Djibouti (HAN) August 13.2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News.
Gulf of Aden Security & Yemeni Security Brief: Al Houthi-Saleh forces attack Saudi forces outside of Najran city, southern Saudi Arabia; Saudi-led coalition conducts airstrikes on Sana’a; President Hadi government forces advance in eastern Taiz city; Yemeni government closes Aden-Abyan road citing AQAP concerns; al Houthi-Saleh forces attack near Maris, al Dhaleh. Somali security agencies revised policies for the treatment of former Al-Shabaab fighters. FG Security Officials will offer low-threat former militants counseling and job training in Somalia.
2- Crisis in Ethiopia and the Role of the International Community. Church in Rome & Ethiopian Crisis: Cardinal Berhaneyesus calls Ethiopians to dialogue
The Ethiopian Catholic Bishops made a passionate plea for peaceful dialogue between the government and parties concerned
Ethiopia’s Oromo people, the Catholic Bishops of Ethiopia have called for peaceful dialogue as a sure means of resolving differences.
3- Iran and Turkey agree to cooperate over Syria
The foreign ministers of Turkey and Iran have pledged greater cooperation on resolving the Syria crisis.
4- Diplomatic Crisis: 32 diplomats fail to return to Turkey following recall
From Turkey is seeking the extradition of 32 diplomats who went on the run after they were recalled by Ankara as part of investigations into last month’s failed coup attempt, the foreign minister said on Friday.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking at a news conference in Ankara with his Iranian counterpart, said a total of 208 Turkish diplomats had been recalled as part of the coup investigation, but 32 of them had fled to other countries.
“We have been in contact with the countries where they fled and are working on their extradition,” he said.
Update: Three military attaches are also on the run, including two who fled from Greece to Italy, and another who fled Bosnia, the minister said, without specifying where the third might have gone. Two Turkish generals based in Afghanistan who traveled to Dubai and another attache who was working in Saudi Arabia are sent back to Turkey.
5- Turkey’s role in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State would continue without interruption
President Erdogan demands and said Washington must chose between Turkey and Gulen, in a case that has strained Ankara’s relations with Washington.
Air-force Update: Defense Minister Fikri Isik said a decree would soon be ready to order the recruitment of new air force pilots following the purge. “Our priority in this decree is the 265 pilots who have been dismissed. We have enough pilots in the Turkish Air Force in the case of an emergency, but we are below the necessary number,” Isik said of the decree.
6- Regional Strategic Partnership: Anti-Americanism surges in Turkey after coup
The authorities have whipped up popular anger over the hosting by the United States of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the coup, and its failure so far to extradite him to face trial back home. And Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has warned it is up to Washington to extradite Gulen to prevent “anti-US feeling” turning into “hate”.
7- U.S. Considers Sanctions Against Russia in Response to Hacks of Democratic Groups
U.S. officials are discussing whether to respond to computer breaches of Democratic Party organizations with economic sanctions against Russia, but have yet to determine how they would proceed, according to several people with knowledge of the matter. Implementing sanctions against Russia would require the White House to publicly accuse its government, or Russian-backed hackers, of committing the breach and leaking information. The U.S. has frequently avoided publicly releasing attribution for cyber assaults. Various intelligence agencies have been studying the hacks and several officials have indicated they were most certainly carried out by Russian-affiliated hackers. Russia itself has denied any involvement, but several cybersecurity companies have also released reports tying the breach to Russian hackers. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democratic official on the House Intelligence Committee, said his panel was recently briefed on the matter and that he is among those urging that “when the administration believes it has sufficient evidence of attribution, it will make that attribution public as well as consider any other steps necessary.”
8- Hack of Democrats’ Accounts Was Wider Than Believed, Officials Say
A Russian cyberattack that targeted Democratic politicians was reportedly bigger than it first appeared and breached the private email accounts of more than 100 party officials and groups. The widening scope of the attack has prompted the FBI to broaden its investigation, and agents have begun notifying a long list of Democratic officials that the Russians may have breached their personal accounts. The main targets appear to have been the personal email accounts of Hillary Clinton’s campaign officials and party operatives, along with a number of party organizations.
Officials have acknowledged that the Russian hackers gained access to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, including a DNC voter analytics program used by Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign. But the hack now appears to have extended well beyond those groups, and organizations like the Democratic Governors’ Association may also have been affected, according to Democrats involved in the investigation. American intelligence agencies have said they have “high confidence” that the attack was the work of Russian intelligence agencies. American authorities remain uncertain whether the electronic break-in to the committee’s computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage or as part of an effort to manipulate the presidential election. Russian motives are still an open question, said a federal law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. There is no evidence so far that the theft penetrated the emails of lawmakers or staff members who serve on the Intelligence Committees, two staff members said.
9- IRS, States Fear Wave of Billion-Dollar Tax Frauds
State and federal officials are preparing for a wave of fraudulent tax filings next year, after hackers stole personal information belonging to tens of thousands of citizens. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service estimates it paid out $5.8 billion in refunds on fraudulent returns in 2013. States lose an estimated $8 billion to $9 billion annually, experts say. The IRS also said that it caught and prevented $24 billion in fraudulent claims in 2013, and $1.1 billion in fake returns through the first quarter of 2016. Tax filing companies, such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt, and software companies, like Intuit, are working to help prevent fraud. Congress has also taken action to slow the pace of some fraudulent refunds, such as with the passing of the 2015 PATH Act.
10 Putin Accuses Ukraine of Plotting Terrorist Attacks in Crimea
Russian President Vladimir V. Putin on Aug. 10 accused the Ukrainian government of plotting terrorist attacks in Crimea, and threatened to respond. Putin said two Russian servicemen had been killed while confronting people he described as the conspirators. He accused the Ukrainian intelligence services of trying to stage attacks in Crimea to take away attention from their country’s economic problems. Ukrainian President Petro O. Poroshenko and his subordinates denied Putin’s accusations. “These fantasies are just a pretext for another portion of military threats against Ukraine,” Poroshenko said in a statement. “It is Russia who has been generously funding and supporting terrorism in the territory of Ukraine for a long time and raising it to the level of its state policy,” he countered. Ukraine’s United Nations ambassador, Volodymyr Y. Yelchenko, similarly called Russia’s accusations “completely groundless.”
11- Hacker Demonstrates How Voting Machines Can Be Compromised
Some security experts believe hackers could attack the presidential election. According to hackers at Symantec Security Response, Election Day results could be manipulated by a $15 device you can find online. “I can insert it, and then it resets the card, and now I’m able to vote again,” said Brian Varner, a principle researcher at Symantec. Symantec Security Response Director Kevin Haley said elections can also be hacked by breaking into the machines after the votes are collected. “The results go from that machine into a piece of electronics that takes it to the central counting place,” Haley said. “That data is not encrypted and that’s vulnerable for manipulation.” Brennan Center for Justice researcher Christopher Famighetti said more than 40 states are using voting machines that are at least 10 years old, which could be one reason the systems are vulnerable.
12- Thailand Bombings Kill 4 and Wound Dozens, Most at Tourist Sites
Five provinces in Thailand, mostly sites popular with tourists, were struck by bombs on Thursday and Friday morning. Four people were killed and dozens wounded, according to police. One senior official described the bombings as “local sabotage,” not terrorism. Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College in Washington who researches politics and security in Southeast Asia, said the bombings were likely to be the work of dissidents opposed to the military government that has ruled Thailand since a coup in 2014. No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts. Late Thursday evening, two bombs went off at the Hua Hin resort in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, killing one woman and wounding 21 other people, the Thai police said. Hours earlier, a bombing near a market in Trang Province killed one person and wounded six. On Friday morning, more explosions struck in Hua Hin, killing another person and wounding three, and at the popular resort island of Phuket, where one person was wounded, the police said. Two bombs went off in the province of Surat Thani, leaving one person dead, and two near a market in Phang Nga, a southern province, though officials said there were no casualties there. Police said several of the bombs were detonated by cellphone. Although bombings are somewhat common in Thailand’s deep south, where a separatist insurgency has raged, they are rare in areas frequented by tourists, like Hua Hin and Phuket.
13- Military Officials Distorted ISIS Intelligence, Congressional Panel Says
A congressional panel on Thursday issued a report concluding that officials from the United States Central Command altered intelligence reports to portray a more optimistic picture of the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria than events on the ground warranted. The interim report, from a task force established by the Republican chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee, Intelligence Committee, and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, found “widespread dissatisfaction” among Central Command intelligence analysts, who said superiors were doctoring their assessments of American efforts to defeat the Islamic State. Central Command, known as Centcom, is the military headquarters in Tampa, Fla., that oversees American military operations across the Middle East and Central Asia. The report detailed persistent problems in 2014 and 2015 in Central Command’s description and analysis of American efforts to train Iraqi forces. Although it offers no definitive evidence that senior Obama administration officials ordered the reports to be doctored, it describes analysts as feeling as though they were under pressure from Centcom leaders to present a more optimistic view of the threat posed by the Islamic State. The report released Thursday is to be followed up by more extensive findings as the investigation continues. Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee released their own findings on Thursday that agreed with some of the conclusions of the Republican task force. There is an additional, ongoing investigation of Centcom intelligence by the Department of Defense inspector general.
14- Attacks in Germany Lead to Proposals for New Security Measures
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière is proposing measures to tighten the country’s security following the series of terror attacks earlier this summer. The proposals include hastened deportations for criminal foreigners or foreigners believed to pose a risk to public safety and increased law enforcement personnel. Sympathizing with terrorism would be made a criminal act and the country would be able to withdraw citizenship from dual citizenship Germans who have been involved with terror groups. The government also wants to increase screening efforts during the asylum application process and boost video surveillance in public places, which could be difficult to implement due to German privacy laws. Temporary reprieves granted to migrants trying to prevent their deportations would also be limited. The proposals still require approval from the Social Democrats coalition in the lower house of parliament. “Many people, apart from showing compassion, are worried about more attacks,” says de Maizière. “Nobody can guarantee absolute security, but we have to do everything possible.”
15- Shootings in Rio Favelas Continue Despite Heavy Security Presence
A bystander and two police officers were injured in Rio on Aug. 10 during shootouts in different neighborhoods. The police officers were shot in Complexo da Maré, which borders the main thoroughfares connecting the international airport with downtown. The bystander was hit by a stray bullet in nearby Complexo do Alemão in a separate incident. The Ministry of Justice has said that one police officer was rushed to the hospital after being shot in the head, while the other was not seriously injured. Residents in other local areas reported on Aug. 10 a second consecutive day of shootouts, with gunfire also having broken out frequently in recent weeks. These incidents, as well as other recent shootouts, have defied major security efforts to minimize violent outbreaks in the city during the Summer Olympic Games. “There’s been an intensification of police operations,“ said Edson Diniz, director of community organization Redes da Maré. ”This has created a lot of tension in Maré.”
15- Data Theft Rises Sharply, Insiders to Blame
A recent Ponemon Institute survey shows 76 percent of organizations in the U.S. have been hit with the loss or theft of sensitive data in the last two years, and insiders are generally to blame. The survey covered more than 3,000 employees in the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany. The Ponemon researchers say rising data breach and information loss can often be attributed to compromised employee accounts, which is further exacerbated by staff and third parties having access to more sensitive information than they need. Furthermore, the continued failure by organizations to properly monitor access and activity around email and file systems is to blame. The respondents also claimed “insider negligence” is the most common root cause of a data breach, and 87 percent said their jobs require them to access and use data including customer information, contact lists, employee records, financial reports, and corporate documents. However, only 29 percent said their organizations enforce a least-privilege model to keep access to this kind of information on a need-to-know basis.
16- Hackers Hit Oracle’s Micros Payment Systems Division
A hack by Russian cybercriminals has affected 700 computer systems at Micros, an Oracle division and one of the world’s largest vendors of point of sale payment systems used in restaurants and retail stores. The attack was believed to have originated from an infiltration of a single machine at the company. Oracle has notified Micros customers of the hack and is requiring users to change their passwords for the payment system. The company says it has addressed the malicious code and ensures customers that payment data is encrypted at rest and in transit in the Micros system. Additional security measures have been implemented, but Oracle has not disclosed specifics. It is believed that the Russian cybercrime syndicate Carbanak Gang was responsible for the hack.