23 February 2014

Roshni: New ray of hope?

E-Mail- tjsvnviraj5@gmail.com 

The Ros hni programme was launched in July 2013, a month after the dastardly attack by Maoists on a convoy o f Indian National Congress leaders and workers inwhich 27 people were killed in the Darbha Valley of Sukma district in Chhattisgarh. The programme is part of the integrated approachof the Central Gove rnment,which aims at conflict resolution through holistic measures in the areas of security, develop ment, ensuring rights and entitlements of local communities, improvement in governance and public pe rception management in areas affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE). The Roshni programme is part of the development effort and is closely based on the lines of the Himayat program currently functional in Jammu and Kashmir. It is designed to target youth in the age group of 18-35 years and is to be i mplemented in 24 districts critically affected by LWE. The program focuses on skill development and providing employment to the tribal youth, and expects seventy five percent of the trained youth to b e absorbed by the organised sector.Special attention is also to be given to vulnerable tribal groups and women.

Although shortage of skilled workforce exists in the organised sector, focusing all the energy generated from this programme towards this sector may not yield the desired results. Con sidering the high levels of underemployment and unemploymentacross the country, it is apparent that such issues are a pan-Indian concern.In addition, absorption of youth in the organised sector has a relationship with educational levels, which as of now remain dismally low in the tribal belts. The s tates worst affected by Naxalism, namely, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Orissa have high popula tion growth rates and low literacy levels. As per the population census 2011, Male literacy rate in Bastar district is 64.82 percent and female literacy is 44.26 percent. Apparently, a multi-pronged l ong-term approach would be required wherein education would have to be the key intervention. In such a scenario, livelihood opportunities need to be creatively conceptualised and consequently diversif ied. We need district specific models, which use the states existing resources and infrastructure. < o:p> 

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: India Seeking New Role in the Eurasian Regional Mechanism

IDSA Monograph Series No. 34 

India, in 2005, acquired the observer status in the SCO. Since then it has constructively participated in all SCO summit meetings thus showing its strong willingness to be meaningfully associated with this regional grouping. It has also expressed its desire to join the SCO as a full member. Despite India's keen interest and desire to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a full member, it is still a step too far and one that seems unlikely soon with the organisation's current trajectory. However, this is not to argue that India should lose interest in the SCO. Given the complexities of the relations among the SCO member-states and other geopolitical realities, it is still premature to write off the effectiveness of this regional grouping. So far, its success has been somewhat mixed in various areas but in the long run, its relevance for the region will not wane. Therefore, in the long run, it will be in India's interest to watch the developments closely from within as a full member rather than sit on the side-lines. The major hurdle for India to acquire the full membership in the SCO is the lack of consensus among the member-states. It is believed that China would try and delay India's entry as full member in this regional organisation, whereas Russia along with the Central Asian countries would continue to support India's full membership in the SCO. However, it is debatable whether China can stall India's entry in the SCO for long. In long-term China would find it difficult to block India's membership in the SCO because of the increasing relevance of India for China to manage many regional and global security and economic challenges in the era of changing global order. New regional and global order would demand greater cooperation between India and China in future.
About the Author

Dr Meena Singh Roy is a Research Fellow and Coordinator of the West Asia Centre at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. She has done her Ph.D. from University of Delhi and has been senior research scholar in the Department of African Studies, Delhi University. She has also been associated with Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies for her research work. Her area of specialisation is Central Asia, and Iran. She has been involved in net assessment reports on Central Asia and West Asia. She has published two books titled, International and Regional Security Dynamics: Indian and Iranian Perspectives (ed.), July 2009, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi and Emerging Trends in West Asia: Regional and Global Implications (ed.), 2014, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses and PENTAGON PRESS, New Delhi.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: India is just another stop on China's silk route

By Manoj Joshi 
19 Feb 2014

There is a certain panache with which China does things these days.

Two weeks after a PLA Navy flotilla carried out the first series of exercises to enter the Indian Ocean via the Lombok Straits in Indonesia, Beijing invited New Delhi to be part of the maritime silk route aimed at improving connectivity and trade among Asian nations.

This invitation came during the 17th round of the talks between the Special Representatives of the two countries that took place in New Delhi last week.Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has invited New Delhi to join the maritime silk route aimed at improving trade among Asian nations


At the talks, the Chinese SR, State Councillor Yang Jichei also invited India to undertake a maritime dialogue with China.

Indian officials have generally welcomed the two suggestions, though they say that the shape, nature and agenda of the dialogue remains to be determined.

But it is the naval drill that has gained a great deal of attention. Three ships, including the Changbaishan - China's largest landing craft which can carry a marine battalion and 15-20 armoured vehicles - crossed the Makassar Straits between Sulawesi and Kalimantan, and then went through the Lombok which is between Bali and Lombok island and entered the Indian Ocean.

According to Chinese sources, the exercise, which used a giant hovercraft made in Ukraine, was to force a passage through the straits by using amphibious forces. Teng Jianxin, a Fellow at China Institute of International Studies, was cited in the Chinese media as saying that the aim of the exercise was to display the ability to break through a strait which may be under the control of an adversary.

US Withdrawal: Afghanistan and the “Disposability Dilemma”

Dr. Fatima Al-Smadi

29 January 2014



Field work in Kabul by the author is the basis for this report examining attitudes of Afghan parties toward American withdrawal and the proposed security pact with the US which has raised considerable controversy in the country. The findings indicate although the Afghan army is in control, military experts believe its ability to confront the Taliban will disappear soon after the withdrawal of international forces. The stability of Afghanistan depends on many factors, foremost of which is building up the army and security institutions, tasks which should be accomplished in the next few years. In the midst of this are demands that any relationship with the US be based on mutual exchange of interests rather than subordination or dependence. This report is the second in a series from the author’s field work in the country.


The most recent National Intelligence Estimate report predicts Afghanistan will “likely descend into chaos quickly if Washington and Kabul don’t sign a security pact that would keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014.” (1) The author observed clear political polarization and fragility of the situation during her field work in the country late 2013, mere months before the scheduled US pull-out. This report examines attitudes and opinions of Afghan parties toward American withdrawal and the security pact as well as the future of Afghanistan based on interviews by the author with a number of officials and political actors in Kabul. This piece is the second in a series from the author’s field work in the country.

2014: Year of Challenges

This year’s importance is clear in Afghan political circles – its impact on the future of Afghanistan can be seen in many ways, particularly in the US’ rush to sign a security pact defining the relationship between the countries and Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s reluctance to sign unless a number of conditions are met.

President Karzai does not want to outright reject the agreement and in an address to the House of Elders (Loya Jirga), he stated, “We reject giving a foreign country bases in Afghanistan. I am set on seeking reconciliation. If we do not reach reconciliation as a result of this agreement, we will lose everything – they will remain secure in their bases and we will fight among ourselves, coming out of it weakened by our wounds.” (2)

*** Why the Durand Line Matters

Why the Durand Line Matters
Image Credit: REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed
It is time for Kabul to accept the legality of the border.
By Arwin Rahi
February 21, 2014
Afghan officials have at times accused Pakistan of being less than honest in pushing the Afghan Taliban for talks with Kabul. Before making such statements, those same officials should also try to understand Pakistan’s deep concerns about Afghanistan’s stance on their common border. At present, Afghanistan does not officially recognize the international border with Pakistan. Instead, it has territorial claims on areas stretching from the Afghan-Pakistan border to the Indus River, all told comprising nearly 60 percent of Pakistani territory.

This border dispute has its roots in the nineteenth century, when Pakistan was part of India and India was a British colony. The British imposed the 2640 km borderline on the Amir of Afghanistan in 1893 in a bid to strengthen the former’s control over the northern parts of India. The agreement was signed between Sir Mortimer Durand, the Indian Foreign Secretary at the time, and Amir Abdur Rahman Khan in Kabul. The line is thus known as the Durand Line, and runs through Pashtun territory.

According to the Durand Line agreement, Afghanistan relinquished a few districts, including Swat, Chitral and Chageh, although it gained other areas, Nuristan and Asmar, for instance, which it had historically not controlled. The agreement, at least on paper, for the first time demarcated where the Indo-Afghan border started and ended. Before the Durand Line agreement, both India and Afghanistan would make incursions into each other’s domain of influence, frequently sparking border tensions.

In contrast to many historical accounts, Afghanistan did recognize the Durand Line as an international border. Abdur Rahman Khan’s successor, Amir Habibullah Khan, in 1905 signed a new agreement with Britain confirming the legality of the Durand Line. More importantly, article 5 of the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919, on the basis of which Afghanistan reclaimed its independence, says that Afghanistan accepted all previously agreed border arrangements with India. Unlike the previous two agreements, the Anglo-Afghan Treaty was not imposed by Britain. Afghanistan as an independent state agreed to recognize the Durand Line as an international border.

Update on Security Situation in Pakistan After Talibamn Peace Talks Collapse

February 20, 2014 
Pakistan Security Brief 

AEI Critical Threats Project 

TTP spokesman says security forces must stop killing Taliban militants before peace talks continue, all TTP factions support peace talks, and decision on ceasefire expected soon; JUI-S leader reportedly given power to make decisions on behalf of TTP in peace talks; Army chief and Prime Minister pessimistic about talks succeeding; Mullah Omar has reportedly gained influence in the TTP since elevation of Mullah Fazlullah; Pakistani and Iranian officials meet to discuss kidnapping of Iranian border guards; Army chief and American CENTCOM leader meet to discuss kidnapped American soldier; Pakistan Air Force buys 13 jets from Jordan; Police in Dera Ismail Khan and Hangu districts arrest 40 in raids; Security forces arrest member of TTP Bajaur in Nowshera district; Australian and Pakistani navies seize drugs off coast of Oman; Militant dies in Karachi clash with police; Pakistan pays IMF $149 million. 

Talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan 

On Wednesday, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahidannounced conditions for the group to continue negotiating with the government. Shahid demanded an immediate stop to the killing of TTP members in staged police encounters, which he said has resulted in the deaths of 60 TTP members since the beginning of peace talks. Shahid also said that all factions of the TTP support talks and that the Mohmand TTP’s execution of 23 Frontier Corps personnel will be discussed in an upcoming TTP Shura meeting. He said that the different TTP branches have been contacted about a possible ceasefire, and that a “good decision” is coming soon on a ceasefire.[1]

On Tuesday, Maulana Yousuf Shah, the head of the Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa said that the TTP has given JUI-S leader Samiul Haq permission to make decisions on the group’s behalf regarding peace talks.[2]

On Tuesday, the government-appointed negotiating committee met before informing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that talks with the TTP could not continue unless the TTP declared a ceasefire.[3]

As US Forces Leave Afghanistan, What WIll Become of US intelligence and Drone Assets Along Border With Pakistan

Agence France-Presse
February 20, 2014

Afghan exit could hamper US drone war against Al-Qaeda

Washington — The possible withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan would hamper manhunts for Al-Qaeda militants in neighboring Pakistan, forcing Washington to find alternative bases for its drone flights, officials and experts say.

The CIA’s drone war against Al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s northwest tribal belt relies heavily on intelligence gathered by spies based in eastern Afghanistan and on the use of Jalabad and other air bases in the area.

But without US troops to guard CIA outposts and air fields, intelligence officers would not be able to meet sources on the ground in eastern Afghanistan, and Reaper aircraft would have to take off from more distant locations, undermining the tracking and targeting of terror suspects across the border in Pakistan.

With Afghan President Hamid Karzai refusing to sign a bilateral security accord that would allow US troops to stay in the country beyond 2014, officials are looking at the possibility of flying drones out of Central Asian countries if American forces are forced to exit.

"The government is just starting to think about this and planning for it," said a senior US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"If you still want to put pressure on that region, you have to look at alternatives,? the official told AFP, adding that "none of the options are ideal."

President Barack Obama’s administration has viewed the drone strikes as a crucial tactic that has weakened the core leadership of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, despite intense criticism from human rights groups and some foreign governments.

New Study Says Afgan Security Forces Cannot Survive Without Larger U.S. Military Contingent After Withdrawal Completed

Associated Press 
February 21, 2014 

New study casts doubt on West’s Afghan plan 

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new assessment of Afghanistan’s future says the country could revert to a terrorist haven unless U.S. and international partners underwrite a larger - and more expensive - Afghan security force than is currently planned beyond 2014. 

The study released Thursday also concludes that this larger force and the government ministries to support it will require international trainers and advisers at least through 2018. U.S. military commanders have recommended such a role following the withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO combat troops in December, but the Obama administration has not yet committed to it. 

The study was ordered by the Congress and conducted by CNA Strategic Studies, a federally funded research group. 

It describes in detail what is at stake for the U.S. at an important juncture of the war, which was launched by President George W. Bush in response to the 9/11 attacks orchestrated by al-Qaida, then based in Afghanistan. 

President Barack Obama is weighing his options in Afghanistan, aware of the American public’s war-weariness as well as the risks of failing to ensure that Afghanistan does not once more become a sanctuary for al-Qaida. 

The U.S. currently has about 33,600 troops in Afghanistan, down from a high of 100,000 in 2010. 

U.S. and coalition combat operations are to end by Dec. 31, but the international military presence beyond that is still in doubt. Obama has said the U.S. might keep some troops there for counterterrorism and training missions, but that cannot happen unless the Afghan government signs a security accord that establishes the legal basis for a continued U.S. presence. 

President Hamid Karzai negotiated terms of the security deal last year but has refused to sign it, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an Associated Press interview Thursday that he believes Karzai will not sign it before he leaves office following presidential elections scheduled for April. 

U.S. Army Seeks Better Ties With China’s Military

FEB. 22, 2014

BEIJING — A top American military commander said Saturday that the United States Army was working to start a formal dialogue and exchange program with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army before the end of the year.

The commander, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the Army chief of staff, told reporters at a news conference in Beijing that the program was aimed at expanding cooperation and “managing differences constructively.”

“It really is about us focusing on a long-term relationship and the importance of us conducting exchanges, conducting institutional visits,” he said.

General Odierno made his remarks at the United States Embassy on the second day of a visit to China. The general met with Chinese counterparts in Beijing on Friday and was scheduled to travel to visit the Shenyang military command in northeast China on Saturday afternoon.

General Odierno said the formal dialogue between American and Chinese army officials would include discussions of humanitarian relief, disaster management and peacekeeping operations. The two armies could have exchanges at institutional levels like that of training and doctrine commands, he said.

A date for the first formal meeting in the program has not been set, but General Odierno said some military officials who had come to China with him would stay to work on details. He said he hoped a date would be set during an expected visit to China in April by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

The general said his visit was focused solely on laying the groundwork for senior-level exchanges between the two armies, and he said he assumed other branches of the American military would try to build similar programs with their Chinese counterparts.

In recent years, American officials have said that ties between the militaries are weak and far below the level of ties between the United States and the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. This has led to growing anxieties among American military leaders.

**** Unrest in Xinjiang, Uyghur Province in China

Raymond Lee
Last Updated: : Thursday 20 February 2014 

Recent unrest in Xinjiang has drawn great attention in the international society. The revealed case indicates that the ‘violence’ intensifies and the situation is getting worse. This report offers a multifaceted explanation with five interrelated factors, suggesting that the recent Xinjiang unrest reflects the upsurge of social problems of all kind in a fast-changing society with interest conflicts along the ethnic cleavage, while the short-term causes are related to the rise of Islamic activism that clashes with China's powerful security measures. The key to resolving these conflicts depends on how Beijing can significantly improve Uyghur's living standard and find its way to accommodate the rise of Islamic identity. 


Since 2009, the number of ‘violent incidents’ have surged in Xinjiang, the Uyghur Province of China. Recently, the situation has become rapidly worse. According to the statistics reported by Xinjiang Public Security Department, there are more than 100 cases of ‘violent incidents’ happening in Xinjiang each year. Particularly, the amount of cases soared up to nearly 200 in 2012, (1) and observers expect an even larger number for 2013, (2) although official statistics have not been revealed yet.

Curiosity worldwide is growing fast because very little information is available about these incidents. Due to strict media regulation, only a few cases were officially reported and not much detail was disclosed. The criteria by which the Chinese authority allows news media to report is unknown, but a striking fact is that much more coverage on Xinjiang unrest has been appearing in domestic media in 2013 as evident in Table 1. The cases that were revealed involve ‘violent attacks’ including bomb attacks, hijacking attempts, and hostage crisis. Most attacks were targeted towards policemen, security guards, or local officials, although anyone in the street could also be the target. Whilst these incidents show some similar patterns, for instance, suspects who are mostly ethnic Uyghurs and victims mostly lawmen who were on duty, they did not look like they were organised by a specific militant group but rather independent to each other. All of the above evidence shows that recent political unrest in Xinjiang was indeed aggravated, despite Beijing's scale-up stability measures. 

Factors Related to the Recent Attacks 

Beijing set the tone that recent ‘violent incidents’ in Xinjiang were ‘terrorist attacks’ and ascribed the unrest to secessionist's plot in pursuing Xinjiang Independence. (3) Many foreign media and observers, however, tend to sympathize with Uyghur's protest against Beijing's coercive rule. (4) Unfortunately, both views are oversimplified and we shall consider the following five interrelated factors for a comprehensive understanding.

Obama Walks Tightrope With Dalai Lama Meeting

Obama did just enough to avoid retaliation by Beijing for his meeting with the Dalai Lama.
February 22, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, on Friday. According to an official statement from the White House, during the meeting Obama expressed “his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China.” He also encouraged “direct dialogue” between Chinese and Tibetans to resolve tensions, and emphasized that he does not support Tibetan independence.

Predictably, news of the meeting sparked vocal protests from China. China’s Foreign Ministry expressed its displeasure both in a specific statement issued by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying and during the regular Foreign Ministry press conference on Friday.

In the statement, Hua said that China was “deeply concerned” about the meeting. “By arranging a meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama, the US side will grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China, seriously violate norms governing international relations and severely impair China-US relations,” Hua said. She also repeated China’s usual claim that the Dalai Lama “has long been engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion.” Hua urged the United States to “immediately cancel the meeting.”

During Friday’s press conference, Hua expanded on this position. She denounced the Obama’s administration’s stated concerns about human rights in Tibet, saying that “Chinese people are in the best position to judge the human rights situation in Tibet-inhabited areas.” Hua added that “Tibet has scored remarkable progress in economic and social development” under Chinese rule. She also threatened consequences for Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama: “Any country, if it insists on harming China’s interests will also damage their own in the end.” The meeting, if carried out, would cause “severe damage to China-US relations,” Hua warned.

Chinese Military Reconnaissance and Strike Capabilities Improving

February 20, 2014

The Project 2049 Institute has published an interesting short study on the recent evolution of Chinese military reconnaissance strike capabilities and the challenges these improving capabilities pose for Japan.

The report covers the gamut of long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets now available to the Chinese military, including satellites, drones and long-range radar systems. The report them covers what sort of ballistic missile and long-range strike aircraft the Chinese military now possess which are capable of hitting targets in Japan or elsewhere in East Asia.

This report is particularly useful since it is derived to a large degree from the exploitation of Chinese-language primary source materials.

This report can be accessed here.

The Economic Consequences of the Arab Spring

FEBRUARY 13, 2014


In a new issue brief, Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Mohsin Khan contends that although political turmoil has dominated economic decision-making in the Arab transition countries and Jordan and Morocco during the last three years, there is some encouraging evidence that these economies will turn around in 2014.

Analyzing economic developments in the Arab transition countries, Khan notes that social unrest, higher oil prices, slower global growth, and regional spillovers resulted in sharp declines in gross domestic products and rising unemployment. To avoid another round of political upheaval, governments will need to balance policies to achieve macroeconomic stability and higher economic growth. Assistance from the International Monetary Fund and other international donors will help to stabilize the economies, but ultimately only market-oriented reforms that give a leading role to private sector will deliver the necessary growth rates to generate sufficient new jobs and improve standards of living.


False Friends


Why the United States Is Getting Tough With Turkey

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Barack Obama in the White House Rose Garden, May 16, 2013. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Barack Obama in the White House Rose Garden, May 16, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque / Courtesy Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu did something extraordinary when they emerged from a January 12 bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Friends of Syria conference in Paris. Such occasions are usually marked by predictable boilerplate rhetoric about how productive the talk was and how closely both countries are working to solve pressing global issues, and Davutoğlu’s comments followed the standard script. What happened next was more unusual. After Davutoğlu finished speaking, Kerry took the opportunity to chide his Turkish counterpart for neglecting to mention an important component of the talks: Kerry’s emphatic rejection of Turkish claims that the United States had been meddling in Turkish politics and trying to influence the Turkish elections. As Davutoğlu sheepishly looked at the floor, Kerry continued that Davutoğlu now understood the score, and said that the two countries “need to calm the waters and move forward.”

Kerry’s addendum came in response to what has become a familiar Turkish government strategy of shifting the blame to outside powers, and particularly to the United States, when faced with any sort of internal opposition. During the Gezi Park protests in June, for example, Turkish government figures blamed Washington, CNN, and “foreign powers” for inciting unrest. More recently, when an ongoing corruption scandal exploded into the open in late December, Turkish ministers were quick to insinuate that the United States was the hidden hand behind the graft probe. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to expel U.S. ambassador Francis Ricciardone for allegedly provoking Turkey and “exceeding limits,” a reference to allegations that the ambassador was somehow meddling in Turkish affairs and prodding the investigation of government officials.

Zakaria: Very little the U.S. can do on Ukraine

February 20th, 2014 

CNN speaks with Fareed about the unrest in Ukraine and what, if anything, the United States should do. This is an edited version of the transcript.

Earlier this month, a phone conversation was leaked between a high-ranking State Department official, Victoria Nuland, and the current U.S. ambassador in Ukraine. Nuland had some embarrassing comments about the E.U. on what is going on in Ukraine now. Is it your sense that this was leaked by the Russians or the pro-Russian Ukrainians to embarrass the United States?

My guess is it was leaked by the Russians because they do have the capacity to overhear that kind of conversation. The basic point Victoria Nuland was trying to make, I think, is that the European Union has been playing a kind of slow economic game here, whereas the Russians have been playing a fast geopolitical game.

By which I mean the European Union has been offering the Ukrainians a deal and association, but as long as they make certain kinds of structural economic reforms and get rid of subsidies on various industries. In other words, it's a kind of almost like a regular trade negotiation where they're trying to get the Ukrainian economy to become more market friendly.

The Russians, on the other hand, are playing a geopolitical game, and they first offered Ukraine essentially a $15 billion bribe, subsidized fuel and such, and then just recently, another $2 billion. So, Putin is basically saying here's cash, no conditions asked, you be part of my sphere of influence.

The Europeans, however, are playing this much longer-term game to try to turn Ukraine into a kind of middle class, you know, liberal democratic, capitalist society, and the two timetables are completely off. So, the Europeans have badly misplayed this hand. They should have, if they were going to step in there and try to wean Ukraine away from Russia, they needed to do something fast. They needed to do something that was overwhelming and that made it very difficult for the president to turn them down.

The West must take a tough stand with the government of Ukraine—and with Russia’s leader

Ukraine in flames 
Putin’s inferno 

Feb 22nd 2014 

CIVIL strife often follows a grimly predictable pattern. What at first seems a soluble dispute hardens into conflict, as goals become more radical, bitterness accumulates and the chance to broker a compromise is lost. Such has been the awful trajectory of Ukraine, where protests that began peacefully in November have combusted in grotesque violence. The centre of Kiev, one of Europe’s great capital cities, this week became a choking war zone. Buildings and barricades were incinerated and dozens of Ukrainians were killed.

Despite talk of a truce between some of the participants, the horror could yet get much worse. The bloodshed will deepen the rifts in what has always been a fragile, complex country (see article). Outright civil war remains a realistic prospect. Immediate responsibility for this mayhem lies with Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s thuggish president. But its ultimate architect sits in the Kremlin: Vladimir Putin.

Neither East nor West

The territory that is now Ukraine has a long and painful history as a bloody borderland between East and West. But it came into being as an independent nation only in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. Combining lands in the west that had once been part of Austria-Hungary, and a Russian-speaking south and east, the new country always had its doubters. Since then Ukraine’s politics have been characterised by infighting and graft—including in the years following the orange revolution of 2004, a peaceful uprising whose promise was squandered by its rancorous leaders. Many Ukrainians feel their state has been captured by a corrupt elite, which cannot be dislodged by the usual democratic means. Kiev is one of the few European cities where the European Union is synonymous with good government and the rule of law.

It was Mr Yanukovych’s rejection, in November, of a trade agreement with the EU, in favour of an opaque deal with Russia, which started the unrest. Soon the protesters were demanding his resignation, while Mr Yanukovych and Russian propaganda denounced them as terrorists. How, after three months of tetchy stand-off, the killing started this week is murky. But most of it was perpetrated by the president’s men.

Ukraine on Edge

February 20, 2014

This week, the crisis in Ukraine has crossed a dangerous line. What was expected to be a revolution is morphing into a civil war. Should this happen, Ukraine will turn into another Yugoslavia: a terrifying prospect. It should also be sobering. So far, the West and Russia have been trading accusations about their respective meddling in Ukraine. True, neither side has been impartial, and each has its preferences and its clients. Yet, both are likely to lose heavily in case Ukraine becomes Europe’s newest battlefield. There are several things the leaders in Brussels and Berlin, Washington and Moscow need to keep in mind, and several things they need to do jointly and in parallel.

Outsiders need to realize that Ukraine’s crisis, essentially, is not primarily about Kiev’s international orientation. It is above all about high-level corruption and poor governance; it is about rivalries among largely irresponsible oligarchical clans; and it is about the cultural divide between the country’s west and east, which has not been eased after Ukraine, received its independence in 1991. These issues can only be tackled and hopefully resolved by the Ukrainians themselves. In the foreseeable future, Ukraine will not move either east or west; it might, however, go south.

The European Union needs to be aware of the high social cost of Ukraine’s accession to the Deep Free Trade Area with the European Union. It also needs to be aware of the high expectations in Ukrainian society of Europe’s assistance in the process of Ukrainian modernization. The Russian Federation should be able to see not only the similarities between Ukraine and Russia, but also the glaring dissimilarities: Ukraine is not Little Russia. The Russians should also appreciate most Ukrainians’ strong desire for national independence, which means that there can be no serious pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

Both the EU and Russia need also to recognize how much their interests will suffer in case of a prolonged instability in Ukraine, not to speak of a civil war there. A Ukrainian default on its financial obligations would definitely hurt Russia, whose economy is already close to stagnating, but the EU will be affected as well. Worse, by supporting opposing sides in Ukraine without actually controlling them, the West and Russia would become dependent on their Ukrainian clients and their agendas. What started as a domestic Ukrainian conflict would evolve into a version of a war by proxy between the West and Russia. Even though some might think such a confrontation would weaken the Putin regime and help democracy in Russia, a more likely scenario would be the rise of anti-Western nationalism in Russia and a closer alignment between Moscow and Beijing.

Syria, Iraq, Lebanon: The New AfPak

February 19, 2014

Developments in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are so deeply intertwined that we might start speaking about these countries as a common space, as we do now with “AfPak.”

In less than a decade, pro-Iranian forces have entrenched themselves in Damascus and seized near absolute power in neighbouring Baghdad and Beirut. The structural marginalization of the Sunnis in Iraq and Lebanon is splitting these communities, as evident from the rise of jihadi groups. This is the context of Syrian conflict.

Three years after the Arab uprising the “Syrian revolution” is dead and to label it the “Syrian conflict” would not entirely be right either. Due to its entanglement with existing political and sectarian divisions in Iraq and Lebanon the war is no longer strictly confined to Syria: the region is witnessing the emergence of a single theatre of war in what we could call the SIL region—Syria, Iraq, Lebanon.

Some would argue this is solely the consequence of a spillover of the Syrian conflict into neighbouring states but that is too simplistic. After all, the consequences of the war are totally different to its other neighbours Turkey, Jordan and Israel. They too feel the burden (notably Jordan, in terms of refugees) but their fate is far less dependent on developments in Aleppo and Damascus.

The social fabric of society and the political alignments in Iraq and Lebanon, however, follow very similar fault lines as is the case in Syria. The SIL region faces a shared predicament: fragile state institutions, growing Sunni marginalization and, consequently, the rise of Al Qaeda-affiliated (or originated) groups that increasingly operate irrespective of national borders. As a result, domestic politics in all three countries is no isolated affair.

Specter of Money Haunts Ukraine's Turmoil

21 February 2014 | Issue 5315

It's critical to understand the economics of the current crisis in Ukraine.

Ukrainian hard currency reserves have dwindled from $35 billion to $17 billion — not enough to ensure the stability of the government. Ukraine is bankrupt.

Under the terms of the European Union offer of last year, which virtually nobody in the Western media seriously examined, the EU was offering $160 million per year for the next five years while the bond repayments to the International Monetary Fund alone were greater than that amount.

In contrast, Russia offered $15 billion in cash and immediately paid $3 billion. Another $2 billion was to be paid earlier this week, but that tranche has been suspended "for technical reasons," an unidentified Ukrainian government official told Reuters on Thursday. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said separately that the Kremlin was waiting for the situation to normalize in Ukraine before sending the funds.

Ukraine was willing to move toward the broader European fold, but the EU flubbed by offering rhetoric and red tape when what it should have done is put cash on the table. The EU's failure to understand Ukraine's desperate need for cash tied Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's hands and forced him into doing the deal with Russia.

I'm very sympathetic to the Ukrainian protesters. Yanukovych is indeed very corrupt. But journalists are unfairly characterizing him as some sort of puppet to President Vladimir Putin. Moreover, Putin somehow ended up demonized on the last two covers of The Economist. The most recent edition carries the headline,"Putin's Inferno," even though Ukrainian opposition leader Arseny Yatseniuk has said Yanukovych is "personally" responsible for the crisis.

What will be hot at RSA? NSA/tech industry battle; cyberwarfare issues dominate

 Ellen Messmer 
It's almost a shame that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden won't be at the upcoming RSA Conference since the disclosures he's leaked about the NSA's mass surveillance practices involving the U.S. high-tech industry are directly influencing a preponderance of conference agenda this year.

It's almost a shame that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden won't be at the upcoming RSA Conference since the disclosures he's leaked about the NSA's mass surveillance practices involving the U.S. high-tech industry are directly influencing a preponderance of conference agenda this year.

But Snowden, considered a whistleblower by some and traitor by others, still seems be holed up in snowy Russia, having fled there and given refuge by President Vladimir Putin. But the effect of the NSA documents Snowden leaked over the past eight months -- that the NSA works with Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook and others to collect information about non-US. citizens in particular, or otherwise vacuums up all data possible -- has emerged as a top privacy and security concern. In his keynote at the RSA Conference this year, Scott Charney, Microsoft's corporate vice president, trustworthy computing, is expected to take up the topic of government surveillance, because, according to the description of the Microsoft talk, "trust in technology has been badly undermined by public disclosures of widespread government surveillance programs."

(Check out all of the stories that come out of RSA on this page.)

"I think it's safe to say that the 95% of the world's population subject to espionage by the NSA is not happy about it," says Tatu Ylonen, CEO at SSH Communications, based in Helsinki, Finland, who will be at RSA. RSA Conference is global in scope and will be attended by many international visitors and companies, including Chinese networking giant Huawei which will have a pavilion there with other Chinese companies, and the exhibit floor will also have a section carved out for German IT security providers. Huawei has been essentially been shut out of the U.S. federal market, primarily due to allegations from the NSA that Huawei products represent a threat to the security of the U.S. and its allies because Huawei has close ties to the Chinese government and facilitates cyber-spying.

DoD Press Brief On Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy

February 20, 2014 

Press Briefing on Release of DoD Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy

Presenter: Teri Takai, DoD Chief Information Officer; Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler, Deputy CIO for Command, Control, Communications and Computers and Information Infrastructure; and Fred Moorefield, DoD CIO Director of Spectrum Policy and Programs; and Karl Nebbia, February 20, 2014 

Press Briefing on Release of DoD Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy

STAFF: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming today to cover the release of the department’s Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy.

I want to introduce the department’s chief information officer, Teri Takai, Major General Robert Wheeler, the DOD deputy CIO for command, control, communications, computers and information infrastructure, and Fred Moorefield, the DOD CIO director of spectrum policy and programs.

For today’s briefing, Ms. Takai will make a brief opening statement on the importance of this strategy before we open it up for questions.

For the on-record briefing, I will call on you for individual questions and a follow-up question.

Before we get started, I’d like to introduce Mr. Karl Nebbia. He’s with the Office of Spectrum Management, associate administrator at the National Telecommunications Information Administration. He’s gonna make some brief remarks about the federal government’s spectrum efforts.



For the first time the U.S. Army has produced official doctrine on military activities in cyberspace, including offensive, defensive and network operations. A new Army field manual “provides overarching doctrinal guidance and direction for conducting cyber electromagnetic activities (CEMA)…. It provides enough guidance for commanders and their staffs to develop 
innovative approaches to seize, retain, and exploit advantages throughout an operational environment.”

It is “the first doctrinal field manual of its kind.” See FM 3-38, Cyber Electromagnetic Activities, February 2014.

The manual introduces the fundamentals of cyber operations, or “cyber electromagnetic activities” (CEMA), defining terms and identifying important operational factors and constraints.
“Today’s Army must operate in cyberspace and leverage an electromagnetic spectrum that is increasingly competitive, congested, and contested.” However, “execution of CEMA can involve significant legal and policy considerations.” Also, “possibilities of unintended or cascading effects exist and may be difficult to predict.”

Several years ago, any official discussion of offensive cyber operations was considered classified information. That is no longer the case, and the new Army manual — which itself is unclassified — treats the subject as a normal part of military conflict. “Army forces conduct OCO [offensive cyberspace operations] across the range of military operations by targeting enemy and hostile adversary activity and related capabilities in and through cyberspace,” the Field Manual says.

Cyberspace attacks in support of offensive operations “may be directed at information resident in, or in transit between, computers (including mobile phones and personal digital assistants) and computer networks used by an enemy or adversary.” 

Heavy Satellite Launch Vehicles: An Assessment

February 19, 2014 

A satellite launch vehicle (rocket) is designed to lift a satellite from the earth and to deliver it to the desired orbit. The strength of such a vehicle depends on the weight of the satellite and the nature of the orbit in which it is to be placed. With advancing rocket technology, capability to put the heavy satellites into different orbits has increased significantly. Recently, India joined the coveted club having capacities to launch around 2 tonnes of payload into the geostationary orbit. This Issue Brief makes an assessment of the existing global capabilities to launch heavy satellites into the space. 

Technically, launch vehicles could be categorised based on various features. It could be based on the number of stages the vehicle use for launching a satellite like single stage, twin stage, etc. It could also be based on method of assembly like vertically or horizontally assembled. However, the most common approach of classification could be based on the payload carrying capacity. There could be further sub-classifications in this category based on the orbits in which the payload is to be delivered. 

In relative sense for rocket scientists’ development of technology for delivering less than 2000-kg payload satellites in the low earth orbit (LEO) has been an easier task than putting heavier satellites in higher orbits. Currently, every space-faring state is not in a position to put heavy satellites into the geosynchronous orbit. Interestingly, even states like India with much advanced space programme has not been able to successfully undertake Moon and Mars missions but could achieve success in this field only at a later stage. 

On January 5, 2014, India conducted a successful launch of GSLV-D5 under its Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle programme. With this launch India, has for the first time, succeed in demonstrating its indigenous cryogenic technology. For India mastering this technology is extremely important because without cryogenic/semi-cryogenic technology it is not in a position to further develop its rocket programme for launching heavy satellites. What India has achieved with the successful launch of GSLV-D5 on January 5, 2014 (approximately two tones payload) could be viewed as a first step in the direction of developing a reliable launch system for the delivery of heavy satellites into different orbits. For all these years India has been depending on outside agencies to launch its communication/weather satellites (normally of four tonne variety) at cost. With the Indian system being available the cost of such exercises will not only be significantly less but could attract business by offering launch facilities using GSLV vehicle. 

Pentagon to share electromagnetic spectrum

By Kristina Wong 
February 20, 2014

Pentagon officials are forging a long-term plan to secure military access to enough of the electromagnetic spectrum to accomplish its missions amid growing federal and commercial use. 

“Department of Defense air, land, maritime, space and cyberspace operations are fundamentally and increasingly dependent on electromagnetic spectrum,” Teri Takai, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, said at a Pentagon briefing Thursday. 


For example, when military pilots train within the U.S., they need a certain amount of electromagnetic spectrum, and if it is not available, training will have to be curtailed, Takai said. 

“We are very heavily spectrum dependent in order to be able to do that training. If in fact we are in an environment where we have interference in the spectrum that we use, we either have to limit the amount of training or, in fact, we can have instances where we'll have interference during the time that that training's taking place,” she said. 

At the same time, the Pentagon is seeking to share the spectrum with federal and business entities while making sure its weapon systems are flexible in the frequencies available to it.

That will require modifying some older systems, said Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler, the Pentagon’s deputy chief information officer for command, control, communications, computers and information infrastructure. 

For example, Wheeler said, the military had 167 unmanned aerial vehicles in 2002 and 7,500 by 2010. Many of those require larger bandwidth and will have to be modified. 

Cyber attacks difficult to be eliminated: Experts

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20 February 2014

Cyber attacks are not a security challenge that can easily be eliminated. No kind of infrastructure is absolutely impregnable and the adverse impacts can at best be minimised by emphasising on risk containments. This was among the key conclusions reached by participants at the panel discussion on "Benefits and Challenges of National Cyber Threat Information Sharing" at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, On February 11.

It was opined that the structure of networks needs to be refined. In today’s cyberspace, information spreads almost unhindered through a flat environment. With a single compromise, malware tends to infiltrate the entire programme and in effect disrupts the entire network. Security experts recommend that security risk can be minimised by segmenting information by building containers inside the network. Indeed, these issues must be tackled as soon as possible; especially as the interconnectivity between products is increasing, the stakes are raised higher, as critical systems such as pace makers, insulin pumps, etc. will be connected to computers, clouds, etc.

The panellists applauded the timing of this conference as the PPD 21 from the US government directive on how to handle critical information infrastructure has just been published. Other countries have tried to enforce regulations on the same theme. However, according to the speakers, the costs of these requirements were not fully understood. As a result, the programmes were not fully successful. The Obama Administration has since learnt from these experiences and has established a private-public partnership, involving intelligence services, the Homeland Defence Security and the National Institute of Science and Technology. They have established a framework with the best practices and incentives to help industries adopt them. In addition, information on threats, such as fraudulent IP addresses, will be shared among all the actors.

A Grunt at Work

February 7, 2014 

A Grunt at Work

The position was quite small and indiscernible between the grey brown boulders, scattered tumulus and raw decomposed granite staring blankly back at the casual observer. This was an intentionally opaque position at the base of the Hindu Kush Mountains just above the Dar’yoi Pomir River. The Grunt, not yet twenty five, was as still as the surrounding rocks, observing the terrain to his front. He had a small but powerful telescope on a short tripod resting against his eye. The position was under a digital camouflage wrap under a large boulder and invisible to any naked eye opposite. He and his rotating companion had been here for more than three days and had finally found what they had sought. 

With careful and almost motionless scanning, he had spotted the slightest scurry tailing of small pebbles and a wisp of dirt almost instantly dissolving into the cobalt-bright sky. He focused on its point of disappearance and began to see the small signs of his prey. The tiniest of trails began to emerge in his vision and it led to a barely discernible dark shadow next to the sparse green pine that shadowed the ground and deftly hid the cave entrance it guarded.

Despite the enervating cold at this altitude combined with the high UV exposure, he had remembered his discipline and spotting survival skills and remained near-motionless. He had wrapped himself in an issued lap warmer but it barely overcame the chill and invariably ran out of power before he would be relieved. He was dressed in the fullest layered clothing that could be provided as he had to lay motionless for several hours at a time. On occasion, he would ever so subtly and lizard-like, back out of his position and recede behind the large boulder shadowing his position. He would quickly add or discard layers as the situation required, relieve himself into a black plastic jug or trash bag-situationally dependent, quickly ingest a portion of an MRE that he had kept warm on his stomach and then equally stealthily return to his vigilance. 

The few portions of his skin that were exposed had long since been leatherized by the environment. His lips were perpetually blistered despite liberal application of balm and his nostrils were either filled with slowly running mucous or dry to the point of irritation. His eyes were itchy and sensitive to the pervasive combination of sun and wind. Like the ground, he was covered in a thin uniform layer of grey brown dust. He was at his place of work. Baths and pizza were a dream. He was dealing with reality.