13 June 2016

War on Isis: Threat of nuclear terror attack 'highest since the Cold War' says think tank

By Brendan Cole June 7, 2016 
Belgian troops control a road leading to Zaventem airport following airport bombings in Brussels. The International Luxembourg Forum warns that jihadis are planning a nuclear attack in EuropeCharles Platiau/ Reuters
The possibility of a nuclear terror attack is at its highest since the end of the Cold War, due to the Islamic State (Isis)'s continuing attempts to obtain weapons of mass destruction, warned a leading international think tank on proliferation on Tuesday (7 June).
The International Luxembourg Forum - which consists of ex-government ministers and officials from Russia and the West - pointed out that the Islamist cell that carried out the attacks in Brussels were looking at the security at a Belgian nuclear facility.
The forum's president, Moshe Kantor, said: "Isis has already carried out numerous chemical weapons attacks in Syria; we know it wants to go further by carrying out a nuclear attack in the heart of Europe.
"This, combined with poor levels of security at a host of nuclear research centres in the former Soviet Union mean the threat of a possible 'dirty-bomb' attack on a Western capital is high," reported The Independent.
Kantor added that the current impasse on nuclear arms control was due to the stance of Washington, which has so far refused to discuss limits for its missile defence programme.

The forum met in Amsterdam to mark the 30th anniversary of the Reykjavik summit between US President Ronald Regan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev which ushered in a historic missile treaty.
Former British defence secretary Des Browne, a member of the forum and vice-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), said there were reports of Isis getting hold of uranium when they captured Mosul," he said.
"It isn't that hard to build a 'dirty bomb'. They may not kill that many people with such a bomb, but the effect on the environment, the infrastructure and the psychological impact on people would be devastating. They can also use cyber warfare to target a nuclear facility."
There are concerns that jihadists will try to carry out attacks in France during the European Championships in June, although the forum did not make any claim that a nuclear threat in that event was imminent.

*** Contemporary Conflict: Challenges and Opportunities

by James A. Sisco
Journal Article | June 8, 2016 -
Individuals, communities, transnational criminal organization, and terrorist networks impact operations like never before. They are the center of gravity in all conflicts and the key to creating enduring stability. Understanding what drives their decision making (identity), is paramount. Lessons from the conflicts in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria illustrate how failing to understand the human dimension of conflict costs lives, resources, and political capital.[i] Social tensions, amplified by unprecedented access to communications technologies, underpin the majority of contemporary conflict. To meet these challenges, the Department of Defense (DoD) must embrace a population-centric approach that can pinpoint, interpret, and operationalize complex social phenomena such as globalization, ethnic and sectarian strife, and demographic transformation.

The DoD struggles to integrate population-centric information into traditional collection and analysis practices, which is why analysts and operators are largely uninformed about societies. Recent and ongoing initiatives rely on standing up specialized organizations, hiring subject matter experts, or applying technical and big data approaches to identify solutions for a human problem. In the latest example, Ash Carter established the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) to transform the military by partnering with Silicon Valley firms to drive innovation. Moreover, the Army’s dependency on doctrine to inform planning and operations, specifically the counterinsurgency manual, has failed to deliver consistent results.
Technology and doctrine without a repeatable process or methodology simply helps practitioners reach the wrong answer faster. Yet tremendous investment has been directed toward technical solutions to operationalize population-centric information, including “big data” and social media monitoring. Reliance on search engines and social media to differentiate numerous, complex social variables is insufficient when developing accurate, culturally attuned assessments. Current strategies lack the rich contextual understanding required to inform Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic (DIME) and Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, Information, Physical Environment, and Time (PMESSI-PT) models.

Increased access to communications technologies and the sheer volume of open source mediums render decision-makers unable to differentiate what social variables are truly important. Local and international news outlets, social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), academic reports, technical data, surveys, polling, focus groups, blogs, and human networks flood analysts and decision-makers with mountains of near real-time information. As they seek to incorporate and evaluate every data point that is important, nothing becomes important. This phenomenon is known as data complexity, which ultimately leads to analysis paralysis, indecision, or the wrong conclusion.
Lastly, the DoD does not realize, harness, or employ the power of narrative in their military information support operations (MISO) or strategic communications campaigns. Narratives, when properly designed are an effective tool to align operational objectives with a target group’s beliefs through identity. Narratives are created to seamlessly assimilate with the culture, world views, identities, and existing narratives of a target group. Moreover, narratives are the critical elements that enable decision-makers to tap into identity in order to shape beliefs, opinions, and ideas of a population.

** Megacity Madness

by Gustav A. Otto and AJ Besik
Journal Article | June 8, 2016 -

Are you in an urban area? Can you look around without seeing anyone? Try talking without being in earshot of someone who can easily overhear your conversation. Try walking side to side, front or back without having to watch out for someone or something. Now imagine the size and frequency of these events, so vast it takes hours to get to a place where you don’t have these experiences at every turn. If these all exist you’re probably in a megacity. So what is one? No one really knows, and that’s a problem. Trying to define a megacity is hard enough, trying to win a decisive action, engage in governance and rule of law, or trying to provide relief? It could be maddening. So what is a megacity? US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart is famous for a remark in 1964 about pornography that he knows it if he sees it.1 That mental approach doesn’t suffice when thinking of a megacity. More importantly we can’t interact with it based on such a shallow understanding. The United Nations arbitrarily defines a megacity as something larger than 10 million people. John Wilmoth, Director of the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) Population Division rightly states, “Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century. Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda.”2 The problem is bigger even than a megacity. It is how to consider one. How does the international community analyze megacities? Reviewing over 400 documents, website and blogs suggests there’s no single analytic, comprehensive tool for analyzing this new phenomenon.3 Arguably this is a classic interdisciplinary topic requiring a complex framework for analysis and evaluation, and ripe for innovation and creativity (design thinking).

The paper outlines a few ways to think about and analyze a megacity and make recommendations to prepare for operations in such an environment. The recommendations herein could not all encompassing, and likely never will be. It is an introduction by which a person or organization may consider the myriad of issues regarding a megacity, that when combined become vexing if not a wicked problem. But these problems are not insurmountable, nor impossible to operate in successfully.
Cities are often thought of as systems of systems. Utilizing this framework to conceptualize the issues in a megacity then allows the application of previous ideas that have been proven.

Problems may arise when the sheer scale of a megacity’s issues come into play. This is where design thinking and generating multiple options rapidly allow for these issues of scale to be addressed, and thus be useful in the context of a megacity. We have lived and worked in some of these megacities, and watch with great interest the growing number of megacities around the world. There are a number of trends driving and driven by their growth. Among the two greatest are the draw of urbanization and the increase in globalization. They are complimentary, not exclusive. They are not the only reasons for their growth either. The growth of urbanization is recognized by authors as wide ranging as Thomas P. M. Barnett, author of The Pentagon’s New Map, to the Christian Science Monitor or Forbes, to global consultants such Accenture, Deloitte and Frost & Sullivan and McKinsey & Company. Each of these has a different vantage point, and each is moving towards a more comprehensive consideration of this challenging discussion on megacities.
The term megacities itself is problematic. While an accepted benchmark, it fails to account for other factors including the sophistication of infrastructure or transient populations. Some cities are categorized as a megacity by outside organizations but not by their own municipal governments. Some are megacities, no matter what we call them, or if there’s disagreement.

** How to Secretly Watch Chinese Hackers at Work

Nicole Perlroth
New York Times
June 11, 2016
BELLEVILLE, Wis. — Drive past the dairy farms, cornfields and horse pastures here and you will eventually arrive at Cate Machine & Welding, a small-town business run by Gene and Lori Cate and their sons. For 46 years, the Cates have welded many things — fertilizer tanks, jet-fighter parts, cheese molds, even a farmer’s broken glasses.
And like many small businesses, they have a dusty old computer humming away in the back office. On this one, however, an unusual spy-versus-spy battle is playing out: The machine has been taken over by Chinese hackers.
The hackers use it to plan and stage attacks. But unbeknown to them, a Silicon Valley start-up is tracking them here, in real time, watching their every move and, in some cases, blocking their efforts.
“When they first told us, we said, ‘No way,’” Mr. Cate said one afternoon recently over pizza and cheese curds, recalling when he first learned the computer server his family used to manage its welding business had been secretly repurposed. “We were totally freaked out,” Ms. Cate said. “We had no idea we could be used as an infiltration unit for Chinese attacks.”
On a recent Thursday, the hackers’ targets appeared to be a Silicon Valley food delivery start-up, a major Manhattan law firm, one of the world’s biggest airlines, a prominent Southern university and a smattering of targets across Thailand and Malaysia. The New York Times viewed the action on the Cates’ computer on the condition that it not name the targets.

The activity had the hallmarks of Chinese hackers known as the C0d0s0 group, a collection of hackers for hire that the security industry has been tracking for years. Over the years, the group has breached banks, law firms and tech companies, and once hijacked the Forbes website to try to infect visitors’ computers with malware.
There is a murky and much hyped emerging industry in selling intelligence about attack groups like the C0d0s0 group. Until recently, companies typically adopted a defensive strategy of trying to make their networks as impermeable as possible in hopes of repelling attacks. Today, so-called threat intelligence providers sell services that promise to go on the offensive. They track hackers, and for annual fees that can climb into the seven figures, they try to spot and thwart attacks before they happen.
These companies have a mixed record of success. Still, after years of highly publicized incidents, Gartner, a market research company, expects the market for threat intelligence to reach $1 billion next year, up from $255 million in 2013.
Remarkably, many attacks rely on a tangled maze of compromised computers including those mom-and-pop shops like Cate Machine & Welding. The hackers aren’t after the Cates’ data. Rather, they have converted their server, and others like it, into launchpads for their attacks.

These servers offer the perfect cover. They aren’t terribly well protected, and rarely, if ever, do the owners discover that their computers have become conduits for spies and digital thieves. And who would suspect the Cate family?
Two years ago, the Cates received a visit from men informing them that their server had become a conduit for Chinese spies. The Cates asked: “Are you from the N.S.A.?”
One of the men had, in fact, worked at the National Security Agency years before joining a start-up company, Area 1, that focuses on tracking digital attacks against businesses. “It’s like being a priest,” said Blake Darché, Area 1’s chief security officer, of his N.S.A. background. “In other people’s minds, you never quite leave the profession.

*** China’s Military Becoming More Active in Japan’s Backyard

China Raises the Stakes in Japan’s Backyard
June 10, 2016
Tokyo woke up Thursday to hints of a nightmare scenario in what it considers its backyard. Just after midnight, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sighted a Jiangkai I frigate from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy within the 24-nautical mile contiguous zone of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The ships lingered for about two hours near the Senkakus, which Japan controls but China also claims (the Chinese know them as the Diaoyu Islands). A People’s Liberation Army Navy ship has never been spotted so close to the Senkakus. To make matters worse for Tokyo, three Russian navy ships, including an Udaloy-class destroyer, passed through the contiguous waters during the same period.

Contiguous Zone
The band of water between 12 and 24 nautical miles from the shore of a country, where a state has more legal authority to enforce its laws relative to the rest of its exclusive economic zone.
The presence of the Chinese and Russian ships was legal under international law — contiguous zones are considered international waters — but still sparked a flurry of activity in Tokyo. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued instructions during the dead of night for various government ministries to be on alert. The Japanese government also notified the Americans and, within an hour of the incident, China’s ambassador was summoned to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Beijing appears to have desired just such a reaction. The Japanese have grown concerned with the increasingly better equipped Chinese coast guard patrols around the Senkakus, but the coast guard’s presence in the contiguous zone has become fairly routine; Chinese coast guard cutters were in the contiguous zone for 28 of the 31 days in May. But dispatching a warship represents an escalation guaranteed to alarm Tokyo — to say nothing of bringing in new players, the Russians. It stretches the imagination to think that China, which keeps close tabs on the maritime environment off its eastern coast, would not have noticed Russian warships steaming up to the Senkakus from the south.

It is, of course, possible that China saw the Russian ships coming and unilaterally decided to take the opportunity to send a ship of its own into the contiguous zone. Moscow actually has its own territorial dispute with Tokyo over the Kuril Islands, but unlike in China’s case, Russia is in control of the Kurils and has been since taking them from Japan at the end of World War II. For this reason, Russia would probably not want to get involved in the Senkakus dispute and risk unnecessarily complicating its relationship with Japan. But the Japanese — and their main ally, the United States — must at least consider the possibility that the two planned their moves together.
China’s actions are a sort of mirror image of operations the United States is running against Beijing in the South China Sea. Washington’s freedom of navigation operations, a series of periodic high-profile naval voyages near China’s de facto possessions in the South China Sea, are designed to grab Beijing’s attention and put it on notice that its territorial assertions are not unchallenged. China’s operations, however, are mainly aimed at Tokyo.

**Say Goodbye to Taiwan

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
John J. Mearsheimer [2]
Issue:March-April 2014 [3]
WHAT ARE the implications for Taiwan of China’s continued rise? Not today. Not next year. No, the real dilemma Taiwan will confront looms in the decades ahead, when China, whose continued economic growth seems likely although not a sure thing, is far more powerful than it is today.
Contemporary China does not possess significant military power; its military forces are inferior, and not by a small margin, to those of the United States. Beijing would be making a huge mistake to pick a fight with the American military nowadays. China, in other words, is constrained by the present global balance of power, which is clearly stacked in America’s favor.
But power is rarely static. The real question that is often overlooked is what happens in a future world in which the balance of power has shifted sharply against Taiwan and the United States, in which China controls much more relative power than it does today, and in which China is in roughly the same economic and military league as the United States. In essence: a world in which China is much less constrained than it is today. That world may seem forbidding, even ominous, but it is one that may be coming.

It is my firm conviction that the continuing rise of China will have huge consequences for Taiwan, almost all of which will be bad. Not only will China be much more powerful than it is today, but it will also remain deeply committed to making Taiwan part of China. Moreover, China will try to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere, which means it will seek to reduce, if not eliminate, the American military presence in Asia. The United States, of course, will resist mightily, and go to great lengths to contain China’s growing power. The ensuing security competition will not be good for Taiwan, no matter how it turns out in the end. Time is not on Taiwan’s side. Herewith, a guide to what is likely to ensue between the United States, China and Taiwan.
IN AN ideal world, most Taiwanese would like their country to gain de jure independence and become a legitimate sovereign state in the international system. This outcome is especially attractive because a strong Taiwanese identity—separate from a Chinese identity—has blossomed in Taiwan over the past sixty-five years. Many of those people who identify themselves as Taiwanese would like their own nation-state, and they have little interest in being a province of mainland China.
According to National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center, in 1992, 17.6 percent of the people living in Taiwan identified as Taiwanese only. By June 2013, that number was 57.5 percent, a clear majority. Only 3.6 percent of those surveyed identified as Chinese only. Furthermore, the 2011 Taiwan National Security Survey found that if one assumes China would not attack Taiwan if it declared its independence, 80.2 percent of Taiwanese would in fact opt for independence. Another recent poll found that about 80 percent of Taiwanese view Taiwan and China as different countries.

** Preventing a Blackout by Taking the Power Grid Offline

oreignpolicy.com/2016/06/10/preventing-a-blackout-by-taking-the-power-grid-offline/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New Campaign&utm_term=*Editors Picks
What can stop hackers from turning off America’s lights? Old-school equipment that’s not connected to the web.
By Elias Groll
June 10, 2016 
With hackers attacking electrical grids, banks, and a growing list of other targets, some policymakers and security researchers are calling for turning the clock back to an earlier era when devices weren’t connected to the internet — or vulnerable to digital attack.
The American power grid is more efficient than ever before because electricity plants, transformers, and other key pieces of infrastructure are networked together, allowing for electricity to be redirected in real time from areas with too much to those needing more.
The problem is that those gains have also left the overall system open to attack. Power stations and grids run by network-connected computer control systems can be hacked to cause widespread power outages.

American intelligence officials have long warned that the U.S. grid would represent a ripe target in a time of war, and U.S. adversaries are heavily investing in the capabilities to take it down. In Ukraine, hackers attacked a portion of the country’s grid over Christmas and succeeded in knocking out power for thousands of customers in the middle of the bitter winter. Officials in Kiev quickly pointed the finger at Moscow for the unprecedented attack, but the Kremlin denied responsibility.
Desperately looking for new ways of shoring up the U.S. grid’s defenses against digital attack, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing a decidedly counterintuitive approach to cybersecurity: ditching cutting-edge digital technology for old-school analog control mechanisms.

This week, four senators on the Intelligence Committee — Angus King (I-Maine), James Risch (R-Idaho), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) — introduced legislation that would set aside $10 million to study security vulnerabilities on the electrical grid and come up with solutions for them, including what the bill’s backers call a “retro” approach to grid security.
“We can learn something from what happened in Ukraine,” King said during remarks on the Senate floor this week. “It may be that going back to the future, if you will, going back to the past and simplifying some of these critical connection points may be the best protection that we can have.”
For now, at least, security engineers aren’t investing in these types of retro devices. Security-focused start-ups aren’t working on analog solutions, and engineering talent is more often focused on designing higher-tech tools, not turning back the clock to older ones. Analog security devices are widely available, but engineers aren’t usually focused on integrating them into computerized control systems.
And that’s one reason why many cybersecurity experts are excited about the legislation introduced this week. “When the government invests in areas where there is no market, that’s exactly what we want to see,” said Robert M. Lee, an instructor at the SANS Institute and a former cyberwarfare operations officer for the U.S. Air Force.
He and other security experts say a “retro” approach makes a great deal of sense. Michael Assante, the head of industrial control systems at the SANS Institute, which provides cybersecurity training to security professionals, said utilities would be wise to integrate tools that aren’t connected to networks or are completely analog into a sophisticated control system.
Researchers at the engineering consulting firm Kenexis have come up with similar proposals to use mechanical technology as a cybersecurity measure. In recent years, designers of high-speed rotating systems such as centrifuges have used computers to control them from moving too fast, a shift that has left them vulnerable to hacks like the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
A simple, spring-based design can be used to prevent hackers from getting the centrifuges to spin too fast. As a spinning object gains speed, a spring with a weight at its end will be pulled toward the system’s edge by the centrifugal force. When the spring reaches the point defined as the maximum speed, it trips a relief valve, venting steam or whatever powers the mechanism. That’s a design that cannot be hacked.

** May 2016 The digital utility: New opportunities and challenges

http://www.mckinsey.com/Industries/Electric-Power-and-Natural-Gas/Our-Insights/The-Digital-Utility-New-Opportunities-and-Challenges?cid=digistrat-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth-1606By Adrian Booth, Niko Mohr, and Peter Peters

Many utilities see the digital revolution as a threat to their business model, but massive opportunities await those able to transform themselves ahead of the curve.
The digital revolution is coming to the power industry. Renewables, distributed generation, and smart grids demand new capabilities and are triggering new business models and regulatory frameworks. Data collection and exchange are growing exponentially, creating digital threats but also valuable opportunities. The competition for customers is shifting to the online channel; the Internet of Things promises new product and management options. Entrants from the digital economy are disrupting the industrial landscape, while governments and regulatory bodies seek to encourage smarter measuring systems and greener standards for generation and consumption.
To thrive amid these challenges, the utility of the future will be a fully digital system. This means that today’s utilities face a digital transformation of their organization and business. This can begin with quick moves to improve efficiency and expand the customer base. As the transformation builds momentum, it should open deeper digital opportunities across a wide field. 
Potential at every level
The opportunities are present all along the power-industry value chain, from generation to customer relationship management (Exhibit 1). As utilities pursue these opportunities, the effects are already being felt by retail customers. Many utilities have launched mobile applications for bill notification, presentment, and payment, as well as for outage management. Before long, mobile applications will extend into smart homes and connected buildings. Digital management of distributed energy resources, from individual sites to entire systems, has already begun. Many projects within the utility have a digital focus and are using techniques of the digital economy, such as agile development.

Exhibit 1

Not infrequently, however, the potential benefits of such efforts are underestimated. Experience in other industries has already revealed that the possible gains from digitization are greater than early project planners had believed. The US logistics firm United Parcel Service, for example, introduced “track and trace” for parcels in the 1990s, aiming to improve the customer offering. Only later did it become clear that the greater transparency obtained through digitization allowed for better management of parcels, vehicles, and distribution processes. In the end, the company improved efficiency across its entire scope of operations and saved hundreds of millions of dollars.

Based on the experience of other industries, utilities can begin with more ambitious digital goals. They can plan confidently for transformative enhancements in productivity, reliability, safety, customer experience, compliance, and revenue management. The dimensions of these exciting opportunities can be understood in three developmental waves, comprising productivity and efficiency, the customer experience, and new frontiers.
Improving productivity and efficiency
Digital opportunities to improve operations and increase flexibility are available throughout the value chain (Exhibit 2). Conservative estimates supported by analysis of real-life cases suggest that digital optimization can boost profitability by 20 to 30 percent. Utilities can realize most of this potential by three means: smart meters and the smart grid, digital productivity tools for employees, and automation of back-office processes.

Exhibit 2

India-US relations: Pakistan

June 4th, 2016 by Stephen Cohen
India and the United States each have a Pakistan problem, but these are different.
The United States tries to manage a troublesome and troubled former ally, which is important as much for its destructive and disruptive potential as for its positive accomplishments, such as intelligence cooperation. India’s Pakistan problem is quite different. India has no credible response against low-level Pakistani-tolerated terrorism, and is wary of slipping into an open-ended conflict with Islamabad. India’s long-term strategy is to isolate and squeeze Pakistan, the way the United States manhandled the Soviet Union. India would like to use its soft power and the support of other states—notably the United States—to effect a change in Pakistan’s outlook; until now this strategy is mostly wishful thinking. Practically, Pakistan is also an internal political problem for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi’s objective with the United States is to complete the erasure of Washington’s historic downgrading of India to a second-rate or regional power. He stresses India’s cultural greatness while touting its military capabilities and its economic potential. These, coupled with a stronger Indian-American presence, may—just possibly—alter U.S. policy regarding Pakistan. These factors have already persuaded many Americans to see India as a potential balancer of China.

But the United States is unlikely to be moved very far. While there is hope that Indian power might balance a potentially aggressive China, both Washington and New Delhi are also hedging their bets regarding Beijing. As for Pakistan, Washington does not want to see a new regional crisis—whether initiated from Pakistan (as in the recent past) or New Delhi (as happened earlier).
Further, Pakistan is not a passive onlooker. It has an operational strategic code subscribed to by the military, key civilian elites, many academics, and a large part of the press. This involves the wilful use of force, skilled diplomacy, and a pliable civilian government. It resembles, in many ways, the high point of the British Raj. Pakistani elites have an overall goal: to avoid becoming a “West Bangladesh” subservient to Indian power. The 1947 Partition, which pitted the Indian and Pakistani armies against each other, cripples any state that seeks regional hegemony. South Asia is now the world’s third most violent region, partly because of this rivalry and also because the rivalry prevents regional integration on trade and economics.

Modi to be the 1st Indian PM to visit Israel :: India set to change Regional Dynamics


Israel and India have common interests. This was recognized a long time ago, but Arab pressure on India put a bar on India's relations with this nation.
No Indian prime minister dared to visit Israel though contacts as the lower level flourished. Military cooperation was the key as both nations faced Islamic terror in all its manifestations. For a long time, India did not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, but about 2 decades back this hurdle was crossed. Despite no Indian prime minister visiting, a low key arms development program took shape with Israel. This failure to recognize and have diplomatic relations with Israel was adversely commented upon by many leaders and the blame was squarely placed at the door of Nehru who bent knee to Arab threats.

Modi strikes out ::
The advent of Modi at the helm in 2014 was a great event in Israeli-Indian ties. Modi and the BJP had long championed closer relations, but the Indian National Congress, the party that ruled India thought that closer relations will antagonize the Muslim minority in India as well as the Arabs. This was an erroneous line of thought but it prevailed. Things changed when Narendra Modi ascended as the Prime Minister of India. He decided to ignore Arab susceptibilities and make India's relationship with Israel more open. In continuation of this Modi will visit Israel in early 2017. It will be the first visit by an Indian leader to Israel and is an acknowledgment that Israel is part of India's global thrust.

Future cooperation ::
Both nations face a common danger from resurgent Islam and its terror groups. Israel is ringed by inimical Muslim states who are hell bent on destroying Israel. Terror against Israeli citizens is endemic. Many Jews have been killed by Arab terror groups, inviting retribution from Israel. India is also beset by Muslim terror as Pakistan sends terrorists affiliated to the Jaish e Mohammed and JKLF to infiltrate India and launch terror attacks. The most recent were the fedayeen attack on the Pathankot base. The way forward for India is more military and technical collaboration with Israel and also the use of Israeli know-how in combating terror groups. Modi by scheduling a visit to Israel has broken old taboos.

Book | India-U.S: Relations in Transition

June 3rd, 2016
Click to download free copy.

This collection of short memoranda on India-U.S. relations has been written by experts from Brookings India and its affiliate, the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. The memos each represent the personal views of the authors and not the institutions themselves. They are meant to provide different, and sometimes differing, perspectives on how to make progress on some of the top issues on the India-U.S. agenda.
In the Introduction, Dhruva Jaishankar looks at the highs and lows in relations since 1998 and the considerable progress made. In the first section on bilateral relations, Teresita Schaffer outlines the key strategic convergences and remaining obstacles to the India-U.S. security partnership. She suggests that the United States respect India’s desire for strategic autonomy and that the two sides deepen their dialogue on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. Joshua Meltzer argues that India risks being left behind by recent mega-regional trade agreements. Among other measures, he recommends that India be included in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). Darrell West and Hillary Schaub recommend that differences over intellectual property be bridged through dialogue and by encouraging patenting that could benefit Indian innovators.

In the second section, covering areas of cooperation that could help accelerate India’s development, Shamika Ravi argues that India’s ailing higher education sector could benefit from longer tenures for U.S. faculty in the country, a greater emphasis on community college collaboration, and an overhaul of the regulatory bodies that oversee Indian tertiary education. Kavita Patel sees parallels between U.S. and Indian struggles to provide affordable access to healthcare, and suggests ways for India to learn from U.S. experiences in medical training, prevention and diagnosis, and telemedicine. Vikram Singh Mehta describes the structural changes underway in the international energy market and argues that India can adopt American practices of deploying government resources to support energy-related innovations.

In the third section, on regional issues, Joseph Liow argues that India and the United States should continue to uphold the principles of freedom of navigation and spirit of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea in the South China Sea, while building up the coast guard capabilities of Southeast Asian states. On Pakistan, Steve Cohen describes India and the United States’ distinct challenges with that country, and suggests closer consultations on nuclear security, regional trade, and Afghanistan’s future to mitigate the problem. On Afghanistan, Michael O’Hanlon suggests that the U.S. make a four year commitment to Afghanistan’s security, while India and others contemplate ways to promote long-term cooperation.

Finally, because international relations almost never progress in a linear fashion, Tanvi Madan examines some of the high-impact but low-probability events that may affect the India-U.S. relationship in the future: so-called “black swans.” These include various economic, security, and environmental shocks, regional conflicts, and state disintegration in regions where both the United States and India have interests.

Download a free copy of the book, India-U.S: Relations in Transition.

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Journal » Vol. 51, Issue No. 24, 11 Jun, 2016
The latest data on India's GDP raises more questions than provides answers.
The origin of this phrase is shrouded in mystery. American author Mark Twain popularised it and attributed it to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli but the sentence, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics,” cannot be found in any of Disraeli’s works. In India too, what is put out by the government as figures of rates of growth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has become rather mysterious and confusing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cheerleaders have been shouting from the rooftops that this is the fastest-growing major economy in the world, something we are all supposed to be proud of. Truth be told, there are few who are euphoric about the current state of the Indian economy. What is worse is that analysts and commentators who have crunched the numbers put out by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) have raised doubts about their veracity. The rosy picture being sought to be portrayed by the government’s spin doctors may end up harming its own interests; reminiscent of how the “India Shining” campaign backfired on the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2004.

The latest estimates of the CSO indicate that India’s GDP in the financial year that ended on 31 March 2016 stood at 7.6% (against 7.2% in 2015–16) with an unexpected surge of 7.9% in the January–March 2016 quarter. Of the GDP growth of 7.6% in 2015–16, as much as 2.4 percentage points were accounted for under the head “discrepancies” against 0.1 percentage points in the previous year. In other words, if one excludes the discrepancies, the rates of growth of GDP would be 7.1% in 2014–15 and 5.2% in 2015–16—nothing to get particularly excited about. Even if one concedes that discrepancies are inevitable while compiling national accounts, especially when new and ostensibly more “accurate” systems of statistics are being sought to be put in place, there are a number of crucial questions that remain unanswered.

Consider a few glaring anomalies in the GDP data. The manufacturing sector has grown by 8.1% in current prices in 2015–16. Yet the index of industrial production (IIP) for this period registered a rise of 2.4%. This has been a year when exports have declined continuously month after month. One of the note­worthy changes made by the CSO in its new methodology for calculating GDP relates to the use of data on company finances using the e-governance initiative database of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA 21) that has been used to supplement the information in the Annual Survey of Industries. This had radically altered the growth numbers for the manufacturing sector. For instance, the old series reported 1.1% growth in manufacturing in 2012–13 which gets pushed up to 6.2% using the new method. The comparable figures for 2013–14 have gone up from (-)0.7% to 5.3%. For the last two full years for which data has been compiled, while the IIP has reportedly grown by 2.8% in 2014–15 and 2.4% in 2015–16, the new national income data (at 2011–12 prices) places these figures at 5.5% and 9.5% respectively. The government has claimed that better coverage of manufacturing data of small and medium enterprises and superior estimates of value addition have been captured in the new methodology of calculating GDP but independent experts are far from convinced by such explanations of the huge rise in growth rates.

India-US Relations: Afghanistan

By Michael O’Hanlon
June 4th, 2016
Afghanistan is not a major source of discord in the India-United States relationship. But nor is it a likely realm of great opportunity for collaboration.
The main impediments to greater U.S.-Indian cooperation in Afghanistan are probably a combination of their modest expectations of what can positively be achieved, combined with an awareness that any Indian role (even in realms of development assistance and the like) will often be seen by Pakistanis as more nefarious, risking a backlash from Islamabad. But there is still a useful common agenda going forward.

As the Afghanistan war reaches its 15-year mark, it is important to note that President Barack Obama is the first two-term U.S. president ever to wage a single war in a single country for the entirety of his tenure in the White House. It has undoubtedly caused Obama considerable frustration, angst, and heartache throughout much of his presidency, even though he originally considered it a war of necessity and a noble cause. Results, alas, have been mediocre. The insurgency remains potent, and the government weak. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives there, most of them on Obama’s watch. Obama struggled with his decisions to adopt a comprehensive and well-resourced counterinsurgency campaign for the country, generally employing such a strategy but always somewhat begrudgingly.
His ambivalence about the U.S. commitment, as reflected in frequent policy reviews that tended to publicly contemplate a possible U.S. withdrawal from the war before consistently discarding such an option, contributed to a tortured relationship with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and reinforced perceptions in Pakistan that the United States was not really committed to the war. One would have thought that sustaining a NATO-based coalition of several dozen countries throughout eight years in office, surging to 100,000 U.S. troops in country by late 2010, and planning to leave 5,000 to 10,000 troops there even after Obama himself departs the White House would quiet any interpretations of alleged American irresoluteness. But they have not. Indeed, Pakistan’s willingness to tolerate leadership groups for the Afghan Taliban widely known to take sanctuary on Pakistani soil – such as the Haqqani network, the Quetta Shura, and Peshawar Shura – continues to be a major albatross for leaders in Kabul, Washington, other NATO capitals, and beyond. While the Afghan government holds onto major cities, and while the quality of life for Afghan citizens is far better than in the 1980s or 1990s, the country’s progress is fragile, and the Taliban has made some headway in regaining territory since the big NATO drawdowns of recent years.

Afghanistan is a country, and a subject, about which New Delhi and Washington have generally similar and compatible goals. They both seek a peaceful country, in the interests of contributing to a broader stability throughout the region. They are both generally uninterested in any “Great Game” that might play out among the major powers in Afghanistan–even though many Pakistanis doubt that India’s interests are so benign, and some countries like Iran (as well as former Afghan President Karzai) doubt that U.S. purposes are quite so disinterested themselves. Neither sees Afghanistan as the likely centerpiece of any major regional economic strategy–though some Americans pay lip service to the idea of a “new silk road” running through Afghanistan and connecting east to west, whereas some Indians more realistically hope that someday Afghanistan’s agricultural potential can help provide more foodstuffs to the rest of South Asia.

Afghanistan – Stability Projections and Trends

SR Research
Jun 8, 2016

Afghanistan – Stability Projections and Trends[1]


Improvement in coordination and functioning of the National Unity Government (NUG) -Negative
Coordination government and parliament – Positive Minus
Coordination with varied political elements including jihadi leaders – Uncertain.
Negotiations with Taliban - Negative

Coordination Kabul NUG and provincial governments- Negative

Recapture of nodes captured by Taliban/Daesh - Positive
Adopting a war time posture in the country at large - Positive
Expansion and effectiveness of security grid to hold on to key centres of governance such as districts and provincial capitals – Positive Minus
Coordination of security in provinces in the North – Badakshan in the East to Faryab in the West – Positive Minus
Intelligence acquisition and coordination - Negative
Taking Advantage of Taliban/Daesh factionalism – Uncertain.

Geo Political/Regional
Confidence and trust building with Pakistan – Negative.
Aid, development and security support of the international community – Positive.

Enhancing GDP Growth Calendar Year (CY) - Negative
[Real GDP growth at market prices in percent, unless indicated otherwise]
2015 2016 2017 2018
1.5 (2.5) 1.9 3.0 3.6

(As Per World Bank June

2015 report)

[Estimates as per World Bank Report GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPECTS Chapter 2.5 JANUARY 2016]

As per the World Bank Overview updated on 8 April 2016, the deteriorating security environment and persisting political uncertainty continue to undermine private sector confidence and affect economic activity in Afghanistan. Economic growth increased only marginally from 1.3 percent in 2014 to an estimated 1.5 percent in 2015. Domestic demand remains weak, with no signs of a pick-up in private consumption and investment. The number of new firm registrations – as a proxy for business activities -- indicates only a small increase in new investment activities in 2015, but it remains significantly below the levels of 2012-2013. Consumer prices dropped to -1.5 percent, down from 4.5 percent in 2014, due to lower private consumption and global commodity prices.

Agriculture, which is the second largest contributor to GDP growth after services, declined by a projected 2 percent in 2015. With population growth estimated at 3 percent per year and 45 percent of the poor relying on agriculture for their livelihood, sluggish GDP growth and a decline in agriculture production put continuous upward pressure on poverty, which is projected to have further increased from the 39.1 percent estimated using the latest data available. Declining job opportunities and growing insecurity have also driven up migration in 2015.

Energy Perspectives 2016: Climate policies and geopolitics determine the global energy mix toward 2040

June 9, 2016
By PennEnergy Editorial Staff
Source: Statoil

The Paris climate agreement can be realized, but that requires new measures and much faster changes than we have seen so far.
Towards 2040 the world will need a lot of renewable energy. Considerable investments in new production of oil and gas are also necessary to replace falling production from existing fields.
This is outlined in Statoil’s Energy Perspectives report that was presented today.

“In order to achieve the objectives of the Paris climate agreement we need fast changes in the electricity sector and in private car transport, in addition to a strong energy efficiency improvement in all sectors,” says Statoil’s Chief economist Eirik Wærness.
“Even with a rapid increase in new renewable energy the oil and gas demand will only be slightly lower than today’s level in 2040. To compensate for falling global production from existing fields, considerable investments in new oil and gas production volumes will be needed, which in combination will correspond to 15-30 times the current total output on the Norwegian continental shelf,” says Wærness.
Statoil’s annual Energy Perspectives report describes how the world economy, international energy markets and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions develop, based on three different scenarios: Reform, Renewal and Rivalry.
The report has been prepared by a team of Statoil analysts in the fields of macroeconomics, energy markets, climate policies and geopolitics. It is based on models and frameworks that the company uses in connection with long-term analyses of the energy markets.

Three scenarios
“The future is uncertain, and consequently we have, just like last year, prepared three different scenarios for the development towards 2040,” says Wærness.
The Reform scenario in this year’s report is based on the national climate targets of the Paris agreement (COP21), with further restrictive measures in the energy and climate policies over time. The 2-degree target will not be reached in this scenario.
The scenario outlining the most ambitious energy and climate goals is Renewal, which assumes that nine out of 10 new private cars sold in 2040 will be hybrids or electric cars. It also assumes a transformation in the electricity sector, where sun and wind will account for around 40% of the global electricity generation in 2040, compared to the current 5%. In this scenario the oil and gas demand will be somewhat lower than the current level.
“This will require a radical and coordinated effort and transformation of the transport and electricity sector, driven by efficiency efforts, technology development, markets, consumer behaviour and not least politics. There may be cause for questioning whether the investments in oil, gas and renewable energy in the time ahead will be sufficient to meet the demand,” says Wærness.

Afghanistan Is About to Cut A Bad Deal with a Bad Guy

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar can’t be trusted.
Marvin G. Weinbaum, June 8, 2016

The Kabul government seems headed toward an agreement with the militant wing of Hezb-i-Islami (HIG), a group that for the last fifteen years has been at war with the Afghan state. A draft accord reached with HIG chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has been touted by the Afghan government as the first step in a political process that could eventually draw in core elements of the Taliban. The tentative peace pact, which comes after two months of negotiations, follows persistent attempts by the government and American, Pakistani and Chinese representatives to restart last year’s collapsed talks held with a Mullah Mansour–led Taliban leadership. Now Kabul and Washington are expressing hope that the recent dramatic change at the Taliban’s helm, coupled with a HIG agreement, will create the momentum needed to revive a broader peace dialogue. But an examination of the terms and the motives behind this pending deal with HIG suggests reason for concern not optimism.

Under the initialed agreement with the Afghan High Peace Council, HIG has agreed to cut ties to other insurgent antigovernment groups, adhere to the Afghan constitution and contribute toward efforts that would help stabilize the country. HIG leaders expect in return that all prisoners from the group will soon be released, and that HIG-connected family members who are presently refugees in Pakistan and Iran will be repatriated. Returning fighters will receive amnesty and many may eventually be incorporated into the Afghan security forces. Key leaders are also being promised housing and offices to facilitate their reentry to Kabul and the Afghan political system. They have received assurances that their organization will be soon removed from the international sanctions blacklist.
One major sticking point remains in the negotiations. The HIG demands as a condition for signing an agreement that it specify a scheduled withdrawal of all foreign forces. Understandably, the government of Ashraf Ghani finds it difficult to yield on this issue. Without foreign trainers, advisors and special operations units, Afghan officials have little confidence in the ability of their current security forces to withstand the Taliban’s mounting military challenge. Yet with so much already invested on both sides in having the talks succeed, some compromise is probable. HIG may be willing to settle for the government declaring that, at least in principle, foreign forces have no place in a sovereign Afghanistan.

Whatever the tradeoffs, confidence in an agreement rests heavily on trust. Here’s the rub: it is not an exaggeration that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is among the most disliked and distrusted figures in recent Afghan history. He first acquired a reputation for ruthlessness when he killed a fellow student and political rival during his time at Kabul University. In 1976, after the Islamic movement that he helped found had split, Hekmatyar was implicated in an assassination attempt against fellow leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. During the Afghan jihad of the 1980s, HIG, which received (at Pakistan’s insistence) the lion’s share of arms going to the seven-party mujahideen alliance, was widely believed to be more interested in amassing arms to be used against political opponents than in fighting the Soviets. Hekmatyar’s bid for power in a civil war that followed the installation in 1992 of a Pakistan-parented mujahideen government resulted in thousands of Afghans being killed, as HIG forces rocketed and shelled Kabul. Following the fall of the capital to the Taliban in 1996, Hekmatyar quit the continuing battle against the Taliban for exile in Iran. Then, in the wake of the December 2001 post-Taliban Bonn conference, at which he had unofficial representation, Hekmatyar denounced the new Hamid Karzai government and, together with his most militant followers, took sanctuary along with the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan. In 2002, Hekmatyar was suspected of being behind an attempt to kill the newly installed President Hamid Karzai.

CPEC and Pakistan: The curious case of Gilgit-Baltistan

The biggest question that lies at the heart of granting G-B a constitutionally binding provincial status, is the issue of Kashmir. 09-06-2016

The status of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) within the Pakistani constitutional framework has been an issue that has ebbed and flowed over the past 60 years. Previously, sectarian strife and the demographic restructuring of the region were reportedly responsible for the playing up of this issue.
However, more recently, with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project finally moving ahead, the issue has reignited owing to the perceived lack of scope and role of the region in the CPEC.
In addition, the complex nature of the larger Kashmir issue always looms large. Consequently, the constitutional status of G-B poses a tricky question to the Pakistani government; if left unresolved, it can cause serious trouble to the CPEC project.
G-B, previously known as the Northern Areas, was part of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, and currently falls under Pakistan-governed Kashmir. The exact status of G-B is undefined and the region has existed in a state of political limbo for decades.
The $46 billion, approximately 3,000 km-long CPEC will pass through Gilgit-Baltistan.

In contrast, the Pakistani government, in 1947, had almost immediately provided the rest of the Pakistan-governed Kashmir – or better known in Pakistan as "Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK)" – with the instruments of being a state, through the accordance of a special status.
There has since been a long-standing debate on whether or not Gilgit-Baltistan should be accorded the constitutional status by merging it as Pakistan’s fifth province.
In recent years, the resentment among the people of G-B against the Pakistani authorities has risen. Till the 1990s, the political demands in G-B were largely focused on civil rights and a constitutional status at par with AJK, but off late the demand has been growing for complete inclusion as the fifth province of Pakistan, if full autonomy is not an option.

China does not want India to have a seat at the nuclear high table

Beijing wants an untrustworthy Islamabad to slip through the opening created for New Delhi.
 08-06-2016 Colonel Vivek Chadha
The recent past has witnessed China take a position on more issues than one in direct conflict with India's national interest. To name just two of these, it blocked the intended ban against Jaish-i-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar at a UN Committee on the eve of April Fool's day in 2016. This was a repeat of an earlier attempt by India to ensure action against Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi of Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2015.
More recently, China has indicated its reservations regarding India's candidature for the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a body that contributes to nuclear non-proliferation. Purportedly, China assigns its position to India not signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which India has clearly indicated as "discriminatory". In reality, it wants Pakistan to slip through the opening created for India, despite their blatant nuclear proliferation record.
These actions would seem inexplicable for a country like China, which is on the cusp of achieving great power status and a potential challenger to the US. Its insistence on remaining astride a lame horse goes against the grain of rational world opinion, which evidently and justifiably visualises Pakistan as not only the foremost jehadi factory of the world, but also a nuclear proliferator. Why then would China not only bail out Pakistan from a difficult position, but also support an embarrassingly lost cause?
Beijing is scuttling New Delhi's chances at the nuclear high table.
China's actions must be seen from the perspective of a country which unlike other major powers is not blessed with a large number of allies and friends. It appreciates Pakistan for having stood by its side during years of isolation. This continues to drive Chinese gratitude for an ally that Pakistan has proved to be over the years.
Pakistan has also been bending backwards to facilitate Beijing's quest to achieve energy security through the Gwadar link in vicinity of the oil and gas markets of West Asia. This has further been strengthened through the road link that connects the two countries, providing China with critical connectivity into its relatively underdeveloped regions. In return Pakistan receives Chinese investments and military support, which is increasingly becoming the mainstay of its military capability aimed at India. 

On the face of it, the relationship seems to be sailing the tranquil waters of mutual interest. However, a closer look will highlight certain misgivings emerging from China regarding the nature of relationship being pursued with Pakistan, especially given the self-destructive path that the country seems to have chartered.
First, terrorism which is being employed by Pakistan as state policy to contain India suits China as well. It keeps India busy fighting a slow bleed conflict with Pakistan, even as its threshold remains below the potential red lines drawn by India. However, Pakistan's policy of employing terrorism as a strategic weapon in Afghanistan is affecting China's commercial interests, where it has not been able to pursue its mining agenda and is threatened by export of terrorists into its weak underbelly of Xinjiang.
Similarly, the proliferation of these groups within Pakistan has endangered the safety and security of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) along with the $46 billion investment. Worse still, once China does make a substantial investment in Pakistan, it would have to further spend its already strained resources to protect its initial economic forays, an option it can ill afford at this juncture marked by a weakening economy. This could well give a body blow to its foremost initiative of One Belt One Road (OBOR) unveiled by Xi Jinping.

ISIS Surrounded on All Sides By Enemies in Northern Syria

The Competing Campaigns Against ISIS in Northern Syria
Institute for the Study of War
June 10, 2016
By Christopher Kozak

Key Takeaway: ISIS currently faces an unprecedented threat to its core terrain in Northern Syria from an array of competing actors. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces surrounded the key transit hub of Manbij in Eastern Aleppo Province on June 9, threatening to sever the last remaining supply lines available to ISIS over the Syrian-Turkish Border. Meanwhile, ISIS’s stronghold of Ar-Raqqa City faces mounting pressure as both the U.S.-led coalition and pro-regime forces advance into its countryside. These combined pressures forced ISIS to withdraw from its frontlines with opposition forces in Northern Aleppo Province in order to prioritize the defense of its core terrain. Nonetheless, the degrading position of ISIS in Northern Syria is poised to ignite further conflict between local and regional actors that may jeopardize future successes. The terrain vacated by ISIS will likely host renewed competition between Syrian Kurds, opposition groups, and pro-regime forces as well as a geopolitical struggle involving Turkey, Syria, Russia, and the U.S. These conflicts could strain the international anti-ISIS coalition and stall further progress against ISIS in Syria unless the U.S. can successful navigate the conflicting interests of its allies and adversaries in the region.

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