12 April 2015

Gunmen Kill 20 Workers at Dam Project in Southwestern Pakistan

April 11, 2015

Official says gunmen kill 20 at Pakistan dam project

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) – Gunmen in restive southwestern Pakistan shot and killed at least 20 workers early Saturday at a dam construction site, the deadliest recent attack targeting civilians in a region facing a low-level insurgency, authorities said.

The violence targeted the Gobdan area of the Turbat district in southwestern Baluchistan province, a region where nationalist and separatist Baluch groups have fought against the Islamabad-based government for years. However, no group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Pakistan, a country that faces a deadly Taliban insurgency and threats from other Islamic extremists.

A large group of gunmen attacked a labor camp near the dam construction site, overpowering eight security guards on the site and shooting dead sleeping laborers before fleeing, government commissioner Pasand Khan Buledi of the Makran division said. Buledi gave the casualty figure and said the attack wounded three people.

When Nehru spied on Netaji

April 9, 2015

Newly declassified papers from the Netaji files reveal a shocking secret. PM Jawaharlal Nehru's government snooped on the family of Subhas Chandra Bose for nearly two decades

"Anita is doing quite well in health and school. She is growing in length and also quite well built, though by far not a fatty. They are having English lessons now at school which interest her quite a lot."

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's wife Emilie Schenkl wrote this letter from post-war Austria, when one of the few bright spots in her lonely life was their daughter. Netaji's nephew Sisir Kumar Bose, the letter's addressee in distant Kolkata, was not the first one to read it. Before he did, several Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials had quietly copied the letters and put them away into secret files on the Bose family. For over a half century, copies of this letter and several others like them sat in an unusual location: in the locked cupboards of the state IB office in Kolkata. Recently declassified by the Union Home Ministry and placed in the National Archives, these files now reveal independent India's dirty state secret. For two decades, between 1948 and 1968, the government placed the Bose family members under intensive surveillance. Sleuths intercepted, read and recorded letters of the family of a freedom fighter who was Nehru's political co-worker for 25 years. IB sleuths discreetly tailed family members as they travelled around India and abroad, recording in minute detail who they met and what they discussed. The surveillance was exactly as it would be today on a wanted terrorist's family-rigorous, methodical yet unobtrusive. The revelations have shocked the Bose family. "Surveillance is conducted on those who have committed a crime or have terrorist links. Netaji and his family fought for the freedom of the country, why should they be placed under surveillance?" asks his grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose.

Jawaharlal Nehru spied on Subhas Chandra Bose's family for 20 years

April 10, 2015

Bose and Nehru at a Congress meet.Two recently declassified Intelligence Bureau (IB) files have revealed that the Jawaharlal Nehru government spied on the kin of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose for nearly two decades.

The files, which have since been moved to the National Archives, show unprecedented surveillance on Bose's family members between 1948 and 1968. Nehru was the prime minister for 16 of the 20 years and the IB reported directly to him. The files show the IB resumed British-era surveillance on the two Bose family homes in Calcutta: 1 Woodburn Park and 38/2 Elgin Road. Apart from intercepting and copying letters written by Bose's family members, agency sleuths shadowed them on their domestic and foreign travels. The agency seemed especially keen to know who all the Bose kin met and what they discussed. A series of hand-written messages shows the agents phoned in 'Security Control', as the IB headquarters was called, to report on the family's movements.

I B reports made public, reveal Jawaharlal Nehru spied on Subhash Chandra Bose's family for 20 years

New Delhi: Two recently de-classified Intelligence Bureau files reveal that former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru spied on the family of freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose for two decades from 1948 to 1968. Nehru died on May 27, 1964 and spying continued for four years even after his death.

Apart from allegedly intercepting and copying letters written by Bose's family members, the agency sleuths shadowed them on their domestic and foreign travels. The agency seemed especially keen to know to whom Bose's family met and their discussion.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader MJ Akbar claimed that the government was unsure whether Bose was dead. Akbar said Bose was the only charismatic leader who could have mobilised and united the opposition parties against Congress, and offer it a serious challenge in the 1957 elections.

Bose's grandnephew Chandra Kumar demanded a judicial probe into the spying. He said, "It has definitely come as a shock because he was pretty close to Jawaharlal Nehru both, you know, in a personal relationship, he always used to come and stay in our house. Well, politically they differed on certain issues but we never expected that Pandit Nehru would put surveillance on Subhash Bose's family members.

Modi's Varanasi: A Dirty River, A Crumbling City And Disappointed Voters


Just over 10 months ago, Varanasi elected Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi as its Member of Parliament and India chose him as its Prime Minister. The people were convinced he would do great things. After all, he said in his campaign that a divine calling, no less, had drawn him to Varanasi - "Main aaya nahin hoon. Mujhe Maa Ganga ne bulaya hai (I haven't just come. I have been called by Mother Ganges herself)." Much like the swell of the Ganges in the monsoon, expectations rose in this notoriously chaotic city.

With the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh (India's largest state by numbers) due in 2017, the BJP and Modi must realise that the road to Lucknow is via Varanasi.

So, how far has Modi come in this city? How much did the blazing rhetoric actually translate into work on the ground? At best, progress has been slow. Even the rhetoric is faltering. Here is a look at what has happened in Varanasi over the past 10 months and what must be achieved to enable the BJP to win UP in 2017.

India Test Fires DHANUSH Nuclear-Capable Missile From Ship

April 10, 2015

Dhanush missile successfully test-fired from ship

India successfully test-fired nuclear weapons-capable Dhanush missile from a ship, off the Odisha coast on Thursday.

The ship-based missile was launched at 11.02 a.m. by personnel of the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) from an Offshore Patrolling Vessel (OPV), which was deep inside the sea, for its full range of 350 km, according to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) missile scientists.

It was a perfect mission and the missile splashed down near the target point with high degree of accuracy, they said.

Modi Needs German Lessons in Manufacturing

2 APR 10, 2015

On his first trip to Germany this Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join Chancellor Angela Merkel to inaugurate the world’s largest industrial fair, Hanover Messe. No doubt Modi’s eager to showcase his “Make in India” campaign in the manufacturing powerhouse of Europe. But it’ll take much more than a slick marketing campaign to attract fair participants to set up shop in India. Unlike Germany (or indeed Japan, the U.S. and China) India has never been a leading manufacturing hub -- not during its socialist years, nor since the country shifted to a market economy more than two decades ago.

To this point, Modi’s drawn inspiration and ideas for his program from the East Asian experience, in particular China’s rise as the world’s factory. Much to the dismay of free-market economists, he’s shown quite clearly that while no socialist, he’s no Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher either. He has no plans to replicate the Anglo-Saxon model of aggressive privatization and extensive deregulation of markets. He believes in a role for the state, as have other Asian leaders since the end of World War II.

China is adding a Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline to its revival of the old Silk Road

April 9, 2015

China is poised to add another key section to its sometimes defiant, seemingly inexorable plan to create commercial corridors extending in all directions from its borders. Its latest move: building a natural gas pipeline linking the hitherto pariah state of Iran to security-challenged Pakistan.

The move would open a lucrative new market for gas-rich Iran, blocked from customers for decades by Western sanctions that may soon be ending. And it would begin to sate the superlatively gas-thirsty Pakistan, which has long suffered power shortages. The construction will be largely funded by a Chinese loan, and work done by a subsidiary of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation.

The Iran-Pakistan pipeline link has been on the drawing board for some two decades, but was foiled by the prospect of US sanctions against Pakistan if it participated. Iran says that its 560-mile portion is already built to the Pakistani border, leaving Pakistan’s $2 billion, 485-mile portion to be completed. If the deal goes ahead, the complete pipeline can be finished in about two years, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

India-Pakistan: Anything Is Possible For A Price

April 9, 2015: In northwest Pakistan most of the fighting has shifted from North Waziristan to nearby Khyber where, in the last few months the army has killed nearly 300 Islamic terrorists and lost 35 soldiers. This battle has become more intense of late as the army sought to block the Tirah Valley, which was the main route the Islamic terrorists used to get into and out of neighboring Afghanistan. The ferocity of this campaign is in part because of continued anger at the Taliban attack on a school in December that left over 140 (mostly kids) dead. The fighting in North Waziristan has left over 2,200 Islamic terrorists dead since mid-2014, as well as over 200 soldiers and police.

Pakistani intelligence (ISI) and the army have apparently ordered the Islamic terrorists they support in Kashmir to avoid attacking civilians and concentrate on members of the security forces. This is a result of increased ISIL violence against Moslems (which is unpopular with Moslems in general) and the failure of the use of coercion by Islamic terrorists to change the minds of Moslems in Indian Kashmir who have lost faith in the three decades of Pakistan sponsored violence. Pakistan has been trying to use Islamic terrorism to defeat India, expel all non-Moslems from the area and unite all of Kashmir under Pakistani rule. For many of these civilians that is no longer seen as a desirable option. Independence is popular but unlikely as both Pakistan and India oppose it. 

‘Iraq Is Finished’

APRIL 8, 2015
Corruption and war have eroded all what was left of the country.

One afternoon this March, during a visit to Jordan, I sat on the banks of the Dead Sea with my Iraqi friend, Azzam Alwash. As we stared across the salt lake and watched the sun disappear behind the rocky crags of Israel, I recounted a trip I had taken to Jordan 20 years earlier to conduct field research on Palestinian refugees, as part of a Middle East peace effort designed to ensure that within a decade nobody in the region considered himself a refugee.

Emma Sky is a senior fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the author of The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq. Full Bio

No one had an inkling back then that the numbers of refugees in the region would increase exponentially, with millions of Iraqis and Syrians displaced from their homes by international intervention and civil war. Nor had I imagined at the time that I would find myself in Iraq after the invasion of 2003, initially as a British representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority—the international transitional government that ran the country for about a year after the fall of Saddam Hussein—and then as the political advisor to U.S. Army General Raymond Odierno when he commanded U.S. forces in the country.

Afghanistan: An Economic Opportunity Not To Be Missed

April 7, 2015: A recent analysis of the security situation worldwide resulted in a list of the most dangerous countries. These were (starting with the most dangerous); Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Ukraine and Egypt. Studies like this are done mainly to find the least violent nations. This provides investors and tourists with useful information. At the moment few tourists regard Afghanistan as a suitable place to visit. Investors, however, are tempted by the huge development potential in Afghanistan. Many refuse to go beyond temptation until the security situation is greatly improved.

The U.S. government issued yet another report detailing the corruption resulting from over $100 billion in American aid entering Afghanistan since 2001. Afghans recognize corruption as the biggest problem in the country and the root cause of so many other problems (especially religious violence and drug gangs). There are many forms of corruption that the anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan have a hard time getting recognized as corruption by most Afghans. For example, a lot of the reconstruction work, especially road-building, uses corrupt, and stupid, practices that are considered traditional by the locals. The most common one is to give all the contracts on a job to whoever offered the biggest bribe, or simply to someone in your family, who will pay you back later on. The guy who got the contract will not provide further bribes to local tribal leaders in the area where the road, or structures, are being built. 

Pakistani Court Frees Man Accused of Plotting 2008 Mumbai Terrorist Attack That Killed 166

April 10, 2015

Pakistan Court Frees on Bail Accused Mastermind of Mumbai Attack-Lawyer

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani court freed on bail on Friday a man accused of plotting a 2008 militant assault on India’s financial capital that killed 166 people and seriously strained ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours, his lawyer said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had condemned the prospect of bail for Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, which comes months after India and Pakistan were engaged in their worst cross-border violence in more than a decade in the disputed Kashmir region.

“Lakhvi has been released and he is out of the jail now,” his lawyer, Malik Nasir Abbas, told Reuters on Friday. “I don’t know where he will go now.”

A security official also confirmed his release.

India’s Ministry for External Affairs said before the release that its concern about Lakhvi had been made clear to Pakistan.

A Breakthrough in US-Vietnam Relations

By Alexander L. Vuving
April 10, 2015

Emerging as one of the key bilateral relationships in the Asia-Pacific, ties between the United States and Vietnam have experienced a significant breakthrough in recent times. Somewhat below the radar of the international press, this breakthrough was embodied in the March 15-20 visit to Washington by Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang. Perhaps the media paid little attention to this trip because it was seen as a routine exchange at the minister level. But Quang’s mission was far from routine, and the contents of his talks indicated a qualitative change in U.S.-Vietnam relations.

New ONI Assessment of the Chinese Navy Released

Yesterday the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) released a 50-page unclassified intelligence concerning the growing strength and capabilities of the Chinese navy. The report, entitled The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century, can be read here


April 10, 2015

In its first unclassified report on the subject in six years, the Office of Naval Intelligence depicts a powerful trajectory for China’s maritime forces. Titled “The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century,” the document and accompanying videos also cover the China Coast Guard—precisely the right approach, since the world’s largest blue water civil maritime fleet serves as “China’s Second Navy” and is on the front lines of island and maritime “rights protection” in the East and South China Seas. This focus on both the PLA Navy (PLAN) and the China Coast Guard is also especially appropriate given their role as the principal institutions charged with furthering regional sovereignty claims. The PLAN is also responsible for safeguarding Chinese interests much farther afield, and is gradually developing power projection capabilities to do so.

Looking towards 2020, the Office of Naval Intelligence sees China’s maritime forces on a trajectory of major improvement through hardware acquisition and accrual of operational proficiency. 

Revealed: China’s Cyberwar ‘Cannon’

by Alex Williams

It could be the most powerful item in China’s electronic arsenal: a system for injecting spyware onto any foreign computer that communicates with a website in China. 

Computer security researchers have discovered a new “offensive device” being used by China’s powerful Internet censors that gives them the power to launch attacks on websites and inject malicious viruses on computers around the world. 

The device is associated with China’s so-called Great Firewall, which blocks Internet searches in China for information the government deems controversial, such as from Chinese dissidents and government critics. But this new tool, which researchers dubbed the Great Cannon, actually can commandeer an unwitting person’s computer and marshal it into a network of machines used to flood websites with traffic and force them to shut down. 

The cannon was used in such a denial-of-service attack on GreatFire.org, which helps Internet users circumvent Chinese censors, researchers at Citizen Lab, with the Munk School of Global Affairs at University of Toronto, and the University of California at Berkeley, said in a report released Friday. The Daily Beast obtained an advance copy of the document. 

China-US: Avoiding the ‘Improbable War’

By Jared McKinney
April 10, 2015

If the United States is the colossus that bestrides the world, its command to history is simple: Stop. The problem with America’s imperative is, as distinguished Yale historian Paul Kennedy remarked in 2010, “history, unfortunately, has a habit of wandering off all on its own.”

A recent diplomatic episode shows that this is a lesson the U.S. remains uninterested in learning. As readers ofThe Diplomat will know, in 2010, the IMF, with the support of the Obama Administration, passed a series of reforms that would shift member quota shares (and voting rights) to reflect the dynamics of a changing world economy, especially the economic growth of the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). For the past five years, the U.S. Congress has refused to ratify the IMF reform because many Republicans aregenerally dubious about international financial cooperation and because they fear it would give China more influence while decreasing U.S. influence (the second argument is prima facie spurious, as America would still remain the only member state with veto powers).

Revealed: China's Reasons for Island-Building in the South China Sea

April 10, 2015

For the first time, China’s Foreign Ministry has explained in detail the purpose and rationale for large-scale land reclamation activities taking place in disputed areas of the South China Sea. China’s dredging and construction activities have caused fellow disputants, as well as the U.S., to criticize China for raising tensions by seeking to change the status quo.

China’s typical response when asked about the South China Sea is terse and tends to shut off, rather than invite, further discussion. For example, when Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was asked about China’s construction activities in the Spratly Islands on March 3, her response (in its entirety) was as follows:

Why Iran Needs to Dominate the Middle East

April 10, 2015 

It goes beyond contemporary geopolitical or sectarian considerations.... 

On March 7, General Hussein Salami, Deputy Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), claimed that “the [power] of the Islamic Revolution has been stretched to Yemen” and added that “Islamic Revolution has influenced states and people from the Mediterranean Sea to the Bab el-Mandeb in Yemen.”

Later, Mohsen Rezaee, the first IRGC Chief Commander, applauded the Houthis’ fight against the Saudi-led coalition and stated that “the Iran-led ‘resistance front’ is fighting with the ‘invasion front’ of Israelis and Saudis in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, and now in Yemen.”

Earlier, Alireza Zakani, a member of the Iranian parliament who is close to the Supreme Leader, declared, “three Arab capitals [Beirut, Damascus, and Baghdad] have already fallen into Iran’s hands and belong to the Iranian Islamic Revolution, and Sana’a is the fourth.”

The Whack-a-Mole Game in Syria: ISIS Creeping Closer to Damascus

April 10, 2015

Creeping toward Damascus

LIKE a game of whack-a-mole, when the American-led coalition against Islamic State (IS) strikes the jihadists in one place, they often pop up in another. That is what happened at the start of April, when IS lost the city of Tikrit in Iraq but took over the long-suffering Yarmouk camp in Syria. A Palestinian refugee camp, now a suburb of Damascus, the capital, Yarmouk has long been held by a mixture of Palestinian and Syrian rebels, and besieged by troops loyal to Syria’s president, Bashar Assad.

Until recently IS in Syria was confined mostly to the east of the country bordering Iraq. But over the past week its declaration of wilayat, or “provinces”, in other parts of Syria have seemed less like wishful thinking. Its men have inched westward from their Syrian headquarters in Raqqa towards Mr Assad’s turf. On March 31st they killed at least 46 residents of Mabuja, a village close to Hama. Then on April 1st the jihadists launched an offensive to take over Yarmouk, just 10 kilometres (6 miles) from central Damascus. Fighting continues, but IS is said to be in control of roughly four-fifths of the camp. As well as sending in its own fighters, IS found local recruits among angry young camp residents. They have been starved by the regime’s troops to the point of eating leaves, but also dislike some of the rebel groups that control Yarmouk for playing politics with the regime rather than confronting it.

Is Iran rational?

April 9,2015

Iranian President, Hassan Rowhani, delivering a speech during a ceremony marking the national day of nuclear technology in Tehran, Iran, 09 April 2015. (Offical Website Of The President / Handout/EPA)
At the heart of the concerns surrounding the deal with Iran is a simple question: Is Iran rational? For many critics, the answer is self-evident. The Iranians are “apocalyptic,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often said, warning that you can’t “bet on their rationality.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has declared, “I think they’re crazy.” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon restated his opinion recently that the Iranian government is a “messianic and apocalyptic regime.” 

And yet, these same critics’ preferred policy is one that relies on Iran’s rationality. The alternative to the deal forged by Iran and the six great powers is not war, they insist, but rather to ratchet up pressure and demand more concessions from Tehran. So, this crazy, apocalyptic band of mullahs, when faced with a few more sanctions, will calmly calculate the costs and benefits and yield in a predictable way to more pressure. Or, as J.J. Goldberg writes in the Jewish Daily Forward, “Apparently they’re irrational enough to welcome nuclear Armageddon, but rational enough to yield to economic punishment.” (This point is also well made by Vox.com’s Max Fisher.) 

The Arab NATO

APRIL 9, 2015

The new 40,000-strong Arab League “response force” is all about countering Iran. Get ready for tense times and strange bedfellows in the Middle East.

Syria is in flames, Iraq is at war, Libya is unraveling, and Yemen has basically disintegrated. While it might not be novel to say that the Middle East is once again beset by crises, the collective response of Middle Eastern nations to this unique set of overlapping and interwoven conflicts certainly is. The Arab League is creating a new “response force” of some 40,000 military professionals from a variety of nations, and will reportedly be formally adopted in a couple of weeks at the next summit. While not remotely at NATO levels of professional capability, this is a fascinating and important development in the world’s most troubled region.

The initial force will be composed of troops mostly from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan (and a smattering of others from Gulf nations), and will be based in Egypt. It will be commanded by a Saudi general, and will boast a structured and permanent command structure. The idea is to pull together a multinational force that could be ready to react to future crises, in the same way that several Arab nations are currently conducting operations today in Yemen. 

Central Asia: Can Secular Islam Survive?

By Erik S. Krausen
April 10, 2015

Quietly tucked away in the rugged region of Central Asia, Uzbekistan is often overlooked by Western policy analysts, treated as little more than an afterthought in the grand scheme of global affairs. However, with the Western world confronting the rising threat of Islamic fundamentalism, it may be time to take a closer look at the history of Islam in the region. Uzbekistan in particular offers a glimpse into what a secular Islamist state could look like, as well as the way in which religious repression often breeds extremism, violence, and state insecurity.

The roots of secular Islam in Uzbekistan stretch back for more than a century. Arguably one of the most important movements in the region was that of the Jadids at the turn of the 20th century. The Jadidist movement later confronted the crushing authoritarianism of the Soviets, who used Central Asia for agricultural and extraction while neglecting its citizens. 

The World of 2050: More Muslims, Fewer Buddhists

April 9, 2015

If demographics truly are destiny, the world is destined to have nearly as many Muslims as Christians, fewer Buddhists, and a declining share of agnostics and atheists by the year 2050, according to a new demographic survey from Pew Research.

Between 2010 and 2050, Pew expects the global population to rise 35 percent to 9.3 billion people. During this period of global growth, the Muslim population will grow 73 percent, owing to "comparatively youthful populations with high fertility rates." The number of Christians will also rise, but at a slower 35 percent rate that keeps pace with the overall trend in global population growth.

The religion with the worst growth prospects is Buddhism, which is the only faith that Pew expects to actually lose adherents in absolute numbers by 2050.

The Revolution Lives!

APRIL 10, 2015 

Beyond all the talk of centrifuges and enrichment capacities, President Obama’s deal with Iran is really a giant gamble on the nature of the Iranian regime. The core question is: Are the men who control that country more like Lenin or are they more like Gorbachev? Do they still fervently believe in their revolution and would they use their postsanctions wealth to export it and destabilize their region? Or have they lost faith in their revolution? Will they use a deal as a way to rejoin the community of nations?

We got a big piece of evidence on those questions on Thursday. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered his first big response to the sort-of-agreed-upon nuclear framework. What did we learn?

First, we learned that Iran’s supreme leader still regards the United States as his enemy. The audience chanted “Death to America” during his speech, and Khamenei himself dismissed America’s “devilish” intentions. When a radical religious leader uses a word like “devilish,” he’s not using it the way it’s used in a chocolate-cake commercial. He means he thinks the United States is the embodiment of evil.

Could Air Power Stop Iran?

April 9, 2015

S’pose for the sake of discussion that war constitutes “our best option” in the long-running nuclear standoff with Iran. If so, proponents of military action sound remarkably tepid advocating it. They set expansive goals—terminating or setting back the Islamic Republic’s nuclear-weapons program—yet quail at the martial ways and means it would take to achieve goals of such sweep. If you balk at the means, chances are the ends will slip your grasp.

Think about it. Military strategy is a matter of seizing control of something, whether that something happens to be a parcel of ground, a group of people, or what have you. And it’s about keeping control long enough to win. Stationing superior armed might at key places on the map for as long as it takes, then, is how strategy succeeds. And since wars are ultimately about what transpires on land, soldiers or marines packing heat are the true arbiters of wartime control.

Tensions Between Iran and Saudi Arabia Deepen Over Conflict in Yemen

APRIL 9, 2015 

CAIRO — Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia deepened on Thursday as Iranian leaders lashed out with rare vehemence against the continuing Saudi air campaign in Yemen, even hurling personal insults at the young Saudi prince who is leading the fight.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, on Thursday denounced the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen as “a crime” and “a genocide,” while all but taunting Saudi Arabia that its war in Yemen was doomed to fail.

A regional coalition led by Saudi Arabia extended its bombing campaign for a 16th night in its effort to stop the Houthi movement and its allies from dominating Yemen. The Houthis nonetheless continued their advance, and aid groups warned of a compounding humanitarian catastrophe, particularly in the port city of Aden.


By John R. Haines

Frustrating former Soviet republics’ ambitions of European Union and NATO accession underlies Russia’s instrumental use of territorial disputes—both historic and contrived ones—in the borderlands of its near abroad. As one recent commentary observed, “as the war in Ukraine erupted last spring, observers largely unfamiliar with the former Soviet republics of Eastern Europe scrambled to understand the importance of the sub-national regions that suddenly waged great influence in the conflict between Russia and the West.”[1]

The dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the loss of its eastern and central European buffer between the Russian homeland and the NATO states of western European left Russia with a single European bridgehead—the Kaliningrad enclave—at a distance 1000 kilometers from Moscow.

Will Obama Strangle the American Energy Juggernaut?

April 10, 2015 

America is in the midst of an energy revolution, undergoing a metamorphosis from a major oil and gas importer to a top producer, but the federal government needs to get out of the way.

This was a major point of agreement at a luncheon held at the Center for the National Interest on April 8. The discussion, entitled “Will America’s Energy Revolution Suffer from Low Energy Prices,” featured Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy, and J. Robinson West, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a member of the Board of Directors of CFTNI and of the Advisory Council of TNI. CFTNI’s executive director, Paul Saunders, moderated.


By Clément Doleac

After Mexico’s 1982 economic crisis, the country abandoned its previous enthusiastically embraced Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI) development strategy, inspired by the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of the United Nations.[1] Since then, the Mexican economy has seen pounded by incredible surges of transformations.[2] Free trade agreements, massive privatization, and financialization have become new pillars of the economy, and have led to a complete reconfiguration of the country.[3] However, twenty years after the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the positive outcomes of this economic model adjustment have been little, and the expected economic boom never occurred.[4] In fact, poverty and inequality increased during the 1980s and the 1990s, and remains widespread.[5] NAFTA has predominantly benefited the U.S. and Canada: Mexico’s two main trading partners. Mexican authorities might now consider renegotiating NAFTA, and promote an alternative economic development policy, in order to overcome their persistent dependency on the U.S. economy, as well as improve their numerous deficiencies in various economic sectors.

America Gets Venezuela Wrong Again

April 9, 2015

SANTIAGO DE CHILE - It may be difficult to blame the United States for the way it runs its domestic affairs, but it's equally difficult to defend its foreign policy choices. For example, Washington is largely responsible for the regional war that seems about to erupt in the Middle East and North Africa, both because of what it has done and because of what it has failed to do. What this alternating action and inaction have won the United States is hostility from all sides - from Benjamin Netanyahu to ISIS.

In Latin America, the list of U.S. errors is long. In the 1970s, Washington helped install several right-wing military regimes that suppressed democracy and its attendant social and political liberties. In the next decade, covert U.S. intervention in Central America prolonged civil wars whose consequences can still be felt in the form of poverty and crime.

Obama Puts the Heat on Chavistas

April 10, 2015

On March 9, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order that qualifies Venezuela's regime as a threat to U.S. internal security and foreign policy. The order imposes asset freezes and visa bans against seven high-ranking officials, mostly from the military and the police, for their role in violations of human rights.

Caracas' reaction was predictable enough. The Venezuelan government and its regional allies (Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua at the forefront) swiftly dismissed the claim that Venezuela could be a threat to the United States and accused Obama of interference in Venezuela's internal affairs. Never mind that, as emphasized by Chile's former President Ricardo Lagos, "as regards human rights, there aren't frontiers, and wherever such rights are violated, someone has to cry foul". (Lagos was discussing Venezuela when he made the statement.)

Global Threats to Net Neutrality

APRIL 10, 2015 

Policy makers in Europe and India are considering rules that could raise prices for consumers. Here, a passenger uses the Internet from a smartphone on a train in Mumbai, India. CreditRafiq Maqbool/Associated Press

The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted strong net neutrality rules that should prevent cable and phone companies from creating fast and slow lanes on the Internet. But policy makers in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe and India, are considering very different kinds of rules that could hurt consumers and start-up Internet businesses.

Last month, the European Council, which is made up of the 28 national governments of European Union members, adopted a proposal that would allow telecommunications companies to charge Internet businesses like Netflix and Google fees to deliver their videos and other content to users faster than could smaller companies that cannot afford to pay for preferential treatment.

The 9 weirdest projects DARPA is working on

APR. 9, 2015,

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) works on some very outlandish projects.

One of its stated mission goals is to cause “technological surprise” for America’s enemies. They want enemy fighters to get to the battlefield, look at what they’re facing off against, and go, “What the hell?”

These are some DARPA projects that could help make that a reality.
1. Airships that can haul 2 million pounds of gear

DARPA’s attempt at new airships was scrapped in 2006 due to technology shortcomings, but the project was revived in 2013. The goal is to create a craft that can carry up to two million pounds halfway around the world in five days.

This would allow units to quickly deploy with all of their gear. Tank units would be left out though, unless they suddenly had …