The Abduction of 12 Jordanians in Libya Could Complicate Jordanian Support for Operation Dignity

LevantineGroup May 21st

Jordanian media reports indicate that 12 Jordanians were reportedly abducted yesterday in Tripoli. Hatem al-Oraibi, spokesman for the internationally recognized al-Thinni government, issued a press statement condemning the incident, indicating that he is sure that a militia is responsible for the abduction. Furthermore, al-Oraibi called on international organizations, particularly UN officials on the ground, to help secure the release of the hostages. Meanwhile, the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued its own statement suggesting that contacts are underway to verify the veracity of the incident, while also confirming that “Protecting the Jordanian citizen is a top priority.”

Context & Analysis

There remains significant tensions between Jordan and the al-Thinni government, particularly in light of the Hashemite Kingdom’s support for General Khalifa Haftar’s Operation Dignity campaign against the Islamist-dominated General National Congress (GNC). Last year, former Jordanian Ambassador Fawwaz al-Eitan was held hostage for one month and later released in exchange for a Libyan national imprisoned in Jordan for his alleged participation in a plot to bomb Amman’s Queen Alia Airport. While Islamist Libya Dawn militias may be the principle culprit, ISIS elements in the area may have carried out the abduction given Jordan’s involvement in Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.

In the event that Libya Dawn militias abducted the 12 Jordanian nationals, it remains likely that hostage negotiations over the course of the next several weeks could lead to their release. However, if ISIS carried out the abduction, there is a strong possibility that the 12 hostages could be executed in a public spectacle over the same time period.

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EVERY VETERAN HAS A STORY….THIS IS JIM MARKSON’s STORY

cover

It’s TET, 1968. We’re in Condition Red, with a C-47 dropping illumination flares, creating moments of artificial daylight. At times I expected to see swarms of Viet Cong headed my way. I waited and waited with an intensity and focus I never knew before or since. During the onslaught that followed, the only substance in the veins of the 377th SP Squadron was adrenaline heavily laced with duty, honor and commitment.

~Jim Markson, Air Force Vietnam

He was diagnosed with night terrors 39 years after he left Vietnam and 20 years after his divorce from his wife. It was a relief for him to finally speak to people about this and share with those who are interested. The authors began this book collaboration and found themselves on an amazing journey of stepping back in time with an unexpected and new awareness of their past leading them to a path of healing and understanding. Their wish is that this book will help place other veterans and their families on this road as well.

Veteran Reflections

The country I offered to lay down my life for has begun to recognize the plight of its warriors. More than a few of us, who served in and came home from Nam have survived, against the odds of rejection and negative labeling. Some of us have found help, some of us haven’t. Because of how I was received upon my return, my soul still bears the scars of that reception.

Lawrence John Sheehan
USMC Veteran

MilitaryBooks.org Author's Corner

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DOUGLAS BARRIE: IRAN “Indigenous” Cruise-Missile Design Underscores Kh-55 Heritage

By Douglas Barrie, Senior Fellow for Military Aerospace

Some 14 years after illegally acquiring at least six Raduga Kh-55 (NATO reporting name: AS-15 Kent) cruise missiles from Ukraine (China at the same time acquired six Kh-55s through the same Ukrainian sources), and in the wake of reports that it was developing cruise-missile technologies, Iran revealed the result of its efforts for the first time in early March 2015. The Soumar cruise missile closely resembles the Kh-55, though there are some external differences.

Taken at face value, the unveiling of the Soumar marks a step-change in Iran’s ability to develop and manufacture a long-range cruise missile. The presentation of the Soumar, however, raises as many questions as it answers, at least in the public arena, as to the nature of the programme, the missile’s maturity and its potential performance.

Iran appears to have a number of cruise-missile development efforts underway, with the Soumar possessing the longest range of these. Tehran’s long-range cruise-missile programme was previously associated with the name Meshkat, and this type is more than likely related to the Soumar. The 2013 Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat report produced by the US National Air and Space Intelligence Center identified the Meshkat as a 2,000km cruise-missile programme, with systems intended for ground, maritime and air platforms.

However, it is a ground-launched cruise missile that Iran has chosen to show first. The Kh-55 design was intended for air launch, with the missile entering the inventory of the Soviet Union in 1983. It provided the Soviet air force with a nuclear-armed stand-off weapon for its Tu-95MS Bear long-range bomber force. The missile entered service with the Tu-160 Blackjack in 1992.

Design differences

The most obvious external difference between the Kh-55 and the Soumar is the addition of a solid-rocket booster for ground launch. The booster is also fitted with four lattice fins to provide initial post-launch stability. Lattice fins have been employed previously on Soviet ballistic, anti-ship and air-to-air missile designs. The Soumar has three suspension lugs, two on the upper section of the fuselage and one on the booster. Along with the wings, which are recessed in the fuselage prior to launch, the missile’s triangular tail control surfaces would seem also to fold. The vertical tail would otherwise block the missile from being secured to the launch-canister suspension rail. The rear control surfaces also appear to have mass balances at their root, a feature not required on the original Kh-55.

So far, Iran has not released any imagery of sub-component manufacture or final assembly of the missile; nor have any details been released regarding the guidance systems used by the Soumar or its terminal accuracy. The Kh-55 used inertial and digital terrain-contour matching. This uses a digital terrain map of the planned route to compare with the actual terrain and to allow the flight profile to be modified as required. Accurate digital terrain-elevation data is a key element of this navigation approach. Kh-55 accuracy was also driven by its nuclear payload, and as such would be less stringent than that required for a missile armed with a conventional warhead.

It remains a matter of conjecture whether Iran has at any point had external support in developing sub-systems for the Soumar. China has had a close relationship with Iran concerning the provision of a range of tactical anti-ship missiles, while there has been a relationship between Iran and North Korea regarding ballistic systems.

The only launch footage released so far shows the missile being slant launched from a vehicle, followed by the separation of the solid propellant booster motor. There was no imagery of the missile in the cruise or terminal phase of any test.

While many of the details surrounding Iran’s Soumar long-range cruise missile are unclear, what remains readily apparent is Tehran’s desire to bolster its capabilities in this arena. Coupled with Iran’s ballistic-missile inventory, the Soumar would complicate considerably regional missile-defence requirements.

The Military Balance 2015 features analysis of Iran’s military capabilities, displaying key forces by role, equipment inventories and defence economics.

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US embassy warns of 2015 Diversity Visa Lottery fraud

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Baku – APA. The U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan wishes to advise the public of a notable increase in fraudulent emails and letters sent to Diversity Visa (DV), or Visa Lottery, program applicants, the embassy told APA on May 20.

The originators of these fraudulent emails and letters pose as the U.S. government in an attempt to extract payment from DV applicants. Applicants are encouraged to review the rules and procedures for the DV program to help identify potentially fraudulent communication.

While DV applicants may receive an email from the U.S. government reminding them to check their status online through DV Entrant Status Check, they will not receive a notification letter or email informing them that they are a successful DV entrant. Applicants can only find out if they were selected to continue with DV processing by checking their status online through the DV Entrant Status Check at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov.

Finally, please remember that entry in the DV lottery is free; the only time DV lottery entrants need to pay a fee is if they are selected in the lottery and instructed that they may apply for a Diversity Visa. Those fees are paid to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate cashier at the time of a scheduled appointment. The U.S. government will never ask applicants to send payment in advance by check, money order, or wire transfer. Any other requests for fees, whether an application fee, a fee to receive a diversity visa number, or a fee for services “promising” a visa, are scams. If applicants are unsure whether a communication regarding the DV program is legitimate, please contact the U.S. Embassy Consular Section at Consularbaku@state.gov.

The U.S. Embassy in Baku will work with local law enforcement to stop scammers from extracting illegal payments from DV applicants. If you believe that you are a victim of a scam or have been the target of a scam attempt, please tell us about it on our Facebook page, or by email at Consularbaku@state.gov.

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Iranian Aid Ship Destined for Yemen Could Escalate Maritime Tensions in the Region

LevantineGroup

Al-Mayadeen reports indicate that an Iranian aid ship dispatched several days ago is slated to enter the Bab el-Mandeb Strait over the coming hours and dock at the Hodeidah Port tomorrow afternoon. The ship, which is carrying a reported 2,400 tons of food and 100 tons of medical aid, left Iran last week and is reportedly being escorted to Hodeidah by an Iranian naval vessel according to Iran’s Tasneem News Agency.

Context & Analysis Hodeidah Map

Last week senior Iranian military official Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri warned that any attempts to attack the ship could catalyze a greater regional conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, Jazayeri insisted that Iran will not allow for any country participating in the Saudi-led Coalition to inspect the cargo. The expedited timetable for the ship’s arrival in Yemen is notable given that it was originally expected to arrive on May 21. Hodeidah, which houses the country’s largest port, is a known Houthi stronghold and its strategic location in the southern Red Sea has been widely viewed as a threatening presence to vital Egyptian shipping routes. For this reason the area has been targeted on a weekly basis by Saudi-led airstrikes. While companies affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are alleged to have facilitated the construction of the Hodeidah Port, it remains unclear to what extent there remains an Iranian military presence in the area.

While it remains highly unlikely that any military aid is on board the ship, the American, Egyptian, and Saudi naval forces in the area surrounding the Bab el-Mandeb Strait could prevent the ship from docking. In this context, the potential seizure of the ship would give the Iranians a major public relations victory given that it only contains humanitarian supplies, and it remains possible that Iranian military officials could claim that the aid delivery had been negotiated through backdoor talks with UN officials. Additionally, should the ship be stopped prior to its arrival in Hodeidah, it could spur Iranian naval vessels to increase their harassment of international commercial shipping vessels traveling through the Strait of Hormuz. Last week, five IRGC patrol boats shot at a Singapore-based Alpine Eternity OIL tanker, and in late April the Maersk Tigris was briefly seized in the Strait of Hormuz due to a debt disagreement between Maersk and the Iranian government.

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Brotherhood Radicals Reinvigorated by Morsi Sentencing

LevantineGroup

The May 16-17 weekend proved to be among the most controversial periods in President Sisi’s nearly two-year rule, with Egypt’s Mubarak era-judiciary issuing three highly symbolic decisions against the country’s various opposition groups. On May 16th, former president Morsi and several other high-level Muslim Brotherhood officials to death on conspiracy charges in the infamous 2011 Wadi Natroun prison break case. That same day, Egypt’s court banned all Football Ultras organizations under the country’s counter-terrorism degree, effectively outlawing some of Egypt’s most vibrant, yet disruptive groups. One day later, six jihadists from the famed “Arab Sharkas Cell” who were allegedly involved in numerous attacks in the Nile Delta region, targeting troops and police.

In the nights after Morsi’s death sentence spread across the global airways, Egypt’s anti-government militants set out to commit wave of attacks, forcing the Interior Ministry to go on high alert and cancel all leaves. Since May 16, at least three shooting attacks targeted troops near Ismailia and in the Sharqiya Province, while over 26 crude bombs targeted electricity infrastructure in outlying areas, major highways, police stations, and a church south of Cairo. In total, one policeman was killed and over six were injured, while at least one assailant was injured when his explosive detonated prematurely in a southern Cairo neighborhood.

Context & Analysis

The recent spate of attacks, in their modus operandi, targets, locations, and intensity, are all signature works of the many radicalized Brotherhood members who had lost faith in democracy after Morsi’s ousting. These amateurish groups, often organized from Brotherhood cells operating in Islamist bastions in the Fayoum, Sharqiya, Beheira, Giza, and Ismailia Governorates, have clearly been reinvigorated after an April slumber which, at the time, signaled an increase in stability in a country wrought by grassroots militancy that police had been seemingly unable to curb.

In an equally notable trend, Egypt’s Salafi jihadists, including the ISIS-allied Wilayat Sinai, appear to have held their fire after the Morsi sentencing. A shooting attack on a bus carrying judges and lawyers near Al-Arish (Wilayat Sinai’s operating area) on May 16 was deemed by the Interior Ministry to have been premeditated, rather than a snap reaction to the judiciary’s move. But those who understand the inner workings of ISIS know that the group will go out of its way to show its opposition to the more moderate regional Muslim Brotherhood movement. This silence, however, won’t last long. On May 19th, it was reported that yet another government vehicle, this time an ambulance, was hijacked in the northern Sinai, a typical precursor to a Wilayat Sinai car bombing, the next of which could be the group’s response to the Arab Sharkas executions.

In total, the blows exchanged by Egypt’s judiciary and its various Islamist movements paint a picture of a country still dangerously polarized along secularist-religious lines. Egypt’s judiciary, for its part, is still gunning for revenge after Morsi’s attempts to sideline Mubarak-era judges during his brief rule, and even Sisi himself may be unable to contain them. But one thing remains clear, the majority of the Egyptians long for an end to the instability brought about by the jihadists, the brotherhood, and the Ultras, that has crippled the country’s economy for four years. This public backing may not be around for long, and the onus is on Sisi to find a solution to calm tensions and deliver an alternative outlet to violence for anti-government groups to voice their discontent.

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46,000 Twitter accounts ‘linked to Daesh’

AFP, MARCH 5 2015

Largest number of Daesh supporters are in Saudi Arabia, followed by Syria, Iraq and the US

At least 46,000 Twitter accounts have been linked to supporters of Daesh in late 2014, a research report released in Washington showed.

The study released Thursday by the Brookings Institution found that even though many accounts were suspended by the messaging platform, the numbers remained high.

“From September through December 2014, the authors estimate that at least 46,000 Twitter accounts were used by [Daesh] supporters, although not all of them were active at the same time,” the report said.

Authors JM Berger and Jonathon Morgan said analysis of the social media efforts of the militant Islamist group needs to go beyond the core leadership.

“Previous analyses of Daesh’s Twitter reach have relied on limited segments of the overall [Daesh] social network,” they wrote in the report commissioned by Google Ideas.

“The small, cellular nature of that network – and the focus on particular subsets within the network such as foreign fighters – may create misleading conclusions.”

Analysing the location embedded in the tweets, the researchers found the largest number of Daesh supporters in Saudi Arabia, followed by Syria, Iraq and the United States.

Nearly one in five of the Daesh supporters tweeted in English, they found, with three quarters tweeting in Arabic.

The supporting accounts had an average of about 1,000 followers each, higher than most Twitter users. Accounts that tweeted most often and had the most followers were most likely to be suspended.

The authors said social media companies and the US government “must work together to devise appropriate responses to extremism on social media.”

They noted that “although discussions of this issue often frame government intervention as an infringement on free speech, in reality, social media companies currently regulate speech on their platforms without oversight or disclosures of how suspensions are applied.”

Twitter said this week it was working with law enforcement officials on unspecified threats, amid reports that the social network had been targeted for blocking accounts linked to the Daesh.

A page on the online bulletin board Pastebin showed an image of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in what appear to be the crosshairs of a rifle scope and a message in Arabic.

SITE Intelligence, a US group that monitors militant threats, said the post was made by Al Nusra Al Maqdisiya, a pro-Daesh media group.

A translation of the message by SITE said that Dorsey and Twitter are now being targeted by Islamist militants for suspending certain accounts.

“You began this failed war, and we have told you from the beginning that it is not your war! But you did not understand. You shut down our accounts and we quickly return, but when our lone lions shut down your breathing there will be no return!” the message said.

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Cyber Terrorism: How Dangerous is the ISIS Cyber Caliphate Threat?

BY DAN LOHRMANN

Industry experts disagree on whether the Islamic State’s ability to mount a dangerous cyberattack is a top concern or an emerging online threat or completely overblown. But one thing is not in doubt, ISIS is making news headlines in 2015 for their exploits in cyberspace. In my view, ISIS is an emerging online threat to keep a close watch on. Here’s why.

“The electronic war has not yet begun.”

That was one message released in video on Monday, May 11, 2015, from a hacker group that claimed to be affiliated with the Islamic State. According to theInternational Business Times:

The video showed a digitized, hooded and faceless figure, akin to the symbol of the hacker collective Anonymous, reading out a prepared speech in Arabic with English subtitles. A group calling itself the “Islamic State’s Defenders in the Internet,” reportedly released the video, although there is no evidence that it is connected to leaders of the group also known as ISIS or ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

Last month, the Obama administration issued this Executive Order which created a new targeted authority for the U.S. government to better respond to the most significant of these online threats, particularly in situations where malicious cyberactors may operate beyond the reach of existing authorities.

But how serious of an online threat is ISIS and those who claim to work with or for the Islamic State? Could these groups unleash cyber terrorism and successfully bring down critical infrastructure in the U.S. and/or around the world? Where do these cyberthreats rank, if we compare them to other cyberattacks from cyber criminals or cyberattacks originating from Russia or China?

There is no doubt that ISIS has learned to use the Internet successfully to attract new recruits through the use of social media. Stories of men and women who travel to the Middle East from all over the world has been major topic of global discussion in 2014 and 2015.

So could more dangerous cyberterrorism be coming from the self-proclaimed “cyber caliphate?”

In June 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) declared the territory that it captured in Iraq and Syria to be an Islamic state, or caliphate. Meanwhile, a group of hackers who claim to be affiliated with ISIS has declared a “cyber caliphate” and made headlines over the past six months for a series of online incidents that have received worldwide news coverage. For example, check out these two stories and a related video:

U.S. Central Command Twitter Account Suspended After Apparent ISIS Hack

Cyber Caliphate hacks Malaysia Airlines website

http://www.9news.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=4012115202001

In a rather bizarre twist, the well known hacker group Anonymous sent this response to Cyber Caliphate declaring how they would stop their online activities. Here’s the video message that was sent.

How Serious is the Threat?

The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. offered this article last month, which characterized our online challenges in stark terms that reflect a Cold War mentality.

Britain’s new spy chief warned last month that the country was now in a “technology arms race” with enemies “often unconstrained by consideration of ethics and law … terrorists, malicious actors in cyberspace and criminals”. “[The technology] allows them to see what we are doing and to put our people and agents at risk,” Alex Younger told an audience in London, adding that traditional human espionage was becoming increasingly intertwined with “technical operations.”

Last year, Michael Rogers, who is U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) director, talked about this same topic.

“We need to assume there is a cyber dimension in every area we deal with,” Rogers said during a speech at a cybersecurity conference at the Capital Hilton hotel in the District of Columbia. “Counterterrorism is no different.”

And yet, many experts doubt that ISIS can do much to harm the U.S. online – at least not yet. Last year, an article in Time magazine pointed to the surprising ISIS social media successes, but poured water on those who think ISIS could bring down the U.S. power grid today.

“I don’t think anyone has any proof that there’s an imminent attack or that ISIS has acquired the manpower or the resources to launch an attack on the infrastructure of the United States,” said Craig Guiliano, senior threat specialist at security firm TSC Advantage and a former counterterrorism officer with the Department of Defense. “It could be a potential threat in the future, but we’re not there yet.”

Dark Reading quoted John Cohen, who is a former U.S. Department of Homeland Security counterterrorism official, on the same question.

“I would be concerned if they were able to attract cyber experts who could execute cyberattacks,” said Cohen, who is now chief strategy advisor at Encryptics. “From the standpoint of a security person, even if I don’t have specific intelligence about a specific threat or plot underway, I have to look at all factors if I’m going to be prudent and establish the capacity to mitigate this type of threat.”

One Response: White House and Gulf States Partner on Cybersecurity

This past week, The Hill.com reported that the White House has promised cooperation with many Gulf States on cybersecurity. In a meeting this past week at Camp David, leaders and delegates from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — discussed numerous ways to partner in fighting ISIS and other regional threats.

“The United States and GCC member states will consult on cybersecurity initiatives, share expertise and best practices on cyber policy, strategy and incident response,” the White House said in a statement. “The United States will provide GCC member states with additional security assistance, set up military cybersecurity exercises and national policy workshops, and improve information-sharing.”

However, many experts currently worry more about the ongoing threats coming from Iran than ISIS in the region, especially if a nuclear deal is signed. Therefore, support for new capabilities and cyberdefense in the Middle East will likely cover a mix of different actors.

Closing Thoughts

I was in Washington, D.C., this past week to speak at the ISC2 CyberSecureGovevent. After the opening keynote, and in response to a question on the top new and emerging global cyberthreats, John Riggi, who is section chief from the FBI Cyber Division Outreach, pointed to ISIS and the emerging cyberthreats coming from the Middle East as needing more attention.

He said that cyberthreats coming from China and Russia were much more advanced currently, but the FBI is concerned about these new organizations recruiting or buying the people and technology with more advanced cyberattack capabilities.

So far, these ISIS-affiliated groups have only been able to deface websites and make headlines in more minor hacking cases. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Nevertheless, the public and private sectors need to prepare for the worst.

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THE ANATOMY OF RUSSIA INFORMATION WARFARE: The Crimean Operation Case Study

Excerpts

The crimean operation has served as an occasion for russia to demonstrate to the entire world the capabilities and the potential of information warfare. Its goal is to use difficult to detect methods to subordinate the elites and societies in other countries by making use of various kinds of secret and overt channels (secret services, diplomacy and the media), psychological impact, and ideological and political sabotage. russian politicians and journalists have argued that infor- mation battles are necessary for “the russian/Eurasian civi- lisation” to counteract “informational aggression from the Atlantic civilisation led by the uSA”. this argument from the arsenal of applied geopolitics has been used for years. this text is an attempt to provide an interpretation of informa- tion warfare with the background of russian geopolitical theory and practice.

All the federal television and radio channels, newspapers and a multitude of online resources have been employed in the recent disinformation campaign regarding the situation in Ukraine, which is being waged on an unprecedentedly large scale. The in- formation front was supported by diplomats, politicians, political analysts, experts, and representatives of the academic and cultur- al elites. This front, though, was many years in the making. At the time of the Ukrainian crisis (the Euromaidan), it was combined with ideological, political and socio-cultural sabotage, provocation and diplomatic activity. In short, multidirectional and complex measures were taken. Following the military occupation and in- corporation of Crimea into Russia, the disinformation mechanisms were aimed at lending credibility to Moscow’s intentions and con- cealing the gaps in the argumentation for the military moves and annexation of Crimea itself. These arguments were absurd, such as: it was feared that “Banderivtsy could storm into Crimea”, “the Black Sea Fleet bases could be taken over by NATO”, “Ukrainian citizens could be de-Russified”, and so on and so forth.

The anti-Ukrainian information battles which had been seen for many years entered a tough phase of information warfare at the beginning of this year. They have been aimed primarily at desta- bilising the situation in Ukraine and placing pressure on its gov- ernment and citizens to adopt solutions regarding their country’s political system as proposed by Russia so that Ukraine could be controlled by Russia and remain within its sphere of influence. Another goal was to ‘obscure’ public opinion at home and world- wide using a multitude of information channels.

Public opinion outside Russia had to choose between “Russian dominance in the post-Soviet area” or a “global Maidan” (total chaos). The spin doctors at home were asking whether Crimea should become another US state or an entity of the Russian Fed- eration. In effect, the Kremlin’s informational aggression affected the Russian public most strongly and “the world’s greatest divided people”, i.e. Russian-speaking citizens of the states which were set up following the disintegration of the USSR. Western public opinion turned out to be the most resistant to Russian propagan- da, although it has resonated with some people here as well. Some Western media and politicians agree with part of the arguments raised by Russian propaganda, including “Russia’s right to arrange the post-Soviet area” in line with its interests. the crimean op- eration perfectly shows the essence of information warfare: the victim of the aggression – as was the case with crimea – does not resist it. this happened because russian-speaking citizens of ukraine who had undergone necessary psycholog- ical and informational treatment (intoxication) took part in the separatist coup and the annexation of crimea by russia.

MAIn PoIntS

  • Russia’s information warfare theory has been developed in opposition to the new generation Western warfare concepts. This method of warfare is also used as an argument for the need to “respond with war to the information war waged against Russia.” In practice, information battles clearly draw upon the psychological warfare conducted in Soviet times and the techniques for influencing and leading the public tested at those times.
  • The geopolitical doctrine treats information as a dangerous weapon: it is cheap, it is a universal weapon, it has unlimited range, it is easily accessible and permeates all state borders without restrictions. The information and network struggle, as well as its extreme forms, such as information-psychological warfare and netwars, are means the state uses to achieve its goals in international, regional and domestic politics and also to gain a geopolitical advantage. Representatives of geopolitical thought have to be given credit on the one hand for popularising this topic, and on the other for their personal participation in information warfare as opinion leaders. This in particular con- cerns the key representatives of the two Russian geopolitical schools: Igor Panarin and Aleksandr Dugin, academic teachers and mentors of the young generations of geopoliticians.
  • Furthermore, geopolitics offers ideological grounds for infor- mation battles. In opposition to the ideology of liberalism, it promotes “a neo-conservative post-liberal power (…) strug- gling for a just multi-polar world, which defends tradition, conservative values and true liberty.” The “Russian Eurasian civilisation” is set at contrast to the “Atlantic civilisation led by the USA” which allegedly intends to disassemble Russian state- hood and gain global hegemony. The internal crisis in Ukraine followed by the need to annex Crimea have been presented in the context of the rivalry between these two civilisations.
  • The information strategy of the rivalry between Russia and the West is a product of both information geopolitics, which has been developed since the late 1990s, and the consistently pursued policy for strengthening the state and building its research and scientific, organisational, media, diplomatic, and social bases, et cetera. It is already used for both internal (mobilisation of society) and external purposes (reconstruct- ing Russia’s spheres of influence in the post-Soviet area and Russia’s dominance in Eurasia). The information space where the Russian language is used and the existence of the Russian diaspora (who are receptive to the Kremlin’s propaganda) are the key factors which make successful action possible.
  • Western public opinion is more resistant to Russian propagan- da, although it has resonated with some people here as well. Moscow’s informational aggression is set to intensify: Russia has a sense of impunity on information battlefields. Further- more, it is constantly modifying and perfecting its propa- ganda techniques, taking into account new media tools and introducing innovations, such as activity in social networking services, etc.

Full Report:  http://www.osw.waw.pl/sites/default/files/the_anatomy_of_russian_information_warfare.pdf

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THE ANATOMY OF RUSSIA INFORMATION WARFARE: The Crimean Operation Case Study

Excerpts

The crimean operation has served as an occasion for russia to demonstrate to the entire world the capabilities and the potential of information warfare. Its goal is to use difficult to detect methods to subordinate the elites and societies in other countries by making use of various kinds of secret and overt channels (secret services, diplomacy and the media), psychological impact, and ideological and political sabotage. russian politicians and journalists have argued that infor- mation battles are necessary for “the russian/Eurasian civi- lisation” to counteract “informational aggression from the Atlantic civilisation led by the uSA”. this argument from the arsenal of applied geopolitics has been used for years. this text is an attempt to provide an interpretation of informa- tion warfare with the background of russian geopolitical theory and practice.

All the federal television and radio channels, newspapers and a multitude of online resources have been employed in the recent disinformation campaign regarding the situation in Ukraine, which is being waged on an unprecedentedly large scale. The in- formation front was supported by diplomats, politicians, political analysts, experts, and representatives of the academic and cultur- al elites. This front, though, was many years in the making. At the time of the Ukrainian crisis (the Euromaidan), it was combined with ideological, political and socio-cultural sabotage, provocation and diplomatic activity. In short, multidirectional and complex measures were taken. Following the military occupation and in- corporation of Crimea into Russia, the disinformation mechanisms were aimed at lending credibility to Moscow’s intentions and con- cealing the gaps in the argumentation for the military moves and annexation of Crimea itself. These arguments were absurd, such as: it was feared that “Banderivtsy could storm into Crimea”, “the Black Sea Fleet bases could be taken over by NATO”, “Ukrainian citizens could be de-Russified”, and so on and so forth.

The anti-Ukrainian information battles which had been seen for many years entered a tough phase of information warfare at the beginning of this year. They have been aimed primarily at desta- bilising the situation in Ukraine and placing pressure on its gov- ernment and citizens to adopt solutions regarding their country’s political system as proposed by Russia so that Ukraine could be controlled by Russia and remain within its sphere of influence. Another goal was to ‘obscure’ public opinion at home and world- wide using a multitude of information channels.

Public opinion outside Russia had to choose between “Russian dominance in the post-Soviet area” or a “global Maidan” (total chaos). The spin doctors at home were asking whether Crimea should become another US state or an entity of the Russian Fed- eration. In effect, the Kremlin’s informational aggression affected the Russian public most strongly and “the world’s greatest divided people”, i.e. Russian-speaking citizens of the states which were set up following the disintegration of the USSR. Western public opinion turned out to be the most resistant to Russian propagan- da, although it has resonated with some people here as well. Some Western media and politicians agree with part of the arguments raised by Russian propaganda, including “Russia’s right to arrange the post-Soviet area” in line with its interests. the crimean op- eration perfectly shows the essence of information warfare: the victim of the aggression – as was the case with crimea – does not resist it. this happened because russian-speaking citizens of ukraine who had undergone necessary psycholog- ical and informational treatment (intoxication) took part in the separatist coup and the annexation of crimea by russia.

MAIn PoIntS

  • Russia’s information warfare theory has been developed in opposition to the new generation Western warfare concepts. This method of warfare is also used as an argument for the need to “respond with war to the information war waged against Russia.” In practice, information battles clearly draw upon the psychological warfare conducted in Soviet times and the techniques for influencing and leading the public tested at those times.
  • The geopolitical doctrine treats information as a dangerous weapon: it is cheap, it is a universal weapon, it has unlimited range, it is easily accessible and permeates all state borders without restrictions. The information and network struggle, as well as its extreme forms, such as information-psychological warfare and netwars, are means the state uses to achieve its goals in international, regional and domestic politics and also to gain a geopolitical advantage. Representatives of geopolitical thought have to be given credit on the one hand for popularising this topic, and on the other for their personal participation in information warfare as opinion leaders. This in particular con- cerns the key representatives of the two Russian geopolitical schools: Igor Panarin and Aleksandr Dugin, academic teachers and mentors of the young generations of geopoliticians.
  • Furthermore, geopolitics offers ideological grounds for infor- mation battles. In opposition to the ideology of liberalism, it promotes “a neo-conservative post-liberal power (…) strug- gling for a just multi-polar world, which defends tradition, conservative values and true liberty.” The “Russian Eurasian civilisation” is set at contrast to the “Atlantic civilisation led by the USA” which allegedly intends to disassemble Russian state- hood and gain global hegemony. The internal crisis in Ukraine followed by the need to annex Crimea have been presented in the context of the rivalry between these two civilisations.
  • The information strategy of the rivalry between Russia and the West is a product of both information geopolitics, which has been developed since the late 1990s, and the consistently pursued policy for strengthening the state and building its research and scientific, organisational, media, diplomatic, and social bases, et cetera. It is already used for both internal (mobilisation of society) and external purposes (reconstruct- ing Russia’s spheres of influence in the post-Soviet area and Russia’s dominance in Eurasia). The information space where the Russian language is used and the existence of the Russian diaspora (who are receptive to the Kremlin’s propaganda) are the key factors which make successful action possible.
  • Western public opinion is more resistant to Russian propagan- da, although it has resonated with some people here as well. Moscow’s informational aggression is set to intensify: Russia has a sense of impunity on information battlefields. Further- more, it is constantly modifying and perfecting its propa- ganda techniques, taking into account new media tools and introducing innovations, such as activity in social networking services, etc.

Full Report:  http://www.osw.waw.pl/sites/default/files/the_anatomy_of_russian_information_warfare.pdf

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