News you may have missed #894: Economic warfare edition

Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri►►This website has covered extensively the ongoing diplomatic war between Qatar, widely seen as an Iranian ally, and a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia. In July of last year, the Saudi-led coalition —namely the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain— broke relations with Qatar and imposed a commercial embargo on the small oil kingdom, which they accuse of supporting Iran and Iranian-backed militant groups in the region. On January 8, the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar accused Saudi Arabia and its allies of carrying out a “unilateral, abusive, arbitrary” and illegal economic blockade. The head of the committee, Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri, said that the Saudi-led blockade amounted to “economic warfare”. Does he have a point? Does economic warfare constitute a tangible part of the arsenal of modern nations, or is it a fantastical concept with little relation to reality?

►►Giuseppe Gagliano, director of the Centro Studi Strategici Carlo De Cristoforis in Italy, argues that economic warfare has been practiced for centuries. While examining the concept of economic intelligence in contemporary French strategic thinking, Professor Gagliano, explains that the concept of economic warfare has deep historical roots. He argues that, in its contemporary form, economic warfare originates in the period immediately after the end of World War II. Traditionally, it has defensive and offensive applications: Nations strive to limit outsourcing in order to preserve their industrial resources; at the same time, they seek to conquer international markets and, when able, resources. Although outsourcing has played a major role in economic warfare, the financial crisis of 2008 significantly upped the stakes and renewed the central role of the state in economic warfare theory and practice, argues Gagliano.

►►It should perhaps be noted that economic warfare does not operate simply an appendage to traditional warfare. In fact, it often takes place in the absence of traditional warfare, or indeed between wars. David Katz, senior analyst at the United States Special Operations Command and a career Foreign Service Officer, argues that economic warfare can, if used substantially and effectively, deter proxy warfare. In an article [pdf] published last year in Parameters, the quarterly journal of the United States Army War College, Katz suggests that the principles of economic warfare could be used “independently and within campaigns” by state actors. He also argues that the US should not hesitate to employ economic warfare to preempt the non-traditional warfare capabilities of its adversaries.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 26 January 2018 | Permalink

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Ex-NATO supreme commander warns of ‘Grexit security nightmare’

James StavridisAn American former supreme allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has warned that a possible Greek exit from the Eurozone “could become a geopolitical nightmare” for the European Union and NATO. James Stavridis, a retired four-start US Navy admiral, who served as NATO’s 16th Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2009 to 2013, said solving the Greek crisis should not be left to the central bankers. In an article published Wednesday in Foreign Policy, Stavridis said the financial administrators that are handling the Greek crisis were not sufficiently cognizant of the massive geostrategic implications of a possible “Grexit”.

The retired admiral said that if the Greek economy continues its downward spiral, the country may not be able to fulfil its defense obligations to NATO, in which Greece has held full membership since 1952. As a result, the country may leave not only the EU, but also NATO. Neither organization has ever lost a member-state, said Stavridis, adding that such a development would constitute terra incognita and would “shake both organizations in fundamental ways” by weakening their broader ideological cohesion.

However, said Stavridis, chances are that Greece will remain a member of EU and NATO despite possibly exiting the Eurozone. But it would be “an angry disaffected and battered nation”, he said, and could thus wreak havoc in both organizations. The latter are consensus-driven, meaning that their actions depend on the unanimous agreement of all member-states. If Greece adopted an “uncooperative” attitude, it would easily bring both organizations to a halt when it comes to pressing issues, such the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, the Iranian nuclear program, or even negotiations about transatlantic trade. Currently, Greece’s important geographic position means that its naval bases constitute the maritime flank of NATO during a critical time of tension in the eastern Mediterranean, said Stavridis.

And what if Greece, shunned by the West, started to look elsewhere for support? Russia, which shares strong historical and religious links with Greece, could be a “prospective partner” for Athens, argued Stavridis. If Moscow offered even marginal economic assistance to Athens, Greece could be tempted to further distance itself from its Western partners, both diplomatically and militarily.

Admiral Stavridis’ warning came a day after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Greece had played “an important role in southern Europe as a NATO member” and urged Athens not to make cuts in its defense spending due to the ongoing economic crisis.

Global finance fears grow as Greece faces economic meltdown

GreeceSeveral Western countries issued travel warnings for Greece on Sunday, as the Greek government shut down all banks and imposed capital controls following the breakdown of talks between Athens and the European Union. British and American citizens traveling or living in Greece were advised to have enough cash on hand, as ATMs were quickly running out of currency. In a late-night televised address to the nation, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said banks would remain closed until July 6 –the day after Greeks vote in a nationwide referendum on whether to accept the bailout terms proposed to Greece by its creditors. Police tightened security around ATM machines, as lines were reportedly formed in petrol stations in the capital.

The decision to shut down the banks was taken after finance ministers in the eurozone –the a monetary union of 19 European Union (EU) member states that have adopted the euro as their common currency– rejected Athens’ request to prolong a financial-assistance program. The decision could prompt Greece to default on a €1.5 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s main creditors. Additionally, the European Central Bank, which oversees Greece’s banking system, refused on Sunday to infuse cash to the Greek banks, in order to accommodate the mass withdrawal of cash by panicked citizens. On Saturday, Greece’s Minister of Finance, Yannis Varoufakis, was not allowed to attend a eurozone meeting in Brussels –a historic first that could mean Greece is close to being kicked out of the eurozone and maybe even the EU as a whole.

Finance ministers of the 18 countries that attended Saturday’s meeting issued a joint statement pledging “to do whatever it takes to stabilize the common currency area” and shield it from possible domino effects caused by the Greek financial meltdown. However, it is difficult to predict what will happen to the financial markets if Greece declares a default, as some of the world’s largest banking institutions share ownership of the country’s mammoth €300 billion debt. Financial analysts warned that the euro will become “increasingly vulnerable” to ripple effects from the Greek crisis, while the London-based Financial Times crisis meeeting the developments in Greece were “expected to trigger a sharp reaction” in the world’s markets this week. The big question, said The Times, is whether the economic fallout from the latest dramatic developments would be limited to Greece or become “a global event”. There was no question, said the paper, that the markets were “at a critical juncture” and that investors were “taking the possibility of contagion very seriously”.

Meanwhile, several European countries announced they will be holding emergency meetings on Monday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel invited German party leaders to a crisis meeting, while the office of French President Francois Hollande said he would be holding a “restricted emergency cabinet meeting” to discuss the developments in Greece. The British government said its ministers were “taking steps” to protect the country from possible economic turbulence in the eurozone –of which the United Kingdom is not a member. British newspaper The Observer said in a lengthy editorial published on Sunday that the Greek crisis, coupled with rising tensions over immigration from the Middle East and North Africa, heightened terrorism fears, as well as the impending British EU referendum, were causing a “perfect storm [of] tension and division at Europe’s core”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 29 June 2015 | Permalink: https://intelnews.org/2015/06/29/01-1724/

News you may have missed #575

IARPA logo

IARPA logo

►►Inquest into death of MI6 spy to go ahead. The inquest into the bizarre death of MI6 and GCHQ officer Gareth Williams will go ahead before Christmas without a jury, according to London-based newspaper The Express. The paper says that “12 spy chiefs will attend [the inquest] to explain the background to the case”.
►►Colombia’s ex-president denies role in spy scandal. Alvaro Uribe has denied, during a 3½-hour appearance before a Colombian congressional committee, that he ordered the country’s domestic intelligence agency to spy on judges, journalists and political foes. More than 20 agents of the DAS intelligence agency have been imprisoned for alleged roles in the spying. Two more have pleaded guilty in exchange for reduced sentences.
►►US spy research firm eyes stock market. IARPA, the US intelligence community’s research arm, plans to introduce a new program to develop tools to help analysts “quickly and accurately assess petabytes of complex anonymized financial data”. According to a conference presentation, the program would help spies “analyze massive amounts of data to spot indicators of market behavior, find relationships between seemingly unrelated transactions across hundreds of global markets, and provide insight into specific events and general financial trends”.

News you may have missed #548 (China edition)

NIS HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►China detains Korean spy officers. It emerged last week that Chinese authorities have kept in detention for nearly a year two South Korean NIS intelligence officers, who were caught collecting information about North Korea on Chinese soil. It appears that the Chinese did share the information with the North Koreans, because usually the North Korean news agency would have announced this when the officers were first arrested. Of course, NIS denied the Chinese report. ►►US intelligence on China declassified. George Washington University’s National Security Archive has published a series of declassified US intelligence reports on China, spanning the period from 1955 until 2010. In one report authored in 2005, US intelligence analysts speculate that Beijing might be trying to develop a capability to incapacitate Taiwan through high-power microwave and electromagnetic radiation, so as not to trigger a nuclear retaliation from the US. ►►IMF investigators see China behind computer hacking. Back in June, intelNews reported on a massive and sophisticated cyberattack on the computer systems of the International Monetary Fund, which experts claimed was “linked to a foreign government”. Read more of this post

Massive IMF cyberattack ‘was state-backed’, say sources

International Monetary Fund seal

IMF seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A massive and sophisticated cyberattack that targeted the computer systems of the International Monetary Fund last month was “linked to a foreign government”, according to sources familiar with the incident. The IMF, an international institution which oversees financial crises around the world, revealed the security breach in an internal email sent last week, but has yet to make a public announcement about the incident. Although the cyberattack was not publicly announced, it was revealed last weekend by The New York Times, which cited a “security expert […] familiar with the incident”. The paper notes that IMF’s computer databases function as “a repository of highly confidential information about the fiscal condition of many nations”, and that they contain “potentially market-moving information”. British daily The Independent adds that “internal political opponents and foreign intelligence services could […] find [in the IMF databases] explosive information about government dealings with the fund”. Intriguingly, the attack occurred in the weeks prior to the arrest of the Fund’s Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was detained on American soil on charges of sexually assaulting a female worker at his luxury New York hotel. Read more of this post

Analysis: An Economic Security Role for European Spy Agencies?

Economic espionage

Economic spying

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last February, Spain’s intelligence service began investigating alleged suspicious efforts by foreign financial speculators to destabilize the Spanish economy. According to newspaper El País, the Spanish government asked the country’s Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI) to probe links between speculative moves in world financial markets and a series of damaging editorials “in the Anglo-Saxon media”. There are indications that the National Intelligence Service of Greece (EYP) is following in the CNI’s footsteps. In February, when Athens and Brussels began to realize the magnitude of the financial crisis threatening the European common currency, several news outlets suggested that the EYP was cooperating with Spanish, Irish and Portuguese intelligence services in investigating a series of coordinated speculative attacks on money markets, most of which allegedly originated from London and Washington. Read more of this post