28 November 2018

India Looks for a Strategic Edge in Its Indian Ocean Contest With China

China's increased presence in the Indian Ocean is driving India into a race for dominance in the region.

India's broad security commitments prevent it from meeting its naval ambitions, forcing it to rely on other strategic measures to challenge China's penetration into the region.

By taking advantage of geographic choke points, building up its influence with states inside and outside the region, and seeking closer cooperation with the United States, India is positioning itself to better challenge China in the Indian Ocean.

IMF links Pakistan bailout talks to financial blacklist


Pakistan’s failure to crack down on money laundering and terrorism financing was one of the key reasons negotiations broke down with the International Monetary Fund on a financial bailout package.

While both sides insist they will meet again in coming weeks, Asia Times has learned from sources close to the negotiation process that the talks hit a snag after the IMF hinted it might link the package to Pakistan’s commitments to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

In June Pakistan agreed to tighten its compliance with anti-money laundering laws and counter-terror funding after being placed on the FATF “gray list” of “jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies”. But on Friday Finance Minister Asad Umar said the government would not bow to any IMF pressure if it did not suit the national interest.



Separatist militants who oppose Chinese investment in western Pakistan have claimed responsibility for the attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi on Friday. At least four people were killed when three gunman belonging to the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) tried to enter the consulate at about 9.30am local time. No consulate staff were harmed in the attack, and all three militants were shot dead by police.

BLA is one of a number of militant groups formed in the mid 1970s among the Baloch people, an ethnic group found in parts of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Its leadership and areas of influence have evolved with the passage of time. Most analysts insist that the BLA is currently led by Harbiyar Marri, son of the late Khair Bakhsh Marri.

Backlash against China could jeopardize its ‘free ride’


On a recent official visit to China, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad criticized his host country’s use of major infrastructure projects – and difficult-to-repay loans – to assert its influence over smaller countries. While Mahathir’s warnings in Beijing against “a new version of colonialism” stood out for their boldness, they reflect a broader pushback against China’s mercantilist trade, investment and lending practices.

Since 2013, under the umbrella of its Belt and Road Initiative, China has been funding and implementing large infrastructure projects in countries around the world, in order to help align their interests with its own, gain a political foothold in strategic locations, and export its industrial surpluses. By keeping bidding on BRI projects closed and opaque, China often massively inflates their value, leaving countries struggling to repay their debts.

The Sinicization and Suppression of China’s Muslim Uyghurs

By Sarmad Ishfaq

The Chinese state-approved path to Islam and Uyghur culture now dictates every aspect of the Uyghurs existence and reality.

Sinicization (noun): It is the process where traditionally non-Chinese societies are placed under the influence of the Han Chinese (the dominant ethnicity of China) in order to adapt the latter’s culture, customs, and way of life.

Afew weeks back, I was completely oblivious to the plight of the Uyghurs in China. Today, a part of me wishes that I had left this topic unresearched because of how much it resembles a tragic dystopian plot from a movie.

The Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnicity who have historically, and in contemporary times, lived largely in Central Asia and in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Besides the Han, who make up around 92% of China’s population, there are 55 ethnic minority groups in the country, which includes the Uyghurs, Hui, and Tibetans etcetera. The Uyghurs speak the Uyghur language and most of them practice the Islamic faith. The history of the conflict between the Hans and Uyghurs goes back centuries to dynastic China—although this schism has expanded since the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001 (“9/11”).

One million Chinese people 'move into Muslim homes to report on Islamic or unpatriotic beliefs'

Chiara Giordano

Uninvited, more than one million Han Chinese people have reportedly moved into the homes of Uighur Muslim families to report on whether they display Islamic or unpatriotic beliefs.

Sent to homes in Xinjiang province by the Chinese government, American anthropologist Darren Byler said they were tasked with watching for signs that their hosts’ attachment to Islam might be “extreme”. 

The informants, who describe themselves as "relatives" of the families they are staying with, are said to have received specific instructions on how to get them to let their guard down. 

Xi’s China has instilled fear in Trump’s America


A year is certainly a long time in international relations. A fawning hagiography of Xi Jinping by Xinhua News Agency last November praised the Chinese president for “enhancing trust,” “reducing suspicion” and helping “avoid a ‘clash of civilizations,’ the so-called ‘Thucydides Trap’” between China and the United States.

But less than a year later, in myriad ways, the opposite is true. On October 13, the Global Times, an influential offspring of the People’s Daily, China’s flagship newspaper, even admitted: “There has been unprecedented strategic distrust between China and the US.”

Indeed, the world’s two biggest economies and militaries are now fundamentally at odds with each other on virtually all key issues – from trade, cybersecurity and human rights to geopolitical flashpoints like Taiwan and the South China Sea.

China, Philippines: Leaders Sign a New Raft of Deals

Stratfor's 2018 Fourth Quarter Forecast said China's overtures to the Philippines would bear fruit in the form of progress on joint energy development. The deals signed at a recent meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have confirmed this analysis and strengthened the links between the two countries.

What Happened

Relations between China and the Philippines took a step forward this week during the first Chinese state visit to the island country in 13 years. On Nov. 20, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed a raft of 29 deals. Though the official announcement left details vague, the pair agreed to cooperate on oil and natural gas – something that Philippine Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said would help the countries access resources in the South China Sea.

Will China Return to Isolationism?

By Cui Lei

In the past decade, there have been worrisome signs indicating that China is secluding itself from the outside world. The government has imposed strict regulations on the internet, blocked some foreign websites with unfavorable information through the Great Firewall, forbidden university teachers from adopting textbooks compiled by Western scholars, and set limitations on travel abroad by government personnel, among other steps. To make things worse, when the United States opened a trade war against China this year by imposing punitive tariffs on Chinese imports, China retaliated in kind. The latest example of a tendency toward seclusion is the vehement promotion of self-reliance in developing high-tech industries by President Xi Jinping on various occasions. 

Will China retreat to seclusion, just like it did in the 1960s? 

Washington’s Search for a New Paradigm on China

Cheng Li

With the conclusion of America’s recent mid-term elections, many analysts believe that a U.S. position on China will solidify. The Democrats, who gained a majority in the House, and President Donald Trump hold a shared interest in increasing pressure on China. Washington’s search for a new and more confrontational paradigm on U.S.-China relations, therefore, may accelerate.

Yet, while one can reasonably assume that current U.S. anxieties and criticism of China’s political-economic policy and security outlook are largely bipartisan in nature, it would be an overstatement to conclude that the United States has reached broad strategic and policy consensus on dealing with China. In fact, in three major domains – economics, politics and ideology, and strategy and security­ ­– there remain important disagreements in spite of some noticeable consensus.

An Agenda for Resolving the US-China Conflict


Ahead of the meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, it is hard to be optimistic that a meaningful breakthrough between the US and China is at hand. But an agenda of substance should be used as a checklist against any accord that the two leaders might reach.

NEW HAVEN – With charges flying back and forth between the United States and China ahead of the eagerly awaited December 1 meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping at the upcoming G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, resolving the conflict has taken on great urgency. The alternatives pose grave risks for both countries: an ever-escalating trade war, a cold war, or even a hot war. These risks can be avoided, but only if both leaders are willing to engage in principled compromise. 

Trump Is Right About Saudi Arabia

The meltdown over President Donald Trump’s decision to stick with Saudi Arabia despite a human-rights tiff was predictable if melodramatic.

Senator Bob Corker, the outgoing anti-Trump chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”

Not to be outdone, Joseph Cirincione, the president of the globalist Ploughshares Fund, said the statement “raises serious questions about the President’s fitness for office.”

And a representative of the left-wing Human Rights Watch said the decision “isn’t just immoral, it’s reckless and will come back to haunt and hurt U.S. interests.”

No, it won’t.

Trump Stands Up for Saudi Arabian Values

By The Editorial Board

President Trump confirmed the harshest caricatures drawn by America’s most cynical critics on Tuesday when he portrayed its central objectives in the world as panting after money and narrow self-interest.

Ignoring the findings of the C.I.A., Mr. Trump said in a muddled statement released by the White House that, in effect, no matter how wrong the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, no matter where true responsibility lay, he would not stand up to the Saudi regime. He would not take any chance of risking its supplies of money, oil and help in the Middle East by holding the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, accountable for the killing.

The president made clear his commitment to the use of the exclamation point, if not to truth and justice: “It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

Why Iran's Government Will Bear the Weight of U.S. Sanctions

Iran's economy will enter a sharp recession in 2019, but Tehran can capably manage any political fallout that may follow. Economically, Iran will emphasize prudent management and protection of precious hard currency reserves while boosting domestic investment through its public sector and trying to continue financial sector reform. While it focuses on economic survival in the face of sanctions, however, Iran will make only limited progress on much-needed longer-term reforms, such as strengthening the private sector. Iran's squabbling political factions will try to take advantage of the economic environment, but in the face of the crisis, they will work together to prioritize regime preservation.

Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's upcoming 2019 Annual Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis on key developments in the coming year.

Trump Is Crude. But He’s Right About Saudi Arabia.

By Michael Doran and Tony Badran

There’s not much Republicans and Democrats agree on nowadays, but President Trump’s expression of support for Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in the wake of the Jamal Khashoggi killing managed to unite them. Democratic and Republican leaders declared that the president’s statement was dishonest, morally blinkered and strategically obtuse.

True, Mr. Trump’s sidestepping of reports that the C.I.A. believes that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing as “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” was jarring. But every president since Harry Truman has aligned with unsavory Middle Eastern rulers in the service of national interests. The difference here is that Mr. Trump seemed unapologetic about this state of affairs with only a passing nod to the affront to our values that Mr. Khashoggi’s murder represents.

Was Syria Different? Anticipating the Next Islamic State

By Daniel Byman 

For counterterrorism officials, one of the most difficult counterterrorism challenges is identifying the next global struggle that, like the Syrian civil war, will energize the world’s Muslims and lead tens of thousands of foreigners to join the fray. However, as a Danish proverb (not Yogi Berra) warns, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” But while counterterrorism officials must be on alert for the next cause that, like in Syria, produces a surge of foreign fighters and terrorism, they should not assume past is prologue. Indeed, there are many reasons to believe that the emergence of the Islamic State in Syria and the massive flow of foreigners to fight was due to unusual (though not unique) circumstances.

The Case for Leaving Syria

by Douglas Macgregor

With the military and various domestic programs facing budget cuts, the United States shouldn't be throwing more money at the Middle East. 

Professor Michael Howard, the eminent British historian, frequently stated , “Wars are not tactical exercises writ large… They are conflicts of societies, and they can be fully understood only if one understands the nature of the society fighting them.” The professor must have anticipated the Syrian Civil War.

In Syria, the civil war that killed as many as 400,000 people is over. Moscow’s ally in Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad, is the victor.

British army chief: Russia 'far bigger threat than IS'

Russia is now a "far greater threat" to the UK's national security than the Islamic State group, the head of the British army has said.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, General Mark Carleton-Smith said Britain "cannot be complacent about the threat Russia poses".

"The Russians seek to exploit vulnerability and weakness wherever they detect it," he said.

The UK blames Russia for the Salisbury poisoning and several cyber-attacks.

In March, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal - who sold secrets to MI6 - and his daughter Yulia survived being poisoned with Novichok.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, was later exposed to the same nerve agent and died in hospital.

The Case for Leaving Syria

by Douglas Macgregor

With the military and various domestic programs facing budget cuts, the United States shouldn't be throwing more money at the Middle East.

Professor Michael Howard, the eminent British historian, frequently stated , “Wars are not tactical exercises writ large… They are conflicts of societies, and they can be fully understood only if one understands the nature of the society fighting them.” The professor must have anticipated the Syrian Civil War.

In Syria, the civil war that killed as many as 400,000 people is over. Moscow’s ally in Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad, is the victor.

It’s true that the predominantly Sunni Arab opposition— virtually indistinguishablefrom a broad range of Sunni Islamist terrorist groups—to Assad clings to life inside Syria’s Idlib enclave , but its days are numbered. Thanks to an agreement reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Sunni jihadist forces will eventually leave the demilitarized zone, patrolled by Russian and Turkish forces.


Murtaza Hussain

HOW MANY PEOPLE have been killed in the post-9/11 war on terror? The question is a contentious one, as there has been no formal accounting for the deadly cost of the initial U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the secondary conflicts that continue to wreak havoc across the Middle East and the opaque, covert war still expanding across Asia and Africa.

But even as the U.S. government evades responsibility for the human cost of its overseas endeavors, some researchers are determined to keep count.

Brown University’s Costs of War Project this month released a new estimate of the total death toll from the U.S. wars in three countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The numbers, while conservatively estimated, are staggering. Brown’s researchers estimate that at least 480,000 people have been directly killed by violence over the course of these conflicts, more than 244,000 of them civilians. In addition to those killed by direct acts violence, the number of indirect deaths — those resulting from disease, displacement, and the loss of critical infrastructure — is believed to be several times higher, running into the millions.

Weapons of the weak: Russia and AI-driven asymmetric warfare

Source Link

This report is part of "A Blueprint for the Future of AI," a series from the Brookings Institution that analyzes the new challenges and potential policy solutions introduced by artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”[1] – Russian President Vladimir Putin, 2017.

“A people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.”[2] – Hannah Arendt, 1978

Europe's new regional defense

By Douglas Macgregor 

It’s official. Europe will soon have its own army and, presumably, its own regional defense. At least that is the stated goal of French President Emmanuel Macron. Mr. Macron is restating a position that German Chancellor Angela Merkel adopted some time ago that, “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”

Mr. Macron and Ms. Merkel have a point. The time to Europeanize NATO is long overdue. After all, the European Union’s economy is more than five times as large as Russia’s.

Privately, NATO’s European military elites are unenthusiastic. They refer to the dangers of “Macron’s disease.” In the minds of European military elites, Mr. Macron and Ms. Merkel are engaged in a dangerous game of self-deception because NATO’s command, control, communications, computers and overhead intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, (C4ISR), are entirely American.

The Migration Disconnect Why Central Americans Will Keep on Heading to the United States

By Stephanie Leutert

As thousands of migrants from Central America slowly make their way through Mexico and toward the U.S. border, President Donald Trump’s administration has hewed to its hard-line message. Trump has promised to stop the caravan, calling it an invasion and claiming that “Middle Easterners” were in its midst. Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that it would deploy 5,200 soldiers to the U.S.-Mexican border ahead of the caravan’s arrival. Already, the first contingent of soldiers is putting up barbed wire.

Like the government’s much-touted border wall, the troop deployment illustrates Trump’s portrayal of Central American immigration as a serious national security threat to the United States. Yet the move is but one in a string of expensive policies that have sought to slow migration from Central America in recent years. The military presence is no likelier than the billions of dollars Washington previously invested in border security and regional development to change the fundamental drivers pushing people to leave their homes and head north.

How to Quantify America's National Security Woes

by Gil Barndollar

The Heritage Foundation recently released its 2019 Index of U.S. Military Strength . Now in its fifth year, Heritage’s Index is a reliable bellwether of Washington’s hawkish consensus: the world’s problems are usually America’s problems, and military force, or the threat of it, is often the best tool for dealing with those problems The United States, which spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined, is the only state that can project power around the world and is unchallenged in its entire hemisphere. Yet Heritage rates overall U.S. military power as “marginal.” Such a conclusion rests on a worldview fundamentally at odds with both America’s history and her current position in the world.

When measured against the supposed need to fight two “major regional contingencies” (MRCs), Heritage finds America’s military lacking.This is an accurate conclusion. The demands of two counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan were only met by keeping one war as an economy of force operation and filling holes with contractors, stop-lossed troops, and risk averse allies . This is to say nothing of significantly lowering recruiting standards just to keep the military adequately manned. Neither war, it is clear, was a success.

What to expect from a no-deal Brexit

To stand on the white cliffs of Dover is not merely to reflect on British isolation, splendid or otherwise, or on the remarkable Cretaceous geology beneath your feet, or even to wonder at the perennial lack of bluebirds. It is to look down at a marvel of frictionless trade in action. Dover is Britain’s ninth-busiest port in gross tonnage, but in terms of roll-on-roll-off traffic, the sort that keeps the country’s economy tightly coupled to its neighbours beyond the narrow sea, it is far and away the biggest (see chart). Ships like the Pride of Kent and the Calais Seaway pass through its seawalls ten times a day; as many as 10,000 lorries snake slowly but uninterruptedly in and out of the port. About £120bn ($150bn) of traded goods pass up and down Jubilee Way to and from the port each year, 17% of Britain’s total. A lot of it is needed urgently.

The Blockchain Could Make Trust Accessible to Everyone

The blockchain isn’t just about transferring money—it’s also changing how people worldwide access data, keep and access records, and prove ownership.

You’ve probably heard about Bitcoin, the digital currency that many techies and Redditors have been promoting since its mysterious inventor, known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, released software Version 0.1 in 2009. But there’s more to Bitcoin and other electronic currencies like Dogecoin or Litecoin than just being another way to pay.

The underlying system that makes Bitcoin tick, known as blockchain technology, could help democratize the way we store data, prove ownership, and create verifiable trust relationships.

Women, Technology, And The Future Of Work

by Era Dabla-Norris and Kalpana Kochhar

The way we work is changing at an unprecedented rate. Digitalization, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are eliminating many jobs involving low and middle-skill routine tasks through automation. Our new research finds the trend toward greater automation will be especially challenging for women.

More than ever, women will need to break the glass ceiling. 

On average, women face an 11 percent risk of losing their jobs due to automation, compared to 9 percent of their male counterparts. So while many men are losing their jobs to automation, we estimate that 26 million women’s jobs in 30 countries are at high risk of being displaced by technology within the next 20 years. We find that women’s jobs have a 70 percent or higher probability of automation. This translates globally to 180 million women’s jobs.

The Pentagon’s Move to the Cloud is Right but Presents Unique Challenges

By Daniel Gouré

The U.S. Government’s move to the cloud is absolutely necessary. But it will be a decidedly complex undertaking. These are the primary conclusions I drew from a conference on the evolution of federal IT held by the Lexington Institute on Capitol Hill on November 3. Speaking at this event was a stellar array of individuals from leading private sector firms such as Amazon Web Services, SAP, The Carlyle Group, CSRA (now General Dynamics Information Technology), Perspecta, CrowdStrike and NetApp. Also providing comments were representatives from the federal government with vast experience in IT, cloud implementation and cybersecurity.

The speakers were of one mind when it came to cloud computing. While not a panacea, moving government IT activities to the cloud is imperative. Operating in the cloud holds out the promise of improved cybersecurity, better data management and information sharing, faster access to cutting-edge technologies and reduced costs. Advances in IT, including the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, blockchain and autonomy will be made substantially more effective when nesting within an architecture that centers on cloud computing.



Tim Draper was one the few venture capitalists that strongly believed in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies before they became mainstream. According to a recent Forbes article, Tim Draper first thought about virtual currency 15 years ago while he was in South Korea. In 2014, the California-based investor was featured on several news sites as he purchased around 32,000 Bitcoin, worth nearly $20 million through an auction by the U.S. Marshals Service. The coins were seized from the famous Silk Roaddarknet marketplace.

I believe that Bitcoin and crypto will drive most of the commerce of the world.

Tim Draper also added:

The Lost Lessons of World War I


A combination of willful blindness, utter complacency, and intense stubbornness on the part of Europe’s leaders subjected their countries to two devastating wars in the twentieth century. With nationalism and populism once again flourishing across the West, the risk of another large-scale conflagration is rising fast.

PARIS – It has been 100 years since World War I ended, and the centenary was commemorated this month with great pomp in Australia, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom. Germany sent high-level authorities to France to mark the occasion, reaffirming the reconciliation between the two countries. But the fact that Franco-German reconciliation did not occur until Europe had suffered another devastating war demonstrates how fragile peace can be, especially when political leaders are as shortsighted as they often are.