21 August 2018

The Consequences of Shifting US-Pakistan Military Ties

By Umair Jamal

The Trump administration, in its latest attempt to put pressure on Pakistan, has started to close various training programs for Pakistani military officials. Trump’s decision to shut down military training programs that have kept the two countries’ security institutions engaged means that Washington’s influence will further reduce over the country, particularly when it comes to the question of engaging with the national security establishment in Pakistan. Over the last two decades, one area of cooperation that remained off-limits to any bilateral rows was Washington’s intent to offer coveted training programs for Pakistani military officers, which have proven meaningful in the past when it comes to military-to-military relations between the two countries. While it’s unclear whether the latest decision was the result of a consensus among various security and diplomatic state institutions in the United States, the change is not going to become a factor that will shift Pakistan’s regional security policy, which appears to be the primary aim. On the other hand, however, it will certainly become a factor that will further drive away Pakistan’s national security apparatus when it comes to developing strategic ties with other states that are willing to fill the void being left by the United States.

Pakistan trying to cope with a new wave of bloody terrorist attacks by ISIS extremists

DHABEJI, Pakistan (AP) — Hafeez Nawaz was 20 years old when he left his religious school in southern Karachi to join the Islamic State group in Afghanistan. Three years later he was back in Pakistan to carry out a deadly mission: with explosives strapped to his body, he blew himself up in the middle of an election rally last month, killing 149 people and wounding 300 others. The attack in southwestern Baluchistan province near the Afghan border just days before Pakistan’s July 25 parliamentary elections has cast an unwelcome spotlight on Nawaz’s tiny village of Dhabeji, where the presence of an IS cell in their midst has brought the full weight of Pakistan’s security apparatus down on its residents.

Managing Pakistan’s Bomb: Learning on the job

By Pervez Hoodbhoy, Zia Mian

On Saturday, Imran Khan will be sworn in as the next prime minister of Pakistan. His has been a sudden and rapid rise to power; he first came into politics in the late 1990s with no experience and has never held any government office. In his first public address to the nation after winning the July election, with Pakistan’s economy near bankruptcy, Khan said, “The biggest challenge we are facing is the economic crisis.” While this may well be the most pressing issue, the biggest and most important challenge Imran Khan will confront as prime minister is something he did not mention at all in his speech—how to manage the Bomb. The lives and well-being of Pakistan’s 200 million citizens and countless millions in India and elsewhere depend on how well he deals with the doomsday machine Pakistan’s Army and nuclear complex have worked so hard to build.

Who Is Winning the War in Afghanistan? Depends on Which One

By Rod Nordland

Rod Nordland has been reporting on Afghanistan’s travails since well before the American-led invasion that booted the Taliban from power in 2001. For the past eight years, he has been a correspondent and then Kabul bureau chief for The New York Times, which has expanded its presence in the country even as many other news organizations have withdrawn. Two wars are convulsing Afghanistan, the war of blood and guts, and the war of truth and lies. Both have been amassing casualties at a remarkable rate recently. The first is that messy war in which, just in the past week, more than 40high school students were blown to pieces in their classroom, hundreds of bodies were left abandoned for a week in the streets of Ghazni city or dumped in a river, and two important Afghan Army units were destroyed, almost to the last soldier.

Is Afghanistan Ready for Peace?

By Barnett R. Rubin

“We used to appreciate the hard work of the United States for development in Afghanistan,” Iqbal Khyber, a 27-year-old medical student from Helmand Province, told me in Kabul on July 2. “Unfortunately, things happened. The international forces started searching houses, thinking we had links to the Taliban. Special forces raids, misaimed bombs—these caused hatred among the people.” Khyber and his companions sat under the blast-proof walls of the U.S. embassy. They were members of Afghanistan’s peace caravan, who over the course of 38 days had walked nearly 400 miles from Helmand Province, in the country’s southwest, to Kabul in order to tell Afghanistan’s warring parties that, in the words of a banner they had hung on the embassy wall, “We don’t want violence.”

The Man in Xinjiang

By Ottessa Moshfegh

The guidebook said that if we got off the bus at a certain point on the Karakoram Highway, a shepherd would greet us and let us stay in a yurt for a modest fee. The highway was a dirt road in Xinjiang, in northwestern China. I was travelling with a man I’ll call Tim, and we had been on buses for more than twelve hours. When we reached a pasture between snow-capped mountains and saw Karakul Lake glittering in the distance, we got off. The bus pulled away, and it was suddenly very quiet, the late-afternoon sky irrevocably clear, as if nothing bad could happen—not here, not anywhere.

Xi Jinping Thought Is Facing a Harsh Reality Check


Rumors were racing everywhere I went in Beijing this July. Had a secret coup toppled the government? Was the Chinese economy on the verge of collapse? Had popular discontent, triggered by U.S. tariffs, reached the point of explosion? One deeper question lurked beneath these others: Had Xi Jinping—China’s top leader, who presents himself as all but omnipotent—overstepped his limits thanks to overconfidence in the inevitability of China’s rise? At the center of this question are not simply the facts that fill headlines about China under Xi. The “personality cult” that Xi has built up since coming to power in 2013 is extraordinarily visible—on posters, on websites, in competitions to read the president’s work with the most sincerity—and some observerscriticize it as reminiscent of the Mao era’s fervid devotion to the “Great Helmsman.” The intensified repression that Xi has overseen across China, especially in the western province of Xinjiang, which has become an unprecedented “digital police state,” has been condemned around the world.

Making Sense of Turkey's Economic Crisis

By Reva Goujon

Even as Turkey's economy bleeds capital in the midst of crisis, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan resists breaking from the outdated pro-growth economic model that built his political dynasty. The president's framing of the economic crisis as a foreign plot to weaken the state is proving effective in building nationalist fervor, giving him the option to move up municipal elections to November and hold off on economic tightening in the interim. Geopolitical friction with the United States is bound to grow in the coming months, especially as Turkey comes under sharp scrutiny for violating Iran sanctions. As Turkey balances among the great powers, Ankara will likely look for financial assistance from sources other than the International Monetary Fund, including China, Qatar and Kuwait.

Xinjiang and the Stability Paradox

By Stefanie Kam

On July 26, 2018, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China held a hearing on the human rights crisis in Xinjiang. It exposed how the Uyghurs, as well as other primarily Muslim ethnic minorities in China, have been subjected to a range of measures ranging from “arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture” to state-of-art pervasive surveillance in a panoptical fashion. Notably, the report also mentions the so-called “political re-education” centers, which reportedly hold up between 500,000 to 1 million people. In China’s view, securitization can be seen as a strategy to crack down on the “three evils” – religious extremism, separatism, and terrorism. Since the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “peacefully liberated” Xinjiang in 1949, incorporating Xinjiang into the People’s Republic of China, Beijing has sought to bind the region closer to the Chinese nation-state. Strategically and economically, Xinjiang features heavily in China’s global expansionist agenda. This is evidenced by its Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to revitalize the ancient Silk Road, and its construction of energy and trade routes through Xinjiang.

The South China Sea: Freedom of Overflight or ‘Unlawful Activities’?

By Yinan Bao

On August 10, CNN reported that a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane flew over four maritime features in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. This incident was actually the third of its kind to take place in a relatively short span of four months this year, following two highly publicized flyover incidents of U.S. B-52 bombers in the Spratly Islands in April and June 2018.

The Nature of the Flyover on August 10

Unlike the two previous flyovers by B-52 bombers, it is not clear whether this time the P-8A flew within 12 nautical miles — the territorial sea — of any of the four features. According to the video recording provided by the CNN, the U.S. pilot replied to his Chinese counterpart that the plane was “conducting lawful military activities beyond the national airspace of any coastal state.” At the first glance, it is thus natural to think that the flyover did take place more than 12 nautical miles from any feature.

Taking Stock of the ASEAN-China South China Sea Code of Conduct Process

By Ankit Panda and Prashanth Parameswaran

The Diplomat‘s Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) and Prashanth Parameswaran (@TheAsianist) take stock of recent developments between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on progress toward a South China Sea Code of Conduct. The episode features a discussion of Carl Thayer’s report on the Single Draft South China Sea Code of Conduct Negotiating Text, agreed by ASEAN and China during the recent ministerial meeting in Singapore. Click the arrow to the right to listen. If you’re an iOS or Mac user, you can also subscribe to The Diplomat’s Asia Geopolitics podcast on iTunes here. If you use Android, you can subscribe on TuneIn here. If you like the podcast and have suggestions for content, please leave a review and rating on iTunes and TuneIn.

Benefiting from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Port-Park-City (PPC) model

Subhasis Ghosh

For the last years, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a part of all significant international infrastructure and trade conversations and I was engaged in one of these recently. Based on my conversations with industry leaders and my own assessment, here is my perspective on BRI and how it has helped us re-learn the effectiveness of the Port-Park-City (PPC) model. Simply put, BRI is about the development of hard infrastructure assets over a defined geographical area.
BRI is also aimed at encouraging countries along the Belt & Road, to collaborate on soft infrastructure including economic policy coordination, free trade, financial integration and people to people bonding.

What Does the New Caspian Sea Agreement Mean For the Energy Market?

A landmark agreement signed between the Caspian Sea states of Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan is the culmination of over two decades of negotiations, but it won't resolve all the lingering issues between the countries. The division and distribution of energy resources within the Caspian Sea will remain a major sticking point, requiring further negotiations that Russia and Iran will seek to prolong. Russia, in particular, will work on the sidelines of the agreement to prevent projects like the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline from materializing and potentially compromising its energy market position in Europe.

Russia Has Four Potential “Killer Satellites” In Orbit

Joseph Trevithick

A senior U.S. diplomat has accused Russia of deploying another small, specialized satellite into orbit that it could use as an anti-satellite weapon. This is at least the fourth such system the Kremlin has launched since 2013 and highlights a continued lack of internationally accepted ground rulesfor hostile activities in space, even as the United States seeks to increase its military capabilities above the Earth’s atmosphereYleem Poblete, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, raised the concerns about the Russian “space apparatus inspector” at a meeting of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland on Aug. 14, 2018. Russia publicly announced the launch of this satellite in June 2017, but insists that its only function is to inspect the country’s own space-based systems for damage or other possible issues and potentially service and repair them.

Spy vs. President


One of two things happened on Thursday, depending on your point of view. Either some of the nation’s top retired military and intelligence officers publicly criticized President Trump in very strong terms—an uncharacteristic act for almost all of them—or the “deep state” is closing in. The denunciations came in two waves. Earlier in the day, retired Adm. William McRaven wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post, protesting Trump’s revoking of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance and declaring—as if in an open letter to Trump himself—“I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.” McRaven is a former Navy SEAL and commander of U.S. Special Operations Command who oversaw the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. By all accounts, he is as apolitical as they come and had not publicly criticized Trump, or any previous president, until now.

The Currency Crisis of 2018?

By Jacob Shapiro

What do the Turkish lira, the Iranian rial, the Russian ruble, the Indian rupee, the Argentine peso, the Chilean peso, the Chinese yuan and the South African rand all have in common? They’ve all declined steadily this year, and some have depreciated dramatically in the past two weeks alone. But this isn’t the whole story. The whole story is that each of these countries is sitting on a ticking time bomb of U.S. dollar-denominated debt. This story has been long in the making. In the 1990s, many countries began to accumulate large amounts of debt denominated in U.S. dollars. It was an effective way to kick-start economic activity, and so long as their own currencies remained relatively strong against the dollar, it was fairly risk free. From 1990 to 2000, dollar-denominated debt tripled from $642 billion to $2.17 trillion.

Is the Caspian a sea or a lake? A recent convention ended up hedging its bets

WHAT is the Caspian? For 20 years Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan, which surround it, have disagreed over whether it is a lake or a sea. Like many lakes, it does not feed into an ocean, but it is sea-like in its size and depth. The distinction is not merely semantic, but has economic, military and political implications. Lakes’ surfaces and beds are divided up equally by bordering countries. Seas are governed by the UN’s Law of the Sea. The surface and bed are allotted, nearer to shore, according to the length of relevant coastline. When Iran and the USSR were the only two countries to border the Caspian, a series of bilateral treaties identified it as a lake that they divided equally. Iran, which has a short Caspian coast, still prefers this idea. Kazakhstan, which has the longest shore on the Caspian, is among the countries that prefer to call it a sea.

Rich in oil, gas, and caviar: Five countries move to settle decades-long Caspian dispute — why now?

By Christina Zhou

But now, the leaders of the five countries bordering the world's biggest enclosed body of water have finally made significant headway after agreeing — at least, in principle — on how to divvy up its potentially vast oil and gas resources. Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea in the Kazakhstan city of Aktau on Sunday. What the agreement establishes is a set of ground rules for determining each country's specific territorial waters and fishing zones. But the issue of how the contentious seabed — which contains a plethora of rich oil fields — will be delineated between the countries will still need further negotiation.

The World Economic Forum warns that AI may destabilize the financial system

by Will Knight

Compiled through interviews with dozens of leading financial experts and industry leaders, the report concludes that artificial intelligence will disrupt the industry by allowing early adopters to outmaneuver competitors. It also suggests that the technology will create more convenient products for consumers, such as sophisticated tools for managing personal finances and investments. But most notably, the report points to the potential for big financial institutions to build machine-learning-based services that live in the cloud and are accessed by other institutions. “The dynamics of machine learning create a strong incentive to network the back office,” says the report’s main author, Jesse McWaters, who leads the AI in Financial Services Project at the World Economic Forum. “A more networked world is more vulnerable to cybersecurity risks, and it also creates concentration risks.”

The New Physics of Financial Services – How artificial intelligence is transforming the financial ecosystem

Artificial intelligence is fundamentally changing the physics of financial services. It is weakening the bonds that have held together the component parts of incumbent financial institutions, opening the door to entirely new operating models and ushering in a new set of competitive dynamics that will reward institutions focused on the scale and sophistication of data much more than the scale or complexity of capital. A clear vision of the future financial landscape will be critical to good strategic and governance decisions as financial institutions around the world face growing competitive pressure to make major strategic investments in AI and policy makers seek to navigate the challenging regulatory and social uncertainties emerging globally.

Indo-Pacific strategy more a geopolitical military alliance

By Long Xingchun

Since the second half of 2017, US President Donald Trump and other senior officials have frequently mentioned the "Indo-Pacific" concept, but not as a strategy. International speculation has swirled over whether this is a geopolitical strategy or a geoeconomic one. In June, US Defense Secretary James Mattis used "Indo-Pacific strategy" in his remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue. It points at US plans to build more of a geopolitical military alliance than an economic one in the Indo-Pacific region. 

We underestimate the threat of facial recognition technology at our peril

By Cynthia Wong

‘The lack of safeguards combined with the centralisation of a massive amount of information raises the potential for abuse and ever-expanding mission creep’ On Friday, the identity matching services bill will be discussed at a hearing by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee. It has serious implications for human rights. Should the government be able to track your every move when you walk down the street, join a protest, or enter your psychiatrist’s building? Facial recognition technology may make that a reality for Australians. Parliament should refuse to expand its use until the government can demonstrate it won’t be used to violate human rights or turn us all into criminal suspects.

Does the US have what it takes to be No. 1 in electronic warfare?

By: Mark Pomerleau
It’s no secret senior military and congressional leaders are worried about adversarial gains in the electronic warfare space, with some even going as far as to say the U.S. is tactically outgunnedOne member of Congress who retired as a one-star general in the electronic warfare field has even said the U.S. is now just bringing up the rear of the top three EW powers in the world. “In the 1990s, when I was a captain and an electronic warfare officer, it was clear we had the No. 1 electronic warfare program in the world, period,” Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said Aug. 13 via a prerecorded video message at the annual DoDIIS conference in Omaha, Nebraska.

Federal supply-chain threats quietly growing

By: Robert Metzger

Nation-state adversaries have exploited supply chain vulnerabilities for various hostile purposes, including theft of IP and technical data, attacks upon control systems used for electrical utilities, and manipulation of software to achieve unauthorized access to connected systems. Not enough is done to protect against the range of supply chain threats. This presents grave exposure to federal interests. A 2013 Defense Science Board report, “Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat,” observed that the “challenge to supply chain management in a cyber-contested environment is significant.” Since that report, the challenge has only grown, and with increased dependency on “smart” devices, vulnerabilities and potential consequences have magnified. In February 2017, the DSB released a Cyber Supply Chain Task Force report, which focused on security of weapons systems against forms of supply chain attacks. This DSB report found that attack surfaces are found in the global commercial supply chain, the DoD acquisition supply chain, and the sustainment supply chain, and concluded that present capabilities to mitigate supply chain risk are limited.

Experts predict countries will use smart devices to launch cyberattacks

By: Justin Lynch 
A vast majority of security professionals and experts who attended the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas predict that nation-states will target smart devices in the next year, according to a survey. Ninety-three percent of respondents told Armis, a security platform, that they expected governments to exploit connected devices during a hack or cyberattack. Twenty-three percent of respondents said that the energy and utility sector were most at risk of being attacked through smart devices, the survey found. Hackers are using connected devices as intermediaries to attack computer networks, the FBI warned Aug. 2. Examples of previous hacks using smart devices include an attack on a Las Vegas casino through the thermometer of an aquarium.

Beyond Cyber Protection and TECHINT

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
Source Link

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman acknowledged that the defence sector is more prone to cyber threats and there is need to safeguard the country’s cyberspace from possible attacks, while addressing a workshop for formulating Cyber Security Framework on Jun 19, 2018, organized by the Department of Defence Production in MoD. Sitharaman called establishing cells at various levels to handle cyber security related issues; workforce in accordance with the country’s vision to become a dominant force in cyber space. In 2013, a Committee of British Parliamentarians had pointed out that British armed forces were at risk of being “fatally compromised” by a sustained cyber-attack because the military is dependent on technology that has no proven back-up. The Committee concluded. “The government needs to put in place – as it has not yet done – mechanisms, people, education, skills, thinking and policies which take into account both the opportunities and the vulnerabilities that cyber presents. It is time the government approached this subject with vigour.” Earlier in 2011, Liam Fox had disclosed British MoD was prime target for cyber attacks after disclosing that it has dealt with more than 1,000 potentially serious incidents over the past year.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the factories of the future

Helena Leurent
Source Link

After a decade of flat productivity, the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is expected to create up to $3.7 trillion in value to global manufacturing. A few years back, experts noted that the changes associated with the 4IR would come at an unprecedented rate yielding incredible results for those who truly embraced them. Still, the hockey stick of benefits has not kicked in yet – while all companies are making efforts to adopt technology, most of the production industry (~70%) remains in pilot purgatory (where technology pilots last for extended periods of time, and companies do not take the final step of scaling up viable technologies). Less than 30% of manufacturing companies are actively rolling out Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies at scale.

Consumer Drones Are Propaganda Tools, Not Killing Machines


The camera shook with the sound of an explosion and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro looked up, confused. Guards swiftly surrounded him with protective shields; soldiers in the military parade he was addressing scattered for cover. So did everyone else around him, reacting to the sound of a nearby explosion from the sky. Maduro and the Venezuelan government say—and video evidence seems to confirm—that someone tried to attack him with an explosives-laden consumer drone, likely made by Chinese drone manufacturer DJI. Open-source reporting organization Bellingcat and other investigative outlets agree that the attack involved drones, despite early reports claiming otherwise.


By War Room 

It is striking how much difficulty the United States has had converting its tactical advantages into clear strategic ‘Wins’ in the post-Cold War period The next Whiteboard tackles a thorny issue where there is much disagreement. We polled faculty, students, and academics from around the country for their views about the U.S. military’s proficiency in tactics versus strategy. What we got back were disparate views on what words like tactics, strategy, and proficiency mean; and some very provocative views on what it implies for the military and the nation to prepare to fight and win the next war. Read the below question and set of responses, then send us your answer in 300 words or less (strictly enforced). Deadline is 31 August 2018. We will review all responses and post the best some time in September. E-mail your submission to thomas.p.galvin.civ@mail.mil, cc: andrew.a.hill13.civ@mail.milwith the subject: Whiteboard #3. Good luck!

Trump gives the military more latitude to use offensive cyber tools against adversaries

By Ellen Nakashima

The Trump administration has moved to give the military more latitude to conduct offensive cyber operations against American adversaries, continuing an effort begun last year to grant commanders more leeway to make battlefield decisions. President Trump on Wednesday signed an order delegating authority to the defense secretary to use cyber tools and techniques to disrupt or degrade an adversary’s network or choke off attacks underway, loosening rules established under the Obama administration. The move comes as the administration is focused on deterring Russian efforts to disrupt the November election and, more broadly, to undermineU.S. democracy. Although Trump has sent mixed signals on the issue, his administration, from Vice President Pence on down, has warned Russia that it will not tolerate foreign interference in American politics.