28 November 2014

Opening in the Valley

Written by H S Panag | Posted: November 28, 2014 1

THE high voter turnout in the first phase of elections in Jammu and Kashmir is hopefully indicative of the trend and provides a great opportunity for the Centre and the incoming state government to revamp political and military strategy. But military strategy must flow out of political strategy and not vice versa.

Two recent cases have put AFSPA back in the firing line. Earlier this month, two civilians were killed when soldiers fired at their car — a clear overreaction — when it failed to stop at a roadblock in Budgam. The GOC-in-C, Northern Command, has since apologised for the incident and a court of inquiry has indicted nine soldiers, recommending court martial proceedings.

Also, the court martial in the Machil case of April 2010 was concluded this September, though it only made headlines in November. Five army personnel, including the commanding officer of the unit, were cashiered or dismissed from service and awarded life imprisonment. The media coverage has implied that these cases are special, that most past instances of human rights violations have been brushed under the carpet by invoking AFSPA. But in fact, over the years, more than a hundred court martials have been held by the army in cases of human rights violations, with sentences ranging from dismissal to life imprisonment. The army’s track record in investigating and punishing human rights violations has been exemplary.

The Machil encounter was an open-and-shut case of rogue behaviour. By the end of May 2010, investigations had prima facie established that it was fake. This led to violent protests, to which security forces had to respond, which led to yet more violent protests — 112 civilians died between June and September. After initial denials, the army ordered a court of inquiry. By the end of December 2010, it was concluded that the case warranted disciplinary action against the accused. This delay was a serious lapse on the part of the brigade and division commanders. Most senior commanders can tell if an encounter is genuine. Its circumstances, the number of rounds fired, casualties, the type/ condition of weapons recovered, police and intelligence reports and press coverage leave little room for doubt. In Machil, the unit stood by its story, but the higher commanders were also complicit in trying to safeguard the reputation of the unit, the formation and the army.

Unfriendly neighbour - Stronger rule in Delhi has not changed Pakistan's attitude

Kanwal Sibal

With a tougher leader and a stronger government in Delhi, it would have been normal for our neighbours to examine whether they needed to review their India-related policies. In a positive scenario for us, we could have expected them to seek a better understanding with us, work to build greater trust, show more receptivity for our sensitivities, take greater cognizance of our security interests and avoid provocations that could invite a more robust response from a more self-confident government.

One could have also thought that, with the increased international attention that the Narendra Modi government was getting, the rising interest in the Indian market because of the prime minister's business-friendly credentials and the likelihood of the reforms process gaining momentum under his leadership, they would think of promoting greater economic links with India.

They might have concluded, too, that the Indian prime minister is very pragmatic in his thinking, that he wants good relations with all major countries irrespective of outstanding problems, including with China, and that this all-round bridge-building might require them to reassess whether they had the same external cards to play against India as in the past.

In actual fact, early signs are that in spite of the Modi government's emphasis on good-neighbourly ties and gestures in reaching out to our neighbours, not all of them are redefining their approach towards India. Pakistan, of course, stands out as a prime example of this and signals from Sri Lanka are not comforting.

Pakistan is a unique case. Unless it ceases to think that its national mission is to counter India with all means, including terrorism, our differences will defy reasonable solutions. Even now there is no sign that Pakistan has changed its basic thinking towards India. It continues to harp on Kashmir, feeling no need to rethink its sterile position even after 67 years. It is undeterred by the loss of Western support on the issue. The end of the Cold War changed the contours of international relations, but not those of India-Pakistan relations.

An Indian scholar dies in Oxford

Rudrangshu Mukherjee

Tapan Raychaudhuri


Tapan Raychaudhuri died peacefully in Oxford on the night of Wednesday, November 26. He was born in 1926 in Barisal in what is now Bangladesh. He will be mourned across the globe by his many students, his admirers and by all those who enjoyed his and his wife Hashi's outstanding hospitality and affection. The word 'affection' is used advisedly, since the Raychaudhuris in Oxford took under their wing innumerable students, visitors and their families from South Asia. Their home became a haven of fun, stories and good food.

The mourning will go beyond the level of personal memories and recollections because Tapan da - and this is how he was fondly known across generations - was a pioneering historian whose contributions to the writing of modern Indian history straddled various aspects of history.

Raychaudhuri was a legendary student of his generation. He joined Presidency College as an undergraduate in the 1940s and was taught by Sushobhan Sarkar. He finished his MA from the University of Calcutta and then went on to do his doctorate with Jadunath Sarkar. He was only 23 years old when he finished his PhD and this work was to become his first book, Bengal under Akbar and Jahangir. After teaching in Islamia College (now Maulana Azad College), he won a scholarship to go to Oxford where he did a second doctorate from Balliol College. This work was on the trade of the Dutch East India Company and was later published as Jan Company in Coromandel. For his first doctorate Raychaudhuri had taught himself Persian and for the second he learnt Dutch.

His interest in economic history continued after his return to India. He was a key figure in setting up the journal, Indian Economic and Social History Review. He taught economic history at the Delhi School of Economics and in the department of history of Delhi University. He edited with Irfan Habib the first volume of the Cambridge Economic History of India. In the 1980s, his interests shifted to the history of emotions and perceptions in 19th- and 20th-century Bengal. It was a massive project that began with a study of the ideas regarding Europe of certain key men of letters in Bengal. This was published as Europe Reconsidered.

Modi, US and Indian Interests


By Bharat Karnad

Published: 28th November 2014 
Banner headlines and over-the-top television anchors gushing about US president Barack Obama accepting prime minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to be chief guest at the 2015 Republic Day celebrations and frenzied prognostications of what this means for bilateral relations, etc. reveals the Indian media’s and the middle class’ gaga attitude to anything American and, in a nutshell, the problem India has in dealing with the United States. Circus is not conducive to diplomacy, which is precisely what visits by US presidents to this country turn out to be when not diplomatic eye candy.

It is usually domestically beleaguered US presidents who jump at such visits. George W Bush came hither in March 2006 when his star was on the wane, his failed military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan daily eroding his political standing in Washington. With a resurgent Republican Party and the Obama administration in second term funk, the US president needs a foreign policy bump to up his domestic ratings. So, what’s better than visiting “extraordinary” India guaranteed to capture the eyeballs at home?

Modi showed during his Madison Square Garden show that he had the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in the US massively behind him and can, if he chooses to, influence their vote for the Democratic or Republican Party in US elections. This is a completely new phenomenon—the power of the NRIs to push Indian national interest in Western countries, something Modi long ago discovered as Gujarat chief minister. Foreign leaders such as Tony Abbott in Australia are however only now beginning to grasp the importance of cultivating Modi, as did the phalanx of American legislators lining the stage at the New York event that it is not just good foreign policy theatre but courting the wealthy Indian-origin community makes domestic electoral sense.

U.S. plays hardball with India on nuclear deal



As nuclear negotiators and technical experts travel to India next week, the U.S. is taking a tough position on negotiations for the civil nuclear deal and putting the ball firmly in the Indian government’s court.

“India needs to come up with a solution that is workable for the companies to have a viable opportunity to work in India,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal, speaking to The Hindu in her first comments since the announcement of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India as the Republic Day chief guest.

Asked if a breakthrough was possible ahead of Mr. Obama’s visit, Ms. Biswal said, “I see there is a lot of hard work ahead and I would not be sanguine about announcing any early breakthrough. What is required right now is not a lot of unrealistic expectations.”

India and the U.S. negotiators have been in a logjam over operationalising the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear deal of 2008, with objections from the U.S. mainly on the issue of liability to nuclear suppliers under India’s supplier’s liability law. In 2009, India even allocated two locations in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh for the U.S. companies Westinghouse and GE. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S. in September, he and Mr. Obama agreed to set up a ‘contact group’ to work through the differences, and even named both private U.S. companies in their joint statement, hoping to “advance dialogue to discuss all implementation issues … for nuclear parks including power plants with Westinghouse and GE-Hitachi technology.”

An economic case for curbs on carbon growth



The HinduENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY: A modest change in lifestyle could help reduce carbon emissions. Picture shows passengers in the Delhi Metro.

For India to reduce its carbon emissions, an increase in ‘survival’ emissions for the basic needs of the poor will have to be matched by a reduction in ‘luxury’ emissions from the wealthy

Recently in Beijing, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping made a surprising announcement about the U.S.-China agreement on climate change. As per the agreement, the U.S. would reduce its CO emissions by 26-28 per cent from the 2005 levels by 2025. China agreed to peak its emissions by 2030 and increase the share of non-fossil sources in primary energy to about 20 per cent by 2030.

Based on the agreement, the U.S.’s carbon dioxide emissions would be about 4,500 million tonnes in 2030, about 12-13 tonnes per capita. China’s present CO emissions are 9,000 million tonnes and are expected to reach about 18,000-20,000 million tonnes in 2030, or about 12-13 tonnes per capita. It is important to note that there is convergence of per capita emissions for the U.S. and China by 2030.

According to Meinshausen et al. in Nature, if, between 2000-2050, emissions are limited to 1,000 billion tonnes CO on a cumulative basis, then there is a 25 per cent chance of warming exceeding 2°C. Given this scenario, these commitments are far lower than what is required and much lower than what they may be capable of in order to have any chance of meeting the 2°C lakshman rekha.The Indian position

This agreement turns the focus on India. Even though India is the world’s third largest CO emitter, it is third by a distance, with just 6 per cent of the total emissions. India’s present emissions are about 2,000 million tonnes, 1.5 tonnes per capita, well below the U.S. and China. Even under robust growth scenario assumptions, India’s emissions in 2030 are expected to be about 4,000 to 5,000 million tonnes, about 3-4 tonnes per capita. Hence, it is clear that our per capita emissions in 2030 would still be well below that of the U.S. and China.

Israel says it busted Hamas cell planning attacks

Nov 27, 2014

While the Islamic militant group Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, the West Bank is run by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

JERUSALEM: Israel's Shin Bet security service said Thursday it had uncovered a vast Hamas network in the West Bank that was planning large-scale attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem. 

The Shin Bet said it arrested more than 30 Hamas militants who planned to kidnap Israelis and carry out attacks against Jerusalem's light rail and its largest soccer stadium, among other targets. It said the men were trained and recruited in Jordan and Turkey and that various arms and explosives were recovered. 

While the Islamic militant group Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, the West Bank is run by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

The arrests come amid Israel's worst sustained bout of violence in nearly a decade. Eleven Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks over the past month, including five people who were killed with guns and meat cleavers in a bloody assault on a Jerusalem synagogue last week. Most of the violence has occurred in Jerusalem, along with deadly attacks in Tel Aviv and the West Bank. 

Hamas did not immediately comment on the arrests. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the Shin Bet for thwarting the attacks, saying that if carried out they could have exacted a heavy casualty toll. 

"This is one operation that has been published but there are many more that remain secret,'' he said of Israel's intelligence work. "These foiling activities are against terrorists and against Hamas, which challenges the existence of a Jewish nation-state and the existence of Jews in general.'' 

Israel battled Hamas militants in Gaza during a 50-day war last summer. On Thursday, the Israeli military said an army vehicle patrolling the border fence came under fire from Gaza. It said Israeli forces fired back at the source of the gunfire. There were no injuries on the Israeli side, and no immediate comment from officials in Gaza.

Over 100 dead in clashes in Sudan's Kordofan: Tribes

Nov 28, 2014

Military personnel patrol in Tabit village in North Darfur. (Reuters Photo)

KHARTOUM: More than 100 people have been killed in several days of fighting between two clans in Sudan's oil-rich West Kordofan region, tribal leaders told AFP on Thursday. 

The clashes started on Sunday over a land dispute between two sub-groups of the powerful Misseriya tribe in Al-Quwik area near the border with South Sudan. 

The fighting between the Zioud and the Awlad Amran groups left 133 people dead, the head of the Misseriya, Mokhtar Babo Nimir, told AFP. 

Babo Nimir did not know how many people had been wounded but said the figure was "high". 

Both sides were using heavy machine guns in the clashes, which were still raging on Thursday, a second tribal leader in the area said. 

"Until this evening there are no government troops on the ground to separate the fighters and more than 100 have been killed from both sides," said the leader, whose clan was not involved in the clashes. 

The Misseriya is one of the biggest Arab tribes in Kordofan, and its clans are mostly nomadic cattle herders. 

Sudan's government armed the Misseriya and other groups during the country's 22-year civil war which ended in 2005 and led to South Sudan's separation. 

The division of the country saw Juba take most of the country's oil production, and left West Kordofan as the main oil-producing region in Sudan.

Taliban kill 5 in Kabul in attacks on British embassy car, foreign compound

Nov 28, 2014

Police officers keep watch at the site of an incident in Kabul. (Reuters Photo)

KABUL: The Taliban bombed a British embassy vehicle in the Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday morning, killing five people, and attacked a foreign compound in the city centre in the evening, officials and witnesses said. 

The suicide attack on the British embassy car in the east of the Afghan capital killed two embassy workers including one Briton and wounded more than 30 others in the vicinity of the explosion, officials said. 

The second blast, targeting a compound run by a contractor for the US aid agency in Afghanistan, shook buildings in the diplomatic quarter and was followed by an hour-long gun battle between insurgents and Afghan security forces. 

One foreign national was injured and two suicide bombers were killed in the second attack, which started when a car loaded with explosives detonated outside the guesthouse just after 7pm, according to security officials. 

"There are no casualties among the Afghan security forces and the foreigners are in a safe room," said the commander of 111 Military Corps Kabul, Qadam Shah Shaheem. 

A Western security official said the explosion failed to breach the compound walls, which were well fortified. 

Thursday's incidents were the latest in a wave of bombings to hit the city as the majority of foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of the year. 

Taliban insurgents, who were ousted from power by a US-led coalition in 2001, claimed responsibility for both attacks, saying the embassy car bomb "targeted foreign invading forces", while the compound was an "important centre of the enemy". 

Attacks aimed at foreign diplomats and civilians are less common than the daily strikes against Afghan and international military forces on the country's roads. 

More than 4,600 Afghan police and army personnel have been killed in the war against the Taliban since the start of the year, a figure recently described by a top U.S. general in Afghanistan as unsustainably high. 

British citizen killed 

Britain said that two embassy personnel, including one British national who worked in security, were among the five killed. 

"I am deeply saddened to confirm that a British national civilian security team member and an Afghan national working for the embassy were killed in the incident," foreign secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement, adding that another Briton had been injured. 

A Reuters witness saw at least one survivor being led away from the charred shell of the vehicle on foot by a member of the British security force. 

G4S, the world's biggest security firm, later confirmed one of its staff had been killed in the blast and another injured. 

"Next of kin have been informed and we will continue to provide them with support," a company spokesperson said. 

PV Narasimha Rao reinvented India – so why is he the forgotten man?

Kapil Komireddi
May 19, 2012

PLO leader Yasser Arafat with Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao, centre, in New Delhi in 1980. Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Consider the view from New Delhi at the beginning of the previous century's final decade. In 1991 India was a nation of 843 million people and five million telephone lines. A billion dollars separated it from bankruptcy. The Indian map had rarely looked so vulnerable to another cartographic revision. If the flames of separatism in Punjab seemed to be simmering, the secessionist strife in Kashmir was just peaking. Hindu nationalists, a fringe force in Indian politics a mere decade ago, now occupied the bulk of opposition seats in parliament, poised to banish the secularism that had been the foundational basis of Indian nationalism.

India was holding its 10th general election against this backdrop, and it was turning out to be the most violent in the country's history. Eight hundred people had already been killed in political clashes when, on May 21, a suicide bomber assassinated Rajiv Gandhi - unfurling a fresh cycle of bloodshed and renewing questions about India's ability to survive as a nation.

Beyond its own imperilled borders, India's guardian and lodestar, the USSR, was lurching towards disintegration. Moscow shielded India from international criticism for its repression in Kashmir, maintained a crucial $6 billion trade relationship, and supplied defence equipment in exchange for goods. For a generation of Indians, the Soviet Union's demise upended the certitudes of a lifetime. Visiting India at this time, Ved Mehta felt "a sense of dread about the economic, political and religious direction of the country which I don't remember encountering in any of my other visits over the past 25 years".

The barren rhetoric of economic self-reliance and political nonalignment could no longer mask India's deep decay. Here, after all, was a colossus of a country that forced its enterprising citizens to wait three years to import a computer. How then did India retreat from the threshold of collapse to reform itself and emerge, by the start of the 21st century, wealthier and more powerful than at any point in its history?

It is now de rigueur to credit prime minister Manmohan Singh, who was then finance minister, with India's phenomenal transformation. But in a country where economic isolation was an inviolable ideological axiom, reorienting India to flourish in the new world was a distinctly political challenge. Singh was then, and is now, a competent but essentially voiceless bureaucrat, not a politician. He merits as much credit for rehabilitating India in the 1990s as he deserves blame for its failures today.

Don’t Tell Me We Lost The War In Afghanistan

November 24, 2014

You may say we didn’t win in Afghanistan, but you’ll never hear me say we lost.

There seems to be a fickle measure of success when it comes to the discussion of whether we won or lost the war in Afghanistan. With six weeks remaining until the official end of major U.S. combat operations, the popular talking point among some is that the war in Afghanistan was lost. While President Barack Obama has announced a nearly 10,000 service-member contingent will remain to train Afghan forces, many have dismissed the 13-year war as a failed, listless expedition.

In today’s hyper-politicized world, we love to have a strict declaration of a winner or loser. Members of both political spectrums constantly have their daggers at the ready when it comes to affixing blame as to “why we lost.” Ask a Democrat and he’ll tell you that the Bush administration never fully supported a clear cut Afghanistan policy and it was just a rest stop on the way to the war in Iraq. Ask a Republican and he’ll tell you that Obama was against the war from the beginning and never allowed the troops to take the gloves off and truly take the fight to the enemy. It is nothing more than a constant barrage of fingerpointing without truly looking at what has been accomplished.

The 27 months I spent in Afghanistan beginning in 2007 never felt like I was deployed in support of a losing effort. Granted, my first tour was marked by long periods spent manning a desk in a tactical operations center. Yet, I would watch as my buddies from advanced individual training were tasked with liberating Taliban-held territory in southern Afghanistan. Over beers and wings back in North Carolina, I would sit and listen to them talk about “the Moose,” known to the rest of the world as the town of Musa Qala, and how it took less than three days to dislodge a Taliban force there that had nearly two years to prepare for an assault. When President George W. Bush attended our division’s pass and review ceremony in 2008, he highlighted that specific operation as just one example of our unit’s prowess and success.

Warplanes: Russia Comes Through For Pakistan

November 26, 2014: Russia has agreed to sell Pakistan up to twenty Mi-35 helicopter gunships. Mi-35 is the export version of the most recent version of the Mi-24 helicopter gunship. This is a twelve ton helicopter gunship that also has a cargo area that can hold up to eight people or four stretchers. The Mi-24/35 can carry rockets, missiles bombs, and automatic cannon. It is used by over thirty countries and has a pretty good reputation for reliability. The design is based on the 1960s era Mi-8 transport helicopter. 

For several years Pakistan has been seeking more helicopter gunships, in particular it wanted some new helicopters rather than used stuff to supplement, and replace the 35 American AH-1S and AH-1F gunships it already has. Over ten percent of these have been lost in the last few years in the tribal territories where helicopter gunships are badly needed, heavily used and frequently shot at. 

For years Pakistan tried to obtain the 6.6 ton AH-1W model from the United States. This would have been a major upgrade for the Pakistani helicopter gunship force. Developed by the U.S. Marine Corps the W model was configured for naval use, and has two engines and protection against sea water corrosion. Like the AH-1F model used by Pakistan, the AH-1W has a crew of two and is armed with a 20mm, 3 barrel, autocannon (with 750 rounds) and can carry eight TOW missiles or 38 70mm unguided rockets. Typical sorties last about three hours (twice that of the AH-1F). The Pakistanis are also equipping their gunships with night vision (thermal imaging) equipment. 

The U.S. refused to supply Pakistan with the W model or any other modern versions. This included the more recent AH-1Z. That was because the U.S. wanted Pakistan to be more cooperative in dealing with Islamic terrorism. The Pakistanis repeatedly refused and have pretty much given up on getting more AH-1s from the United States. Meanwhile Pakistan sought other helicopter gunships from China (WZ-10), Turkey (T-129) and Russia (Mi-35) as well as heavily armed commercial helicopters equipped with electronics similar to those used on gunships. None of these other options seemed to be working until Russia came through with the Mi-35s. Part of the problem is that Pakistan has little cash to spend on new or used helicopter gunships and is hoping for a gift, or big discount from someone. There’s not a lot of that around for Pakistan, which provides sanctuary to Islamic terrorists who are hostile to all the nations that could provide new helicopters. 

Another problem with Russia is that India is their largest export customer for weapons. But India is becoming disillusioned with Russia as a weapons supplier. Late deliveries, quality problems and inadequate support are all complaints that India finds Russia has no solutions for. So Russia apparently feels free to sell to India’s archenemy Pakistan. After all, Russia has long been the major weapons supplier to the other Indian archenemy; China.

Pak's unending proxy war

Gurmeet Kanwal, 
Nov 26, 2014, DHNS

Sartaj Aziz, foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said recently that terrorists who do not threaten Pakistan’s security should not be targeted. It is the clearest indication yet that Pakistan’s quarter century old ‘proxy war’ against India will continue.

In a carefully drawn up strategy to bleed India through a thousand cuts, Pakistan launched a proxy war against India in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in 1989. During these 25 years, the insurgency has waxed and waned, but has shown no signs of abating completely. Its remaining roots are now in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). On its part, the Indian government has been remiss in allowing the challenge in J&K to linger on and not treating it with the urgency and sensitivity that it merits.

The first militant outfit to be supported by the Pakistan army and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) and given shelter in POK was the Hizbul Mujahideen that comprises Kashmiri youth and is closely affiliated with Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami. It is led by Syed Salahuddin, who had been defeated in the rigged election to the J&K Assembly in 1987. Since then, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), all Pakistani terrorist organisations, have acted as the ‘strategic assets’ and the sword arms of the ISI.

Pakistan has been inciting the disaffected youth of J&K to rise against the Indian state. Despite the ceasefire on the LoC since November 2003 and the efforts at rapprochement, the ISI continues to sponsor infiltration across the LoC and coordinate the launching of terrorist strikes. Pakistan’s official position has always been that it provides only diplomatic, political and moral support to Kashmiri ‘freedom fighters’. However, it is now internationally accepted that the ISI has been providing training, weapons, military equipment, ammunition and explosives and financial support to the terrorists, besides aiding infiltration attempts by engaging Indian army posts with artillery and small arms fire.

In the first few years of militancy in the Kashmir Valley, the militants had received local sympathy due to the people's perceived grievances against India. The Kashmiri people were soon disillusioned by the brutal and un-Islamic terror tactics of the so-called mujahideen. The leadership soon passed into the hands of international mercenary terrorists from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Turkey and even Bosnia. They had everything else but jihad on their minds. They exploited the power of the Kalashnikov to indulge in extortion, drinking orgies, forced weddings and even rape.

Ethnic cleansing

Chinese Media: 115 Terror Cells Eliminated in Xinjiang

November 26, 2014
Chinese media laud the successes of the anti-terrorism crackdown that began in May. 

Chinese media are lauding the results of the first six months of a year-long campaign to crack down on terrorism. The campaign touts “extremely tough measures and extraordinary methods” – methods some activists say are harming the rights of ordinary Uyghurs in the region.

In late April, Xi Jinping urged a “strike-first” strategy against terrorists during an inspection tour of Xinjiang province. Only a few days later, a bombing at a railway station in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, sparked an even more urgent official response, leading to the announcement of a year-long anti-terror crackdown in late May. According to Chinese media reports, the crackdown specifically targeted four groups: those who use the Internet to disseminate terrorist videos or materials calling for holy war; key figures involved in terrorism and religious extremism; those who have been charged multiple times with lighter crimes relating to public security or violence; and those who join terrorist or religious extremist groups beginning in 2014. The crackdown will run through June 2015.

According to China Daily, state media in Xinjiang are reporting that 115 terrorist cells have been eliminated since the crackdown began. Around 40 percent of those cells “were found through the clues that authorities got during intensive inquests of detained suspects,” China Daily reported, citing officials in Xinjiang’s anti-terrorism office.

Most of the cases outlined in the report don’t involve actual terrorist attacks or even the planning of attacks. Instead, Chinese media describes shutting down 171 “religious training sites” and detaining 238 people responsible for arranging “training facilities.” An additional 294 cases involved “the distribution of violent audiovisual materials.” The Chinese government stresses the role Internet videos play in the recruitment and training of terrorists. By more strictly policing the spread of extremist materials, China hopes to prevent terrorist attacks before they start. Indeed, Xinjiang media boasted that its security measures had the effect of “stopping most terrorist attacks before they could be undertaken.”

Such preemptive measures, however, lead to the potential problem of casting the net too wide and bringing in ordinary Uyghurs. The Xinjiang government has already been accused of banning traditional Muslim practices (including fasting during Ramadan and, in one city, the wearing of headscarves) in an apparent conflation of Islam and radical extremism.

SAARC Summit: China’s role will be keenly watched by the South Asian countries

By Srikanth Kondapalli
November 26, 2014

While the 18th SAARC summit meeting at Kathmandu on November 26-27 is focused on regional integration and counter-terrorism, China’s behind-the-scenes role will be keenly watched by the South Asian countries.

China had become an observer at the Dacca summit meeting in 2005 pushed through by Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh but resisted by India, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Maldives.

Several Chinese have cited geographical contiguity, trade and political interactions, historical links to the region as the basis for the membership desire in the SAARC. It attended four summits so far. While China raised this issue in 2008 and 2010 summit meetings, the 2011 Addu Summit insisted that “institutionalisation process” and firming up of the SAARC identity should first take place before the membership is opened further.

China had proposed the SAARC+1 (China) initiative much in the format of the ASEAN+3 (China, Japan and South Korea). China’s ancient strategy of hexiao kongda [cooperate with the small countries to counter the big] had been implemented in South Asia to counter India. With the Silk Road initiative, while China had been suggesting to its economic/commercial nature, apprehensions still remain in New Delhi about China’s meddling in the region.

China had sent its foreign minister to attend the 14th summit meeting at New Delhi in 2007. For the rest of the other summit meetings, it had sent only a junior minister. China’s officials steered away from controversy, however, by raising soft issues such as poverty alleviation, disaster relief, training programmes in human resources development, infrastructure and energy, and hosting seminars.

China today is the largest trading partners for many a South Asian country. It has a free trade arrangement with its “all-weather” friend Pakistan and about to conclude similar treaty with Sri Lanka. China’s trade with South Asia has increased substantially from $5.7 billion in 2000 to $93 billion in 2012, with China’s imports from the region increasing from $ 1.9 billion in 2000 to $ 22.6 billion in 2012. However, more than half of China’s trade with SAARC countries is with India – in 2013 reaching to $66 billion.

To promote trade with SAARC, China is showcasing Yunnan rather than restive Xinjiang. The China-South Asia Business Forum was established in 2004 with the initial meeting focusing on “Communication, Cooperation, Development and Mutual Benefits” in December that year at Kunming.

BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Challenge U.S. Global Dominance

November 24, 2014

United States military aggression globally is stimulating the creation of a new international economic order that could serve as a viable alternative to the present Western-dominated version. Washington’s surrounding of both Russia and China with military bases and warships, its severe economic sanctions against Russia and Iran (a close Russian ally), and its attacks on Syria (a Russian and Iranian ally) are accelerating the consolidation of the BRICS country alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), as well as the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that now includes about half of the world’s population.

In May, BRICS members Russia (the world’s biggest energy producer) and China (the world’s biggest energy consumer) signed a $400 billion energy agreement in which Gazprom, the large Russian state energy company, agreed to supply China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with 3.75 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas a day for 30 years. That equals a quarter of Russia’s huge gas exports to Europe.

Crucially, the gas deal was sealed in yuan and rubles, which worries the U.S. Most oil and gas trade happens in U.S. dollars and the requirement for countries to stock U.S. currency to pay for energy gives the U.S. enormous economic power. The Russia–China energy deal is a significant—and very intentional—step away from this setup. As Pepe Escobar, correspondent for Asia Times, put it in one article,

“Russian President Vladimir Putin and [Chinese President Xi Jinping]… are scaring the hell out of the ‘Empire of Chaos.’ No wonder; their number one shared priority is to dent the hegemony of the U.S. dollar—and especially the petrodollar—in the global financial system.”

Escobar remarked the deal creates a “tectonic shift,” with Asia’s vast pipeline network, “intersecting with a growing Sino-Russian political-economic-energy partnership. Along with it goes the future possibility of a push, led again by China and Russia, toward a new international reserve currency—actually a basket of currencies—that would supersede the dollar.”

Peter Koenig, an economist and former employee (of 30 years) of the U.S.-dominated World Ba

No, Russia and China Aren’t Teaming Up Against America

The odd couple of totalitarian regimes is less powerful than you think

In mid-November, Russian defense minister Sergey Shoigu flew to Beijing for high-level military talks. Shoigu was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan to discuss “current issues of international and regional security and bilateral military and military-technical cooperation,” according to the Russian Tass news agency.
At the top of the list was almost certainly America’s “pivot” to Asia and how Russia and China—two of Asia’s biggest military powers—might counter the any increase in American troops and weaponry in the region.

The prospect of a Russian-Chinese axis might sound scary to Westerners. But it’s not, really. Russia and China are both weaker than they appear. And they have as many reasons to compete as they do to cooperate.

And even if they do get along, the combined military power of Russia and China combined is only slightly more formidable than either country going to war separately.

Chinese and Russian mechanized infantry train together. Photo via Chinese Internet. At top—Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese premier Xi Jinping. AP photo/How Hwee Young

Two not-so-great powers

China and Russia spend much less on their militaries than the United States does on its own. China spent $188.4 billion on defense in 2013, while Russia spent $87.8 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Combined, both countries spent less than half the $640 billion the U.S. did that same year.

Russia has 845,000 men and women under arms, 2,750 main battle tanks, 1,500 combat aircraft, nearly 400 military helicopters and 82 combat vessels, including surface warships and submarines.

Can China’s Silk Road Vision Coexist with a Eurasian Union?

By Chris Rickleton
25 November 2014

This article was originally published by Eurasianet.org on 12 November, 2014.

There is a good chance that economic jockeying between China and Russia in Central Asia will intensify in the coming months. For Russia, Chinese economic expansion could put a crimp in President Vladimir Putin’s grand plan for the Eurasian Economic Union.

Putin has turned to China in recent months, counting on Beijing to pick up a good portion of the trade slack created by the rapid deterioration of economic and political relations between Russia and the West. Beijing for the most part has obliged Putin, especially when it comes to energy imports. But the simmering economic rivalry in Central Asia could create a quandary for bilateral relations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping elaborated on Beijing’s expansion plans, dubbed the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, prior to this year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which concluded November 12. The plan calls for China to flood Central Asia with tens of billions of dollars in investment with the aim of opening up regional trade. Specifically, Xi announced the creation of a $40-billion fund to develop infrastructure in neighboring countries, including the Central Asian states beyond China’s westernmost Xinjiang Province.

47 Seconds From Hell: A Challenge To Navy Doctrine

November 21, 2014 

WASHINGTON: Someone shoots a cruise missile at you. How far away would you like to stop it: over 200 miles out or less than 35?

If you answered “over 200,” congratulations, you’re thinking like the US Navy, which has spent billions of dollars over decades to develop ever more sophisticated anti-missile defenses. According to Bryan Clark, until 12 months ago a top advisor to the nation’s top admiral, you and the Navy are wrong.

Buying small numbers of relatively large, long-ranged, expensive interceptors like the SM-6gives us “false confidence,” Clark writes in a new report, because a well-equipped enemy like China or even Iran could just keep lobbing cheap missiles at us until we run out of silver bullets to shoot them down. Instead, we need to invest in long-range offensive missiles to kill the other guy, ideally before he even fires. Leave defense to relatively small, short-ranged, and affordable interceptors, such as the Sea Sparrow, that ships can carry in bulk, supported by electronic jamming and — in the near future — lasers, neither of which ever runs out of ammunition.

The USS John Paul Jones test-fires an SM-6 in June

The profoundly counter-cultural catch for Navy commanders, Clark admits, is that they’d have to let enemy missiles get within 35 miles (30 nautical miles) of their ship before shooting them down. I did some quick calculations based on this distance and the reported top speeds of modern anti-ship weapons like China’s 1.5-ton YJ-12. Then I did a double-take and asked Clark to check my math. He confirmed the figures: At Mach 3.5, a cruise missile can cover 30 nautical miles in approximately forty-seven seconds.

“The pucker factor’s going to be higher,” Clark acknowledged to reporters when he briefed them on his recommendations this week. “But our current air defense scheme gives us a false sense of confidence.”

Genetically modified food: The sum of all China's fears

25 November 2014 

Among the worries that keep Chinese leaders awake at night surely is food security. Li Keqiang's first priority upon taking the premiership in 2013 was agricultural modernisation. Civil rebellions and wars throughout China's historywere fueled by the Malthusian need to keep people fed. As the nation now urbanises, the demands of keeping Chinese healthily nourished grow more acute. A spat over genetically modified (GM) food encapsulates the dilemma. 

Self-sufficiency has long been totemic and officially China meets an impressive 95% of directly-edible grain demand, almost 600 million tonnes annually. But with Chinese demand for meat already averaging 50kg per capita and approaching European levels for urban residents, China will need to import grains (mainly soybeans and corn) for animal feed, 120 million tonnes by 2020.

Yet with subsidies boosting rural incomes at US$75 billion or 11% of total output, domestic price support has perversely created high consumer prices and, surprisingly, a temporary 'grain glut.'

In seeking self-sufficiency, China has hit an ecological ceiling. Crop yields still lag, and only with unprecedented fertilizer application rates. Now the productivity crunch is being sharpened by shortages in three key areas: land, water, and labour.

Chinese often say that '22% of the world is fed with 7% of its arable land.' Urban sprawl has in a dozen years gobbled 8.3 million arable hectares (twice Japan's total arable land) and threatens China's 'red line' of 120 million hectares. Official statistics deny this threshold has been breached but cities have been ordered to stop paving over surrounding countryside. 40% of China's arable land has already suffered some degree of degradation. Water is becoming a constraint to food supply even as bureaucrats, incredibly, prioritise thirsty coal production. It might also seem odd that China faces a farm labour constraint, but migrants prefer life in the city. Chinese farming is a rotten business.

The Banality of Islamic State

November 20, 2014 

Islamic State introduced itself to most Americans this summer through two infamous beheading videos. They were professionally produced films, released by what U.S. ­intelligence officials would later call the most sophisticated terrorist propaganda machine they’ve seen. (On Nov. 16, Islamic State said it had ­beheaded an American Muslim convert and aid worker, Peter “Abdul-Rahman” Kassig.) But as the group has continued to make gains despite international air attacks in the wake of the ­beheadings, it’s become clear that its sophistication reaches well beyond video production and messaging. It’s evident in military operations, such as Islamic State’s recent quick conquest of the ancient Iraqi city of Hit in Anbar province through a precision use of suicide car bombers, and in its ability to replicate the operations across the region. 

The group’s leaders portray themselves as akin to seventh century warriors thundering forth on horseback to expand their religious empire by sword. They call their car bombs “steeds” and their drivers the “death admirers, the knights of martyrdom.” But in many important ways they have much less in common with ­medieval warriors than they do with modern ­bureaucrats, and a successful attempt to defeat them may require understanding their logistics, their financing, and their management structure as much as their extreme theology. 

It may sound bizarre for a group calling itself a caliphate, but the foundation of its management model, as identified by experts, is more akin to that of General Motors than it is to a ­religious dynasty from the Dark Ages. After decades, we may have arrived at the ultimate professionalization of terror. 

During a routine January 2007 patrol in Anbar province, in a town along the Euphrates called Tuzliyah al Gharbiyah, a unit of U.S. Marines stumbled on a cache of nine documents in a roadside ditch. They included financial records, payrolls, supply purchase records, administrative records, and other details of fund flows into and out of a single local cell in Anbar of a group then calling itself the “Islamic State of Iraq.” Not long after, Iraqi militiamen working with the U.S. stormed a home in a town farther down the Euphrates. They found a computer hard drive holding ledgers with 1,200 files detailing the finances and operations of provincial-level managers overseeing the cell and others like it across Anbar province.
Militants parade their vehicles on the streets of northern Raqqa province on June 30 to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic “caliphate” 

Taken together, the Anbar records allowed for a forensic ­reconstruction of the back-office operations of a terrorist ­insurgency from its local level up to its divisional headquarters. The data were handed over to the National Defense ­Research ­Institute of Rand Corp., a U.S. ­Department of Defense-funded think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif. Seven researchers set out to ­determine what the ledgers, receipts, memos, and other records meant. What they concluded in a 2010 report, written for then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, should be ­familiar to students of business management: The group was ­decentralized, organized, and run on what’s called the “multidivisional-­hierarchy form” of management, or M-form for short. 

The foundation of Islamic State’s management model is more akin to General Motors than to a ­religious dynasty 


November 25, 2014 

In September, the Islamic in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a devastatingly effective offensive in Iraq’s Anbar province that for a time masked the losses the group was experiencing elsewhere (see two previous WOTR reports on ISIL’s Anbar campaign). Beginning in late October, ISIL garnered even more headlines through its horrific slaughter of hundreds of members of the Albu Nimr, a Sunni tribe. However, there are signs that ISIL’s attempts to crush the Albu Nimr under its boot have backfired, instead stiffening the tribe’s resolve to fight the jihadist group. ISIL’s campaign in Anbar now appears stalled.

This report, which primarily draws from Arabic-language sources, provides a granular examination of how ISIL’s ongoing campaign in Anbar has developed since mid-October, when the last installment in WOTR’s series on the Anbar offensive was published.

Mid-October: ISIL on the March

Following the killing of Anbar provincial chief of police Ahmad Siddiq al-Dulaymi on Oct. 11, ISIL managed to swiftly overrun Camp Hit after the 300 remaining members of the Iraqi security forces (ISF) at the base undertook a “tactical retreat.” Faced with the prospect of ISIL control of Hit district, about 180,000 people fled en masse for areas that remained under control of the government of Iraq. The only exception was the al-Furat suburb on the eastern side of the Euphrates River, which remained under Albu Nimr control until Oct. 22.

U.S. Hasn't Even Started Training Rebel Army to Fight ISIS

It's been two months since Congress authorized a train-and-equip mission to help Syrian rebels fight ISIS—but the mission is unlikely to happen until spring of next year. 

In conjunction with air strikes, the American mission to train and equip the Syrian moderate opposition is a central part of the Obama administration's strategy to counter ISIS. Yet this strategy and its execution are deeply flawed, say Congressional lawmakers focused on national security issues—which raises questions about whether the planned training of some 5,000 fighters will ever happen. 

Congress authorized the train-and-equip mission in mid-September, but two months later, recruitment has not even begun. Instead, the time has been spent setting up a system to vet potential recruits. According to Pentagon and Congressional sources, training of opposition fighters won't begin until March or April at the earliest, and it will take a total of eight or nine months to train an initial small group of fighters. 

"So far it's been slow, and it will continue to be slow, and it certainly won't be sufficient to stop the Islamic State," Senator-Elect Tom Cotton told The Daily Beast. "It's probably necessary for success in the long term, but it's far, far, far from sufficient." 

House and Senate skepticism of the program is at its highest point ever. Irritated members of Congress say that the authorization of the train-and-equip mission is merely about optics. Congress hasn't actually authorized airstrikes in Syria, but approval of the train-and-equip mission in Syria makes it seem like it has, one lawmaker acknowledged frankly. 

The Threat of ISIS to the UK: RUSI Threat Assessment

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is well financed, well equipped and brutal. It is also a plausible threat to the UK.

The group operates across large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, where the sustained conflicts continue to attract large numbers of foreign fighters. Official estimates suggest the total travelling to the region has now exceeded 15,000, including 500 from the UK. It is unclear what proportion has joined ISIS, though it is understood that a majority of these UK citizens have joined its ranks. This briefing argues that it is this community of foreign fighters that poses an immediate terrorist threat to the West.

As the UK joins the coalition against this increasingly dominant jihadist force, understanding the scale of the threat and the complexity of the challenge is crucial. This briefing analyses four key questions: 
What is the group’s current narrative and interest? 
How is this narrative being heard in the UK? 
What would change to make ISIS refocus from its regional concentration
to a global one? 
How might a new ‘awakening’ movement be stimulated in Iraq? 

This briefing provides an objective view on ISIS and some judgements about its current threat trajectory. It draws on a series of discussions held at RUSI, which involved internal and external expertise, to come to some key judgements on the group.
About the Authors

Raffaello Pantucci is Director of International Security Studies at RUSI.

Clare Ellis is a Research Analyst in the National Security and Resilience Department at RUSI.