17 April 2013

The Frontiers of LeT

April 12, 2013 

New study points to future challenges 

Zafar Choudhary

As militancy in Kashmir ebbed, declined and waned by the beginning of last decade, tourism became the next big summer phenomenon to talk about. However, this was short-lived seasonal event as street protests gripped the imagination 2008 onwards. Two summers have since been relatively peaceful even as the stone warriors are still potent enough on the streets. This spring it is a different question for the forthcoming summers –is militancy about to return in some big, small or modest way?

Sensing the Lashkar’s heart

Ever since it’s beginning over two years ago this column has always batted for India-Pakistan reconciliation and atmosphere of peace and trust between two countries. There is no other way actually. Particularly for peace and stability in Kashmir the Indo-Pak cooperation is most important. Having said that, it is very important to get Pakistan curb the human resource and infrastructure that foments violence and terrorism not only in different parts of India but also in Pakistan.

Islamabad’s denial mode doesn’t help the situation. Kashmir has deep political discontent and there is no reason to deny its existence. The issues between the Centre and vast sections of people of the state have been historic and nothing credible has actually happened to address those. However, except for the initial years, all manpower and arsenal for the violence has come from across the borders. This is actually not any new revelation. The reason why this issue is being invoked today is a new study the Counter Terrorism Centre (CTC) under the aegis of United States Department of Defence.

The report titled ‘The Fighters of Lashkar-e-Taiba: Recruitment, Training, Deployment and Death’ researched together by Don Rassler, C. Christine Fair, Anirban Ghosh, Arif Jamal and Nadia Shoeb brings interesting aspects on past trends and future possibilities of Lashkar engagement in Kashmir. The authors have studied biographies of 900 Lashkar militants, almost all of Pakistani origin, who died while fighting in Jammu and Kashmir or elsewhere in India. As high as 94 percent of the Lashkar fighters have listed Kashmir as fighting front. This is sharp contrast to popular beliefs in India.

Many previous studies (Santhanam, Sreedhar, Saxena et al) as also most of the Indian security establishment view LeT as a pan India threat with Kashmir merely as an entry route. The CTC study also claims that most of the specialised training to LeT cadres is imparted in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan administered Kashmir. It is interesting to note that the report finds more than half of the Lashkar militants’ deaths in frontier districts of Baramulla and Kupwara in the Valley and Poonch in Jammu. As the report discovers that a vast majority of LeT cadres are the Punjabis and drawn from areas like Bahawalpur, Gujarat, Gujjaranwala and Sialkote in Pakistan’s Punjab one could find reasons why they mostly concentrated in the peripheral districts of Baramulla, Kupwara and Poonch. In fact Poonch was the first place in Jammu and Kashmir for the first LeT signatures. LeT made its presence first felt in October 1994 with massive ambush of an Army patrol killing five soldiers. However, its arrival was noticed in February 1993 with a dozen odd militants in Poonch. In the subsequent months the outfits spread its presence in different parts of the state but Poonch, Baramulla and Kupwara remained its key battlefields.

Eye at Afghanistan

The report under discussion comes with a terse caution: ‘While it is difficult to predict the directional priorities of Pakistan-based militant groups after the United States reduces its role in Afghanistan, especially in light of the internal security challenges faced by Pakistan and the state’s own shifting threat priorities, historical precedent suggests that some of these militant groups will reorient to and invest more broadly in the conflict in Kashmir’.

The timing of this report or any other study on South Asian terror projects is most significant as the region discusses possible security scenarios after US pullout from Afghanistan, due in 2014. Keen eye on the emerging security scenario and great strategic games on Afghanistan-Pakistan axis is crucial in context of Kashmir. Even as a new breed of security experts talks loud about the changing jihadist dynamics in the regions but there are few important factors one cannot lose sight of. The Pakistani militants groups started operating in Kashmir in a big way after Soviets pulled out from Pakistan. Clearly, there were freed up energies which took eastward direction and spent years fighting in Kashmir.

Decade of 1990s was of intense battles in Jammu and Kashmir. Militant groups engaged the security forces in all corners of the state before marked decline in operations 2002 onwards. The political and security establishments at national and state level compete to claim credits for bringing the levels of militancy down but the clearly external factors were clearly dominant in reducing militant footprint in Jammu and Kashmir. The US and NATO forces arrived in Afghanistan in 2001 and this when the Pakistani militant groups found the challenges towards the western borders and beyond more important to take on. It was this factor that took attention of Pakistani militants away and incidents of violence began declining trend in Kashmir. Every subsequent year in last decade has seen constant decline in the militant power in the state.

However, the present and the next year are most defining. It is certainly difficult to predict possible scenarios in Afghanistan but one thing is for sure that after US pullout most of the Pakistani militant groups would be free enough to concentrate elsewhere. As Lashkar lists Kashmir as most preferred battlefield the coming months are of anxiety. It is, of course, essential to tighten the borders and enhance the vigil but the political process is of far greater importance. As one sees that most of the terror human resource comes from across the borders and not from within Kashmir itself, a satisfied and contended Kashmir would deny space external elements posing threats to peace.

Columnist is Rising Kashmir’s Resident Editor (Jammu) where the article first appeared and can be reached at zafarchoudhary@gmail.com

Pakistan: Dynamics of Failing State Theory

April 11, 2013 

“Pakistan speaks of America’s continual betrayal. America finds Pakistan duplicitous wants it to focus on global threats, be it communalism or Jihadist. Pakistan wants to concentrate on the threat next door –India. 

Bruce Riedel in Deadly Embrace


As the promised 2014 deadline for NATO pullout from Afghanistan draws to a close analysts in the West are developing cold feet. They are increasingly worried that geopolitically a precipitous withdrawal (under a deal with Taliban) may signal a victory for al Qaeda and global Jihad, Lebonise Afghanistan and brighten the prospects of a jihadist takeover in Pakistan. Therefore, books of experts such as Bruce Riedel ( Deadly Embrace, 2011) and Ian Talbot (The New History of Pakistan, 2013) , which recommend ISAF staying the course in Afghanistan and preventing a collapse of Pakistan have gained great currency.

This discussion focuses on the dynamics of the theory of Pakistan failing as a part of this larger discourse propagated by the Western thinkers to provide a face-saving formula for the West to stay on in the region.

Before we analyse the theory, a closer look at what Pakistan stands for today merits a deeper look.

Pakistan Today

In a resource strapped country, with weak economic indices such at tax to GDP ratio of 9.4, a total public debt of about $124 Billion (debt to GDP ratio of 55.9) out of which external debt was about $59.5 Billion, forex reserves at just $17.1 Billion while government expenditure continues to mount (figures Jul 2010-Mar 2011 Pakistan Government), with marginal growth(which is termed as “borrowed growth” by Maleeha Lodhi), there technically should be every effort to reverse the trend of deep recession and high inflation rate. This assumes added significance when there is shortage of 5,700 MW in the energy sector and there is little money to pay for the oil, gas, milk and cooking oil.

AS per lan Talbot, in his recently released book, “A new History of Pakistan” such a country is also sitting on a demographic time bomb. The present population (49 million in 1947) may rise to 335 million by 2050 and 450 million if fertility rates are not decreased. Such a population level world place an enormous strain on resources – resources that Pakistan does not have. The failure of education has contributed to and mirrored the failure of Pakistan state to widen the ‘commitment’ and ‘implementation’ gap. If the West Point study points towards the well-known fact that the educated youth bulge too is opting for radical Islam philosophies of Lashkar, they cannot be faulted.

The Deep State

To top it all, a country with such indices has its security paradigm out of sync with the economic and political capacity of the state. Pakistan today just cannot afford to be guided by an army driven strategic thinking – that of parity with India by all means. Worse still, the Jihadi Military Complex (JMC) has contributed to extreme radicalisation of the Deep State.

Radicalisation of the military, as evident in Meharan Naval base incident, killing of OBL by US Navy Seals and common recruitment areas for army and the Lashkar all point towards a tilt in balance from the military to the Jihadis. This can prove disastrous in a 3 to 7 years time window should Pakistan find another Zia-Ul-Haq in the Army.

The “One Unit Pakistan” philosophy practiced by the Punjab centric military has driven the country towards a genocidal path. As per a report In SATP, since 1989, there have been 2,582 sectarian incidents in Pakistan, in which 3,719 persons have lost their lives and 7727 were injured. For more on the sectarian strife read this by Alok Bansal.

Afghanistan Beyond 2014: Elections, Political Settlement, Reforms

By Caroline Wadhams | April 10, 2013

Afghanistan is currently one year away from its presidential elections, in which President Hamid Karzai is required by the Afghan constitution to transfer the presidency to another elected Afghan leader. This presidential transition, occurring as the United States and the NATO International Security Assistance Force draw down their military presence, will serve as a crucial determinant of Afghanistan’s long-term stability. Ultimately, a sustainable peace in Afghanistan will require resolving the political crisis at the heart of Afghanistan’s conflict and building a more legitimate Afghan government that is supported by broad range of Afghan actors and that is more accountable and responsive to its population. The election will be one crucial piece in creating a stronger political system in Afghanistan.

The Center for American Progress and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung organized consultation workshops for a large group of civil-society actors in Afghanistan in November 2012 and March 2013 to generate a set of recommendations related to Afghanistan’s political system and transition in 2014. CAP and Heinrich Böll Stiftung also brought a smaller delegation of Afghan civil-society leaders to Washington, D.C., and New York City in February 2013 to understand the concerns of U.S. policymakers and the broader public and to share their views. Their paper, “Afghanistan Beyond 2014: Elections, Political Settlements, Reforms,” is the product of their deliberations. This is their paper alone.

These Afghan civil-society leaders, whose organizations are listed at the bottom of the document, focus the paper on three areas where they believe more attention is needed by Afghans and the international community—the elections, a political settlement process, and political reforms for the Afghan government—and provide specific recommendations in each category. They believe that Afghan civil society has an important role to play in preserving the gains that have been made and in leading the effort for further change. And they ask for the international community’s continued support in bolstering a more democratic, inclusive, and responsive Afghan state.

Read the paper here. This paper was also published by Heinrich Böll Stiftung.

Caroline Wadhams is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Al Qaeda Comeback

The Daily Beast

Apr 12, 2013 

After months of silence, al Qaeda’s Amir Ayman Zawahiri reappeared this week with a long diatribe on the state of the global jihad with special emphasis on Syria, Iraq, and Mali. His commentary underscores his central role in the Qaeda movement once again and in providing leadership to the group and its franchises across the Islamic world.

Zawahiri’s latest audio message, his first since last November, runs over a hundred minutes long and was distributed by al Qaeda’s media arm, As Sahab (“In the Clouds”) from his hide-out in Pakistan. It is vintage Zawahiri. 

He bemoans the fall of the Ottoman caliphate at the end of the First World War and breakup of the Islamic world into 50 or so small states ruled by “traitor rulers” playing the “satanic American program” to benefit the “biggest criminals in Washington, Moscow, and Tel Aviv.” Zawahiri says some of these countries are so small they can only be seen with a microscope on the map and “barely fit the foreign military bases that occupy them,” a likely reference to the American naval base in Bahrain. Much of his commentary is devoted to attacking France for intervening in Mali this year. 

Al Qaeda’s North African franchise, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, had taken control of the northern half of Mali last year and threatened the capital, Bamako, this winter before Paris sent in elite troops and air power to reverse the situation. Al Qaeda has been driven out of the cities like Timbuktu and into the desert, many of its foot soldiers have been killed and some of its top leaders as well. For Zawahiri it is a bitter setback. The stronghold in Mali was to be the centerpiece of a larger Qaeda emirate across the Sahel from Mauretania to Nigeria. He warns the French to expect a quagmire in Mali like “what America was met with in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Zawahiri lauds the success of al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq in contrast. In Syria, al Qaeda’s franchise, Jabhat al Nusra, has become the fastest-growing Qaeda movement in the world after Zawahiri called upon jihadists from across Islam to go and fight in Syria a year ago. Since then the Qaeda core headquarters in Pakistan has been in close communication with the Nusra front in Syria. Zawahiri also praises the Qaeda organization in Iraq for outlasting the American occupation and for its constant attacks on the Shia government in Baghdad.
In both Syria and Iraq, Zawahiri blames Iran and its ally Hezbollah for supporting the Assad and Maliki governments. He accuses Tehran of secretly colluding with Washington in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Zawahiri says the “true faces of Iran and Hezbollah have been unmasked” by their opposition to al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq.

Zawahiri pays tribute to the Qaeda franchise in Iraq, the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq, for helping the al Nusra front in Syria get organized. Shortly after Zawahiri’s statement the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, publicly claimed credit for helping set up the Qaeda franchise in Syria and announced the two groups had merged into an Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. Al Baghdadi’s statement confirmed what the United States had been saying for months: the al Nusra front is an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Next the leader of al Nusra, who calls himself Abu Muhammad al Golani, walked it back a bit. He said he had not been “consulted” on any merger with the Iraqi group, although he was careful not to criticize al Baghdadi and stressed his loyalty to Zawahiri and al Qaeda. The exchange has brought al Nusra out of the closet; it is clearly now part of the Qaeda global jihadist campaign. Al Golani admitted that he had earlier been a fighter in Iraq and was a supporter of the Iraqi franchise but he went out of his way to declare al Nusra’s loyalty is to Zawahiri and the Qaeda core group.

The tempest over al Baghdadi’s comments is likely to pass, and the two Qaeda groups will continue to collaborate closely. Both in Syria and Iraq al Qaeda is growing in numbers and power at a dangerous pace. And with Zawahiri’s encouragement, al Qaeda’s support base across the Islamic world is funneling sympathizers to go to Syria and Iraq to join the fight. In his statement Zawahiri makes clear the end state is creation of a new caliphate across Islam that can lead the struggle to recover Jerusalem for Islam and destroy Israel. 

Despite his rambling, Zawahiri’s new statement also underscores his continued centrality to the Qaeda movement as a whole. Often underestimated, the Egyptian leader of al Qaeda provides a strategic leadership role that would probably vanish if he was killed or captured. He smoothly and quickly replaced his predecessor, Osama bin Laden, when the SEALS killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011. 

No one challenged him then or challenges him now for leadership of al Qaeda. There is no comparable figure in al Qaeda today serving as Zawahiri’s deputy and heir apparent. Zawahiri has made no effort to groom a successor to lead the global jihad. The lack of a clearly identified number two is a potential vulnerability but only if Ayman’s hideout in Pakistan can be found.

Private Approval, Public Condemnation: Drone Warfare’s Implications for Pakistani Sovereignty

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 7

Pakistani men protest against drone strikes (Source Getty Images)

The latest contribution to the debate over the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan came from Ben Emmerson, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights after three days of meetings with Pakistani officials in mid-March. When the meetings were over Emmerson’s office issued the following statement, the UN’s loudest condemnation of the CIA’s drone assassination campaign in Pakistan to date:

[Pakistan] does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. As a matter of international law the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another State without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. Pakistan has called on the U.S. to cease its campaign immediately. [1] 

A cursory read of the statement presents a very stark picture of a sovereign nation being invaded by U.S. drones presumably flown from Coalition-controlled Afghanistan. Pakistani officials, it can be inferred, are united in their strong opposition to these violations of their territorial sovereignty. 

However, this simple black and white image of a bullying American superpower violating international law fails to capture the complexities of America’s drone campaign in Pakistan or its relations with Islamabad. Far from being a simple case of aggression, the Pakistanis have covertly supported the drone campaign since its inception in 2004. An exploration of the true nature of U.S.-Pakistani relations in regards to the murky drone campaign reveals a grey world of Pakistan-based CIA drones, joint Pakistani-American counter terrorism operations and official (but private) Pakistani government and military support for the drone campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. 

The Drone War and Secret Pakistani Support 

The first CIA drone assassination in Pakistan was of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Nek Muhammad in 2004. Muhammad and his followers had become the dominant force in the South Waziristan tribal agency in the previous three years. Having defeated the Pakistani army on several occasions, his followers then overturned Pakistan’s laws and strictly enforced Shari’a in what became known as “Talibanistan.” Muhammad was clearly a threat to Pakistan’s sovereignty and President Musharraf subsequently admitted that he allowedthe United States to carry out drone surveillance inside Pakistan’s territory (Express Tribune [Karachi], December 3, 2010). While Musharraf later stated that he did not give the United States permission to use the drones to kill militants like Muhammad, one Pakistani daily called his retroactive disavowal of the campaign “greatly suspect” (Express Tribune[Karachi], December 23, 2010). 

In 2008 Musharraf was replaced as president by Asif Ali Zardari, whose wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, had been killed by a suspected Taliban suicide bomber. Musharraf returned to Pakistan on March 24 after five years of self-exile, apparently with a revisionist view of the drone issue more in line with the government’s official position: “No country is allowed to violate another's sovereignty like the U.S. did in this case. Pakistan's authority was harmed, how can I approve of such a thing?... I'm against these drone wars. It's also an infringement on our sovereignty. If the U.S. wants to fight terrorists with drones, they should provide us with the corresponding technology so that we can carry out that fight” (Interview with Spiegel Online, March 26). 

Informatization Drives Expanded Scope of Public Security

Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 8
April 12, 2013 03:06 PM Age: 3 days

In a recent interview with the Ministry of Public Security’s (MPS) principle newspaper, a municipal police chief stated more than half of the solved cases were resolved because of the integration of technical surveillance data into his public security bureau’s operations (China Police Daily, March 28). The process of building up these capabilities—known as “public security informatization construction” (gong’an xinxihua jianshe)—has been a pillar of MPS modernization since at least 2008, when then-MPS chief and current Politburo member Meng Jianzhu declared it one of the three main objectives (www.mps.gov.cn, September 25, 2008). This interview is one of a growing number of signs that informatization is improving MPS capabilities and boosting the ministry’s status just as it has done for the Chinese military.

Informatization of the police force has been a continual theme for the last five years as the MPS faces a number of daunting prospects for maintaining stability. Nationwide trends in urbanization, industrialization, informatization, agricultural modernization, internationalization and rural-urban integration—the so-called “five changes and one integration” (wuhua yiti)—present a broad set of challenges for public security and social management (www.cdzfw.gov.cn, March 20). China’s number of police per unit of population is still relatively low (less than half) compared to developed Western countries, and information technology offers a force multiplier to compensate for the numbers shortfall. Consequently, the MPS across all its echelons has invested in integrated databases that can auto-generate leads and networked video surveillance with software improvements for feature recognition as well as other systems to improve the ministry’s exploitation of information. These systems underpin the MPS’s guidance to its operational elements to focus on “early subduing” (yufu), “manage [unrest] by striking early” (zao daji chuli) and “persist in putting detection and warning first; defend and control early” (“China’s Adaptive Approach to the Information Counter-Revolution,” China Brief, June 3, 2011).

In addition to helping police officer do more with less, the tenor of the success stories has started to change along with the inputs to MPS databases that increasingly hold financial, personal and travel data. A municipal police chief in Sichuan noted informatized police operations have moved from investigations toward preemptive warning and providing specific location data for arresting officers. One such example was the use of an economic intelligence tracking system, which tracked financial data, that alerted to the MPS to the possibility of a counterfeiting operation. Due to the automatically-generated lead, the police cracked a crime ring that produced $1.77 million in counterfeit Chinese currency (China Policy Daily, March 28).

The informatization program also has been used to meet one of the other three pillars of MPS modernization: improving the relationship between the ministry and the Chinese citizenry (www.mps.gov.cn, September 25, 2008). After a period of experimentation leading to a national police conference in September 2011, the minister of public security endorsed a national microblogging policy as a part of open e-government and developing better communication with the local populace (China Police Daily, September 27, 2011;People’s Daily, September 27, 2011). Although it is easy to be skeptical, the police weibo feeds now are some of the more popular government public outreach efforts to the surprise of many observers.

The few numbers available on the intelligence-related information technology spending suggests this may be one of the explanations for the steady increases in the internal security budget—now 769.1 billion yuan ($124.12 billion)—which has outpaced defense spending since 2010 (Ming Pao [Hong Kong], March 11; Xinhua, March 5). According to the police chief of the five million-person Weinan City in Shaanxi Province, the local public security bureau (PSB) has spent 2 hundred million yuan ($32.25 million) since 2003 on technical systems for informatization work. Weinan PSB also has sought cooperation from a local telecommunications company to help manage the city’s networked video surveillance system, involving another 60 million yuan ($9.68 million). Elsewhere, Shandong Province’s Yantai municipal police spent 2.4 hundred million yuan ($38.7 million) to establish its integrated intelligence center (China Police Daily, March 28). Under Bo Xilai from 2007 to 2010, Chongqing reportedly spent $300 million on its intelligence center and contributions to China’s “Great Intelligence System” (daqingbao xitong), according Chinese newspapers cited by Ho Pin and Huang Wenguang [1].

System of System Operational Capability: Impact on PLA Transformation

Publication: China Brief Volume: 13 Issue: 8
April 12, 2013

Several recent People’s Liberation Army (PLA) publications discuss requirements for implementing system of systems operations, which is considered the key enabler for integrated joint operations (IJO). The requirements are both broad and deep, indicating that these two theoretical developments are driving many of the changes that are part of the PLA’s transformational efforts. While both of these areas—system of systems and IJO—remain largely aspirational, they are critical to generating greater combat effectiveness and operational capabilities in the future. This article examines reform to training, exercises and education; modernization and integration of information systems; and streamlining and modernization of the force structure to support development of system of systems operations and modernization of key operational elements (“System of Systems Operational Capability: Operational Units and Elements,” China Brief, March 15; “System of Systems Operational Capability: Key Supporting Concepts For Future Joint Operations,” China Brief, October 5, 2012). Many of the modernization and restructuring efforts already are evident, such as reorganizations within the General Staff Department (GSD) to create lead agencies for joint training and information technology modernization, while some are not.

A National Defense University (NDU) publication notes that equipment modernization is not the main impediment to the PLA’s transformational efforts. The main constraints are the needs to cultivate quality personnel, eliminate parochial interests of the services and institutional conflicts. While the PLA is working to increase personnel with joint operations and high-tech capabilities, proposed solutions to institutional problems appear limited [1].

Exercises, Training and Education

System of systems and joint operations theories are changing operational patterns and methods, which in turn are leading to new educational and training requirements to address the lack of personnel with high-tech and joint operations experience; to train units on integrated information systems to promote the establishment of operational system of systems; and to move toward greater testing and demonstrations in exercises to advance theoretical concepts. Cultivating skilled personnel—especially joint commanders and staff—is viewed as critical to this effort, as highlighted by the PLA in the recent National People’s Congress (NPC) (PLA Daily, March 12; China Military Online, March 1; March 8). Interestingly, the PLA also cites the problem of limited funding for training, leading to the search for more effective and efficient training methods to save money, material, manpower and time (SOSOC 100 Questions, p. 226).

The creation of the Military Training Department of the GSD in December 2011—which was formed from the Military Training and Arms Department—appears to have been in response to a recommendation to establish an authoritative lead training agency for management, decision making, and greater standardization across the PLA. This lead agency also is tasked to oversee and direct joint training in a more scientific and rational manner, focusing on the strategic and operational levels; and establish a standardized training system and regime to improve training coordination, support and evaluation system (ISBSOSOS pp. 344–347; SOSOC 100 Questions, pp. 225–226, 232; PLA Daily, December 22, 2011).

Recent press reporting has highlighted the need to conduct realistic combat training and strengthen the psychological and physical toughness of troops to meet the demands of future combat operations. The PLA is concerned with the lengthy process to convert from peacetime to wartime status in response to a sudden crisis. Training based on realistic combat conditions will better prepare troops psychologically, maintain a higher level of combat preparation, and shorten the time for units to convert to wartime readiness levels. A recommendation to establish theater joint commands in peacetime is part of this requirement to prepare for a sudden conflict (SOSOC 100 Questions pp. 218, 230).

Incompatibility hinders BRICS bloc

By Joseph Nye 
Mon, Apr 08, 2013 

Last month, new Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) chose Moscow for his first foreign visit. He and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a number of agreements and then traveled to Durban, South Africa, for the fifth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit, where they joined with the leaders of Brazil, India and South Africa to announce the creation of a new development bank that could challenge the dominance of the World Bank and the IMF.

The five leaders’ speeches referred to a changing world order and Xi said that “the potential of BRICS development is infinite.”

It looked as if the BRICS had finally come of age. Three years ago, I was skeptical about the BRICS, and despite the recent summit’s apparent success, I still am.

Nearly 12 years ago, then-Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill coined the term “BRIC” to describe the “emerging markets” of Brazil, Russia, India and China. From 2000 to 2008, these four countries’ share of global output rose rapidly from 16 percent to 22 percent (in purchasing power parity terms), and their economies performed better than average in the subsequent global recession.

For investors, that outcome justified the creation of the catchy acronym. However, then a strange thing happened: The investors’ creature came to life. In 2009, the four countries met for the first time in Russia in an effort to forge an international political organization. South Africa joined the bloc in late 2010, primarily for political reasons.

As O’Neill recently told the China Daily, “South Africa is quite fortunate enough to be in the group, as, economically, it is rather small compared to the others.”

Moreover, its economic performance has been relatively sluggish, with a growth rate of just 2.3 percent last year.

So, while the BRICS may be helpful in coordinating certain diplomatic tactics, the term lumps together highly disparate countries. Not only is South Africa miniscule compared with the others, but China’s economy is larger than those of all of the other members combined. Likewise, India, Brazil and South Africa are democracies, and occasionally meet in an alternative forum that they call IBSA (the India, Brazil, South Africa Dialogue Forum).

Also, while the large autocracies, Russia and China, find it diplomatically advantageous to tweak the US, both have different, but crucial relationships with Washington. Both have also worked to thwart the efforts by India, Brazil and South Africa to become permanent members of the UN Security Council.

As I wrote three years ago, in analytical terms, it makes little sense to include Russia, a former superpower, with the developing economies. Russia lacks diversified exports, faces severe demographic and health problems, and, in former Russian president Dmitri Medvedev’s words, “greatly needs modernization.”

Little has changed since Putin returned to the presidency last year. While economic growth benefited from the dramatic growth in oil and gas prices during the past decade, other competitive industries have yet to emerge and the country now faces the prospect of declining energy prices. While it aims to maintain 5 percent annual growth, its economy was relatively flat last year.

If Russia’s power resources seem to be declining, Brazil’s appear to be more impressive, given it has a territory nearly three times the size of India’s, a 90 percent literacy rate and triple the per capita income of India — and nearly twice that of China. However, in the three years since my earlier assessment, Brazil’s performance has slipped: Annual economic growth has slowed from 7.5 percent in 2010 to just 1 percent last year, with a 3.5 percent rate expected this year.

Like Brazil, India experienced a spurt of output growth after liberalizing its economy in the 1990s and had, until a few years ago, a GDP growth approaching Chinese-style rates. However, this year, output is expected to rise by a relatively sluggish 5.9 percent. Unless it improves its infrastructure and literacy rate — particularly for women — India is unlikely to catch up with China.

So, should we take today’s BRICS more seriously than the BRICs of three years ago?

Tellingly, the meeting in Durban failed to produce any details of the structure of the proposed new development bank, suggesting that little progress had been made in the year since the BRICS’ last meeting in New Delhi, India, where the plan was announced. Despite a commitment to launch “formal negotiations” to establish the bank, disagreements about the size and shares of the bank’s capital have not been resolved.


BEIJING, April 16 
(Xinhua) Editor: Deng Shasha

China said in its latest national defense white paper published on Tuesday that it has established an air defense force integrating reconnaissance and early warning systems, resistance, counterattack and protection.

According to military experts, China's vast territory and complications concerning airspace over neighboring countries means the nation faces an increasingly serious threat to its air security. So its armed forces have an arduous task in safeguarding Chinese airspace.

Hou Xiaohe, an associate professor from the National Defense University, the top military academy in China, said conflicts after the Cold War period have showed that air strike and anti-air strike measures have become an important form of operations amid the rapid development of high-tech offensive air power.

Therefore, after over six decades of development, the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is emphasizing both offensive and defensive capabilities, rather than only defending homeland air territory.

As the white paper notes, the PLAAF is the mainstay of national territorial air defense. In peacetime, the chain of command of China's air defense runs from the PLAAF headquarters through the air commands of the military area commands to air defense units.

The PLAAF exercises unified command over all air defense components in accordance with the Central Military Commission's intent. The country's air defense system is composed of six sub-systems of reconnaissance and surveillance, command and control, aerial defense, ground air defense, integrated support and civil air defense.

Hou said the six sub-systems form an organic entity with reconnaissance and early warning, resistance, counterattack and protection. The reconnaissance and early-warning sub-system is tasked with finding, identifying and tracking the enemy's air raid weapons, and sending accurate, timely information about air targets to the command and control sub-system.

Composed of command organs at all levels and radars under their control, computers as well as communication facilities, the command and control sub-system is responsible for collecting and processing air intelligence, mastering development of air situations, judging the nature of targets, selecting operation plans, and commanding and guiding air combat.

The aerial defense and ground air defense sub-systems are tasked with intercepting and interfering with the enemy's air raid weapons based on the operation plans and data provided by the command and control sub-system.

The integrated support sub-system is responsible for ensuring the survival and completion of the aforementioned sub-systems and missions, while the civil air defense sub-system organizes personnel and materials for protection, firefighting, medical care and other work.

The white paper made public the Chinese army's combat readiness for the first time, saying that combat readiness refers to preparations of the armed forces for undertaking operational tasks and military operations other than war (MOOTW), and it is the general, comprehensive and regular work of the armed forces.

Based on different tasks, troops assume different levels of readiness (Level III, Level II and Level I, from the lowest degree of alertness to the highest).

The white paper said the PLAAF focuses its daily combat readiness on territorial air defense. It follows the principles of applicability in both peacetime and wartime, all-dimension response and full territorial reach, and maintains a vigilant and efficient combat readiness.

PLAAF organizes air alert patrols on a regular basis to verify abnormal and unidentified air situations promptly. The PLAAF command alert system takes PLAAF command posts as the core, field command posts as the basis, and aviation and ground air defense forces on combat duty as the pillar.

Hou said command organs and armed forces at all levels of the PLAAF maintain combat readiness duties 24 hours a day, year round and are ready for orders for operations. In case of any situation, command organs at all levels, aircraft on combat readiness duties and ground air defense weapons can make up their mind to take actions.

Hou added that the PLAAF's command, warning and combat readiness systems are connected as a network with cable, wireless, satellite and other communications facilities, forming a command and warning network with PLAAF command posts as the core, field command posts as the basis, and technical surveillance, ground radars, electronic countermeasures, air units, surface-to-air missiles and antiaircraft guns in combat readiness duties as the pillar.

The network can quickly exchange information with superior and subordinate organs, take actions as a whole, mainly adapting the rapid, sudden and quickly-changing air combats.

In recent years, air units, most of them based in coastal areas, have scrambled more than 1,000 sorties annually, and ground air defense units have exercised maneuvers hundreds of times, in a bid to identify abnormal air situations, or carry out air patrols and reconnaissance missions. 


(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

China on Tuesday issued a white paper on national defense elaborating its new security concept and peacetime employment of armed forces.

The document, the eighth of its kind the Chinese government has issued since 1998, says China advocates a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, and pursues comprehensive security, common security and cooperative security.

"China will never seek hegemony or behave in a hegemonic manner, nor will it engage in military expansion," the white paper says.

The paper elaborates the country's diversified employment of the armed forces in the peaceful times, saying that it responds to China's core security needs and aims to maintain peace, contain crises and win wars.

Chinese armed forces are employed to safeguard border, coastal and territorial air security, strengthen combat-readiness and combat-oriented exercises and drills, it says.

They would readily respond to and resolutely deter any provocative action which undermines China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, it says.

China discloses how PLA troops are formed

A white paper issued Tuesday discloses, for the first time, how the army, navy, air force and the second artillery corps of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) are formed.

According to the white paper on "the diversified employment of China's armed forces," the PLA Army mobile operational units include 18 combined corps, plus additional independent combined operational divisions (brigades), and have a total strength of 850,000.

The combined corps, composed of divisions and brigades, are respectively under the seven military area commands: Shenyang (16th, 39th and 40th Combined Corps), Beijing (27th, 38th and 65th Combined Corps), Lanzhou (21st and 47th Combined Corps), Jinan (20th, 26th and 54th Combined Corps), Nanjing (1st, 12th and 31st Combined Corps), Guangzhou (41st and 42nd Combined Corps) and Chengdu (13th and 14th Combined Corps).

The PLA Navy has a total strength of 235,000 officers and men, and commands three fleets, namely, the Beihai Fleet, the Donghai Fleet and the Nanhai Fleet, the white paper says.

Each Fleet has fleet aviation headquarters, support bases, flotillas and maritime garrison commands, as well as aviation divisions and marine brigades, it said.

In September 2012, China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning was commissioned into the Navy. China's development of an aircraft carrier has a profound impact on building a strong Navy and safeguarding maritime security, the white paper says.

The PLA Air Force now has a total strength of 398,000 officers and men, and an air command in each of the seven Military Area Commands of Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, it says.

In addition, it commands one airborne corps. Under each air command are bases, aviation divisions (brigades), ground-to-air missile divisions (brigades), radar brigades and other units, it says.

The PLA Second Artillery Force has under its command missile bases, training bases, specialized support units, academies and research institutions, the white paper says.

It has a series of "Dong Feng" ballistic missiles and "Chang Jian" cruise missiles, it says.


March 01, 2013 Session I

Perspectives on Xinjiang

Dr Debashish Chaudhuri, Associate Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi

Any serious discussion on the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China will centre on the issue of Uighur separatism, and the Chinese government’s policy on minority nationalism. A serious problem that the Chinese government is facing is that it has lost the capacity for dialogue with the people living on its political, economic, and geographic periphery. This gap in communication has, for long, impeded the process of conflict resolution in Xinjiang.

There has always been a great emphasis on the inseparability of ethnic minorities from the Han majority, which in turn represents the socio-cultural essence of China. Persistent hammering of this point by state propaganda has added fuel to ethno-nationalist sentiments, and provided critical mass for the Uighur separatist movement.

China’s stated aim is to eliminate separatist activities – perceived or real, and expressed on virtual platforms such as the Internet. Maintaining stability remains the top priority, and in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Uighurs have been brought under strict state surveillance and control. The ‘focused rectification of regional social order’ has taken precedence in the face of the low level of economic development, and large scale poverty one finds as one moves further away from China’s political core. This has caused further peripherisation of Xinjiang.

Perspectives on Tibet

Dr Abanti Bhattacharya, Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi, New Delhi

The Tibet Autonomous Region figures prominently in China’s periphery strategy. China treats it as a strategic issue, and not as a minority-identity issue. Located on China’s historically vulnerable western frontier, Tibet now sits astride a disputed international boundary shared with India, and is the focus of the Tibetan nationalist movement. For China, this means a minority-inhabited area occupying one-fourth of its landmass and frequently disrupted by political uprisings.

In the post-1949 period, China militarily occupied the region in 1950, and legally incorporated the region by forcing the Tibetans to sign the Seventeen-Point Agreement in 1951. It has administratively integrated the region by creating the Tibetan Autonomous Region in 1965.

China’s minority policy, underscored in the ethnic classification project, and regional autonomy system, is geared towards periphery consolidation. Its Tibet policy in the post-1978 reform period demonstrates how China has continued to address the issue from a security perspective, having implemented the Western Development Strategy internally and re-crafted its Tibet policy externally.

The periphery strategy has dual implications, first being the security of the internal periphery, and the second being the security of the external periphery. The state’s solutions to the Tibetan problem have invariably been part of a security-centric response. Quite inevitably then, the Tibet issue, which is essentially the quest for Tibetan identity, will continue to pose a formidable challenge to China’s security, and remain unresolved for a long time to come.

Perspectives on Inner Mongolia

Hu Xiaowen, Ph.D. candidate, Centre for East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University and research assistant in Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences

Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region spans across the northeast, north, and northwest of China. It accounts for 12.3% of the total area of the country, ranking third amongst all the provinces and autonomous regions. Inner Mongolia shares its border and cultural history with Mongolia, links northeast Asia and central Asia, and is of key strategic significance for China.

During the last few decades, Inner Mongolia has brought several improvements to its economy and society. There has been a sustained and rapid economic growth over the past 30 years. The overall quality and level of the tertiary industry too, has significantly increased. Urbanisation, science, education, and other social undertakings have been flourishing.


April 16, 2013

China has established a number of port relationships in the Indian Ocean that make it possible for them to support increased navy operations. All these ports are commercial operations, where Chinese firms have upgraded or built commercial ports and run them. This makes it easy for the Chinese Navy to visit (for repairs, supplies or shore leave for the crews). So far this “string of pearls” includes Bangladesh (Chittagong), Burma (Sittwe and Coco Island), Sri Lanka (Hambantota), Pakistan (Gwadar) and Tanzania ( Bagamoyo). The Indian Ocean has become a major trade route for China and this makes the security of this route a major concern. This, however, upsets India a great deal because of active claims China has on India (especially along the Tibet border). There’s not much India can do about the String of Pearls as China has become a major economic force in the Indian Ocean and offers all the nations hosting a “pearl” very attractive economic incentives to accept Chinese port building and management efforts.

Speaking of Tibet, China has used its economic clout in tiny Nepal (between India and China/Tibet) to put more pressure on anti-Chinese Tibetans. For decades the Nepalese government was hospitable to Tibetans fleeing Chinese rule in their homeland and even allowed Tibetan anti-China activists permission to operate in Nepal. No more. China has been increasingly generous to Nepal over the last decade and now those favors are being cashed in. As a result anti-Chinese Tibetans are facing increasing restrictions in Nepal. The Chinese also played on the traditional Nepalese fear of India (which has long dominated Nepal, but was never able to permanently conquer it and incorporate it into India).

The Chinese Navy has been increasing its training missions outside coastal waters over the last six years. In that period there were twenty of the high seas exercises in the Western Pacific, involving 90 ships. Including the ships sent to work with the anti-piracy patrol off Somalia the ships going on high seas exercises includes about 140 vessels. The Somalia missions have been excellent training, as they last four months (versus a few weeks for the Western Pacific operations.)

The increased Chinese Navy activity is largely to train sailors on how to keep other countries from exercising claims to disputed bits of land far from the Chinese coast. This issue is particularly explosive in the South China Sea. Long-term, China expects to win all these disputes and its growing (and increasingly active) navy is part of that plan.


Gordon G. Chang, Contributor 
April 16, 2013

I write primarily on China, Asia, and nuclear proliferation. 

On Tuesday, Fitch Ratings downgraded China’s long-term local currency debt one notch, from AA- to A+. The primary reason for the move was the country’s too-rapid expansion of credit, one of the “underlying structural weaknesses” the agency cited in its announcement. Many analysts in fact think the debt resulting from then Premier Wen Jiabao’s borrowing binge, which began to accumulate in earnest in late 2008, is now China’s number one economic risk. 

There are, of course, other risk factors now undermining the country’s economic growth. Among them are an eroding environment, unfavorable demographic trends, and persistent internal discontent. 

Yet the events since early last month in North Asia—the tearing up of the Korean War armistice, Pyongyang’s promises of pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the U.S., and the deployment of North Korea’s mobile missiles, to name just a few of them—suggest the biggest threat to the Chinese economy may be the least discussed one: turmoil in the region. As Fitch carefully noted in its explanation of Tuesday’s downgrade, “The ratings assume there is no significant deterioration of geopolitical risk, for example a conflict between China and Japan or an outbreak of war on the Korean peninsula.” 

North Asia looks like the world’s most volatile region at the moment. An assertive China is working to push America aside, grab territory from an arc of nations from India in the south to South Korea in the north, and close off the South China Sea so that it becomes an internal Chinese lake. Last month, while Chinese leaders talked about enhancing cooperation in the region, two Chinese vessels attacked a Vietnamese fishing boat, setting it on fire. 

There are many reasons for Beijing new assertiveness, but one stands out: slowing GDP growth, evident since the early summer of 2011. The economic problems in particular have created a dangerous dynamic, trapping China in a self-reinforcing—and self-defeating—loop. In this loop, the slumping economy is leading to a crisis of legitimacy, the legitimacy crisis is causing Beijing to fall back on nationalism and increase friction with its neighbors, and the increased friction is aggravating the country’s economic difficulties. 

Caught in a trap of their own making, Beijing leaders will continue to blame foreigners for the problems evident in Chinese society and then lash out, as they did in September against Japan, over the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. 

And as they lash out, they are making their problems worse. The anti-Japan protests in China last fall, for instance, are resulting in Japanese industry reducing its commitment to China by shifting investments into Southeast Asia, as Nissan announced at the end of October. That, in turn, could push the Chinese economy past the tipping point. 

Moreover, the North Korean crisis, which Beijing has been aggravating behind the scenes, is not helping the Chinese economy either. Commerce between China and the North seems largely unaffected, as various reports from the border crossings indicate. But the Kim regime in Pyongyang seems to be targeting the South Korean economy with its threats, and that is beginning to have some effect. 

“The North Koreans are now using the propaganda in an extreme form to try to damage foreign direct investments into South Korea,” says Tom Coyner, author of “Doing Business in Korea,” to the New York Times. “They are, in a sense at this point, winning in an asymmetrical psychological warfare, attacking the economic strength of South Korea.” And as the Times points out, South Koreans know “their globalized economy has much more to lose than the North’s isolated and already highly sanctioned economy.” 

Yet Pyongyang leaders may be taking down more than just the South. In an interconnected world, they may be damaging the other networked economies in the region, those of Japan and China. All three economies—South Korea, Japan, and China—have integrated themselves into the others, for instance making the others part of the global supply chains of their companies. 

In these circumstances, it is unlikely that only South Korea will be damaged. The South is China’s third-largest trading partner, and it is China’s fifth-largest source of foreign direct investment. Trade between China and South Korea increased 40 times in 20 years. It rose 18.6% in 2011 to $245.6 billion, a record high. So South Korea’s troubles will eventually becomes China’s. 


Shanta Maree Surendran, Research Intern, IPCS
April 16, 2013

In May 2013, China will be linked directly to the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean by virtue of a gas pipeline running from Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar to China’s Yunnan Province. This will mark the completion of the first in a number of projects aimed towards circumnavigating the Malacca Strait as an energy conduit for China. This article examines existing and long-term considerations to determine as to why China is pursuing this agenda, and why the Malacca Strait is perceived to be ‘risk-prone’.

Malacca Strait: Southeast Asia's Main Artery

The Malacca Strait links economies and enables the fulfilment of energy needs. Joining the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, it is one of the busiest commercial shipping pathways in the world, and is home to the busiest port. Littoral states including Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, are dependent on business in the Strait to sustain their GDPs. User nations, including China and Japan, depend on the smooth functioning of the Malacca Strait for foreign energy sources and economic trade routes. The status quo serves both; however, the long-term implications of three key areas, logistics, security, and power strategies, need to be considered.


The Strait offers a route that is faster and more economic than alternate pathways around the Indonesian islands. The infrastructure, with respect to berthing and refuelling, is well established and therefore offers a clear and predictable logistical pathway.The current volume of traffic along the Malacca Strait is estimated to range from 60,000-85,000 commercial ships passing through per year. Compounding traffic flow is the structure of the Strait, which has a natural bottleneck near Singapore, as well as a number of shallow sections requiring ‘Malaccamax’ cargo ships for passage. Investments in ship design as well as in the Strait, to enhance navigation, aims to prevent disruption through traffic jams and grounding. Presently, the Strait offers a relatively smooth transit but the phrase, ‘just enough, just in time’, used to describe oil shipments implies that there is not much room for disruption.Continued development and growth, particularly in China, are likely to catalyse an exponential increase in the quantity of traffic on the Strait within the next ten years. As needs increase, so will the rate at which needs must be addressed, which will heighten delivery pressures. Higher numbers and greater stakes may translate to increased risks of incidents of disruptive events, such as collision or grounding, as well as more substantial bottlenecking and longer delays. In addition to impacting delivery, this outcome would enhance security concerns.


In 2004, Cooperation Measures (CMs) between littoral and user nations were devised to address a spate of piracy and armed robberies in the Strait. The unified approach made piracy a more hazardous venture, and incidents declined. The need for constant vigilance, however, was emphasised in February when a Japanese cargo ship was hijacked. A number of attacks in Indonesian waters during the early part of 2013 also demonstrate the pervading nature of this threat, and renews the perception of risk associated with the Strait.Pirate attacks, separatist groups, and underground economies each present a threat, but of greater concern is the potential for terror groups to exploit these respective methods, sentiments, and networks. The Al Qaeda, Jema’ah Islamiyah, and Free Aceh separatist movement are cited as groups with the infrastructure, connections, local knowledge, and agenda to most likely attempt a terror attack at sea. The logistics of conducting such an attack make this an unlikely scenario, but it is the ‘high impact’ aspect of the ‘low probability’ event that is important to consider.

"How New and Assertive Is China's New Assertiveness?"

Journal Article, International Security, volume 37, issue 4, page 7–48
Spring 2013

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Quarterly Journal: International Security


There has been a rapidly spreading meme in U.S. pundit and academic circles since 2010 that describes China's recent diplomacy as “newly assertive.” This “new assertiveness” meme suffers from two problems. First, it underestimates the complexity of key episodes in Chinese diplomacy in 2010 and overestimates the amount of change. Second, the explanations for the new assertiveness claim suffer from unclear causal mechanisms and lack comparative rigor that would better contextualize China's diplomacy in 2010. An examination of seven cases in Chinese diplomacy at the heart of the new assertiveness meme finds that, in some instances, China's policy has not changed; in others, it is actually more moderate; and in still others, it is a predictable reaction to changed external conditions. In only one case—maritime disputes—does one see more assertive Chinese rhetoric and behavior. The speed and extent with which the newly assertive meme has emerged point to an understudied issue in international relations—namely, the role that online media and the blogosphere play in the creation of conventional wisdoms that might, in turn, constrain policy debates. The assertive China discourse may be a harbinger of this effect as a Sino-U.S. security dilemma emerges.