Mentre il BND tedesco, secondo fonti di stampa, avrebbe modificato la propria analisi sul conflitto siriano la notizia del sempre maggiore coinvolgimento degli Hezbollah negli scontri mi dà la possibilità di segnalare questo spunto di riflessione di John Alterman, del CSIS di Washington. Egli evidenzia come in Medio-Oriente sia ritornata l’epoca delle “guerre per procura” e non solo con riferimento al caso siriano.
[...] It is more accurate, however, to see the region entering an age of proxy wars, on a scale that is likely to dwarf the Arab Cold War that pitted Saudi Arabia against Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s.
While Iran and Saudi Arabia are major antagonists in the unfolding battles, they are not the only ones. The emerging wars are genuinely multipolar, and U.S. policy and practice will need to adapt to this emerging reality.
The most active proxy war is in Syria, where a range of regional and global powers seeks to shape the future of the country. What is surprising is not so much the scale of that assistance as its diversity. Support flows from governments, institutions, and individuals to a dizzying array of actors. Some are principally armed and others are principally political; some are disciplined and others seem determined to sow terror.
More than two years into the conflict, there is remarkably little strategic coordination among the parties supporting Syrian opposition forces, contributing to sustained disarray and infighting among the forces themselves.
Support does not follow clear sectarian or religious lines. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two Wahhabi states, appear to support different clients in Syria. The Saudi government fears trained and networked jihadi fighters flowing back into the kingdom as they did after the Afghan war in the 1980s, and it fears inspiring a politicized Islamist opposition. It acts with some caution in Syria, and this avowedly religious government appears to favor secular nationalists.
Qatar appears confident that a jihadi wave will not threaten the emirate and is casting bets widely to hasten Bashar al-Assad’s fall. The United Arab Emirates, deeply distrustful of political Islam of any stripe, is among the most cautious of the Gulf states, seeking to check Iran without supporting Islamist fighters. Iran, of course, is betting heavily on the Assad government, while rumors spread that Russia is looking for a solution that preserves Syria’s integrity even if it does not preserve Assad. Western countries have their own preferences and red lines, and each has its own clients.
The proxy war extends far beyond Syria, however. Egypt’s major political parties reportedly receive extensive outside funding, with Qatar heavily bankrolling the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia reportedly supporting salafi parties.
Among a range of Arab forces, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates invested especially heavily in the effort to depose Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya, supporting different troops on the ground under the protection of NATO airstrikes. They backed different parties in 2011 and continue to do so.
There are many antagonists in tiny Bahrain—with only 600,000 citizens—but Saudi Arabia and Iran are the most active, supporting the Sunni and Shiʽite communities respectively. [...]
Una situazione molto complessa, insomma, che necessita di un’attenta analisi e di una puntuale pianificazione.
For all the agonising in Western capitals about whether to channel weapons to “moderate” rebel militias in Syria and the renewed attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the civil war, one issue above all others is dominating the thinking of military planners, intelligence agencies and their political masters: the increasing danger of the regime’s vast stock of chemical weapons getting into the hands of groups with links to al-Qaeda. [...]
Though the regime is believed to have tried desperately to consolidate its stocks of chemical weapons in areas it still controls, it has so much of the stuff—around 1,000 tonnes of mustard gas, sarin and the even more lethal VX held at about 12 sites—that in the chaos engulfing the country some will almost inevitably fall into rebel hands sooner rather than later unless something is done. Indeed, Jabhat al-Nusra, the most powerful rebel faction and the one with closest links to al-Qaeda, reportedly came very close to capturing a stockpile near Aleppo earlier this year. A senior NATO official argues that, whereas it is premature to talk about al-Qaeda getting hold of chemical weapons, conditions on the ground make it increasingly likely.
Some analysts question the value of Syria’s chemical weapons to terrorists, because skilled technicians are needed to mix the components into a deadly concoction, and the canisters containing it are designed to be fired from artillery and rockets. In other words, they were intended for military use and not for the clandestine portability that terrorists favour. But al-Qaeda has always said it would use chemical weapons against Western targets if it had them, and regime defectors could well provide the expertise to turn them into effective terrorist weapons. [...]
In the absence of UN authorisation to remove those weapons, which would require the acquiescence of Russia and China, no good options are available. Under any plausible scenario, seizing or destroying the chemical weapons would almost certainly require boots on the ground (though not a full-scale invasion) as well as air strikes that could risk spreading some of the poison. Confidence that every site containing the weapons would be quickly found would also not be high.
But the feeling is growing that time is running out. The longer the delay in tackling the problem, the greater the risk of failure. For Mr Obama, who likes to weigh every possibility before taking action, the stakes could not be higher. But as a senior NATO official puts it: “The light has gone on. We can’t not deal with it.”
Forse sì, secondo quanto emergerebbe da alcuni documenti recentemente desecretati.
Vivete negli Stati Uniti e volete iniziare a lavorare come analisti d’intelligence? E’ preferibile che puntiate sul settore privato piuttosto che su quello governativo.
E’ quello che emerge da due sondaggi realizzati recentemente da Gregory Marchwinski dell’Institute for Intelligence Studies del Mercyhurst College. Nel primo l’autore ha raccolto i dati sulle prospettive di assunzione per analisti “entry-level” nella comunità di intelligence. Nel secondo, invece, si è concentrato sul lato business.
In ambito governativo le prospettive per i prossimi dodici mesi non sembrano essere delle migliori. Con la sola eccezione, forse, per l’ambito “cyber” in relazione al quale viene ipotizzata una crescita nel numero dei neo-assunti.
Due to uncertainty over federal government deficit reduction initiatives and a decreasing military presence globally, it is highly likely that overall hiring of entry-level intelligence analysts within the US Intelligence Community (IC) will decrease significantly from recent levels until the next budget cycle begins in October of 2013. The only exception to this general trend is cyber-related positions which are likely to see a moderate increase despite budget cuts. Additionally, it is highly likely that sequestration throughout the IC will significantly limit hiring entry-level intelligence analysts in all analytic functions until defense funding negotiations are resolved.
Nel settore business, invece, le prospettive per i prossimi mesi dovrebbero essere più rosee, soprattutto nei settori finanziario e sanitario:
Due to an increase in job creation and the growth of several key industries such as healthcare and finance, it is likely that overall hiring of entry-level research, intelligence, and strategy analysts in the private and business sector will increase significantly over the next twelve months.
Despite strong demands for specific analytic skills such as business intelligence, risk analysis, and competitive intelligence, companies are likely to hold out for individuals with even modest experience with intelligence in business over untested entry-level college graduate job seekers. In addition, the job titles used to describe intelligence, research, and analysis positions in the private and business sector are highly likely to remain inconsistent and unclear, making the job search process cumbersome and inefficient for entry-level analysts.
In un articolo del Wall Street Journal la complessità del rapporto tra agenzie di intelligence, funzionari e tutela del segreto: “Social Media Pose New Riddle for CIA“.
Conscio che al nostro Giovanni non farà piacere segnalo comunque una riflessione di Martin Libicki pubblicata dalla RAND Corporation e riguardante le capacità di deterrenza del cyberspazio: “Brandishing Cyberattack Capabilities“.
Lo studio è stato finanziato dal Dipartimento della Difesa statunitense e direi che ben si confà alle recenti vicende di Stuxnet e, soprattutto, alla “fuga” di notizie volta ad individuare negli Stati Uniti i responsabili del cyber-attacco alle infrastrutture nucleari iraniane. Scrive Libicki nelle conclusioni:
Brandishing a cyber capability would do three things: declare a capability, suggest the possibility of its use in a particular circumstance, and indicate that such use would really hurt. In the era of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear standoff, the suggestion of use was the most relevant. Possession was obvious, and its consequences were well understood. The same does not hold true for cyberweapons. Possession is likely not obvious, and the ability to inflict serious harm is debatable. Even if demonstrated, what worked yesterday may not work today. But difficult does not mean impossible.
Advertising cyberwar capabilities may be helpful. It may back up a deterrence strategy.
It might dissuade other states from conventional mischief or even from investing in mischiefmaking capabilities. It may reduce the other side’s confidence in the reliability of its information, command-and-control, or weapon systems. In a nuclear confrontation, it may help build the edge that persuades other states that the brandisher will stay the course, thereby persuading the other states to yield. Yet proving such capability is not easy, even if it exists. Cyber capabilities exist only in relationship to a specific target, which must be scoped to be understood. Cyber warriors can illustrate their ability to penetrate systems, but penetration is not the same as getting them to fail in useful ways. Since cyberattacks are essentially single-use weapons, they are diminished in the showing. It can be hard to persuade your friends that you have such capabilities when skepticism is in their interest. [...]
Conversely, the gains from brandishing such capabilities depend on the context and can be problematic even then. There is both promise and risk in cyber brandishing, in both the conventional and nuclear cases. It would not hurt to give serious thought to ways in which the United States can enhance its ability to leverage what others believe are national capabilities. Stuxnet has certainly convinced many others that the United States can do many sophisticated things in cyberspace (regardless of what, if anything, the United States actually contributed to Stuxnet). This effort will take considerable analysis and imagination, inasmuch as none of the various options presented here are obvious winners. That said, brandishing is an option that may also not work. It is no panacea, and it is unlikely to make a deterrence posture succeed if the other elements of deterrence (e.g., the will to wage war or, for red lines drawn in cyberspace, the ability to attribute) are weak.
Mano a mano che la situazione in alcune aree del Nord-Africa tende a degenerare gli Stati Uniti preparano piani di contingenza che, in parte, coinvolgono anche l’Italia (se non altro come trampolino di lancio di unità di pronto intervento).
Al contempo, logicamente, aumenta anche il livello di attenzione dei pensatoi americani verso quel quadrante geo-strategico. Qui un documento appena pubblicato dallo Stategic Studies Institute del War College: “War and Insurgency in the Western Sahara“.
Ogni tanto i think tank americani realizzano analisi che, prendendo spunto da un eventuale fallimento degli sforzi di prevenzione, si concentrano sulle strategie volte a contenere un Iran dotato di armamento nucleare. In altre parole: cosa fare per limitare i danni qualora Teheran raggiunga la famosa “soglia”?
L’ultima di queste analisi è contenuta nel report appena pubblicato dal CNAS di Washington, terzo di una serie di studi sulle implicazioni di un Iran nucleare. Il titolo è: “If All Else Fails: The Challenges of Containing a Nuclear-Armed Iran“.
Dall’Australia agli Stati Uniti, in uno studio del CSBA il futuro delle operazioni speciali made in USA: “Beyond the Ramparts: The Future of U.S. Special Operations Forces“.
Vi consiglio di dare un’occhiata anche alle slides.
Il RUSI Journal ha pubblicato nell’ultimo numero un articolo di Ivanka Barzashka nel quale l’autrice, ricercatrice del Centre for Science and Security Studies del King’s College, sintetizza un’analisi da lei compiuta sulla reale efficacia del sabotaggio ai danni dell’infrastruttura nucleare iraniana realizzato tramite il worm Stuxnet.
La Barzashka, che per il suo studio si è avvalsa di dati di pubblico dominio, ritiene che il worm abbia prodotto effetti molto ridotti (se non, addirittura, controproducenti) e che, quindi, sia stato ampiamente sopravvalutato dalla stampa internazionale.
Una posizione molto interessante perchè, qualora fosse confermata, motiverebbe, forse, un certo ripensamento sulle attuali potenzialità delle c.d. “cyber-weapon“.
Scrive la ricercatrice:
[...] IAEA data does not prove that Stuxnet infected Natanz, but neither does it rule out that possibility. Analysis of trends in centrifuge numbers shows a correlation between an unexplained drop in machines and the first Stuxnet attack in 2009, but not consecutive attacks – contrary to reports that the malware was wrecking Iranian machines in 2010. If sabotage did occur, it was short-lived and most likely happened between May and November 2009. The situation appears to have been under control by 2010. More significantly, Iran’s ability to successfully operate new machines was not hindered. Stuxnet’s effects have not simply ‘worn off’, as media have widely reported. The malware did not set back Iran’s enrichment programme, though perhaps it might have temporarily slowed down Iran’s rate of expansion. Most importantly, Stuxnet or no Stuxnet, ceteris paribus, Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity increased and, consequently,so did its nuclear-weapons potential. [...]
Grazie alla segnalazione di un illustre lettore ho scoperto questo saggio dal titolo: “Chi ha rubato il Rapporto Pacatte?“, dove si narra la vicenda di un prezioso rapporto dell’OSS americana scomparso a Parigi nel 1944. Una rilassante lettura domenicale.
A proposito di letture gradevoli, è di prossima pubblicazione l’ultimo libro della Professoressa Pasqualini, come tutti sappiamo già autrice di altri volumi sulla storia della nostra Intelligence. Il titolo del libro è: “Breve storia dell’organizzazione dei Servizi di informazione della Regia Marina e Regia Aeronautica: 1919 – 1945” e sarà edito dalla Commissione Italiana di Storia Militare.
Rimanendo sul tema delle dinamiche geopolitiche in Asia vi segnalo un breve paper che a gennaio è stato pubblicato dalla LSE Ideas, la quale sta emergendo sempre più come centro di eccellenza nel campo della riflessione strategica: “Japan and the US Pivot to the Asia Pacific“. L’autore è il nostro bravo Matteo Dian.