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Showing posts from November 25, 2013

UK 'right to develop offensive cyber capabilities', but risks remain

The UK must place itself at the forefront of cyber warfare capabilities while remaining fully cognisant of the consequences of weaponising cyberspace, according to Andrew Beckett, head of cyber services at Cassidian UK.
Briefing journalists on 20 November at a location close to Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes (the UK's famous Second World War deciphering station), Beckett argued that "in this day and age, having a strong defensive and a strong offensive capability in cyber is absolutely essential".
He cautioned, however, that cyber-weapons need to be very specifically targeted. "You tend to target a cyber-weapon based on the hardware, the software, the infrastructure of your target organisation," he explained, but "no matter how much you target, you cannot guarantee that only your intended target is going to be affected".
"A traditional kinetic weapon has a defined blast radius; you know what it's going to do and, once it's been used, tha…

Malaysia mulls changes to anti-piracy mission in Gulf of Aden

RMN naval auxiliary Bunga Mas Lima, seen here with next-generation patrol vessel KD Perak in the Strait of Malacca, has been providing anti-piracy escorts to Malaysian shipping in the Gulf of Aden. Source: Royal Malaysian Navy


Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said on 19 November that a decision will be made by the end of 2013 on whether to continue Operation 'Fajar', the Royal Malaysian Navy's (RMN's) anti-piracy escort mission in the Gulf of Aden for ships belonging to the Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC).

"It has been decided that within the next two months ... that the government, RMN, and MISC will assess the mission and decide upon the mission's future," he said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

RMN Chief Admiral Aziz Jaafar told IHS Jane's that an alternative being considered was for MISC to station private security teams on its ships, a course of action being considered because MISC ships faced the threa…

China's Sharp Sword UCAV makes maiden flight

Chinese jet-powered unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) prototype called the Sharp Sword (Lijian) conducted its maiden flight on 20 November, according to footage and photographs posted on Chinese military websites.

The Sharp Sword was reportedly designed by Shenyang Aircraft Company (SAC) and manufactured by Hongdu Aircraft Industries Corporation (HAIC).

According to Chinese media and military forums, the UCAV flew for about 20 minutes at HAIC's airfield in Nangchang, Jiangxi Province.

The Sharp Sword has a delta-wing configuration that is similar to the US Navy's Northrop Grumman X-47B technology demonstrator and Mikoyan's cancelled Skat UCAV. It was first seen in May 2013 conducting taxiing trials at the same HAIC airfield where the test flight took place.

COMMENT


Images taken in May and a video posted in November do not clearly show what kind of payload the Sharp Sword might carry, although some Chinese analysts suggested a naval role for the UCAV.

The photographs tak…

Polio in 2013

The number of poliomyelitis (polio) cases outside the three endemic countries (Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan) increased in 2013 compared to 2012, including a recent outbreak in war-torn Syria. Israel has not seen any paralytic infections but has found evidence of the disease in environmental samples at 25 separate sites. Polio does not have a lasting impact on a large portion of the population. In 1988, before the disease was widely eradicated, there were 350,000 cases of polio-associated paralysis. In fact, most people infected with the virus are asymptomatic; only one in 200 infected individuals will experience paralysis. However, the disease targets children, and the lasting effects of paralysis on a child give the disease a disproportionally large psychological impact.

Polio cases around the world decreased from 1,652 reported cases in 2008 to only 223 reported cases in 2012. Almost all of the cases in 2012 occurred in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, where the disease remain…

In Honduras, Major Changes Are Unlikely to Follow Elections

A civil servant stores boxes containing ballots for Honduras' Nov. 24 general election. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Despite intense rhetoric in the presidential campaign, a major change in Honduran foreign policy is unlikely, regardless of who wins. The race, which will be decided Nov. 24, has narrowed into a contest between Juan Orlando Hernandez of the conservative ruling National Party and Xiomara Castro of the leftist coalition Liberty and Refoundation (known as Libre). If elected, Castro, who is married to former President Manuel Zelaya, has promised to move the country to the political left. However, the next president's political options will be limited by the country's extreme levels of criminal violence and depleted public finances.

Analysis


The Honduran general election will be the first since the resolution of the country's 2009 political crisis, which was sparked by a coup and the forced exile of Zelaya in June of that year. The ousted presiden…

A Chronology of the Geopolitics of a Nuclear Deal with Iran

U.S. President Barack Obama announcing an interim agreement on Iranian nuclear power Nov. 23 in Washington. (T.J. Kirkpatrick-Pool/Getty Images)

Analysis


The nuclear deal reached between the West and Iran on Nov. 23, however limited and temporary its terms, may represent a landmark shift in the geopolitics of the Middle East. While it follows a flurry of diplomatic activity and urgent meetings, largely made possible by a regime change in Iran last August and a sense of urgency on the part of the United States' second term president, the imperatives and geopolitical realities driving such a rapprochement have been taking shape for years. Stratfor analyses have discussed the geopolitical forces and imperatives driving this historic shift, as well as the many challenges, for years. Those challenges include a recalcitrant U.S. Congress, defiant allies in the Arab world and Israel and resistance from hard-liners in Iran's security apparatus who would sabotage any prospective deal t…