Want to work with allies like India to combat disinformation, says US

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The US government wants to work with allies like India to combat disinformation generated by countries like Russia and China by ensuring access to the tools necessary to expose foreign information manipulation, a senior American diplomat has said. During a meeting at the US Embassy in London this week, US Special Envoy and Coordinator of the Global Engagement Centre (GEC) James Rubin told reporters that support from like-minded allies was important in the mission to fight the information warfare faced from Russia, China, Iran and terrorist groups.

He was also categorical in highlighting the destabilising role being played by Iran in the Middle East by enabling terrorist groups like ISIS to operate freely and hosting Al Qaeda leadership within its territory.

“What I want to work with countries like India on is how to ensure that when information enters their domain, if it originated with from the Kremlin or it originated from the PRC [People’s Republic of China] Communist Party, that we know it,” Rubin told in response to a question on India-US collaboration in the field of disinformation.

“We have developed the Framework to Counter Foreign State Information Manipulation as a way of trying to organise those countries that believe in preventing Russia and China from interfering in the information space without admitting it…the difference is between legitimate journalism that’s critical, tough and fair versus an information operation. And that’s when the role of China or Russia is hidden,” he said.

The Special Envoy, who was in London for meetings of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, said the bulk of GEC’s efforts are directed towards Russia and China and also activities of hostile players like Iran.

“As you can imagine, the bulk of our efforts are directed towards Russia and China for obvious reasons that we are in a situation where both of those countries are using information warfare as part and parcel of their foreign policy activities,” he said.

“Iran’s support for terrorist groups and chaotic actors in the greater Middle East has enabled ISIS to operate more freely, has hosted Al Qaeda inside Iran, and in general made it possible for Hamas to conduct the operations that it conducted on October 7, by providing the specific weaponry and training that was that made it possible to conduct that operation,” he said.

Reiterating the unusually strong statement from a spokesperson for the US administration, the senior State Department official said it was important to shine a light on how Iran is using “disinformation and denial” to try to mask its role in destabilising the whole world’s shipping operations.

“We know that Iran has been deeply involved in planning operations against commercial vessels in the Red Sea,” he said.

“Every country in the whole world faces increased costs, and increased risks because of Iranian behaviour…they’re hosting the leadership of Al Qaeda, and not admitting it. Their mission is chaos in the region and the whole world pays the price in terms of increased shipping costs, not to mention all the damage and consequences of warfare,” he added.

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