2 November 2013

*** Analyzing Breaking Events

Thursday, October 31, 2013 
 
Stratfor
By Scott Stewart
In last week's Security Weekly, Tristan Reed and I provided a little bit of an "inside baseball" look at how we analyze the transnational criminal cartels in Mexico. We tried to explain some of the challenges that analysts face while analyzing a human network -- Los Zetas in this instance -- that is by its very nature a criminal and clandestine organization.

But cutting through the misinformation and disinformation surrounding murky human networks is not the only difficult task Stratfor analysts are faced with. Indeed, perhaps one of the most difficult things we are asked to do is untangle, decipher and contextualize breaking events for our readers and custom intelligence clients. Sometimes we are able to do so pretty well -- a rapid reaction piece I wrote on Sept. 14, 2012, "Understanding What Went Wrong in Benghazi," continues to be a highly read analysis. But on occasion, we've even fallen into the trap set by erroneous reporting. For example, our very first analysis on the attack in Benghazi incorrectly stated that the casualties were caused by rocket-propelled grenade attacks on the motorcade leaving the compound and that the incident was the result of violent protests over a derogatory movie about the Prophet Mohammed instead of a calculated assault by a well-trained and heavily armed militia.

It is very difficult to cut through the confusion caused by the deluge of information that occurs during a breaking incident, especially when much of the information is redundant or inaccurate. This week I'd like to explain some of the challenges that analysts face in such situations and how those challenges can be overcome.

Donnelly's Law

When I was a young special agent working at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, I worked for a guy named Marty Donnelly who was not only an experienced senior agent but also a savvy former street cop. In addition to teaching me things, such as the invaluable skill of "selling" security to people who thought they did not need it, Marty also instilled in me a philosophy on understanding breaking events that has stuck with me through my entire investigative and analytical life. Whenever we would receive a report that something had happened, Marty would always warn "careful, the first report is never the true story." Then, more often than not, he would send me out and task me to investigate the facts and determine what had really happened. Whether it was the apparent kidnapping of Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu's grandniece, a military massacre in a village or an  assault against an American filmmaker, I found that Marty was inevitably right: the first report was not the real story.

As I've become the veteran guy, I often find myself telling my analysts -- and even my friends, my wife and my kids -- "careful, the first report is never the true story," something I now refer to as "Donnelly's Law."

Why am I sharing all this ancient history? Because Donnelly's Law is one of the first challenges that faces analysts as we receive a report of an incident and then attempt to sort through the myriad details pertaining to the incident in an effort to make sense of it for our customers. The first reports are usually inaccurate, and in many cases they are conflicting.

A recent example of misleading reporting occurred during the attack against Nairobi's Westgate Mall in September. Initial reports indicated that there was a large team of attackers (security camera footage later showed there were only four). Other false reports alleged that the attack was led by an English-speaking woman, and that the attackers had detonated suicide vests, taken hostages, cached weapons in the mall beforehand and were armed with rocket-propelled grenades. In addition to this misinformation, we also saw a Twitter account purportedly run by al Shabaab attempt to inject deliberate disinformation into the picture by releasing a false list of nine assailants allegedly involved in the attack.

Sifting Through the Noise

How then is one to sort through the reports and determine what is true and what is false? One helpful aid is having a framework that provides a basis to work from when analyzing such situations. At Stratfor our tactical analysts all use the terrorist attack cycle as a framework for understanding an attack. This helps the analyst not only to classify the bits of information that flow in regarding the attack but also to focus on the tradecraft involved in the attack -- how it was conducted, rather than just who did it. When you focus on the terrorist tradecraft involved in an attack, it often permits you to draw some valid analytical conclusions about who may be responsible.

The Conventional Military Balance and Deterrence Stability in South Asia


By: Christopher Clary
 
India’s near-term military options against Pakistan are risky and uncertain. They are risky because India’s ability to keep a conflict limited is in doubt and because nuclear risk is present throughout the escalation process. They are uncertain because, while India enjoys conventional military advantages across all three services, these advantages are not as decisive as sometimes assumed.

These conclusions leave no room for complacency. The military expenditure asymmetry is simply too large and growing too rapidly for even a determined Pakistani effort to keep up with growing Indian military strength. India has gone from spending nearly four to five times as much as Pakistan in 1988 to nearly seven to eight times as much in 2012. Neither Pakistan’s geographic advantages nor India’s procurement lethargy can prevent a growing conventional mismatch from occurring. Nor can India’s lethargy in military procurement be assumed indefinitely into the future.
 
India’s economy is simply too large for Pakistan to compete. Even if India maintains defense spending at around or under two per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), over time it will outstrip Pakistan’s ability to maintain a credible conventional defense, even though Pakistan spends many times more on defense as a percentage of GDP. As the Indian military expands its qualitative superiority, particularly in the air domain, it will become increasingly difficult for the Pakistani military to deny India victory in limited fights in the medium- to long-term.
 
Growing conventional asymmetries are likely to decrease the ability of outsiders, most notably the United States, to manage the risk of conflict on the subcontinent. Deterrence stability on the subcontinent depends in large measure on Pakistan’s military leadership. In the 1990s, Rawalpindi responded to unfavorable strategic shifts by relying to a greater extent on violent non-state actors. This strategy forced New Delhi to “pay attention” to Pakistan, while tying down significant numbers of Indian security forces in counterinsurgency operations, most notably in Kashmir.  Put another way, support for militancy was considered to be a force multiplier for Pakistan and a force divider for India.
 
This strategy may have paid short-term dividends in the 1990s, but it now punishing Pakistan at least as much, if not more, than India. Pakistan pays reputational costs for increases in violence across the Kashmir Divide without improving its leverage to generate a favorable political settlement.  Nor has this strategy steered militancy away from Pakistan—indeed, the reverse is true.  Continued violence-by-proxy directed against India would not substantially reduce Indian conventional military capabilities arrayed against Pakistan, even if acts of terror are directed at Indian cities away from Jammu and Kashmir—a trend that has been evident since 2002. India’s response to mass casualty acts of terror has been to strengthen law enforcement and paramilitary forces, drawing from abundant manpower, without reducing conventional military capabilities.
 
If non-state actors are not the solution to the growing conventional force mismatch, Rawalpindi can either rely increasingly on its nuclear arsenal for deterrence or can seek to normalize its relations with India. These paths are not necessarily incompatible. If there were a diminution of terrorist attacks on India, or demonstrably greater distance between non-state actors and Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment, Pakistan’s conventional capabilities and growing nuclear arsenal could serve as an adequate deterrent.


Equipping today's military No facility has been set up to produce hi-tech weapons


by Lt-Gen GD Singh (retd)

IN a belated response to the killing of five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control (LoC) near Poonch, Defence Minister AK Antony says he has given the Army a free hand to counter Pakistani  adventurism. It is important to consider what options the Army has to retaliate with. There are few options other than so-called "fire assaults," in which heavy artillery barrages are directed at enemy posts. This measure dates back about a century to World War I, and uses guns from that era, albeit with better accuracy.
The outcome would be little, other than the deaths of civilians along the LoC, and perhaps the odd Pakistani soldier who had no direct role in the Poonch incident. Is this what modern India would term a "befitting reply"?
Since we know the implications of physically crossing the LoC, what is required is a contemporary menu of hi-tech weapons that can strike with pinpoint precision at targets from distances, allowing Indian posts to retaliate at a local level against local Pakistani forces at the site of an incident, without collateral damage to civilians. Armies that never fire a shot in anger have these modern hi-tech weapons, but the Indian Army — deployed eyeball-to-eyeball with Pakistan on the LoC — makes do with vintage equipment.
Astonishingly, not one out of a plethora of elected leaders and long-serving bureaucrats and generals is held accountable for this hollowness in capability. While hollow promises and chest-thumping fills the public space, nobody — not the Defence Minister, the National Security Adviser, the Defence Secretary nor the Army Chief — have ever had to explain why an incident has taken place and why the Indian Army has come off second best.

Nor has anyone had to explain why the systematic process of capability creation has failed to create the military instruments needed to deal with the security challenges that are so evident every day. Instead, there is a blame game. The military, diminished by excessive political and civilian bureaucratic domination since Independence, has been systematically deprived of the decision-making and financial powers needed for replenishing its capabilities. The generals, admirals and air marshals, unsurprisingly, blame the politicians and babus for the mess they are in, specifically the tardy progress of modernisation proposals. Across the military spectrum, the belief is that crucial projects are delayed by infructuous observations by unaccountable bureaucrats, with the military's operational preparedness being the loser.
Indigenisation of defence equipment has been a long-standing national objective.While we understandably wish to reduce our vulnerability to interruption in the supply of equipment, defence indigenisation has simply not taken off. The longest-serving Defence Minister since Independence, Mr AK Antony, has talked consistently in Parliament, defence functions and in defence seminars (which is a growth industry in India) about the need to reverse India's equipment ratio of 70 per cent imported and 30 per cent indigenous. He is never forced to answer why not a single factory has been established to produce high-technology weapons and equipment; or why nothing is in the pipeline. Instead, he gets away with statements of grandiose intent.

India, with its major requirement of expenditure on social sectors, needs to spend smart. During the next five years, some $80-100 billion will be spent on capital acquisitions. A coherent strategy is needed to achieve our vision of indigenisation. Our Defence Minister, whose party clout occupies him with organisational matters, must spend more time within the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The Diplomat Interviews

By Sanjay Kumar

November 01, 2013

This week, The Diplomat’s Sanjay Kumar spoke with Lieutenant General Ajay Kumar Singh, lieutenant government of the Indian Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, about their strategic importance, developing tourism, protecting the indigenous population, which includes some of the last isolated peoples on the planet.

Lt General Ajay Kumar Singh

ajay-kumar-singh_200You can see him cycling on the streets of Port Blair. You can also spot him talking with ordinary people and sipping tea with them at a roadside shop. Meet Lt. General Ajay Kumar Singh, the new lieutenant governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory ruled from Delhi and located in the Indian Ocean at the very strategic juncture of the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

By focusing on transparency and efficiency, the new LG, as he is popularly known, has introduced a new work ethic. Coming from an army background, Singh has been trying to inject new energy and ideas into the civilian administration. The former military man has visited almost all of the 570-plus islands that make up the territory in the last four months. His agenda is clear: protect India’s strategic interests in the Andaman and Nicobar and promote the territory as a novel tourist destination  without compromising the interests of the indigenous inhabitants of these ecologically rich islands.

Only 32 of the islands of Andaman and Nicobar are inhabited. The territory is known for its pristine beauty and rich flora and fauna, and the administration sees great tourism potential. Still, it is cautious and wants to open the territory to the world without affecting its rich diversity.
The Diplomat’s Sanjay Kumar spoke to Singh recently in the capital Port Blair, about the issues and concerns affecting the islands.

What do the Andaman and Nicobar Islands mean for India?

They are as much an integral part of India as any part of the mainland, notwithstanding the fact that they are 1200 kilometers away from the mainland. The territory has a historical connection that goes back many centuries. It is deeply rooted in our freedom struggle. Large numbers of political prisoners were brought here. There is a Cellular Jail here, which you may have visited. There are deep links to Andaman and Nicobar in the minds of Indians, especially because of their association with our struggle for freedom.

Today, the territory has a great strategic location. It is located 1200 km away from the mainland. Just to give you an example, our northern coast is just 45 km from Myanmar, and our southern coast, called Indira Point, which is also the southernmost point of India, is just 140 kilometers from the Malacca Strait. Traveling to mainland India from here takes two hours, but you can get to Singapore in an hour. So you can see the significance of these islands. The world’s busiest shipping lanes pass just to the south of us. Recognizing this, the nation has organized the first tri-service command, called the Andaman and Nicobar Command, and it is located here.

You aim to promote the island as a major tourist destination, but during my trip I noted some inadequate infrastructure and alack of facilities. What are your plans for working on this?
There is an effort to improve the infrastructure in keeping with our vision, which is to ensure development that accommodates our tribal and ecological concerns. We cannot allow uncontrolled development. There has been a lack of space for development on some of the islands that are popular with the tourists, but we can certainly provide better facilities there. I give you as an example Havelock Island, which has some the best beaches in the territory. One of the complaints that I often hear is that people cannot use the ATM, because the spectrum is so low. This is something I am rectifying. We want to develop a footpath and cycling track, and that will happen in due course.
Yes, if you have the Maldives model in mind then you can say Andaman and Nicobar are slightly behind. This is a conscious decision . We want our island to develop as a very special tourist destination that focuses on ecology, takes care of tribal concerns and promotes adventure tourism, and we have to reconcile all these things as we move forward.

The tribal issue has been one of the contentious topics here, considering the controversy surrounding Jarawa tribe.
Tribal concerns are foremost in our mind; after all, they are our people. They are the original inhabitants of this place. There is a certain legacy that we have inherited prior to independence. Some of the decisions taken at that time did not result in the best welfare for the tribal people. Post independence, there has been a tribal welfare policy that is in place with the Indian government and with the Union Territory administration. We have dynamically revised it time to time. We are absolutely committed – let me tell you through your medium loud and clear – that we are absolutely committed to the welfare of the tribes living on the island. We are not only responsible but also accountable. We are conscious of that.
For the Jarawa tribe, the administration has set 1028 sq kilometers of land as a Jarawa tribal reserve. Entry into this area by non-tribal personnel is prohibited, unless permitted by the statutory authority under the law. Non-tribal persons are also prohibited from acquiring an interest in the reserved area. The regulation has been amended in 2012 and there is a provision for severe punishment ranging from 3 to 7 years imprisonment for offenders who poach and exploit the tribal people. In the recent past there have been some cases of poaching.

VETERANS AND SOLDIERS

- The military is integral to the US’s understanding of itself
Politics and play
Ramachandra Guha 
Earlier this year, I was in Washington D.C. with a friend who had never been to the city before. So we walked down the National Mall, the large expanse of trees and greenery, close to Capitol Hill, where the memorials of modern American history are sited. The Washington Monument was closed for repair, but we visited, among others, the memorials to the Korean and Vietnam Wars, to the American presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, and to the civil-rights leader, Martin Luther King.

It was a sunny day, and the aam admi were out in force. The Americans are a patriotic people, who like to honour their leaders and their war dead. At the Vietnam memorial, there were people of all ages, including many elderly men in wheelchairs, some of whom may have once seen active service themselves. I didn’t however see a face that was not white. The crowds at the Lincoln Memorial were likewise impressive in number, and more variegated in ethnic terms — with some African-Americans and Asian-Americans also present.
The variation may have been accidental, but I was happy to notice it nonetheless. For the war that Abraham Lincoln fought was a just war — to save the Union, and to abolish the practice of slavery. On the other hand, the Americans really had no business in Vietnam, where — in the name of fighting communism — they sided with the imperialist French in suppressing the nationalist aspirations of the Vietnamese people. This distinction is not appreciated by the American ruling elite, nor by many ordinary Americans — which is why the names of the 58,000-odd American soldiers who died in Vietnam are individually inscribed on the Memorial in Washington, whereas the million and more Vietnamese civilians killed in the conflict are conveniently forgotten.

Penetrating the web of terror networks


A detailed study of the Indian Mujahideen, based on a clinical analysis of curated data, is beginning to pay dividends in understanding when the outfit will launch attacks and who its targets will be

The deadly explosions that struck a Bharatiya Janata Party rally in Patna on October 27 confirmed that terrorism will remain on top of the agenda for an over-stretched Indian police and a heavily burdened Intelligence Bureau (IB). Investigations have revealed the involvement of at least six individuals in the planting of 18 explosives (of which only seven exploded) in Gandhi Maidan. The Indian Mujahideen (IM) is the leading suspect for the daring attack. Its intentions seem clear: convert the rally into a mass fatality event, and spread fear and panic with a blatant message to the security apparatus that the IM is a force to contend with.

To the credit of the Bihar Police, some operatives from the IM’s Ranchi cell — one of its newly unearthed field entities — have been arrested in connection with the Patna bombing. Unfortunately, arresting IM operatives does not appear to prevent the outfit from launching terror attacks with relative impunity, and in fact could be a sign that further attacks are in the works.
In the forthcoming book Indian Mujahideen: Computational Analysis and Public Policy (Springer 2014), the four writers here were able to use data mining algorithms developed at the University of Maryland to identify broad conditions that were predictive of different types of terror acts carried out by the IM. Over the years, the IM has consistently carried out simultaneous attacks with multiple devices within a few months of the arrests or deaths of its top operatives. Following the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal in late August 2013, this behavioural rule led us to predict that the IM was likely to launch attacks in the last quarter of 2013 — a prediction that has unfortunately come true with the Patna attacks.
The prospect of a renewed IM terror campaign is dismaying because the next few months are going to be dominated by heightened political acrimony related to the general election and the inevitable use of valuable police resources. In contrast, organisations such as the IM and their allies (such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba) and sponsors (such as the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence) would remain focussed on creating maximum damage for India’s governments.

Soft targets

A striking feature of all IM attacks is the choice of soft targets such as crowded markets. These have caused havoc, killing hundreds of innocent civilians. The IM’s trademark has been multi-pronged attacks that maximise casualties. These attacks, such as the near-simultaneous bombing of three courthouses in different cities across Uttar Pradesh in 2007, require substantial coordination and organisational skills. After the U.P. attacks, the IM terrorised India with a string of bombings throughout 2008. In an attack in Ahmedabad in July 2008, the IM set off nearly 20 low-intensity bombs across the city, and when crowds gathered at the City Trauma Centre, it detonated a car bomb, killing dozens. Since then, the outfit has carried out at least 10 forays, including the 2010 attack on the German Bakery in Pune (possibly in conjunction with LeT) that killed 17, a triple bombing in Mumbai in 2011 that killed 27, and in February 2013, a double bombing in Hyderabad that killed 17.

There have been a few significant IM arrests in recent months. In a coup for India’s security agencies, two of IM’s top operatives, Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar, were captured. Unfortunately, these arrests do not seem to have caused a major dent on the IM, which retains its skill in planning operations with deadly precision and efficiency. The serial blasts in Patna, which were strikingly similar to the twin blasts in Dilsukhnagar (Hyderabad), on February 21, and the July 7 Bodh Gaya blasts this year, illustrate the IM’s capabilities. These repeated terrorist successes here and elsewhere can, unfortunately, only help to boost the morale of groups like the IM.

This raises the overarching issue of how to check terrorism in India. It is more than clear that the IM is one of the most active terrorist groups in India. Its achievements have been disproportionate to its actual strength or marginal popular appeal.

Lost In A Multipolar World India has decimated its economic potential, and strategic autonomy is not an option




LONDON

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a busy man these days – on a legacy tour, trying to underscore his credentials as a foreign policy leader of consequence. At home, though, he remains isolated, marginalized by his party, mocked by the opposition and hounded by the national media. Not surprising, therefore, that at the end of his 10-year stint at the helm of Indian politics, he is seeking refuge in foreign lands.  

Singh visited the United States in September for the UN General Assembly meeting and then the Association for South-East Asian Nations summit in Brunei, together with a bilateral visit to Indonesia, before heading off again, first to Russia and then to China, two critical states in India’s foreign policy matrix. On the surface, New Delhi’s foreign policy is doing well – major partnerships look steady and various joint declarations proclaim a convergence of interests. But a closer examination suggests that, in the name of multipolar diplomacy and non-alignment, Indian foreign policy is in danger of becoming rudderless, especially with economic decline and political turmoil at home. India’s major relationships are suffering as questions emerge in Washington about India's rise, in Moscow about the gravitation to the West, in the East and Southeast Asia about India as credible balancer – all this emboldens China.

India’s ties with the United States, which Singh bolstered with the signing of the US-India civil nuclear pact, are now flagging. There’s a sense of despondency about the future of India as a potential strategic partner in Washington, unprecedented in the last two decades. The growing differences between the two today are not limited to one or two areas but spread across most areas of bilateral concern.  The United States is unhappy that despite valiant efforts to bring India into the nuclear regime the nation has yet to make headway in selling nuclear reactors there. India is concerned by the US immigration changes and forthcoming withdrawal from Afghanistan.

During Singh’s recent meeting with US President Barack Obama, no progress was made on issues apart from strengthening defence cooperation. Singh reiterated concerns stressed during a one-hour meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, both attending the UN General Assembly meeting in September, over terror emanating from Pakistani soil and the need for Islamabad to rein in elements responsible for the violence. Obama politely thanked Singh “for what has been a consistent interest in improving cooperation between India and Pakistan.” In a separate meeting with Sharif, Obama urged cooperation, pointing out that “billions of dollars have been spent on an arms race… and those resources could be much more profitably invested in education, social welfare programs on both sides of the border.” In turn, Sharif offered “commitment to build a cordial and cooperative relationship with India.” The net result of this triangular diplomacy so far has been unprecedented volatility on the Indo-Pak border with the Pakistani Army violating a ceasefire in operation since 2003 in an attempt to once again internationalize Kashmir issue.

Russia and India, meanwhile, are both keen to emphasize that Pakistan’s bid to rehabilitate Taliban is not an acceptable outcome in the aftermath of a US drawdown but have yet to figure out a way to influence rapidly evolving realities on the ground.

For all the talk of “time-tested” Indo-Russian ties, the two sides feel the pressures of a changing global context. Bilateral trade is struggling to cross the measly $11 billion mark, and Russia’s privileged position as India’s defence supplier of choice is under pressure as India shifts to the purchase of smart weaponry, which Russia is ill-equipped to provide. The Indian military has also been critical of relying too heavily on Russia for defence acquisitions, especially in light of the lengthy dispute over refitting the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, renamed INS Vikramaditya, supposed to be handed off to India in 2006. New Delhi expected that contracts on the construction of third and fourth nuclear reactors at Kudankulum would be finalized during Singh’s visit, but Russia had liability concerns. For all the brouhaha about US pressures, India’s old friends, Russia and France, also resist entering the Indian civil nuclear power sector.

India’s ‘deep-sea mining’ capability gets a fillip

 
November 1, 2013
 
Over the past few years, ‘deep sea-mining’ has been the subject of a lively debate among maritime analysts. With global appetite for minerals and rare metals growing, the competition for deep sea-spaces rich with poly-metallic nodules and hydrothermal deposits has been increasing. Much of the interest in deep-sea mining has been led by the discovery that poly-metallic sulphides – a great source of valuable minerals such as gold, silver and zinc - also contain valuable rare-earth metals, a commonly used ingredient in modern day electronic devices and gadgets. As a result, many countries have embarked upon a drive to upgrade their under-sea mineral exploration and extraction capabilities.

Against this backdrop, the recent acquisition of India’s deep-sea exploration ship ‘SamudraRatnakar’ by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) is a noteworthy development. A state-of-the-art platform acquired from South Korea, the SamudraRatnakar is equipped with sophisticated deep-sea survey instruments like doppler profilers, multi-beam sonars, acoustic positioning systems, marine magnetometers and a marine data management system, which give it a qualitative edge over other survey ships.

While its many features are meant to facilitate modern geo-scientific oceanographic research, the new ship’s chief attribute is its cutting-edge deep-sea exploration capability. With an impressive array of instruments and a modern on-board laboratory, the new ship represents a technological leap in India’s sea-mining prowess. It is worth noting that India already has a limited deep-sea exploration capability in the form of the SagarNidhi (a research vessel operated by the National Institute of Ocean Technology). The SamudraRatnakar, however, is far more advanced in its features and systems that enable a rigorous survey of the sea-bed, and an accurate analysis of the excavated material. Not surprisingly, it is being seen as an illustration of India's determination to be a serious player in deep sea mining and research.
India is not the only nation with interests in sea-bed mining. By a predictable coincidence, China - which controls more than 95% of rare earth metals - also heads the list of states with a deep interest in deep-sea mineral exploration. Over the past decade, China has established a healthy lead over all its competitors and has the most sophisticated program in extracting valuable minerals from the sea-bed.

The initiative that India is now displaying in deep-sea mining seems linked to China’s perceived ‘strategic-play’ in the Indian Ocean. In 2011, when the International Sea Bed Authority’s (ISBA’s) decided to allow the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) to undertake exploration for poly-metallic sulphides in a 10,000 sq. kms area in the south-west Indian Ocean it caused a flutter in the Indian strategic community, which saw the development as a geo-strategic gambit aimed at extending China's footprint in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

What did not draw much attention then was the fact that the COMRA’s exploration rights in the Indian Ocean were over and above its existing allocation in the Western Pacific. A 15-year contract with the seabed authority in 2001 had given China rights to explore 75,000 sqkms of seabed for poly-metallic nodules (small rocks containing metal ore – manganese, copper, cobalt, etc) in which it has shown rapid progress in extracting the minerals.

Assam: Courting Trouble with Illegal Migrants

Col Ashwani Gupta
E-Mail- ashwanigupta@hotmail.com

The Chief Minister of Assam gave impetus to the sensitive issue of migrants status last month when he declared that his government will approach the Central Government for granting refugee status to those people who entered the state from the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) due to religious persecution. He stated that the case was being taken up on humanitarian basis and it was up to the Centre to grant refugee status or citizenship to the affected persons. The proposal is again likely to bring to the forefront, the decades long demand of the local people who have been vocal opponents of illegal migrants from Bangladesh. The timing of the announcement is a suspect with general elections barely six months away, once again raising apprehensions of courting the migrants before the general elections. One of the major reasons for non-resolution of the issue has been political unwillingness fearing instant loss of a sizeable vote bank.

The issue of migration dates back to British policy of the land system, implemented in 1920 when the government encouraged migration of Muslim peasants for working in tea gardens. The Independence in 1947 and subsequent liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 led to large scale displacement and migration of both Hindu and Muslim families to Assam and other neighbouring states. India’s 4097 km long porous border with Bangladesh, cultural and religious similarity of people across the international boundary and better job prospects has provided an opportunity to millions of Bangladeshi citizens to illegally cross over into states of Assam, West Bengal and Tripura. This illegal migration has led to a perceptible shift in the demographic patterns across the state of Assam. The population of Assam has increased from 80 lakh in 1951 to 266 lakh in 2001 with the Muslim population increasing from 24.68 per cent to 30 per cent in 2001. The increase in Muslim population from 24.68 per cent to 30 per cent corresponds to increase of almost 14 lakh persons in the population of 266 lakh. Also, the population of Assam further increase to 312 lakh in 2011, an increase of 46 lakh persons in ten years, though no religion based data is available from the 2011 census. The maximum population growth of over 20 per cent compared to 2001 census has been recorded in nine districts which have had higher percentage of  Muslim population. Today, nine districts out of 27 districts in Assam have Muslim majority population with an ability to influence almost 40 per cent seats in the state assembly. The immigrants have been courted by all the political parties and their patronage has enabled the immigrants to acquire identity documents like voter and ration cards and become Indian citizens. This has led to a sharp demographic shift in favour of the migrant population and made the migrants a dominant political force in the state resulting in the progressive marginalisation of the smaller indigenous communities. The Madhav Godbole Committee Report of 2000 on Border Management had stated that about 15 million illegal migrants from Bangladesh were residing in India with large numbers crossing over on a daily basis and settling in border districts of Dhubri, Golpara and Karimganj in Assam.

The steady influx of migrants led to agitation by the All Assam Student Union (AASU) in 1979 demanding deportation of all illegal migrants from Assam. The ensuing period was marked with political instability and numerous incidents of violence which further deepened the fissures within the society already divided on communal lines. The passing of the controversial Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal), IMDT Act in 1983 during the rule of Hiteshwar Saikia gave a reprieve to the migrants as the onus of proving the citizenship of the suspected illegal migrant rested on the complainant instead of the suspect as applicable under the provisions of Foreigners Act of 1946. The IMDT Act was applicable only in Assam which fueled the apprehensions of the locals seeking deportation of illegal migrants. The tribunals were only been able to identify and declare 12,424 as illegal migrants and deport 1481 migrants till the Act was repealed by the Supreme Court in 2005 even though the strength of illegal migrants was way much higher than the deported number. In comparison, West Bengal had deported 4,89,046 persons in fifteen years since 1983 under the  foreigners Act. The Prafulla Mahanta government in Assam also failed to take any decisive action against the IMDT Act after coming to power in 1985 even though deportation of illegal migrants was the major cause of agitation by AASU.  This was a firm indicator of the local political compulsions to court the migrant population.
As per the Assam Accord, all persons who had illegally entered Assam after 24 March 1971 were to be deported. The unusual provisions of the IMDT Act have enabled a large segment of migrants to stay back and form a sizeable vote bank for the local politicians. The revision of electoral rolls has not been carried out since 1971 by successive governments which have made identification of the illegal migrants a difficult and time consuming task. The announcement by Tarun Gogoi to seek refugee status for a section of illegal migrants may once again create turmoil within the society in the run-up to the elections. Though the statement by the chief minister did not find any vocal opposition from other political parties, it is likely to unleash another period of insecurity in the state between Muslims and other communities. An observation by the Guwahati High Court in 2005 that Bangladeshi migrants have become kingmakers may once again hold true in the coming elections and further delay any planned resolution of the migrant problem.

The author is a Senior Fellow at CLAWS

The author is a Senior Fellow at CLAWS
Views expressed are personal

Watchdog: $100 billion investment in Afghanistan at risk

A U.S. servicemember stands guard as the helicopter carrying the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction departs a vegetable dehydration and packaging plant in Charikar district, Parwan province, Afghanistan, on May 10, 2010.

Jim Araos/U.S. Department of Defense
By Heath Druzin
Stars and Stripes

Published: October 30, 2013

Leaflet_news_Afghanistan_Marines_C130103113DOD
Troops work with the 303rd Psychological Operations Company, throwing leaflets from a C-130 over southern Afghanistan, Aug. 28, 2013.
 
Demetrius Munnerlyn/U.S. Marine Corps
 
KABUL — Little more than a year before all international combat troops are set to leave Afghanistan, the nearly $100 billion U.S. investment in the country is under threat from lack of oversight and an increasingly difficult security situation, according to a quarterly report from the top government watchdog in Afghanistan.
As the U.S. continues to withdraw troops, concerns remain about civilian inspectors’ access to projects and about the abilities of the Afghan National Security Forces — America’s biggest investment in the country, at roughly $54 billion — according to a quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

The 12-year reconstruction effort in Afghanistan has come in for heavy criticism and many are concerned about the difficulty of tracking billions of dollars in aid money after the Dec. 31, 2014 deadline for all foreign combat troops to leave Afghanistan. The international community has pledged $16 billion in aid beyond 2014, and making sure that money goes where it is supposed to will be a challenge in a country ranked by Transparency International as the most corrupt in the world.

This quarter, SIGAR published reports that highlighted lack of accountability for billions of dollars in fuel purchases and spare parts for the Afghan security forces and the quarterly report also echoed concerns about rising casualties among Afghan troops as they take over more responsibility for day-to-day fighting.
“The success of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan depends to a great extent on the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police’s ability to protect Afghan civilians and prevent al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups from establishing strongholds from which to mount attacks against the United States and its allies,” Inspector General John Sopko wrote in the report’s introduction.

Another major concern, highlighted in a recently released SIGAR letter to U.S. government leaders, is the dwindling number of military resources available to escort inspectors from various governmental agencies to project sites and provide security. SIGAR estimates that no more than 21 percent of Afghanistan will be accessible after 2014.

A senior USAID official, who commented on condition of anonymity, said the agency is continuing to monitor projects through a mix of first-hand reporting, Afghan government and civil society partners and independent contractors.
“USAID will absolutely ensure that projects are performing as intended,” the official said. “As responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, USAID is already implementing a multi-tiered monitoring strategy to collect and verify information to inform decision-making.”

So-called “direct assistance,” where money goes directly to Afghan government ministries is increasing, an aid delivery mechanism complicated by continued corruption in the country, according to the report. SIGAR is currently examining USAID’s program to evaluate ministries’ ability to absorb direct assistance.
The USAID official said the agency has robust controls in place to safeguard taxpayer money, including dedicated bank accounts for funds flowing to ministries, auditing programs, and regular financial and program reporting.

“There are risks involved in what we do,” the officials said. “That includes government-to-government activities, but there is clear evidence that the extensive measures taken by USAID to safeguard taxpayer resources have been successful.”
SIGAR has been aggressively pursuing investigations since Sopko took the helm in July 2012, and some officials in agencies targeted by its reports have privately grumbled about SIGAR’s methods and conclusions as well as one-sided media coverage.

Some government agencies have also started sending out their own press releases responding to, and sometimes refuting, SIGAR’s findings.
Jeffrey Hawk, spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, which is one of the largest aid contributors in the country, did not criticize SIGAR but said USFOR-A now sends out detailed responses to each of the inspector general’s reports.

“The thing we realized is we just weren’t having an opportunity in the public space to respond to the initiatives mentioned in the SIGAR reports,” Hawk said.

Pakistani Politician Threatens to Cut NATO Lifeline in Afghanistan Unless Drone Strikes Stop

  1. October 31, 2013
    Pakistani political leader says NATO supply routes will be cut if U.S. drone strikes continue

    Tim Craig and Haq Nawaz Khan
    Washington Post
    October 31, 2013

    ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — The chief political leader in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province threatened Thursday to choke off key NATO supply routes if U.S. drone strikes on Pakistan continue, setting up a  potential clash within the country’s national government.

    Imran Khan, whose Movement for Justice party controls the northwestern province, said he feared that continued drone strikes would undermine efforts by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to hold peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban. Sharif said Thursday that dialogue has begun, though Taliban officials stress that the process will quickly unravel if the U.S. drone program is not halted. The latest suspected strike occurred Wednesday night.
    “If drone attacks are carried out during peace talks with Taliban, NATO supplies will be stopped,” Khan told reporters at a news conference in the eastern city of Lahore.
    It was the second time in less than a week that Khan has suggested that local officials could impede NATO convoys passing through northwestern Pakistan to and from the war in Afghanistan. U.S. and NATO officials had no immediate comment, but Khan’s threat comes as the U.S. military plans to transport hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment on Pakistani highways ahead of the planned withdrawal of forces by the end of next year.

    The supply routes were established when U.S. and NATO forces began pouring into landlocked Afghanistan after the Taliban’s ouster in late 2001, but the routes were closed for seven months between late 2011 and 2012 after a U.S. airstrike on the border of the two countries killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan allowed the NATO convoys to restart in July 2012 after Hillary Rodham Clinton, then secretary of state, apologized for the incident.

    The U.S. military is moving out the bulk of its equipment from Afghanistan via those routes, the most cost-effective option. The NATO convoys pass through either Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or the southwestern province of Baluchistan on their way to the port city of Karachi.

    Both routes have been vulnerable to attacks from militants, and shipments have at times stalled at the border in recent months because of corruption and the Afghan government’s insistence that the United States pay millions of dollars in customs fees. But Pakistan’s government has an agreement with the United States allowing the transports through 2015, and Pakistani security officials help secure the routes.
    Although Sharif has also tried in the past to tie the supply routes to the drone issue, he has stressed since taking in office in June that he hopes for improved relations with the United States. If Khan’s provincial government follows through on its threat, analysts say, Sharif will have little choice but to step in and exert his constitutional authority to oversee foreign affairs.

    “The federal government would be embarrassed and be in a very unpalatable situation of having to act,” said Khalid Aziz, former chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “It would lead to a political crisis.”
    Tariq Azeem Khan, a former senator and spokesman for the Pakistan Muslim League-Q party, said Imran Khan’s comments showed his “political naivete.”
    “Because police come under the local provincial administration, they might try to block them, but without the consensus of the central government, they will not succeed,” he said.
    Imran Khan, a former international cricket star, mounted a vigorous campaign in Pakistani parliamentary elections this year by stressing his opposition to the drone strikes and calling for a tougher stance against U.S. policy in the region. His party finished third in the national election but won enough seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to form a coalition government there.

    From that perch, Khan has maintained his profile as a leading champion of peace talks and an end to the U.S. drone strikes. Under pressure from Khan and others domestically, Sharif has also publicly stressed his opposition to the strikes, even though a recent Washington Post report noted that past Pakistani leaders were frequently briefed on the progress of the U.S. drone campaign.
    On Thursday, Sharif’s government condemned a suspected U.S. drone strike the night before targeting suspected militants in North Waziristan. No one was killed in the strike, local officials said.

    “There is an across-the-board consensus [in Pakistan] that these drone strikes must end,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
    After a meeting at the White House last week, Sharif and President Obama issued a joint statement pledging “robust bilateral defense cooperation” in a number of areas, including the movement of NATO cargo through Pakistan.

An Incompatible Couple

             
 

The US and Pakistan can’t help bickering when together while well aware that divorce is not an option


LONDON
The United States and Pakistan are like an incompatible couple who can’t help bickering when together while well aware that divorce is not an option. The awkward joint appearance of US President Barrack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for a press briefing after their White House meeting on 23 October, when they declined to take questions from reporters, aptly summed up the troubled relationship. This dysfunctional kinship, however, is moving towards a climax as the US withdraws forces and equipment from Afghanistan primarily through Pakistan
The bottom line is that the glue holding the two countries together consists of more negative than positive elements. Washington needs Islamabad in its ongoing war on Islamist terrorism – a desperate necessity at least     until the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan. And cash-strapped Pakistan is humiliatingly dependent on handouts from Washington and US-sanctioned International Monetary Fund loans.

This dependency exists against the background of mutual Pakistan-American mistrust at the popular level. 

A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center shows that only 11 percent of Pakistanis have a favourable view of America. An earlier survey by the Pew Center and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace revealed that only 10 percent of Americans have a great or fair amount of trust in Pakistan.  It also showed that 97 percent of Pakistanis familiar with US drone strikes held a negative view of them. “Those who are familiar with the drone campaign also overwhelmingly (94%) believe the attacks kill too many innocent people,” stated the report. “Nearly three-quarters (74%) say they are not necessary to defend Pakistan from extremist organizations.” In stark contrast, a survey by the Washington Post-ABC News in February 2012 found that 83 percent of Americans supported Washington’s drone attacks.
Reflecting popular opinion, Sharif, appearing next to Obama, said “The use of drones is not only a violation of our territorial integrity but they are also detrimental to our efforts to eliminate terrorism from our country.” His government was committed to bringing them to an end, he added.