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How Will Covid-19 Define Our World in the Coming Years?

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Pandemics among other calamities have re-shaped the core of faith, politics and economic structure of societies for millennia. Fear grips nations across the world as death tolls rise on an exponential basis, and much of the global population remains under lockdown. Our generation may be more fortunate than its predecessors. Living in the digital age, many are in a better position to face these shutdowns given their heavy dependence on technology (for work, socializing and entertainment). Today, people can still conduct meetings using Zoom or Skype, communicate with their loved ones and experience remote learning while schools remain shut.

Few things can be said with certainty nowadays, but one fact is well understood by now; in spite of the most sophisticated advances in science and technology, we are not past disasters of such a global scale. In a war-ridden world increasingly becoming divided along ethno-nationalist lines, no one anticipated such an outbreak or paid heed to warnings, as international powers remained busy developing their military arsenal. It is high time governments revise their priorities and realize that the ambit of security needs to expand, from being strictly state-centric to become more human-centric.

Microbes vs. Missiles

As is evident today, infectious diseases may prove to be as big or perhaps a greater risk for millions of lives rather than wars in the coming age.

Chomsky has questioned why the crisis came about in the first place. He calls it a “colossal market failure.” Ordinary capitalist logic dictates that no one simply cares, the corporate sector only responds to market signals. Short-term profit goals often absolve actors of any responsibility regarding the long-term consequences of their actions. Governments were not sufficiently prepared to battle a health emergency in an atmosphere where “public good” is perceived to be an outdated notion. “The invisible hand” that has dictated decision making for far too long has abandoned its most loyal followers, highlighting a dire need to revisit the free market doctrine.

Bill Gates’ early warnings have resurfaced in light of the current situation. According to him, endemics like Ebola should have served as early indications and pushed authorities to prepare for the next outbreak. “Time is not on our side,” he said and rightly so. Institutions like WHO are struggling to maintain their credibility as the international body is equipped to monitor but not prepare for these pandemics.

Given the benefits of science and technology available to us, an efficient response system can be built with the strengthening of such institutions and investment in R&D. Just as we have frontline soldiers and ammunition ready for a wartime situation, similarly preparations can be made to tackle health crises. Simulations must be carried out and a team of health experts must be devoted solely to the study of epidemics that are available to be dispatched in times of need.

Global Politics

The pandemic is rewriting international relations, as countries turn their attention inward and struggle to save citizens and their economies. What will this mean for global political trends?

One of the most significant trends today in international politics is the absence of global leadership. In the past few decades, the US has established its reputation as a hard power indulged in what Trump calls “endless wars”. This pandemic has brought to the fore questions of how the balance of powers will play out as a result of this crisis. The Superpower has exposed its ability to fight and bomb countries out of existence but unable to spearhead a campaign against a global health crisis. Instead, its administration has so far maintained a self-interested outlook and displayed incompetence on many fronts.

So far, international coordination has been pretty weak with the US and Chinese leadership having constant verbal spats over who was responsible for the pandemic. Global solidarity is not a matter of choice anymore. As much as the populist leaders of the world insist, countries cannot close themselves just yet.

Cooperation is a must in order to eliminate the virus. Accurate disclosure of information among countries is absolutely crucial in order to contain the highly contagious virus. Such updates would ensure that countries restrict travelling accordingly and test incoming travellers from affected regions. Exchange of medical equipment, medication and trained personnel is also necessary to assist the worst-hit regions of the world.

International and regional organizations like the UN and EU have to step up their efforts to combat the virus. The World Bank recently lauded SAARC for making an effort at cooperation. A video-conference between South Asian leaders was held in March, making it the first high-level meeting since 2014.

Responses to the outbreak are determining the political fate of many leaders. Trump’s frustration regarding his suffering popularity is pretty obvious with constant meltdowns in front of the Media. For others, it proved to be a blessing. The relatively low number of positive cases in one of the most populous countries in the world, India, is proving to be a boon for Modi’s political future whose popularity suffered a major blow as the country was torn by unprecedented chaos, communal rioting and mass protests against a discriminatory Citizenship Act.

Will this pandemic accelerate the shift of the epicenter of global dominance from West to East? Some are saying China has already won this battle. This isn’t so much a battle about democracy versus dictatorships, but that of efficient governance and the level of public trust in their governments. The “West” as a brand has suffered a severe blow in the wake of this crisis while East Asian countries are serving as a model for the rest of the world to deal with the pandemic.

The Debate Around Privacy and Big Data:

Some of the biggest success stories in the time of Corona came from China and South Korea. And this success would not have been possible without extensive use of surveillance technology. Mobile applications were used to track citizens’ movement, and even their body temperatures. Contact tracing also turned out to be an efficient means of keeping people aware about their proximity with infected individuals.

Years ago, this kind of sophisticated technology may only have been deemed suitable for tracing criminals or terrorists. One of the biggest compromises that citizens have to make, in the coming age, is giving up their right to privacy, a battle that the common man was already losing. Digital surveillance and big data allows for implicit police states to be created. Given increased anxiety around other unknown potential threats, citizens may be willing to cooperate with any such measures in the future.

There is no escaping the emergence of big governments worldwide even in liberal democracies. Despotic steps that would otherwise never be approved under normal circumstances could easily be justified until there is a major breakthrough in the treatment of this virus. The leadership of Hungary, Israel and UK are already being criticized for making authoritarian moves in the wake of the Corona epidemic.

Revisiting Humanity’s Relationship with Nature

Likes nations, individuals practicing social distancing are looking inwards to find the strength and answers to their dilemma. While scientists all over the world strive to develop a viable treatment to face the international emergency, people are encouraged to strengthen their inner selves, boost their immune system and maintain good mental health to battle challenges ahead. Many instructors offer free yoga classes online during quarantine to help people maintain their physical and emotional well-being. 

We may emerge from this pandemic soon, but how will we deal with other looming dangers that are emerging because of our earnest efforts hitherto to destroy the planet? 

Humanity has attempted, in the last few centuries, to tame Nature and attempted to conquer it. With the effects of climate change now observable in almost every corner of the Earth, the credibility of humanity’s invincibility has come under serious question in recent years.

This virus serves as a quick reminder for humans, as they evolve and progress, nature can catch up easily. Microbes can wreak unimaginable havoc on the planet. There are other man-made disasters that are yet to unfold before us. In the war for survival that awaits us, this will feel like a mere battle.Climate change is not just a threat anymore; it is a reality that cannot be ignored. Self-serving profit makers in fossil fuel industries and enabling political leadership need to be held accountable. Collective responsibility needs to be taken by leadership from all corners of the globe.

Margaret Klein Salamon of the Climate Mobilization says, they have been trying for too long to “get people out of normal mode and into emergency mode.” Going “back to normal” does not make sense because things were not normal as they were. The emergency mode is difficult to maintain, as people are not scared to see their loved ones suffer immediately as a result of climate change compared to the fear around Corona. But the fact remains; there will be a lot of suffering unless preparations are made accordingly. As mentioned above, our neo-liberal capitalist dogma will fail to save us from impending disaster.

It is high time we reevaluate our relationship with nature. Humanity is heavily dependent for survival on the ecosystems it attempts to control. If we do not change the way we behave with other living beings like animals, we will continue to face similar health crises in future.

Faith Matters

Many have asserted that Religion, as we know it, is in grave danger in the time of Corona as many religious festivals and places of worship have been deserted all over the world due to social distancing measures. But it is times like this that even those who are usually disconnected with their God, find solace in prayer or rekindling their spiritual side.

People have been forced to recalibrate their thinking during these times. When they see the calamity affect the upper echelons of their society, in some cases, their elected representatives and even royalty, they revert to the spiritual realm to find their answers and seek its benefits as a form of meditation as well, something that is highly recommended in these times.

Religion like many other aspects of society is adapting to the need of the hour. Congregational Prayer and rituals may temporarily be put on hold but faith remains a resilient force in these testing times.

Future of Work

The onset of Corona has accelerated the digital revolution. The digital economy is thriving whereas traditional businesses are suffering. Wherever possible, working from home may become a norm unless it’s absolutely necessary to resume the old routine. For some, it may even prove to be somewhat convenient, for example, working mothers, who are often overwhelmed by societal pressures and uncooperative supervisors when it comes to flexibility and understanding their problems. Add to those, poor and limited child-care facilities in a country like Pakistan, making it extremely challenging for them to pursue a career.

Unfortunately, not many will be able to escape the inevitable economic crunch as a result of this pandemic. This virus may leave millions across the globe out of work. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the option of working from home given poor Internet facilities and the lack of proper privacy in their households. Distance learning can also never replace a fulfilling college experience.

While countries are worried about delaying the opening of their economies to avoid the crippling after-effects, some adjustments will have to be made to restart businesses. Organizations are coming up with different solutions such as allotting days for specific employees to come to work to comply with social distancing norms. Countries that have experienced the first wave of the virus and are experiencing a second one, like Singapore know that things are not going to go back to the way they were. They are operating on a circuit breaker model; something the rest of the countries may have to follow until there is a medical breakthrough.

Social Distancing: The New Normal?

How will human interaction change as a result of this pandemic? What happens when the lockdowns come to an end? Will the paranoia go away just as quickly? The pandemic has already changed our behavioral patterns in a lot of ways. Our basic social instincts may undergo a change creating a new normal. It may become second nature for us to avoid shaking someone’s hand or hugging our loved ones in an effort to protect them. Sanitation and hygiene standards will become stricter than they may ever have been in public places.

Online communication has already seen an unprecedented spike during these times. The ironic thing about distances is that it ends up creating and intensifying connections. People tend to talk more often with those who are physically not present and far away. Reconnecting with acquaintances and distant family members, who are experiencing the same dilemma as them, seems to provide comfort and safety to many.

Gratitude towards other people is growing as new heroes emerge in times of hardship. Healthcare workers, risking their lives to save others, are being specially honored from Europe to India, as people come out during quarantine to applaud their work. Many acts of kindness are also bringing people together. With many working to provide food to those in need, artists doing free concerts on Instagram and others help people by giving free workout classes online. A common enemy is forcing people across the world to unite and look past differences such as class, color, race and religion. 

Conclusion

Our future depends on the decisions we make today. Given the common challenges faced by humankind, does it suit any country to choose nationalistic isolation over internationalism? Our experiences so far have shown that nationalism may not offer the solutions required to battle future challenges and in fact sentence the entire humankind to virtual extinction.

What the world needs right now is responsible leadership that understands that a decision taken in one part of the globe directly affects fortunes at the other end. Humanity will do a great service to itself in developing a symbiotic relationship with Nature in order to survive.

It’s still not too late, for better sense to prevail. The reality of our situation should be as clear to us now as the bluish-black expanse above us strewn with stars as opposed to the thick veil of gray that had clouded our vision for so long.

The author has a Master’s degree from SOAS in Asian Politics. She is particularly interested in South Asian politics and likes to paint in her free time. Noor is currently part of the Research Division at The Nerve Center. Twitter: @NoorAftab5 LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/noor-aftab-376919171/

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The means to manage cyberspace and the duty of security

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Over and above the ethical concepts regarding the near future, it is also good to focus on the present. Governments are required to protect their national resources and infrastructure against foreign and domestic threats, to safeguard the stability and centrality of human beings and political systems and to ensure modern services for civilians. Suffice it to recall the chaos that arose some time ago in the Lazio region for the well-known health issues.

Governments must play a key role in developing and leading the local ecosystems, but this national effort must involve many other stakeholders: local businesses, entrepreneurs, multinational companies, local and foreign investors, State agencies, Ministries and academics, people in education, professional institutions and the public at large.

Furthermore, cybersecurity is a national opportunity for developing the local economy and for positioning any country in the international arena as a safe place to establish and develop economic relations between States and companies. It is also important as a regional cyber hub.

Cyber strategy therefore consists in prioritising operational cyber activities with a view to optimising and monitoring the overdevelopment of cyber intelligence that could one day take such turns as to be ungovernable.

This is the reason why investment in technology, local capacity building and resource allocation and concentration are required. This means providing strategic advisory services to government agencies that are seeking to advance cyber security at a strategic and operational level.

It is therefore necessary to work with governments to develop their strategic and operational capabilities in cybersecurity, either at the national or sectoral level, as well as providing comprehensive cyber projects that combine cyber defence and the development of a local cyber ecosystem, based on the models tried and tested by various countries around the world, such as the People’s Republic of China, Israel, the United States of America, etc.

There is a need to specialise in setting up Cyber Units and Cyber Centres (SOC & Fusion Centres) and in developing Cyber Eco-Systems and Cyber Strategies. This means providing various cyber solutions, services and know-how to companies in various sectors, such as financial, industrial, energy, health, technology and many other sectors.

Stable OT (operational technology) security services and strategic advice to companies in the fields of energy, manufacturing, security, medicine, transport, critical infrastructure and many others create the prerequisites for defending cyberspace. As well as helping OT-based organisations integrate cybersecurity into their processes and products. Design, develop and deliver advanced technologies and solutions to protect critical assets in OT environments, such as ICS, SCADA, IIoT, PLC, etc.

In this regard there is a basic need for creating professional IT schools around the world that teach the meaning of cyberspace, and not just how to use Word and other simple Office programs.

The expansion and creation of universities and institutes of cyber knowledge is a starting point from which partnerships are launched with organisations seeking to create their own cyber schools or with academic or educational organisations offering cyber training to their students.

Providing comprehensive solutions for IT schools, enables the training of IT professionals and new recruits in all IT roles, so that hackers do not remain the sole repository of digital truth. Advanced training is a solid starting point for organisations seeking to train their IT professionals. Professionals who can manage and master schemes such as Cyber Defender, Cyber Warrior, Cyber Manager, SOC Analyst, Digital Forensics, Basic Training and many others, including through the use of simulation.

Leading the creation and development of the high-level cybersecurity ecosystem is a duty of States towards the citizens who elect their leaders. The same holds true for seeking and employing highly experienced experts in the various security subject matters, including strategic cyber defence, cyber warfare, cyber intelligence, cyber research and development and cyber strategy, as well as defining training policies for these branches of operation.

Having examined the prerequisites for protecting cyberspace, it is worth addressing the structure of some of the risks faced by institutional network systems.

One of the most typical operations made by hackers relates to the use of client/server technology to combine several computers as a platform to launch DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks against one or more targets, thus exponentially increasing damage.

A malicious user normally uses a stolen account to install the DDoS master programme on a computer. The master programme will communicate with a large number of agents at any given time and the agent programmes have been installed on many computers in the network. The agent launches an attack when it receives an instruction. Using client/server technology, the master control programme can activate hundreds of agent programmes in a matter of seconds.

A DDoS uses a group of controlled machines to launch an attack on a computer, be it server or client. It is so fast and hard to prevent that is therefore more destructive. If we consider that in the past network administrators could adopt the method of filtering IP addresses against DDoS, it becomes more difficult to prevent such actions today. How can measures be taken to respond effectively?

If the user is under attack, defence will be very limited. If there is a catastrophic attack with a large amount of traffic pouring onto the unprepared user, it will very likely that the network will be paralysed before the user can recover. Users, however, can still take the opportunity to seek defence.

Hackers usually launch attacks through many fake IP addresses. At that juncture, if users can distinguish which IPs are real and which are fake – and hence understand from which network segments these IPs come – they can ask the network administrator to change them. Firstly, the PCs should be turned off to try to eliminate the attack. If it is found that these IP addresses are coming from outside rather than from the company’s internal IP, a temporary investigation method can be used to filter these IP addresses on the server or router.

The solution would be to discover the route through which the attackers pass and block them. If hackers launch attacks from certain ports, users can block these ports to prevent intrusion. After the exit port is closed, all computers cannot access the Internet.

A more complex method consists in filtering the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), a service protocol for packet networks transmitting information regarding malfunctioning, monitoring and control information or messages between the various components of a computer network. Although it cannot completely eliminate the intrusion during the attack, filtering the ICMP can effectively prevent the escalation of the aggression and can also reduce the level of constant damage to a certain extent.

The DDoS attack is the most common attack method used by hackers. Some conventional methods of dealing with it are listed below.

1. Filter all RFC1918 IP addresses. The RFC1918 IP address is the address of the internal network, such as 10.0.0.0, 192.168.0.0, 172.16.0.0, etc. These are not fixed IP addresses of a particular network segment, but confidential local IP addresses within the Internet, which should be filtered out. This method serves to filter out a large number of fake internal IPs during an attack, and can also mitigate DDoS attacks.

2. Use many PCs to resist hacker attacks. This is an ideal response phase, if the user has sufficient ability and resources to enable a defence against hackers who attack and continue to access and take over resources. Before the user is fatally attacked, the hacker has little means to control many PCs. This method requires considerable investment and most of the equipment is usually idle, which does not correspond to the actual functioning of the current network of small and medium-sized enterprises.

3. Make full use of network equipment to protect resources. The so-called network equipment refers to load balancing hardware and software such as routers and firewalls, which can effectively protect the network. When the network is attacked, the router is the first to fail, but the other devices have not yet collapsed. The failed router will return to normalcy after being restarted and will restart quickly without any loss. If other servers collapse, their data will be lost and restarting them is a lengthy process. In particular, a company uses load balancing equipment so that when a router is attacked and crashes, the other will work immediately. This minimizes DDoS attacks.  

4. Configure the firewall. The firewall itself can resist DDoS and other attacks. When an attack is discovered, it may be directed to certain sacrificial hosts, which are able to protect the actual host from the attack. The sacrificial hosts may obviously choose to redirect to unimportant hosts or to those having systems with fewer vulnerabilities than some operating systems and with excellent protection against attacks.

5. Filter unnecessary services and ports. Many tools can be used to filter out unnecessary services and ports, i.e. filter out fake IPs on the router. For example, Cisco’s CEF (Cisco Express Forwarding) can compare and filter out Source IP and Routing Table packets. Opening only service ports has become a common practice for many servers. For example, WWW servers open only 80 ports and close all the others or use a blocking strategy on the firewall.

6. Limit SYN/ICMP traffic. The user must configure the maximum SYN/ICMP traffic on the router to limit the maximum bandwidth that SYN/ICMP packets can occupy. Therefore, when there is a large amount of SYN/ICMP traffic exceeding the limit, this means it is not normal network access, but hacking. In the beginning, limiting SYN/ICMP traffic was the best way to prevent DDoS. Although the effect of this method on DDoS is currently not widely used, it can still play a certain role.

7. Scan regularly. Existing network master nodes should be scanned regularly, checked for security vulnerabilities and new vulnerabilities cleaned up promptly. Computers on backbone nodes are the best locations for hackers to use because they have higher bandwidth. It is therefore very important to strengthen the security of these hosts. Furthermore, all computers connected to the major nodes of the network are server-level computers. Hence regular scanning for vulnerabilities becomes even more important.

8. Check the source of the visitor. Use suitable software to check whether the visitor’s IP address is true. This should be done by reverse-searching the router: if it is fake, it will be blocked. As said above, many hacker attacks often use fake IP addresses to confuse users and it is hard to find out from where they come. Therefore, for example, the use of Unicast Reverse Path Forwarding can reduce the occurrence of fake IP addresses and help improve network security.

As seen above, we need experts who know more than hackers, and this is the duty that States and governments have towards their institutions, but primarily towards their citizens.

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The visit of the head of Israeli Mossad intelligence to Bahrain

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The visit of the UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed to Damascus on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 and the meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, sparked a great controversy that began from the moment it was announced, which was highlighted by Western analyzes mainly from outside the region, that it comes for a (comprehensive Arab reassessment of the reality of the relationship with Syria and its importance in combating terrorism in the region, and the importance of the current Syrian reality in the calculations of Arab and Gulf national security, primarily towards Iran, and breaking the American “Caesar Law” towards imposing an economic blockade on Syria), and various analyzes and speculations about the future of these have increased. The Emirati step, its implications and dimensions in the Arab and Gulf relations towards the Syrian regime, and whether it represents one of the indicators of the transition to another new phase of political action towards opening up to Damascus, and the return of Syria to its regional and international role. Especially with the clarification of the “Emirati-Syrian coordination” some time before that visit to arrange the rapprochement between the two sides, which became clear by the announcement of the contact between the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and President Bashar Al-Assad), as well as an official invitation to Syria to participate in the “International Expo Exhibition In Dubai” and then my meeting with the Syrian and Emirates oil ministers in Moscow.

    But what stopped me in that Emirates visit, was perhaps other events that were not addressed during those analyzes, which caught my attention analytically and academically, and the most different of them was (I was alerted by a foreign researcher during my commentary on the same analysis, that the Emirates move is mainly in the interest of Tehran the Iranian regime, not to stifle and besiege Iran in its areas of influence and its known role in Syria).  Despite the strangeness of this analysis, I occupied my mind with another matter to respond to it, regarding: (the significance of the visit of the head of the Israeli Mossad to Bahrain, and the visit of Emirates officials to Tel Aviv, and what is even clearer to the public is the organization of joint naval exercises in the Red Sea with the joint Israeli naval forces with Bahrain and the UAE), at the same time as the aforementioned visit.

    Accordingly, my analysis mainly focuses on whether that visit took place through (arranging and coordinating with Tel Aviv to curb Iran in Syria and the region, by attracting Syria to the Arab League and collective Arab action again), and the Gulf rejectionist and Arab reservations towards the step of rapprochement.  The Syrian-Iranian, or did I aim for a clearer Gulf rapprochement with Iran through rapprochement with Syria, as I went to a number of mainly Western analyzes, which I received.  From here, the Egyptian researcher will analyze all the following elements:

Analyzing the implications of the visit of the UAE Foreign Minister (Bin Zayed) to Syria on November 9, 2021.

And its relationship to the “joint naval maneuvers” between (Israel, the UAE and Bahrain) in the Red Sea on November 10, 2021 on the Iranian existence at Syria

The visit of (the head of the Israeli Mossad intelligence service to Bahrain) at the time of the naval joint maneuvers with Israel in the Red Sea, with (the visit of the UAE Air Force commander to Israel).

Then, finally, analyzing the impacts of the Israeli Mossad intelligence moves in the Red Sea on its rapprochement with the USA in the face of (China, Russia and Iran).

   To answer those questions, it is necessary to verify and respond to number of inquires and some other different analyses, such as:

The UAE’s motives for taking such a step of rapprochement with Syria, through the visit of the UAE Foreign Minister “Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed” to Damascus on Tuesday, November 9, 2021, and the meeting with Syrian President “Bashar Al-Assad”.

Rather, will this Emirates step (encourage the rest of the Arab countries to follow the Emirates footsteps)  and open up to the Syrian regime?

What is the fate of the “Syrian opposition to the Emirati-Syrian rapprochement”, and is this Emirates move aimed at weakening the Syrian opposition track, especially the Syrians opposing the regime of President “Bashar Al-Assad” abroad?

Then, it will remain to analyze (the Syrian opposition’s options if more Arab countries open up to the Al-Assad’s regime).

Will there be a (Syrian-Emirati consensus) towards the step of solving the (return of Syrian refugees from abroad and the settlement of their situation with the current Syrian regime)?

Finally, the question arises, regarding: (the impact of the intensity of American and international criticism of the UAE’s step of rapprochement with the Syrian regime and President “Bashar Al-Assad” on the completion of the remaining Arab steps seeking to integrate and return Syria once more to its membership in the League of Arab States)?

In fact, the most dangerous and important analysis for me remains completely analytical, namely: (What was raised about the fact that the UAE obtained the green light from the United States of America itself and from the Israeli side before the visit of the UAE Foreign Minister “Bin Zayed” to the Emirates, in pursuit of forming (Gulf-UAE-Israeli alliance against Iran), and seeking to neutralize the Syrian regime in the face of these Iranian moves as a closely related ally of the Iranians?) Accordingly, we can analyze that, as follows:

Perhaps what reinforces and supports my recent view regarding the “Israeli Gulf mobilization with the help of the UAE and Washington’s support to confront Iran through Syria” is (the joint security coordination between Israel and the Emirati and Bahraini naval forces to conduct joint naval maneuvers in the Red Sea, which lasted for five full days), which began on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, which comes at the same time as the UAE rapprochement with Syria, meaning:

 (There are joint security arrangements between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain in the face of Iran through the move of rapprochement with Syria as an ally of Iran)

As I mentioned, the joint naval maneuvers between Israel and the UAE at the same time as the UAE visit confirms (the continuation of joint security coordination between Israel and the UAE), especially to curb and limit Iranian influence.  Knowing that the step of joint security coordination between the Emirates and Israel began three years ago, when the naval forces of the Gulf states, mainly the “UAE and Bahrain”, began conducting joint naval maneuvers with the Israeli side, which were the first for them ever with their Israeli counterpart, in cooperation with the forces of the United States of America’s Navy.

We find that the current joint naval maneuvers in the Red Sea with the participation of the UAE and Israel, with the participation of (warships from the Emirates, Bahrain and Israel), in addition to the United States of America, is a “joint Israeli-Gulf assertion” to send a message to the Iranian side, that these naval maneuvers with  Israel, aims to:

 “Securing the maritime traffic in the face of Iran, and seeking to secure the movement of the straits and maritime navigation in the Red Sea with the help of Israeli security, especially that these joint maritime training operations included training on encirclement and raid tactics”

This was confirmed by the US Naval Forces Central Command, in an official statement, to confirm that:

“The Israeli, Emirates, and Bahraini training aims to enhance the ability to work collectively among the forces participating in the maneuvers”

From here, we understand that the step of joint Israeli-Emirati security coordination, and the consequent step of the joint naval maneuvers, came after the signing of the “Abraham Accords” in September 2020, and the normalization of their relations with Israel by the UAE and Bahrain. Since then, it has strengthened the (diplomatic, military, and intelligence relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, as the two most important Gulf countries that share Tel Aviv’s concerns about Iran’s activities in the Red Sea and the region).

The most prominent here, is (the visit of the head of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad in a public visit to Bahrain at the time of the joint naval maneuvers with Israel in the Red Sea, with the commander of the UAE Air Force heading at the same time also on a first-of-its-kind visit to Israel in October  2021).

In general, the (re-opening of the Emirati and Bahraini embassies in Damascus) in December 2018, was considered at that time as (a major change in the Gulf policy towards Syria, and it was among the first indications of a more comprehensive normalization). There is no doubt that these steps came after consulting Saudi Arabia.  However, it seems that Saudi Arabia, as usual, is taking a cautious and secretive attitude towards the move of rapprochement with Syria due to its fear of the “Al-Assad regime’s relations with Tehran”.

At the time, the UAE and Bahrain talked about (the geopolitical benefits of rehabilitating the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad). The State of Bahrain confirmed that “the step of integrating Bashar Al-Assad aims to strengthen the Arab role and prevent regional interference in Syrian affairs”.

The most important analytical question for me is whether Abu Dhabi has completely severed its relations with Damascus at all, given (the continued presence of prominent Syrian figures loyal to Damascus living and working in the Emirates).

In general, this (continuous stream of signals emanating from Damascus and other Arab capitals, led by the Emirates for rapprochement with Syria), indicates that the former opponents of the Syrian government have come close to reaching mutually beneficial arrangements with the Syrian government, some of which pledged a few years ago to drop it.

The most important gains for the Syrian regime from that rapprochement with the UAE and the rest of the Arab countries will be (reconstruction contracts for Syria and energy deals), in addition to the markets that will be opened to it if they reconcile with the Arab countries, which may later pave the way for “inclusion of Damascus again and  returning its membership in the League of Arab States”, which is of course the most important strategic step for the UAE and the Gulf states, to help Syria to return back to the “Arab House”, and consequently put pressure on it not to rapprochement with Iran, as it is a rival opponent for the UAE and the Gulf states.

    In this context, the Syrian capital, Damascus is now hoping for (influential Arab voices to exert international pressure in order to lift the severe sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime), which aims to (punish Syrian officials and Syrian organizations for their alleged involvement in human rights violations).

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Features of ISIS’ Information Warfare

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The most significant feature of our modern world is the large-scale popularization and application of the Internet, which has transformed our society and formed a substantial information society. Initially, the information society was only a theoretical projection, but it has now become a reality. When the world transforms into an information society, the great impact of such a transformation will be felt. The governance structures of the world have not prepared for such changes, and thus are unable to deal with these transformations effectively, resulting in massive risks and social disorder.

In the field of information and anti-terrorism, a major concern is the impact of the Internet. The Internet has accelerated the flow of information, and the boundary of truth and falsehood are at times, indistinguishable. At the same time, social conditions can be exaggerated online. Combined with the psychological activities and circumstances of the masses, it is extremely easy to create a larger scale of dissatisfaction which will, to a certain extent, lead to the collapse of the original social ideological and belief systems. The United States and Western countries ignoring the social and stage of countries and regions in the Mediterranean region, Africa, and the Middle East and Central Asian countries, blindly export their ideology, and driven by the amplification effect of the Internet, this process of collapse has been accelerated.

A terrorist organization such as ISIS has harnessed the great potentials offered by the Internet, and as such, it laid the foundation for the large-scale development of ISIS’s information warfare. First of all, the Islamic State has established a professional public relations organization, responsible for producing and disseminating content. ISIS has its homepage and accounts on major social networking sites, and even has multi-layered sub-accounts, thereby evading censorship. They launched DABIQ, an attractively designed online magazine with extremely provocative content, and developed a smartphone app called Dawn of Glad Tidings, focusing on the Western “high-end customer base” as their target group to inform them of the latest “news of jihad in real-time”. In addition, the Islamic State has also launched the online game, which creates scenarios for players to attack the U.S. military, police, and civilians, and rewards criminal acts and even terrorist attacks in the game.

Today, ISIS can be seen almost on all social media platforms and is accessible in Western countries. It has thousands of accounts on Twitter alone, including both organized public accounts and terrorist personal accounts. ISIS is proficient in the so-called “viral marketing” model in information warfare. Through the user’s network, the information spreads like a virus and spreads to thousands of audiences using rapid replication. The organizer clearly achieves the word-of-mouth “relationship marketing” by providing a certain product or service, allowing others to become “marketing and communication levers” inadvertently. 

ISIS is often far more professional and sensitive than the government departments of various countries that hold the power of national governance. It has long been keenly aware of the evolution of political discourse from propaganda to information dissemination in contemporary society, and this trend is one of the keys that is enabling it to lead public opinion. Traditional propaganda methods such as sermons and speeches, obviously, lack interaction with the target audience. Therefore, ISIS encourages followers to use various websites as platforms to establish various forms of “self-media”. ISIS also cultivate Internet influencers to encourage netizens to create audio messages, videos and even websites. As ISIS cleverly hides its ambitions behind high-level productions and attractive propaganda, more and more people in the West, especially young people, have been successfully brainwashed, are actively participating in the dissemination of ISIS-related information, even going to the Middle East to become jihadists on the battlefield and gain the satisfaction of realizing their supposed self-worth.

This kind of information warfare was so successful that in 2016, the official website of Tsinghua University in China was hacked by ISIS hackers where ISIS recruitment advertisements were posted. In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has found cases where teenagers as young as 15 years old were recruited by ISIS, and in some cases in the United States, parents even encouraged their children to participate in terrorist organizations. In fact, the information warfare of ISIS is very active and successful not only in Western countries but also in Turkey and Syria. As a result, ISIS has obtained the human resources of thousands of sacrificial young people.

The information society and the Internet have created a huge imbalance for the future world, making this world an unbalanced world and a world in transition. The formation of various transnational virtual organizations is now possible using simple network tools. This also means that terrorist organizations like ISIS cannot theoretically be eliminated at all. They can easily evolve into virtualized organizations that exist everywhere and can be found by search engines at any time due to the ubiquity of the information society and the Internet.

They will continue to grow, gain popularity, and evolve into a new type of network-based anti-government organization. Terrorist organizations of various types have shifted their focus from the real world to the virtual world, and then back again. This is the enormous governance challenge that the information society will undoubtedly face in the future. 

Final analysis conclusion:

Although ISIS faces restrictions as it is a terrorist organization, it has used the information society and the Internet to launch successful information warfare and has achieved remarkable results worldwide. In an age of information asymmetry, simple and easy network tools have made it possible to establish a variety of transnational virtual organizations. This will pose a huge governance challenge to the future information society.

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