A recent unclassified threat assessment by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) succinctly described how the United States Intelligence Community sees Iran's threat: Iran will present a continuing threat to U.S. and allied interests in the region as it tries to erode U.S. influence and support Shia populations abroad, entrench its influence and project power in neighboring states, deflect international pressure, and minimize threats to regime stability.
The perception is not only limited to intelligence professionals. Even two-thirds of Americans in a recent TIPP Poll believe Iran poses a threat to the U.S. and its interests. 29% see Iran as a short-term threat (under six months), and 38% perceive it as a long-term threat. Republicans and conservatives are more likely to share the view, although most Democrats, liberals, and moderates concur.
Iran is always on the lookout for ways to expand its regional influence. Iran aspires to be a major regional power, limiting the United States and its allies in the region. To this end, Iran maintains a robust network of militant partners and proxies, and it is a direct or indirect participant in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Israel.
Economic sanctions have taken their toll on Iran. Despite that, it diverts resources to amassing conventional weapons and sponsoring terrorist actions against the interests of the U.S. and its allies.
Iran uses a hybrid approach to warfare, blending its conventional and unconventional capabilities. For example, it threatens Israel directly with its missile capabilities and indirectly through its sponsorship of Hizballah and other terrorist groups.
In Iraq, Tehran-supported Shia militias are an ongoing threat to U.S. personnel.
In Yemen, Iran actively supports the Houthis with ballistic and cruise missiles and unmanned systems.
Saudi Arabia and its interests are Tehran’s frequent targets.
After recent strikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraq, President Biden declared Iran would never get a nuclear weapon 'on my watch.'
President Biden wants the U.S. to rejoin the nuclear agreement if Iran returns to compliance. His goal is to negotiate a deal that addresses Iran's other activities, such as its missile program.
In a low turnout presidential election in June, Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's judiciary chief and a protege of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, won a landslide victory. "Regional and missile issues are non-negotiable," said Raisi shortly after being elected as president.
Tehran also believes that the United States and its allies are seeking regime change.
Meddling In the United States
Iran attempted to influence the dynamics surrounding the 2020 U.S. presidential election by sending threatening messages to U.S. voters. Iranian cyber actors disseminated information about U.S. election officials in December 2020 to undermine trust in the U.S. election.
Many individuals with ties to Iran have been arrested in the United States in recent years as agents of influence or gathering information on Iranian dissidents in the United States.
Only one-third gave President Biden an A or a B for his handling of Iran, with a similar share giving him a D or an F. The distribution of grades:
- Good (A or B) - 33%
- Average (C) – 20%
- Poor (D or F) - 33%
- Not sure – 14%
In his state of the union address in 2002, President Bush collectively referred to Iran, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and North Korea as the "axis of evil." It's been nearly two decades. Saddam Hussein is no longer in power, but we still have an unstable Iraq, an aggressive Iran, and a belligerent North Korea. Iran will continue to remain a regional menace.
Members of the Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan demonstrated outside a Bank of China branch in Taipei yesterday, drawing attention to the Chinese Communist Party's history of repression on the occasion of its centennial.
The owner of Zara, Inditex, is one of the groups being investigated.
Magistrates at the national anti-terror prosecutor's office in Paris are probing claims that multinational companies are complicit in crimes against humanity, the source said, confirming a report on the Mediapart investigative website.
The case is based on a complaint lodged in April by the anti-corruption group Sherpa, the French branch of the Clean Clothes Campaign, the Uyghur Institute of Europe, and a Uyghur woman who had been held in a camp in Xinjiang, China.
Last year, several major consumer brands, including Uniqlo, H&M, Nike, and Adidas, announced that they would no longer buy cotton from the region, sparking boycott calls in China.
US and U.K. intelligence have accused Russian military hackers of being behind an ongoing cyber-campaign to steal emails and other information, including from parliaments.
The campaign is said to have begun in mid-2019 and to be "almost certainly" ongoing. It has mainly been directed at organizations using Microsoft Office 365 cloud services, but other service providers have also been targeted.
The attack is relatively unsophisticated, with the hackers using multiple attempts to log in with different passwords to try to access systems.
They are alleged to have used specialist software to scale up these efforts and have used Virtual Private Networks and Tor, an anonymizing system, to hide what they were doing.
In its September 2020 warning about the group, Microsoft said they used 1,000 constantly rotating I.P. addresses.
Once they get in, Russian hackers are said to have stolen data, including emails, and further log-in information to allow them to burrow deeper.
Humanitarian agencies say they are struggling to reach people in need in the conflict-hit Ethiopian region, warning of 'drastic' deterioration unless things change.
Eritrea, whose troops have been accused of carrying out some of the worst abuses during the conflict, has not commented since the Ethiopian government's announcement.
Electricity and telecommunications remain largely cut off across Tigray, making the work of humanitarian groups more challenging, just as the region of some six million people faces the worst famine crisis globally in a decade.
To make matters worse, the International Rescue Committee said on Thursday a bridge over the Tekeze River near the town of Shire in northern Tigray had been destroyed.
According to the United Nations, more than 350,000 people in Tigray are facing famine conditions due to "catastrophic" food shortages, with another five million needing immediate food aid.
Sports editors from over ten major U.S. media outlets have sent a letter of protest to the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, saying their anti-COVID-19 rules and restrictions run counter to press freedom.
A ban on visiting foreign journalists interviewing spectators and conducting interviews is a "clear overreach" targeted at them. The media in Japan will not face the same restrictions, regardless of their vaccination status.
"Some of these measures we have described go beyond limiting the spread of the virus and speak directly and chiefly to press freedoms," said the letter, written by the editors of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, USA Today, and eight other media outlets.
Medical experts have expressed fears that the games will trigger a spike in infections in Japan and other countries, while public support for the Olympics remains low.
Two members of the Ugandan delegation that arrived in Japan for the games have tested positive for the virus, leading to further debate over whether the anti-virus measures being taken by the Japanese government and organizers are sufficient.
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