2 August 2020

The Great China-India Clash Everyone Saw Coming

by Hall Gardner
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Yet the S-400 deal is problematic. The Pentagon fears that the purchase of the S-400 by India, as well as by NATO-member Turkey, would compromise the security of U.S.-fabricated weaponry. Washington has feared that the deployment of S-400 in both India and Turkey will permit Moscow to obtain information about U.S. radar cross-section and electronic emissions, for example. Unless waivers are granted, Washington has accordingly threatened to sanction states that purchase Russian defense systems—under President Donald Trump’s “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” or CAATSA.

In essence, the United States wants India, Turkey (which also seeks to benefit from China’s BRI), and other states, to make a strategic commitment to U.S. technologies and platforms—and thereby recognize that American systems are interoperable and need to communicate with one another. The U.S. fear is that a country cannot place the advanced F-35 fighter jet near an S-400 (or integrate S-400s into U.S./NATO radar systems in the case of Turkey) without exposing high-tech U.S. secrets. Yet Moscow does not seem to possess the same concern with the S-400—as the latter is considered an export model. Moscow generally keeps its more advanced systems in reserve.

In an effort to bypass the threat of CAATSA sanctions, Delhi has considered making payments for Russian arms in euros to a Russia-nominated bank. Delhi has also hoped to establish joint ventures with Russia, and other foreign defense manufacturers, such as Israel, through the “Make in India” initiative. The latter initiative seeks to transfer technology for India itself to produce—as opposed to seeking to obtain licenses in which India would purchase the rights to manufacture all or part of a weapons system. These approaches open the door to Russia which is now offering joint ventures and collaborative research and development programs—with the option that India can produce advanced weaponry in India itself.

How Pakistan’s Political Parties Spread Radicalism

By Umair Jamal

The Punjab Provincial Assembly’s new Tahaffuz-e-Bunyad-e-Islam (protecting the foundation of Islam) Bill 2020 has drawn widespread criticism from across the political spectrum.

If passed into law, the bill gives the Directorate General Public Relations (DGPR) powers to censor and monitor any literature that the state of Pakistan considers anti-Islamic and against the country’s national interests. 

Last month, the National Assembly of Pakistan passed a resolution making it mandatory to write “Khatim-un-Nabiyyin” with the name of the Holy Prophet in all the textbooks. Last week, 100 books from 31 publishers were banned in Pakistan for carrying “blasphemous, immoral, and anti-Pakistan content.” Earlier this month, the construction of the first Hindu temple in Pakistan’s capital was halted when several lawmakers termed it against the spirit of Islam.

Such legislation and intolerant views are a reflection of the Pakistani political elite’s decades-long efforts to Islamize the country, primarily for electoral benefit. The state of Pakistan is already heavily Islamized, and rather than reversing a dangerous trend, the country’s lawmakers are involved in a race to promote it further. The growing trend of presenting controversial religious bills will have serious implications for Pakistan’s security and internal stability. 

Pakistani Counterinsurgency in the FATA: Repeating Past Mistakes

Daniel Harris

Although since 2009 the Pakistani military has partially shifted from its conventional force posture to a modern counterinsurgency (COIN) approach in its conflict with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) insurgency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), coercive tactics are still employed today through mass arrests, extrajudicial killings, and onerous travel restrictions.[1] As a result of their initial tactics and current human rights abuses, the military succeeded in routing TTP strongholds but failed to address the insurgency’s root-grievances, alienating the population and ensuring post-conflict regional insecurity.

For nearly two decades, the Pakistani military has struggled to wage effective COIN against the TTP in the FATA. At one time, the group claimed over 45,000 militants operating in the FATA and in the neighboring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.[2] Until 2009, Pakistan’s response to the TTP followed an “enemy-centric” approach, emphasizing the overwhelming and indiscriminate use of force against insurgents and the local, sympathetic population. The operations destroyed homes and infrastructure, in the process displacing hundreds of thousands in the tribal belt.[3]

TTP recruitment, ostensibly predicated on shared Sunni-Pashtun bonds, is fueled by the allure of “money, power, and respect” in an historically impoverished region.[4] Underinvestment in the economic and political infrastructure of the region bolsters local animosity toward the central government and encourages support for groups like the TTP which promise greater development.

Post-COVID, China Set to Gain in Central Asia

By Aleksey Asiryan

Over the last decade, China cemented its position as a consequential actor in Central Asia. Motivated to increase regional connectivity, diversify sources of energy imports, and safeguard its western territories, China invested heavily in trade and infrastructure projects in Central Asia. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013, became the cornerstone of China’s rising power in the region. The COVID-19 pandemic, which upended many regional economies, offers China an opportunity to reevaluate its overall strategy. China’s post-COVID plans for Central Asia will need to not only consider its ability to push forward with the BRI, but also wrestle with obstacles that have hindered its progress in recent years.

In the post-pandemic era, Chinese influence in Central Asia vis-à-vis other powers will only increase. No other regional or global power will be capable of matching China’s capacity to invest in the region. Faced with no real alternatives to Beijing’s lending power, Central Asia’s dependency on China will only increase. Taking advantage of the situation requires ironing out existing issues linked to anti-Chinese sentiments in the region. While Sinophobia is on the rise in Central Asia, it is not necessarily a game-ending problem. As a first step forward, the challenge for China is to reevaluate its policies in Xinjiang. Finally, after two decades of peaceful coexistence with Russia in the region, Beijing risks upsetting this balance if its security role in Central Asia continues to grow. However, if history is anything to go by, it is likely that the two will find common ground once again.

Central Asia’s Economic Dependency 

Was the Pentagon’s Blacklist of Chinese Companies Justified?

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When Defense Department officials released a list of companies it claimed were linked to Chinese military activity back in June, they didn’t provide much explanation or evidence. Naturally, some of the companies on the list protested, claiming unfair treatment and no involvement with the Chinese government. So who is right? 

An analysis from data analytics company Babel Street released on Tuesday shows that those companies not only have multiple links to the Chinese government but they also serve as a vehicle for expanding Chinese influence into the manufacturing sectors of other countries. What’s more, China and Russia are coordinating on investments in other countries in order to not interfere with one another, data shows. 

To understand how the companies on the Defense Department list got there you have to understand how the Chinese government exercises control of technology research and manufacturing through nominally private enterprises. The companies don’t just represent a sampling of Chinese technology and manufacturing activity, they’re the biggest players in those industries by far precisely because the Chinese government has selected them to be that. It's an example of a two-tiered form of capitalism. If you want to open a restaurant in China or an electronics store, you’ll face plenty of competition; but “when it comes to anything that’s next-generation technology... everything seems to be very controlled by the government. There’s no competition. The government wants to have control of who talks to who,” said Andres Fournier, director of special programs for Babel Street.

China’s catastrophic success: US strategic blunders fuel rivalry


The Trump administration publicly identified China as a great power competitor in its November 2017 National Security Strategy. This followed the Obama administration’s eventual rejection of Xi Jinping’s 2013 proposal for a grand bargain – “a new type of great power relations” – to manage bilateral tensions and avoid war. At first the US engaged under this “new type” construct. But Obama’s White House apparently came to view Beijing's overture as a trap designed to elicit American endorsement of what Washington saw as the Chinese Communist Party’s revisionist agenda – after 2014, US officials stopped using the phrase.

From Beijing’s perspective, China and the United States have been moving toward a strategic “systems rivalry” for the past decade. The CCP apparently reached this strategic conclusion after the 2008–2009 Global Financial Crisis and framed some of the more dire implications for its rule in the 2012 CCP “Document No. 9”. 

Beijing assumes that this rivalry will last decades. It could involve periods of “cold war” and military conflict – especially in East Asia, where US alliance responsibilities and Chinese sovereignty claims and “red lines” converge. From the CCP’s Marxist-Leninist perspective, the side that best marshals superior domestic stability, economic performance and relevance to international conditions will prevail. 

Chinese AI Is Creating an Axis of Autocracy

Northwest of beijing’s Forbidden City, outside the Third Ring Road, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has spent seven decades building a campus of national laboratories. Near its center is the Institute of Automation, a sleek silvery-blue building surrounded by camera-studded poles. The institute is a basic research facility. Its computer scientists inquire into artificial intelligence’s fundamental mysteries. Their more practical innovations—iris recognition, cloud-based speech synthesis—are spun off to Chinese tech giants, AI start-ups, and, in some cases, the People’s Liberation Army.

I visited the institute on a rainy morning in the summer of 2019. China’s best and brightest were still shuffling in post-commute, dressed casually in basketball shorts or yoga pants, AirPods nestled in their ears. In my pocket, I had a burner phone; in my backpack, a computer wiped free of data—standard precautions for Western journalists in China. To visit China on sensitive business is to risk being barraged with cyberattacks and malware. In 2019, Belgian officials on a trade mission noticed that their mobile data were being intercepted by pop-up antennae outside their Beijing hotel.

Axis of Disruption: Chinese and Russian Influence and Interference in EuropeKarin von Hippel

In today's multipolar world, insecurity has increased due to a number of factors, notably: the developing great power rivalry between the US and China; the seeming withdrawal of the US from its traditional global leadership role; a revanchist Russia; and – for Europe – the implications of Brexit. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated these tensions and added a layer of uncertainty and complexity. In response, many European states and institutions are rethinking and resetting their foreign and security policies. 

For any of these revised policies to be impactful, however, the countries involved require an improved understanding of these tectonic shifts and how they affect Europe. Today, there are simply too many gaps in our knowledge. RUSI’s new series on Russia and China in Europe focuses on one significant aspect of this challenge: what are the two countries doing in Europe, beyond their traditional bilateral relationships? 

This introductory paper provides an overview of the series in four parts: first, it discusses the evolving threat to European countries posed by Russia and China; second, it compares and contrasts the behaviour, strategies and tactics of Russia and China in Europe; third, it outlines the issues that will be addressed in the series; and finally, it discusses future policy considerations.

China's Grand Strategy

by Andrew Scobell
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Research Questions

How successful might China be at implementing its grand strategy goals by 2050? These goals are based on national-level strategies in the areas of diplomacy, economics, science and technology, and military affairs.

What will U.S.-China relations look like by 2050?

To explore what extended competition between the United States and China might entail out to 2050, the authors identified and characterized China's grand strategy, analyzed its component national strategies (diplomacy, economics, science and technology, and military affairs), and assessed how successful China might be at implementing these over the next three decades. China's central goals are to produce a China that is well governed, socially stable, economically prosperous, technologically advanced, and militarily powerful by 2050.

China has delineated specific objectives regarding economic growth, regional and global leadership in evolving economic and security architectures, and control over claimed territory. In several cases, these objectives bring China into competition, crisis, and even potential conflict with the United States and its allies. China's leaders clearly recognize this and have delineated and prioritized specific actors and actions as threats to the achievement of these objectives. With the United States, China seeks to manage the relationship, gain competitive advantage, and resolve threats emanating from that competition without derailing other strategic objectives (particularly those in the economic realm).


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Over the last two decades China has been steadily building its influence in the South Pacific. Many perceive this expansion to be growing at a rate much faster than what could be considered a natural reflection of China’s growing economic and geopolitical clout. This has left many analysts in the West to ask, what is China’s ambition in the South Pacific, and what risks does this create? In the past three years, China’s footprint in the South Pacific has become so large, and its behavior in other parts of the world so much more assertive, that alarm bells have started to sound in capital cities of the South Pacific’s traditional partners.


The South Pacific is known for its pristine beaches, geographic and cultural diversity, and unique development challenges. With a cumulative population of under 13 million people, these 14 sovereign nations and seven territories span over 15% of the world’s surface. Pacific nations of the Melanesian sub-region skirt Australia’s east coast. Only 6 kilometers separate Australia and Papua New Guinea, while a mere 2,000 separate Australia and Vanuatu. Further north, atolls in eastern Kiribati come within 3,000 kilometers of Hawaii while Palau is 1,300 kilometers from Guam.


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China’s initial mishandling of COVID-19, and its subsequent suppression of the virus, reflects the weaknesses and strengths of the governing system.

The power of the communist party, once applied in full, is akin to “war powers” in a democracy and has proved highly effective in containing the virus within China.

China's early lack of openness, subsequent trumpeting of its achievements, and mishandled diplomacy provoked backlash abroad and have damaged its global image.


The emergence of a new, deadly virus in Wuhan in late December 2019 triggered multiple, cascading crises in China, from a collapse in the economy in early 2020 to a wave of foreign criticism of Beijing’s handling of the outbreak.

Equally important, but less examined, has been how the ruling Communist Party managed the emergency — both internally and, once infections began falling in China, overseas — to corral its critics and limit any backlash at home and abroad.

Telling China’s Story: The Chinese Communist Party’s Campaign To Shape Global Narratives

by Renee DiResta, Carly Miller, Vanessa Molter, John Pomfret, Glenn Tiffert

An increasing number of state actors have demonstrated sophisticated abilities to carry out influence operations in both traditional and social media ecosystems simultaneously. However, while the technologies leveraged towards today’s information campaigns are new, the strategies are well-established. In the case of China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long used an extensive influence apparatus that spans a range of print and broadcast media, with varying degrees of attributability, to advance both its domestic monopoly on power and its claims to global leadership. Understanding this combined capability set and the ways it is being deployed is critical to a full understanding of evolving influence operations strategies. This white paper explores the impact of technological innovations on these established strategies and tactics, asking the questions: what is the scope and nature of China’s overt and covert capabilities, and how do they complement one another? We evaluate China’s capabilities through three timely case studies: 1) Hong Kong's 2019-2020 protests; 2) Taiwan’s January 2020 election; and 3) the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, to understand how China’s abilities compare to those of other powers, we contrast China’s activities with Russia’s.

Troubled vision: Understanding recent Israeli–Iranian offensive cyber exchanges

Reported Iranian intrusions against Israeli critical infrastructure networks and alleged Israeli actions against Iranian proliferation-associated targets pose substantial new challenges to understanding ongoing competition and conflict in the Middle East. These cyber exchanges may be interpreted through two distinct lenses: as the struggle to achieve deterrence using the instrument of cyber operations, or as the contest for initiative in order to establish conditions for relative security advantage in a cyber-persistent environment. Either way, these ongoing incidents are best understood not as “bolt out of the blue” attacks, but rather fleeting glimpses of continuing cyber campaigns leveraging previously disclosed and newly developed capabilities as each side grapples to anticipate cyber vulnerability and shape the conditions of exploitation. The opaque nature of these interactions is further complicated by potential bureaucratic politics and interservice rivalries, as well as unknown dynamics of a counter-proliferation campaign to slow, disrupt and potentially destroy Iranian nuclear capacity. In the end, observed cyber actions may not represent reflections of accurate strategic calculation, and even if aligned to the operational environment they may not lead to intended outcomes. Continuous failure to deter, or inability to manage persistent interactions, may lead to greater dangers.

The threat of the Islamic State’s extensive use of Improvised Explosives

Aaron Anfinson, Nadia Al-Dayel

‘IS told us this…if you leave, either we or the landmines will kill you’

The territorial defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) offers hope for Iraq and Syria. And yet, many of the factors that contributed to this terrorist organisation’s escalation remain, worsened by ongoing devastation and destruction. Currently, the Islamic State is rebuilding momentum through the establishment of multiple provinces in Africa and recent attacks in northern Iraq and eastern Syria. Kidnappings and crop burnings are ongoing. Tensions between Iraqi, American and Iranian forces have also directly impacted joint operations and rebuilding efforts, leaving civilians vulnerable to the (re)encroachment of violent non-state actors. Additionally, the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) will affect the region for decades. The Islamic State’s extensive use of anti-personnel landmines and IEDs sets a precedent, demonstrating that explosive decontamination needs to be considered as an active component of counter-terrorism.


In terms of explosives, areas of Iraq and Syria are among the most densely contaminated in the world. The extensive emplacement of IEDs by the Islamic State decimated the agricultural heartland of Iraq. In Syria, Raqqa was so heavily contaminated that it essentially turned into a ‘death trap’ for returning civilians. Applying conventional defensive tactics, the Islamic State used a large number of IEDs to target vehicles and fortify its territory. When it was driven from its occupied zones, it shifted into targeting civilians on an unprecedented scale.

Iran and China: On the Way to a Long-Term Strategic Agreement?

Sima Shine, Eyal Propper, Bat Chen Feldman
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On July 11, 2020, the New York Times published the draft of a 25-year strategic agreement between Iran and China leaked by sources in Tehran, to the dismay of Beijing. According to the draft, China will receive priority in billions of dollars of infrastructure investments in Iran, and a regular supply of oil and gas at a substantial discount, while military cooperation between the two countries will increase. It is believed that Iran has been working on this agreement since Xi Jinping's 2016 visit to Iran. The Chinese are interested mainly in the long-term commercial benefits, while taking care to maintain a balance between their relations with Iran and their relations with the Gulf states. They therefore have no intention of promoting a military alliance with Iran against the United States, and certainly not against Saudi Arabia and Israel. It is believed that Beijing will weigh the risk to stability in Iran before deciding to approve such an agreement, and even if one is signed, there is no guarantee that it will be implemented.

On July 11, 2020, the New York Times published a draft 25-year strategic agreement between Iran and China. The 18-page document was apparently leaked by sources in Iran, to the dismay of Beijing. According to the published draft, China will receive priority in investments amounting to billions of dollars in infrastructure projects in Iran, including transportation, ports, roads, railways, banks, and communications, in addition to cooperative ventures in cybersecurity, research and development, and intelligence. The draft also mentions the possibility of joint military training and exercises. Iran will commit to provide a regular long-term supply of oil and gas to China at a substantial discount. The military section of the published draft agreement stipulates the formation of a joint military committee for military industries to promote the design and manufacture of weaponry.

Don’t Let Turks & Russians Carve Up Libya


Today, Turkey and Russia stand on opposing sides of the next battle line in Libya’s escalating civil war. But even if they trade blows over the strategic coastal city of Sirte and the nearby airbase at al-Jufra, it remains highly likely that they will ultimately divide the country between themselves, with troubling implications for American interests and regional stability.

Libya’s geography and history are not its destiny, but they shape its current conflict. One of General Erwin Rommel’s lieutenants observed how the country’s sheer scale and wide-open terrain made it simultaneously a tactician’s paradise and a logistician’s hell. World War II in Libya bore that out, with German and British forces rapidly advancing hundreds of miles before grinding to a halt.

These physical features intertwine with Libya’s historical divisions. For millennia before its modern incarnation as a nation-state, Libya’s two coastal population centers were cleaved into politically distinct eastern and western halves, separated by the Gulf of Sirte and expanses of desert.

Resurrecting War Plan Blue

By Captain Jeffrey E. Kline, U.S. Navy (Retired) 

“The United States eventually became the great ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ but only because of two fortuitous factors: time and distance. If the continental United States had not been thousands of miles from the major battlefields, the nation would not have had the time to properly organize for war.” Historian Kerry E. Irish on World War II mobilization, The Journal of Military History, January 2006 

With the emergence of submarine-launched cruise missiles, hypersonic weapons, cyber warfare, and autonomous unmanned systems, the great ocean barriers may no longer provide the United States the time and distance to organize for an extended major conflict. In an era of great power competition between technologically advanced nations, advance investment in war preparations is required—and may be the best deterrent to future war. This does not necessarily mean an arms race, but rather clearly demonstrated preparations to absorb initial contact, employ follow-on forces, sustain those forces, and, if necessary, mobilize the nation for an extended conflict. 

Joint Publication 4-05, Joint Mobilization Planning, addresses the areas that would need attention during a mobilization effort—such as manpower, material and equipment, transportation, and communications—and incorporates lessons from the most recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. But it describes mobilization as “the process of assembling and organizing national resources to support national objectives in time of war or other emergencies” [emphasis added].1 

Expeditionary Seabase USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams Deploys for AFRICOM

By: Megan Eckstein
Capt. David Gray, the military detachment officer in charge of the Military Sealift Command expeditionary sea base USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB-4), gives guidance and direction to Sailors while leading a training evolution aboard one of the ship’s ridged-hull inflatable boats while the ship was at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay, Sept. 15, 2019. Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams is conducting mine countermeasures equipment testing. US Navy photo.

Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) kicked off its first deployment today, leaving Virginia for an extended deployment primarily to U.S. Africa Command.

The Blue Crew departed Naval Station Norfolk today on the second-in-class ESB, which features a flight deck with four helicopter spots and a large reconfigurable mission deck for launching small craft, unmanned vehicles or other tools that embarked crews may bring with them. The 100 sailors and 44 civilian mariners will conduct missions that include counter-piracy and partner-training operations – two of the key missions the Navy typically conducts in the AFRCOM area of operations – and special operations forces support, one of the two missions the ESB platform was originally built for.

Revisiting the White Swans of 2020


NEW YORK – In February, I warned that any number of foreseeable crises – “white swans” – could trigger a massive global disturbance this year. I noted that:

“… the US and Iran have already had a military confrontation that will likely soon escalate; China is in the grip of a viral outbreak that could become a global pandemic; cyberwarfare is ongoing; major holders of US Treasuries are pursuing diversification strategies; the Democratic presidential primary is exposing rifts in the opposition to Trump and already casting doubt on vote-counting processes; rivalries between the US and four revisionist powers are escalating; and the real-world costs of climate change and other environmental trends are mounting.”

Since February, the COVID-19 outbreak in China did indeed explode into a pandemic, vindicating those of us who warned early on that the coronavirus would have severe consequences for the global economy. Owing to massive stimulus policies, the Greater Recession of 2020 has not become a Greater Depression. But the global economy remains fragile, and even if a V-shaped recovery from highly depressed output and demand were to occur, it might last for only a quarter or two, given the low level of economic activity.

Progress on Global Nuclear Security Has Slowed Significantly, According to 2020 NTI Index

The 2020 NTI Nuclear Security Index finds that progress on protecting nuclear materials against theft and nuclear facilities against acts of sabotage has slowed significantly over the past two years, despite ongoing, major security gaps. An alarming development at a time of growing global disorder and disruption, the decline in the rate of improvement to national regulatory structures and the global nuclear security architecture reverses a trend of substantial improvements between 2012 and 2018.

The decline suggests that without the driving force of the Nuclear Security Summits, which ended in 2016, or similar high-level international events, attention to nuclear security has waned—and it has done so at a time when terrorist capabilities and growing cyber threats contribute to a more complicated and unpredictable environment. At the same time, geopolitical tensions and events such as the COVID-19 pandemic are undermining cooperation and exposing the limits of how countries cope with cross-border threats.

Countries have continued to take steps to strengthen nuclear security regulations and support global norms, but since 2018, the number of countries improving their scores in the NTI Index has declined across all three rankings. The number of countries with worsening scores has increased since 2018 in both the theft ranking for countries without materials and the sabotage ranking. Overall, the average amount that a score improved has declined in all three rankings compared with previous years, showing that even countries that are improving are taking fewer actions.

Muslim Brotherhood, Antifa, and hybrid warfare to destabilize America?

Hassan described the pattern of how early on, members of the Muslim Brotherhood would attend conferences to organize Syria’s political opposition, and eventually formed new groups “to support the Syrian revolution” and bring it under its own influence. According to members of the Syrian National Coalition who were integral to the early opposition meetings, as well as activists close to the Brotherhood, various groups served as fronts for the Brotherhood. They have misleading names with words such as “civil society”, “democratic”, “free”, “humanitarian” in order to dupe the larger populace to support the Islamist movement. In the article Hassan named some of those groups: 

The National Union of Free Syria Students, led by Hassan Darwish; the Levant Ulema League; the Independent Islamic Democratic Current, led by Ghassan Najjar; the Syrian Ulema League, led by Mohammed Farouq Battal; the Civil Society Organizations’ Union, a bloc of 40 Brotherhood-affiliated groups; the Syrian Arab Tribal Council, led by Salem Al Moslet and Abdulilah Mulhim; the Revolution Council for Aleppo and Its Countryside, led by Ahmed Ramadan; the Body for Protection of Civilians, led by Natheer Hakim; the National Work Front, led by Ramadan and Obeida Nahas; 

the Kurdish Work Front, led by Hussain Abdulhadi; the Syrian Revolution Facebook page, which decides the names for Friday’s protests; the Hama Revolution Gathering; the National Coalition for Civilian Protection, led by Haitham Rahma; and the Syrian Society for Humanitarian Relief, founded by Hamdi Othman. The Brotherhood further benefited from the support of foreign sponsors such as Turkey, Qatar, US under the Obama administration, as well as France and Britain2 . However, Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia consider them a terrorist organization, and Egypt had sharply rebuked the US for supporting the Brotherhood.3

Two Men & A Bot: Can AI Help Command A Tank?


WASHINGTON: Field tests and computer models have convinced the Army that future armored vehicles can fight with just two human crew, assisted by automation, instead of the traditional three or more, the service’s armor modernization chief told me.

That confidence drove the Army, in its draft Request For Proposals released on the 17th, to require a two-soldier crew for its future Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle. The OMFV is scheduled to enter service in 2028 to replace the Reagan-era M2 Bradley, which has the traditional trio of commander, gunner, and driver. (Both vehicles can also carry infantry as passengers, and the Army envisions the OMFV being operated by remote control in some situations).

The Army has already field-tested Bradleys modified to operate with a two-soldier crew instead of the usual three, said Brig. Gen. Richard Ross Coffman, the director of Army Futures Command’s Cross Functional Team for Next Generation Combat Vehicles. “As we speak,” he told me in an interview last week, “we’ve got those Mission-Enabling Technology Demonstrators, or MET-D, actually maneuvering at Fort Carson, Colorado, as part of the Robotic Combat Vehicle test.”

Rethinking the UK Response to Cyber Fraud: Key Policy ChallengesSneha Dawda, Ardi Janjeva and Anton Moiseienko

Cyber-enabled fraud is a crime with high impact on citizens and society as a whole. Future policy must take these individual and societal harms into account and assign clear roles and responsibilities to tackle the threat. This paper provides an overview of the challenges in combating cyber fraud over the next decade and beyond. While the paper outlines numerous challenges, the cyber fraud policy area remains relatively new and attempts at public–private sector co-production of responses and solutions do exist. A RUSI research paper to be published in early 2021 will provide policy recommendations in overcoming barriers and suggesting improvements to the current model.

The current UK model to combat cyber fraud is part of a wider strategy to increase national cyber resilience, as articulated in the UK’s National Cyber Security Strategy. Data suggests that over half of all fraud in England and Wales is cyber enabled, meaning that a threat actor relies on some form of illicit computer network intrusion or disruption to commit the crime. This type of fraud is a primary motivator for cyber attacks on all organisations, so should be high on the agenda for security teams and business leaders. Meanwhile, the UK government faces increasing pressure to develop a more connected approach which considers the different stages of cyber fraud in conjunction with each other. This approach would require an implementation strategy which key stakeholders co-develop and have responsibility to execute. 

Competition and Cooperation in the Maritime Domain

Competition over the world’s maritime resources and territorial disputes over maritime borders are becoming increasingly prominent in international affairs. At the same time, depleted fish stocks and polluted waters make the question of how countries can collectively manage maritime resources a central one, particularly in discussions over climate change.

Against the backdrop of heightened competition in the maritime domain, China has been rapidly modernizing and expanding its naval capabilities thanks to an unprecedented shipbuilding effort. By contrast, the U.S. Navy is struggling to meet its ambitious goals toward expanding its fleet while nevertheless maintaining a demanding operational tempo.

Meanwhile, the resources that lie beneath the ocean’s surface are increasingly at risk of overexploitation. Illegal fishing is devastating already diminished global stocks and may soon present a severe crisis to countries whose populations depend on seafood for their diets. In the South China Sea, competition over fishing rights as well as offshore oil and gas reserves has been a major driver of tensions and conflict.

This Is What the F-35 of the Future Will Look Like

The F-35, which has undergone a 20-year design and development effort, is scheduled for a slew of technology upgrades to keep the aircraft current.

The new tech should allow pilots to be more aware of their surroundings, drawing data from different sources to come up with a plan to attack the enemy.

The upgrades also include a 50 percent boost in stealthy firepower, allowing the F-35 to carry more weapons while hiding from enemy radar.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is scheduled to receive a long list of upgrades that will ideally keep it the dominant multi-role fighter for years to come.

The F-35, already in service with nine countries, is scheduled to receive the new Block 4 series of enhancements in the near future. Block 4 aircraft will boast faster computers, more missiles, panoramic cockpit display, longer ranges, and AI-flown wingmen. The result is a strikingly different aircraft than the one that was originally designed in the early 2000s.