Connect with us

Intelligence

International Cyber Security Cooperation

Published

on

[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he rapid development of digital technologies and wide range of services provided for activities in cyberspace raises the issue of cyber security as a serious concern for governments around the world. Cybercrimes pose a direct threat to the security of critical infrastructures and Information Technologies (IT) as a low-cost asymmetric warfare element.

Most countries are aware of the vulnerability of information technologies, abuse of public data provided on the internet and the great importance of shielding critical infrastructures. Nations adapt their own national strategies and policies to cope with the threat of potentially devastating cyberattacks. Policy makers in different countries are increasingly considering the use deterrence strategies to supplement national cyber defense. But it is rather hard to counteract the threat by means of merely ‘national’ cyber defense strategies and policies, given that cyberspace spans worldwide and attacks can be carried out from anywhere of the world.

The internet has changed the political landscape of the planet in an extremely profound way. If the whole world is connected via the internet, cyber attacks are never just a national threat. With the advent of advanced information and communication technologies, crime now knows no jurisdictional or national boundaries. The very nature of the internet allows for unprecedented collaboration and interaction among particular communities of criminals. In February 2016, a spectacular bank hack occurred that stole $81 million from accounts at the Bangladesh Bank via the SWIFT system. SWIFT credentials of Bangladesh Bank employees were used by unknown hackers to send fraudulent money transfer requests to the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York asking to transfer nearly $1 billion from Bangladesh Bank’s funds held there to bank accounts in the Philippines, Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia. Despite separate investigations carried out by Bangladesh, Philippines and US authorities, the true identity and origin of those attacks are still undetected. Reportedly, almost eleven different cyber criminal groups including the Sony hack, which the US government attributed to North Korea, have been suspected to have connections with this central bank cyber heist. Following the Bangladesh Bank cyber heist, SWIFT sent out an alert to its members indicating that a second bank in Asia had been targeted in a similar attack.

Though, in the past, cybercriminals were mainly individuals or small groups, today, heavily funded and highly organized cyber criminal groups are bringing together individuals from across the globe. As cybercrimes can be committed in real time from anyplace in the world in an unprecedented way, and they are hard to track, prosecute, and enforce penalties, therefore, criminals are increasingly turning to the internet to facilitate their activities and maximize their profit. Crimes committed in cyberspace are not necessarily new, such as theft, fraud etc. but they are rising in line with the opportunities presented by digital technologies. Consequently, cyber criminals are frequently holding the world to ransom. The Daily Mail (UK) reports (10 June 2014) that cyber attacks damage the global economy to the amount of more than £238 billion a year – almost equal to 0.5 per cent of the world’s total GDP. On the other hand, Juniper research (UK) predicts that cybercrime will cost businesses over $2 Trillion by 2019. Cyber attacks, by analogy, represent a threat to global peace and security as frightening and horrific as nuclear war. So every government, business entity, organizations and individuals who are using electronic data processing have no way to escape the threat of cyber attacks.

While cybercrime is generally understood to mean unlawful access and attempts to unlawful access to computers, networks, and the information stored therein – all illegal, harmful and hostile activity on the internet – cyberterrorism, meanwhile, adds a new dimension of threat in cyberspace. Though cyberterrorism does not necessarily imply something different from cybercrime, it has a stronger meaning. Cyberterrorism usually describes acts done online that have similar characteristics to real-world terrorism attacks. As the statutory definition suggests, terrorism is usually intended to demoralize either a society or a civilian population in furtherance of some political or social objectives. To understand what cyberterrorism can – and will – be, we must examine how terrorists can use information and communication technology to gain those objectives.

Using cyber attacks, terrorists can cause much wider damage to a country or region than they could by resorting to conventional physical violence. As a hypothetical example of cyberterrorism, a critical infrastructure such as a nuclear plant may be taken over by terrorists for destructive purposes. The Lipman Report (2010) states that “During 2009, a series of cyber attacks were launched against popular government Web sites in the United States and other countries, effectively shutting them down for several hours” and claims that “most disturbing is the possibility that this limited success may embolden future hackers to attack critical infrastructure, such as power generators or air-traffic control systems — with devastating consequences for the economy and security“. More recently, Bangladesh based the Daily Star (August 28, 2013) reports that in August 2013 media companies including the New York Times, Twitter and the Huffington Post lost control of some of their websites after a hacker group named Syrian Electronic Army supporting the Syrian government breached the Australian Internet company that manages many major site addresses.

Cyberwarfare – as distinguished from cybercrime and cyberterrorism – can be defined as actions by a nation-state to break into another nation’s computers, networks and the information stored therein for the purposes of gaining some military objectives i.e., achieving certain advantages over a competing nation-state or preventing a competing nation-state from achieving advantages over them. Cyberwarfare generally constitutes the use of cyberspace by nation states to achieve the same general goals they pursue through the use of conventional military force. Some governments are increasingly making it an integral part of their overall military strategy, having invested heavily in cyber warfare capability. The Chinese Defense Ministry has confirmed the existence of a cyberwarfare unit officially claimed to be engaged in cyber-defense operations. There are reports published in Washington Times that the People’s Republic of China is frequently launching cyberattacks that are intended to disable Taiwan’s infrastructure and defeat the capacity of that island’s government and economy. In May 2007, Estonia faced mass cyberattack soon after removal of a Soviet World War II war memorial from downtown Tallinn. In August 2008, during the Russia-Georgia War cyberattacks caused the Parliament of Georgia and Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs websites to be replaced by images comparing Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili to Adolf Hitler. Several other incidents of cyberwarfare are increasingly being reported between different state sponsored cyber defense groups and military cyber units, most commonly, US-China, US-Russia, Israel-Iran, North Korea-South Korea, India-Pakistan etc.

Since crimes in the cyberspace often transcend a nation’s boundaries in being committed, actions to cope with them must also be of an international nature. While threats arising out of cybercrime, cyberterrorism or cyberwarfareare increasing rapidly with the advent of information and communication technology, international law to deal with cybercrime has been slow to adapt. The International Cybercrime Treaty (ICT) is the first and only international treaty to date seeking to address internet and computer crime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, focusing on regulatory initiatives and increasing cooperation among nations. Due to the heterogeneity of law enforcement and technical countermeasures of different countries, the Treaty is far ranging in the areas it attempts to address and touch upon. Given the myriad of issues arising from the Treaty, much controversy has sprung up over various points. It is silent about the most crucial issues rapidly evolving in cyberspace such as cyberterrorism or cyberwarfare. The main failings of existing international Treaty systems that touch on cyber law are that most do not carry enforcement provisions. Treatments of cybercrime or cyberwarfare outside the orthodox international human rights law (IHRL) or international humanitarian law (IHL) framework are almost absent. On the other hand, issues relating to cyberspace are multidimensional and too complex to fit easily under the mainstream IHRL and IHL framework. This renders the tension between classifying cyber attacks as merely criminal, or as matters of state survival resorting to the same rationales as conventional threats to national security and which then creates a vacuum for cybercrime to grow bigger.

As cyberspace is not a customary arena over which a Sate may exercise its national jurisdiction or State sovereignty and, thus, challenges arising out of it are unique, the situation therefore requires exceptional regulatory solutions. Some have argued that cyberspace is international commons – resource domains or areas that lie outside of the political reach of any one nation. To the extent cyberspace is international commons, it requires the common vision of the international community to deal with the issue. By fostering international cooperation, nations can tackle the problem of the borderless nature of cybercrime by enabling actions beyond the borders of a single nation. This will be a win-win situation for all countries coming forward to cooperate. It is important for the international community to establish a comprehensive regime for various types of cyber threats through a new international accord dealing exclusively with cyber security and its status in international law. Until such an accord becomes politically viable, it is important to examine how existing treaty systems may extend to handle the challenges presented by cyber threats. In addition to each country taking individual measures and actions for their own cyber security, all stakeholders in the global cyberspace need to cooperate and assist each other

One of the most urgent needs for the international community is to establish an inclusive mechanism to regulate cyberspace. The best way to ensure international cyber security is to form an appropriate legal regime for the various types of cyber threats e.g. cybercrime, cyberterrorism or cyberwarfare – whether it is humanitarian law (laws of war), human rights law or some novel combination of treaty systems. Before thinking about cyber security, an institution has to define what is worthy to protect. The institution will also be in charge of building fundamentals for dynamic cyber defense, implementing relevant international cyber security treaties and laws, functioning as catalyst for discussion among different disputant States and other entities, and harmonizing with other treaty systems. The institution will have a comprehensive jurisdiction to appropriately address the risks associated with the revolution in information and communication technology. There should be also a mechanism based on enhanced international cooperation to implement a risk-based approach, whereby risks are quickly and appropriately identified as they evolve and responded to dynamically in accordance with their characteristics. A major effort should be undertaken to increase the monitoring of critical networks, and to assess and furnish remedies for any vulnerabilities that are identified. Measures should be taken to help developing countries improve their cyber defense programs through training and other necessary logistic support. Mechanisms should be developed for comprehensive military cooperation including cyber security deterrence strategies.

As the United Nations (UN) has a significant and unique role in the international community, the organization can take action on a wide range of issues. An inclusive legal regime, institutional mechanisms, multilateral agreements and international military deterrence can be considered and discussed under the auspices of UN. Other international organizations, in particular, NATO, European Union, Council of Europe, G-8, OECD etc. can play a lead role in furtherance of international cyber security cooperation.

Mahmudul Hasan is a recent LL.M. graduate of energy and environmental law and Thomas Buergenthal Fellow at The George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C.

Continue Reading
Comments

Intelligence

Hybrid Warfare Against Pakistan: Challenges and Response

Published

on

The term ‘hybrid warfare’ entered the strategic lexicon in the early 21st century despite having been practiced in various forms for a long time. It is defined as a blend of both kinetic and non-kinetic options to offset conventional power dynamics.  Hybrid warfare includes extensive use of tools like spreading disinformation, propaganda, economic coercion, backing proxy militia and cyber-attacks to achieve strategic objectives. In modern times, owing to the exponentially high cost of men and material used in traditional warfare, not only the great powers but various middle powers engage in hybrid warfare in order to destabilize, demoralize and disintegrate their core adversaries.

The advancement in technology over the 21st century encourages the blending of the different modes of warfare making hybrid warfare a practical option for meeting political objectives. The aspects of ambiguity and deniability that accompany hybrid warfare, make it an attractive option for states to exercise subtle power – they do not have to fear attribution and retribution. Hybrid warfare has become more popular because of the issue pertaining to major wars. The arrival of nuclear weapons in the 20th century even to India and Pakistan, and the different major wars have made conventional warfare much riskier. The consequences of the major wars have led to a transformation in how these wars are viewed. States that want to exert their influence have found other means to do so. There is an on-going debate in the UN about the serious consequences of the internet that can be constituted as acts of war. Its warfare without any direct violence.

Pakistan’s arch enemy, India, has constantly been waging hybrid warfare against Pakistan since partition but it has been recently expedited with increased funding, training of a separatist militia, through economic subversion by politicizing international bodies such as FATF and carrying out diplomatic sabotage in the form of disinformation campaigns disclosure by EU Disinfo Lab. Though the decision was motivated by the political objective of placing Pakistan on the grey list, India’s hybrid warfare against Pakistan jeopardizes South Asia’s stability.

India’s main objective when it comes to hybrid warfare against Pakistan is it to keep Pakistan politically and economically unstable. This helps achieve certain other goals like preventing the rise of Pakistan’s power in Kashmir and pressuring Pakistan to settle on India’s terms in issues like Siachen and Sir Creek. India has tried to employ numerous tools to wage this warfare against Pakistan at the different levels.

India is trying to build a narrative, especially among Indian Muslims and Kashmiris that Pakistan is a failed or failing state and the partition of the Indian sub-continent was huge mistake. They are also generating the idea that the Indian Muslims are far superior to the Pakistanis and even the Bangladeshis. The hybrid warfare against Pakistan also has its internal dynamics, as it is very much part and parcel of India’s domestic politics particularly around elections. Even the Hindutva intoxicated BJP came to power by employing this strategy. India has also given rise to the narrative that she always tried to build good relations but the Pakistani military does not let the relations normalize. Also, it is the Pakistan Army, which is not allowing a solution to the Kashmir dispute because when Pakistan and India were engaged in backchannel diplomacy to work out a solution on the basis of President Musharraf’s four-point formula, it was the Pakistan Army which conducted, supported and funded the Mumbai attack of 2008. Thus, the Pakistan Army is portrayed as a major problem when it comes to Pakistan. It is also being projected that Pakistan’s defense expenditure is illogical as it needs to invest more in its development rather than the armed forces to defend itself against India. India is also exploiting the fault lines of Pakistan – Baluchistan and CPEC. Pakistan is also blamed for not allowing regional peace and integration. India links Pakistan to the Taliban at international level. Certainly, India’s main aim is to weaken the social contract of Pakistan by creating restlessness, divisions and instability within the country.

Pakistan needs a well calibrated strategy in how to counter India’s move at every platform. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to understand the nature of hybrid warfare while concentrating on Pakistan’s social and political harmony. More importantly, we need to realize the potential of CPEC. There must be good governance based on deliverance to overcome the vulnerabilities. There is no denying the fact that this is an era of multilateralism, but multilateral approach works well when there are healthy bilateral relations. While it is good to host conferences and seminars, there is a need for more practical action. We live in world were information spreads quickly. Hence, we need a counternarrative to India’s narrative of ‘talks and terrorism cannot go side by side’ but unfortunately Pakistan always acts in an apologetic manner. The media can potentially be the face of any state but in the case of Pakistan, the media does not care and there is no policy-based discussion between the media and the government. Also, Pakistan does not have enough English news channels to portray the positive image of Pakistan. Furthermore, every part of Pakistani society including the media, the civil society and academia should collectively respond to India’s hybrid warfare against Pakistan. For all of this to be successful, Pakistan’s immune system must be protected through socio-political harmony and improved governance. Last but not the least, India may not be able to sustain its economic lure for long, therefore, India must stop this hybrid warfare against Pakistan, and resume diplomatic activities for stability and prosperity of the region.

Continue Reading

Intelligence

How Putin’s Russia is Exploiting Jihadists Against pro-Navalny Protesters?

Published

on

Who is Putin’s terrorist: Navalny or Jihadist?

Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin is considering using old tactics to stem the growing wave of nationwide protests in support of his fiercest critic, popular opposition leader Alexei Navalny. This tactic was developed in the late 90s by the KGB ideologists and successfully applied in order to bring to power Vladimir Putin, who is ruling the country with an iron hand longer than all his Soviet predecessors except Joseph Stalin. The tactical skills of the Putin’s policy architects were aiming to frighten Russian citizens by Islamist terrorism and Chechen separatism and unite patriotic and nationalist forces around a new leader capable of challenging the West.

Thus, when the nationwide protests in support of Navalny from Yakutia to Kaliningrad became the most serious challenge, the Kremlin began to trumpet the threat of Islamist extremists and international terrorists. This time, the Putin regime is intimidating protesters with impending terrorist attacks of Central Asian and Caucasian jihadists and their Syrian parent organization, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

On the eve of the next nationwide protests on February 14, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russia warned of the inadmissibility of calls to participate in an unsanctioned rally. Russian state news agencies RIA Novosti and TASS have disseminated information that the most powerful Sunni militant faction of HTS in northern Syria is preparing a series of lone-wolf attacks during the upcoming mass street protests of Navalny’s supporters in various Russian cities. In doing so, however, the pro-Kremlin media cited its undisclosed law enforcement sources and ultimately spread merely conspiracy theories.

According to anonymous sources of Russian security services, HTS-backed Uzbek Jihadi battalion Katibat Tawhid wal Jihad(KTJ), Chechen militant groups Ajnad al-Kavkaz (AK) and Jaysh al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar (JMA) are planning to carry out explosions and attack protesters. To achieve these purposes, terrorist groups allegedly recruited Russian citizens and Central Asian migrants, who expect their leaders’ commands.

pro-Navalny protesters

The Putin regime faced the most serious challenge when anti-government protests took place across the Russia in support Navalny in recent weeks. As is known, in mid-January, Navalny returned to the country after recovering from a chemical Novichok poisoning that nearly took his life and was immediately detained and later jailed for alleged parole violations. The robust Putin regime first demonstrated its grave alarm when tens of thousands pro-Navalny protesters demanded his resignation in more than 100 cities and towns, chanting Putin as a ‘thief’. Police detained more than 11,000 people at what they say were unsanctioned protests that the Moscow condemned as illegal and dangerous.

Alexei Navalny’s political creativity and tactical skill inspired Russian liberal youth weary with the corruption-plagued political order presided over by Putin. Fierce clashes between protesters and riot police during the mass rallies indicate that a new generation is not afraid of arrests and the repressive state machine. And to stop the pace of marathon confrontation with the opposition, Putin resorted to his long-standing KGB tactics, intimidating society with possible terrorist attacks and explosions by Islamists.

Will Uzbek and Chechen Jihadists hit pro-Navalny Protesters?

But the fact is, it’s not the first time Putin’s Russia has intimidated society with possible terror attacks by Islamist terrorists and Chechen separatists to achieve political goals. During the transition of power from Boris Yeltsin to Vladimir Putin at the end of the second millennium, Kremlin ideologists successfully tested anti-Islamist tactics to overcome the challenges of the political opposition. The ideologists of Putin’s election campaign created his image as a decisive and strong leader, the one who can defeat Islamist terrorism, Chechen separatism and preserve the integrity of Great Russia. His image as the only savior of the Russian Empire was accompanied by radio and television spots and news about the atrocities of Chechen militants and their beheading of Russian soldiers.

Meanwhile, there is a conspiracy theory in Russian political circles that the powerful FSB orchestrated apartment bombings in the Russian cities of Buinaksk, Moscow and Volgodonsk in 1999 to boost Putin’s approval rating aiming to ensure his victory in the presidential elections. As a result of these “terrorist attacks”, 307 people were killed, more than 1,700 people were injured. Russian officials concluded that there was a “Chechen trail” in the bombings, but no proof of their involvement was adduced. Many still doubt the results of the investigation and consider Putin to be the culprit of this tragedy.

That’s when Putin uttered his famous phrase: “We will pursue the [Islamist] terrorists everywhere. If they are in an airport, we’ll kill them there. If we catch them in the toilet, we’ll exterminate them in the toilet.” Many still believe that the apartment bombings and the FSB’s tactic against Islamist extremists catapulted Putin into the presidency. Putin soon launched a second war in Chechnya and emerged victorious in the intra-Kremlin struggle. His ratings soared. He met with huge approval in a society weary from the economic collapse, corruption and crime of the Yeltsin era.

Usually people prefer to keep quiet about this tragedy. Russian political figures Sergei Yushenkov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, and Boris Berezovsky worked to unravel the mystery of apartment bombings. But all of them were brutally murdered under mysterious circumstances. Ultimately, the Kremlin’s tactics to combat Islamist terrorists not only helped to rocket Putin to the political Olympus, but also increased Islamophobia, nationalism and chauvinism in Russian society.

Today, even 22 years after Putin came to power, the Kremlin’s ideologists have begun to intimidate Russia’s liberal society with likely Islamist terrorist attacks again as the nationwide protests seriously threaten his regime. This illustrates the regime exhaustion and the lack of confidence in face of the strategic sophistication of Navalny’s team.

So far, neither HTS, nor Central Asian and North Caucasian Salafi-Jihadi groups have officially responded to the FSB on the plotting of terrorist attacks in Russian cities during opposition rallies. However, in encrypted Telegram chats, Uzbek and Chechen jihadists actively discussed the “leak information”.

Thus, one of the KTJ’s followers on Telegram under the name Al Hijrat said in Uzbek: “Kafir Putin frightens his people with the just sword of Allah.But the people of the blessed land of Sham know that he himself is the main terrorist. Russian infidels and Putin’s Nusayri puppy (Alawites regime of Bashar al-Assad) bomb Greater Idlib to destroy Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah. Executioners will have to hold a harsh response before the Almighty for their crimes.”

A pro-Jihadi chat “Inspire” in Telegram wrote in Russian: “the information about the impending attacks by Ajnad al-Kavkaz is fake. The authorities are trying to hold Russia’s awakening people from mass protests against Putin’s criminal group. To intimidate civilians, the Russian siloviki (FSB) can and are ready to commit terrorist acts, blaming HTS for this, which are not interested in what is happening there in Russia. The Putinists have a lot of experience in killing their own citizens and blowing up their houses.” In this message, Chechen militants indirectly protect HTS from accusations by pro-Kremlin media on impending terrorist attacks in Russian cities during opposition protests. This is no coincidence, since Ajnad al Kavkaz is known for its close ties with HTS.

On Telegram channel, some Russian-speaking jihadists from the post-Soviet space mocked at the ‘leaked information’, some expressed their anger against the “Russian occupants” in Sham, some advised protesters to be vigilant before the FSB provocation. A pro-Jihadi chat Icharkhoin Telegram recommended Muslims of Caucasus be ready for new repressions of Russian infidels and local Murtad (apostate), because after the bombings of houses in Volgodonsk, Putin started the 2-Chechen war and took away the independence of Ichkeria. The Telegram chat “Muhajireen” says that the Kremlin is preparing for a harsh suppression of the mass protests.

It is not the first time the Russian authorities have accused Central Asian and North Caucasian Jihadi networks of organizing terrorist act. On April 3, 2017, the Russian FSB blamed KTJ for the bombing on a subway train in St. Petersburg that killed 16 people and injured 67 others. On October 15, 2020, the FSB once again accused the Uzbek KTJ militants of preparing subversive and terrorist acts in Russian cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ufa, Maikop and Volgograd. In a statement, the intelligence services claimed that during the counter-terrorist operation, they prevented explosions and eliminated two members of KTJ. Then FSB distributed photos and videos of firearms, ammunition, IED’s chemical components, and religious literature seized during the operation.

On October 16, 2020, KTJ in its statement denied the Russian authorities’ accusation in these attacks. The Uzbek militant group stated that “according the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s policy, our activities are limited to the territory of Sham, and we do not conduct jihadi acts outside of it.” Further, KTJ assured via its Telegram channel that it “does not have its cells in Russia and is not involved in organizing terrorist acts there.”

Jihadi factor of Russian democracy

The Russian authorities often make thunderous statements about plotting terrorist attacks by “international terrorist groups” and how siloviki (FSB) successfully prevented its. This time, trumpeting about terrorist plots by HTS and its foreign subsidiaries during mass protests in various Russian cities, Moscow hoped to hit two birds with one stone. First, the Kremlin hopes that alarm on terrorist attacks could become a cold shower for Navalny’s supporters, as a result of which the activity of protesters will subside and the scale of the rallies will decrease. Second, by accusing HTS of plotting terrorist attacks, Russia is trying to justify its bloody bombing in northern Syria before the international community.

However, experts on jihadism and political Islam were skeptical about accusations of HTS for plotting terrorist attacks in Russia.HTS, Syria’s most powerful rebel group, is trying to implement a new strategy to transform itself from a global jihadist outlook into a local “moderate national liberation movement”. Today its new agenda is entirely dedicated to Syria and the Syrian local Sunni community. Within this new strategy, HTS severely restricted external attacks by its subsidiaries – Central Asian and North Caucasian Salafi-Jihadi groups –KTJ, AK and JMA. Consequently, HTS, which holds the last major rebel bastion in Idlib province and backs the local Salvation Government, is focused only on the internal Syrian jihad than organizing external terrorist attacks.

HTS emir Abu Mohammed al-Julani is well aware that any terrorist attacks in Russia could place his group among the global terrorist organizations, such as ISIS and al Qaeda, from which he decisively disavowed. HTS pursues a pragmatic approach to the political context, and its external attacks outside of Syria could undermine its fragile legacy, which Julani has achieved with great difficulty.

According to the new strategy, HTS has excluded Central Asian and local hardliners from its ranks. Those jihadists who did not want to submit to its new policy, such as former KTJ emir Abu Saloh al-Uzbeki and HTS Shura Council member Abu Malek al-Talli, were arrested or taken out of the Syrian jihad zone. Given the ability of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to pressure Russian-speaking militant groups to abandon its global jihadist ambitions, it can be concluded that the Russian FSB’s accusation against HTS raises many questions.

In conclusion, the Russian authorities alert about Islamists terrorist attacks during pro-Navalny protests is aimed at an internal audience and pursues exclusively domestic political goals. And these goals are clear as plain as the nose on the face. Using these methods, the Kremlin wants to stop the turbulent development of mass protests and divert the attention of people from the Navalny factor. If they succeed, the authorities will take time out to gather strength for the parliamentary elections in the fall of 2021.But if the wave of protests grows ever stronger and threatens Putin’s regime, then a repetition of the 1999 scenario is quite possible. As then, radical Islamism and terrorism can become a starting point for strengthening authoritarianism in Russia.

Continue Reading

Intelligence

Corona pandemic: Realism limitation in solving 21st century security threats

Published

on

Today, most serious threats of the 21st century are not ones we can protect ourselves by using armies or advanced weapons. Indeed, the popularity of extreme-right politics, unilateralism based on nationalism and COVID-19 are threatening the world’s post-war security architecture. 

The state-based unilateralism and the trends of national response to the 21st century’s biggest security threat trigger lack of coordination, diplomatic divisions, and incoherent global answer to COVID-19. Hence, as we face the biggest challenge of the contemporary century today, we need to rethink the very nature of our comprehension of national security threats. By doing so, we need a different approach to facing security threats.

With the Corona pandemic as a security threat, one of the foundational international relations theories, the realism, has been revealed to be far limited in terms of its explanatory power than it declares. The argument is that realism has a valid logic and reasons for confidence since answers to the pandemic have confirmed the supremacy of sovereign states, the grounds for the state’s power competition. Nevertheless, the pandemic also presents realism’s weaknesses as a source for successful policy answer to this security challenge. In other words, realism is better at defining risks and threats than suggesting solutions. Put simply, realism’s explanatory power lies in diagnosis rather than treatment or prevention. To make this clear, one insight the theory emphasizes is the representation of states as the fundamental actors in world politics. 

As the coronavirus hit, states shifted quickly to close or tighten international borders, controlled movement within their borders. However, while much independent national action is understandable from a realism’s point of view, it’s insufficient. Unilateralism and state-based measures, such as border controls did not spare states from the pandemic, and unilateral measures risk ending up in national economic and social crisis. 

To fight the Corona pandemic most efficiently, policymakers will have to shift to other theoretical traditions to overcome this security threat. They will depend more and more on greater international openness, trust and cooperation. Hence, while from the realism’s view, unilateral and state-based actions may serve national interest to fight the pandemic “within the national borders”, the pandemic is a global security threat and thus remains unsolved so long as other states and non-state actors have not done the same and states move on unilaterally. 

Solving global crises and security threats such as a pandemic, similar to world economic or other security crises cannot be solved based on the realist considerations of zero-sum competitive logic. Instead, transnational security threats, such as Coronavirus, is unmasking the limitations of individual states actions in the global system. Thus, while realism does an excellent job of “diagnosing the problem”, it does not offer solutions to that problem.   

Considering the necessity of worldwide medical items and actions, coordinated and offered by international organizations and non-state actors, the uncoordinated state-based actions result in an ineffective solution to this security crisis. The perspective this article aims to offer is that given the limitations of realism, we need more faith in international transboundary cooperation based on mutual trust, especially trust vis-a-vis international institutions. However, neither the United Nations nor the World Health Organization (WHO) nor any other non-state actor can overcome the Coronavirus on its own; nor non-state actors such as international institutions are alternatives to national states in international relations. 

Instead, they are an instrument of foreign policy and statecraft and states need to rely on them, incorporating them in finding solutions to global security threats. According to constitutionalists, Robert Keohane and Lisa Martin, “States are indeed self-interested, but cooperation is often in their interest and institutions help to facilitate that cooperation.”

From our partner Tehran Times

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Energy News21 mins ago

Innovation and market reform needed to drive Japan’s clean energy transition

Japan will need to move quickly to make headway on the steep emissions reductions that are required to achieve its...

Finance2 hours ago

Innovative finance mechanism to support Uruguay’s energy transition

A joint UN proposal in Uruguay, with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) acting as lead agency, seconded by...

Americas4 hours ago

Witnessing Social Racism And Domestic Terrorism In Democratic America

With just less than two weeks away from President-elect taking the office, the United States of America witnessed the worst...

Reports7 hours ago

Sustainable infrastructure can drive development and COVID-19 recovery

Zimbabwe has long struggled with crippling power outages, some of which can last up to 18 hours a day. The...

Development8 hours ago

Japan Launches Circular Economy Collaboration with WEF

Achieving a circular economy will require transforming policy and business. It will also require a new approach to collaboration. To...

EU Politics9 hours ago

Europe Future Neighbourhood – Disruptions, Recalibration, Continuity

On 8 March 2021 International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES organizes together with partners in Vienna international...

Tech News10 hours ago

900 suspects detained with the help of Moscow Metro’s face recognition system

Since the beginning of September, about 900 suspects have been detained in Moscow with the help of face recognition, said...

Trending