26 June 2014

Confront Jihadism at Home


By Tufail Ahmad

Published: 24th June 2014

With Iraqi cities falling to V and the Taliban storming the Karachi airport, the jihadist threat to India is getting real. Throughout history, bands of barbarians have defied established rules of conduct and invaded empires. In the 5th century, Germanic barbarians ransacked Rome several times, causing the fall of the Roman Empire under Augustus Romulus. In the 8th century, jihadists launched unprovoked invasions of Europe and India, led by Tariq bin Ziyad and Muhammad bin Qasim. On 9/11, barbarians unleashed airborne invasions of American cities. On 26/11, arriving by boats they fought for days in Mumbai. They are launching knife attacks in Chinese towns.

The barbarians use technologies of the day—swords, guns, boats, planes, GPS or Google maps. Around June 10, when jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ransacked Iraqi cities, they bulldozed a border post set up by Britain and France under the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. In the jihadists’ imagination, maps are vital. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed speaks of Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir in the same breath. Maps envisioned by the Taliban and Uyghur militants include territory from India to Xinjiang as part of Muslim lands, which Osama bin Laden stood to liberate. Jihadism is powered by maps.

Recently, columnists argued that Iran will gain from ISIS advances in Iraq, but history unfolds in unfamiliar ways. If the jihadists target Shi’ite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, they could embroil Iran. Tehran is already involved in Syria and has nurtured terrorist groups like Hezbollah. With a professional army, Iran appears in good health, but decades of authoritarian-clerical rule have caused faultlines not all of which are known. What’s known is this: A suicide bomber attacked a meeting in Pishin in 2009; suicide bombings occurred in Zahedan in 2009 and 2010; suicide bombers exploded themselves outside a mosque in Chabahar in 2010. There are attacks in Sistan-Baluchistan by jihadists who recently seized Iranian soldiers, dragging them into Pakistan.

For several centuries through the World War II, wars were waged by states. Now, non-state actors, state-supported jihadists and self-acting individuals are instigating wars that cannot be fought with nuclear weapons. About 200 Pakistani jihadists are in Syria; some were seen recently with ISIS in Iraq in Pakistani attire. With the Saudi-Pakistan military alliance active in Syria, jihadism could fell Iran and then Pakistan. The jihadists in Afghanistan and Pakistan are as agile as they are in Iraq and Syria. One idea unites them: jihad. Pakistani jihadists have also entered Myanmar and the Maldives, and connected to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) cells in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Armed Force Transformation and the National Security Problems

Date : 21 Jun , 2014
With issues of getting India back on track economically and serious problems in keeping the navy afloat, India’s policy makers probably have little time to worry about the recent events that have overtaken the Ukraine, especially the Russian occupation of the Crimea. But they should be, because Russia’s unilateral and wholly illegal action sets a precedent that we may yet regret. Not only was Russia’s reasons for the unprovoked action, supposedly the protection of the ethnic Russian population that required little protection, completely unwarranted but what is more worrying, was the inability of the international community to initiate any substantive action to deter the Russian action.

It is incumbent on our military hierarchy to ensure that they are not guilty of acts of commission or omission that can result in sub optimal performances by the armed forces in meeting their constitutional duties.

The rising tide of aggressive nationalism in China may just see this precedent as an opportunity to correct what it sees as historical wrongs in the Asia- Pacific region, may be even closer, in Arunachal.

While, undoubtedly, there is some justification for not being excessively alarmed about such a scenario, in view of the fact that we are a nuclear power with the proven ability to target major population centers in China. However, the credibility of our nuclear deterrence is questionable if the recent media reports on the government having been “spooked” by the movement of some troops ostensibly towards Delhi in January last year is to be believed. The inability of the Defence Minister or the Prime Minister to communicate directly with the Army Chief on the subject reflects poorly not only on their leadership and personal qualities but more importantly on the functioning of the National Command Authority that controls our nuclear assets. This episode only emphasizes the need for keeping our powder dry as a sensible precaution keeping in view that nations, over the years, have been known to miscalculate, more so when they believe the opposition to be lacking effective leadership and direction.

Unraveling the direction of India’s China policy

 24 Jun , 2014
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Right) and Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China (Left)

Since then Prime Minister Modi has returned home after his maiden foreign visit to Bhutan. Modi’s as a relationship building exercise it may be called a moderately successful visit, considering the extremely short preparatory time the foreign offices of both countries had. However, its impact would be watched with interest by both India and China during the forthcoming border talks between Bhutan and India.

There were indications that India would be speeding up infrastructure development work along its border with China.

A Global Times article on Modi’s visit welcomed the visit. And Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson has announced that India’s Vice President Hamid Ansari would be attending the commemoration ceremony China’s holding at Beijing to celebrate the 60the Anniversary of the Panchsheel next week.

Modi’s Japanese visit will now be taking place in second half of July due to the Budget presentation in parliament on July 11.

Obviously, China seems to be taking the Indian move in Bhutan in its stride. In any case it is too early to read the Indian Prime Minister’s mind on foreign policy making. It would be reasonable to do so as its contours emerge in the coming months.

An analysis of China’s reading of the pulse of India’s foreign policy changes under Prime Minister Narendra Modi written on June 13, 2014 titled “China’s reading of India’s foreign policy trend” is reproduced below.

China’s reading of India’s foreign policy trend

The two-day visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as President Xi Jinping’s Special Envoy to New Delhi within three weeks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi assuming office underlines China’s keenness, if not anxiety, in building bridges with the Indian leader who has come to power with a massive personal mandate.

In spite of all the flowery rhetoric at play during Wang Yi’s visit, he probably had a limited agenda to feel the pulse of the new Indian leadership under Narendra Modi. This is not going to be an easy exercise because Modi has shown he leads from the front with an assertive style and ruthlessly pursues his objectives. His campaign style and later his utterances in office have shown his uncanny ability to spring surprises upon the opposition and the regional satraps.

Leadership: Greed Is Good For The Taliban

June 24, 2014: In Afghanistan the Taliban have ignored heavy losses and the inability to carry out a successful warm-weather offensive for over a decade. Worse, heavy losses have persuaded many pro-Taliban tribal leaders to try and negotiate peace with the government. Yet the senior leadership (safe since 2002 in Quetta, a city in southwest Pakistan just across the border from Helmand province) refuse to consider making peace. The official reason is the belief that after the foreign troops are gone (most by 2014, the Americans by 2016) the various other tribes (Tadjik, Uzbek and Hazara) will not be able to remain united and the Pushtuns, led by the Taliban, will take back control. Taliban leaders inside Afghanistan don’t see any serious lack of unity among the other tribes (who comprise 60 percent of the population and an even higher portion of the military personnel) and remain with the Taliban because it pays well. That is the case because the Taliban income grows with the amount of activity by the gangs that produce and export opium and heroin. The drug gangs have some armed men on the payroll but their most formidable weapon is cash. The gangs bribe anyone who might interfere with business and only call on the Taliban (or other armed groups on the payroll) to apply force to prevent some hard ass official from threatening what produces so much cash for so many people. 
In addition to their cut of the drug business, the Taliban have established themselves as regular gangsters as well with growing income from extortion and protection (payments from tribes and businesses to protect them from Taliban attack). The more pragmatic Taliban leaders don’t care what the old men in Pakistan are hallucinating about as long as the money keeps coming and there are no major threats to this ancient way of life. The foreign troops were definitely a threat, but there were not enough of them and there were plenty of government officials and security force (army and police) commanders willing to take a bribe. It was still dangerous, but with the foreign troops gone it is a lot less dangerous. 
Where does this leave all the Taliban religious baggage? It’s still there but diluted more and more by even more powerful urges to get rich, get high, get laid or simply get your way. The Taliban religious baggage is the exception while greed is still the rule.

The Different Taliban Worlds

Daniel S. Markey, Senior Fellow for India
Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor
June 2014

World headlines have spotlighted two branches of the Taliban in recent weeks with the release of U.S. POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the assault on the Karachi airport in Pakistan. CFR Senior Fellow Daniel S. Markey, a leading expert on the Taliban, explains the different goals and tactics of the groups: the Afghan-based and focused outfit that negotiated Bergdahl's release, and the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the airport attack and is in regular combat with the Pakistani state, military, and civilians. Markey says that the Pakistani government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is trying to negotiate a peace accord with the latter group, but the military leadership is losing patience with the lagging negotiations. As for the United States, he says, there is also a "waning patience for curtailing drone strikes if the Pakistanis don't start taking the fight to the Pakistani Taliban in a more significant way." 
Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, after an attack by Taliban militants on June 8, 2014. 

Are there two separate Talibans or one coordinated Taliban? 

If we look at the Afghan Taliban, we are basically talking about the group that ran Afghanistan right up until just after 9/11. Their remnants and their leader, Mullah Omar, by most accounts are said to be based somewhere inside Pakistan, probably inside Balochistan. And then you have a significant offshoot that also swears allegiance to him: the Haqqani Network, based further to the north in North Waziristan, also inside Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban is notable for having hosted bin Laden and embracing a worldview that is backward, violent, and extreme. However, they are Afghanistan-oriented and focused. There really have been no instances of the Afghan Taliban turning their guns on the Pakistani state, attacking the people of Pakistan, or, more importantly in this case, the military. 

After Karzai

Mujib Mashal

Afghanistan’s outgoing president hobbled the warlords, protected personal freedom, and helped heal a shattered country. He also winked at corruption and ruled like a tribal chief. His successor will inherit a country that’s in better shape than you might think—and a government with little power to keep it that way. 

In the shadow of the Kandahar City mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Durrani, the warrior-king who founded the modern state of Afghanistan, sits a small shrine, the blue plaster of its dome peeling off. “Here rests the martyred champion Azimullah,” reads the headstone inside the shrine, black calligraphy on white marble whose once-brilliant color is fading to gray.
An 18-year-old shopkeeper with dark almond eyes, Azimullah Khaksar gave his life on September 5, 2002, so that Hamid Karzai, the recently appointed interim leader of Afghanistan, could live. He wrestled a gunman who had opened fire on Karzai as the president waved through a car window at a crowd outside the governor’s compound in Kandahar. In the free-for-all shooting that followed, as Karzai’s motorcade made a clumsy effort to flee, Azimullah caught bullets in his chin, stomach, and legs. Which of the bullets came from the assassin and which from Karzai’s bodyguards, no one knows.
The arrival of Hamid Karzai, on the heels of the U.S. invasion in 2001, promised Afghans a break from the recent bloody past. Karzai’s lack of involvement in the long, brutal civil war that followed the Soviet retreat in 1989 raised the possibility of a unified country after a decade of battling fiefs. His international backing promised reconnection to the world after years of isolation. While not all Afghans welcomed Karzai—several circles within the Northern Alliance, for instance, wanted power for themselves—many ordinary people looked upon him with hope.
I remember hearing Karzai’s name on the radio for the first time, when I was a teenager in Kabul, as fires caused by American bombs burned throughout the city. The name had a ring to it, a lightness that itself seemed to promise new possibilities. For more than a decade, we had been ruled by men whose names and titles were a mouthful; the last was the one-eyed self-proclaimed “Leader of the Faithful, Emir of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Mullah Mohammed Omar Mujahed.” He had been more myth than man—most Afghans did not hear his voice or see his image until after he was toppled. The simplicity of Hamid Karzai’s name, without a credential affixed to it, seemed to suggest humility and an unpretentious nature.
The name struck a chord with Azimullah, too, and sparked his curiosity. “Karzai,” Azimullah had said at home on many occasions in the days after he first heard it. “I wonder what he is like.” As Karzai and the forces around him pressed closer to Kandahar City, Azimullah found a photo of him at the buzzing Charso bazaar. He brought the photo home and showed it to his family. “This, they say, is Karzai,” he explained, pointing at the bald, mustachioed man in a suit.
Charismatic and youthful, Karzai in 2002 was a man with “an enormous talent,” as Amrullah Saleh, his former intelligence chief, recently put it to me, who “showed no celebration, jubilation, or a sense of triumph” as he took power; he was a man who “moved with the mood of the country” and spoke to the people’s exhaustion and deprivation and exclusion—and to the country’s ability to heal.

Al-Qaeda’s Kashmir Call: An ISI Diversion Tactic

Al-Qaeda’s media arm, Al-Sahab released a video clip on 13 June 2014 urging the Kashmiri Muslims to emulate the militant actions of insurgents fighting in Iraq and Syria and launch an uprising against the Indian Authorities. The video features Maulana Asim Umar, a Pakistan based Al-Qaeda propagandist who is seen conveying the message for establishment of Islamic caliphate in Kashmir. Though the video message seems to be a clear ploy on the part of ISI in trying to deflect the unwanted attention from internal security situation within Pakistan and give impetus to waning insurgency in Kashmir, the purported message must be analysed with the prevailing security situation in the region which is in a fluid and transitional stage. The coalition forces are planning to withdraw from Afghanistan by the year end which provides an opportunity to the Afghan Taliban to increase its sphere of influence. Pakistan Army today is facing a greater threat, both from within the country from TTP and its umbrella organisations and in its strategic retreat backyard, Afghanistan, where its unquestioned patronage has at times been undermined in Afghanistan. The third component of the insurgent outfits are the terror organisations of the Punjabi Taliban, Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT), Lashker-e-Jhanghvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) who enjoy the patronage of the Pakistan Army, the ISI and the political establishment and have been creating disturbances in Kashmir in the past.

The planned drawdown by the end of the year in Afghanistan will leave approximately 10,000 US soldiers, who are likely to be employed in training of Afghan National Army (ANA) and maybe carryout specialised surgical operations. With a reduced strength, they would not have mentionable capability to conduct large scale operations. This would leave the field open for Taliban and Northern alliance forces. Utilising the safe heavens of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Waziristan, the Afghan Taliban would utilise the drawdown to concentrate on expanding and consolidating its footprint within Afghanistan. Even with a reduced strength of the US forces, it is unlikely to achieve success of the scale of 1990s due to an improving ANA and lack of local population support. Given the constraints, it would not be in any position to support operations in Kashmir.

The second terror component is the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistan today faces unprecedented internal security turmoil due to TTP. The latest brazen attack on the Karachi Airport shows its determination as well as audacity to challenge the might of the Pakistani security forces including its army. The very fact that the TTP elements were able to enter the airport complex with relative ease indicates the support of sympathizers within the security forces assisting their cause of ruling Pakistan under the Sharia law. TTP has its aim enunciated in establishing an Islamic caliphate in Pakistan and would employ all its cadres and resources to effectively challenge the writ of the government. Thus, even TTP would not be interested in escalating insurgency in Kashmir at the cost of its anti army operations within Pakistan. Given the present inter security strife, the Pakistani army will be deeply embroiled in counter insurgency operations in the coming years against the TTP elements as well as Afghan Taliban should they continue to inhibit the lawless areas along the Afghan border. It’s one time strategic assets will definitely cause more harm to its professional prowess as well as credibility if the army fails to act in a coordinated and timely manner. The Pakistan Army’s present state counter insurgency operations are unlikely to weaken the TTP as aerial bombings or artillery fires rarely annihilate insurgent cadres in large numbers. The collateral damage will only strengthen the TTP and other outfits. The only viable option would be to conduct counter insurgency operations with adequate boots on the ground and a mindset shift to tackle the TTP. Though Pakistan Army has recently acknowledged that home grown terror organisations are a greater threat than India, it’s obsession with India centric operations may lead to a state of near anarchy if focused and coordinated operations are not undertaken against TTP. 

The only viable terror threat arises from elements of Punjabi Taliban under the tutelage of ISI which can dent the prevailing peaceful state within Kashmir. With trained cadres of JeH, LeT etc present in terrorist camps in POK and Pakistan Punjab and waiting for an opportunity to sneak into India, the coming months especially the winter period will present a challenge to the security forces along the line of control. The plausible intention of the ISI in coordinating efforts of the Punjabi Taliban and acting as a link with al-Qaeda seems to be to create an atmosphere of uncertainty to revive the dying insurgent movement in Kashmir. Its past actions at reviving the insurgent movement have been successfully stymied by resolute political will and coordinated operations by Indian Army. It’s only a matter of time before its present misadventure meets the same fate. Nevertheless, vigilant action at line of control will have to continue to thwart any attempts at pushing the insurgents across the fence. Also, the Pakistan Army should realise that given the new political establishment in New Delhi, any such impulsive action under the garb of non state actors will lead to a befitting reply and a greater dent to its image and credibility, which is already under scrutiny within Pakistan. 

The Author is a Senior Fellow at CLAWS. Views expressed are personal. 

Asia’s Massive ‘Climate-Smart’ Dividend

A new report sets out the benefits of ‘climate smart’ policies for Asian economies.
Asia has been handed a massive incentive to curb emissions, with a new report estimating potential trillion-dollar economic benefits as well as better public health and environments.

Released Monday, the “Adding up the Benefits” report by the World Bank and the ClimateWorks Foundation said “climate smart” policies supporting clean transport and improving energy efficiency in appliances, buildings and factories could boost global gross domestic product (GDP) growth by from $1.8 trillion to $2.6 trillion a year by 2030.

Based on the effects of potential policy changes in Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Mexico and the United States, the report said these measures could save more than 1 million lives a year, avoid up to 1.5 million tons of crop losses and generate some 200,000 jobs, while taking the equivalent of 2 billion cars off the road.

“If fully implemented, the set of regulatory, tax and other policy actions outlined in the report could account for 30 percent of the total emissions reduction needed in 2030 to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius,” the report estimated.

In China, the report said the use of 70 million low-emission “clean cookstoves” could avoid an estimated 1 million plus premature deaths a year, generate $11 billion in economic benefits and create 22,000 jobs. According to the International Energy Agency, 241 million Chinese will still rely on solid fuels (coal and biomass) for cooking and heating by 2030, generating significant household air pollution.

In India, the building of 1,000 kilometers of new bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes in 20 cities at a cost of up to $4 billion would save an estimated 27,000 lives from reduced accidents and air pollution, while generating 128,000 jobs. The effect on India’s GDP would be up to a $13.5 billion increase between 2013 and 2032, the report said.

For India- The Importance of Bangladesh

By Bhaskar Roy

In tune with the Indian government’s active policy of good will with neighbors, Indian Foreign Minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj will be visiting Dhaka on June 26.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed a very successful official tour of Bhutan in mid-June, just ahead of China – Bhutan talks, and returned assured that Indian Security Interests are high on Thimpu’s priority list. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson in Beijing reflected positivity on India–Bhutan relations.

Ms. Sushma Swaraj is a very senior member of the BJP-Led government in New Delhi and her influence within the party and the government cannot be under estimated. Mr. Modi will visit Bangladesh soon enough as the schedule of the leaders are worked out. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to visit India first, and there is no misunderstanding. Trust and mutual respect are the keywords.

It is time that the foreign policy establishment worked on the India-Bangladesh relationship with the importance it deserves. Bangladesh has emerged as a country that cannot be ignored by anyone due to different reasons. China, Japan, the US, the UK and the European Union (EU) have been planning their strategic diplomacy in Dhaka all along, and this seems to have intensified in recent years. Dhaka’s relationship with Islamabad cooled down under the Awami League (Al) government led by Sheikh Hasina. And Sheikh Hasina’s coalition government has made Bangladesh the leading country in South Asia where social indices are concerned. This is no mean achievement. Bangladesh in beginning to emerge as the center form where connectivity could spread both towards the west (India, Nepal, Bhutan) and to East (Land route through Myanmar ending in Vietnam’s Ports).

What's stopping the US from rescuing kidnapped Nigerian girls? It's complicated

June 24, 2014
A video taken from Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist group's website alleges to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a school in northeastern Nigeria the night of April 14, 2014. 
This file image made available Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2012, taken from video posted by Boko Haram sympathizers, shows the leader of the radical Islamist sect Imam Abubakar Shekau. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the April 15, 2014, mass abduction of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria.

Abubakar Shekau, leader of Nigeria's Boko Haram, speaks in a video taken from the terrorist group's website on Monday May 12, 2014.

When soldiers of Nigeria's corrupt and incompetent army patrol remote and vulnerable towns in the northeast, boys often watch as they pass, then hurl rocks at them. 
The U.S. military will send a small team of experts to the embassy in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, to form an interagency “coordination and assessment cell” that will work the Nigerian government to locate and free the teenagers who were abducted from their school by Boko Haram last month. 

In soccer-mad Nigeria, people often cram into viewing centers to watch games. But Boko Haram, the northern Nigerian extremist group fighting for an Islamist state, has declared soccer to be “haram,” or sinful. 


China’s audacious land reclamation activities in the South China Sea are only the latest sign that its approach to settling maritime disputes with its neighbors has taken a sharp and dangerous turn. Although China began acting more assertively after perceiving its ascension to great power status in the wake of the global financial crisis, Beijing still felt compelled to justify its muscular movements in Asia as necessary reactions to the provocations of “troublemakers” in the region. Sure, China was standing strong, but arguably in response to the adventurism of others. It was more retaliatory than overtly belligerent.

As Beijing made a habit of tempering and justifying its behavior, leading Western analysts developed terms like “reactive assertiveness” and described Chinese revisionism as “cautious and considered.” The seizureof Scarborough Reef in the South China Sea in April 2012 was explained as a compulsory response to the Philippines’ use of a naval vessel (rather than a coast guard ship) to interdict illegal Chinese fishermen.

Similarly, China’s persistent incursions into Japanese-administered waters around the Senkaku Islands have been, according to Beijing, an obligatory answer to Tokyo’s purchase and “nationalization” of the islands in September 2012.

Over the last eight months, however, China’s efforts to alter Asia’s geography have become unequivocally self-initiated. On the eve of Vice President Biden’s trip to Beijing last November, China announced the establishment of a new air defense identification zone in the East China Sea that extended over areas controlled by Japan and South Korea. This triggered widespread speculation about what had compelled Beijing to make this provocative move. Was it comments by the Japanese defense minister threatening to shoot down Chinese drones that wandered into Japanese airspace? It had to be something, right?

The following month saw the promulgation of new fishing regulations with which China blessed itself with additional legal authorities in the South China Sea, further advancing its claims over hotly contested territories. Nowhere to be found, however, was the kind of defensive pretext that would have accompanied a similar step in years prior.

Maoists in Dandakaranya - The Tribal Cause or Otherwise

Date: 22/06/2014, 

Maoists have dominated the security landscape in the country, be it for their declarations/statements, for their terror related actions and/or for the romanticist support they garner from a section of intelligentsia as ‘champions of Adivasi cause’. Whether the tribal side with Maoists or not, it is an established fact that these 84 million tribal, bulk of which inhabit Central India, are the most affected by ongoing conflict. While orders emanate from essentially a non-tribal leadership, hiding safely in their secure bases, it is the tribal foot soldiers that execute assigned tasks[1].

Involving and mobilising tribal in order to gain mass appeal has been a well thought out strategy of the non-tribal Maoist leadership that sought refuge in the forests of Dandakaranya in aftermath of mounting pressure in Andhra Pradesh in early 80s. Any armed operation to flush out the Maoist leadership will have tribal as the direct target, thus shielding the leadership. Further, as the ill-fated Salwa Judum campaign showed, any attack on tribal not only results in immense calamity for them, but it also helps increase Maoists support base. This vicious cycle has been planned very deliberately and is on for several decades.

In initial stages, after the Maoists fled from Andhra Pradesh and entered Dandakaranya, local tribal population was won over by organising them to realise their rights related to forest produce and land, which saw considerable tribal participation mainly due to the stakes involved. This was followed by eviction of state representatives, thus unshackling Maoist writ in 60,000 square kilometers of forest region of Dandakaranya. From 2001 onwards, Dandakaranya came to be administered by Dandakaranya Special Zone Committee with seven divisional committees under it; these in turn have range and village committees under them.[2] However, tribal representation in the governing committees is minimal or none[3]. Having entrenched in Dandakaranya, for more than quarter of a century, the question that merits pondering over is, ‘what have Maoists been able to accomplish in terms of tribal welfare?’ 


June 24, 2014 · 
ISIS Fighting a New Kind of War

http://www.realclearpolitics. com/articles/2014/06/23/isis_ fighting_a_new_kind_of_war_ 123073.html

‘Post their heads on Twitter’ – The Islamist army Isis is fighting a new kind of war by placing evidence of its brutality on social networks – and sowing terror across the world

Sitting on the dusty ground in front of a group of men in balaclavas who are waving a black Islamist flag and chanting “There is no god but God”, the Iraqi officer, unshaven and dressed in a brown dishdasha, is resigned to his fate.

As one of the fighters shouts out jihadist slogans, the crowd begins to bay for blood and the officer, hands tied behind his back, sways nervously. Finally, the executioner lifts a foot-long knife.

The crowd shrieks as the officer’s head is swiftly severed and held aloft. A youth in an Arsenal shirt and with a Kalashnikov wanders in front of the camera. A cleric appears to be present. Later the video is posted on YouTube and jihadist websites.

According to the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Isis), the victim was an Iraqi army commander who had been captured and condemned after a sharia trial.

On Thursday another Isis video appeared. This one was entitled There is No Life Without Jihad. In it, two friends from Cardiff are seen speaking in English. “We will go to Iraq in a few days and we will fight there, Allah permitting,” one of them vows.

Both videos – one designed to terrorize Iraqi soldiers into submission, the other to lure impressionable recruits – were shared widely via Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #AllEyesOnIsis.

A mobile phone app called Dawn of Glad Tidings helps Isis to promote its Twitter feed and includes embedded advertising. Twitter is also used to supplement traditional fundraising methods, such as extortion, by encouraging Sunni donors in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to click on a link.

Thad Cochran Escapes Bitter Tea Party in Mississippi

Justin Sullivan/Getty 

Thad Cochran Escapes Bitter Tea Party in Mississippi 

The Republican establishment dodged another potentially embarrassing Tea Party challenge with the help of Mississippi’s African American voters. 

Like Lazarus, Thad Cochran rose from the dead on Tuesday in Mississippi. 

In a Republican primary runoff where turnout surged compared to that in the first round of voting, Cochran escaped with a narrow 51-49 win over Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel. Boosted by high Democratic turnout, particularly among African Americans in Jackson and the Mississippi Delta, the six-term Senator pulled out a surprise victory after finishing behind the two-term state senator in the initial primary on June 3. But with McDaniel threatening litigation, this political saga may not be over yet. 

The campaign between Cochran and McDaniel had became a key litmus test for the battle between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party as outside groups and celebrities flocked to the campaign in recent weeks. Cochran boasted the support of Senator John McCain, the Chamber of Commerce and NFL great Brett Favre while McDaniel was backed by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the Club for Growth and television host Chuck Woolery. The race focused on Cochran’s long record in Washington working to deliver federal money to the Magnolia State and what was perceived as tendency towards moderation and compromise. While Cochran bragged about his accomplishments as the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, McDaniel attacked him as an example of all that was wrong with Washington and pork-barrel spending. 

On election night, McDaniel took to the stage after being introduced as “the Republican nominee for Senate.” The Tea Partier then raged against “a Republican primary decided by liberal Democrats” and essentially accused Cochran of “abandoning the conservative movement.” McDaniel claimed that “there were literally dozens of irregularities reported all across the state” and hinted at litigation saying “now it’s our job to make sure that the sanctity of the vote is upheld, before this race ends we have to be absolutely certain that Republican primary was won by Republican voters.” Breitbart News, which has served as the house organ of the McDaniel campaign, is reporting that the Mississippi state senator is considering a legal challenge of the results. 

ISIS Threatens Iraq’s Largest Air Base

ISIS Threatens Iraq’s Largest Air Base 
In its march to Baghdad, ISIS has used seized the heavy weapons of a modern army. Now, the jihadists too extreme for al Qaeda could be closing in on their very own air force. 

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is threatening to take control of Balad Airbase, Iraq’s largest airfield and one of America’s most important military outposts during its occupation of the country. 

Today, Balad still has plenty of vehicles and aircraft on the base that any terrorist group would covet, including Russian-made transport helicopters, surveillance planes and a fleet of pick up trucks fitted with heavy machine guns.

Now, that airbase is coming under fire – and is in danger of falling into the hands of ISIS, according to U.S. intelligence officers, internal reports from Balad, and outside analysts. 

“We assess the group continues to threaten the air base and Iraqi Security Force control of the air base as it moves south towards Baghdad,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told reporters Tuesday. 

Of course, even if ISIS were to gain control of Balad, there is no guarantee its fighters would know how to operate or maintain the aircraft that are stored there. But an ISIS takeover of Balad would be significant nonetheless. As NBC News reported Tuesday, Iraqi officers say without air support they are on an equal footing with ISIS fighters. 

Jessica Lewis -- the research director for the Institute for the Study of War and a former U.S. army intelligence officer who served in Iraq -- told The Daily Beast, “It would mean that ISIS can beat the best that the Iraqi Army can muster, not just the northern units that have been ignored. It would mean strategic defeat for the Iraqi Army.” 

Lewis estimates that Balad and neighboring Taji base are likely some of the next targets of the ISIS campaign. “Both of these bases are critical military sites for the Iraqi Army. Neutralizing one or both would demonstrate that ISIS can beat the Iraqi Army strategically.” 

This is in part because a defeat for Iraq’s army at Balad would also deprive Iraq’s military of the air assets it already has – and is set to acquire. In December, Russia began to deliver Mi-35 attack and transport helicopters. The first of 36 American F-16 fighter were scheduled to be delivered to Balad in September 2014. 

The five greatest metal battleships of all time

24Jun 2014

In December last year, The National Interest listed the world’s five greatest battleships, defined as the most iconic. Definitions matter. Less adventurous but more easily defended, here’s a list of the five greatest metal battleships, defined as having the most influential designs. A list of the five that were greatest in service would be different again.
Gloire (pictured above), France, 1860. The French navy had the incentive to invent the armored battleship, because in the 19th century it was the challenger; the dominant Royal Navy had much less interest in revolution. The idea of armored ships had been floated for decades, but actual experience with floating batteries in the Crimean War proved it. France took the next step, building the armored battleship Gloire. The English-language historiography of the warship skips quickly past the wooden-hulled Gloire to emphasise that the British response, the iron-hulled HMSWarrior, was utterly superior. And so it was. But the starting point for more than 500 battleships completed between 1860 and 1949 was Gloire. 

Honourable mention: Warrior.

Royal Sovereign (pictured below), Britain, 1892. For 30 years after Gloire, battleship design was a stream of confusion. New ideas came thick and fast. Most had merits. Many were quickly superseded. Then experimentation stopped with the Royal Sovereign Class. Those seven ships introduced no great innovation except a valuable increase in size, but they combined the best ideas of three decades, notably a high freeboard and the French concept that enabled it: putting the machinery and crew of the main armament inside a fixed column of armor, a barbette, with the guns rotating on top. HMS Royal Sovereign was so right that for 15 years most battleships followed its general design.

Murphy's Law: The Curse Of Khat

June 24, 2014: Over the last fifty years the huge flood of oil and natural gas income arriving in the Middle East has had some unexpected and unpleasant side effects. One of the most troublesome and obscure of these was the way the skyrocketing demand for the leaves of the Khat plant destroyed the economy in Yemen and much else there as well. Khat also fueled growing violence in Yemen along with a devastating water shortage. 

Khat is a plant that has grown in Yemen for thousands of years. Khat leaves when chewed give you more of a buzz than caffeine or nicotine, but less than stronger drugs. It is addictive and until the 1950s was grown by farmers for their own personal use as a stimulant. Khat was used like that long before anyone figured out how to use coffee beans to produce a stimulating liquid. One thing that kept Khat local was the fact that the leaves quickly lost their potency a few days after being picked. In other words, Khat did not travel well while coffee beans and tea leaves did. That all changed after World War II when roads, trucks and air transport became widely available. Suddenly Khat had an international market for those who could afford to pay and had a taste for it. 

Yemen was the one Khat growing area that was close to Khat consumers with lots of money; namely people in the Arab oil states of the Persian Gulf. The other area where Khat grew easily was Ethiopia, which was deep in Africa surrounded by poverty and far from anyone able to pay for Khat. Yemen was the only Arabian state without a lot of oil and had the largest population. Khat was suddenly a way to make a lot of money. 

Israel: The Arab War On Children

June 23, 2014: The Palestinian leadership (Fatah) in the West Bank denied that they, or Hamas, had anything to do with the June 12th disappearance of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. So far Israel has sent several thousand additional soldiers and police to the West Bank to help in the search. This has led to over 500 Palestinians arrested, including some Palestinian leaders, especially those belonging to Hamas. Also rounded up were some recently released prisoners (terrorists set free at American insistence to promote Palestinian peace talks). The arrests took place as the Israelis raided over 1,400 locations in the last eleven days. Decades of Palestinian propaganda (easily found, at least for Arabic speakers, on the Internet) glorifying terrorism against all Israelis and promoting suicide attacks against Israeli security forces has made it common for young Palestinian males to turn out to throw rocks or fire bombs at Israeli soldiers and police who show up for whatever reason. This has happened on dozens of occasions during the current search and Israeli troops can return fire if the projectiles are likely to cause injury. This has resulted in four Palestinians dead and several dozen wounded. There have been dozens of Israelis wounded by the Palestinian attacks, although because of their helmets and body armor, most injuries do not require hospitalization. Palestinian leaders call these defensive measures unfair and illegal. Palestinian police, who come in after the Israeli raiding party has left, often encounter continuing violence and also end up suffering, and inflicting, casualties but this rarely gets publicized by the Palestinians. While the Palestinians (at least Fatah) officially condemns the kidnapping they also accuse the Israelis of using excessive efforts to find three teenagers and that this amounts another Israeli war crime. The Israeli public disagrees and is putting tremendous pressure on elected officials to find the three kids no matter what it takes. 

Most of the sites raided in the West Bank were associated with Hamas and lots of weapons, explosives, documents and Islamic terrorism related materials have been seized. Over 70 percent of those arrested were associated with Hamas. Israel has not revealed if any of this provided clues about the three kidnapped teenagers. Actually no one has taken responsibility for the disappearance of the three Israeli kids. Because of that it is believed that the three Israeli captives are still in the West Bank and subject to being rescued by the searching soldiers and police. Some Israeli officials did indicate that the search is being controlled by intelligence efforts that are indicating the most likely locations of kidnappers and places that might be used to hold the captives. In other words some police believe it’s just a matter of time before the captives are found. 

Al-Qaida’s Seven Rules for the Effective Terrorist

ISIS is breaking all of them. It will live to regret it.
For years, Osama Bin Laden and his lieutenants, like adviserAyman al-Zawahiri, right, tried to explain to their affiliates the folly of unchecked brutality. ISIS isn't getting it. 

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is scaring the hell out of everyone. It has infested Syria, overrun Iraq, alarmed Iran, and convinced U.S. politicians it’s the most dangerous terrorist organization ever. But frightening everyone isn’t a long-term growth strategy. ISIS is destroying itself.

 Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right

Al-Qaida, the organization from which ISIS recently split, understands this truth. For years, Osama Bin Laden and his lieutenants tried to explain to their affiliates the folly of unchecked brutality. In letters and directives captured in the 2011 raid on his compound, Bin Laden stressed the importance of patience, discretion, and public opinion. His advice, boiled down to seven rules, forms a clear outline of ISIS’s mistakes.

1. Don’t fight civil wars. Bin Laden recognized that battling for territory against local governments was a lousy way to get to theocracy. In a 2010 letter, he explained why this wouldn’t work in Yemen:

As for the local enemy, such as if the Yemenis were to begin a long battle against the security services, this is a matter that will weigh on the people. As time goes by, they will begin to feel that some of them have been killed and they will start to want to stop the fighting. This would promote the ideology of secular governments that raise the motto of pleasing all sides.

ISIS rejects this rule. It calls itself a state. It measures its progress in territory. It’s trying to control as many as 40,000 square miles with an estimated 10,000 fighters. Meanwhile, the parties that have won seats in the new Iraqi parliament are scrambling to form a government that can appease all sides and pacify the country, just as Bin Laden anticipated.

2. Don’t kill civilians. That was Bin Laden’s principal regret. He called for guidelines that would instruct jihadists to avoid “unnecessary civilian casualties.” Mass bombings in mosques and other public places, he lamented, had resulted in “the alienation of most of the nation from the Mujahidin.”

Where does ISIS get its logistical support?

ISIS originated as an al-Qaeda offshoot in Iraq. Composed of fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, the group targeted the Iraqi government and American forces in Iraq, as well as Shia Muslims and Christians (both of whom it considers heretics) and killed civilians of all faiths in indiscriminate attacks. It expanded into Syria when that country's uprising turned into a war between President Bashar Assad (who is backed by Iran's Shia leadership) and the rebels he had tried to crush. One of the best-equipped and funded militias on the ground—although its sources of cash are murky—ISIS took control of the eastern rebel-held city of Raqqa in 2012 and expanded along the border with Turkey. Foreign fighters flocked to Syria to join it.

As ISIS’s name suggests, the interests of the group and its current leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi go beyond Syria. Its members believe that the world's Muslims should live under one Islamic state ruled by sharia law.

Murky? In this day and age? Others sites have been less reluctant to point fingers. See CFR's Backgrounder "Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria":

Supporters in the region, including those based in Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, are believed to have provided the bulk of past funding. Iran has also financed AQI, crossing sectarian lines, as Tehran saw an opportunity to challenge the U.S. military presence in the region, according to the U.S. Treasury and documents confiscated in 2006 from Iranian Revolutionary Guards operatives in northern Iraq. In early 2014, Iran offered to join the United States in offering aid to the Iraqi government to counter al-Qaeda gains in Anbar province.

The bulk of ISIS's financing, experts say, comes from sources such as smuggling, extortion, and other crime. ISIS has relied in recent years on funding and manpower from internal recruits. Even prior to ISIS's takeover of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, in June 2014, the group extorted taxes from businesses small and large, netting upwards of $8 million a month, according to some estimates.
The Old Caliphate 

Of course, now there are reports of an ISIS bank heist of over$400 million in Mosul, which ought to pay for a lot of those "out of area volunteers" and their AK-47s.

Cutting off the ISIS supply chain might have been easier before they apparently captured so much equipment from those elements of the Iraqi Army that decided to beat feet in the face of the enemy. 

Ah, Sunni v. Shiite and a turf war over an oil rich country. Might want to dust off those books on the 30 years war when the Catholics vs. Protestant dust-up morphed into the battle for dominance of Europe. Of course, that was 500 400 years ago (1618- 1648) (updated).

This will get even uglier. Not much middle ground in the sectarian/clan battlefield.

In Iraq, Obama Has Two Terrible Choices Does he wait for political reform or grit his teeth and up military support?


In his efforts to save Iraq, President Obama is right to demand more power-sharing and other political reforms from Iraqi leaders before the United States offers more military assistance. But Obama should not think he can hold off offering such assistance until he secures those reforms—not if he wants to prevent the bloody breakup of the country and a wider regional war. As sensible as a conditional approach seems, the president simply doesn’t have that option open to him.

That’s because Obama doesn’t have the time. The crisis created by the Sunni terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, continues unabated, and Iraq is now on the verge of full-blown civil war. Over the weekend, ISIL seized several more towns in the western, Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, including border crossings that will allow the militants to bring in more fighters and weapons from Syria and possibly Jordan. Meanwhile thousands of Shia fighters loyal to renegade cleric Moqtada al-Sadr began mobilizing in parts of Baghdad. The president himself, in an interview with CBS, warned that ISIL was “destabilizing the country” in a growing state of chaos “that could spill over into some of our allies like Jordan.”

As a result, the Obama administration faces a difficult conundrum—one that presents the president with only two very poor policy approaches. Obama can either pursue an incremental, conditional approach that will satisfy his desire to put maximum pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and minimize America’s return to Iraq—but will likely fail to address the severity of the crisis. Or Obama can set aside his understandable caution and provide more robust military assistance before he can be confident of getting the political changes that are needed to turn any Iraqi government military gains into strategic successes.

Obama was wise to send 300 U.S. military advisers to Iraq, and he is correct to think that, without political changes, the Iraqi state will struggle to overcome its current security challenges given that it will be unable to win the support of either the Sunnis or the Kurds. But the political outcome that will bring all Iraqis back into a power-sharing government has become much more complicated just in the last week.

And every moment that the president waits, the more complicated it becomes as new realities consolidate on the ground.

As ISIL advances, it is benefiting from the support of other Sunni groups alienated from the Iraqi government, and it is amassing huge caches of money—as much as $2 billion, by one newspaper’s account. With considerable resources at its disposal and some element of public acquiescence, ISIL may prove more sophisticated than al Qaeda in Iraq and provide services and governance, further consolidating its hold on Iraqi territory.

The Kurds, meanwhile, have gained control of disputed areas they have long sought to incorporate into the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and see as critical to an independent state; they are not going to relinquish these grounds nor once again pledge to be part of Iraq without fundamental changes to the political compact. They will likely push for a confederation on the basis of new internal borders as a condition for staying inside Iraq. They may ultimately be willing to settle for less, but will not be willing to return to the pre-ISIS political arrangements. Kurdish leverage is further heightened by the reality that enlisting Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, into the fight is one of a small number of factors that could help produce a decisive shift on the battlefield.

In Iraq, ISIS Channels Mao

Unlike al-Qaeda, ISIS seems to understand Mao Zedong’s classic Phase III battlefield struggle. 
The situation in western Iraq is indeed dismaying. Let’s ransack the strategic canon for a few ideas that may help statesmen and commanders comprehend what has happened and what it all portends. First,scholar Timothy Lomperis reminds us that, at bottom, internal struggles such as the one raging in Iraq and Syria are contests for political legitimacy. Whichever contender best provides ordinary people the basics of life, makes a critical mass of the populace a stakeholder in its rule, and ultimately makes them believers in its right to rule is apt to prevail.

Which, second, makes the Iraqi forces’ collapse all the more disquieting. There is no way a U.S.-equipped and -trained military serving a legitimate regime — a legitimate cause — should throw down arms and capitulate to a vastly outnumbered enemy, no matter how motivated or well led. Iraqi soldiers, it seems never learned an elementary maxim from Chinese strategist Sun Tzu: when on death ground, fight. Or, if you prefer your wisdom from Dr. Johnson: the prospect of being hanged focuses the mind wonderfully. If that basic logic escapes the Maliki regime — if it has failed so catastrophically to win legitimacy and assert sovereign authority — its days may be numbered.

Third, ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has proved itself a far more serious foe than al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or other adversaries of the post-9/11 years. It’s more Maoist in its operational and strategic outlook. Al-Qaeda seems to think it can bypass Mao Zedong’s classic Phase III battlefield struggle: it can win solely through terrorist action, and without a conventional victory. Doubtful. ISIS clearly understands it has to defeat its opponents to win — just as Mao knew he had to vanquish the Nationalists to bring China under communist rule.

ISIS also shows signs of understanding that it will have to govern should it win militarily. It is reportedly establishing shadow governments in occupied zones, collecting taxes, and starting to perform routine functions of government. It’s more like a Hezbollah or Viet Cong, which tries to win legitimacy, than an al-Qaeda, which is mostly interested in showy attacks and ideological purity. Few revolutionaries govern well, but ISIS may be an exception. Its ability to consolidate its territorial gains and make the transition to stable peacetime rule, whether over part or all of Iraq, is a revealing indicator to watch.