26 July 2016

*** Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea

JULY 19, 2016
Source Link

Impact on U.S. InterestsCRITICAL
Conflict StatusWORSENING
11 BILLIONEstimated barrels of oil in the South China Sea
190 TRILLIONEstimated number of cubic feet of natural gas in the South China Sea
$5.3 TRILLIONTotal annual trade passing through the South China Sea

China Announces Regular Patrols, Military Drills in South China Sea

China announced it began air patrols that would become a regular occurrence over disputed islands in the South China Sea. A spokesman said the People's Liberation Army Air Force sent H-6K bombers, fighter jets, and tankers to the South China Sea (NYT).JULY 7, 2016

UN Tribunal Rejects China's Maritime Claims

A UN tribunal has ruled that there is "no legal basis" for China's claims to expansive stretches of the South China Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in the four year-long case, which challenged China's so-called "nine-dash line" (NYT) that encircles the majority of the body of water. Chinese President Xi Jinping rejected the ruling and said China would not accept any action based on the court's decision (Xinhua). JULY 6, 2016

Increased Chinese Military Presence in the South China Sea


by Brad Spiel
July 24th, 2016 


The Army must be a force capable of exerting ‘land power for strategic effect across the modern spectrum of peace, crisis and war’. To this end the Army must be able to defeat peer forces in a conventional setting as well as have the versatility to quickly move to stability and peace-time operations. Army’s mission follows that the brigade headquarters, as the key land C2 node, must also have the capability to meet these challenges. 

A feature of recent operations is that formation headquarters have been relatively static, they have also been established for prolonged periods of time, and with a high number of specialist staff. This post seeks to explore the challenges of the brigade headquarters, in particular, the Enabled Combat Brigade Headquarters against Army’s mission to be a force capable of exerting land power. This post will explore: 

The requirements of the modern headquarters 

Australian headquarters growth 

Considerations for improved efficiency

The aim of this post is to spark a discussion on the requirements for the headquarters and acknowledges that the proposals made are only one view of an intricate problem.


Purpose of the Headquarters

*** On Turkey, NATO Succumbs to Geopolitics

July 21, 2016

This piece was created in collaboration with the Atlantic Council, where Robbie Gramer is currently associate director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative. The views expressed are solely those of the author.

The attempted coup in Turkey shocked leaders across the countries of the NATO alliance. Turkey has been a member of the alliance since 1952, three years after NATO’s inception. Recently, it has become the alliance’s conduit to the troubled Middle East and an integral member of the transatlantic anti-ISIS coalition.

NATO, an alliance based on the transatlantic values of democracy, freedom, and human rights, has grown incredibly uneasy over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the coup. In recent days, he has purged sectors of the government, including the military, the Ministry of Education, and the judiciary branch. Erdogan talks of reinstituting the death penalty to punish the coup plotters, and the president is consolidating power in a way that dismantles many elements of Turkey’s already weak democratic system.

Turkey, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, is veering away from NATO’s “requirement with respect to democracy.” Many interpreted this as a veiled threat that NATO could reassess its relationship with Turkey -- that it could even revoke membership. But Ankara’s worrying backslide from democracy will not change Turkey’s status as a member of NATO.

A coup in a NATO member country, while shocking, is not without precedent. Since joining NATO in 1952, Turkey has undergone four successful military coups that the alliance accepted in stride without jeopardizing Turkey’s membership status -- the most recent took place in 1997. Beyond Turkey, other NATO members have faced coups that in the did not threaten the long-term security or vitality of the organization: a failed coup in France in 1961 in the wake of the disastrous war of independence in Algeria; a successful military coup in Greece in 1967 that lead to seven years of military rule; a failed coup in Italy in 1970; and a successful military coup in Portugal in 1974.

This attempted coup in Turkey comes right on the heels of NATO’s seminal Warsaw Summit, and against the backdrop of worrying new threats across Europe’s periphery, from a revanchist Russia to an emboldened ISIS. But NATO has weathered coups both failed and successful, and that experience indicates the alliance can do so again. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week, “Turkey is a valued NATO ally with whom I stand in solidarity in this difficult time.”

*** Stratfor: China Is Building Its Future on Credit

Stratfor, 20 July 2016


As China tries to overcome slowdowns in its industrial and trade sectors, the country’s banks have continued to increase the pace of lending, issuing 1.38 trillion yuan ($205.8 billion) worth of loans in June. The figure confirms some economists’ expectations that lending will keep rising as China’s central government attempts to revive economic growth and boost property markets that showed signs of another slump in May. It also indicates that despite Beijing’s repeated pledges to reduce the economy’s reliance on credit and state-led investment, the easy flow of financing from state-owned banks remains the country’s primary bulwark against widespread debt crises among corporations and local governments.


The June credit figure, according to official data released July 15, followed a sharp hike in formal bank lending between April and May, suggesting that recent government efforts to increase the state-owned banking sector’s share of nationwide financing are on course. It is difficult to overstate the scale and intensity of the transformation undergone by China’s financial system since the 2008 global financial crisis, which compelled the Chinese government to embark on what now looks likely to become a decade long (or longer) stimulus drive. In 2007, state banks issued 3.6 trillion yuan worth of new loans. Their lending has since increased each year, reaching 11 trillion yuan in 2015.

* A Peak Into Our Deep Dive An in-depth study of global developments.

July 21, 2016

Turkey’s Geopolitical Imperatives

Ankara appears in disarray, but the attempted coup is unlikely to prevent it from taking the necessary steps to emerge as a major power.


The coup attempt has generated a great deal of debate over Turkey’s future. Much of the discussion on this issue is focused on the personality of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the struggle between his supporters and their opponents. Truly understanding the current status of Turkey and where it is likely headed in the future, however, requires moving away from individuals and groups and examining objective geopolitical forces that shape a country’s behavior. This is why we try to make sense of Turkey by examining the imperatives and the constraints it faces. 


In our 2040 forecast, we identified Turkey as a major emerging power. We believe it will project power southwards into the Middle East, westwards into Europe and northwards into the the Black Sea region. However, Turkey is currently mired in problems at home and struggling on the international front. This was the case even before the July 15 coup attempt

Therefore, the question is: what can be expected from Turkey in the coming years and decades? To answer this question, we will examine Turkey’s imperatives in this Deep Dive. We also need to look at the constraints that the Turks will be operating under. By understanding its imperatives and constraints, we are able to forecast the country’s future evolution – irrespective of which personality or faction is at the helm. 

We define imperatives as the actions that a state must take to survive and flourish. They stem from the confluence of its geography, demographics and available resources. The most basic imperative is to control and govern a core territory. Once that is realized, a state then will turn to its second imperative pertaining to the relationships it must maintain with neighboring actors and those further afield. 

** Were Turkish Coup Planners Involved in Downing Russian Jet?

By George Friedman
July 20, 2016

Erdoğan is using the coup attempt to reframe Turkey’s relations with Russia.

The pilots who were involved in shooting down a Russian aircraft in November that briefly intruded on Turkish airspace have been arrested by Turkish authorities. A Turkish official said the arrests were in connection withthe failed coup. With this, one of the main outcomes of the coup attempt is becoming obvious. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has decided to repair relations with Russia and is using the attempted coup to demonstrate to the Russians that he was not involved in ordering the downing of the aircraft, but that his political enemies were responsible. 

There are some problems with this version of events. The intercept of the Russian fighter jet took place after a number of incursions into Turkish airspace. According to multiple sources, including Turkish ones, the Russian plane that was shot down was over Turkish territory for a very short time. The tactical air defense controllers did not have time to query the national command authority (their bosses) for permission to shoot. The decision to shoot down a Russian plane entering Turkish airspace had to have been made before the incident. The alternative is that the tactical controllers on the ground, not the pilots, acted without authority. That would mean that the command to shoot came from at most a colonel in tactical ground control.

The Turkish government, including Erdoğan, reacted immediately and without hesitation charging that the incursion was not the first and that the Russians had been constantly violating Turkish airspace. They vigorously condemned the Russians. There was never any official or unofficial leak indicating that there was anything amiss with the shoot down, no one in the air or on the ground was relieved of their duties and there was no indication of an investigation. 

** Appearances vs. Realities in China

By Jacob L. Shapiro
July 21, 2016

Beijing projects an image of strength but its weakness often shapes its polices.

It has been a week since the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague ruled that China’s claims in the South China sea are “without lawful effect.” In the interim, China has continued to loudly denounce the ruling to anyone who will listen. Just yesterday, the commander of the People’s Liberation Army insisted after meeting U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson that China would never give up its sovereignty claims in the area. Chinese nationalist protests targeted, of all places, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets in China. Apparently, KFC is just as much a symbol of the United States as its embassy in Beijing (where more protests were held over the weekend).

China was also in the news yesterday as the European Commission (EC) discussed whether China should be granted market economy status by the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the end of the year. The EC ultimately punted on the question, essentially saying that whatever label China ends up with will be unimportant, as the EU will ensure that it is protected from intentionally cheap Chinese exports supported by Chinese state controls. 

** Weekly Graphic: Islamic Attacks Outside of Core

This is a map of attacks either directly carried out by the Islamic State or inspired by their message. The map does not take into account attacks in Syria and Iraq, as that is core Islamic State territory and strikes there are directly linked to IS’ goal of maintaining territorial control of its caliphate. The goal of this map is to show the global reach of IS ideology and activities.

IS has either directed or inspired attacks on every major continent except South America, and South America’s exceptional status is not for lack of trying. IS has targeted majority Muslim nations from Tunisia to Indonesia. It has targeted Western nations from the United States to Australia. There are roughly 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Islamic State, however falsely, purports to speak for them all. Its ambitions are global.

The Islamic State’s center of gravity is the small state it has carved out in what used to be Syria and Iraq. If you are a regular reader of Geopolitical Futures, you know that we have a very sober view of just how strong IS is in its core territory, and we expect that it will be much more difficult to take it away than the U.S. and its allies indicate.

The deeper point, however, is that even if the necessary political will and military resources are put into destroying what IS has built in Raqqa (the U.S. announced this week that it is adding another small infusion of troops into Iraq), it will not solve the problem. The most potent thing about the Islamic State is that it is not just a physical entity, but an idea, one that has spread far beyond the confines of the Syrian and Iraqi deserts. You cannot carpet bomb an idea.

** Politics in Thailand Twilight of the king After the ailing monarch goes, what next?

Jul 23rd 2016

TO THE casual observer the country is calm and orderly. And reverential: adorning a sweet-seller’s stall in a buzzing market in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, are a dozen laminated pictures of the 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej who, on the throne since 1946, is the world’s longest-reigning monarch, indeed the only king most Thais have ever known. During his reign Thailand has become one of the richest big countries in South-East Asia, a manufacturing hub and a magnet for tourists. Bhumibol’s picture is everywhere, including in millions of homes. As for the ailing king himself, who lies in a hospital just opposite the sweet-seller’s stall—he has not been seen for months. The palace rarely breaks its silence. But in June and again this month doctors said they had drained fluid from his brain.

Whether it comes in weeks or years, the king’s passing will be more than a milestone. His death may set loose centrifugal forces that a coup in 2014 sought to contain, but seems destined in the long run only to aggravate. Below the surface, Thailand is deeply fractured. And so the army-enforced calm accompanying the king’s twilight is fragile. Not least of the problems is that his successor, the crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn, is deeply unpopular. After Bhumibol’s death the country, a crucial ally of America’s in South-East Asia, risks descending further into civil strife and economic dislocation, as an elite around the palace resists popular calls for a greater say in politics and a more equitable sharing of wealth. At that point, all bets about Thailand’s stability and prosperity may be off.
In this section

Twilight of the king

** Devious Plans of China to bring in the issue of Andaman and Nicobar Islands ownership

Guest Column by Commodore RS Vasan IN (Retd)

There have been some reports from New Delhi to indicate that China’s Officiating Ambassador to India made a quid-pro-quo suggestion to India seeking its support for its South China Sea (SCS) claims based on historicity to resolve the outstanding border disputes.

According to the Chinese official, some accommodation could be made on the McMahan line if India supported the claims of China in SCS. As per the article by Vice Admiral AK Singh carried in the Deccan Chronicle on 13th July 2016[i] this Machiavellian suggestion was made on April 19th in New Delhi when some of the think tanks were invited to participate in the discussion about South China Sea (SCS). Apparently the officiating Ambassador at that time is reported to have said that “Someone in future may dispute the ownership of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands”. This is also corroborated by Dr Subhash Kapila in an article carried by South Asia Analysis Group where the author has cautioned India about being complacent in the defence of Andaman and Nicobar Islands[ii] which serve as the forward posts of India and crucial for India’s maritime defence plans.

China Cornered. It was known that the verdict would not be favourable to China due to the untenable claims under the provisions of UNCLOS to which China is a signatory. According to the same article quoted above, when a maritime think tank visited China in May 2016, the Chinese hosts discreetly suggested that at some future date the ownership of Andaman and Nicobar could be disputed echoing the views expressed by the Chinese official on 19th April 2016 while interacting with the members of think tanks in Delhi. It is very clear that the Chinese had seen the writing on the wall as for as the award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) was concerned and were working at many levels to seek support and mitigate the adversarial position in which China found itself post the verdict. This did not leave out India its big neighbour with whom the land borders remain unresolved even after some eighteen rounds of meetings and discussions. The unresolved border issue remains a thorn in the bilateral relations of the two countries.

There are no disputes as for as the maritime assets are concerned and the attempt of China to bring in the unwarranted issue of A&N can at best be termed as totally convoluted, frivolous and mischievous. At one level, it clearly demonstrates the forward thinking capability of the Chinese mind and at another level also indicates the wily ways by which it wants to enlist the support of other countries. Even after the verdict, China has been engaging the Philippines Government in bilateral talk to ensure that there is no backlash in the South China Sea. Any change in the status quo in SCS would be detrimental to the long term plans of China to establish its claimed sovereignty in SCS to uphold its illegitimate claims based on historicity.

Construction of Strategic Railway Lines

PIB Press Release 
Jul 20, 2016 

Construction of Strategic Railway Lines

Government has accorded ‘in – principle’ approval for construction and undertaking Final Location Survey (FLS) of following railway lines along the India-China border:

• Missamari (Bhalukpong)-Tenga-Tawang;

• Bilaspur-Mandi-Manali-Leh;

• Pasighat-Parasuramkund-Rupai and

• North Lakhimpur-Bame (Along)-Silapathar.

This information was given by Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar in a written reply to Shri Sanjay Raut in Rajya Sabha today. 

Moulding Perceptions to Incite Violence

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
24 Jul , 2016

Information operations are complex requiring detailed planning and execution. In the overall context, information operations must include psychological operations, computer network operations, electronic warfare and military deception, the US military even adding operations security in the integrated mix of information operations.

It should be abundantly clear that friendly relations with Pakistan are a pipe dream unless Pakistan implodes or is balkanized and cut to size.

Looking at the larger picture, information operations are just one part of ‘hybrid warfare’ that we have been contending with. But here we examine how perception management is being executed by Pakistan to incite violence in India, particularly in J&K.

The fact remains that the basis of Pakistan’s survival has been the two-nation theory that founded Pakistan. Sure, Pakistan’s sense of direction went more awry after losing East Pakistan and West Pakistan lost the prefix ‘West’, and perhaps more regions of Pakistan may be lost same way, but the fact remains that Pakistan has been in illegal occupation of 678,114 sq kms of India (State of J&K that legally ceded to India), of which 5,180 sq kms of Shaksgam Valley Pakistan ceded to China in 1963 in exchange for nuclear technology and military aid. Yet Pakistan, eyes more and more, egged on by full support of China.

Pakistan recently observed ‘Black Day’ on July 19 while Nawaz Sharif declared, “Pakistan would continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support for Kashmiris in their just struggle”. It should be abundantly clear that friendly relations with Pakistan are a pipe dream unless Pakistan implodes or is balkanized and cut to size. What else would you deduce from the recent statement at a public rally in Muzaffrabad, where he said, “We are waiting for the day Kashmir becomes (part of) Pakistan. Their movement for freedom cannot be stopped and it will be successful. You are aware of how they are being beaten and killed. All our prayers are with them and we are waiting for the day Kashmir becomes (part of) Pakistan”.

Modernisation of Army Air Defence

By Maj Gen AK Mehra
25 Jul , 2016

Students of matters military will vouch for the shape of the battlefield in the 21st century. All battles will be preceded by an intense air battle to attempt to destroy the war-waging potential of a nation; which in our case may be two forces joining hands to come at us with the full threat spectrum. In such a scenario, a formidable ground based Air Defence to will be required to combat this threat. The proposed ground based Air Defence system is also be a threat that will prominently figure in the enemy’s calculus while considering the option of an aerial attack. The present condition of our ground based Air Defence does not allow us the luxury to wait much longer.

Air Defence encompasses all actions initiated to protect national assets against aerial threats…

Air Defence gunners are the only soldiers in the world who do not dive for cover when they see an attacking aerial threat. They stand back and fight so that others can be safe to continue the battle.

Air Defence encompasses all actions initiated to protect national assets against aerial threats. These actions can range from purely passive activities such as dispersion, camouflage or concealment of the important assets, to active measures which aim at destroying the threat, well before it can cause any damage or destruction or effectively deterring it from carrying out its mission. Assets meriting protection can be symbols of national pride such as the Parliament, strategic assets such as the nuclear installations, refineries, economic assets and war-like assets, which will enable us to initiate punitive action to destroy – war waging potential of the enemy. The last category will include, amongst others, air bases, major logistics/administrative/communication installations and battle assets such as the field force headquarters, concentration of mechanised forces, gun areas and troop concentrations.

The Cost of Interlinking India's Rivers

By Sudha Ramachandran
July 20, 2016 
Source Link

The environmental, social, and diplomatic costs of the world’s largest irrigation infrastructure project.

India’s ambitious plan to interlink rivers to achieve greater equity in the distribution of water in the country reached an important milestone on July 6, when water from the Godavari, its second-longest river, rushed to meet the fourth-longest, the Krishna. The two became the first of 30 rivers to be linked under the Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) program.

Touted as the world’s largest irrigation infrastructure project, the ILR program involves construction of around 15,000 km of new canals and 3,000 big and small dams and storage structures. Broadly, it has two parts: the Himalayan rivers component with 14 links and the peninsular component with 16 links, which will transport 33 and 141 trillion liters of water, respectively, per year. The Godavari-Krishna link is part of the latter.

The idea of interlinking rivers isn’t new. Even in ancient times, rulers and engineers the world over sought to divert rivers to parched lands. In 1858, when India was under colonial rule, British engineer Sir Arthur Cotton proposed interlinking India’s major rivers for inland navigation but his plan remained on the drawing board.

Variations of this project have been put up in more recent decades. But successive governments did not pursue these plans due to financial and environmental concerns. It was only with the Bharatiya Janata Party coming to power in 2014 – it is a strong proponent of interlinking rivers – that the ILR program took off.

India has multiple water-related woes. Besides its enormous dependence on the erratic monsoons, its basin-wise availability of water varies greatly due to uneven rainfall and population density. According to a Ministry of Water Resources report, in 2010 the average per capita availability of water in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna system was 20,136 cubic meters per year compared to 263 cubic meters in the Sabarmati basin.

The Future of India's Defense Exports

By Saurav Jha
July 20, 2016

India's BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, mounted on a truck, pass by during a full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India.

Can India reach its ambitious target of exporting $2 billion in defense technology per year? 

Long among the world’s top importers of weapons, India now wants to turn its military related trade into a two-way affair by enhancing defense exports from its soil. This new emphasis on exporting military wares has yielded early results with Indian defense exports doubling over the course of the past year to about $330 million. India’s defense minister Manohar Parrikar, however, has set his sights higher and wants annual military exports to touch $2 billion in a couple of years. While the initial growth in sales has been driven by exports of military stores due to the removal of excessive controls, reaching Parrikar’s target would require Indian diplomacy to re-orient itself toward securing weapons contracts for major indigenously-developed systems under the aegis of the government’s “Strategy for Defense Exports” (SDE). SDE, which is overseen by the Department of Defense Production (DDP) in India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) is intended to boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” scheme while consolidating Indian influence abroad.

In the initial phase, India’s defense sales effort is likely to concentrate on homegrown missile and naval systems, which have high indigenous content in terms of components. Of course, India will also progressively leverage the various international collaborations it has built up through years of co-production and co-development as it joins global export control regimes such as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). While India will try to export certain classes of tactical systems as widely as possible, weapons with greater strategic import will obviously be offered to select partners. Overall, India is likely to focus on a few key defense partners with which it has maximum strategic congruence for building up its position in the global defense market.

Water Security in South Asia: Running Dry and Running Out of Options

JULY 22, 2016 
Source Link

In the latest dispute between India and Pakistan, Islamabad has taken New Delhi to the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague over a longstanding water treaty. The move does not bode well for bilateral mediation between the two adversarial neighbors, and it underscores the greater difficulty of solving water disputes throughout the entire region. India, Pakistan, China, and Bangladesh rely on the same rivers for the wellbeing of their people, economies, and ecosystems. While every party agrees the stakes are incredibly high, there has been inadequate agreement on the multilateral frameworks and information sharing that could reduce rather than inflame regional tensions.

India and Pakistan

The argument over water between India and Pakistan dates back nearly as far as the partitioning of the two countries. In 1948, India, holding the headworks of the Indus river, cut off all canals under its control to prevent the flow of water into Pakistan. Early international arbitration sought to install a control-sharing agreement, but the reluctance of either side to reach a deal forced a different solution. Control of the Indus river’s tributaries was split in half and formalized in the 1960 Indus Water Treaty (IWT). The bilateral commission that oversees water disputes has operated to the present day. However, its influence may be waning as water scarcity becomes more frequent and pronounced while each country places greater demands on the water supply in the form of hydroelectric dams and increased agricultural production.

To make matters worse, each side has been cagey about releasing water data related to their respective hydroelectric projects. Such behavior increases mistrust and hampers efforts to provide stewardship over a shared resource. Sana Ali, a South Asia fellow at the Stimson Center told The Cipher Brief that withholding data “…reduces governments’ ability to effectively plan and manage existing resources, prepare for natural disasters, and mitigate some of the effects of climate change.” Additionally, Geoffrey Dabelko, a Senior Advisor at the Woodrow Wilson center, told the Cipher Brief that there is a strong precedent for effective information sharing: “…data sharing regimes have proven to be resilient mechanisms for continuing to cooperate on the ground while incendiary headlines dominate.” Data democratization and partnerships between governments and civil society organizations could reverse the trend of growing tensions over water supply.

China, India, and Bangladesh

A State Within a State: Tibetans in Nepal

By John Dennehy
July 22, 2016

Across the border from their homeland, Tibetans have created a self-sufficient community but remain officially stateless. 

High within a Himalayan valley, snow-capped peaks rising all around, the nation of Tibet is alive. Houses made from mud and wood crowd together in lines and in the paths that run between, Tibetan prayer flags blow in the wind. The phrase “tashi delek” echoes through the streets as neighbors passing each other clasp their hands together, bow their heads and exchange greetings in Tibetan. Many of them wear small photos of the Dalai Lama around their neck.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, fled Chinese occupation in 1959 and set up a government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India. Hundreds of thousands of refugees followed, and with the help of the government-in-exile, created a network of Tibetan settlements throughout Nepal and India aimed at preserving their culture and identity. The Tserok camp, a remote Himalayan outpost in Nepal, offers a clear example of how deep the government-in-exile can reach and how resilient the nation has been.

Norbu Richoe, 70, was one of the first Tibetans to settle at Tserok.

After fleeing Tibet as a child, Richoe joined a guerrilla resistance group opposed to Chinese rule that was based just over the border in Nepal’s Mustang district. After 15 years of fighting, at the request of the Dalai Lama, the fighters laid down their arms.

The Tserok refugee camp, located within the Mustang district, is the closest to the border of Nepal’s 14 Tibetan camps. The first basic road up the valley was not completed until 2009, and even now the settlement is a hike across the Kali Gandaki River. To survive the long Himalayan winters supplies had to be carried in on a three-day trek by foot, “but many of us here had the same idea,” explains Richoe. “We wanted to remain close to Tibet even if it meant more struggle.”

Havaldar Kirpa Ram, the Hero of the Battle of Walong

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

He was a goalkeeper, the man who tamed a panther, and an all-round hero while fighting the Chinese in 1962.

On the face of it, Kirpa Ram would have seemed like an ordinary man. In actuality, he was anything but that. He was an Equipment and Boot Repairer (EBR) in 4 Sikh and could handcraft shoes that would cost a fortune today. More importantly, he was the unit hockey team goalkeeper and had represented the Indian Army. Kirpa Ram was also the one who had tamed and looked after the unit mascot, Rani, a female panther. She followed him like a lamb and, if Kirpa Ram was to be believed, she was the reason 4 Sikh got the good grades it did in inspections.

As the unit mascot, Rani was always on parade along with the Officers and Junior Commissioned Officers for introduction to the visiting officer. She even had a military number, wore a coat with unit insignia, was given promotions like the soldiers and was even authorised rations. She used to shake hands with the VIPs and Kirpa Ram then made her do numerous other tricks. By the time, the VIP finished with Rani, there was little time left for the inspection. In the early 1970s, we repeated Kirpa’s stratagem, using Raja, a six-feet plus Himalayan Black Bear!

I met Havaldar Kirpa Ram as a seven year old and interacted with him for one year and a half, while my father was posted in 4 Sikh. The biggest gain of being an army brat is that one’s emotional quotient, or EQ, is shaped by one of the finest organisations of the nation, one that is manned by men of substance – men like Kirpa Ram. The leadership qualities of Kirpa Ram and his subsequent heroism remained permanently etched in my mind, and many a time, I’d recall them while exercising leadership over the largest military command in the world, the Northern Command.

Chinese Investments in Myanmar: A Dam too Far

By Obja Borah Hazarika
25 Jul , 2016

In 2011, the Thein Sein-led government of Myanmar citing public protests suspended construction work of the USD 3.6 billion hydropower project called the Myitsone Dam, much to China’s chagrin. Five years later, China has begun to seek an end of the suspension of its work or compensation from the government in Myanmar for the losses it incurred due to the suspension of the dam. Recently, Chinese Ambassador Hong Liang, with a delegation from China’s State Power Investment Cooperation (SPIC), visited Kachin State to lobby for the resumption of work on the stalled Myitsone Dam. 

The delegation aired three options for Myanmar with regard to the Myitsone: 1) Cancel the project and be liable to pay USD 800 million in compensation; 2) Resume work and earn $500 million a year in revenue when the dam is completed or; 3) Do nothing and pay $50 million in interest for as long as the project is suspended. Mr Liang also toured the region where the Myitsone is supposed to stand and spoke with residents who were displaced as a result of the initial construction of the dam.

Despite overwhelming investments in Myanmar, Chinese companies like the SPIC and others like China Three Gorges Corporation, involved in the Mong Ton Dam in Shan state on the Thanlwin (Salween) River, have been facing virulent opposition from various sectors in Myanmar. These protests are mostly led by environmentalists and the Myitsone is especially problematic as it is planned in a region considered sacred by the Kachin’s of Myanmar. China’s proposed copper mine in Sagaing region is also under the scanner as are several of China’s other investment ventures in the country.

Corruption, the South China Seas Land Grab, and More News About the Chinese Military

China: The Secret Wars
July 22, 2016

The economy remains the major problem for the people that run China. Islamic terrorism, foreign affairs and military reforms all matter much less than the health of the economy. The government says all is well but a growing number of foreign economists and Chinese business leaders have doubts. The foreigners can speak openly while Chinese critics must be discreet. The government predicts GDP growth for 2016 to be about 6.5 percent which and that estimate has not wavered. That makes a lot of experts wary, because as time goes by more evidence of past falsification of data become obvious. There are a lot of old problems that can no longer be hidden. These include massive pollution, corruption, and unprofitable state owned industries. These problems have gotten worse and are crippling economic growth and must be tended to. Territorial claims in the South China Sea and India are distractions from what concerns people most in China; the economy. Thus while Japan continues to be a useful villain for distracting propaganda the government also realizes that Japanese economic power, expertise and experience with economic crises (in an East Asian cultural context) are more useful to Chinese survival. This cannot be admitted publically, but then neither can a lot of essential truths. It’s the East Asian way.


Some things the leaders have to discuss openly and one that involves most Chinese is the government effort to deal with corruption. A recent decision seems promising and it involves changing the rules for monitoring the performance of the most senior officials and investigating corruption among people who were long believed immune to such indignities. This puts the government back on track because assurances were made in early 2016 that the anti-corruption campaign would not only continue but intensify. In the past mainly lower ranking Chinese Communist Party members were prosecuted but by 2015 it became clear that if the corrupt senior party members were not shut down the widespread corruption would survive and thrive. So prosecutors were told that no one was immune and throughout 2015 some of the most senior government and Chinese Communist Party officials were being prosecuted. This was unprecedented and if the investigators are allowed to prosecute everyone who was dirty there would be a lot of new faces in the partly leadership by the end of 2016. Then came the Panama Papers. Chinese leaders hate surprises like this but it became and by May investigations of senior officials seemed to be fading. Apparently not.

Nervous Neighbors

China’s Challenge to the Law of the Sea

China has been trying to bully its way to dominance in Asia for years. And it seems that not even an international tribunal in The Hague is going to stand in its way.

China has rebuffed the landmark ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which knocked the bottom out of expansive Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea and held that some of the country’s practices were in violation of international law. Recognizing that there is no mechanism to enforce the PCA’s ruling, China does not intend to give even an inch on its claims to everything that falls within its unilaterally drawn “nine-dash line.”

Clearly, China values the territorial gains – which provide everything from major oil and gas reserves to fisheries (accounting for 12% of the global catch) to strategic depth – more than its international reputation. Unfortunately, this could mean more trouble for the region than for China itself.

China is not just aiming for uncontested control in the South China Sea; it is also working relentlessly to challenge the territorial status quo in the East China Sea and the Himalayas, and to reengineer the cross-border flows of international rivers that originate on the Tibetan Plateau. In its leaders’ view, success means reducing Southeast Asian countries to tributary status – and there seems to be little anyone can do to stop them from pursuing that outcome.

Indeed, China’s obvious disdain for international mediation, arbitration, or adjudication essentially takes peaceful dispute resolution off the table. And, because none of its regional neighbors wants to face off with the mighty China, all are vulnerable to Chinese hegemony.

To be sure, China does not seek to dominate Asia overnight. Instead, it is pursuing an incremental approach to shaping the region according to its interests. Rather than launch an old-fashioned invasion – an approach that could trigger a direct confrontation with the United States – China is creating new facts on the ground by confounding, bullying, and bribing adversaries.

Ensuring defiant unilateralism is not cost-free


China has been expanding its frontiers ever since it came under communist rule in 1949. Yet no country dared to haul it before an international tribunal till the Philippines in 2013 invoked the dispute-settlement mechanism of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), thereby setting in motion the arbitration proceedings that this week resulted in the stinging rebuke of China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

The trigger for Manila approaching the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) was China’s capture in 2012 of Scarborough Shoal, located close to the Philippines but hundreds of miles from China’s coast. ITLOS then set up a five-member tribunal under The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) to hear the case.

Despite strenuous Chinese efforts to dismiss and discredit the proceedings from the start, Beijing tried unsuccessfully to persuade the tribunal that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case. Last October, the tribunal said that it was “properly constituted” under UNCLOS, that the Philippines was within its rights in filing the case, and that China’s non-participation in the proceedings was immaterial.

Now in its final verdict delivered unanimously, the tribunal has dismissed Beijing’s claim that it has historic rights to much of the South China Sea and ruled that China was in violation of international law on multiple counts, including damaging the marine environment through its island-building spree and interfering with the rights of others.

The panel effectively declared as illegitimate China’s South China Sea boundary (the so-called nine-dash line).

CIA Director Brennan Offers His Harsh Assessment on the Middle East

A reality check on the Middle East from America’s spy chief

David Ignatius

America’s top spymaster offered contrarian assessments of some key issues: warning against “hyping” the threat posed by the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate (terrorist group) Jabhat al-Nusra, cautioning against Obama administration plans to share intelligence with Russia on Syrian targets and questioning Turkish claims that last Friday’s coup attempt was organized by a cleric living in the United States.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper made the characteristically blunt comments in an interview Wednesday. He expanded on a warning he made in an interview in May that the United States can’t by itself “fix” the problems of the turbulent Middle East. Clapper’s skeptical view is shared by President Obama and has reinforced the administration’s wariness about committing military force in Syria.

Clapper began the wide-ranging discussion by questioning the recent “groundswell” of concern about Jabhat al-Nusra. He said that the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate poses only a “nascent” danger to the U.S. homeland and “doesn’t approach the threat” posed by the Islamic State. Jabhat al-Nusra’s ability to attack the United States and Europe is “aspirational” rather than “imminent,” he said, describing as overly “strident” recent news reports about increasing evidence of external plots by the group.

Clapper’s skepticism about Jabhat al-Nusra is matched by his wariness of collaborating with Russia in strikes against the group, an approach that Obama has tentatively approved. “I’ve expressed my reservations about, for example, sharing intelligence with [the Russians] . . . which they desperately want, I think, to exploit — to learn what they can about our sources and methods and tactics and techniques and procedures,” he said.

Based on Russia’s record of failure to deliver on promises, “what is it they’ve done that gives you confidence that if we do more with them or share more intel . . . they’re going to improve?” Clapper asked.

Does Iraq Have a Plan for After the Islamic State?

Interviewer: Zachary Laub, Online Writer/Editor
July 12, 2016

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Monday that the United States will deploy 560 more troops to Iraq, bringing the total upwards of 4,600 as preparations get underway to recapture Mosul from the self-proclaimed Islamic State. It comes as Iraqi forces and militias, with U.S. backing, have retaken large swaths of territory from the group, but this progress may come to naught if the state cannot extend rule of law to newly liberated areas, says Ned Parker, former Baghdad bureau chief for Reuters. "If there's no solution for the different sides to live together under a workable governing system, Iraq risks a future in which once again an uprising will take away land from the state," he says.
Men displaced from Fallujah await security checks at a refugee camp. (Photo: Ahmed Saad/Reuters)

This campaign is building up to retake Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. Is Baghdad thinking about how to not just defeat ISIS militarily, but also address the underlying circumstances that gave rise to them?

Salvaging the war on terror

Brahma Chellaney, The Hindustan Times
Posted on July 22, 2016

The recent upsurge of jihadist attacks from Nice and Istanbul to Medina and Dhaka is a reminder that the global war on terror stands derailed. The use of a truck for perpetrating mass murder in the French Riviera city of Nice shows how a determined jihadist does not need access to technology or even a gun to unleash terror. Terrorists are increasingly employing innovative methods of attack, and all the recent strikes were on ‘soft’ targets.

To bring the war on terror back on track, it has become necessary to initiate a sustained information campaign to discredit the ideology of radical Islam that is fostering “jihad factories” and promoting self-radicalization. Blaming ISIS for the recent strikes, just as most attacks after 9/11 were pinned on Al Qaeda, creates a simplistic narrative that obscures the factors behind the surging Islamist terror.

Attention needs to be focused on the cases where the scourge of jihadism is largely self-inflicted. This will help to highlight the dangers of playing with fire.

Take the growing Islamist attacks in Bangladesh: The country’s military intelligence agency, the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) — like Pakistan’s rogue Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — reared jihadist groups for domestic and foreign-policy purposes. During the periods when Bangladesh was under direct or de facto military rule, DGFI was the key instrument to establish control over civil and political affairs and partnered with the National Security Intelligence agency in the sponsorship and patronage of jihadist outfits.

A top U.S. counterterrorism official, Cofer Black, expressed concern way back in 2004 while visiting Dhaka over “the potential utilization of Bangladesh as a platform for international terrorism.”

Where Are ISIS's Foreign Fighters Coming From?

Many come to the Middle East from countries with high levels of economic development, low income inequality, and highly developed political institutions.

As of December 2015, approximately 30,000 fighters from at least 85 countries had joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Although the great majority of ISIS recruits come from the Middle East and the Arab world, there are also many from Western nations, including most member-states of the European Union, as well as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Thousands of fighters from Russia and hundreds from Indonesia and Tajikistan also have joined. ISIS's recruitment of foreign fighters is a global phenomenon that provides the organization with the human capital needed to operate outside the Middle East.

In What Explains the Flow of Foreign Fighters to ISIS? (NBER Working Paper No. 22190),Efraim Benmelech and Esteban F. Klor explore how country characteristics are associated with ISIS recruit flows. They discover more about what does not motivate the foreign fighters than what does.

Turkey’s Military Disconnect

A Botched AttemptBy Nico Tuccillo
July 23, 2016


On July 15th, factions in Turkey's military attempted a coup d'état to oust President Erdogan and his elected government. After a struggle that lasted through the night, the coup failed, leaving hundreds dead in the streets and the nation in a fragile state. Since then, President Erdogan has begun a purge of all branches of government and public life. HPR writers discuss the implications of the coup and its aftermath. Image Source: Wikimedia/Randam

In an April 2013 interview with The Atlantic, Jordanian King Abdullah II told the world how he really felt about Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then the prime minister of Turkey. According to Abdullah, “Erdogan once said that democracy for him is a bus ride … ‘Once I get to my stop, I’m getting off.’” Indeed, to many it has seemed that Erdogan is steadily and inevitablyconsolidating power, turning a secular democracy into a theocratic autocracy with himself at its center.

Recent events have cast that assumption into doubt. On July 16, with Erdogan away at a coastal resort, tanks rolled through the streets of Istanbul and gunfire echoed in government buildings in Ankara. A military statement claimed that Turkey’s armed forces had taken control “to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country.” After the attempted coup was crushed within a day, Erdogan and other officials accused Fethullah Gulen, an imam living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, of being the mastermind behind the rebellion. While it is unclear to what extent supporters of the so-called Gulenist Movement were involved, the uprising is likely to have major repercussions for Turkish domestic and foreign policy, as well as the country’s relationship with the United States. As a result, understanding what motivated part of the military to rise against its elected government could provide insight into what Turkey’s future policies might look like.

U.S. Navy Sends Warships Into Black Sea for Military Exercise With Ukraine

Damien Sharkov
July 22, 2016

U.S. Sends Warships Into Black Sea for Joint Ukraine Drill

U.S. missile destroyer warship USS Ross is entering the Black Sea, joining a 2,300-strong drill off Ukraine’s coast, despite persistent Russian warnings to keep U.S. vessels away.

Following NATO’s decision to strengthen its presence in its Baltic Sea allies, Russia has grown more vocally critical of U.S. military presence in the Black Sea. The U.S. is taking part in the annual Sea Breeze exercise, already underway off the coast of Ukraine’s port city Odessa. The drill has been co-hosted by Ukraine and the U.S. annually since 1997, with 13 countries taking part this year.

The U.S. Navy announced on Friday that USS Ross had crossed through the Bosphorus strait, entering the Black Sea and was heading north toward the site of the exercise. Landing ship USS Whidbey Island also sailed into the Black Sea for the exercise, carrying 500 troops aboard, according to Ukrainian TV channel 112.

Sea Breeze 2016 will see Ukraine, the U.S. and 11 other countries practice air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, search and rescue, and other missions in support of maritime security and regional stability in the Black Sea.

It also comes as Russia is assembling its new Black Sea Fleet off the coast of Crimea, preparing to unveil its revamped lineup in an official naval parade on the last day of July. Russia’s newest warship Admiral Grigorovich sailed into the sea last week, practicing live artillery fire.

USS Ross’s venture into the Black Sea last summer resulted in it being streaked by six Russian Su-24 multi-role fighter jets, with Russia reporting the vessel was heading into Russian territorial waters but escorted away. The U.S. Navy posted a video of the incident in dispute at those claims.

Erdogan Purging Thousands of Suspected “Fifth Columnists” Inside Turkish Military, Police, Intelligence Services and Judiciary

July 23, 2016

Failed Turkish Coup Accelerated a Purge Years in the Making

ANKARA, Turkey — Night had fallen and the weekend had begun, but the head ofTurkey’s spy agency remained at work in the main security compound in Ankara, struggling to track reports of strange military activities across the country.

Suddenly, a roar of gunfire erupted as a fleet of choppers blasted the gates of the compound. As guards fired in the air, a helicopter tried to land beside the agency while others dropped ropes to send down commandos, according to a security official who was inside at the time, and spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

More than a sudden attack on the government, the attempted coup this month has emerged as a turning point in a yearslong struggle for control of the Turkish state. The battle lines were clear: allies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against a collection of adversaries, including members of the military and followers ofFethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who leads a secretive religious movement from his self-exile in Pennsylvania.

Agents inside the intelligence service had long feared a fifth column was taking shape inside the Turkish state, and they spent years compiling dossiers on tens of thousands of citizens, scrutinizing their pasts for any hints of rebellion or links to Mr. Gulen.

As dramatic and violent as the night was, the aftermath has been equally stunning. Mr. Erdogan has imposed a sweeping purge, labeling tens of thousands of civil servants and others as potential enemies of the state.

While Turkish officials say that followers of Mr. Gulen spearheaded the plot, it remains unclear whether the attempt was ordered by Mr. Gulen himself and how much support the plotters received from other parts of Turkish society. Mr. Gulen has denied any involvement.