15 June 2014

Exporting energy from NE to Bangladesh

6 JUNE 2014, Gateway House 

The Indian prime minister’s overtures to SAARC countries are an opportunity for India and Bangladesh to enhance an energy partnership. Intensified exchanges will benefit both: India’s North East, rich in energy sources, will get investments while Bangladesh, a ready market, can improve its energy security 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative of inviting SAARC heads of state for his swearing-in ceremony on May 26 is an opportunity to deepen India’s ties with its closest neighbours. But it is especially an opportunity to expand the growing engagement with Bangladesh in the energy sector.

Both the countries can gain in the process—Bangladesh can address its growing energy and fuel needs as well as lower its energy costs. In turn, India will gain from increased economic activity in the north eastern states, which are rich in reserves of coal, oil, gas and hydropower and can become an energy source for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh relies on domestically produced natural gas to meet almost 75% of its energy consumption. The rest is made up by approximately 20% oil and 5% coal.1 However, the country is now facing a shortage of domestically produced natural gas.2 As a result, it has set up power plants that run on imported furnace oil and diesel, both of which are very expensive options.3

Domestic oil production is minimal and petroleum products are almost entirely imported. The country has its own coal deposits, estimated to be 3.3 billion tonnes spread over five reserves. But it produces only 1 million tonnes of coal per annum because not all of the coal can be mined in a commercially viable manner.4

Only one of the five reserves has been brought into production so far, where the coal seams are closest to the surface, at approximately 118-509 metres. The other reserves are at much greater depths, starting at 300 metres. The largest of these, with approximately 1 billion tonnes, is at a depth of over 600 metres, which makes it unviable to mine.

Derated capacity of BPDB plants, June 2014

Capacity (mw) % of total
Coal 200 2.04
Furnace oil 52 0.53
Gas 6,224 63.62
Heavy fuel oil 1,926 19.69
High speed diesel 661 6.76
Hydro 220 2.25
Imported 500 5.11
Total 9,783 100
Source: Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB)

Therefore, Bangladesh has its task cut out on the energy front. It must produce more gas and this requires more efforts in exploration. It will also have to shift from expensive furnace oil and diesel to the relatively cheaper coal-burning power plants. Until then, it wil

Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations?”: Is the Clash Still Driving Conflict?

June 2014

Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations?”: Is the Clash Still Driving Conflict?

Recent events from congressional battles over defense spending, the size of a reduced future defense force and remarks by President Obama to the United States Military class of 2014 that “America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will”[i], have led to great debate on what the Department of Defense must do in order to prepare for future conflict in the face of shrinking resources. To answer that question the President of the United States develops the National Security Strategy as a vision of America’s role in foreign policy, the latest of which due sometime this summer wherein the President will articulate “The new Strategy will update the vision I provided in 2010 and describe my Administration's national security priorities for the remainder of my term”[ii]. Yet even this key document must rest on some form of theoretical framework in order to understand both the problem and potential solutions in describing future operational environments. A classic framework proposed shortly after the end of the Cold War was Samuel Huntington’s’ “The Clash of Civilizations”. As we move forward with discussion and debate on how to situate the United States Military for future potential conflict a key question going unanswered is whether or not the frameworks proposed after the last shift in foreign policy environment are still valid; namely is “The Clash of Civilizations” still a driving force in current and future operational environments?

Huntington’s main thesis rests on the assumption that future conflicts will be between civilizations rather than focused on a specific ideology (e.g. communism vs. capitalism), national (USSR vs. USA) or economically driven (state vs. free market capitalism). Further these cultural divides will be globally inclusive and not solely based on cultural differences between western civilizations. Civilizations are defined as “a cultural entity” that is composed of “the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have short of that which distinguishes humans from other species”.[iii] Civilizations incorporate different ideologies, religious beliefs, geography, and other characteristics that differentiate the civilizations internally, however externally there is a level at which a broad label can be used to define an entire civilization. Huntington identifies five civilizations and their sub-variants: Western, Latin American, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, African, Japanese, and Confucian.[iv] However within these broad categories there is room for individuals to have different belief systems yet retain the overall civilization, or cultural, identity (e.g. Palestinian Christians, Spanish Muslims).[v]

The main thesis has six support arguments addressing the shift from the previous variables that led to conflict by showing how these factors feed into conflict with culture/civilization being the collective factor. These arguments cover a shrinking global landscape, deeply embedded cultural differences, modernization challenges to both economic and social structures, anti-Western sentiment, uncompromising cultural attachments, and economic regionalism that rests upon cultural fault lines that are exploited by an anti-Western fervor that subordinates intra-civilization differences by identifying Western civilization as the source of cultural woes.[vi]

The first and second arguments are similar in that the arguments address the global reach of culture and the fact that cultures are in more contact than in times past. Cultural conflicts have happened since the times of the first neighboring civilizations.[vii] The modern evolution to civilizational conflict occurred with the Treaty of Westphalia which divided the European landscape along newly formed national lines thereby encapsulating cultures within the context of national boundaries as well as tying in cultural/civilizational identity with a national identity.[viii] Contact between these new culturally minded nations states became more likely; a shrinking global space and the primacy of the economic nation-state gave world leaders a peace via socio-economic rather than religious context yet did not completely expel cultural differences that ultimately trumped economic self-interest setting the conditions for World War I & II.[ix] The argument has merit and is semi-persuasive. A criticism is that the world has been a small place in regards to civilization since the Huns rode across the Asian steppes into Europe in the 5th century.[x] Though these civilizations cultural are indeed centuries old multinational corporations employing a wide variety of talent across the corporations domain in a small world perhaps deflates the size argument as cultures are developing more commonalities (Lewis and Heckman 2006, 145).[xi]

Huntington’s third argument states that the post war environment led to economic, ideological and secular pressures that steered conflict away from nation state lines towards that of ideological lines. This economic and ideological pressure saw the triumph of free market capitalism that led to explosive growth for the Confucian and Islamic civilizations leading to a cementing of cultural identities trumping economic and ideological identities resulting in the final argument in favor of cultural conflict due to the concentration of economic power within the sphere of cultural influence (e.g. Middle Eastern oil).[xii] This economic emergence has led to cultural clashes across the middle eat as seen in the recent “Arab spring” in the countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.[xiii] However, counter to Huntington’s argument of civilization clash this has been more of an internal clash of historical culture versus a culture based on economic and secular realities. Huntington does address these as “fault lines” within the cultural conflict construct at the micro and macro levels based upon this his interpretation of civilization however the intended clash has come to be seen internally rather than externally. Though persuasive Huntington is on the wrong side and level of where the clash has occurred.

This contradiction can be seen in the final arguments in support of civilization clash advanced by Huntington: identity & economic regionalism. In these arguments Huntington simultaneously tries to persuade his audience that the answer to “What are you?”, is immutable and one in which the wrong answer could bring you death.[xiv] Yet in the same flow Huntington argues that economic regionalism is a growing reality fueling a civilizations realization of their cultural beliefs (nested in economic realities) and the civilizations belief about their place in the world. This awareness is more likely to cause internal clashes versus externally. Economic self-interest will trump cultural considerations and lead to nations identifying “common culture” amongst its neighbors and forging alliances based on those considerations.[xv] However easy to follow Huntington fails to persuade based on these arguments that culture/civilization is the unifying factor in the potential for conflict.

India Regains Perception as Potential Global Player under the New Prime Minister

By Dr Subhash Kapila

In two weeks of India’s new Prime Minister Modi taking his oath, it seems that ‘All Roads Lead to New Delhi’ reinforcing the belief that in international relations, perceptions count, especially when a bold and decisive Prime Minister takes over.

Prime Minister Modi’s opening moves of inviting SAARC leaders of the Indian Sub-Continent for his swearing-in ceremony were bold and imaginative moves welcomed regionally and globally.

Prime Minister Modi’s credentials as being bold and audacious in outlook and his vision of pushing India into a fast paced trajectory towards a powerfully global role seemed to have spurred China in an unprecedented move to send its Foreign Minister as Special Envoy of the Chinese President to establish contact with PM Modi.

In a virtual back-to-back visit with the Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit the United States sent its Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia to New Delhi for discussions to kick-start the somewhat jaded US-India Strategic Partnership.

The Japanese Prime Minister had already announced in his Keynote Address that he was looking forward to PM Modis’ visit to Tokyo.

What does all this indicate? It is not that there is a new found love for India all of a sudden. Two major factors seem to be in play in determining these diplomatic moves towards India.

Perceptionaly, India ten years back, was already given a global recognition that India was on an ascendant powerful trajectory and would capitalise its national attributes of power and use the ensuing leverages to heave itself upwards. It did not so happen and the perception went around in global circles that presumably India had failed to grasp the opportunity due to political indecisiveness and dithering and demonstrating feeble responses to its security challenges and threats.

Perceptionaly, in 2014, it seems that the major global powers perceive once again and asses that India under PM Modi’s leadership would be in a position to get strategically back on the rails in terms of its foreign policy formulations and strategic vision and once again regain and commence its ascendant power trajectory.

In terms of India’s economic recovery and regaining fast economic growth the global perception in mid-2014 is that with a substantive political majority in Parliament on its own strength, the BJP Government under PM Modi’s leadership would jettison populist economic schemes which were debilitating the Indian economy and put India’s economy on the track for fast growth. PM Modi comes to office with an impressive record of converting Gujarat into the leading Indian state in terms of economic growths.

PM Modi seems to be well aware that India’s trajectory towards emerging as a powerful global player depends on two crucial determinants of national security and military power and economic strengths and economic power. Economic power would be able to fuel the long-neglected combat-power edge of the Indian Armed Forces, defence infrastructure along our borders and defence modernisation and upgradation. It is potent military power that can only add to an Indian muscular foreign policy. The old adage holds good that foreign policy and diplomacy without muscular strength to back it up is no good and muscular foreign policy without good and imaginative diplomacy is equally worthless.

In light of the above factors, a brief peek at PM Modi’s unfolding foreign policy moves would reinforce that the new Prime Minister is aware of the above imperatives.

Let us begin with China which is India’s most potent long-term threat to India’s security with its powerful military capabilities sustained by a powerful and strong economy. Even before he became the BJP prime-ministerial candidate Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat had visited China a number of times to size up its economic processes and why it was the recipient of vast FDIs.


First Falluja, then Mosul, and now the oil-refinery town of Bayji. The rapid advance of Al Qaeda-inspired militants across the Sunni heartland of northern and western Iraq has been stunning and relentless—and utterly predictable. Here’s a forecast: the bad news is just beginning. 

The capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, by Sunni extremists on Tuesday is the most dramatic example of the resurgence of the country’s sectarian war, which began almost immediately after the withdrawal of the last American forces in December, 2011. The fighters who took Mosul are attached to an Al Qaeda spawn called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, which is now poised to carve out a rump state across the Sunni-dominated lands that stretch from western Baghdad to the Syrian border and beyond.

As I detailed in a recent piece for the magazine, Iraq’s collapse has been driven by three things. The first is the war in Syria, which has become, in its fourth bloody year, almost entirely sectarian, with the country’s majority-Sunni opposition hijacked by extremists from groups likeISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and by the more than seven thousand foreigners, many of them from the West, who have joined their ranks. The border between the two countries—three hundred miles long, most of it an empty stretch of desert—has been effectively erased, with ISIS and Nusra working both sides. As the moderates in Syria have been pushed aside, so too have their comrades in Iraq.

Leading Presidential Candidate: Afghanistan Won’t Turn Out Like Iraq Once America Leaves

The worsening crisis in Iraq will inevitably raise questions about the other country the U.S. military is slowly disengaging from. Afghanistan’s election, which is due to conclude in a runoff vote on Saturday, has gone surprisingly well so far, but at the same time there’s been a recent uptick in Taliban violence against U.S. and Afghan targets and there are good reasons to be concerned about the country’s very fragile security situation when the last U.S. troops finally leave in 2016.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. Follow him onTwitter

In a Skype conversation sponsored by the Atlantic Council and the Center for American Progress in Washington today, Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister and leading presidential candidate in the first round of voting, rejected comparisons between Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The circumstances are different between Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said. “Here, Talibanization has been rejected by the population as a whole, including different ethnic groups of the country. That ideology is rejected.”

All the same, Abdullah, who also served as foreign minister for the anti-Taliban North Alliance before 2001, is undoubtedly aware of the continuing threat posed by Taliban violence. He himself escaped a suicide bombing that killed three of his bodyguards and four pedestrians in an apparent assassination attempt four days ago.

Though half-Pashtun—Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group—Abdullah is widely viewed as Tajik, but he said today that fears that his victory would result in sectarian violence are based on an “outdated perception of the situation.”

Unlike the current president, Hamid Karzai, Abdullah and his competitor Ashraf Ghani both say they will sign a troop agreement with the U.S. that will allow a smaller American force to remain in the country beyond the end of this year.

At today’s meeting, former U.N. Special Representative to Afghanistan Kai Eide pressed him on whether he would push for changes to what he called Washington’s “zero option” plan for troop withdrawal. 

“Hopefully zero option will not mean zero cooperation,” he replied.

I asked Abdullah about widely held suspicions that Karzai will attempt to influence the new government from behind the scenes and through officials who remain loyal to him. (In one telling sign, the outgoing president is reportedly planning on moving into a mansion just next door to the presidential palace.)

“We should respect him as the ex-president of Afghanistan, and certainly he will have a role to play in national politics,” Abdullah replied. “But we have not discussed any details at this stage. We might have to speculate for a few more weeks before we are faced with the real situation.” Though he once served in Karzai’s administration, he reportedly had a falling out with the president around 2006. He came in second to Karzai in the 2009 election, a vote that was marred by widespread reports of corruption and interference. 

Abdullah also addressed the controversial exchange of Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last month. He said the five men released had all “committed crimes in a massive way against the Afghan people” and that previous Taliban prisoners released as confidence-building measures had “gone directly back to the battlefield.” As for the circumstances surrounding the exchange, Abdullah said he had learned about it through the media and that “we didn’t know anything more than anyone else.”

Abdullah won the first round of voting easily, but a recent poll suggests that Ghani may now be in the lead after allying with the Uzbek former rebel commander Abdul Rashid Dostum. He was asked today whether he would consider forming a unity government if the runoff turned out to be close. 

“Nobody is taking it seriously,” Abdullah said of the poll, confidently predicting victory by a wide margin.

Sudan's Silent Suffering Is Getting Worse

June 2014 

Under the cover of darkness, in a world whose attention is diverted by more camera-accessible crises in Ukraine, Syria, and the Central African Republic (CAR), the Sudan government has revived and intensified its genocidal strategy in the main war zones of Sudan. No media is allowed. The few aid organizations still permitted to operate there are under strict agreement to do so quietly. And the United Nations mission in Darfur has recently been implicated in a broad institutional cover-up of both the scale of devastation, and of the Sudan government’s direct role in creating the crisis.

Sudan may be the world’s most murderous conflict. But the suffering of its people has been obscured, redacted, made silent.

A term like genocide is incendiary and fraught with baggage. Genocide is defined in international law as killing “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” Regardless of what nomenclature you accept, specific ethnic groups are today being targeted in spectacularly destructive ways in three war-torn regions of Sudan: South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and once again, Darfur. We’ve often heard harrowing testimony from survivors in our travels there.

More than 2.5 million people have already perished in various conflicts in Sudan over the last two decades. It is almost unfathomable that things could get worse, yet today the scale of violence is rising to unprecedented levels, a fact demonstrated by Ben Anderson’s upcoming segment on this Friday’s episode of VICE on HBO.

The architect of these atrocities, the Sudan government, is reincarnating an old villain to carry out the most vicious elements of its campaign. The Janjaweed militias attained international notoriety at the height of the Darfur genocide a decade ago. In recent years, however, these roving bands of killers drifted off the international radar screen. Now, as our colleague Akshaya Kumar documents in a forthcoming report by the Satellite Sentinel Project and the Enough Project, the Janjaweed are back with a vengeance under the banner of the regime’s newly launched Rapid Support Forces. These forces are better equipped, centrally commanded, and fully integrated into the state’s security apparatus, with legal immunity from prosecution. This time, Sudan's regime isn't even bothering to pretend the Janjaweed 2.0 is not their responsibility.

For the people of Sudan, the terror that the Janjaweed inspire on the ground is matched only by the terror from the air. Sudan’s Air Force has acquired more accurate bomber planes and more destructive bombs to intensify its aerial assault against civilian targets in the war zones, in total defiance of feckless UN Security Council resolutions. Our Satellite Sentinel Project captures frequent satellite imagery of communities leveled by bombing raids. So far, thatevidence has been ignored.

A series of satellite images from 2011 showed evidence of a mass grave in Sudan, which corroborated local reports. Image via Enough Project

Let’s also remember that the government in Khartoum is the same one behind an array of crimes and atrocities. The regime provides sanctuary to Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army in a South Darfur enclave, sponsors Janjaweed elements to fight on behalf of the Séléka militias committing gross human rights violations in the CAR, provides support to rebel groups that have destabilized neighboring South Sudan, facilitates poaching and gold-smuggling networks that are decimating elephant herds, and has displaced tens of thousands of indigenous residents in areas where gold has been discovered.

Why is the regime doing all this? Very simply, to maintain power and acquire wealth by any means necessary. Their counter-insurgency strategy — drain the water to catch the fish — is the oldest in the book; killing and displacing civilians in rebel zones makes it easier to find the rebels. It is demographic re-engineering, with millions of people being forced out of their arable and mineral-rich lands to go starve in the desert. There, as the Sahara encroaches and climate change presents grave challenges to survival, a new form of genocide by attrition could unfold as the government blocks humanitarian aid.

In the meantime, wresting control of productive land, stealing the livestock that represents the life savings of most of the people, and consolidating gold and oil production means that the wealth of the country is transferred to top-level regime officials. That stolen wealth then funds the Janjaweed, the internal security organs, and the Air Force, and ensures that those brutal instruments of control are held by a small circle of ruling party officials. Our Satellite Sentinel Project intends to pursue a forensic investigation and expose the financing mechanisms of this nexus of destruction.

The situation may sound hopeless — but that is not the case. This is a crisis America can help resolve. On a number of past occasions, the US has used its influence to bring about positive outcomes in Sudan. The Clinton administration led efforts to impose UN Security Council sanctions on Sudan in 1995 for its role in international terrorism, which resulted in the expulsion of Osama bin Laden from the country and the termination of other unsavory relationships. The Bush administration helped negotiate an end to the deadly North-South war in Sudan in 2005. And the Obama administration led international efforts in 2010 to pressure the Sudan government to allow a peaceful referendum for the independence of South Sudan. When the US acts in a bipartisan manner and builds international coalitions, change is possible in Sudan.

It's unrealistic to think that the public’s attention can remain focused for so many years on a place thousands of miles away with little to connect them to it. The fact that Darfur held the public’s imagination for a few years was the anomaly; what was predictable was that people eventually stopped paying attention. The spotlight is fickle — we're already seeing that with Syria. To regain the light, new information and ideas are needed regarding crises that may seem like old news. Telling people they should care because they cared 10 years ago doesn't work.

But there are reasons for Americans to care now about Sudan’s unparalleled violence, because it relates to US national interests. First, if you care about terrorism, Sudan formerly provided sanctuary to bin Laden and has recently deepened its links to the regime in Iran. If you care about China-US relations, Sudan provides a huge opportunity for Sino-American cooperation on peace efforts there, given China’s $10 billion investment in Sudan’s oil industry. If you care about religious persecution, Sudan is attacking Muslims who are not aligned with the ruling party’s vision of Islam, and the regime is repressing Christians in Khartoum. And if you care about basic human rights, famine threatens parts of Sudan because the regime is blocking humanitarian aid.

The US doesn’t need to intervene militarily in Sudan. No budget-busting aid operation is required. Instead, America can make a real difference in Sudan in two other ways.

First, the US needs to intensify diplomatic efforts to help create a single, unified, broadly inclusive peace process across all Sudan that can address root causes and lead to real democratic transformation. Join us in pressing for the deployment of a senior US official to work full-time on Sudan’s peace process with a small team of experts and diplomats to support African and UN mediators.

Second, the US needs to rebuild its influence in Khartoum, and the best way to do that is through the regime’s wallet. The US government must give the Treasury Department the resources it needs to follow the money enabling mass atrocities, and enforce sanctions against complicit actors. Short of military intervention, which is off the table, going after the stolen wealth of the regime’s elite will grab their attention like no other action.

Over the last decade, US taxpayers have contributed billions of dollars to Sudan for humanitarian Band-Aids and for peacekeepers in a land where there is no peace. A small investment in preventive diplomacy and forensic investigations could yield massive savings and help cool the deadliest fire in the world, a fire only those caught in the flames knew was still burning.

George Clooney co-founded the Satellite Sentinel Project with John Prendergast, who also founded the Enough Project

Welcome to the New Iraq War

June 13, 2014 

As rebels make rapid gains, there are few good options for the United States.

Iraq is on the brink of disintegration. Sunni rebels, most prominently the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), have seized large swaths of western Iraq. This week they added Mosul, northern Iraq’s largest city, and Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s old hometown. They’re a few hours’ drive from the outskirts of Baghdad. And there’s no telling how far they’ll advance or how quickly it might happen, given that the Iraqi army doesn’t seem particularly interested in offering resistance. The Guardian reports that, according to Iraqi officials, “two divisions of Iraqi soldiers—roughly 30,000 men—simply turned and ran in the face of the assault by an insurgent force of just 800 fighters.” Liz Sly, the Washington Post’s bureau chief for the region, tweeted pictures of Iraqi army uniforms lying on the road in Mosul—the soldiers had quickly changed out of them as they fled. Hannah Allam of McClatchy Newspapers reported that a local resident had asked one of those soldiers what they were doing—and he said, “We came here for salaries, not to die.”

And as the Iraqi military retreats, it’s not just ISIS taking over. Kurdish forces seized the northern city of Kirkuk, an ethnically divided city on the Kurdish-Iraqi frontier. Kirkuk sits in the middle of rich oil fields, and has accordingly been an epicenter of a long dispute over oil rights between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government—a dispute that had sucked in some of the West’s biggest oil companies and which had risked armed confrontation between the Kurds and Baghdad. With Kirkuk, Kurdistan might see less need to remain part of Iraq. Turkey has moved closer to the Iraqi Kurds in recent years, but before that, many believed that the fall of Kirkuk would provoke a Turkish intervention, too, since the Turks feared that a viable, independent Kurdistan might threaten their own territorial integrity.

What the Takeover of Mosul Means for ISIS

JUNE 2014

The seizure of the Iraqi city of Mosul is a moral and tactical victory for the militant group ISIS—and a wake-up call for Western and Arab countries.

The seizure of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (commonly known as ISIS) signals the start of a new phase for the militant group in its declared bid to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East. Mosul is both a moral and a tactical victory for ISIS. This is also a sign that Western and Arab states need to change their Syria and Iraq policies before ISIS snowballs into an international terrorist organization. 

Although the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is Iraqi and the group has its origins in Iraq, ISIS has focused on Syria over the past two years. The Syrian context proved optimal for ISIS, providing access to natural resources (oil and water), foreign funding (namely from Gulf princes with individual agendas and ambitions that diverge from those of their states), and jihadist fighters. ISIS grew in stature and influence in Syria to the extent that its Syrian branch became financially capable of sending resources to its Iraqi branch. 


In its efforts to strengthen its position in Syria, ISIS worked systematically to present itself as a durable military group with ambition. Its slogan, “baqiya wa tatamaddad” or “lasting and expanding,” originated in a speech by Baghdadi in which he responded to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s call for ISIS to leave Syria. It has since become the basis for the group’s military operations, and ISIS has used its military gains to show its constituents that it is indeed adhering to the principles of this slogan. Every time ISIS took a small village in Syria, it used multiple marketing tools, including social media, to boast about its “victories” and to market its gains as evidence of credibility.

This marketing strategy aided ISIS in its outreach to jihadists from Syria and Iraq as well as to non-Arab fighters. In Iraq, ISIS found in the Sunni population fertile ground for recruitment. Sunnis are angry about Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s policies and see them as a Shia-dominated attempt to oppress Sunnis. Many of those Sunnis initially resisted joining ISIS, but the combination of the group’s perceived credibility and the continuation of Maliki’s short-sighted policies pushed some of them toward embracing ISIS. That in turn paved the way for the capture of Mosul. 

The takeover of Iraq’s second-largest city is a huge moral victory for ISIS. Since the takeover, ISIS has flooded its social media channels—including hundreds of Twitter accounts—with videos and statements about how it is indeed realizing its vision of establishing an enduring caliphate. This marketing campaign will serve to both increase ISIS’s recruitment of new jihadists and please its foreign funders. 

Mosul is a significant tactical victory for ISIS too. The takeover has given ISIS access to more money, as the group reportedly raided the Iraqi central bank in the city and took over $400 million from state funds. ISIS has confiscated armored vehicles and weapons from the Iraqi army. And it proceeded to destroy the earthen barrier that had separated Mosul from the Syrian city of al-Shadadi, south of Hasaka, and then transport the confiscated goods into Syria. The demolition of the barrier has created a direct route linking the Syrian and Iraqi ISIS branches. 

ISIS has made sure to raise public attention to this action through its communication channels, signaling to its current fighters and potential recruits that the next battle is likely to be in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor. ISIS has been fighting the Syrian opposition there for some time. Capturing Deir ez-Zor would give ISIS control over more of Syria’s oil fields (it already controls those in Raqqa), and therefore more funds. 

Maliki has responded to the Mosul takeover by asking for foreign help to counter the expansion of ISIS. However, perpetuating the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIS as a Maliki-led battle would only strengthen the group’s narrative of Sunni oppression, allowing ISIS to continue to receive funding from its foreign backers and to increase the number of jihadists in its ranks. 

All those factors would in turn enable ISIS to launch incursions into Syria’s other neighbors—particularly Turkey and Jordan—even if those incursions were initially only meant to demonstrate the group’s seriousness about its goal of expansion. And it would not be unthinkable for ISIS to use its network of foreign jihadists to conduct operations outside the Middle East. 

The capture of Mosul demonstrates that ISIS is close to becoming a regional player in the Middle East. Dealing with this emerging player necessitates a sharp change in the policies that Western and Arab countries have been following with regard to both Iraq and Syria, including the policies of the Iraqi government. It is only through transnational cooperation, both political and military, that the international community can stave off the expansion and limit the endurance of ISIS.

Turkey Pulse

Author Amberin Zaman
June 2014

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014. (photo by REUTERS)
Turkey ignored direct warnings of ISIS attack on Mosul

The seizure of 49 staff members of the Turkish consulate in Mosul by Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants has refocused attention on Turkey’s failing Middle East policy and exposed embarrassing flaws in its handling of diplomatic security.
Summary⎙ Print Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces another political crisis over the hostage crisis and his Syria and Iraq policies.

As Turkish leaders scramble to find a way out of the crisis, details of the security lapses that led to the storming of the consulate are beginning to emerge. Unless the hostages are released unharmed, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan could face a political crisis of a scale that might yet torpedo his candidacy for the August presidential race.

What we know

On June 6, the governor of Mosul, Atheel al-Nujaifi, put in an emergency call to Kareem Sinjari, the interior minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq saying that ISIS was about to take over the city. Sinjari swiftly spread the word, a full five days before the attack occurred. It is unthinkable that the Turks were not aware of the danger. Yet, they apparently did not feel threatened enough to evacuate the consulate. Indeed, as recently as June 10, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared that there was no threat to Turkey’s Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz and his staff. Davutoglu has since changed his tune, now saying that the security environment to travel by land to Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital, had rendered evacuation impossible. Never mind that it’s just a 40-minute drive from Mosul. In the worst-case scenario, Turkey could have used helicopters to evacuate the personnel. Turkey has around 2.000 troops stationed on the Iraqi side of the Turkish-Iraqi border, nominally there to chase Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters if need be, and they have helicopters.

This was not the first time consular staff in Mosul has come under attack. In September 2013 and as recently as May, Yilmaz was attacked by unknown assailants who set off remote-controlled explosive devices as he rode in his armored vehicle in Mosul. He was unharmed, but it was a clear warning that the consulate had become a target.

“It is unbelievable that he was sent back [to Mosul],” a Foreign Ministry official who declined to be identified by name grumbled to Al-Monitor.

Why was Turkey targeted?

Some Turkish officials who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity clung to the tired conspiracy theory that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad was using ISIS to get back at Turkey. And why would Assad back a group that has brought one of his chief allies, Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to his knees? No answer.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, A Shillman-Ginsberg Fellow at the Middle East Forum who closely monitors ISIS, has a different explanation. The raid on the Turkish consulate “fits into a broader pattern of ISIS taking foreigners hostage in the hopes of securing lucrative ransoms,” he told Al-Monitor in an interview.

A more troubling possibility is that the raid was a warning to Turkey of the consequences it is likely to face should it tighten the screws on jihadist groups moving across its borders. ISIS has long made clear its disdain for Erdogan, whom it labels an “apostate.”

Just days before the raid, Turkish officials leaked details of what Murat Yetkin, a columnist for the Turkish daily Radikal, heralded as “an intelligence-sharing operation on foreign jihadist fighters in Syria” between Turkey and the United States. “It is poised to be the biggest of its kind,” Yetkin predicted. The news coincided with Ankara’s decision, after much foot dragging, to formally declare Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist organization. (ISIS was labeled thus in September 2013.) It is worth noting that the twin bombings in Reyhanli, which many believe were the work of ISIS, occurred shortly before Erdogan met in Washington with US President Barack Obama. Alleged Turkish support for Jabhat al-Nusra was said to have dominated the talks.

What are Turkey’s options?

Turkey has said it will “take all necessary measures” to free the hostages. But is it unlikely to take military action of any kind, even after the hostages are free.

Turkish officials who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity acknowledged that their sole option for now was to negotiate with ISIS. The officials denied that ISIS was seeking a ransom or the release of any ISIS prisoners. They did reveal that a deal with ISIS to free the hostages had been reached the day there were taken, only to collapse hours later.

“We agreed that they would be handed over in the [Iraqi] Kurdish-controlled territory. Then suddenly their tone grew more aggressive and they demanded that the handover take place at the Turkish border.” The official said that it was “obvious” that there were “different” factions and that the “hard-liners” had prevailed. ISIS presently controls two border crossings with Turkey (Akcakale, facing Tal Abyad, and Karkamis, facing Jarablus). Both remain sealed on the Turkish side, presumably disrupting the flow of weapons and other supplies to ISIS.

There is widening speculation that Turkey may now feel compelled to forge an alliance with the Syrian Kurds, who are locked in a bloody turf battle with ISIS. Salih Muslim, the co-chair of the Democratic Unity Party, the most influential Kurdish group on the ground, has repeatedly called on Turkey to join forces against ISIS. Turkey has spurned his calls, saying the Syrian Kurds need to sever their ties with the Assad regime and join the opposition if they want to do business with Ankara.

Is there any softening of that position? Not according to the Turkish officials who spoke to Al-Monitor. “We gave them countless chances, and they broke their promises each time,” claimed one of the officials. “They continue to support Assad.” The more likely scenario is that the government will step up its support for other armed opposition groups like the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham, continuing in effect to feed the Islamic radicalism that now threatens Turkey.

ISIS bids for global jihad leadership with Mosul attack

Author Bruce Riedel
June 2014

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey, Jan. 2, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Yaser Al-Khodor)

ISIS bids for global jihad leadership with Mosul attack

The ghost of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of what is today the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has become the next generation of "al-Qaedism" — more violent, ruthless and extreme than any of its predecessors. ISIS made a bold gamble for its stunning victory in Mosul, taking both a historic great city and symbolic leadership of the global jihad.

Summary⎙ Print Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, is seeking the mantle of founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi with his bold attack on Iraq's second largest city.

Zarqawi, a nom de guerre, was the Jordanian gangster who created al-Qaeda in Iraq, the base from which ISIS evolved, to fight the US invasion. He started from scratch in 2002 even before the invasion began, since then-President George W. Bush made his plans known well in advance of the war. Zarqawi set a trap and built cells ready to strike after the invasion. Then Zarqawi plunged the country into civil war and through his extreme violence persuaded most of Washington that the war was a bad mistake. Although he died in 2006, his legacy survives. 

Late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was always suspicious of his Jordanian protege even before Sept. 11, 2001, and sought to keep him at arm's length. Bin Laden exiled Zarqawi for a time to western Afghanistan because he distrusted Zarqawi's loyalty and his extreme sectarian violence against Iraq's Shiites. But he valued Zarqawi's efficiency once the Iraq war started. 

The Bush surge in 2007 did not destroy Zarqawi's empire. A residual US ground force would not have eliminated it, either. Decapitating the group and buying the Sunni tribes only forced it deeper into the angry Sunni underground. Only sustained good and smart governance could kill it, and that was something post-Saddam Hussein Iraq could not produce, with or without the United States.

The Syrian civil war was a gift to ISIS. At first, ISIS created Jabhat al-Nusra as its agent in Iraq that could be portrayed as an independent party under one of Zarqawi's former deputies, Mohammad al-Golani. Then, ISIS demanded al-Nusra accept its loyalty to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and not bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahri. The protege had turned on his leader's heir. Ironically, Zawahri had long warned bin Laden of this eventuality. In his last days, bin Laden told Zawahri he had always been right about the upstart Jordanian. Too late.

Baghdadi, another nom de guerre, is an ambitious man. He has successfully cloaked himself in mystery. He avoids the posturing and spotlight-seeking that Zarqawi craved to his undoing. He dismisses the old al-Qaeda leadership as not willing to push sectarian hatred far enough. His supporters have been calling for Baghdadi to be accepted as the true heir to bin Laden as the leader of the global jihad.

Before taking Iraq's second largest city this week, ISIS had already seized most of Anbar province in Iraq and Raqqa province in Syria. There, it enforces a Taliban-style extreme version of Islam. Mosul represents a much bigger price, an ancient city with great symbolic value. ISIS is effectively creating a stronghold across the Syrian desert in the heart of the Arab world, erasing the borders set a century ago by the British and French after the fall of the Ottomans.

Baghdadi, like Zarqawi, has bigger ambitions. Last month, the Saudis foiled a major ISIS plot to carry out attacks in the kingdom, arresting dozens. ISIS has recruited thousands of foreign fighters to fight in Syria, and some are reportedly being trained to go home to fight in their native lands. ISIS probably trained the French Muslim who attacked the Jewish Museum in Brussels and killed four in May. 

Taking Mosul could expose ISIS to counterattack by the larger US-equipped Iraqi army backed by Iran. It may provoke the Kurds, too. It's a gamble. For Baghdadi, it is an audacious move to outshine his mentor.

Is the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” a Real Country Now?

Is the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” a Real Country Now? 

After the fall of Mosul today, some terrorism experts, including Charles Lister of Brookings and Peter Neumann of King’s College, suggest that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—the militant group that took over the city, is coming close to actually being the “Islamic State” implied by its name.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. Follow him onTwitter

It’s a question worth pondering. As Liz Sly notes in the Washington Post, ISIS, which began only about a year ago as the Syrian offshoot of al-Qaida in Iraq, now “effectively governs a nation-size tract of territory that stretches from the eastern edge of the Syrian city of Aleppo to Fallujah in western Iraq – and now also includes the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.”

Estimates of ISIS forces range from 7,000 to 10,000. Unlike other Syrian rebel groups, ISIS is focused less on the overthrow of the Assad regime than on enforcing its harsh and austere brand of Islamic law in the areas it controls as well as the broader aim of establishing a unified Islamic state. From all reports, it certainly appears to be a more dominant political force in the areas under its control than either the Syrian or Iraqi governments.

So should we start thinking of ISIS as a proto-state, an unrecognized but de facto sovereign entity? Or will it meet a similar fate to that of Azawad, the rebel state in Northern Mali that declared independence after chasing out the Malian military, only to be routed by a French-led international force the following year.

I’d tentatively lean toward the latter. For one thing, the brutal brand of Shariah law ISIS enforces in the areas of Syria it controls—including beheadings and amputations—seems to be provoking enormous resentment among the people who live under itsblack flag. The Malian Islamists had a similar problem. It seems one difficulty of establishing an "Islamic State," as extremist groups narrowly define it, is that they aren't really places anyone wants to live.

There have also been signs for a while now that ISIS is stretched thin in Syria and the physical territory it controls is shifting and ill-defined. It’s currently carrying on a three-front war against the Iraqi government, Bashar al-Assad’s forces, and other Syrian rebel groups. Opposition to ISIS is a rare cause that the leaders of United States, Iran, and even al-Qaida can agree on. After today, I'm guessting it will be getting a lot more international attention. 

On the other hand, as the New York Times reports, its strength will only grow after today, as it uses the “cash reserves from Mosul’s banks, military equipment from seized military and police bases, and the release of 2,500 fighters from local jails to bolster its military and financial capacity.” And there’s also some evidence to suggest that Assad has gone relatively easy on the areas of Syria controlled by ISIS in a bid to sow division among the rebel groups.

I’m not ready to declare ISIS a real state just yet, but after today, the group has proved it’s not to be underestimated.

Pakistan: Karachi Airport Attack and its Impact:

Paper No. 5724 Dated 12-Jun- 2014
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan

The attack on the Karachi international airport on 8th June was one of the most spectacular and audacious ones by the TTP in the last few months.

The details of the attack have been given in great detail in the media and are not being repeated here. But significant points that need to be noted on the attack are

* If the attack was intended to create panic, terror and diversion of State machinery towards security threats, then it had succeeded to that extent.

* Though the press had mentioned about intention of the attackers to hijack a civilian aircraft, there were no indications that the militants tried to attack any passenger plane that was full of passengers. In the attacks, one militant managed get onto a plane. One plane of PIA, one of Air Blue and a Cargo plane were reported to have been damaged. The militants in the guise of Airport security personnel entered the airport through the scarcely used gateway to the cargo section and were soon engaged by the Airport security and the Pak Rangers who joined them.

* In all ten militants were involved and all of them were killed. A total of 36 persons were killed that included airport staff and Pak security forces. Three of the militants who blew themselves up were Uzbeks and it is suspected that most of the attackers were all of foreign origin.

* While the initial message from the TTP said that it was a revenge for the killing of TTP leader Mehsud a year ago, the real reason appears to be the killing of innocent people in the bomb attacks that have been intensified since 21st June. The bombing of Machis camp near Mirenshah where Uzbeks were suspected to be hiding on 23rd June is said to have killed over 25 Uzbeks besides their commander code named Abu Ahmad. The Uzbeks probably belonging to the IMU have since claimed responsibility for the attack along with the TTP.

* It is surprising that though the security forces on the morning of 8 June declared that the airport was cleared of militants, explosions and huge fires were seen in the airport much later. Within 36 hours, two or three gun men again attacked the training and hostel facility of the airport security and escaped before they could be apprehended. The TTP spokesman said that the attacks were a message that they were still alive to react over the killing of innocent people.

* An attempt was made to divert attention and blame India for the attack and there was even mention of Indian arms being found with the dead militants. But fortunately this was not pursued. LET’s chief’s statement blaming the Modi Government for the incident should be ignored.

Some conclusions can be drawn from the attacks:

1. There was a view that the TTP of the Fazlullah group had considerably weakened after the split and ensuing clashes that took place two weeks ago. Regular Army operations that began with aerial bombing and later ground attacks took into consideration of the split in launching the operations. The current attack has proved that the Fazlullah group is still strong and could attack in other areas too. Recall Fazlullah’s statement (paper 5710) that he is getting ready his suicide bombers to take on the evil forces.

2. The day after the attack Nawaz Sharif met the Army Chief and the main agenda was whether to give up on the peace talks and launch a regular operation. Operations had already begun and what is being intended is a “Swat like” operation which could involve serious civilian casualties and exodus of refugees to other regions. It looks that Nawaz Sharif had given the final clearance for such an operation. The Army Chief who had been insisting on such an operation ever since he took over in November last year and he has finally had his way. Sure enough, the next day after the meeting, jets bombed nine of the suspected hideouts in North Waziristan killing over 25 suspected militants.

3. The repercussions on such large scale operations will be difficult to comprehend right now. Punjab is relatively free now but it may not remain so. Secondly forays from across the border by militants camping on the other side of the border cannot be ruled out. For the third time in a week, militants fired from across the border in Bajaur agency and two Pakistani posts Manozangel and Monkla were attacked. Two soldiers were killed and many more injured. It is said that the TTP is well entrenched in Nuristan on the other side of the border in Afghanistan. Any foray into Afghanistan would bring in reaction from the Afghan forces too. To this extent the border in that area would remain unstable.

4. This attack is the fourth high security target that was penetrated. The first was the Pak Naval Airbase PNS Mehran in Karachi that was attacked in May 2011. Then followed the attack on the international airport at Peshawar on Dec 15, 2012 and then the Air force base at Kamra near Karachi in Aug. 2012. The question that should be of concern not only to India but also to others whether the nuclear establishments and areas where nuclear devices are stored are safe from the militant attacks. The TTP has demonstrated that it can attack at will any high value security target easily!

5.The operations in the North Waziristan cannot be conducted by the Pak Army without active cooperation from the Haqqani Group. The latter perhaps are providing information on the hideouts and about the location of the leaders. Closely associated with the Haqqani Group is the LET and this may embolden the latter to attack the Indian interests. The attack on the Herat Consulate is just the beginning and one cannot rule out another 26/11 in India too.

6. In all this process, the position of Nawaz Sharif has considerably weakened. He with his Interior minister had set their heart right from the election to have a dialogue with the militants and find a solution. The army on the one hand and the militants on the other are now bent upon quashing any hope he had. One analyst remarked that the Pak Army will as before unsettle and destabilise Nawaz Sharif! But one thing is sure- the military offensive against the TTP is unlikely to succeed in the near term.

Pakistan: A Hyper-national Security State

June 2014 
Rana BanerjiDistinguished Fellow, IPCS
E-mail: rbanerji49@gmail.com 

'The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World' by TV Paul; 272 pages; Random House India, 2014

For over six decades, the Pakistani elite have pursued a `hyper-national security state’ geopolitical approach, stemming from an almost continuous and obsessive `search for power symmetry with India’, which has laid a “geo-strategic curse” on the country at the expense of any lasting political or economic reform. This has resulted in `domestic stagnation and even chaos’. Though seemingly successful in the short-term, or from a tactical point of view, they distorted the country’s development in the long run, imperilling its national security.

This is the central thesis of the construct offered in `The Warrior State – Pakistan in the Contemporary World’, a new book by Dr TV Paul, Professor, International Relations, McGill University, Canada.

Pakistan had its `great power patrons’ – the US and China – both of whom it received massive military assistance from; but even their policies and patronage discouraged the adoption of `painful economic and social reforms necessary for rapid, equitable economic and political development’. Dr Paul tellingly brings out how ever since its founding in 1947, Pakistan remained at the center of major geopolitical struggles: the US-Soviet Union rivalry; the conflict with India; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; and most recently, the post-9/11 wars. Massive foreign aid kept pouring in from major powers and their allies with a stake in the region. The reliability of such aid defused any pressure on the political elites to launch far-reaching domestic reforms necessary to promote sustained growth, higher standards of living, and more stable democratic institutions.

Pakistan’s elite – primarily the military leaders who repeatedly usurped power, abrogating constitution-making and the evolution of democratic processes – had, according to Dr Paul, `both the motive and opportunity to pursue such policies’. Their strategic ideas and ideological beliefs about statehood, development and power became major factors in determining strategies they followed. However, these ideas were `devoid of prudence and pragmatism’ and produced `unintended consequences, that were often negative’.

Citing the European experience to understand the relationship between war and state building in the Pakistani context, the book suggests that Pakistan has unfortunately tended to slide into the category of `weak’ or `failing states’ as its elites showed a proclivity to dabble `in other regional conflicts, proxy wars or promotion of insurgencies’, instead of devoting capacities for `the creation of public goods to its citizenry by way of education, healthcare, employment and high standard of living’.

Tracing causes of this political evolution through its turbulent history, Dr Paul concludes that Pakistan has `ended up as a garrison or praetorian state’; whenever the military ceded power to elected civilian governments, it did so only partially. This left the country as a ` hybrid democratic model’ with the military remaining ` a veto player’ in crucial decision making.

An interesting chapter is devoted to comparing Pakistan’s internecine civil-military conflict with similar situations in other Muslim majority countries such as Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, and even with `non-Muslim National Security States’ such as South Korea and Taiwan. Though acknowledging some similarities relating to the `existential nature of threats faced’, Dr Paul finds Pakistan’s wars were `limited in nature’ and were `never utilised by the elite to transform the country’s economic policies’. The military’s dominance `was never tamed’ and `the co-operation of civil society groups’ was channelised `in the direction of geo-political projects’, instead of garnering support for policies of economic development. Religion was repeatedly utilised in the quest for Islamic legitimacy and as a crutch to justify the military’s abrogation of democratic politics, in the process leading to the `misuse of political Islam’; rise of sectarianism; and endemic ethnic cleavages – all characteristics of weak, insecurity-generating states.

The book examines how Pakistan is coping with `the trap of the Warrior State’ today and whether it will transform in the near future. Though some signs of change are discerned, through growing introspection among some sections of civil society, Dr Paul says Pakistan’s `ongoing war-making efforts have deeply affected its prospects for emerging as a tolerant, prosperous and unified nation-state. He believes `ironically, that Pakistan’s democratic elections and political transitions made things worse domestically’, leaving civil society much weaker and the middle class `increasingly sympathetic to extremism’. The army has recently taking on the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), though this seems a reluctant and limited strategy conditioned by calculations of calibrated response in the context of Afghanistan. It still has the `temptation’ to play `good Taliban’ and `bad Taliban’ while pursuing tactical or asymmetric objectives. Offering a rather dour prognosis, Dr Paul suggests that things could improve `only if ideas and assumptions of the elite change fundamentally’. The state could otherwise fall apart `if they (the elite) persist in “double games”’.

The State’s long term policies have neither focussed on economic development nor shown political cohesion. Despite the impact of the internet revolution, enabled by a reasonably free media, the younger generation has not been allowed to globalise or benefit from economic liberalisation. The education and science and technology sectors have languished or remained bound under old narratives of insecurity.

Emphasising `twin fears for the future in its immediate neighbourhood’ – the fear of India and the fear of losing primary influence over Afghanistan – Pakistan’s military is shown to have assumed a protector’s role – so typical in `Warrior States’ [Charles Tilly, in “War Making & State Making as Organised Crime,” ‘Bringing the State Back In’, 1985]. The army is called upon again and again to assume the protector’s role from threats it has itself created in the first place – thus showing how `a protector can become a protection racketeer’

Soundness of theoretical premises notwithstanding, this is severe castigation indeed and may not go down well with audiences in Pakistan, coming as it does from an academic of Indian origin, albeit now ensconced in hallowed climes. It also reflects, perhaps, an inadequate and unduly pessimistic appreciation of complex social and political factors influencing responses of various players in the Pakistan’s domestic arena.

After Musharraf’s last disruption of democracy in November 2007, the lawyers’ movement for restoration of the higher judiciary definitely reflected deep-seated changes in these relationships and a partial maturing of civil society in the country. Both former President Asif Ali Zardari and former Army Chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani understood these changes and made interesting course corrections in typical behaviour patterns which determined civil-military interactions in the five-year interregnum (2008-2013). Thoughpolitical parties remained weak, the army too could not or did not voluntarily (sic!) exercise absolute power. The ignominy of the Abbottabad action by the US to eliminate Osama bin Laden was not lost either on a politically aware polity or among young officers in the Pakistani Defence Services, who were unhappy with their own impotence. Though berated by new found judicial activism, the civilian political leadership still sacked a retired General as Defence Secretary during the strained `Memogate’ phase, though having to dismiss their chosen Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, due to the army’s insistence. Former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani nevertheless, lamented in a forceful speech in the National Assembly that no organ of the State could claim to be “a State within the State,” asserting that “decision-making is done only by Parliament” and “all institutions of the county remain answerable” to it.

Though civil society activism in Pakistan seems to have ebbed, real political power is today diffused and spread among several actors. The centre-right politicians who received an overwhelming popular mandate in the 2013 general elections have built their own patronage and connections with radical Islamic actors; and the latter too have emerged with increasing clout in civil society.

The Pakistan People’s Party could not contest elections freely due to threats from the Taliban and suffered at the hustings due to anti-incumbency and mal-governance. However, it retains its mass base in Sindh, and could bounce back. As a national mainstream party, it extended solidarity to the ruling PML (N), when civil-military relations recently became strained. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM-Altaf) has its own ethno-cultural clout, in the context of law and order management in Karachi.

These factors place limits on the military’s ability to control things entirely, though the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) remains the key military institution for the manipulation of politics. This has been vividly demonstrated in the crisis after the attack on Geo compere, Hamid Mir, and the army-backed attempts to coerce or curb freedom of the press.

On the ensuing military interaction with TTP too, Dr Paul’s prognosis seems off the mark. With civilian political leaders still paying lip service to mediation and talks, how the army tackles what has been described as the newest `existentialist threat’ against the State perhaps needed to be explained beyond the parameters of `a warrior state’ construct.

That said, Dr Paul’s book offers a rich bibliographic canvas and is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on political dynamics in Pakistan.