23 June 2016

David Petraeus: A Shot from the Grave***

June 20, 2016

G. Murphy Donovan

“We can’t solve problems with the same thinking that created them.” - Einstein 

You remember David Petraeus. He was the Obama era model for a politically correct general. Petraeus left the military with four stars and a chest full of medals only to be undone by Tampa camp followers and a subordinate girl friend from his days in Kabul. Indeed, poor judgement caught up with the general, ironically, while he was Director of CIA. How the chief of a major intelligence agency could not know that NSA or the FBI might be reading his love notes is a mystery to the cloak and dagger crowd everywhere. It is possible, however, that a naive general at Langley was exactly what the White House sought for CIA. A second and terminal Libya fiasco unfolded shortly after General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell became household words.

With Benghazi, the CIA, DOD, and the State Department lost a diplomatic cover CIA Annex, a “black” gun running operation, and four brave men, including an ambassador. The al Qaeda/ISIS consortium in Libya has been flourishing ever since.

The American ambassador to Libya now does business from Tunisia. Well she might, lest she suffer the same fate as her predecessor. The big loss in North Africa was not an embassy, nor an ambassador. The big loss was Libya, another entire Muslim oil state given over to Muslim theocracy, chaos, and terror. Who would have ever thought that the world would one day be nostalgic for an apostate like Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The woman who orchestrated, the Libya fiasco as US Secretary of State is now poised to become the next commander-in-chief. Given the politics of generals these days, it’s not hard to imagine that General Petraeus might be auditioning for rehabilitation and another job in the next administration. 

*** America Must Play the Geoeconomics Game

June 20, 2016

The United States has forgotten that money is a weapon. China hasn’t.

Editor’s note: this article is adapted from a presentation that Amb. Robert D. Blackwill gave at the Naval War College’s Current Strategy Forum on June 15, 2016.

I am delighted to be back at the Naval War College. What I am about to say on the issue of geoeconomics is drawn from my recent book, War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft, which I coauthored with Jennifer Harris of the Council on Foreign Relations, and which was published in April of this year by Harvard University Press.

What Is Geoeconomics?

Despite having the most powerful economy on earth, the United States too often in the past several decades has increasingly forgotten a tradition that stretches back to the founding of the nation—the systematic use of economic instruments to accomplish geopolitical objectives. America has hardly outgrown its need for military force, which will remain a central component of U.S. foreign policy. But this large-scale failure of collective strategic memory regarding geoeconomics denies Washington potent tools to accomplish its foreign policy objectives.

The term geoeconomics is in much use today, but almost always without a specific working definition. Some authors tend to focus on the use of geopolitical or military power for economic ends. Others tend to define geoeconomics more broadly, as “the entanglement of international economics, geopolitics and strategy,” a kind of catchall definition that obscures more than it clarifies.


June 20, 2016

On Sept. 25, 2015, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that neither government would “conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property” for an economic advantage. Some observers hailed the agreement as a game changer for U.S. and Chinese relations, while skeptics saw this as little more than a diplomatic formality unlikely to stymie years of state-sponsored intellectual property theft. Since the agreement, there has been much discussion and speculation as to what impact, if any, it would have on Chinese cyber operations.

To investigate this question, FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence reviewed the activity of 72 groups that we suspect are operating in China or otherwise supporting Chinese state interests. Going back nearly three and a half years to early 2013, our analysis paints a complex picture, leading us to assess that a range of political, economic, and other forces were contributing to a shift in Chinese cyber operations more than a year prior to the Xi-Obama agreement.

Between September 2015 and June 2016, we observed 13 active China-based groups conduct multiple instances of network compromise against corporations in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. During this same timeframe, other China-based groups targeted organizations in Russia and the Asia Pacific region. However, since mid-2014, we have observed an overall decrease in successful network compromises by China-based groups against organizations in the U.S. and 25 other countries. These shifts have coincided with ongoing political and military reforms in China, widespread exposure of Chinese cyber activity, and unprecedented action by the U.S. government.

** India Needs to Do Better

SR Monitor 
Jun 20, 2016 

India Needs to Do Better - Abridged version of talk delivered at CEPII, Paris by Professor Mohan Guruswamy

In late 2012 India became the world's 3rd largest economy in PPP terms and has grown at an average rate of 7.4% over the 2004-2014 period, from about $750 bns to $2 trn. India is expected to be the 3rd economy (maybe the 2nd) after China and the US by 2050.

In the 2000’s, India's share of the global GDP has increased, from 4 to 6%. Since 2012, China’s growth rate has been decreasing, from 7.5% to 6.7%, while the Indian growth rate has been going up, from 5.4% to 7.5%. The point of inflexion was last year, when the Indian growth rate overtook that of China.

However, these figures can be explained by the aging of the Chinese population, as the dependency ratio has become very adverse. China is thus getting old before it gets truly rich. This aging process already happened to Europe some time ago and will also happen in India. We're just moving 20 to 25 years behind China.

The Indian contribution to global growth rose between the 2000's and the 2010's, from 8.6% to 9.9%, while the Chinese contribution went from 21.8% to 26.4%. Over this period, the American contribution was steady, around 12%.

India is changing rapidly due to the population dynamics. The share of the population between 10 and 24 years reached 28% in 2013 and will rise significantly over the next 15 years, whereas the world average is 25%. China’s population is getting older and this is not surprising, as once you become middle-class, you usually don't have more than one child. The rise of the dependency ratio will make it hard for China to maintain its current growth rate.

** How to Stop the Next Viral Jihadi Video

JUNE 17, 2016

A new software tool could help social-media companies shut down the distribution of violent ISIS recruiting videos.

The Islamic State recruits supporters and fellow travelers from around the world largely by spreading photos and videos of its violent exploits online. What if social-media companies could automatically detect and delete such imagery?

The Counter Extremism Project, working with Dartmouth University computer scientist Hany Farid and funding from Microsoft, have developed a new method for doing just that. They hope to provide the software to help companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google stop extremist groups from distributing such material on social media.

Based on a concept called robust hashing, the idea was invented in 2008 by Farid, who was trying to help stop the flow of child pornography. But telling a machine to recognize a picture of child abuse “is not possible,” he told reporters on a conference call on Friday. “We have not gotten to the stage where we can reason about fairly high-level things having to do with content. And so they were stuck.” 

* Cyberattacks from China: Less numerous but more effective

June 21, 2016

FireEye report says instances of cyberattacks from China have declined, but a more focused approach is providing hackers with better results.

This paper describes the multi-vector nature common to most high-profile security breaches in retail enterprises. IT directors and security officers will learn about several of the characteristics common to recent breaches..

China is carefully pinpointing targets of its cyberattacks, warn researchers.Image: iStock

The number of cyberattacks against the US and other countries coming from China has declined -- but that doesn't mean targeted corporations and governments are off the hook, because despite there being fewer recorded cases of cyber espionage, the instances which take place are now more calculated and focused.

The figures come from cybersecurity researchers at FireEye who've been monitoring the activity of 'China-based groups' and say that since 2014 there's been a "notable decline" cyberattacks and intrusion activity against the US and other targets. FireEye's data is laid out in new report -- Red Line Drawn: China Recalculates its Use of Cyber Espionage -- and is based upon the activity of 72 groups that are suspected of operating in China or otherwise supporting Chinese state interests.

To the Brink: 2001-02 India-Pakistan Standoff

By Prakhar Gupta
22 Jun , 2016

On 13 December 2001, the world’s largest democracy came to a standstill, when five militants, armed with AK47 rifles and grenades, stormed into the Indian Parliament. In an attempt to inflict maximum damage, the militants went on a shooting spree and killed nine security personnel, but failed to penetrate the building’s security. The terrorists failed to execute their hegemonic designs, but successfully triggered a chain reaction that brought the two nuclear neighbours on the brink of an all-out war. India responded by mobilising its mighty military machine, the largest military mobilisation since World War II. Pakistan, in turn, moved its own troops in response to Indian mobilisation, thus starting a ten month long, intense military standoff between the nuclear neighbours.

Over 500000 Indian troops were mobilised in the first stage of deployment. Indian Navy and Air Force were put on high alert and the army was prepared to strike ’high value’ targets inside Pakistan.

India’s response

On 14th Dec 2001, in a speech delivered at the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Union Public Service Commission, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee labelled the attack as an act of war against the Indian State and promised to take ‘decisive’ action. “Yesterday’s terrorist attack on our Parliament was unprecedented not only in the history of India, but also in the annals of democracy in the world”, Prime minister said while inaugurating the UPSC silver jubilee celebration.

India-Myanmar-Thailand Highway: Strategic Dimensions

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
22 Jun , 2016

Inking of the trilateral pact between India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) making way for the IMT Highway provides seamless vehicular movement between SAARC and ASEAN nations, enhancing trade, business, health, education and tourism between India, Myanmar and Thailand. The previously linked Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Motor Pact had identified 14 routes for passenger services and seven routes for cargo movement. With a total length of 1,360 kms the IMT Highway will link Moreh in India to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar; along route Moreh (India)to locations of Tamu, Kalewa, Yagyi, Monywa, Mandalay, Meiktila, Nay Pyi Taw, Payagyi, Theinzayat, Thaton, Hpa’an, Kawkareik and Myawaddy in Myanmar, further linking to Mae Sot in Thailand. The road’s construction began in 2012, aimed at completing it by 2016.

The IMT Highway not only links India to Thailand in Southeast Asia but also provides for greater integration with Myanmar with whom India has had cultural, historical, ethnic and religious ties…

The 25.6 kms long Myawaddy-Thinggan Nyenaung-Kawkareik section of the IMT Highway was put into service in July 2015, reducing travel time between Thinggan Nyenaung and Kawkareik from three hours to 45 minutes. This section also forms part of the East-West economic corridor of the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The IMT Highway will be an important facilitator in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Act East Policy (ACEP). In order to catalyze investments from the Indian private sector as part of ACEP, there is a proposal for a Project Development Company through separate Special Purpose Vehicles setting up manufacturing hubs in Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam (CLMV) in order to cultivate extensive economic relations with Southeast Asia.

Torkham Clash With Afghanistan: Is It Pakistan’s Conscious Design – Analysis

By Lt Gen P. C. Katoch (Retd.)* 
JUNE 21, 2016

Torkham is in the news with Pakistan firing heavy artillery and mortars at Afghan forces across the Khyber Pass border since June 14. What the escalation will lead to is anybody’s guess. Would there be a repeat of 2011 when Afghan media had reported that Pakistan fired some 470 missiles and artillery in Kunar, Nangarhar, Khost and Paktia provinces of Afghanistan followed by Pakistani Taliban raids backed by helicopters, killing dozens of civilians in June 2011? Significantly on July 4, 2011 the Afghan Parliament had passed a resolution urging the UNSC and the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to mount diplomatic pressure on Pakistan, describing the Pakistani attacks in Kunar, Nangarhar, Khost and Paktia provinces as an “act of invasion” by the country.

Trouble began on June 12 when Pakistani authorities began constructing a new post border gate at the main crossing point in Torkham area of Khyber Pass, some 45 kms west of Peshawar. It is unclear which side initiated the fighting, but Pakistan alleges it was the Afghans. Pakistan says it is constructing the gate to stop militants from crossing the border, but then a gate may stop vehicles along the road, not cross-border movement across a porous border. More significantly, Pakistan maintains that the new gate was being constructed on the Pakistani side of the border and that construction of this gate was agreed upon by both sides during a bilateral meeting for the construction of the gate to be done during Ramazan after iftar. The exchange of fire that lasted some seven hours resulted in one Major rank officer of Pakistani army being injured (succumbing to injuries in hospital next day) and another eight Pakistani soldiers were wounded. 200 Pakistani families were forced to relocate to safer areas. On the Afghan side, one soldier was reportedly killed and six injured.

Pakistan’s NSG Application

By Dr G Balachandran
22 Jun , 2016

In a bid to support and strengthen their country’s claim for NSG membership, the Pakistani strategic community has resorted to the fabrication of false claims. At a recent Round Table on “Pakistan’s Credentials for NSG Membership,” Dr. Adil Sultan, Director Research and Analysis, Directorate of Strategic Plans Division (SPD), claimed that “Even once Pakistan was sanctioned after India’s nuclear test of 1974, Pakistan voluntarily continued its IAEA safeguards on Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) despite the termination of its bilateral agreement with the supplier.” It is extremely likely that this statement, which burnishes Pakistan’s non-proliferation credentials, would have been included in that country’s May 13, 2016 application to the NSG for membership, given the reasonable assumption that it would have been the SPD, and especially its research division, that would have drafted Pakistan’s application. The Pakistan application has stated that “Pakistan voluntarily continued its IAEA safeguards on Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) despite the termination of its bilateral agreement with the supplier.”

This assertion is, however, open to question from a reading of the three major international agreements that Pakistan had signed with respect to KANUPP. These are:
The Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Pakistan for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (Signed May 14, 1959; Entered Into Force July 18, 1960).

Combating Terrorism Center Sentinel, Volume 9, Issue 6 (June 2016), Now Posted

June 21, 2016 

Cover Story Overview

Islamic State-inspired terrorism returned to the headlines this month on both sides of the Atlantic. In Orlando the United States suffered its deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11 while in France a police couple were stabbed to death in their own home by a French extremist who threatened that France would become a “cemetery” during the Euro 2016 soccer championships. In our cover story Richard Walton argues the threat to Euro 2016, which concludes on July 10, is more acute than for any other international sporting event in history because of the unprecedented threat to France from the Islamic State and its followers. Walton was the head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counterterrorism Command during the London Olympics and looks at lessons learned for protecting Euro 2016 and the upcoming Rio Olympics. In our second cover story Pieter Van Ostaeyen outlines how the emergence of three clusters of radical extremists in Brussels and Antwerp is the key reason Belgium has contributed more foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, per capita, than any other Western nation.

Sam Mullins analyzes all 47 cases of jihadist-inspired violence between 2012 and the June 12 Orlando attack. He finds that knife attacks like the one in France this week were the most common while shootings like the one in Orlando were the deadliest. Robert Graham, a cyber security specialist, examines how terrorist groups are exploiting powerful end-to-end encryption to try to communicate securely. He explains that while “end-to-end” encryption technology cannot be put ‘back in the box,’ intelligence agencies still have several strategies available to intercept the “ends” of communications. The June issue also focuses on counterterrorism challenges facing Greece. Our interview is with Vassilios Kikilias, who served as Greece’s Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection in 2014 during which time he oversaw the country’s intelligence and police services. Ioannis Mantzikos outlines how the country has become a gateway for foreign fighters traveling back and forth from Syria creating potential terrorist threats inside Greece as well as the rest of Europe.

Sec’y Carter: U.S. to Maintain Military Superiority in Asia For ‘Decades’

By Jon Harper 

Despite China’s massive investments in military modernization, U.S. armed forces will retain superiority over potential adversaries for decades to come, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said June 20.

His remarks came at a time when defense officials and analysts are sounding the alarm that U.S. technological superiority is eroding as Beijing continues to beef up its military capabilities.

While not directly naming China as a potential challenger, the Pentagon chief made it clear that he doesn’t foresee any rising powers overtaking Uncle Sam anytime soon.

“Thanks to the investments and planning we’re undertaking as part of President Obama’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, the United States will have the people, the platforms and the posture to remain the most powerful military and main underwriter of security in the region for decades,” Carter said at a conference hosted by the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C.

The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2017 budget request calls for $72 billion in research-and-development funding. The nation’s top defense official highlighted plans to invest in a range of systems across multiple domains, including high-end ships, undersea drones, missile payloads, the B-21 long-range strike bomber, swarming microdrones, an “arsenal plane,” advanced munitions, nuclear forces, cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, and preparations for conflict in space.

China’s Cynical Realpolitik: India Needs To Review NSG Stance – Analysis

By C. Uday Bhaskar* 
JUNE 21, 2016

China has just tipped its hand in relation to India ahead of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) plenary in Seoul on June 24.

An op-ed in the Global Times (June 14) titled ‘India mustn’t let nuclear ambitions blind itself’ gravely noted: “Beijing insists that a prerequisite of New Delhi’s entry is that must be a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, (NPT) while India is not. Despite acknowledging this legal and systematic requirement, the Indian media called China’s stance obstructionist.” This brief comment is the first semi-official articulation of China on the NSG and predictably obfuscates the issue.

In making this assertion about the NPT, Beijing is being characteristically innovative and artful in how it first distorts and then presents various facts specific to the nuclear domain. Having based its objection to India’s admission to the NSG on the charge that India is a non-signatory to the NPT, the op-ed (and by extension Beijing) glosses over the fact that there is a precedent which could be cited to advance the Indian case.

The NSG was conceived in November 1975 as a response to India’s peaceful nuclear explosion of May 1974 and the original seven participating governments (not members) were Britain, Canada, France, Japan, the Soviet Union, the United States and West Germany. At the time, France was not a signatory to the NPT though it was a nuclear weapons state but was part of the NSG. And, for the record, Paris formally acceded to the NPT only in August 1992.

A worrying scenario at Ladakh border

Jun 19, 2016

The Chinese Army’s strategy seems to be to keep raising objections over trivial issues such as laying water pipes or building infrastructure on the Indian side of LAC, so that the matter of Demchok cannot be permanently settled 

Nubra constituency in Ladakh shares its borders with both China and Pakistan. The charming valley, partially opened to tourism, is one of the most strategic spots of India’s northern borders. Last fortnight, it was in the news for quite a different reason.

An English daily reported the local MLA “felt ashamed on seeing the development on the other side of the Line of Actual Control”. The MLA, Deldan Namgyal, told the newspaper the “Chinese and Pakistani villages across the LAC along Ladakh’s scenic Nubra valley are electrified and enjoy better facilities, and the Chinese Army has been taunting border villagers to move to China”. He added: “Unless there are immediate developments and the quality of life gets better on the Indian side, the borders will not be safe.”

Mr Namgyal has a point. “Infrastructure, roads, electricity and the communications network is amazing on the other side,” he says. “The irony is that the Chinese (Army) keeps suggesting to the sarpanch in Demchok to join China rather than sitting with India. What could be more humiliating than this?” Whether it is true is difficult to say, but it certainly points to something which could become a serious problem if not tackled wisely and quickly.

Xi Struggles to Reform China's Politics—and Its Economy, Too

June 19, 2016

Since the 2008 financial bust, all of the nations of Asia have been adjusting to a sharp drop in trade and economic activity with the Western market economies. The subsequent drop in demand and prices for oil, gas and other commodities was also a reaction to the global economic slowdown, a troubling trend that has caused central banks around to world to embrace negative interest rates with all of the attendant risks and costs. The slowdown in economic activity around the world may also be behind the rise of populism in many nations.

Now, eight years since the 2008 financial crisis, many developed nations have continued to accumulate piles of new public and private debt. Among them, China is arguably one of the most vulnerable to the accumulation of debt, albeit in the context of a command economy, where funds flows represent political priorities rather than commercial factors. Bank lending in China, for example, doubled in May to almost $150 billion, but these “loans” ought really be seen as allocations of cash rather than true extensions of credit. The Chinese government has traditionally bailed out indebted state companies and the “banks” that allocate liquidity based on direction from Beijing.

Overall, China’s total debt was 168.48 trillion yuan ($25.6 trillion) at the end of last year, equivalent to 249 percent of GDP, according to Li Yang, a senior researcher with the China Academy of Social Sciences, according to theGuardian. Borrowers ranging from local governments to private enterprises could ultimately default, says Li, creating the possibility for a systemic problem for China’s state-controlled banks.

3 Reasons China Fears Brexit

June 19, 2016

No doubt, the United States stands to lose a great deal from a Brexit. In recent months, countless commentators, as well as the Obama administration, haveemphatically made this point. But few analysts have noted that the same holds true for China. Britain’s departure from the EU would be a costly economic and political blow to China, which worries Beijing. Thus, China has quietly but firmly opposed a Brexit, a message which President Xi Jinping personally delivered during his October 2015 visit to the UK. During the visit, in an unprecedented break with its official policy of noninterference in other countries’ domestic affairs, Beijing also issued a statement declaring that “China hopes to see a prosperous Europe and a united EU.” The message is clear.

But why is China so deeply concerned by the prospect of Brexit? To answer this question, it is crucial to understand why China puts such great importance on its relations with the UK. There are three reasons.

China: Confusion Over Currency Policy – Analysis

By Michael Lelyveld
JUNE 19, 2016

China’s conflicts with foreign news reporting have added to doubts about its currency policies as it tries to maintain confidence in the economy and control over capital flows.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) had effectively abandoned a reform of exchange rate policy announced last August to make the value of the yuan more market oriented, putting daily rate setting decisions “back under tight government control.”

Under the announced policy, the PBOC says that it sets a central parity rate, or “fixing,” based on a weighted average of market prices on the interbank market, allowing the value to rise or fall by 2 percent against the U.S. dollar in domestic trading each day.

The rate setting system is one of a series of compromises that China has made since 2005 under pressure from international demands for free trade in its currency.

Although the yuan’s value is influenced by the daily fixings, it fluctuates freely on markets abroad.

Last December, the PBOC added a further wrinkle following criticism of unexplained devaluations, arguing that the yuan fixings should be measured against a basket of 13 foreign currencies instead of the dollar alone.

ISIS: State or Terror Group?

June 21, 2016 

Considering the significant number of recent fatal attacks in countries throughout the world either orchestrated or inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), it is evident that the group poses a significant threat to Western nations, including the United States (U.S.). ISIS has been responsible for more than one hundred major attacks throughout the world since September 2014.1 These attacks, combined with the multitude of threats to the U.S. from ISIS, warrant serious consideration of America’s involvement in counter-terrorist efforts against ISIS. Such efforts have included continuous drone strikes on ISIS leaders and targets in Iraq and Syria; however, the number of drone strikes is miniscule in comparison to the rapid advancement of ISIS in conquering Iraq and Syrian territories.2 In response, the U.S. needs to decide how, when, and at what rate it will continue its efforts against ISIS. Although the extremely violent and gruesome nature of the attacks carried out by ISIS seem to define the group as a terrorist organization, this issue is confounded when considering the group’s recent declaration that it is an Islamic State, contrary to its terrorist characteristics. Further, the complexities involved in defining both terrorism and statehood make this a complicated issue that warrants consideration of a multitude of perspectives, definitions, and theories. Should ISIS be categorized as a terrorist organization and not a state? What should be the U.S. respond be to the continuous threats ISIS poses.

Categorizing ISIS: ISIS as a Terrorist Organization

In order to examine whether ISIS exists as a state or a terrorist organization, it is essential to first define terrorism and its development throughout history. Author Jonathan R. White, an expert in the study of terrorism, acknowledges the difficulty in defining terrorism but seeks to explain terrorism as it is defined in a social and historical context.3 Throughout Western history, the term terrorism has been modified according to the social, political, and historical context surrounding the emergence and formation of terrorist groups and events. The term first appeared during the French Revolution of 1789-1799, when Edmund Burke used the term “Reign of Terror” to describe the violence taking place during the revolution. While the violent terrorism in the French Revolution was carried out by the government against the people, Napoleon’s invasion of Spain in 1807 introduced a form of terrorism carried out by small groups of Spanish partisans resisting the French government employing asymmetrical tactics in what is now known as guerilla warfare.4 In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation defines international terrorism in terms of three characteristics, including the following:

CNAS Releases ISIS Study Group Final Report

June 20, 2016

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Thursday released the final report of its ISIS Study Group, “Defeating the Islamic State: A Bottom-Up Approach.” The report proposes a strategy based on four key interlocking efforts and then describes how these efforts can be applied region by region in western Iraq, eastern Syria, southwest Syria, and northwest Syria. The report’s authors are:

While the views expressed in the report are solely those of the authors, the report is informed by deliberations of CNAS’ ISIS Study Group, chaired by CNAS CEO Michèle Flournoy and CNAS President Richard Fontaine. The ISIS Study Group held a series of workshops over a six-month period with more than 35 former and current military and government officials and counterterrorism and Middle East experts.

The full report can be found here.

The report’s four key interlocking efforts recommend that the United States:
Build coherent regional armed opposition groups from the bottom up that can hold territory, provide security, and marginalize extremists.
Increase direct U.S. military support to opposition groups and U.S. direct action counter-network operations against ISIS.
Leverage increased U.S. investment on the ground into diplomatic influence with key external actors.
Reestablish legitimate and acceptable governance and negotiate a political end-state for the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

Please find the report’s Executive Summary below:

Arab regimes’ sympathy over the Orlando massacre may seem hypocritical. But it’s a start.

By Samar Habib 
June 17

Law enforcement officers converge on the scene of the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. (Melissa Lyttle for The Washington Post) 

Shortly after Sunday’s Orlando nightclub massacre, which left 49 people dead and many injured, the secretary general of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, issued a statement condemning the attack. Al-Azhar, the world’s leading Sunni institution of Islamic scholarship, also issued a statement to this effect, and emphasized that the unlawful killing of any human being is strictly forbidden in Islamic scripture. Both called for international cooperation to fight terrorism, and Al-Azhar expressed concerns for the incendiary use of the massacre to further malign Muslims living in the West. The Arab League and Al-Azhar were joined, with similar reprisals, by Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Turkey, among others. 

The tragic event has produced a unique response from states where homosexuality is potentially (with the exception of Turkey) prosecutable and gays sometimes are actively persecuted. Some critics have condemned the statements as hypocritical, especially in light of Turkey’s brutalization of pride parade marchers last year, Egypt’s ongoing entrapment of men who have sex with men, and Kuwait’s sudden institution of Penal Code Article 198 in 2007, which resulted in widespread persecution of individuals labeled as “imitating the opposite sex.”

Sectarianism and the Campaign to Retake Fallujah

JUNE 17, 2016

Eighty-seven percent of respondents to Al-Jazeera presenter Faisal al-Kasim’s late May Twitter poll agreed that “the battle of Fallujah is an Iranian battle against the Sunnis of Iraq.” Such a sectarian perspective on the Iraqi military’s ongoing campaign to wrest the strategic city in Anbar province from the self-proclaimed Islamic State is but one salvo in a barrage of sectarian responses from Arab media across the region. Even as the Iraqi military moves into the heart of Fallujah, this rampant sectarianism threatens to derail the political challenge to the Islamic State. .

A narrative of Sunni victimization at the hands of Shias and Iran has dominated much of the Arab media and social media. Al-Jazeera has taken the lead in crafting this highly sectarian narrative about the Fallujah operation as an Iranian and Shia-militia campaign to exterminate Sunnis. Kasim has inflamed his significant public with a barrage of these incendiary Twitter polls. Those polls, for all their lack of scientific validity, tell a frightening story: 72 percent of respondents said they supported the Islamic State over the Shia militias in the battle of Fallujah; 84 percent said that the Iranian occupation posed a greater threat than the Islamic State; and 86 percent said the goal of the Fallujah campaign was to consolidate Iranian occupation of Iraq rather than to fight terrorism.

While Al-Jazeera’s coverage has been notably inflammatory, it is not alone. This highly sectarian coverage appears to resonate with widely spread attitudes across Sunni populations in the Gulf. Indeed, other Arab media outlets which have taken a less inflammatory line have been subjected to withering critique by prominent public figures demanding ever hotter sectarianism. Their outrage has even turned against the official Saudi media when the coverage seems insufficiently sectarian. For instance, when the Saudi daily al-Sharq al-Awsat led with the headline “International Coalition Cuts the Path Before the Hashd to Fallujah,” the Saudi academic Ahmed bin Rashed bin Sa’id, denounced it to his large Twitter following as “propaganda designed to conceal the sectarian massacre in Fallujah.”


JUNE 20, 2016

ISIS has a weapon more powerful than guns or bombs: the Internet. 

War is nothing new for Americans. It is estimated, in fact, that the United States has been embroiled in a conflict for some 222 of the past 240 years, or more than 90 percent of its very life as a nation. But the war that America finds itself currently enmeshed in with ISIS is unlike any other in the country’s history. During the Vietnam War, we knew who we were fighting, and where we were fighting—just as we had during the Great Sioux War, World War I, World War II, the Gulf War, the Iraq war, and even the war in Afghanistan. But with ISIS—an inchoate confederacy of like-minded thugs spread across a region, and increasingly, across the globe—we know none of these things. And a lot of this has to do with technology. 

ISIS uses technology better than most tech start-ups. Ghost Security Group, a counterterrorism organization, has noted in the past that ISIS utilizes almost every social app imaginable to communicate and share its propaganda, including mainstays like Twitter and Facebook; encrypted chat apps such as Telegram, Surespot, and Threema; and messaging platforms including Kik and WhatsApp. The terror group shares videos of beheadings on YouTube and even more gruesome clips on LiveLeak. They use the remarkably secure Apple iMessage to communicate. They preach to their disciples across the world using Internet radio stations. When a terror attack takes place, they use Twitter to claim responsibility and their followers subsequently cheer with favorites and retweets. Perhaps most frighteningly, the group’s dominance as a modern-day terror network is visible through how quickly their social-media dominance is accelerating. 

ISIS's Next Big Terror Target Might Be Tunisia

June 19, 2016

It became almost a habit now for Tunisia to make global headlines following a major attack in the country and then fade into the darks for the few, falsely quiet months in between attacks, only to surprise everyone again when yet another attack occurs. Such has been the case following the March 2015 Bardo Museum attack in Tunis, the June 2015 Sousse attack and the November 2015suicide bombing in Tunis. Thus, the roaring silence emanating from Tunisia since the most recent attacks in Ben Guerdane in March is ominous, not a sign of reassurance.

The Islamic State group (ISIS), which had thus far conducted all of the aforementioned major attacks in Tunisia and is therefore the main threat to the country at this point, has a very clear grand strategy in respect to it. This strategy is derived from the group’s ultimate objective of taking over Tunisia as part of its quest for establishing a “global caliphate,” but also from the realization that the time isn’t ripe for it yet, as Tunisia is still a relatively stable country with a security apparatus that will repulse any such attempt. Therefore, ISIS is now setting the stage for this future endeavor by making Tunisia appear unsafe for foreigners, since they make up a significant part of the Tunisian economy via tourism, foreign companies, foreign direct investment, etc. By scaring off foreigners, ISIS hopes to disrupt Tunisia’s revenue, damage its economy and ultimately destabilize it. This has actually been partially successful, as inbound tourism rates to Tunisia dropped by at least 20 percent in the recent year, leaving previously bustling beachside resorts desolate and dealing a major blow to one of the country’s main industries.

Eight Questions To Ask After Orlando Attack Before Demanding New Policies – OpEd

By Mitchell Blatt*
JUNE 19, 2016

There’s a temptation in American politics to jump to conclusions before all the facts are in and for activists and politicians use tragedies to push for policies that they already support. Even—or perhaps especially—in the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history and the worst terrorist attack since 9/11, the politicization of cold-blooded murder started just about as soon as the initial news reports came in.

This counterproductive reaction is born out of an understandable desire to solve problems but also—less helpfully—by a human tendency to classify things and be blinded by our biases. When a person with a particular political bias hears about an attack, their first response is to think, “Who was the perpetrator? Was he a Christian? Was he a Muslim? He must have been a member of the group that I oppose!”

Even after the perpetrator in this case was found to be a Muslim who had been investigated by the FBI before on suspicions of harboring pro-terrorism sympathies, an ACLU attorney still tried to link it to Christian conservatives simply by virtue of the fact that Christian conservatives oppose gay rights.

“The Christian Right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months and people blaming Islam for this. No,” Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with ACLU’s LGBT and AIDS Project, tweeted.

Here's How Your Smartphone Can Be Hacked Without You Knowing

JUN 18 2016

Not only can your smartphone be hacked, it can be done very easily without your knowledge.
"At the end of the day, everything is hackable. What I am surprised about is that people sometimes forget that it's so easy to hack into these devices," said Adi Sharabani, the co-founder of mobile security company Skycure, who used to work for Israeli Intelligence.

Even if a malicious attacker cannot get into your phone, they can try to get the sensitive data stored inside, including contacts, places visited and e-mails.

"It's important to realize that the services your smartphone relies on are much more attractive target to attackers. So for example, the photo leak that happened from iCloud where a bunch of celebrities had their photos posted all over the Internet is the perfect example," said Alex McGeorge, the head of threat intelligence at cybersecurity company Immunity, Inc.

Often, the hack or data breach occurs without the consumer's knowledge, according to Sharabani.

Believe It or Not, the Pentagon’s Cybersecurity Priorities Haven’t Changed in a Decade That’s good — and bad


Believe It or Not, the Pentagon’s Cybersecurity Priorities Haven’t Changed in a Decade
That’s good — and bad

A recently-released document highlights how little the Pentagon’s concerns and responses to threats in cyberspace have changed in the past decade. As American legislators debate the future of the military’s top cybersecurity headquarters, experts say that’s both good and bad.
In 2006, the Pentagon organized a first-of-its-kind exercise involving a “directed professional attack” across military computer networks. The “Bulwark Defender” cyber war game was supposed to help military planners determine how well troops from different units communicated with each other while enemy agents hacked their computers.

The exercise would “confirm [the] importance of defending networks,” according to an official review. War Is Boring obtained the report — previously labeled “for official use only” — via the Freedom of Information Act.

Given the content of the briefing, the Pentagon comes across as “pretty forward-looking,” Samuel Visner, a cybersecurity expert and senior vice president at ICF International, told War Is Boring via email. They “did a pretty fair job of characterizing threats to their networks.”

Cyber warriors: South Korea trains new frontline in army's cyber warfare unit for decades-old war with North Korea

20 Jun 2016

South Korea says the North has a strong cyber army which it has blamed for a series of attacks in the past three years.

In one college major at Seoul's elite Korea University, the courses are known only by number, and students keep their identities a secret from outsiders.

The Cyber Defense curriculum, funded by the defence ministry, trains young keyboard warriors who get a free education in exchange for a seven-year commitment as officers in the army's cyber warfare unit - and its ongoing conflict with North Korea. North and South Korea remain in a technical state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armed truce. Besides Pyongyang's nuclear and rocket programmes, South Korea says the North has a strong cyber army which it has blamed for a series of attacks in the past three years.

The cyber defence programme at the university in Seoul was founded in 2011, with the first students enrolled the following year. One 21-year-old student, who allowed himself to be identified only by his surname Noh, said he had long been interested in computing and cyber security and was urged by his father to join the programme. All South Korean males are required to serve in the military, usually for up to two years. "It's not a time burden but part of a process to build my career," Noh said. "Becoming a cyber warrior means devoting myself to serve my country," he said in a war room packed with computers and wall-mounted flat screens at the school's science library.

Space Command Readies For War With ‘Space Enterprise Vision’

June 20, 2016

The existence of the plan is not classified but many of its working elements are.

The SEV is “an all-encompassing look at all the things we need to do to create more resilience in our space forces, enhance them, and respond to threats,” Air Force Space Command spokesman Col. John Dorrian says.

It includes current weapon systems and those planned for the near future, as well as changes to training and organization. It isn’t a direct result of the government-wide Space Portfolio Review, according to Dorrian, but it is “related.” A large part of the reason for that distinction, I think, is because the SPR dealt in great detail with US spy satellites, which Space Command does not control.

The general thrust of the vision earned positive reviews from a top space expert. “It is good that the US government is finally getting serious about national security space. For a long time, there has been a lot of talk and not a lot of walk,” says Theresa Hitchens, a senior research scholar at the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies.

But it is long overdue. “Space assets have for too long been allowed to be near ‘single point failures,’” she said, where a single accident — or attack — could cripple a key capability. “This is not good, neither for the United States nor for international security, because it creates incentives for others to target those assets.”

A way forward for Microsoft and Friends

June 17, 2016

You can watch Jan Neutze from Microsoft talk to NATO at CyCon 2016 and see him repeat the talking points we have heard over and over from Microsoft. They are, in bullet point form as follows:
Please don't trojan our software, because it hurts the trust relationship we have between ourselves and our customers. "Loss of trust is the single biggest concern we all have." 
We deserve a voice (and a veto) on your offensive operations (and the norms around them) 
We don't want to bear the cost of all the cyberwar every government wants to do, or all the regulatory regimes they can think up. 
"States should be discriminant in their actions and not create a mass event" (including loss of trust) 

He goes on to say that of course he really likes the Vulnerability Equities Process - lots of people think this is the answer towards limiting our offensive capabilities. But the Vulnerability Equities Process is not cost free. In some cases, the resources people assume we have for developing additional capability in this space just don't exist at all. What they're really arguing for is an unrealistic unilateral curtailing of our offensive capability. But some of his requests are reasonable when you consider what we expect from other countries as well - in particular, how do you limit the events such that they are "Discriminant" and not "Mass events". 

Cyber Pros Log into Desktop Cyber Training – For Free

Jun 2, 2016

The classroom is a computer screen. Participants are just names in a box and the instructor is a disembodied voice. But ask a regular, and they’ll tell you: They almost never miss a class.

Most Thursdays at 8 a.m. Eastern, they log in to learn something new, refresh their knowledge and get smarter. They’re all professional systems administrators and information security officers employed by government agencies and trying to stay up to speed so they can keep ahead of the bad guys. They are in the United States, Europe, Asia, watching on a laptop at home or in their offices and cubicles.

Wherever they are and whatever their job, what brings them together is the State Department’s Cybersecurity Online Learning (COL) program, an ongoing series of classes and workshops open to anyone with a .gov or .mil email address. Those who can’t make it live, can log in later and watch the recorded version of the session.

Recent sessions covered incident management and two-factor authentication, securing unstructured data at rest and even holiday cyber scams. On this day in May, the topic is the annual Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, a nationwide cyber security threat assessment. Kevin McPeak, security architect for public sector strategic programs at Symantec, leads the class and at class time, 38 students have logged in. Nearly 20 more will log in over the next 20 minutes.