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" Conversation: The United States' Role in the World is republished with permission of Stratfor."
Kenya: Government To Resume Border Wall Construction April 25, 2016 Kenya will resume construction of a 700-kilometer (435-mile) security wall along its border with Somalia, Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery said April 24, Xinhua reported. The fence is designed to stop al Shabaab fighters in Somalia from crossing into Kenya, where the group has committed a number of gruesome attacks, including an April 2015 attack at a university, which killed nearly 150 students. The government's announcement to restart building comes after construction on the wall stalled because of a lack of funds.
Australia: France Lands $43 Billion Submarine Deal April 26, 2016 France's state-owned DCNS group won a $43 billion contract to build a fleet of 12 submarines for Australia, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced April 26, Reuters reported. France beat out Japan and Germany for the deal, which Turnbull said would involve Australian workers and Australian steel. Japan was viewed as an early frontrunner to secure the deal, but inexperience with global defense deals and a reluctance to agree to build the submarines in Australia caused it to lose out to the French bid. Losing the deal is a blow to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's effort to ramp up defense exports while normalizing the country's military.
Even in the lucrative world of the arms trade, it isn't every day that a sale worth more than $38.54 billion is made. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Tuesday the winner of Australia's Future Submarine contract. DCNS, a French industrial group that specializes in naval equipment, bested rival Japanese and German companies, forcing them to learn the bitter lessons of a lost contest….
North Korea has completed preparations for its fifth nuclear test and could conduct it at any time, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said April 26, Yonhap reported. Meanwhile, North Korea has no plans to suspend nuclear tests even if the United States stops its annual military exercises with South Korea, an aide to North Korea's foreign minister told Kyodo. Over the weekend, the foreign minister said Pyongyang would halt nuclear testing in exchange for an end to the joint drills. Last week, North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile in its latest show of defiance against international sanctions. “As North Korea works on a deliverable warhead, it will be important to watch its parallel efforts to build a long-range delivery vehicle for re-entry and guidance capabilities.”
During the early stages of the EU crisis, most threats to the survival of the Continental bloc came from its periphery. Back then the prevailing fear was that financial disaster in a southern member state — a default in Greece or Portugal, for example — could precipitate the eurozone's collapse, hurting northern nations such as Germany and the Netherlands in the process. Though the possibility still exists, a sort of inverse threat has emerged. Today, the steady rise of anti-establishment and Euroskeptic sentiments in Northern Europe, as exemplified in Austria and Germany, threatens the Continent's south….
Italy: NATO To Shift Focus To Libya Migration Route, Minister Says April 25, 2016 Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said she expects NATO to agree at its July 2016 summit in Poland to deploy forces to counter illegal migration from Libya to Europe, La Stampa reported April 25. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has reportedly confirmed to Pinotti that an Italian proposal to shift the focus of NATO operations from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Libyan coast has been approved. While the majority of the focus regarding illegal migration to the European Union has been on Greece, Italy's migration problem should not be ignored.
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT AFGHANISTAN NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, an unexplored frontier opened up for China to its west. Central Asia offered Beijing new sources of raw materials and new markets, as well as a major transit zone for exports, to feed China's growing and globally integrating economy. But China did not have the military means to buttress its economic position, nor did it want to unnerve Russia, a power wary of rising Chinese influence, especially in its former Soviet periphery. With these concerns in mind, Beijing carefully shaped a military and economic strategy for Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. Though weak upon independence, the countries retained strong security ties to Russia. Consequently, China opted to promote economic involvement in the region complemented by a subtle, unimposing military engagement, mainly as a courtesy to Russia in exchange for stable Chinese-Russian strategic cooperation.
Russia: Missile Defense System Delivered To Iran Ahead Of Schedule April 26, 2016 Russia is delivering its S-300 missile defense system to Iran ahead of schedule, according to Alexander Fomin, the head of Russia's federal arms exports service, Reuters reported. The two countries are also holding talks on the delivery of other equipment. The S-300 missile defense system can engage multiple aircraft and ballistic missiles around 150 kilometers (90 miles) away. Russia delivered the first part of the system to Iran the week of April 11. Moscow had canceled a contract to deliver S-300s to Iran in 2010 under pressure from the West. President Vladimir Putin, however, lifted the ban in April 2015 after an interim agreement that paved the way for a full nuclear deal with Iran ending international sanctions.
Iran: Zarif, Kerry Meeting In New York April 22, 2016
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet in New York with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on April 22, according to Kerry’s spokesman, AFP reported. Discussions will focus on the sanctions relief process and implementation of the nuclear deal reached last year, the spokesman said. It is the pair’s first meeting since January. They are expected to meet again after a meeting at the United Nations on April 26. Tehran alleges that Washington has not lived up to its side of the nuclear deal, because Western banks and firms have been slow to restore business ties. With sanctions removed, Iran's political factions over the next few years will fight over the direction of the economy and to what extent to open it to foreign investment.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Caren Firouz Iran's Supreme Leader accused the United States on Wednesday of scaring businesses away from Tehran and undermining a deal to lift international sanctions. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told hundreds of workers that a global deal, signed between Iran and world powers, had lifted financial sanctions, but U.S. obstruction was stopping Iran getting the full economic fruits of the agreement. "On paper the United States allows foreign banks to deal with Iran, but in practice they create Iranophobia so no one does business with Iran," he said in quotes from the speech posted on his website….
Iraq: Kurdish, Shiite Fighters Agree To Truce in North April 25, 2016
Kurdish peshmerga and Shiite Turkmen paramilitary forces in northern Iraq agreed to a truce, halting a dayslong period of violence that threatened to further destabilize the country, Rudaw reported April 25. More than a dozen fighters from the two groups died in the clashes, as well as an unknown number of civilians. The clashes risk further fragmenting Iraq, which is struggling to contain the Islamic State while managing sectarian and ethnic rivalries, including between the Shiite-led government in Baghdad and Kurdish officials in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iraq: Army Resumes Makhmour Offensive, Recaptures Village April 27, 2016
The Iraqi army resumed its Makhmour offensive April 27, recapturing the village of Mahana from the Islamic State, Rudaw reported. The offensive is the first stage in the larger operation to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Islamic State militants. Despite the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, the Makhmour offensive has been slow. Various groups are cooperating against the Islamic State, including the Kurdish peshmerga, Shiite militias, Sunni tribal militias and Iraqi government forces. The struggle for influence and control among these groups will emerge even more fully as they overcome their common enemy.
Tuz Khurmatu, a diverse town of fewer than 100,000 people, has long been a hot spot for ethnic and sectarian clashes in Iraq. But violence between the Kurdish peshmerga and Iraq's Shiite militias surged after the town's latest cease-fire unraveled on Sunday. On Wednesday, the two factions reached a tentative agreement in Tuz Khurmatu after the United Nations, United States and United Kingdom urged them to defuse tensions and focus on the fight against their common enemy, the Islamic State. So far, violence between the Kurdish and Shiite militias has been largely confined to the town, but the clashes reveal a much broader issue for Iraq, both in its battle against the Islamic State and in its internal, political battle in Baghdad…
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
MIDDLE EAST GENERAL
The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria has dropped from roughly 2,000 a month down to 200 within the past year, according to the Pentagon, which says the waning numbers are further proof of the Islamic State’s declining stature. The declining number of fighters is a direct result of strikes that have targeted the terror group’s infrastructure, Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State, said Tuesday….
BriefPolice made arrests in Cairo, Alexandria and other parts of the country on Thursday nightExcept where noted courtesy STRATFOR.COM
Dozens of activists were arrested on Thursday in Cairo, Alexandria, the Nile Delta and Upper Egypt ahead of planned protests on 25 April. The police raided several Cairo cafes and arrested dozens of people late on Thursday night and in the early hours of Friday morning, according to a statement by the Freedom for the Brave campaign. Lawyer Amr Imam told Ahram Online that at least 100 people were estimated to have been arrested around the country on Thursday night...
A Vision of Reform in Saudi Arabia
Summary Saudi Arabia has lifted its veil of secrecy ever so slightly. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave his first-ever live interview to Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television on April 25, less than an hour after the Cabinet in Riyadh approved the kingdom's National Transformation Plan. The five-year plan, which will kick off officially in the next couple of months, outlines Saudi Arabia's strategy to expand and develop its economy while de-emphasizing oil revenue. Within the framework of the larger Vision 2030, the plan focuses on broadening privatization efforts, lifting power and water subsidies across socio-economic classes, decreasing unemployment, bolstering domestic industrial military production, and spinning off some of Saudi Arabian Oil Co.'s assets into what the kingdom hopes will become the world's largest sovereign wealth fund.,,
In Libya, the Race to Defeat the Islamic State Begins
April 26:In Libya, the Race to Defeat the Islamic State Begins The race for Sirte is on. Libya's rival militias — and the two governments that command them — are competing to win back the city from the Islamic State, which has held it since mid-2015. The victor will secure greater bargaining power in the ongoing high-stakes negotiations to assemble a U.N.-brokered unity government, the Government of National Accord. The negotiations over the new government have attempted to square the disparate interests of federalists, Islamists and secular nationalists, among others, to establish the defeat of their common enemy, the Islamic State, as the priority. This shared goal has enabled the various groups to overlook their severe ideological and tribal divisions — at least for now….
April 25, Help Net Security – (International) Compromised credentials still to blame for many data breaches. A Cloud Security Alliance survey found that a lack of scalable identity access management systems, a lack of ongoing automated rotation of cryptographic keys, passwords, and certificates, as well as failure to use multifactor authentication were the major causes of data breaches. The findings also indicated that 22 percent of companies who suffered a data breach, attributed the breach to compromised credentials. Source:
April 25, Help Net Security – (International) Critical flaws in HP Data Protector open servers to remote attacks. Hewlett Packard released security updates for its HP Data Protector software patching six critical vulnerabilities for all versions prior to 7.03_108, 8.15, and 9.06 which could allow a remote code execution flaw or unauthorized disclosure of information via unauthenticated users or through an embedded Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) private key, which could increase the chance of man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks.
As the sun rose over the banks of the Seine and the medieval, half-timbered houses of Rouen, France, on July 13, 2012, Hisham Almiraat opened his inbox to find “Denunciation” in the subject line of an email. “Please do not mention my name or anything,” wrote the sender, Imane. “I do not want any trouble.” The editor and co-founder of Mamfakinch, a pro-democracy website created in Morocco during the Arab Spring, Almiraat was one of his country’s most outspoken dissidents and someone accustomed to cryptic emails: Moroccan activists faced jail time for their views and risked their jobs, or even their lives, for speaking out against their government. From Normandy’s capital city, where Almiraat was in medical school, the bespectacled 36-year-old spent his time — in between classes and hospital shifts — mentoring, coaching, and editing more than 40 citizen journalists. The group covered the roiling unrest back in Almiraat’s homeland, where he would soon return after completing his studies. (Almiraat contributed to Foreign Policy in 2011.) Almiraat and his colleagues also trained Mamfakinch’s writers to use encryption software, most notably the Onion Router, so that their online activities remained anonymous and shielded. Tor, as it’s widely known, masks a user’s identity and physical location. “People were relying on us to protect their…reputations, their careers, and probably also their freedoms,” Almiraat says. “All of that could be put in jeopardy if that were made public.” It was precisely this forethought that had earned Mamfakinch the Breaking Borders Award, sponsored by Google and the citizen-media group Global Voices, for its efforts “to defend and promote freedom of speech rights on the Internet.” But on that July morning, just 11 days after receiving the award, Almiraat read the message from Imane and knew “something wasn’t right.” A website link directed him to a document labeled “Scandal,” which, once downloaded, was blank. His associates received the same note. Suspicious, Almiraat promptly forwarded the email to an activist he knew, who then sent it to Morgan Marquis-Boire, a dreadlocked, tattooed 32-year-old digital activist who’d grown up hacking in New Zealand under the nickname “Mayhem.” A top security researcher at Google, Marquis-Boire had made waves recently as a volunteer detective for Citizen Lab, a technology research and human rights group at the University of Toronto; he and several colleagues had found evidence that suggested Bahrain was using surveillance software — a product intended for government spying on suspected criminals — against supporters of political reform. After a month-long analysis of the Scandal file, Marquis-Boire contacted Almiraat with disturbing news: Anyone who had opened the document had been infected with highly sophisticated spyware, which had been sent from an Internet protocol address in Morocco’s capital of Rabat. Further research confirmed that the Supreme Council of National Defense, which ran Morocco’s security agencies, was behind the attack. Almiraat and his colleagues had essentially handed government spies the keys to their devices, rendering Tor, or any other encryption software, useless. Morocco’s spooks could read the Mamfakinch team’s emails, steal their passwords, log their keystrokes, turn on their webcams and microphones — and spies likely had been doing exactly those things and more since the intrusion in July….