28 July 2016

*** Why Warnings Over Brexit Were Wrong

By Lili Bayer and Jacob L. Shapiro
July 22, 2016 

In May, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer presented a report to Parliament outlining the short-term impacts of a vote to leave the European Union. According to the report, a vote to leave would cause “an immediate and profound economic shock,” pushing the U.K. into a recession and leading to a sharp rise in unemployment. The British Treasury was not alone in its fears: investment banks and consulting firms across the globe issued predictions of imminent doom. The Financial Times even reported that international banks were beginning to look at real estate in Frankfurt because London was no longer a suitable place to do business.

There was a general atmosphere of panic and hysteria leading up to the vote that exploded once it became clear that the “leave” campaign won. Global markets reeled and the British pound plunged to a 31-year low. The European Central Bank (ECB) issued a statement saying it “stands ready to provide additional liquidity, if needed, in euro and foreign currencies” and has “prepared for this contingency.” The Bank of England announced it would make £250 billion ($331 billion) of additional funds available to help stabilize markets. Headlines and stories abound at the immediate and profound impact Brexit would have on the British economy.

And then the doom didn’t materialize.

** With Venomous Terrorist Threat in its Backyard: Can China Remain Cocooned from Terrorism?

By Adarsh Singh
27 Jul , 2016

Threat from terrorism is a global affliction today. This threat is originating not only from the misguided youth of one particular religious denomination who have no idea of the teachings of their religion but only what a fiery mullah espouses. In majority of the cases, its roots can be traced back to very few nations, Pakistan being prominent amongst them.

Pakistan has been playing smartly on both sides in the fight against terror, on the one hand, pretending to help curtail terrorist activities while on the other, stoking it.

Today when almost all countries in the world have more or less recognized Pakistan as a hub of terrorism, one wonders as to why a country like China which itself has a looming threat in its Xinjiang region due to Islamic terrorism is not undertaking meaningful steps to curb it. On the contrary, it has been propping Pakistan.

In fact, Pakistan has been playing smartly on both sides in the fight against terror, on the one hand, pretending to help curtail terrorist activities while on the other, stoking it.

Threat to China from Terrorism

India: Tejas Shows The Way – Analysis

By Sameer Patil* 
JULY 27, 2016

‘Make in India’ in defence production does not imply stopping arms imports altogether. Rather, it means importing only those components that cannot be produced locally, while strategically utilising offsets and building domestic capabilities that will enable India to export complete systems and sub-systems as an active participant of the global supply chain.

On 1 July 2016, the Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted the first squadron of the indigenously-made fighter jet, the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), into its fleet. The induction of Tejas followed the inaugural flight a few days earlier, on June 17, of the basic trainer aircraft Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40), also indigenously produced[1].

For India’s aerospace sector, these are important milestones, especially as the ‘Make in India’ initiative has set a target of 70 per cent indigenisation in defence production by the end of this decade[2]. However, while aiming for such an increase in the process of indigenisation of defence production, it must also be acknowledged that India will need to continue to import arms to meet the current operational requirements of its military. This is because the country does not possess defence technologies in all areas. This is particularly true for the aerospace sector where the country has encountered difficulties in avionic, propulsion and jet engine technologies.

Restive Kashmir Needs More Than Just Good Governance – Analysis

By Reeta Tremblay* 
JULY 26, 2016

July 2016 will be etched for a long time in the memory of Kashmiri Muslims as mensis horribilis. The killing of Burhan Muzafar Wani, the 22 year old homegrown commander of the Hizb ul Mujahideen and two of his associates by the security forces (including the Jammu and Kashmir Police, Rashtriya Rifles and the CRPF), when the Valley was in the midst of Eid festivities, was to unleash a state of pandemonium.

Burhan, currently one of the most recognizable faces of the militancy, has acquired the status of Shaheed (martyr) along with Maqbool Butt and Afzal Guru (the former hanged on February 11 in 1984 and the latter on February 9, 2013) for openly challenging the dominant State power and keeping alive Kashmiri resistance against the Indian State. Since July 8, 2016, following the public grieving for their local hero (which included 40 funeral prayers for Burhan’s janaza), Kashmir Valley has remained engulfed for more than two weeks in continuing violence. Stone pelleting crowds (including women and children) were responded to harshly by the security forces’ so-called non-lethal pellet guns, fired at close range, resulting in the death of 45 people and injury to more than 2000 civilians.

In this unparalleled two week retaliation by the security forces, 30 people, including children, lost one eye and at least 3 people lost both their eyes. 99 percent of those killed and injured are under the age of 25. The Valley has remained under curfew for more than two weeks. Defying curfew, the streets are open sites of contestation between the Kashmiri masses (mostly young men but children and women are visible too) and the State. The Central government rushed additional troops to the Valley to curb the on-going cycle of violence. Meanwhile all communication channels have been closed – no internet and mobile service. At the end of the first week of protests, the police raided the leading Press Offices of two local English dailies and seized the copies of their newspapers.

India and Pakistan In A Tug-Of-War Over Stealth Fighters

By Rakesh Krishnan Simha
27 Jul , 2016

If India is on the verge of acquiring fifth-generation fighter aircraft, can Pakistan be far behind? With the decks cleared for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to co-produce 127 PAK-FA stealth fighters with Russia for 25 billion dollars, Islamabad has also declared its intention to catch up.

In December 2015, Pakistan Air Force Chief Sohail Aman had said that Pakistan was negotiating with Lockheed Martin of the US, exploring options to buy the F-35 stealth fighter. A week later, however, the Air Force Chief denied he was talking to Lockheed, exposing Pakistan’s limitations in acquiring advanced military technologies from the West.

Since Pakistan has had a hard time getting even outdated F-16s cleared by the US, the chances of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) being allowed to come within a 50-feet radius of the F-35 is smaller than small. Also, considering how closely Pakistan and China work together in the military sphere, the risk of American technology being passed on to the Chinese is very real.

But even as the common Pakistani has been prepared to eat grass, the military will stop at nothing to buy or licence-produce fifth-generation fighters. If America doesn’t sell the F-35, then Pakistan will get the poor man’s stealth jet from China.

China has two stealth projects going concurrently. The larger aircraft, the J-20 based on the American F-22, is for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) while the smaller J-31 (based on stolen blueprints for the F-35) seems to be the export model.

Army’s Deployment in Internal Security Needs Reconsideration

By Brig NK Bhatia, SM (Retd)
27 Jul , 2016

The Supreme Court verdict of 08 July 2016 on prolonged deployment of Army and Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur has come at an appropriate time to reconsider the need for continued engagement of the Army in internal security duties. Some of the observations and comments of the court are quite sharp and have invited comments from all spectrums of society depending on which side of the opinion they represent.

Irrespective of the debate, a section of society has been projecting the continued deployment of Army in North East, essentially in Nagaland and Manipur as counterproductive and reason for dissatisfaction among a group of locals.

Nothing could be far from truth. It is conveniently forgotten that in the past army relinquished internal security duties once AFSPA was withdrawn from Mizoram in 1986 consequent to signing of the Mizo Accord and return of peace in the state. In recent past the AFSPA was withdrawn from the whole state of Tripura in May 2015, where it had been in operation since February 1997. The main reason for withdrawal of the Act from the two states was a result of decrease in militancy related incidents and return to normalcy. The role of political establishment in engaging with misguided insurgents and bringing them to peace was paramount once the situation had been stabilized by the armed forces.

The enactment of AFSPA in Punjab in 1983 empowering the Army to operate in the state resulted in its widespread deployment. It was revoked in 1997 once the situation had been brought under control and normalcy restored. Very little is talked about this phase of Army’s deployment and effective use of the Act to restore peace in a frontline western state.

A Letter to My Fellow Kashmiris

By Col (Dr) Tej Kumar Tikoo (Retd.)
26 Jul , 2016

My Dear Fellow Kashmiris,

The summer of discontent is once again haunting the Valley; not for the first time though. The loss of so many young lives, injuries to many others makes me wonder why Kashmiris should invite this misery on themselves, year after year. There must, after all, be an objective to this madness that has consumed so many lives during the last nearly 70 years in general and past 27 years in particular. Some of you want Azadi, while some others want to join Pakistan, even while there are those sizable numbers (though silent) who think they are better off with India.

Let me be brutally frank; you will not get Azadi and integration with Pakistan is out of question; both are not politically expedient for India, and militarily, you or Pakistan are not strong enough to achieve that, even if China were to side openly with Pakistan.

Actually, neither Azadi nor merger with Pakistan is in your best interests. Let us assume that you are given Azadi and are an independent country. What exactly will happen, thereafter? Being land-locked, and having burnt your boats with India, you will want to have best of relations with Pakistan and China for your sheer survival. However, friendship with Pakistan will mean Hapat Yaaraz (friendship with a bear) and friendship with China, a far more powerful neighbour, will not come without paying a huge price.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, they will take all your waters of Jhelum and Sindh (Indus) and turn the beautiful Valley into a cash cow for its own use. After all, one of the prime reasons for claiming Kashmir as the ‘unfinished agenda of partition’ is their thirst for Kashmir’s water to keep their lands in Punjab and Sindh irrigated; lands owned by senior retired Army Generals, feudal lords and Vadheras, who dominate Pakistan’s Army, politics and bureaucracy. This food bowl will turn fallow without this water.

Kargil War: Victory by Valour

By Col JP Singh, Retd
26 Jul , 2016

26 July 1999 will go down in the History of India as a day when the Indian Army achieved yet another glorious victory over the Pakistan army. On this day nation remembers 527 brave soldiers and 7 civilian porters who laid down their lives for the success of ‘Op Vijay’. This day also commemorates the sufferings, fortitude and compassion of their loved ones. For the widows, the wait of their husbands and for parents, shock of their sons, has never got over. 

People of Jammu and Kashmir have faced 5 uncalled for wars, 4 from Pakistan. The last one, the surreptitious capture of Kargil in 1999, is very fresh in their mind, mainly due to its TV coverage. Most of us would recall that this war received tremendous media coverage so much so that it came to be known as the first televised war of the country. Best of all was when the young reporter of Star TV, Bharka Dutt talked to Capt Vikram Batra of 13 JAK after he captured Point 5140 on 20th June and asked, “how do you feel about this victory”. He replied ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’. Just after capturing Point 5140, he had radioed this victory signal ‘Yeh Dil Mange More’ to his commanding officer jubilantly. It was proudly aired by Barkha and became a symbol for every future success. This slogan became popular with millions as symbol of patriotism. 4 Param Vir Chakras, 9 Maha Vir Chakras, 6 Kirti Charka, 9 Vir Chakras and 25 Shaurya Chakras and number of other decorations should suffice to tell tales of valour of young officers and men. IAF won 2 Vr C and 27 Vayu Sena Medals. Nation profoundly remembers all warriors on Vijay Divas. 

In April 1999, Pak forces occupied 130 vacated forward posts in Kargil sector, tip off given by a shepherd on 3 May. Majority of these posts overlooked NH 1A. Most important of them were Tololing, Tiger Hill, Pt 4875, Pt 4590, Pt 5100 and Pt 5140. All these posts were strongly fortified and offered stiff resistance. Our army responded to this challenge promptly. They surprised the enemy which had surprised them, with the lightening speed and ferocity of moblisation and movement. It was the speed with which the army conducted the operations that took the enemy by surprise. All the posts dominating NH 1A were cleared by 14 July. It was in the capture of these posts that our officers and men showed their mettle and won the admiration of the nation. Remaining areas were cleared subsequently. Enemy was fully evicted by 26 July. Hence 26 July has been christened as ‘Vijay Divas’. 

Steps to prevent fire at ammunition depots

Jul 20, 2016 

Steps to prevent fire at ammunition depots

Due to delay in procurement / recruitment, the deficiencies of 23 fire fighting trucks and 362 personnel exist in ammunition depots of Indian Army.

Ammunition is stored in permanent accommodation. However, due to operational and other local exigencies, some ammunition is stored in temporary sheds. The only major fire incident in ammunition depot during last three years has occurred in Central Ammunition Depot, Pulgaon on 31st May, 2016. There were 19 fatal and 17 non-fatal casualties, and the total loss of equipment and stores as per preliminary estimation is approximately Rs.7.90 crores. On the basis of the recommendations of Court of Inquiry and subsequent deliberations with all stakeholders, the following has been approved by the Government in order to prevent recurrence of such incidents:-

• Disposal of all defective segregated mines (Anti-Tank Mines 1A ND) for exudation of TNT, held at various locations will be undertaken by Army Headquarters (AHQ).

• Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) will replace or repair the defective ammunition within three months.

o Army Headquarters in consultation with all stakeholders will finalize the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs’) for:

Deadlines for completion of strategic road projects

PIB Press Release
Jul 20, 2016 

Deadlines for completion of strategic road projects

73 roads are identified as strategic Indo-China border roads (ICBR), out of which 61 roads have been entrusted to Border Roads Organisation (BRO) with a length of 3417 km which were planned to be completed by 2012. Out of which 22 roads of length 707.74 km are completed. The revised completion schedule of 39 ICBRs is as under:

• 2016 - 5 Roads

• 2017 - 8 Roads

• 2018 - 12 Roads

• 2019 - 8 Roads

• 2020 - 6 Roads

Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal agency for the fencing along the border regions. The status of fencing works is as under:

• Indo-Bangladesh border (Phase-I): 857.37 km of fencing in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram has been completed in 2000.

• Indo-Bangladesh border (Phase-II): Out of 2468 km of fencing, 1872 km has been completed. The completion schedule is March 2019 for ongoing works.

• Indo-Myanmar border: Out of the 9.12 km fencing, 2.79 km has been completed.

Government has taken following measures to expedite the pace of road projects:

• States of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Tripura have constituted the Empowered Committee to resolve issues related to land acquisition, forest / wildlife clearance, allotment of quarries etc.

Afghanistan: In The Grip Of Spiraling Instability – Analysis

By Lt. Gen. Kamal Davar*
JULY 26, 2016

Violence-stricken Afghanistan continues to find itself being helplessly crushed under the weight of spiraling political instability and mindless killings, which are often sponsored from across the border, with no peaceful end in sight. Just two days ago, the Islamic State – a Sunni terrorist outfit – targeted a peaceful procession of the minority Shia Hazaras, killing over 80 and injuring over 200
That the masterminds behind most of these attacks remain in neighbouring Pakistan is universal knowledge; a country that zealously seeks an elusive “strategic depth” against India for itself in the land of Hindu Kush.

Pakistan, in its undying obsession for a pliant regime in Kabul, continues supporting the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network (HQN), whilst also giving to leaders of these Afghan terror networks safe havens in North Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. For the first time since the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2001 (now dubbed as Operation Resolute Support after the NATO troops drawdown in December 2015), American drones targeted Afghan Taliban leaders inside Pakistan in May 2016 killing their leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, generating a flicker of hope for the beleaguered Afghan government in Kabul.

Pakistan, apart from some not so obvious rumblings and not overtly protesting the maiden US intrusion into North Waziristan, showed the double dealings of the Pakistanis. In the Country Reports on Terrorism 2015, the US State Department had also administered a scathing rebuke to Pakistan for its failure to police various terror groups in the Waziristan region, opining that “Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or HQN or substantially limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan”.

Which Sharif runs Pakistan

By Sumit Walia
26 Jul , 2016

Except for few years of its history of 68 years, there are only two ways Pakistan Army (and not Pakistan Air Force or Pakistan Navy but just Pakistan Army) ruled the country. One when Pak Chief of Army Staff is on the front seat holding the wheel and second, when he is sitting on the back seat but pulling the strings of the democratically elected Prime Minister who is allowed to sit on the front seat.

History repeats itself when men repeat their mistakes. Perhaps PM Nawaz Sharif expected Gen Sharif to be more compliant.

No one knows this fact better than current PM of Pakistan – Nawaz Sharif. It is his third term as the Prime Minister. During 1980s, he was supported by ‘Internal Wing’1 of the infamous ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) that gave rise to his political career. He became PM on 1st Nov 1990 but developed some differences with President Ghulam Ishaq khan, who attempted to dismiss him (Nawaz Sharif) on corruption charges. When the situation worsened, the then Pakistan Army Chief Gen Abdul Waheed Kakar persuaded both gentlemen to step down.2

During his second term as PM, he dared to assert more civilian control and on 6th Oct 1998, he asked for resignation of the then Pakistan Army Chief Gen Jahagir Karamat because the General was making public statements advocating giving greater role to Pakistan Army in policy making. After Karamat’s resignation, PM Sharif appointed Gen Parvez Musharraf as COAS over heads of two senior general officers. Perhaps PM Sharif hoped to have more compliant COAS but it did not happen. Gen Karamat’s resignation and appointment of his chosen candidate gave a false sense of confidence and security to PM Sharif. He dared to initiate peace process with India and invited PM Vajpayee to Lahore. This did not go well with Pakistan Army and what followed was the Kargil war.

‘New Wars’ In Contemporary China? – Analysis

By Kunal Mukherjee* 
JULY 27, 2016

The post Cold War period has witnessed the rise of a new group of conflicts, which well known academics such as Mary Kaldor has called ‘New Wars’1 to differentiate the current group of conflicts from earlier wars that are in keeping with the classical definition of warfare. Kaldor’s thesis, although originally formulated in an East European context at an earlier period, has considerable explanatory power and it is without doubt that the theory still travels far and wide. Scholars have had a tendency to use the ‘New War’ argument within the context of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the aim of this article to go beyond these conventional case studies and use the ‘New War’ theory to understand conflicts in different parts of contemporary China, and to see to what extent this ‘New War’ theory fits in with the Chinese context and helps us to understand those conflicts. Thus, this article introduces a new set of case studies: Xinjiang and Tibet.

Conflicts that are classified as ‘new’ or ‘post-Cold War’ are not really ‘post-Cold War/post-1990s’ in the strict sense of the term, since there are always short term factors and long term factors that lead to the outbreak of a conflict, and some of the long term factors can actually be traced back to pre-Cold War, or even earlier times. Thus, the case studies chosen for this article are ‘new’ or ‘post Cold War’ conflicts in the sense that the levels of violence in some cases have escalated more than ever in the post-1990s phase, although the long term causes can be traced back to earlier times. In Tibet, for instance, we saw a huge uprising that took place in the year 2008. In relation to Xinjiang, Dr. Michael Clarke, a China expert and an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the National Security College, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, writes, ‘China became more concerned regarding the security of Xinjiang with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.’2 Furthermore, these conflicts have gone on to acquire the characteristic features of what Kaldor calls ‘New Wars’. This article is not so much interested in looking at the intricate details of the individual conflicts, but to what extent does the Kaldor thesis fit in within the Asian context. In this article, I have placed an emphasis on China’s contested borderland regions, Xinjiang and Tibet. Also, I have chosen China as my chief case study because it is one of the two new rising economic giants on the Asiatic mainland, the other one being India. After the Asian Tiger economies reached near industrialised/miracle status, much attention has shifted to the mainland of Asia, with a special focus on China. In a world of increasing interconnectedness, developments in a rising Asia will invariably affect our lives in the west in one way or another. Thus, in an era of globalisation, the problems in Inner Asia or what may seem to be a remote part of Asia could have a profound impact upon our lives in the western world.

‘New Wars’ and Kaldor

China Talks about Harmony, But Feeds Global Disorder

July 27, 2016

Anyone familiar with the foreign policy rhetoric emanating from Beijing for the past three decades or more has heard talk of China’s “good neighbor policy,” its “peaceful rise” and its aspirations to contribute to a “harmonious world,” by way of “a new type of great power relations.” China pledged under Deng Xiaoping to pursue a “good neighbor policy,” and China arguably followed through on that for the next three decades. China’s modus operandi during this era was what Deng called a policy of “taoguang yanghui,” literally “avoiding the [spot]light, nurturing obscurity,” or more colloquially, “biding one’s time and lying low.” Under Hu Jintao, the foreign policy mantra was “peaceful rise”—later changed to “peaceful development,” perhaps so as to avoid associations realists might make with rising powers and the complications this might bring).

Xi Jinping has ushered in a new initiative, suggesting “a new type of great power relations,” which could be read to say: Don’t worry—we won’t rise like 1930s Germany! Or, put another way, today’s China does not seek to repeat the past in terms of the “normal” historical pattern of great-power rise as leading to great-power conflict. In 2007, perhaps the high tide of “the peaceful rise” strategy, China was quite successful, for as David Kang and others pointed out, China’s neighbors did not appear to be balancing against a rising China, but seemed quite optimistic about China’s role in the region. China had then perhaps the best security environment it has ever enjoyed.

A New Guerrilla War With ISIS Is In the Offing in Iraq and Syria

July 25, 2016

As ISIS Loosens Grip, U.S. and Iraq Prepare for Grinding Insurgency

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State’s latest suicide attack in Baghdad, which killed nearly 330 people, foreshadows a long and bloody insurgency, according to American diplomats and commanders, as the group reverts to its guerrilla roots because its territory is shrinking in Iraq and Syria.

Already, officials say, many Islamic State fighters who lost battles in Falluja and Ramadihave blended back into the largely Sunni civilian populations there, and are biding their time to conduct future terrorist attacks. And with few signs that the beleaguered Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, can effectively forge an inclusive partnership with Sunnis, many senior American officials warn that a military victory in the last urban stronghold of Mosul, which they hope will be achieved by the end of the year, will not be sufficient to stave off a lethal insurgency.

“To defeat an insurgency, Iraq would need to move forward on its political and economic reform agenda,” Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, the top American commander in Iraq, said in an email.

A return to guerrilla warfare in Iraq, while the United States and its allies still combat the Islamic State in Syria, would pose one of the first major challenges to the next American president, who will take office in January. American public opinion has so far supported President Obama’s deployment of roughly 5,000 troops to help Iraq reclaim territory it lost to the Islamic State in 2014, but it is not clear whether political support would dissipate in a sustained effort to fight insurgents.

Iraq’s Elite Counterterrorism Combat Division Has Become the Star of the Iraqi Army on the Battlefield

Loveday Morris
July 26, 2016

From ‘Dirty Division’ to golden boys: the Iraqi force leading the country’s fight against ISIS

FALLUJAH, Iraq — Iraq’s counterterrorism forces, known as the Golden Division, were once so loathed that they were nicknamed the “Dirty Division.”

They were accused of running secret prisons and carrying out extrajudicial killings. Some lawmakers called for them to be disbanded.

But the country’s war against the Islamic State has restored the reputation of the elite forces, which have spearheaded nearly every major fight against the militants in Iraq. Their commanders have become battlefield celebrities, while popular songs praise the troops’ prowess.
1st Sgt. Malik Jaber, from Iraq’s elite counterterrorism forces wears green cloth from the revered Imam Abbas shrine on his body armor, at a front line position on the southern edge of Fallujah in June. (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

The force of about 10,000 men is a small bright spot in an otherwise lackluster legacy of American efforts to rebuild Iraq’s military in the 13 years since the invasion. U.S. officials say it is their most reliable partner in fighting the Islamic State on the ground, while the Iraqi army struggles with corruption and mismanagement.

But with hundreds of casualties over the past two and a half years and few breaks for the men from the grinding war, Iraq may be slowly degrading its best weapon to fight the militants.

Terrorist attacks and security lapses fuel fears for Jordan’s stability

Ian Black
July 25, 2016

Terrorist attacks and security lapses fuel fears for Jordan’s stability

King Abdullah II of Jordan, looking regal in army dress uniform, gazes down from a poster on the General Intelligence Department office near the Palestinian refugee camp at Baqa’a, where guards man new watchtowers flanking the metal gate and high wall across the front of the unmarked stone building.

Security has been tightened since the first day of Ramadan when a young man arrived at the local branch of what all Jordanians call the mukhabarat in the early morning andgunned down five employees before fleeing. The suspected killer, Mahmoud al-Masharfeh, was captured later that day.

And then, two weeks later, hundreds of miles away on the border with Syria, seven border guards died in a suicide mission claimed by Islamic State. Video footage showed a white pickup truck speeding across the desert and trailing a cloud of dust, before a huge explosion. It was Jordan’s worst terrorist incident in more than a decade. Thousands of Syrian refugees trapped in no man’s land suffered further misery when the Rukban crossing point was summarily closed.

There were significant differences between the two attacks. Masharfeh was apparently a lone wolf – though one with past form. Rukban was a sophisticated assault on an Arab country playing a frontline role in the US-led coalition fighting Isis – its stance hardened by the immolation of the captured Jordanian pilot Muadh al-Kasasbeh in 2015. And both have undermined the kingdom’s security and raised troubling questions about present performance and future prospects.

A New Guerrilla War With ISIS Is In the Offing in Iraq and Syria

July 25, 2016

As ISIS Loosens Grip, U.S. and Iraq Prepare for Grinding Insurgency

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State’s latest suicide attack in Baghdad, which killed nearly 330 people, foreshadows a long and bloody insurgency, according to American diplomats and commanders, as the group reverts to its guerrilla roots because its territory is shrinking in Iraq and Syria.

Already, officials say, many Islamic State fighters who lost battles in Falluja and Ramadihave blended back into the largely Sunni civilian populations there, and are biding their time to conduct future terrorist attacks. And with few signs that the beleaguered Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, can effectively forge an inclusive partnership with Sunnis, many senior American officials warn that a military victory in the last urban stronghold of Mosul, which they hope will be achieved by the end of the year, will not be sufficient to stave off a lethal insurgency.

“To defeat an insurgency, Iraq would need to move forward on its political and economic reform agenda,” Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, the top American commander in Iraq, said in an email.

A return to guerrilla warfare in Iraq, while the United States and its allies still combat the Islamic State in Syria, would pose one of the first major challenges to the next American president, who will take office in January. American public opinion has so far supported President Obama’s deployment of roughly 5,000 troops to help Iraq reclaim territory it lost to the Islamic State in 2014, but it is not clear whether political support would dissipate in a sustained effort to fight insurgents.

Morocco’s Indignation With Ban Ki-Moon: Is The Western Sahara An ‘Occupied’ Territory? – Analysis

By Khadija Mohsen-Finan*
JULY 27, 2016
The Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, has incurred the wrath of Morocco by referring to the ‘occupation’ of the Western Sahara and recalling the uncertainty that has surrounded the status of this territory for over 40 years.
Morocco’s anger remains palpable. Ban Ki-moon carried out a visit –the first of its nature– to the Tindouf camps in Algeria, where thousands of Sahrawi people claiming independence for the Western Sahara have lived since 1975. The UN Secretary-General also went to Bir Lehlu, a town in the north-eastern part of Western Sahara, in the region controlled by the Polisario Front and deemed to be a ‘liberated zone’ by the Tindouf Sahrawis. This is the same town where the Polisario Front proclaimed the creation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) on 27 February 1976 and from where the National Radio of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is broadcast. The Moroccan press talked about provocation.


Apart from the visit itself, Morocco has described as ‘unacceptable’ the comments Ban Ki-moon made at places that are so heavily loaded with symbolism. The highest-ranking representative of the UN, who normally exhibits exemplary restraint, expressed his great compassion for the Sahrawi refugees he met in Tindouf: ‘I was very saddened to see so many refugees and, particularly, young people who were born there. The children who were born at the beginning of this occupation are now 40 or 41 years old. So 40 years of a very difficult life. I really wanted to give them a sense of hope that this is not the end of the world for them’. The response from Rabat was that the Secretary-General crossed a red line when he explicitly used the word ‘occupation’ to describe the control exerted by Morocco since 1975 in the Western Sahara, a territory whose status the UN has not made any ruling on.

Banning Of Islamic State’s Al-Fatihin: Is This Enough? – Analysis

By Mohamed Bin Ali* 
JULY 27, 2016

The authorities in Singapore recently banned Al-Fatihin, a newspaper published by an Islamic State-linked media agency. Will this be enough to reduce the lure of jihadism?

The Singapore government recently gazetted Al-Fatihin, a Malay language newspaper published by Furat Media, an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliated media agency as a prohibited publication, making it an offence to possess or distribute the paper.

On the banning of the document, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said: “ISIS is a terrorist group which poses a serious threat to the security of Singapore. The newspaper is yet another step by ISIS to spread its propaganda abroad, with a clear intention to radicalise and recruit Southeast Asians to join ISIS. The Singapore Government has zero tolerance for terrorist propaganda and has therefore decided to prohibit Al Fatihin in Singapore.”
The Challenge of Self-Radicalisation

The decision to ban Al-Fatihin is a timely move to prevent the paper from falling into Singaporean hands. Singapore takes a strong stand against terrorist propaganda and will embark on decisive measures to counter it. However, the banning of Al-Fatihin newspaper alone will not prevent individuals from being self-radicalised as such materials abound online and offline. The threat of self-radicalisation is far more complex and challenging.

The use of propaganda materials like Al Fatihin by extremist groups is not a new phenomenon either. Many Muslim youths have been radicalised and influenced by extremist messages they receive largely from the Internet which is the primary medium for their radicalisation and recruitment purposes.

Why Is Iran Shaking Up Its Military Leadership?

July 27, 2016

In an unexpected development late last month, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei announced the promotion of Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri as chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces. A shadowy figure from the country’s vaunted Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Mohammed Bagheri has been tasked with overseeing all branches of Iran’s armed forces, including the IRGC, the regular military (Artesh), and the police.

The previous chief of staff, Hassan Firouzabadi, had been in the position for twenty-seven years. A veterinarian by background, he was credited for significant developments to Iran’s military forces, but his lack of military pedigree remained a stain on his reputation.

Mohammad Bagheri, on the other hand, boasts a strong military pedigree: the brother of a war hero, hespent the entirety of the Iran-Iraq War on the front lines, utilizing his strategic acumen to become the IRGC’s chief of intelligence and information operations. He transferred to the General Staff immediately after the war, continuing his work in intelligence. He holds a PhD in political geography and geopolitics, and teaches at the General Staff’s officer school, the Supreme National Defense University.

Importantly, Mohammad Bagheri belongs to a clique of IRGC officers who form the organization’s core leadership, sitting alongside the likes of Mohammad Ali Jafari, the current commander of the IRGC, and Qassem Soleimani, the famed general directing the IRGC’s expeditionary wing, the Quds Force. Composed of just a few members, this clique shares deep ties dating back to the Iran-Iraq War, and is hugely influential in shaping the organization’s trajectory. Neither is it averse to intervening in domestic politics: members of this clique, including Mohammad Bagheri, signed a letterin 1999 to then president Mohammad Khatami, threatening a military coup if Khatami did not crush a growing student rebellion.

Last Russian Terrorist Detainee Released From Guantanamo Bay

Carol Rosenberg
July 25, 2016

Parole board OKs release of Guantánamo’s last Russian captive

The inter-agency parole board announced Monday that it approved the transfer of Guantánamo’s last Russian prisoner, a one-time Red Army ballet dancer whose lawyers are trying to help him resettle in Nottingham, England.

Ravil Mingazov, 48, “did not express any intent to reengage in terrorist activities nor has he espoused any anti-U.S. sentiment that would indicate he views the U.S. as his enemy,” the federal Periodic Review Board wrote in a brief statement. It added that he got along well with his guards.

The decision means 32 of the detention center’s 76 captives are cleared for release to arrangements that satisfy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

Lawyers for Mingazov, an ethnic Tatar who was captured in Pakistan and brought to Guantánamo in October 2002, wrote to the British Foreign Office last year seeking family reunification for Mingazov with his now teenaged son and ex-wife in Nottingham. The Muslim family got there in 2014 from Russia and has asylum, said his attorney, Gary Thompson, who added that the couple might remarry once reunited.

Mingazov is a former ballet dancer with the Red Army who argues that he fled anti-Muslim persecution in his homeland in 2000. He went first to Tajikistan, then on to Afghanistan and finally Pakistan, where he was captured by security forces in a raid on a suspected al-Qaida safehouse — and handed over to the United States.

Nuclear Weapons Have Now Become the Centerpiece of North Korea’s Military Doctrine and Strategy

Rodger Baker
July 26, 2016

Facing North Korea’s Nuclear Reality

After announcing that it would cut communications with the United States, North Korea launched three missiles (two Scuds and a No Dong) last week. In some ways, there is little unexpected in North Korea’s actions. Since the early 1990s, the North Korean nuclear and missile programs have been a focus of greater and lesser international attention, and there is no reason to predict that a resolution satisfactory to the United States (or North Korea) will emerge any time soon. Similarly, the United States followed a familiar script in its reaction to the recent launches, threatening additional sanctions and further isolation. 

But that doesn’t mean nothing has changed. North Korea once treated its nuclear weapons programas a bargaining chip — a way to raise the stakes with the United States to wheedle concessions and aid. Now, however, nuclear weapons development is no longer something Pyongyang is willing to trade away for economic support and promises of nonaggression. North Korea has ramped up the testing cycle for its various missile systems, and it may be preparing for another nuclear test. If Pyongyang has no intention of stopping or reversing its nuclear weapons program — the two outcomes that U.S. policy has been geared to achieve — then perhaps it is time for Washington to reconsider its strategy for dealing with a nuclear-armed North Korea.

From Bargaining Chip …

North Korea launched its nuclear weapons program in earnest in the 1980s. After the Soviet Union collapsed, and amid social and political instability in China, Pyongyang rapidly expanded the program, fearing that its two primary backers could no longer provide the economic and security guarantees that North Korea had previously relied on. The United Nations’ recognition of both Korean governments as legitimate reinforced those concerns, and when South Korea began to engage politically and economically with China and Russia, Pyongyang’s worries mounted.

NATO’s Largest Nuclear Storage Facility In Turkey Carries Risks – OpEd

By Jonathan Power*
JULY 27, 2016

The Incirlik air base in southeast Turkey – from which U.S. pilots launch bombing raids on ISIS forces in Syria – is home to about 50 B-61 hydrogen bombs. That makes it NATO’s largest nuclear storage facility.

Each bomb has a yield of up to 170 kilotons, nearly a dozen times more powerful than the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima. The bombs are stored in underground vaults within aircraft shelters that in turn are protected by a security perimeter.

Recently, Incirlik was in the headlines because it appears it was one of the command centres of the attempted coup, meant to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After the coup had been put down the commander of Incirlik was arrested and charged with complicity in the overthrow attempt.

Jonathan Marshall of Consortium News, who has been researching this year the inner workings of the base, reports: “The security of the bombs is premised on them being defended by loyal NATO forces. In the case of Incirlik that loyalty proved uncertain at best. Power to the base was cut after mutinous troops used a tanker plane from the base to refuel F-16s that menaced Ankara and Istanbul.”

He goes on in his latest report to observe, “One can easily imagine a clique of Islamist officers in a future coup seizing the nuclear bombs as a bargaining chip with Ankara and Washington or, worse yet, to support radical insurgents in the region.”

Will TTIP Survive Brexit? – Analysis

By Geethanjali Nataraj*
JULY 27, 2016

June 23, 2016, will forever be a sad day in the history of the EU. Nearly 52% of the British population decided to leave the EU, reversing the decision taken in 1975 to join the common market. The ‘leave’ campaigners are exulting; they called the referendum a sort of reform to save the UK from an unstable EU grappling with migration, security and financial stability issues. The repercussions of Brexit are serious. One wonders if the British voter even understood the consequences of exiting before voting. A country that believed in divide-and-rule has just had one stuck on its backside. Whether they like it or not, the fact is that it is a lot of East Europeans and Asians who work hard to keep the British economy growing. The local guys, instead of upping their game and remaining competitive, have decided to keep the EU guys away who actually work to make a living.

Triggering Article 50, formally notifying the intention to withdraw, sets a two-year clock running. After that, the treaties which govern membership would no longer apply to UK. The terms of exit will be negotiated between the UK’s 27 counterparts, and each will have a veto over the conditions. Two vast negotiating teams could be created, far larger than those seen in British renegotiation. The EU side is likely to be headed by one of the current Commissioners. The negotiations would be tedious, as it would be hard agreeing to a new trading partnership, establishing what tariffs and other barriers to entry would come into play, and agreeing to other important issues such as restrictions on free movement of persons between the EU and the UK. According to the EU, the complete exit would take about five years or more, because the EU wants to make the conditions for exit really difficult to discourage others from following suit.


JULY 26, 2016

There is a certain irony to insinuations that the latest Democratic National Committee (DNC) email hacking scandal reflects a Kremlin plot to put Donald Trump in the White House. It was only five years ago, in the midst of controversial Russian parliamentary and presidential elections, that Vladimir Putin accused then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of orchestrating a mass protest movement against his regime. Now the shoe seems to be on the other foot.

Allegations that hackers linked to the Russian government have broken into DNC servers and leaked emails are consistent with the current dire state of U.S.-Russian relations. But not all of the implications that have been drawn, including about the Kremlin’s likely motives, ring true. Let’s take the key questions raised one at a time.

The first question is one of attribution and forensic evidence. Courtesy of cyber security scholars and analysts such as Thomas Rid, we already have persuasive evidence in the public sphere that hackers linked to the Russian government are involved in this. Based on the record of previous successful Russian government linked hacks on high profile U.S. targets, such as the State and Defense Departments, we should not be surprised.

Second comes the motive question: Why might the Kremlin have done this, if they did? That’s complex because it cuts two ways. On the one hand, the Russians have long argued that the United States meddles in elections and domestic politics around the globe. Their complaints have been particularly loud about U.S. actions in the post-Soviet space, where the Russians have been acutely sensitive about “color revolutions” bringing anti-Kremlin forces to power and compromising Russian influence in its near abroad. The Russians certainly accused the United States of intervening during the so-called “white” protest movement at the time of Russia’s 2011 Duma and 2012 presidential elections. Since then, the Kremlin has created riveting political theater for its domestic base by rooting out alleged “foreign agents” among Russian NGOs and media.


JULY 26, 2016

Attention all defense nerds! We know you. We are you. You are getting ready for your August vacation, when normal people take a break from work. You, however, are not normal people. Your vacations are really just a chance to surreptitiously catch up on juicy work reading while pretending to relax with family and friends (or to escape them entirely).

So before you grudgingly flee your keyboards and cubicles and take your pasty bodies to the beach, here is our list of top reads (and looks and listens) that you may have missed during the past year. Catch up and keep those brain cells energized after slathering on the sunscreen! Not all of these are obviously about defense and national security, but all will sharpen your thinking and help you think more creatively about future as well as the world we live in now.

The Recent Wars

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger. The best-selling author of War and co-director of the striking Afghan war documentary Restrepo (which is an absolute must-see), Junger wrestles in this book with the vast discontinuities between the surprisingly uplifting experience of bonding in combat and the reality of coming home to a fractured nation lacking any sense of solidarity. He finds that the veterans of today’s wars “often come home to find that, although they’re willing to die for their country, they’re not sure how to live for it.” This unusual meditation is not so much about veterans as it is a reflection upon the deep divisions in American society today and what to do about it, drawn from the lessons of those who have fought.