10 December 2017

The Indian drone that crashed in China could be a goldmine for Chinese weapons engineers


The news we are waiting for is whether the UAV crashed on its own or more worryingly, was brought down by the Chinese.

The news of the loss of an Indian Army unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) raises many questions.

The Indian Army official statement has said that it was on a training mission and strayed across the LAC in the Sikkim area. But what is awaited is the report about whether it crashed on its own or was brought down by the Chinese. The next issue is whether it was a Searcher Mk II or a Heron – both imported from Israel.

The Civil Half of the Afghan War Dealing with the Political, Governance, Economics, Corruption, and Drug Threats

By Anthony Cordesman

Every war has both a military and a civil dimension. This is especially true of counterinsurgency campaigns like Afghanistan, where the civil dimension is always a critical half of the battle. The U.S. now seems to be making real progress in reshaping its approach to fighting the military half of the war in Afghanistan, but it is far from clear that it is playing an effective role in helping Afghanistan deal with the critical problems it faces in dealing with the civil side of the war—the lack of security in civil life, chronic failures in governance, and massive economic challenges.

Kabul's Plan to Realize Afghanistan’s Geographic Dividend

By Abid Amiri

Back in 1776, Adam Smith observed that “all the inland parts” of Africa and Asia were the world’s least developed areas. Even today, well over two centuries later, most of these landlocked countries are still trapped in poverty. Countries without direct coastal access to the sea and to maritime trade face many challenges from the outset that limit their potential gains from trade in this globalized world compared to their coastal neighboring countries. The Human Development Index is a stark indication of how poorly landlocked countries are performing: low standards of living, high child mortality, high levels of poverty, low health care quality, and crippled education systems. In the Human Development Report of 2016, 10 out of the 32 countries with the lowest HDI scores are landlocked.

China warns of imminent attacks by "terrorists" in Pakistan

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Friday warned its nationals in Pakistan of plans for a series of imminent “terrorist attacks” on Chinese targets there, an unusual alert as it pours funds into infrastructure projects into a country plagued by militancy.

Thousands of Chinese workers have gone to Pakistan following Beijing’s pledge to spend $57 billion there on projects in President Xi Jinping’s signature “Belt and Road” development plan, which aims to link China with the Middle East and Europe.

Protecting employees of Chinese companies, as well as individual entrepreneurs who have followed the investment wave along what is known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, has been a concern for Chinese officials.

Chinese Hacker Groups To Shift Focus To India In 2018: FireEye

Chinese advanced persistent threat (APT) groups that have allegedly been creating cyber havoc internationally will shift their focus in 2018 to countries like India and Hong Kong and groups seen as a threat to Beijing’s influence over global markets, enterprise cybersecurity company FireEye said on Thursday. Hacker groups backed by nation-states are termed as APTs.

The changing geopolitical situation in the Asia-Pacific region will give way to such threats. “For Indian enterprises, one of the most important security questions is, do you know who is targeting you and how they operate? 

Beijing’s Heavy-Handed Solution to Urbanization

By John Pabon

Citing a deadly November 18 fire in one of Beijing’s many shantytowns, city officials are implementing a 40-day cleanup campaign to rid the city of unsafe structures. Most of these serve as homes to the 8.2 million permanent migrant workers living in the capital. The campaign aims to clear 40 million square meters of illegal housing in what will be the biggest facelift since the 2008 Olympics. The force and timing of the campaign, though, is leaving thousands of migrants without homes at the onset of a frigid winter. Universal backlash on social media, from intellectual groups, and international rights organizations came quickly.

The Implications of Iran´s Expanding Shi`a Foreign Fighter Network

By Colin Clarke and Phillip Smyth

According to Colin Clarke and Phillip Smyth, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is transforming Shi’a foreign fighters from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan into transnational proxy forces capable of fighting asymmetric and conventional wars. While they suggest that these forces have already participated in conflicts throughout the region, they warn that the continued formalization and expansion of these networks could 1) further Iran’s strategy for regional hegemony; 2) exacerbate geopolitical and sectarian tensions in the Middle East; and 3) threaten US interests in the region and beyond.

Shi`a Iran has been steadily recruiting, training, and equipping Shi`a foreign fighters from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and their capabilities are growing. Shi`a foreign fighters have participated in conflicts throughout the region, including in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. There is evidence the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is providing the training to transform these fighters into a professional transnational militia proxy force modeled after Lebanese Hezbollah. The formalization and expansion of these networks risks exacerbating geopolitical and sectarian tensions throughout the region.

OPEC and Strategic Questions in the Oil Market

By Severin Fischer

In late November, OPEC and a Russia-led group of big oil producers agreed to maintain limits on oil supplies. So, what factors shaped this decision? The massive expansion of shale oil in the US, and its impact on petroleum markets, was surly one. However, Severin Fischer contends that there are actually many factors increasing the pressure on OPEC and other oil producers. He also suggests that while it’s always difficult to make serious predictions about the oil market’s future, two key development trends are emerging.

The massive expansion of shale oil extraction in the US marked the beginning of a global glut in the petroleum markets. This is just one of many factors raising the pressure on OPEC and other producers. Two possible development trends are emerging.

What's Ahead for Yemen Now That Saleh's Gone?

In Stratfor's Fourth-Quarter Forecast, we said that the rebel alliances would continue to come apart, that the southern secessionists would assert more autonomy, and that Saudi Arabia would become ever more convinced that Iran is using the Houthis as a proxy. The sudden death of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh comes amid all these dynamics playing out.

An era in Yemeni history ended Dec. 4 with the assassination of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled Yemen officially and unofficially for 39 years. It was a task he likened to "dancing on the heads of snakes" — an apt description considering that members of the Houthi rebel group, which had a temporary alliance with Saleh until recently, are accused of killing him as he tried to escape the city of Sanaa. Personal feelings for the leader aside, it is hard to imagine a Yemen without Saleh. The man drove politics and conflict in the country for close to four decades, and his death will forever alter the course of Yemen's civil war.

The Origins of America's Jihadists

by Brian Michael Jenkins
PDF file 1 MB 

The U.S. homeland faces a multilayered threat from terrorist organizations. Homegrown jihadists account for most of the terrorist activity in the United States since 9/11. Efforts by jihadist terrorist organizations to inspire terrorist attacks in the United States have thus far yielded meager results. No American jihadist group has emerged to sustain a terrorist campaign, and there is no evidence of an active jihadist underground to support a continuing terrorist holy war. The United States has invested significant resources in preventing terrorist attacks, and authorities have been able to uncover and thwart most of the terrorist plots. This Perspective identifies 86 plots to carry out terrorist attacks and 22 actual attacks since 9/11 involving 178 planners and perpetrators. Eighty-seven percent of those planners and perpetrators had long residencies in the United States. Only four of them had come to the United States illegally, all as minors. Nationality is a poor predictor of later terrorist activity, and vetting people coming to the United States, no matter how rigorous, cannot identify those who radicalize here. Determining whether a young teenager might, more than 12 years later, turn out to be a jihadist terrorist would require the bureaucratic equivalent of divine foresight.

Before Deciding Who Rules Jerusalem, Decide What Jerusalem Is

Diana B. Greenwald

Recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel throws the fate of city's residents into uncertainty.

Even though I do not practice religion, upon stepping foot in Jerusalem for the first time, I knew it was an exceptional place. The weaving streets and alleys of the Old City lead one through colorful shops owned by Armenian, Jewish, and Palestinian Christian and Muslim residents. The walled city contains the magnificent and sparkling Dome of the Rock, the deeply moving Western Wall and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the elegant al-Aqsa mosque. Quite simply, there is no place like Jerusalem on earth.

Are Turkey and Europe seeking a new kind of relationship?

Turkey’s EU membership bid has reached an impasse, but cooperation between Ankara and Brussels continues in key areas of mutual interest.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hold a news conference at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, July 25, 2017. 

Turkey-EU ties are currently marked by mutual resentments and appear to be going nowhere. In a sign of the times, Brussels is withholding 175 million euros ($206 million) in pre-accession funds for Turkey, which on paper remains a candidate for EU membership.

Ankara, however, continues to defiantly say it doesn’t need EU money or membership. It is, nevertheless, trying to develop ties with individual EU members, which seems to represent a search for another kind of relationship with Europe.

The Hwasong-15: The Anatomy of North Korea's New ICBM

By Ankit Panda

On November 29, at 2:47 a.m. local time, North Korea carried out the first-ever launch of what is to date its largest and most powerful ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15. The launch ended a more than two-month pause in North Korean ballistic missile testing and refocused attention on the country’s rapid advances in ballistic missile technology in 2017.

Designated the KN22 by the U.S. intelligence community, the Hwasong-15 is North Korea’s second-ever liquid-fueled intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) design to see flight testing. Prior to its November 29 launch, the missile had never been seen publicly.

How to win the Long War

Summary: Yesterday’s post explained why our Long War has produced so few gains at such a high cost in money and blood. It did not explain why our military — led by the best-educated officers in history — repeats the tactics that have failed in so many similar wars? This leads to a second question: after that problem is fixed, how do we win the Long War? Winning the Long War requires answers to both questions.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

The most plausible reason for our failure to learn, as so many have explained since 9/11, is that the leaders of our national security apparatus run it for the money. They run wars to keep the funds flowing and build the power of the Deep State. Victory is nice but optional. “War is the health of the state.“ That is as true today as when Randolph Bourne wrote those words in 1918.

Pentagon Building Wish List for New Technology Spending

SIMI VALLEY, CALIF. — The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer is drafting a list of desired technologies as part of a new effort to coordinate the Defense Department’s research and development, including at U.S. laboratories and government-funded research centers.

“We think that we have to make choices and focus in a limited number of areas and put our funding on it,” Ellen Lord, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters at the Reagan National Defense Forum, an annual gathering of defense industry and government leaders here.

The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower

Spurred by the digital revolution and pressured by Western moral standards about protecting innocent life, advances in battlefield technology have fundamentally changed the way we fight wars. Armies can now use pinpointed weapons to minimize civilian casualties. They can fire missiles at a single apartment in a crowded building, can identify the car of a terror cell leader and monitor it until it passes into an isolated area and be destroyed with a drone, and can use cyber tools to remotely disable weapons systems without ever dropping a bomb.

Okay, Say Someone Hacks into the USPower Grid. Then What?


A joint research project between the Department of Energy and a geographic analytics company is mapping just how far the repercussions could spread.

“On a scale of 1 to 10,” the threat of a cyber attack on U.S.critical infrastructure is “a 7 or an 8,” the Department of Homeland Security warned lawmakers last week. And indeed, someone has been probing the defenses of utilities, key manufacturers, and others. So what happens if hackers launch a network attack that, say, causes a rolling blackout in the Midwest?

How far will it spread, and what about the second-tier effects? What happens to regional chemical manufacturers or nuclear power plants? How long until municipal utilities cannot provide potable water? What would all this do to hospitals, local businesses, and communities?

Outing Spooks: “Doxing” in the Cyber-Hack Era


Revealing the identities of intelligence officials – a practice known as doxing – could become more common among nation-states, directed in particular at the clandestine cyber-spies who operate overseas. Doing so undermines an unspoken norm of confidentiality among even adversarial intelligence services – where they allow each other to operate intelligence networks in their country, within limits. It also opens individuals and their families up to violent acts by non-state actors such as terrorists and criminal groups as well as retribution by on-looking governments. 

Spies have long relied on a level of anonymity or cover to operate effectively and safely in foreign lands under the watchful eyes of host-nation counterintelligence units and paranoid terrorist and criminal organizations. Should their identities become known, their country could face political blowback and they themselves could be confronted with prison or even violence. 


Ron Deibert

THROUGHOUT 2016 AND 2017, individuals in Canada, United States, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, and numerous other countries began to receive suspicious emails. It wasn’t just common spam. These people were chosen.

The emails were specifically designed to entice each individual to click a malicious link. Had the targets done so, their internet connections would have been hijacked and surreptitiously directed to servers laden with malware designed by a surveillance company in Israel. The spies who contracted the Israeli company’s services would have been able to monitor everything those targets did on their devices, including remotely activating the camera and microphone.

Americans Voice Support For Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is the concept that all internet traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers (ISPs), regardless of the content that is delivered or who it was created by.

The new proposal, named the Restoring Internet Freedom order, would no longer classify ISPs as public utilities but rather as information services, meaning that telecommunication companies such as Comcast or Verizon would be legally allowed to create so-called fast lanes for content by providers that either pay for preferential treatment or that the ISP itself has a financial stake in, such as Comcast has in NBC Universal.

While the FCC argues that scrapping net neutrality rules would boost investments and innovation by limiting government regulation, advocates of net neutrality argue that the concept creates a level playing field for content providers and fear that getting rid of net neutrality would stifle competition and further increase concentration in the online media landscape.