The risk of an Iran cyberattack is up after missile strike on Iraqi military bases with US troops

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Americans should be on heightened alert for cyberattacks after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed late Tuesday, security researchers say. Iran could target private businesses and government infrastructure to avenge last week's killing of its top military commander as tensions between Tehran and Washington reach one of their highest points since the 1979 Iranian revolution. "I am not predicting it will happen, but if it happens, I won't be surprised," said Steven Bellovin, a computer science professor at Columbia University School of Engineering. A cyber conflict has been silently raging for years. In retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week, Iran could target the power and electricity you use, the smart devices you carry or your bank account, security experts say.


Kept in the dark, U.S. Democrats have little recourse over Trump's Iran actions

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON โ€“ U.S. lawmakers have few options for tamping down any escalation by President Donald Trump of tensions with Iran, despite Democrats' outrage over his failure to inform Congress in advance about a strike against a top Iranian military commander. Members of Congress begin to return from their year-end holiday recess on Monday, and Democrats said they will attempt quickly to pass legislation to bar Trump -- or any future U.S. commander-in-chief -- from conducting a campaign against Iran without obtaining Congress' approval. Late on Sunday, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Democratic-led chamber would introduce and vote this week on a War Powers Resolution that would force Trump to stop military action against Iran within 30 days. But with Trump's fellow Republicans in control of the Senate and showing little inclination to break from their party's leader, there is scant expectation any legislation could win enough support to become law. Longtime foes Tehran and Washington have been in a war of words since Friday, when Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike at Baghdad airport.


Regime change quest suspected as Trump seizes on new Iran protests

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON โ€“ With presidential tweets in Persian and stern warnings to the regime, Donald Trump's administration is rallying behind the latest protests in Iran -- and renewing suspicions that his real goal is regime change. Just a week ago, massive crowds took to the streets in Iran to mourn powerful Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad, and Tehran fired retaliatory missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq without inflicting casualties. Trump's response was, briefly, unusually conciliatory -- seeking a de-escalation with Iran and noting that they shared common interests, including fighting the Islamic State group. But all has changed since Saturday, when Iran admitted that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing 176 people, setting off a new round of protests by Iranians furious at the deaths and the regime's initial denial. The tragedy has "turned the tide against the Iranian leadership again," said Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group, which promotes conflict resolution.


Trump strains to balance diplomacy and military threat to Iran

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON โ€“ The Trump administration tried to balance diplomacy with fresh talk of military action Tuesday in response to the fiery missile and drone attack on the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry -- a strike marking the most explosive consequence yet of the "maximum pressure" U.S. economic campaign against Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was headed to Jiddah in Saudi Arabia to discuss possible responses to what U.S. officials believe was an attack coming from Iranian soil. President Donald Trump said he'd "prefer not" to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at next week's U.N. session but "I never rule anything out." Iran continued to deny involvement in last weekend's attack on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq oil processing plant and its Khurais oil field, a strike that interrupted the equivalent of about 5 percent of the world's daily supply. Saudi Arabia's energy minister said Tuesday that more than half of the country's daily crude oil production that was knocked out by the attack had been recovered and production capacity at the targeted plants would be fully restored by the end of the month.


U.S. pulls nonessential staffers from Iraq amid Mideast tensions linked to Iran

The Japan Times

BAGHDAD - The U.S. on Wednesday ordered all nonessential government staff to leave Iraq, and Germany and the Netherlands both suspended their military assistance programs in the country in the latest sign of tensions sweeping the Persian Gulf region over still-unspecified threats that the Trump administration says are linked to Iran. Recent days have seen allegations of sabotage targeting oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a drone attack by Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels, and the dispatch of U.S. warships and bombers to the region. At the root of this appears to be President Donald Trump's decision a year ago to pull the U.S. from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, embarking on a maximalist sanctions campaign against Tehran. In response, Iran's supreme leader issued a veiled threat Tuesday, saying it wouldn't be difficult for the Islamic Republic to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels. The movement of diplomatic personnel is often done in times of conflict, but what is driving the decisions from the White House remains unclear.