Category Archives: Cyber Warfare

Dr Mohammad Moini: Iran-US tension has reached a turning point

If there is an attack on Iran, it won’t be an attack on just Iran but the entire region will be destroyed as a result. Thankfully, Iran has a good defence strategy.

This is the report, by Shazia Hasan, in Dawn on our recent event. Power politics in the Middle East with a focus on Iran, Saudi Arabia and the superpowers was the main cause for concern among the participants in a round-table discussion held in the library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Saturday. Dr Mohammad Moini, an academic from Iran, said that there have been tensions between Iran and the United States for many years but it has reached a turning point now. But he also said that the US no longer had it in them to go to war against any country. “The US economy has become addicted to war, fighter crafts, drones and other weapons created by them for killing but raging war is not so easy for them anymore. When the US used to spend money on their military and development of weapons, their economy moved but another war means recession for them. Their economy would simply burst,” he said.

Speaking about the other side — his side — Dr Moini said that Iran, meanwhile, did not underestimate the firepower of the US. Former ambassador Syed Hasan Habib said that the region can become very hot. “One wrong move by anyone can become fatal. But it is a complex situation. It remains to be seen if the US and Russia will commit all their resources in the conflict. I believe they are looking for some kind of symbolic but substantial action,” he said. “But there is Iran, which is not making errors while Saudi Arabia is gung ho and ready for action. It has already punished Qatar. The underlying reason for it is also that Qatar has fossil fuels and gas and Saudi Arabia has oil, a resource that will decrease gradually. So there is also an inter-country rivalry in the region,” he pointed out. Continue reading

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Filed under Cyber Warfare, Disarmament, Discussion, Iran, Pakistan Horizon, United States

Analysis: Iran and the Drone Standoff

If Iran plays its cards wisely, it may gain more prestige than the US out of this incident … Iran, the scapegoat for Trump’s goals, has admirably held its ground in the face of a greater power.

The world breathed a sigh of relief when President Trump called off US airstrikes on three Iranian targets this Friday in response to the shooting down of the US Global Hawk surveillance drone. “I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” he said, adding that he was “in no hurry” to confront Iran. It is rather ironic that the US should present the sparing of human lives as its key point in calling off the attack when it has profited by selling millions of dollars’ worth of arms to different states involved in regional conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. When trying to understand US behavior it is worth considering two factors: Trump’s short-sighted focus on re-election coupled with the fact he’s a businessman in the guise of a politician.

Trump is trying to strike what he believes is a “better deal” while also benefitting powerful American military interests. But the ongoing standoff is increasing global volatility, making war almost inevitable. It is also no secret that the US accounts for 34% of all global arms sales selling more than double the amount of weapons than Russia (the second largest exporter of arms). With such a lucrative industry in place and Trump’s business acumen, it stands to reason he would highly benefit by creating a situation that would escalate conflict till just below the threshold of war inspiring enough fear and tension for states to buy arms from the US. On the surface Trump appears to be making good on his promises: a tougher stance on Iran while also not committing any ground troops in foreign lands. He is well aware that the age of conventional warfare is over: the US has been striking back by employing sanctions, engaging in surveillance via drones and launching cyber-attacks. Continue reading

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Filed under Cyber Warfare, Discussion, Drones, Iran, Nuclear Energy, Politics, The Middle East, Trump, United States

The Futuristic Arms Race

In order to understand the apprehension of the West, one has to understand who Huawei’s leadership is and its relationship with the Chinese state. 

“Whua eiy”? “Huwai”? As it rolls off our tongue the Chinese tech giant Huawei – actually pronounced “wah-way” – is at the forefront of the ongoing battle between the United States and China in their race to control 5G – the fifth generation of mobile broadband. With the advent of Technological Revolution actors, international organizations and Multinational Corporates (MNCs) are able to operate globally without the limitation of borders, distance or location. Consequently, it is easier for governments to gather information, organize it and store it which is empowering them more than ever. In the past, a wanted criminal, drug lord or terrorist could easily cross borders and take refuge in a foreign country as seen in the instance of 9/11 attacks. The systems then became sophisticated enough to trigger a breach in fact powerful states have increased their power through the information technology by keeping tabs on mobile phones, electronic mails, data and radio transmissions in foreign countries. And now it has now gone a step further.

On January 11, Polish authorities detained Stanislaw Wang, Huawei’s sales director in Poland and Piotr D., a former Polish security official, on suspicion of spying for the Chinese government. The arrest took place a month after Meng Wanzhou’s, Huwaei Chief Financial Officer, detention during a layover at Vancouver airport by the Canadian authorities. The request to arrest Meng came from the United States charging her of violating sanctions on Iran. Prima facie the events may appear as arrests of Huawei officials in different countries for different reasons however, for analysts watching closely it’s more than just that: These are aggressive measure taken by the United States in the larger political campaign to prevent China from dominating the 5G space. In effect, this is the new face of an arms race in the global arena whereby the Trump’s administration view of Huawei’s expansion in western countries can be understood via zero-sum game theory. Continue reading

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Filed under Accountability, China, Cyber Warfare, Politics, United States

Reportage on PIIA’s Peace in South Asia Conference 2017

“The current policies of the United States of America for South Asia can disrupt peace in the region” – President Mamnoon Hussain at the 70th Anniversary Conference of the PIIA.

Donald J Trump’s election to the White House demonstrates the extremely vulgar nature of American society. And it is difficult to disagree with the assessment that the American president really is a “deranged dotard”. Heaven knows, despite the tyrannical nature of his own country, North Korea’s insane “little rocket man” might even be making a valid point when he calls Trump’s sanity into question. Trump’s totally crazy brinkmanship with Pyongyang shows that he is willing to put the safety of billions of people at risk by his recklessness. But perhaps it is all just a charade to deliberately divert attention far away from emerging domestic problems connected to Robert Mueller’s investigation, the Sword of Damocles hanging over Trump and his cronies’ heads, about the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Kremlin to rig the election. Overall Trump is a sexist and a racist. He never tells the truth and serially dismisses all accusations of sexual misconduct/offending against him. Against American and British interests, he retweets from Britain First – a racist and neo-Nazi organisation.

His hatred of Muslims is so severe that he has even declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. Clearly, he is deliberately destabilising the Middle East. Trump is a danger to the world and it is hard to disagree with the soft speaking figure of president Mamnoon Hussain that the present American administration is a threat to peace in South Asia (and indeed the rest of the world). The reckless and inflammatory rhetoric manifested by Trump can only bolster Hindus’ hatred for Muslims in India where killing Muslims for “love jihad” (or having a Hindu girlfriend or boyfriend) is seen as a force for good. In such testing times, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) organised a regional conference which was held last month in Karachi. Esteemed speakers from all walks of life addressed the lively audience. Continue reading

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Filed under Accountability, Climate Change, Cyber Warfare, Disarmament, Discussion, Human Rights, India, Islamophobia, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Palestine, PIIA, Politics, Racism, UK, United States, Women

Future Trends in Syria’s War

Reaper drone

Despite the Democratic filibuster in the US Senate of the Republican resolution of disapproval in relation to the Iran deal, difficult questions loom over Tehran’s nexus with Damascus and the appalling state of affairs in Syria. Large swathes of Syrian territory – historically allocated to France through the arbitrary Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916, dismembering the Ottoman Empire, between Britain and France – have been lost to the so-called “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (ISIS/ISIL). After four years of carnage, war and the displacement of millions, Syria’s borders have been completely redrawn with the result that the government retains control of a mere 30-40 percent of the country’s original de jure territory. Constantly changing battle lines and tactics make it impossible to predict what the future holds. This round up looks at future trends and directions in Syria’s brutal war and the gamut of issues shrouding peacemaking in that country.

The media reports that in 2015 the Royal Air Force carried out more than 100 drone strikes against ISIS/ISIL jihadis – with 29 strikes in August, the surge continued in the first week of September and 14 strikes were conducted. This is so irrespective of the fact that in August 2013 David Cameron’s government lost its bid to join US-led strikes in military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; the motion in support of military intervention was defeated in Parliament by 285-272 votes. The fact that British citizens are being killed in drone strikes under an official “kill list” is all the more alarming for human rights lobbyists in the UK (where, of course, there is no death penalty). Unsurprisingly, Mohammed Emwazi – the balaclava clad knife wielding ISIS executioner initially known only as “Jihadi John” – is said to be number one on the list. Continue reading

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Filed under Al Qaeda, Criminal law, Cyber Warfare, Discussion, Europe, ISIS, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Syria, The Middle East

Bilal Akhter Lashari: Cyber Deterrence

The internet has transformed our lives. We rely more on the internet than any other invention. It has transformed the whole world with a network of three Ws (World Wide Web). Any modern society has computer systems linked to the internet, which controls and regulates transportation, communication, banking, power stations, air-traffic control systems, military systems and economic systems. There is no doubt that vast benefits have been reaped from the development of the internet. But the downside is quite apparent. Consequently, the spread of internet technology has exposed the user to digital or cyber attacks.

Cyber attacks are not only carried out by individuals or group of hackers independently, but reportedly many states have cyber armies or groups of cyber security experts to counter or perform cyber attacks on another state. Such an action by any state falls into the category of cyber warfare. In his book Cyber War U.S government security expert Richard A. Clarke defined “cyber warfare” as “actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption.”  Also, it can be regarded as an umbrella term which includes cyber attacks, cyber espionage and sabotage. Continue reading

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Filed under Cyber Warfare, Discussion, Internet