28 November 2013

26 questions on 26/11 that were never answered

26 questions on 26/11 that were never answered
November 26, 2013 11:39 IST

A Ganesh Nadar on the enduring mysteries swirling around the 26/11 attacks five years later.

1. Most Colaba residents did not know there was a Chabad House, a Jewish centre, in the area. How did two terrorists know exactly where to go, even if David Headley provided maps and instructions? It is not the easiest place to locate in Colaba's bylanes.

2. Can ammunition in a haversack last 68 hours, as it did at the Taj?

3. The 10 terrorists took cabs to the Taj, Leopold, the Oberoi, Chabad House and CST, but only two cabs exploded. What about the other three cabs? Have the police questioned the drivers of the other cabs?

4. Someone called the Colaba police station to report that ten men had got off a boat and were walking ashore. Who answered that call at the police station?

5. The police knew the duo (Ajmal Kasab and Abu Ismail) which shot up CST were in Cama Hospital and also when they left Cama Hospital. Why were Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar and the others not warned that the terrorists were on the road?

7. There were initial reports of a woman in a burkha who walked with the terrorists on the way to Chabad House. Did such a woman exist?

8. The route from Machimaar Nagar, where the terrorists landed, to Chabad House is one few Colaba residents would know. How did the terrorists know?

9.When the police knew the terrorists were talking to their handlers in Pakistan, why were phone jammers not used to stop the calls?

10. Why did the police not maintain records of guests leaving the Taj? How did they know if the terrorists's accomplices were not among them?

11. Why were the television channels not told to back off till the operation ended?

11. The NSG commandos could have taken the first commercial flight leaving for Mumbai and reached the city quickly. Why did they wait so long for a special flight?

12. Why were NSG commandos taken to the three sites in BEST buses, braving the Mumbai traffic? Why were helicopters not used to fly them to South Mumbai from the airport?

Indefensible dithering

Published on The Asian Age (http://www.asianage.com)

Created 27 Nov 2013 

The government frowns at the Task Force’s recommendation that military officers should serve in the MoD up to the rank of joint secretary to improve civilian-military relations. 

The government frowns at the Task Force’s recommendation that military officers should serve in the MoD up to the rank of joint secretary to improve civilian-military relations.

Remember the Task Force, headed by Naresh Chandra, a former Cabinet secretary, that was appointed by the government in 2011 comprehensively to review national security in the broadest sense of the term and suggest how best to reform it? This step was timely because the last such exercise was undertaken a decade earlier, in the wake of the Kargil War, when the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led coalition was in power. Sadly, the latest news about the Task Force (TF) is that the government has all but jettisoned most of its wholesome recommendations. And the irony is that a few of the suggestions that the government is inclined to accept are also not being notified. Since the TF’s recommendations are wide-ranging, in the available space only the worst of the rejections can be discussed.
Arguably, paramount among them is the sensible way the TF had suggested a way out of the permanent deadlock over the issue of having a Chief of Defence Staff in this country, as in other democracies such as the United States and Britain. Here this idea has always evoked strong opposition. In 2001 things seemed to change. A Group of Ministers (GOM), headed by the then deputy prime minister, L.K. Advani, examining the K. Subrahmanyam committee’s report on the Kargil War, accepted its considered view that a CDS was necessary as every war had to be fought by three services jointly.

However, the Cabinet endorsed all other recommendations of the GOM except the one on the CDS. Mr Vajpayee explained that he hadn’t rejected the idea, only held over a decision on it for two reasons: First, the Air Force had created “too much bad blood”. Nine former Air Chiefs had met him to protest. Secondly, he had consulted former President R. Venkataraman, and former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, (both of whom had served as defence ministers) and they had advised him not to appoint a CDS in a hurry. Atalji promised to make up his mind within a year. But that was not to be.

Faced with strong opposition to the CDS all round, especially by the civilian bureaucracy in the ministry of defence (MoD), the expert group recommended that instead of the current system of the most senior Service Chief also serving as chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee by rotation, there should be a permanent four-star chairman of this committee with a fixed tenure of two years. In the TF’s concept the permanent chairman would have nothing to do with operational functions but would look after everything in the domain of inter-services cooperation, such as training, provisioning, acquisitions etc. He would also command the Special Forces and, above all, oversee the Strategic Command.

How advantageous the proposed arrangement would be compared with the existing one should be obvious to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of matters military. At present the chairmen of Chiefs of Staff usually have very short tenure, once at least as little as 30 days. Moreover, since the chairman has to run his own service, he has very little time to devote to the joint needs of all three services. One of them recorded after retirement that as chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee he seldom had time to have a serious discussion with the holder of the Strategic Command!

In spite all this, the government does not want to accept this recommendation. To make matters worse it also frowns at the TF’s recommendation that military officers should serve in the MoD up to the rank of joint secretary to improve civilian-military relations. (Incidentally, Parliament’s standing committee on defence wants uniformed officers to serve up to the rank of additional secretary.)

The TF has done the country service by pointing out that India’s energy security faces two acute dangers. Overdependence on oil is one. From 80 per cent at present it could go up to 90 per cent. The second big problem is that Rajiv Gandhi’s attempt to have an integrated ministry of energy having foundered on the rock of politics, the rivalries and competition among ministries of power, coal and petroleum and so on are playing havoc. To overcome this, the TF suggested that an “integrated energy policy” should be formulated by a council on energy consisting of the secretaries of the relevant ministries and an independent chairman. But those with vested interest in preserving their turf would have nothing to do with this. Unfortunately, a similar fate awaits the expert group’s sound recommendation that there should be a National Technology Council in order to ensure that we import the most advanced technology and ourselves develop the best we can.

Any number of other instances can be cited. But let us look at those recommendations the government is inclined to accept, particularly those in the realm of defence production and acquisition, but which still hang fire.

On Friday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, addressing senior commanders of all three services, laid great emphasis on building a “strong domestic industrial base.” To facilitate precisely that the TF had made two useful recommendations: raising the proportion of FDI in defence ventures so that more technology-bearing foreigners could join Indian public and private enterprises. But reportedly defence minister A.K. Antony is resisting any increase in the existing limit of 26 per cent.

There is greater acceptance for the suggestion that the reckless “blacklisting” of foreign suppliers be abandoned. But, in the words of an authoritative source, “the ghost of Bofors still haunts us”. The reality is that though foreign currency worth `64 crore did change hands, the Bofors gun gave an excellent account of itself during the Kargil War. By that time every firm associated with Bofors had been blacklisted. Consequently, at the height of fighting we had to buy ammunition at thrice the normal price. Around that time we also “discovered” that the Swedes had transferred all technology to us. Mercifully, indigenous production of this howitzer is now a work in progress.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013 | Kumar Chellappan

This will be the first political transition in Afghanistan through the ballot box and only the third election of a President. A lot rests on the successful conduct of the poll and the emergence of a stable and viable regime

Hugging the Hindukush on a bright and sunny afternoon the Saturday before last (November 16), Air India’s Flight 243 landed smoothly at Kabul International Airport. We were greeted by an inconspicuous ‘Welcome to the Land of the Brave’ hoarding. But soon the weather packed up. As a dense blanket covered Kabul, a suicide bomber blew up at least 200kg of Made-in-Pakistan fertiliser, packed into a Corolla, near the Polytechnic area, killing 20 persons and maiming another 100. His target was the German-built shamiana designed for the meeting of 3,000 Afghan elders at the Loya Jirga where they would ratify the long-awaited Bilateral Security Agreement between the US and Afghanistan. For the next six days, Kabul would be locked down and its chaotic traffic come to grinding to a halt.

Instead of clearing the uncertainty of US and Nato military presence in Afghanistan post-2014, when their combat roles end, the reverse has happened, following Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s speech at the Loya Jirga and an interview to William Dalrymple — the India-Pakistan-proxy-war-in-Afghanistan alarmist — that was published in the November 20th international edition of New York Times. Mr Karzai’s tough talking on the BSA — that even after it was approved by the Loya Jirga, the agreement would still be signed only after the Presidential election slated for April next year, and possibly by his successor — is integral to his doublespeak and part of embellishing his legacy.

Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Rangin Spanta explained in Parliament that the wrinkles of the BSA, that had threatened to wreck it, had been ironed out, including the issues of immunity for US troops and independent operations by them under exceptional circumstances. The James Dobbins-David Rank AfPak pointsmen have been haggling over the terms of the BSA for one long year, though the number troops that will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 has not been disclosed yet.
The rumour in Kabul was that Pakistan and Iran were keen to kill the BSA and its choreography was available on tape. According to Mr Spanta, it was a good deal and not only would the US pay for the military, it would further strengthen the Afghan National Security Force.

The bargaining for military bases has involved aspirational demands — making Afghanistan secure, stable and peaceful with a unitary centralised Government. US commitment is to preserve the gains of the past decade and make a responsible drawdown: There is a clause on mutual consultation, in the event of external aggression, though this is defined ambiguously. The US’s residual role to train, assist, and advise Afghan forces, and conduct counter-terrorism operations is unlikely to expand in the short term.

In his interview to Mr Dalrymple, Mr Karzai has spoken about alleged misdeeds of America in causing too many civilian casualties, the failure to fight terrorism “where it was and where it is” and subordinating Afghanistan’s national interests to their own. He even said that he might be forced to seek “help elsewhere”. The apology he sought from the US did not come, though words of comfort and reassurance were plenty. All in all, there is little comfort for US security planners who say they need a minimum of a year to implement the BSA, after it has been signed. Mr Karzai’s eyes are on the next election. He does not want to be seen playing with Afghanistan’s sovereignty and strategic autonomy — or what little is left of it— despite the pro forma rendering of Afghan-owned and Afghan-driven national processes. 

Troubled history hangs over Pakistan’s new Army chief

Published: November 28, 2013
Praveen Swami

AP The expert view is that the newly-appointed Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif is unlikely to spearhead a radical shift in Pakistani military thinking.

Each of Nawaz Sharif’s past choices for army chief has ended in a crisis for the country. Will he prove fourth time lucky?

Everything had been planned down to the last, small detail — but one. Late on the evening of October 12, 1999, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif swore in Lieutenant General Khwaja Ziauddin as Pakistan’s new army chief, there was no star to pin on his shoulder, to add to the three already there. Mr. Sharif’s military secretary, Brigadier Javed Malik, took one from his own uniform, so that it could be put on to his new chief’s shoulder.

It proved an ill-omen: late that evening, the man Mr. Sharif had sacked, General Pervez Musharraf, flew back to Pakistan from Sri Lanka, and rode to power in a coup. Lieutenant General Khwaja Ziauddin was arrested and relieved of his new-found rank at gunpoint. Mr. Sharif went to prison, and then exile.

Brigadier Malik never got his star back.

Now, with Mr. Nawaz Sharif appointing General Raheel Sharif — no relative — to lead the Pakistan Army, he’ll be hoping to break with the past.

Mr. Sharif’s past appointments to lead Pakistan’s army have all involved breaking with seniority — and ended in crisis for his governments. General Wahid Kakkar, appointed in 1993 superseding Lieutenants-General Rehm-Dil Bhatti, Mohammad Ashraf, Farrakh Khan and Arif Bangash, eventually forced Mr. Sharif’s resignation from office.

In 1998, Mr. Sharif sacked the soft-spoken General Jehangir Karamat for demanding the creation of a National Security Council to adjudicate on civil-military relations. He brought in General Musharraf — with historic consequences.
Distinguished family

The man Mr. Sharif has now picked, Pakistan Army sources say, has made a career by avoiding controversy. Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif, soft-spoken and dignified, comes from a Punjabi family with a long military history: his father was an officer, as were his brothers and at least one brother-in-law. His older brother, Major Shabbir Sharif, was among the country’s most decorated officers, winning both its highest military honours, the Sitara-e-Jurrat and the Nishan-e-Haider, for his role in separate battles in the 1971 war.

In Pakistani accounts of the 1971 war, Major Shabbir Sharif is credited with holding back Indian armour at the Gurmakhera Bridge for several days.

Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf was a course-mate of Major Shabbir Sharif — and took the younger brother under his wing when he was commissioned into service in October, 1976.

In 1998, General Musharraf was hand-picked as chief of army staff by Mr. Nawaz Sharif — superseding his seniors, Lieutenant General Ali Kuli Khan and Lieutenant General Khalid Nawaz Khan, just as General Raheel Sharif has now done.

His rise to power gave General Sharif a mentor at the highest level of the Pakistan Army. General Sharif was chosen as personal secretary to the new army chief, but General Musharraf then changed his mind and instead sent him for a prestigious course at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.

Later, General Sharif served as chief of staff to Lieutenant General Abdul Qadir Baloch, then commander of the Gujranwala-based XXX corps. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Lieutenant General Baloch was transferred to the Quetta-based XII corps, a formation responsible for operations against jihadists who were known to be crossing the border from Afghanistan. He took General Sharif with him as his chief of staff, a Brigadier-rank appointment.

Then, General Musharraf promoted General Sharif to the rank of Major General, assigning him as General Officer-Commanding of the prestigious Lahore-based 11th Infantry Division — a formation with a key role in the event of a land war with India.

The challenges before General Sharif are huge. His predecessor, General Pervez Kayani, sought to heal the fractures between the Pakistan Army and its jihadist clients during General Musharraf’s tenure. Even though terrorist violence has sharply escalated in Pakistan, it is generally unnoticed that both military and jihadist fatalities are in decline, suggesting a diminishing will for combat.

In a 2010 article, former United Nations official Chris Alexander charged General Kayani with “sponsoring a large-scale, covert guerrilla war through Afghan proxies” — a charge western and Afghan leaders have since repeated.

General Kayani also part-reversed a ceasefire General Musharraf had put in place on the Line of Control, and loosened restraints on jihadists operating against India.

Experts say General Sharif, a conservative figure, is unlikely to spearhead a radical shift in Pakistani military thinking. The military expert, Hamid Husain, has written that General Sharif “is a gentleman but almost all agree that for a peacetime army, it would make no difference but he is probably not suited to lead an army engaged in a war.”

“The biggest challenge before General Sharif,” says Rana Banerjee, a Pakistan expert who earlier served in the Research and Analysis Wing, “is to find a way to deal with the existential threats posed by the Taliban. We’ll have to watch closely, though, if he’s able to build a consensus around this in what is evidently a very divided Pakistan army.”

Bracing for Bali

Indian Express

Sanjaya Baru Posted online: Thu Nov 28 2013, 03:07 hrs

India should worry about the multilateral trading system, not food subsidies. 

Those in India who worry about the implications of a deal at the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Bali ministerial meeting next week (December 3-6) for our food procurement and subsidy policies may be missing the wood for the trees. India has already fallen foul of its WTO commitments, as far as food subsidies are concerned, and can be hauled up even today for violating its commitments. What may well be at stake in Bali is the very future of the multilateral trading system. The United States and the European Union are looking at a world beyond the WTO. By pointing fingers at India’s stance, they may well be setting a trap, into which India should avoid falling. 

While some in India have resorted to bravado, saying it should walk out of the WTO if its demands on continuing food subsidies are not met, the fact is that so far the world has been generous to India, looking the other way and ignoring its violations of WTO provisions over the past four to five years. Countries that wish to walk away from the existing WTO system may no longer want to do that and may want India to fall into the trap of being the spoiler at Bali. Their aim could be to find a scapegoat for the collapse of the postwar multilateral trading regime. 

The West claims it is tired of managing a system that has enabled the rise of what the trade economist Arvind Subramaniam calls the new “mega-trader” — China. With a share of close to 12 per cent of world exports, compared to less than 10 per cent for the US and India’s lowly share of about 1.6 per cent, China has emerged as the world’s biggest trader. Should the West — the trans-Atlantic powers, to be precise — continue to maintain a system that it once erected and which is now imposing costs on it? 

That is the question weighing on Western minds, with the US taking the initiative to create three new “plurilateral” regimes that exclude China — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). India’s approach to the WTO was based on the premise that it is still a marginal player in the global trading system, with exports (of both goods and services) aimed at paying for imports (of fuel and technology). As a country with a persistent trade deficit, India’s stance in multilateral trade talks has been essentially defensive rather than offensive. The one area in which India has had an “offensive” strategy is trade in services, especially the export of skilled labour. However, India remains excluded from the TiSA. 

Does India have the option of creating a new coalition of the like-minded, who wish to preserve the multilateral system and resist the regionalisation of trade? Are India’s many free trade agreements and the new initiative for an Asean-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement adequate to protect India’s interests in the changing landscape of world trade? 

At next week’s Bali ministerial meet, three issues are on the table — trade facilitation, agriculture and development issues. As Braz Baracuhy, a Brazilian trade diplomat and consultant for the geo-economics and strategy programme of the International Institute for Strategic Studies has argued, two contending conceptions of the Doha Development Round objectives confront each other at Bali — one, a view that emphasises the “reform and updating of current rules by levelling the playing field and redressing past privileges in-built within the multilateral trade regime (a view supported by Brazil, China and India); and another that seeks to prepare for the future and to hedge the emergence of new trading powers through the harmonisation and parity of commitments between industrialised and emerging nations (a view supported by the US and the EU)”. 

Given that Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo now heads the WTO, and he would like Bali to succeed and the WTO system to be preserved, India has the option of working with Brazil and other like-minded countries to work out a compromise. 

The joker in the pack would be China. As the rising “mega-trader”, China has a huge stake in how world trade is organised. But, China has not been averse to striking its own deals with the West, given the importance of Western markets for China’s exports. Not surprisingly, therefore, China has already flagged its interest in joining the TPP and TiSA, though both the US and EU, as well as Japan, would be wary of China’s entry. 

Vikramaditya’s Induction: High-point for the Indian Navy

November 27, 2013

After the loss of the INS Sindhurakshak a few months ago, the Indian Navy has set itself on the path of redemption. In August this year, India’s premier Kilo-class submarine – just back from a costly refit in Russia - had been preparing for an operational deployment when an explosion onboard destroyed the boat and 18 of its crew-members lost their lives.

The accident was a ‘body-blow’ for the Indian Navy – a material and morale loss that would take years to recover from. But only three months later a new narrative has emerged with the commissioning of INS Vikramaditya – one of hope, optimism and resilience. 

The new aircraft carrier, unveiled at Severodvinsk in Russia on November 16, is a historic milestone. Coming two months after another achievement - the actuation of the nuclear reactor of the Arihant, India’s first indigenous nuclear powered submarine – the Vikramaditya is being seen as a ‘game-changer’, with the potential to transform the Indian Navy’s profile in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and beyond.

Its proportions and capabilities are indeed significant. At 44,500 tonnes, the Vikamaditya is the largest ship of the Indian Navy. Among its primary aviation assets, will be Kamov-31 helicopters and MiG 29 K multi-role fighter aircraft - the mainstay of its integral combat capability. In addition, the naval version of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) may also be positioned onboard, making the Vikramaditya the first Indian aircraft carrier to operate two aircraft of the Short Takeoff but Assisted Recovery (STOBAR) variety.

For the Indian Navy, operating two full-fledged carrier battle groups (CBGs) - one each for the Eastern and Western seaboards – is not just a long-standing ambition, but also a key component of its operational strategy. With the INS Viraat nearing the end of its operational life, the Indian Navy has been under pressure to position a suitable replacement. The Vikramaditya brings it one step closer to actualising a desirable end-state. By the end of 2018 the navy is expected to induct the 40,000-tonne INS Vikrant being built at the Cochin Shipyard. The Vikramaditya, in the words of India’s Naval Chief, Admiral D K Joshi, is intended to “bridge the gap between the INS Viraat’s decommissioned, and the entry of the INS Vikrant”.

Notwithstanding the euphoria surrounding its commissioning, Vikramaditya’s journey has been anything but a smooth. When the deal for the ex-Admiral Gorshkov was first signed with Russia in January 2004, it was worth $1.5 billion, with $974 million earmarked for the refit and rest for 16 MiG-29Ks. In the years that followed, the price was renegotiated several times, to be eventually pegged at $2.33 billion and another $2 billion for 45 MiG-29Ks. As a result, the ship, which was first due to be delivered in August 2008, was delayed by nearly five years. 

Vikramaditya’s commissioning has re-ignited an old debate among maritime analysts of the relevance of aircraft carriers. Proponents of aircraft carriers argue that it must play a central role in ‘blue-water’ operational plans. Opponents posit that the aircraft carrier’s high vulnerability and inadequate logistical sustainability render it an obsolete asset. Not only is it expensive, they point out, it is also incapable of projecting significant offensive power. The fact that it is virtually defenceless against under-water attacks makes it a near liability in war.

As compelling as the sceptics’ reasoning appears, it is the proponents who proffer a more nuanced rationale for retaining the giant ships. Modern day maritime discourse, aircraft carrier supporters aver, requires such ships to be located in a new conceptual framework. Ocean-going navies today need three types of conventional assets. The first category comprises ‘hard-power assets’ - fighting platforms like destroyers, frigates, missile boats and attack submarines meant for the real combat operations in a naval battle. These are used in both offensive and defensive operations, and are meant to influence the tempo and outcome of a maritime conflict. The second lot is of ‘soft-power’ assets like hospital ships, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) platforms, survey vessels, etc. These provide a valuable regional (and global) service and are crucial for a navy’s soft-power outreach. Finally, and most significantly, a navy needs assets for ‘power projection’ – a critical component of a nation’s maritime strategy. Navies strive to accrete power and project it far away from the home country as a metric of national influence and their own regional relevance. Aircraft carriers fall in this category.

Equally interesting has been the commentary on the supposed ‘contest’ between ‘sea control’ and ‘sea denial’1. Inducting an aircraft carrier, it has been suggested, signifies the triumph of the concept of ‘sea control’ over the more practical and “much less expensive” notion of ‘sea denial’. The analysis has sought to draw a false equivalence between two fundamental concepts intrinsic to national maritime strategy. While the former is a prerequisite in dictating the terms of a naval engagement, the latter (as a subset of the former) has limited application and is meant to deny a stronger adversary the use of maritime space. Both play a vital role in a nation’s larger maritime strategy, but none supplants the other.

There is one significant difference though. Since ‘sea-denial’ is useful in defending a nation’s maritime territory against an aggressive adversary, it is primarily a war-time concept. ‘Sea control’, on the other hand, allows for both battle-space domination in war and the expansion of naval sphere of operations in peacetime (a critical component of Grand National Strategy). Its utility as a metaphorical enabler in naval strategy is, therefore, far greater.

An aircraft carrier, however, doesn't by-itself guarantee an expanded sphere of naval influence. With a limited integral defensive capability and even lesser manoeuvrability, a carrier needs an armada of armed escort ships and aircraft to protect it from external threats. In this, the Vikramaditya has an inherent disadvantage as it lacks on-board close-in-weapon-system (CIWS) and long range surface-to-air missiles (LR-SAMS). Its near total dependence on layered in-depth defence provided by its screening ships and aircraft is a challenge that the Indian Navy will need to address in due course.

The Indian Navy will also be mindful of the China’s maritime ambitions and the role that its new aircraft carrier – the Liaoning – is likely to play in its Indian Ocean expansion. The new aircraft carrier might be used both for China’s power projection, as well as an instrument for its ‘soft-power’ diplomacy - a key component of the ‘far-seas’ naval strategy. That apart, the Chinese navy is also said to be considering using aircraft carrier in a ‘hard-power’ role for the expansion of its island barrier defences, also known as the inner and outer island chains.

Ultimately, possessing an aircraft carrier does not only indicate ‘blue-water’ capability, but also represents a navy’s ‘vision’. If a maritime force can conceive of an aircraft carrier’s role as a ‘versatile’ and flexible asset – one that can switch easily between soft power diplomacy, power projection and combat operations – it can be a ‘game-changer’, for both national foreign policy and naval strategy.

The Vikamaditya could prove to be critical in shaping the Indian Ocean’s strategic environment.

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.
1. “The promise of Vikramaditya”, The Hindu, Nov 21, 2013, at http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/the-promise-of-vikramaditya/article5372635.ece


Counter Terrorism Programmed To Fail

A police officer offers tribute at the memorial for police and uniformed personnel who lost their lives in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks during the 5th anniversary of the attack in Mumbai. 

The country has been fortunate that the attention of its adversaries has, for some time, been turned elsewhere. But India cannot think itself secure if her only defence remains a reliance on the inattention of her enemies. 

India's capacity for self-deception is extreme, and this constitutes the gravest threat to national security. The state's counterterrorism (CT) 'policies' have been based principally on political posturing, and not on objective and urgent considerations of strategy and response. 

Five years have now passed since the devastating terrorist attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 (26/11), and the protracted counter-terrorist (CT) debacles that ensued. There were resounding declarations of determination to fight terrorism, promises that such an incident would "never again" be allowed to happen, policy commitments to a "zero tolerance of terrorism", and an immediate suspension of the dialogue with Pakistan 'until the infrastructure of terrorism' in that country had been completely dismantled and the architects and planners of the 26/11 attacks had been punished.

Within months, however, India was importunately approaching Pakistan for a restoration of the 'dialogue' between the two countries, despite the fact that Pakistan had done nothing whatsoever to comply with even the most minimal of India's terms, and was, indeed, visibly protecting the principal conspirators in this case, including Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the Amir of the banned (and hence, legally invisible) Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, as well as identified officers within the country's military intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

Worse, the many promises about CT reform and 'strengthening internal security' translated into little more than high profile political gambits that sought to manipulate public perceptions, rather than to address the core issues of capacity and capability. Unsurprisingly, after three-and-a-half years of heading India's union ministry of home affairs (UMHA), P. Chidambaram, towards the end of his tenure, reiterated the assessment he had given a year after 26/11— that India remained as vulnerable to terrorist attack as it was on that fateful day. There has been no evidence to suggest that this assessment requires any amendment in the past year under Chidambaram's lustreless successor, Sushil Kumar Shinde.

Indeed, if the language and content of the latest addresses by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and union home minister Shinde, at the Conference of Directors General of Police, on November 22 and 23 are anything to go by, the entire impetus of CT and internal security reform has been lost. The Prime Minister, it appears, has also lost the speech-writer who drafted his dramatic statement at the Conference of Chief Ministers on April 5, 2005, where he declared, 

"There can be no political compromise with terror. No inch conceded. No compassion shown… There are no good terrorists and bad terrorists. There is no cause, root or branch, that can ever justify the killing of innocent people. No democratic government can tolerate the use of violence against innocent people and against the functionaries of a duly established democratic government." 

Now, however, a dispirited, Prime Minister heading a government crippled by scandal and a mounting financial and political crises, merely waiting out his term till the General Elections due before May 2014, told the "important conference" of Police leaders, "I don't know if I have anything new to say on this occasion,” and proceeded to read out a tired and tedious bureaucratic assessment of the various internal security challenges facing the country. Beyond exhortations to find 'creative solutions', to 'minimize vulnerabilities', and to 'tackle all these issues with collective resolve and firm determination' there is not a single phrase that inspires confidence or indicates clearly that the government has, or is evolving, a coherent CT strategy.

The visible manifestation of terrorist and armed extremist violence have, of course, declined dramatically over the past years for a wide range of extraneous reasons. Total fatalities related to terrorism and insurgency across the country have dropped from 2,619 in 2008, to 803 in 2012, and presently stand at 791 in 2013 (all data till November 24, 2013). More specifically, Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorism has registered a sharp drop, both in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and across India. 541 fatalities were recorded in J&K in 2008, and just 117 in 2012, though there has been a spike in the current year, with 172 already killed. 366 fatalities related to Pakistan-backed terrorism outside J&K had been recorded in 2008— including the 195 killed in the 26/11 attacks (according to South Asia Terrorism Portal data); the number collapsed to just three in 2009; rose again to 20 in 2010, and 42 in 2011; just one fatality was recorded in 2012; but the toll registered another small surge in 2013, with the total standing at 24, as on November 24.

Worryingly, however, the pattern of attacks, arrests and seizures have exposed a network that is evidently spreading into areas that had earlier remained outside the ambit of Islamist extremist mobilization. Patna, the capital of Bihar, thus recorded its first serial bomb blasts on October 27, 2013, killing eight persons, including one of the bombers, and injuring at least 100. On July 7, 2013, Bihar also recorded the first ever attack on a Buddhist target in India, when 10 low intensity blasts shook the Mabodhi Temple complex at Bodh Gaya, one of the most sacred sites of the Faith. The Gaya blasts were also the first Islamist terrorist attacks in Bihar. Investigations into the Patna blasts also discovered a strong IM module in the neighbouring Jharkhand State.

India's Nuclear Scientists Keep Dying Mysteriously

By Joseph Cox

(Photo via)
Indian nuclear scientists haven't had an easy time of it over the past decade. Not only has the scientific community been plagued by "suicides," unexplained deaths, and sabotage, but those incidents have gone mostly underreported in the country—diluting public interest and leaving the cases quickly cast off by police.

Last month, two high-ranking engineers—KK Josh and Abhish Shivam—on India's first nuclear-powered submarine were found on railway tracks by workers. They were pulled from the line before a train could crush them, but were already dead. No marks were found on the bodies, so it was clear they hadn't been hit by a moving train, and reports allege they were poisoned elsewhere before being placed on the tracks to make the deaths look either accidental or like a suicide. The media and the Ministry of Defence, however, described the incident as a routine accident and didn't investigate any further. 

This is the latest in a long list of suspicious deaths. When nuclear scientist Lokanathan Mahalingam's body turned up in June of 2009, it was palmed off as a suicide and largely ignored by the Indian media. However, Pakistani outlets, perhaps unsurprisingly, given relations between the two countries, kept the story going, noting how quick authorities were to label the death a suicide considering no note was left.

Five years earlier, in the same forest where Mahalingham's body was eventually discovered, an armed group with sophisticated weaponry allegedly tried to abduct an official from India's Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC). He, however, managed to escape. Another NPC employee, Ravi Mule, had been murdered weeks before, with police failing to "make any headway" into his case and effectively leaving his family to investigate the crime. A couple of years later, in April of 2011, when the body of former scientist Uma Rao was found, investigators ruled the death as suicide, but family members contested the verdict, saying there had been no signs that Rao was suicidal. 

Trombay, the site of India's first atomic reactor. (Photo via

This seems to be a recurring theme with deaths in the community. Madhav Nalapat, one of the few journalists in India giving the cases any real attention, has been in close contact with the families of the recently deceased scientists left on the train tracks. "There was absolutely no kind of depression or any family problems that would lead to suicide," he told me over the phone.

If the deaths of those in the community aren't classed as suicide, they're generally labeled as "unexplained." A good example is the case of M Iyer, who was found with internal haemorrhaging to his skull—possibly the result of a "kinky experiment," according to a police officer. After a preliminary look-in, the police couldn't work out how Iyer had suffered internal injuries while not displaying any cuts or bruises, and investigations fizzled out. 

This label is essentially admission of defeat on the police force's part. Once the "unexplained" rubber stamp has been approved, government bodies don't tend to task the authorities with investigating further. This may be a necessity due to the stark lack of evidence available at the scene of the deaths—a feature that some suggest could indicate the work of professional killers—but if this is the case, why not bring in better trained detectives to investigate the cases? A spate of deaths in the nuclear scientific community would create a media storm and highly publicised police investigation in other countries, so why not India?

This inertia has led to great public dissatisfaction with the Indian police. "[The police] say it's an unsolved murder, that's all. Why doesn't it go higher? Perhaps to a specialist investigations unit?" Madhav asked. "These people were working on the submarine program, creating a reactor, and have either 'committed suicide' or been murdered. It's astonishing that this hasn't been seen as suspicious."

Perhaps, I suggested, this series of deaths is just the latest chapter in a long campaign aiming to derail India's nuclear and technological capabilities. Madhav agreed, "There is a clear pattern of this type of activity going on," he said.

INS Sindhurakshak (Photo via)

The explosions that sunk INS Sindhurakshak – a submarine docked in Mumbai – in August of this year could have been deliberate, according to unnamed intelligence sources. And some have alleged that the CIA was behind the sabotage of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Of course, the deaths have caused fear and tension among those currently working on India's various nuclear projects. "[Whistleblowers] are getting scared of being involved in the nuclear industry in India," Madhav relayed to me. Their "families are getting very nervous about this" and "many of them leave for foreign countries and get other jobs."

There are parallels here with the numerous attacks on the Iranian nuclear scientist community. Five people associated with the country's nuclear programme have been targeted in the same way: men on motorcycles sticking magnetic bombs on to their cars and detonating them as they drive off. However, the Iranian government are incredibly vocal in condemning these acts—blaming the US and Israel—and at least give the appearance that they are actively investigating.

The same cannot be said for the Indian government. "India is not making any noise about the whole thing," Madhav explained. "People have just accepted the police version, [which describes these incidents] as normal kinds of death."

If the deaths do, in fact, turn out to be premeditated murders, deciding who's responsible is pure speculation at this point. Two authors have alleged that the US have dabbled in sabotaging the country's technological efforts in the past; China is in a constant soft-power battle with India; and the volatile relationship with Pakistan makes the country a prime suspect. "It could be any of them," Madhav said.

But the most pressing issue isn't who might be behind the murders, but that the Indian government's apathy is potentially putting their high-value staff at even greater risk. Currently, these scientists, who are crucial to the development of India's nuclear programes, whether for energy or security, have "absolutely no protection at all. Nothing, zero," Madhav told me. "Which is amazing for people who are in a such a sensitive program."

Defence Industrial Base in India: Taxation and Exports Regime

Karanpreet Kaur
E-Mail- karanpreet.kaur06@gmail.com

Self-reliance in defence is one of the major determinants of a country’s superiority and power status.United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany are some of the relevant examples, which harnessed the strength of indigenous manufacturing to give an impetus to their ambitions of rapid industrialisation and accelerated economic growth. The Kelkar Committee report realised the need to fast track the setting up of a self-sufficient indigenous defence industrial base and provided a cogent roadmap to achieve the results. However, India’s military-industrial complex of about 40 Ordnance Factories (OFs) and eight Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) have been unable to achieve the set targets of self-reliance and the much needed degree of self-sufficiency.

The Government of India’s keenness for optimum levels of  indigenisation in defence can been seen throughits recent policy decisions - Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2013, Defence Offset Guidelines 2012 and Defence Production Policy 2011.A multitude of reforms in the defence sector in the last decade are witness to the seriousness of intent to craft anindependent and stable defence manufacturing base. However, the legacy of high dependence on imports and licensed production, low technology absorption capability and limited manufacturing expertise are responsible for the homegrown defence industry’s current state of affairs.Capital acquisitions have been streamlined by the recent amendments to the DPP to a considerable extent,although there are bottlenecks thatrequire discreet attention of the policy makers.A critical issue that has stymied the private industry’s participation in the defence production sector relates to the austere taxation and exports policy.The financial regulations imposed by the government on the private defence players make the business environment unfavourable to a viable business model.There are numerous regulatory barriers to entry including the stringent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)norms, the advantageous position of the public sector enterprises vis-à-vis taxes and exporting norms, industrial licensing etc.

A level playing field in the defence sector for private players is paramount to the success of achieving indigenous self-sufficiency. The private industry faces myriad challenges pertaining to taxes and export regulations. The present tax and duty structure is not synchronisedto the objective of indigenisation making the domestic manufacturers uncompetitive. Several imported defence and aerospace goods are exempt from customs duty, but coreinput materials/ components imported for use by Indian defence offset partners are not tax exempt. Sometimes,Value Added Tax (VAT) and Central Sales Tax (CST) applicable to inter-state and intra-state sale of goods results in the value of goods being greater than their imported value. This contradictory tax regime needs to be re-examined and a pragmatic VAT legislation needs to be enforced. Several other taxes like service tax, state entry tax, octroi and local body tax need to be meticulously scrutinised, simplified and streamlined to facilitate indigenous manufacturing.

Historically, the Indian defence industry (i.e. the DPSUs and OFs) has operated in an environment of monopoly, protectionist policies and complacency. As a result, not much effort was taken to improve the defence imports to exports ratio and competitiveness suffered as compared to global standards. According to SIPRI reports, India was the world’s largest importer of major conventional weapons from 2008–12. Its arms imports, accounting for 12 per cent of global imports, were 109 per cent higher than those of China, the second largest arms importer. Even when defence products are manufactured domestically, they have a large component of imported sub-systems.This leads to mere assembling capability of critical defence equipment rather than core manufacturing expertise. India’s defence exports are about two per cent of the total global production of weapons and equipment (see figure 1.1 & 1.2). According to ASSOCHAM, the issuance of customs and excise duty exemption certificates to DPSUs by the government is making the exports by private sector uncompetitive by about eight per cent. Such unfair practices will only distance the private firms from being a crucial component of national power.

Figure 1.1 (Volume of arms exports from India, 2007-2012)

Note: Figures are millions of SIPRI trend indicator values (TIVs) and cover deliveries of major conventional weapons, as defined by SIPRI.
Figure 1.2 (Trend in arms exports from India, 2007-2012)

Source: SIPRI Arms Transfers Database

In Search of a Mission in Afghanistan

November 26, 2013
With attention justifiably focused on the new nuclear deal with Iran, much less public notice has been taken of steps to make America's longest war even longer. Negotiations with a difficult Hamid Karzai over a bilateral security agreement (including a just-completed trip to Afghanistan by national security adviser Susan Rice) aim to provide a legal framework for keeping American troops in Afghanistan until 2024. U.S. forces intervened in the Afghan civil war in 2001. If a U.S. military presence continues for the duration of a new agreement, that's 23 years. Some soldiers who were part of the early deployments could have come home, gotten married, and had kids who will enlist and serve in the same war their parents did. The post-2014 missions are supposed to be training and counterterrorism, but amid an ongoing war, U.S. troops will be at war as long as they are there. 

Karzai has been acting somewhat strangely lately, most recently with his refusal to sign promptly a draft agreement even though its endorsement by an Afghan loya jirga should have given him sufficient political cover to do so. The demands he has most recently been making of the United States as supposed conditions of signing sound reasonable at first glance, but upon further reflection it is hard to see exactly what the Obama administration could be expected to do in response. One demand is for help in getting peace talks going with the Taliban. The United States is already on the right side of that one. It always could give this cause more effort and priority, but with other diplomatic tasks—especially the Iran negotiations—on the plates of the president and secretary of state, it is probably wise that they not try to burn much more of their energy on this one. The other demand is for release of all Afghan citizens from Guantanamo. As Karzai should know, Mr. Obama's freedom of action to realize his goal of closing the detention facility at Guantanamo has been severely curtailed by Congress, although the Senate recently gave a glimmer of hope that this might change. 

Karzai is a short-timer lame duck, and some of these negotiating problems may go away when he completes his term. But there are more fundamental problems with the American approach to Afghanistan that have to do with American politics and stale American conventional wisdom. President Obama avoided what would have been a new political issue when he firmly and correctly refused an earlier Karzai demand to apologize for the actions of American troops in raiding Afghan homes. Against the backdrop of the imaginary “apology tour” he was alleged to have taken in his first term, it is easy to imagine the hay that his domestic political opponents would have made of any acquiescence in that demand. But Mr. Obama is still burdened by the role that Afghanistan has played as the “good war” that has been a counterpoint to the bad war in Iraq that to his credit he opposed from the beginning. Bad war or not, his opponents criticized him for not trying hard enough to seal a deal with the Iraqi government to keep some U.S. troops there. Against that backdrop—and with the importance of his efforts to use diplomacy to avoid what would be another very bad war, with Iran—he cannot afford to do things in Afghanistan that make him look like an isolationist wimp. And so the push for a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan continues. 

The stale conventional wisdom is what has led many Americans and American policymakers of both parties to view impoverished Afghanistan, a graveyard of empires half a globe away from the United States, as somehow so key to U.S. security that it would warrant keeping U.S. troops in a civil war there for nearly a quarter century. This attitude is another of the unfortunate aftereffects of the national trauma that was 9/11. The attitude ignores how terrorist threats are not based primarily on possession of a piece of real estate, how the Afghan Taliban has no incentive (at least not without being under constant U.S. attack) for playing host again to al-Qaeda, how even if a piece of real estate is useful to terrorists Afghanistan is hardly the only piece available, and how the radical Sunni terrorist threat has already diffused far beyond Afghanistan. 

Even if negotiations with the Taliban acquire momentum, future political arrangements in Afghanistan will depend mostly on what they always have depended on there: a lot of local deals rather than one single national one. And even if U.S. military trainers and advisers make good progress in imparting skills to Afghan troops, the loyalties of those troops will be as fragile and fungible as they always have been in Afghanistan. 

The zero option for what kind of military presence the United States should have in Afghanistan after 2014 should not be regarded as just a failure of negotiations. It should be regarded as a possible outcome desirable in its own right. Karzai's frustrating negotiating behavior might be a useful hook for helping to get us there.

*** Israelis, Saudis and the Iranian Agreement

November 26, 2013
A deal between Iran and the P-5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) was reached Saturday night. The Iranians agreed to certain limitations on their nuclear program while the P-5+1 agreed to remove certain economic sanctions. The next negotiation, scheduled for six months from now depending on both sides' adherence to the current agreement, will seek a more permanent resolution. The key players in this were the United States and Iran. The mere fact that the U.S. secretary of state would meet openly with the Iranian foreign minister would have been difficult to imagine a few months ago, and unthinkable at the beginning of the Islamic republic. 

The U.S. goal is to eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons before they are built, without the United States having to take military action to eliminate them. While it is commonly assumed that the United States could eliminate the Iranian nuclear program at will with airstrikes, as with most military actions, doing so would be more difficult and riskier than it might appear at first glance. The United States in effect has now traded a risky and unpredictable air campaign for some controls over the Iranian nuclear program. 

The Iranians' primary goal is regime preservation. While Tehran managed the Green Revolution in 2009 because the protesters lacked broad public support, Western sanctions have dramatically increased the economic pressure on Iran and have affected a wide swath of the Iranian public. It isn't clear that public unhappiness has reached a breaking point, but were the public to be facing years of economic dysfunction, the future would be unpredictable. The election of President Hassan Rouhani to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the latter's two terms was a sign of unhappiness. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei clearly noted this, displaying a willingness to trade a nuclear program that had not yet produced a weapon for the elimination of some sanctions. 

The logic here suggests a process leading to the elimination of all sanctions in exchange for the supervision of Iran's nuclear activities to prevent it from developing a weapon. Unless this is an Iranian trick to somehow buy time to complete a weapon and test it, I would think that the deal could be done in six months. An Iranian ploy to create cover for building a weapon would also demand a reliable missile and a launch pad invisible to surveillance satellites and the CIA, National Security Agency, Mossad, MI6 and other intelligence agencies. The Iranians would likely fail at this, triggering airstrikes however risky they might be and putting Iran back where it started economically. While this is a possibility, the scenario is not likely when analyzed closely. 

While the unfolding deal involves the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, two countries intensely oppose it: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Though not powers on the order of the P-5+1, they are still significant. There is a bit of irony in Israel and Saudi Arabia being allied on this issue, but only on the surface. Both have been intense enemies of Iran, and close allies of the United States; each sees this act as a betrayal of its relationship with Washington. 

The View from Saudi Arabia 

In a way, this marks a deeper shift in relations with Saudi Arabia than with Israel. Saudi Arabia has been under British and later American protection since its creation after World War I. Under the leadership of the Sauds, it became a critical player in the global system for a single reason: It was a massive producer of oil. It was also the protector of Mecca and Medina, two Muslim holy cities, giving the Saudis an added influence in the Islamic world on top of their extraordinary wealth. 

It was in British and American interests to protect Saudi Arabia from its enemies, most of which were part of the Muslim world. The United States protected the Saudis from radical Arab socialists who threatened to overthrow the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula. It later protected Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein after he invaded Kuwait. But it also protected Saudi Arabia from Iran. 

Absent the United States in the Persian Gulf, Iran would have been the most powerful regional military power. In addition, the Saudis have a substantial Shiite minority concentrated in the country's oil-rich east. The Iranians, also Shia, had a potential affinity with them, and thereby the power to cause unrest in Saudi Arabia. 

Until this agreement with Iran, the United States had an unhedged commitment to protect Saudi Arabia from the Iranians. Given the recent deal, and potential follow-on deals, this commitment becomes increasingly hedged. The problem from the Saudi point of view is that while there was a wide ideological gulf between the United States and Iran, there was little in the way of substantial issues separating Washington from Tehran. The United States did not want Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranians didn't want the United States hindering Iran's economic development. The fact was that getting a nuclear weapon was not a fundamental Iranian interest, and crippling Iran's economy was not a fundamental interest to the United States absent an Iranian nuclear program. 

If the United States and Iran can agree on this quid pro quo, the basic issues are settled. And there is something drawing them together. The Iranians want investment in their oil sector and other parts of their economy. American oil companies would love to invest in Iran, as would other U.S. businesses. As the core issue separating the two countries dissolves, and economic relations open up -- a step that almost by definition will form part of a final agreement -- mutual interests will appear. 

There are other significant political issues that can't be publicly addressed. The United States wants Iran to temper its support for Hezbollah's militancy, and guarantee it will not support terrorism. The Iranians want guarantees that Iraq will not develop an anti-Iranian government, and that the United States will work to prevent this. (Iran's memories of its war with Iraq run deep.) The Iranians will also want American guarantees that Washington will not support anti-Iranian forces based in Iraq. 

From the Saudi point of view, Iranian demands regarding Iraq will be of greatest concern. Agreements or not, it does not want a pro-Iranian Shiite state on its northern border. Riyadh has been funding Sunni fighters throughout the region against Shiite fighters in a proxy war with Iran. Any agreement by the Americans to respect Iranian interests in Iraq would represent a threat to Saudi Arabia. 

The View from Israel 

From the Israeli point of view, there are two threats from Iran. One is the nuclear program. The other is Iranian support not only for Hezbollah but also for Hamas and other groups in the region. Iran is far from Israel and poses no conventional military threat. The Israelis would be delighted if Iran gave up its nuclear program in some verifiable way, simply because they themselves have no reliable means to destroy that program militarily. What the Israelis don't want to see is the United States and Iran making deals on their side issues, especially the political ones that really matter to Israel. 

The Israelis have more room to maneuver than the Saudis do. Israel can live with a pro-Iranian Iraq. The Saudis can't; from their point of view, it is only a matter of time before Iranian power starts to encroach on their sphere of influence. The Saudis can't live with an Iranian-supported Hezbollah. The Israelis can and have, but don't want to; the issue is less fundamental to the Israelis than Iraq is to the Saudis. 

But in the end, this is not the problem that the Saudis and Israelis have. Their problem is that both depend on the United States for their national security. Neither country can permanently exist in a region filled with dangers without the United States as a guarantor. Israel needs access to American military equipment that it can't build itself, like fighter aircraft. Saudi Arabia needs to have American troops available as the ultimate guarantor of their security, as they were in 1990. Israel and Saudi Arabia have been the two countries with the greatest influence in Washington. As this agreement shows, that is no longer the case. Both together weren't strong enough to block this agreement. What frightens them the most about this agreement is that fact. If the foundation of their national security is the American commitment to them, then the inability to influence Washington is a threat to their national security. 

China 'Marches West' — To Europe

 China 'Marches West' — To Europe

  China’s outreach to Eastern Europe adds a new leg to the “New Silk Road.”
November 27, 2013
China’s “march West” reached Europe this week as Premier Li Keqiang visited Romania and attended the China-Central and Eastern Europe (CCEE) leader’s meeting. During the meeting, Li announced that China will seek to double its trade with central and eastern European countries by 2018. Trade between China and Central and Eastern Europe reached $52 billion through the first ten months of 2013. If Li’s goal is attained, China’s trade with the region should increase to over $120 billion in the next five years.

To achieve that goal, China plans to follow a familiar blueprint, namely providing investment backing to fund large-scale infrastructure projects. During the meeting, China agreed to construct a railway between Hungary and Serbia. That will be only the beginning of an ambitious plan to eventually link China and central Europe by rail. Other industries earmarked for expanded cooperation included manufacturing, hydro power and nuclear energy, according to China Daily.

There’s nothing extraordinary about the points raised in the meeting. In fact, Li’s specific requests for expanded cooperation with Romania mesh exactly with China’s core national interests. China wants to “expand [its] energy cooperation” (thus increasing China’s energy security), “expand cooperation in the construction of railway and other infrastructure” (opening markets for Chinese construction companies) and receive “more Romanian exports of agricultural and animal products to China” (helping ensure China’s food security).
What is interesting about Li’s trip is the timing. Li’s arrival in Romania made him the first Chinese Premier to visit that country in 19 years. Even more intriguing, the CCEE meeting came a week after Li attended a summit with the European Union, and will be followed by a prime ministers’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes China’s Central Asian neighbors. The timing helps clarify the strategic purpose behind the outreach to central and eastern Europe: China’s march West is not going to end in Central Asia.

Li made a point of defining China’s cooperation with the central and eastern European countries as something distinct from China’s relationship with the EU as a whole. In part this is by necessity — of the 16 European countries represented at the CCEE meeting, five (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia) are not currently members of the EU. Instead, China plans to frame its cooperation as “1+16”: China plus the 16 Central and Eastern European countries. Li emphasized that China intends for its “1+16” engagement to “supplement” the EU framework, not tear it down. Accordingly, both he and the European ministers were quick to note that all economic deals will follow applicable EU regulations.

Still, it’s hard not to think that some of these European nations might welcome China’s involvement as an alternative to joining the EU. A similar trend is unfolding in Turkey, which is mulling joining the China-led SCO after being excluded from the EU for years. Even those countries that are already members of the EU will likely relish the chance to partner with China and its booming economy as Europe continues to struggle with recession. Romanian Prime Minster Victor Ponta offered a hint of this attitude when he declared that Romania is “willing to serve as China’s gateway to Europe.” Chinese media also noted that Romania gave Li a particularly warm welcome — for the first time in 20 years, Romania held a formal welcome ceremony at the airport for an arriving foreign dignitary. The Central and Eastern European countries are just as eager as China is to increase their cooperation.

So what does it mean that China is making a special effort to engage with Central and Eastern Europe? China’s “march West” policy is even more ambitious than previously thought. The “New Silk Road” as envisioned by the new leadership could stretch all the way from China to Central Europe — much like the original Silk Road. This is especially relevant in light of recent research suggesting that China’s economic relationships often encourage its partners to lend their political support in international fora. The more countries that welcome and come to rely on China’s economic aid, the more powerful China could become in international bodies such as the UN.

China has recognized a golden opportunity for implementing its strategy, as Central Asia and Eastern Europe have received little international attention in recent years. China is more than willing to pick up the EU’s diplomatic slack, and in turn expects to reap both economic and geopolitical benefits.

China's Air Defense Identification Zone: Impact on Regional Security

CSIS Asia Team

Nov 26, 2013

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced the creation of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Saturday, November 23. The MND also announced Aircraft Identification Rules for the ADIZ, which include a warning that “defensive emergency measures” would be adopted to respond to aircraft that refuse to follow the instructions. The zone overlaps the existing ADIZ of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. China’s ADIZ covers the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islets claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan. One day following the announcement, China conducted two aerial patrols over the area involving Tu-154 and Y-8 aircraft, prompting the Japan Air Self-Defense Force to send two F-15 fighter jets to intercept them. The announcement elicited immediate responses from Japan, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Australia, and Taiwan.
Q1: How did the United States and regional allies respond?
A1: Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued separate statements expressing U.S. concerns. Kerry called China’s move “an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea” and warned that its “escalatory action will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.” Hagel noted that the move “increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.” He reaffirmed U.S. policy that Article V of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty applies to the disputed islands and that the Chinese announcement would have no bearing on U.S. operations. On November 26, a pair of U.S. B-52s from Guam flew through the contested area to assert U.S. prerogatives.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan denounced China’s declaration as a dangerous attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea through coercion, vowed to protect Japan’s air and sea space, and demanded that Beijing “revoke any measures that could infringe upon the freedom of flight in international airspace.” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida stated that Japan would coordinate closely with the United States, the ROK, and others on demanding a revocation of the ADIZ measures. Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki summoned China’s ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, to the Foreign Ministry and lodged a formal protest against the ADIZ announcement, repeating the prime minister’s demand that China revoke the measures and dismissing their validity given Japan’s position that the Senkaku Islands are an inherent part of the territory of Japan. Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera stated that Japan’s Self-Defense Forces would work with the U.S. military to coordinate monitoring activities.
The ROK Foreign Ministry summoned Minister Counselor Chen Hai of China on Monday, November 25, to express its reservations over China’s unilateral drawing of the ADIZ, as did the ROK Ministry of National Defense via the Chinese embassy’s defense attaché. Deputy Defense Minister for Policy Yoo Jeh-seung of the ROK also noted that Seoul cannot recognize the ADIZ and stated that the ROK would maintain its jurisdictional right to waters around the disputed Ieodo/Suyan Rock.
Australia today summoned China’s ambassador to voice its concerns, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop issued a statement. So far, no Southeast Asian governments have followed suit. Regional airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and two Japanese airlines have said they will give China advance notice of flight plans through the zone.
Q2: Why has China’s ADIZ prompted such negative responses?
A2: Beijing’s action further increases tension in the territorial dispute between China and Japan at a time when that bilateral relationship is already severely strained and heightens the risk of an accident. There is a very large overlap between China’s ADIZ and Japan’s ADIZ. When aircraft from either country fly in this overlapping area, the other side is likely to scramble fighters and intercept the intruder. If intercepts are not conducted safely and in accordance with international norms, a collision is possible. Recall that in 2001 a Chinese fighter jet that was conducting aggressive intercepts collided with a U.S. surveillance plane, which resulted in the Chinese pilot’s death, the forced landing of the U.S. EP-3 on Hainan Island where its 24-member crew was held for 11 days, and a crisis in U.S.-China relations.

Moreover, China’s Aircraft Identification Rules make no distinction between aircraft flying parallel with China’s coastline through the ADIZ and those flying toward China’s territorial airspace. Secretary of State Kerry highlighted this issue in his statement, saying that the United States “does not apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter U.S. national airspace,” implying that the United States would not recognize China’s claimed right to take action against aircraft that are not intending to enter its national airspace. Secretary Hagel stated that the United States would not change the way it conducts military operations in the region. Some Chinese may believe that a kinetic action against a Japanese aircraft in disputed air space near the Senkakus would not provoke a U.S. response because Washington is neutral on the issue of sovereignty over the islands. Secretary Hagel’s reiteration of U.S. commitments to Japan under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty is important in this regard and should help to prevent Chinese miscalculation.
The problem for the ROK is that China’s ADIZ overlaps with Korea’s ADIZ off the southern island of Jeju, airspace already patrolled by the ROK Air Force. Included within the Chinese zone is a ROK-controlled submerged rock known as Ieodo in Korean, ownership of which has historically been disputed between the ROK and China. The ROK built the Ieodo Ocean Research Center, an unmanned scientific station, on the rock in 2003, despite great objections from the Chinese. The ROK Navy includes Ieodo within its area of operations, increasing the potential for maritime conflict between the ROK and China.