Tehran fanning regional instability by backing Taliban, says US envoy

New US Ambassador to Afghanistan, John Bass, said Tehran’s backing of the Taliban could “destabilize Iran’s eastern borders”. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 27 March 2018
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Tehran fanning regional instability by backing Taliban, says US envoy

KABUL: Tehran’s backing of the Taliban could “destabilize Iran’s eastern borders,” said the new US ambassador to Afghanistan, John Bass.
“Iran is providing logistical support to the Taliban,” he told the BBC in an interview aired on Tuesday, adding that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is involved in the backing. “It is tough to know why Iran sees fanning the war in Afghanistan as in its interest.”
Tehran has been fanning regional instability and sectarian conflict for the past five years, Bass said.
At the time of writing, it was not possible to reach Iran’s embassy in Kabul for comment. But a Taliban spokesman told Arab News that the US ambassador’s comments are baseless propaganda aimed at “covering America’s failure in Afghanistan and remaining here.”
The comments by Bass come days after Washington’s top general in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, who heads the NATO-led force in the country, said Moscow is arming the Taliban.
The group has waged an insurgency against the Afghan government and the US-led coalition since its ouster in late 2001.
Russia’s Embassy in Kabul said Nicholson’s comments were “idle gossip.” Last month, Bass denied Iranian and Russian claims that Washington is backing Daesh.
Tehran and Moscow were enemies of the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan for five years, but in recent years they have forged ties with the group, which is active in vast parts of the country.
Iran and Russia say the ties are merely to protect their nationals in Afghanistan and to persuade the Taliban to join the peace process.
Najib Mahmoud, a political science professor, told Arab News that the allegations by Nicholson and Bass are part of “big US rivalries with Iran and Russia in other parts of the world, such as Syria and Ukraine.”
Mahmoud added: “Countries in the region and beyond are directly and indirectly involved in the Afghan war, with each pursuing their interests and seeking to crush their rivals.”
He said: “It would be very wise for the Afghan government to not allow the country to be further trampled on by taking sides in this war.”


FBI warns Russians hacked hundreds of thousands of routers

Updated 25 May 2018
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FBI warns Russians hacked hundreds of thousands of routers

WASHINGTON: The FBI warned on Friday that Russian computer hackers had compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and could collect user information or shut down network traffic.
The US law enforcement agency urged the owners of many brands of routers to turn them off and on again and download updates from the manufacturer to protect themselves.
The warning followed a court order Wednesday that allowed the FBI to seize a website that the hackers planned to use to give instructions to the routers. Though that cut off malicious communications, it still left the routers infected, and Friday’s warning was aimed at cleaning up those machines.
Infections were detected in more than 50 countries, though the primary target for further actions was probably Ukraine, the site of many recent infections and a longtime cyberwarfare battleground.
In obtaining the court order, the Justice Department said the hackers involved were in a group called Sofacy that answered to the Russian government.
Sofacy, also known as APT28 and Fancy Bear, has been blamed for many of the most dramatic Russian hacks, including that of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Earlier, Cisco Systems Inc. said the hacking campaign targeted devices from Belkin International’s Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear Inc, TP-Link and QNAP.
Cisco shared the technical details of its investigation with the US and Ukrainian governments. Western experts say Russia has conducted a series of attacks against companies in Ukraine for more than a year amid armed hostilities between the two countries, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and at least one electricity blackout.
The Kremlin on Thursday denied the Ukrainian government’s accusation that Russia was planning a cyberattack on Ukrainian state bodies and private companies ahead of the Champions League soccer final in Kiev on Saturday.
“The size and scope of the infrastructure by VPNFilter malware is significant,” the FBI said, adding that it is capable of rendering peoples’ routers “inoperable.”
It said the malware is hard to detect, due to encryption and other tactics.
The FBI urged people to reboot their devices to temporarily disrupt the malware and help identify infected devices.
People should also consider disabling remote-management settings, changing passwords and upgrading to the latest firmware.