19 June 2014

***Nuclear forces

Nuclear forces

At the start of 2014 nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France,China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—possessed approximately 4000 operational nuclear weapons. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possessed a total of approximately 16 300 nuclear weapons (see table below) compared to 17270 in early 2013.

Overall inventories are declining, primarily due to the United States and Russia continuing the drawdown of their nuclear arsenals as a result of the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) and unilateral reductions. But the pace of reductions appears to be slowing compared with a decade ago. At the same time, all the nuclear-armed states are modernizing their remaining nuclear forces and appear determined to retain sizeable nuclear arsenals for the foreseeable future.

The USA and Russia continue to reduce their arsenals but at a slower pace than a decade ago and have extensive modernization programs underway for their remaining nuclear delivery systems, warheads, and production facilities. The nuclear arsenals of the other smaller nuclear-armed states are considerably smaller, but all are either developing or deploying new weapons or have announced their intention to do so.

Reliable information on the status of the nuclear arsenals and capabilities of the nuclear-armed states varies considerably. The USA has disclosed substantial information about its stockpile and forces, and the UK and France have also declared some information. Russia refuses to disclose the detailed breakdown of its forces counted under the New START treaty (even though it shares the information with the USA), and the US Government has stopped releasing detailed information about Russian and Chinese nuclear forces.

China, India and Pakistan are the only nuclear weapon states that are expanding their nuclear arsenals, while Israel appears to be waiting to see how the situation in Iran develops. There is an emerging consensus in the expert community that North Korea has produced a small number of nuclear weapons, as distinct from rudimentary nuclear explosive devices.

World nuclear forces, January 2014
All estimates are approximate.
CountryYear of first nuclear testDeployed warheadsaOther warheadsTotal Inventory
United States1945192053807300
United Kingdom195216065225
North Korea2006..6–86–8
Total397012 35016 300
SIPRI Yearbook 2014 (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2014).

a ‘Deployed’ means warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces.

CHINA-PAK NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION India should counter the challenge diplomatically

G Parthasarathy
WHILE explaining the rationale for Pakistan's nuclear weapon programme, its then Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto noted that while the Christian, Jewish and Hindu civilizations had nuclear weapons capability, it was the Islamic civilization alone that did not possess nuclear weapons. He asserted that he would be remembered as the man who had provided the Islamic civilization with full nuclear capability. Bhutto's views on Pakistan's nuclear weapons contributing to the capabilities of the Islamic civilization were shared by Pakistan's senior nuclear scientist Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood who, along with his colleague Chaudhri Abdul Majeed, was detained shortly after the terrorist strikes of 9/11. They were both charged with helping Al Qaida acquire nuclear and biological weapon capabilities. Two other Pakistan scientists, Suleiman Asad and Al Mukhtar, wanted for questioning about their links with Osama bin Laden, disappeared after it was claimed that they had gone to Myanma.

The original sinner in nuclear proliferation, however, is not Pakistan, but China. Director of the Wisconsin Project of Arms Control Gary Milhollin has commented: "If you subtract China's help from the Pakistani nuclear programme, there is no Pakistani nuclear programme". There is evidence, including hints from Bhutto's prison memoirs, that suggest that China initially agreed to help Pakistan develop nuclear weapons when Bhutto visited Beijing in 1976. It is now acknowledged that by 1983 China had supplied Pakistan with enough enriched uranium for around two weapons and the designs for a 25-Kiloton bomb. Chinese support for the Pakistan programme is believed to have included a quid pro quo in the form of Pakistan providing China the designs of centrifuge enrichment plants. Interestingly, thanks to China, Pakistan acquired nuclear arsenal at least five years before India decided to cross the nuclear threshold.

China's assistance to Pakistan continued even after Beijing acceded to the NPT. When Pakistan's enrichment programme faced problems in 1995, China supplied Pakistan 5,000 ring magnets. China has subsequently supplied Pakistan with unsafeguarded plutonium processing facilities at Khushab. There is also evidence that China has supplied Pakistan with a range of nuclear weapons designs with the passage of time. While the nuclear weapons designs supplied by Dr A.Q. Khan to Libya were of a Chinese warhead tested in the 1960s, the nuclear warheads tested by Pakistan in 1998 were of a different design

According to Thomas Reed, a former Secretary of the US Air Force, who was closely associated with the US nuclear weapons establishment and Dan Stillman, a US nuclear expert who had extensive interactions with his Chinese counterparts a Pakistani derivative of the Chinese CHIV-4 nuclear bomb was tested by Pakistan in China on May 26, 1990. This was eight years before India's 1998 tests that validated its nuclear weapons. Reed stated that while in China, Stillman had noted that his stay at the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear Research "also produced a first insight into the extensive hospitality extended to Pakistani nuclear scientists during the late 1980s time period". Reed has disclosed that "in 1982, China's Premier Deng Xiao Ping began the transfer of nuclear technology to Pakistan".


 Hiranmay Karlekar 
Thursday, 19 June 2014 |

Our Armed Forces had received a raw deal during the UPA regime, and are left with critical shortages and lack of state-of-the-art weapons and equipment

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the Indian Navy's new aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, and Defence (also Finance) Minister Arun Jaitley's to Jammu & Kashmir, underlined the high priority the new Government attaches to India's defence and security. This is understandable. The country faces serious threats on land and sea. The Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir is unquiet and the withdrawal of American troops, except for perhaps a small contingent of Special Operations Force, from Afghanistan, is bound to be followed by an offensive by the Afghan Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Al Qaeda, against the Kabul regime. Should that succeed, there will be sharp escalation in terrorist operations in Jammu & Kashmir as well as the rest of India. The Al Qaeda, which declared jihad against this country as early as 1998, has once again indicated its intention to turn its attention to the State.

The Government needs to address these threats with a blend of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism measures, and by deploying the Armed Forces if military operations become necessary following a Pakistani offensive. This time, attacks may not be limited to land. The terrorist strike in Mumbai, master-minded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and carried out by the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, that started on the night of November 26, 2008, is a clear indication of that. This, and the fact that Pakistan, which has been arming itself to the teeth against India with the help of American aid, is making special efforts to neutralise the Indian Navy's distinct superiority over its own military naval arm, indicates that in the next war the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea would see significant naval conflict.

Besides, the Chinese Navy's growing presence and assertiveness in the Indian Ocean is a factor, the promise of a further improvement in Sino-Indian relations following Mr Modi's becoming Prime Minister notwithstanding. In 1962, we paid the price for our complacence and dismal failure to read the Chinese mind. We cannot afford a repeat. Also, the Navy has to deal with piracy in the high seas which is causing serious global concern.

All this makes Prime Minister Modi's visit to INS Vikramaditya, a very special affair. It was a badly-needed morale booster for the Navy, which has lately passed through a very difficult time with accidents and the Chief of Naval Staff's resignation. Besides, the controversy over the usefulness of an aircraft carrier notwithstanding, there can be no doubt that INS Vikramaditya, along with the older ship of its kind, INS Virat, play an important role in power projection, which is critical part of a country's military naval profile.


 Claude Arpi 
Thursday, 19 June 2014 |

A separate ministry for the Himalayas is a great idea which has, unfortunately, not received the attention it deserves. Even purely from the security perspective, an emphasis on the Himalayan region makes sense

A significant article by Mr PD Rai, member of the Lok Sabha from Sikkim, did not create any splash (or even get noticed) by the Indian media. Mr Rai wrote for IANS on ‘A ministry for the Himalayas: Not a day too soon’.

The Sikkim MP noted: “The recent news about the active consideration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government to start a new ministry to oversee the Himalayas is most welcome. In all these years since independence, ignoring the Himalayas has been wholly unwarranted and shocking. To many of us who have been hammering away at this thought, it is the most welcome of all news emanating from the newly formed Government.” I agree with him.

Though one of the two (out of 13) ‘non-BJP Himalayan MPs, Mr Rai believes that the Modi Government should go ahead in the path-breaking direction of creating a Himalayan ministry. The Sikkimese MP, for example, mentions the train: “...mountain railways have been around since the days of the British Raj. They managed to take the railways to Darjeeling, Shimla and Coonoor hills (Nilgiri Mountain Railway). The British had made these technological feats. However, since independence, the technology stands where it was in 1947.”

While India has been sleeping, the Chinese were not. Later this year, the train will reach Shigatse (not far from the Chumbi Valley) and China will then continue the line towards Nyingchi Prefecture, north of the Indo-Tibet border. It is not only the train, but a four-way road is also under construction.

On June 5, 2014, Xinhua reported: “As a main trunk connecting a dozen of key highways in Tibet, Lhasa-Nyingchi Highway bears great significance in building a flexible traffic network covering China’s border provinces as well as upgrading China’s national defence capacity.” It is interesting that the ‘defence capacity’ is mentioned; Xinhua is usually silent on this subject; it is certainly a warning to the Indian Prime Minister who announced his determination to build roads to the borders.

And the winner could be Tehran

June 19, 2014

Success of the ISIS campaign will only end up strengthening Shiite hold on Iraq.

To go by much of the commentary about Iraq in recent days, the country is already past the breaking point under the lightning campaign by Sunni insurgents. It would be no surprise if the next few weeks brought them to the gates of Baghdad. But an assault on Baghdad, or even its capture, would be an illusory victory. It can only end in defeat — and the strengthening of the insurgents’ sworn Shiite enemies in Baghdad and, especially, Tehran.

First, consider the brute demographic reality. Unlike in Syria, Sunnis are a relatively small part of the Iraqi population, about 25 per cent — though they are a majority in some areas of the west and north. And in Baghdad their numbers are minuscule. The reason for this lies in an earlier Sunni revolt triggered by the second gulf war. Baghdad was the target then, too, and its Sunni population was about 35 per cent. As the Sunnis asserted themselves militarily, Shiites struck back; by 2008, when their fury was largely spent, Sunnis were reduced to as little as 12 per cent of the city’s population.

If the insurgents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, enter Baghdad’s residual Sunni neighbourhoods, they will likely be welcomed, but they won’t have much to work with, nor will they have the strategic depth they will need in the street fighting that ensues. Moreover, rather like what happened in Syria, the Sunni offensive is likely to spur a transformation of the Iraqi army from the sorry mess it is now into a more resilient and operationally effective force.

The character of the Sunni offensive will mobilise more than just the army. Mass execution has been meshed with the use of religious symbolism by the insurgents, who framed their objective as extirpating “the filth” — Shiite teaching and believers — from Najaf and Karbala, the two holiest Shiite cities. In a minority war on a majority population, this is a suicidal tactic. The Shiites will hit back even harder than last time. In addition to being hobbled by their paltry numbers, the rebels have chosen to make war on an adversary with powerful friends who have a serious stake in the future of Iraq.

In an unsettled state

Khaled Ahmed
June 19, 2014
Politics has taken a backseat. It’s time to be a sport.

The outcome of the Modi-Nawaz meeting was predictably seen as disastrous by the swelling pro-army tide in Pakistan.

Pakistan and India have once again tried to forget the past and patch up, using the swearing-in of India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, as the peg. The extremists are not happy; they didn’t want Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to go to New Delhi. The “doves”, who matter less and less in Pakistan, hope their leaders can climb over the brickwalls the two sides have raised to perpetuate conflict over many decades.

In Pakistan, waters of all discussion were muddied by Sharif’s recent quarrel with the army over internal policy. Pakistan was polarised between him and the army before Sharif took off for Delhi for his meeting with Modi on May 26. Predictions in Islamabad were dire: he is about to be dragged down in a re-run of many earlier overthrows. Army chief Raheel Sharif, who never looked the part, was supposed to depose him and replace him with no one knew who.

The media, “drunk with the wine of nation-worship”, as they say, backed the army in the quarrel. There was a kind of double-take by most TV anchors who first thought hanging Pervez Musharraf was the right thing to do and the government was right in talking peace with the Taliban. General Sharif, by his actions, seemed to signal to them that this was not what the army wanted. Then the split came out in the open.

General Sharif first reasoned with PM Sharif over the treason trial of Musharraf; then, after being ignored, demonstrated the de facto power of the army by literally blacking out the GEO TV news channel across Pakistan for insulting the ISI, Pakistan’s world-renowned, army-controlled intelligence agency.

Discussants on TV talkshows were predominantly right-wing pro-army. Cloying intellectuals, sprinkled liberally with sharp-tongued retired military officers, shut up the moderates who thought PM Sharif had done the right thing by inviting Modi for an official visit and then attending Modi’s swearing-in.

The outcome of the Modi-Sharif meeting was predictably seen as disastrous by the swelling pro-army tide. TV anchors said: Sharif didn’t bring up Kashmir and Pakistan’s rivers being diverted by India; and Modi unfairly demanded an end to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, not even waiting for Sharif to return to Islamabad before appearing to order a move in Parliament to remove the constitutional provision giving special status to Kashmir and thus making it an integral part of India. And that Sharif did not mention Balochistan, where rascally India was stoking an insurgency, but for which Pakistan has so far been reluctant to share proof with India. Retired diplomats vented spleen on TV, saying Sharif had caused Modi “to slap Pakistan on the face”.

India must find its voice in West Asia

Suhasini Haidar
June 19, 2014

For the past decade, especially after what are called the 9/11 wars, New Delhi has chosen to give up its own say on matters of the Middle East to the big powers, either piggybacking on their stands or being intimidated into adopting a hands-off policy there

For a small group in the audience in Parliament, the omission seemed glaring. Yet, as President Pranab Mukherjeecompleted his address to the joint session of Parliament on June 9, outlining the policies of the new government, no one seemed to notice the unhappiness of the Ambassadors of the Middle East or West Asia and North African (WANA) and Gulf region who were special invitees. Unlike in the past, the presidential address made no mention of India’s ties with their region. Even last year, for example, Mr. Mukherjee had devoted a paragraph in his speech — on “supporting efforts to promote peaceful settlements of regional conflicts” in West Asia and political engagement with Africa. This year, the address focussed on the subcontinent and the big powers, the United States, Russia and China.

The omission is only a symptom of the larger lack of understanding in the Indian establishment of the value that lies in ties with West Asia; ties that have been slipping in the past few years. For India, the disinterest has been enhanced by the growing conflicts in the region, from Libya to Syria and Iraq. Every time a country in the region erupts, India seems less willing to engage with it. As a result, the only bilateral visit by Dr. Manmohan Singh in his tenure during UPA-II was to Saudi Arabia in 2010. In his schedule of engagements for the remainder of this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made no mention of the region either.

Disproportionate with stakes

The gradual decline in India’s ties with the region is baffling. Even if you discount our obvious dependence on the region for oil — about 70 per cent of all oil imports, not to mention the bulk of trade that is conducted through this region via the Suez Canal, there is still the staggering fact — of the numbers of Indians employed in the countries there. Nearly seven million Indians now live and work in the Gulf and WANA, sending home about half of the $65 billion India earns in global remittances. These are Indians who will not be granted anything more than work permits, and their welfare will remain India’s responsibility. At seven million, this group of overseas workers is an integral part of India’s relations with the WANA-Gulf region, forming the equivalent of India’s “30th State,” with a population almost the equivalent of that of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Ending a marriage of convenience

Published: June 19, 2014
Amit Baruah

The course of Zarb-e-Azb, the military operation launched against insurgent groups, will be closely followed within and outside Pakistan. Picture shows the Pakistani Army in Karachi.

If Pakistan’s state structure is to survive, then Rawalpindi and Islamabad have no choice but to snap the establishment’s links with the militants

Whatever the differences in approach between the Pakistan Army leadership and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in tackling terror, these have been set aside for the moment as Operation Zarb-e-Azb (Sword of the Prophet) got underway on June 15.

After the post-9/11 anti-terrorist operations launched by General Pervez Musharraf and in Swat more recently, the announcement of an all-out operation against militant elements could be the most serious effort to deal with the menace.

Whether it’s the drive from Lahore airport or a journey around Islamabad, the ever-present security checkpoints tell the story of a country at the receiving end of terror and terrorism.

The driveway to my hotel in Islamabad has many security blocks popping up as I enter, a clear sign that the state wants to ensure that high-profile targets are kept safe following the sensational Karachi airport strike.

Enough is enough

After waiting for what appears to have been eternity, the Prime Minister and the Army, under a new chief Raheel Sharif, seem to have decided that enough is enough.

“Our places of worship, educational institutions, airports, military installations, markets and even our houses have become unsafe,” Mr. Sharif told Pakistan’s Parliament on June 16 while announcing the lauch of the operation in North Waziristan.

The Sharif government’s recourse to dialogue with the Taliban, now abandoned, was a signal to the terrorists that the Pakistani state was weak and effete, and unwilling and unable to take on the growing military clout of the Taliban.

Analysts in Islamabad told this writer that General Sharif does not share the reluctance of his predecessor Ashfaq Kayani, who was Army chief for six long years from 2007 to 2013, to take on the terrorists.

While it is still early to test the mettle of General Sharif in dealing with the Taliban, General Kayani was not one to meddle too much with the growing clout of the Islamist militia, which spoke peace and advocated war.

General Sharif, possibly aware of the Taliban’s deep roots, said while visiting his Army’s Peshawar corps headquarters on Monday that “all terrorists along with their sanctuaries must be eliminated without any discrimination.”

Why Afghanistan Won't End Up Like Iraq

Why Afghanistan Won't End Up Like Iraq
Despite some worrying signs, Saturday’s elections in Afghanistan offer some positive glimpses of Afghanistan’s future. 

June 18, 2014

This past Saturday, on June 14, Afghanistan successfully held the second round of its presidential elections, which could usher in the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in its history. This election was a run-off between the two frontrunners from the previous round, held on April 5: former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani. Both candidates, unlike incumbent President Hamid Karzai, have pledged to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States, which would allow for a continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan post-2014.

The election featured an unexpectedly large turnout of over 7 million individuals. Afghans voted despite threats from the Taliban, demonstrating a widespread desire for peace and acceptance of the basic framework of the state, its institutions, and the electoral process. While there were some violent incidents, none of them seriously disrupted the election.

Both Abdullah and Ghani have decent resumes, suggesting that either candidate would be up to the task of administering the still unsettled country. Ghani worked as a senior World Bank economist and is thought to be relatively untainted by the corruption that dominated Afghanistan during Karzai’s presidency. However, this could also work to his disadvantage, as he spent much of his time in Washington D.C. without first-hand experience working in Afghanistan. He may not be ready to handle Afghanistan’s warlords, get things done in an imperfect system, and possibly even fight a war if necessary. This is the sort of experience that Abdullah has (though Ghani’s supporters have argued that electing Abdullah would represent a return to darker times).

Current Pakistani Military Offensive Against Taliban in Waziristan Biggest in 5 Years

Tim Craig and Shaiq Hussain
Washington Post
June 17, 201

An armed Pakistani police officer stands guard at a roadside checkpoint in the second largest city, Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday. (Rahat Dar/European Pressphoto Agency)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s government on Monday rallied support for a sustained assault on Taliban fighters and other militants, as fighter jets bombed terrorist havens in North Waziristan and the army shifted manpower into major cities to help guard against retaliatory strikes. 

The military operation is shaping up to be the nation’s biggest campaign against the Pakistani Taliban in at least five years. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif authorized the move amid growing concern that Islamist militants pose an existential threat to the country. 

“The army is fighting to protect the sovereignty of the motherland,” Sharif said in an address to the National Assembly on Monday night. 

For years, Pakistan’s leaders have adopted a restrained approach toward the Taliban, which had found refuge in lawless tribal areas in the northwest. 

But the recent attack on Karachi’s international airport, which killed 26 people and undermined the global image of Pakistan’s largest and wealthiest city, triggered the more muscular response. Sharif, who had been advocating peace talks with the Taliban, may also have been rattled by Sunni rebels’ rapid advance in northern Iraq last week, analysts say. 

After Months of Dithering, Pakistani Army Finally Going After the Pakistani Taliban

Pakistan army in for long haul in offensive against Taliban
June 17, 2014
A girl fleeing the military offensive against the Pakistani militants in North Waziristan, reacts while taking refuge with her family in a school building in Bannu, located in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province June 17, 2014.

(Reuters) - After months of dithering, Pakistan’s army has launched an offensive against Taliban insurgents near the border with Afghanistan but the tough terrain, a potentially hostile local population and the possibility of revenge attacks in heartland cities could be more difficult to conquer than the militants.

Pakistan announced on Sunday it was sending ground forces, artillery and helicopter gunships to the remote, mountainous tribal region of North Waziristan in a long-awaited military operation designed to eliminate the al Qaeda-linked insurgents.

Islamabad has been under intense U.S. pressure for years to crush sanctuaries for militants in the region and Pakistan’s move will be greeted with resolute approval in Washington - but the challenges facing its army on the ground mean it should be ready for a long haul.

Malignant Spectre

Anurag Tripathi 
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management 

On June 8, 2014, two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants, including one 'divisional commander', identified as Bilal Ahmad Bhat alias Bilal Lelhari, and his associate, identified as Mudasir Sheikh, were killed by Security Forces (SFs) in the Reshipora village of Pulwama District in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).

Earlier, on June 1, 2014, SFs killed a LeT 'divisional commander', identified as Shaad Mohammad alias Shahid alias Abu Ukasha Afghani, hailing from the Deer area of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province of Pakistan, in the Sudal village of the Magam area in Handwara town, Kupwara District, J&K. 

On May 25, 2014, two LeT terrorists, identified as Zubair Ahmad Bhat alias Musab and Ishfaq Ahmad Bhat alias Amir, were killed in a fierce gun battle with SFs at Nowpora Village in the Frisal area of Kulgam District. Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Vijay Kumar disclosed that the two terrorists were killed in the house of the Nowpora village Sarpanch (head of a Panchayat, a village-level local self Government institution), Feroz Ahmad, a People Democratic Party (PDP) leader, soon after they barged into his house to eliminate him. 

At least 12 Panchayat members have been killed and another eight have been injured in 20 incidents in the State since Panchayat Elections were held in April-June 2011, after a gap of 33 years. The LeT has claimed at least three attacks on Panchayat members, and has released several threat letters to Panchayat members, including the last, on December 19, 2013, carrying the stamp of ‘District Commander, Srinagar, Nawab Gaznavi' and another name, 'Yaseen Kashmiri’, warning mainstream political workers and Sarpanches of 'dire consequences' if they failed to resign 'within a week'. 

Again, on May 10, 2013, two LeT terrorists from Pakistan were killed in a gun battle close to the Line of Control (LoC) at the forward village of Kalsan in the Bigial Dara area of Poonch Sector, about 10 kilometers from Poonch town.


June 17, 2014 

Editor’s note: We’ve partnered with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) to publish a series of infographics based on data from their Global Terrorism Database and related START projects. Each week we’ll release a new set of graphics that depict trends in global terrorism activity. Sign up for the War on the Rocks newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of them!

Last week we published a global heat map that depicted the intensity and concentration of terrorist violence in 2013. This week, we look at those countries that saw the greatest increase, greatest decrease, and most stability in levels of terrorism between 2012 and 2013. The graphics are again produced by START and are based on data from their Global Terrorism Database.

The first chart depicts trends based on raw numbers.

But the picture changes when we look at percentages rather than total change.

So we can see that Iraq experienced the largest jump in terrorist incidents between the two years. And although the increase of 1,414 represented a leap of approximately 100%, this was far from the largest percentage gain. That distinction goes to Lebanon, which saw the number of terrorist incidents grow by more than 700%. Similarly, the largest decrease in real terms occurred in Nigeria, whereas the biggest percentage drop was in France/Corsica. Kenya saw the exact same number of attacks in both years, so of course appears in both graphics.

Petro Poroshenko's Fatal Flaw

June 17, 2014 

Ukraine's new president has a big problem—he is still ignoring many of the needs and aspirations of eastern Ukraine. 

ODESSA–Despite the election of a successor to President Yanukovych, the regime change that took place on February 22, 2014 continues to haunt Ukrainians. To this day, some argue that Yanukovych’s ouster was a popular uprising, while others say it was simply an illegal coup.

In their struggle for power, both camps undermined the legitimacy of governmental authority whenever it served their interests to do so. In January, supporters of the Maidan movement in western Ukraine rebelled against central authorities in Kiev. They occupied government buildings, terrorized the officials appointed by Kiev, and demanded that local security forces swear allegiance to regional “people’s governments.”

After Yanukovych’s removal, it became the turn of the opponents of the Maidan. Local representatives from the east and the south convened in Kharkov and assumed all political authority until “legitimate political authority” in Kiev was restored. The Crimean delegation took the lead, seeing an opportunity to restore the autonomy that Kiev had largely taken away from them in 1998. But when the interim government in Kiev told them they could not hold a referendum on autonomy within Ukraine, and tried to replace those in charge of local security forces, the Crimean parliament declared independence and changed the wording of the referendum—altering the language from “staying within Ukraine” to “joining Russia.”

The Donbass followed a similar scenario. In March, local authorities in Lugansk asked Kiev to ensure the rights of Russian speakers and disarm its militias. When the interim government ignored these requests, those most impatient and distrustful of Kiev occupied government buildings in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov, and organized a referendum on creating local republics that stopped short of asking to join Russia. In many areas in the region, a majority of those who voted were overwhelmingly in favor of regional sovereignty.

Australia and Chinese Investment

June 18, 2014

Before departing for his trade and investment tour of North America, Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb found himself addressing a familiar concern: Australia’s over-reliance on the Chinese economy for export growth.

Speaking to reporters on June 5, Robb said that “although a lot of the growth may come out of China,” long-term investors in the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Japan “will continue to be the mainstay of our investment,” according to The Australian. The minister suggested that “we can’t put our eggs in the one basket,” implying that greater investment from these “long-term investors” balances out Australia’s overall investment position. But is that really the case?

Looking at the numbers, he may have a point. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) in Australia, excluding Hong Kong, amounted to $4.7 billion ($4.4 billion) in 2013 (12.15 percent of the total). While still far from reaching either the United States ($17.54 billion) or the U.K. ($7.79 billion), China easily overshadows Robb’s first stopover of Canada, as well as the other two “mainstays” of Switzerland and Japan, all of which recorded annual declines in investment. In fact, FDI from China has increased dramatically in recent years, rising by more than four and a half times since 2008 and far outpacing our largest investor, the United States.

Taking a step back, however, the figures look a little less impressive. The total amount of Chinese direct investment in Australia is just $20.83 billion, or 3.31 percent of all FDI. Though starting from a low base, it hardly comes close to the countries at the top of the list: the United States (23.73 percent), the United Kingdom (13.76 percent) and Japan (10.04 percent). This also comes at a time when the race to attract Chinese investment is becoming much more globally competitive, according to a recent report by KPMG. As Chinese FDI transitions away from the mining sector, private companies start to expand globally in greater numbers, and medium and smaller sized projects become more common, there’s no guarantee that current trends will continue.

Australia received $249.5 billion of foreign investment in 2013 and has proven to be an attractive destination for global capital. But with China, a number of obstacles stand in the way of deepening the relationship.

The first is the perception in Beijing that Chinese companies aren’t always granted the same degree of freedom to invest in Australia as other countries. Of course, a lot of this has to do with the main source of investors, which in the case of China are largely state-owned enterprises (SOEs), raising concerns over security and strategic industries.

Tiered Border Defence against China

15 Jun 2014
On balance, the prospects of Sino-Indian conflict remain. What appears certain is that China’s aggressive stance and the initiation of conflict will be aimed at undermining India’s status as a regional power. If India fails to respond adequately, she will be projected as a ‘Soft State’ susceptible to coercion. Simultaneously, the Chinese aim would be to keep India embroiled in fighting internal/regional conflicts. In doing so, China may be expected to virtually abrogate any agreements such as Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement and Confidence Building Measures and BDCA leading to incremental build up and conflict.

Lack of development of border infrastructure on the Indian side is the main reason why the Chinese could intrude freely…

A decade ago the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the global strategic community had warned that China would begin flexing muscles 2010 onwards and that India should settle the border disputes with China before this; but little was done to even plug gaps in our defences. Improvement of border infrastructure has not really taken off despite colossal Chinese military upgrades in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) including nuclear missile deployments and massive exercises by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and Chinese Airborne Corps in proximity to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Chinese aggression has been on the rise, nibbling away at Indian territory consistently. The gap between the capabilities of the PLA and the Indian military has been widening. There is a need to take stock and rapidly institute a tiered border defence against China to safeguard our territorial integrity and meet the challenges of the mounting threat.

Current Scenario: Border Defence

The Dragon’s getting too close for comfort

India’s strategic and foreign policy planners need to be alert as China steadily expands its influence in Nepal. Beijing’s focus is particularly on Lumbini, Buddha’s birthplace, which lies inside Nepal and barely 25 km across the border from India. 

The focus has sharpened since October, when China enunciated its new strategy of ‘Peripheral Diplomacy’, or zhoubian, which outlines a definite role for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). At least three Chinese front organisations, or so-called NGOs, affiliated to the CCP Central Committee’s (CC’s) United Front Work Department are active in Nepal. 

The Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF), a Chinese-sponsored NGO, was the first to unveil a $3-billion redevelopment plan for Lumbini in June 2011. Its executive vice-president, Xiao Wunan, is a provincial-level official of the CC’s United Front who claims access to Chinese President Xi Jinping. UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is vice-president of the APECF’s Nepal chapter. Nepal’s Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai is also associated with the APECF. 

The APECF’s plans for the redevelopment of Lumbini include an international airport, direct rail link between Tibet and Lumbini and a monastery-cum-seminary complex. The publicised justification for the international airport and rail link is to promote and facilitate Buddhist tourism. The APECF’s plans have failed to get off the ground so far due to various reasons. 

Xiao Wunan, on May 10, gave an interview to the Nepalese newspaper Republica in Hong Kong, and announced that the APECF remains ready to launch the project and is awaiting approval of the new government in Nepal. He acknowledged that the “geopolitics of Nepal, which stands between India and China, is so sensitive that it has complicated Lumbini´s development.” 

In late 2013, the China Buddhist Association, of which the Beijing-selected the 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu is vice-president, announced it had plans for the development of Lumbini. The association’s presence represents more direct involvement by the CCP in matters regarding Lumbini and would be an attempt to provide a degree of legitimacy to the monastery and seminary. 

The latest outfit being used by China is the little-known, Beijing-based International Ecological Safety Collaborative Organisation (IESCO). Significantly, the IESCO lists Madhav Kumar Nepal, chairman of the CPN (UML), as an executive chairman. The IESCO also succeeded in co-opting Nepal Congress leader Sujata Koirala by inviting her to a conference in Chengdu in July 2013, when it signed a memorandum for ‘strategic partnership’ with her Girija Prasad Koirala Foundation (GPKF). They discussed establishing an ‘international ecological safety demonstration zone’ in Lumbini and the IESCO and GPKF have jointly invited Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Lumbini this month. 

Pertinent in the context of China’s objective of undermining the Dalai Lama’s influence and sowing division within the ecclesiastical hierarchy of Tibetan Buddhists is the loose association of Amritsar-born and US-based 48-year-old Shyalpa Tenzin Rimpoche with the IESCO. He is a close associate of Gangchen Rimpoche, who has been critical of the Dalai Lama and is among the first two Tibetan Buddhist clergymen to have been allotted a plot of land in Lumbini. 

Ukraine, Russia and the EU Gas Drama: A Three-Way Game of Chicken

June 17, 2014 

If Western support for Ukraine in the next few days does not move beyond words, then Poroshenko will be able to accurately assess what cards he has to play against the Kremlin.

Gazprom's recent decision to cease supplying natural gas to Ukraine in the absence of any agreement on settling Ukraine's debts for past gas deliveries as well as a new pricing framework for future shipments now sets up Moscow, Kyiv and the EU in a tense three-way game of chicken. Who will blink first?

The first question is whether or not Ukraine will begin to siphon off gascurrently transiting its territory for delivery to European customers of Gazprom. With the fate of the South Stream pipeline—a second transit network designed to directly connect Russian suppliers with European customers and bypassing Ukraine altogether—currently in limbo as the European Commission examines whether its construction violates EU regulations, Russia would be anxious to trumpet any Ukrainian "theft" of EU-bound gas to drive home the argument that Europe's energy security depends on eliminating untrustworthy middlemen. In turn, aware that European popular support for Ukraine may begin to diminish if European populations begin to suffer energy shortages or higher prices as a result of the disruption, the Ukrainian side may decide not to interfere with gas transit and rely on the country's own stockpiles of gas in order not to play into that Russian narrative.

The second question is whether the EU (or the United States) is prepared to offer additional financial support for Ukraine. If Ukraine is unable to prepay for gas deliveries—the condition Gazprom now insists upon for resuming gas supplies—would EU countries be prepared to purchase additional supplies of gas from Russia and then resell that gas on credit to Ukraine to tide Kyiv over (and perhaps use that as additional leverage to force painful reforms in the domestic Ukrainian energy markets)? Some additional purchases of gas seem likely in any event, because if the plans to reverse-supply Ukraine from Slovakia and Poland are fully implemented, the ultimate source of the gas remains Russia—unless EU countries are prepared to give up some of their existing supplies to ration them for Ukrainian use. If Western support for Ukraine in the next few days does not move beyond words, then newly elected President Petro Poroshenko will be able to accurately assess what cards he has to play against the Kremlin.

Hoping for Trouble in Iraq

JUN 17, 2014

Few in the United States take much pleasure in what has happened in Iraq in recent days. Many in the Middle East do. Until Western governments understand Middle Eastern governments’ motivations better, they won’t have much influence on the violence unfolding in Iraq.

At first blush, it would seem obvious that anyone with any pretention of humanity would be appalled at the gains of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL or, by its Arabic acronym, Da‘ish). Before taking over Mosul, Tikrit, and other cities north of Baghdad, the organization proved so extreme and murderous that even al Qaeda sought distance from it. Massacres and beheadings are ISIS’s most common calling cards, but it also performs a large number of amputations and crucifixions, and then brags about them on social media.

How could anyone see their rise in Iraq as good news?

First, we’ll discuss the easy case. For Bashar al-Assad, ISIS’s spread to Iraq attracts attention to the brutality of his enemies and distracts from his own brutality in Syria. Assad wants the world to see his struggle as one against foreign jihadists without a shred of humanity rather than as a merciless civil war against his own citizenry. On a more tactical level, the opening of the battle space in Iraq draws some jihadists away from Syria and into Iraq, which means the jihadists are killing Iraqis and not Syrian soldiers. It also means even Assad’s enemies are working to target the very people who are targeting him. Overall, ISIS’s Iraq advance is great news for Assad.

For Iran, the calculations are a little more complicated. The Iranian leadership takes some comfort in the world sharing the same enemies as their clients in Syria. Equally importantly, the rise of ISIS makes the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki even more dependent on Iranian support, and thus more vulnerable to Iranian pressure. Iraqi nationalism runs strong, and Maliki has been careful to keep some distance between himself and the Iranians. With an existential battle underway against ISIS, keeping that distance will be harder. At the same time, the rise of ISIS provides opportunities for Iran to engage with countries that are otherwise disposed to isolate Iran. Much as the situation in Afghanistan post-2001 provided opportunities for Iran to cooperate with Western countries against the Taliban, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already floated the idea of cooperating with the United States in Iraq, and the United States seems prepared to discuss it. In this scenario, Iran goes from being a problem of global concern to being part of the solution to a problem of global concern. Overall, it’s a big win.

For the Kurds, Baghdad’s preoccupation with the Sunni tribal areas is welcome because it adds to Kurdish leverage over the Arab areas of Iraq. Not only does a battle with ISIS draw both troops and attention from disputed Kurdish areas such as Kirkuk, but it also helps make the Kurds—and their effective militia, the peshmerga—vital to the survival of the central government in Baghdad. The Kurds seem poised to emerge with more power and more autonomy after this is all over. While they are unlikely to declare independence, their future role in Iraq will likely be on terms they see as more favorable.

For the Gulf Cooperation Council states, which were uniformly cool to Prime Minister Maliki and saw him as a sectarian thug, Maliki’s problems must elicit some schadenfreude. The governments themselves seem not to directly support ISIS, but funding for the group apparently comes from individual donors within the GCC. They see weakening Maliki as a way to weaken Iran; further, bogging down Iran in a proxy war in Iraq helps curb Iran’s regional ambitions.

Of all the neighbors, Turkey’s role is perhaps the hardest to discern. Yet it is clear that Turkey has allowed jihadists to recruit, train, and supply rebel-held areas from Turkish territory. If Turkey had a problem with the growing power of jihadists in Syria, it had myriad ways to clip their wings. Instead, Turkey seems to have tolerated ISIS’s activities, even if it didn’t actually encourage them.

And then we come to Maliki. While he surely does not welcome a serious challenge, neither does he shy away from one. For Maliki, the rise of ISIS confirms his skepticism about the loyalty of the Sunni tribes to the Iraqi state and the possibility of making an accommodation with them. He has been rewarded in the past for fighting militias against long odds and winning: in 2008, he took on militias in Basra to the shock of his U.S. military advisers, in Operation Charge of the Knights. His control today of southern Iraq, which produces most of Iraq’s oil, is due in large measure to his willingness to fight then. Making an accommodation now is likely the furthest thing from his mind.

As the foregoing makes clear, every state in the region would see an ISIS victory as catastrophic. Still, it is hard to find any neighbor that doesn’t see some advantage to escalating violence in Iraq, as long as the violence can be contained.

With this background, it is hard to see how a U.S. approach that stresses political inclusion and power sharing can be effective in the near term. Each side still has more fight left in it. At the same time, U.S. weaponry on the side of the Iraqi government will do little to bring this conflict closer to resolution.

Any solutions in Iraq need to consider the diplomatic and military strategies of Iraq’s neighbors first and foremost, and they must reflect a U.S. willingness to inflict pain—overtly and covertly—on the various antagonists. The United States has invested hundreds of billions of dollars and sacrificed thousands of lives to give Iraq a chance at democracy, but the pivotal moment in Iraq’s democratic transition is not now. Instead, this is the moment when Iraq may tip the region into crisis. The moment calls for tough-minded diplomacy, with friends and enemies alike. This is a regional problem, not merely an Iraqi one.

(This essay originally appeared in Middle East Notes and Comment. To subscribe, please contact the CSIS Middle East Program at middleeastprogram@csis.org.)

Jon B. Alterman holds the Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and is director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.

Commentary is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).
© 2014 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. All rights reserved.