22 November 2016

Raja Mandala: Sharif versus Sharif

C. Raja Mohan

Government has rarely won the battle against the army in Pakistan. Delhi must be prepared to signal its support to civilian rule.

An official announcement from the Pakistan Army on Monday that General Raheel Sharif has begun his farewell calls before his pending retirement next Tuesday has brought an extended drama to a close. Some in Delhi might keep their fingers crossed and wait to see if there are additional twists to this tale. For months now there has been speculation about a possible second term of three years for the army chief. There was visible public pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to extend his tenure.

Pakistan’s prime ministers have the formal right to “appoint” army chiefs, but did not seem to enjoy the power to “terminate” their services. Having risked a lot during his earlier tenure to affirm the right to hire and fire the army chiefs, PM Sharif has refrained from rushing into a decision that could cost him his current office. When he boldly replaced General Pervez Musharraf in October 1999 after the failed Kargil putsch by the army chief in the summer of that year, PM Sharif found himself in a prison and then a near-decade-long exile in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Given that background, it is quite remarkable that PM Sharif avoided giving an extension to General Sharif.

Ban hit terror funds, but it’s only a lull


PM Modi has become the public face of demonetisation with his abrupt red alert demonetising.

Demonetisation is one of the ultimate weapons in a nation’s economic and financial armoury. It is somewhat akin in this context to nuclear weapons. It is a strong financial medicine with distinct punitive overtones and can sometimes prove extremely bitter, daunting many patients who would often prefer to throw it away and suffer, than voluntarily swallow the physician’s prescription. Demonetisation should ideally be invoked only in extremis, after due discussion and public debate, and imposed only after rigorous administrative planning, preferably with an adequate warning period.

But all this would be feasible only in an ideal world, because the reality in India’s corner of the universe is totally different.

The reality here is Pakistan and its “jihad-fi-sabilillah” (meaning “in the cause of Allah”) campaign of terrorism against India. It extends over a wide range of operations, including covert economic warfare in the form of illegal infusion of Indian currency notes to fund terrorism inside this country.

The contentious duopoly - The WTO cannot always discipline big and powerful entities

Ashok V. Desai

Making large and fast planes requires high technology. Such planes are enormously useful in war; from thousands of feet above ground, they can rain bombs that kill off people and reduce buildings and machines, ports and airports to rubble.

Wright brothers' invention of the aeroplane in 1903 was followed before long by World War I, which provided a market for fighters and bombers as well as resources for their development from countries battling for survival. A byproduct of the aircraft industry was the first airlines: by 1920, there were a couple of dozen airlines flying in the United States of America and Europe.

The next technological boost came from World War II. Germany did severe damage to London with its Stuka fighters; but Britain developed the radar, which gave the Allies a considerable advantage, especially in night raids. British and American bombers reduced Germany to a vast junkyard.

How India Can Stop the Next Fake-Money Crisis

November 20, 2016

The Indian government’s recent decision to invalidate five-hundred- and one-thousand-rupee notes is a reflection of growing concerns about the widespread circulation of counterfeit currency notes in the predominantly cash-based Indian domestic economy. Data collected by the Indian Statistical Instituterevealed that as many as 250 out of every million notes in circulation were fake. This may seem a small percentage, but in absolute terms it translates into mind-boggling numbers. The Indian media’s clamor over the politically exciting issue of black money is understandable, but it undermines the threat posed by counterfeit currency—both to monetary stability and to the internal security of the country. It was not surprising that the official notification by the ministry of finance, which regulates the production and circulation of Indian legal tender, categorically underlined that the decision to withdraw the notes was intended to curb the financing of terrorism through the proceeds from these fake notes.

India has a large unorganized, cash-based economic sector whose daily transactions number in billions of rupees. According to Boston Consulting Group, in the year 2015, 78 percent of all consumer transactions in India were cash-based. It is this large cash-based sector that was inundated with the circulation of counterfeit currency notes. The question is how big this circulation really is, and how such criminal activity, traditionally undertaken for economic gain by private individuals, organized gangs and crime syndicates, managed to erode common consumers’ faith in Indian legal tender.

Between 2010 and 2013, Indian law-enforcement agencies seized $150 million in counterfeit currency. The counterfeiting of high-denomination Indian legal tender is not an ordinary criminal activity; it is a well-orchestrated, state-sponsored enterprise, intended to adversely impact India’s economic security. It amounts to terrorism by other means.

India: Battle Against Counterfeit Currency Is Complex – Analysis

By Gaurav Dixit* 
NOVEMBER 21, 2016

Weeks before the Indian government announced the demonetisation of 1,000 and 500-rupee notes in order to curb the twin-menace of counterfeit currency and black money, Chinese officials in China’s Guangzhou province arrested a Pakistani currency smuggler, Faiz Muhammad, along with counterfeit notes bearing a face value of 2.5 million Indian rupees.

The whole operation to arrest the Pakistani currency smuggler was new in the history of intelligence co-operation between three nations — India, China and Sri Lanka. His arrest as reported was the result of intelligence-sharing by Indian intelligence agencies with their counterparts in Colombo and Beijing.

A day after the announcement of the demonetisation, Indian officials announced an agreement with China to set up two joint working groups (JWG) to deal with the counterfeit Indian currency menace and a round-the-clock hotline to exchange information related to terror and organised crimes. In India, counterfeit currency is being used for financing terror as well as other subversive activities.

The new development is also important because of the fact that Indian agencies were under severe pressure to curtail increasing flow of counterfeit currency from the China route, while it had little network in China to keep an eye on them.

The problem of counterfeit currency in India is not as massive as hawala or black money — nevertheless, it is a major security issue. There are three aspects to the counterfeit currency problem in India, viz., (a) domestic printing (b) smuggling and (c) circulation.
India has long suspected that the well-established drug cartels in China and the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI’s influence in Xinjiang province are being used to push counterfeit currency into India.

The King of Guns Will Soon Be Home

By Debalina Chatterjee
20 Nov , 2016

In mid-November 2016, the much delayed M-777A2 Ultra-Light Howitzers (ULH) also known as the “Triple Seven” has been approved for purchase by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). India would now buy 145 of such 155mm 39calibre towed guns for its Mountain Strike Corps which was raised in 2013.

This gun would be acquired from the United States through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) authorised by the Arms Control Export Act (AECA). However, the delay in decision by the Indian Government to acquire these guns has increased the cost of acquiring these guns from US$647million in 2010 to US$750million in 2016. Even in August 2016, there was a delay by the Indian Government to acquire the gun and India had requested the United States to freeze the deal for three months.

The M-777A2 is the upgraded version of the M-777A1 ULHs with software enhancements. These guns are reportedly replacement for the obsolete BAE Systems/ Bofors FH-77B/ 155mm/ 39 caliber which was a battle winning weapon for the Indian Army during the Kargil Conflict. India has already received the US Letter of Acceptance and before long the guns should be delivered to India.

Towed guns are best suited for mountain warfare and these guns also have an advantage that they could be airlifted and therefore, transported via helicopters. Therefore, the need to pull them through rough terrain is not required. However, their light weight helps the guns to be easily towed on road. The guns have higher survivability and greater mobility achieved by the use of titanium and aluminium alloys that make the guns lighter and easy to be airlifted and capable of ‘shoot and scoot’. Such weapons are therefore, ideally suited for mountain warfare. Even in extreme temperatures, the gun has proved its reliability, maintainability and safety. According to Keith Gooding, Programme Manager, Towed Artillery Systems, (PM TAS), the guns have already undergone several tests near the Western plains close to the Pakistan border as well been tested close to the Himalayan border.

Celebrate the Triumph Over Dirty Money

By RSN Singh
20 Nov , 2016

The demonetization decision coupled with other measures is bound to have sobering impact on the arrogance that black money had acquired in politics. Inimical powers had begun to fund political parties. They in turn charged crores to dish out MLA and MP tickets. MLAs and MPs had degenerated to the status of ‘cattle’. In times of political crisis, MLAs were herded and quarantined in give star hotels to prevent poaching.The arrogance of black money destroyed democracy and subverted the Constitution. This arrogance had travelled to doctors, engineers, police personnel, bureaucrats, media houses and segment of judiciary. All at the expense of common citizen.

Pakistan pays nearly the same amount to jihadis as regular army officials. Such groups or outfits world sustain on dirty or secret money. Drug money, smuggling, extortion by terror and fake currency, are invariably the methods employed. India is a victim of all these.

The Maoists unabashedly boasted of terror money generated through their extortion industry. No public or private initiative, however benign, progressive or humanitarian is spared by them. Similarly the jihadi infrastructure relied on slush money to sustain madrasas, indoctrination and recruitment. Black money and counterfeit currency has been terrorizing India.

Consequent to the demonetization drive Maoists are stunned as their economy has been paralyzed. Without money jihadis in India are suffocating. Both these economies had made substantial in-roads in the National Capital. Also badly hit are the separatists’ and soft separatists’ i.e. mainstream politicians in Kashmir Valley whose anti-national activities thrived on dirty money. They have been making desperate calls to their masters in Pakistan. It explains the outrage and presence of a former Chief Minister on the doors of the President. Stone-pelting industry in the Valley is also in a state of shock and may not recover easily. In fact, recovery of all kinds of terror industry is subject to many uncertainties because of the unpredictability introduced by the government by this massive economic ‘surgical strike’.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar: New Sinister Factor In Afghan Imbroglio – Analysis

By Amitava Mukherjee*
NOVEMBER 20, 2016

The peace agreement between the Ashraf Ghani government of Afghanistan and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar may further obfuscate the already confused Afghan scenario. There are reasons behind the suspicion that Pakistan has gained a further strategic depth in Afghan affairs as Hekmatyar is known to be ambitious and virulently anti-Indian and he may try to position himself at the helm of Afghan affairs.

The peace deal, signed on September 22, 2016, has raised more questions than it has been able to answer. From 1997, Hekmatyar has been hiding in either Pakistan or Iran under direct supervision of the ISI and Iranian intelligence and as a result his organisation — the Hezb-e-Islami — has lost much of its clout in Afghan affairs, although it is the oldest of all the fundamentalist mujahideen organisations operating on Afghan soil.

As a result, the Hezb-e-Islami has undergone schism and a very powerful rival faction led by Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal has firmly entrenched itself in Kabul. Arghandiwal was a cabinet Minister in the Hamid Karzai-led former Afghan government and is an important component of the present National Unity Government (NUG).

So it is an open question why Ashraf Ghani agreed to enter into such an agreement. Obviously, he is under some amount of pressure. Otherwise, he would not have agreed to deal with a person who is under direct influence of Pakistan, a country with which Ashraf Ghani has sour relations at present. If the pressure is from the US then the most plausible reason is the fact that Washington is afraid of a probable comeback of Hamid Karzai, the former President of the country.

But from the standpoint of tribal equation, Ashraf Ghani has a reason to solicit Hekmatyar’s help. The Afghan President is a Kochi Ahmadzai, a sect which is not at all influential among the Pashtuns. In addition, Ghani has spent a great part of his life abroad and has lost much of touch with his tribal group. On the other hand, Hekmatyar comes from the Ghilzai Pashtuns and wields considerable influence among them.

Democratic in Disarray in Afghanistan: Disunity in the Unity Government

By Chayanika Saxena
21 Nov , 2016

Democracy was ‘restored’ in Afghanistan following decades of violence and conflicts. Where violent uprisings against the invading Soviet Union by the Mujahedeen wrecked the rural areas of Afghanistan, the Civil War that followed between the various Mujahedeen factions wreaked havoc on Kabul and other major provincial capitals in Afghanistan. The rule of Taliban took away any semblance of modern political functioning that remained, forcing Afghanistan into ‘middle ages’.

The Presidential election of 2014 that gave Afghanistan its present National Unity Government (NUG) was, mildly put, an unsatisfactory exercise. Not only did the conduct of the elections and the outcomes disappoint the domestic audience, it also left the international community dismayed. The elections, which had 27 candidates vying for the post of the President, was in the end, reduced to an ugly battle between independent candidate, Ashraf Ghani and National Coalition of Afghanistan’s leader, Abdullah Abdullah. Marred by widespread fraud and electoral rigging, the Presidential elections of 2014 were considered a watershed event since it was the first time Afghanistan was going to polls in the backdrop of receding international support.

The NUG was formed after rounds of negotiations between Ghani and Abdullah mediated by the Secretary of State of USA, John Kerry. It was on September 21, 2014, that a two-pronged government was put in place in Afghanistan, ostensibly with an ‘original deadline’ of two years. It was envisaged under the agreement that the NUG would create conditions leading to the convening of a Loya Jirga which after amending the Constitution of Afghanistan would have formalized and codified the structures of political governance in the country.

Pakistan Russia Relations – More Than A Military Exercise

Nov 19, 2016

Pakistan Russia Relations – More Than A Military Exercise

In the first signs of realignment of stategic relationsin South Asia and a rebalancing of sorts that is ongoing, Pakistan and Russia commenced the first ever joint exercise. Confusion persisted regarding the venue of the first Russia-Pakistan military training. The Russian Embassy in New Delhi stated that the drill is not being held in a “sensitive or problematic” area such as Gilgit-Baltistan. Some sources reported that the exercise was reportedly being held at the Pakistan Army’s High Altitude School at Rattu in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Some other sources claimed that this was being held at the Special Forces training centre at Cherat in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. “The exercise is going ahead at Rattu. The Russian unit that has come is one that specializes in mountain warfare in terrain such as that found in Rattu,” a Pakistani source was reported by the Dawn.

Importantly despite the terrorist attack attributed to Pakistan by India in Uri army base on 18 September, Russia chose to continue with the exercise just days before the Annual India Russia Summit in Goa on the sidelines of BRICS. This indicates that there is more to the relationship than only the first joint exercise.

Russia-Pakistan relations had been frayed during the Soviet era when Pakistan support to the Afghan Mujahideen with the backup of the American intelligence agency the CIA had invited the ire of Moscow. On the other hand, strong India-Russia strategic partnership had prevented closer engagement. As India has widened strategic relationship and is now closer to the United States whereas American relations with Pakistan have deteriorated there is leveraging by all sides with Pakistan and Russia no longer restrained by the legacy of the past. In November 2014, Pakistan and Russia signed a bilateral defence cooperation agreement to strengthen military-to-military relations. The agreement was followed by another ‘technical cooperation agreement’. In 2015, Russia concluded a deal for the sale of four Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan, and in October 2016 the two are holding military exercises thus completing the full cycle of defence engagement. Thus the wheel has turned full circle.

Pakistan Army Chief – Change of Guard No Relief for India

Nov 19, 2016 

Pakistan Army Chief – Change of Guard No Relief for India

As General Raheel Sharif is due to demit office on 29 November he is doing the rounds of the formations and the usual spree of inaugurations which is an inevitable part of the obligations of service lie in any country. Raheel Sharif is also burying the ghost of the Indian surgical strikes and large number of fatalities suffered by the Pakistan Army in cross border firing in October – November. Declaration of death of 11 Indian soldiers seems to be a tit for tat for the seven that were acknowledged by the Pakistan Army recently. The surgical strikes of course continue to be denied officially. Never the less the stage is set for General Raheel to shed his uniform, an extension does not seem likely at least in the near future.

The decision of selection of the next army chief has been a major dilemma for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the past and remains so at present as well. Nawaz has the distinction of having selected five of the last nine chiefs as a three time Prime Minister of the country. Sharif has also been unlucky having personally selected Pervez Musharraf who went on to depose him in a coup in 1999.

Musharraf also ordered a highly risky gamble of intrusion in Jammu and Kashmir in Kargil the same year which had brought much egg on the face of Sharif internationally. Nawaz Sharif’s most recent choice namesake though no relation General Raheel Sharif has also not been favourably disposed towards the Prime Minister. He has pursued his own course, has been more visible than Nawaz and after the crucial Panama Papers expose made a statement calling for all those involved in corruption to face public scrutiny.

Relations between the Prime Minister’s Office and the GHQ have thus not been very favourable. Thus Nawaz Sharif remains extremely wary and will depend on a number of factors – smooth civil military relations, commitment to professionalism, someone unlikely to stage a coup and management of regional relations particularly with India. Four generals who are in the short list, though it is not clear whether they figure in the names forwarded by the Pakistan Army GHQ to the Prime Minister are as follows:-

China's 'One Belt One Road' Is a Big Deal. So What Is the Role for Beijing's Military?

November 20, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump is set to make his mark on U.S. foreign policy. As a sign of the great anxiety that has taken hold across the Asia-Pacific, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has scurried across the Pacific to be the very first foreign leader to meet the president-elect.

On the other “flank,” all signs point to genuine and even brave conviction in Trump’s determination to turn relations between Washington and Moscow onto a more constructive path. Such a novel approach, which is much needed, will in and of itself have important reverberations across the Asia-Pacific. But what of Trump’s policy toward China? Will it be similarly enlightened and restrained as the new president seeks to focus American energies on energizing economic growth and restraining North Korea’s nuclear ambitions? Or will Trump be seduced by Washington’s multitudes of Asia hardliners who are intent on confronting Beijing at every turn and seem quite prepared to precipitate a military conflict over rocks and reefs?

An argument frequently made by the Beltway’s many hawks on China concerns Beijing’s long-term intentions. For those most skeptical of Beijing’s intentions, the South China Sea is just an appetizer presaging the feast. Chinese leaders, so the argument goes, trample rights at home and are determined to do so in other countries too that might have the misfortune to fall prey to the dragon’s predations. In this conception, which melds ideas from both neoconservatives on the right and neoliberals on the left, China’s “One Belt, One Road” Initiative is a major threat to world order and Western-style governance in the twenty-first century. This edition of Dragon Eye will probe some recent Chinese military writings about the “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR) to help evaluate the relationship between this grand vision and China’s future global military posture.

How Is Turkish Trade With China Going? – OpEd

NOVEMBER 21, 2016

Mr. Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, came to Turkey early last the week. According to the protocol, he first met with Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister, then the Prime Minister and then he visited Presidential Palace for the congregation. Then in order to clarify the main objective of his official visit, then the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, he had a long meeting with the Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources on November 14, 2016 in Ankara.

Commenting on the Chinese news agency website (turkish.cri.cn), Chinese FM Wang Yi positively assessed the development of China-Turkey relations, saying that bilateral cooperation in economy and trade, security and combating terrorism are two important areas of bilateral relations. (We understand that there are serious concerns of the Chinese side on line-by-line interpretation, on security and terrorism).

Wang Yi furthermore pointed out that China is ready to deepen cooperation in security and terrorism struggle in order to advance cooperation in economic and trade areas in line with the consensus reached between the presidents of the two countries. In the eradication of the root of terrorist forces such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (Chinese people say not to support them in diplomatic language) Ankara wants to continue its support to China. (China’s concerns have been voiced again).

Turkish Energy Minister said that Turkey-China relations had entered a new turn. Expressing great importance in cooperating with China, Turkish Minister stressed that Turkey will not allow any action that harms the security and stability of China and Turkey will continue to create better conditions for the development of cooperative relations in various fields. (Turkey is giving them the necessary guarantees).

'Hot' visit in Ulaanbaatar: Why China is again upset?

By Claude Arpi
21 Nov , 2016

Simply because the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan religious leader, has been invited for a four-day visit to Mongolia.

According to China Radio International (CRI), Beijing has strongly urged Mongolia “to stick to its commitment to Tibet-related issues for maintaining the sound development of bilateral ties.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang too sees red: “the Dalai Lama is a political refugee who has long been engaged in activities to split China and alienate Tibet from China in the name of religion.”

Geng added:

China resolutely opposes the Dalai Lama visiting any country to carry out anti-China separatist activities in any name or in any capacity. We also stand firmly against all forms of contacts between officials from any country and the Dalai Lama. We strongly demand that Mongolia, for the purpose of maintaining the general picture of a sound and steady development of bilateral ties, earnestly stick to its commitment on Tibet-related issues, do not allow the visit by the Dalai Lama and do not provide any form of support and convenience to the group of the Dalai Lama.

It usually works: it is enough to persuade leaders of Buddhist countries to desist inviting Tibet’s popular religious leader.

No visit takes place.

Not this time.

The Silk Road gamble

November 17, 2016

Will China's grand plan to transform the region and the world be a diplomatic gamechanger or end up as the world's most expensive boondoggle?

On November 13, a cargo ship carrying 60 containers left the dusty port of Gwadar in Balochistan, on the Arabian Sea, for the Gulf of Aden. This was no ordinary trade. Flagging off the vessel was Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. A Chinese and Pakistani singing a duet bade the ship farewell, while an over-the-top propaganda video hailed the departure as a new dawn for the world. 

The 60 containers had left Kashgar in China's western Xinjiang region on October 29, loaded on 125 trucks before making the perilous journey on the Karakoram Highway. The convoy crossed the Khunjerab Pass into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, before travelling to Quetta. This marked the first-ever shipment through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key route of China's new Silk Road plan. 

The first CPEC shipment followed another breakthrough in August, when a freight train with 41 containers carrying a range of 'Made in China' goods, from machinery, auto parts and construction material to toys and clothes, pulled out of a newly-built railway platform at the Xi'an logistics park in central China. Three days a week, the Chang'an train-meaning 'permanent peace', named after the imperial capital-travels 9,048 km over 14 days, traversing China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, to Warsaw and Hamburg. 


These new trading routes are key pillars of President Xi Jinping's grand vision to revive the Silk Road. From Xi'an, a Silk Road Economic Belt will connect Central Asia and Europe. Other branches run to Pakistan (CPEC), Myanmar and India (the Bangladesh China India Myanmar corridor) and Southeast Asia (the Kunming-Thailand-Singapore rail link). Along with a Maritime Silk Road from the eastern coastal Fujian province to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR) is the single defining foreign policy initiative of the Xi government. 

Clapper: US collects and analyzes more intelligence on jihadi groups now than ever

Thomas Joscelyn
November 19, 2016

Clapper: US collects and analyzes more intelligence on jihadi groups now than ever

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper announced his retirement during a hearing held by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) earlier today. In his written testimony, Clapper offered this assessment (emphasis added):

Violent extremism, which has been on an upward trajectory since the late 1970s, has generated more IC collection and analysis against groups, members, and safe havens than at any other point in history. These include: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; al-Qa’ida with its nodes in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen; al-Shabaab, al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in East Africa; and Iran, the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, which continues to exert its influence in regional crises in the Middle East through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force, its terrorist partner Lebanese Hizbollah, and proxy groups.

It is clear from his description that what Clapper describes as “violent extremism” is what we call jihadism. The Islamic State and al Qaeda are on the Sunni side of the jihadi coin, while the Shiite side is led by the Iranian regime.

What specifically stands out is Clapper’s testimony regarding al Qaeda’s “nodes.” Al Qaeda maintains a cohesive international network more than fifteen years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Why Are State Sponsors of Terrorism Receiving U.S. Taxpayer Dollars?

November 19, 2016

How a President Trump will approach relations with Russia — and especially what that means for U.S. policy in the Syrian civil war — has become one of the most discussed issues during a tumultuous transition. But we should be paying at least as much attention to what America’s putative partners — including those groups currently receiving U.S. taxpayer funding — are doing to prolong a brutal conflict that has claimed nearly 500 thousand lives, and driven more than ten million from their homes.

During the campaign, Trump even tangled with his running mate Mike Pence over Syria. When Pence suggested during the vice presidential debate that the United States institute a no-fly zone over Syria, Trump promptly swatted the idea away. “He and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree.” Late last week, Trump admitted that he “had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria,” and suggested that he would withdraw support for anti-Assad rebels, and focus on fighting ISIS.

Members of the GOP foreign policy establishment, however, are doubling down on the status quo.

On Tuesday, in one of the first post-election warning shots fired across Team Trump’s bow, Senator John McCain warned the president-elect not to trust “a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies and attempted to undermine America’s elections.”

“At the very least, the price of another ‘reset’ would be complicity in Putin and Assad’s butchery of the Syrian people.

UN And Islamic Conference To Counter Global Terrorism – Analysis

By J Nastranis
NOVEMBER 21, 2016

The UN Security Council members have affirmed the importance of enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in conflict prevention and counter-extremism, as well as the need for a comprehensive global counter-terrorism strategy supported by all regional partners.

In that regard, most speakers during an open debate of the UN Security Council on November 17 stressed “the importance of fighting terrorism, not only through security efforts, but also through development initiatives, conflict-resolution measures and the dissemination of voices challenging extremist ideology, including prominent religious voices”.

The United Nations has been working closely with the OIC for more than 20 years in promoting a culture of peace, tolerance and understanding though, according to the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenca, this cooperation “has not been without challenges”.

Explaining the challenges, Jenca told the Security Council: “Resources, capabilities and mandates vary, and our memberships, although overlapping, are different. The strategies of the United Nations and the OIC, at times, may also be different.”

Speakers in the 15-member Security Council nevertheless called for “a stronger strategic partnership” between the UN and the OIC “on peace and security, particularly in relation to countering extremist ideology”.

Turkey: Where Are Imported Coal Prices Going? – Analysis

NOVEMBER 21, 2016

Investors in Turkey country are investing in coal-burning thermal power plants, which are very cheap in upfront cost. The reason for their investment depends on the fact that imported coal is very cheap in investment reports. Is this correct?

It is very difficult to answer this question immediately as “True” or immediately “False”. Why is this hard to answer? Because this is a gamble, as imported coal prices may increase over time depending on the market supply-demand situation. The price in the spot market of imported coal with the upper heat value of 6600 kcal/ kg HHV or 12,000 BTU / lb HHV can be as high as 160 US $ per metricTon as in previous years.

Currently, Australian coal (Australian thermal coal, 12000- btu / lb HHV, less than 1 sulfur%, 14% ash, FOB Newcastle / Port Kembla, US Dollars per metric ton) per ton is at 99 US $, South Africa 84 US $ (South African coal export price, US Dollars per metric ton), the cheapest is Columbia 6000 kcal / kg coal FOB price of imported US $ 78 per metric ton. Ref: http://www.indexmundi.com/. So add 6-8% for transport to your seaport. The cost of Kw-hour electricity generation becomes 8-9 US cents whereas the prevailing domestic market electricity price is around 5-6 US cents per kW-hour.

The cost of imported coal electricity production is above the market unit prices. So what happens then? The producer declares “commercial victimization”. In a sense, they declare “force majeure”, and stop electricity generation. The imported coal tax was tied to a certain formula with a new decision. If the prices on the ICE Rotterdam stock exchange are below $70, the difference between $70 and prevailing price in dollars will be taxed. It is currently around US $80. So at the moment there is no tax on imported coal for power plants.

TrumpPolitik: The Art of the Deal Comes to American Foreign Policy

November 20, 2016
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Trump the businessman and dealmaker is the epitome of pragmatism—a very American tradition.

When paradigms begin to shift and the prevailing Zeitgeist starts to implode, using common terms to describe the changes taking place becomes an exercise in futility. The world before and after Darwin or Einstein looks very different.

It’s too early to figure out whether President Donald Trump would change the world as we know it, as some hope and others fear. In historical perspective, Franklin Roosevelt did just that by creating the modern welfare state. Ronald Reagan made a difference; but he then left the welfare state in place.

It’s more likely than not that the American political system, with its checks and balances and the country’s dynamic civil society, would make it close to impossible for the new president to launch a political revolution, assuming that is what he wants to do. And he probably doesn’t. If anything, Trump the businessman and dealmaker is the epitome of pragmatism — a very American tradition.

More likely, Prime Minister Mike Pence will ensure that members of the Republican establishment, including those #NeverTrump types gradually find a place in Trump’s Washington. And that includes several of the Republican presidential candidate’s neoconservative critics, who would explain, “When the President asks you to serve your country, you do.” (A simpler explanation: “I have to pay my bills.”)

Even when it comes to foreign policy, where our Imperial Presidents can make a difference, some doubt whether the next president would really turn the nation in a more (pick your label) nationalist, unilateralist, protectionist, isolationist direction in a way that would lead to the collapse of the liberal international order.

Trump and the Middle East: Expect Continuity, Not Change

November 20, 2016

For those concerned with a possible recalibration of U.S. Middle East policy after President-elect Donald J. Trump is sworn into office, they need not worry. Change is not in the air, it is continuity.

Although it is true that much of Trump’s thinking about international affairs remains unknown, it is highly unlikely that Trump’s administration will differ much from that of Obama’s.

Take, for example, the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Trump has had fairly little to say about Israel during his campaign. However, he did say that he would move America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite the fact that East Jerusalem is claimed by the Palestinians and is considered occupied by the majority of the international community. But we’ve heard presidents on the campaign trail make the same pledge. George W. Bush said he would do so, but never got around to doing it. There is no reason to believe that Trump will be any different.

Referring to the stalled peace process, Trump remarked, “That's probably the toughest deal in the world right now to make and it's possible it's not makeable.” Bearing this in mind, preliminary Israeli assessments expect Trump to be hands off. However, for the most part so was Obama. Compared to the efforts of his predecessors Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Obama devoted little attention to resolving the decades old conflict. Instead he let Secretary of State Kerry and Vice President Biden do most of the heavy lifting.

Although Obama called for Israeli settlements to “stop,” his administration rarely took a stand in international fora. The same will be the case for Trump. Meanwhile, Obama's package of $38 billion of military aid to Israel will be implemented by Trump, and Israel will receive the long-delayed F-35 joint strike fighter. Like the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration will not supply Israel with bunker busting bombs with the capability to strike Iranian nuclear sites. In other words, little will change.

Will Trump Stop America's Reset with Cuba?

November 20, 2016

In 2014–16, U.S.-Cuban relations witnessed a considerable thaw. Both countries moved to normalize relations long frozen by Cold War considerations, a development that culminated in President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba in 2015, the first time a president visited the island since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. And U.S. companies, long excluded from one of the Caribbean’s largest markets of eight million people, have rushed in—multiple commercial airlines are flying planes to Cuba, U.S. telecom companies have signed roaming agreements with the island state, Marriott has commenced a joint venture to manage a number of Cuban hotels, the Caribbean island has become Airbnb’s fastest-growing market and a cruise line has started to sail to Cuban ports. In addition, other U.S. companies are seeking to develop business relations in Cuba. But all of this could change when the Trump administration comes to office in January 2017.

It is early in deciding what is next in U.S.-Cuban relations, considering that President-elect Trump has yet to name key officials for his administration. However, he did state that “concessions” the Obama administration made to the Caribbean country can be easily reversed (as many of them were done by executive order) and that he will unwind them unless U.S. demands are met. Along these lines, he stated, “Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.”

Cuba is the only full-fledged dictatorship left in Latin America. Although Venezuela and Nicaragua are dominated by left-wing caudillos, there is still some façade of democratic form; Cuba is controlled by the Castro family and the Cuban Communist Party. Political freedoms are limited, competitive national elections are not held and there are political prisoners. Moreover, the regime monopolizes all forces of coercion—the military has a history of being loyal to Raúl Castro, who has led it for decades and is now the Caribbean country’s líder máximo.

Staffing Is Key to Trump's Foreign-Policy Legacy

November 20, 2016

One of the fruits of Donald Trump’s unexpected victory is the opportunity to fill thousands of political positions. But he is preparing to become the national government’s chief executive without a deep personnel bench behind him. There is no Team Trump like Team Clinton.

However, personnel are policy. In fact, that became the mantra of the incoming Reagan administration, of which I was a part back in 1980. Unfortunately, Team Reagan often failed to act accordingly—for instance, choosing as secretary of education someone who opposed Ronald Reagan’s proposal to dismantle that bureaucracy. President-elect Donald Trump should avoid making a similar mistake.

Politico has reported that “as Trump and his aides vet nominees for his cabinet and lay out a first 100-day agenda, they are leaning heavily on the sort of DC insiders that the billionaire railed against on the campaign trail.” This could prove especially disastrous when it comes to foreign policy.

The president-elect obviously has strong, though ill-formed, opinions on foreign policy. He collected a wide variety of advisers with little unity of views. Implementing his vision will require the right personnel. While few people may hold his exact mix of views, he needs staffers who reject the promiscuous intervention that characterized both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Unfortunately, news reports suggest that the transition team is considering as top appointees people who hold views far different than those of Donald Trump in important areas. For instance, suggested for secretary of state are John Bolton, Kelly Ayotte, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani. All are national figures, but none shares the doubts and qualifications regularly expressed by the president-elect about today’s highly interventionist, even militaristic foreign policy.

The Legal Turn In Interpreting Iran Nuclear Accord – OpEd

NOVEMBER 20, 2016

A legal turn in interpreting the Iran nuclear accord is necessary as a timely antidote to the avalanche of negative re-interpretations of this agreement in the US in the aftermath of November elections that yielded victory for Donald Trump, who is on record repeatedly vilifying the nuclear agreement and pledging to tear it up if elected as the next US president. As expected, a growing chorus of right-wing voices in American politics and media have called on Trump to deliver on his campaign rhetoric and dismantle the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

But, these calls often transpire in a legal vacuum and without any proper understanding of the JCPOA as a multilateral, i.e., international, agreement that has become legally binding as a result of its endorsement by the UN Security Council (Resolution 2231). As this author has argued in a previous article, “The Iran Nuclear Accord is Legally Binding,” there is a widespread misperception of the JCPOA in both policy and academic circles as “legally non-binding” political agreement, which must be debunked and deconstructed with the help of sound leqal, theoretical and methodological insights. A major vulnerability of such interpretations of the JCPOA is that they often evaluate the agreement from the prism of its authors, some of whom like the US Secretary of State John Kerry have gone on record portraying the accord as “legally non-binding.” Others, such as international law expert Daniel Joyner, have reached the same conclusion, 

NATO Nouvelle: Everything Old Is New Again – Analysis

By G. Alexander Crowther* 
NOVEMBER 21, 2016

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is heralded as the world’s most successful military alliance. However, it finds itself under pressure from within and without. Some people in NATO countries do not understand the importance of its goal: to safeguard its members’ freedom and security by political and military means. This goal is executed through three mission sets: collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security.1 Other people outside NATO countries understand those missions well—and seek to destroy the Alliance.

Recent comments that NATO Allies are free-riders and calls for the United States to leave the Alliance are rooted in ignorance and do not take into account the reforms that NATO has sought, nor the importance of the Alliance in the 21st century. The end of the Cold War found 15 Allies in a defensive crouch in Western Europe. Since that time, NATO expanded its mission set to include crisis management, and its area of operations to include Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and Central Asia. NATO has become the center of the global coalition of the willing. The Alliance now has 28 members and another 41 partner nations through four different partnership programs. It has also reorganized several times, changing structure to account for changing mission sets. NATO today is an alliance that operates globally but is returning to its original mission of collective defense. This article describes how the Alliance has changed since the end of the Cold War and where it is today. NATO has passed through the crisis management era and has returned to another era of collective defense.
After the Cold War

The 1990s. At the end of the Cold War, some thought that NATO should be relegated to the dustbin of history along with the conflict that had birthed it. The Alliance survived, however, and managed to adapt to the new era, establishing the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program in 1994 to engage its former opponents of the Warsaw Pact. Additionally, NATO morphed the North Atlantic Cooperation Council to the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997. It was designed to “strengthen and extend peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area, on the basis of the shared values and principles which underlie their cooperation.”2 NATO also contemplated expansion in the 1990s, producing a study on the subject in 1995.3 As its final pre-9/11 mission set, NATO conducted three different operations to Macedonia during 2001–2003 to help mitigate rising ethnic tensions.

America Faces A Painful Political Journey Ahead – Analysis

By Harold A. Gould*
NOVEMBER 21, 2016

The unexpected, indeed the inconceivable, has happened: Donald Trump, the womanizing side-show barker with a flair for mass-media showmanship will be the 45th President of the United States commencing in January 2017. One might say that the traditional political system which began in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence has finally coalesced with contemporary American mass-media culture. And Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency, surrounded by a growing coterie of pedestrian sycophants and opportunists, is the ineluctable incarnation.

How such an event could have occurred at this point in time in the world’s most powerful democracy poses challenges which political analysts both at home and abroad are now compelled to address. There is much to be done, as the phrase goes, and there are many variables that must be factored.

As a prelude, I think it is important to recall what the noted Princeton economist Paul Krugman says about the 2000 election which George Bush won (some would say stole ) against Vice-President Albert Gore.

“Throughout the campaign,” Krugman declares. “most media coverage gave the impression that Mr. Bush was a bluff, straightforward guy, while portraying Al Gore — whose policy proposals added up, and whose critiques of the Bush plan were completely accurate — as slippery and dishonest. Gore’s mendacity was supposedly demonstrated by trivial anecdotes, none significant, some of them simply false… And right now I and many others have the sick, sinking feeling that it’s happening again.”

Professor Krugman was of course devastatingly accurate in his assessment of where the current election was headed. It was ‘deja vu all over again’, as the saying goes. If you insert the names Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump into the narrative in place of Gore and Bush the pattern and the outcome are virtually identical.