Cyberwarfare Comes to the Middle East . . . and to America

Aug. 17 2015

Iran, writes Benjamin Runkle, has developed formidable capabilities for electronic spying and hacking, and has carried out sophisticated cyberattacks on Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and Israel. Nor is the Islamic Republic the only Middle Eastern threat to American cybersecurity: Hizballah, Islamic State, and the self-styled Syrian Electronic Army (which works for the Assad regime) are all engaged in cyberwarfare. Runkle writes:

[W]hereas Russia and China have the resources to build conventional [military forces] unthinkable for most Middle Eastern actors, the entry costs to acquiring a significant cyber capacity are low enough to allow the Middle East’s weaker states—or non-state actors—to obtain capabilities that threaten U.S. and allied interests. . . .

[C]yberattacks [also] allow potential adversaries to bypass America and its regional allies’ military forces in order to target civilian infrastructure and economic targets directly. . . . Iran’s hackers are targeting critical infrastructure and developing the ability to cause serious damage to the U.S. power grid, hospitals, or the financial sector. . . . In fact, recent history suggests that Tehran’s offensive cyber capacity has dramatically evolved in sophistication and scope. . . .

In sum, Iran’s demonstrated willingness to conduct destructive cyberattacks, its ability to offset U.S. and allied military superiority in the region through cyberwar, its dearth of equivalent targets for deterrence or retaliatory attacks, and the Islamic Republic’s strategic culture favoring asymmetric or indirect conflict over conventional war mean that it poses at least as great a threat of initiating a “catastrophic” attack against U.S. or allied critical infrastructure as [the otherwise] technically superior Russian and Chinese hackers.

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More about: Cyberwarfare, Iran, Islamic State, Israeli Security, Technology, Terrorism, U.S. Security

The Palestinian Authority Deliberately Provoked Sunday’s Jerusalem Riots

Aug. 16 2019

On Sunday, Tisha b’Av—the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the two Jerusalem Temples—coincided with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. While the Israeli government had initially banned Jews from the Temple Mount on that day, it later reversed its decision and allowed a few dozen to visit. Muslim worshippers greeted them by throwing chairs and stones, and police had to quell the riot by force. Just yesterday, an Israeli policeman was stabbed nearby. Maurice Hirsch and Itamar Marcus place the blame for Sunday’s violence squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinian Authority:

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More about: Palestinian Authority, Temple Mount, Tisha b'Av