22 July 2016

** ISIS's Plan to Terrorize India

July 20, 2016

The attack in Dhaka earlier this month and the news of twenty-odd “missing” Indians who possibly joined Islamic State have sparked a vigorous discussion on India’s preparedness to take on the threat posed by ISIS. These incidents have led to more questions than answers on the group’s presence, appeal and capabilities in the Indian subcontinent.

This piece is a preliminary attempt to engage with some critical questions that shape how Indian security and intelligence agencies assess and address this threat in the short-to-medium term. What place does India have in Islamic State’s operational strategy? Where do competing regional organizations targeting India, like Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), lie in Islamic State’s universe of friends and foes? And how significant are the linkages between Islamic State and India’s most important homegrown terror outfit, the Indian Mujahideen (IM), today?

“Go Big, But Stay Home”

With the group taking heavy losses in its own territories in Iraq and Syria, its spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani’s message in May encouraged “lone wolves” to pursue targets within their home countries. The call was not for all believers to head over to the expanding “khilafah” (caliphate) as per usual, but urge them to prove their allegiance by staying exactly where they were and inflict pain locally.

The spate of attacks since June, namely in Istanbul, Dhaka and Medina, are in sync with this shift in narrative. As Islamic State gets more and more desperate, we will see more such attacks.

Is India ready to manage this shift?

Submarine Ahoy – Whither to Bound?

By Rear Adm AP Revi
21 Jul , 2016

The MOD’s 1997 proposal for a 30-year s/m building programme got CCS endorsement only in 1999. It consisted of a long term plan for indigenous construction of twenty-four s/m over a period of thirty years. In 2002, Admiral Madhvender the incumbent CNS, is reported to have commended the recent decision of the government to go ahead with the 30 year s/m building plan. He further added that during the first ten years there will be licensed manufacture of s/m. Subsequently, it will be completely indigenous presumably meaning, indigenous design and production.

The Indian Navy’s (IN) submarine arm, which was founded in December 1967, is at the cusp of its Golden Jubilee year. It has now crossed several significant milestones such as:
Building of two HDW Shishumar-class SSK submarine (s/m) at Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) Mumbai.
Kalvari, the first indigenouslybuilt Scorpene-class ssk s/m has commenced sea trials.
Undertake at Naval Dockyard Visakhapatnam [ND(V)]:

– Full range of refits for I641 s/m up to Medium Repair of the boat and Capital Repair of all machinery and equipment on board.

– Short and Normal refit of 877EKM s/m.

– Extended modified MR of Sindhushastra is in progress.
Undertaking short / normal / extended refit of HDW s/m at Mumbai.
Extensive operational deployment of its nuclear s/m with cruise missiles (SSGNs) INS Chakra I & II.
Completion of extensive harbour and sea trials of its first indigenous nuclear s/m with ballistic missiles (SSBN). The operationalisation of its s/m Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), would lead to the commissioning of INS Arihant.
Take-over of the loss making Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) from the Ministry of Shipping as a Defence PSU Shipyard – preceded by offloading the Medium Repair (MR) of Sindhukriti. Presumably, with the intent of eventually, taking on the shortfall of indigenous s/m building capacity also.
The RFP for next generation Project 75I is in an advanced state of readiness.
The long over due – acquisition of s/m rescue vessel is well in hand.

The Menace that Consumes Kashmiris

By RSN Singh
20 Jul , 2016

It is this very Kashmiriyat that Pakistan sponsored terrorists, indoctrinated and steeped in Wahabi variety of Islam, struck and purged the Valley of Kashmiri Hindus, forcing them to become refugees in their own country. The size of the Kashmir Hindus was five lakhs. This was the worst manifestation of terror in India. Yet it is to the credit of Kashmiri Hindus, that they did not allow pain and tears of two decades to translate into terror. They did not produce one ‘Burhan’, but the ‘ethnically clean’ Valley is never at loss in realizing the number of requisite jihadis. What therefore impels the cause? Is it jihad against India? Why the clamour for a ‘failed-state’ and a hell on this earth called Pakistan? Are the reasons, therefore not religious?

It is intriguing that the sympathizers in India should suffer pain and tears for a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, who not only reveled in killing security forces, but also Muslim opponents (sarpanches).

The killing of Burhan Wani exposed the mindset of separatists, soft separatists in garb of mainstream politicians and their sympathizers in the academia and the media. Nawaz Sharif’s comments hailing Burhan Wani, as martyr was in consonance and resonance with Burhan’s Indian sympathizers. They were not happy that a dreaded terrorist had been eliminated. There was not a word of praise for the security forces, nor any anguish for police personnel who along with their vehicle were thrown into raging Jhelum River by the pro-Pakistan mob.

Fight For Turkey – The Gateway To India

By Shelley Kasli
21 Jul , 2016

Coup In The Mad Sultan’s Palace

An article published in March on the American Enterprise Institute’s website titled Could there be a coup in Turkey?, considered the possibility of a military coup transpiring in Turkey. Its author, David Rubin, explains Turkey’s predicament:

The situation in Turkey is bad and getting worse. It’s not just the deterioration in security amidst a wave of terrorism. There is a broad sense, election results notwithstanding, that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is out-of-control. He is imprisoning opponents, seizing newspapers left and right, and building palaces at the rate of a mad sultan or aspiring caliph. His son Bilal reportedly fled Italy on a forged Saudi diplomatic passport as the Italian police closed in on him in an alleged money laundering scandal. His outbursts are raising eyebrows both in Turkey and abroad. Even members of his ruling party whisper about his increasing paranoia which, according to some Turkish officials, has gotten so bad that he seeks to install anti-aircraft missiles at his palace to prevent airborne men-in-black from targeting him in a snatch-and-grab operation.

President Erdoğan’sparanoia and apprehensions were not without reason. Just after four months on 15–16 July 2016, an unsuccessful coup d’état is staged against the Turkish President and his government by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces.The coup was launched when Erdogan, the country’s leader was on ‘vacation’ and away from both Ankara and Istanbul.Asnatch-and-grab operation by airborne men in Helicopter was launched at the Grand Yazici Club Turban hotel at the Turkish Riviera port town of Marmaris on the Mediterranean coast where the Turkish President was supposed to be staying. Around 25 soldiers in helicopters descended on a hotel there on ropes, shooting, in an apparent attempt to seize him.

According to British tourist Richard Holland, 47, who was woken up by the early morning blitz:

Is Pakistan Developing ‘Strategic Assets’ In Bangladesh? – Analysis

By Anand Kumar*
JULY 20, 2016

It is no secret that Pakistan has a dual approach to terrorism. While it takes certain terror groups as threat to Pakistani state and wants to uproot them, at the same time it also wants to use another set of terror groups as strategic asset against its next door neighbor India. Under this strategy it launched Zarb-e-Azb against Teherik-e-Taliban considered a threat to Pakistan but keeps nurturing Taliban active in Afghanistan. It also nurtures Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and other similar groups which have chosen India as their target. The Indian state seems to be fighting a continuous battle against the Pakistan sponsored terror groups. However, Pakistan despite its nefarious acts does not seem to be succeeding in its design. To cause further trouble to India, Pakistan is now trying to open another front using terror groups liked by Pakistani state. This new front is from the side of Bangladesh, using Bangladeshi extremists as insurgency in northeast India is almost dead.

Pakistan has been uncomfortable with the Sheikh Hasina government after she took over power in January 2009. This discomfort was for two reasons. First it disrupted the cozy relationship with Bangladesh that it had built during the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – Jamaat regime as Sheikh Hasina decided to go after the terrorist groups of all variety. She acted against Islamists groups of Bangladesh as well as against groups like Let and JeM who were Pakistani but were trying to develop base in Bangladesh or at least link with the Bangladeshi terror groups. She also acted against northeast insurgents. In fact, her actions resulted in giving death blow to groups like United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

Pakistan: War Within Islam – Analysis

By Ambreen Agha* 
JULY 19, 2016

Pakistan’s famed and much celebrated devotional Sufi singer Amjad Sabri (45) was killed in a targeted attack in broad daylight while he was traveling in his car in the Liaquatabad Town of Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh, on June 22, 2016. Sabri’s relative and co-traveler, Saleem Sabri, was also killed in the attack. Qari Saifullah Mehsud, spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)-Hakimullah Mehsud faction claimed responsibility for the killing, which he justified on account of “his (Sabri’s) blasphemous Qawwalis” (Sufi devotional music).

In a bizarre judicial ruling in 2014, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had issued a blasphemy notice to Amjad Sabri and Geo TV for playing a Qawwali during a morning show. Sabri was booked after one of his songs mentioned the names of the family members of Prophet Muhammad who are revered and followed in Shia and Sufi Islam. This was considered offensive by the hardline and puritanical Wahhabi Islam that has come to dominate Pakistan with al Qaeda-like extremism, Taliban-style misogyny and Islamic State (IS)-style savagery and terrorism.

The slapping of a blasphemy case on Sabri added to his vulnerability in both the public and private space. Lamenting the loss of her son, Amjad Sabri’s mother Asghari Begum disclosed that about six months ago three unidentified armed assailants barged into their house frantically looking for Sabri. Not finding him at his residence they left. Knowing his precarious situation, Sabri had earlier submitted an application to Government for security. The Sindh Board of Film Censors Chairman, Fakhre Alam, claimed on Twitter that despite the submission of a security application by Sabri, “the Home Department refused to follow up on it.”

CENTCOM Waging Two Very Different Kinds of Wars in Iraq/Syria and Afghanistan

Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
July 20, 2016

Airstrikes Up In Iraq & Syria, Afghanistan Eats ISR: CENTCOM 

America is waging two very different wars at once. New data from the Defense Department shows the air campaign against the Islamic State escalating back to near-record intensity after a four-month (relative) lull. Meanwhile, airstrikes in Afghanistanare down to a tiny fraction of the bombardment in Iraq and Syria, but Afghanistan’s vast and rugged wastelands soak up a staggering amount of reconnaissance.

We analyzed the latest data from Central Command, which runs both wars. Released yesterday, the CENTCOM report gives month-by-month figures for how many bombs have been dropped and missiles launched, noting that “June was an extremely kinetic month, where near record numbers were achieved.”

Almost all of that violence — 97.1 percent — was directed at Daesh. (That’s the derogatory Arab acronym for the self-proclaimed Islamic State). In June, US forces released 3,167 weapons of all kinds in Iraq and Syria, compared to just 62 in Afghanistan.

Chinese Irredentism and the Great Rejuvenation

By Claude Arpi
20 Jul , 2016

“The great rejuvenation of Chinese nation is an unstoppable historical trend that won’t be diverted by the will of any individual country or person,” is how a Chinese ‘expert’ reacted after the announcement of the verdict of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on China Military Online.

The International Tribunal in The Hague had just announced its ruling on a reference by the Philippines over the South China Sea (SCS); the Philippines had objected to Beijing violating its sovereign rights in the SCS.

The court ruled China had no legal basis to claim any historic right to the natural resources in most of the areas of the SCS. It also ruled that such rights must not exceed what’s permitted by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Further there was no evidence China had historically controlled the waters or its resources exclusively.

The court maintained it had jurisdiction to consider historic rights and maritime entitlements.

The ruling is a terrible blow in the face for the land- (and sea-) grabbing Middle Kingdom.

China was quick to release a statement on “China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea.”

The longish statement/justification was obviously ready in anticipation of the verdict of the Court. Beijing reaffirmed “China’ s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, enhance cooperation in the South China Sea with other countries, and uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

A Preview Of The Coming War Between America And China – Interview

By Maki Sunagawa and Daniel Broudy*
JULY 20, 2016

John Pilger is a world-renowned journalist, documentary filmmaker and author. He has twice won Britain’s highest award for journalism. His films have won television academy awards in Britain and the US. Two of his films, on Cambodia and East Timor, are rated with the most important of the 20th century. The Coming War Between American and China is his 60th film.

Daniel Broudy: You’re now finishing up work on your latest project the title of which, it seems, can also trigger feelings of considerable dread. The Coming War, maybe you’d agree, is pretty heavy. Can you describe the impetus for this particular look at world events, especially as you see them unfolding in East Asia?

John Pilger: The film picks up the theme of much of my work. It will set out to explain how great power imposes itself on people and disguises itself and the dangers it beckons. This film is about the United States—no longer sure of its dominance—rekindling the Cold War. The Cold War has been started again on two fronts—against Russia and against China. I’m concentrating on China in a film about the Asia-Pacific. It’s set in the Marshall Islands where the United States exploded 67 atomic bombs, nuclear weapons, between 1946 and 1958, leaving that part of the world gravely damaged—in human and environmental terms. And this assault on the Marshalls goes on. On the largest island, Kwajalein, there is an important and secretive US base called the Ronald Reagan Test Facility, which was established in the 1960s—as the archive we’re using makes clear—“to combat the threat from China.”

Dragon Tamed In South China Sea: India’s Timid Response Needs To Change – OpEd

By Bhaswati Mukherjee 
JULY 20, 2016

In a powerful rebuke to China’s aggressive and militaristic push in the South China Sea, an international tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague on July 12, 2016, rejected most of China’s claims of sovereignty in this zone. Earlier, China’s aggressive territorial push had resulted in turning this busy international trade route into one of the most volatile spots in the world.

The Tribunal’s ruling that there was no historical or legal basis for almost 90% China’s claims, demarcated by the “nine-dash line” (NDL) on Chinese maps, came as a surprise to the Chinese who had confidently expected a nuanced verdict. Chinese arrogance with regard to the case brought by the Philippines along with no compelling evidence, either historical or legal or based on the parameters laid down in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which it is a ‘State Party’, made for a very weak case. The Tribunal noted that the Chinese construction of artificial islands has caused “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, and has also threatened shipping, tourism as well as fishing and oil exploration there. With regard to the construction by China of a military airstrip and naval berths on an atoll named “Mischief Reef,” the Tribunal noted that this was within Philippines territorial waters in accordance with UNCLOS.

South China Sea: Is Taiwan On The Right Path? – Analysis

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
JULY 19, 2016

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) came out with its ruling on South China Sea. The verdict was that China’s nine-dash line and its claims based on historical rights are null and void. As expected, China has rejected the ruling as invalid. This is clearly a victory for the Philippines which had taken the case to the PCA. Invalidation of China’s historical claims to the South China Sea is also a big boost for other claimants, including Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. Taiwan, the other claimant, and China have claimed almost 90 percent of the South China Sea territories, whereas the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei each have claimed sovereignty over different islands and reefs in this area. The claimant countries have also laid claims to exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles around each island, as per UNCLOS regulations. Even as the South China Sea has been contested for decades, the recent legal battle became unavoidable in the face of China forcibly taking control of the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012 over fishing disputes, leaving the weaker Philippines little choice but to take the case to the PCA in February 2013.

Taiwan’s position on the South China Sea and the East China Sea is similar to that of China. It must also be noted that Taiwan controls Itu Aba/Taiping Island, the largest naturally formed island in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea. However, until recently, it appeared that Taiwan had made a political call not to assert those claims or talk about them openly. In the run-up to and following the PCA verdict, Taiwan has taken a more active position on these conflicts. In January 2016, then President Ma Ying-jeou visited Taiping Island, possibly illustrating its long-standing claim and sovereignty over the island. Even though previous leaders have also visited the island, a visit so close to the South China Sea verdict was seen as sending a message about its own historical claims. The question is whether Taiwan is departing from its earlier policy and if so, whether it is pragmatic to do so?

China Says It Will Conduct Regular Air Patrols Over Disputed Islands in South China Sea

Richard D Fisher Jr and Gabriel Dominguez
July 20 2016

China to conduct ‘regular combat air patrols’ over South China Sea

The Chinese air force recently sent H-6K bombers (one of which is seen here flying near Scarborough Shoal) and other aircraft to patrol islands and reefs in the disputed South China Sea, according to a Chinese air force spokesperson. Source: Xinhua via News.cn

China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has conducted a “combat air patrol” over the South China Sea (SCS), which will become a “regular practice” in the future, a PLAAF spokesperson was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying on 18 July.

The PLAAF recently sent H-6K strategic bombers and other aircraft, including fighters, scouts, and tankers to patrol the islands and reefs in the disputed waters, including Scarborough Shoal, spokesperson Shen Jinke was quoted as saying.

The PLAAF aims to “promote real combat training” over the SCS, improve combat abilities against various security threats and safeguard national sovereignty and security, according to the spokesperson. “To effectively fulfil its mission, the air force will continue to conduct combat patrols on a regular basis in the South China Sea,” said Shen.

While the exact date of the air patrol was not revealed, analysts said the move likely took place after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague ruled on 12 July that Beijing’s claim to 'historic rights’ within most of the disputed waters has no legal basis: a decision that angered China and sparked fears Beijing may accelerate its effort to establish de facto control over the area through land reclamation and military deployments.

The international tribunal decided on a case brought by the Philippines, which argued that Chinese activity in the region was violating international law. China boycotted the legal proceedings, arguing the panel had “no jurisdiction” and saying it would not abide by the court’s decision. While the ruling is binding, the tribunal has no powers of enforcement.


Author: R N Ganesh

July 14, 2016

China’s claims in the South China Sea are based on its “9-dash line”, which claims virtually the whole of the South China Sea. The 9-dash line is itself based on an ‘11-dash line” published by the Republic of China in 1947, (i.e., before the creation of the Peoples’ Republic of China), which has no valid historic, logical or legal basis. This claim predates the UNCLOS by several decades, and most of the countries of the SE Asian region were not even independent states at the time. China claims sovereignty over the South China Sea and has used military force to interfere with legitimate fishing and oil exploration activity by regional coastal states. From 1970 the PRC reiterated its demands more aggressively when the Philippines began oil exploration off its coast. The Philippines began oil production in 1984, and today its offshore oil meets nearly 15% of its national requirement.

UNCLOS: Scope of Authority

The UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea, to which the parties to the disputes in the South China Sea are signatories, lays down the principles based on which the living and non-living resources of the sea bed may be exploited by coastal state. As modified by the lay of the continental shelf and various other factors, it prescribes a limit of 200 nautical miles (approximately 360 kms), as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the coastal state. The Scarborough Shoal, the Spratley islands and the Paracels lie well outside this limit from China. In any case, where the EEZs of two coastal states overlap, they have to be negotiated and agreed based on certain formulae.

The UNCLOS does not rule on issues of sovereignty or national or territorial borders. Rather, it prescribes methods for use of the sea and the exploitation of the resources in and under it, outside of national boundaries. It also lays down how the limits of the EEZ are to be defined and the use and limits for the exploitation of the Continental shelf by coastal states. An important law in the Convention is that rocks and features that cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf. This is an issue that is particularly relevant in the case of the South China Sea.

South China Sea Disputes & the Case of Philippines

Why Iran needs to fight Saudi Arabia to forge peace

July 18, 2016

Members of the Iranian army march past President Hassan Rouhani (C top) and military commanders during a parade marking the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), in Tehran, Sept. 22, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA)

TEHRAN, Iran — Turki al-Faisal Al Saud’s call for regime change in Tehran, let alone his mere participation at the July 9 Mujahedeen-e-Khalq’s (MEK) annual conference in Paris, is an unprecedented move against Iran by a high-ranking Saudi royal.
Summary⎙ Print Despite all the challenges it poses for Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional policy and strategic behavior is still not perceived as a threat in Tehran — but could failing to respond be a mistake?

Prior to Faisal’s statements at the MEK convention, the Saudi deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, paid a 10-day visit that started on June 14 toWashington and then Paris, during which he stressed the necessity to counter the "Iranian threat.” Meanwhile, as has been the norm during his tenure so far, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who accompanied Mohammed, went even further in his criticism of Iran's regional policy, demanding that Tehran stop “exporting its revolution.”

This situation has in fact been prevalent ever since King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud was crowned in January 2015. As such, one can assume that there has been a paradigm shift in Riyadh's regional policy, which encompasses relations with Tehran. At this point, Saudi Arabia has crossed so many unwritten rules in its dealings with Iran that some observers anticipate a war between the two nations.

Why the Failed Turkish Coup is Very Bad News for the War on ISIS


The bloody putsch came closer to bringing down President Erdogan than many at first believed. Now, how can the U.S. count on a key NATO ally at war with itself?

Four days after Turkey’s failed coup, which left 300 dead and more than 1,400 injured, new details have emerged to suggest the putsch came closer to a successful overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan than many observers thought—and the operation could have a major impact on U.S.-Turkish military cooperation in the war against the so-called Islamic State just across Turkey’s borders in Syria and Iraq.

Aaron Stein at the Atlantic Council nails the core problem when he asks, “How can we credibly go to war with a NATO ally in coalition operations when that ally’s army is at war with itself?”

Turkey, remember, has the second biggest army in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, after the United States. In the Cold War years, its borders with the Soviet Union were vital to Western strategy. In the age of jihad, the fact that its territory abuts not only ISIS-land, but Iran, gives it enormous geopolitical importance.

The putschists, it now appears, relied heavily on a key NATO installation to carry out the aerial component of their daring plot, which was spearheaded by officers in the Turkish air force. And the enormous post-coup dragnet of suspected traitors already has snared high-ranking military officials who had been responsible for securing Turkey’s frontiers and carrying out coalition policy in Syria.

Iraq's Silver Bullet in the ISIS Fight

July 20, 2016

“The reason for the collapse of Nuri al-Maliki’s army and the conquest of Mosul in 2014 and other Sunni areas by Daesh [Islamic State] was the failure of the Iraqi government regarding Sunnis,” says Gen. Sa’adi al-Obaidi. Sitting in a small air conditioned caravan in the middle of a military base around thirteen miles east of Mosul, the general and several of his senior officers gathered around a table on July 15 to explain why they have joined Hashd al-Watani, or the National Mobilization Force. The unit of several thousand men has been training for two years to retake Iraq’s second largest city from ISIS, alongside Kurdish peshmerga forces in northern Iraq.

On July 9, the Iraqi army captured an airbase next to Qayyarah, forty miles south of Mosul. This offensive, led by the central government in Baghdad, has been closely coordinated with Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. On July 11, U.S. defense secretary Ash Carter said 560 more Americans were on the way to Iraq to “support Iraqi security forces as they move forward with the Mosul operation.”

However the operation to retake Mosul is hampered by the fact that many Sunnis fear the role of Iranian influence and Shia militias. Cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi were subjected to mass destruction in the house-to-house fighting used to clear them from ISIS. The key to the liberation of this large city will be the role of Sunni Arabs, as well as the Kurdish peshmerga whose front line in Bashiqa is only ten miles from Mosul city. There are an estimated 1.7 million refugees in the Kurdish region, many of them minorities such as Yazidis and Christians from around Mosul, and Sunni Arabs from areas of Iraq.


JULY 20, 2016

The recent coup attempt in Turkey revealed profound political cleavages in the Turkish armed forces. The coup pitted a minority — but nevertheless significant — faction of the Turkish military against the majority of the country’s armed forces, which remained loyal to their commander in chief, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The coup nearly succeeded in achieving what, in retrospect, appears to have been its primary objective: the killing or capture of Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, and Hakan Fidan, the chief of the country’s intelligence agency, MIT. The plotters, using a number of well-placed insiders, did manage to take the chief of the general staff, Hulusi Akar, hostage. The clashes resulted in 240 deaths. Turkish government officials allege that the plot was hatched by followers of Fetullah Gulen, a self-exiled Turkish cleric, currently living in Pennsylvania.

The following account remains incomplete and relies on a Whatsapp conversation between some of the coup plotters, open source data, compiled by blogs like The Aviationist, as well as discussions I have had with Turkey based journalists and colleagues, all whom prefer to remain anonymous. I relied on pro-government sources, including state-owned and government aligned media outlets, but sought to compensate for their biases in my analysis. The complete story has yet to be told and all of the details have yet to be released publicly.


JULY 20, 2016

ISIS-Terrorist-RifleIn late May 2016, the Islamic State (ISIL) released an audio statement featuring Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the group’s chief spokesman, celebrating the upcoming lunar month of Ramadan. Adnani exhorted ISIL’s supporters to make Ramadan “a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers” and urged everyone considering migrating to the caliphate to instead carry out attacks in their home countries. Adnani’s statement proved to be an ugly portent of things to come. Militants acting in ISIL’s name struck in over 10 countries during the group’s Ramadan offensive. Highly visible attacks in Istanbul, Dhaka, Orlando, and Baghdad together left hundreds of civilians dead as operatives targeted airports, restaurants, night clubs, and shopping centers.

While almost all of these attacks were claimed by ISIL, observers have expressed skepticism about the extent of the organization’s involvement. Some argued that ISIL’s role in most attacks during Ramadan was limited to providing ideological inspiration and encouragement to so-called lone wolves or wolf packs, who may have mobilized in response to Adnani’s call to arms but did not coordinate with ISIL operatives.

Yet, a growing body of evidence suggests that the Ramadan offensive was largely a coordinated and deliberate ISIL campaign. Though some militants may have acted of their own accord, it is probable that ISIL as an organization played a pivotal role in organizing and directing the majority of attacks that occurred during Ramadan. Some attacks, such as the Istanbul and Baghdad bombings, were centrally directed by ISIL attack networks, with the organization deploying trained operatives. Other operations were the product of collaboration between local networks and ISIL operatives based in Syria and Iraq, who helped to organize and coordinate the attacks remotely. Through this combination of both central and virtual planning, ISIL mounted an unprecedented wave of attacks.

This is a model that ISIL is likely to replicate in the future.

The Tip of the Spear

How The Lone Wolf Syndrome Is A Black Swan In Terrorism Predictive Analysis – OpEd

JULY 20, 2016

The recent attacks across the world have seen a twist in the modus operandi of terrorists making prediction and prevention of terrorism extremely difficult for law enforcement agencies. So called ‘Lone Wolves’, operatives working in ones or twos, without any ostensible connection to known terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State or any prior known record of such activities suddenly seem to crawl out of the woodwork and create new and unique mayhem, adding to the list of terrorist actions which were not on the radar of any agency. The sheer lack of anticipation, or improbability, or both push these acts (increasingly so) in the category of Black Swan events, which by their very definition are deviations from the normal.

As a result, and due to the very audacity of the act, they create ruptures in the development of defence strategy against such acts in future. These unconventional strategic shocks have been classified as ‘Known Unknowns’ by veteran Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Freier of the United States Army. In our ongoing analysis of these terrorist acts whether in Paris or Orlando or Istanbul or Medina, and most recently in Nice in France, it becomes critical to dwell upon certain underlying factors for accurate prediction and prevention of such acts in the future.
Why They Do It

Though the reasons may be multifarious, they share a common thread- fanatical or jihadist Islam. This in itself is a thought provoking term, since learned Muslims differ on the meaning attributed to jihad by those who choose extremist means; a growing section within Islam itself feels that the term has been abused to suit their extremist purposes and tendencies. Also, recently a debate has been initiated as to whether the right description is radicalization of Islam or Islamisation of radicals. In itself, source for a stimulating debate, albeit the end result being the same.

Milestone: We’ve Just Dropped Our 50,000th Bomb On Islamic State – OpEd

JULY 20, 2016

In August, 2014, the US-led “coalition” began bombing Iraq and Syria to, in the words of President Obama, “degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIS.” For nearly two years — despite President Obama announcing last November that ISIS was “contained” — the bombing has continued unabated.

A milestone was reached this month, however, as the US coalition dropped its 50,000th bomb against Iraq and Syria. With each bomb costing on average somewhere around $50,000, those bombs have cost US (for the most part) taxpayers at least two and a half billion dollars. Factor in the cost of keeping the bombers in the air, the cost of training the pilots, maintenance, etc. and the cost skyrockets upward from there.

In fact, as of February of this year, the US “war on ISIS” has cost more than $6 billion, to the boundless delight of the Beltway defense contractors.

Is Turkey Becoming Unglued?

By:Jennifer Cafarella 
July 20, 2016

How Turkey Could Become the Next Pakistan

The U.S. must recognize the risk a NATO ally may become a safe haven for al Qaeda as Erdogan consolidates power.

The failed coup attempt by elements of the Turkish Armed Forces on July 15will enable President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to establish himself as an authoritarian ruler in Turkey. His priorities in the next few months will be to solidify the loyalty of the Turkish military establishment and complete the constitutional reform necessary to replace Turkey’s parliamentary democracy with an executive presidency, his longstanding goal. A post-coup Erdogan is much less likely to submit to American pressure without major returns. Erdogan immediately demanded the extradition of politicalrival Fethullah Gulen from the U.S., accusing Gulen of plotting the coup and condemning the U.S. for harboring him. Erdogan will likely deprioritize the fight against ISIS, undermining the counter-ISIS mission in Syria, as he focuses on consolidating power. He may even revoke past concessions to the U.S., including permission to use Turkey’s Incirlik airbase for counter-ISIS operations. 
Erdogan has more dangerous options now that his rule is secure, however. A partnership with al Qaeda could grant him a powerful proxy force to achieve national security objectives without relying on the Turkish Military. American policymakers must recognize the dangerous possibility Erdogan will knowingly transform Turkey into the next Pakistan in pursuit of his own interests. 

July 16

Erdogan may turn to non-state militants for security solutions while he lacks a strong military force behind him. Non-state militants can either supplement a Turkish military or serve as an interim partner while Erdogan rebuilds. Erdogan provided support to al Qaeda and associated groups in Syria even before the coup. He has allowed senior al Qaeda leaders to operate relatively freely in Turkey, although a small number of Turkish raids have targeted al Qaeda elements. He is also a primary patron of Ahrar al Sham, a Syrian Salafi-jihadi group with close links to al Qaeda. A closer partnership with these groups could enable him to:

Kasich Attacks Trump for Rejecting Failed GOP Foreign Policy

July 20, 2016

The Republican Party is heir to a failed foreign policy that it has never fully confronted. The man who forced a partial confrontation has just secured the party’s nomination. But the reaction of the party elite appears to be that the best approach is to return, as soon as possible, to the old doctrines and nostrums and that it best to focus, not on the current election, but on establishing the parameters for 2020.

How else to interpret Ohio Governor John Kasich’s speech on Tuesday afternoon implicitly decrying Donald Trump to the International Republican Institute? House Speaker Paul Ryan is bobbing and weaving when it comes to Trump, endorsing the general idea of his presidency but attacking the particulars. By contrast, Kasich is adopting a much tougher stand. He already had something of a score to settle as he spoke to the GOP grandees on Tuesday. 

Robert Draper reports in the New York Times that in May Donald Trump Jr. had apparently offered the vice presidency to Kasich and said that he would wield unprecedented influence on foreign and domestic policy, while Trump's role would be to “make America great again.” Kasich refused. There matters appeared to rest. Then, on Monday Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign adviser, scoffed at Kasich for refusing to support Trump: “He’s embarrassing his party in Ohio.” Today, Kasich, a former member of the House Armed Services Committee, fired back in the form of decrying Trump’s approach to foreign affairs.

Russia's MiG-29 Fulcrum: A Super Fighter or Super Failure?

July 20, 2016

The MiG-29 Fulcrum was the first Russian fourth-generation jet fighter, marked by its sleek and deadly appearance in contrast to earlier Soviet fighters. The fast and agile Fulcrum could outturn any NATO fighter, and it was armed with cutting-edge missiles. But, alas, it was held back by its old-fashioned electronics, short service life and limited range.

In a sense, the MiG-29 combined fourth generation engineering with third generation hardware. It’s relatively low price meant it initially attracted extensive sales to developing countries, but it would swiftly become overshadowed by the more modern Su-27. The Fulcrum will remain in service for some time, however, as recent upgraded versions partially redress some of its shortcomings.


The MiG-29 began development in 1974, intended to be an advanced lightweight multirole fighter that would operate from primitive airfields at the frontlines of the Cold War, while smaller numbers of heavier Su-27s (also then in development) would handle longer-range missions. This paralleled the light–heavy force structure of F-16s and F-15s being developed for the U.S. Air Force.

The first MiG-29s became operational in 1982 and were codenamed “Fulcrums” by NATO—a name which caught on with some Russian pilots as well. The Fulcrum had a fearsome reputation in the West, and even got its owncomputer game. By the 1990s, Western pilots had ample opportunity to fly MiG-29s as the German Air Force incorporated the MiG-29s of East Germany. Later, the United States even bought twenty-one from Moldova.

It was discovered that the Fulcrums were very hot rides—but they also had significant downsides.

How Iran Ruined Nuclear Deals for Everyone

July 20, 2016

Last summer’s Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,declares that it does not set “precedents for any other state.” Yet given the decade-long centrality of the Iran nuclear issue to international nonproliferation, the agreement will certainly influence future debates over nuclear nonproliferation and verification. Despite the deal’s clauses limiting Tehran’s ability to produce and stockpile fissile material, it sets a poor precedent for future agreements, and the manner in which it was negotiated sends the wrong message to would-be proliferators.

At best, the JCPOA temporarily freezes or restricts the uranium-related elements of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. These temporary restrictions, known as the agreement’s “sunset clauses,” are the product of a combination of lack of Western resolve and Iran’s own determination to withstand Western pressure to get a deal on it terms.

The agreement establishes four larger lessons for potentially problematic nuclear actors. The first is that steadfastness and even intransigence can lead the international community to accept domestic enrichment. Numerous United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions against Iran’s nuclear program highlightTehran’s “breach of its obligations to suspend all enrichment-related activities.” Yet the JCPOA does not require the Iranian leadership to temporarily, even symbolically, suspend low-level enrichment.