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The dramatic rise of the tension between the United States and Iran that for a few days has sparked the possibility of a generalized conflict in the region has marked the beginning of the year. The assassination of General Qassem Suleimani by means of a drone attack has also revealed Trump administration's lack of expertise and long-term strategy, as discussed by Fred Kaplan in Slate where he points out the absence of high-ranking qualified personnel in Donald Trump's staff. Furthermore, the American president continues his bullying politics characterized by wrong strategies according to the analysis of Paul Krugman in The New York Times.


New Iranian Missiles Pose Threat to U.S. Aircraft in Yemen, Pentagon Says

NYT > Middle East

According to an American military official, the 358 missile in flight is about nine feet long and can run on kerosene or diesel fuel contained in flexible containers that do not require a separate fuel pump. A dozen infrared lenses arranged in a ring around the missile are believed to be able to defeat heat-seeking countermeasures that coalition helicopters typically use. Another United States military official said that the 358 missiles from Iran had been fired against American drones flying in Yemeni airspace, but they had not yet succeeded in hitting any. Three of the 358 missiles were captured in November by the Forrest Sherman, a Navy destroyer, and five more were recovered this month in an operation by the Normandy, a Navy cruiser. Those shipments also included more than 170 antitank guided missiles made in Iran, as well as 13,000 blasting caps, which are critical to making modern roadside bombs.


Devices found in Houthi missiles and Yemen drones link Iran to attacks

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – A small instrument inside the drones that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry and those in the arsenal of Yemen's Houthi rebels match components recovered in downed Iranian drones in Afghanistan and Iraq, two reports say. These gyroscopes have only been found inside drones manufactured by Iran, Conflict Armament Research said in a report released on Wednesday. That follows a recently released report from the United Nations saying its experts saw a similar gyroscope from an Iranian drone obtained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, as well as in weapons shipments seized in the Arabian Sea bound for Yemen. The discovery further ties Iran to an attack that briefly halved Saudi Arabia's oil output and saw energy prices spike by a level unseen since the 1991 Gulf War. It also ties Iran to the arming of the rebel Houthis in Yemen's long civil war.


In wake of Soleimani's death, Tehran-backed Hezbollah steps in to guide Iraqi militias

The Japan Times

Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq, the Tehran-backed Lebanese organization Hezbollah urgently met with Iraqi militia leaders, seeking to unite them in the face of a huge void left by their powerful mentor's death, two sources with knowledge of the meetings said. The meetings were meant to coordinate the political efforts of Iraq's often-fractious militias, which lost not only Soleimani but also Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a unifying Iraqi paramilitary commander, in the Jan. 3 attack at Baghdad airport, the sources said. While offering few details, two additional sources in a pro-Iran regional alliance confirmed that Hezbollah, which is sanctioned as a terrorist group by the United States, has stepped in to help fill the void left by Soleimani in guiding the militias. All sources in this article spoke on condition of anonymity to address sensitive political activities rarely addressed in public. Officials with the governments of Iraq and Iran did not respond to requests for comment, nor did a spokesperson for the militia groups.


This site uses AI to generate fake news articles

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The website, a project by the AI development company Big Bird, is supposed to be a showcase of how the company's algorithms can help journalists quickly write compelling news, according to the website's "about" page. But despite the website's title, the realistic-enough articles aren't labeled as fake news or the marketing stunt that they are -- meaning their existence is more likely to make journalists pull out their hair than it is to help them. A quick scroll down the website's home page reveals a smattering of political, cultural, and scientific news stories. Aside from entertaining algorithmic errors, like the headlines "Iran's Stock Market: 'There's a Market,'" and "In wake of death of British soldier, thousands as for plastic-free pubs," the articles are mostly convincing. In fact, many appear to be closely based on actual news stories, like the resignation of UK finance minister Sajid Javid.


How AI can address the global sanctions challenge

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Today's global sanctions regimes have arguably never been more challenging for organisations to ensure they remain compliant and have the required screening processes and procedures in place. Over the past decade, trade and economic sanctions have become an ever more popular tool of foreign policy in an increasingly uncertain geo-political climate. Aside from country-specific sanctions, such as those against Iran, Russia, North Korea, etc, more targeted regulations focus upon particular businesses or individuals. As a result, national and international AML, screening and anti-fraud obligations have increased in both scope and complexity. Failure to comply with sanctions and money laundering obligations, can result in severe financial and reputational costs.


More Than 100 Troops Have Brain Injuries From Iran Missile Strike, Pentagon Says

NYT > Middle East

And as the injury toll has mounted, veterans groups and others have levied criticism at the White House, in part because, in January, President Trump dismissed the injuries as "not very serious." "I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things," Mr. Trump said at a news conference Jan. 22 in Davos, Switzerland. "I don't consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen." At least a dozen missiles were fired during the attack, which was a retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian general, Qassim Suleimani, by an American drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. The Trump administration at first said there were no injuries, but a week later said several service members were evaluated for possible concussions.


AI in War Means Deepfakes as Well as Killerbots

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Since 2014, Russia has played a dominant role in the civil war hostilities in Syria where the testing of technology fresh out of research and development has been applied to measure results, graded by software systems. Such military upgrades launched in Syria and in Yemen include the SS-21 Scarab, the Uran-9 and the Ratnick-4 (robotics). A four day drill was held in December 2019 in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. Participants were Russia, Iran, and China whose cooperation, unity, and military exchanges were evident during the drills. Russia's involvement should be considered in the light of a strategy.


Ukraine: Recordings show Iran knew jetliner was hit by a missile

The Japan Times

KYIV – A leaked recording of an exchange between an Iranian air-traffic controller and an Iranian pilot purports to show that authorities immediately knew a missile had downed a Ukrainian jetliner after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard, despite days of denials by the Islamic Republic. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy acknowledged the recording's authenticity in a report aired by a Ukrainian television channel Sunday night. In Tehran on Monday, the head of the Iranian investigation team, Hassan Rezaeifar, acknowledged the recording was legitimate and said it was handed over to Ukrainian officials. After the Jan. 8 disaster, Iran's civilian government maintained for days that it didn't know the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had shot down the aircraft. The downing of the jetliner came just hours after the Guard launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for an earlier American drone strike that killed the Guard's top general, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad.


New EU foreign policy chief to make his first visit to Iran

The Japan Times

TEHRAN – The European Union's foreign affairs chief is traveling to Iran to meet with the country's leaders, the Iranian official news agency said on Sunday, amid high regional tensions. The visit is seen as the latest move by the EU to save the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have steadily risen since President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement and re-imposed sanctions on Iran in 2018. Tehran has responded by gradually rolling back its commitment to the deal. Josep Borrell will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other Iranian officials on Monday, according to IRNA.