which time I laterally transferred into the space and electronic warfare community. A few years transpired and that community was subsumed into the information professional community that we know of today, which comes with the 1820 designator.

Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault

By Greg Miller

The White House debated various options to punish Russia, but facing obstacles and potential risks, it ultimately failed to exact a heavy toll on the Kremlin for its election interference.

Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race. 

But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump. 

At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.

Trump's cybersecurity EO is 'terrible' says former AT&T CISO, recommends focus on 3 areas

Source Link
By Jason Hiner

Ed Amoroso, the former chief security officer of AT&T, once wrote a blog post grading the previous administrations in Washington in cybersecurity. They all rated badly. That included the recent Obama administration, which Amoroso said, got "too wrapped up in privacy."

He gave the Obama administration a simple recommendation on cybersecurity: Focus on a couple things and get those right, then we'll all be better. It didn't happen, but Amoroso has continued to beat that drum.

Before Donald Trump came into office, Amoroso published an open letter recommending that Trump focus on a few simple initiatives in cybersecurity. Despite the fact that the Trump administration adopted some of the recommendations in its executive order on cybersecurity, Amoroso was not impressed with Trump's approach.

"The executive order was terrible," said Amoroso at the 2017 Borderless Cyber conference in New York. "It's this amazing jumble of page after page after page of requesting reports... Who the hell is reading all those, and who's writing them? ... A thousand reports are just going to confuse us all."

What Amoroso thinks the Trump administration needs to do instead is to focus on three big initiatives:

Election Hackers Altered Voter Rolls, Stole Private Data, Officials Say

Massimo Calabresi

The hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers, current and former officials tell TIME. 

In one case, investigators found there had been a manipulation of voter data in a county database but the alterations were discovered and rectified, two sources familiar with the matter tell TIME. Investigators have not identified whether the hackers in that case were Russian agents. 

The fact that private data was stolen from states is separately providing investigators a previously unreported line of inquiry in the probes into Russian attempts to influence the election. In Illinois, more than 90% of the nearly 90,000 records stolen by Russian state actors contained drivers license numbers, and a quarter contained the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, according to Ken Menzel, the General Counsel of the State Board of Elections

Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign, two sources familiar with the investigations tell TIME. 



verheated topics invariably produce ill-considered books. Some people will remember the time, in the late nineteen-eighties, when Japan was about to buy up America and conquer the world. Many a tidy sum was made on that premise. These days, the possibility of war with China is stirring emotions and keeping publishers busy. A glance at a few new books suggests what scholars and journalists are thinking about the prospect of an Asian conflagration; the quality of their reflections is, to say the least, variable.

The worst of the bunch, Graham Allison’s “Destined for War” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), may also be the most influential, given that its thesis rests on a catchphrase Allison has popularized, “Thucydides’s Trap.” Even China’s President, Xi Jinping, is fond of quoting it. “On the current trajectory,” Allison contends, “war between the U.S. and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than currently recognized.” The reason, he says, can be traced to the problem described in the fifth century B.C.E. in Thucydides’ account of the Peloponnesian War. Sparta, as the established power, felt threatened by the rising might of Athens. In such conditions, Allison writes, “not just extraordinary, unexpected events, but even ordinary flashpoints of foreign affairs, can trigger large-scale conflict.”

Allison sees Thucydides’ Trap in the wars between a rising England and the established Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century, a rising Germany versus Britain in the early twentieth century, and a rising Japan versus the United States in the nineteen-forties. Some historical tensions between rising powers and ruling ones were resolved without a catastrophic war (the Soviet challenge to U.S. dominance), but many, Allison warns, were not. And there’s no disputing China’s steep military and economic rise in recent decades. Its annual military budget has, for most of the past decade, increased by double digits, and the People’s Liberation Army, even in its newly streamlined form, has nearly a million more active service members than the United States has. As recently as 2004, China’s economy was less than half that of the United States. Today, in terms of purchasing-power parity, China has left the United States behind. Allison is so excited by China’s swift growth that his prose often sounds like a mixture of a Thomas Friedman column and a Maoist propaganda magazine like China Reconstructs. Rome wasn’t built in a day? Well, he writes, someone “clearly forgot to tell the Chinese. By 2005, the country was building the square-foot equivalent of today’s Rome every two weeks.”

The 4 types of cybersecurity threats and a formula to fight them

Source Link
By Jason Hiner

Wells Fargo's chief information security officer Rich Baich has to be very strategic about the way he spends his budget in order to protect the bank from the endless stream of cyberattacks launched at it every day.

At the 2017 Borderless Cyber event in New York City, Baich went through the formula he uses to decide his cybersecurity risk strategy. Baich, who is the chair of the Financial Services Sector Coordination Council (FSSCC), also broke down the four categories of cyberthreats in order to help cybersecurity professionals understand how to deal with the overwhelming number of attacks.
The four types of threats

1. Cybercrime: This is the most prominent category today and the one that banks spend much of their resources fighting. A large portion of current cyberattacks are professional in nature, and profit-motivated—which is why banks are the favorite target. But as we've seen with retail hacks like TJX, cybercriminals have also figured out how to skim money off any business that handles transactions. Every organization needs to prioritize protecting those high-value processes from attackers.

2. Cyberespionage: This is the one that organizations with trade secrets and invaluable information have to worry about the most. So, pharmaceutical companies and government agencies like the NSA are the most at risk. Nevertheless, all organizations should triage their most sensitive data and put policies in place to guard against data leakage of those valuable targets.

A Cyber Attack ‘The World Isn’t Ready For’

By Nicole Perlroth

NEWARK — There have been times over the last two months when Golan Ben-Oni has felt like a voice in the wilderness.

On April 29, someone hit his employer, IDT Corporation, with two cyberweapons that had been stolen from the National Security Agency. Mr. Ben-Oni, the global chief information officer at IDT, was able to fend them off, but the attack left him distraught.

In 22 years of dealing with hackers of every sort, he had never seen anything like it. Who was behind it? How did they evade all of his defenses? How many others had been attacked but did not know it?

Since then, Mr. Ben-Oni has been sounding alarm bells, calling anyone who will listen at the White House, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New Jersey attorney general’s office and the top cybersecurity companies in the country to warn them about an attack that may still be invisibly striking victims undetected around the world.

And he is determined to track down whoever did it.

Secure the Net initiative found to be an overall failure for NSA

Rachael Kalinyak

A declassified report from the Department of Defense Inspector General has been released, according to the New York Times.

The 60-page report commissioned by Congress assesses 7 of the 40 components that the National Security Agency outlined for their “Secure the Net” initiative. This initiative was put forth to help improve the security of sensitive systems after the Snowden disclosures in 2013.

The NSA, according to the inspector general’s report, had some successes, but the overall initiative “did not fully meet the intent of decreasing the risk of insider threats to NSA operations and the ability of insiders to exfiltrate data.”

According to the Times, the report details how their efforts fell short, including the failure to reduce the number of privileged users who can access sensitive computer systems; their failure to consistently keep data center machine rooms secure, as well as failing to lock the server racks containing highly classified data; and the failure to fully implement software that would monitor users.

The report also noted the agency’s failure to declare an exact number of people with abilities to transfer data. The lists containing this information were kept on spreadsheets that were corrupted and are no longer available.

The inspector general’s report noted that NSA CIO Gregory Smithberger told the inspector general that the elimination of all insider risks and threats is not feasible. He told the Times, “While the media leak events that led to Secure the Net (STN) were both unforeseen and serious, we consider the extensive progress we made in a short time to be a ‘good news’ story.”

The importance of securing classified information, as the report warns, was underscored the same month the inspector general’s report was produced, according to the Times. In August 2016, a group called the Shadow Brokers obtained and auctioned off classified hacking tools allegedly from the NSA — some of which were dumped online allowing for the WannaCry attack.

“We welcome the observations and opportunities for improvement offered by the U.S. Defense Department’s Inspector General,” Vanee Vines, spokesperson for the N.S.A. told the Times. “N.S.A. has never stopped seeking and implementing ways to strengthen both security policies and internal control

Post-Truth Politics, the Fifth Estate and the Securitization of Fake News

By Nayef Al-Rodhan

The post-truth phenomenon is a threat to liberal democracy and its institutions, argues Nayef Al-Rodhan. It’s also a deadly enemy of a fundamental element of diplomacy and international politics – i.e., communication. So, what antidotes are available to blunt this scourge? Al-Rodham’s responses include next-step fact-checking technologies, securitizing fake news, and linking scientific expertise and policy-making more tightly together.

Post-truth” was selected the 2016 ‘word of the year’ by the Oxford Dictionaries but the term is symptomatic of an ‘era’, rather than a year: an era of boundless virtual communication, where politics thrives on a repudiation of facts and commonsense. ‘Post-truthness’ crosses new lines of division: political splits seem to be less about ideology and more a battle between facts and lies.

Although the term “post-truth” has existed for over two decades, 2016 was an appropriate time to give it a boost of popularity. The Oxford Dictionaries defined “post-truth” as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. The Economist has devoted several pieces to post-truth politics, which it defines as a “reliance on assertions that “feel true” but have no basis in fact”. Such assertions often remain unverified and have little or no repercussions for the culprits; even if said claims are exposed as stark lies, they do little to delegitimize the perpetrator.

Can partnership overhaul geospatial intelligence?

By: Amber Corrin

If there was an emerging theme across the many remarks, interviews and panels at GEOINT 2017, held June 4-7 in San Antonio, Texas, it was a familiar but precarious ideal: partnership across the intelligence community and beyond.

Whether for the purposes of collecting and sorting through volumes of data, providing better on-the-ground mapping intelligence, or to boost national security altogether, working across departments, agencies and industries clearly will be key to geospatial intelligence going forward. It’s particularly critical as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency pursues a goal of emerging from the shadows of the intelligence community, opening (some) data to the public and launching programs to improve GEOINT.

“We know we cannot deal with the wave of data on our own. We need partners. I am the director of NGA, and I am also the functional manager of the U.S. GEOINT community,” said NGA Director Robert Cardillo. “But our U.S. community also partners with the Allied System for GEOINT — as well as with other international partners — with academia and, of course, with industry. All of these partnerships truly go the distance — many of them literally circumnavigate the globe. And each one of them matters. Because together, we can build a far more effective, unified, professional and interoperable GEOINT enterprise.”

The partnerships also include elements of the U.S. military, such as U.S. Southern Command, whose commander also spoke at the symposium. Adm. Kurt Tidd emphasized partnership in U.S. Special Operations Command missions, highlighting Latin America, where “there’s emerging security challenges impacting U.S. national interests,” including elusive trafficking networks, he said at the GEOINT Symposium on June 7.

Attributing Cyber Attacks

Thomas Rid 


Who did it? Attribution is fundamental. Human lives and the security of the state may depend on ascribing agency to an agent. In the context of computer network intrusions, attribution is commonly seen as one of the most intractable technical problems, as either solvable or not solvable, and as dependent mainly on the available forensic evidence. But is it? Is this a productive understanding of attribution? — This article argues that attribution is what states make of it. To show how, we introduce the Q Model: designed to explain, guide, and improve the making of attribution. Matching an offender to an offence is an exercise in minimising uncertainty on three levels: tactically, attribution is an art as well as a science; operationally, attribution is a nuanced process not a black-and-white problem; and strategically, attribution is a function of what is at stake politically. Successful attribution requires a range of skills on all levels, careful management, time, leadership, stress-testing, prudent communication, and recognising limitations and challenges.

25 June 2017



Osama bin Laden evaded the world’s greatest manhunt for a decade. The Exile reveals for the first time exactly how. What makes this account unique is the unprecedented access that the authors, the renowned British investigative journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, secured to bin Laden’s four wives and his surviving progeny; an astonishing array of al-Qaeda commanders, foot soldiers, ideologues, and lackeys; and the American and Pakistani officials, soldiers, and intelligence officers respectively responsible for hunting or sheltering him. The Exile, accordingly, provides the most definitive account available of bin Laden’s increasingly fraught existence in an over-crowded, ramshackle villa just a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s version of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The book’s main argument is that neither bin Laden nor the movement he created could have survived without the active support of persons at the apex of both Pakistan’s and especially Iran’s intelligence services. The critical roles played by both countries in sheltering and protecting key al-Qaeda leaders and their families has of course long been known. But no other publicly available source comes as close to The Exile in presenting this familiar story either in as much detail or from the first-hand perspective of the key dramatis personae. New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall’s 2014 book, The Wrong Enemy, for example, had forcefully advanced the same claim regarding Pakistan’s complicity. The Exile goes considerably further: both in fleshing out the story and providing additional substantiation through the new information from multiple first-hand perspectives that Scott-Clark and Levy rely on.

*** This Is How Great-Power Wars Get Started

In the last month, for the first time since the civil war in Syria began in 2011, the United States has directly attacked Syrian government forces or proxies — not just once, but at least four times. The urgent question now is less about Syria than Russia, which in response to the latest of these incidents, in which a U.S. fighter plane shot down a Syrian jet, threatened to target any U.S.-led coalition aircraft flying over Syria.

Are the U.S. and Russia being sucked into war in the Middle East, and if so, how can escalation be averted?

The present political dynamics in the Middle East are unsettled and kaleidoscopic. But in the interests of brevity, leaving aside smaller players, and before we think about the role of the United States and Russia, the basic configurations of power in the region since the 2011 Arab Spring can be simplified in terms of five loose groupings.

First, a grouping of Sunni monarchies (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Bahrain); Arab secular nationalists (Egypt since President Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi took over in 2013, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia); and Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s faction in eastern Libya.

** Trends in Armed Conflict, 1946-2016

By Kendra Dupuy, Scott Gates

As its title suggests, this brief highlights the number of conflicts and battlefield deaths that have occurred in the world since 1946. The text´s authors note, for example, that 1) the number of armed struggles in the world declined slightly from 52 in 2015 to 49 in 2016; 2) 14 percent fewer people died in 2016 as a direct result of violent conflicts than in 2015, and 22% fewer than in 2014; and 3) the internationalization of organized violence continues apace, which consequently makes such clashes longer lasting and more difficult to solve.

2016 was the fifth most violent year in the world since the end of the Cold War. While violence levels were lower than in 2014 and 2015, ongoing conflicts with serious regional impacts are challenging the international community’s ability to ensure global peace.

Brief Points 

There was a decline in battle casualties in 2016. 14% fewer people died in 2016 as a direct result of conflict than in 2015, and 22% fewer than in 2014. 
The number of armed conflicts in the world declined slightly from 52 in 2015 to 49 in 2016. 
The internationalized conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan have the highest number of casualty levels globally. 
The trend in the increasing internationalization of conflicts is concerning, as these conflicts, on average, last longer, are more violent, and are more difficult to solve. 

** On Leadership, Virtue and Vice

By George Friedman

Last week there was a fire in a high-rise building in London that killed dozens. British Prime Minister Theresa May was slow to issue a statement, and it was another day before she visited the scene – and then only to meet with members of the emergency services. It was not until day three that she paid a visit to the survivors. Her explanation was that she was busy overseeing the management of the disaster and therefore couldn’t go sooner. She was met by a storm of criticism.

Two questions arise from this affair. First, why would anyone think an empty gesture like visiting the site of a fire – no matter how many died – to be important? Perhaps the prime minister ought to be doing something productive? Second, why did May answer that she was busy overseeing the crisis? Exactly what was it about the disaster that she could oversee? She faced what seemed to be unreasonable condemnation and replied with a preposterous justification.

But it is the first question that I want to discuss because it raises another, more important question: that of leadership.

More Than Policy

The simple answer to the first question is that May ought to have visited the site of the fire because that’s what prime ministers do. They engage in gestures, and whatever they may privately feel or not feel, they show themselves to be grieving the dead. A prime minister, a president, a king or a queen represents the country at moments such as these, and their responsibility is to convey to the country the gravity of the event, the sorrow they feel, and that the state – personified by them – is not indifferent to the suffering of its citizens.

** U.S. Cyber Survival Depends on Greater Collaboration


There is little argument that the relationship between the public and private sectors has to be far stronger in order for the U.S. Government and U.S. Businesses to adequately protect themselves from emerging cyber attacks.

One of the challenges to date has been agreeing on how to share information between the two sectors, with complaints from the private sector that the Government is great on taking information, not so great with sharing it back. Oftentimes, say experts, the restrictions on sharing have to do with a classification process that is slow to adapt to the times we live in.

Lawmakers have debated the issue for years, making incremental progress while the adversaries gain the upper hand. The Cipher Brief’s CEO and Publisher Suzanne Kelly talked with Cipher Brief Expert and former deputy director of the NSA, Chris Inglis about where the weaknesses in cooperation lie and what needs to be done to better secure both the Government and private sector from what’s coming.

Suzanne Kelly: Do we need a new model for how intelligence agencies interact with the private sector?

Chris Inglis: There is a need for transformation of how we think of this space –methods and protocols we bring to bear and how we think of each other for purposes of cross-sector collaboration. That is going to be born on the back of real work, not just big ideas. We are going to actually have to do some practical things that allow us to build trust as a basis for needed collaboration as we go forward.

Crisis in the Gulf: Implications for India

Ashok Sajjanhar

The Persian Gulf region was shaken by a massive political earthquake on June 5, 2017 when four Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt – announced that they were severing all political, economic and diplomatic links with Qatar, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The four countries were soon joined by Libya, Yemen and even Maldives. However, Kuwait and Oman, the remaining two members of the GCC, refused to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia in this regard.

Saudi Arabia said that it took the decision because of Qatar’s “embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilising the region”, including the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and groups supported by Iran. Qatar vehemently denied that it supports terrorism, arguing that it has assisted the United States in the War on Terror and in the ongoing military intervention against ISIS.

While the immediate causes of the drastic action are not clear, problems between Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been brewing for some time. Tensions between Qatar and its Arab neighbours have grown in recent years as part of a tussle for regional leadership. Qatar, buoyed by its huge earnings from the production and export of gas, has been trying to carve out a comparatively independent foreign policy that is at variance with the approach of Saudi Arabia and other major Arab nations. Qatar's influential television channel Al Jazeera, which is extensively viewed in the region, often adopts positions that are critical of Saudi Arabia. In April 2017, Qatar was involved in a deal with militants in Iraq and Syria to secure the return of 26 Qatari hostages, including royals. What apparently outraged Saudi Arabia and UAE was the large amount of about USD one billion paid by Qatar to secure the deal. Subsequently, on May 27, Qatar’s Emir called up Iranian president Hasan Rouhani to congratulate him on his re-election. The call was seen as a clear, public, defiance of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to create a united front against Iran, which latter it perceives as an implacable foe.
By Ghulam Farooq Mujaddidi

The May 31 deadly terror attack in the heart of Kabul that killed and wounded hundreds of ordinary Afghans was not the first one in such a highly important area, nor was it the first time that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have failed to safeguard their own perimeters – not to mention their repeated failures to protect key civilian institutions, peaceful gatherings, and diplomatic missions in the country over the years. A month before the deadly Kabul attack, a Taliban suicide squad stormed the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) main base in the north of the country, leaving carnage behind – 150 Afghan soldiers were killed and another 100-plus were injured.

Over the past several months, militants were able to breach security parameters and hit key ANDSF institutions deep inside the Afghan capital, Kabul. Among the targets were the largest Afghan Military Hospital, cadets of the Afghan National Police (ANP), the Afghan Ministry of Defense, and the Directorate of VIP Protection and Security – an elite agency responsible for protecting high-ranking Afghan government officials and prominent leaders.

Although Pakistani “safe haven and support” for the insurgent groups along with insurgents’ resilience and adaptability are notable factors in carrying out such deadly assaults, the main reasons why ANDSF consistently fails to foil high-profile attacks are inattention to Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency, known as the National Directorate of Security (NDS), and political interference and appointments in ANDSF institutions.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

One-Size-Fits-All Approach Fails in Afghanistan


The U.S. continues to face a daunting challenge in Afghanistan, as it aims to bring stability to a country that has been plagued by conflict for decades. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Anthony Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to discuss why the United States’ strategy in Afghanistan has failed to deliver a desirable outcome and how the Trump Administration should approach the longest war in U.S. history.

The Cipher Brief: It’s been reported that the Taliban controls approximately 30 percent of Afghanistan, the most territory it has controlled since 2001. What more can be done to beat back Taliban advances and stabilize the country?

Anthony Cordesman: First, we need to be very careful about the numbers involved. There are indications that the Taliban increased the number of districts where it has a very substantial presence by about ten percent last year. The difficulty is, what does that actually mean, because if you are trying to minimize Taliban control, you can get districts being reported as under government control when all the government really controls is the capital of that district and sometimes only a few buildings within it.

This is an insurgency. We are talking about an ongoing struggle for hearts and minds, and we are talking about different rebel factions. The fact that the government in Kabul may have an interest doesn’t mean that it’s really the government in control – often it’s a power broker. We really are watching what is an expansion of threat influence. But none of these statistics are particularly reliable. In the past, there has been a tendency to exaggerate government control and to give the government credit if it has some kind of presence in a district capital, even if that presence wasn’t really doing anything and was grossly corrupt.

Too Little, Too Late? White House-Pentagon Review of the War in Afghanistan Pushes Cracking Down on Pakistan For Its Support of Taliban and ISIS

President Donald Trump’s administration appears ready to harden its approach toward Pakistan to crack down on Pakistan-based militants launching attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan, U.S. officials tell Reuters.

Potential Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding U.S. drone strikes, redirecting or withholding some aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Some U.S. officials, however, are sceptical of the prospects for success, arguing that years of previous U.S. efforts to curb Pakistan’s support for militant groups have failed, and that already strengthening U.S. ties to India, Pakistan’s arch-enemy, undermine chances of a breakthrough with Islamabad.

U.S. officials say they seek greater cooperation with Pakistan, not a rupture in ties, once the administration finishes a regional review of the strategy guiding the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Precise actions have yet to be decided.

The White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the review before its completion. Pakistan’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.