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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 17/04/2018

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 17/04/2018

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The New York Times – David D. Kilpatrick & Ron Nixon / U.S. and U.K. warn of cybersecurity threat from Russia

  • The United States and the United Kingdom issued yesterday a first-of-its-kind joint warning about Russian cyberattacks against government and private organizations as well as individual homes and offices in both countries.
  • “When we see malicious cyberattacks, whether from the Kremlin or other nation-state actors, we are going to push back,” said Rob Joyce, special assistant to President Trump and cybersecurity coordinator for the National Security Council. That would include using “our capabilities in the physical world.”
  • In particular, both governments said, Russians are seeking to exploit the increasing popularity of internet-connected devices around homes and businesses — the so-called internet of things.
  • Russia might be tapping into millions of home or small business computers and other devices to gain the ability to use them later in a coordinated attack on government computers or critical infrastructure, the officials said.

Foreign Policy – Borzou Daragahi / Iranian-Backed militias set sights on U.S. forces

  • Iranian-backed armed groups in Syria are turning the focus of their militancy to U.S. troops on the ground. This weekend’s U.S.-led airstrikes on alleged chemical weapons installations could hasten the attacks by these Iranian-backed groups.
  • Renad Mansour, an Iraqi-based researcher for Chatham House: “In rhetorical terms, they’re making it clear Americans are their enemies. If a conflict heats up between the U.S. and Iran, these guys are the agents on the ground.”
  • Ranj Alaaldin, a scholar at the Brookings Doha Center: “The more the conflict winds down and the insurgency against the Assad regime fades away, the more incentivized Iran and its proxies become to provoke a military confrontation with the US … The 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in the east are no match for the tens of thousands of proxies Iran has at its disposal.”
  • The airstrikes also appear to have galvanized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s supporters, who flooded streets in pro-regime demonstrations. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: “[The attack] will inflame international relations … and it will delay Geneva talks if not destroy them.”

Al-Monitor – Bruce Riedel / Saudi king uses Arab Summit to adjust Riyadh’s stance toward Trump

  • King Salman of Saudi Arabia used the 29th Arab Summit last weekend to reaffirm long-standing political positions, amounting to some distancing of the kingdom from its close association with the Trump administration.
  • Salman opened the summit by renaming it the “Jerusalem Summit.” In his remarks, he said the top priority of the Arab leaders is and should be Palestine. The king also reaffirmed the Saudi commitment to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative developed by his predecessors.
  • The Saudis are uncomfortable that they have been widely perceived in the Arab World as colluding with Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to undermine the Palestinians’ claim to Jerusalem. Iran is actively labeling the Saudis as conspiring with Israel.
  • To counter these charges, Salman pledged at the summit $200 million in aid. He also pledged to support Jordan’s King Abdullah after months of snubbing him.
  • The Saudis publicly endorsed the American, British and French attack on the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure. The summit was divided on the issue, with Iraq and Lebanon calling the attacks dangerous.

Brookings – Varun Sivaram / The dark side of solar

  • In recent years, solar power has surged to become the cheapest and fastest-growing source of electricity on the planet. As a result, solar has become the poster child of a clean energy revolution.
  • The danger is that a broad constellation of increasingly powerful political interests—buoyed by the rise of the global solar industry—might not support the farsighted public policies needed for the world to achieve deep decarbonization.
  • First, some environmental groups are pressuring policymakers to shut down nuclear reactors, even though nuclear energy and another unpopular energy source, fossil fuel plants equipped to capture carbon emissions, are important elements of a pragmatic decarbonization strategy.
  • Second, the US advocacy coalition that once supported both innovation in and deployment of solar energy now mostly supports deployment, content to leave underfunded the innovations needed to harness solar power’s full potential.
  • Third, factions of the solar industry across the developed and developing worlds have all lobbied, with some success, for barriers to free trade of solar components, which make it more costly to deploy solar power.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 


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