WASHGINTON DC – According to the New York Times, the United States Army and intelligence services are working on plans to conduct covert operations against Iran in the Persian Gulf, trying to contain Tehran, while not increasing the existing tensions and not leading to war. The The New York Times wrote about this Sunday, citing its sources in the Pentagon and the US intelligence community.
The track record of the NYT working directly with the CIA and the Pentagon lends credence to claims that these sources exist. At the same time the specifics cannot be confirmed, and in the most recent case of reporting that President Trump had recalled an attack he had already approved, Trump explained that this was a serious case of misreporting on the part of news agencies who carried that report.
The NYT did not provide details of the planned secret operations, but pointed to the discussion of several options: new cyber attacks, the “shutdown” of Iranian warships, informational attacks aimed at undermining “support for the Iranian regime.”
Regarding information attacks aimed at ‘support for the Iranian regime’, these are generally understood as suppressing websites on social media that have reported factually on the events. These are sites, such as Fort Russ News which furthermore publish opinions, analysis, and editorials which work contrary to the position of Washington on Iran, but are within the rights of citizens to speak on.
FRN can confirm that on the day after the incident of the downing of the drone, the counter-hegemonic publication experienced accounts being blocked and shut-off temporarily from social media such as Facebook, and readers were unable to share the articles. In many cases readers found their own accounts temporarily blocked or disabled after sharing the articles whose premise ran contrary to the US’ mainstream media presentation.
It would appear that ‘informational attacks’ aimed at sites ‘supporting the Iranian regime’ include websites being operated by and for American and A5 citizens, within their own constitutional rights. Such attacks therefore are highly problematic on an ethical and constitutional level, and raise serious questions about the privatization of the virtual public sphere.
It is noted that the CIA has specific secret plans to respond to the “Iranian provocations”, one of which was a US military drone shot down by the forces of the air defense of the Islamic Republic.
According to the American paper, part of the “secret operations” against Iran are already being implemented by the United States.
The NYT article claims:
Intelligence and military officials have told White House policymakers, including Mr. Trump, that without an additional American response, Iran will continue to destabilize the region.
Some divisions of opinion in the administration remain. A number of senior national security officials agree that further action against Iran is needed, but they are divided about how public that action needs to be.
Officials did not provide specifics about the secret operations under consideration by the White House. But they could include a wide range of activities such as additional cyberattacks, clandestine operations aimed at disabling boats used by Iranians to conduct shipping attacks, and covert operations inside Iran aimed at fomenting more unrest. The United States might also look for ways to divide or undermine the effectiveness of Iranian proxy groups, officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive, confidential administration planning.
The Washington Post and the NYT reported that cyber attacks had already taken place, the purpose of the latest US cyber attacks being to target Iranian computers that control missile launches.
According to WaPo and the NYT, the US cyber command prepared this attack “for weeks, if not months”, the process was coordinated by the CIA of the United States and military officials specializing in the Middle East. The attack was claimed to have been made on the night of June 21, it allegedly attacked the Iranian computer systems related to missile controls, the unnamed source said.
Representatives from the White House and the US cyber command declined comment.
Representatives of Iran have not confirmed that such attacks took place, whereas historically they have made public statements to that effect.
On June 20th an American reconnaissance drone was shot down in Iranian airspace. According to the Iranian authorities, the incident occurred over the province of Hormozgan in the south of the country. State media of the Islamic Republic indicate that it was the RQ-4 Global Hawk reconnaissance drone. It is alleged that the drone violated Iranian airspace in the Strait of Hormuz, where it collected information and surveillance, after which it was shot down by Iranian air defense forces.
US President Donald Trump said on June 21 that he did not approve a military strike on Iran, as this would be a “disproportionate attack” that could have killed about 150 people. He explained that the loss of life was not acceptable to him if avoidable. At the same time, Trump made it clear that he is open for talks with Tehran.
On June 17, the US Department of Defense announced the deployment of about 1,000 more US troops in the Middle East, in addition to 1,500 US soldiers and officers, who were sent to the region at the end of May. The White House and the Pentagon explain the consolidation of the US military presence at the borders with Iran with “defensive objectives” designed to neutralize the “threats” emanating from Tehran.