8 May 2014

Dealing with Nawaz Sharif

Not many Indian leaders know how to handle him
G Parthasarathy

JUST before Prime Minister Vajpayee's Lahore bus yatra his predecessor, Mr. Inder Gujral, told me that Nawaz Sharif appeared to be a realistic, reasonable and rational leader. He recalled a conversation on Jammu and Kashmir, when Sharif, a Kashmiri hailing from Anantnag, who was known to be an uncompromising hardliner on Kashmir, had realistically remarked: “Hum jaante hain ki ham Kashmir aapse le nahin sakte aur aap humko Kashmir de nahin sakte” (“I know we cannot seize Kashmir from you and you cannot give Kashmir to us”). Sharif's comments were made after his election in 1997 when, with his patronage, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, emerged as the most influential Jihadi leader in Pakistan, dedicated to “unfurling the green flag of Islam in New Delhi, Washington and Tel Aviv”.

Sharif is incredibly hospitable. He is a great fan of Bollywood films and loves listening to songs of Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. Hindi film songs were played during a lunch Sharif hosted for Mr. Vajpayee. But his authoritarian streak was evident when he refused to allow Leader of Opposition Benazir Bhutto to meet Mr. Vajpayee. Moreover, Mr. Vajpayee's aircraft had barely taken off from Lahore, when "Khalistan" slogans and propaganda designed to incite visiting Sikh pilgrims from India were unleashed across gurdwaras in Lahore and Nankana Sahib. Unknown to Indian intelligence and the Army, units of Pakistan's Northern Light Infantry were being infiltrated across the Line of Control in J&K. Mr. Sharif was briefed about the Kargil intrusions, both in Rawalpindi and Skardu. Did he not see the contradiction between embracing Mr. Vajpayee on the one hand and unleashing the Pakistan Army to cross the LoC on the other?

On February 12, 1993, during Sharif's first term as Prime Minister, multiple bomb blasts rocked Mumbai, resulting in 350 fatalities and injuries to around 1,200 persons. While Dawood Ebrahim, now a resident in Karachi, organised the explosions, the trail led to the involvement of Sharif's handpicked ISI chief, Lieut-Gen Javed Nasir, and Sharif himself. Moreover, despite what Sharif told Mr. Inder Gujral, the reality is that he does not hesitate to raise the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at every conceivable occasion in Pakistan and when abroad. Sharif has sought to present Kashmir in the Islamic world as an issue of occupation of Muslim lands. Whether he would be amenable to adopting a more realistic path, in keeping with what he told Mr. Gujral, remains to be seen. The world has after all changed dramatically since he was ousted and forced to leave for Saudi Arabia in 1999.

Sharif entered politics as a protégé of President Zia-ul-Haq and Zia's Governor of Punjab, Lieut-Gen Ghulam Jilani Khan. His father, long persecuted by Bhutto, was a natural ally of Zia's military regime. After a brief tenure as Chief Minister of Punjab, Sharif was catapulted to power as Prime Minister in 1990, heading an alliance of Islamist parties put together by the Army Chief, Gen Aslam Beg, and the ISI chief, Lieut-Gen Asad Durrani. But, despite having been catapulted to power by the Army, Sharif has been at constant loggerheads with the successive Army Chiefs. During his first term he was accused by the wife of Army Chief Asif Nawaz of being responsible for her husband's death. He was then sacked by Nawaz's successor Waheed Kakkar following differences with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. In his second term, he chose to sack the mild-mannered Army Chief, Gen Jehangir Karamat. General Musharraf, whom he appointed to replace Karamat, ousted him from power before imprisoning and exiling him to Saudi Arabia over differences on who should take the blame for the Kargil fiasco.

The dogfight over procuring trainers for IAF

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has not been able to meet the IAF’s requirements. Its lack of initiative and flip-flop over the modalities for producing a new generation trainer aircraft indigenously left the Air Force without a basic trainer for some time, forcing the IAF to look elsewhere
Air Marshal Dhiraj Kukreja (Retd)

Marshal of the Air Force, Arjan Singh, reviews a combined graduation parade of flight cadets at the Air Force Academy, Dundigal. IAF flying training has often suffered because of the lack of suitable aircraft for different stages

A controversy stirred by a recent article on the Air Force being at war with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and wanting to import rather than build an indigenous a trainer, was discussed in the print and visual media for a few days, but seems to have lost the public interest. The pot, however, has been kept boiling through some well-timed 'plants'. During this writer's two tenures, one as Commandant, Air Force Academy (AFA) and the subsequently as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), Training Command, the writer had an experience of the aircraft in question — HAL built basic trainer aircraft, HPT—32. Hence, it was felt necessary to set the record right, even though it may mean plunging headlong in to an ongoing controversy.

The genesis lies in the repeated engine failures, many of them fatal, on the HPT—32, and HAL's failure to resolve the cause and provide a lasting solution. Since its induction in 1988, there have been more than 120 engine failures resulting in 13 accidents, killing 19 experienced and a few under-training pilots. That the number of fatalities is low speaks highly of the professionalism of the Indian Air Force. A fatal accident that killed two experienced instructors at the AFA in May 2009, led to a decision that enough was enough and to stop flying the aircraft — ground the aircraft in a flier's parlance — even though it meant that the IAF would be without a basic trainer for some time to come. The lack of a basic trainer aircraft created a crisis-situation, but it goes to the credit of the entire training and maintenance branches of the air force to have risen to the occasion and overcome it. Air Headquarters rendered Training Command and the basic training was transferred to the HJT—16 Kiran aircraft, even though this particular type was also on its last legs. This also entailed the closure of the much popular Surya Kiran aerobatic team, as training had to be given the due priority.

Simultaneously, the critical void thus created was recognised by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and approval was granted in September 2009 to acquire 181 basic trainer aircraft, of which 75 were to be from the global market and the balance 106 to be supplied by HAL through indigenous production. To give the devil its due, it is pertinent to mention that HAL, on its own, had suggested a replacement for the HPT—32 as far back as October 2003. The proposal, however, did not suggest any major upgradation of technology. In addition, the residual life of a decade plus of the HPT—32 aircraft would have seen the IAF through, before a new aircraft would be required. The proposal, therefore, was considered premature.

Global flows in a digital age

April 2014 | byJames Manyika, Jacques Bughin, Susan Lund, Olivia Nottebohm, David Poulter, Sebastian Jauch, and Sree Ramaswamy
Executive SummaryPDF–854KB 
Full ReportPDF–4MB

Global flows have been a common thread in economic growth for centuries, since the days of the Silk Road, through the mercantilist and colonial periods and the Industrial Revolution. But today, the movement of goods, services, finance, and people has reached previously unimagined levels. Global flows are creating new degrees of connectedness among economies—and playing an ever-larger role in determining the fate of nations, companies, and individuals; to be unconnected is to fall behind.

Flows of goods, services, and finance reached $26 trillion in 2012, or 36 percent of global GDP, 1.5 times the level in 1990. Now, one in three goods crosses national borders, and more than one-third of financial investments are international transactions. In the next decade, global flows could triple, powered by rising prosperity and participation in the emerging world and by the spread of the Internet and digital technologies. Our scenarios show that global flows could reach $54 trillion to $85 trillion by 2025, more than double or triple their current scale.

A new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report,Global flows in a digital age: How trade, finance, people, and data connect the world economy, examines the inflows and outflows of goods, services, finance, and people, as well as the data and communication flows that underlie them all, for 195 countries around the world.

Our research finds that such flows matter for global GDP growth. Today, we estimate, they add between $250 billion and $450 billion to it every year, or 15 to 25 percent of the total. In addition, we find that countries with a larger number of connections in the global network of flows increase their GDP growth by up to 40 percent more than less connected countries do. The penalty for being left behind is rising.

MGI’s new Connectedness Index ranks 131 countries on total flows of goods, services, finance, people, and data and communication, adjusting for country size (exhibit). The index shows that developed economies remain more connected than emerging ones: Germany tops the list, followed by Hong Kong and the United States. Emerging economies are less connected to global flows, but some are climbing up the ranks rapidly: Morocco and Mauritius gained 26 places and 28 places, respectively, between 1995 and 2012—the largest increases in our index. Saudi Arabia rose 19 places, reflecting the rising value of oil exports and the recycling of oil wealth into global financial markets. India gained 16 places in this period, thanks to growth in services flows, and Brazil jumped 15 on the strength of expanding services and financial flows.


The Connectedness Index ranks countries by five types of flows, based on their intensity and share of the global total.

Assam: Recurring Bloodbath

Veronica Khangchian 
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

…..the corrupt politics of vote banks and crass electoral calculi, to the manifest detriment of the national interest, must be defeated. India's diversity can only be held together by the unity of law and of justice, not by the unprincipled horse-trading that governs politics today.

In what it is feared to be a recurrence of July-September 2012 riots between the Bodos and the Muslims, 32 people have so far been killed in the violence reportedly unleashed by the I.K. Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB-IKS) in the Bodoland Territorial Administration Districts (BTAD) governed by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam, in the aftermath of the Lok Sabha [Lower House of Parliament] elections held in the area on April 24, 2014. Union Minister of Home Affairs (MHA) Sushilkumar Shinde stated, on April 4, "During the last few days, there have been wanton acts of depredation leading to the deaths of 32 persons, mainly women and children. Out of these 32 persons, 31 belonged to minority community… It is noteworthy that these acts (of violence in Kokrajhar and Baksa regions of Assam) started only after the group started steadily losing its cadres either by surrender or elimination during operations when they opened fire on the forces." Without naming the "group", the NDFB-IKS, Shinde added that the MHA had already deployed 43 companies of Central Forces and was in the process of sending an additional 1,000 personnel. Further, he disclosed, 1,500 soldiers of the Army had been positioned in the violence-hit areas. "These numbers are not fixed and can be increased as per requirement," he said. NDFB-IKS has, meanwhile, denied its involvement claiming it was “a political conspiracy by the Assam Government to trigger clashes between two communities.”

Violence started when heavily armed NDFB-IKS militants entered a house and shot dead three members of a family, including two women, and injured an infant of a minority community near Ananda Bazar area in Baksa District on May 1. The incident was followed by indiscriminate firing by the insurgents at Balapara-I village in neighbouring Kokrajhar District in the early hours of May 2, which left eight persons dead and several others injured in their own homes. Again, in the night of May 2, 12 bullet-riddled bodies, including those of five women and a child, were recovered from Nankekhadrabari and Nayanguri villages in Baksa District, where nearly 100 houses and a wooden bridge had been set ablaze by the militants. Another nine bodies were recovered from a village in Baksa District in the morning of May 3, taking the toll to 32. The bodies of the victims, including four children and two women, were recovered from Khagrabari village, under Salbari sub-division adjacent to the Manas National Park. 

Lessons from a tragedy: Case of MH 370


May 5, 2014

The Malaysian airline’s Boeing 777-200ER (MH 370) went missing on March 8, 2014. The last known position of the aircraft, as seen on civilian air traffic controller’s screen, was off the north-eastern coast of Malaysia. The airliner on a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers on board disappeared 40 minutes into the flight. The search under the stewardship of Malaysia was launched on March 8 itself though delayed by almost four hours. Many nations subsequently joined in the search operation. The approach, coordination and cooperation of the Malaysians and the neighbouring countries in the search operations have exposed certain short comings in the regions internal, bilateral and multilateral relationship whilst handling the situation.

In the initial response the countries provided hard assets in the way of ships and aircraft towards the search operations. The challenge for Malaysia, the coordinating country, was overwhelming in the initial stages, with the focus being dissipated due to the sheer magnitude of the assets, non-assimilation of information and lack of a centralised command and control infrastructure. Precious time was lost in internal verification of data from military primary radars which had tracked the ill fated airliner in reallocating resources to different search areas. It also highlights the slow flow of information between the military and civil aviation setup in Malaysia. During the initial stages of the investigation as to the plausible reasons for the tragedy, the system of integrating of a global verification system of passengers entering the country needs to be highlighted. At present the countries in the region where immigration officials manning airports are not connected to a central database whether regional or global where verification of the passengers coming from different countries can be done in terms of whether the passports are stolen or the person has any criminal history. At the bilateral level, Thailand, after a good ten days, brought out that its military had tracked the aircraft deviating from its flight path. The reason for the delay in sharing the information was that nobody had asked for it. As for the flow of information, in one instance the satellite agency of China forward images of a likely location of debris, resulting in allocating of resources away from the then focus area. This report was subsequently negated by the Chinese government by stating that it was not verified and the agency should not have sent it.

The Chinese government from the beginning of the search operations, besides providing a number of military assets, tried aggressively to guide the Malaysians in seeking information on military radar pictures and by sending a high level delegation to camp in Kuala Lumpur. The objectives of this assistance being at three levels: the first to demonstrate to its domestic population of its complete involvement in the search; second to provide leadership in the region by putting its will and assets for a common cause and third to demonstrate its ability to safeguard and dominate the area in the South China Sea. The last two objectives at a certain level touched upon concerns of sovereignty in the South China Sea though not hampering the search but definitely not optimising the resources. In the Strait of Malacca concerns over military radar capabilities acted as inhibitors in the search mission. Thus the whole exercise at the multilateral level was sub-optimised – more as individual state efforts than as a team force multiplying the effort.

The Industrious Extremist


Ambreen Agha
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

“As many as 180,000 mujahideen, followers of Baitullah Mehsud, are hiding in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan and fighting against anti-Muslim forces for the supremacy of Islam. Their food expenditure is PKR 2,900,000 (USD 30,000) daily. You are requested to bear two days’ expenses of mujahideen-e-Islam or be ready to face dire consequences.”
- Letter from the TTP to a lawyer in Islamabad, June 2013

In recent years the crime of extortion has spiralled and spread to all the Provinces of Pakistan, making the country a leading centre of this 'industry'. Karachi, the country's commercial capital and most prominent centre of the extortion racket, continues to be the worst hit, followed by the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad in Punjab, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province. Though the scale of violence varies widely across each Province, the targets remain the same, including the business community, politicians, doctors and, more recently, private school owners.

According to partial data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), there were at least 92 recorded incidents of extortion in Pakistan through 2013, of which 15 violent incidents claimed 29 lives. In 2014, Pakistan has already recorded at least 54 incidents of extortion, including 10 violent incidents that have claimed at least 10 lives (data till May 4, 2014). These figures likely represent the tip of the iceberg since an overwhelming majority of incidents of extortion go unreported due to fear and a general consensus that there is little the Police can or will do.

Karachi, according to SATP data, recorded the maximum number of extortion related activities. Of the 92 incidents recorded in 2013, 87 occurred in Karachi alone. Punjab had three, followed by KP two. No incident was recorded in Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). A more disturbing picture of Karachi emerges from disclosures by Ahmed Chinoy, the Chief of the Citizen-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), a body set up to help the Police by providing crime statistics and technical support, who noted, on July 2, 2013, “The extortion racket has blown out of all proportion with the previous years.” According to the figures collected by the CPLC, 630 extortion complaints were registered in Karachi from January to mid-June 2013, compared to 589 in the whole of 2012. The CPLC has provided no subsequent data.

A heavily publicised ‘operation’ against criminals in Karachi, commencing September 5, 2013, has yielded no significant results so far. The current year has already recorded 50 incidents of extortion in Karachi alone, and media reports suggest that the problem, already endemic, is growing, demonstrating the redundancy of the much hyped ‘operation’. There has been no respite for the targeted communities in the mega city that has an estimated population of 13 million. Incidentally, on April 15, 2014, Member of National Assembly (MNA) and President of Awami National Party (ANP) Sindh Chapter Shahi Syed walked out of Parliament, protesting the poor law and order situation in Karachi. He informed the Senate that, despite the continued military operation, there had been no decrease in extortion, killing and kidnapping in the crime infested metropolis.

A new initiative takes on environmental issues at one of Vietnam’s most renowned travel destinations.

By Katie Jacobs
May 05, 2014

Steep limestone pillars rising sharply out of the emerald green waters of Ha Long Bay – the image is synonymous with Vietnam. Every year, thousands of tourists visit this UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site to experience its majestic beauty. The weight of these visitors combined with rapid regional industrialization, however, is straining the bay’s environmental health.

In response, the U.S. government, in partnership with the provincial (Quang Ninh) People’s Committee, has recently launched the Ha Long Bay Alliance. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the alliance aims to improve environmental management and foster stronger cooperation and communication among stakeholders.

Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, 165 km from the bustling capital city of Hanoi, Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam’s most economically and ecologically important regions. Home to eight diverse ecosystems and an extensive collection of unique karst formations, the bay sits in close proximity to a major shipping route and the city of Haiphong, the largest port in northern Vietnam. In addition to shipping and an expanding tourism sector, the region is also home to burgeoning manufacturing, mining and aquaculture industries. Facing challenges such as sustainable water quality and solid waste management, the area is seeking the right balance between economic growth and environmental protection.

Aiding this effort is the Ha Long Bay Alliance. Implemented by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD), these groups will work at all levels of society; from raising grassroots awareness and strengthening environmental monitoring, to collaborating on social responsibility initiatives and improving the sustainability of the hundreds of tourist boats that cruise the bay daily. Using this holistic approach, the alliance will work at finding a balance between sustainable economic development and effective environmental protection.

Despite more than a decade of extensive research, planning assistance, and financial aid from the domestic and international community, Ha Long Bay continues to face environmental and social threats. With improving knowledge, technology and innovation, however, solutions to issues such as waste recycling within the Bay become more attainable. The goal of IUCN’s project will be to work in partnership with stakeholders, provincial government, and local leaders to promote sustainable strategies that encourage effective and efficient conservation management within the business and tourism sector.

Celebrating the 95th Anniversary of the Chinese Dream

Xi Jinping embraces China’s May Fourth Movement of 1919 as a precursor to his own “Chinese dream.”
May 06, 2014

This year, Western media outlets are focusing on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests, a milestone the Chinese government has pointedly ignored. Yet a previous round of massive student-led demonstrations is proudly embraced by Beijing. Yesterday, China celebrated the 95th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, which Xi Jinping described as an early ancestor of his Chinese dream.

The May Fourth Movement draws its name from a student-led protest movement that began (naturally) on May 4, 1919. This protest movement drew on a storm of popular outrage against the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended World War I. Chinese were outraged to learn that the treaty ceded Shandong Peninsula, which had been under German occupation, to Japan rather than returning it to China. In response, students organized massive protests denouncing both the imperialists who ignored China’s sovereignty and China’s own government, which was too weak to resist their demands.

To put it another way, the May Fourth protestors were both extremely patriotic and extremely unpatriotic — they cared deeply about China’s sufferings at the hand of the imperialist powers, but they also placed the blame for China’s problems squarely on both the current government and on Chinese culture itself. The protestors were advocating for China, but also saw foreign ideologies and systems as the cure for all China’s ills.

Given these tensions, official remembrances of the May Fourth Movement are always interesting. On one hand, the movement is seen as the origins of the Chinese Communist Party itself — one of the leading figures in the protests, Chen Duxiu, the dean of Peking University, would later help found the Chinese Communist Party. Yet at its heart, the May Fourth Movement also carries subversive messages, just as the Tiananmen Protests do.

China’s looming debt bomb: Shadow banking and the threat to growth

BEIJING AND LONDON — The Globe and Mail
May. 03 2014

Caofeidian lies a three-hour drive east of Beijing, a Chinese industrial dream jutting into the sea. A decade ago, it was a pretty coast whose shallow waters were dotted with fishing vessels. Today, it’s a manufacturer’s paradise in the making, its eight-lane roads connecting sprawling factories to a vast port. Named after a former imperial concubine, it was a place of feverish fantasy, where borrowed money fuelled a vast reclamation effort to create 200 square kilometres of land and build something new.

When former Chinese president Hu Jintao came here in 2006, he called it a “treasure of a location” and likened it to “a piece of white paper, and the best and newest pictures ought to be drawn on it.”

What he likely did not envision: a giant money pit, half of whose debt seems unlikely to be paid back.

Caofeidian was to be home to a million-person eco-city, a massive steel factory, a power plant, an oil refinery and a panoply of apartments, bus makers, warehouses, lumber plants, a Sino-Japanese business park, even an “exhibition centre of strategic new industries.” A decade of spending poured $100-billion into the soil here, the equivalent of the annual budgets of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined.

But the loans that allowed all that spending have just 50 per cent odds of being paid back, says an independent research group that has spent years studying Caofeidian. The stakes are enormous. Caofeidian was a project of national importance for China, a “flagship,” according to Jon Chan Kung, chief researcher at Anbound, a Beijing think tank.

“If this project fails, it proves that the major model driving China’s development has also failed,” he says.

Debt now stands to undo at least some of what China’s spending has accomplished. Some of the country’s major projects have done little more than strand vast amounts of invested capital. Debt is just one of the ticking time bombs in China today. China must also cope with the fallout from slowing spending in a place where social stability has been largely defined by one thing: the non-stop accumulation of wealth.

“There will be a financial crisis. And I feel that the financial crisis is in the near term,” says Anne Stevenson Yang, co-founder of Beijing-based J Capital Research. “There will be a recession and then a long period of very, very slow growth. That’s my definition of collapse. I’m not talking about people running through the streets with torches. That may or may not happen.”

China has, for years now, become the engine of global growth. Its building sprees have kept afloat thousands of mines, its consumers have poured billions into the pockets of car manufacturers around the world, and its flush state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have become de facto bankers for energy, agricultural and other development in just about every country. China holds more U.S. Treasuries than any other nation outside the U.S. itself. It uses 46 per cent of the world’s steel and 47 per cent of the world’s copper. By 2010, its import- and export-oriented banks had surpassed the World Bank in lending to developed countries. In 2013, Chinese companies made $90-billion (U.S.) in non-financial overseas investments.

China Calls Iran a ‘Strategic Partner’

Iran and China’s Defense Ministers vowed to boost military ties following a meeting in Beijing on Monday.
May 06, 2014

On Monday China and Iran agreed to deepen defense ties, according to Chinese state media. The announcement was made following a meeting between Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Dehqan.

According to Reuters, which quoted a report in Xinhua News Agency, China said that bilateral relations “remained positive and steady, featuring frequent high-level exchanges and deepened political mutual trust.”Reuters also quoted Chang as saying that he is personally “confident that the friendly relations between the two countries as well as the armed forces will be reinforced” as a result of “increased mutual visits and personnel training cooperation between the armed forces.”

According to an Iranian news report, Chang also said that China views Iran as a strategic partner. “Given Iran and China’s common views over many important political-security, regional and international issues, Beijing assumes Tehran as its strategic partner,” Chang was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency, which is viewed as having close ties with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.

For his part, Dehqan said, “The age-old and historical relations between the two countries which date back to over 2,000 years ago are full of instances of cooperation in cultural, economic, industrial and technological arenas.” He also “voiced the hope that the two countries will continue to play a positive role in safeguarding regional peace and stability,” presumably referring to the Middle East and Central and South Asia.

More specifically, Dehqan was quoted by Fars as saying: “We can remove the two sides’ common security concerns over extremism, terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy by developing military cooperation.”

The meeting took place in Beijing. Dehqan arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a four-day official visit to China at the invitation of Chang. It is his first visit to China since becoming Iran’s defense minister.

In some ways, the announcement today represents something of a shift — and possible weakening — of the defense ties between China and Iran. Since the 1979 revolution severed Tehran’s ties to the U.S. and the Western world, Iran’s defense relationship with China has primarily centered on Beijing selling Tehran advanced defense technologies. As Dan Blumenthal noted in 2005, “Since the mid-1980s, China has sold Iran, in whole or in parts, different variants of anti-ship cruise missiles such as the Silkworm (HY-2), the C-801, and the C-802.” Blumenthal also noted, citing a Jane’s report, that “China is producing several classes of tactical guided missiles – the JJ/TL-6b and 10A, the KJ/TL-10B and a new variant of the C-107 anti-ship missile, specifically for Iran.”

Putin’s “Greater Novorossiya” - The Dismemberment of Ukraine

Adrian A. Basora was U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia from July 1992 to December 1992, and then U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic from 1993 to 1995. Currently, he serves as a Senior Fellow and Director of the Project on Democratic Transitions at FPRI. Aleksandr Fisher is an intern at FPRI and a senior at Temple University, majoring in History and Political Science.

Related program(s)
May 2014

On April 17, Vladimir Putin introduced a dangerously expansive new concept into the Ukraine crisis. During his four-hour question and answer session on Russian TV that day he pointedly mentioned “Novorossiya” – a large swath of territory conquered by Imperial Russia during the 18th century from a declining Ottoman Empire. This historic Novorossiya covered roughly a third of what is now Ukraine (including Crimea).

Subsequent comments and actions by Putin and his surrogates have made it clear that the Kremlin’s goal is once again to establish its dominance over the lands once called Novorossiya. Furthermore, it is clear that Putin hopes to push his control well beyond this region’s historic boundaries to include other contiguous provinces with large Russian-speaking populations. 

Most commentators and media are still focusing on Putin’s annexation of Crimea and on the threatened Russian takeover of the eastern Ukraine provinces (oblasts) of Donetsk and Luhansk. But the far more ominous reality, both in Moscow’ rhetoric and on the ground, is that Putin has already begun laying the groundwork for removing not only these, but several additional provincesfrom Kiev’s control and bringing them under Russian domination, either by annexation or by creating a nominally independent Federation of Novorossiya.

Unless the U.S. and its European allies take far more decisive countermeasures than they have to date,Putin’s plan[1] will continue to unfold slowly but steadily and, within a matter of months, Ukraine will either be dismembered or brought back into the Russian sphere of influence.

Putin’s convenient and expansive (though historically inaccurate) ‘rediscovery’ of Novorossiya now appears to include the following provinces in addition to Crimea: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, Mikolaiv and Odessa. If he can turn this vision into a reality, Moscow would dominate the entire northern littoral of the Black Sea and control a wide band of contiguous territory stretching all the way from Russia’s current western boundaries to the borders ofRomania and Moldova (conveniently including the latter’s already self-declared breakaway province of Transdnistria).

If all of these provinces are either annexed by Russia or form a nominally independent federation of ‘Greater Novorossiya’, the population of Ukraine would drop from 46 million to 25 million. This would not only subtract nearly 45% of Ukraine’s 2013 population but also roughly two thirds of its GDP, given that the country’s eastern and southern provinces are far more industrialized than those of the center and west.[2]

Understanding—and Misunderstanding—NATO’s Role in the Ukraine Crisis

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
Source URL (retrieved on May 6, 2014): Source Link

May 6, 2014

When the process of enlarging the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began in the mid-1990s there was considerable discussion at the elite level in Washington, D.C. However, the American public was not broadly engaged and the [3]process [3] was framed before the U.S. Senate as a benign spreading of democracy and stability building. Hard discussions of security guarantees, costs, and potential risks were not generally aired or were downplayed by advocates. Yet recently, Secretary of State John Kerry[4]said [4] that, in the context of the Russia-Ukraine crisis: “NATO territory is inviolable. We will defend every piece of it.” Interestingly, that is a greater commitment than even the [5]NATO treaty [5]makes—as it obliges allies to consider an attack on one as if it were an attack on all, and to consult on appropriate responses with “such actions as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.” Consequently, Americans might reasonably be wondering just how all this came about.

Today, early [6]opponents [6] of NATO enlargement understandably claim vindication as they have long [7]predicted [7] an eventual backlash from Russia. Supporters [8] of NATO enlargement also feel vindicated, because they have long seen the process as an idealist vision of a new Europe—at least for those countries that joined the alliance. Some [9]advocates [9] even argue that Russia should understand its interests as having benefited from the policy.

NATO is faced with a serious crisis—would the [10]American public [10] or the European allies really risk war with a nuclear Russia to defend the Baltic countries? New NATO allies in particular are asking this question and thus seeking [11]reassurances [11] because NATO’s policy for defense is one of reinforcement in a crisis, not permanent forward deterrence as it was during the Cold War. It could be said that if the question of collective defense now has to be asked, then the general approach of NATO enlargement (which was always [12]premised [12] on not building new dividing lines in Europe) was not exactly a shining success. Still, these countries are NATO members today and America and its allies are sending appropriate messages of [13]reassurance [13]with small, but symbolic, rotational exercises on their territory.

The NATO members further from the eastern frontier also understand that there is a need to avoid handing unnecessary additional pretexts to the narrative of Vladimir Putin that his illegal actions are somehow justified by NATO enlargement. They are not. However, they rightly appear to conclude that how NATO is seen in Russia is also a real part of this crisis. Enlargement advocate’s failure to understand that does not bode well for a successful “de-escalation” which is the [14]stated [14] U.S. and NATO goal towards Russia and Ukraine. This will be a difficult turn for enlargement advocates to make as they have been [15]driving the NATO agenda [15] for two decades in Washington, D.C. and Brussels and will not be keen to close the “open door”.

The "Beware: Poison" Approach to Security

SWJ Blog Post | May 5, 2014

The "Beware: Poison" Approach to Security by Anna Simons, Foreign Policy Research Institute

The current debate about Ukraine is troubling for at least three reasons. First, Russia is being belittled and President Putin caricaturized in unnecessarily unhelpful ways. Second, the comparisons between President Obama and Neville Chamberlain or Putin and Hitler are deeply flawed. All analogies are problematic. But if an analogy is to be drawn, then why not make a comparison to the prelude to the Korean War, when it was thought that Washington had better counter aggression in East Asia if it hoped to retain allies in Western Europe. 

Did allied resolve over Korea really keep Western Europe out of communist clutches? Is that what kept the free world free? 

Questions such as these point to the third problem swirling around the Ukraine debate: some very important assumptions remain unquestioned. Like: what commitments does the United States have, and to whom? Presidents and their representatives have made all sorts of promises and pronouncements over the years. Yet, when is the last time the U.S. Senate openly debated the terms of a bilateral defense treaty? 

Constitutionally speaking, there are very constrained circumstances under which “we the people” owe other countries anything. So, what obligations are pundits, politicians, and policy makers actually referring to when they claim the U.S. needs to act?

Unfortunately, ‘we the people’ have paid insufficient attention to how diffuse U.S. foreign policy-making has become. Worse, those we rely on to advise us about national security – namely, defense intellectuals – have been equally derelict. Case in point, one question we should not have to ask is how, 12+ years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, any part of Ukraine can be absorbable by Russia…


May 4, 2014 

Our allies, friends, and adversaries have measured POTUS Obama and his White House and they see weakness, vacillation, and a country in retreat and disengaged — under this POTUS. RCP

Will The U.S. Really Protect Us In An Emergency?

From the standpoint of someone who’s covered international politics for many years, there appears to be an overlap between the relationship between Japan and the U.S. in recent years and the relationship between Western Europe and the U.S. during the Cold War. The question, “Will the U.S. really protect us in the case of an emergency?” being asked by Japan is the same sort of skepticism held by Western Europe at one time in the past.

During his visit to Japan, U.S. President Barack Obama stated that the U.S. was obligated to defend the Senkaku Islands under the Japan-U.S. security treaty, a promise that was also included in the joint statement issued by the two countries. It’s a significant development that an arrangement that had thus far been confirmed at the ministerial level was reaffirmed by the heads of government. But it remains to be seen how the security treaty will specifically be applied.

I’ve been struck by the many commonalities between the Obama administration and the administration of President Jimmy Carter between 1977 and 1981. There’s the weight given to morality in approaching international politics, the idealism, the indecision … Obama takes a passive approach toward military action, having learned the lessons of his predecessor’s military intervention in Iraq. Carter, too, responded negatively to the idea of using military force, having witnessed what happened with the Vietnam War.

It was during the Carter administration that doubts about the U.S. fulfilling its promise to provide protection arose in Western Europe. The Soviet Union had begun to deploy SS-20 medium-range ballistic missiles in the latter half of the 1970s, and while Western Europe was within range of the missiles, the continental U.S. was not, thus Carter expressed little interest. Moreover, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were holding the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) on arms control at the time.

Then chancellor of West Germany Helmut Schmidt revealed the distrust he felt toward President Carter in a memoir, saying that the U.S. refused to commit to SS-20 missile dismantlement out of fears that it would break down its bilateral talks with the Soviet Union, and didn’t even put the issue on the negotiating table.

Western European leaders visited Washington D.C. to reiterate the threat of SS-20 missiles, and the U.S. finally began to respond in January 1979. In December that year, the U.S. and Western European countries announced that unless the Soviet Union dismantled its SS-20s within a given period, the U.S. would deploy similar nuclear missiles in Western Europe. By getting the U.S. directly involved in its defense, Western Europe had managed to secure American responsibility for fulfilling it. Indeed, because the Soviet Union did not abide by the ultimatum, the U.S. deployed the missiles.

With China presenting a major market that could bring great benefits to the U.S., there’s a massive gap between Obama’s view of China’s threat and those held by countries in Asia. That gap may have narrowed somewhat during Obama’s Asian tour, but the question, “Will the U.S. really protect us?” is likely to come up from time to time not only in Japan, but in Southeast Asian nations as well. (By Megumi Nishikawa, Contributing Writer)

May 02, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

The Catholic Church and the Persecution of Christians in the Middle East

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
May 6, 2014

With great fanfare, before a crowd of 800,000, with 1,000 bishops and 150 cardinals in attendance and a TV audience of several millions, the Vatican recently added two new saints to its pantheon. Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II were canonized for having effected medical miracles that saved the lives of three women who had begged their intercession for, respectively, Parkinson’s, internal hemorrhages, and a brain disease.

Those were, obviously, marvelous outcomes for these three individuals. But pull back the lens just a bit and the mood of jubilation appears ill placed. In light of what is happening to Catholics in the Middle East, the crowd should have been praying for miracles on an entirely different scale.

In Iraq, Syria and Egypt, Christians face a relentless campaign of murder, kidnapping, arson, bombings and persecution. In Turkey, Lebanon and Palestine, the anti-Christian violence is less overt, but there, too, intimidation and discrimination have fueled a huge exodus. Islamic extremists and fundamentalists are determined to drive Christianity out of its birthplace in the Middle East—and they are succeeding. A few decades ago, 20 percent of the Middle East was Christian; today that is down to 4 percent. Iraq alone has lost 80 percent of its Christians during just the last ten years. By any standard, this is ethnic cleansing.

But the numbers, however dramatic, can’t express the human cost. The sectarian war and the random violence in Iraq and Syria are bad enough, but Christians face special targeting. Their churches are regularly mortared and firebombed, congregants killed by suicide bombers or assassins just for attending mass. In Iraq, I met priests who had been kidnapped, tortured and beaten. Their teeth had been knocked out with revolver handles and their spines broken with hammer blows, until finally, a ransom was scraped together and they were dumped on the street half-dead.

And what is Rome doing about all of this? Not very much. One almost gets the impression that religious persecution is too messy for today’s modern, ecumenical church. Consider how it has sanitized sainthood. Formerly, the path to sainthood was martyrdom—you became a saint by enduring agonizing trials and torments before being killed in horrific ways, all the while holding firm to your faith. Today you can live out your life in comfort, die a natural death, then heal an ailing person from beyond the grave, and be declared a saint. That’s much more civilized, but it obscures the harsh fact that Christians are still being hunted, tormented and killed in horrific ways, yet are heroically holding steadfast to the faith. Instead of being an inspiration, one feels that they are seen as a sort of embarrassing blemish on the pretty contemporary face of interfaith dialogue.

Why Iraq Is Moving Closer to Full-Scale Sectarian War

Iraqi women show their inked fingers after casting their ballots at a polling station in Baghdad on April 30. (Ali Abbas/European Pressphoto Agency) 


Initial reports of high turnout and relative security during Iraq’s parliamentary elections have buoyed optimism that things might not be so bad there after all. Unfortunately, a smooth election and even the formation of a new government are not likely to reverse the negative security trends that are bringing Iraq ever closer to full-scale sectarian war.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) has established havens in Anbar, Diyala, and southern Baghdad in many of the locations from which al-Qaeda in Iraq, its ancestor, threatened the capital in 2006.

ISIS drove the Iraqi Security Forces from Fallujah in January. The Iraqi army has operated from the city’s outskirts but lacks the urban warfare capability to clear its interiors. It is shelling the city. Nearly 73,000 Iraqi families from Anbar have fled their homes, according to United Nations figures on internally displaced persons.

ISIS has been advancing on Baghdad since January. The gunmen who have controlled the Fallujah dam have twice flooded areas between Fallujah and Baghdad. ISIS destroyed an oil pipeline near the Tigris in ways that contaminated the capital’s water supply.

Shi’a militias have mobilized to counter the growing threat from ISIS and to serve the political parties with which they are affiliated. Militias have engaged in retaliatory executions and sectarian killings in several provinces. Some militias have forcibly displaced residents of Sunni villages; they have razed Sunni homes in Diyala province. Sunni families in remote areas have fled their villages en masse.

Did We Bomb Libya to Keep the Arab Spring Going?

Published on The National Interest (http://nationalinterest.org)
May 6, 2014

America is naturally a status quo power in international affairs. The current international order is of great benefit to us—no surprise there, as we’ve played the dominant role in shaping it. The international trade regime has been very profitable to us, and broadly rules-based international politics promote stability while hindering the emergence of rival empires. All this is not to say we ought to be reactionary in the current order’s defense, like Saudi Arabia or Czarist Russia, ready to stand on the throat of change wherever it may emerge. Part of our international appeal derives from the perception that we’re usually on the side of freedom. Yet reform, not revolution, should be our watchword; preserving our position should be our highest goal.

Our foreign-policy establishment doesn’t always share this view. That was on display at times in America’s response to the biggest recent shift in the international order—the Arab Spring. Though Washington was generally slow-moving and cautious throughout the Spring, at a few key moments, it took steps that put fuel on the fire.

Were those steps intentional? In testimony [3] last Thursday before the House Committee on Oversight, terrorism expert Daveed Gartenstein-Ross suggested that the Obama administration’s 2011 decision to intervene in Libya was influenced by a desire to keep the revolutions going. The administration, says Gartenstein-Ross, was initially wary of involvement. Yet as the international clamor to stop Qaddafi’s swift advance toward the revolution’s nexus in the eastern city of Benghazi grew, two lines of argument for American action became prominent. The first was a worry that Qaddafi would commit horrific crimes against humanity if he entered Benghazi. (That was, after all, exactly what Qaddafi had said he’d do.) The second argument was more strategic. Gartenstein-Ross quotes RAND Corporation political scientist Christopher S. Chivvis’ study of the intervention, Toppling Qaddafi [4]:

Why Iraq Is Moving Closer to Full-Scale Sectarian War

Iraqi women show their inked fingers after casting their ballots at a polling station in Baghdad on April 30. (Ali Abbas/European Pressphoto Agency) EPA

Initial reports of high turnout and relative security during Iraq’s parliamentary elections have buoyed optimism that things might not be so bad there after all. Unfortunately, a smooth election and even the formation of a new government are not likely to reverse the negative security trends that are bringing Iraq ever closer to full-scale sectarian war.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) has established havens in Anbar, Diyala, and southern Baghdad in many of the locations from which al-Qaeda in Iraq, its ancestor, threatened the capital in 2006.

ISIS drove the Iraqi Security Forces from Fallujah in January. The Iraqi army has operated from the city’s outskirts but lacks the urban warfare capability to clear its interiors. It is shelling the city. Nearly 73,000 Iraqi families from Anbar have fled their homes, according to United Nations figures on internally displaced persons.

ISIS has been advancing on Baghdad since January. The gunmen who have controlled the Fallujah dam have twice flooded areas between Fallujah and Baghdad. ISIS destroyed an oil pipeline near the Tigris in ways that contaminated the capital’s water supply.

Shi’a militias have mobilized to counter the growing threat from ISIS and to serve the political parties with which they are affiliated. Militias have engaged in retaliatory executions and sectarian killings in several provinces. Some militias have forcibly displaced residents of Sunni villages; they have razed Sunni homes in Diyala province. Sunni families in remote areas have fled their villages en masse.

Cooperative relationships exist between Shi’a militias and the Iraqi Security Forces. These conditions do not bode well for any Iraqi government. Should Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki win a third term, he would do so having lost a province to terrorists and having entrusted terrain to militias. Meanwhile, competitors for power have organized militias with which to engage Mr. Maliki and one another.

The Iraqi people have shown their extraordinary resiliency in the face of danger. Iraqis voted in large numbers despite terrorist and militia violence in 2006 and 2010. But American troops were in Iraq then to ensure that the millions of Iraqis could overcome their terrorist foes. Without American support, it is far from clear that the terrorists won’t win this time.

Kimberly Kagan is president of the Institute for the Study of War.


May 5, 2014 

Kazakhstan May Be the Next Ukraine

By Richard Lourie

After a lapse of more than a century, the Great Game has begun again — in Kiev of all places.

In the 19th century, the Great Game was the rivalry between the British and Russian empires for Central Asia. England was wary that Russia’s relentless expansion would one day threaten the jewel in the imperial crown, India. Both sides vied to dominate Central Asia’s markets.

Seizing their “rightful” portion of Kazakhstan would bring Russia great riches and enormous geopolitical advantages.

Are the Donbass Separatists Paid Stooges?

When former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky visited Donetsk a week ago, the masked men holding the regional administration building refused to let him in, saying “you can easily learn everything about what is going on in Donbass from Russian media reports.”

Two hours later, Denis Pushilin, the self-­proclaimed leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, came running to meet with Khodorkovsky. Pushilin — who formerly headed the Donetsk branch of the MMM company, Russia’s most notorious Ponzi scheme — was simply following orders issued by Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine.

When a high-profile mediator like Khodorkovsky arrives to speak with the insurgents but is told to “go watch the evening news,” it suggests that the insurgents are not insurgents at all but paid stooges.

Human nature has not changed in the last three months: A person fighting for something he believes in and who feels his back has been pushed up against the wall will always welcome an opportunity to state his case. And when given the chance, he’ll talk your ear off. But someone who is just carrying out orders will simply ask his superiors how he should respond to questions.

I also visited the occupied administration building in Donetsk. The pro-Russian protesters fell into two distinct categories.

The first group consisted of pensioners and a motley assortment of local residents. The pensioners kept screaming slogans in support of President Vladimir Putin, which were intermixed with slogans that U.S.-backed fascists had occupied Kiev.

The second group consisted of armed men in masks, the leaders of the “Donetsk Republic” and even their press secretary who, rather than state the insurgents’ position, told me to listen to his interview on Russian television. He then told his men to escort me out of the building.

Khodorkovsky received the same treatment.

Pushilin then showed up to have a talk with Khodorkovsky — not only because Akhmetov told him to do it but because he thought the photo-op with Putin’s exiled political rival would raise his status.

The whole episode was absurd. First, Akhmetov did not sit at the same table with Pushilin. He said hello and promptly left. Second, Akhmetov sent one of his men at the meeting who simply watched the proceedings in silence. He watched Pushilin to make sure he did not say too much to Khodorkovsky.

But when Khodorkovsky, who saw that the man was a strong Russian Orthodox believer, attempted to get Akhmetov’s representative to say a few words about the Ukrainian and Moscow patriarchs, he made a move to respond but apparently realized that he was not authorized to speak and shut his mouth again.

The problem is that pensioners and a handful of bored, unemployed local residents are not enough to seize and hold the regional administration building. That is why it is likely that they are being backed up by others.