Weekly Snapshot
19-25 August 2018

1. Increase to US Cyber Attack Response Capabilities

Earlier this week President Trump reversed a set classified rules set up by the Obama administration limiting how the United States could respond to cyber attacks. The new order allows the US to more easily conduct cyberattacks in response to like attacks on the US infrastructure such as the power grid system.

In the 21st century, military attacks are beginning to be waged in the cyber world. Several countries and terrorist groups have turned to cyber operations to disrupt and attack. This is because the cost of such an attack is far less than conventional warfare. With a computer and some skills, hackers can threaten power grids, communications capabilities, and our national security in general.

Without the threat of retaliation, hacker groups and rogue regimes would have little risk in committing such attacks. With the new order from the White House, America will be able to deter attacks before they happen and respond appropriately if attacked.

2. Long-Term Peace Is On The Horizon In Gaza

In previous weeks, PAI has highlighted some of the fighting that has once again sparked up between the Palestinians and the Israelis in the Gaza strip. Several ceasefires have been initiated, all ending with the fighting continuing. Now it appears that lasting peace may be coming.

A proposal, being brokered by Egypt, between Israel and the leaders of the terrorist organization of Hamas, looks to achieve long-term peace for Gaza. The plan has several phases including Israel fully opening the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and increasing fishing zones off the coast. Hamas would then cease all violence and arson style attacks on the border. Another aspect of the proposal would be a prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel.

This is a dangerous path to go down for the Israelis as dealing with terrorist organizations is never a sure bet, as terrorist organizations and supportive regimes habitually roll back on their deals in an attempt to gain power. This is why the United States has adopted a policy of not negotiating with terrorists. It is shocking that Israel would look to strike a deal with an organization that openly says they “resist the Israeli occupation” and seeks to “liberate the Palestinian land.”

Ending violence and conflict is always something to strive towards. However, Israel should not jeopardize what their country stands for in doing so. If a plan for peace can be struck between these two sides, it would be unlikely to last, and Israel would have given formal recognition that Hamas is the leaders of the Palestinian movement (a negative perspective in the long run).

3. Turkey is Hitting back at the US

Earlier this week it was announced that Turkey would be boycotting electronics from the United States. This comes as the Turkish Lira continues to fall in response to US sanctions and tariffs.

The United States has placed sanctions and tariffs on Turkey in response to the detainment of American Christian pastor Andrew Brunson. He was captured by the Turkish authorities for having connections to an outlawed political group; however, little evidence supports these claims. Pastor Brunson has been in captivity for almost two years, and now the new administration has started to take action.

The tensions between the United States and Turkey, a NATO ally, have continued to grow as Turkey continues to become more fundamentalist and anti-Western. For a more in-depth look into the US-Turkey relationship look at the PAI intelligence brief covering 15-31 August 2018.

4. Iran Continues to Build Up Military

This weekend the defense minister of Iran, Amir Hatami, has said that Iran is set to unveil a new fighter jet next week and also reaffirmed that developing missile capabilities is a top priority. The Iranian navy has also announced that they have mounted an advanced defensive weapons system to a warship for the first time. This coming a week after Iran’s naval exercises and the testing of a ballistic missile.

As the United States continues to put pressure on Iran in the form of economic, trade, scientific and military sanctions, Iran continues to grow its military. The buildup of an enemy country is cause for concern for the United States military assets in the Middle East and naval assets in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

With Iranian rhetoric being so threatening towards the United States, and a continual increase in Iranian military capabilities, the situation in the Middle East looks to only be getting more dangerous.