22 November 2014
The origin of the Naxal problem is attributable to socio-political and socio-economic repression. The poor and Scheduled Castes (SC) were downtrodden by the Zamindars. Land reforms were nowhere. Forest land was shrinking. Added to that there was no development, in fact, governance was sorely lacking. At first, the states sought to control the problem through the state police forces. Most of the police were in a poor state. Numbers, infrastructure, weapons were minimal. They were swiftly rendered ineffective and the Para Military Forces (PMF) were called in. Additionally, the movement became more co-ordinated and stretched across state boundaries.
In 2009, the Naxalites were active across approximately 180 districts in ten states of India…
Chief of the Air Staff and Chairman COSC – that was me, innocent and unsuspecting, holding a press conference on Modernisation Programme of the Indian Air Force (IAF). After the subject was hashed and rehashed, all interested lobbies had finished their allotted questions, naturally the media turned to other issues which were obviously current. Naxal menace was the topic occupying the news. Asked whether I sought an incremental role for the IAF against the Naxals, I frankly replied what I had always believed in, that I was not in favour of employing the IAF against the Naxals; that we were already being used in benign roles helping the police fight Naxals and the use of air weapons in such a scenario was not advisable. Thereafter, I was quoted, misquoted and quoted out of context and generally dragged over the coals for trying to go against the Home Ministry’s desire by all forms of the media. It has been four years that I have held my peace. Since the topic is still relevant and current, I say what the hell, here goes.
The background of the Naxal problem is generally well known but the origins have been dimmed by the mists of time. Let me quote an extract from Wikipedia so that we all are on the same grid. “Naxal, Naxalite and Naksalvadi are generic terms used to refer to various militant Communist groups operating in different parts of India under different organisational envelopes. In the Eastern states of the mainland India (Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha), they are usually known as, or refer to themselves as Maoists while in the Southern states like Andhra Pradesh, they are known under other titles. They have been declared as a terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of India (1967). Leaders of the movement have been found to have hide-outs located in China.”
There is no coordinated intelligence grid and despite some efforts, no inter-state intelligence sharing…
Posted by Strategic Studies at 00:42
By MANOJ JOSHI
20 November 2014
Somewhere in the files of the PMO there is a 1949 query by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to his Army chief, General K C Cariappa, asking if the Indian Army would be able to intervene and prevent the Chinese conquest of Tibet.
The General’s response was that, given the capacity of the Army and the difficult communication links with Tibet, intervention was out of the question.
Nehru was not the caricature woolly-headed idealist that his critics make him out to be. He had to deal with the instruments under his command. And among these was an army that lacked the size and heft to take on the battle-hardened PLA across the Himalayas in Tibet in 1950.
India’s response to the invasion of Tibet by China, beginning January 1, 1950, was, therefore, cautious. Nehru’s interim government had already supplied weapons and trained Tibetans since 1946. But with Chinese power rampant, the Indian effort became covert.
According to one source, India quietly dispatched 40,000 rifles to the Khampa regions, the first to feel the weight of the PLA invasion.
Sardar Patel’s famous letter to Nehru on November 7, 1950, warning of the dangers arising from the Chinese invasion of Tibet, was not meant as a critique of Nehru as many uber-nationalists claim, but as part of a policy review which was undertaken after the Sardar passed away a month later.
Jawaharlal Nehru meets then Army chief General K.C. Cariappa at Plaam Aerodrome in 1949
A committee headed by Major General Himmatsinhji, the Deputy Minister for Defence, was set up to examine the issues of the border and external intelligence.
Posted by Strategic Studies at 00:40
November 20, 2014
Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar Has Possibly Died
Mullah Mohammad OmarThe Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has possibly passed away amid reports that the group has divided into three different parts.
The Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) said Wednesday that Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor has initiated appointment of his friends as group’s top figures.
Hasib Sediqi, spokesman for the National Directorate of Security (NDS) told reporters on Wednesday that senior Taliban figures have divided into three groups are having major differences among them.
Sediqi further added that the first group is led by Mullah Qayum Zakir and Tayeb Agha is also a member along with Hafiz Majeed, Amir Khan Haqqani, Mullah Mohammad Esa, Khadim Abdul RAuf, Zia Agha and Torak Agha.
He said the second group is led by Mullah Agha and Mullah Samad Sani, Mawlavi Nani, Sadar Ibrahim, Sheikh Mawlavi Abdul Hakimand Mawlavi Mohibulalh are members.
Sediqi also added that the third group is comprised of neutral Taliban leaders.
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November 19, 2014
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles based on insights gleaned from Jason Campbell’s recent NATO-sponsored trip to Afghanistan that featured meetings with senior NATO and Afghan officials, members of Parliament, representatives from a number of international organizations, and prominent members of Afghan civil society.
As of January 1, 2015, the nature of the NATO mission in Afghanistan will change dramatically. The transition to Resolute Support Mission (RSM) will remove all coalition forces from combat and concentrate them into only a handful of regional bases from which they will continue to provide mentorship and limited indirect support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Though a definitive reduction in the NATO mission’s size and scope, it would be a mistake to judge this phase as any less important. While the ANSF have made important strides, fighting the insurgency on their own will be a massive undertaking and enduring coalition support will be crucial. Senior officials of NATO troop-contributing nations must resist the temptation to prematurely head for the exits.
Little support for a time-defined RSM. During my recent trip to Afghanistan, there was a constant theme throughout all of our meetings and briefings: disagreement with stated U.S. plans to remove all of its troops from theater by the end of 2016. While I fully expected to hear some apprehension voiced in certain circles, I was struck by the unanimity of this sentiment across the spectrum of our interactions. In most cases the unease with the U.S. plan was offered without prompting. Many alluded to the need to shore up confidence among the Afghan population after a trying 2014. The long delay in the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement, a drawn out and at times divisive election dispute, and resulting economic stagnation combined to cultivate an air of general uneasiness. As one diplomat we met with argued, the United States “should rethink the length of RSM, not just from a security and political perspective, but a psychological one as well.”
19 November 2014
This Occasional Paper assesses China's vibrant and high-technology aviation sector that is thriving as a mainstay strategic industry by embracing knowledge-intensive activity, innovation and skills. It also provides prescriptions for India's grounded aerospace industry.
WUZHEN, Nov. 19, 2014 Delegates attend the opening ceremony of the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Nov. 19, 2014. Representatives from nearly 100 countries and regions took part in the three-day Internet conference.
China’s government says the dark side of the Internet was on full display in terror attacks over the past year — a train station knifing, a car that exploded near Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate and other attacks on civilians — because it has evidence such activity is planned online.
But when a key Chinese proponent of tougher laws to combat cyber-terrorism pushed that view on Thursday while showing video from the crime scenes at a forum called the World Internet Conference, he faced pushback from two American researchers.
“Cyber-terrorism is a sort of cancer on the Internet,” declared Gu Jianguo, who is China’s top policeman on cyber-crime as director of network protection at the Ministry of Public Security. “We are trying hard to elicit support of the international community.”
While condemning such attacks, not everyone agreed with Mr. Gu’s way of thinking about them. “There is very little cyber-war or cyber-terrorism,” said Bruce McConnell, a senior vice president at the EastWest Institute who formerly worked on such issues at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Exaggerating the threat does not help defeat it.”
Peter Chalk, a senior political scientist at Rand Corp., said he agreed that the Internet is used for “enabling purposes” but not so far to actually carry out large-scale cyber-terrorism – like collapsing power systems – because it has proved too difficult.
The sharp differences of opinion illustrate how debate about the regulation of cyberspace parallels the gun-control debate in the U.S. over whether guns kill people or people kill people, as well as what constitutes terrorism. They appear to limit scope for the international cooperation on cyber-security that Chinese President Xi Jinping regularly calls for and which policymakers and academics agree is necessary because of the cross-border structure of the Internet.
A starting point, agreed those at the conference China is hosting this week in the eastern town Wuzhen is an international consensus on what constitutes cyber-terrorism.
Speaking after Mr. Gu, Mr. McConnell said he had to disagree with some of the Chinese policeman’s perspectives. The U.S. researcher said it is wrong to see the Internet as a source of evil, noting that when a car bomb explodes “we don’t call it auto-terrorism.”
Defense News, November 19, 2014
A Chinese media depiction of the potential destructive effect of a MIRV-capable ICBM on Los Angeles.
TAIPEI, TAIWAN — A new congressional-funded report paints a dark picture of China’s nuclear weapons and missile modernization efforts.
The report, issued Nov. 19, by the US China Economic and Security Review Commission, states China will pose a threat to all US military forces, bases and assets in the Western Pacific within the next 10 years.
China will also be able to attack US national security satellites in a variety of ways — kinetic, laser, electronic jamming and seizing. According to the report, China’s capabilities will hold at risk all US national security satellites in every orbital regime in the next five- to 10 years. “In space, China in 2014 continued to pursue a broad counter-space program to challenge U.S. information superiority in a conflict and disrupt or destroy U.S. satellites if necessary.”
Beijing also calculates its space warfare capabilities will enhance its strategic deterrent as well as allow China to coerce the US and others “into not interfering with China militarily.”
The report said China’s growing nuclear warfare capabilities are ominous. Over the next five years, China’s nuclear force will rapidly expand and modernize, providing China with an extensive range of military and foreign policy options and “potentially weakening U.S. extended deterrence, particularly with respect to Japan.’
Over the next three- to five years, China’s nuclear program will also become more lethal and survivable with the fielding of additional road-mobile nuclear missiles; five nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, each of which can carry 12 sea-launched intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBM); and ICBMs armed with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV).
In 2013 the Pentagon reported that China’s nuclear arsenal consisted of only 50- to 75 ICBMs, with the number of ICBMs capable of reaching the United States could expand to more than 100 within the next 15 years. However, the report said some analysts assess China may be obscuring a much larger nuclear effort and have much larger stockpiles.
By Emily S Chen
November 20, 2014
A low-pressure policy to expand cross-Strait ties may be China’s only choice for unification.
Confronted with multiple sources of insecurity – the U.S. rebalancing toward Asia, Japan’s expanding self-defense definition, and the ongoing democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong – Chinese President Xi Jinping bolstered Beijing’s resolve toward Taiwan by espousing a “one country, two systems” proposal for unification in a speech in late September. Xi’s rhetoric not only revealed China’s anxiety about relations with Taiwan in an uncertain strategic environment, it also came at a time of weakening cross-strait relations. With Taiwan’s delay in ratifying the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) and the outbreak of the student-led Sunflower Movement in March, cross-strait relations have stumbled on a lack of trust and momentum. In these circumstances, pushing Taiwan hard for an immediate political dialogue is not feasible. Instead, China is pursuing a low-pressure approach that seeks to expand contacts with people from all sectors in Taiwan, with the aim of winning hearts and minds.
Since he took office in 2008, President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan has sought to promote cross-strait exchanges and maintain the status quo through a policy of “no unification, no independence and no use of force,” asdescribed in a speech on October 22. This approach has “prompted Taipei and Beijing to sign 21 agreements and reach two points of consensus… Cross-strait relations are at their best level in 65 years.”
However, this warming atmosphere cooled after Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement, in which students occupied the Legislative Yuan for a month in opposition to any trade deals with Beijing without official oversight established in Taiwan. The delay in the CSSTA has tested China’s patience, and relations have begun to lose momentum. Certainly, any potential Ma-Xi meeting is officially dead in the water; Taipei sent Vice President Vincent Siew to attend the leaders’ summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum last week.
November 20, 2014
A new Asian order is emerging and South Asia — including India — needs to be a part of it.
In the aftermath of the G20 and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summits, it is becoming increasingly obvious that a new Asian order, complete with an economic architecture, has emerged. Whether this order is referred to as the “Pacific Age” or a New Silk Road or a pan-Eurasian system, all these terms refer to the same thing: a web of economic interdependence in Asia whose hub is the littoral around the East and South China seas, connecting China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. This network of economic prosperity is increasingly being spread by Beijing westward to the rest of Eurasia in an initiative called the “New Silk Road.” Thus, it might not be inaccurate to write that the new Asian economic order can be described as described as the “Chinese Order” in which all roads lead to Zhongnanhai. This is because China’s economy and physical location constitute the hub that drives and connects the rest of Asia.
Yet as China invests more than $40 billion in overland routes through Central Asia and Russia into Europe and maritime routes from Southeast Asia to the Middle East and Africa, there is one vital region in Asia that is at risk of missing out on joining this new Asian economic and infrastructure network. This region is South Asia, the region that perhaps needs to become part of this hub the most. This would better integrate South Asian countries with each other as well as with their neighbors in Southeast and East Asia. Economic integration within the region and with countries outside of the region is very low. This is despite the fact that China is both India and Pakistan’s largest trade partner (India and Pakistan hardly trade with each other). Most of this trade is one-sided and has not led to massive Chinese investment in infrastructure in either of these countries. South Asian integration into the Asian economic order would benefit all of the region’s countries and would especially help some of the poorest, like Nepal and Afghanistan.
This is why South Asian countries should very seriously take up the cause of economic integration with the rest of Asia before they are left too far behind. They ought to put more emphasis on connectivity and trade with East Asia so that the New Silk Road won’t go around the region. The countries of South Asia will meet in Kathmandu next week for the annual South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit. They should seriously discuss greater economic integration and closer trade ties with the rest of Asia. South Asia cannot afford to be left behind as the Asia-Pacific and Central Asian regions integrate.
November 20, 2014
With its growing labor force, the South Asian giant has some impressive long-term growth potential.
China’s citizens may have celebrated “APEC blue” skies at the recent Beijing summit. But amid the nation’s recent diplomatic triumphs, analysts suggest China could still be eclipsed by India as Beijing confronts growing environmental and structural challenges.
Speaking at Brisbane’s recent G20 Leaders’ Summit, China’s Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said the world’s second-biggest economy was undergoing “a period of pain” as it tackled structural problems threatening its growth targets.
“We do have problems that have been accumulated over time…the first is the overcapacity of our economy, second is the problem of shadow banking, and the third main problem is debt accumulated over time by local Chinese governments,” he said.
Zhu said the world economy “faces greater downward risks,” with the Chinese economy also adjusting to a “new normal” of slower growth.
“Right now the Chinese economy is in a period when we are changing gear. Our economic structure is undergoing a period of pain and we are also in a period when we are absorbing large-scale stimulus packages we rolled out earlier,” he said.
He added, “Now is a ‘new normal’ for China’s economy…[which] means the Chinese economy will be running at a relatively high speed instead of a super-high speed. In the normal economic functions we must also take into consideration factors such as the environment and energy.”
Zhu quoted the Chinese president in suggesting that Beijing’s emissions deal with the United States reflected a new focus on putting the environment ahead of unsustainable economic growth.
“[Chinese] President Xi Jinping attaches great importance to our work on this front…he said we want both clear water and green mountains as well as golden and silver mountains. And if we have to choose between the two, we would rather choose clear water and green mountains over gold and silver,” he said.
China’s pledge to peak total emissions by 2030 and boost the share of non-fossil fuels in its total energy mix to 20 percent has sparked concern among coal exporters, with the G20 urging Japan to apply its lower-emission technologies to coal-fired power stations around the region.
But while Zhu pointed to China’s rapid growth, saying its GDP expansion for 2013 was the equivalent of its entire economy in 1994, he said the nation was attempting to drive structural reform to build “a new model where we are powered more by innovation.”
India to Outpace Rivals
To implement reforms or not — that is the tough question currently facing China’s leadership
The times are changing. China’s economy grew at an annual rate of 7.3% in the third quarter of this year, its slowest pace since the global crisis five years ago, as a slump in its property sector decimated domestic demand and industrial production. Despite signs that the economy will fall short of the annual growth target of 7.5%, top leaders have refrained from unleashing the type of massive stimulus they used to fend off recession in 2009.
Some expect growth to slow more dramatically: New York-based non-profit business and research organization The Conference Board forecasts that China’s annual growth will slow to an average rate of 5.5% between 2015 and 2019, compared with 7.7% last year, and drop further to an average rate of 3.9% between 2020 and 2025.
Most economists and experts agree that China urgently needs structural reforms, but they are divided over whether Beijing should sit tight or go ahead with a major stimulus package. Regardless, China will likely muddle through implementation of reforms whether or not it endures a hard landing: Thanks to the country’s modest level of development, China has more room to expand than Japan did when it faced its own abrupt transition to a low growth era in the 1990s.
Despite similarities between Japan’s past experience and China’s current predicament of unbalanced growth, industrial overcapacity, excessively high property prices and an undercapitalized financial system, China has bigger growth potential and its authoritarian government has a stronger capacity for taking bold and quick action when necessary. The Chinese government owns almost all of the country’s banks, and President Xi Jinping appears determined to implement reforms that should help rein in shadow banking and local government debt while shifting the world’s second-biggest economy away from investment and export-driven demand toward consumption-driven growth.
N Sathiya Moorthy
18 November 2014
Three Chinese naval vessels calling on Sri Lankan ports in over six months - two of them submarines that can only be offensive platforms - and sections of the Indian strategic community is disturbed once again. They are even more concerned about Colombo's purported nonchalance to India's concerns, expressed to visiting Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, brother of the nation's President who was reportedly called in mainly for the purpose a couple of weeks ago.
It's not known if Sri Lanka had informed India about the Chinese naval visits, or if it is required by security protocols or precedents between the two. If not, did Sri Lanka make any effort at concealing/downplaying the Chinese naval visits from India or the rest of the world? Three, does India have reasons to believe that anything secretive might have happened with or on board these vessels that should be of concern, now or later?
If the answers to these questions are convincing, there is no reason for the Indian strategic community to keep talking about the 'China bogey' all the time, as if they could not afford to miss any opportunity to flag it - real and imaginary. India is far away and far ahead from 1962, and they can trust the Indian security apparatus (of which most of them were a part until the day before) to do what is needed under the circumstances. The same may go with truant neighbours, if any.
'Cautious optimism' has been the key to India's military preparedness in dealings, whether with China or Pakistan. Barring the singular fiasco, which is often attributed to mis-judgment and mis-communication on the Indian side, even the 1962 debacle could have been averted in military terms. Or, at least that is what many in the Indian strategic community have come to believe - talk and write about.
If India were to feel threatened by every Chinese movement - political, diplomatic, economic or military, whether land or sea - no Indian can sleep in peace, now or ever. The situation has not reached remotely there. If nothing else, for every sleepless night that Indians might end up having, there will be another - and possibly the same - that every Chinese too would be experiencing, if provoked.
'String of Pearls' and after
November 19, 2014
post-Qadhafi Libya destined to become a “Somalia on the Mediterranean”? Analyst Andrew Engel studies the causative factors in Libya’s failed transition to democracy.
Libya’s post revolutionary transition to democracy was not destined to fail. With the ninth largest oil reserves in the world, Libya was well positioned to develop along the lines of resource-rich Persian Gulf states with similarly small populations. But Libya has become a failed state in what could be a prolonged period of civil war. Fissures have emerged along ethnic, tribal, geographic, and ideological lines against the backdrop of an Islamist versus non-Islamist narrative. Is Libya destined to become a “Somalia on the Mediterranean”?
In this thoroughly documented Washington Institute study, Libya analyst Andrew Engel examines the causative factors of this failure and offers prescriptive recommendations for creating a coordinated, unified political and security strategy to prepare for a worst-case scenario in Libya.
Andrew Engel, a former research assistant at The Washington Institute, received his master’s degree in security studies at Georgetown University and currently works as an Africa analyst. He traveled across Libya after its official liberation.
India’s Look East Policy (LEP) came of age when New Delhi celebrated two decades of engagement by holding the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in November 2012. The first phase of LEP lasted for one decade till 2002 when the then Minister for External Affairs Mr Yashwant Sinha announced the commencement of the second phase. While in the first phase, the emphasis was on political, diplomatic and people to people relationships, improved connectivity and enhanced trade, the second phase revolved around strengthening of economic relations, defence and security cooperation besides strengthening relationships in other areas. During the second phase, though the dominant impulse remained the economic engagement, increasingly the LEP also acquired strategic orientation. The LEP focused not only on the ASEAN members but also expanded to include South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and other countries in the East. Over the two decades, not only has India progressed from a dialogue partner to the present status of a strategic partner in respect of ASEAN but has also established strategic partnerships on bilateral basis with many ASEAN countries and Japan, Australia and South Korea. It can also be said that after 2012, the Indian government continued to work towards what it called the third phase that was termed as an ‘Enhanced LEP’.
In fact, when Modi government took over the reins of power in May this year, it conscientiously continued with the previous government’s policy and the new Minister for External Affairs, Smt Sushma Swaraj termed the new phase as ‘Act East Policy’ which in a sense meant that more substance was to be imparted through early implementation of many elements of the LEP. While the plan to engage ASEAN has been charted out in the ‘Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity (2010-2015)’ announced during the Commemorative Summit of 2012, the Modi administration has been in an overdrive to reach out to all the nations in the wider Pacific region.
Prime Minister Modi’s successful visit to Japan, the India visit of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the visit of China’s President Xi Jinping are seen as high points in the Modi government’s policy towards the wider East Asian region. Japan is also considering joint projects with India in some of the ASEAN countries besides expressing its interest to invest in India’s North East. The level of defence and security cooperation including joint military exercises and co-production and co-development in defence industry is on the cards. India-Japan civil nuclear agreement could not be concluded because of some apprehensions on part of Japan but that aside, the scope of strategic and economic cooperation is expected to follow an upward trajectory.
During the India visit of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, India and Australia signed the much-awaited India Australia Civilian nuclear cooperation agreement that would enable supply of Uranium to India. The successful conclusion of Abbott’s visit is a watershed event in India-Australia relations. Apart from the civilian nuclear deal, Indian companies are also working towards joint energy ventures in Australia. Earlier this month, Modi attended the ASEAN-India and East Asia Summit in Myanmar where he further outlined his plans to revitalise relationships with ASEAN and East Asian countries in both economic and security fields. From Nay Pyi Taw, Modi travelled to Australia for the G-20 Summit where he held bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Abbot to build on the evolving strategic relationship with Australia. In order to expand India’s footprint in Pacific, he visited Fiji after attending the G 20 meet.
SEP 30, 2014
The South China Sea is arguably one of the world’s most dangerous regions, with conflicting diplomatic, legal, and security claims by major and mid-level powers. To assess these disputes, CSIS brought together an international group of experts—from Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam. This volume gathers these experts’ analyses to provide a diverse and wide-ranging set of perspectives on the region and to explore possibilities for future cooperation.
Contributors: Alice Ba, Chu Shulong, Jerome A. Cohen, Patrick M. Cronin, Vu Hai Dang, Alan Dupont, Bonnie S. Glaser, Euan Graham, Bing Bing Jia, Yoji Koda, James Manicom, Charmaine G. Misalucha, Jonathan G. Odom, Phillip C. Saunders, Carlyle A. Thayer
Publisher CSIS/Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN 978-1-4422-4032-2 (pb); 978-1-4422-4033-9 (eBook)
By Koh Swee Lean Collin and Darshana M. Baruah
November 19, 2014
A crewman from the Vietnamese coastguard ship 8003 looks out at sea as Chinese coastguard vessels give chase to Vietnamese ships that came close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the South China Sea, July 15, 2014.
Is there a multilateral mechanism that could manage air and maritime encounters in a tense region?
Tensions in Asia are rising over unresolved territorial disputes and sovereignty issues. In contrast to the immediate post-Cold War period, recent tensions are characterized by the evident proclivity of some, if not all, parties towards the threat or use of limited force. As a much preferred tool of statecraft, maritime platforms tend to be the archetypical instrument for this sort of diplomacy.
The spike in maritime encounters in recent years have largely involved coastguard-type forces in disputed waters of the East and South China Seas. More recently, though, regular naval ships have begun to appear on the scene. Not only do heavily armed warships cast an ominous shadow over the coastguard vessels operating on the frontlines, at times they become involved, for instance by directing fire control radar at opposing military assets in the vicinity. Moreover, these numerous encounters between rival maritime patrols in the regional flashpoints are now being augmented by aerial encounters involving highly capable fighter jets and sophisticated surveillance assets.
The risk of collision, especially in the constrained littorals that characterize the region, has risen as a result of these encounters. The risk is arguably higher in the air – one need only recall what happened to the Chinese J-8 interceptor that crashed after colliding with a U.S. Navy EP-3E reconnaissance aircraft off Hainan Island in April 2001. Dangerous close-proximity aerial and surface maneuvers aside, operational miscalculations prompted by misperceptions of the other party’s intent, fed by endogenous factors such as psychological stress at moments of high tension, may result in an inadvertent resort to force.
The risk rises further still if modern combat systems, characterized by long-range, short response time, high precision, and heavier destructive power are involved. As the stakes in a potential confrontation can be extremely high (involving, for instance, the loss of an entire platform and many of its crew) local commanders may feel compelled to escalate. And should over-zealous local commanders decide to take matters into their own hands, the outcome could be devastating.
November 19, 2014
Inside Islamic State’s oil empire: how captured oilfields fuel Isis insurgency
Islamic State has consolidated its grip on oil supplies in Iraq and now presides over a sophisticated smuggling empire with illegal exports going to Turkey, Jordan and Iran, according to smugglers and Iraqi officials.
Six months after it grabbed vast swaths of territory, the radical militant group is earning millions of dollars a week from its Iraqi oil operations, the US says.Coalition air strikes against tankers and refineries controlled by Isis have merely dented – rather than halted – these exports, it adds.
The militants control around half a dozen oil-producing oilfields. They were quickly able to make them operational and then tapped into established trading networks across northern Iraq, where smuggling has been a fact of life for years. From early July until late October, most of this oil went to Iraqi Kurdistan. The self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate sold oil to Kurdish traders at a major discount. From Kurdistan, the oil was resold to Turkish and Iranian traders. These profits helped Isis pay its burgeoning wages bill: $500 (£320) a month for a fighter, and about $1,200 for a military commander.
The US has pressured Iraqi Kurdistan’s leaders to clamp down on smuggling, with limited success. But oil is still finding its way to Turkey via Syria, with Islamic State deftly switching from one market to another, smugglers say, with cheap crude channelled to Jordan instead. On Monday, a UN panel urged countries neighbouring Iraq and Syria to seize oil trucks that continue to flow out from jihadist-occupied territory.
“We buy an oil tanker carrying around 26 to 28 tonnes [of oil] for $4,200. We sell it in Jordan for $15,000. Each smuggler takes around eight tankers a week,” Sami Khalaf, an oil smuggler and former Iraqi intelligence officer under Saddam Hussein, told the Guardian. Khalaf, who lives in Jordan’s capital, Amman, said smugglers typically paid corrupt border officials $650 to pass through each checkpoint.
Iraqi intelligence officials confirm that Isis uses Anbar province, which shares a border with Jordan, as a major smuggling hub. Isis controls three major oilfields in Iraq – Ajeel, north of Tikrit, Qayara, and Himrin.
One official, based in Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk, said 435 tonnes of crude oil from the Ajeel oilfield in Salahuddin province was recently transported to Anbar. From there it went to Amman. Iraq’s oil ministry spokesman, Asim Jihad, said he was not aware of oil being smuggled to Jordan, but conceded that Isis was still managing to export crude to Turkey via Syria. “We are pressing Turkey to stop this trade because it strengthens Isis,” Jihad said.
In June, US reconnaissance drones flying above northern Iraq spotted large numbers of oil tankers crossing unhindered from Isis areas into the Kurdistan region. At the time, Kurdish peshmerga fighters were facing off against Isis on a new and fragile frontline. American commanders presented Kurdish officials with satellite imagery and pressured them to crack down. US planes destroyed seven tankers, with Iraqi aircraft hitting similar targets last month.
Militants outside an oil refinery in Baiji, north of Baghdad. Isis was quick to make the oilfields it captured operational. Photograph: Uncredited/AP
November 19, 2014
Richard Barrett of The Soufan Group in New York City has produced an excellent 66-page unclassified report on the Islamic State (ISIS) insurgency/terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria.
The report covers the history of ISIS, its Objectives and Ideology , its organization structure and leadership, its military operations, civil administration in the captured territories, the organization’s finances, and perhaps most importantly, the ISIS Media Operations.
The report can be accessed here.
NOV 20, 2014
The Critical Issue of Iran’s Progress in Weapons Research, Development, and Production Capability
It now seems unlikely that the P5+1 countries of the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany can reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran by the end of November. A final agreement remains a possibility, but it seems far more likely that if an agreement is not reached, the negotiations will be extended rather than abandoned all together. The question then arises as to how to judge the outcome of this set of negotiations, be it an actual agreement, an extension, or the collapse of the negotiations.
So far, most analyses of the negotiations have focused on the key features of Iran’s various enrichment efforts and its ability to acquire fissile material. These include:
• The number of centrifuges,
• The development of more advanced centrifuges,
• The level of Uranium enrichment and the size of Iran’s stockpiles,
• The potential use of the new reactor at Arak to produce Plutonium,
• How soon Iran could use any of these to get enough material to produce a nuclear device,
• The extent to which any agreement dealing with all of these issues is enforceable,
• How long an agreement will be in force, and
• The incentives to Iran for reaching an agreement, especially the extent to which UN, US, and EU sanctions will be lifted, and the timing of such action.
Senior Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation
17 November 2014
In recent weeks, there has been a lot of activity taking place in various parts of Pakistan in the name of the abominable, but also ineluctable, Islamic State (IS). Apart from some senior commanders of the Mullah Fazlullah-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction who have announced their allegiance to the IS’ Caliph Ibrahim a.k.a. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, there are reports of other smaller groups of militants who have cast their lot with the pestilential IS. Graffiti and posters of the IS have appeared in Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Bannu, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Wah, Hangu, Kurram, Bhakkar, Dera Ismail Khan and other towns and cities of the country.
While these developments have caused a flutter in the media, official circles are quite nonchalant about the IS’s presence in Pakistan at present, or even its potential for establishing a presence in the future. Despite a classified report of the Balochistan government about the ‘growing footprint’ of IS, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has confidently claimed that the IS doesn’t exist in Pakistan.
Considering that just a few days after Nisar declared that there was no danger of terrorism in Islamabad an attack was launched on Islamabad courts and the city’s vegetable market, he shouldn’t be taken seriously. Although there is no sign of a major presence of the IS in Pakistan, the threat of the IS establishing itself is very real. There are eerie parallels that can be drawn between how the IS is registering its presence in Pakistan with how the Taliban network was established in the country. In the mid-1990s, more so after the Taliban captured Kabul, there were a spate of gangs and groups, especially in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), who declared themselves local representatives or chapters of the Taliban movement.
The sort of graffiti that today proclaims the arrival of the IS had back then done the same for the Taliban. No one had imagined at that time that the Taliban would manage to establish such a robust presence in the country or attract so many fighters, supporters and sympathisers for its cause. More importantly, at that time, hardly anyone outside the liberal fringe in Pakistan believed that the Taliban would be able to occupy the mind space of Pakistanis the way they did. Today, there are people from all walks of life in Pakistan –traders, soldiers, politicians, journalists, doctors, teachers, labourers and techies – who identify with the Taliban. It is therefore not too farfetched to imagine that something similar may happen with the IS, more so given the manner in which this ghoulish outfit has managed to strike resonance among certain sections of Muslims around the world and become a magnet for them, much more than the Taliban or their predecessors in Afghanistan had managed to do ever since violent jihad became fashionable.
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. – While there might not be any American combat boots on the ground in Syria, dozens of manned and unmanned aircraft dot the skies above gathering video and other types of intelligence about the movement of Islamic State militants. The images collected by those aircraft are streamed by satellites in near real-time thousands of miles away to Langley Air Force Base in southern Virginia.
Marcus Weisgerber is the global business reporter for Defense One covering the intersection of business and national security. Previously, Marcus was the senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, an international newspaper that focuses on military procurement and operations, for nearly four ... Full Bio Here in a dimly lit room about the half the size of a football field, airmen — some not even old enough to legally drink alcohol — stare at computer screens interpreting people’s movements and producing intelligence reports that could ultimately be read by President Barack Obama. And without those soldiers on the ground in Syria and Iraq providing context, it’s largely up to these intelligence analysts to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys.
“If you’re looking at the ground and you’re watching folks moving on the ground, to tell a Shia from a Sunni is pretty hard to do,” Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, said Monday. “Unless ISIS is actually flying a flag that says ‘ISIS’ across the top of it, then it’s sometimes more difficult to tell … where those folks fit on whether they’re combatants or not.”
With no ground forces to identify targets for air strikes, the airmen here at the 480th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing headquarters, have to process information quickly and accurately, said Col. Timothy Haugh, the unit’s commander. In Afghanistan, for example, a ground commander brings context to pictures gathered from the sky. So if an intel analyst has a question, he or she could give a call to a colleague on the ground for clarification.
Posted by Strategic Studies at 00:14
November 19, 2014: The fighting in Ukraine found the Ukrainian Army lacking many combat support services. These were never abundant during the Soviet period because the Soviets did not believe in a lot of that. Not much money was spent on such things after Ukraine became independent in 1991. When the Russian aggression began in early 2014 many civilian organizations formed, often spontaneously, to provide needed support for Ukrainian troops sent to fight. One of the biggest of these aid groups was “Help the frontline.” This group was founded by Ukrainian patriots (and Maidan activists who had recently ousted the pro-Russian government) from Lugansk. This was one of two major cities controlled by “separatists” in Donbas. The organizers met on Facebook. It began with a request for help to transport a power generator to the frontline troops. A larger organization grew from that seemingly trivial event. That is how many other volunteer organizations were founded so it was not really that unusual. Social networks on the Internet made it happen faster.
Similar groups soon formed to carry out a wide range of activities. Using cell phones and the Internet, the volunteers get information about what the troops need from local commanders or the troops themselves and then seek ways to implement the requests. One area where the volunteers were quickly effective was in medical care. The hospitals near front line always had problems with a lack of supplies. When a lot of wounded soldiers and civilians began showing up one thing the volunteers were able to deal with was the need for more sheets. They did this by collecting used sheets and delivering them to the hospitals. Clean sheets were needed in large quantities because of all the casualties. The hospitals nearest all the fighting were only able to provide basic medical treatment before the badly wounded could be moved to other hospitals for more advanced care. Volunteers often helped with transport and looking after the wounded while they were being moved.
Volunteers also helped house and feed reservists further west while they trained to regain (or obtain) combat skills. Soon there were “Help The Troops” groups forming throughout Ukraine and these were often ready to handle any problem the soldiers were having. Given the shabby shape the military was in, after two decades of low budgets, there was a lot of take care to ready troops for combat. The one thing the volunteers could not help with was obtaining weapons and ammunition, but some volunteers were expert mechanics or even with experience maintaining firearms. These experts helped get a lot of weapons in shape.
One of the least talked about volunteer tasks was helping negotiations for the release of captured soldiers, often in exchange for captured rebels and Russian soldiers. This is really delicate work and there were a number of volunteers, especially ethnic Russians, who stepped in and helped make things happen.
Posted by Strategic Studies at 00:10
by Hari Bansh Jha
The recently established New Development Bank (NDB) by BRICS member countries and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) by 21-member Asian countries with their headquarters in China herald a shift in economic power from the West to the East. It is speculated that these two monetary institutions would dwarf the size of West-supported World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Only time will tell how NDB and AIIB emerge as alternative source of funding in the international financial market. But it has almost become certain that the era of West's control over the international financial resources has started eroding.
The first jolt to the international financial institutions like the WB and IMF was exhibited when the five BRICS countries, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa made an agreement for the establishment of the long awaited NDB with its headquarters in Shanghai, China in July 2014. NDB would have capital of $100 billion. Lending from this bank will start in 2016. China would contribute $41 billion in this bank; while India, Russia, Brazil each would pay $18 billion and South Africa would pay $ 5 billion.
Need for the creation of NDB was felt because of the discriminatory attitude of the West towards the developing countries. The BRICS member countries accounting for almost half of the world's population and about one-fifth of global economic output have only 11 per cent of the votes at international financial institution like the IMF. Both the WB and the IMF are based on weighted voting system, which provide the rich countries a big say in the management. There are informal arrangements whereby the American is always at the top in the WB; while the European is in top position in IMF. In those monetary institutions, the developing countries don't have enough voting rights.
Expectation is that the NDB with its total capital of $100 billion would meet short term liquidity requirement of the member countries. An effort has been made to avoid China's dominance on the bank; for which India is made president of the bank for the first six years and after this Brazil and Russia would have turns with five years each.
Posted by Strategic Studies at 00:05