viernes, 18 de noviembre de 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Today's Insight

Sisi, the IMF, and Egypt's Crumbling Economy | Fritz Lodge, The Cipher Brief
Today, the government of President Abdel Fattah al Sisi faces a similar problem. Egypt has now received the first tranche of a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the country still teeters near the brink of an economic, and possibly political, crisis.

Expert Commentary

Egypt's IMF Deal Dodges Crisis—For Now |
 Allison McManus, Research Director, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Studies
If the jailing of dissidents, constriction of civil society, and rampant instances of torture and police brutality did not bring Egyptians to confront the government, dissatisfaction with economic mismanagement might.

Egypt's Economy: Not Out of the Woods Yet | 
Eric Trager, Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Stabilizing Egypt’s currency reserves and ensuring its ability to continue subsidizing food requires broader economic reform and security improvements – and it will be especially difficult to enact further economic reform so long as Egyptians are already coping with the pain of less wealth, higher fuel prices, and new consumption taxes.

Today's Column: State of Play

Are Humans Planting the Seeds of Their Destruction? | Carmen Medina, Former Deputy Director of Intelligence, CIA
"I've been reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Hariri, a tenured professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In this ambitious book, Hariri documents how humans came to dominate Planet Earth. Unlike world histories, Sapiens is not the story of the rise and fall of nations. For that reason, it probably has not attracted the attention of many national security professionals, even though luminaries, such as President Barack Obama and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, have praised it."


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Don't Miss On The Cipher Brief

U.S. Top Spy Clapper "Rolling Out the Door" |
Mackenzie Weinger, The Cipher Brief
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced on Thursday he has submitted his resignation letter, a long-expected move that paves the way for the next administration to name its pick for the United States’ top spy.

Syria: Options Remain If America is Willing to Take Them |
Tony Badran, Research Fellow, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Moscow is fully aware that, for the next few months, it all but has a carte blanche to increase its presence in the eastern Mediterranean and escalate at will in Syria without concern for any repercussion or pushback from the United States.

Dead Drop: November 18 |
FIREHOSE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: According to The – Dataminr, a Twitter analytics company that previously revoked CIA access to its information, has signed a contract to help the FBI know “…about breaking news quickly…ensuring public safety and the fastest emergency response.” The bureau awarded a sole-source contract to Dataminr, a company that allows customers to churn through Twitter's "firehose," which includes more than 500 million 140-character messages posted daily. The company says, however, that “Dataminr is not a product that enables surveillance."

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The Cipher Take

President-elect Trump Names Retired General Michael Flynn National Security Advisor
Donald Trump has reportedly offered Retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn the position of National Security Advisor. Flynn has been a supporter of Trump since early in his campaign. During his time in uniform, LTG (ret.) Flynn served as the senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command and the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The Cipher Take:
The position of National Security Advisor requires deep trust by the President and will have close communications with and access to him in the White House. This will be critical for the Trump campaign as national security is an area where the President-elect and his closest advisors have very little to no experience. The position does not require Senate confirmation, and Flynn is not without controversy – he is known for his aggressive stance toward “radical Islamic extremism” and his consulting firm reportedly has ties to foreign governments. While this is not a surprising choice by the Trump team, it will undoubtedly shape the President-elect’s approach to the first major national security issues he will face: namely, Syria, Russia and the battle against ISIS.

Trump Meets Japanese Prime Minister, Discusses Trade, Security and "a Relationship of Trust"
In a meeting at Trump Tower in New York, President-elect Donald Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and had, in Abe’s words, a “very candid discussion.” The time and place of Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with a head of state were left in the air until the last minute, and the meeting was described as an informal session only. Speaking after the meeting, Abe said he was “convinced that Mr. Trump is a leader in whom I can have confidence."

The Cipher Take:
The President-elect’s team reportedly did not have any contact with the State Department or Department of Defense to prepare for the meeting. Regardless, it appears to have gone well; Trump advisors indicated that tough campaign rhetoric suggesting the Japanese pay for their own defense and obtain their own nuclear weapons should not be taken literally, and that Trump was likely to reaffirm America’s commitment to the alliance. These are the type of things the Japanese want to hear security-wise. However, there is still no word on the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement vital to the Japanese economy. TPP passed in the Lower House of Japan’s Legislature last week, but its future in the U.S. Congress is far less certain.

North Korea Envoy: We Could Renew Ties with U.S. Under Trump - If All U.S. Troops Leave
In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, one of Pyongyang’s envoys to the UN stated that North Korea would consider normalizing relations with the U.S. if – and only if - Washington withdraws all troops and equipment. The U.S. currently has approximately 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea. Having never formally signed a peace treaty after the Korean War (1950-1953), the U.S. and North Korea have never had normalized relations.

The Cipher Take:
Whether Pyongyang is serious about making such a deal is moot. The value of normalized relations with North Korea because of troop removal would pale in comparison to the damage done to U.S. relations with South Korea and Japan. And, despite early campaign promises suggesting these allies should take care of themselves, President-elect Trump has signaled his reassurances to South Korea and Japan. Moreover, normalizing relations would mean undermining the diplomatic standards the U.S. has held itself to for decades by overlooking North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and an abysmal human rights record.

German Finance Minister Warns Britain on Brexit
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble warned Britain on Thursday that the country will not be able to choose “a la carte” from European Union requirements if it remains in the EU. Schauble went on to say that Britain should prepare itself for the euro-clearing operations of financial firms to leave London for Frankfurt, and warned that the country may be liable for exit payments to the EU until as late as 2030. These grim words follow statements from Angela Merkel that Germany is not willing to compromise on the issue of immigration, which some in the UK had hoped to restrict while remaining a member of the EU common market.

The Cipher Take:
Schauble’s comments represent both a general European dissatisfaction with members of Teresa May’s Government, specifically Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, as well as the growing belief that the EU must take a hard line with British negotiators to deter other EU members from leaving. According to the FT, EU negotiators plan to push for a clean separation, downplaying the possibility of compromise on British access to the common market, and even demanding an exit bill up to €60 billion. If the May government goes ahead with its plan to trigger article 50 separation in March 2017, London will likely face a bitter fight ahead.

Iran and U.S. Face Off at IAEA
Representatives from Iran and the United States clashed at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over Iran’s adherence to heavy water stockpile restrictions in the JCPOA. Iran’s nuclear agreement with the P5+1 states that Iran must limit its stockpile of heavy water to roughly 130 metric tons, but the IAEA reports that Iran has failed to comply.

The Cipher Take:
Iran claims it is working to meet this requirement by listing the excess heavy water reserves for international sale, but in the eyes of the IAEA, Iran will not be compliant until the heavy water has been physically shipped from the country. As the Trump administration prepares to take power in Washington, this most recent crack in the landmark nuclear deal with Iran may be a portent of things to come. Trump has called the deal a disaster and promised to rescind it upon taking office. Given the multilateral nature of the JCPOA, this will be difficult to do but it is likely the Trump administration will place heavy focus on alleged Iranian noncompliance.

East Libyan Army Advances in Benghazi
The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Haftar, has taken control of a key district in Benghazi that served as one the last holdouts of Islamist-led militias in the city. Haftar, a figurehead for factions aligned with the eastern-based government in Tobruk, has been involved in fighting in Libya, along with Islamist militants and other militias in Benghazi, for more than two years.

The Cipher Take:
Since 2014, two rival Libyan governments - one in Tripoli in western Libya and one in Tobruk in eastern Libya – have been competing for power. The eastern government, supported by the LNA, is opposed to a UN-backed government established this past March in Tripoli which currently serves as Libya’s internationally recognized government. Despite this divide, Libyan forces have focused on pushing ISIS out from its former stronghold in Sirte, and have made substantial progress in weakening ISIS throughout the country.

Apple Reportedly Maintaining Users' Call History
Apple iPhones automatically send a user’s call history to the company’s servers if the cloud-based storage, iCloud, is enabled, according to Elcomsoft, a phone forensics firm. Without notifying users or providing an opt-out, all calls—including through FaceTime, Skype, Whatsapp, and Viber—made and received from the iOS device are sent to Apple servers. This metadata - including phone numbers, dates, times, and call durations — is allegedly retained for up to four months.

The Cipher Take:
While the content of iPhones is encrypted, as in the case of the San Bernardino attacker, this metadata is accessible even without the physical phone itself. By examining the metadata of calls and iMessages from iPhones, law enforcement would be able to extract useful information from users if iCloud is enabled. Apple’s reported collection of call logs also potentially puts sensitive information within reach of people other than U.S. law enforcement, as anyone who can obtain a user’s iCloud credentials could potentially get access to the call logs as well.

SpaceX Applies to Triple Active Satellites - for Global Wi-Fi
Aerospace company SpaceX filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to nearly triple the number of active satellites orbiting Earth in order to provide global high-speed internet coverage. Both Facebook and Google also have individual plans to spread internet access to remote parts of the world.

The Cipher Take:
The current global average for internet speed per user is about five megabytes per second—or one-200th of SpaceX’s target speed. Currently 4.2 billion people—57 percent of the world’s population—do not have access to the internet. The internet has assisted developed economies far more than developing ones, but simultaneously enabled the people of developing countries to witness stark contrasts in quality of life—potentially creating grievances but not the tools to address them. With the rise of cyber warfare, autonomous weapons, and social media, global internet access will have lasting effects on the future of statecraft.


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The Chertoff Group Security Series - "Focusing on the Future: Prioritizing Security in the Digital Economy" |
Friday, November 18, Washington, D.C.
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