16 November 2016

Don’t nuke the debate

Gurmeet Kanwal 

Manohar Parrikar has been criticised for suggesting a re-evaluation of ‘no-first-use’. But nuclear doctrines are not written in stone.

While speaking at the launch of The New Arthashastra: A Security Strategy for India (HarperCollins India, 2016), the book I have edited on India’s national security strategy, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that there should be an element of unpredictability in the country’s military strategy.

Thinking aloud while answering a question, he wondered whether India’s nuclear doctrine should be constrained by a “no first use” posture. He mentioned the advantages of unpredictability and said, “If a written strategy exists, you are giving away your strength. Why should India bind itself (to no first use)? India is a responsible nuclear power and (it should suffice to say that) we will not use nuclear weapons irresponsibly.”

It pays to be tough with China

Before India’s independence nobody ever contested the fact that Demchok was the last village on the road to western Tibet.

Interesting news has been coming in from the high plateau of Ladakh. For three days, the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police had an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the People’s Liberation Army on the Line of Actual Control in the border village of Demchok.

While this village of Nyoma block in Leh district is small (with 74 inhabitants, the last census said), its location on the Indus river is strategic.

It’s been a part of Ladakh and thus Indian territory for centuries. In fact, no Chinese was ever seen in this rather desolate area before the 1950s. Today, however, Beijing claims Demchok as Chinese. It’s not that China is Alzheimerish; it’s simply convenient to rewrite history for its strategic purpose.

Exam calm in J&K: A good sign, but...

In view of the prolonged trouble in the Kashmir Valley in the past few months, that brought back memories of the high tide of militancy of the early 1990s, there was considerable apprehension around the state government’s decision to hold the Class 12 and Class 10 exams of the J&K School Board. In the end, the holding of the crucial exams, that appeared to be some kind of test of the possibility of the return of normality, turned out to be the right decision, though many were sceptical.

The news so far is good. About 95 per cent of the examinees, higher than in recent years, took their exams on Monday, pointing to the keenness of the students themselves to get on with it, and of their parents and guardians not to be cowed by negative hints from militancy and separatist quarters.

A victory foretold - It is important to brief Donald Trump on India

K.P. Nayar

For a full week now in president-elect Donald Trump's United States of America, friends of India belonging to Washington's permanent 'establishment' have been trying to get the transition team set up by the next president to brief Trump on India.

Trump has shown absolutely no interest in such a briefing, according to those who have been trying to organize it for the victor in last week's presidential poll. This may come as a wake-up call to those in India who never tire of spouting the piffle that a Republican president in the White House is better for India than a Democrat.

One of those behind this hitherto unsuccessful attempt was brutally frank about pundits and strategic analysts in India. "Trump is neither pro-India, nor anti-India. He is solely pro-America. If he has to be persuaded to take any interest in India, he and those in his immediate circle have to be incentivized into doing that."

***Stratfor: Manufacturing Is A Campaign Promise That Trump Cannot Keep

Source Link 

Summary: Trump made big promises during the campaign. Now they come due. Some solutions will be difficult, some unconstitutional, some impossible. Stratfor explains how his promises about manufacturing and trade are the latter. America’s businesses are enmeshed in the world economy, a world regulated by a web of treaties. Stepping out of those without ripping the world probably can’t be done.

Throughout the race for the White House, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to renegotiate trade deals to restore the manufacturing jobs that have all but vanished from the U.S. economy. In making this promise, he was not breaking new ground; President Barack Obama made similar assurances in his 2008 run for office. And much like his predecessor, Trump will face considerable challenges in fulfilling his pledge, constrained by the geopolitical, structural and institutional forces surrounding him. Without a doubt, the next president will usher in changes to U.S. economic and trade policies. But he will likely find a wide gap between theory and practice as he tries to deliver on many of his campaign promises.

Managing Differences Is The Key To Sino-India Relations – Analysis

By Siwei Liu* 
NOVEMBER 15, 2016
Close on the heels of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Hangzhou, China for the G20 meeting last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping made his second India visit to participate at the Brazil Russia India China and South Africa (BRICS) Summit on 15-16 October 2016 in New Delhi. There is no doubt that the frequent interactions between the top leaders of both countries are helpful for the current Sino-Indian relations that have experienced setbacks in the past years. At the same time, differences on some key issues have disrupted the smooth development of bilateral ties. It is time for China and India to adopt an inclusive approach for managing their differences, with them being the two biggest powers in Asia. This also means that the two sides should show greater mutual respect and pursue a win-win cooperation to avoid the Thucydides Trap.

Athough evidently there is no reason for making an over-pessimistic assessment on current China-India ties, there still remain major differences and disagreements between the two countries. Indian policy-makers and strategic analysts repeatedly state that China does not take care of India’s interests on some issues, including India’s entry into the NSG and India’s efforts to get the United Nations to impose sanctions on anti-India terror groups based in Pakistan. India has also been opposed to the Chinese-initiated China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) arguing that the corridor passes though the disputed region of Kashmir. The extension of India’s strategic frontier to the western Pacific Ocean along the lines of its Act East policy, and its security relationships with Japan and the US, cause concerns to the Chinese strategic community. China has also been closely watching the Indian stance on the South China Sea issue; upto now India has had an unclear policy on this issue.

Mr Meng's visit to India

By Claude Arpi
14 Nov , 2016

In the brouhaha created by the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and Prime Minister Modi’s Grand Master Coup against black money, an event of great international importance has been missed by the Indian press.

Meng Jianzhu, Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) visited Delhi and met PM Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Meng is not an ordinary official; he is a member of the all-powerful Politburo of the CPC and the person looking after ‘security’ and intelligence in the Middle Kingdom. He has replaced the disgraced Zhou Yongkang, the biggest tiger to fall in Xi Jinping’s net in the latter’s fight against corruption.

What was Meng doing around?

Probaly two things: China was nervous with Modi’s visit to Japan (two days later) and India its tired of terrorism “Made in Pakistan”.

That is why the PM remarked: “Terrorism poses the gravest threat to international peace and security”.

Can India and China find an understanding on the subject?

Can India Create the Next Revolution in Military Affairs?

By Navneet Bhushan
14 Nov , 2016

We have a window of opportunity for next 25 years when the young population percentage world over will be maximum in India. Further, our ability to understand the language of software – its basis in abstract thinking and logic of constructing – is traditionally strong and scalable. This is the time when India should invest in three pronged strategy of creating the RMA based on Genius systems – a set of highly evolved intelligent technical systems that work on principles of Next generation intelligence – a move from brilliance to genius system of real-time learning and innovating systems. 

Given our past history – hold on, not our glorious ancient history – just a small period to last 60 years or so, the above question at best can be dumped as an internet joke or shall I say a Facebook status update or maybe a non-trending passive Tweet. Many will be justified by pointing to the futility of even asking this question – India has much more pressing needs – and all these talks of revolution we have seen enough – whether it is our vocal show or support to Jan lokpal bill or our candle lighting remembrances of Mumbai attacks.

Long-range precision fires, information warfare, system of systems, network centric warfare and cooperative engagement capability are key potential manifestations of the new RMA.

Yet, it is imperative that India should ask this question? In 1911, had someone told my grandfather that India in 2013 will actually be divided into three countries – he might have said let my grandchildren take care of that – I am facing a bloody world war now. If I tell you today that Pakistan – that used to be India – oh really – will be Chinese territory in 2025, you may have this very strong urge to book my ticket for a mental asylum.

What is an RMA?

Liberation of Bangladesh: War in Northwestern Sector

By Maj Gen Sukhwant Singh
13 Nov , 2016

Lt Gen Thapan, General Officer Commanding XXXIII Corps, was operationally responsible for the sector in addition to his commitments against the Chinese in Sikkim and Bhutan. His headquarters were at Siliguri, from where communicationwise he could adequately control both battles. A divisional commander in the Indo-Pakistani conflict in 1965, he was a copybook general and had the reputation of being overcautious.

In view of his reputation, the Army Commander tried to spilt corps headquarters in two on the analogy of IV Corps and place Bangladesh operations under Maj Gen J.S. Nakai, Thapan’s Chief of Staff, but Thapan would not hear of this. He insisted he would stay in charge of operations on both sides and was not countermanded. Personal relations between Thapan and his Army Commander were somewhat strained and led to irksome disagreements in the planning and conduct of operations throughout.

The strategic importance of the sector lay in its proximity to the Siliguri corridor in case Pakistan chose to choke Indian road and rail communications to Assam”¦

Territorywise, the sector lay north of the Padma and Jamuna in the shape of the western half of an hour glass. The Balurghat bulge pinched the waist. The grain of the country runs from north to south, as do the rivers and road and rail communication. The three perennial river obstacles in the sector, affecting movement from east to west, were the Jamuna, Atrai and Karatoya. East Pakistan trunk route No 3 ran along the alignment Titalaya-Pachagarh-Thakurgaon-Saidpur-Rangpur-Bogra-Raishahi. It was a tarmac one-way road capable of bearing heavy traffic. Several small feeder roads and tracks took off it, running east-west and connecting the border towns. The main broad-gauge railway line ran north to south from Hardinge Bridge via Ishurdi, Santabar, Hilli, Parbatipur and Saidpur to Chilabati. A metre-gauge network connected Dinajpur with Lalmunirhat and Rubed.

Who Gains, Who Loses In Government’s Demonetisation Of Rs 500 & Rs 1,000

November 14, 2016

How will demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes impact the various sectors, institutions and levels of the Indian economy? A complete guide.

Macroeconomists and financial accountants are having a ball with demonetisation. Neither group is certain how demonetised notes which don't come back for destruction will impact the Reserve Bank's balance-sheet, and, more importantly, its profit and loss account. Profits can be transferred to the government as dividends.

If some notes remain outstanding (a 100 percent exchange is most unlikely), the RBI's liabilities surely will come down. Does this mean it can declare a profit on the amount it does not owe to old currency note holders, and adjust its books accordingly, declare a profit and transfer the bonanza to the government? Or will it merely adjust the drop in its liabilities by showing an increase in its non-monetary liabilities, or make a balancing reduction in assets to yield no direct benefit to the government? At best the RBI can return the government bonds it holds back to government to reduce its assets, and the latter can reduce its borrowing costs by paring down its future borrowing requirements this fiscal.

And how will demonetisation impact the growth rate, the government’s coffers, banks’ balance-sheets, interest rates, the exchange rate, corporate profits, the stock markets, and specific sectors? Here are our best guesses. But demonetisation is a complex issue, and will take some time to play out. So don’t rule out unexpected outcomes.

Explained: What Demonetisation Does, And What It Doesn’t

November 13, 2016

What does demonetisation do to a currency, its value and the money supply? Read here. 

The Narendra Modi government’s shock move on demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes has put everyone in a tizzy. Two reasons were advanced for this move – to hit at black money and to check counterfeits. The opposition parties were quick to cry foul and question the first reason. The inconvenienced public has been confused both about the purpose and the processes that have to be followed now.

In this scenario, here’s a ready reckoner on demonetisation.

Demonetisation principles

A currency is a promissory note issued by the government. It promises to exchange goods or services against the note when anybody (usually a resident of the country) produces it. Demonetisation is then a breakdown of that promise, to the extent of the notes which are put out of circulation.

It is thus a very risky step and can be taken only in very exceptional circumstances. It is akin to a sledgehammer attack on the currency system and thus few countries have deployed it. Till November 8, only six nations have used it, including India in 1978. No European or American nation (North or South) has deployed it. Of those who have, only India has gone for partial demonetisation.

What doesn’t it do?

Afghanistan: Bagram Airfield And Foreign Targets – Analysis

By Ajit Kumar Singh* 
NOVEMBER 14, 2016

Just after 5:30 am AST [Afghanistan Standard Time] on November 12, 2016, terrorists carried out an explosion at Bagram Airfield in the Bagram District of Parwan Province, the largest United Stated (US) military base in Afghanistan. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is heading the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan, issued a statement that “An explosive device was detonated on Bagram Airfield resulting in multiple casualties. Four people have died in the attack and approximately 14 have been wounded.” No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

At around 11 pm on November 10, 2016, a vehicle laden with heavy explosives detonated in the vicinity of the German Consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh Province, in Northern Afghanistan. The explosion followed an exchange of fire between the Security Forces (SFs) and the terrorists which lasted till the early hours of November 11. Though all German employees of the Consulate General remained safe, at least four Afghan civilians were killed and another 128 Afghans, including 19 women and 38 children, sustained injuries in the attack. The explosion also damaged more than 100 homes and shops. Claiming responsibility for the attack, Afghan Taliban ‘spokesman’ Zabihullah Mujahid stated that heavily armed fighters, including suicide bombers, had been sent “with a mission to destroy the German consulate general and kill whoever they found there”. Germany heads the NATO-led RSM in Northern Afghanistan.

In another major attack, at least 13 persons – seven students, one professor, two security guards of the University, and three SF personnel – were killed and another 45 persons, including 36 students and staff members and nine SF personnel, were injured, when terrorists carried out an attack targeting the well guarded American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in capital Kabul on August 24, 2016. The attack, which commenced at 18:30 AST after the attackers exploded a car bomb at a University entry gate, stormed into the University complex and opened gunfire, lasted for almost 10 hours. SFs eliminated two terrorists, bringing an end to the attack. There were about 750 students on Campus at the time of the attack. According to reports, the attackers had made their way past the University’s armed guards and watchtowers, lobbing grenades and checking out their maps.

Pakistan: The Shadow Of Islamic State – Analysis

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty* 
NOVEMBER 14, 2016

At least 52 persons were killed and more than hundred were injured when a teenage suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest in the midst of devotees at the shrine of Sufi saint Shah Noorani in the Khuzdar District of Balochistan in the evening of November 12, 2016. The explosion took place at the spot where the dhamaal (Sufi ritual of devotional dance) was being performed, within the premises of the shrine. “The bomber appeared to be 14 to 16 years old,” said Muhammad Hashim Ghalzai, the Commissioner of Kalat Division, of which Khuzdar is a District. Nawaz Ali, the shrine’s custodian, added, “Every day, around sunset, there is a dhamaal here, and there are large numbers of people who come for this.” According to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Jafar Khan, at the time of the blast, around 1,000 devotees were present in the shrine to view the performance. The Daesh (Islamic State, IS, previously Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack via Amaq, its affiliated news agency.

Daesh, along with Al Alami (international) faction of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), also claimed the October 24 attack on the Quetta Police Training College (PTC) at New Sariab, in which 61 Security Force (SF) personnel were killed, and another 164 were injured. Three terrorists entered into the PTC and headed straight for the hostel, where around 700 Police recruits were sleeping. The attack began at around 11:10 pm, with gunfire continuing to ring out at the site for several hours. Major causalities were inflicted when two suicide bombers blew themselves up. One of the terrorists, wearing a suicide vest, was killed by SFs. Though the Pakistani establishment claimed that the terrorists belonged to the LeJ-Al Alami, Daesh claimed responsibility and released photographs of the fighters involved, one of whom bore a strong resemblance to an attacker who was killed by SFs in the assault.

Don't Forget the Afghan Refugees of Pakistan

November 14, 2016

The severe realities and hardships faced by refugees continue to command the global spotlight. Yet their vast numbers are only represented rarely, through iconic images such as Afghanistan’s twelve-year-old girl, Sharbat Gula, and the three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi. While Sharbat Gula won the attention and sympathy of the world with her striking eyes, Aylan Kurdi caused heartbreak when his dead body was discovered on the offshores of coastal town of Bodrum, Turkey. Both images truly changed people’s perspectives regarding refugees. These two pictures, which conveyed tragedy, pain and a struggle to live, were impossible to ignore. They sought fulfillment of their human rights, the dream of living in peace and dignity while avoiding persecution and bombardment in their respective countries.

Nobody thought that Steve McCurry, now a famous National Geographicphotographer, would capture a miracle with his lens. He was unaware that a girl named Sharbat Gula at an Afghan refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakhtunkhwa, in 1984, would become the world’s most recognized symbol of civilian suffering.

After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, millions of Afghans were forced to flee the country; the majority of them settled in neighboring countries, especially Pakistan and Iran. Due to millions of dollars in refugee aid to Pakistan, refugees were welcome. With propaganda spreading that Pakistan was the flagbearer of global Islam, Afghans fell into the trap such that radicalization among young Afghan refugees became a cornerstone for some Pakistani terrorist groups.

Dealing With Pakistan

By Ashok Sajjanhar
14 Nov , 2016

The most formidable challenge confronting Pakistan since its birth 70 years ago is its failure to carve out an identity for itself. It has hence tried to define itself in being anti-Indian in most respects. To project itself in a positive light, it has done its best to weaken India politically and economically and tried all means to bring its stature down in the international reckoning.

The urge to undercut India became more pronounced after the severe drubbing it received in December 1971 with the dismemberment of its territory and the ignominy of the surrender of 93,000 of its soldiers to India in Dhaka in East Bengal/ Bangladesh. Since then, it has been plotting, directly and indirectly through its agents, to sow discord and violence in different parts of India, starting with Punjab in the 1980s and thereafter moving on to focus full time on Kashmir from 1989 onwards. Envy and dismay at India’s growing strength and global clout has further aggravated passions and exacerbated resentment of Pakistan’s army and spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to create obstacles in the path of India’s economic rise and peaceful development.

While Pakistan has always looked upon India with hostility and as an enemy state, India has been ambivalent on how to conduct its relations with this inimical neighbour. The reason for this lack of clarity is that India desires peaceful and cordial relations with Pakistan. India, under successive governments, even when Pakistan was extending covert and overt backing to militants and terrorists under the euphemistic garb of diplomatic, political and moral support to so-called “Kashmiri freedom fighters”, has tried to maintain normal bilateral relations with its western neighbour.

An important reason for India’s keen desire to have stable relations with Pakistan is India’s interest in ensuring secure borders so that it can concentrate on improving the living conditions of its people.

Solution to the Pakistani Terrorist Quagmire

By Vijaykumar S Kasi
13 Nov , 2016

It is difficult to comprehend why some people resort to terrorism. One of the main reasons put forward — economic failure — is no excuse to pursue the path of terror. There are many extremely poor nations and societies that struggle for a better future in a peaceful and non-violent way. For decades, a significant section of Pakistanis have chosen the wrong path.

Terrorism has become an institution in Pakistan and has widespread support. Its army and intelligence services consider it a strategic weapon.

Terrorism has become an institution in Pakistan and has widespread support. Its army and intelligence services consider it a strategic weapon. After each terrorist strike, the Pakistani government cleverly dodges international pressure by temporarily clamping down on terrorism until the focus shifts away.

It never completely eliminates this menace. As a consequence, this small region has now become the most dangerous place on the planet.

Pakistan was created by the British in 1947 as they hastily departed the Indian subcontinent. Its boundaries are incompletely defined and the state is largely unstable. The Durand line, Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen are examples of poorly demarcated borders.

From past experiences, it may appear that trusting the Pakistan Army or government to have a change of heart is simply naive. Believing that resolution of the Palestinian or Kashmir problem will end terrorism is another utopian naiveté. A long term solution has to be found to tackle the menace of terror, even if it means dividing Pakistan.

Here is the reason why it may be our best and last option unless Pakistan rapidly dismantles the terror infrastructure. The pictorial account below traces the malaise and provides the only remedy. There is no other solution to this problem irrespective of what pundits and experts may say.

Imagine how much more dangerous Pakistan would have been if it included Bangladesh. Terrorists would have complete control of entire South Asia. If India did not help in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 it would have been really in a desperate position now — struggling for its very survival. We have to ensure the security for our children in India and the world over. Implementing the plan for restructuring Pakistan will undoubtedly be painful and expensive in terms of precious lives lost and considerable economic damage. We should be prepared to pay this price for a better future for all our children. It will involve international cooperation and meticulous planning. Now is the time to rise to the call of duty and not vacillate.

Is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor a 21st Century East India Company?

By Abdur Rehman Shah
November 11, 2016

A closer look at the hidden dangers CPEC could bring for Pakistan. 

When a Pakistani lawmaker recently warned in Parliament that “another East India Company is in the offing” in the form of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, he certainly raised some eyebrows. This view came from Senator Tahir Mashhadi, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development, who specifically voiced concerns about the exorbitant loans Pakistan will need to pay back to China for CPEC. Mashhadi also objected to China’s demands regarding power tariffs on projects according to Chinese interests. Since the official discourse in Pakistan has presented CPEC in very rosy terms (often calling it a “game-changer”), the “East India Company” analogy merits a proper analysis.

To compare China’s role, within the context of CPEC project, with that of the British East India Company would be hyperbole, though not a totally discreditable argument. There cannot be exact parallels between both the cases. First of all, the method used by the East India Company (EIC) was entirely different. The EIC came to the subcontinent primarily with the intention of doing trade but usurped power through the brutal use of force, which the renowned British historian William Dalrymple described as “probably the most bloody episode in the entire history of British colonialism.” By contrast, China and Pakistan enjoy an exemplary friendship based on mutual trust and respect.

Second, the EIC was enticed by the fabled riches, wealth, and resources of this region. In other words, the subcontinent was by far more prosperous than the EIC. In case of China and Pakistan, the story is the other way around. As an economic power, China is second only to the United States and sits on the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world ($3.20 trillion). With Beijing’s deep pockets and passion for spending, economic ties with China are even prized by the wealthy countries of the West like Britain and Germany. On the other hand, Pakistan presents little, if any, economic attraction for foreign investments. Uncongenial security conditions, failing state institutions, and corruption are some of the many maladies that have dogged Pakistan and dissuaded others from investing in this country. Perhaps no other country would dare take the risk of investing so much money in Pakistan as China has ventured. Pakistan needs China more than the other way around.

China Fraud Case Raises Smog Suspicions – Analysis

By Michael Lelyveld
NOVEMBER 14, 2016

A case of brazen environmental fraud has shaken trust in China’s air quality data and raised doubts about the adequacy of its anti-pollution programs.

On Oct. 21, three senior environmental officials in northwestern China’s Shaanxi province were detained on suspicion of tampering with an air quality monitoring station to falsify reports, state media said.

The incident in the Chang’an district of Xi’an “highlights the need for the authorities to show zero tolerance toward any deception concerning air quality monitoring data and ensure those responsible pay a high price,” said the Beijing News.

According to China Daily, the officials allegedly made a duplicate key to gain access to monitoring equipment, which they covered with yarn to filter out pollution.

“It is thought the trio began tampering with the equipment in February, in a bid to artificially improve the district’s air quality readings, so as to avoid punitive action,” the official English-language paper said. Several other reports said that five officials were involved.

Details of the case in Shaanxi’s smoggy provincial capital suggest that the violation was particularly blatant, since it involved environmental officials and a monitoring station “directly administered by the Environmental Protection Ministry.”

Employees at the station allegedly deleted surveillance video “to ensure that inspectors would not see their actions,” The New York Times said, citing the initial report by the provincial paper Chinese Business View.

Effective but Insufficient: Drone Strikes in Counterterrorism

NOVEMBER 13, 2016

“Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training, and deploying against us?”

That was the question posed by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to his staff in 2003. If answering this question has proven difficult in the 13 years since, it is because evaluating individual counterterrorism tools such as drone strikes, one of the defining features of U.S. counterterrorism efforts during this period (and quite possibly the most controversial), is extremely difficult.

While it is impossible to definitively answer Rumsfeld’s question, we can, and should, examine some of the effects of drone strikes since they remain an imperfect yet necessary tool in the current counterterrorism fight.

On the positive side of the ledger, drone strikes have removed scores of senior terrorists from the battlefield, including top officials from al Qaeda, its affiliates, and the Islamic State. Replacing foot soldiers is relatively easy, but replacing experienced senior leaders is hard and disruptive to these organizations. Examples include al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) former leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi in 2015 and former Taliban head Akhtar Mansoor in May of this year.

Research shows that removing the top leader from such an organization makes the group more susceptible to organizational death than non-decapitated groups, and doing it in the first year of a group’s existence makes it statistically eight times less likely to survive. We also know from declassified letters written by terrorism’s most notorious leader, Osama bin Laden, that drone strikes significantly altered how al Qaeda operated and communicated.

Removing group members with special skills, like charismatic propagandists such as AQAP’s Anwar al-Awlaki and the Islamic State’s Minister of Media, Abu Muhammad al-Furqan, or highly competent finance officials such as al Qaeda’s Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, takes an additional toll. After seven men who had ascended to the No. 3 position in al Qaeda were killed by drone strikes in the decade following 9/11, some in terrorism circles joked that being third in the al Qaeda hierarchy was the world’s most dangerous job.

The Great Game And The Partition Of Syria – Analysis

MARCH 23, 2016


Russia’s decision to greatly reduce its military presence in Syria, coming as it did with little warning, has left the world struggling for explanations. Russia is to maintain a military presence at its naval base in Tartous and at the Khmeymim airbase. In fact Russia is “withdrawing without withdrawing”.

The partial withdrawal is seen by many as a message to the Assad government to not take Russia’s military aid for granted, and to be more flexible in the upcoming peace negotiations.

As Robert F. Kennedy Jr., attorney and nephew of US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy explains, the major reason for the west’s attempt to overthrow the Assad government was to build a natural gas pipeline from Qatar that traversed Syria, capturing its newly discovered offshore reserves, and continued on through Turkey to the EU, as a major competitor to Russia’s Gazprom.

Transfer of Defence Technology to India: Prevalence, Significance and Insights

October 2016

Transfer of technology has been prevalent in numerous forms across the world, both in the civil as well as defence domains, and India is no exception. These transfers, primarily in the form of licenced manufacture, have provided a significant boost to the production capabilities and self-reliance of developing nations in the past and hold great promise, in the future, for nations that do not have a well-developed science and technology base. This article addresses transfers in the defence domain and delves into some of its fundamental aspects through a coverage of its prevalence in India; whether it contributes to the attaining of national goals; understanding its core fundamentals and connected nuances; and finally, benefits and costs, including restrictive issues.

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The Rise and Future of ISIS

October 2016

The article discusses the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and focuses on its future. It explores the major milestones in the phenomenal rise of ISIS, which has surprised many geopolitical and military experts. It also briefly traces its journey as it gained ground in parts of Iraq, Syria and Libya, and the support it received from unexpected quarters of the world. The strong presence of ISIS in the digital medium has become a defining feature of the group. The military and political characteristics of the ISIS have also made it vulnerable by making it a visible target, denying it the advantages of a formless, diffused organisation, which has been the traditional refuge of terrorist organisations worldwide. This article explores the future scenarios that are likely to manifest with the ISIS as it begins to lose power and influence in its traditional strongholds. It discusses three possible scenarios based on the loss of leadership, loss of territory and one in which the group retains leadership and territory in the backdrop of constant digital presence. The article also takes into account a wild card scenario envisaging ISIS obtaining a nuclear bomb from a state’s arsenal or developing one on its own.

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Before Trump And Brexit, Milosevic – OpEd

By Jasmin Mujanovic* 
NOVEMBER 15, 2016

There is a spectre haunting the West, the spectre of Slobodan Milosevic.

In 1987, Milosevic, the right-hand man of then Serbian President Ivan Stambolic, was dispatched to Kosovo to ease fraying relations between the province’s Albanian and Serb communities.

A dour party apparatchik, Milosevic encountered a startling mix of resentment and anger among the Serbs in Kosovo, who felt ignored by the central authorities in Belgrade, forgotten in Yugoslavia’s poorest corner, and marginalized by the region’s ethnic Albanian majority.

When local Serb extremists orchestrated clashes with the police, falsely claiming they had been attacked by Albanian officers, the raw energy of their putsch presented Milosevic with an opportunity. As he walked among the seething crowds, fully aware the scenes were being broadcast on screens across Yugoslavia, he promised them “no one will beat you ever again”.

He never said “no one will ever beat you, the Serbs”, he never suggested he was going to liquidate the Albanians, or turn the province into a police state, or lead the whole of Yugoslavia into the maelstrom of war. He needed only to wink at the extremists and they lined up behind him. It was the whole of the Milosevic strategy – and legacy – distilled into a single moment.

Nearly 30 years later, the election of Donald J. Trump in the US, like the recent Brexit referendum in the UK, has plunged the two oldest liberal democracies in the world into unchartered waters. Millions on both sides of the Atlantic are asking: how did this happen and where are we headed? Studying the rise and reign of Slobodan Milosevic, I argue, offers some lessons and warnings.

Milosevic, of course, emerged within the context of an already authoritarian state, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ), while the US and UK together have nearly half a millennium of experience with constitutional government. Yet given how unexpected the tenor and success of both Trump and Brexit was – and how quickly fear has permeated both societies as result – it is prudent to entertain, if only as an intellectual exercise, the unthinkable.

Russia: Return To The Iran Option And Capacities For Future Relations – OpEd

By Behzad Khoshandam* 
NOVEMBER 14, 2016

The security model followed by the West and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) puts emphasis on “defense and deterrence” against Russia’s vital interests from 2014 to the end of 2016. During the same period of time, relations between Russia and Iran, as two neighboring countries, have been witnessing a constructive and upward trend. Therefore, positions taken under these conditions, including those taken by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in an interview with the Israeli Channel 2 News on November 5, 2016, with regard to Iran’s relations with Russia can be interpreted as signals sent by senior Russian officials in relations between the two influential actors, which have their roots in existing and basic realities that determine the two sides’ relations.

The main reason behind the change of direction by a Russia, whose main concern is Eurasia, and more closeness between Russia and Iran for the resolution of Syria’s strategic crisis should be sought in important variables that determine world policies in 2016 based on such common threats and risks as terrorism. Other variables effective in this regard include concerns, challenges, requests and the impact of such important international crises as the crises in Russia’s relations with the West, NATO and the European Union, in addition to the crises in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and so forth.

In addition, the face-about in Russia’s foreign policy toward closer, developing and more serious cooperation with Iran can be seen within framework of Russia’s own developments and its changing position in the emerging world order. The 2014 crisis in Ukraine and tension in Russia’s relations with NATO and the Western front, which had started during NATO’s Lisbon Summit in 2010, were crystallized in Russia’s military intervention in Syria, which has gotten underway since September 2015. This situation has caused a deep gap in Russia’s relations with the West and EU and has caused Moscow to turn to regional actors in dealing with common foreign policy challenges.

A 3-Step Strategy for Trump on Ukraine

November 14, 2016

There are few higher foreign policy priorities for the new Trump Administration than addressing the highly disruptive and potentially catastrophic conflict brewing sinisterly in Ukraine. The annexation of Crimea, as well as Russia’s continuing military initiatives in the eastern Ukrainian Donbas region, represent egregious violations of international law. These actions have had a devastating impact on U.S.-Russian relations which have reverted to Cold War levels, undermining all constructive discourse.

Trump’s election campaign promised that, as President, he would initiate an entirely new approach to Russia, and deal with Putin and his inner circle by relying on his negotiating skills honed during his career in business. We believe that now is the time for Trump to take advantage of the opening afforded by his stunning election, and to approach Putin with a game changing proposal to deescalate the Ukrainian crisis, as well as to lay the foundation for a constructive program of reconciliation between the United States and Russia. The alternative — a continuation of the current policy — will only lead to further destabilizing rhetoric, a costly and dangerous arms build-up on both sides, and escalating military confrontations between NATO members and Russia.

The new Trump Administration can legitimately disavow prior U.S. policies which have so antagonized Putin, and which have been construed by Putin and his cohorts as threatening Russia’s vital national security interests. These include, in particular, NATO’s substantial eastern expansion since the end of the Cold War — increasing from 16 nations to 29 — as well as the foreign policy initiatives of the United States under the Clinton, Bush II and Obama Administrations. Actions in Serbia/Kosovo in 1999, in Iraq beginning in 2003, and in Libya in 2011, together with the “color revolutions” in former Soviet republics have been perceived by Putin as intended, directly or indirectly, to destabilize the current regime in Moscow. The prospect of Ukraine joining NATO was especially unsettling. Putin's address to the Russian Parliament on March 19, 2014, justifying the Crimean annexation, explained: “It would have meant that NATO's navy would be right there in this city [Sevastopol] of Russia's military glory and this would have created not an illusory, but a perfectly real threat to the whole of southern Russia.”

What Obama Should Tell the EU on Refugees

November 14, 2016

At the Leader’s Summit on Refugees in September, President Obama urgedgovernments to do more to help the 65 million refugees and displaced people around the world today—the largest number of people driven from their homes by war and conflict since World War II. “History will judge us harshly if we do not rise to this moment,” Obama said at the September summit.

Two months later, as President Obama prepares to visit Greece and Germany, it is clear that countries of the European Union, the world’s richest economic bloc, have not risen to meet this critical challenge. Thousands of asylum-seekers are still stranded in shocking conditions in Greece and a record 4,233 people have died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year. The plight of these refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants should be high on the agenda when Obama meets with the German and Greek leaders.

It has been more than seven months since the EU and Turkey agreement entered into force, a controversial agreement established to stem the flow of asylum-seekers and migrants into Europe via Greece. EU leaders have celebrated the agreement as a success, pointing to the significant fall in the number of arrivals: 211,663 people arrived by sea to Greece in October 2015; in October 2016, the numbers dropped to 2,970. But for the men, women and children stranded in cold, unsafe, and unsanitary camps around Greece, Europe has failed spectacularly in dealing with this situation in a humane way.

In April, the European Union provided international organizations working in Greece—including UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, and the International Federation of the Red Cross—with 83 million euros to improve the living conditions of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants. The EU announced a further EUR 115 million disbursement in September. The contrast between these amounts and the reality on the ground is alarming.

Asia Frets over Trump, But There’s an Economic Upside

November 14, 2016

Donald Trump’s surprise election win sent shockwaves through Asian markets, while his apparent intent to cancel the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has not helped sentiment either. But providing he avoids provoking a trade war with China, a Trump administration could actually be beneficial to Asia’s economy.

Here is a quick look at the positives and negatives for the world’s most dynamic economic region.

Positives: U.S. Economic Growth

A stronger U.S. economy would not only benefit Americans. Providing Trump does not follow through on threats to slap tariffs of up to 45 percent on Chinese imports, Asia’s major exporters, including China, Japan and South Korea, would all benefit should America’s consumers increase spending, along with the promised boost to U.S. infrastructure.

Accounting for nearly a quarter of global gross domestic product, any pickup in the United States, the world’s largest economy, would help propel global GDP higher and lift millions more out of poverty in Asia.

The last two presidents to expand America’s role in the global economy were Clinton and Reagan, with U.S. GDP accounting for around 32 percent of the global economy when Clinton left office. (It was 34 percent under Reagan). Reversing that slide would help global trade start recovering and the world economy get back to at least trend growth, after two years of subpar performance.

Stronger Dollar

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Through the Gates of Hell

November 12, 2016.

With President Trump, Is the American Experiment Over? 

The one thing you could say about empires is that, at or near their height, they have always represented a principle of order as well as domination. So here’s the confounding thing about the American version of empire in the years when this country was often referred to as “the sole superpower,” when it was putting more money into its military than the next 10 nations combined: it’s been an empire of chaos.

Back in September 2002, Amr Moussa, then head of the Arab League, offered a warning I’ve never forgotten. The Bush administration’s intention to invade Iraq and topple its ruler, Saddam Hussein, was already obvious. Were they to take such a step, Moussa insisted, it would “open the gates of hell.” His prediction turned out to be anything but hyperbole -- and those gates have never again closed.

The Wars Come Home

From the moment of the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, in fact, everything the U.S. military touched in these years has turned to dust. Nations across the Greater Middle East and Africa collapsed under the weight of American interventions or those of its allies, and terror movements, one grimmer than the next, spread in a remarkably unchecked fashion. Afghanistan is now a disaster zone; Yemen, wracked by civil war, a brutal U.S.-backed Saudi air campaign, and various ascendant terror groups, is essentially no more; Iraq, at best, is a riven sectarian nation; Syria barely exists; Libya, too, is hardly a state these days; and Somalia is a set of fiefdoms and terror movements. All in all, it’s quite a record for the mightiest power on the planet, which, in a distinctly un-imperial fashion, has been unable to impose its military will or order of any sort on any state or even group, no matter where it chose to act in these years. It’s hard to think of a historical precedent for this.