Analysis: Cyprus-Russia-Israel Arms Affair Points to Wider Questions

TOR-M1 radar

TOR-M1 radar

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Diplomatic observers were surprised in November 2008, when the then Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to meet his Cypriot counterpart, Dimitris Christofias, during the latter’s official visit to Moscow. Considering the traditionally close bilateral ties between Russia and Cyprus, the excuse from President Putin’s office, that he was too busy attending his United Russia party’s national conference, appeared unconvincing. An article published recently in Greek-Cypriot newspaper O Politis, traced the cause of the Russian President’s apparent snub to a 2007 attempt by the Cypriot government to hand over parts of a Russian-made missile system to Israel. The paper said the Cypriot plan was hatched in response to a request by Israeli intelligence officials, who were interested in acquiring technical insights into the Russian-made TOR-M1 surface-to-air missile defense system. The Israelis were concerned about the TOR-M1 because Iran was also said to be using a variant of the same system, which features a radar apparatus unknown to Israel, the United States or NATO. On the website of the Research Institute for European and American Studies, I explain what this alleged breach of trust between traditional Greek ally Cyprus and Russia may mean for the wider geostrategic balances in the east Mediterranean. Read article →

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Analysis: Spy agencies disagree on status of Iran’s nuclear program

M. Ahmadinejad

M. Ahmadinejad

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran’s ultimate aim is to fortify its military posture with nuclear weapons. Putting aside, however, the broad concurrence of opinion about Iran’s long-term goal, very little is clear about the immediate status of the country’s nuclear program. Iran maintains that its goal is peaceful; namely to invest in nuclear energy so as to free up large quantities of oil for exports. It is important to stress that the consensus among America’s intelligence agencies is that this is in fact Iran’s immediate goal. This was pronounced in the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a publicly available annual report cooperatively authored by the heads of all 16 US intelligence agencies. The 2007 report stated “with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program”.  The reality is that the existence of Iran’s second uranium enrichment plant –of which, incidentally, Western and Israeli intelligence agencies have been aware for years– does not necessarily contest the findings of the 2007 NIE. IntelNews editor Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis explains why this is so on the website of the Research Institute for European and American Studies. Read article →

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Analysis: The changing landscape of communications intelligence

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS and IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen have authored a new scholarly paper on communications intelligence, focusing specifically on the use of telephony intelligence in the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza conflict. The paper, entitled Cell Wars: The Changing Landscape of Communications Intelligence, is available (.pdf) on the website of the Research Institute on European and American Studies. We argue that the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza conflict featured a series of innovative approaches to communications intelligence, which included utilizing civilian telephone networks to achieve tactical and psychological objectives. The “cell war” between the IDF and Hamas is indicative of an ongoing global struggle between asymmetrical insurgents and state actors to control large-scale telecommunications structures. “Cell wars” have been taking place for quite some time in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, and several other nations, including the United States. Read more of this post