31 May 2019

China vs. India: Uniformity vs. Diversity

by Frank Li

It is not only intuitively sense-making, but also intellectually fashionable to compare India with China, from the economy (By 2050, China And India Will Overtake United States As The World's Most Powerful Economies), to the population (Animation: Comparing China vs. India Population Pyramids), to a specific sector in the population (A Tale of Two Millennials: India and China). But few comparisons make any profound sense, nor are they intelligent!

In this post, I will highlight the most critical difference between China and India: uniformity vs. diversity, with the conclusion that India is behind China by at least 200 years, in terms of governance and economic development.

1. Two great ancient civilizations: India and China

Indian Army to Recruit Women as Military Police: A Cause for Celebration?

By Akanksha Khullar

As a step to open up new avenues for women, the Indian Army issued a formal notification on April 25, 2019 inviting female applicants for the position of Soldier General Duty. These appointments are to take place under the Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR) category within the military police.

Those selected will be responsible for investigating offenses such as molestation, theft, and rape; preventing the breach of rules and regulations by army personnel; providing assistance to civil police; and carrying out ceremonial duties.

While the decision brings with it an opportunity for women to be recruited in combat-support operations, women appearing in frontline combat roles such as infantry, artillery, and armored units remains a distant reality. This restricted involvement begs the question as to wether women’s participation in the PBOR can really be viewed as an exemplary initiative targeted toward achieving gender parity within the Indian armed forces.

Women’s Visibility in the Army

Modi's Victory Is America’s Opportunity

by Richard Fontaine

History’s largest election has swept Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party back to power in India. More than six-hundred-million Indian voters cast ballots that decisively gave the ruling party a second consecutive lower-house majority for the first time in a half-century. Modi, who ran in part on a national-security platform, returns with a renewed mandate for international leadership, including closer strategic ties with the United States. That represents a major opportunity for Washington—if both sides can avoid the landmines.

America’s relationship with India has the greatest potential upside of any in the world today. Facing the reality of long-term competition with an assertive and illiberal China, strategic logic compels a closer bond with the Indo-Pacific’s largest democracy, one that is increasing its economic and military muscle. For all the partisan disagreements bedeviling Washington, successive presidents from Bill Clinton through Donald Trump have sustained progress in deepening India ties.

Taliban, Russia Demand Foreign Troops Leave Afghanistan

Ayaz Gul

The Taliban and Russia have jointly called for the withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition troops from Afghanistan, with a top leader of the Islamist insurgent group denouncing the foreign presence in the country as a major obstacle to Afghan peace.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the political deputy of the Taliban, made the remarks in Moscow to a gathering of Russian and Afghan government personnel, as well as representatives from prominent political groups from the war-torn country.

Russia organized the meeting to mark the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Afghanistan.

"The Islamic Emirate [Taliban] is truly committed to peace but the first step is to remove obstacles in the way of peace, meaning the occupation of Afghanistan must come to an end," Baradar said in rare public appearance and speech.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in his welcome address to the group urged that foreign forces leave Afghanistan. He underscored the importance of bilateral relations, saying Russia is ready to offer more help to Afghanistan to fight terrorist groups led by Islamic State and drug-trafficking networks.

Sri Lanka Did Not Choose ISIS: ISIS Chose Sri Lanka – OpEd

By Dr. S. I. Keethaponcalan

Not many analysts and researchers paid attention to the nexus between Sri Lanka and ISIS until the Easter Sunday Massacre of 2019, where more than 250 people were killed and a large number of people were maimed.

Characteristically, a lot has been said, written and published on this subject since the massacre. One of the pieces that has attracted much attention is an interview given by Jonah Blank. It was published with the title “ISIS did not Choose Sri Lanka, but Sri Lankan Group Chose ISIS: RAND.” Nilantha Ilangamuwa conducted the interview. The piece appeared on several newspapers and weblogs and was translated into local languages. 

The central theory presented in this interview is miss leading, if not erroneous, and it could also have significant policy and operational implications. Hence, this article aims to highlight the flaws from my perspective.

Blank Theory

Jonah Blank works as a researcher and political analyst for the Rand Corporation, which is a nonprofit international think tank funded by the United States government and private donations. According to Nilantha Ilangamuwa, Blank has two significant views about the “Easter Sunday bombings.” They are: (1) “the attack was a result of the political negligence than its accounting as intelligence failure by many parties,” and (2) “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) did not choose Sri Lanka, but the Sri Lankan extremists chose ISIS.”

China dangles a potentially harmful new threat in trade war


WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing new trade sanctions and a U.S. clampdown on its top telecommunications company, China issued a pointed reminder Wednesday that it has yet to unleash all its weapons in its trade war with the Trump administration.

Chinese state media warned that Beijing could cut America off from exotic minerals that are widely used in electric cars and mobile phones. The threat to use China’s rich supply of so-called rare earths as leverage in the conflict has contributed to sharp losses in U.S. stocks and sliding long-term bond yields.

For months, the world’s two biggest economies have been locked in a standoff over allegations that China deploys predatory tactics — including stealing trade secrets and forcing foreign companies to hand over technology — in a drive to supplant U.S. technological dominance.

China Will Be the True Winner of a U.S.-Iran War

by Nathan Levine

The United States is locked into an intensifying confrontation with China, and relations continue to rapidly deteriorate. In the past several weeks alone trade talks have broken down, President Donald Trump has raised tariffs on Chinese goods, and signed an order blacklisting China’s Huawei from purchasing American technology. Chinese state media is flooded with nationalist rhetoric preparingthe Chinese public for “protracted war” on trade, and warning Americans that they will be the “most difficult opponents they have ever met since 1776.”

These tensions are aftershocks of a tectonic shift in America’s approach to China, as the Trump administration transitions from four decades of strategic “engagement” with Beijing to a new era of “strategic competition.” Trump has abandoned the naive hope that China could be persuaded to liberalize and become a “responsible stakeholder” in the U.S.-led liberal international order, and this adjustment is one for which he deserves significant credit. Indeed, Trump’s tough approach to China is the one area where he enjoys broad bipartisan support, as even in badly divided Washington there is growing recognition that China will be the most formidable geostrategic competitor the United States has ever faced.

China's Latest Trade Threat Could Actually Turn Out To Be A Huge Opportunity For the US

by Michael Bastasch

Reports of Chinese threats to escalate its trade dispute with the Trump administration to include rare earth minerals has, once again, shined a spotlight on U.S. dependency for elements used in hundreds of hi-tech products and military equipment.

“China is letting the U.S. know that it has leverage,” said Dan McGroarty, head of the American Resources Policy Network (ARPN), which advocates for mineral exploration.

McGroarty said reported Chinese threats to play the “rare earths card” could galvanize support for legislation or further executive actions to ameliorate U.S. mineral dependence. 

Nigeria passes a law banning same-sex marriage.

US airstrikes interrupt ISIS and al-Shabaab battleground

By: Kyle Rempfer   

The U.S. appears to be stepping up airstrikes in northern Somalia’s Golis Mountains, where the country’s Islamic State affiliate and al-Shabaab have been battling for territorial control.

On Sunday, the U.S. conducted an airstrike that killed three al-Shabaab militants in the Golis Mountains. This was the sixth airstrike in the last month against IS-Somalia and al-Shabaab in the region.

“We constantly assess and exploit intelligence sources as they develop,” U.S. Africa Command spokesman John D. Manley said in an email. “In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, the last few days presented opportunities to successfully reduce terrorist influence and activity in the Golis Mountains."

AFRICOM maintains that the airstrikes help to keep militant leadership and recruiting efforts in a state of flux, though al-Shabaab remains a lethal insurgent group in many rural areas across the country.

The Last War—and the Next? Learning the Wrong Lessons From Iraq

By Jon Finer

Earlier this year, the U.S. Army published two volumes that amount to the most comprehensive official history of the Iraq war. They cover the conflict’s most important episodes: the U.S. invasion in 2003, the death spiral into civil war that took shape in the aftermath, the more hopeful period that began with the surge of U.S. forces in 2007, and the withdrawal that saw the last U.S. forces leave Iraq at the end of 2011.

Blandly titled The U.S. Army in the Iraq War and based on 30,000 pages of newly declassified documents, the study recounts a litany of familiar but still infuriating blunders on Washington’s part: failing to prepare for the invasion’s aftermath, misunderstanding Iraqi culture and politics and sidelining or ignoring genuine experts, disbanding the Iraqi army and evicting Baath Party members from the government, ignoring and even denying the rise of sectarian violence, and sapping momentum by rotating troops too frequently.

Simona Halep

By Louisa Thomas

Simona Halep first picked up a racquet when she was four years old. At fourteen, she decided to dedicate her life to tennis. At sixteen, she left her family, in the small, ancient city of Constanta, Romania, and moved into a hotel in the capital, Bucharest, in order to train at a serious academy. Her father jokingly called her his “little Rolex,” because, at a young age, she told him that she would win the big tournaments. At seventeen, she had breast-reduction surgery—a frightening procedure, which lasted nearly seven hours—in order to relieve pain in her back and help her game. As a child, Halep was so shy that it was painful for her even to speak on the phone, but she forced herself to face the cameras and the scrutiny of the media, which grew more intense with each season. Every day, she went to the gym to tend to her muscles, joints, and ligaments. When her friends went to parties, she went to sleep.

France’s Macron Strengthens His EU Hand With European Parliament Vote

Judah Grunstein

While the ostensible purpose of European Parliament elections, which took place this weekend, is to determine the makeup of the European Union’s deliberative body, the results often have implications for domestic politics across the member states. This is certainly the case for French President Emmanuel Macron, who positioned himself prominently in this year’s election campaign. But it’s still unclear exactly what impact the vote will have on the future of European or French politics.

Russia’s Bulwark: Tajikistan on the Afghan Border

By Catherine Putz

On May 28, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu paid a visit to Tajikistan. Shoigu’s visit came exactly a week after the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov, trod a similar path to Dushanbe for talks with Tajik leaders. The visits underscore the importance Russia places, in security terms, on Tajikistan.

According to TASS, Shoigu was expected to discuss modernization plans for the Tajik armed forces and Russia’s 201st Military Base. Russia has troops stationed at two facilities in Tajikistan — Dushanbe and Bokhtar (formerly Qurghonteppa) — although they are collectively referred to as Russia’s “base” in the country. In addition, there had been a Russian garrison in Kulyab, about 25 miles from the Afghan border, but the troops there were reportedly relocated in late 2015 to Dushanbe. The 2012 lease agreement under which roughly 7,000 Russian troops are stationed in Tajikistan runs to 2042.

EU-Asia Relations: New Game Changers

By Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. Nicola Casarini, a fellow of Istituto Affari Internazionali, Italy’s leading think tank, and Dr. Bridget Welsh, associate professor of political science and director of Asian outreach at John Cabot University in Rome, is the 189th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.” 

John Cabot University and the Istituto Affari Internazionale convened a timely conference on new game changers in EU-Asia relations. Identify the top three takeaways.

U.S. calls Russian, Syrian air strikes 'reckless escalation' in Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States continues to be alarmed by Syrian government and Russian air strikes in northwest Syria and believes they are a “reckless escalation” of violence, the State Department said on Tuesday.

Government air strikes, backed by Russia, have focused on the south of Idlib province and nearby parts of Hama, uprooting nearly 250,000 people. The bombing has killed 229 civilians and injured 727 others, according to the UOSSM medical charity.

“Indiscriminate attacks on civilians and public infrastructure such as schools, markets and hospitals is a reckless escalation of the conflict and is unacceptable,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

“The violence must end,” Ortagus said.

Hundreds of members of the U.S. Congress signed a letter to President Donald Trump last week arguing that the United States should remain engaged with the conflict in Syria, saying they were “deeply concerned” about extremist groups in the country.

How European Politics Is Fracturing


BREMEN, Germany—The middle-aged man in the bright pink sweatshirt held the microphone up to his mouth, looked over the mostly gray-haired audience, and began rapping about Europe. “Europa ist die Antwort! Europa ist die Antwort!” he shouted between rapid-fire verses. (Europe is the answer! Europe is the answer!)

It was the warm-up act for an all-star cast of Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which was desperately trying to court the youth vote in Bremen ahead of contentious state elections. But the smattering of tepid applause he received from the crowd of several hundred mostly older onlookers, skilled as he was, foreshadowed what was to come.

The Bremen elections coincided with the separate European parliamentary elections that took place on Sunday. Both resulted in serious setbacks for the Social Democrats, but they weren’t alone in their sorrows. Beyond Bremen and across Europe, many top centrist parties lost big or barely clung to power, while smaller parties representing the far-right, environmentalists, and free market liberals made significant gains.

The EU, Not Brexit, Killed British Steel – OpEd

By Justin Murray*

On 22 May 2019, British Steel announced that they had become insolvent and the company entered receivership with the UK. The explanation provided for this failure is that British Steel is a victim of the UK’s decision to exit the European Union’s bureaucratic fold . On the surface, this appears to be true, as the company stated that orders from the continent have declined due to uncertainty over the exit process that the UK Parliament has dragged out over the past three years. However, if we dig deeper, we find that it was the EU, not the Brexit decision, which killed the company.

European Overregulation

Public Attribution of Cyber Incidents

By Florian Egloff and Andreas Wenger for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

Florian Egloff and Andreas Wenger write that cyber incidents are increasingly being publicly attributed to specific perpetrators. However, the public attributions issued by states and cybersecurity companies often lack both transparency and verifiability. Our authors contends that strengthening trust in public attributions requires institutional mechanisms at the international level as well as the engagement of the state, the corporate sector and civil society.

Who did it? Identifying the perpetrators of cyber incidents has long been considered to be among the technically more demanding challenges. This remains true today. Owing to the structure of the internet, it is fairly easy for the attackers to achieve a degree of technical anonymity. This gives the attackers an advantage, since the affected party will often not know at first who carried out the attack. The multifaceted and usually time-consuming forensic search for the perpetrator is known as the attribution process. If the affected party believes they have identified the culprit, it must decide whether, and how, to react to the cyber incident. One possible course of action is public attribution, in which responsibility for the cyber incident is publicly assigned to a specific perpetrator.

Cyber Security: Will There Be One ASEAN Voice? – Analysis

By Shashi Jayakumar*

How far has ASEAN come in its cyber journey? What is the likelihood that it can begin to speak with one voice on cyber issues and what needs to be done before some coherence in an ASEAN approach to the norms debate can be expected?

ASEAN, the common refrain goes, moves slowly, especially on sensitive issues that touch on sovereignty and security, where the pace of consensus-forming adjusts to fit the comfort level of the most hesitant member state. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to cyber issues.

Member states approach cyber from various angles: telecommunications, internal security, information technology and law enforcement, to name a few. Consider the ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cyber Security (AMCC) held in Singapore during International Cyber Week in September 2018: countries were represented by ministers or senior officials from a whole range of portfolios — cyber security (Singapore), communications (Malaysia, Laos, Brunei), digital economy (Thailand), information security (Vietnam) and home affairs (Cambodia).

NATO Getting More Aggressive on Offensive Cyber


In the latest signal NATO is adopting a tougher posture against cyber and electronic attacks, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg this week said that the defensive alliance will not remain purely defensive.

Stoltenberg told attendees at the Cyber Defence Pledge conference in London, “We are not limited to respond in cyberspace when we are attacked in cyberspace.” 

NATO members have already “agreed to integrate national cyber capabilities or offensive cyber into Alliance operations and missions,” he said. But the parameters of a NATO response to cyber attacks remains undefined. In 2015, Stoltenberg said that a cyber attack against one member nation could trigger an Article 5 collective response by all members. Yet only once has a collective response ever been invoked, at the request of the United States following the attacks of September 11, 2001. NATO is a defensive organization, so what an offensive cyber posture looks like remains something of a mystery. An Article 5 response can take many different forms.

The Insufficiency of U.S. Irregular Warfare Doctrine

By John A. Pelleriti, Michael Maloney, David C. Cox, Heather J. Sullivan, J. Eric Piskura, and Montigo J. Hawkins

Colonel John A. Pelleriti, ARNG, is G3 Deputy Chief of Staff Operations for the Florida National Guard. Colonel Michael Maloney, USAF, is Commander of the 932 Operations Group at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Lieutenant Colonel David C. Cox, USMC, is Commanding Officer of Intelligence Support Battalion, Marine Corps Support Facility, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lieutenant Colonel Heather J. Sullivan, USAF, is Commander of the 349th Force Support Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California. Lieutenant Commander J. Eric Piskura, USN, is Assistant Operations Officer, Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center, in Norfolk, Virginia. Major Montigo J. Hawkins, USA, is a Logistics Officer at U.S. Transportation Command.

Special forces from Gulf Cooperation Council nation attempt to hook boarding ladder onto U.S. Army vessel “Corinth” during visit, board, search, and seizure training in Arabian Gulf during exercise Eagle Resolve, March 17, 2015 (U.S. Air Force/Kathryn L. Lozier)

Tempted To Cheat On A Written Exam? Artificial Intelligence Is 90% Certain To Nab You

Combining big data with artificial intelligence has allowed University of Copenhagen researchers to determine whether you wrote your assignment or whether a ghostwriter penned it for you – with nearly 90 percent accuracy.

Several studies have shown that cheating on assignments is widespread and becoming increasingly prevalent among high school students. At the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Computer Science, efforts to detect cheating on assignments through writing analysis by way of artificial intelligence have been underway for a few years. Now, based on analyses of 130,000 written Danish assignments, scientists can, with nearly 90 percent accuracy, detect whether a student has written an assignment on their own or had it composed by a ghostwriter.

Danish high schools currently use the Lectio platform to check if a student has handed in plagiarized work that has passages copied directly from a previously submitted assignment. High schools have a harder time discovering if a student has enlisted someone else to write the assignment for them, something that happens to a more or less systematized degree via online services. The case of the SRP, a major written assignment in the final year of Danish high school, is particularly telling. Because the assignment counts for double, students have gone as far as tendering out their writing assignments on the Danish classified website, Den Blå Avis.

The Air Force names a new boss for ‘cyber effects’

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The Air Force's recently created deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations is getting a new leader. (Kellyann Novak/ Air National Guard)

The Department of Defense announced Maj. Gen. Mary O’Brien as the next leader for the Air Force’s newly reorganized cyber warfare and intelligence directorate, the Pentagon said in a May 28 release.

The Air Force has a series of new initiatives and has reorganized staff around the topics of information warfare, cyber, electronic warfare and intelligence. As part of these changes, the service’s leadership created the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations, which oversees the service’s ISR, offensive cyber, defensive cyber and tactical communications.

Deterrence in Cyber, Cyber in Deterrence

By Rosemary Tropeano

The notion of deterrence in cyberspace has become a much-maligned piece of U.S. strategy. Deterrence has been criticized as being inappropriate given many of the cyber domain’s unique characteristics, such as low cost of entry, high number of non-state actors, and lack of clear attribution for attacks.[1] Despite this criticism, deterrence has remained a part of cyber strategy, with both the current National Cyber Strategy and the Department of Defense 2018 Cyber Strategy including deterrence as a major element.[2,3] Rather than pulling the cyber domain away from deterrence, current policy has brought cyber elements closer to the U.S.’s broader strategic deterrence strategy. Strategic deterrence now incorporates a well-defined role for cyber that is likely to expand in the future, and strategic deterrence has begun to play a role in cyber deterrence strategy. This is reflective of the broader trend of cyber playing an increasingly integral role in strategy, doctrine, and overall force structure, such as the U.S. Army’s push to prepare to fight in multi-domain environments, seeking to converge capabilities in the conventional domains with those in the electromagnetic spectrum and information environment.[4] Charting these strategies as they have evolved over the past two decades is one way to assess the strategic value of deterrence in cyberspace. While a singular cyber deterrence strategy may be unsuited to the domain, cyberspace must play a role in overall deterrent strategy.

F-35s to the Rescue?: 1 Country Needs 88 New Fighters Or Its Air Force Is in Trouble

by David Axe 

"Without these upgrades, according to the department, the CF-18 will become more vulnerable as advanced combat aircraft and air-defense systems continue to be developed and used by other nations."

Canada for the third time in a decade is trying to replace its aging F/A-18A/B Hornet fighter jets. With every year the acquisition effort drags on, the condition of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s fast-jet fleet grows direr.

“The politically-charged competition to replace Canada's aging fleet of fighter jets will rocket forward at the end of May [2019] as the federal government releases a long-anticipated, full-fledged tender call,” Murray Brewster reported for CBC News.

Pearl Hart, a female outlaw of the Old West, robs a stage coach 30 miles southeast of Globe, Arizona.

Pakistan conducts an underground test in the Kharan Desert. It is reported to be a plutonium device with yield of 20kt.

30 May 2019

India, Japan, Sri Lanka move to counter China

NEW DELHI: India has decided to join hands with Japan and Sri Lanka to expand the port in Colombo as part of efforts to balance Chinese inroads into the neighbourhood. This marks one of the government’s first foreign policy moves following its reelection. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s proposed trip to India for Narendra Modi’s inauguration this week is seen as a boost in this regard with the three countries planning to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the near future, ET has learnt. The trilateral project’s goals are to increase Colombo port’s container volume and increase transportation in and around South Asia, according to persons aware of the matter. 

The deal comes as China has been using its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects to increase its influence in the region. India and Japan are also eyeing joint development of the Trincomalee port in eastern Sri Lanka. India along with Japan aspires to pursue a Free and Open Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean strategy. Colombo port, through which 90% of Sri Lanka’s seaborne goods pass, connects Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It had traffic of 6.21 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2017, making it Southwest Asia’s busiest port. 

Five Challenges Facing India's Reelected Government

The world's largest democratic contest has drawn to a close, and the verdict is clear: Narendra Modi has secured another five-year term as India's prime minister. The 68-year-old incumbent led his Bharatiya Janata Party to a victory on May 23, deftly maneuvering his way around the opposition's slings and arrows led by the Indian National Congress.

The Big Picture

As the dust settles following his landslide victory, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will now have to reckon with resolving the myriad of internal and external challenges that continue to hinder India's progress. High unemployment and a cooling economy, as well as looming trade concerns and China's encroachment into South Asia, will be of chief concern for Modi's administration in the coming years, as he attempts to bring the country's burgeoning military and economic power in Asia to a head.

What Colombia Can Teach Us About Afghanistan

By Lionel Beehner and Liam Collins

Two wars, two peace deals. One has held for a few years, after decades of stalled negotiations. The other is still just a “framework” for peace. We’re referring to Colombia and Afghanistan – two countries riddled with longstanding rural insurgencies, drugs, militias, weak centers, cross-border sanctuaries, and poor governance. Are there lessons from Colombia that can be applied to Afghanistan?

In a new report published by West Point’s Modern War Institute, we argue that despite differences, there are commonalities. In Afghanistan, the push for a peace deal is admirable and arguably the correct course, yet the ability to reach a peace deal and a lasting peace will be particularly challenging given many of the conditions that made Colombia ripe for peace are not present in Afghanistan.

The “framework” in Afghanistan was hashed out between Zalmay Khalilzad, an American, and the Taliban. Yet the Afghan government – arguably the most important player in Afghanistan – has been largely cut out of the process. That is hardly a positive omen for Kabul’s future legitimacy. As President Ashraf Ghani noted recently, “The victims of the war are Afghans. So the initiative of peace should be in the hands of Afghans.”

US sees Pakistan-based LeT threat to it in Afghanistan: Pentagon report

WASHINGTON: The US considers Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as one of the greatest threats to it and allied forces in wartorn Afghanistan, where at least 300 fighters from the terror group are active, a Pentagon report has said. The LeT, designated a global terror organisation by the US and the UN, was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people. Among the 20 prominent terrorist organisations active in Afghanistan, LeT ranks fifth in terms of fighters along with al Qaeda and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, stated the Pentagon report, 'Lead Inspector General for Operation Freedom's Sentinel', for the quarter ending March 31. The report said the Department of Defence "identified the Haqqani Network, the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba as groups that present the greatest threat to US and allied forces in Afghanistan". 

The report also stated that an estimated 300 LeT and 1,000 Islamic Emirate High Council operatives are active in the war-torn country. The ISIS-K, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Haqqani network with an estimated 3,000-5,000 fighters each top the list of terrorist groups active in Afghanistan, it said. The LeT, formed in the 1980s, is one of the largest terror groups currently operating from Pakistani soil. In December 2001, the Department of State designated LeT as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation. In May 2005, the United Nations (UN) 1267 Sanctions Committee added LeT to the Consolidated UN Security Council Sanctions List. Pakistan banned LeT in 2002, but the group continued to operate through its front organisations - Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF). 

Deaths Rise on Mount Everest as Nepal Issues Additional Permits

By Upendra Man Singh, Binaj Gurubacharya, and Emily Schmall

Scaling Mount Everest was a dream few realized before Nepal opened its side of the mountain to commercial climbing a half-century ago. This year the government issued a record number of permits, leading to traffic jams on the world’s highest peak that likely contributed to the greatest death toll in four years.

As the allure of Everest grows, so have the crowds, with inexperienced climbers faltering on the narrow passageway to the peak and causing deadly delays, veteran climbers said.

After 11 people died this year, Nepal tourism officials have no intention of restricting the number of permits issued, instead encouraging even more tourists and climbers to come “for both pleasure and fame,” said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Change and Continuity in Intellectual Property Enforcement: The Case of Huawei

By Robert Farley

Intellectual property violations form the basis of the U.S. complaints against Huawei. The United States has, with some considerable justification, argued that Huawei has systematically attacked the trade secrets of its partners, and that it created a substructure that facilitates the wider theft of protected Western technology. Moreover, Huawei stands accused of repeatedly infringing on patented technology. In consequence, the United States has undertaken public and widely discussed steps to cut Huawei out of global technology markets.

The steps have dire implications for Huawei, and immense implications for broader U.S. policy in the technology sector. Due to the complexity of the international technology supply chain, it will be exceedingly difficult for Huawei to source components completely from non-U.S. producers. Most non-U.S. producers themselves have considerable connections with U.S. technology firms. Moreover, the United States can lean on foreign technology firms (most of which have significant ties with the U.S. tech sector) to shy away from working with Huawei. In short, Huawei may soon lack the ability to acquire chips from the United States, and from any companies that work with the United States.

Is the U.S.-China Trade War Turning Into a New Cold War?

Kimberly Ann Elliott

The tit-for-tat trade war between the United States and China is costly enough, but it could be morphing into something far more serious. A week after raising tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China, the Trump administration took aim at Huawei, the Chinese company leading the global race to create new, faster 5G telecommunications networks. The new regulations would, if fully implemented, restrict Huawei’s ability to access the U.S. market, either for exports of its products or for imports of key technologies. There are reasons to be concerned about Beijing using Huawei’s networks for nefarious purposes, as well as legitimate grievances regarding China’s trade and industrial policies. But the costs of President Donald Trump’s trade war are clearly rising, and with them the prospects of an unnecessary cold war with China that would be in no one’s interest.

Until now, Trump’s China policy seemed to be operating on two separate, but parallel, tracks. On the trade track, the investigation into China’s unfair trade practices that injure American firms focused on intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer. The real backdrop was Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” industrial policy, under which the country aims to be the global leader in a number of new and emerging technologies within the next few years. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a skilled negotiator for whom tariffs are leverage in the negotiations with China, has been the architect of this trade track.

Why China’s dependence on farm subsidies is an obstacle to a trade war deal with the US

Keegan Elmer

In the first of a series on the trade war, Keegan Elmer looks at why China is resisting US demands to cut back on agricultural subsidies.

For Han Yahui in the farming town of Ulanhot in Inner Mongolia, the opening of China’s soybean market to imports in the late 1990s was a harbinger of things to come.

“I witnessed how our industry [almost] collapsed because of cheap imports,” Han said.

Han runs a rural cooperative specialising in organic farming of wheat, soybean and rice on about 133 hectares (328 acres) in northeast China.

She is one of up to 200 million farmers in China who rely on government subsidies and other aid to buy new farm equipment and to produce strategic crops.

Not RIP: How ISIS Is Going Virtual

by Bülent Aras

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of the Islamic State (ISIS) appeared recently in a short video to demonstrate he is alive, well and on duty. Gone are the days of his declaration of so-called Caliphate and control of territories in Iraq and Syria the size of Britain with a population of almost ten million. His modest attitude in the video was an attempt to revitalize his shattering organization with a message of thankfulness to those who lost their lives in defense of ISIS, his appreciation of the loyalties of Wilayahs (Provinces) and allegiance to their global cause. It is noteworthy that Baghdadi’s appeared right after the U.S.-supported Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces captured the last territory of the ISIS in the Syrian town of Baghouz.

Baghdadi now has two options.

How European Politics Is Fracturing


BREMEN, Germany—The middle-aged man in the bright pink sweatshirt held the microphone up to his mouth, looked over the mostly gray-haired audience, and began rapping about Europe. “Europa ist die Antwort! Europa ist die Antwort!” he shouted between rapid-fire verses. (Europe is the answer! Europe is the answer!)

It was the warm-up act for an all-star cast of Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which was desperately trying to court the youth vote in Bremen ahead of contentious state elections. But the smattering of tepid applause he received from the crowd of several hundred mostly older onlookers, skilled as he was, foreshadowed what was to come.

The Bremen elections coincided with the separate European parliamentary elections that took place on Sunday. Both resulted in serious setbacks for the Social Democrats, but they weren’t alone in their sorrows. Beyond Bremen and across Europe, many top centrist parties lost big or barely clung to power, while smaller parties representing the far-right, environmentalists, and free market liberals made significant gains.

US Forces Korea Commander: US-South Korea Readiness Hasn’t ‘Slowed Down One Bit’

By Ankit Panda

Speaking last week in Hawaii, the top military officer in charge of U.S. military forces in South Korea said that recent adjustments to allied exercises had not adversely affected readiness for allied forces.

General Robert Abrams, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea and United Nations Command, said that the militaries of the United States and South Korea had conducted more than 100 exercises, adding that recent modifications to exercises were “prudent action in support of diplomacy.”

Earlier this year, Seoul and Washington announced that the usual springtime Foal Eagle-Key Resolve series of major military exercises would be cancelled and a new allied exercise, named Dong Maeng (Korean for “alliance”) would replace it.

“I want to be crystal clear about it: combined training and readiness haven’t slowed down one bit,” Abrams said. “We are continuing to conduct very rigorous combined training at echelon,” he added.