12 June 2024

Modi’s Re-election: A Chance to Revitalize Afghanistan-India Relations

Sadiq Amini

For centuries, and particularly over the last two decades, India and Afghanistan have shared a close and friendly relationship. This relationship was significantly disrupted when the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021. Since then, India’s policy has been primarily driven by short-sighted tactical interests, focusing mainly on engaging with the Taliban. This approach has led to considerable disappointment among Afghans, who now hope for a change in policy.

Narendra Modi’s likely re-election as prime minister presents a valuable opportunity for India to re-adjust its approach. By engaging with non-Taliban Afghans, including democratic forces and especially Afghan women, India can play a crucial role in facilitating intra-Afghan negotiations. Such engagement could pave the way for establishing an inclusive government in Afghanistan that guarantees freedom and dignity for all Afghans, particularly women’s rights to vote and participate in public life.

Despite recent setbacks, the trust and goodwill that Afghans hold toward India remain strong and are worth preserving for the future. This renewed engagement would not only reinforce India’s commitment to democratic values but also strengthen its long-term strategic interests in the region.

Walking India’s Energy Tightrope In Shifting Political Landscape – Analysis

Girish Linganna

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants India to lead the way in addressing climate change and adopting clean technology, even though his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not win a majority by itself in the recently held General Elections, 2024.

He aims to make India a role model in fighting climate change and using eco-friendly technologies. To succeed, he will need to balance his green goals with the need to keep the economy growing and meet the fast-rising demand for electricity. This is tough because India’s old power system still depends a lot on coal.

Modi, who has positioned himself as a leader in addressing climate change, will face increased expectations to achieve existing environmental goals. These goals include reaching net-zero emissions by 2070, installing a massive 500 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy by the end of the decade and forming a global coalition for solar power to attract $1 trillion in investments.

India and the UAE: “Partners in Progress”


Over the past decade, India’s ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have strengthened significantly across multiple domains. India’s “Think West” policy has strategically prioritized engagement with West Asia, with the UAE emerging as a cornerstone of this outreach in the Gulf region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally championed the advancement of this bilateral relationship, making history with his 2015 visit — the first by an Indian prime minister in 34 years. Since then, Modi has made six additional visits to the UAE, including one in February this year, where he hailed India and the Emirates as “partners in progress.”

In the intervening time, India’s relations with the UAE have blossomed into a multifaceted partnership. Migration, business, and defense-security are the core pillars of this burgeoning relationship, which the Modi-led government has aimed to invigorate as part of broader efforts to re-establish India as a crucial player in West Asia and a rising power on the world stage.

Pakistan-China Agree to Upgrade CPEC

Umair Jamal

During Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent visit to China — his first since his victory in general elections in February — Pakistan and China announced plans to upgrade the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and set in motion Phase II of this ambitious initiative.

A $62-billion project, CPEC connects Pakistan’s Gwadar Port with China’s Xinjiang region through roads and railway lines, in addition to developing power projects and special economic zones en route. Pakistan has long pitched CPEC as an initiative to revive its economy. However, CPEC has struggled to gain momentum.

Sharif’s visit to Beijing was aimed at assuring the Chinese government of Pakistan’s commitment to providing security for projects and thereby reviving the flagging initiative.

Pakistan: Religious Freedom Is A Pipe Dream For Minorities

Umar Saleem is still traumatized by the abuses and torture he endured in police custody after he and his brother were accused of defaming Islam, which sparked a Muslim mob attack on Christians in eastern Pakistan last year.

“I tried to commit suicide during the interrogations,” Saleem, 28, a member of Full Gospel Assembly Church, told UCA News on June 3.

Saleem and his family have been living in a shelter house in Punjab province since the religiously charged riot in Jaranwala left at least 80 Christian houses and several churches looted, vandalized and burned to the ground on Aug. 16.

Jaranwala is a Christian-majority neighborhood of mostly sanitary workers, masons, and daily wage earners. The attack displaced hundreds of Christian families like Saleem’s, who fled their homes to escape violence at the hands of the rioting mob.

China’s AI Gambit: Old Tricks for a New Game

Shaoyu Yuan

In a crowded Beijing conference room in 2017, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) unveiled its audacious blueprint to lead the world in artificial intelligence (AI). The plan was ambitious, envisioning China as the global AI powerhouse by 2030. Yet, when OpenAI released ChatGPT in 2022, a seismic shift occurred, catching Beijing off-guard and throwing the quiet AI arms race into the global spotlight.

The United States’ sudden lead in AI, heralded by ChatGPT’s viral success, disrupted China’s meticulously planned ascent. For a regime that tightly controls information, the rapid, public demonstration of U.S. AI prowess was a stark revelation. However, this development didn’t spell the end for China’s AI ambitions. Instead, it underscored a vital insight: in the realm of technology, it’s not the novelty that counts but the mastery and strategic use of what is known.

One demonstration of this strategy is China’s latest AI initiative, the “Xue Xi” chatbot, designed to propagate President Xi Jinping’s political ideology. “Xue Xi” (meaning “Study Xi”) is more than just a chatbot. It’s a digital emissary of “Xi Jinping Thought,” a doctrine comprising 14 principles aimed at cementing the CCP’s absolute power, fortifying national security, and promoting socialist values.

Navy Prioritizing Information Warfare In Future Fight

Allyson Park

In order to address China and Russia’s pacing and acute threats, the Navy is focused on waging information warfare with assured command and control, live, virtual and constructive training and strategic data to gain the advantage.

Capabilities like artificial intelligence, ubiquitous sensors, uncrewed and autonomous systems and long-range precision weapons are “proliferating globally,” and as a result the Navy operates in a battlespace that continues to grow in lethality and complexity, Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, commander of the Naval Information Forces, said at the recent Sea-Air-Space conference.

In today’s modern battlespace, information warfare is “the integrator” of all aspects of Navy warfighting, especially in a “very decisive” decade, she said.

“We have to be prepared to operate in contested environments. … The battle for information superiority is just as crucial and sometimes more important than traditional warfare,” she said. “Our ability to do everything in the information space is a force multiplier, and it enables us to make informed decisions and outmaneuver our adversaries. In today’s fight and in the future fight, information warfare is more critical than ever.”

Biden's Right: China's Economy Is Indeed 'On the Brink' | Opinion

Gordon G. Chang

At first glance, Biden's gloomy assessment looks wrong. The official National Bureau of Statistics reported that China's gross domestic product beat expectations by a wide margin, growing 5 percent in the first calendar quarter of this year compared to the same period last year. That's a slight improvement of the robust 5 percent growth for all of last year.

But neither of these reports makes sense. As Anne Stevenson-Yang of J Capital Research told me this week, "I feel the numbers just don't mean anything anymore."

There is now a large gap between reported results and what we can observe. The widely followed Rhodium Group believes the economy grew about 1.5 percent last year. That's in the ballpark of the "now close to 2 percent a year" that Biden reportedly told a group of Democratic Party donors in Park City, Utah last August.

Growth has almost certainly declined since then. "China's economy is in a slow grind downwards," Andrew Collier of Hong Kong-based Orient Capital Research told me.

NSA chief says China readying destructive cyberattacks on critical infrastructure

Bill Gertz

China’s cyber operatives have infiltrated computer networks used to control critical U.S. infrastructure in preparation for future attacks to disrupt American society during a conflict, the director of the National Security Agency warned.

Air Force Gen. Timothy Haugh, who is also commander of U.S. Cyber Command, said Chinese hackers have been pre-positioning cyber tools in ways that are unique in military terms because the operations provide no intelligence value — suggesting the Chinese military is preparing the ground for large-scale sabotage in the future.

“We see attempts to be latent in a network that is critical infrastructure, that has no intelligence value, which is why it is so concerning,” Gen. Haugh told The Wall Street Journal, noting that the dangers are based on the types of infrastructure targets and how they are being targeted.

US military confirms Houthi missile strikes on two ships in Gulf of Aden

Lisa Baertlein

Yemen's Houthi damaged two commercial vessels in missile attacks in the Gulf of Aden in the last 24 hours as part of the militia group's ongoing campaign against international ocean shipping, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Sunday.

The Iran-backed Houthis hit the Tavvishi, a Liberian-flagged and Swiss-owned container ship with an anti-ship ballistic missile, CENTCOM said. The vessel was damaged, but no crew were injured, according to CENTCOM.

Two missiles fired by the Houthis struck the Norderney, a German-owned cargo ship operating under Antigua and Barbados flags, CENTCOM said. That ship sustained damage, but no crew were injured and the vessel continued on its journey, CENTCOM said.

The Houthis previously said they had hit the Tavvishi and Norderney, and claimed to have set the latter ablaze.

Global Pandemic Fears Rise As WHO Treaty Falters

Debora MacKenzie

Attempts to agree a treaty to manage future pandemics risk losing momentum, health leaders gathered at the World Health Assembly warned, as fears grow over outbreaks of bird flu in the US and mpox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Crowded cities, global travel and climate change heighten the risk from zoonotic viruses – those transmitted between humans and animals – raising the spectre of another pandemic like COVID-19, or worse.

Scientists are particularly concerned about growing cases of bird flu – known as H5N1 – among US cattle, and an outbreak of mpox – formerly known as monkeypox – raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We have H5N1 knocking on the door,” said Ayoade Alakija, chair of FIND, a nonprofit in Geneva that promotes the development of diagnostic technology.

“We don’t have time to wait.”

The US Centers for Disease Control has warned of an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of a strain of mpox – known as clade I mpox – which is significantly more severe than the clade II strain which spread around the world in 2022.

NATO’s Direct Funding Arrangements: Who Decides And Who Pays? – Analysis

Dr Ian Davis

Former United States President and leading 2024 Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump made headlines earlier this year by claiming to have told the leader of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member state that the USA would not come to its defence against a Russian attack if the state had not met its NATO military spending targets. This was not a complete surprise, however, since Trump had said similar things in 2020, and the complaint that the USA protects its European allies at the US taxpayers’ expense has been a frequent refrain of most recent US presidents.

Yet pressure to boost European military spending has not only come from across the Atlantic. Since the invasion of Ukraine, many European leaders have called for spending increases. In February, for example, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged European countries to bolster their arms industries: facing a world ‘that has got rougher’, ‘we have to spend more, we have to spend better, and we have to spend European’.

Both US Presidential Hopefuls Showing Signs Of Weakness – OpEd

Yasar Yakis

America’s economy and society are strong, but there are discrepancies regarding the functioning of the country’s democracy. The voters have to choose between a presidential candidate who is fighting to cover up his wrongdoings and another who shows other weaknesses. Journalists are making lists of the many court cases in which Donald Trump is the defendant, while American society could produce scores of impeccable candidates. It looks as if the voters are looking for the least-qualified candidate.

One court case was initiated when the adult film star Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 hush money by former President Trump. According to US laws, paying hush money is not a punishable act. However, Trump hid this money as administrative costs.

Although he could be jailed for up to four years, the judge may punish Trump with a short prison sentence. He may also put Trump in jail during the week and on parole at weekends. House arrest is another alternative. In this case, he would have to wear an ankle monitor. If his punishment exceeds one year, he would have to serve his sentence in a federal jail.

It’s Time for America and Turkey to Reconcile

Asli Aydintasbas

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s relationship with the United States has long been tumultuous, and his abrupt cancellation of his trip to the White House in May was no exception. The meeting would have been Erdogan’s first during the Biden administration—the long-delayed invitation a sign of the dysfunction between the once close allies. But then, after weeks of preparation, the Turkish president called it off, seemingly upset that the White House failed to formally announce the visit two weeks in advance.

The High Cost of Frozen Conflict in Ukraine

Kaush Arha & George Scutaru

As U.S. and European elections approach, concerns about a frozen Ukraine conflict are spreading. They are fueled partly by Putin’s disingenuous and self-serving peace entreaties. A frozen conflict at existing battle lines would only solidify Russian gains. Consequently, a frozen conflict represents a Russian victory with an invitation to regroup and reinvade additional Ukraine territory. Russia has followed this playbook since 2014, and allowing it to annex Ukraine in stages will only encourage the behavior.

It is important to note that the United States and Europe have, in their considerable support of Ukraine, prevented a swift Russian annexation while severely handicapping Ukrainian counterstrike capabilities by restricting the types of weapons provided in aid packages and limiting the extent of their use. Consequently, the absence of a clear commitment to victory will ensure a frozen conflict. In a war against evil, there is no substitute for victory—for no peace will come but through strength. Proponents of frozen conflict, in effect, are calling for a long-simmering one.

Any forced cessation of hostilities would be a chimera. Hostilities would surely continue unofficially with reduced command and control and, thus, greater chaos and unpredictability. Serious consideration of the much-needed armistice should be preceded by meeting three conditions to secure regional peace and stability.

Why Russia Is Happy at War

Anastasia Edel

On June 12, Russia celebrates its Independence Day. The commemoration was instituted by President Boris Yeltsin in 1992 to a collective shrug—“Who did Russia declare independence from?” people asked. But in the early 2000s, President Vladimir Putin elevated the day to a major national celebration, accompanied by a cornucopia of flag-waving. For the past two years, “Russia Day,” as it is popularly known, has gone beyond reenactments of historic military victories to celebrate the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine—complete with charity auctions and motor rallies in support of the troops, and flash mobs to show national unity branded with a hashtag that translates as #WeAreRussiaWeAreTogether.

Propaganda aside, Russia does seem surprisingly unified. Despite the war’s heavy human toll, estimated by the United Kingdom’s Defence Intelligence to be as high as 500,000, and near-total isolation from the West, Russian society has not unraveled. On the contrary, it appears to be functioning better than before the war and shows clear signs of once-elusive social cohesion. One explanation for this paradox—national thriving amid unfolding calamity—is that, unlike Western states, which are designed to advance the interests of their citizens, Russian society operates with one purpose in mind: to serve the interests of its belligerent state.

Turning Point or Dead End? Challenging the Kremlin’s Narrative of Stability in Wartime

András Tóth-Czifra

A Theater of Stability

In early 2024, the most important message that the Russian government communicated to the outside world was that Russia had solved the problems that arose in the first two years of the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, stabilized its economy and domestic politics, and had the upper hand and the stronger determination in a protracted conflict.

This view is supported by surface-level data that Russian officials often highlight. These can be summarized as:
  1. In 2023, Russia’s economy grew by 3.6 percent, after a 1.2 percent drop in 2022.[1] This happened despite unprecedented sanctions, including import limitations and an oil price cap, both of which Russia has been successful at circumventing, even if they did raise costs for importers and exporters.[2] The growth was indeed supported by the domestic military-industrial complex, as even the Russian Central Bank will readily admit. But, to many, this only shows that Russia has the means to reallocate resources strategically to pursue a long war.[3] In 2024, economic growth has continued and first quarter receipts of the federal budget were 53.5 percent higher than a year before.[4]

The EU Is Taking on Big Tech. It May Be Outmatched


The latest in a series of duels announced by the European Commission is with Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Brussels suspects that the giant based in Redmond, Washington, has failed to properly moderate content produced by the generative AI systems on Bing, Copilot, and Image Creator, and that as a result, it may have violated the Digital Services Act (DSA), one of Europe’s latest digital regulations.

On May 17, the EU summit requested company documents to understand how Microsoft handled the spread of hallucinations (inaccurate or nonsensical answers produced by AI), deepfakes, and attempts to improperly influence the upcoming European Parliament elections. At the beginning of June, voters in the 27 states of the European Union will choose their representatives to the European Parliament, in a campaign over which looms the ominous shadow of technology with its potential to manipulate the outcome. The commission has given Microsoft until May 27 to respond, only days before voters go to the polls. If there is a need to correct course, it may likely be too late.

Europe’s Strategy

Over the past few months, the European Commission has started to bang its fists on the table when dealing with the big digital giants, almost all of them based in the US or China. This isn’t the first time. In 2022, the European Union hit Google with a fine of €4.1 billion because of its market dominance thanks to its Android system, marking the end of an investigation that started in 2015. In 2023, it sanctioned Meta with a fine of €1.2 billion for violating the GDPR, the EU’s data protection regulations. And in March it presented Apple with a sanction of €1.8 billion.

Oceans can no longer protect America

Colin Demarest

The growth of space and cyber technologies worldwide is raising the likelihood that war — or at least its ripple effects — will crash onto America's doorstep.

Why it matters: Centuries of national security strategy, relying on protection provided by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, are being rattled by these weapons that conquer vast distances.

America has long had the edge in space and cyberspace, but China and other powers are closing the gap. A global surveillance showdown is underway.
  • Hackers tied to the People's Liberation Army abscond with countless files detailing stateside arsenals. That theft propels its modernization.
  • Other saboteurs stalk critical infrastructure, including in Guam, a key U.S. foothold. A digital onslaught there would sap military responses in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Russian hacks plague Ukraine, earning it a "testing ground" moniker. U.S. lawmakers expressed concern about spillover in the months following the 2022 invasion.
  • North Korean cyberattacks rake in money and other assets, funding the regime's weapons programs.

The Soft Cyber Underbelly of the U.S. Military

W. Stone Holden

Footage beamed live around the world on social media showed paragliders armed with automatic weapons swooping from the sky, terrorists on motorcycles flooding through gaps in a vaunted defensive line, and civilians massacred and dragged from their homes to serve as hostages. A hail of rockets threatened to overwhelm the defensive systems that protect millions of Israelis.

Not visible were the hackers who eroded the ability of the country’s security organizations to provide warning and took advantage of civilian safety apps to install malware, not to mention the years of reconnaissance they conducted through the personal devices of Israelis. The 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel were notable for many reasons, one of which was their integrated employment of the information environment before, during, and after.

Hamas’s attacks demonstrate the kinds of asymmetric and nontraditional cyber threats in the information environment that must be addressed to keep U.S. forces secure. While until recently nonstate actors were not generally associated with cyber capabilities, such actors can affect advanced militaries with increasing effectiveness as they gain access to better tools and skills. Furthermore, the integrated attacks illustrate the effects of attacks on individuals within a force unprotected in cyberspace. They demonstrate that the capabilities are a real and growing threat to Marines and sailors operating around the world.

Russia's cyber warfare strategy: A clear and present danger to Europe

Christopher Porter, who is now the Head of International Cooperation in the Security Area at Google Cloud, argued that the Russian military has met its objectives in Ukraine in regions where Western support for Kyiv is weakest.

"The Kremlin certainly wants to avoid escalating conflict with NATO. Hence, it opts for informational operations and espionage to achieve success in Ukraine without triggering a broader conventional conflict with NATO," he explained.

The expert highlighted that Russia's invasion of Ukraine began with cyber-attacks on the financial sector days before the military incursion. "The war in Ukraine did not start with armored units entering Ukraine. It commenced with cyber attacks on the financial sector a few days before the actual invasion," he pointed out.

The Unsustainable AI-Driven Lending Boom – OpEd

Douglas French

For lending, as in all things, necessity is the mother of invention. No matter the rate, lenders want to lend and borrowers want to borrow, with both sides tending to overdo it. The Wall Street Journal reports that the newest collateral thing is the AI chip. Wall Street heavyweight Blackstone led a $7.5 billion financing last week for CoreWeave, “a New Jersey–based startup that owns artificial-intelligence chips and associated computing gear in data centers.”

The collateral of the realm these days is Nvidia’s graphics-processing-unit, or GPU, chip. For the moment, Nvidia can’t keep up with demand from the likes of Amazon and Microsoft. These companies are gorging themselves on the chips, sending GPU chip prices skyward. “For Wall Street, their utility has given them another kind of power, turning them into assets that can backstop loans,” write Asa Fitch and Miriam Gottfried for the WSJ.

Over $10 billion has been raised using GPU chips as collateral. Startups in the AI space, while growing quickly, are not profitable. Thus, loan interest rates are in the low double digits as traditional lenders, which charge lower rates, have avoided the sector. Instead, asset-based lenders, which small businesses and real estate developers have typically had to turn to are providing capital for this high-flying technology niche.

CHIPS Act Wins the Battle, But Not the Semiconductor War

Nicola Stoev

The prevailing side in the competition over the green economy and global chip industry will become a dominant economic force over the coming decades. Few people doubt that.

The global chip market size is expected to reach $588.4 billion in 2024. Data from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) reveals that global chip sales decreased 8.2% in 2023 to $526.8 billion and reached their highest level in 2022, at $574.1 billion, following the coronavirus pandemic slump. It’s now clear that sales in the sector are growing in an overall stable and dynamic trend.

This growth stability in the chips sector is related not only to market size, but also sectorial revenue volume generation, which more or less is autonomous of the fluctuating growth percentage of the revenue over the sales.

How AI surveillance threatens democracy everywhere

Abi Olvera

In 2018, Singapore planned to embed facial recognition cameras in lampposts for nationwide monitoring. But rapid advances in battery technology and 5G networks enabled a pivot to an even more powerful and nimble surveillance system—mobile sensors and cameras capable of observing citizens and catching them in the act of littering, with artificial intelligence handling the data analysis. Around the same time, Malaysia partnered with China’s Yitu Technology to provide police with an AI-powered facial recognition system linked to a central database for real-time identification of citizens from body camera footage.

Around the world, a new breed of digital eyes is keeping watch over citizens. Although mass surveillance isn’t new, AI-powered systems are providing governments more efficient ways of keeping tabs on the public. According to the 2019 AI Global Surveillance Index, 56 out of 176 countries now use artificial intelligence in some capacity to keep cities “safe.” Among other things, frail non-democratic governments can use AI-enabled monitoring to detect and track individuals and deter civil disobedience before it begins, thereby bolstering their authority.

An All-Teams Approach Is Key for Businesses Facing Cyber and Quantum Threats


The next war may not look like what planners currently envisage, and the conflict may have already started.

Hybrid warfare by state-sponsored and nominally independent actors is one of the threats businesses and agencies face daily.

The war in Ukraine has proven that businesses have a central role in cyber warfare and may already be standing in the first line of defense.

Risks will intensify as quantum computing arrives.

“In plain terms, most digital communication can be eavesdropped and manipulated using a quantum computer. This will enable a new level of hybrid warfare. Most military systems, strategic and tactical, devices and networks, that use cryptography will be attacked,” said Burkhard Jour, sales director Europe at PQShield.