12 June 2016

** Don't Be Scared to Squeeze Pakistan

The U.S. toolbox is brimming with $20 billion in carrots but desperately lacking in sticks.
Jeff M. Smith
June 8, 2016
Pakistan returned to the headlines last month, after a U.S. air strike eliminated Afghan Taliban commander Mullah Mansour inside Pakistani territory. It marked the first ever U.S. strike on an Afghan Taliban leader inside the group’s Pakistani sanctuary of Baluchistan, which had been off-limits to U.S. drones as part of an informal arrangement with Islamabad. Washington has touted the drone strike as an important victory for the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. However, it will prove symbolic and short-lived unless it prompts more fundamental reform of America’s Pakistan policy. To effect real change, Washington must increase pressure not just on the Taliban residing in Pakistan, but on Pakistan itself.

After a U.S. military drone eliminated commander Mullah Mansour as he traveled by taxi to the Afghan Taliban headquarters in Quetta, the militant group moved swiftly to appoint a successor. The sons of Mullah Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, the late leaders of the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, were considered and quickly dismissed due to their youth and inexperience. A more obscure religious figure, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, arose as the consensus candidate. Analysts have now turned their attention to what Akhundzada’s appointment means for the nascent Afghan peace process, and whether the strike was a “one-off” or the catalyst for an expansion of America’s drone campaign into Baluchistan.
While these are important tactical questions, they’re of limited value if the underlying strategy remains flawed. A more consequential question is why Pakistan’s harboring of yet another terrorist commander has been met with a collective shrug by the United States and the international community. It’s an uncomfortable reminder that Pakistan’s “double game” has become old news. Accepted wisdom. Permitted behavior. In Washington, anger has been dimmed by exhaustion, with many now hoping to reach a modicum of stability in Afghanistan and put the whole messy affair behind them. History, however, has been unkind to great powers that fail to learn from their mistakes.

To be clear, few in Washington are under any illusions about the extent of Pakistan’s perfidy. Hillary Clinton has warned that Pakistan “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world.” In his memoir, Defense Secretary Robert Gates recalled how “in every instance” the United States shared intelligence with Pakistan about a target, “the target was forewarned and fled” or Pakistan launched a botched operation of its own. “I knew they were really no ally at all,” he explained.
America suffers not from a lack of information, but from a lack of resolve. And a lack of perspective. They say the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. The greatest trick Pakistan ever pulled was convincing America it only had two choices: tolerate and bankroll Pakistan’s double game, or stir an unstable cocktail of Islamist extremism and weapons of mass destruction.

What the United States and India can do together on the South China Sea

Joseph Chinyong Liow | June 10, 2016

Editors’ Note: Although the South China Sea is a source of potential instability for the Asian region, writes Joseph Liow, disputes there also offer an opportunity for greater cooperation between the United States and India in contributing to the management of regional order. This post is excerpted from a new Brookings India briefing book titled “India-U.S. Relations in Transition.”
While a source of potential instability for the Asian region, the South China Sea disputes also offer an opportunity for greater cooperation between the United States and India in contributing to the management of regional order.

The United States has reiterated its neutrality on the matter of competing claims in the South China Sea. Nevertheless, by way of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement at the 2010 ASEAN Regional Forum meeting, the United States has also stated that the South China Sea is a matter of national interest. Specifically, the U.S. interest in the South China Sea is related to stability, freedom of navigation, and the right to lawful commercial activity in East Asia’s waterways. The declaratory policy on the South China Sea has gathered strength with the Obama administration’s strategy of a "pivot" (or "rebalance") to Asia. This declaratory policy has been accompanied by a deepening of U.S. diplomatic, military, and economic ties with key Southeast Asian claimant states, notably the Philippines and Vietnam. Unilaterally, the United States has also adopted a more robust position on the South China Sea. This is evident in its conduct of several high-profile freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) after a hiatus of two years, designed to demonstrate the commitment of the United States to stability in the area.

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. Photo credit: U.S. Navy, via Reuters.

While the South China Sea is a matter of national interest for the United States, its explicit interest is freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce. Both of these are things China has guaranteed although, granted, both parties have still to arrive at agreement as to acceptable military activities under the rubric of freedom of navigation, especially in the South China Sea. Commerce however, has little if anything to do with the concerns that both parties have. Underlying their differences on this matter is their competing interpretations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in relation to military activities within a state’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Whereas Washington has taken the position—despite not having ratified UNCLOS—that military activities in EEZs are permitted under the Convention, Beijing has opposed this.

Memo To Lutyens Elite: Time To Move To States If You Want To Stay Relevant

R Jagannathan
June 9, 2016,

The Sonia-Manmohan Singh regime was probably the last one to rule India from imperial Delhi.
Narendra Modi and economic realities are forcing a devolution of power to states.
It is time we acknowledged this reality and dethrone Delhi’s commentariat from its pedestal.
The US gets it, but India’s media and intelligentsia don’t. Under Narendra Modi, India is beginning to become a true federation, but our media is still focused on Delhi. We still expect Delhi to do things and offer answers that only states can deliver.
A Times of India report yesterday (8 May) said that the US wants to hold a “chief ministers’ conclave” to promote commerce and investment between Indian states and US businesses. The report says “the conclave is aimed at offering a platform for ‘leading Indian states to showcase the advantages of doing business in their states and highlight recent business environment reforms.’”
Way to go. After the 14th finance commission ensured that 62 percent of total resources accrue to states, and especially after Modi took over, the emphasis is on passing on more powers – fiscal and regulatory - to the states. The reason why foreign investment has been less forthcoming in the past is because the Centre has stood in the way, or vice-versa - whenever the centre pushed investments, projects got embroiled in state politics and red tape. Barring basic nods for an investment, the bulk of the clearances are today decided by states – land, power supply, labour laws, etc.

A few hurdles still remain. For one, the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), originally created for facilitating inward investments, no longer serves any purpose. Once basic rules – who can invest, where they can invest and how much – are clear, it is states that have to do the heavy lifting.
The Reserve Bank, which is directly under central jurisdiction, needs to reduce the paperwork involved in inward and outward remittances, since India still does not have capital convertibility.
Once investment and capital movements are regulated by transparent rules and regulations, there is no need for the centre to be an intermediary in the process.
The only area the centre needs to stand guard on is fund flows and partnerships that can have an impact on national security. This is not a job that can be delegated to states. But this is something to be monitored covertly and through a watch on money directions. Cyber security also needs very strong central investments.
India’s growth has to be driven by states, and the centre’s role will increasingly reduce to defence, foreign affairs, fiscal and monetary policy, and communications.
While the process of true federalisation is far from complete, the direction is clear. Delhi will increasingly be less relevant to the country’s progress.
This process will make the Lutyens elite redundant, unless they want to pontificate to empty benches.

Whether it is growth or law and order, investment or poverty, the place to monitor these developments is at the state level. We produce thousands of economists, but few real experts at the level of states, both in macroeconomics and microeconomics. Who, for example, can give us a study on what a given change in taxes will do to employment in Odisha?
It is time to dismantle Delhi’s ministerial bhavans and move them to the states, with only a small secretariat relevant to coordination and dissemination of information being retained in the national capital.
The White House seems to have got the general idea. Wonder when the rest of the international media and our own Lutyens mafia will realise where the real action is. On television shows, questions on jobs, law and order, and growth are still being asked of the centre. The answers will come less from Delhi and more from the states in future. It is also important to ensure that state parties are questioned more closely. They have gotten away with murder because of the media’s Delhi obsession.
The Sonia-Manmohan Singh regime was probably the last one to rule India from imperial Delhi. Narendra Modi and economic realities are forcing a devolution of power to states. It is time we acknowledged this reality and dethrone Delhi’s commentariat from its pedestal. They know zilch about the real India.
Hopefully, the shift of power away from Delhi will spare us growth-destroying laws like the Land Acquisition Act or one-cap-fits-all social legislation like the Right to Food and the Right to Education. They have caused more damage than anything else.

National Optical Fibre Network: Why Modi’s Pet Project Is Languishing

Swarajya Staff
June 9, 2016,
Digital India is not possible until the infrastructure for that is in place
While the Modi government has sped up the projects related to it, there is still a long, long way to go
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project Digital India has nine pillars. India Program National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is one of the most important of those and is also the building block of the project. Without NOFN, Digital India cannot be realised.
Under NOFN, the government aims to connect 2,44,729 Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country through optical fibre cable (OFC). Out of these, 97,480 had to be covered in Phase-1 by 31 March. Now, the government has set 31 December as the new deadline. But it looks unlikely that even this will be met.
The project was rolled out by the UPA regime in October 2011 and was expected to be complete within two years. But here we are. Even after five years, two years of Modi sarkar included, the project is languishing.

Present situation
This Economic Times report says that considerable progress has been made under the current government. The paper quoted some Telecom ministry officials saying that “only 500 km of cable had been laid when the Modi government assumed power in May 2014. And that the figure is now over 1,30,000 km. However, only 7,000 GPs have received final connectivity.”
But consider the magnitude of the task still left: Out of 97,480 GPs, only 7,000 GPs have been connected. So, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology will most likely miss the December target also.

The culprits
To execute the project, the UPA government had created special purpose vehicle, Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), as a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU). Presently, three state-run executing agencies — Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), RailTel and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) are working on the project under the supervision of BBNL. In the first phase, these three have been entrusted to lay the OFC in 84,366 GPs, 8,678 GPs and 7,156 GPs, respectively.
They are running way behind their targets. RailTel is slowest in implementation. By 2015 end, BSNL had laid 37,822 km of OFC (22 per cent of its target), PGCIL laid 3,110 km of OFC (14 per cent of its target), but RailTel could lay only 1,717 km of OFC (8 per cent of its target).
Frustrated with the slow progress made by RailTel, the Minister Of Communication and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad had shot a letter to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu early last year. The concern was also conveyed to the RailTel’s CMD too.
Recently, there has been some progress in RailTel’s execution. While it had laid only 1717 km of OFC till May 2015, the figure stood at 6,152 km in March this year which roughly translates to laying 500 km of OFC per month. But this isn’t enough. One DoT official, in his letter to RailTel, has exhorted the company to expedite the work and instructed it to lay at least 1,000 Km of OFC per month.

Has India Unveiled New Pakistan Policy In Its Tough Talk?

Hari Om Mahajan
June 8, 2016,

The previous week witnessed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) talking tough with Pakistan.
It was after months that both the Foreign Ministry and Home Ministry spoke in one voice creating an impression that there the concerned ministries were working in unison and that New Delhi now meant serious business.
The moral of the story is that the New Delhi’s new foreign policy towards Pakistan has the potential of undoing all the wrongs committed by the Indian political class after Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India.
The previous week witnessed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) talking tough with Pakistan. It all started with the MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup’s 3 June statement on Pakistan, Kashmir issue, political status of Jammu and Kashmir vis-à-vis India and Pakistan-occupied-Jammu and Kashmir (POJK).

Talking to reporters, Swarup, inter-alia said:
The Kashmir issue was not the main cause of tensions between the two countries and externally sponsored terrorism and POJK were the central issues. we completely reject the insinuations by the vested interests (read Pakistan) against India which has rightful sovereignty over the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir…Pakistan needs to vacate its illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Vikas Swarup didn’t stop just there. He rejected outright the Pakistani sinister contention that Kashmir issue had international dimensions. “We stress that there are no global dimensions of the Kashmir issue except in the minds of those who (in this case Islamabad) seek to needlessly internationalise a bilateral matter” (The Hindu, 3 June).
And by bilateral matter, he clearly meant the political future not of this part of Jammu and Kashmir but POJK and Gilgit-Baltistan, which have been occasionally witnessing anti-Islamabad upheavals for quite sometime now with radicals in both the regions of Jammu and Kashmir State not only demanding independence from Islamabad but also on occasions raising pro-India slogans.
Stop interfering in the internal affairs of India, end cross-border terrorism and vacate the aggression were the three fundamental upshots of the Vikas Swarup’s plain-speaking.

And the very next day, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh went a step further. He, said:
India will not talk on Kashmir with Pakistan. If at all India and Pakistan talk, the talks only will be on POJK and Gilgit-Baltistan and not on this part of Jammu and Kashmir. The world knows that the Pathankot airbase terror attack was the handiwork of fully trained terrorists. While India allowed Pakistani intelligence team to visit Pathankot airbase to see for itself what was done by terrorists to enact a major anti-India act, Islamabad has not reciprocated”(Dainik Jagran, 5 June). Rajnath Singh made this statement in Pathankot while addressing an intellectuals’ meet.
There was no ambiguity in what Rajnath Singh and Vikas Swarup at two different places within a short span of two days. It was after months that both the Foreign Ministry and Home Ministry spoke in one voice creating an impression that there the concerned ministries were working in unison and that New Delhi now meant serious business. In fact, it was for the first time in more than six decades that the Union Home Minister and the Indian Foreign Office said what they said.
What they said about Pakistan, Kashmir issue, POJK and related issues did suggest that the attitude of New Delhi towards Pakistan had undergone some change. It’s no wonder then that what they said surprised many. The reasons were obvious.

One of the most disturbing reasons was the manner in which New Delhi dealt with Pakistan after the 10 July, 2015 Ufa (Russia) India-Pakistan joint statement. Between 10 July, 2015 and 1 June, 2016, when Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain said that India was “running away” from talks, the New Delhi’s Pak policy was known more for flip flops than anything else. There is no need to catalogue these flip flops as they are too many.
Suffice it to say that the nation would appreciate the Modi dispensation if it held its ground firmly and didn’t kneel under any pressure whatsoever.What Rajnath Singh and Vikas Swarup said would rattle Pakistan is a foregone conclusion. Indeed, the unequivocal stand of New Delhi has sent a strong message to Islamabad.

Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV): Need for Integrating Information Component

Rahul Bhonsle
Jun 9, 2016

Today a year has gone by since the issue of the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV) Request for Information (RFI) by the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF) of the Indian Army technically known as the Integrated HQ of Ministry of Defence (Army).
The project is to be implemented in three stages Design, Prototype Development and Production. Presently only the first or the Design stage is under consideration. The three stage process is a part of the Defence Procurement Procedure “Make,” category. This is different from the Buy Indian Design and Developed Make category which is priority one in the Buy and Make category of the DPP 2016.
The RFI of 10 June 2015 elaborated the operational requirements and design philosophy relevant to the Design Stage and it is anticipated that the subsequent RFIs will be issued for Stage 2 and 3 though in case adequate homework had been done all three could have been given out simultaneously but that is a moot point.
The main issue is the platform centric rather than information centric approach in the design criteria which restricts the designer to provide sub optimal solution to the next generation tank for the Indian Army, but first a review of the RFI.

The RFI calls for designing a base platform for the Main Battle Tank as a replacement of the T 72 tanks in the Indian Army. This will be a modular concept which can meet the requirements of variants which could be from a tracked light tank to an armoured ambulance. Essentially the chassis will remain the same while the superstructure could vary depending on the numbers and usage desired. The modular concept is not new as at present for instance the Arjun chassis has been used for varied purposes such as the Bhim artillery gun.
The RFI is essentially to select tank design bureaus and agencies which would include the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) who will be going through a design competition to be selected by a Design Selection Committee. The winning design(s) will carry suitable cash prize(s). Thus the design will be partially gratis. The agency/bureau whose designs are selected will work on the project through the prototype and the Limited Series Production (LSP) stages thereby ensuring providing detailed inputs in the production stage as well. The Design Selection Committee (DSC) is expected to have apart from officers of the DGMF tank design experts from the DRDO and other agencies. Private experts also need to be called up if not as members but to render advice to the DSC.

The basic consideration for selection is nothing very extraordinary, possibly those who respond to the RFI will be given additional information. A number of Seminars and meets have already been held in which the requirement of the RFI would have been expanded.
The FRCV is required to be a `Medium Tank’ which can operate on India’s Western borders across the present category of military bridges and the existing civilian road infrastructure. This will place the FRCV in the 50 tonne category.
Engagement ranges surprisingly are required to be well matched to the contemporary MBTs whereas the actual requirement could have been worked out given the available visibility in the plains and the desert sector. This is the advantage of designing a tank for Indian conditions where the ranges which have already been caliberated in the plains and the desert sector varying between 2500 to 4000 metres should dictate the design. Lack of specific range being provided may result in a more generic criteria being developed, as there is still time this needs to be gone into.

White House Planning to Expand Use of Airstrikes in Afghanistan

Official: U.S. moving to expand strikes in Afghanistan
Associated Press
June 9, 2016
WASHINGTON — After months of debate, the U.S. is close to a decision to expand the military’s authority to conduct airstrikes against the Taliban as the violence in Afghanistan escalates, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday.
The official said a final decision has not been made, but the discussions are in their final stages. There is a broad desire across the Obama administration to give the military greater ability to help the Afghans fight and win the war. The official said the U.S. is likely to expand the authority of U.S. commanders to strike the Taliban and do whatever else is necessary with the forces they have to support the Afghan operations.
The 9,800 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan, however, would still not be involved in direct combat.
The official was not authorized to talk publicly about the discussions so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The expected decision comes as the Afghans struggle with a resurgent Taliban, particularly in the south. But it is fraught with political sensitivities because President Barack Obama had made clear his commitment to get U.S. forces out of Afghanistan. That effort, however, has been stalled by the slow pace of the development of the Afghan military and the resilience of the Taliban. The Taliban are refocusing their attention mostly on the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan, according to U.S. and Afghan military officials, although the insurgents also have struck elsewhere, such as in Kunduz province in the north, where they overran and held the provincial capital for a few days last fall.
The results have been daunting: The U.N. says 3,545 Afghan civilians were killed and 7,457 wounded in 2015, most of them by the Taliban.
The U.S. has continued to conduct counterterrorism strikes against al-Qaida and Islamic State militants in Afghanistan. But strikes against the Taliban were largely halted at the end of 2014, when the U.S.-led coalition’s combat role ended. Limited strikes have been allowed in cases of self-defense or when Afghan forces were in danger of being overrun. Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has discussed with Defense Secretary Ash Carter his recommendations for moves the U.S. can make to further assist the Afghans. And there have been ongoing conversations with the White House.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, asked Thursday whether the administration was looking at expanding the U.S. military’s authorities to strike the Taliban more broadly, said: “In every step of our review of Afghanistan, the question of what’s the best way to use our forces is something we’re constantly looking at. It’s also in the same sense that we’re looking at the number of troops. We are always looking at the authorities question and the best use of our troops.”

Stability Projections and Trends


SR Research , Jun 8, 2016
Pakistan – Stability Projections and Trends[1]

Balanced relationship Ruling PML N and Opposition Parties – Negative [Post Panama Papers Revelations]
Balanced civil military relations - Negative.
Military role in politics and governance - Negative.

Conflict management tribal areas Khyber Pakhtoonwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan – Positive.
Counter Terrorism Punjab, Sindh – Positive.
De-criminalisation Karachi – Positive.

Geo Political/Regional
Supporting stability in Afghanistan – Negative.
Conflict de-escalation India - Negative

GDP Growth - Positive
[Real GDP growth at market prices in percent, unless indicated otherwise]
2015 2016 2017 2018
5.5 5.5 5.4 5.4
4.8 4.1 4.5 (CY) – Projections June 2015.
5.5 5.5 5.4 5.4
6.0 3.7 4.5 (FY) – Projections June 2015.

[Estimates as per World Bank Report GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS Chapter 2.5 JANUARY 2016]
As per the Asian Development Bank Outlook for 2016, GDP growth is expected to accelerate modestly to 4.5% in FY2016 and 4.8% in FY2017, assuming continued macroeconomic stability, expected improvement in energy supply, and planned infrastructure investment tied to an economic corridor project linking Pakistan with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Further implementation of structural reform will consolidate recent gains in macroeconomic stability and improve the investment climate amidst the improving security situation, especially in Karachi, the commercial hub of the country. Growth in industry is expected to be driven by strong expansion in construction and continued moderate expansion in mining, utilities, and manufacturing. Growth in large-scale manufacturing accelerated to 3.9% in the first half of FY2016 from 2.7 % in the same period of last year, supported by low prices for raw materials, improved gas and electricity supply, and expanded construction, as well as lower interest rates. Agriculture is likely to continue to grow only moderately, as cotton output is projected to fall because of heavy rains in July 2015 and much lower global cotton prices. However, continued strong expansion in livestock, which accounts for over half of agricultural production, will partly offset reductions elsewhere. Challenges for export growth are generally weak external demand, growth moderation in the PRC, Pakistan rupee appreciation against the euro, lost textile market share to new competitors, and unfavourable terms of trade for exports with little value added. Persistent rupee appreciation, by 20% in real terms over the past 2 years, has adversely affected export competitiveness. [i]

[UPDATED 19 May 16. Indicative measures based on open source information for the purpose of debate on security]

[1] Projections are positive indicators that if achieved could lead to enhanced effectiveness and stability in key vectors such as politics, governance and so on. These are prescriptive based on information from primary sources and analysis of open sources. Trends indicate possibility or otherwise of projections identified as positive, negative or uncertain and are indicated against each vector. Sources based on which trends have been assessed are included in detailed assessments provided to subscribers. FOR DETAILED ASSESSMENT AND FUTURE TRENDS SUBSCRIBE TO PAKISTAN, DAILY WEEKLY OR MONTHLY BRIEFS. EMAIL officemail@security-risks.com.

[i] Asian development outlook 2016. Asia’s potential growth. Mandaluyong City, Philippines: Asian Development Bank, 2016. Page183-185.

A Bloody Setback for China’s Africa Surge Beijing learns that peacekeeping is dangerous

On May 31, a rocket attack in the Water Tower neighborhood of the Malian town of Gao struck Chinese peacekeepers. The attack killed 29-year-old First Sgt. Shen Lianlian and injured several of his fellow soldiers. A separate strike the same day killed one French national and two Malians.
Beijing dispatched an investigative team of soldiers and diplomats to Gao. China’s ambassador to Mali, Lu Huiying, told Chinese media the team is to assist the United Nations as it probes the attack.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali is currently the most dangerous in the world.
In addition to monitoring the shaky detente between the Malian military and northern Taureg rebels, peacekeepers must contend with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The terrorist group is a wildcard that doesn’t play by any of the rules the other actors do.
Eighty-one peacekeepers have died in Mali since the mission began in 2013. Shen is the first Chinese fatality.
Historically, the Chinese military has sent medical personnel and engineers to Africa in support roles. However, the nature and structure of China’s peacekeeping missions are changing — in both size and the ability to fight.
Beijing’s deployment to Mali in 2013 brought a much larger combat component than previous Chinese peacekeeping missions.
In 2015, China deployed an infantry battalion to South Sudan. It is Beijing’s largest troop deployment — combat ready or otherwise — to a U.N. mission to date. The 700-troop contingent is equipped with drones, armored fighting vehicles, mortars and heavy machine guns.
In May 2015, the Chinese troops got their first taste of action when they intervened to stop a riot in one of three refugee camps near their barracks in the South Sudanese capital of Juba. The riot resulted in two deaths and around 100 injuries before the Chinese troops stopped it.
“China has gone from being a nation that voiced its opposition to international peacekeeping efforts to one that has committed a fully equipped infantry battalion, whose troop strength and capabilities equal that of a reinforced battalion in time of war,” analyst Cindy Hurst wrote in a special essay the May 2016 issue of O.E. Watch, the monthly newsletter of the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office.
“This change of heart has many observers questioning China’s possible intentions and motives.”
Chinese officials typically tout a policy of non-interference in the politics of African nations. However, there are occasional signs of shrewd politicking.
After the Liberian civil war, China deployed military engineers to build roads and infrastructure in the small west African Nation — conspicuously after Monrovia dropped its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.
Many commentators have been particularly critical of Chinese policy in both Sudan and South Sudan, both places China has sent peacekeepers. Chinese weapons have routinely been spotted in South Sudan. And human rights groups have accused China of running interference for Sudan during the height of the Darfur Genocide.
eijing eventually agreed to authorize a peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region — and even sent troops. But the presence of Chinese peacekeepers angered several Darfuri rebel groups. Some rebels threatened to attack them, though thus far no Chinese troops have died in Darfur.

India, Pakistan continue to view the opening of trading routes as threat to their security

Pakistan is small and comparatively weak, so it seeks extra-regional alliances before facing up to the Indian threat

Written by Khaled Ahmed | Updated: June 11, 2016 
It is tragic that high-strung India and Pakistan have taken the opening of trading routes as a threat to their security, growling at each other while pretending to reach for their nukes. (File/AP Photo)
The recent statement by India’s National Investigation Agency chief Sharad Kumar exempting the Pakistani state from responsibility in the January attack on the Pathankot airbase by terrorists from across the border has thrown the Pakistani media on the wrong scent of reminding India that all its accusations against Pakistan in the past were also wrong. It is unforgivable that in South Asia even television newsreaders abandon their put-on objectivity by tilting into sarcasm against the neighbouring state.
Indian retired military officers are writing against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) seeing all kinds of evil conspiracies to harm India. According to them, this must be part of a plan to encircle India, already partly done by the Chinese troop deployment in Kashmir. Gwadar is being seen as the next Chinese naval base from where to challenge, and ultimately blockade, India. On the other hand, Pakistani retired officers view India’s Chabahar venture as aimed against Pakistan, a stepping stone to an encircling move in Afghanistan with Iran’s help.

Two retired Pakistani generals, both former defence secretaries, spoke at the Strategic Vision Institute workshop condemning the three-state trade hub at Chabahar in Iran as a threat to Pakistan’s security. They declared that the CPEC was no threat to India: “The alliance between India, Afghanistan and Iran is a security threat to Pakistan and Pakistan is going into isolation”, said one while the other described it as, “falling into an abyss of isolation”. Their recommendation was Pakistan should approach China for a written military pact that would commit China to come to Pakistan’s defence in case there was an India-Pakistan war over the Chabahar corridor. They should have known that China doesn’t sign such treaties.

Pakistan is small and comparatively weak, so it seeks extra-regional alliances before facing up to the Indian threat. Fear drives action more often than anger: Pakistan attacks but doesn’t win. And so far China has shown no interest in attacking India to save Pakistan from hurting itself. It didn’t budge when the Pakistan army was getting a drubbing in East Pakistan in 1971. And military experts in Islamabad must have been put off by a recent statement from the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang: “The projects (Chabahar and CPEC) have the potential to complement each other in boosting the otherwise sluggish economies of the region.” Lower down, Chinese officials have hinted at this earlier and even recommended thinking about making CPEC available for Chinese trade with India and Central Asia.

It is tragic that high-strung India and Pakistan have taken the opening of trading routes as a threat to their security, growling at each other while pretending to reach for their nukes. Pakistan, committed to SAARC pledges of “connectivity”, refused to allow SAARC-members India and Afghanistan to transit their goods through its territory. Normally the median state gains through transit duties, but in this case “security” is threatened if Indian goods pass through and the median state gains nothing. If there was some political advantage from allowing Afghan transit trade from Karachi it has already been nullified: 40 per cent of it is gone to Chabahar already and the rest is undermined by poor law and order in Pakistan.

Shangri-La talks: China against world?

By Richard Javad Heydarian on June 10, 2016 in Asia Times News & Features, China, Southeast Asia

MANILA–“The vast Pacific Ocean has enough space for two large countries like the United States and China,” claimed Chinese President Xi Jinping during his intimate retreat in Sunnylands with his American counterpart, Barack Obama, back in 2013. Optimistic about a new era of cooperation, Xi espoused a “new model of great power relations.”
Three years on, the two superpowers are on a collision course in the South China Sea, the world’s most important waterway. Intensified Sino-American rivalry, and its regional reverberations, was well on display during the latest edition of the Asian Security Summit, better known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, which brought together the world’s leading defense officials and experts in Singapore.

Though less strident than expected, the United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s speech was an attempt to provide unequivocal justification for America’s growing military footprint in Asia and its deepening security alliances with a wide array of regional powers. He boasted about Washington’s huge military qualitative edge, namely its new undersea drones, the Virginia-class submarines, and the new B-21 Long-Range Strike Bomber. Presenting America as a benign power, he lauded its willingness to share “most advanced capabilities to the Asia-Pacific” partners, particularly Japan and Australia.
His tone, however, shifted once theme of China and its regional ambitions came up. He openly accused China of taking “some expansive and unprecedented actions” that put into doubt its “strategic intentions.” He warned, “if these actions continue,” China would end up erecting a “Great Wall of self-isolation.” Carter went so far as characterizing China’s actions as “provocative, destabilizing and self-isolating.”

Defense ministers of other Western and regional powers, from France to India, Japan and Vietnam, also expressed their concerns with China’s growing military footprint in the South China Sea. Over the past two years, China has reclaimed 3,200 acres (1,295 hectares) of land across disputed waters, building humongous artificial islands that host dual-purpose (civilian and military) facilities. No other claimant country, including Vietnam, comes even close.
In recent months, China has deployed advanced military hardware to some of its islands in Paracel and Spratly chain of islands, ranging from high-frequency radars and surface-to-air-missiles to state-of-the-art fighter jets. The growing presence of Chinese fishermen-cum-militia forces is another source of concern. As China builds a sprawling network of military facilities in the area, there is growing fear that China may soon be in a position to establish an ‘exclusion zone’, denying freedom of overflight and navigation to regional and external military forces.

Saudi Arabia's Bold New Oil Strategy Could Backfire

Fossil fuels’ bleak future spells trouble for Riyadh.
James Bowen
June 8, 2016

Speaking at the December 2013 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, then Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi warned of repercussions from a pledge by Iran—hit the year before by harsh U.S. and European sanctions—to return to producing four million barrels of crude a day, “even if the oil price reaches twenty dollars per barrel.” Naimi predicted this basement-level value would wipe out producers of then burgeoning “nonconventional” petroleum such as shale and oil sands.
Despite its best market-crashing intentions three years ago, Iran had to wait until it gained the relief of last year’s nuclear deal to begin realistically pursuing its previous output. In the interim, the Saudis have proven themselves far more adept at affecting low prices through OPEC, responding to rising production from those primarily North American nonconventional producers by merely adding to the glut, in an attempt to bankrupt these higher cost rivals. In February of this year, Naimi even spoke of twenty dollars a barrel as a distinct possibility, and without concern that it might also take out more than a few fellow OPEC members.

Such historical context is necessary when dealing with a regime as opaque but also clearly self-interested as that in Riyadh. At the most recent OPEC gathering, in Vienna last week, its new oil minister Khalid al-Falih attempted to reclaim the role of conciliator, suggesting that the Saudis now “realize that a long time under lower prices doesn’t bring enough supply to meet the rise in demand.” This came as the cartel again refused to cut production and thus exerted a small amount of downward pressure on prices. These had recently rebounded to about fifty dollars per barrel, owing to factors outside Saudi control, such as Canadian wildfires and Nigerian instability.
The price stabilization may have precluded a true test of the Saudis’ future strategy, though there is ultimately little reason to believe that maintenance of high supply has been abandoned; it has merely been recalibrated to make the Kingdom a price taker rather than maker. Despite seeming to soften the message of Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week, Falih’s actions at OPEC will continue to be directed by the upstart Saudi leader, whose ambitious post-oil Vision 2030 strategy ensures the Saudis retain considerable interest in maximizing oil returns in a short space of time, with the fate of other producers, or the market itself, of little concern. This make-or-break gamble will necessarily have immense repercussions beyond those already felt. It certainly puts an end to any notions of an imminent Western uncoupling from Middle Eastern–dictated oil politics.

The End of OPEC, and Beyond
The OPEC triumphalism on display in Vienna was in stark contrast to the mood at the cartel’s April meeting in Doha. At that event, Riyadh refused to move forward on a production freeze at January 2016 levels, as had been agreed beforehand with Russia. This was due to the deal’s exclusion of Iran, which had again invoked its desire to reach pre-sanctions targets, albeit with a higher likelihood of success this time. After this episode, a common observation was that the Saudis had hastened the death of OPEC. That assessment likely remains accurate, and was certainly the view of Russian executive Igor Sechin, an adviser to Vladimir Putin, who said that the group has “practically stopped existing as a united organization.”
Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, called the Doha affair a “botched Saudi bid to stem the precipitous decline in oil prices.” Oil industry watchers I spoke to saw it quite differently. They said the Saudis were never that interested in curbing production to begin with, least of all Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In the most appropriately Machiavellian reading, this prince was fairly certain of how Iran would respond to the offer on the table, and used the affair to reassert authority on the market. It probably didn’t hurt that Riyadh could paint its great rival as the villain, while advancing its own agenda.

Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf: The Cost of an ISIS-Centric U.S. Strategy

June 9, 2016
The United States seems to be succeeding in putting more and more pressure on ISIS. Although it is far from clear when ISIS will be defeated in either Syria or Iraq, the combination of anti-ISIS forces in each country now seems likely to inflict a series of steady defeats, and ISIS may lose control of a number of major population centers at some point between the end of the year and mid-2017.
Any such victory, however, depends on the various anti-ISIS factions in Syria and Iraq avoiding deeper conflict among themselves. Victory also will be limited even in terms of the defeat of ISIS. Many ISIS fighters will escape. ISIS already has cells and affiliates in other countries. And—just as Al Qa’ida in Mesopotamia transformed itself into ISIS—there will still be movements committed to equally violent forms of Islamist extremism such as the Al Nusra Front. The “war against terrorism” will go on, perhaps focusing even more on outside states, while the vengeful fighters will disperse to other countries.
Iraq: Defeating ISIS, Empowering Iran, Alienating Sunni and Shi’ite Arabs, and Isolating the Kurds?
The United States, however, will face much broader problems. Defeating ISIS in Iraq has so far shown no signs of weakening Iranian influence. If anything, Iran seems to be able to take advantage of its own presence on the ground, and its ties to Shi’ite militias to take credit wherever possible, while downplaying the role of the U.S.-led air coalition and the U.S. train and assist mission on the ground.

The Iraqi central government is as divided as ever, and its assembly is more dominated by competing sectarian and ethnic factions, than by support for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi or reform. Cuts in oil export revenues have left the Iraqi government effectively bankrupt, corruption is endemic, and no real healing has taken place in the relations between Sunni and Shi’ite. The facts on the ground around Fallujah are far from clear, but Iraq is filled with rumors of new abuses of many Sunnis fleeing the city perpetrated by the Shi’ite militias who surround it. The flow of supplies and reinforcements to central government forces seems uncertain at best, as seem its efforts to help civilians caught up in the fighting.
Sunni militias remain weak and poorly supported, and tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite seem to be steadily rising on a national level. U.S. encouragement of sectarian unity, reform and effective governance exists, but seems to be limited largely to exhortation and have little real impact. The United States faces a good chance—if not probability—that its efforts to defeat ISIS in Iraq will end in empowering an Iranian influenced Shi’ite-dominated government, while showing Sunnis inside and outside Iraq that once again the United States could not help Iraqi Sunnis on any lasting basis.

U.S. ties to Iraqi Kurdish fighters bring it closer to a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that is as divided and corrupt as the Iraqi central government. The divisions and uncertain alliances between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Gorran or Change Movement, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) shows that an old Middle East saying—“the Kurds have no friends but the mountains”—should really be phrased as “the Kurds have no friends, including the Kurds.” At the same time, the cut in petroleum revenues have made the struggle over oil exports between the Iraqi Kurds and central government even more difficult, and left the Iraqi Kurds with just as much of a financial crisis.

Status Report on the Battle for Fallujah

The Campaign for Fallujah
Institute for the Study of War
June 9, 2016
By Emily Anagnostos and the ISW Iraq Team

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Popular Mobilization completed the encirclement of Fallujah on June 5 after retaking Saqlawiyah on Fallujah’s western axis. The joint forces had recaptured Albu Shajal, west of Fallujah, on June 1, and consolidated terrain south of Fallujah around the Tuffah Bridge, likely as condition setting to retake the Fallujah Dam. The ISF, without Popular Mobilization forces, began operations into Fallujah city on June 6, when they surrounded the southern neighborhoods of Jubeil and Hayy al-Shuhada. The ISF, spearheaded by efforts from the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), secured the first zone of Hayy al-Shuhada on June 8 and stormed the second zone on June 9 where efforts are ongoing. ISIS likely no longer has control over al-Zawiyah, to the south of Fallujah, given the establishment of a humanitarian corridor through the area.

The Popular Mobilization, however, may no longer be satisfied with simply securing Fallujah’s environs and has begun to push for militia participation in Fallujah’s city limits. Badr Organization leader Hadi al-Amiri announced on June 4 a ten-day deadline for residents to leave Fallujah, citing civilian presence as the biggest obstacle to retake the city. The U.N. nearly doubled the estimate of civilians in Fallujah from 50,000 to 90,000 on June 8. The deadline is set to expire on June 14, the two year anniversary of the Popular Mobilization’s founding. Popular Mobilization deputy chairman Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis amended Amiri’s statement on June 5 saying that militias would enter the city “if needed” and entrusted the city to the ISF’s command. Popular Mobilization spokesman Karim al-Nouri similarly stated that entering Fallujah was not the Popular Mobilization’s “duty” and that they would await Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s decision before participating. However, the Popular Mobilization will continue to lobby for permission to enter Fallujah, as Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) leader Ammar al-Hakim stated on June 6 that the lack of participation of militias in Fallujah was “unrealistic and illogical.” Sunni officials continue to push back against the possibility of militia participation in Fallujah, and they have demanded that militias withdraw from Fallujah amidst ongoing reports of human rights violations against Fallujah residents fleeing the city. The Popular Mobilization has maintained that they do not engage in “systemic” abuse in the area, however claims of Shi'a militias “kidnapping, killing, and harassing” Sunni civilians, most recently in Saqlawiyah following its recapture, continue to surface. The Iraqi Government cannot guarantee its long-term stability as long as Sunni populations do not feel protected or represented by their government and are possibly more inclined to welcome extremist ideology.

Read this update online

Ramadan: A Time to Fast and a Time to Kill

By Micah Halpern • 06/09/16

Many Muslims are being called to violence during Ramadan. Wikimedia.
Ramadan, the month-long fast in Islam, started this week. The fast will last until July 5.
This fast, which is called al Siym or Zom in the Koran, is one of the five pillars of Islam. The objective of the Ramadan fast is to gain introspection, self-improvement and atonement.
1.6 billion Muslims around the world are said to be fasting. That is over 22 percent of the 7 billion people on earth. It is not clear how many Muslims actually do fast, but even if it is only half that number, it is still a huge and significant number of people spending time working on self improvement and asking for atonement.
During Ramadan Muslims break their fast each night at sundown. Our English word breakfast has the same origin—we break our fast every morning after not having eaten all night. Muslims break fast after not having eaten all day.
In the Koran the original Muslim fast was only one day long. It paralleled the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and it was called Ashura. Like Yom Kippur it was on the 10th day of the first month. Ashura actually means the 10th in Arabic. But after the Jewish tribes of Arabia rejected Muhammad’s message, the prophet changed the single day-long fast into the month-long fast of Ramadan.
That change, along with other changes, was designed to break from Judaism and “one up” the tradition upon which Islam was based. And that also explains why the Kibla, which is the direction one faces during Islamic prayer, turned its back on Jerusalem and began instead to pray towards Mecca. It is also when Islam moved from praying three times a day, as the Jews do, to praying five times a day which is known as Salat.

For extremist Muslims, however, Ramadan is more than introspection and atonement.
ISIS is calling on Muslims around the world to attack infidels during Ramadan. ISIS and other terrorists see this month as a time ideally suited for attacking the enemy, the Western infidel, who abused and attacked Islam. A new video has been posted by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the spokesman of ISIS, calling on followers to strike at as many targets as possible during Ramadan.
The nearly 30-minute-long message was very explicit calling on ISIS supporters to advance the cause everywhere they live.
Al-Adnani says: “Ramadan is coming, the month of attacks and jihad, the month of conquest so be prepared and be on alert, and make sure that everyone of you spends it (Ramadan) in the name of God on the attack. Requesting from God that it (Ramadan), God willing, be a month of calamity on the non-believers anywhere, especially by those soldiers and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America.”
“The smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would if you were with us. If one of you hoped to reach the Islamic State, we wish we were in your place to punish the Crusaders day and night.”
There is no way to interpret these comments other than as a call to arms for followers and lone wolves to do whatever they can, however they can, wherever they live. But there is also a secondary, even subliminal, message being transmitted here.
ISIS is telling their followers that attacks perpetrated against the West are more valuable to them than traveling and joining the fight in the Middle East. ISIS needs local people to perpetrate attacks. They want more independent cells to develop and strike—just like they did in France in Belgium.

ISIS wants to take the fight to our shores. And they want to do it now, during the month of Ramadan.

Reach Out To Russia: Former EUCOM Breedlove

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.on June 09, 2016

WASHINGTON: Retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, just weeks after retiring as NATO’s Supreme Commander, Europe, urged the alliance to reopen “a line of communication” with the Kremlin. While Breedlove’s tenure as SACEUR was wracked by the annexation of Crimea, the invasion of eastern Ukraine, and NATO’s race to strengthen its defenses, his focus was not on building walls against Russia but, in a clear echo of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter— instead on opening doors to it.
“The first and foremost point is that…we have to, with purpose…set forth to establish a line of communications, ” Breedlove said at the Atlantic Council Wednesday afternoon. A starting point perhaps would be expanding on the existing process for managing incidents at sea, a proposal he made before retiring.
“We need to have meaningful dialogue,” he said. “The question is, is that dialogue possible by our government, or is that some sort of track two (i.e. unofficial channels) on steroids?”

Russia may well resist this outreach, Breedlove acknowledged, but we have to keep trying. “I may be frustrated and frustrating in the beginning, but we really, I don’t think, have any choice at this point,” he said. “We need to move out.”
With or — especially — without a formal line of communications, military preparations speak an implicit language all their own. So Breedlove urged NATO to calibrate its deterrent efforts carefully to avoid alarming a touchy Russia. For example, the massive Anakonda (Anaconda) wargames underway in Poland are technically a Polish-led multinational exercise — all of whose participants happen to be NATO members or partners — although, confusingly, a separate NATO event is also happening in parallel.
“The alliance took a decision not to connect the two to make it less — hopefully — less offensive to the Russians,” Breedlove said. “One can understand that the Russians don’t see the difference.”

Finally, preparing for the worst case, NATO needs to write its war plans with “off ramps” that allow the Russians to deescalate and disengage without feeling defeated. Otherwise, Breedlove warned, the danger is that current Russian doctrine — which Russian forces really do train to execute — prescribes tactical nuclear strikes in event of a conventional defeat.
The paradoxical Russian term for this idea translates as “escalate to deescalate”: In essence, hit the other guy so hard he sues for a ceasefire. The way to counter such a radioactive strategy, Breedlove seemed to say, is to find a way to stop aggression without punishing the aggressor too heavily in the process.
NATO needs a war plan, Breedlove said, “that demonstrates power, that demonstrates capability, but provides off-ramps so that both nations — (especially) the one that espouses using tactical nukes — sees an opportunity to in some way meet some of their objectives but begin to decelerate.”
Breedlove isn’t advocating appeasement: “I would just repeated what our president said at Wales (during the 2014 NATO summit). He was extremely clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory.”
“Russia does understand power and strength and unity, and so those are good ingredients for beginning our path to –… you choose the word, whatever is we’re going to establish with Russia in the future,” Breedlove said. But in the long term, he said, “cooperation, partnership, you determine what that word is, at some point in the future we’re going to have to have (it) with Russia.”

The Curse of 9/11: How to Stop the Dissipation of American Military Power

Daniel L. Davis
June 8, 2016
In 1991, the United States military crippled Saddam Hussein’s Iraq after a month of airstrikes, and a mere one hundred hours of ground combat. At that time no nation on the planet represented a conventional military threat to America. Our dominance was unchallenged. In response to the attacks on September 11th, however, the U.S. military diverted its focus to fighting insurgent groups. Fifteen years later, that conventional dominance is gone and with it, the unchallenged security the nation once enjoyed. We must move rapidly to reverse this condition.
Earlier this month, the United States and German armies hosted a tank competition among U.S. allies in Europe, called the Strong Europe Tank Challenge. The first-place winner was a German tank crew, followed by a Danish team and Poland taking third place. The U.S. teams, once the envy of the Western world, shockingly did not even place. In case any thought the outcome an anomaly, one week earlier in Fort Benning, Georgia, another tank crew competition was held, and the winner of the Sullivan Cup was also not an active duty crew. A National Guard team from North Carolina that included “an insurance adjustor, Pepsi truck driver, college student, and aspiring police officer” which “beat fifteen other reserve and active duty tank crews to place first.”

That’s no insult the National Guard—they should be justly proud of the victory—but when a full-time armored crew can’t beat a part-time team in the U.S. and doesn’t even place in international competition, something is deeply wrong. The reason for these poor performances is clear. Whereas prior to 9/11 armor units trained on maneuver warfare fundamentals hundreds of days a year, since that time many crewmen and leaders have gone years without any such training because they spend year after year training for and then deploying to counterinsurgency fights. Our potential adversaries, however, have not suffered such distractions and have gained in both warfighting proficiency as well as improved modern combat platforms.
Russian armor and infantry units have spent years training for maneuver warfare, significantly improving their capability, and have fielded state-of-the-art new tanks. At the same time, Chinese ground forces reorganized into more efficient combat units and conduct frequent and large scale field training exercises, constantly improving their conventional warfighting ability. Even technologically inferior North Korea has been improving their ground fighting capabilities while the U.S. bogged itself down in counterinsurgency. The results of these two tank competitions are canaries in the coal shaft we ignore to our peril.