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Non-Linear Stratagems in Theory and Practice: Examples from Iranian Cyber Policies

In this report, we explore the emergence of a host of “non-linear” stratagems aimed at exploiting pre-existing structural vulnerabilities in the liberal world order whilst reducing the likelihood of reprisal or retaliation. Following the end of the Cold War, it was hoped that a more peaceable liberal world order would emerge under the benevolent rulership of American unipolarity. The liberal order sought to gradually transform acts of self-interested transactional cooperation into more enduring loyalties. Non-linear stratagems are simply a variation of this theme, albeit without the anticipated positive externalities. Operating on similar lines to realist international theory, such ploys seek to further the dual objectives of self-interest and state survival in an anarchic global system. This report provides a general theoretical examination of such emerging stratagems, using recent Iranian cyber activities to support the arguments made. To that end, we offer a deeper analysis of the findings partially presented in our recent ARTICLE 19 studies on Iran’s National Internet (published in 2016) as well as a forthcoming publication on Soft War and the Iranian Cyber Army.

The Week in #Iran Social Media

A real mixed bag of treats from Meidoon.com this week. None of the ISIS horrorshow made it to the top! #ISISMEDIABLACKOUT. A low horror dose Meidoon Watch for you, and yours. Written by Arta, Trend Analyst at ASL19, for meidoon.com : Joint project between the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and ASL19

Liking Facebook in Tehran: Social Networking in Iran

This report, based on an online survey of Iranian Facebook users, contributes to a small but growing body of scholarship on social and new media use in Iran. Our findings offer new insights into the Iranian Facebook ecosystem, including patterns of Facebook usage among Iranians, why and how Iranians are using Facebook, what types of content they are sharing, as well as perceptions of privacy and security associated with using Facebook.

Soft War: The 2014 Fajr International Film Festival

On February 1st to 11th, 2014, the Islamic Republic of Iran held its 32nd Annual Fajr International Film Festival. Despite restrictive state policies and limited state and private financial support for the arts since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the arts scene in Iran is nonetheless very dynamic. Like the rest of the arts in Iran, however, films are deeply political and linked to the Islamic Republic’s concerns about national security, especially what the regime labels as “soft war”.

Rouhani’s Presence in Davos

President Hassan Rouhani took center stage at the annual Davos World Economic Forum, where he launched a new diplomatic charm offensive, his second since the UN General Assembly last September. This offensive aimed to woo Western business executives, including CEOs of multinational oil companies, to return to Iran and invest in an economy battered by international sanctions and years of gross mismanagement.Rouhani’s appearance at the World Economic Forum sparked varied reactions from Iranian media outlets, illustrating the Rouhani administration’s objectives and challenges in positioning Iran as a global player.

IRIB's Struggle for Relevance

In Iran’s cultural war, television has served as a key battleground for religious, educational and cultural messaging. According to the Supreme Leader and his surrounding political circle, the state run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has the vital mission of transmitting Islamic values through television, which is crucial in the fight against the media aggression from Iran’s enemies.

Iran's media on Russia

Russia’s strategic goals in post-revolutionary Iran have vacillated in starkly different directions, moving between supporting Iraq in the devastating Iran-Iraq war, to selling billions of dollars in arms to Tehran in the 1990’s, to its present involvement in developing Iran’s nuclear program, while simultaneously refusing to sell Iran advanced air defense systems.

Facebook and the CCDOC Fog of War

When the Rouhani administration took office in an environment of pressing foreign and domestic issues, hopes for a more free and open internet were widespread among the Iranian populace and international community. The debate over whether Facebook will be unblocked in Iran rages on with significant ambiguity regarding who has the final authority on the issue. Although members of the moderate Rouhani administration are advocating for more online freedoms, including national access to Facebook, Iran’s hardline conservatives believe Facebook should remain filtered.