28 June 2014


Subir Bhaumik

During his May 27 meeting with Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, raised the issue of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and insisted that the perpetrators be brought to book without delay. India’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has thus made it sufficiently clear that Pakistan’s soil must not be used for the export of terror to India and attacks on its assets in the neighbourhood must stop if a dialogue is to take place. Reference to the Mumbai attack has also brought the focus back to India’s worst intelligence failure in recent memory. The Modi government has a special reason to thank its stars — and the Afghan self-defence forces — for averting a major embarrassment even as it was being sworn in. The Afghans have ‘credible intelligence’ to suggest that the attack on India’s Herat consulate was a Laskhar-e-Toiba operation and was aimed at creating a hostage situation a la Kandahar just before Modi’s swearing-in with all South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation leaders in tow. That should make revamping of India’s intelligence a huge priority for Modi.

From the Kargil intrusions to the Kandahar hijack, from the attack on Parliament to the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the list of intelligence failures is long and embarrassing. And it cuts across regimes to indicate serious systemic malaise. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government set up the Subrahmanyam committee after Kargil, the Manmohan Singh government restricted itself to replacing the home minister, Shivraj Patil, and the national security advisor, M.K. Narayanan, after the 26/11 attacks. But neither went in for any structural reforms to improve the functioning of intelligence.

It is in the fitness of things that a prime minister with as clear a mandate and as strong a resolve as Modi must take firm and concrete — if necessary some out-of-the-box — steps to modernize India’s intelligence machinery and make it worth the taxpayers’ money spent on it.

The task of getting Indian intelligence to deliver will fall on Modi’s NSA, Ajit Doval. The former chief of the Intelligence Bureau is a highly decorated officer with an enviable track record. One of India’s greatest spymasters , B.B. Nandi, once narrated how one of his immediate subordinates (who later went to become the Research and Analysis Wing chief) asked him once after having completed two foreign postings about how a source can be enticed with money. Unlike such over-rated czars, Doval is a hands-on operative, not someone who would spend a whole career without having ever run a single effective source in their target region or organization. And though an IB officer with focus on domestic intelligence (and counter-intelligence), Doval has also served in foreign postings including Pakistan. One would expect him to be free of the ‘agency bias’ that afflicted some of his predecessors and created serious problems in functioning.

There are five challenges for Doval.

Unbelievably, There Are Now Refugees Fleeing to Afghanistan


The Pakistani military’s offensive against insurgents in North Waziristan has sparked a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of Pakistanis concluding that Afghanistan is just a far safer place to be right now.
The Pakistani military has begun operations against Islamic insurgents in the North Waziristan region, delivering the offensive that Washington has been requesting for a decade, and sparking a massive exodus of refugees — some of whom are fleeing to neighboring Afghanistan to escape the fighting.

Militants, who have long inhabited the mountainous tribal area, have found themselves the target of heavy artillery bombardment and airstrikes for the past fortnight, in what the military’s PR chief Major-General Asim Bajwa termed “the beginning of the end of terrorism in Pakistan.”

Reports began to surface on Thursday in the Pakistani press that ground troops had started moving into North Waziristan to clear out the insurgent forces.

Washington says militants have been using North Waziristan for years as a base from which to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan and to wage a terrorist insurgency against the Pakistani state.

Senior members of the Pakistani Taliban (the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan), the Haqqani Network and Al Qaeda’s central command — along with a smattering of militants from as far away as western China’s Xinjiang province and Chechnya — are believed to be holed up in the area. All are on Islamabad’s kill list.

“For the military, there’ll be no discrimination among Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Haqqani network or any other militant group,” Major-General Bajwa told reporters during a press conference in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Changing rules of the game of thrones

Published: June 28, 2014 
Praveen Swami

For the first time since it emerged as the world’s pre-eminent power, the United States is walking away from the global battlefields. This makes it vital for regional powers like India to hammer out new rules for the geostrategic order — and the tools to enforce them

Minerva and Apollo, the ancient gods of wisdom and knowledge, stand watch on the marble arch off al-Hara al-Kabir street in Tripoli, their two-wheeled chariot of war drawn by fabulous griffons and sphinxes. Built in 166CE, the arch celebrates the triumph of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus over the Parthians. The statue of Marcus Aurelius that once stood at the top of the arch, toppled over sometime during the last millennia. It lay buried under the sand until it was recovered by 19th century archaeologists.

Marcus Aurelius — celebrated as a warrior, philosopher and the last of the Five Good Emperors — might have considered this indignity with dispassion. “Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell,” he wrote in his masterwork, The Meditations, “and you can foresee the future too.”

For much of his reign, the emperor was at constant war, stamping out rebellions by barbarian tribes and rival powers in a perpetual struggle to secure trade and imperial order. His aim was modest: “Do not hope for Plato’s utopia, but be content to make a very small step forward and reflect that the result even of this is no trifle.”

The retreating empire

United States President Barack Obama’s recent decision not to commit combat troops or air power in Iraq will likely be remembered as a critical moment in an epoch-shaping imperial retreat. For five decades, hegemony in oil-rich West Asia was a keystone of U.S. foreign policy. Now, it has shown it is willing to live with defeat. Elsewhere, too, the U.S. is showing diminishing interest in enforcing the global order it built after the Second World War.

The reasons have something to do with the bruising long wars it fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, but more with the rapidly-transforming nature of its global interests. Put simply, the world’s greatest power no longer needs the world in quite the same way it used to.

Switzerland's Role in India’s Fight Against Tax Evasion

Narendra Modi’s government is fighting tax evasion in India with the cooperation of Swiss officials. 

In a major coup in India’s efforts to recover untaxed wealth, Switzerland recently promised to share the details of Indian nationals “holding black money” in Swiss bank accounts. The offer to share information came after India’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, wrote to the Swiss authorities requesting their cooperation.
Given the highly secretive methods used to make international financial transfers reliable estimates are difficult, but the most widely reported figures place the amount of untaxed wealth stowed away by Indians in overseas havens at $500 billion.

India’s newly elected right-wing government, voted into power with a landmark majority on May 16, has taken on the country’s long fight against corruption with great zeal. Among the government’s first announcements was the establishment of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to locate so-called “black money,” a move that was widely celebrated.

In the run up to this year’s elections Narendra Modi, now India’s prime minister, repeatedly referred to the polls as a referendum on the previous government’s shocking record on corruption. The determination with which India’s new administration has pursued illicit funds has further gilded Modi’s image as an honest and incorruptible leader.

Indeed, repatriating un-taxed money is a hot-ticket pursuit. For many in India, the issue represents the worst sort of corruption: unscrupulous elites squirreling away public funds beyond the reach of the state. Tax evasion also raises questions of moral obligations: why should the poor, those that can least afford it, pay taxes when the rich refuse to do so?

Switzerland’s active cooperation with India on the matter was welcomed by Arijit Pasayat, the SIT’s vice-chairman, as a “breakthrough development,” and the list is set to be delivered on August 1.

Scores dead as Taliban wages offensive in southern Afghanistan

CAROL J. WILLIAMS contact the reporter 

Afghan police officers search commuters at a checkpoint in Helmand province on June 25. A Taliban offensive in its fourth day in the southeastern region has killed scores of civilians and fighters. (Abdul Malik / AFP/ Getty Images) 

Taliban offensive in 4th day in region once heralded as model for Afghanistan after foreign troops leave

Afghan media report nearly 200 dead in Taliban summer offensive along southeast border with Pakistan

Taliban claims responsibility for attacks in five southeastern regions of Afghanistan that killed scores 

Taliban fighters have attacked Afghan government troops and civilians across five southeastern districts in a days-long offensive heralding the start of the summer fighting season in the mountainous areas along the border with Pakistan.
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, left, has withdrawn cooperation with the election commission, accusing authorities of fraud in the ongoing vote for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. (Wakil Kohsar / AFP/Getty Images) 

Afghan Forces Fight Taliban Onslaught in South

June 25, 2014

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Afghan security forces fought back against a fierce Taliban onslaught by about 800 militants in a key southern province Wednesday as clashes that have killed dozens of people, including at least 35 civilians, stretched into a fourth day. 

The Taliban attacks targeting checkpoints and government buildings in Helmand province — which was touted as a showcase of a major U.S. military offensive to drive out the militants in 2009 — show the stark challenges facing government troops trying to defend the country against the resilient Islamic militants with diminishing help from the international community. 

Afghanistan’s security situation has been complicated by a political crisis stemming from allegations of massive fraud in the recent election to replace President Hamid Karzai, the only leader the country has known since the Taliban regime was ousted nearly 13 years ago. Abdullah Abdullah, one of two candidates who competed a runoff vote on June 14 suspended his relations with the Independent Election Commission after he accused electoral officials of engineering extensive vote rigging, allegations they have denied. 

His rival, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, called on Abdullah to rejoin the process and demanded that the commission stick to the official timetable for releasing preliminary results next week. 

“We believe that the only way forward is full adherence to the constitution, to the election law and to the regulations. We therefore are dismayed that our esteemed colleague Dr. Abdullah has withdrawn from the process. Our request to him is simple — join back to the process. Respect the will of the people,” Ahmadzai, a former finance minister and World Bank official, told supporters at a rally. 

U.S. Finally Imposes Sanctions on Pakistani Terrorist Group LeT!

June 26, 2014
U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Pakistani Militants
Declan Walsh
New York Times

LONDON — The United States imposed economic sanctions on Wednesday against two senior members of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and designated its charity wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, as a “front organization.”

The designation comes after years of conspicuous relief activities by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, whose nationwide network of schools and hospitals and aid programs for the victims of floods and earthquakes have helped it gain favor with Pakistan’s most vulnerable citizens.

The United States already offers a $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest of the charity’s leader, Hafiz Saeed, in relation to Lashkar’s most notorious act: the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which at least 163 people, including several Americans, were killed.

But his prosecution has never looked likely because he lives openly in the eastern city of Lahore under Pakistani state protection, addressing rallies and appearing on television, while Lashkar has stepped up attacks in Afghanistan, most recently against the Indian Consulate in the western city of Herat.

Given that the group has been under Western scrutiny for years and obtains financing from private donors in the Persian Gulf, American sanctions have a largely symbolic value. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department named Mr. Saeed’s close aide, Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry, and the group’s finance chief, Muhammad Hussein Gill, as “specially designed global terrorists,” which freezes any assets the two men may hold in the United States and bars Americans from any transactions with them.

The action was part of continuing American efforts to hit Lashkar’s finances and “disrupt and impede its violent activities,” David S. Cohen, the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

Since the State Department designated Lashkar as a terrorist group in 2001, the American government has imposed sanctions on 22 people and four associated bodies. As well as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, on Wednesday it announced measures against the Al-Anfal Trust, a front body that Lashkar had used to “procure goods from the Persian Gulf,” the State Department said.

A spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa in Lahore said the group was “carefully studying” the American statement and would issue a response on Thursday.

Hamid Karzai: 'I Didn't See a War in Afghanistan—I Saw a Conspiracy'

JUN 23 2014

An exit interview with the Afghan president
In April—two weeks after the election to replace him and usher in the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history—Hamid Karzai sat down with Mujib Mashal for Mashal's “After Karzai” story in the July/August issue ofThe Atlantic. In his office at the presidential palace in Kabul, the Afghan leader reflected on how his vision of democracy conflicts with the West’s, what it’s like to be the pacifist president of a country at war, and whether power has changed him over the past 12 years.

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

When was the moment you felt most vulnerable physically? That your life was seriously in danger?

Mmm … seriously in danger physically. I cannot think of such a moment.

I ask that because when I speak to people who have worked closely with you, they say you have been a tremendous tactician—political tactician—but not a visionary. And I ask a two-pronged question: If a leader is not confident of physical survival, or political survival, can he afford to be a visionary and think long-term?

Well, I had a vision for this country—of unity. That Afghanistan becomes the country for all Afghans—that, we have achieved. Afghans of all colors, all political thinking, of all parts of this country feel absolutely free in this country. I had a vision for a democratic Afghanistan, for human rights, and for the freedom of the press and freedom of expression. Those were visions, and the last elections a few days ago proved that was achievable and we achieved it. A vision of Afghanistan that had its presence around the world—that has been achieved. Of an Afghanistan that would not be under the thumb of a foreign power, that has been achieved. We showed our independence, which was one of my strongest desires—ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan this was my desire…. Today, we have independent foreign policy—with Iran we have great relations, with America we have, with China we have, with Russia we have.

Operation Waziristan: Can Pakistan’s Military Root out Taliban Sanctuaries?

JUNE 24, 2014

The bane of Pakistan's counterterrorism policy has been denial, delay, and as some would argue, deception. This approach not only earned widespread insecurity; the country also paid heavily in terms of tens of thousands of innocent lives Thousands of soldiers and policemen courageously laid down their lives fighting terrorist outfits, but the confused state policy -- partly a product of directionless public opinion-- did little to protect their sacrifices. The latest military campaign, named Zarb e Azb (meaning sharp and cutting strike), geared towards targeting all and sundry among the terrorists in the North Waziristan tribal agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) promises a new beginning. Indeed, it is better late than never.

Even though mistakes committed in the conflict in the tribal belt can haunt Pakistan for a while, the real question now is whether Pakistani public opinion can sustain support of the new campaign in the long haul and if the apparent civil-military cooperation in the matter can also survive. In the face of the almost certain Pakistani Taliban backlash in urban areas, national resilience will be critical.

I spent the last few days in Iraq and, while shuttling between the cities of Najaf and Baghdad, I observed many military convoys heading north. Civilians traveling on the highway showed tremendous support for them. In Najaf, I was staying in near the residence of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Seestani, the most influential Shia cleric in Iraq. There was a constant flow of large groups of Iraqi tribes visiting him (and other 3 grand Ayatollahs) to complain that Iraqi army was not registering them for fighting against ISIS terrorists. Seestani had encouraged his followers to join the Iraqi military in a major fatwa earlier. While witnessing this history unfold in Iraq, I could only pray for similar leadership from Pakistan's religious parties. Unfortunately, it turned out to be only Jamaat-i-Islami and Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam -- the two leading religious political parties in the country -- who refused to support the military campaign.

A comprehensive military action in North Waziristan was seen as unlikely for many years because the so-called ‘good Taliban,' like the Haqqani network, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, and the Maulvi Nazir group (and lately the Khan Said Sajna) were also operating in this specific zone. None of these factions were believed to be involved in terrorist activity in Pakistan. Only recently, Pakistan's security ‘wizards' have started realizing that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) (the really ‘bad Taliban') benefits in many ways from logistics, infrastructure and even funding sources of ‘good Taliban.'

Attitudes to Water in South Asia

Dr Gareth Price Senior Research Fellow, Asia Programme
27 June 2014

Discussion about water in South Asia – in particular the shared rivers of the region – is vociferous, antagonistic and increasingly associated with national security. 

Suikhet, Gandaki, Nepal. Photo by Richard I’Anson/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images.

Renewable water resources in the region have fallen dramatically on a per capita basis since the 1960s. India hit the ‘water stress’ mark around a decade ago, Pakistan slightly earlier. Groundwater is fast depleting in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and there are few feasible options for increasing supply. Management and governance of water have not adapted to the escalating pressures of demography. With the population of South Asia projected to rise by 32 per cent in three decades – from 1.68 billion in 2010 to 2.22 billion in 2040 – the outlook under current trends is for greater competition over water between agriculture, urban centres and industry, and between countries which share rivers.

Renewable water resources in the region have fallen dramatically on a per capita basis since the 1960s. India hit the ‘water stress’ mark around a decade ago, Pakistan slightly earlier. Groundwater is fast depleting in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and there are few feasible options for increasing supply. Management and governance of water have not adapted to the escalating pressures of demography. With the population of South Asia projected to rise by 32 per cent in three decades – from 1.68 billion in 2010 to 2.22 billion in 2040 – the outlook under current trends is for greater competition over water between agriculture, urban centres and industry, and between countries which share rivers.

1. Improve domestic water management. 
Poor access to water within countries raises regional tensions. Improving water management is imperative both in itself and as a means of easing these tensions. 
Enhance coordination between relevant ministries connected to water, such as those for agriculture or mining, and ensure that policy on water is coordinated with agriculture and energy policies. 
Create domestic ‘visions’ for water usage to enable transboundary negotiations to be driven by demand as well as supply. 
Enhance understanding of the nexus between food, energy and water to enable pricing of electricity, and ideally water, to better reflect social and environmental costs. 
Disseminate examples of best practice to facilitate broader understanding of what can be achieved and, importantly, how it was achieved. 
Shift management of water at the local level to the communities themselves. Current top-down approaches frequently fail to meet communities’ actual needs. This approach would enable a more holistic understanding of cross-regional commonalities, encouraging a focus on sustainability, as well as shared cultural and social approaches towards water. 
Ensure that water-related policy documents, examples of best practice and so forth, are translated into local languages. 

At the 'End of History' Still Stands Democracy

June 2014

Twenty-five years after Tiananmen Square and the Berlin Wall's fall, liberal democracy still has no real competitors 
A crowd tries to climb the Berlin Wall on Nov. 10, 1989, the morning after it was first breached Getty Images 

Twenty-five years ago, I wrote the essay "The End of History?" for a small journal called the National Interest. It was the spring of 1989, and for those of us who had been caught up in the big political and ideological debates of the Cold War, it was an incredible moment. The piece appeared a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, right about the time that pro-democracy protests were taking place in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and in the midst of a wave of democratic transitions in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 

I argued that History (in the grand philosophical sense) was turning out very differently from what thinkers on the left had imagined. The process of economic and political modernization was leading not to communism, as the Marxists had asserted and the Soviet Union had avowed, but to some form of liberal democracy and a market economy. History, I wrote, appeared to culminate in liberty: elected governments, individual rights, an economic system in which capital and labor circulated with relatively modest state oversight. 

Hybrid Cars Are Niche No More

Hybrid Cars Are Niche No More 

Just a decade ago, your only option for a gas-electric vehicle was the Prius. Now the demand is so large that everyone from Hyundai to Lincoln is diving in. 

Henry Ford used to say that customers could get the Model T in any color, so long as it was black. The lack of choice didn’t stop the cheap vehicle—the first car to really put Americans on wheels—from becoming popular. But in the 1920s, when rivals offered vehicles with more options (and more colors), Ford’s rigidity forced the Model T to lose market share. 

Not too long ago, the market hybrid cars seemed similarly monotone. Customers could have hybrids in any variety they liked, so long as it was a Prius. 

That may be only a slight exaggeration. For the last several years,Hybridcars.com has been tallying the number of hybrid vehicles sold every month. Back in May 2008, consumers had 15 models to choose from, the Toyota Prius, which came in a single model, accounted for about 42 percent of total hybrid sales. 

Sales of hybrids dipped sharply in 2009, but they have come back strongly. This week, figures for May 2014 were reported. Total sales of hybrids (including plug-in hybrids) were over 59,000, more than double the May 2009 low of about 25,000. And the Prius is still a major player—with a significant change. In May 2014, there were four different versions of the Prius on the market—the traditional liftback, the Prius C, the Prius V, and the Prius Plug-in. Combined they sold about 27,000 units, accounting for about 45 percent of the total hybrid market. 

Reflecting on China's Five Principles, 60 Years Later

June 26, 2014

Sixty years later, what are China’s “five principles” worth? 
On Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping will host Myanmar’s President Thein Sein and India’s Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari for a celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence,” or Panchsheel. The Five Principles, a major pillar in China’s foreign policy even today, were originally conceived by India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and China’s first premier, Zhou Enlai, in 1954. The principles rose to fame at the Bandung Conference in 1955, which set the stage for the Non-Aligned Movement. The Chinese government will hold the event commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of its cherished foreign policy principles at the Great Hall of the People, The Hindu reports.

The fact that Beijing chose to celebrate this anniversary with the pomp and circumstance of a state visit with two international leaders underscores the importance it continues to ascribe to the Five Principles. The Five Principles, as stated by the Panchsheel Treaty, signed on April 29, 1954, are: 
Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. 
Mutual non-aggression. 
Mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. 
Equality and cooperation for mutual benefit. 
Peaceful co-existence. 

The principles originally represented a vision of international relations that was highly principled and not based on realism necessarily. After Mao Zedong declared that China had “stood up” after a century of humiliation in 1949, the country needed to base its foreign policy around a set of principles that would embody its principled independence in world affairs. The Five Principles were borne of post-colonial solidarity and Chinese leaders embraced them for both their moral weight and strategic flexibility.

In recent years, China continues to make reference to its principles when it comes to justifying its voting record at the United Nations Security Council, or justifying its condemnation of interventionist Western powers. For China, the Five Principles’ emphasis on non-intervention and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other nations are particularly important as it struggles with internal separatism in Tibet and Xinjiang. By taking a principled stand on non-intervention in all conflicts, China is able to repudiate outside criticism of its government’s handling of internal affairs.

Xinhua, in an article announcing this weekend’s upcoming celebrations, refers to the Five Principles as “peace principles.” The Chinese government sees these celebrations as an acknowledgment of China’s positive contributions to international affairs. “Over the past six decades, the principles have withstood tests, been accepted by an increasing number of countries, become the tenets governing international relations and played an important role in safeguarding world peace and development,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying noted, highlighting that their relevance extends far beyond China’s borders.

At the recent Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, Xi Jinping appealed to the Five Principles in outlining his vision for a future Asian security order. “The five principles that China initiated together with India and Myanmar have become a basic norm governing state-to-state relations,” he declared. “China’s peaceful development begins here in Asia, finds its support in Asia, and delivers tangible benefits to Asia,” Xi added in an attempt to sell his vision of an Asian security architecture made by Asians, for Asians.

For Xi Jinping — who is most interested in helping China acquire some normative weight in international affairs — the Five Principles embody China’s best contribution to heterodox international relations with a unique Asian flavor. In particular, if China is to offer a compelling model of regional leadership, different from that of the United States in Asia, it can begin with these principles. Unfortunately, the Five Principles fall somewhat short in actually explaining recent Chinese adventurism in the East and South China Seas where China is engaged in disputes with several countries. Even Zhou and Nehru would come to learn of the hollowness of these principles when their two countries fought a war eight years after boldly pledging “peaceful coexistence.”

The focus on the anniversary of the Five Principles is also being used by Beijing to bolster its “reset” in foreign policy with India. As Ananath Krishnan reports in The Hindu, China’s government and media are rather keen on maintaining good relations with India with the right-wing Hindu nationalist government in power there. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s trip to New Delhi was described as a visit of “great significance” by China’s Foreign Ministry. By inviting India’s vice president to Beijing to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Five Principles, Xi sends a message of pan-Asian solidarity to New Delhi. Indeed, during Wang’s visit, some of the official rhetoric used by the Chinese foreign minister hearkened back to the post-colonial solidarity that existed between Indian and Chinese leaders in the 1950s, prior to their 1962 war. Vice President Ansari’s upcoming visit marks the first trip to China by a senior Indian official following this year’s general elections.

China needs to find its way to regional and global leadership without raising fears of hegemonic intentions. While it might not be doing so well given its generally provocative posture along the East Asian rimland, it sees some value in highlighting the pan-Asian nature of the Five Principles that stand at the center of its foreign policy. China’s principles may have weathered their first 60 years with relatively little issue, but as China rises to global prominence, it may find that the principles it enshrines as the pillars of its foreign policy are incompatible with its preferred means of pursuing its national interest.

China-Philippines Duel Over a South China Sea Code of Conduct

Both countries are developing their South China Sea strategies, neither of which has much to do with ASEAN. 
China and ASEAN have resumed discussing guidelines on a maritime code of conduct (CoC) this week, and while China has apparently warmed to the idea of agreed upon maritime rules since it met with ASEAN officials in Suzhou last September to discuss this topic, there is little expectation that China will cede any claims to authority in the South China Sea. Instead, China is expected to advance its own claims, and highlight how it has attempted to cooperate and resolve outstanding disputes, particularly with the Philippines and Vietnam.

In an interview with Filipino ABS-CBN News, foreign affairs analyst and professor Richard Heydarian said China is attempting to lead discussions toward enhancing the Declaration on the Conduct (DoC) of Parties in the South China Sea, after agreeing last year to discuss a CoC with its ASEAN neighbors. “To go back and discuss the 2002 declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea… shows how the Chinese are still unwilling to bind themselves by any legally binding regional principle,” he said. He also said this type of backtracking is an attempt to keep ASEAN’s members from creating a unified position for resolving maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

The South China Morning Post spoke with Chinese analysts who explained Chinese behavior in a similar fashion, although they describe it as China taking a more firm position with the organization after repeated attempts by ASEAN members to make the territorial disputes a diplomatic issue. Zhang Jie, with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China had previously tried to resolve disputes through joint development, which would remain the case. In addition though, China would increase its activity in the disputed waters, and “by showing strength, it is hoped that the claimant states of the South China Sea will be pushed to pay serious attention to Beijing’s position.”

Speaking with Chinese CCTV, Senior Captain Zhang Junshe, vice president of the Naval Research Institute, referenced the DoC and emphasized China’s attempts since 2002 to peacefully resolve territorial issues, such as those with Vietnam and the Philippines, through joint development. Concerning the CoC, Zhang said that some countries were not fully implementing the DoC that was already in place, for instance when the Philippines sent naval vessels to interdict Chinese fishing vessels in their disputed waters, thereby violating the DoC rules by not seeking to resolve the dispute by peaceful means.

The Philippines for its part is attempting to create a common position between Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and itself in order to address China’s South China Sea claims, according to President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday. Since certain ASEAN countries with close ties to China, particularly Cambodia, are hesitant to create a binding position for all member states concerning these territorial disputes, countries like the Philippines and Vietnam may be forced to create agreements outside the ASEAN framework. This will serve Chinese strategy at present, but with these four countries resolving their own territorial disputes through diplomatic means, China could face international pressure to do the same.


June 26, 2014 

Many admonish the United States for not finding a more far-sighted way to manage strategic competition with a reemerging China. However, the ongoing search for a bilateral strategic roadmap has proven quixotic largely because of China’s reluctance to embrace international norms and rules, especially in the realm of national security. From maritime disputes to economic cyber theft, China is keen to exert its newfound power rather than to be bound by multilateral rules. Meanwhile, the ongoing crackdown on domestic freedom in China only reinforces fears that Beijing will treat neighbors as subordinates and remain a reluctant global stakeholder for decades to come.

Major General Zhu Chenghu recently claimed that “the Americans are making very, very important strategic mistakes right now” in their dealing with China. “If you take China as an enemy,” he expanded, “China will absolutely become the enemy of the U.S.” But while General Zhu seeks to defend Chinese coercion through punchy talking points, he glosses over China’s role in determining the fate of regional peace. As Joseph Nye is fond of saying, “only China can contain China,” because neighbors will respond to the tenor of Chinese behavior.

Far from seeking to create a new Cold War in Asia or contain China, the United States wants to see the amazing development and dynamism of Asian economies continue. But this will require continued consensus on certain rules, which is challenging in no small part because China apparently does not want to buy into the post-World War II international system that it did not play a role in creating. Yet China claims that it wants to play a responsible role and that it wants to create rules. From the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and an Asian infrastructure bank, to proprietary dialogues with Southeast Asia and both Koreas, China wants to be “present at the creation.” In short, China wants to make rules that are mindful of Beijing’s point of view if not Sinocentric.

Surprise: US-China Military Ties Are Actually Improving

June 27, 2014

U.S.-China military relations have a long way to go, but they’ve improved substantially in the last four years. 
Today marks the start of RIMPAC 2014, the largest naval exercise in the world. For the first time, China is among the participants in this U.S.-organized exercise. As Ankit noted on our Flashpoints blog, China’s participation in RIMPAC is unlikely to fundamentally change the nature of U.S.-China mil-to-mil relations. However, in the midst of angry rhetoric on both sides (particularly at the Shangri-La Dialogue), it’s easy to forget that the military aspect of the U.S.-China relationship has actually been on the upswing in recent years.

Back in 2010, military relations were so fragile that China cut them off completely in retaliation for a U.S. arms sale to Taiwan. At that time, then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates noted in frustration that the military-to-military relationship was the only area were progress was “held hostage” by other concerns. He then publicly repeated the desire of U.S. President Obama and then-Chinese President Hu Jintao for “sustained and reliable military-to-military contacts at all levels that reduce miscommunication, misunderstanding, and miscalculation.”

At the time of Gates’ remarks, freezes on mil-to-mil contacts were the exception rather than the norm. Such contacts had been severed numerous times in the past, usually for precisely the reason they were cut off in 2010: as an angry Chinese response to a U.S. arms sale to Taiwan. However, since the resumption of mil-to-mil contacts in January 2011, the military aspect of the relationship has been remarkably stable.

After Gates’ ice-breaking visit to China in 2011, a slew of official military-to-military contacts followed. General Chen Bingde, Chief of the PLA General Staff, came to the U.S. in 2011, and Minister of Defense Liang Guanglie followed in 2012. Liang’s visit was a huge step forward for U.S.-China mil-to-mil relations. Many had assumed China would cancel the trip in the wake of yet another U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, and the diplomatic tensions arising from the Chen Guangcheng incident. Liang himself said that his visit to the U.S. “is a kind of turnover in the China-U.S. military relationship.”

Since that “turnover,” U.S.-China military contacts have been more frequent than ever before. Both Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made the journey to China in 2012. China’s Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan came to the U.S. in 2013, and new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was in China earlier this year. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Chinese counterpart Fang Fenghui also traded visits in 2013 and 2014.

Keeping military-to-military contacts stable and regular has been a stated goal for Obama and Hu as well as Xi Jinping. In part, this may be a sign that China in particular is more interested in such a dialogue. In the past, many experts felt that China did not value the security dialogues very highly, and so such meetings became diplomatic scapegoats, sacrificed to prove China’s displeasure with various U.S. actions. Now, however, China seems just as interested in having serious discussions about U.S. military policy (especially the “rebalance to Asia”) as the U.S. is to speak with China.

ISIS Tries to Grab Its Own Air Force


In its march to Baghdad, ISIS seized the heavy weapons of a modern army. Now, the jihadists are attacking Iraq’s biggest air base – and could soon be able to attack from the sky. 

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is threatening to take control of Balad Airbase, Iraq’s largest airfield and one of America’s most important military outposts during its occupation of the country. 

Today, Balad still has plenty of vehicles and aircraft on the base that any terrorist group would covet, including Russian-made transport helicopters, surveillance planes, and a fleet of pickup trucks fitted with heavy machine guns.

Now, that airbase is coming under fire—and is in danger of falling into the hands of ISIS, according to U.S. intelligence officers, internal reports from Balad, and outside analysts. Reuters reported Wednesday that the base was now surroundedon three sides by insurgents and taking heavy mortar fire. 

“We assess the group continues to threaten the air base and Iraqi Security Force control of the air base as it moves south towards Baghdad,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told reporters Tuesday. 

Of course, even if ISIS were to gain control of Balad, there is no guarantee its fighters would know how to operate or maintain the aircraft that are stored there. But an ISIS takeover of Balad would be significant nonetheless. As NBC News reported Tuesday, Iraqi officers say without air support they are on an equal footing with ISIS fighters. 

Baghdad a ‘legitimate threat’ to fall, Pentagon says

June 24, 2014 
Source Link

A general view from a helicopter shows Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, June 23, 2014.

WASHINGTON — Ninety U.S. military advisers arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday to begin assessing Iraqi security forces’ ability to regain control of the embattled country, with the Pentagon acknowledging for the first time that the Iraqi capital could fall to Islamist militants.

The new arrivals joined 40 American troops sent to Baghdad on June 15 to form 130 of the up to 300 U.S. forces that President Barack Obama announced last week he was rushing to Iraq to help counter a two-week offensive by the militants.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said the 130 Americans would take two to three weeks to assess the current security situation and recommend how to dispatch the additional up to 170 military advisers to Iraq.

“It’s a measured, deliberate approach to help us and (Iraqi security forces) get better eyes on the situation and what they’re facing,” Kirby told reporters.

Kirby pushed back at one journalist’s description of such an approach as “rather leisurely,” given how quickly the Sunni insurgents, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, have seized a broad swath of cities and territory north of Baghdad.

“Everybody shares a sense of urgency here about what is going on inside Iraq,” Kirby said.

Pakistan: Ten Days after 'comprehensive' Operations in North Waziristan:

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan.
Dated 27-Jun-2014

Though intensive operations against the TTP commenced on 23rd May 2014, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) formally christened the operation as “Zarb-e-Azb” on 15th of June. This was a week after the audacious attack by the TTP on Karachi International Airport on the morning of 8th June. 

The statement from ISPR said that “using North Waziristan as a base, the terrorists had waged a war against the State of Pakistan and had been disrupting our normal life in all its dimensions, stunting growth and causing enormous loss of life and property.”

The Director General of ISPR added that the terrorists had also paralysed life and perpetually terrorised the entire peace loving and patriotic population. He said that the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Border Police have been requested to help and seal the porous border. The irony is that such calls were coming from the other side-Afghanistan to their counter parts in Pakistan till recently!

The Pakistan Army called it a “comprehensive operation” involving air force, artillery, tanks and thousands of ground troops. Unofficial estimates put the number of troops involved as much as 40,000.

Nawaz Sharif accompanied by the Army Chief visited the Hqrs of the Peshawar Corps for a briefing on the continuing operations. Sharif had promised full financial support to ensure success of the operation. 

In the absence of independent information, one has to go by the official handouts of the ISPR. There are many varied reports on the casualties inflicted on the militants and adding up the daily figures published do not give a true picture. One report indicates that over 300 militants have been killed so far and twenty-three hideouts destroyed. The figure is high and it is suspected that the numbers in a few cases includes civilians too. On the Army’s side eight have been killed and seven injured. 

It’s Not Our War

The United States should help others crush ISIS, and not much else. 
ISIS is well-armed, but not invincible. 

Despite prodding from the United States and others, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki doesn’t want to share power, the Kurds don’t want to give up a shot at independence, and the Sunnis would rather stick with murderous jihadist protectors than trust a Shiite government that shuns their demands and persecutes their leaders.

Fred Kaplan is the author ofThe Insurgents and the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Should any of this surprise us? More to the point, why do some among us persist in thinking that, through three cups of tea and a few well-aimed airstrikes, we can persuade sectarian chieftains to cede their vital interests to some greater good as defined by foreign powers?

Earlier today, after meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, Maliki denounced the demands for a new, more inclusive Iraqi government, saying that such a move would amount to a“coup”—which, indeed, it would. Maliki recently won the popular vote in a national election, and while his party hasn’t yet assembled a working majority in parliament, no other obvious leader sits poised on the sidelines. Maliki knows that the countries most keen to beat back the Sunni jihadists of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria—especially Iran, the neighboring ally that counts most—have no choice but to support him for now. He might also look for inspiration from Bashar al-Assad, whose days as Syrian president were long ago deemed over and who nonetheless hangs on. Not only do delusions run deep, sometimes in the short run they’re justified.


June 26, 2014 · in Commentary
The monthly death toll in May 2014 was Iraq’s highest since 2008. The year 2013 was the most murderous in five years. In late 2013, violence flared in western Iraq’s Sunni Anbar province, as fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and an assortment of local groups — Naqshbandis, Sunni tribes, ex-Ba’athists, and the like — angry at the repressive and marginalizing sectarian policies of Nuri al-Maliki’s government and the behaviour of its security forces in the region, rose in revolt. Around 300,000 people fled their homes, and towns such as Fallujah and Ramadi fell into the hands of the rebels. Elements of the government’s security forces also abandoned their posts and fled. Washington was not entirely indifferent, and it sped up the supply of Hellfire missiles and UAVs to Maliki’s sectarian armed forces.

But it has taken June’s dramatic fall of the heavily garrisoned Sunni Arab city of Mosul to ISIL fighters and their allies, the no less dramatic collapse of the largely U.S.-equipped, funded and trained Iraqi security forces, and the continuing advance of Sunni forces towards Baghdad and indeed into Anbar province, to have finally led Washington to the conclusion that something is rotten in the state of Iraq. Secretary of State John Kerry has ridden into town insisting that the Iraqis form a government of national unity in order to attract serious U.S. aid and repel the Sunni onslaught.

A government of genuine national unity that brings together the various sects and ethnicities to fight against a common threat is a thought that is as nice as it is unrealistic. If there is any chance that it could happen, Maliki must first go, although there is little sign that he is prepared to fall on his sword and every likelihood that his followers would resent him being forced to do so. In the wake of Mosul’s fall, Sunni Arab and Kurdish lawmakers mostly absented themselves from a parliamentary session that Maliki had hoped would grant him a state of emergency, seeing it, surely correctly, as a bid to finally establish himself as Iraq’s new dictator. Many of them, and some Shias too, had already indicated in the wake of the April election that they were no longer willing to acquiesce in his rule.

But it is arguable that even a coalition government sans Maliki is unlikely to have much genuine unity about it. Sunni politicians will be loathe at this juncture to align themselves — even if they can be leaned on to do so — with a predominantly Shia government relying on a primarily Shia security apparatus, Shia militias, and perhaps U.S. bombardment, to keep at bay the rich diversity of Sunni groups that fought their way to the gates of Baghdad. Their dilemma would be even worse if Tehran decides to adopt the role of Maliki’s cheerleader-in-chief, let alone were it to elect to contribute directly to the fight. This is a Sunni-Shia fight and Washington is at imminent risk of sliding down a slope that results in an American military contribution to the further humiliation of the Sunnis at the behest of the majority Shias and Iran. Many Sunnis already interpret Washington’s long-standing acquiescence in Maliki’s relentlessly divisive behavior in that way.

What Has Become of the Free Syrian Army and Other Pro-Western Syrian Rebel Groups? Has ISIS Destroyed Them All?

Syria: The Rebels Are Screwed
June 26, 2014

The U.S., NATO and Saudi Arabia are discussing what to do about their support for the Syrian rebels. The main problem is the Islamic terrorists, who are hostile to the Syrian government as well as all the nations supporting the rebels. This is an embarrassing situation for Saudi Arabia where much of the current Islamic terrorism originated over the past few decades. The Saudis officially support Islamic 

conservatism because that is popular throughout Arabia and especially in the areas (Mecca and Medina) containing the most holy Islamic shrines. But the most extreme of the Islamic conservatives consider the Saudi royal family not Islamic enough and seeks to impose an Islamic religious dictatorship. This has been the goal of Islamic extremists for over a thousand years. It never happens, but keeps exploding into periods of Islamic terrorism before it is crushed again but never completely eliminated, at least in Arabia. The Saudis have controlled Islamic terrorism within their kingdom but at the cost of still tolerating Islamic radicals who behave (or else). That arrangement is rare and does not exist anywhere else. In Syria and Iraq the Saudis now support the extermination of Islamic terrorists. This means the Assad government is no longer the main target in Syria. This also means that the Saudis and Iranians have to pause their growing Sunni-Shia feud because both countries have more to fear from ISIL Sunni Islamic terrorism than from each other. Western nations know they are already on the ISIL radar and are cracking down on ISIL fund raising and recruiting in the West. Where does this leave the Syrian rebellion? The secular rebel groups and acceptably moderate Islamic rebels already have a coalition of sorts although that currently includes unacceptably radical groups like al Nusra. In short, things do not look good at all for the rebels. They are screwed.

The rebels are crippled mainly because the six month long internal civil war between ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and all the other rebels (half of them rival Islamic terrorists and the rest secular and tribal groups) has weakened rebel resistance. The government has been taking advantage of this and attempting to aid their fellow Shia in Iraq with air attacks in western Iraq. The Assads see themselves as soon winning the civil war, now that they have the Saudis, the Israelis and the West on their side.