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The Killing of Palestinian

The three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in an area that remains fully under Israeli control, ie in a scene in Area C, where Palestinian intelligence cannot freely investigate.

The bodies of Naftali Frenkel (16, from Nof Ayalon, who is also a US citizen), Gilad Shaer (16, from Talmon), and Eyal Yifrah (19, from Elad), were found in a field north-west of Hebron.

The identities of two suspects in the kidnapping, Hamas militants Marwan Qawasmeh (29) and Amar Abu-Isa (32), were released by Shin Beth. They have not yet been found. A senior Palestinian intelligence official said off the record that their disappearance constituted clear evidence the two suspects have links with the abduction.

Another suspect, Husam Dufish, has been arrested. The kidnappings and murders seem to have been perpetrated by members of the Qawasmeh clan, possibly linked to Hamas, as we earlier reported. Hamas has refused to condemn these kidnappings. Lebanon Hezbollah has castigated Arab silence on the situation and attacked Mahmou Abbas’s statements that Palestinian security was prepared to help.


The Analyst and The Intelligence Officer

I thought I had it clear that an Intelligence Analyst is a civilian or a military in charge of analyzing intelligence, while an Intelligence Officer is an officer, working in Intelligence. Although, the definitions should be clear and well known to anybody interested or working in the field of Intelligence, I’ve stumbled some days ago on a debate upon what these notions means, they differing from field to field, from country to country, from one perspective to another, from language to language. Today, remembering how, a few years ago I had to research the definitions of the words “Intelligence”, “security” and “safety”, I believe it is right to summarize a few perspectives the debaters had on the two notions mentioned above.

Apparently, an intelligence officer could be either enlisted, commissioned, or civilian. The term “officer” in this case refers to the duty (while in my language, officer means anybody with a higher military rank than lieutenant). The definitions depend on the nature of the agency and are by rank or by job type. In DoD/military intelligence organizations, an “intelligence officer” normally refers to a commissioned officer or civilian whose specialty is Intel, like logistics or personnel officer. In non-DoD (non-military), “officer” vs. “analyst” depends on type of job. Officers plan, conduct, and lead operations. In many countries, an intelligence officer is either a case officer (recruiting HUMINT), a desk officer (steering the intelligence cycle) or an intelligence analyst (analyses HUMINT, SIGINT, DIGINT, OSINT, all-INT and reporting based on all the collected information), when only a very few intelligence officers are actively conducting HUMINT or CI operations.

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) is a 235-page Act of Congress, signed by President George W. Bush, that broadly affects United States federal terrorism laws, and it says:

“The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 were designed, among other goals, to break down obstacles to information sharing and to facilitate collaboration and “all-source analysis” of the wide and expanding range of national security issues. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, we can no longer tolerate false distinctions between “all-source”  and “single-INT” analysts or agencies. Stated another way, providing high-quality analysis and enhancing policymaker understanding of complex developments require utilizing all types of information and the insights of everyone who can contribute. Information sharing and collaboration are now essential attributes of intelligence analysis. For example, imagery analysts need (and have) access to SIGINT and HUMINT that could help them to determine the purpose of a construction project. Diplomatic reporting and SIGINT are useful to determine the veracity or biases of a clandestine HUMINT source. Freely available unclassified materials (Open Source Intelligence or OSINT) provides context for all kinds of other reporting. In other words, all analysts are—and must be—all-source analysts.”

That while the roles and activities performed within intelligence organizations are similar between military, civilian, and police organizations. There are significant semantic differences in what the term “officer” means within these different organizations. Some define the Intelligence Officer as a person employed to deliver all kind of intelligence activities such as collection of information (from Open Sources, Human Sources, etc.), undercover operations and analysis. Analysis is a highly specialized role. An intelligence officer is a more generic term and generally involves more generic and more flexible type of work in the intelligence arena. Those who specialize in the different INTs (HUMINT, SIGINT, MASINT, IMINT, etc) collect the raw data and the analyst puts it all together to turn it into intelligence, if (s)he’s an all source analyst. An analyst may have contact with a source depending on the assignment (in most cases no), but it is very little and mostly for screening/vetting purposes, not interrogation or interviewing because that is up to the HUMINT collector to do. Contractors aren’t allowed to recruit and run sources because of laws on intelligence collection, it has to be done by a government entity (i.e. an agency person or member of the military).

Therefore, an Intelligence Analyst is an official skilled in understanding and interpreting intelligence reports received from field agents. By being able to place specific reports in a broader context, an intelligence agent can help evaluate the importance of reports. Intelligence analysts most often work with government agencies, although some positions in the private sector do exist as well. Analysts analyze, Officers operate. The difference is between the analysis and collection objectives of the intelligence cycle. Interestingly, the analysts are the catalyst for action as they produce the product, intelligence. Sometimes a field analyst has to make immediate decisions that impact an ongoing or developing situation and can involve life/safety of others. The analysts’ role is crucial and requires the sharpest and most interesting minds. The analyst can have the best circumstances to process information and still be wrong some of the time. The intelligence officer has to perform with a unique set of decision making skills that must ensure success and survival in an environment of pressure, uncertainty, and more eminent result.

There is also the term Intelligence Operative, meaning any higher level engaged in intelligence work, which may include running HUMINT assets, using technical tools to gather information, whereas the Intelligence Analysts are the people making sense of the gathered information or one can say turning the Information into Intelligence. Reports Officer (or Program Manager in other agencies) may be found as the link between analysts and collectors. Collectors rarely have the opportunity to communicate directly with their customer, the analyst. The Program Manager could also personally meet with the analysts who are being serviced to get follow-up on a timely basis. Successfully completed collection operations need to be brought to the attention of command so that the lonely collector gets positive feedback and appropriate comments on their performance reports. Intelligence Officers in the military are the supervisors of enlisted analysts, HUMINT/SIGINT/IMINT collectors and counterintelligence agents, which refers specifically to the commissioned officer rank. In the civilian world, Intelligence Officer is a working title to refer to all in the intelligence profession; it isn’t limited to CI/HUMINT trades nor is it limited to rank.   Intelligence Officers manage and usually are in charge of programs, analytic groups, or CIs. It is their job to offer guidance and direction and make sure that all are focused on the mission. Both functions are critical in today’s intelligence environment. In some ways, intelligence agents are the Sherlock Holmes of the intelligence community, looking at all the gathered pieces in the hopes of reaching some conclusion.

The work of an intelligence analyst can be vital to the security, both national and foreign, of citizens and military personnel. Army analysts, for instance, may prepare reports for combat commanders that can influence troop movement or strategy. They may also be in charge of interpreting enemy movements, actions, and intercepted communications. Good intelligence analysis can save lives, while a mistake in gathering or analyzing can lead to serious consequences.

Nowadays, private sector intelligence analysts tend to work with defense contractors or large corporations that use intelligence-gathering techniques to predict the behavior of their rivals.

Most government agencies want to hire a person who can do it all.

The US Reports on Terrorism 2013

“On April 30, 2014, the State Department submitted Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 to the U.S. Congress as required by law. This report, available on www.state.gov/j/ct, provides the Department of State’s annual assessment of trends and events in international terrorism that occurred from January 1 to December 31, 2013. It includes a strategic assessment, country-by-country breakdowns of counterterrorism efforts, and sections on state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, and foreign terrorist organizations.

The following were among the most noteworthy counterterrorism developments in 2013:

• The terrorist threat continued to evolve rapidly in 2013, with an increasing number of groups around the world – including both al-Qa’ida (AQ) affiliates and other terrorist organizations – posing a threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests.

• As a result of ongoing worldwide efforts against the organization and leadership losses, AQ’s core leadership has been degraded, limiting its ability to conduct attacks and direct its followers. Subsequently, 2013 saw the rise of increasingly aggressive and autonomous AQ affiliates and like-minded groups in the Middle East and Africa who took advantage of the weak governance and instability in the region to broaden and deepen their operations.

• The AQ core’s vastly reduced influence became far more evident in 2013. AQ leader Zawahiri was rebuffed in his attempts to mediate a dispute among AQ affiliates operating in Syria, with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant publicly dissociating their group from al-Qa’ida. AQ affiliates routinely disobeyed Zawahiri’s 2013 tactical guidance to avoid collateral damage, seen in increasingly violent attacks against civilian religious pilgrims in Iraq, hospital staff and convalescing patients in Yemen, and families at a shopping mall in Kenya, for example.

• Terrorist groups engaged in a range of criminal activity to raise needed funds, with kidnapping for ransom remaining the most frequent and profitable source of illicit financing. Private donations from the Gulf also remained a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly for those operating in Syria.

• In 2013, violent extremists increased their use of new media platforms and social media, with mixed results. Social media platforms allowed violent extremist groups to circulate messages more quickly, but confusion and contradictions among the various voices within the movement are growing more common.

• Syria continued to be a major battleground for terrorism on both sides of the conflict and remains a key area of longer-term concern. Thousands of foreign fighters traveled to Syria to join the fight against the Asad regime – with some joining violent extremist groups – while Iran, Hizballah, and other Shia militias provided a broad range of critical support to the regime. The Syrian conflict also empowered the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to expand its cross-border operations in Syria, resulting in a dramatic increase in attacks against Iraqi civilians and government targets in 2013.

• Since 2012, the United States has also seen a resurgence of activity by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and Tehran’s ally Hizballah. On January 23, 2013, the Yemeni Coast Guard interdicted an Iranian dhow carrying weapons and explosives likely destined for Houthi rebels. On February 5, 2013, the Bulgarian government publically implicated Hizballah in the July 2012 Burgas bombing that killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian citizen, and injured 32 others. On March 21, 2013, a Cyprus court found a Hizballah operative guilty of charges stemming from his surveillance activities of Israeli tourist targets in 2012. On September 18, Thailand convicted Atris Hussein, a Hizballah operative detained by Thai authorities in January 2012. And on December 30, 2013, the Bahraini Coast Guard interdicted a speedboat attempting to smuggle arms and Iranian explosives likely destined for armed Shia opposition groups in Bahrain. During an interrogation, the suspects admitted to receiving paramilitary training in Iran.

• “Lone offender” violent extremists also continued to pose a serious threat, as illustrated by the April 15, 2013 attacks near the Boston Marathon finish line, which killed three and injured approximately 264 others.

• The Statistical Annex to Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 was prepared by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. The Statistical Annex data set includes violent acts carried out by non-state actors that meet all of START’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD) inclusion criteria; further information about GTD can be found at www.start.umd.edu/gtd.”




China overtakes the US?

China’s GDP may indeed exceed shortly the US’s, but her per capita income is very low and a large section of her population remains outside modern life. In spite of remarkable progress China still lags far behind the US in science and technology. After a period of stupendous growth China is now experiencing bottlenecks that may slow her growth, and she has major structural problems to solve. Further, it is not known how long will the present political arrangement that mixes Communist party control with robber baron capitalism can survive.

Some decades ago pundits were predicting that Japan would soon overtake the US, but things developed differently. It is not clear whether China will not soon face economic, social and political problems that will slow down her growth. Her industries will have to switch from a labor intensive organization to a higher productivity one, considering that Chinese workers will not forever accept low wages and inadequate working conditions. The upside will of course be a growth of the domestic market and the downside less competitive exports. The cost of labor has already increased and some Western companies which had moved plants to China are repatriating them, though this is not expected to become a major phenomenon. It remains that China is by far the most populous country in the world, with the advantages and disadvantages this comprises.


“Why East Asia Alienates Intellectuals”

“Why East Asia Alienates Intellectuals”

First capitalism does not automatically breed democracy, though no one has ever seen democracy outside a free market system. You can have relative economic freedom without democracy, but not democracy without economic freedom. Second the disputes over maritime borders mixes nationalism with a wish to secure as many mineral resources as possible. China does not see herself as expansionist, her leaders only want to secure what they believe is rightfully theirs, and hasn’t fully got rid of her complex about having been under foreign domination for a long time. Those two seas play a role similar to that of the compliant buffer states Russia wants to have around her, though they’re only water with some mineral resources under. 

North Korea is a different case altogether, a fruit of the Cold War gone mad.

Bucharest is interested in increasing the NATO and the US presence on the Romanian territory

Bucharest is interested in increasing the NATO and the US presence on the Romanian territory

US troops would necessarily come as a NATO force. Gen. Philip M. Breedlove USAF, who is Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and his staff are developing new deployment plans, but of course the decision will be political and may depend on further Russian moves -or lack thereof on the Geneva Joint Statement. Romania is of course a prime candidate as is Moldova because of the common border with Ukraine, and for Romania her Black Sea maritime border, as well as calls from pro-Russian forces in Transistria for annexation by Russia which are echoed in the Russian media and have been quoted by Russian officials.

On the other hand, “Countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Romania, need to be able to withstand the oligarchs and companies, who in the absence of strong institutions can buy the press and politicians to use them to control the state”, said in an AFP interview, Hoyt Yee.

HSBC Exposed US Financial System to Money Laundering by Mexican Cartels and Illegal Transactions Involving Iran

HSBC Exposed US Financial System to Money Laundering by Mexican Cartels and Illegal Transactions Involving Iran

Following an agreement between Iraqi v-p Tareq Aziz and Jacques Chirac of France the NY branch of BNP Paribas was the sole bank handling transactions under the UN Oil-for-food program. An investigation by the US House Committee on International Relations investigating the UN Oil-for-food scam found that BNP Paribas made payments without proof that goods were delivered and sanctioned payments to third parties not identified as authorized recipients. Investigators estimate that the bank received more than $700 million in fees under the UN program that began in 1996 and ended after the ousting of Saddam Hussein in March 2003. BNP Paribas had written to some customers warning them not to disclose kickbacks to the Iraqi regime. The demise of NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer came just at the right time for the bank.

“Ending Asia Trip, Obama Defends His Foreign Policy”

“Ending Asia Trip, Obama Defends His Foreign Policy”

What lessons of the Iraq war? Who is asking the US to send groud troops in Syria? President Obama is sidestepping any serious criticism of his policies, preferrring to go after nonexistent critics who play the role of straw men or women in the discussion Obama has with himself and no one else. Who on Earth believes “that each and every time a country violates one of those norms the United States should go to war”? Has anyone asked president Obama to declare war on Russia or even send troops into Ukraine? At this moment – but Europe is as much if not more responsible for that than Obama – has the policy that is pursued made Russia take one step backward? The only achievement is a Geneva Joint Statement. It is true that supplying Ukraine with the weapons and training she requested would not make Russia leave Crimea or stop inciting ethnic Russians, but it would have helped Ukraine military morale in the face of a possible Russian foray into Eastern Ukraine as well as in the face of continued attacks by por-Russian militias. Refusing those weapons to Ukraine creates a feeling of half-hearted support in Kiev. 

It is a fact that little can be done in the face of naked Russian aggression if Europe is not on board. The Obama administration is doing a little better than the latter on sanctions, but as long as sectoral sanctions are not applied existing ones will do little to roll back Russia. Diplomacy needs also to be backed by signs that NATO does not shrink from its responsibilities as an alliance to defend peace and order in Europe. Further, though not massive, deployments of troops in Eastern Europe would give more weight to such diplomacy. 

Another factor is the appearance of disengagement from Europe and the Middle East, which is not helping Europe and Arab morale. 

Now take Syria. President Obama has consistently declined seriously arming the opposition coalition, while the regime is receiving a continuous flow of arms from Russia and Iran, and benefits from the intervention of Hezbollah, and while Jihadists are taking an ever growing role as they have their own sources of money and weapons. The president claims the chemical disarmament of Syria as a major victory, while most Syrians consider this from their point of view as a minor issue, with less than 2,000 Syrians killed in chemical attacks and 140,000 in conventional ones. Obama says the only possible solution in Syria is a political one, while his policies do nothing to prevent a military victory by the regime. He never accepted that the condition for a successful political solution was a reversal of the military balance of power: the regime has no incentive whatsoever to accept handing over power to a transitional executive while it is winning on the ground. The military balance will never be reversed by an outgunned opposition coalition whose political weakness is increased by the refusal to arm her. Obama’s legacy in Syria is abysmal. Iran, Hezbollah and Russia are being handed out a major strategic victory. 

On Iran the jury is still out, but I accept the progress made on the nuclear issue is significant. The issue remains whether, in the event Iran failed to accept a comprehensive settlement of the issue and resumed her military nuclear effort, the crossing Obama’s red line would trigger military action as would probably be necessary. Based on the experience with Syria Iran has stopped believing in Obama’s red lines, but Tehran seems to have realized that the cost of her nuclear effort in economic and social terms is just too high. Iran is not negotiating out of fear of military action but to obtain much needed sanction relief.

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kerry’s strenuous efforts are widely recognized, but it is only now that he is hinting that a US peace plan is needed as the parties, left to themselves, carry to much historical baggage to move towards the goal by themselves.

The pivot to Asia is hardly materializing, but this is because the means are lacking, and there Congress is just as responsible for this situation. Sequestration has had a massive deletrious effect there.

As to the TTIP it isn’t progressing very much, but the fault is probably more with some European countries.


Ban names deputy heads of new UN Central African Republic mission

Ban names deputy heads of new UN Central African Republic mission

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today 25 April appointed Laurence D. Wohlers of the United States as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-Genera for the newly-created United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

On 10 April, the UN Security Council approved the establishment of MINUSCA, which will be a nearly 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping operation focusing on the protection of civilians and facilitating humanitarian access in the CAR.

The new mission will take over the responsibilities of the African-led International Support Mission, known as MISCA, and, as from 15 September 2014, will initially comprise up to 10,000 military personnel, including 240 military observers and 200 staff officers, as well as 1,800 police personnel, including 1,400 formed police unit personnel and 400 individual police officers, and 20 corrections officers.

Strongly concerned about the situation in the country, the Security Council agreed to deploy a peacekeeping mission there, although the military and police components of the mission will not be operational until mid-September.

On Support for Israel

On Support for Israel

“Contrary to Jimmy Carter who believes that Israel is becoming an apartheid state, Kerry said that it would be a risk if Israeli leaders chose a unitary state solution -if they annexed the occupied territories-, not that it is one now.”

Some have described Kerry’s statement as an apology. I believe it is a clarification of what he really meant about the dangers of a unitary state. 

Sen. Ted Cruz said Kerry should resign, but John McCain said Kerry should clarify his comments immediately -which he has done now- and apologize, but laughed at the suggestion the top US diplomat should step down.

The US position is that it won’t talk to Hamas as long as the latter has not recognized Israel and renounced terrorism. It looks like this is isn’t going to happen, which isn’t very much of a surprise. The US cannot ask Israel to act differently. Mahmoud Abbas has repeated that the commitments any Palestinian government should make include recognition of Israel, non-violence, and adherence to previous agreements. The conclusion seems to be that Hamas will not be associated with the government.

Remarks by John Kerry, US Secretary of State, at the Atlantic Council’s “Toward a Europe Whole and Free” Conference April 29, 2014

Remarks by John Kerry, US Secretary of State, at the Atlantic Council’s “Toward a Europe Whole and Free” Conference April 29, 2014

“The Russians claim the government in Kyiv is illegitimate, but it’s a government that came to power with the vast supermajority of the Rada voting for it, including President Yanukovych’s own party, who deserted him because he deserted his country. And if your fear is illegitimacy, then you would step out of the way and encourage an election, which is set for about three and a half weeks from now, on the 25th of May, and you would encourage that election to take place in order to provide the legitimacy. 

“But instead, they’re doing everything in their power to undermine free and fair elections. They claim eastern Ukraine is too violent for monitors from the OSCE to be there; but when it comes to the armed, pro-Russian separatists – the ones who are actually perpetrating the violence – they do absolutely nothing to prevent them from taking those prisoners and hostages they’ve taken, in order to free them, and they allow them to be paraded in front of the press. And we see no evidence – no evidence at all – that Russia has actually pressured any of these groups in order to release any of these people or change course. 

“I say this with a certain element of sorrow, because of all of the effort and energy that has been expended to try to create a structure by which we would behave – all of us – differently, representing the best hopes and aspirations of all people on the face of this planet. That’s what all of our predecessors worked so hard to achieve, setting up a structure of rule of law and international law and multilateral mechanisms by which we try to resolve these kinds of differences. 

“So as a result, for all of these reasons, yesterday the United States announced again – President Obama announced – additional sanctions on more Russian individuals and entities. And we’ve also restricted export licenses for high-tech items that could be used to bolster Russia’s military capabilities. 

So my friends, I’ll just close by saying to all of you that this moment – without reaching for any hyperbole because the moment is serious enough that it doesn’t require that – this moment is about more than just ourselves. The fact is that our entire model of global leadership is at stake. And if we stand together, if we draw strength from the example of the past and refuse to be complacent in the present, then I am confident that NATO, the planet’s strongest alliance, can meet the challenges, can absolutely take advantage of the opportunities that are presented by crisis, and that we can move closer to a Europe that is whole and prosperous, at peace, and free and strong.

“That’s our goal, and we look forward to working with our fellow ministers and with each of these countries to achieve it.

Hagel Steps Up Consultations With Eastern European Allies

Hagel Steps Up Consultations With Eastern European Allies

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has stepped up his consultations with Eastern European NATO allies in light of Russia’s activities along its border with Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today 29 April. 

Hagel met at the Pentagon today with Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser, and this afternoon he was to meet with Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky. 

The Estonian leader “thanked the secretary for the United States response for events in Ukraine, to include strengthening the NATO Baltic Air Policing rotation and sending soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Estonia for bilateral training and exercises,” Kirby said during a news conference. 

Hagel told Mikser that the United States will look for other ways to maintain a U.S. presence in the region. The two men spoke about two upcoming exercises – BaltOps and Exercise Saber Strike as possible vehicles to demonstrate the alliance commitment to the region. Both exercises will have about a dozen NATO nations participating, Kirby said. 
The United States has sent jets to Poland, and to the Baltic Air Policing effort. It has also sent company sized units to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to exercise with those nations in what defense officials have called a direct response to Russia’s intervention in neighboring Ukraine. Hagel is committed the defense of NATO allies and has also directed U.S. European Command Commander Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove to consult with allies to update defense plans as the security situation in Europe evolves. 

“These forces are clearly military trained personnel, the admiral said, but Russian leaders say they are not. “I think it’s safe to say that Minister Shoigu held a different view about who those individuals are and who they’re working for,” Kirby said. “But, look, I mean, I grew up in Florida. If it looks like an alligator, it’s an alligator.”

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Egypt

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Egypt

The Egyptian judicial system is going haywire. It is difficult to distinguish between what are the intentions of the interim authorities and what is judicial activism. The international community cannot condone such practices.

Both State and DOD have now cleared Egypt for receiving the Apaches. Note that Foreign minister Nabil Fahmy and General intelligence chief Mohamed El-Tohamy are both due in Washington DC to meet top US officials as the Obama administration eases a freeze on aid in place since October 2013.

Major General Mohamed El-Tohamy is scheduled to hold a meeting in Washington with US Secretary of State John Kerry. News of El-Tohamy’s visit to the US capital comes less than 24 hours after the Obama administration said it had certified that Egypt is upholding its 35-year-old peace treaty with Israel and therefore qualifies for military and counterterrorism assistance.

The news of El-Tohamy’s trip comes at the same time it was announced in Cairo that Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy was heading imminently to the United States to discuss bilateral relations as well as the latest regional and international developments.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Badr Abdel Atti said in statements to the media earlier today April 23 that Fahmy would visit Washington DC and San Francisco. Abdel Atti said that the foreign minister would in Washington DC meet US officials as well members of the US Congress and Senate. He added that Fahmy would then meet members of the Egyptian community in San Francisco.

Last Tuesday, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called his Egyptian counterpart, Major General Sedki Sobhy, informing him that the US Congress would soon be negotiating to restore financial aid.

However, an unnamed US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that no other military aid beyond the Apaches was being freed up yet.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told Egypt’s foreign minister that his country cannot yet certify that Egypt is taking the necessary steps towards a democratic transition. He urged Egypt to ease restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and the media

Iran, Russia Hold Electricity Talks as Russia Seeks To Build Relationship: The Wall Street Journal

Iran, Russia Hold Electricity Talks as Russia Seeks To Build Relationship: The Wall Street Journal

“Iran held talks with Russia over $10 billion worth of electricity deals on Sunday, in the latest attempt by Moscow to leverage a privileged relationship with Tehran.

“Russia is already in talks with Iran to swap food and other goods for Iranian oil. The move is seen by some as a Russian attempt to take positions in Iran’s vast market when it opens up and assert its international clout amid increased tensions with the West.

“In a statement posted on its website, Iran’s energy ministry said Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian met his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak in Tehran on Sunday to discuss $10 billion worth of power deals. They included the construction of hydroelectric power plants and, according to the Mehr news agency, the possibility of Russia exporting 500 megawatts of electricity to Iran.

“Iran’s political allies Russia and China have renewed efforts to develop economic ties with Tehran as an interim nuclear deal with the West has raised the prospect that they could lose their privileged relationship with the Islamic Republic.

“Moscow is also in talks with Tehran to barter 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil for Russian goods. The deal, worth as much as $20 billion, has rattled Washington because it could bring Iran’s crude exports above a one-million-barrels-a-day threshold agreed in the nuclear deal.

“Russia’s increased courting of Iran also comes as Moscow is facing mounting pressure from the West over its annexation of the Crimea peninsula and its alleged support of pro-Russian groups in eastern Ukraine.”

Electrovek Stee…

Electrovek Steel’s Suspicious Advertisements for High Quality Maraging Steel “, by David Albright, Serena Kelleher-Vergantini, Donald Stewart, and Andrea Stricker of iSIS

ISIS analyses the case of a Ukraine-based company, Electrovek Steel, which created a special web site in Farsi hosted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to advertise high grade maraging steel, including U.S.-made Vascomax C300 and C350 maraging steel.
High quality maraging steel is subject to national trade control laws and, with regard to Iran, sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union and more broadly contained in the United Nations Security Council resolutions. These laws and regulations make the sale of this maraging steel to Iran either illegal or subject to extraordinarily strict trade control restrictions.
ISIS accessed the web site in August 2013. However, by January 2014 the web site had been removed. Before Electrovek’s Farsi language web site was removed, its presence attracted attention in Iran and may have resulted in Iranian customers.
Supplier countries, particularly the United States, should check if any of their exports ended up at Electrovek and scrutinize the fate of any such exports. They should also search for any re-exports involving Electrovek to countries such as the UAE and Malaysia, which Iran has frequently used as transshipment points to camouflage its illegal procurement efforts.”


Pre-emption, collective memory and interventions

To be pre-emptive you need to be capable first. Europeans find preventive measures more moral than pre-emption and capable too expensive. Perhaps, it’s time for Europe to pay for her own security, or to let the US run the show.

The question I am raising is “How NATO wants to address the public?”. Is NATO interested in profiting from perceptions?

But NATO is not only a military but also a political alliance.

On NATO matters Europe will never move without the US, as she is militarily too weak and politically too hesitant. Inside NATO however Europe can block US moves. The Europeans have often complained of the disproportionate weight of the US in NATO, but this is their own fault, when they spend only 1.2 percent of their GDP on defense.
Since Kissinger and Nixon decreed the year of Europe over 40 years ago, Europe’s relative weight within the alliance has decreased, not increased, in spite of all these new members. Remember the case of the Central African Republic where Europe can’t even send 1,000 men to help the French and the Africans: it will be between 600 and 800 and they will stay at Bangui airport.

European troops that are part of ISAF must be transported to Afghanistan by the US, the same for their equipment.

The UK and France could not have carried out the Libyan operation without the US first destroying Gaddafi’s missile defenses then without US logistics.

Neither France nor the UK could intervene in Syria without the US. France has only one aircraft carrier that is available only 6 months a year.

The cleavages that developed during the conflicts in Bosnia made neighbors, colleagues and friends enemies. And everyone knows that Europe could not have intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo and put an end to the conflict there without the US, in spite of the former Yugoslavia being right in the center-south of Europe. This is the reality and if Europe doesn’t want to change, the Europeans should not be surprised that one day there will be a higher price to pay.

Usually, a contributing factor to the polarization of actors and to an onset conflict between them is the collective memory that may be induced and altered by manipulators. Strategic communication could be a comprehensive and complimentary course of military interventions.

To ease interventions may be easier, when considering short-term operations, but NATO could use more PSYOPs and strategic communication not only along with the military operations but for implementation and follow-up also; otherwise local conflicts can always regenerate into something not necessarily different or develop while “NATO” hasn’t managed its reputation into local people’s minds. And, these need involvement into cultural change not only focusing on persuading or enforce. How can one enforce a perception of NATO?

Changing mentalities may lead to changed perception. Positive perceptions ease other interventions.

South Korea creates a presidential committee tasked to work for the reunification of the two Koreas.

Apparently, a multidisciplinary committee of experts will work to promote dialogue and inter-trade to reunification, given that Seoul and Pyongyang signed a peace treaty after the armistice of 1953.

Extended data on this news is on:


“We need to prepare reunification, which will open the way to a new era in the peninsula,” said Park Geun-hye in a televised intervention that marked one year presidential term. The creation of this committee for the reunion coincides with a recent destinies of the two Koreas relations after months of extreme tension.

Comment: They already had one, though it wasn’t presidential. The family reunions – not the first to take place – relatively signal any fundamental change on the DPRK’s policies. It is customary for the DPRK to alternate periods of tension and mild relaxation.

A North Korean warship strayed into South Korean waters late yesterday Feb 24, in the first reported maritime incursion of 2014. South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said a 420 metric-ton vessel made three cross-border trips during the night and left after 2 a.m. without responding to warnings given by the South’s navy. There was no exchange of fire. The incursions took place 13 nautical miles (15 miles) west of South Korea’s Yeongpyeong Island, which is off the west coast of the Korean peninsula. The maritime border, called the Northern Limit Line, is contested by North Korea. The area has been the site of deadly naval clashes between the two Koreas in the past. Fishing boats and patrol vessels from North Korea often ignore the line of demarcation.

In November 2010, North Korea shelled Yeongpyeong island, killing two soldiers and two civilians. A South Korean warship was sunk earlier that year near another island along the Northern Limit Line, killing 46. An international investigation concluded that a North Korean torpedo was responsible. North Korea disputes the investigation’s findings.

The Worldwide Threat Assessment 2014

The Worldwide Threat Assessment 2014

FBI Director James Comey and other executives of the U.S. intelligence community joined Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper to deliver to Congress their annual worldwide assessment of current threats to U.S. national security.

A number of threat topics were discussed during the course of the hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. DNI Clapper testified that, in the cyber arena, computer network exploitation and disruption activities such as denial of service attacks will continue, and that critical infrastructure systems will continue to be enticing targets of malicious actors. Terrorist threats are coming from a diverse group of entities—from formal groups to homegrown violent extremists and ad hoc, foreign-based actors. Threats posed by foreign intelligence entities—as well as trusted insiders—will evolve in terms of scope and complexity as they seek new, more diverse, and more technically sophisticated methods of obtaining U.S. national security information.

Nation-state efforts to develop or acquire weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems continue to pose a major threat to the U.S., deployed troops, and allies. And transnational organized crime and criminals—including drug traffickers, human traffickers, and money launderers—continue to threaten both U.S. economic security and national security.

Corruption costing EU economy €120bn a year, report finds

The EU has repeatedly raised concerns about a failure to tackle high-level graft in Romania and Bulgaria, the bloc’s two “poorest” members. They have been blocked from joining the passport-free Schengen zone over the issue since their entry.

Corruption affects all countries in the world, to various extents, an the EU is of course no exception. The impact of corruption varies not only from country to country, but also from sector to sector. As in the US, the construction industry and contractors is the worst hit.

Corruption is a problem for almost half the companies doing business in Europe, says the survey: I’d say it is less than that in the most EU countries, except in certain sectors.

The report rightly identifies certain countries that are newcomers in the EU and other southern EU countries as having more corruption problems. Although this is true, it doesn’t mean that corruption is negligible in some of the biggest and most advanced EU countries -for instance Germany, where parliamentarians are not immune. Or France. Or the UK.

The issue is not only the extent of corruption and what steps are taken against it. It’s also about whether it is systematically and appropriately punished. That is not always the case.

In my opinion analysis should be done just country by country and not in groups – I mentioned it before that linking Romania with Bulgaria all the time it leads not to very right or fair results. Besides, such as, I haven’t really understood taking into consideration what criteria “the poorest members” appellation is justified.

Anti-Corruption report information pdf – 642 KB [642 KB], here:


P5+1 and Iran

Russia (and China) have not played a negative role in the P5+1 talks, even though both have limited themselves to applying UN sanctions on Iran and have opposed the adoption of additional UN sanctions. If relations with Iran can indeed be normalized, companies (rather then countries) will be competing for the Iranian market. As to the barter deal proposed with Iran, that has yet to be finalized, Russia did not propose it until Iran came close to an interim agreement with the P5+1. Russia genuinely hopes that a comprehensive deal will be reached between the P5+1 and Iran precisely because the current state of affairs hinder Russian trade with Iran.

As concerns the S-300s, there is a lot of misinformation being disseminated: Russia has effectively cancelled the contract in compliance with UN SC resolution 1929, and Iran is suing Russia for breach of contract. The Russian exporter has actually complained of “lack of US support” in that S-300 contract cancellation case!

Moscow is still trying to persuade Tehran to withdraw its lawsuit against Russia’s state-run arms export company Rosoboronexport over this cancelled deal to supply S-300 air defense systems to Iran, Russian Technologies (Rostech) CEO Sergei Chemezov said.

Iran’s Defense Ministry and The Aerospace Industries Organization have launched a $4 bln lawsuit against Rosoboronexport in an international arbitration court in Geneva in April 2011.

“The lawsuit is being considered by an arbitration court in Geneva and, unfortunately, our chances to win the case are very slim,” Chemezov told RIA Novosti at the opening ceremony of a Russian grenade-launcher assembly facility in Jordan on Thursday.

“We are trying to agree an amicable settlement with Iran, but no progress has been made so far,” he said.

According to Iranian officials, Tehran will withdraw its lawsuit only if Russia fulfills the original contract.

The $800-million contract to supply Iran with the missile system was signed at the end of 2007. Moscow was to supply five S-300PMU-1 battalions to Tehran.

However, on September 22, 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree cancelling the contract in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1929, which bans supply to Iran of conventional weapons including missiles and missile systems, tanks, attack helicopters, warplanes and ships.

Tehran has insisted that the S-300 surface-to-air missile systems do not fall under the UN sanctions as they are considered defensive weapons.

On May 30, 2013, Chemezov criticized the United States for the “lack of US support” in the case. He said Washington applied heavy pressure on Moscow to stop the deal but later changed its rhetoric saying the UN resolution did not mention specifically the S-300, known in the West as SA-10 Grumble, and Russia acted on its own.

“The Americans now agree that it is a defensive system and Russia alone should be responsible for the breach of the contract,” Chemezov said.

There has been no reaction from the State Department to what Chemezov alleged.

While Russia pursues her own goals which differ from those of the US, she is not at all trying to derail the talks for a comprehensive agreement that are going to resume in February, as US and other negotiators can attest. This is because Russia doesn’t want any more than the West a nuclear-armed Iran, and because she needs this comprehensive agreement to increase her trade and investment with and in Iran.


Regulating spying at the international scale is a pipe dream. But governments nevertheless have to weigh the possible consequences of their action. Logging Angela Merkel’s mobile phone activity brings in more aggravation than benefits. At the end of the day all boils down to a cost-benefit analysis. Spying on other countries and non-state actors is meant to protect one’s country, not to weaken it. But what has to be done must be done. The issue with Snowden is that he wasn’t detected and stopped, and that NSA methods were made public. But heads of state and government should not be hypocritical about such issues. Spying is not going to go away because it affects, or seems to affect, the sensitivities of others.

The NSA did not spy in citizens to know about their opinions or private lives. Only when a phone number was in a terrorism database was a warrant requested to tap the designated phone. One condition for the human rights of Americans – NSA is an US agency – to be preserved is that Americans are kept free of terrorism and foreign agents. As to spying abroad, the NSA is only fulfilling its mandate which was defined as far back as 1947.

Snowden was the employee of an NSA contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, and subject to the same rules of classified information. Booz Allen Hamilton has generally been spared criticism, but not the contractor that vetted Snowden, USIS, a giant private contractor that conducted the background checks of both Snowden and Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit charging USIS with conducting 665,000 fake background checks between 2008 and 2012. “USIS management devised and executed a scheme to deliberately circumvent contractually required quality reviews of completed background investigations in order to increase the company’s revenues and profits,” said the Justice Department in its complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Alabama. Cutting corners is not an exclusivity of private companies, which may however have a profit motive. But a wish to save money or simple sloppiness is not unknown in government agencies.

Edward Snowden was a former CIA employee. At one time he was stationed in Geneva, doing IT work. As he was preparing to leave Geneva in 2009, his supervisor wrote a derogatory report in his staff file, noting a distinct change in the young man’s behavior and work habits, as well as a troubling suspicion. The agency suspected that Snowden was trying to break into classified computer files to which he was not authorized to have access, and decided to send him home. Snowden has confessed having applied for the place at Booz Allen Hamilton with the specific purpose of stealing classified information and making it public.

Snowden was certainly not a military officer, but NSA is a civilian, not military agency, even though it is headed by a general (this is because the same person is in charge of Cybercommand, a military command) and of the NSA, a civilian agency.

The first thing is that the company entrusted with vetting Snowden apparently did not do its job properly, and there are charges against USIS, the DOJ alleging that “USIS management devised and executed a scheme to deliberately circumvent contractually required quality reviews of completed background investigations to increase the company’s revenues and profits.” These are indeed serious charges, but aside from the profit motive which does not exist in a government agency, sloppiness also occurs in government. For instance following Snowden’s recall from Geneva and negative reports by his supervisors, the information remained within CIA and NSA apparently wasn’t apprised of these facts.

Vetting rules for an employee of an NSA contractor with access to classified national security information are not less exacting than those for an NSA employee, but it seems the vetting company deliberately cut corners to cut costs. Currently there are many tasks the government is unable to do with available resources and are farmed out to the private sector. It may be that vetting should be done only by government, but this is not a panacea as history shows: the list of those who shouldn’t have been hired is long, and this has had national security consequences in many cases.

USIS apparently broke the rules and if so should suffer the consequences. A court of law will decide on that. Meanwhile Snowden is in Moscow where he says he will never get a fair trial in the US, by which he means he has no chances of being acquitted of espionage. What he did however falls squarely within the definitions of the Espionage act:

“18 US Code § 798 – Disclosure of classified information

(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any way prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information—

(1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or

(2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or

(3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or

(4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes. Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(b) As used in subsection (a) of this section—

The term “classified information” means information which, at the time of a violation of this section, is, for reasons of national security, specifically designated by a United States Government Agency for limited or restricted dissemination or distribution;

The terms “code,” “cipher,” and “cryptographic system” include in their meanings, in addition to their usual meanings, any method of secret writing and any mechanical or electrical device or method used for the purpose of disguising or concealing the contents, significance, or meanings of communications;

The term “foreign government” includes in its meaning any person or persons acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of any faction, party, department, agency, bureau, or military force of or within a foreign country, or for or on behalf of any government or any person or persons purporting to act as a government within a foreign country, whether or not such government is recognized by the United States;

The term “communication intelligence” means all procedures and methods used in the interception of communications and the obtaining of information from such communications by other than the intended recipients;

The term “unauthorized person” means any person who, or agency which, is not authorized to receive information of the categories set forth in subsection (a) of this section, by the President, or by the head of a department or agency of the United States Government which is expressly designated by the President to engage in communication intelligence activities for the United States.

(c) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the furnishing, upon lawful demand, of information to any regularly constituted committee of the Senate or House of Representatives of the United States of America, or joint committee thereof.

Making public such classified information is making it available to anyone including foreign governments and their intelligence agencies and to nonstate actors such as terrorist organizations. Further, what has been stolen but not or not yet been made public is at risk of being accessed to by foreign intelligence agencies, if this hasn’t occurred yet.

IAEA confirms that Iran has suspended some nuclear activities

Iran announced the suspension of uranium enrichment level of 20%, from Monday 20.01.2014. The enrichment level of 20% will be suspended as of Monday, according to a nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers, said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s nuclear energy, according to AFP. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA ) arrived in Tehran on Saturday to report on concrete measures taken by Tehran to meet its part of the agreement.

Iran has pledged to limit enrichment to 5% stock of enriched uranium to convert the 20% to stay current level of activities in Natanz and Fordo facilities and heavy water reactor at Arak and not install new centrifuges in these plants. Instead, the six diplomatic powers will suspend a preliminary period of six months, some of the sanctions which have been imposed in the amount of seven billion $ (five billion Euros). The West and Israel suspect that Iran wants to acquire nuclear weapons under cover of civilian nuclear program, a charge Tehran rejects.

New Iran agreement includes secret side deal, Araqchi says. Iran did not commit to “stay current level of activity at Arak” but freeze construction there.

“New sanctions taking effect during the six months (now less than 5) that the Plan of Action is in force would be clear violation of the agreement by the US and could estrange Iran from some of our allies as well as from Asian oil importers. A bill that would threaten new sanctions in the event of a violation of the Plan of Action by Iran -if conformed by IAEA- or at the end of the Plan of Action if not renewed for a short additional period may not violate the letter of the agreement but would certainly go against its spirit. Violations are supposed to trigger a suspension of the sanctions relief given to Iran. Of course if such violations would be likely to bring Iran much closer to a nuclear weapon capability additional sanctions would be warranted, while the crossing of defined red lines would trigger military action.”

Voting new sanctions now would inevitably scuttle the deal and do away with any prospect of a negotiated settlement, unless successfully vetoed by the president. The White House’s argument that this would be the path to war is only a mild exaggeration: once the full range of possible sanctions has been gone through, the only means of stopping Iran’s march to a nuclear weapon capability would indeed be military action.

The Obama administration is dreaming of a reversal of alliances in the Middle East. Reintegrating Iran in the concert of nations would not mean abandoning existing allies. In any event such reintegration cannot take place unless Iran radically alters her foreign policy goals and methods. There is no sign of this happening at the present stage: this is why the nuclear issue has rightly been segregated by the Obama administration, preventing the spillover of other considerations into the debate. There is a time and circumstances for linkage, and a time and circumstances for compartmentation: there is no universal recipe, as even Dr. Kissinger would probably agree.

Sheikh Muhammad Boin Rasheed Al-Maktum, Dubai’s Emir, is calling for the immediate repeal of all Iran sanctions, as Dubai makes a lot of money out of trade with Iran -and often broke the sanctions against the UAE’s leadership will.

Later on Iran

Given the dangers associated with a nuclear-armed Iran, Obama is right to keep the military option alive. But he is also right to strongly prefer a diplomatic outcome. Leadership changes in Tehran and the diplomatic momentum created by the Geneva interim accord mean that there is a real chance that the Iranian nuclear crisis – a challenge that has haunted the international community for decades – could finally be resolved peacefully. No one can say for sure how high the odds of success are. But given the enormous dangers associated with both an Iranian bomb and the bombing of Iran, it is imperative to give diplomacy every chance to succeed.

Yesterday in Geneva an agreement on the modalities of the implementation of the 6-month Plan of Action was reached. New sanctions would no doubt scuttle the deal. We don’t know whether Khamenei will allow Rouhani and Zarif to go all the way to a comprehensive agreement, and even the latter may have an idea different from that of the P5+1 of how it would look like. Also they want the comprehensive agreement to be temporary, the West wants it permanent. But if Iran does not faithfully carry out her part of the bargain, first the given sanction relief will be rescinded, then new sanctions will follow with the risk of eventual military action if Iran crosses any one of a series of red lines. The pressure must be kept alive and all existing sanctions enforced, but new sanctions, even conditional and/or delayed, would understandably be interpreted by Iran as a violation of the Plan of Action.

Iran to get first $550 million of blocked $4.2 billion on February 1 said Reuters. Iran would get access to the first $550 million installment of a total of $4.2 billion in previously blocked overseas funds on or about February 1, a senior U.S. official said today January 12. Under the November 24 nuclear agreement, six major powers agreed to give Iran access to $4.2 billion in revenues blocked overseas if it carries out the deal, which offers sanctions relief in exchange for steps to curb the Iranian nuclear program. Some payments are contingent on Iran diluting its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to no more than 5 percent enriched uranium. The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the payment schedule as follows:

Feb 1 – $550 million (NOTE: February 1 is a Saturday, so this payment may need to happen on February 3);
March 1 – $450 million (payment for half of dilution);
March 7 – $550 million;
April 10 – $550 million;
April 15 – $450 million (payment for completion of dilution);
May 14 – $550 million;
June 17 – $550 million;
July 20 – $550 million (NOTE: July 20 is a Sunday, so this payment may need to happen on July 21).

Iran still refuses to sign the Geneva I declaration, thus disqualifying herself from the Geneva II conference.

Some analysts argue that US negotiators should use the leverage created by crippling economic sanctions and Iran’s apparent willingness to negotiate to insist on a total dismantling of Iran’s fuel-cycle activities. The maximalist approach is reflected in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stated requirements for a final deal: no uranium enrichment at any level, no stockpile of enriched uranium, no centrifuges or centrifuge facilities, and no Arak heavy-water reactor or plutonium reprocessing facilities.

Again, everyone is awaiting substantive moves by Iran which would express the Rouhani administration’s moderation. Domestic factors complicate his task, but as long as Iran has not moderated her positions not much can happen besides what is related to the nuclear issue. Iran may not be an existential thread to Israel now, but could become one if she had the bomb and Rouhani’s relative moderation was overruled by other sectors of the Iranian leadership. In spite of Rouhani’s self-proclaimed moderation there are no signs that the Islamic Republic will consider accepting the existence of Israel as a legitimate state in the region -no one expects Iran to approve of Israel’s policies- and support to Hamas against the Palestinian Authority has not ceased. Iran is increasing her military aid to Hezbollah, an organization the militia of which is deemed illegal under international law (UN SC Resolutions 1559 and 1701 and which threathens Israel) and support of the Iranian regime. This of course isn’t enough to prove a place that Iran should dismantle the whole of her nuclear industry and that while diplomacy should be used one should prepare for an early strike and that Rouhani’s just another wolf in sheep clothing.

Israel however has been unable to prevent the “Plan of Action” agreement, the modalities of its implementation being still under discussions. The US and its allies have decided to segregate the nuclear negotiations from all other outstanding problems on which no progress has been recorded since Rouhani’s accession to power. A vote by Congress imposing new sanctions, however, could have more serious effects, as there seems to a majority in Congress for untimely new sanctions though not to override an Obama veto.

As of now, no sign of Rouhani’s moderation has been seen in Iran’s positions outside the nuclear sphere, except in tone. A comprehensive agreement on the nuclear issue, if complied with by Iran, will eliminate the risk of military operations against Iran, but by itself will not be enough for a thaw between Iran and the West. Perhaps such an agreement will embolden Rouhani and Zarif to discuss what makes reconciliation with the West a distant dream. One good way to start such a thaw would be for Iran to sign on to the Geneva I declaration, accept UN resolutions that call for Hezbollah’s disarmament and stop supporting Hamas as well as conducting subversive activities in some Arab countries.

The West will continue to oppose any attempt towards Iranian regional hegemony, though if Iran’s isolation, which she called upon herself, comes to an end, Iran’s role will obviously increase.

North Korea

Allow me to say that my feeling for the begining of 2014 is that not Iran will be the main discussion but North Korea plus China, because of the South and East China seas dispute.

Available sources suggest the DPRK can make nuclear bombs, but is unable at this time to miniaturize them so that they can be loaded onto an IRBM or ICBM. The UN Security Council has condemned North Korea’s rocket launch, saying it violates two Council resolutions prohibiting Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology. In a quick response the 15-nation council on Dec 12 condemned the launch and reminded Pyongyang that in April the international community demanded it not proceed with any further launches that use ballistic missile technology.

The Security Council condemned the launch, without any practical effect.

There’s an established framework for dealing with the DPRK nuclear issue, the Six-Party Talks (Republic of Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, United States, China, Japan and the Russian Federation). China and Russia are being helpful, as they also fear nuclear conflict in the Korean peninsula, and have voted sanctions at the UN Security Council. No one wants a nuclear-capable DPRK -she has the bomb and missiles and no one knows if she can already fire nuclear-armed IRBMs.

China’s economic and other assistance, which isn’t entirely free for the DPRK which has to sell resources at low prices, explains in part how long it takes for this implosion to occur. China is wary of applying any sort of sanctions as an economic collapse would send hundreds of thousands of refugees across the border.

If tensions in the Korean peninsula escalate into a nuclear conflict, consequences that would be felt around the world may be more severe than those caused by the accident at Chernobyl, Ukraine, said Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin said the Chernobyl accident will seem insignificant beside what will happen if the North Koreans will launch a nuclear attack”, says Russia Today.

Interestingly the number of North Koreans defecting to South Korea has more than halved since Kim Jong Un became leader, according to the ROK’s Unification Ministry. As of October 2012, a total of 1,203 defectors had entered the South while 2,706 arrived in 2011, data on the ministry’s website showed. A total of 24,308 defectors now reside in South Korea, the ministry said.

The situation remains very unstable in the Peninsula; South Korea is saying that the Northern neighbors are preparing the fourth underground nuclear test at Punggye -ri. Although the country has warned all states that have embassies in their capital, no country has responded to these warnings and maintained diplomatic personnel in Pyongyang. Germans and Britons said they have no reason to close its embassies on North Korean territory.

Recent Digital Globe commercial satellite imagery shows that North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear center appears to be increasingly active, said ISIS in a Dec. 5 release. There are several signs of new and continued activity and progress in the construction of facilities: Fuel Fabrication Complex.

There has been continued construction work at a site located between north of the fuel fabrication complex and southwest of the Radiochemical Laboratory, or plutonium separation plant. Four buildings have been added at the site (two medium and two small buildings) and a building has been demolished. Additionally, in certain areas of the site trees have been removed as if in preparation for new construction and expansion. This activity is in good part directed at electricity production, but probably not entirely. Part of it may be used for producing more weapon-grade fissile matter.

As to the future of the DPTK, there is less agreement.

Shinzo Abe’s attempt to re-introduce a nationalist view in Japanese textbooks, including on WW II, is unhelpful as far as the ROK and China are concerned, in particular since there is also a continental shelf dispute between Japan and the ROK. This is not conducive to unity as regards the DPRK and the South and East China Seas.

The full text of the EU Council conclusions is here


(1). Defence matters. An effective Common Security and Defence Policy helps to enhance the security of European citizens and contributes to peace and stability in our neighbourhood and in the broader world. But Europe’s strategic and geopolitical environment is evolving rapidly. Defence budgets in Europe are constrained, limiting the ability to develop, deploy and sustain military capabilities. Fragmented European defence markets jeopardise the sustainability and competitiveness of Europe’s defence and security industry.

(2). The EU and its Member States must exercise greater responsibilities in response to those challenges if they want to contribute to maintaining peace and security through CSDP together with key partners such as the United Nations and NATO. The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) will continue to develop in full complementarity with NATO in the agreed framework of the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO and in compliance with the decision-making autonomy and procedures of each. This requires having the necessary means and maintaining a sufficient level of investment. Today, the European Council is making a strong commitment to the further development of a credible and effective CSDP, in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty and the opportunities it offers. The European Council calls on the Member States to deepen defence cooperation by improving the capacity to conduct missions and operations and by making full use of synergies in order to improve the development and availability of the required civilian and military capabilities, supported by a more integrated, sustainable, innovative and competitive European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB). This will also bring benefits in terms of growth, jobs and innovation to the broader European industrial sector.

(3). In response to the European Council conclusions of December 2012, important work has been undertaken by the Commission, the High Representative, the European Defence Agency and the Member States. The Council adopted substantial conclusions on 25 November 2013, which the European Council endorses.

(4). On that basis the European Council has identified a number of priority actions built around three axes: increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of CSDP; enhancing the development of capabilities and strengthening Europe’s defence industry.

a) Increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of CSDP

(5). In recent years progress has been made in a number of areas relating to CSDP. The numerous civilian and military crisis management missions and operations throughout the world are a tangible expression of the Union’s commitment to international peace and security. Through CSDP, the Union today deploys more than 7000 staff in 12 civilian missions and four military operations. The European Union and its Member States can bring to the international stage the unique ability to combine, in a consistent manner, policies and tools ranging from diplomacy, security and defence to finance, trade, development and justice. Further improving the efficiency and effectiveness of this EU Comprehensive Approach, including as it applies to EU crisis management, is a priority. In this context, the European Council welcomes the presentation of the joint communication from the Commission and the High Representative.

(6). The Union remains fully committed to working in close collaboration with its global, transatlantic and regional partners. Such collaboration should be further developed in a spirit of mutual reinforcement and complementarity.

(7). The European Council emphasises the importance of supporting partner countries and regional organisations, through providing training, advice, equipment and resources where appropriate, so that they can increasingly prevent or manage crises by themselves. The European Council invites the Member States, the High Representative and the Commission to ensure the greatest possible coherence between the Union’s and Member States’ actions to this effect.

(8). The EU and its Member States need to be able to plan and deploy the right civilian and military assets rapidly and effectively. The European Council emphasises the need to improve the EU rapid response capabilities, including through more flexible and deployable EU Battle groups as Member States so decide. The financial aspects of EU missions and operations should be rapidly examined, including in the context of the Athena mechanism review, with a view to improving the system of their financing, based on a report from the High Representative. The European Council invites the Commission, the High Representative and the Member States to ensure that the procedures and rules for civilian missions enable the Union to be more flexible and speed up the deployment of EU civilian missions.

(9). New security challenges continue to emerge. Europe’s internal and external security dimensions are increasingly interlinked. To enable the EU and its Member States to respond, in coherence with NATO efforts, the European Council calls for:

• an EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework in 2014, on the basis of a proposal by the High Representative, in cooperation with the Commission and the European Defence Agency;

• an EU Maritime Security Strategy by June 2014, on the basis of a joint Communication from the Commission and the High Representative, taking into account the opinions of the Member States, and the subsequent elaboration of action plans to respond to maritime challenges;

• increased synergies between CSDP and Freedom/Security/Justice actors to tackle horizontal issues such as illegal migration, organised crime and terrorism;

• progress in developing CSDP support for third states and regions, in order to help them to improve border management;

• further strengthening cooperation to tackle energy security challenges.

The European Council invites the High Representative, in close cooperation with the Commission, to assess the impact of changes in the global environment, and to report to the Council in the course of 2015 on the challenges and opportunities arising for the Union, following consultations with the Member States.

b) Enhancing the development of capabilities

(10). Cooperation in the area of military capability development is crucial to maintaining key capabilities, remedying shortfalls and avoiding redundancies. Pooling demand, consolidating requirements and realising economies of scale will allow Member States to enhance the efficient use of resources and ensure interoperability, including with key partner organisations such as NATO. Cooperative approaches whereby willing Member States or groups of Member States develop capabilities based on common standards or decide on common usage, maintenance or training arrangements, while enjoying access to such capabilities, will allow participants to benefit from economies of scale and enhanced military effectiveness.

(11). The European Council remains committed to delivering key capabilities and addressing critical shortfalls through concrete projects by Member States, supported by the European Defence Agency. Bearing in mind that the capabilities are owned and operated by the Member States, it welcomes :

• the development of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in the 2020-2025 timeframe: preparations for a programme of a next-generation European Medium Altitude Long Endurance RPAS; the establishment of an RPAS user community among the participating Member States owning and operating these RPAS; close synergies with the European Commission on regulation (for an initial RPAS integration into the European Aviation System by 2016); appropriate funding from 2014 for R&D activities;

• the development of Air-to-Air refuelling capacity: progress towards increasing overall capacity and reducing fragmentation, especially as regards the establishment of a Multi- Role Tanker Transport capacity, with synergies in the field of certification, qualification, in-service support and training;

• Satellite Communication: preparations for the next generation of Governmental Satellite Communication through close cooperation between the Member States, the Commission and the European Space Agency; a users’ group should be set up in 2014;

• Cyber: developing a roadmap and concrete projects focused on training and exercises, improving civil/military cooperation on the basis of the EU Cybersecurity Strategy as well as the protection of assets in EU missions and operations.

(12). Cooperation should be facilitated by increased transparency and information sharing in defence planning, allowing national planners and decision-makers to consider greater convergence of capability needs and timelines. To foster more systematic and long-term cooperation the European Council invites the High Representative and the European Defence Agency to put forward an appropriate policy framework by the end of 2014, in full coherence with existing NATO planning processes.

(13). The European Council welcomes the existing cooperative models, such as the European Air Transport Command (EATC), and encourages Member States to explore ways to replicate the EATC model in other areas.

(14). The European Council welcomes the progress achieved in cooperation through the European Defence Agency Code of Conduct on Pooling and Sharing. It encourages the further development of incentives for and innovative approaches to such cooperation, including by investigating non market-distorting fiscal measures in accordance with existing European law.

It invites the European Defence Agency to examine ways in which Member States can cooperate more effectively and efficiently in pooled procurement projects, with a view to reporting back to the Council by the end of 2014.

(15). Taking into account the frequent recourse to missions which are civilian in nature, the European Council calls for the enhanced development of civilian capabilities and stresses the importance of fully implementing the Civilian Capability Development Plan.

c) Strengthening Europe’s defence industry

(16). Europe needs a more integrated, sustainable, innovative and competitive defence technological and industrial base (EDTIB) to develop and sustain defence capabilities. This can also enhance its strategic autonomy and its ability to act with partners. The EDTIB should be strengthened to ensure operational effectiveness and security of supply, while remaining globally competitive and stimulating jobs, innovation and growth across the EU. These efforts should be inclusive with opportunities for defence industry in the EU, balanced and in full compliance with EU law. The European Council stresses the need to further develop the necessary skills identified as essential to the future of the European defence industry.

(17). A well-functioning defence market based on openness, equal treatment and opportunities, and transparency for all European suppliers is crucial. The European Council welcomes the Commission communication “Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector”. It notes the intention of the Commission to develop, in close cooperation with the High Representative and the European Defence Agency, a roadmap for implementation. It stresses the importance of ensuring the full and correct implementation and application of the two defence Directives of 2009, inter alia with a view to opening up the market for subcontractors from all over Europe, ensuring economies of scale and allowing a better circulation of defence products.

Research – dual-use

(18). To ensure the long-term competitiveness of the European defence industry and secure the modern capabilities needed, it is essential to retain defence Research & Technology (R&T) expertise, especially in critical defence technologies. The European Council invites the Member States to increase investment in cooperative research programmes, in particular collaborative investments, and to maximise synergies between national and EU research. Civilian and defence research reinforce each other, including in key enabling technologies and on energy efficiency technology. The European Council therefore welcomes the Commission’s intention to evaluate how the results under Horizon 2020 could also benefit defence and security industrial capabilities. It invites the Commission and the European Defence Agency to work closely with Member States to develop proposals to stimulate further dual use research. A Preparatory Action on CSDP-related research will be set up, while seeking synergies with national research programmes whenever possible.

Certification and standardisation

(19). Developing standards and certification procedures for defence equipment reduces costs, harmonises demand and enhances interoperability. The European Defence Agency and the Commission will prepare a roadmap for the development of defence industrial standards by mid-2014, without duplicating existing standards, in particular NATO standards. Together with the Commission and Member States, the European Defence Agency will also develop options for lowering the costs of military certification, including by increasing mutual recognition between EU Member States. It should report to the Council on both issues by mid 2014.


(20). SMEs are an important element in the defence supply chain, a source of innovation and key enablers for competitiveness. The European Council underlines the importance of crossborder market access for SMEs and stresses that full use should be made of the possibilities that EU law offers on subcontracting and general licensing of transfers and invites the Commission to investigate the possibilities for additional measures to open up supply chains to SME’s from all Member States. Supporting regional networks of SMEs and strategic clusters is also critically important. The European Council welcomes the Commission proposals to promote greater access of SMEs to defence and security markets and to encourage strong involvement of SMEs in future EU funding programmes.
Security of Supply

(21). The European Council emphasises the importance of Security of Supply arrangements for the development of long-term planning and cooperation, and for the functioning of the internal market for defence. It welcomes the recent adoption within the European Defence Agency of an enhanced Framework Arrangement on Security of Supply and calls on the Commission to develop with Member States and in cooperation with the High Representative and the European Defence Agency a roadmap for a comprehensive EU-wide Security of Supply regime, which takes account of the globalised nature of critical supply chains.

d) Way forward

(22). The European Council invites the Council, the Commission, the High Representative, the European Defence Agency and the Member States, within their respective spheres of competence, to take determined and verifiable steps to implement the orientations set out above. The European Council will assess concrete progress on all issues in June 2015 and provide further guidance, on the basis of a report from the Council drawing on inputs from the Commission, the High Representative and the European Defence Agency.


(23). The European Council welcomes the 2014 Annual Growth Survey and the Alert Mechanism Report presented by the Commission. It acknowledges that while the economic recovery is still modest, uneven and fragile, the economic outlook is gradually becoming more positive. Differentiated, growth-friendly fiscal consolidation, internal rebalancing and banks’ balance sheet repair are all further progressing. Unemployment has stabilised, albeit at unacceptably high levels. Determined and ambitious implementation of agreed policies will support economic recovery and job creation in 2014 and 2015.

(24). Member States and the European Union will continue to take determined action to promote sustainable growth, jobs and competitiveness in accordance with the five priorities set out in the Annual Growth Survey.

(25). The Annual Growth Survey identifies areas where important challenges prevail and where further progress is needed. Specific attention should be given to enhancing the functioning and flexibility of the single market for products and services, improving the business environment, and further repairing banks’ balance sheets with a view to addressing financial fragmentation and restoring normal lending to the economy. Priority should be given to enhancing competitiveness, supporting job creation and fighting unemployment, particularly youth unemployment including through the full implementation of the youth guarantee, and to the follow-up of reforms regarding the functioning of labour markets.

Policies should focus in particular on:
– reinforcing tax and other incentives for job creation, including shifting taxes away from labour;
– extending working lives, increasing labour market participation, stepping up active labour market measures and continuing to modernize education and training systems, including life-long learning and vocational training;
– ensuring that labour cost developments are consistent with productivity gains;
– addressing skills mismatches;
– increasing labour mobility.

Policies fostering innovation and leading to productivity gains remain crucial.

Implementation of the Compact for Growth and Jobs

(26). The Compact for Growth and Jobs agreed in June 2012 remains one of the EU’s major tools aimed at re-launching growth, investment and employment as well as making Europe more competitive. The implementation of the Compact remains the key element to fulfil these objectives. While substantial progress has been achieved in a number of areas, efforts should continue to ensure that the potential of the Compact is used to its fullest extent. This should be kept under regular review by the Council. The European Council also welcomes the adoption of the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework and associated financial programmes which support the achievement of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The fight against youth unemployment remains a key objective of the EU strategy to foster growth, competitiveness and jobs. In this context, the European Council calls on Member States that have not yet submitted their Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans to do so without delay. It recalls its commitment to make the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) fully operational by January 2014.

Restoring normal lending to the economy, in particular to SMEs, remains a priority. The European Council welcomes the implementation of the EIB capital increase enabling the bank to step up its lending across the EU by 38%, to EUR 62 billion this year. It also welcomes the support by the EIB Group in 2013 of EUR 23.1 billion for SME businesses and mid-cap companies throughout the EU 28. In line with its October 2013 conclusions, the European Council reiterates its call to launch the SME initiative in January 2014, while work should continue on further developing tools for the future. It calls on the Member States participating in the SME initiative to inform the Commission and the EIB about their contributions by the end of the year. Against this background, it welcomes the EIB’s new mandate to the European Investment Fund (EIF) of up to EUR 4 billion and calls on the Commission and the EIB to further enhance the EIF capacity through an increase in its capital with a view to reaching final agreement by May 2014.

The European Council calls for enhanced efforts in particular as regards the swift adoption of remaining legislation under the Single Market Acts I and II, and the swift implementation of the measures they contain. It specifically calls on the co-legislators to swiftly come to an agreement on the last two outstanding legislative proposals under Single Market Act I (“posting of workers” and “e-identification”).

The European Council also calls for further action to reduce the burden of regulation through the implementation and further development of the REFIT programme and looks forward to agreeing further steps in this direction at its June meeting. It will return to the issue annually in the framework of the European Semester.

(27). Recalling its conclusions of May 2013, the European Council calls for further progress at the global and EU levels in the fight against tax fraud and evasion, aggressive tax planning, base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) and money laundering. The European Council welcomes work undertaken in the OECD and other international fora to respond to the challenge of taxation and ensure fairness and effectiveness of tax systems, in particular the development of a global standard for automatic exchange of information, so as to ensure a level playing-field.

Building on the momentum towards more transparency in tax matters, the European Council calls on the Council to reach unanimous political agreement on the Directive on administrative cooperation in early 2014. It calls for speeding up the negotiations with European third countries and asks the Commission to present a progress report to its March meeting. In the light of this, the revised Directive on the taxation of savings income will be adopted by March 2014. The European Council takes note of the Council report to the European Council on tax issues, welcomes the establishment by the Commission of the High Level Expert Group on Taxation of the Digital Economy, and invites the Commission to propose effective solutions compatible with the functioning of the Internal Market, taking into account the work of the OECD, and to report back to the Council as soon as possible. Progress should also be made quickly towards agreement on amending the Parent-Subsidiary Directive.

The European Council calls for further progress on the disclosure of non-financial
information by large groups.


(28). Since the presentation last December of the report “Towards a genuine EMU” work has progressed on the key building blocks to strengthen the architecture of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The European Council has focused its discussions on the banking and economic union. This process builds on the EU’s institutional framework, in full respect of the integrity of the Single Market while ensuring a level playing-field between EU Member States. It will be open and transparent towards Member States not using the single currency. Banking Union

(29). The European Council welcomes the final agreement reached by the legislators on the Deposit Guarantee Scheme directive and the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive. It also welcomes the general approach and the specific conclusions reached by the Council on the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM). Alongside the already adopted Single Supervisory Mechanism, the SRM will represent a crucial step towards the completion of the Banking Union. The European Council calls on the legislators to adopt the SRM before the end of the current legislative period.

(30). Significant progress in economic governance has been achieved in recent years. The Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Semester constitute an integrated process of policy coordination to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe. In the euro area, the coordination of economic policies needs to be further strengthened to ensure both convergence within the EMU and higher levels of sustainable growth. Closer coordination of economic policies will help detect economic vulnerabilities at an early stage, and allow for their timely correction.

(31). To achieve this, it is essential to increase the level of commitment, ownership and implementation of economic policies and reforms in the euro area Member States, underpinned by strong democratic legitimacy and accountability at the level at which decisions are taken and implemented.

(32). In this context, it is crucial to facilitate and support Member States’ reforms in areas which are key for growth, competitiveness and jobs and which are essential for the smooth functioning of the EMU as a whole. Partnerships based on a system of mutually agreed contractual arrangements and associated solidarity mechanisms would contribute to facilitate and support sound policies before countries face severe economic difficulties.

(33). This system would be embedded in the European Semester, open to non euro area Member States and fully compatible with the Single Market in all aspects. It would apply to all euro area Member States except for the Member States subject to a macroeconomic adjustment programme.

(34). Mutually agreed contractual arrangements would cover a broad range of growth and job-enhancing policies and measures, including the performance of labour and product markets, the efficiency of the public sector, as well as research and innovation, education and vocational training, employment and social inclusion. They would reflect the economic policy priorities identified in the European Council’s shared analysis of the economic situation in the Member States and the euro area as such, and take into account the country-specific recommendations.

(35). The system of partnerships would include associated solidarity mechanisms offering support, as appropriate, to Member States engaging in mutually agreed contractual arrangements, thus helping investment in growth and job-enhancing policies.

(36). Further work will be pursued on the basis of the following main features:
– Mutually agreed contractual arrangements will be a “home-grown” commitment which constitutes a partnership between the Member States, the Commission and the Council.

The National Reform Programme submitted by each Member State in the context of the European Semester will be the basis for the mutually agreed contractual arrangements, also taking into account the Country Specific Recommendations. Mutually agreed contractual arrangements will be tailored to the needs of each individual Member State and will focus on a limited number of key levers for sustainable growth, competitiveness and job creation. The economic policy objectives and measures included in the mutually agreed contractual arrangements should be designed by the Member States, in accordance with their institutional and constitutional arrangements, and should ensure full national ownership through appropriate involvement of national parliaments, social partners, and other relevant stakeholders. They should be discussed and mutually agreed with the Commission, before being submitted to the Council for approval. The Commission will be responsible for keeping track of the agreed implementation of the mutually agreed contractual arrangements on the basis of jointly agreed timelines.

  • On the associated solidarity mechanisms, work will be carried forward to further explore all options regarding the exact nature (e.g. loans, grants, guarantees), institutional form and volume of support while ensuring that these mechanisms do not entail obligations for the Member States not participating in the system of mutually agreed contractual arrangements and associated solidarity mechanisms; they should not become an income equalisation tool nor have an impact on the Multi-annual Financial Framework; they should respect the budgetary sovereignty of the Member States. Any financial support agreement associated with mutually agreed contractual arrangements will have a legally binding nature. The President of the EIB will be associated to this work.

(37). The European Council invites the President of the European Council, in close cooperation with the President of the European Commission, to carry work forward on a system of mutually agreed contractual arrangements and associated solidarity mechanisms, on the basis of the orientations above, and to report to the October 2014 European Council with a view to reaching an overall agreement on both of these elements. The Member States will be closely associated to this work.

Social dimension of the EMU

(38). The European Council reiterates the importance of employment and social developments within the European Semester. On the basis of work undertaken by the Council, the European Council confirms the relevance of the use of a scoreboard of key employment and social indicators as described in the Joint Employment Report.

(39). Work must also continue speedily on the use of employment and social indicators along the lines proposed by the Commission with the objective of using these new instruments in the 2014 European Semester. The use of this wider range of indicators will have the sole purpose of allowing a broader understanding of social developments.

(40). Further measures to enhance the social dimension in the Euro area are voluntary for those outside the single currency and will be fully compatible with the Single Market in all aspects.


(41). The European Council discussed the report of the Presidency on the work of the Task Force for the Mediterranean in the wake of the recent tragedies off the coast of Lampedusa. The European Council reiterates its determination to reduce the risk of further tragedies of this kind from happening in the future.

The European Council welcomes the Commission communication which outlines thirty-eight operational actions. The European Council calls for the mobilisation of all efforts in order to implement actions proposed in the communication with a clear timeframe to be indicated by the Commission. Increased engagement with third countries in order to avoid that migrants embark on hazardous journeys towards the European Union should be a priority. Information campaigns, regional protection programmes, mobility partnerships and an effective return policy are important components of this comprehensive approach. The European Council reiterates the importance it attaches to resettlement for persons in need of protection and to contributing to global efforts in this field. It also calls for the reinforcement of FRONTEX border surveillance operations and actions to fight smuggling and human trafficking, as well as to ensure that appropriate solidarity is shown to all Member States under high migration pressure.

(42). The European Council invites the Council to regularly monitor the implementation of the actions. It will return to the issue of asylum and migration in June 2014 in a broader and longer term policy perspective, when strategic guidelines for further legislative and
operational planning in the area of freedom, security and justice will be defined. Ahead of that meeting the Commission is invited to report to the Council on the implementation of the actions set out in its communication.


(43). The European Council welcomes and endorses the conclusions adopted by the Council on 17 December on Enlargement and the Stabilisation and Association Process.


9th WTO ministerial conference

(44). The European Council welcomes the successful outcome of the 9th WTO ministerial conference in Bali. In particular, the new Trade Facilitation Agreement will bring substantial benefits to all WTO members and will stimulate the creation of new jobs and growth. This outcome also contains important decisions to promote the integration of developing countries, especially LDCs, into the world trading system. The European Council reiterates its support for the multilateral trading system and looks forward to a further acceleration of negotiations with a view to concluding the Doha round.


(45). The European Council notes the announcement by UNSG Ban Ki-Moon to convene a conference on Syria on 22 January 2014 to achieve a genuine and inclusive democratic transition in Syria, as outlined in the Geneva communiqué of 30 June 2012. It is deeply concerned by the continuing dire humanitarian situation in Syria and the severe impact of the crisis on neighbouring countries. In view of the Syria pledging conference on 15 January 2014 in Kuwait, the European Council recalls the lead role of the EU in spearheading international aid efforts with over EUR 2 billion mobilised since the beginning of the crisis. The EU is supporting the work of humanitarian organisations, notably the UN agencies. The European Council welcomes the signature this week of the biggest ever single EU humanitarian financial allocation. It confirms the commitment of the EU to continue to advocate for humanitarian access inside Syria to help those in need and to mobilise adequate funding building on a comprehensive aid strategy, and calls for further measures to improve the effectiveness of EU support. The European Council also calls on other major international donors to step up and assume their responsibilities.

Central African Republic

(46). The European Council is extremely concerned by the continuously deteriorating crisis in the Central African Republic and by its severe humanitarian and human rights consequences. It welcomes the crucial French military intervention, based on the United Nations Security Council resolution 2127 (2013), in support of the African forces to help restore security as well as the consistent commitment of its African partners to stabilize the situation. As part of a comprehensive approach, the European Council confirms the EU’s willingness to examine the use of relevant instruments to contribute towards the efforts under way to stabilise the country, including under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), in both its military and civilian dimensions. It invites the High Representative to present a proposal in this regard for a decision at the Council (Foreign Affairs) in January 2014.

Eastern Partnership 

(47). The European Council welcomes the initialling by Georgia and the Republic of Moldova of the Association Agreements, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas, at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on 28-29 November. The European Council reconfirms the European Union’s readiness to sign these agreements as soon as possible and no later than the end of August 2014.

(48). The European Union remains ready to sign the Association Agreement, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, with Ukraine, as soon as Ukraine is ready. The European Council calls for restraint, respect for human and fundamental rights and a democratic solution to the political crisis in Ukraine that would meet the aspirations of the Ukrainian people. The European Council emphasizes the right of all sovereign States to make their own foreign policy decisions without undue external pressure.



(49). The European Council welcomes the Council’s reports on the implementation of the internal energy market and on external energy relations. In this context, it emphasises the need for rapid actions implementing the guidelines set by the European Council in May 2013, including the intensification of work on electricity interconnections between Member States.

The European Council will return to energy policy at the March European Council.
EU Strategy for the Alpine Region.

(50). Recalling its conclusions of June 2011 and the Council Conclusions on the added value of macro-regional strategies of October 2013, the European Council invites the Commission, in cooperation with Member States, to elaborate an EU Strategy for the Alpine Region by June 2015.

The Iskander

The 9K720 Iskander (NATO reporting name SS-26 Stone) is a mobile theater ballistic missile system produced and deployed by the Russian Federation. The Iskander may have several different conventional warhead configurations, including a cluster munitions warhead, a fuel-air explosive enhanced-blast warhead, an earth penetrator for bunker busting and an electro-magnetic pulse device for anti-radar missions. The Iskander-M system is equipped with two solid-propellant single-stage guided missiles; model 9M723K1. Each one is controlled throughout the entire flight path and fitted with a no separable warhead. Each missile in the launch carrier vehicle can be independently targeted in a matter of seconds. The mobility of the Iskander launch platform makes a launch more difficult to prevent. Targets can be located by satellite, aircraft and/or by a conventional intelligence center, by a soldier who directs artillery fire or from aerial photos scanned into a computer. The missiles can be re-targeted during flight in the case of engaging mobile targets.

Another unique feature of Iskander-M (and Iskander-E) is the optically guided warhead, which can also be controlled by encrypted radio transmission. The electro-optical guidance system endows the Iskander with a self-homing capability. The missile’s on-board computer receives images of the target, than locks onto the target with its sight and the missile descends towards it at supersonic speed.

The Russian Iskander-M cruises at hypersonic speed of 2100–2600 m/s (Mach 6–7) at a height of 50 km. The Iskander-M weighs 4615 kg, carries a warhead of 710–800 kg, has a range of 400–480 km, and achieves a CEP (Circular error probable) of 5–7 meters. During flight it can maneuver at different altitudes and trajectories and can pull up to 20 to 30 G to evade anti-ballistic missiles. In one of the trajectory modes it can dive at the target at 90 degrees at the rate of 700–800 m/s performing anti-ABM maneuvers.

“Iskander has achieved accuracy, range and reliability that constitute an alternative approach to precision bombing for air forces that cannot expect to launch bombing or cruise missile fire missions reliably in the face of superior enemy fighters and air defenses”, say Russia’s military technology press. Iskander is a tactical missile system designed to be used in theater level conflicts. It is intended to use conventional warheads for the engagement of stationary or moving small and area targets, such as hostile fire weapons, air and antimissile defense weapons, command posts and communications nodes and troops in concentration areas, among others. The system can destroy both active military units and targets to degrade the enemy’s capability to wage war.

In 2007, a new missile for the system (and launcher), the R-500 Iskander-K (K stands for krylataya or “winged”) cruise missile, was test fired.

The Iskander was indeed designed as a replacement for the SS-23s which were banned under the INF. Is it technically possible to extend the 400km range of the Iskander-M which is in use in the Russian army, but not without violating the INF?



EU and Turkey will resume the accession negotiations.

Negotiations were never terminated but pauses occur. Even if the EU Commission and Ankara reach an agreement for Turkish membership of the EU, it will have to be unanimously approved by the Council – the totality of EU governments -, then face the additional hurdle of ratification by national parliaments or, in some countries, popular referendum. One cannot tell which governments will be in power in the various member states when Turkey does fulfil all necessary conditions for membership – in a few years’ time -, but in the present configuation it would not be possible as a result of the position of some member states – government, parliament and general population. The only real champion of Turkish adhesion, which is supported from the outside by the United States, is the UK, but then Britain has always considered the EU as some sort of glorified free trade zone.

Meanwhile, “Turkey is on alert about suspected jihadists and has been sharing intelligence with European countries in this regard through INTERPOL.” “Turkey deported 1,100 European citizens who came to Turkey to join al-Qaida-linked groups fighting in Syria to their home countries, local Haberturk daily reported. The publication said Ankara has sent a report to Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, which the fighters mainly came from. Turkey arrested these European citizens with the help of the National Intelligence Organization, Gendarmerie forces and police units in 41 operations in 2013, the report said, adding there are still around 1,500 European citizens who want to go to Syria and fight on the front lines along with al-Qaida. The country carried out 141 operations against al-Qaida and al- Qaida-linked groups in last three years, detaining 518 suspects and imprisoning 217 of them.”

The Internet is under surveillance.

The Internet is under surveillance, that is a fact and no news.

“US confirms that it gathers online data overseas”, said Charlie Savage, Edward Wyatt and Peter Baker in The new York Times, a few days ago. “One of the primary issues of contention was whether consumers would be able to opt out of all tracking, or just not be served advertisements based on tracking. Some browsers, such as Apple’s Safari, automatically block a type of code known as “third-party cookies, which are often placed by companies that advertise on the site being visited. Other browsers such as Mozilla’s Firefox are also experimenting with that idea. But such settings won’t prevent users from receiving cookies directly from the primary sites they visit or services they use. Google assigns a unique PREF cookie anytime someone’s browser makes a connection to any of the company’s Web properties or services. This can occur when consumers directly use Google services such as Search or Maps, or when they visit Web sites that contain embedded “widgets” for the company’s social media platform Google Plus. That cookie contains a code that allows Google to uniquely track users to “personalize ads” and measure how they use other Google products. Given the widespread use of Google services and widgets, most Web users are likely to have a Google PREF cookie even if they’ve never visited a Google property directly. That PREF cookie is specifically mentioned in an internal NSA slide, which reference the NSA using Google PREFID, their shorthand for the unique numeric identifier contained within Google’s PREF cookie. Special Source Operations (SSO) is an NSA division that works with private companies to scoop up data as it flows over the Internet’s backbone and from technology companies’ own systems. The slide indicates that SSO was sharing information containing “logins, cookies, and Google PREFID” with another NSA division called Tailored Access Operations, which engages in offensive hacking operations. SSO also shares the information with the British intelligence agency GCHQ. “This shows a link between the sort of tracking that’s done by Web sites for analytics and advertising and NSA exploitation activities,” says Ed Felten, a computer scientist at Princeton University. “By allowing themselves to be tracked for analytic or advertising at least some users are making themselves more vulnerable to exploitation.”

It was quite obvious that NSA would use these tools which were, so to speak, already there, so this isn’t much of a revelation. As the article says, “the NSA’s use of cookies isn’t a technique for sifting through vast amounts of information to find suspicious behavior; rather, it lets NSA home in on someone already under suspicion.” Modern browsers have a “do not track” option that isn’t limited to the blocking of third-party cookies and location identification nowadays requires specific user consent. Lately most US websites and others ask your permission to use cookies. The normal, no paranoid user in a democratic country will be content with blocking third-party cookies. Rejecting site cookies and access to location (in particular in these times of ubiquitous wifi and mobile devices) makes user experience far more cumbersome. Isn’t it still too much advertising to one’s taste? Probably, but that’s the way many sites and services are financed which otherwise wouldn’t be free or wouldn’t exist at all.

Today, France’s 2014 National Defense Authorization Law Passed by Parliament. France’s lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, passed yesterday by 164 votes for to 146 votes against, the government’s 2014 National Defense Authorization Law. The Senate had already approved the bill. A major point of contention which accounts for the close vote which wasn’t entirely along party lines was article 13 of the bill which allows wiretapping (interception of voice and data communications through fixed or mobile lines including wifi, etc) at home and abroad on suspicions of terrorism or espionage without a judicial warrant but on the mere approval of a “qualified person” at the Interior ministry.

This goes far beyond what is allowed in the US, which did not stop president Hollande when he protested at NSA activities. The French in particular protested that NSA had been said by Edgar Snowden to collect metadata on billions of French phone calls, but it later emerged that this data had been handed over by French intelligence to NSA. Some members of the French Parliament are toying with the idea of applying for a review of the law by the French constitutional court.


Until disproved PRISM was entirely legal and part of schemes approved by both parties, as the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Intelligence committees of the House and the Senate confirmed. The NSA was simply implementing the law as it is now. Of course one may dislike such laws and one would hope they will not be needed for ever. I see nothing immoral in having logs of phone calls, emails, etc, as long as their content is not accessed without judicial supervision. Every time it was believed they should be accessed, a warrant was sought from a FISA judge. The NSA director is as far as I know competent and ethical.
US intelligence agencies are subject to oversight by Congress.

Maybe the current debate will result in some additional safeguards, but the only immoral person in this story is Snowden, who broke the law, his contractual obligations, etc, and has harmed US antiterrorist activities. A whistleblower is someone who denounces violations of the law in his or her own agency or corporation, but it does not appear that there were such violations: Snowden is not a whistleblower.

There is no doubt that such programs entail a modest violation of privacy. It is the price to be paid for national security, at least in the present circumstances.

I also presume the honesty and ethics of the current director of the Intelligence Agency, which receives fortunately, as you point out, the proper control of the House. My comment referred to the ethical safeguards in the choice of many of the officials who must ensure the dignity of all to not make costly mistakes again, for example, led to affirm the “proven existence” of weapons of mass destruction, so many negative consequences entailed. 
There is the issue of conformity with international law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has only this to say about privacy: 

“Article 12. 

“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” 

A number of UN SC and GA resolutions indicate that this right to personal privacy and privacy of correspondence cannot be opposed to legally-conducted searches. 

UN SC resolutions on Al-Qaeda allow and even mandate action against AQ, its affiliates, allies and accomplices -including of course searches- by any means but subject to the respect of human rights. 

It would be difficult to demonstrate that the programs disclosed by Snowden violate human rights as they are legal, and as the law, notably under section 215 of the Patriot Act, that hasn’t been found unconstitutional. The Patriot Act however is a sunset act, ie it expires if it is not renewed. Certainly international Islamist terrorism still poses a serious danger, so the Act will no doubt again be renewed, though Congress may find cause for reviewing one or more provisions of the act. 

The PRISM program cannot access data other than telephone or email logs without a FISA warrant. (They can of course access any public data on the internet, just like everybody else). Have they ever done it?!

From Social Media to Cyber Capabilities

One of the issues with social media and other open source electronic intelligence is its low reliability, which gives analysts much more work. One issue is who is the real author of what is found on social media: intelligence is only as good as its source, i.e. who wrote the post or tweet in the first place.

The tasks of intelligence agencies in war – because the US is indeed practically and legally at war with Al-Qaeda, its affiliates and accomplices, and also because of the Afghan and Iraq war- necessary translate in a change in priorities, and budgets and human resources have to be shifted. This is necessarily in part at the expense of other necessary activities. But as the environment evolves priorities also change, sometimes in the opposite direction, or at least a slightly different one. Bureaucratic inertia is the enemy of swift and necessary change, but also sometimes avoids hasty and insufficiently considered change. Adversary intent extends beyond intellectual property theft to include the use of cyber to disrupt and control processes.

In the past, intelligence personnel wouldn’t be found participating in open forums, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, said on Nov. 20 at a Brookings Institution discussion on defense intelligence. “I think that’s a sign of the times for the kinds of things that we are involved in, particularly … [in] this open world,” Flynn said. “There’s so much transparency going on between the intelligence community and all others, and there has to be. There has to be more of it.”

The immense volume of open source information has increased commanders’ intelligence needs and changed what sources they use, he said. Ten or 15 years ago, intelligence briefings were primarily composed of what is traditionally thought of as intelligence – human intelligence, signals intelligence, imagery intelligence – with a little bit of open source information thrown in.

“Today, it’s almost 180 degrees flipped,” Flynn said. “The open world – and the knowledge that exists and is available to all of us at the push of a button – [is] really smart. This is some really smart analysis that’s out there that’s being written by people that are on the ground, seeing it for how it is.” Whether that information is posted on a blog or on Twitter, he said, “We cannot sit idle and not pay attention to that.” Freely accessible information is just one of the two driving factors behind today’s intelligence imperatives, Flynn said.

The international fiscal situation is forcing intelligence agencies to evaluate their priorities, including how they collaborate and how they invest in current capabilities versus the next generation of ideas and capabilities. Four “mega-trends” influence these factors: economic, resources, information and population.

Those changes were “stunning,” and the world hasn’t yet come to grips with many of them despite already being nearly 15 years into the 21st century. Flynn said that about half of DIA personnel are working on the “edge” of the enterprise — in combatant commands and forward environments — and for him, the question is how to leverage those resources. “How do we make the edge the center?” It’s important to understand what is happening at the edge, Flynn said, and to make it the place where the best, most relevant and most timely knowledge can be gained. “Then you bring it back to help shape the conversations that are happening [in Washington, D.C.].”

The DIA chief said he expects that the nation’s need for special operations forces, cyber capabilities and intelligence will only increase in the coming years – a rather obvious statement. Special operations forces will not only continue their counterterrorism mission, but will become increasingly involved in foreign internal defense operations and building the capacity of partner nations, Flynn said.

In some defense communities there’s still a belief that cyber is a function of intelligence, or that intelligence and cyber are the same, but that isn’t at all the case, Flynn stressed. “Cyber is a capability that allows us to understand an operational environment far better”. “It allows us to see each other. It allows us to communicate. It allows us to defend. It allows us to exploit. It allows so many other things.” And whenever possible, Flynn said, the United States’ cyber capabilities should be used to help partner nations. “I think there’s a tendency to think [cyber] is all about war fighting or some negative,” he said, “and we have to look at it as how it can be turned into a positive.” For the intelligence community to succeed, it must be agile and integrated with other agencies and partners, Flynn stressed, and it must have a firm grasp of the operational environment. That includes developing an understanding of social issue.

“Some of the regions that are out there in the world are facing extraordinary challenges, and we have to have a much deeper operational understanding of that. That means understanding the culture, understanding just the humanity that’s out there.” “I think the last key to success is about technology, but it’s not to lose sight of the human being in the loop.” If intelligence’s role is to provide the kind of information leaders need to be able to make better decisions, the intelligence community must not let itself be pulled along by technology, Flynn concluded.



Symbols, their ability condensation values ​​- especially religious and secular ones – are important social and mental structures that organize social environment and mobilize people. Therefore, a careful observation of the symbolic environment can mean a better understanding of the security environment, able to contribute to avoiding failure in business or intelligence: surprise. At least in cases involving symbols, surprise should be excluded just because they are loaded with meaning and meanings are causing a predictable behavior.

”Surrealist act through excellency would be to take to the streets a revolver in one’s hand, and shoot at random into the crowd,” said André Breton in 1930, in the second Surrealist Manifesto. What differentiates terrorist from surrealism is that while the first is violence free, meaning purely aesthetic, in terrorism violence is ethical: it gives claim that apparently is meaningful. The first does not want to prove anything, the second wants to prove something, and therefore seeks to legitimize. In the second step the symbols play a role that cannot be ignored only at the risk of reducing analytical ability and intelligence estimates.

Reaction against symbolic aggression is prompt and extremely violent. In general, there is a radical intolerance against anything perceived as being in contradiction to the teaching of the Muslim faith. From this perspective, the conflict between the supreme values ​​of the West and the Orient seems, at least for now, to be irreconcilable.

Of course, the conflict between values ​​is not purely ideological: the values ​​attach to symbols; differences first erupt and are shown symbolically: flags, banners, pictures, portraits, colors etc.

Social Networks are OSINT

The Open Source Intelligence importance has been widely acknowledged in the last years. The collaborative web and user-generated news and information have become more and more popular and have been influenced by the political and military events across the world.

In this reality of new media boom, it is increasingly harder to identify reliable sources and to filter the huge amount of data collected from Internet, so that elements of interest are discovered and exploited.

Use of information obtained by exploiting open source (Open Source Intelligence – OSINT) has established itself in recent years as an important tool to substantiate the strategic decisions. The successes achieved by exploiting the true value of open source have resulted in increased interest in OSINT. Currently, it is estimated that OSINT is 80-90 % of all information collected by intelligence services.

The booming information, Internet and rapid communications have become indispensable both for law enforcement structures and the “bad guys”. OSINT site constitutes in NATO’s vision, the coordination necessary to link superior intelligence within Member States’ efforts in order to develop strategies and general policies and decision support information in the theaters and ensure room for maneuver of troops . Objectively, the NATO military experts recognize that open source does not replace spy satellites, technical means or military capabilities, but is a strong base for the planning and execution of military and civilian operations.

Internet and recent innovations in terms of dissemination of information is the vanguard of the challenges in this field. Internet and new ways of disseminating information, the so-called new media have opened new perspectives, new environments in which information can be theoretically unlimited.

The tools that are considered new media are blogs, websites charging and exchange audio and video files (podcasts, Flickr and YouTube portals), virtual worlds ( platforms), offered digital applications (such as “Second Life” or online games like ” The Sims “, ” There” , so on), encyclopedias wikis, forums and social networks. In all the above-mentioned web-based tools, the content is generated by the user. These tools, known as social media generated virtual macro communities, without borders, in which safety management is one among the greatest intellectual and technological challenges of the present.

Online social networks are a special category of social media and are representative of the exponential growth of the role of information in society by simply integrating technology, social interaction and creativity, using words, sounds and images. This is a virtual globalization joining areas and people with nationalities, traditions and different views, what matters are what define your interaction with others.

According to the U.S. Agency “The Associated Press”, approx. two thirds of CIA information is obtained from social networks Facebook and Twitter. Thus, the service charge CIA analysis, Open Source Center (OSC), Special Agent analyzes millions of individual messages daily to monitor the state of public opinion, but also to identify possible terrorist threats.

Worldwide operates numerous social sites. The most popular are Facebook, Twitter, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, followed by others who have a particularly important role at regional level (Qzone, Drauglem etc.).

In this context, Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, said (02.05.2011) for the TV channel “Russia Today” that Facebook is the greatest spy system ever invented, with the most comprehensive database about people, relationships, addresses. All these are stored and are available intelligence. Therefore, it is very delicate posting personal data on social networking profiles by people who work in sensitive areas.

The direct link between the evolution of the Internet (Web 3.0 and Web 4.0 appearance) and associated applications development and traditional media to the online orientation will decisively influence the OSINT process, both in terms of resources used and to strengthening its role in intelligence work.

Exploiting new media offers operational advantages for several reasons. In order to streamline the process of exploitation of new media it is necessary to adapt the existing methodology and the development of new standards in the field, responding to technological progress. The expertise of the staff that operates new media is an important determinant of the success of this work, given that the likelihood is very high share of misinformation.

The power of the Internet

Human motivation is organized around a system of interconnected needs. When needs are suppressed, ignored, diverted or trapped in the vicious circle of superficial gratification, the result may be a pathological obsession or an addiction. In psychological health, awareness and satisfaction lead to better integration of a stronger me.

Needs that tend to be satisfied with the excessive use of the Internet are:

􀀹 need for social support – the internet offers (sometimes) the illusion of a friendship, and many become satisfied this need for social support. But the using of Internet leads to a much reduced offline networking.

􀀹 need for communication – is used even by conservative people or more shy in real life, given the opportunity, due to the characteristics of this medium, they feel they express their views more freely.

􀀹 need for sexual fulfillment – anonymity and individualization are great advantages for people with low self-esteem and a largely negative self-image.

􀀹 need to express repressed personality traits.

􀀹 need for recognition and power.

Social identity broadcasted on Internet allows us to reconstruct an ideal self that can become an identity / secret life in conditions of a “confidential” Internet. Those more likely to develop such a secret identity are those who have a low self-esteem, often living in feelings of inadequacy and the fact of being disapproved by others.

Passion for the internet can be a healthy one, a pathological one or a fixation, located between these two extremes. But to determine the nature of this passion must consider a variety of factors / features involved in using it.

Dependency information is growing, even dangerously. There are states that are fully dependent on information provided by national cyberspace components. Lock it for a few hours can lead to the establishment of chaos in the country, affecting a large extent, and planetary global information system security.

That is why, the attention to information security must be more acutely increased, firstly by ensuring their correct classification, but also by developing a coherent strategy for securing cyberspace.

The interview

The gathering of information by interviewing human resources requires that such information is credible. This can be achieved by several methods, but the interviewer has only techniques that are applied during the interview, ones based on what they observe and interpret, like the behavior of the other party. Since the neuro-vegetative system activity is influenced by perceptions of external stimuli (real or induced) and is disrupted by emotional reactions produced in response to certain types of stimuli, observing these reactions may provide clues about the perceptions of the interviewed upon the situation induced interviewer. Neuro-vegetative system can not be consciously controlled and changes in its activity are also out of control. Therefore, these changes have different meanings, which may cause the initial assessment of the credibility of the human source.

Are the neurovegetative system’s changes an element that can be analyzed in establishing the credibility the initial HUMINT sources and CI?

Normally a human source of information is not subject to unusual stimuli, so he/she will not present changes in neuro-vegetative activity. These changes occur when the person enters the state of psychic self-defense and charge at a definite or potential threat against him or his interests. The threat can take a variety of forms, from physical threats to the situational order: death threats, arrest, torture, threats to family, threat of dismissal or public exposure of compromising information, so on. Usually, once they are aware of the threat fear installs. The same emotion is the most powerful tool for generating changes in the activity of neuro-vegetative system. But it is possible to have a mentally strong person, where fear is replaced by anger or rage, which also produce a strong change in neuro-vegetative system parameters, while displaying a complete different expressions or facial microexpressions.

Fear arises when the person detects a possible threat to his person or his interests: the expectation that he/she will be caught in a lie, the possibility that the other person seems suspicious, able to withstand unpleasant consequences. Fear instantly triggers increased heart rate and blood pressure, and sharper shapes, close to panic, causing muscle hyper excitability, manifested by tremors in the limbs. At the same time, undergoes a sharp contraction of the veins, causing whitening of the skin and lower the temperature thereof. Fear may occur gradually or suddenly.

There is another major factor that determines the level of felt fear: the challenge – you can lose if the respondent party sees him in a hopeless situation. The higher the stakes, the greater the fear. The problem arises when the interviewer is not informed the interviewed’s stake. Sometimes, the interviewed is not for the first time challenged by the same situation, and he comes to realize it very quickly, whether this fear is to not get caught or not to be believed. The operator can see hints of fear, but can not be sure of the causes that installed the fear and what kind of fear came upon the respondent. Therefore, observing signs of fear should be a signal to the operator anyway.

OSINT – a risky must

The transitions to the information society and the increasing degree of democratization and openness of the contemporary societies have considerably increased the importance of open source (Open Sources Intelligence – OSINT) in the intelligence. The using of open sources by intelligence has imposed itself as a foundation for the support of many strategic decisions. The successes achieved by exploiting the true value of the specific characteristics of open source have resulted in the increased interest in OSINT, especially among institutions that are involved in national defense and security, at regional and international levels.

The three entities involved in the phenomenology of terrorism – state, public opinion and terrorists – all use mass media. The media representation of terrorism is a crucial variable in finding the overall social representational system. Identifying the mechanisms of forming and the dynamics of this representation of media content, allow the anticipation of cognitive structures that determine attitudes and behaviors on socio-political issues.

The role and the potential of OSINT is a matter still debated by intelligence analysts. On the one hand, supporters of OSINT consider that it is the answer to many of the challenges to which intelligence must respond to. They promote the need for a new concept in which the intelligence analysis prevails from open sources and a network of collaboration with staff from the political and the public is in place.

On the other hand, skeptics are against considering OSINT more than just a component of the multi- source analysis. The technological revolution, the explosion of information, the increasing number of international actors, the barriers, due to the termination of the Cold War and globalization have generated a number of new threats and risks : terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, organized crime, ethnic conflicts, illegal immigration and energy insecurity. Responses to these challenges have led to increasing the diversity of the informational sources. There is even the matter of classified information, to which the consulting of open sources tends to complete the procedures’ requirements.

For example, terrorism and the media are dependent one to another. This is due to a mutual distrust that combines with necessity: terrorism needs of advertising and media needs of audience. From the OSINT point of view, the internal logic of both entities generates a situation in which each best suites the other.

Mass media provides terrorism the needed “oxygen” through their news, for commercial reasons but also by virtue coming from the right of freedom of expression and access to information. Although media coverage of terrorism has negative effects it can not be reduced without seriously affecting the confidence in the democratic system. The unique solution in this case is applying the journalistic professionalism, the social responsibility of media and the cooperation with the state’s authorities to establish effective benchmarks of terrorist crisis management. The law and ethical principles applied effectively, the democratic media system – model of public service and professionalism of journalists – are interrelated conditions that adequately address the fundamental problems of society and therefore, the terrorist problem.

Agreement about Judgments Does Not Prove Identical Reactions

A strange thing about psychology is that there’s a whole body of people called “researchers” who will not associate with the people who are practicing! Somehow the field of psychology got divided so that the researchers no longer provide information for, and respond to, the clinical practitioners in the field. On the other hand, in medicine for example, the people doing research are trying to find things to help the practitioners in the field. And the practitioners respond to the researchers, telling them what they need to know more about.

In addition to a lack of empirical confirmation, the question of whether specific emotional states are related to specific physiological patterns neglects the important facts that physiology will vary with action, and that actions associated with the same emotional state will also often vary. That is, most, if not all, peripheral (and to some degree, central) indices of physiological activity will vary as a function of the amount and type of somatic involvement and the accompanying demand for metabolic support. Put bluntly, running (or preparing to run) will produce a very different configuration of physiological activity than sitting and observing, with activity in one system dependent, to some degree, on activity in another system.

In the emotion literature, inferences regarding the physiology of fear, for example, are often made by comparing data from contexts as diverse as hearing loud noises, anticipating shock, imagining an intruder in the house, looking at a picture of an amputated leg, viewing a scary film, giving a speech, putting one’s hand in cold water, or hearing an anguished scream. Conversely, responses to stimuli such as receiving money, listening to joyful music, looking at a picture of puppies, viewing an erotic film, imagining a day on the beach, receiving a good grade, thinking about winning the lottery, or anticipating a vacation are compared on the basis that they prompt a happy emotional state. The  diverse sensory, cognitive, and motor processes elicited by these induction procedures may prompt quite different physiological profiles, irrespective of modulation by emotion.

Culture, social groupings within cultures, and individual differences all produce large differences in expressions of emotions. There are differences in the expression itself, and in what the expression signifies to the person showing the expression and to others. The largest difference is with regards to the words which represent emotions. Languages differ not only in terms of how many words they have for each emotion, but the extent to which they have a word which gives subtle nuances, or combines emotions, or tells about what caused the emotion or what behavior is most likely to be shown.

Tips to fit in

Knowing the features of non-verbal communication, the specific behavior patterns reported by foreign persons is essential to achieving the goals of an dialogue, as follows:
Assertion messages, more or less intensity increased and the height variation of voice of the person depends on the cultural space. In Asian countries it is preferred a calm, moderate discourse and in the Latin American and Central Europe are exchanged views in an apparently hot manner, but they can not be considered personal attacks or aggressive attitudes.

The differences are more obvious when the two sides belong to different cultures and different languages ​​are used in conversation. Using the same language does not guarantee perfection communication and, in this case, it must be kept in mind that the discussion partner will have a different communication style than that of his country, would use language that will interfere strongly with the content of the communication.

Nonverbal behavior bears a strong cultural and social footprint. Many gestures and body postures betray socio -cultural area in which the individual lived or currently lives . Thus, there are cultural differences in terms of eye contact: eye contact is considered impolite in Asians countries, a sign of hostility, while Latin Americans appreciate a look directly supported.

As a result, the party’s apparent lack of attention, evidenced by the lack of eye contact can create discomfort for a European or American; while in an African or Asian country, the unusual local customs, which avoid the gaze party (usually higher in the hierarchy) is a habit, not a sign of (dis)respect.

In terms of achieving, the Arab countries, Latin America and southern Europe people tend to stay close to each other when they meet and they talk, often touching. On the other hand , North Americans and Northern Europeans prefer to keep a distance when communicating with someone.

Arab men shaking hands gently may refer to words or to kiss on the cheeks, forehead, nose or right hand in greeting, representing gestures of profound respect. They can also keep your hand to lead you to another location. If you do not touch an Arab man who welcomes you, then he shall abstain due to dislike or perception that the you are not familiar with the idea of ​​being touched. Do not shake hands at a meeting or departure is considered rude. After shaking hands, the gesture of the right palm raised to your heart is a sign of respect and sincerity. The handshake is only a right hand gesture, used to express otherwise, because the left hand is considered unclean. For Arab women, carrying his right hand on the heart by serving food is a sign that was offered sincerely. If a man is presented to an Arab women, should not usually expect women to start shaking hands; reaching only occurs in the fingers, being forbidden reaching palm of the hand or cheek kissing.

Gestures have different meanings in different cultures: for example , the mark ring (union with the forefinger tip of the thumb so as to form a circle) means OK for most Anglophones, but in some areas of France means zero , worthless.

The rumour

We live in an epoch of knowledge in which the main element is information. No matter the form it is presented under, the information is a means of communication through which society can find its harmony or its disunion. The principal role of
information is to harmonize the social space and to weld the interpersonal relational fissures. A real empire of principles, norms, guarantees, rights and juridical obligations has been built around information in order to ensure the informational flux in an organized and correct way, from the issuer to the beneficiary.

Yet, this system also has a series of flaws. Thus, the citizen, even though he is permanently bombarded with rights and obligations regarding the informing and the knowing about the law, he does not always have the possibility to achieve them concretely. The chaotic system of enactment causes cognitive disorder. There exists the right to be informed, there exists the principle “nemo censetur ignorare legem” and the assumption of the knowing of the law, there exists the Official Gazette and other public means of informing (mass-media, the internet), but most of them are difficult to get to for the common citizen, first of all because they have to pay to get access to them. Under these conditions, the most common and the most accessible modality of informing people about the law is the “rumour”, and the spreading of this procedure pushes society towards disorder.


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