12 July 2016


Summary of the Arbitration of 11 page is available at :


*** Red Salute: India’s Maoist Maelstrom and Evolving Counterinsurgency Doctrines

“One Mahsud tribesman aptly described to me their tactics as being like that of the hawk. The hawk flies high in the sky, out of danger; he flies round and round until he sees his prey and then he swoops down on it for one mighty strike and when he has got his prey, he does not wait around, he flies off at once to some far off quiet place where he can enjoy what he has got[i].”

It was a usual summer afternoon in the dense tropical forests of Jheeram Ghati (valley) of Darbha Division in Chhattisgarh; hot and humid with thick canopy of trees blocking the sunlight, making it appear already like dusk*. Kiran, along with his other comrades had been sitting on an ambush site for the last seven days. Just a day ago they had received information about some senior members of Indian National Congress, a prominent political party, who would be travelling through Darbha, on their way back from electioneering. The Maoists usually avoid targeting political leaders unless directed by top leadership, the Central Committee. But one name would drive Kiran and his comrades to take matters in their own hand and launch an attack. The name was Mahendra Karma, a former minister in Chhattisgarh Government and the founder of Salwa Judum. Salwa Judum was a pro state, tribal auxiliary defense militia, which few years ago, had become an important part of state’s COIN strategy and tactics. Salwa Judum meaning ‘Purification hunt’ was raised by Mahendra Karma in 2005 by drawing in local tribal youths and surrendered Maoists. Their arrival on the COIN scenario was seen by many as a game changer and the tide had started to turn against the Maoist. There were however large scale accusations of murders, rapes and extortion of local tribals by the Salwa Judum members[ii]. A view upheld by Supreme Court of India, when it banned the Salwa Judum in 2011.[iii] Though the ambush as a part of annual ‘Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign’ of Communist Party of India (Maoist) was originally planned to attack the security forces, the opportunity to target Mahendra Karma, was enough for Maoists to quickly recalibrate their strategy[iv]. On May 25th 2013, Kiran and his comrades attacked the convoy killing around 28 people including Mahendra Karma. To the surprise of Maoists there were other senior party leaders also in the convoy, including Nand Kumar Patel, former Home Minister of Chhattisgarh and Vidya Charan Shukla former union minister, all of whom were killed in the attack.

The attack was perhaps the single most devastating strike that Maoists had carried out against political leaders, killing almost the entire top brass of Congress leadership in Chhattisgarh[v]. The attack was carried by skillful use of guerrilla tactic, first by initiating IED blasts to blow the front vehicles. Once the convoy was immobilized, the insurgents swooped down from the nearby hills firing at the convoy. None amongst the two dozen security personnel accompanying the convoy could react or was given a chance to react[vi].

*** Strategic Reversal in Afghanistan

Author: Seth G. Jones, Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND Corporation


Since 2001, the United States and its international partners have expended substantial resources to secure, stabilize, and rebuild Afghanistan. Recent developments, however, indicate that progress toward these strategic goals is slipping. The Taliban has seized swaths of rural Afghanistan in such provinces as Helmand, Uruzgan, Nangarhar, and Kunduz. Over the past year, Taliban forces have also conducted several offensives against district and provincial capitals. In September 2015, for example, the northern city of Kunduz temporarily fell to the Taliban before being retaken by government forces. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of the National Unity Government continues to be undermined by poor governance and internal friction between President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah, and their supporters. A significant worsening of the political and security situations in Afghanistan over the next twelve to eighteen months is therefore plausible. More specifically, there is a growing risk that the current National Unity Government in Kabul could collapse because of a defection by Abdullah, a severe economic crisis, the establishment of a parallel government, or a coup d’état. There is also a growing possibility that the Taliban could gain substantial territory in one or more cities. These contingencies would amount to a strategic reversal for the United States, since Washington was instrumental in helping create the National Unity Government in 2014. These developments would also likely increase the presence of Islamic extremist groups, including al-Qaeda, and intensify security competition between such regional powers as nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.
The Contingencies

The two most concerning contingencies in the next twelve to eighteen months—the collapse of the Afghan government and major battlefield gains by the Taliban—are not mutually exclusive. The former could have a significant impact on the operational effectiveness of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, while a successful offensive by the Taliban could weaken an already fragile government. Both could lead to a significant contraction of government control in Afghanistan.

The National Unity Government collapses. Significant problems continue to plague the National Unity Government: poor governance, deteriorating economic conditions, widespread corruption, disagreements over reconciliation with the Taliban, and competition for power among political elites. President Ghani has clashed with the Afghan Parliament on numerous issues and failed to secure appointments for some critical positions, such as the minister of defense.

*** India's Foreign Policy: The Foreign Hand

Bharat Karnad is Professor of National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi
IN 2013, Brookings Institution, a prestigious American think tank, opened its New Delhi chapter, promising to disseminate ‘recommendations for Indian policymakers’. Three years later, its Washington twin, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, set up shop in the country, hoping to develop ‘fresh policy ideas and direct[ly] [engage] and collaborat[e] with decision makers in [Indian] government, business, and civil society’. It is reasonable to surmise that the policy advice proffered by these two organisations will, at a minimum, be in tune with the US interests and geopolitics.

In fact, at an event on 6 April, Sunil Mittal, owner of Bharti Airtel, a big donor and chairman of the board of trustees of Carnegie India, removed any doubts on this score. “We have put out our flag here,” he declared, without a trace of irony in a speech that to some seemed studded with many other cringe-worthy gems, such as his plea to numerous Indian moneybags in the audience to show more “generosity in moving our agenda forward”—meaning, presumably, the Carnegie (cum-Brookings)-qua-US government policy agenda in this country.

*** How India Nearly Gave in to US Pressure to Enter the Iraqi Killing Zone

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with former US President George W. Bush

New Delhi: While the massive 12-volume Chilcot inquiry report on the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq is being parsed and debated in Britain, the return of that controversial war to news headlines around the world has revived memories of India’s close brush with disaster.

While India stayed out of the US-led ‘coalition of the willing’ in the months leading up to the invasion, pressure from Washington for Indian ‘boots on the ground’ started to ramp up once the occupation of Iraq began. For nearly two months, Lutyens’ Delhi was fully occupied with how to respond to Washington’s request – which would have meant deploying about 20,000 Indian soldiers in Iraq – with divergent opinions coming from influential voices both within and outside the government.

On March 20, 2003, US President George W. Bush announced the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. “It is with the deepest anguish that we have seen reports of the commencement of military action in Iraq,” read the first line of theforeign ministry’s official response. When the Indian parliament re-convened after its recess on April 7, one of its first acts was to pass a unanimous resolution deploring the military action and its attendant regime change:

‘Reflecting national sentiment, this House (Lok Sabha) deplores the military action by the coalition forces led by the USA against a sovereign Iraq. This military action, with a view to changing the Government of Iraq, is unacceptable. The resultant suffering of the innocent people of Iraq, especially women and children, is a matter of grave human dimension [sic]. This action without the specific sanction of the UN Security Council and is not in conformity with the UN Charter. The House, therefore, expresses profound anguish and deep sympathy for the people of Iraq.’

*** Italy and Systemic Failure

By George Friedman
July 8, 2016

A daily explanation of what matters and what doesn't in the world of geopolitics.

The Italian banking crisis is not only Italy’s problem.

We are now at the point where the mainstream media has recognized that there is an Italian banking crisis. As we have been arguing since December, when we published our 2016 forecast, Italy’s crisis will be a dominant feature of the year. Italy has actually been in a crisis for at least six months. This crisis has absolutely nothing to do with Brexit, although opponents of Brexit will claim it does. Even if Britain had unanimously voted to stay in the EU, the Italian crisis would still have been gathering speed.

The extraordinarily high level of non-performing loans (NPLs) has been a problem since before Brexit, and it is clear that there is nothing in the Italian economy that will allow it to be reduced. A non-performing loan is simply a loan that isn’t being repaid according to terms, and the reason this happens is normally the inability to repay it. Only a dramatic improvement in the economy would make it possible to repay these loans, and Europe’s economy cannot improve drastically enough to help. We have been in crisis for quite a while.

The crisis was hidden, in a way, because banks were simply carrying loans as non-performing that were actually in default and discounting the NPLs rather than writing them off. But that simply hid the obvious. As much as 17 percent of Italy’s loans will not be repaid. As a result, the balance sheets of Italian banks will be crushed. And this will not only be in Italy. Italian loans are packaged and resold as others, and Italian banks take loans from other European banks. These banks in turn have borrowed against Italian debt. Since Italy is the fourth largest economy in Europe, this is the mother of all systemic threats.

** Rethinking Communication Within the Global War On Terrorism

by Greg Simons
July 6, 2016  

In the information age, success is not merely the result of whose army wins, but also whose story wins.

-- Joseph Nye

Narratives determine our perception of a problem and the reality within the specific environment which it resides (Zalman & Clarke, 2009; Esch, 2010). This in turn, affects the means and the approach to solve that issue. One side effect of an established narrative and is to limit how a particular issue is constructed and viewed, often at the expense of alternative explanations and views. This can be to the detriment of solving the problem/task at hand. “The central fallacy at the heart of the current narrative is that it employs a single prism to view a complex world” (Zalman & Clarke, 2009: 111). This is clearly seen within the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT) that was launched in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US mainland by terrorists linked to Al Qaeda.

In the ensuing battle for hearts and minds that has taken place since, between the Western world and Islamic-based extremism, messages and counter-messages of these opposing sides have been flooding the information space and especially social media. Conventional wisdom postulates that the appeal of Islam has been drawing a steady stream of sympathy and recruits to the cause of the insurgent and terrorist forces (McClanahan, 2002; Fernandez, 2016). However, now may be the point in time to reconsider this basis after numerous efforts to unsuccessfully communicate with different narratives based on this assumption. Is religion (namely Islam) the foundational basis for those insurgent and terrorist forces engaging the Western world in armed conflict or is it ‘merely’ an excuse for legitimacy? If religion is not the basis for drawing sympathy, support and recruits to the side of the insurgents/terrorists, then what is drawing people to their cause?

Narratives and Their Significance

** Hacker Group DROPPING ELEPHANT Targets China and Asian Regional Entities

July 8, 2016

Dropping Elephant: Cyber-espionage Group Hunts High Profile Targets with Low Profile 

WOBURN, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Kaspersky Lab announced today its researchers investigated a threat actor that was undertaking aggressive cyber-espionage activity in the Asian region, targeting multiple diplomatic and government entities with a particular focus on China and its international affairs. This group, named Dropping Elephant (also known as “Chinastrats”), used their unsophisticated tools to attack some high profile Western targets as well.

In February 2016, following an alert from a partner, Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team began its investigation into this threat actor. They discovered that from November 2015 to June 2016, the group profiled hundreds to thousands of targets all around the world. The attackers rely heavily on social engineering, low-budget malware tools and old exploits; however, this approach seems to be effective, given that within the first couple of months of the operation, they managed to steal documents from at least a few dozen selected victims.

Tools: simple, yet effective

For its initial target profiling, Dropping Elephant mass-mails a number of email addresses it has collected on the basis of their relevance to its goals. The spear-phishing emails sent by the attackers contain references to remote content – it is not embedded in the email itself, but downloaded from an external source. The email has no malicious payload, except a simple “ping” request that is sent to the attackers’ server if the target opens the email. This automatically sends a message which contains some basic information about the recipient: IP address, type of browser and both the device used and its location.
After using this simple method to filter out the most valuable targets, the attackers proceed with another, more targeted spear-phishing email. This is either a Word document with CVE-2012-0158 exploit, or PowerPoint slides with an exploit for the CVE-2014-6352 vulnerability in Microsoft Office. Both exploits are public and have been known for a long time, but are still effective.

* Backing the Balkans Prioritizing EU Enlargement Post-Brexit

“When the Berlin Wall came down, it landed on Yugoslavia.” So said Haris Silajdzic, the one-time Bosnian member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, indicating how events in Europe tended to trigger violence in the Balkans. Perhaps less violent, but still pernicious, is the aftermath of Brexit, which threatens to disturb this still troubled region. The United Kingdom's departure, after all, will make the region’s own bid for EU membership more distant because it has exposed the dysfunction within Brussels and the EU’s need for reform. Nationalists in France, the Netherlands, and other EU countries are calling for their own exit referendums, which diminishes the will within the Balkans to engage in democratic changes, particularly if there is no EU to join in the end. And without a plausible route to Brussels, the Balkan governments’ drive toward political progress could slow. In the end, Brexit could embolden autocrats who are already appealing to the worst instincts of the region’s deeply divided, weak, and poor societies.

As Brussels reels from the aftershocks of the British referendum, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s de facto leader, must step up to the historic challenge of leading the continent through perhaps its darkest post-war hour. And there can be no better signal of Europe’s commitment to the European project than expanding it to the Balkans. Plans for enlargement have languished due to the high levels of corruption in the region. The political elites there employ nationalistic rhetoric and reopen the wounds of past wars to divert attention away from accusations of graft. They are in no rush to steer the country toward EU membership as that would mean boosting the rule of law, as well as the efficiency and independence of the judiciary, required by the EU accession rules.

A forthright plan for the Balkans will not only strengthen the EU, but also allow Merkel and her colleagues in Brussels to tackle growing anxiety, both in the United Kingdom and across the continent, about migration. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed into continental Europe via the Balkans route from Greece. As a tenuous and controversial deal with Turkey—it essentially outsources the Syrian refugee problem without resolving it—languishes, the only chance for implementing a coherent European-wide migration strategy is to bring the continent’s southeastern flank into the European fold. For example, if the Balkans were incorporated into the EU, Brussels could help fund temporary shelters for Syrian refugees that land in the Balkans and facilitate better registration and processing. What’s more, a failure to stabilize the Balkans will add to the migrant problem. Citizens in the region who see no future there will simply head north. That is already starting to happen. Tens of thousands of Kosovars left mostly for Hungary and Germany earlier this year to flee a corrupt government and a collapsing economy

Make in India Defence Programme: Easier Said Than Done

By Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Retd.)
11 Jul , 2016

The successful induction of the first two Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) into the Indian Air Force provides the appropriate backdrop to the recent announcement of the Narendra Modi government to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defence sector. 

This policy announcement is being heralded as the fillip that India’s moribund military indigenization effort needs and that very soon ‘Make in India’ will gain robust traction. However, this is an arduous path and India’s many institutional deficiencies and distinctive cultural traits may make this highly desirable goal more elusive than imagined.

The 100 percent ceiling is not very different from what the previous UPA government had also announced but the many caveats and procedural constraints ensured that the initiative was not very successful by way of attracting foreign capital.

The Tejas success which is to be commended is illustrative of the mindset that has crippled India’s indigenous defence industry for decades. The LCA program wherein India would design and build its own combat aircraft goes back to 1985 and the heady Rajiv Gandhi years. Yet, the reality is that it took 31 years for the first two aircraft to be inducted, albeit in a sub-optimal manner and it merits notice that both the engine and the primary radar are imported.

The Space between Borders and Lines of Control

By Lt Gen HS Panag, PVSM, AVSM (Retd.)
11 Jul , 2016

They may have proposed the Geospatial Bill, but is the government drawing the line consistently in its dealings?

‘Frontier’, ’border’ and ‘international boundary’ are terms used to describe the in-between space between contiguous nation states in ascending order of legitimacy and international acceptance. Sir Henry McMahon, Foreign Secretary of British India and negotiator of the McMahon Line had once said:

“A frontier is a wide tract of border land which by virtue of its ruggedness or other difficulty, served as a buffer between two states. A boundary is a clearly defined line expressed either as verbal description (delimited), or as a series of physical marks on the ground.”

In between the terms ‘frontier’ and ‘international boundary’ rests the term ‘border’, which more often than not is created as an interim measure during the transition of a frontier into an international boundary. It can be defined as a mutually-accepted line or zone — more often the latter — established to maintain status quo, pending a final settlement of the erstwhile frontier region in form of delimited international boundary via negotiations or failing which, by conflict.

There is a tendency to use these terms synonymously without understanding their geostrategic implications, which can be traced back to the evolution of the nation states. Political and military control are intrinsically linked to each other and began with the heartland and extended outwards to the frontier regions where population was sparse, terrain difficult, communications poor and little or no economic activity. Competitive conflict among nations began over control of the frontier regions. With development, better communications, economic opportunities and at times for sheer prestige, contiguous nations jostle to seize control of the frontier regions. This competitive conflict — varying in intensity from flag marking to war — leads to the creation of a border.

India’s Transition from an Emerging Power to a Leading Power: Prescriptive Steps

By Lt Gen Philip Campose
10 Jul , 2016

India has made phenomenal economic progress in the last two decades, to the extent of being accepted by most as an emerging or rising power and also being described in informed circles as a potential superpower. However, despite its overwhelming claim for progressing into a higher status based on the strengths of its geography, population, economy, resources, military, diplomacy and national identity, India is yet to gain recognition universally as a leading global player, due to a number of clearly discernible reasons, both in the internal and external realm. In that context, there can be no doubt that India’s geostrategic central location dominating the maritime trade routes in the Indian Ocean, its large size, its two and a half trillion dollar worth “world’s fastest growing economy”, its democratic credentials, its youthful demographic profile, its achievements in space, cyber and nuclear technology, its 400 million strong work force, its 35 million diaspora, its globalised industries like software and pharmaceuticals, and its credible military capabilities provide it the justification to claim status as a leading global power.

However, on the flip side, its abysmal 135th ranking in the UN’s Human Development Index and its high poverty levels put a serious question on its global ambitions. Further, its socio-economic and cultural fault lines have yet to stabilize fully. From India’s point of view, it can be argued that India has a very large, diverse and multi-cultural population spread over a very large area, many of whom have been fighting social discrimination for centuries and, to that extent, it will always be very difficult to raise the living standards of all its people within a short period of time. Moreover, many countries with high levels of human development and security do not figure anywhere close to India in the global power rankings. Nonetheless, there is a need to examine what India needs to do to be counted as a leading power of global standing by succeeding in all dimensions of comprehensive state power. Let us first take a look at India’s place in current global power equations and what India would need to do politically in terms of foreign policy priorities, especially through its genuine friends in high places.

The Naga Imbroglio and Conflict Resolution

By Lt Gen NS Brar
10 Jul , 2016

The passing away of Isak Chisi Swu, co founder of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), on 28 June has brought back into focus the issue of settlement of the ‘Naga Problem’. He was a signatory to the Framework Agreement signed with the Prime Minister last year generating hopes of a settlement.

Along with Kashmir, the Naga imbroglio has the dubious distinction of being the longest running conflict in independent India. The Naga conflict is a colonial legacy.

Along with Kashmir, the Naga imbroglio has the dubious distinction of being the longest running conflict in independent India. The Naga conflict is a colonial legacy. It has its roots in the Treaty of Yandebo of 1826 when the British demarcated the boundary between India and Burma and thereafter between the Nowgong district of Assam and the kingdom of Manipur. British commercial interests dictated further ingress into Assam and the consequent consolidation and administration. The Naga areas on the other hand held no commercial opportunities or security threats and were conveniently left alone. Consequently, mutually beneficial adjustments and compromises with varying methods like inner lines/excluded areas etc. were implemented. Independent India had to consolidate nationhood and not simply control/compromise to maintain governance. Conflict and friction was and is inevitable.

The Naga issue is therefore fundamentally a process of consolidation and integration of the Indian national entity that emerged post-colonialism and not one of secession from an established nation.

Revamping the IAF’s Trainer Fleet

By Gp Capt B Menon
11 Jul , 2016

With the drawdown of numbers of operational squadrons likely to continue till at least 2025, it is imperative that those in the cockpits of a force with reduced numbers of platforms have the best quality of training on the best equipment that the service can afford. The IAF’s reputation of being in the forefront of military flying training in this part of the world is history now. Five years ago, the debacle of being forced to approach outside entities, possibly foreign agencies, to impart basic flying training for want of a basic trainer aircraft in the inventory, was narrowly averted. The phasing out of the Kiran is not as unexpected as was that of the premature grounding of the HPT 32. As of now, there is no replacement in sight.

“Their drills were bloodless battles and their battles, bloody drills.” – an aphorism about the Roman Legions attributed to Titus Flavius Josephus, first century AD, Romano-Jewish historian and scholar.

Modern weapons have made the aspect of training more important as the complexity of weaponry has increased…

Training to acquire proficiency and thereafter, to maintain it, is a major differentiator between a mob and a military force. This has been true since ancient times. Modern weapons have made the aspect of training more important as the complexity of weaponry has increased at a rapid pace with advances in technology. Among the branches of the military, aviation demands the maximum amount of and certainly the most expensive training both to attain the required motor and situational awareness skills and to maintain as well as enhance these skills thereafter. Even as unmanned aircraft enter the arena, the skill levels required to field them effectively, demand high levels of training.


JULY 7, 2016

On July 8, leaders from NATO member states will descend upon Warsaw for one of the alliance’s most anticipated summit meetings in the post-Cold War era. After months of planning, negotiation, and speculation, the alliance is set to formalize plans to bolster its force posture in Eastern Europe in response to Russian provocation. By focusing on those specific initiatives, however, the Warsaw summit will in all likelihood constitute a wasted opportunity for leaders to conduct a fundamental reassessment of NATO’s mission, as well as roles and responsibilities of the allies.

Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has dramatically demonstrated that Russia still poses a significant threat to NATO—particularly the newest members of the alliance in Eastern Europe. In light of that resurgent threat, it is imperative to reconsider whether NATO can really afford to devote scarce resources toward preparing for and conducting “out of area” operations rather than focusing on territorial defense. That is the fundamental question that allied leaders should discuss in Warsaw.

In Search of Monsters

In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, NATO experienced a minor identity crisis. Since the Western military alliance had coalesced primarily to deter and defend against the perceived threat posed by the Red Army, NATO’s raison d’être had essentially collapsed along with the Soviet Union. But despite predictions that “NATO [was] a disappearing thing,” allied political leaders gave little serious consideration to folding up NATO’s tent. Because the alliance had accumulated an array of general institutional assets (an integrated military command, a well-developed range of committees and consultation procedures, a robust logistics infrastructure, etc.), which could be adapted to address new security challenges, allied capitals perceived substantial value in its preservation.

A four-point strategy for defeating the Islamic State

By Michèle Flournoy and Ilan Goldenberg 
July 8 2016

Michèle Flournoy is chief executive and founder of the Center for a New American Security. Ilan Goldenberg directs the center’s Middle East security program.

There are two theaters in the conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and they are not defined by international borders. The first is “ISIS-stan” in western Iraq and eastern Syria. Here the U.S.-led coalition is making progress and has rolled back significant portions of the territoryheld by the terrorist group. But the gains have come from predominantly Kurdish and Shiite forces, and there are limits to how far these groups can advance into Sunni heartland areas and be accepted by local populations. Rolling back the Islamic State is not enough — to sustain these gains, we must focus on the security forces and governance mechanisms that will replace them.

The second theater lies farther west, where Syria is embroiled in a horrendous civil war. The United States has assumed that this problem is not as important and has heretofore avoided involvement except for pursuing diplomatic negotiations. That’s a mistake. In Syria and Iraq, the challenge of countering the Islamic State is bound up in the broader civil wars that have created governance and security vacuums and allowed the group to thrive. These vacuums are the disease; the Islamic State is the most serious of many problematic symptoms.

We propose a strategy that applies a consistent, long-term approach to Iraq and Syria, based on four interlocking efforts.

The Obama Strategy in Afghanistan: Finding a Way to Win

by Anthony H. Cordesman

When President Obama issued yet another statement on Afghanistan on July 6th, and once again delayed his plans to cut the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, he took actions that had already become almost inevitable. Even though he had announced his plan to cut U.S. troop levels to 5,500 by the end of 2016 less than a month earlier, a level of only 5,500 troops risked critically weakening Afghan forces and possibly losing the war. Keeping the level at 8,400, however, was at best a half measure in meeting Afghanistan’s real needs and probably not even that.

The United States needs a far more serious review of its strategy in Afghanistan. It needs one that stops focusing on deadlines and total troop levels, and one that focuses on what it takes to deal with the facts on the ground in Afghanistan and actually win. It needs a strategy that can build sustained public and Congressional support, and provide a proper legacy for the next president. It needs a strategy that can at least try to avoid making Afghanistan an unnecessary pawn in the bitter presidential campaign to come and to give the Afghans a clear incentive to make critical reforms…

The line on a 70-year-old map that threatens to set off a war in East Asia

By Michèle Flournoy and Ilan Goldenberg 
July 8 2016
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Tensions are escalating in the South China Sea. On July 12 a UN tribunal will deliver a long-awaited verdict on Beijing’s sweeping claims to the vital waterway. Each year more than $5 trillion in trade passes through the sea, which contains rich fishing grounds and large, mostly untapped reserves of oil and natural gas.

China says it has a historical claim to virtually the entire sea. The other countries on the sea’s perimeter argue China is violating international treaties, infringing on their fishing and exploration rights, and staking out military positions that could give it the edge in a future conflict. How the tribunal rules, therefore, will influence everything from trade to defense to political relationships—and perhaps wars. “The South China Sea issue is one of the most important global issues right now,” says Anders Corr, founder of Corr Analytics. “It’s a tinder box.”

At the center of China’s claims is a curious, dashed-line map drawn up in the 1940s. Knowing its story is essential to understanding how China and its neighbors will behave in the years to come.

A sweeping claimThe dashed-line map of 1947.(Wikimedia Commons)

ISIS Seems to Tailor Attacks for Different Audiences

JULY 2, 2016 

Police ambulances on Saturday carried away the bodies of victims of the attack at a bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the strike, which left at least 20 dead. 

The first to be killed was a jogger, gunned down last September during his daily run in the leafy diplomatic quarter of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. He was identified as a 50-year-old Italian aid worker, and the police say the men who murdered him had been given instructions to kill a white foreigner at random.

In October, a Japanese man was killed. In November, gunmen riding a motorcycle pulled alongside a Catholic priest in northern Bangladesh and opened fire, wounding him.

For the Islamic State terrorist group, which broadly advised operatives it sent to Europe to kill “anyone and everyone,” the group’s tactics in Bangladesh have seemed more controlled. In the past nine months, it has claimed 19 attacks in the South Asian country, nearly all of them targeted assassinations singling out religious minorities and foreigners. They included hacking to death a Hindu man, stabbing to death a Shiite preacher, murdering a Muslim villager who had been accused of converting to Christianity and sending suicide bombers into Shiite mosques.

For years, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, has pursued a campaign of wholesale slaughter in Syria and Iraq. And in the attacks the group has directed or indirectly inspired in Western countries — including the coordinated killings in Paris and Brussels and the mass shooting inside an Orlando, Fla., nightclub — the assailants killed at random.

As ISIS Loses Land, It Gains Ground in Overseas Terror

JULY 3, 2016

A Bangladeshi police officer overseeing a group of peace activists who sang and lit candles in a park on Sunday after a bloody siege at a restaurant in the capital, Dhaka. The attackers had declared allegiance to the Islamic State. CreditRoberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — In just the past few days, the Islamic State’s evolving brand of terrorism has revealed its deadly, shifting faces.

In Istanbul last week, Turkish officials say, militants guided by the Islamic State conducted a coordinated suicide attack on the city’s main airport. InBangladesh on Friday, a local extremist group that has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State butchered diners in a restaurant. And in Baghdad on Sunday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed more than 140 people.

The three deadly attacks are already being viewed by intelligence and law enforcement officials as proof that the Islamic State, the only terrorist group to create a state with borders, is becoming a larger, more sophisticated version of its stateless chief rival, Al Qaeda, as it loses territory under traditional military attack in Iraq and Syria.

Militant volunteers that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, began recruiting, training and sending to the West more than two years ago are now part of mature, clandestine networks, counterterrorism official say. The networks are increasingly responding to calls to accelerate attacks globally as the group suffers setbacks at home, like retreating from Falluja last month after an offensive by Iraqi forces supported by United States airstrikes and advisers

“Attacks won’t fill any particular mold — some will be centrally planned, some will have some connection to ISIS, and some will be local option entirely,” said Andrew M. Liepman, a former deputy director at the National Counterterrorism Center who is now a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.

ISIS: The Cornered Beast

Just when Muslims around the world thought that ISIS was in retreat and that it was safe to celebrate the end of Ramadan, the group has struck back with a devastating series of bombings in four Muslim countries. Claiming more than three hundred lives, most of them Muslim, during the final days of the month-long fast, the attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia have created pandemonium. 

But they also raise new questions about the ability of the jihadist group to execute lethal terrorist attacks, even as its power appears to be waning in Iraq and Syria. Since the early months of this year, ISIS has suffered a series of defeats, from the Assad regime’s recapture of Palmyra at the end of March to the Kurdish PYD’s reconquest of the Manbij area of northern Syria in early June and Iraqi forces’ retaking of Fallujah on June 22. ISIS has also lost significant financial assets and population under its control. 

In a speech last month, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, an ISIS spokesman, urged sympathizers to mark the month of Ramadan as “a month of calamity,” but the world’s security agencies expected random, “lone wolf” attacks. Instead, the recent bombings have been done by groups of attackers who seem to have had a high degree of organization. Many of the bombers themselves appeared to have been organized and trained by ISIS or directly in touch with ISIS headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa. 

What’s different about Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia?

Shadi Hamid 
July 7, 2016 

Editors’ Note: In Southeast Asia, democratization went hand in hand with Islamization, writes Shadi Hamid. So where many assume that democracy can’t exist with Islamism, it is more likely the opposite. The Aspen Instituteoriginally published this post.

In both theory and practice, Islam has proven to be resistant to secularization, even (or particularly) in countries like Turkey and Tunisia where attempts to privatize Islam have been most vigorous. If Islam is exceptional in its relationship to politics — as I argue it is in my new book Islamic Exceptionalism — then what exactly does that mean in practice?

As Western small-l or “classical” liberals, we don’t have to like or approve of Islam’s prominent place in politics, but we do have to accept life as it is actually lived and religion as it is actually practiced in the Middle East and beyond. What form, though, should that “acceptance” take?

If Islam is exceptional in its relationship to politics ... then what exactly does that mean in practice?

First, where the two are in tension, it means prioritizing democracy over liberalism. In other words, there’s no real way to force people to be liberal or secular if that’s not who they are or what they want to be. To do so would suggest a patronizing and paternalistic approach to the Middle East — one that President Barack Obama and other senior U.S. officials, and not just those on the right, have repeatedly expressed. If our own liberalism as Americans is context-bound (we grew up in a liberal democratic society), then of course Egyptians, Jordanians or Pakistanis will similarly be products of their own contexts.

There Was A Post-Invasion Plan For Iraq, But The West Has Learned Nothing From Its Failure

06 July 2016

-- this post authored by Paul Rogers, University of Bradford

The recent bombing in the heart of a largely Shia district of Baghdad is now reported to have killed at least 165 people, including 25 children, and wounded 225.

Caused by a single large truck bomb, it is the latest in a series of attacks claimed by Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. These incidents have added hugely to a civilian death toll now approaching the terrible losses of the height of the Iraq War a decade ago.

According to Iraq Body Count, the worst years since the 2003 invasion were 2007 (more than 29,000 killed) and 2008 (more than 26,000). There was a marked decline towards the end of the decade but even then more than 4,000 were killed each year in 2010-12, and more than 9,000 in 2013 as the impact of IS began to be felt. Since then, the situation has apparently peaked, but still remains desperate: more than 20,000 died in 2014, 17,500 in 2015, and 7,000 in the first six months of this year.

That the latest attack came just days before the publication of the Chilcot report makes for a tragically apt coincidence. And yet there is a real risk that in all the hubbub about Chilcot, Tony Blair, war crimes and the rest, two absolutely core elements of the tragedy of the War on Terror will be lost.

On the one hand, too many still hold on to the mistaken idea that the West was unprepared for the consequences of regime termination in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. And on the other, many think we're beginning to get it right, destroying IS by intense remote warfare using airstrikes and armed drones and driving it from territory it controls.
Ready to rebuild

The West did not "lose the peace" in Iraq because it wasn't prepared.

Did the Saudi Oil Coup Manage to Sideline U.S. Shale?

By Richard Talley
July 7, 2016 

Having somewhat belatedly woken up to the realization that to do otherwise might very well sound the death knell for its own faltering economy, Saudi Arabia has finally signaled an end to its aggressive two-year oil price war.

Back in 2014, the kingdom decided to hike supply in a bid to drive out its high-price rivals, abandoning its traditional balancing role in crude oil markets. The move, which saw the price of oil fall from over $100 a barrel to around $26, was primarily driven by fears that U.S. shale drilling operations posed a risk of grabbing considerable market share from OPEC producing nations.

As recently as February, Saudi’s then petroleum minister Ali al-Naimi told American frackers they would be crushed by the plummeting price of oil, which his country was continuing to pressure downwards by churning out a large oversupply. In April, the Kingdom even boasted that it could raise output by more than a million barrels a day almost overnight if there was demand for it. The Deputy Crown Prince argued that the Kingdom could even hit 20 million barrels a day (bpb), up from current levels of 10.2 million, if it chose to invest in its oil industry.

Just two months later, Riyadh was striking a far more conciliatory tone. Towards the end of June, Saudi Arabia's new energy minister Khalid Al-Falih told the Houston Chronicle the kingdom was effectively throwing in the towel. He said overproduction had been halted, and that the country was working its way through an “overhang of inventory.”

Muslim Hackers Leak Identities Of ISIS Cyber Army Top Brass

By Aveek Sen

July 9, 2016
Source Link

A hacktivist group, Ghost Squad Hackers, has made public the identities of some hackers affiliated to ISIS’ cyber army.

In collaboration with other hackers’ groups like Anonymous, they previously took down the Twitter and Facebook accounts of ISIS sympathisers as part of Op ISIS.

The group’s founder has vowed to target every hacker inside of ISIS, especially the “United Cyber Caliphate’ which is a conjunction of hackers working for ISIS.

On the 7 and 8 July, Ghost Squad Hackers (GSH), a hacktivist (hacker activist) group, made public the identities of some hackers affiliated to ISIS’ cyber army called United Cyber Caliphate, including leader Mauritania Attacker:

Before this, GSH had gone against a Jordan-based bank in May 2016, as it laundered money for ISIS (Part of Operation Icarus against global banking system; GSH are anarchists ideologically).

They were also part of Op ISIS against its sympathisers on Twitter and Facebook. In collaboration with other hackers’ groups like Anonymous, they took down the Twitter and Facebook accounts of ISIS sympathisers as part of the operation.

The method used to expose ISIS hackers is called doxing, which means, finding out the true identity of someone online. That can be done through various techniques like finding links between anything revealed by their anonymous identity that could lead to their real identity being found out, like hacking into their devices or accounts.

Cover: Technological Lessons from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi AccidentRead Online Technological Lessons from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Accident

0.6 MB 

Technical Details » 

Research Questions 
In the aftermath of the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, how were various technologies used to (1) ascertain the extent of radioactive contamination, (2) prevent the spread of radioactivity that had already dispersed into the wider environment, (3) decontaminate areas or items, and (4) store radioactive material for extended periods, all while limiting human exposure to radiation? 

Following the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that afflicted Japan in March 2011, some of the reactors of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant began to release radioactive material into the environment. This study draws lessons from this experience regarding technological countermeasures to radioactive contamination to improve responses to future radiological or nuclear contingencies. Specifically, it focuses on how technologies were used to measure contamination over space and time, to limit the dispersal of radioactive material in the environment, to decontaminate areas or items, and to store radioactive materials for extended periods. The authors gathered data by conducting extensive literature reviews and dozens of interviews with experts in both Japan and the United States. The report analyzes how technologies were used successfully and identifies capability gaps that could be redressed through novel technologies or improved use of existing technologies. Also included is an abbreviated bibliography for further reading.

Key Findings

Characterizing the Extent of Contamination 
Rapidly deployable sensors capable of surveying large areas quickly are critical for both initial characterization and on-going monitoring of a radioactive dispersal event. 

In addition, more finely grained local sensors suitable to support the establishment and maintenance of safe corridors and staging areas along with hardened unmanned sensor-carrying systems would be needed. 

Where are we now? Responses to the Referendum

David Runciman

pages 8-15 | 13999 words

So who is to blame? Please don’t say the voters: 17,410,742 is an awful lot of people to be wrong on a question of this magnitude. They are not simply suckers and/or closet racists – in fact, relatively few of them are – and they are not plain ignorant. You can’t fool that many people, even for a relatively short period of time. And yes it was close, but it wasn’t that close. The margin between the two sides – 3.8 per cent – was roughly the same as the margin by which Obama defeated Romney in the 2012 presidential election (3.9 per cent), and you don’t hear a lot of people complaining about the legitimacy of that, not even Republicans (well, not that many). Plus, turnout in the referendum, at 72.2 per cent, was nearly 18 per cent higher than in the last presidential election. The difference, of course, is that a general election is a constitutional necessity whereas the EU referendum was a political choice. If you don’t like the outcome, don’t say it was the wrong answer to the question. It was the wrong question, put at the wrong time, in the wrong way. And that’s the fault of the politicians.

Cameron must shoulder the lion’s share of the responsibility. It was a reckless gamble, given that the stakes were so high. No one can say how this will play out, but it has already put enormous pressure on the basic functioning of the British state, something that Conservatives are meant to value above all else. As Scotland pushes for independence, Irish nationalists agitate for unification, Wales explores its relationship with England, Labour faces a split that may lead some of the party to an explicit embrace of extra-parliamentary politics, and Farage stirs the pot, the situation is unlikely to resolve itself any time soon. This has the makings of a full-blown constitutional crisis that the Conservative Party, no matter who becomes its next leader, may struggle to contain. No Conservative leader, least of all one as essentially pragmatic as Cameron, would open the door to such a possibility lightly.

Prime among Cameron’s reasons for doing just that was the belief he would win. When he went to Brussels earlier this year to brief his fellow European leaders about his plans, he is reported to have told them not to worry because he was a ‘winner’ and knew how to get the result he needed. This wasn’t just bluster. Till last week’s fatal reverse he had a remarkably successful track record: two general elections, two referendums (the 2011 one on the Alternative Vote system as well as the 2014 Scottish one) and before that winning the Tory leadership when the odds seemed stacked against him. What was different this time was that he wasn’t able to take the key players in his party with him. Johnson’s defection was perhaps to be expected – though Cameron does not appear to have prepared for it – but Gove’s was not. Had Cameron known that his decision would split the Tory Party at the very top, including his own inner circle, it might have given him pause. The other difference is that neither of the two previous referendums was really Cameron’s personal initiative: one was a sop to the Lib Dems, the other a concession to the SNP. This meant that his warnings of disaster carried some conviction, since he could plausibly say that none of it had been his idea. This time he had no one to blame but himself, and the voters could tell.

The Italian job Italy’s teetering banks will be Europe’s next crisis

Jul 9th 2016 

INVESTORS around the world are extraordinarily nervous. Yields on ten-year Treasuries fell to their lowest-ever level this week; buyers of 50-year Swiss government bonds are prepared to accept a negative yield. Some of the disquiet stems from Britain’s decision to hurl itself into the unknown. The pound, which hit a 31-year low against the dollar on July 6th, has yet to find a floor; several British commercial-property funds have suspended redemptions as the value of their assets tumbles. But the Brexit vote does not explain all the current unease. Another, potentially more dangerous, financial menace looms on the other side of the Channel—as Italy’s wobbly lenders teeter on the brink of a banking crisis.

Italy is Europe’s fourth-biggest economy and one of its weakest. Public debt stands at 135% of GDP; the adult employment rate is lower than in any EU country bar Greece. The economy has been moribund for years, suffocated by over-regulation and feeble productivity. Amid stagnation and deflation, Italy’s banks are in deep trouble, burdened by some €360 billion ($400 billion) of souring loans, the equivalent of a fifth of the country’s GDP. Collectively they have provisioned for only 45% of that amount. At best, Italy’s weak banks will throttle the country’s growth; at worst, some will go bust.
In this section

The Italian job

Not surprisingly, investors have fled. Shares in Italy’s biggest banks have fallen by as much as half since April, a sell-off that has intensified since the Brexit vote. The biggest immediate worry is the solvency of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank. Several attempts to clean it up have failed: it is now worth just a tenth of its book value, and could well come up short in a stress test by the European Central Bank later this month (see article).

The Brexit Alarm

JUL 7, 2016 

Adair Turner, a former chairman of the United Kingdom's Financial Services Authority and former member of the UK's Financial Policy Committee, is Chairman of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. His latest book is Between Debt and the Devil.

LONDON – As a passionate European, the outcome of Britain’s referendum on European Union membership horrified me. It will almost certainly result in our exit from the EU. But I have feared for many years that large-scale immigration to the UK would produce a harmful populist response.

Global elites must now learn and act upon the crucial lesson of “Brexit.” Contrary to glib assumptions, globalization of capital, trade, and migration flows is not “good for everyone.” If we do not address its adverse effects, Brexit will not be the last – or the worst – consequence.

Net immigration to Britain was close to zero in the early 1990s. It began to increase later that decade, and grew rapidly after eight formerly communist countries joined the EU in 2004, when Britain – unlike, for instance, France and Germany – waived its right to impose a seven-year delay before allowing free movement of people from the new member states. Last year, net immigration was 333,000, and the total population grew by around 500,000. Credible forecasts suggest that the UK’s population, now 64 million, could be above 80 million by mid-century.

Migration undoubtedly brings many benefits – London is a wonderful city partly because it is a cosmopolitan melting pot of diverse cultures. But, as the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, of which I was then a member, argued as early as 2008, large-scale immigration has brought significant disadvantages for many people.