Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights – January 30, 2024
Global Security Matters
- An attack at a military base in Jordan near the Syrian border killed three US service members and injured more than 40 other service members in Jordan to support Operation Inherent Resolve. Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said in a brief that the US Central Command is investigating how a one-way attack drone was able to hit the facility. She also stated that the US knows Iran was behind the attack. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group claimed to have hit four military bases on Sunday, but the other attacks have not been confirmed by US officials.
- INTERFOR ANALYSIS: In the last two days, we’ve seen several commentators suggest the US is considering drastic retaliation, including a possible attack inside Iran. We see that scenario as still unlikely. It’s important to note that the US goal across the region remains de-escalation. US retaliation will likely target Iranian proxies or their infrastructure in the region, including Iranian equipment and even Iranian personnel in the region supporting proxy groups. While these attacks will be more forceful than prior actions, the strategic priority remains deterrence and avoiding broader regional conflict, not punishing Iran.
- For Iran’s part, whether or not an eventual Gaza ceasefire is directly connected to the pressure Iran is exerting, Iran is positioning itself to take credit and garner support for its influence among pro-Palestinian publics across the region. With that in mind, whatever the US response, Iran-linked activity in the region will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
- On Friday, the Houthis continued targeting tankers and US warships in the Red Sea. US Central Command reported that the USS Carney was once again targeted by an anti-ship ballistic missile fired from Yemen. Also targeted by the attacks were two US-registered Maersk Line vessels, and a Liberia-flagged crude oil tanker. Commodity trader Trafigura also reported its vessel, the Marlin Luanda, had been struck with a Houthi missile in the Gulf of Aden in a second attack on the same day. On Saturday, the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond reported it was targeted by a Houthi drone and was forced to shoot down the missile.
- INTERFOR ANALYSIS: The indiscriminate attacks aimed at a wider group of shipping are raising concerns in the shipping industry. While it was reported that containerships are avoiding the Red Sea route, Lloyd’s List now reports that Suezmax tankers are increasingly rerouting as well, with charter rates reaching new highs for tankers. Houthi targeting of those tankers could further disrupt trade, drive up energy prices, and further pressure geopolitical tensions, if physical commodity traders opt to circumvent the Red Sea.
- The US and Iraq announced on Thursday that both countries will begin talks to wind down the US-led military coalition which was formed to fight the Islamic State group (IS) in Iraq. The US stated that such talks first began last year and were not due to an increase in attacks targeted at US forces in Iraq since the October 7 war.
Cyber & Technology
- A Turkish hacking group hacked a cinema in Tel Aviv. The message displaced was written in Hebrew stating, “Stupid Jews, you are all terrorist killers…We will destroy you all. We will limit your access to the internet and banking services. God is with us.” Footage from October 7 was also displayed. Threat actor ‘MeshSec’ has claimed responsibility for the cyberattack.
- Britain’s GCHQ spy agency warned that AI will lead to an increase in cyberattacks. The warning explained that due to AI tools, less sophisticated hackers can contribute to cyber and ransomware attacks, using tools such as chatbots to help with more convincing materials for online phishing campaigns.
- The State Department warned travelers in a Travel Advisory about the high crime rates in the Bahamas. The advisory emphasized violent crimes such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults in the New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) islands. It advises travelers not to answer the door at their hotel if they do not know who it is. This comes after a security alert by the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas stated that 18 murders have occurred in Nassau since the start of the year.
- US Department of State Travel Advisories
- CISA: nation-state cybersecurity threats and other resources for cybersecurity matters.
- Our most recent blog posts discuss 3 new security tech trends to watch in 2024 and the renewed threat of domestic terrorism and how to take precautions.