Intelligence Guidance for the Week Of Jan 17 2010
Intelligence Guidance for the Week Of Jan 17 2010
January 18, 2010 7:01:33 AM
Editor’s Note: The following is an internal STRATFOR document produced to provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a forecast, but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, as well as suggestions on areas for focus.
1. U.S.: The P-5+1 talks took place this weekend. China did not even send a senior diplomat. The Russians made the standard noises about Iran needing to comply, but stated that the time for diplomacy was not yet over. It was more of the same. According to the Israelis, they expect progress by February. That is pretty soon and there will not be progress. We need to be looking what comes next. U.S. President Barack Obama seems to want to postpone dealing with the Iran nuclear program issue, and the Europeans are, of course, happy about that. Obama’s view is that there is the possibility of regime change because of the demonstrations. From our point of view, the only thing the demonstrations showed was how efficient Iran’s security services were, but Obama can use his view to justify delay. So the only significant player in this game is Israel and the threat that they will go it alone. That is not likely, but it is getting close to the time when senior Israeli delegations in the intelligence and security area start arriving in Washington.
The likelihood that POTUS will want to postpone the Iran “come to Jesus” Oops, bad phrase there huh? is pretty high with everything else that is going on lately with the Haiti thing etc as diversions. The idea that the president thinks that the uprising in Iran will cause anything other than more deaths of protesters, if true, would be sheer flight of fancy.
The Iranian president is only the front man for the actual power there. That power sits in the ultra right Ayatollah and his boys. So, no, there will be no change there. The Iranians will continue on whacking their detractors like the recent Phd that they killed for dual purposes of inciting fear and generating propaganda against the US, aka the “Great Shaitan”
All the while, the Iranian government will be continuing their stepped up efforts in refining more uranium and developing a deployment package for use against Israel. Which of course gives great reason to Israel to deploy any means from Mossad to air strikes on sites to stop or at least slow them down.
I am not of a view that the Israelis will sit on their hands given recent data out of an MI6 asset… Guess it’s wait and see really.
2. Ukraine: Ukraine held elections; the Orange Revolution has now officially failed. The leader of the revolution, current President Viktor Yushchenko, placed far down in the pack and the two leaders in the runoff are pro-Russian. The Russian response will be publicly subdued, but Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev must be drinking toasts. We need to try to catch public statements by non-senior officials to capture the mood in Moscow. The only question is how quickly and aggressively Moscow moves after the February elections. We also need to capture the apparatus’ mood.
Ahh the Baltic. Well here we go. I have said it before and I will say it again here. Putin is all about consolidation. I kind of liken him to Victor Tretiak in “The Saint”, ya know, that whole number about getting the power back in Russia. Putin is even to have remarked about a nostalgia for the old Soviet Russia not too long ago.
This time around the KGB didn’t try to poison Yuschenko. They really didn’t have to this time round because he was stunningly bad as a leader. So, with a little muscle and fear, as well as apathy, the election went the way that Moscow wanted. So, as the report says, I assume Putin is drinking it up.
I expect though, that the Russian state and Putin will “quietly” take control. This seems to be a lesson Putin has learned from his KGB days. At least he has a little panache about it, unlike so many of his forebears from the service. Putin is, “politik and kulturni” at the very least.
Keep an eye out on the Baltics. Say maybe Chechnya? See, Putin learned from that one…
4. China: Google’s faceoff with China on censorship brings attention to something we have been talking about. If you want to measure the state of the Chinese economy, look at the aggressiveness of its security posture, not its spreadsheets. The Chinese government is extraordinarily uneasy about its public, which is inconsistent with the rosy picture their economic statistics paint. Google — squeezed harder and harder to be a tool for screening bad news out of China — finally put its brand ahead of the Chinese market, which tells us something about the company’s integrity as well as its read of the market. Since Google has cooperated on security for a long time, the situation must have deteriorated quite a bit. It would be interesting to pick up the RUMINT in the Google cafeteria on what the straw was that broke the camel’s back. Censorship was nothing new.
Umm, I have a bone to pick with this part of the analysis. Not one mention of the whole “Operation Aurora” here. In fact, this reminds me that I think Stratfor needs to add a “cybersec” area to their reporting as a whole. This part of the report just does not cover the goings on with regard to Google and China.
The series of events surrounding this flap are not just about Google’s not wanting to censor things. This flap is also about China’s use of cyber operations to steal code, gather intelligence, and to generally keep the precepts of Tzun Tzu alive. This event is about much more than the “Great Firewall”
Of note is the fact that while this cyber attack was ongoing, Google was also compromised in their Gmail product. The email addresses that were hacked were of dissidents and reporters. A real boon to the Chinese activities against the likes fo Falun Gong and anyone else who does not fit into the master plan.
Of course Google may have been more receptive to being more like Yahoo even with the bad press if the Chinese had not hit them and Google not caught on. In response Google hacked the hackers and to their surprise realised just how hacked their systems were and the damage that was done.
Meanwhile, Operation Aurora was more than just an attack on Google. It was on at least 30 entities including the Chinese favorite of defense contractors. IP and code have been stolen from all of these places in varying degrees. This is what they are really all about where the economy and their stand in the world comes. Their approach of “A Thousand Grains of Sand” will in fact win out if the US does not get its shit together with regard to information security and technical information security.
I would also like to add as a final thought on this one, that these measures are not solely about economic power. They are also honing their skills for that day when they want to shut down the power grid, knock out our economic engine, and halt the military from action… IF they need to. Again I say, we are in deep shit if the US does not get its cyber act together… And yet, we still have to hear word one from our new “Cyber Tsar”
I don’t hold out much hope..
5. Venezuela: All sorts of things are happening in Venezuela, including devaluation, the opening of a jungle warfare school and scheduled electrical blackouts. We have always viewed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a skillful politician able to ride the tiger. But no matter how well he can ride the tiger, Venezuela is beginning to look like a low-class Bulgaria from 1970. At some point Chavez is going to run out of velvet and his apparatus will break under him. We are not saying this is the time, but the things that are happening are getting pretty bad. We need to start keeping an eye out for resistance to the regime.
Hugo, oh Hugo… I remember those heady days in the 80’s when the US was messing about in South America almost openly. Now, we have a boomerang kind of scenario with the fallout from the 80’s. Now of course Hugo has oil so perhaps we will be making a play for him and the country yet huh? Perhaps not with the present admin.. But.. Maybe the next. We shall see huh?
In the meantime, Hugo will cozy up further with Putin and continue to run the show down there. I agree though, its looking worse and worse down there as infrastructure and quality of life deteriorate.
Overall, interesting report.