6 February 2016

***A new Shenzhen? Poor Pakistan fishing town's horror at Chinese plans

Jon Boone and Kiyya Baloch in Gwadar
4 February 2016
Source Link

Mega-port will bring five-star hotels and Chinese access to Arabian Sea, as residents in conflict-torn province contend with lack of water and food

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier stands guard near the Beijing-funded Gwadar ‘mega-port’. 
Gwadar is poor. When a house was recently burgled in the fishing settlement on Pakistan’s desert coast, the only items stolen were cans of fresh water – a staple that has soared in value since reservoirs dried up. It lies in Balochistan, a province in the grip of a long-running separatist insurgency and Pakistan’s most neglected.

Yet local officials dream of a future where Gwadar becomes a second Shenzhen, the Chinese trade hub bordering Hong Kong. Visitors are told that with Chinese investment the small settlement will become a major node of world commerce boasting car factories, Pakistan’s biggest airport and a string of five-star resort hotels along Gwadar’s sparkling seafront. 


FEBRUARY 4, 2016

Cybersecurity threats are growing fast — and in ways that are hard to understand. Reactions range from denial (“It’s all hype”) to panicked cries that the digital sky is falling. As usual, the truth lies between these extremes.

Cybersecurity bills have sparked several legislative fights. Often, these have been characterized as partisan battles that have left America exposed to a growing variety of cyber threats. But that’s not very accurate. In fact, every major cyber bill introduced has gained bipartisan support as well as bipartisan opposition. The fight is not over whether cyber legislation is needed: It’s over what constitutes an appropriate response.

While the government has an important role to play in combatting the cyber-aggression of foreign nations, the answer to the U.S. cyber challenges ultimately requires harnessing the power of the private sector, not binding it down.

How We Killed The Kaoboys

By Mallika Nawal
Date : 03 Feb , 2016

Our late Prime Minister Morarji Desai blew India’s most critical covert operation, fully compromised our secret services, and helped Pakistan make the “Islamic bomb”.

Kao is a name that’s known the world over—the secret world of espionage. R.N. Kao was the man anointed as independent India’s spymaster to bell the international cat. This shrewd, sharp and surprisingly shy Kashmiri Brahmin (Ramji to his friends; Kao to his foes; R.N stood for Rameshwar Nath) was handpicked by Nehru himself to deal with matters too sensitive and important to be entrusted to the regular police or defence machinery. There couldn’t have been a better choice. Read his obituary, celebrating the man and the spy, carried by the British newspaper The Independent in February 2002 (Do a Google search for “obituary independent kao”).

Operation Kahuta was one of RAW’s most ambitious and daring covert operations overseas, inside Pakistan. Kahuta was the answer to India’s nuclear programme, the secret site for Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

India’s International Fleet Review: Building Bridges On Shifting Sands – Analysis

By Abhijit Singh*
FEBRUARY 3, 2016

The event plans to unite regional navies, but the security environment remains fraught.

The Indian Navy is preparing to conduct its showcase event – the prestigious International Fleet Review (IFR) – at Visakhapatnam from February 4 to 8. With the first foreign ships due to make an appearance tomorrow, the excitement in India’s maritime circles is palpable. This is only the second time since 2001 that such an event has been organized in India. More significantly, it is the first international fleet review on India’s Eastern seaboard, a theater of growing interest for New Delhi.

Indian naval officers and maritime watchers, however, aren’t the only ones looking forward to the event. With an expected participation of 90 ships and 60 aircraft, and more than 30 service chiefs in attendance, international interest in the IFR is high. With days to go to the event, the organizing team had received 52 firm confirmations – a significant increase from the first international fleet review in February 2001 at Mumbai when 29 nations participated.

For India To Be Off To The Levant Would Be Premature – Analysis

FEBRUARY 3, 2016

India’s Former National Security Adviser and foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon in a lecture in New Delhi argued that, “sooner rather than later India will have to make real political and military contributions to stability and security in this region (West Asia) that is so critical to our economy and security.”

He takes India’s “high stakes”, specifically its oil being sourced to West Asia, the presence of an Indian diaspora and remittances, as its national interest, and advocates that “our approach and behavior should change in defense of our interests.”

That India is not part of the ongoing four powers’ peace initiative closer to home in Afghanistan suggests prudence in casting out wider. Further afield in West Asia, our power is greatly diluted by distance. As a recent study points out, India does not currently have the capacity to sustain such operations, even if it would be able to do so in future.

At best India can reinforce the peace frameworks being put in place under US-Russian aegis. Militarily, it can participate in any subsequent peacekeeping, but, as pointed out by its defence minister, only under the ‘UN flag’.

India-Bangladesh Economic Ties: A Positive Beginning – Analysis

By Saumitra Mohan*
FEBRUARY 3, 2016

Following the 1974 Indo-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) finally coming into force on 01 August 2015 for the formal exchange of 162 enclaves, expectations soared high with regards to the resolution of other sundry outstanding issues between the two South Asian neighbours. However, the same could not materialise as there remains a baggage of numerous longstanding problems.

Policymakers in both countries need to realise that India-Bangladesh relations can no longer be held hostage to their domestic politics. The opportunity cost of the same shall be too high if further time is lost to consolidate upon the historical and cultural ties by building cascading functional ties in many other issue areas.


Dinesh Kumar
Feb 3 2016 

Reality bites make-in-India defence dream

Even India’s 30 per cent indigenous capacity is suspect. It is based mostly on transfer of imported technology and a buy-and-assemble principle. Indian defence scientists and engineers must develop indigenous capabilities.

The Maareech Advanced Torpedo Defence System developed by the DRDO on display during the 67th R-Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi. The DRDO was set up in 1958. PTI

For several months now the Modi Government has been pegging its emphasis on the need for developing greater self-reliance in defence equipment on the mantra of “Make in India”. Coining of slogans apart, successive governments in New Delhi have been emphasising this necessity for a nation that aspires to be a major power and is among the world's fastest-growing economies. Instead, India in recent years has earned the dubious distinction of being among the world's largest importer of defence equipment. 

Pakistan’s fatuous “Kashmir Solidarity Day”

By Col Jaibans Singh
05 Feb , 2016

Pakistan is all geared up to observe Kashmir Solidarity Day on 5, February. This is an annual ritual since 1990. The stated objective of this exercise is to highlight the so-called aspirations of the people of Kashmir who are supposedly struggling to achieve self-determination. The actual objective is downright propaganda, totally divorced from the reality on ground. Overall, it is a pointless exercise in futility.

Afghanistan: Threatening News

More than fifty journalists have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001. But until this year, nobody had tried to massacre an entire busload of journalists in the center of Kabul, all working for the country’s largest and most successful broadcaster. That changed on January 20, when a suicide bomber drove a car laden with explosives into a minibus taking forty journalists and staff of Tolo TV home after a day at the office. 

At least seven people were killed including several women in their early twenties; some of the victims were burnt and scarred beyond recognition. Another twenty-six were injured, many extremely seriously. It was easily the most deadly single attack against journalists ever made in Afghan history. 

Such is the current level of lawlessness and insecurity in Afghanistan, four months after President Obama concluded that the continuing withdrawal of US troops was leading to chaos. Just today, another Taliban car bomb killed at least twenty police in front of a police building in the capital. Despite a remaining garrison of 9,000 US troops and advisors, American diplomats now travel only by helicopter for meetings, even inside Kabul. The Taliban control almost all the major roads in the country, which they can shut down when they choose, thereby isolating the major cities and preventing the supply of foodstuffs and trade from six neighboring states. 

Chinese Defector Reveals Beijing’s Secrets

Bill Gertz
February 3, 2016

Chinese Defector Reveals Beijing’s Secrets

A defector from China has revealed some of the innermost secrets of the Chinese government and military, including details of its nuclear command and control system, according to American intelligence officials.

Businessman Ling Wancheng disappeared from public view in California last year shortly after his brother, Ling Jihua, a former high-ranking official in the Communist Party, was arrested in China on corruption charges.

Ling Wancheng, the defector, has been undergoing a debrief by FBI, CIA, and other intelligence officials since last fall at a secret location in the United States, said officials familiar with details of the defection who spoke on condition of anonymity. The defector is said to be a target of covert Chinese agents seeking to capture or kill him.

Among the information disclosed by Ling are details about the procedures used by Chinese leaders on the use of nuclear weapons, such as the steps taken in preparing nuclear forces for attack and release codes for nuclear arms.

China's 'Sea Phantom' Fleet Prowls the Open Waters

February 4, 2016

Not long before the destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur recently conducted freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) off the Chinese-occupied Paracel Islands, an interesting maritime exercise took place in waters off southern mainland China. The images released in the public domain are interesting to note; many of the ships have hull numbers that carry the prefix 湛渔, or Zhanyu (the prefix Zhan for Zhanjiang, where the vessel is based, and Yu for fishery). This feature, alongside their distinct physical attributes, might give the impression that they are commercial deep-sea seiners and trawlers, which typically populate China’s vast fishing fleet.

But closer examination shows these ships to be no mere fishing vessels. Even though some of them, for instance Zhanyu 819, 820 and 822, have what appear to be seine winches astern, the cluster of antennae on board was conspicuous. Moreover, instead of commercial livery, all ships pictured were painted in typical People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) gray. These were probably some of the rare few high-resolution pictures which detail the bulk of assets belonging to the PLAN South China Sea Fleet Unit 488, based in Maxie, Zhanjiang. This obscure flotilla has sister units serving with the other two PLAN fleets, also equipped with such intelligence trawlers (AGIs), dubbed the Type-792 class.


The yuan’s rise will challenge America, but not before China changes

WHEN will the yuan rival the dollar? Many in China think it only a matter of time. Chen Yulu, a leading economist, says it will take 15 years. Wei Jianguo, deputy head of a major think-tank, puts it at 20. Officials are more circumspect: currency internationalisation will be a long process, its pace determined by the market, says Zhou Xiaochuan, the central-bank governor. Outside China, opinions are more divided. Some think the yuan is already on the verge of displacing the dollar in Asia; others predict it will never get there. 

What difference would it make if China’s currency did vie with the dollar for global pre-eminence? Scholars have looked for clues in the transition from the pound to the dollar, but that took place around the middle of last century in a very different context. The dollar and the pound were both convertible into gold at fixed rates, making the leap of faith for those switching from one to the other much less of a risk. Today, reserve currencies are not backed by gold. Their value is more slippery—a function of supply and demand. 

The Dangerous Limits of Iraq's Anti-ISIS Campaign

February 3, 2016

“The battle won’t be delayed after the first of this year, and its end by God’s will shall be swift,” Iraqi defense minister Khaled al-Obeidi told reporters in Cairo on January 21. He was referring to plans for an upcoming operation to liberate Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, which is still in the hands of Islamic State. However, plans to retake the city are hampered by a multiplicity of interests and actors that make centralized planning complex and appear to leave too few troops available in coming months for the operation. Although tactically the city could be retaken from ISIS, the precise coordination would have to be hashed out between Baghdad, the Kurdistan government in Erbil and Washington.

Does Nigeria Have What It Takes to Defeat Boko Haram?

Stringer—AFP/Getty ImagesA mother mourns the death of her husband after Boko Haram attacked the village of Dalori, on the outskirts of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, Jan. 31, 2016.

The Islamist terror group massacres dozens in the northeast as the country is frozen by corruption and economic malaise

Organized assaults from multiple directions. Check. An arsenal of light weapons and rocket launchers. Check. Abductions, looting and arson. Check. Female suicide bombers. Check.

Before Boko Haram insurgents attacked the northeastern Nigerian village of Dalori on Jan.30, killing at least 86 using tactics that have become wearily familiar, government officials had started to crow that the group’s recent reliance on single target suicide attacks was a sign of weakness and desperation. Instead, the weekend attack on a village just a few miles from the provincial capital of Maiduguri, home to one of the Nigeria’s biggest army bases, was a sobering indication of the group’s resilience.

“Containing Nuclear Proliferation”: Understanding US – Iran deal

By Anant Mishra
05 Feb , 2016

We define nuclear proliferation as the “spread of nuclear weapons, fissionable material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information”. Right from the World War II, especially in 1950s and 60s, a large number of nuclear tests were conducted, and by the end of 1960s, we witnessed the rise of five major nuclear power nations: The United States, France, United Kingdom, China and Russia (Soviet Union at the time).

After September 11, gaining nuclear status was a priority by most of the nation’s especially with “rogue states” and terrorist groups…

Along with these developments, other nations continued to pursue the objective of becoming a nuclear capacity: India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Israel and later North Korea. At this time the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was ratified (1970) and it was estimated that by 2000s, 10 to 20 nations will be in the possession of nuclear weapons. With further ratification of NPT and other international legal instruments, including the UN Security Council resolutions, today, there are nine nations who are capable of launching nuclear weapon.

Various researches predicted those nations which could acquire nuclear weapons, when would it happen, the number of weapons the power nations would have, along with implications of these weapons on world peace. After September 11, gaining nuclear status was a priority by most of the nation’s especially with “rogue states” and terrorist groups which created the urgency for international agency of monitoring and containing nuclear proliferation.

The last decade we saw two major discussions in nuclear context: India and Iran. India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear weapon programmes and limit the latter programme in 2008 in exchange for entering into full civil nuclear cooperation with the United States. Iran, which was alleged to be in the process of developing a nuclear weapon, buckled under international pressure and UN-mandated sanctions in 2015 and entered into a ground breaking agreement with the permanent members of the Security Council, Germany and the European Union.

As of today, some member nations of the UN have not ratified NPT: India, Pakistan, North Korea and South Sudan. All these except South Sudan are in possession of nuclear weapons.

Against this background, governments and experts have tried to predict what the future of nuclear proliferation is. Although there appears to be universal agreement as to the need for containing the spread of nuclear technology save for civil purposes and research, a phenomenon of “rogue states” (North Korea being the prime example in recent years) threatens this goal. Key strategies to prevent proliferation of nuclear arms include limiting the number of operating uranium enrichment plants and controlling the export of nuclear technology and fissile material.

Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

The Treaty of Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (also known as NPT) was opened for signatures in 1968 and was forced two years later. This treaty recognizes five nations as a nuclear power: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China (which are also the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council). NPT is based on the basic understanding that nuclear nations “agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and the NPT nuclear-weapon states in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals”. More nations have ratified NPT than any other disarmament of arms acts.

NPT gave clear instructions to nuclear weapons state “not to transfer nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices” and “not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce” a non-nuclear weapon state to acquire nuclear weapons (Article I). Nuclear Weapons state promised not to “receive,” “manufacture” or “acquire” nuclear weapons nor “seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons” (Article II). Article VI speaks about the commitment in the area of nuclear disarmament, stating that: “each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament.” NPT advocates peaceful use of nuclear energy; Article IV allows the development of civilian nuclear energy for those nations interested in, as long as they can demonstrate the use of nuclear energy for “civilian” purposes.

On 2nd April 2015 Iran and the P5+1 nations reached on a provisional framework agreement. The agreement clearly stated that most of the sanctions imposed on Iran would be lifted if Iran agrees to limit its Nuclear Program for at least ten years.

As of today, some member nations of the UN have not ratified NPT: India, Pakistan, North Korea and South Sudan. All these except South Sudan are in possession of nuclear weapons. In 2008 India signed a deal with the US, agreeing to the fact that, this largest democracy will separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and will place all its civil nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) oversight. In exchange, the United States agreed towards a full civil nuclear cooperation. For few years, there was widespread discontent as who would be liable in case of a nuclear incident; this was further settled in early 2015 when an additional agreement between USA and India transferred the financial risk to insurers in the case of an accident.

The Nuclear Deal

Iran began developing its Nuclear technologies in the early 1970s, with US by its side. Iran signed the NPT in 1968 as a non-nuclear state and ratified it in 1970. After the revolution in 1979, Iran’s nuclear programme came to a halt due to Ayatollah Khomeini’s rejection of nuclear power. However, in the late 1980s, with the assistance from Pakistan, the nuclear programme restarted. In 2002, the existence of heavy water facility in Arak along with an enrichment facility in Natanz was opened for the public.

In November 20004, Iran became a signatory to the so-called Paris Agreement with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, where Iran pledged to temporarily suspend enrichment and conversion activities, and specifically “the manufacture and import of gas centrifuges and their components; the assembly, installation, testing or operation of gas centrifuges; work to undertake any plutonium separation, or to construct or operate any plutonium separation installation; and all tests or production at any uranium conversion installation”.

After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the President, the talks ended abruptly and Iran unilaterally broke the Paris Agreement by resuming enrichment at Natanz. Agitated by this sudden act, the IAEA referred Iran to the UN Security Council and threatened the nation against “legal” action. In July 2006, Iran reopened the Arak heavy water production plant.

Iran is only allowed to enrich uranium up to 3.67%, only at the facility in Natanzfor at least 15 years. During this period, Iran further agreed not to build any new uranium enriching or heavy water facilities.

The world witnessed another series of bilateral talks between Iran and the United States, which took place in March 2013. In November 2013 the P5+1 countries (permanent members of the Security Council and Germany) and Iran agreed for a joint plan of action, which comprised of short freeze of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a decrease in economic sanctions. The parties pledge to continue talk and carve this agreement into a longer agreement. IAEA intensified its inspections in Iran, and concluded with the fact that Iran was adhering to the terms of interim agreement, including stopping enrichment of uranium to 20%, reducing the stockpile of 20% uranium and halting work at Arak heavy water reactor.

On 2nd April 2015 Iran and the P5+1 nations reached on a provisional framework agreement. The agreement clearly stated that most of the sanctions imposed on Iran would be lifted if Iran agrees to limit its Nuclear Program for at least ten years.

The final signatory between the parties took place on 14 July 2015 in Vienna between Iran, the P5+1, and the European Union. The main provisions of the deal were as follows:
Iran agreed to cut the stockpile of low enriched uranium by 98% and eliminate the stockpile of medium enriched uranium
Iran further agreed to limit the number of centrifuges by 2/3 over a period of 15 years
Iran also agreed on not to enrich uranium at its Fordow facility for at least 15 years
Iran is only allowed to enrich uranium up to 3.67%, only at the facility in Natanzfor at least 15 years
During this period, Iran further agreed not to build any new uranium enriching or heavy water facilities
During the time of the deal, Iran was capable of acquiring a nuclear weapon within 2-3 months, now this period will extend to a year, for at least 10 years

Experts doubt whether unequal distribution of nuclear weapons (majority of which is concentrated in P5 countries) along with highly volatile nations (e.g. North Korea) will move towards the path of nuclear disarmament.
The IAEA will have regular access to Iran’s nuclear facilities; inspectors will have further access to its supply chain which supports the nuclear program
The Arak reactor will be rebuilt, based on the design that P5+1 nations have agreed, in an effort to promote nuclear energy for civilian purposes
Iran will not build any new heavy water reactors for at least 15 years
U.S. and E.U. nuclear related sanctions will be lifted after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps; the same applies to UN Security Council resolutions

The deal received unanimous positive reactions from the world, also from the Arab states and the Persian Gulf (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar) followed by nations from the Muslim world. Pakistan welcomed the agreement, saying that “reciprocal confidence-building measures … augur well for peace and security in our region”.

The Future Ahead

A variety of reactions have been received from the global nations, on the context of nuclear weapons. Experts doubt whether unequal distribution of nuclear weapons (majority of which is concentrated in P5 countries) along with highly volatile nations (e.g. North Korea) will move towards the path of nuclear disarmament. However, there are some who believes, the path to nuclear disarmament is far from reach instead a nuclear threat is eminent, while some say that nuclear power helps balance the power globally. In the past wide reaching peace accords have been signed involving directly and indirectly nuclear power nations, however the true effects of disarmament are still beyond our reach.

Nations such as North Korea and Pakistan may prove highly volatile especially with large surplus of nuclear weapons and establish friendship solely on the basis of these stockpiles, particularly the United States, the threat is far from over.

Global Zero, a think tank that deliberately discuss the effects of nuclear weapons states that: “Nuclear weapons cannot be used [to] tackle threats posed by rogue states, failed states, proliferation, regional conflicts, terrorism, cyber warfare”. On the contrary, the World Security Council blames the extinction of mankind solely on nuclear weapons: “Nuclear weapons are a crime against future generations because they have the power to obliterate life on earth as we know it and cause unimaginable damage spanning many generations to come”.

Not long ago, a report published by the Brookings Institution highlights the short sighted geopolitical calculations. It states that “if threshold states perceive the United States either as antagonistic power or as an unreliable ally, they are more likely to pursue independent nuclear weapons programs”. Nations such as North Korea and Pakistan may prove highly volatile especially with large surplus of nuclear weapons and establish friendship solely on the basis of these stockpiles, particularly the United States, the threat is far from over. Another thing to worry about is the role of suspected terrorists and militant’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons, especially from the host, with Brooking’s analysis, nuclear threat such as this, is eminent. This refers all the more strongly to countries like Pakistan, which face the challenge of protecting their nuclear arsenal from terrorist activity in the region.
© Copyright 2016 Indian Defence Review

Changes in the Russian Army’s Order of Battle

February 3, 2016

Russia Downsizes And Updates Its Playbook

Russia recently announced that it was moving ten more brigades to its western borders. While this is seen as a threatening move by East European nations it is much less of a threat than in the past. That’s because the Russian army has been falling apart since the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991. After that came fifteen years of practically no new equipment and a vast downsizing. The Cold War force of 175 divisions dwindled to 25, plus 21 independent brigades (equivalent to another 5 divisions). These divisions were, for the most part, very under strength and poorly equipped. By 2006, the Russian army was smaller than the American army and much less capable.

The fearsome “Red Army” of the Cold War period died out in the 1990s and was replaced by not much. This can be seen clearly during recent Russian operations against Ukraine. For the operations in and near Ukraine the Russians was able to bring in about twenty percent of their combat brigades, usually the most effective (Spetsnaz and airborne) and experienced (ones recently in the Caucasus) brigades. The dozen or so brigades sent to the borders of eastern Ukraine, or into eastern Ukraine itself represented the best Russia had as the rest of the army is still crippled by inexperience and shortages of personnel and equipment. Russia is still trying to replace obsolete and worn out Cold War era weapons and equipment.

Russian Sub Activity Back to Cold War Levels

\Nicholas de Larrinaga
February 3, 2016

Russian submarine activity topping Cold War levels

Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic is again at Cold War levels, according to NATO’s top military commander Source: Russian MoD

Key Points

NATO is seeing Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic return to Cold War levels

Russian submarines have also made a major jump in technical capability, according to NATO’s top naval commander

Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic is currently equalling or even surpassing Cold War levels, according to NATO’s top naval officer.

Pay Attention, America: Russia Is Upgrading Its Military

February 3, 2016

Russia is in the midst of a major modernization of its armed forces. This has been driven by Vladimir Putin’s ambition to restore Russia’s hard power and supported by the revenues that flowed into the Kremlin’s coffers between 2004 and 2014, when the price of oil was high. The modernization programs encompass all parts of the Russian military, including strategic nuclear, nonstrategic nuclear and conventional forces.

The United States has to pay attention. Russia may be a power in long-term decline, but it retains the capacity to make significant trouble. Moreover, in recent years the Kremlin has shown a new readiness to use military force. But not all aspects of the modernization program are equally worrisome.

Strategic Nuclear

Sweden's Million-Dollar Refugee Industry

February 4, 2016

With its long corridors and high-ceilinged rooms, “Sanatoriet,” a residence housing some five hundred asylum seekers in the three-thousand-resident southern Swedish town of Broby, looks a whole lot like a hospital. That’s because the hundred-year-old building used to be one. By 2012, however, it had stood unused for years. That’s when Jahangir Hejazi spotted a business opportunity and took it over.

“My intuition told me we’d get a wave of humans,” explains Hejazi, an Iranian who fled to Sweden as a teenager and went on to work for the Swedish Migration Agency. He was right. In 2012 Sweden received 43,887 asylum seekers; by 2014 the number had grown to 81,301, and last year 162,877 peopleapplied for asylum.

As a former Migration Agency official, Hejazi also knew that the agency had no means of accommodating all the asylum seekers: it only has space for some thirty thousand people in the apartments that it owns and rents across Sweden. In the past, the Migration Agency housed all asylum seekers in its own residences—dorm-style accommodation scattered across the country. But in the 1990s, the government decided that the Migration Agency should rely on the private sector for refugee accommodation in case of a surge. In the past decade, the agency has occasionally rented accommodation from private companies. But the current influx of refugees has created housing needs of different proportions altogether.

After four months, Russia’s campaign in Syria is proving successful for Moscow

By Andrew Roth 
February 3 2016
Source Link

A civil defense member reacts at a site hit by what activists said were three airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in Idlib province, Syria, on Jan. 12. (Khalil Ashawi/Reuters)

MOSCOW — Four months after launching airstrikes in Syria, the Kremlin is confident that Moscow’s largest overseas campaign since the end of the Soviet Union is paying off.

Under the banner of fighting international terrorism, President Vladimir Putin has reversed the fortunes of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which were rapidly losing ground last year to moderate and Islamist rebel forces in the country’s five-year-old crisis. Government forces are now on the offensive, and last week, they scored their most significant victory yet, seizing the strategic town of Sheikh Miskeen from rebels who are backed by a U.S.-led coalition.

According to analysts and officials here, the Russian government believes it has won those dividends at a relatively low cost to the country’s budget, with minimal loss of soldiers’ lives and with largely supportive public opinion.

Will Turkey risk military confrontation with Russia?

Russian Defense Ministry officials sit under a display showing the Turkish-Syrian border during a briefing in Moscow, Dec. 2, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Tensions between Russia and Turkey continue to escalate following the downing in November of a Russian Su-24 fighter jet that strayed into Turkish airspace.
Summary⎙ Print Leading military analysts say Putin is trying to draw Ankara into a fight that could have disastrous results for Turkey.
Author Semih IdizPosted February 2, 2016

Questions are being raised now whether the two countries are heading for a military confrontation. A leading Turkish military expert told Al-Monitor that such a Russian move could spell disaster for Turkey.

Turkey accused Russia of violating its airspace again last week and summoned Russia’s ambassador in Ankara to lodge a formal protest. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also warned Moscow that it was playing with fire and would have to face the consequences.

To End Syria’s War, Help Assad’s Officers Defect

FEB. 3, 2016

AS the fraught Syria peace talks inch forward in Geneva, the United States finds itself with little leverage to help negotiate an end to a conflict that has left almost a quarter of a million people dead and helped fuel the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

But there’s an efficient way for Washington to put pressure on Damascus: Offer money and asylum to officers and officials who defect from the criminal regime of PresidentBashar al-Assad.

Discontent among Alawites — the minority sect that forms the regime’s core constituency — as well as Druse and other religious minorities is at its highest since 2012, when dozens of Mr. Assad’s senior military and security officials left the government. Last summer, simmering tensions reportedly boiled over when gun battles erupted between Iranian-backed regime forces and residents of two Alawite villages outside Hama. In September, Druse protesters and paramilitaries overtook a government building in the southern province of Sweida and even destroyed a statue of Hafez al-Assad, Mr. Assad’s father.

Over the course of the revolution, about 3,000 Syrian officers have jumped ship, according to a report by the Free Syrian Army. A vast majority now live in refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, where they perform odd jobs or rely on host countries or the thinly stretched Syrian opposition for their daily bread. But not enough have left, largely because this enormous decline in quality of life discourages additional desertions, in particular from high-level generals who could help force a political solution. Money and legal assistance from the United States could change that.

If Russia Started a War in the Baltics, NATO Would Lose — Quickly

FEBRUARY 3, 2016

If Russian tanks and troops rolled into the Baltics tomorrow, outgunned and outnumbered NATO forces would be overrun in under three days. That’s the sobering conclusion of war games carried out by a think tank with American military officers and civilian officials.

“The games’ findings are unambiguous: As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members,” said a reportby the Rand Corp., which led the war gaming research.

In numerous tabletop war games played over several months between 2014-2015, Russian forces were knocking on the doors of the Estonian capital of Tallinn or the Latvian capital of Riga within 36 to 60 hours. U.S. and Baltic troops — and American airpower — proved unable to halt the advance of mechanized Russian units and suffered heavy casualties, the report said.

The study argues that NATO has been caught napping by a resurgent and unpredictable Russia, which has begun to boost defense spending after having seized the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine and intervened in support of pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. In the event of a potential Russian incursion in the Baltics, the United States and its allies lack sufficient troop numbers, or tanks and armored vehicles, to slow the advance of Russian armor, said the report by Rand’s David Shlapak and Michael Johnson.

8 maps that explain the global economy

December 18, 2014

Commerce knits the modern world together in a way that nothing else quite does. Almost anything you own these days is the result of a complicated web of global interactions. And there's no better way to depict those interactions and the social and political circumstances that give rise to them than with a map or two. Or in our case, 38. These maps are our favorite way to illustrate the major economic themes facing the world today. Some of them focus on the big picture while others illustrate finer details. The overall portrait that emerges is of a world that's more closely linked than ever before, but still riven by enormous geography-driven differences.

World GDP per capita

NSA Plans Major Reorganization

Ellen Nakashima
February 2, 2016

National Security Agency plans major reorganization

The National Security Agency, the largest electronic spy agency in the world, is undertaking a major reorganization, merging its offensive and defensive organizations in the hope of making them more adept at facing the digital threats of the 21st century, according to current and former officials.

In place of the Signals Intelligence and Information Assurance directorates, the organizations that historically have spied on foreign targets and defended classified networks against spying, the NSA is creating a Directorate of Operations that combines the operational elements of each.

“This traditional approach we have where we created these two cylinders of excellence and then built walls of granite between them really is not the way for us to do business,” said agency Director Michael S. Rogers, hinting at the reorganization — dubbed NSA21 — that is expected to be publicly rolled out this week.

“We’ve gotta be flat,” he told an audience at the Atlantic Council last month. “We’ve gotta be agile.”

Kosovo: The Defenestration Of Oliver Ivanovic – OpEd

By Gerard M. Gallucci*
FEBRUARY 3, 2016

Oliver Ivanovic is today a political prisoner being held as a result of an unholy – and rather short-sighted – alliance between the internationals, Belgrade and the current Kosovo Albanian leadership.

On January 21, judges of the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) in Mitrovica declared Kosovo Serb political activist, Oliver Ivanovic, guilty of “war crime against the civilian population”, while acquitting him of murder, inciting murder or attempted murder. Presiding Judge, Roxana Comsa, found that Ivanovic – while not a leader of the “Bridge Watchers” – had “known” that an “operation of expulsions and killings of Albanians was under way” in north Mitrovica and “willingly complied” – apparently by not acting to prevent it. The judges reached their decision on the basis of the suspect and sketchy testimony of a few “witnesses” in a trial 14 years after events that occurred in the context of NATO bombing and widespread ethnic violence. The court sentenced Ivanovic to nine years – he was originally arrested in 2014 and released into house detention last September – and carried him back to prison on January 28. The prosecution, trial and renewed imprisonment were politically-motivated and carried out to serve the interests of the Europeans and Americans left holding the Kosovo bag as well as a Serbian government eager to wipe Kosovo Serbs off its shoes. The whole affair raises grave doubts about rule of law in Kosovo.

Cybersecurity Gap Blocks Pentagon From a Lockheed F-35 Database

February 1, 2016

The Pentagon hasn’t had updated information on maintenance of the F-35 jet since May because a Lockheed Martin Corp. database doesn’t meet new government cybersecurity requirements, according to the Defense Department’s testing office.

“Because of this non-compliance government personnel have not been able to access the database via government networks,” and that’s preventing a Pentagon-Lockheed team “from holding the planned reviews of maintenance records,” Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s testing chief, said in an assessment of the F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons program.

The shortfall in Lockheed’s database for engine and air-frame maintenance under security requirements imposed in August by U.S. Cyber Command is among computer security deficiencies outlined in Gilmore’s annual report on major weapons systems,posted Monday on his office’s website.

Northrop Air Center

How Google plans to fight extremism through search advertising (+video)

FEBRUARY 3, 2016

A new program will provide advertising grants to anti-radicalization organizations, making their content more visible when people search Google for violent or extremist material. 

When would-be terrorists go to Google to find violent propaganda or information about bomb-making, they may instead find a counter-narrative of moderation and non-aggression.

A new Google program outlined at a committee hearing in the British Parliament aims to counteract extremist material online by increasing the visibility of anti-radical organizations in search results.

“When people put potentially damaging search terms into our search engine they [will] also find these counter narratives,” Anthony House, Google’s Head of Policy Strategy for the EU, told members of Parliament.

Washington Must Remedy Colombia's Flawed FARC Deal

February 4, 2016

For fifty years, the Colombian government has been locked in armed conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC. But for the last four years Bogotá and its nemesis, an internationally recognized narco-terrorist group, have been engaged in peace talks as well.

With the deadline fast approaching, the two parties have agreed to finalize a peace agreement on March 23. But before that happens, President Barack Obama will host a February 4 “official working visit” with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House.

For the United States, both the terms of the peace agreement and the way it’s implemented are extremely important. Colombia is a U.S. ally. It is also the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid in the Western Hemisphere. Over the last two decades, the United States supported Colombia’s development and security with a $10 billion aid package known as “Plan Colombia.” In that time, Colombia went from verging on “failed state” status to becoming a stable democracy, a regional leader in police and military training, an economic powerhouse and a member of the region’s largest free-market trade bloc—the Pacific Alliance.