24 October 2019

The Second ‘Informal Summit’ Is Done. Now for the Hard Part in India-China Ties

By Ankit Panda

The recent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the southern Indian city of Mamallapuram was meant to provide a forum for the leaders to build on the progress they had purportedly made in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in 2018, their first “informal summit.”

In theory, an informal summit setting has value. It allows the two leaders to get to know one another. Modi, leader of the world’s largest democracy with a political mandate unseen in more than three decades, and Xi, effectively China’s leader for life if he chooses, stand to be significant figures when the history of Asian geopolitics in the first half of the 21st century is written.

Candid exchanges between the two, therefore, are meant to pave the way for progress. However, there’s little indication that this sort of progress is really under way as part of the Wuhan-Mamallapuram process.

Xi and Modi may have grown used to sharing the stage for photo opportunities on each other’s soil, but the geopolitical issues that divide India and China remain

Dalai Lama is at the centre of a new great game in Himalayas between India, China & Tibet


Time is running out for the Dalai Lama. The Central Tibetan Administration [CTA] too has been pleading of late for strengthening efforts to make the return of the Dalai Lama to Potala Palace in Lhasa a reality. There have been some recent speculations about the Dalai Lama soon returning to Tibet at least to visit the Wutai Shan Mountain in Shanxi, which is sacred to the Bodhisattva Manjushri—the symbolic centre of Tibetan, Mongolian and Manchu unity.

There is no direct visible indication of Beijing inviting the Dalai Lama to visit China anytime soon. Surely, there is a back-door channel open between the Dalai Lama and Beijing. But the Dalai Lama’s key backer, the United States, under President Trump did not appear inclined to embrace the Tibet issue as he refused to meet the Tibetan leader and instead proposed zero aid in 2018 to the Tibetans, reversing the decades-old American policy of appointing a special coordinator for Tibet, required under the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002. However, President Trump did sign in December 2018 into law the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018 which requires the State Department to punish Chinese officials who bar American officials, journalists and other citizens from going freely to Tibetan areas in China. The US ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, also insisted on a trip to Tibet in May 2019. He criticized Beijing for interfering in religious freedom and also insisted that China hold talks with the Dalai Lama.

What a Withdrawal From Afghanistan Would Look Like

By Carter Malkasian

Over the past two years, a bipartisan consensus has emerged that the United States should leave Afghanistan. This summer, President Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that he wanted out. So did the Democratic presidential candidates. During a September debate, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren promised to bring troops home without any deal with the Taliban, and former Vice President Joe Biden was just as strident, declaring, “We don’t need those troops there. I would bring them home.” But advocates of the mission argue that a full withdrawal courts disaster, paving the way for terrorist groups to reestablish a safe haven in Afghanistan.

That distaste for remaining in Afghanistan is widespread is unsurprising after 17 years of war. And U.S. involvement in active military operations in Afghanistan has greatly decreased since 2010 and 2011, when nearly 100,000 U.S. troops were deployed. The remaining 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan support local security forces with airstrikes, surveillance, and advising. Afghan soldiers and police do the frontline work of defending cities against the Taliban, while U.S. special operations devote significant effort to battling al Qaeda and the Islamic State (or ISIS). The United States has fought a relentless campaign against these groups, and many opponents of the effort can endure it no longer. 

Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen

By Anthony H. Cordesman

The current crisis in Iraq is partly the result of the failures by its current leadership and political figures, the legacy of the fighting against ISIS, and the result of short-term policy decisions. It is also driven, however, by a range of civil forces that are the result of long-term structural problems that have led to major political upheavals and conflicts throughout the region, that lead to the rise of extremism and terrorism, and that affect every aspect of Iraq’s present and future.

Iraq is scarcely the only case in point. The same long-term civil challenges have limited U.S. success in its other “long wars” in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria — as well as in more limited involvements in nations like Libya and Yemen.

The Burke Chair at CSIS is issuing an analysis that focuses on the fact that all five states have deep structural problems that make them “failed states” in many similar areas of governance, major social changes, and development. It shows that these failures are so serious that they make the “host country” or national government a key cause of civil unrest and conflict and – in many ways – as much of a threat as the extremist and terrorist movements the U.S. is seeking to defeat.

Locking China Out of the Dollar System


LONDON – The recently announced “phase one” agreement between the United States and China has been touted as an important step toward a comprehensive deal that ends the trade war that has raged for over a year. But if you think that US President Donald Trump is ready to abandon his antagonistic China policy, think again. In fact, the Trump administration is already moving to launch another, closely related war with China, this time over financial flows.

Having lost touch with public sentiment, officials in Paris, Hong Kong, and Santiago failed to anticipate that a seemingly modest policy action (a fuel-tax increase, an extradition bill, and higher metro prices, respectively) would trigger a massive social explosion.3Add to 

In a highly integrated world economy, trade and finance are two sides of the same coin. Cross-border trade transactions depend on a well-functioning international payments system and a robust network of financial institutions that are willing and able to issue credit. This financial infrastructure has been built around the US dollar – the most liquid and exchangeable international currency.

Is China Still the Global Leader on Climate Change?

By Deborah Lehr

China’s claim to the mantle of global leader on climate change is becoming frayed. The world’s largest carbon emitter – more than the United States and the European Union combined – appears to be retreating in the global fight against pollution as its economy slows. 

Just three years ago, President Xi Jinping proudly announced at the 19th Communist Party Plenum that China must be a “torchbearer” in reducing climate change. He made fighting the war against pollution one of his top three priorities for his second term. In a well-reported speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos two years ago, Xi contrasted his willingness to lead the charge globally with the retreat of the United States.

Fast forward to the present day and China’s rhetoric is more tempered. This September at the UN Climate Action Summit, Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced, “We must follow through on the Paris agreement…We must uphold multilateralism.” In context, his meaning was clear – it is the global community that must take action. There was no reference to China playing a leadership role, which echoes other high-level statements made recently by China’s leaders.

The Army’s not competing enough with Russia and China, but this general has a plan

By: Todd South   

WASHINGTON – Russia and China are “near peer” in name only. In some areas they already outmatch U.S. capabilities and the Army is not postured to effectively confront that problem. But they’re getting there.

Much of what those two adversaries can do to thwart U.S. efforts in Europe, the Pacific region and beyond lies in their power to conduct effective operations “left of conflict,” also known as the competition phase

And some of their small victories, such as Russian tanks rolling into northern Syria as U.S. troops pull out, send messages that hurt U.S. prospects for beating back adversary influences.

The Army’s deputy commander on futures and concepts, Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, stopped short of specific comments on the recent decisions by President Donald Trump to remove U.S. forces from the area but did speak more broadly about the effects of the aftermath of that decision.

Connecting the Dots in Xinjiang: Forced Labor, Forced Assimilation, and Western Supply Chains

The Chinese government has detained and “reeducated” more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang in an effort to fully secure and control the population there. It is believed to be the largest-scale detention of religious minorities since World War II. Forced labor has now become an integral part of the government’s efforts to “reeducate” Muslim minorities. This forced labor is connected to Western supply chains and consumers, as Xinjiang produces over 80 percent of China’s cotton. The United States in turn imports more than 30 percent of its apparel from China. This report focuses on what we know about forced labor in Xinjiang and how it connects to Western supply chains. It also identifies actions that are most likely to improve the situation.

Germany Chooses China Over the West


Over U.S. and European Union objections, the German government is poised to put in place newly drafted security requirements that do not set clear limits on the Chinese telecommunications firms Huawei and ZTE supplying technology for German fifth-generation cellular networks.

Huawei is the top producer of parts required to build cellular networks and is well positioned to emerge victorious from the worldwide scramble to implement 5G, which promises transformative increases in data speed and low latency. But the company has run afoul of the U.S. government and the EU over concerns that China will use the company to gather intelligence and otherwise impede on the integrity of mobile networks around the world.

The new German regulations must now make their way through a consultation process. There is a fair chance that Huawei will continue to play a dominant role in Europe’s most important telecommunications market. That said, the German debate about the future of its 5G networks is not over yet. The failure to formulate a decisive and courageous policy, which would include strenuous efforts to curb the influence of Chinese companies, is indicative of Berlin’s broader approach toward China and reflects two aspects in particular: the fear of an economic downturn that could tank the German economy and the serious divisions within the German government over how it should approach China. German Chancellor Angela Merkel seems bent on avoiding alienating Beijing at almost all costs and is willing to put immediate economic considerations above long-term strategic, security, and economic interests—and above Europe’s interests.Germany’s failure to formulate a decisive and courageous policy, which would include strenuous efforts to curb the influence of Chinese companies, is indicative of Berlin’s broader approach toward China.

Reviewing China’s National Day Parade

By Rick Joe

The National Day parade held on October 1, 2019 celebrated the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China’s founding. National Day parades are usually held once every decade in Beijing, and such parades are always watched by Chinese military (PLA) enthusiasts to observe for debuts of new weapons systems that had previously not received public exposure.

Furthermore, the National Day parade serves as a useful barometer for gauging the maturity of certain weapons systems that have been known to be in development, as traditionally, only systems in service with the PLA in some form are displayed at the National Day parade. Weapons, aircraft, missiles, artillery and tanks which are under development do not tend to appear at parades.

Usually, there are two or three high profile systems that make their debut, however on this occasion multiple systems or products made their debut across virtually every domain of warfare. A number of weeks after the parade, the dust has settled somewhat to allow a more robust summary of the major debuts.

Soldiers and troops

The U.S.-China Trade War Won't End Anytime Soon

by Christian Whiton

Last week, China agreed to make concessions to the United States on protecting intellectual property, adopting currency and foreign exchange “transparency,” opening its markets to U.S. financial services, and buying up to $50 billion in American farm products.

In exchange, the Trump administration put off a planned increase in existing tariffs on Chinese imports. A big increase in tariffs is still scheduled for December 15, especially if the Chinese don’t follow through as details are put on paper.

Trump deserves enormous credit for forcing China to make concessions while still preserving tariffs on about half of what we import from China, which are part of a new reality that is driving business and investment away from our chief adversary in the world. Gone are the days when Wall Street could ship American manufacturing jobs to China without a care in the world. Trump has also proved again how tariffs are an effective tool of U.S. statecraft.

Getting the nukes out of Turkey: A how-to guide

By John Krzyzaniak

Almost as soon as Turkish troops began their invasion of Syria and were even shelling US special forces, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the United States started openly discussing suspension of Turkey’s membership in NATO.

At the same time, old debates about whether or not the United States should withdraw the roughly 50 B61 nuclear gravity bombs at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey also began resurfacing. Unlike in years prior, however, this time such a move may actually be in the offing. Over the weekend, two American officials told the New York Times that the State and Energy Department personnel were already reviewing plans to evacuate the weapons.

Pulling the nuclear weapons out of Turkey may seem like a bold step; the New York Times report states that removing them would spell the “de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance.” But the United States has been reducing the number of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and consolidating the remaining ones at ever fewer bases since the end of the Cold War. For example, it withdrew tactical nukes from Greece in 2001, and from Ramstein Air Base in Germany and Lakenheath Air Base in the United Kingdom sometime in the mid-2000s. In fact, the Bush administration may have even removed some of the B61 gravity bombs from Turkey at the same time.

For Israel, It's Open Skies Over Syria and Iraq

Syria and Iraq's inability to secure their airspaces from Israeli airstrikes will lead them to try and acquire better air defense systems. New equipment, particularly from Russia, could increase the deterrent against Israeli strikes, but it won't provide a foolproof solution. But even if Syria and Iraq gain more control over their airspace, their ability to shoot down Israeli aircraft could ignite new conflicts.

Syria and Iraq are facing a common conundrum in their respective skies: a persistent Israeli air campaign that has targeted Iranian and Iran-linked assets. Because of both countries' limited air defense capabilities, Israel has had free range to conduct its campaign. Now, however, the pair may be trying to rectify this disadvantage amid recent reports that Russia is considering the sale of high-end radar systems to unidentified Middle Eastern countries. If they made such a purchase, however, it could cause unexpected problems for Damascus and Baghdad: The systems won't be enough to completely halt the Israeli campaign, but they would pose a significant enough challenge to Israel's jets that their use could touch off a new round of conflict in the area.

The Big Picture

In Syria, Turkey Will Pay the Price for an Imperfect Buffer

Turkey will expand its buffer zone along its border with Syria to buttress it from the effects of the Syrian civil war, but the expansion will bring repercussions from Syria, Russia, Iran, the United States and Europe. Turkey will endure the risks of U.S. and European sanctions to gain as much as it can from a new, northeastern Syrian buffer zone, but it will not want a military clash with Syrian, Russian or Iranian forces that enter the northeast. Turkey's expanded buffer zone will also be subject to insurgent attacks by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces or the Islamic State.

The Turkish military is moving into Syria's northeast as Ankara chases its strategy of expanding a buffer space between Turkey and Syria's civil war. But while Turkey will succeed in building up this buffer zone from Afrin in the west to Iraq in the east, it will also pay a price. Turkey's actions will increase tensions not only between it and Syria and Syria's Russian and Iranian backers, but also between it and the United States, the region's former protector, and Europe. Meanwhile, an insurgency by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will complicate Ankara's bid to establish a truly safe zone for Syrian refugees and Turkish security interests.

The Big Picture

Saudi Arabia’s Oil Industry Faces Unprecedented Risk and Uncertainty

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen 

Saudi Arabia’s oil sector has probably never seen developments as jarring as the ones since late August. An unprecedented shakeup in the Ministry of Energy, with a member of the royal family appointed energy minister for the first time, was followed by the stunningly precise attacks on oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia in the early hours of Sept. 14. Once-inconceivable questions are now being asked about the extent of U.S. commitments to the kingdom’s security, which have formed the backbone of Saudi policy for decades. How will the kingdom react?

The removal of Khalid al-Falih as both energy minister and chairman of the state oil giant Aramco means that two prominent technocrats entrusted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to spearhead his vaunted “Vision 2030” economic development program, which aims to shift the Saudi economy away from oil, have now fallen from grace. Adel al-Faqih, a former minister of economy and planning once close to the crown prince, was held in the notorious Ritz-Carlton roundup in November 2017, and is still being detained.

The Middle East’s Dangerous New Hegemonic Confrontation

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BERLIN – In the old Middle East, a single overarching conflict – between Israel and the Arab countries – had many fronts, and it was the West’s prerogative to protect the flow of oil to the global economy. In the new Middle East, the defining conflict is a broader struggle among multiple players seeking regional primacy.

Having lost touch with public sentiment, officials in Paris, Hong Kong, and Santiago failed to anticipate that a seemingly modest policy action (a fuel-tax increase, an extradition bill, and higher metro prices, respectively) would trigger a massive social explosion.

This new struggle began when former US President Barack Obama initiated America’s broader withdrawal from the region, but it has intensified under Donald Trump. Obama, at least, had a political vision for the region. With the 2015 Iran nuclear deal having forestalled a nuclear-arms race, he hoped that an easing of sanctions and faster economic growth would permit Iran’s gradual reintegration into the international community over the following decade. Trump, by contrast, has no strategy, and wants to disguise America’s retreat from the region, currently demonstrated in Syria by the open betrayal of the Kurds, with militant rhetoric and massive arms exports to US partners and allies in the Gulf.

Taking Responsibility in a Dangerous World

By Federica Mogherini 

Federica Mogherini contends that Europe is finally taking greater responsibility for European and global security. For instance, the EU has recently developed three key tools to reduce the long-​standing fragmentation of Europe’s defense sector: the European Defense Fund (EDA), the coordinated annual review of national defense budgets and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). However, Mogherini stresses that the EU wants to take such efforts and assume its responsibilities in the spirit of cooperation with its partners, starting with NATO and the US. That is, the EU wishes to pursue ‘cooperative autonomy’. 

For as long as I can remember, I have heard my U.S. colleagues ask we Europeans to take greater responsibility for European and Transatlantic security. I have always agreed with that sentiment. Seventy five years ago, hundreds of thousands of Americans sacrificed their lives to liberate Europe from Nazism and Fascism. The United States contributed to rebuilding our devastated continent and to preserving freedom in Europe after the war. Such debt is impossible to repay. But after decades of American support to Europe, the transatlantic partnership has become more mature. Europe is now a global power, one of the three largest global economies, the biggest market in the world, and we invest in development aid at twice the level of the United States, and more than the rest of the world combined. Taken together, the 28 Member States of the European Union have a defense budget second only to that of the United States. We feel the responsibility that comes with greater strength. When America came under attack on 9/11, we immediately showed our full solidarity: for the first time in history, NATO’s collective defense clause was activated in support of the United States. And in recent years we Europeans have taken unprecedented steps to fulfill our responsibility and increase our contribution to global security. 

Experts React: Turkey’s Intervention, U.S. Diplomacy, and the Crisis in Syria

When quick decisions are made in a very complex and vitally important region, it is difficult to immediately understand the far-reaching geostrategic implications of those decisions. CSIS scholars have come together to offer brief reflections from their respective portfolios on the most consequential impacts of President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria. 

It is impossible to describe in 500 words the complicated, mistake-laden post-Cold War history of U.S.-Turkey relations or the decisions taken (or not taken) by the U.S. government over the past eight years regarding the Syrian civil war and its regional implications. More significant scholarship is required for those tasks, but this complex history is a testament to U.S. credibility and trustworthiness as an international actor.

Trust and credibility are foundational elements in human relations as well as in international affairs—and in particular, alliances. Because the United States is the backbone of the international alliance system (by its own design 70 years ago), U.S. actions have repercussions on other countries and populations. When trust begins to erode, nations will find ways to test or increase pressure on U.S. commitments or seek other guarantees that the United States will fulfill these commitments (such as requesting U.S. forces be present in the host nation). When credibility and trust evaporate, nations realign themselves with more or less trustworthy or more expedient, results-oriented nations. Trust is destroyed quickly but can only be rebuilt slowly and cautiously over time.

Why Peacebuilding Is Laborious, Often Flawed, but Increasingly Necessary

The need for peacebuilding in post-conflict societies grew out of the realization that signing agreements to bring fighting to an end is a necessary but insufficient step toward true and enduring peace. Peacebuilding is now conceived of as a multistage process that includes approaches ranging from governmental capacity-building and economic development to reforms of the legal and security sectors, with each initiative intended to be a step toward improving human security and fostering societal healing and reconciliation.

It is often a laborious and expensive process—and one that can easily be undone. Witness Brexit’s triggering of the long-dormant fault lines between unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland. Moreover, as peacebuilding has evolved, there is still no consensus on who should lead these efforts. In the wake of Sept. 11, the United Nations introduced a Peacebuilding Commission, intended to push for the adoption of post-conflict interventions and then aid and track their implementation. The PBC lacks any actual enforcement capacity, though, and has struggled to establish itself. It also suffers from the same problem as the broader U.N. system: Key member states can block U.N. involvement, which may explain why Syria is still not on the PBC’s agenda despite the denouement of that nation’s conflict.

The EU and the U.K. Reach a New Brexit Deal. What's Next?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meet in Brussels ahead of the Oct. 17 European Council summit. Now that Brussels and London have reached a deal, the hard part begins: gaining the House of Commons' approval for the agreement. Stratfor's geopolitical guidance provides insight on what we're watching out for in the week ahead.

At long last, there's been a breakthrough in the interminable negotiations between London and Brussels over terms of the Brexit. On Oct. 17, the United Kingdom and the European Union reached an agreement that increases the chances of an orderly Brexit on Oct. 31. The deal with Brussels, however, is not the end of the story for the British government, which will now have to persuade legislators in the House of Commons to approve the document in an extraordinary session on Oct. 19 — a task that could prove difficult given that Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not control a majority of seats.

The Big Picture

The Condition of Europe's Curious Microstates

Adriano Bosoni

On first examination, Europe's microstates seem irrelevant, mere historical oddities that somehow managed to survive despite being surrounded by larger powers. They are, however, some of the wealthiest places on Earth and play an important role as service economies. European microstates are notable because they offer lessons on how to build a foreign policy on the principle of survival, the most basic need of any sovereign state.

These tiny entities also highlight a key feature of European geography. While 15 of the world's 20 smallest sovereign states are islands, the five smallest continental microstates are located in Europe's mountainous south, a region that both facilitates political fragmentation and offers shelter from invasion. For centuries, a combination of political skill, resilience and even luck allowed Vatican City, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein and San Marino to survive the Continent's endless political conflicts. In the future, however, external pressure to reform their opaque banking sectors and Europe's prolonged crisis could threaten their economic models.

'Trump is thinking outside the box': Graham now 'impressed' with White House handling of Syria

William Cummings

Until recently, Sen. Lindsey Graham had been one the most outspoken critics of President Donald Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria ahead of Turkish military action across the border into Kurdish territory.

But, after speaking with Trump on Saturday, he said he had changed his mind. 

When he first learned of the move, Graham said it was "short-sighted and irresponsible" and warned that abandoning the Kurds, who had allied with the U.S. against the Islamic State, would leave "a stain on America's honor." 

On Wednesday, he said that Trump "appears to be hell-bent on making the same mistakes in Syria as President Obama made in Iraq" and on Thursday said Turkey's "invasion of northeastern Syria has created the conditions for the reemergence of ISIS and the destruction of our allies." 

But on Sunday, Graham told Fox News' Mario Bartiromo that he planned to "withhold judgment" on Syria "until it's all in."

Inside the Iran Hawks' Hijacking of Trump's Syria Withdrawal Plan

by Matthew Petti 

President Donald Trump says he wants to “end endless wars.” But the counter-Iran, counter-Russia hawks on his national security team are planning to sneak in a long-term U.S. military presence in southeast Syria. And their plans may have been in the works for a while.

With U.S. forces opening the gates for Turkey to take over northeast Syria, Trump administration officials are now drawing up plans to keep several hundred U.S. troops alongside Arab rebel groups in the country’s oil-rich southeast. Trump has said, “we have secured the oil.” And Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) diplomats have said they’re willing to work with such a plan.

The National Interest has learned that the Trump administration’s anti-ISIS team, led by Ambassador James Jeffrey, has floated the idea of a counter-Iran presence in Deir ez-Zor for some time now.

Climate Change Enthusiasts Will Create an Energy Crisis

by Todd Royal

Energy and poverty are intertwined. In the last ten years India, according to the United Nations 2019 Multidimensional Poverty Index, lifted over 270 million Indian citizens out of extreme poverty; since they acquired growing electrification and access to energy. But many nations believe chaotic, intermittent renewables—mainly wind and solar—will achieve these results. Meanwhile, the world watches passively while the weaponization of energy led by China, Russia and Iran is teetering Asia towards memories of 1939 and the emergence of World War III.

European and U.S. officials believe that renewables will power billions in China, India, Africa, and Asia hungry for energy and electricity. European countries even welcome Iranian terrorist-monies for their dispirited economies. What the United States should do is “drown the world in oil.” It should build power plants and watch the planet flourish with affordable electricity. Nations need energy now.

Hot Issue – The Race for Bases, Ports, and Resources in the Horn of Africa Heats Up

By: Michael Horton

Executive summary: The battle for access and influence in the Horn of Africa is intensifying as the Gulf States, Turkey, and China race to secure footholds. At the same time, rivalries between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Turkey are shaping how these countries interact with state and non-state actors in the Horn. The insertion of the Gulf States’, Turkey’s, and Iran’s regional disputes into the politics of the countries that make up the Horn will exacerbate instability in what are already fragile states.

Over the last five years, the battle between outside powers for influence in—and access to—the Horn of Africa has intensified. The Gulf States, Turkey, and China, in particular, are all competing for footholds in what is one of the world’s most strategic regions. After years of relatively little interest in the countries that make up the Horn of Africa, outside powers are investing billions of dollars in the region.

The race for bases and ports in the Horn of Africa is well underway. Somalia hosts Turkey’s largest overseas military base and Turkish companies run Mogadishu’s port and airport. Turkey’s ally and benefactor, Qatar, is also working to establish itself in southern Somalia. Further north in the independent but unrecognized Republic of Somaliland and in the autonomous region of Puntland, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based companies operate the ports of Berbera and Bosaso. The UAE has also built a naval and air base at Assab in Eritrea. Djibouti, wedged between Somaliland and Eritrea, hosts bases for the United States, Japan, France, Italy, and China. Saudi Arabia has an agreement with Djibouti to build its first overseas base in the country, but construction of the base has not begun.

Turkey, Syria, the Kurds, and Trump’s Abandonment of Foreign Policy

By Robin Wright
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Much of the world watched aghast, last week, as President Donald Trump shattered any notion of an informed or sane U.S. foreign policy. He paved the way for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, of Turkey, to invade Syria, abandoning America’s Kurdish partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces, who had eliminated the Islamic State’s caliphate in March, after five years of gruelling warfare. (The S.D.F. lost eleven thousand soldiers; the U.S. lost six.) Erdoğan views Kurds—the world’s largest ethnic group without a state—as terrorists, because of a Kurdish separatist campaign in Turkey. After a phone call with Erdoğan, Trump ordered the withdrawal of a thousand U.S. Specialisis sleeper cells are still waging an insurgency in Syria and Iraq. The retreat was so abrupt that the U.S. had to bomb a depot full of arms that it didn’t have time to remove.

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The unexpected norm-setters: Intelligence agencies in cyberspace

Ilina Georgieva

By implementing novel intelligence techniques in cyberspace, security and intelligence agencies have become major actors in the cybersecurity landscape. As they no longer just passively gather information for their governments but conduct both defense and offense operations in cyberspace, they signal international actors that their conduct is at least tolerable, even if not officially acceptable. Thereby, the intelligence agencies generate norms for the rest of the international community. Yet, they remain under the international regulation radar for being sub-state entities. Consequently, the main argument of this article is the following: To prevent the hollowing-out of cyber regulation efforts, the norm-setting role of intelligence actors should be taken into account when designing cyber norms.

International cybersecurity regulation is still in its infancy due to ongoing debates on how international law applies to the cyber domain. Cyber norms processes–designed to create some general rules of the road in the meantime–have also not come to fruition yet. This is partially due to the inherently slow nature of creating international regulations, where agreements even among friends are laborious. A further reason is the general preference of international actors for strategic ambiguity (Broeders, Boeke, & Georgieva, 2019Broeders, D., Boeke, S., & Georgieva, I. (2019). Foreign intelligence in the digital age. Navigating a state of ‘unpeace’. The Hague Program For Cyber Norms Policy Brief. September 2019. [Google Scholar], p. 3) when dealing with quickly evolving cyber threats and capabilities. Not committing to a regulatory framework helps them buy time, while exploring and stretching both technological and normative boundaries.

New air defense threats mean new equipment and new ways of defending

By: Todd South
The Army’s formerly robust air and missile defense community has seen both its ranks and equipment dwindle in the face of counterinsurgency and other priorities that stress-tested the force over the last few decades.

Slowly, over time, the missile defenders have seen new exercises brought back to their training, and with the establishment of a cross functional team dedicated solely to improving their gear. And the increased demands that will be placed on them in future, near-peer contests are driving that work.

Brig. Gen. Brian Gibson heads the AMD CFT and talked with Army Times about recent developments and near-term milestones headed to the AMD community in an interview leading up to the Association of the U.S. Army meeting.

More units, more training, better equipment are all aimed to fill missile defense gaps.

Emerging Technologies and Next Generation Arms Control

This commentary is part of a series on emerging technologies. Read the previous piece on the Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies here.

Cold War arms control agreements face two dilemmas. The first is that they do not cover the emerging technologies that will build the next generation of weapons. The second is that China is not a party to most of them and therefore not constrained in weapons development. From this perspective, concerns about the end of the Reagan-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty neglect to consider that this treaty no longer made sense.

In the list of emerging technologies published by the Commerce Department (a grab bag of technologies in varying stages of development), there are some that are appropriate for control under existing nonproliferation arrangements, such as hypersonics or some biotechnologies, but these nonproliferation arrangements restrict the transfer, not the use of emerging technologies. Other emerging technologies could create a destabilizing military advantage, but we have no venue for discussing them nor is there even agreement that they should be discussed with potential opponents before there are specific military applications.

Army looks for alternatives to GPS as enemies threaten to jam signals

by Sandra Erwin 
A soldier checks part of a Mounted Assured Precision Navigation and Timing System known as MAPS. Credit: John Higgins, U.S. Army

Gen. Murray: “We have to have multiple ways of getting PNT in the future battlefield because of the threat of jamming."

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has to become less dependent on GPS-enabled devices as adversaries field increasingly more advanced electronic jammers , a senior Army official said Oct. 14.

“What we are trying to do is develop alternative ways to get PNT [positioning, navigation and timing] other than GPS,” Gen. John Murray, commander of Army Futures Command, told reporters at the Association of the U.S. Army annual conference.

“We have to have multiple ways of getting PNT in the future battlefield because of the threat of jamming,” said Murray.

The Army Futures Command, based in Austin, Texas, is a new organization created to provide long-term guidance to the Army on how to modernize and prepare for future wars.