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Tighter Bond Between Russia, Iran Puts West at Greater Risk

Tighter Bond Between Russia, Iran Puts West at Greater Risk
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, left, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin in 2018. (AFP via Getty Images)

Micah Halpern By Thursday, 11 February 2021 10:12 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Russia and Iran are collaborating on cyber security defense and offense. That's not conjecture. It's cold, hard, fact.

In late January, the Russians and the Iranians signed anagreement that puts in danger the entire Western world. The signing went mostly unnoticed in the Western media.

But the Iranian media covered this new, and frightening, development.

Tasnim, an official Iranian media outlet, reported on the agreement. They quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying: "The document gives us the opportunity to coordinate our activities given the growing importance of cyber issues and their increasing impact on international relations, as well as on situations in various countries."

The outline of the agreement is very straightforward according to Tasnim. The objective is to coordinate the activities of Russia and Iran in combatting cybercrime, cybersecurity and information technology for national security and intelligence.

This agreement puts Israel and other Western nations, all targets of Iran, directly in the crosshairs of Iran. With the help of Russia, countless many U.S. and Israeli companies and websites will be subjected to extremely sophisticated cyberattacks. And to state the obvious, the future of warfare is now cyberwarfare.

The implications are enormous.

Iran is angry — and they are frustrated. Four of Iran's ports and military targets were recently cyberattacked. In response, because Israel's military defense is so strong, the Iranians attempted to cyberattack Israeli ports. They failed. And so Iran was forced, instead, to attack softer Israeli targets.

This go-round they succeeded and Iran successfully cyberattacked the customs office. While the Iranian attack on the Israeli port did delay some ships, it was mostly an inconvenience. Earlier, Iran struck much more sensitive targets, this time at Israel's water and sewage departments. The cyberattack was almost completely repelled.

But more than that, Iran showcased their cyberattack capabilities.

And then, this past week, Teheran was the victim of a cyberattack. Sirens and alarms were sounded all over the city. There were serious power outages and a missile was even shot from one of their defense facilities. They called it a mistake.

The battles, if not the actual war, is on.

The Iranians have certainly, successfully, improved their cyber systems. In one instance of their new cyber prowess the Iranians hacked an Israeli insurance company and posted the names of all of the company's clients online.

Iran has improved, but they know their limitations and realize that as advanced as they have become, Iranian cyber offense and defense capabilities are dwarfed in comparison to Russia. Iran wanted Russia's help in advancing their cyber defense and attacks. And now they have it.

There is no doubt that future conflicts will involve cyberattacks. The attacks will strike at nerve centers. They will cause massive harm by simply stopping elementary yet crucial services — like electricity and water.

Iran knows it. Israel knows it. Russia knows it. The United States knows it.

Iran is going to gain much more from the Russians because of this new agreement that they have signed. But this is not a one-way street, not a humanitarian or simply a friendly gesture by the Russians. Russia, too, will gain.

Russia will have new strength in the Middle East, and that is extremely pleasing to them. They will have access to Iranian intelligence and cyber information and with that, they will be able to further hone, plan and implement their Middle East strategies.

Especially important for Russia is Iran's information on the United States and on Israel. Russia will also gain access to and an understanding of Iran's rapidly developing nuclear and oil systems.

As Iran's sponsor, Russia will be privy to an intimate view of Iran's activities and intentions.

Iran is a disrupter in the region. Russian leadership sees itself as the most important influencer in the region. Now, with this new agreement, Russia will have more input and more ability to guide Iran in their disruptions. Russia and Iran will work together with quantifiable benefits.

The damage they can do to the rest of us, however, is unquantifiable. Because of this new, even tighter than ever before union between Russia and Iran, the rest of us — Israel, the United States, the Western world and all Sunni states, are at risk.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.

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Russia and Iran are collaborating on cyber security defense and offense. That's not conjecture. It's cold, hard, fact.
cyber security
Thursday, 11 February 2021 10:12 AM
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