3 August 2014

Time India woke up to US surveillance


Hardeep S Puri

THE Indian establishment had been remarkably silent on the comprehensive surveillance to which India, its leaders, political parties, diplomatic representation and its economic entities have been subjected by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US. Salman Khushid’s statement that what was being collected was only ‘metadata’ lead to the inference being drawn that there was some collaborative arrangement between New Delhi and Washington. Whilst the jury is still out on the ‘collaboration’ part of the arrangement, if any, information now available in the public domain, thanks to Edward Snowden, indicates an altogether different and more serious dimension.

Visiting Secretary of State John Kerry was told by Sushma Swaraj on July 31 during the US-India Strategic Dialogue that India had been outraged and that such snooping was unacceptable. Some of the implications of such surveillance for our national security need to be understood.

Within a few weeks of India being elected to the UN Security Council, on 22 December 2010, as India’s PR to the UN, I addressed a communication to the then Foreign Secretary requesting both preventive and countermeasures in the more important offices and conference facilities urgently for protection of in-house discussions/meetings and for the security of our communications. There was not even an acknowledgment of the request made, let alone any action on this written communication carrying the highest classification.

The Snowden revelations and the ‘top secret’ documents released by him have now been collated by Glen Greenwald in his recently released book ‘No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US, Surveillance State’.

A top secret document of August 2010 has the following:

“In late spring 2010, eleven branches across five Product Lines teamed with NSA enablers to provide the most current and accurate information to USUN (United States Mission to the United Nations) and other customers on how UNSC members would vote on the Iran Sanctions Resolution.… SIGINT was key in keeping USUN informed of how the other members of the UNSC would vote.

“…according to USUN, SIGINT ‘helped me to know when the other Permreps [Permanent Representatives] were telling the truth… revealed their real position on sanctions… gave us an upper hand in negotiations… and provided information on various countries’ “red lines”’.”

It Costs to be Poor; Bank on Tech to Reinvent Inclusion


By Shankkar Aiyar

Published: 03rd August 2014 
Raghuram Rajan with Narendra Modi

It is expensive to be poor… for individuals and for nations.

Indians and India know this. Poor financial inclusion is the cause and consequence of entrenched poverty. The UPA regime chanted the mantra of inclusive growth for a decade. But the critical imperative of financial inclusion laboured brick-by-brick when it could have piggybanked growth on technology, hitching a ride on the telecom boom. That was not to be.

The good news is that Modi Sarkar has put its weight behind the urgency of financial inclusion. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading the charge. The fog around many regulatory and political issues—including the status of Aadhar which has now been bundled with National Population Register (NPR)—has now been cleared. This week Modi deployed his website, myGov and twitter to call for ideas/suggestions (and I have shared “Re-Imagine Inclusion” http://bit.ly/1aslr3e). He has also invited suggestions for a name and a logo. Rather than target geographical access, the focus is expected to be on individual access—to cover 75 million households at the bottom of the pyramid. Indeed, ‘financial inclusion in mission mode’ is expected to be one of the highlights of the Independence Day speech.

The fear though is that mission mode may be retarded. The discourse—many of the ideas from bankers to the babudom—is cloaked in the Seventies’ mindset. There is much re-invention of definitions, exemptions, discretions. The plethora of classifications is scary. The draft guidelines state that payment banks can accept deposits, allow remittances but cannot lend. Small banks on the other hand can lend but will be limited in their area of operations. Really, should India be subscribing to limitations of size or investing in the competitive advantages of technology and scale? The thinking is restricted by old socialist ideology, that the poor do not know how to borrow or to spend. In itself this is laughable, given the magnitude of informal credit in small businesses, and in agriculture, innovative but scandal-ridden savings schemes and the size of the cash economy.

India clearly cannot afford obeisance to incrementalism. Consider the challenge to comprehend how bad is bad. World over, nearly 2.5 billion persons have no access to formal banking. Of this lot, every fifth person is an Indian. Nearly 60 per cent of the populace and 90 per cent of small businesses have no bank account (Source: RBI report on Inclusion). What this means is that individuals pay more on borrowings, earn lower returns, risk losing their capital, face hurdles to finance consumption or investment and live without critical risk insurance. The aggregation of this granular detail translates into a larger cash economy, lower savings, poor tax collections, higher costs and prices, and perpetuates a shallow economy that makes high GDP growth unsustainable.

Return of Kashmiri Pandits: Promises and Uncertainties

Author: Dr. M. Mayilvaganan and Ms. Pallavi Parashar
August 1, 2014

President Pranab Mukherjee, in his inaugural address to the joint session of Parliament on June 9th outlined the plans of the Narendra Modi-led Government regarding the rehabilitation and return of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits. Subsequently, Finance minister Arun Jaitley announced Rs. 500-crore special package for rehabilitation of Kashmir Pandits in the Union Budget 2014. The scheme, part of the BJP’s election manifesto, aims to encourage the return of displaced Pandits to the state with ‘dignity, security and assured livelihood.’

According to the announced scheme, a package of Rs. 20 lakh would be given to the returnees’ families for reconstruction of their house/property in the Valley, which were either destroyed or burnt during the communal strife in 1990. The rehabilitation package also provides for repurchase of their houses which were sold in distress before fleeing the state, regardless of the time period in which they disposed of their properties.

With this, the focus is back on the ‘forgotten community’ of the Valley. The renewed attempts from the Indian government instil a sense of optimism within the community on the issue of their rehabilitation. Nevertheless, there are concerns, which raise multiple questions about the viability of their return. On the whole, a financial package may help the displaced families in establishing a place to live, but concerns regarding their safety and livelihood in terms of jobs and infrastructure remain. Questions about their safety in Kashmir have also been a cause of worry for the community. Specifically, the Kashmiri Pandits are fearful of falling prey to another cycle of jihadi violence and communal strife in the state.

Exodus and State Response 

The Kashmiri Pandits are Hindu minority—mainly Brahmins and followers of Shaivism—of Kashmir. In 1980s, they accounted for about 6% of the total population in the valley. The outbreak of militancy and violence in 1987, which was also directed towards the Hindu minority in Kashmir, resulted in large-scale displacement of Pandits from the State. The exodus was marked by the fear of persecution compelling many to seek safer places outside the valley. Amidst the chaos, many Pandits left behind their properties and assets hoping the turmoil would end soon and they would return to their native places. However, uncertainties and continued hostilities prevented them from returning to the Valley.

Those who were well off ‘migrated’ to metros such as Delhi or to foreign lands, but the not so well off families were compelled to stay in the State established camps in Jammu. Since then, the community has undergone numerous challenges in rebuilding their lives and protecting their culture.

Estimates vary on the number of Kashmiri Pandits who left the Valley. According to the 2011 report of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre of the Norwegian Refugee Council, 250,000 Pandits have been displaced due to violence in Kashmir Valley since 1990. Conversely, the government statistics maintain that around 100,000 left the Valley. According to them, there are about 60452 registered Kashmiri migrant families in the country and close to 3000 Pandits still residing in Kashmir.

Displaced Kashmiri Pandit families living in Jammu and Delhi receive cash relief of Rs. 1650/- per head per month (maximum Rs.6600/- per family per month) in addition to dry ration of 9 kg Rice, 2 kg wheat per person per month and 1 kg sugar per family per month from the government.

Prior to the current package, New Delhi had initiated some measures in the form of financial assistance/relief. Notably, the UPA government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in April 2008 announced a proposal of Rs 1,618 crore packages for the return and rehabilitation of Pandits following a similar package in 2004. The main components of the package were housing assistance of Rs. 7.5 lakh per family for repair/reconstruction for fully or partially damaged houses, financial assistance of Rs. 2 lakh per family for dilapidated/unused houses and assistance of Rs. 7.5 lakh per family for purchase/construction of a house in Group Housing Societies, for those who had sold their properties during the period after 1989 and before the enactment of ‘The Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection and Restraint of Distress Sale) Act, 1997’ on May 30, 1997.

Additionally, the package assured the continuation of cash relief and free rations to displaced families (who had taken refuge in Jammu and Delhi) at Rs. 5,000/- per family for a period of two years after their return to the Valley and assistance of Rs. 750/- per month per child up to the age of 18 years. The J&K Government also constituted an Apex Advisory Committee in September 2009 under the Chairmanship of State Revenue Minister to oversee the implementation of the announced package. Earlier, through the J&K Immovable property (preservation, protection and restraint on distress sales) Act of 1997, the state government specified that District Magistrate would take possession of immovable property of Pandits for preservation, protection and eviction of unauthorised occupants.

However, attempts to ensure return of the Kashmiri Pandits have failed due to multiple reasons. In the view of some Kashmiri Pandits, the state and central government have only doled out meagre cash compensations and not made any substantial efforts to build confidence. They feel that the governments lack the political will to negotiate a settlement, fearing it may antagonise the Muslim majority in Kashmir.

Views of the Pandits and Muslims 

Even though Kashmiri Pandits and Muslim majority in the State welcome Modi-government’s rehabilitation scheme, they continue to remain sceptical about the pronounced plan for various reasons. The Pandits fear that once they return, they may be targeted in case of any unrest in Kashmir, since they were and perhaps continue to be seen as “agents” of the Indian Government in the region. Massacres at Wandhama in 1997, Sangrampora in 1998 and Nadimarg in 2003 are some cases in point.

Therefore, due to the complex nature of the issue, Pandit organisations or “samitis” such as ‘Panun Kashmir’ have demanded a separate homeland—Union Territory or at least a separate satellite town—for them within the region. Recently, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s “supreme commander” and Pakistan-based Kashmiri head of the United Jihad Council, Syed Salahuddin has opposed this idea, calling it a ‘big conspiracy.’ Thus, only time will tell if ‘Panun Kashmir’ would serve as a viable solution for the problem.

Another important question that arises is whether the displaced Pandit families really want to return? There are no straight answers but multiple views within Pandits community. 

Understandably, for majority of the new generation that were born and brought up outside Kashmir, there is little yearning to go back to the Valley. The social and economic transformation of some Pandits, brought about by emigration and assimilation with their new habitation have contributed to their disinterest in returning to the Valley, irrespective of whether or not the situation is conducive. Also, many feel that avenues for economic sustenance or growth are not available in Kashmir due to the economic and political uncertainties.

The older generation, in particular, may prefer to return to the Valley, if there is an assurance of security and peace. However, a major problem would be to re-integrate the returnees with the local community, especially in view of their past trauma. Hence, some feel that a return can be negotiated on the condition of establishing a separate satellite township, for the Pandits within the Valley, along with political empowerment and minority status. Undoubtedly, settling them in their native habitat appears more challenging given the numbers of pending litigations in various forums regarding illegal occupation of their properties. Therefore, the debate revolves around the issue whether the returnees should be integrated with their old neighbourhoods or be made to settle in new clusters/settlements.

Meanwhile, the idea of forming separate clusters for Pandits has run into opposition; thereby raising serious questions about the return of the Pandits to the state.Muslims in the Valley perceive the Modi-government rehabilitation package as an attempt by New Delhi to divide the Kashmiri society. It is also believed that through this policy, Indian government intends to settle non-Kashmiri Hindus so as to change the ethnic composition of Kashmir.

Way Forward

The need of the hour is to initiate an exhaustive dialogue between the Pandits and all the stakeholders in the state in order to reach an acceptable and viable solution. Also, the Modi government needs to forge consensus within the Pandits community regarding their return and settlement in Kashmir. For changes to happen and promises to be fulfilled, the government must show sincerity as the previous governments and leaders have spoken about facilitating the return of Kashmiri Pandits but progress has been extremely limited. Without wider consultations and a general consensus, any package would be unacceptable and unviable.

In short, the issue of rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley is unlikely to make much headway without consensus among the various stakeholders. With fresh attempts by the Modi Government towards rehabilitation of the Pandits, there is hope but amidst fears that the fate of the displaced community may continue to hang in uncertainty for some more time to come.
About the Authors

Dr. M. Mayilvaganan is Assistant Professor, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at mumayil[at]yahoo[dot]com

Ms. Pallavi Parashar is a Post Graduate Scholar in Department of International Studies, Stella Maris College, Chennai & former intern at ISSSP, NIAS.

Political – Civil – Military Participation in National Security

IssueNet Edition| Date : 31 Jul , 2014

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, the Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R K Dhowan, and the Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha paying homage at Amar Jawan Jyoti

Analysis of India’s approach towards its National Security reveals an unacceptable hiatus between the Political -Civil- Military systems. We perhaps were lucky enough to get away thus far even despite the 1962 China debacle.

The Army, Navy, Air Force are engaged individually in terms of turf protection. There is neither integration nor coordination between the Ministries of Defence, Home, Finance, External affairs with the army, paramilitary and intelligence forces, even as a concept, let alone in practice.

New security realities, an assertive China, a highly probable Sino-Pak collusion, the emergence of non state actors, possible implosion in Pakistan, the Af-Pak mess all call for India to review and revamp its management of national security. Our bureaucracy has the sagacity, expertise and eclectic experience to optimise civil control mechanisms under political guidance. Our military and security forces have the commitment and wisdom to perpetuate democracy and secularism. Ours is a democracy wherein civil control of the military is absolute. We have mechanisms in place to optimally approach “national security and military readiness”. This of course has to be politically understood, accepted, absorbed and be top down with sense of ownership, accountability and authority. This paper looks at the quantum and quality of civil- military participation, the higher defence decision making, the structures within the military and the way ahead.

Current Status of Political – Civil – Military Participation

Indian political -civil- military relationship needs to be seen in the context of the critical dichotomy between “Authority and Responsibility” resulting in the absence of ownership for military and security. The whole discussion often misses the forest for the trees. In the fog of this debate, the political leadership virtually goes unnoticed and hence never answers for this grave omission. Should our political leadership not take onus of ownership or at least assign responsibility for military and security readiness to an accountable entity? Six decades post independence has not seen any effective viable change.

Civil and military partnership needs to be seen in wider contours of nation’s Management, national security, foreign policy, technology self reliance, budgeting: in the frame work of sovereignty, sustainability and survivability as a nation state. It should also include internal security concerns. Intelligence and policing are inherent in this.

Who is Responsible for Readiness?

Indian Army’s Modernisation Plans: Call for Pragmatism

The NDA government has identified defence reforms and building a self sustaining defence industrial base as a priority reform sector. To transform this into reality, it is not so much of the government commitment but its ability to take policy decisions and put processes in place by spurring public and private sector investments through higher indigenisation, transfer of technology, simplifying procedures, etc.

The Army’s war waging capability is increasingly handicapped. Concerned with dwindling operational preparedness and operationally hard pressed, it wants to induct advanced technology hardware that it perceives would serve its operational needs optimally. However its efforts at modernising be it combat or combat support arms are hardly encouraging – plagued by procurement and indigenous production delays and lack of timely planning.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence’s figures reveals that the army's equipment modernisation is steadily falling. In 2008-09, the army spent 27 paisa of every rupee on capital expenditure. This fell to 24 paisa in 2009-10; 23 paisa in 2010-11; 20 paisa in 2012-13 and just 18 paisa in the last two years. Resultantly the army’s ambitious plans to transform from a ‘threat-based to a capability force’ by 2020 are being consistently thwarted as a result of process driven MoD breaucracy and the Army headquarters delays in drawing up credible qualitative requirements. 

Adding to this are procedural delays. Getting approvals is a long drawn out procedure entailing clearances from 18 MoD and related departments/agencies. Consequently, procurements mandated to be completed in 48 months invariably take twice as long. Even the urgently needed equipment via the Fast Track Procurement (FTP) route with a 12-14 month timeline, is rarely ever met.
Army’s Modernization Perspective

Let us take the armour first. Indian army’s mechanised fleet comprises T-72 and T72 M1s Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), T-90S MBTs and indigenously produced Arjun MKI tanks. The main issue facing operational efficiency of mechanised forces are two: night fighting capability and ammunition.

In so far as night fighting capability is concerned only the 650-odd Russian T90S MBTs along with indigenously designed Arjun MKI tanks have full solution night fighting capability. T-72 and T72M1s that form the backbone of 59-odd armour regiments along with some 2200 Soviet-designed BMP-II infantry combat vehicles (ICVs) lack night fighting capability. Majority of the T72s await upgrades that will provide them with either full solution thermal imaging fire control systems (TIFCS) or third generation partial solution thermal imaging stand alone systems (TISAS) enabling all weather including night operations. Till date only 620 partial solution TISAS have been acquired.

Update on the Security Situation in Pakistan

July 31, 2014 
Pakistan Security Brief 

Prominent online jihadist explains al Qaeda pledge of allegiance to Taliban chief Mullah Omar; Kidnappings an increasingly significant source of income for the TTP; German government donates $1.3 million in aid to IDPs from North Waziristan; Obama administration officials pleased with Operation Zarb-e-Azb so far, but emphasize need to prevent Haqqani Network’s return; Sectarian assassination in Quetta kills two; VBIED injures four in Karachi; Indian troops reportedly fire upon Pakistani soldiers near Line of Control in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban 

On July 28, prominent online jihadist and follower of al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri, Shaybat al Hukama tweeted his explanation of al Qaeda’s bayat or oath of allegiance to Mullah Omar. His tweets were made in reference to a video that al Qaeda’s media arm released of Osama bin Ladin discussing his bayat. Al Hakama explained that while all al Qaeda branches were required to swear bayat to Mullah Omar, they are free to work autonomously outside of Afghanistan. He later removed his tweets, saying “the brothers” had requested he do so. Though al Hakama claims not to be connected to any groups, previously he has acknowledged his ties to members of al Qaeda’s online media operation. In earlier tweets he has been a harsh critic of the so-called Islamic State.[1]

North Waziristan Offensive 

A Wall Street Journal article, quoting Pakistani law enforcement officials, reported on July 30 that as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has splintered over the past two years, kidnappings for ransom and militant-related criminal activity hasincreased in major Pakistani cities. It also speculates that the TTP’s flight from its base in North Waziristan, prompted by military action there, may lead to an increase in such activity as well. Kidnapping gangs either sell victims to militant groups, which in turn demand higher ransoms, or receive protection from Taliban groups in return for a cut of the ransom. A Taliban spokesman denied that Taliban groups provide protection to kidnapping gangs, but said that the kidnapping and murder of the group’s enemies was justified. Crimes are usually committed within the ethnic Pashtun community, which is easily penetrated by Taliban militants.[2]

On July 31, the German government announced a donation of one million Euros ($1.3 million) in humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) displaced from North Waziristan by Operation Zarb-e-Azb. The aid will support the efforts of the UN’s World Food Program in Pakistan’s Federally Administrated Tribal Areas[3]

According to a Los Angeles Times report on July 30, Obama administration officials believe Operation Zarb-e-Azb has succeeded in disrupting militant strongholds in North Waziristan, but must prevent the Haqqani Network and other militant groups from regrouping and resettling in North Waziristan to be ultimately successful. The United States government remains unconvinced and has still received no direct evidence from the Pakistani government that the operation has targeted the Haqqani Network. The report speculated that Pakistan is taking action against the Haqqani Network now because a significant portion of U.S. counterterrorism funding to Pakistan requires U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel to certify that Operation Zarb-e-Azb has “significantly disrupted the safe haven and freedom of movement of the HAqqani network.”[4]


Compromise: The Only Way to Achieve Peace in the Holy Land

July 31, 2014 

"Only a mutual compromise that would address the causes of the conflict and result in recognition by the opponents of two states, Israel and Palestine, will lead to a durable peace in the Holy Land."

The recent escalation between Israel and Hamas has demonstrated the fragility of a calm that lacks political reconciliation. Both sides have legitimate grievances, but because each has pursued misguided strategies that capitalize force—instead of addressing the roots of the conflict—neither can prevail without reversing its methods.

Israel has justified its military campaign in the Gaza Strip because it views Hamas as a purely terrorist organization. Since its inception in 1987, Hamas has developed a lethal terrorism capacity and a paramilitary arm, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. (As an offshoot of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ roots extend to 1945, when the Ikhwan established a branch in Jerusalem.) Hamas has often used its military capabilities to target Israeli civilians.

But Hamas is more than a terrorist organization: it is also a political and social movement entrenched in Palestinian society. A terrorist group encapsulates a small number of operatives who are largely decoupled from the broader civilian population they claim to serve. In contrast, Hamas commands widespread support not only in its bastion, the Gaza Strip, but also on the West Bank—support that enabled the movement to win a decisive victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections of January 2006.

Historically, it has been difficult, if not impossible, to militarily defeat the violent movements that muster popular support. Cases in point are the Afghan Taliban, Algeria’s Front de Libération Nationale, Irish Republican Movement, Iraqi Sadrist Trend, Lebanese Hizballah, and Viet Nam Cong San. Even when such movements lose militarily, they tend to gain politically—most often because of the counterinsurgents’ misguided reliance on force that alienates and radicalizes the local populace.

While not every Palestinian supports Hamas’ ideology of armed resistance, grassroots support for the movement stems from the Palestinians’ collective anger at Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, its expanding settlements and its crippling economic blockade of the Gaza Strip that precludes the passage of people and goods. The socioeconomic status quo—coupled with the repeated failures of the peace process—offers no incentive to the Palestinians to exert pressure on Hamas, which, unlike its counterpart on the West Bank, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA), has demonstrated its resolve to fight the Israeli occupation and provided essential socioeconomic services to the poor.

It suffices to walk through the refugee camps and checkpoints on the West Bank to get a glimpse of the pervasive poverty, hopelessness and humiliation that an average Palestinian experiences daily. These conditions triggered the Palestinian uprisings in 1987 and 2000. (“Balata was the womb of the intifada,” one resident of the camp told me, implying that it can rise up again.) The Gaza Strip, an area of 139 square miles, is worse. Roughly 1,817,000 people live in the overcrowded enclave with a population density of approximately 13,070 people per square mile. (By comparison, eighty-nine people live per square mile in the United States.)

Israeli decision makers should acknowledge these facts that contribute to the conflict. Ignoring the reality engenders inadequate counterstrategies. The government of Israel has the right to defend its territory and people, but Israel’s approach of resolving the Palestinian question militarily is counterproductive. It might weaken Hamas in the short run, but it also supplies the militants with incendiary propaganda material to boost their popular support in the long run.

Israel’s recent invasion of the Gaza Strip is designed to destroy Hamas’ rocket-launching capabilities and tunnel networks to achieve “sustainable quiet.” But in gathering the weeds, Israel roots up the wheat. Over 75 percent of the fatalities in the Gaza Strip have been civilians, according to the United Nations. By weeding out Hamas—and with it, scores of innocent Palestinians—the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) inadvertently bolster the militants, driving even those Palestinians who disapprove of Hamas’ ideology and governance to rally behind the movement. (A poll taken after the invasion corroborates this.)

Hamas, in turn, must abjure its destructive strategy of targeting the Israeli people. Its use of terrorism only distances the Palestinians from achieving national liberation and economic prosperity. Hamas’ resistance to Israel in action and rhetoric enabled its rise in the wake of the abortive Oslo Accords (1993, 1995). But although the peace negotiations faltered again in early 2014, the circumstances—both regional and domestic—are different.

From the Arab Maghreb to the Persian Gulf, the tides are turning against Hamas. The Syrian civil war (2011-present), in which the Alawite regime is fighting the predominantly Sunni opposition, compelled Hamas (a Sunni Islamist movement) to relocate to Cairo and Doha. Hamas’ break with Syria has also weakened its ties with Iran, Hamas’ main sponsor and Syria’s ally. In the aftermath of the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état, which deposed President Mohammed Morsi (a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood), Cairo proscribed Hamas activity in Egypt. And a poll conducted before Israel’s Operation Protective Edge indicated that over 70 percent of Gazans favored nonviolent resistance.

Hamas’ leaders should not succumb to the pressure from the Salafi-Jihadist factions in the Gaza Strip and try to outcompete them in producing violence. Hamas can maintain what legitimacy it has among the Palestinians by ensuring their safety and socioeconomic welfare. Given the changing climate in the Middle East, it can attain these goals by demonstrating a willingness to turn to politics. The unity pact of April 2014 between Hamas and the Fatah-led PA is a step in the right direction in that it presents a potential opportunity for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—if Hamas adopts a path of moderation. Israel should not discount this possibility and be prepared to negotiate with Hamas. Hamas represents too many Palestinians to be excluded from a peace settlement. Presuming that the IDF can eradicate Hamas would be a mistake. Hamas is a potent force in Palestinian politics due to its relatively large popular following, which Israel’s heavy-handed approach unwittingly helps solidify.

Some twenty years ago, few (including the Catholic Church) could imagine negotiating with the Provisional Irish Republican Army that was uncompromisingly dedicated to fighting the British rule in Ireland. Yet, the Good Friday Agreement came into effect in April 1998. The leaders made costly sacrifices, but gained peace for their people.

Balanced concessions (such as ending rocket fire into Israel and lifting the blockade of the Gaza Strip) can end the hostilities. But only a mutual compromise that would address the causes of the conflict and result in recognition by the opponents of two states, Israel and Palestine, will lead to durable peace in the Holy Land. Just like the Israeli government cannot secure its citizens if the Gaza Strip remains an island of desperation, while the West Bank stagnates under occupation, the Palestinian leaders cannot advance statehood and economic prosperity if Hamas continues to deploy terrorism and rockets into Israel. Sustainable security for the Israelis and lasting prosperity for the Palestinians can be achieved through peace, not arms.

Irena L. Sargsyan is the co-managing editor of International Studies Quarterly. Her research focuses on international security, low-intensity conflicts, and violent movements.

Ballot Box Distress and Future of Afghanistan

Smruti S Pattanaik and Akriti Vasudeva
July 30, 2014

The recently concluded Afghan Presidential election, rather than facilitating crucial political transition, is mired in controversy. The preliminary results of the run-off round of the election, announced by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) on July 7, reversed the electoral trend of the first round amid allegations of wide-spread rigging. Abdullah Abdullah, who was leading the first round of election in April with 45 per cent votes, was overtaken by Ashraf Ghani, who came second with 32 percent of the votes and was trailing by more than 13 percent. However, the preliminary results of the run-off put Ghani in the lead with 56 percent of the total votes while Abdullah Abdullah was trailing behind with 44 percent. The voter turnout in the run-off was 8.1 million, an increase of over 1 million votes, compared to the first round.
Stuffed Ballot?

This election, like the previous one, was not free from the accusation of large-scale fraud. The supporters of Abdullah have been accusing Zia ul haq Amarkhil , the head of the IEC, and President Karzai of supporting Ghani and orchestrating a massive electoral fraud. His supporters also circulated a video where a close aide of the Afghanistan chief electoral officer Amarkhil apparently instructed his officers to get the ‘sheep stuffed’ in a reference to ballot boxes. Afghan television channels also telecast the police chief of Kabul stopping Amarkhil from transporting ballot boxes from the IEC headquarters after the poll was over.

All this led to the resignation of Amarkhil. The fact that there was ‘industrial scale fraud’ was accepted by both the contesting parties involved in the election. Abdullah supporters put pressure on the Karzai government and the IEC, and announced that if this fraud was not investigated, they would announce the formation of a parallel government. There were also talks of forming a transitional government for one year till the entire controversy surrounding the election was sorted out.

At this juncture, when Afghanistan seemed to slide into chaos, Kerry’s visit seemed to make some headway. After grueling negotiation with the two contesting parties, Kerry could make the two contending candidates agree to an audit of all the 23,000 polling stations across the country, after the ballot boxes were flown by ISAF into Kabul for this purpose. Both the parties further agreed that they would form a national unity government and accept the results of the audit. The UN was asked to prepare a proposal detailing the manner in which the audit could be supervised in consultation with both the candidates.
The Audit

The audit will take place in two stages – (i) physical recounting and (ii) the criteria to invalidate votes after all the ballot boxes are verified using a 16-point check list.1 While the physical auditing is continuing at the moment, the procedures for invalidation or necessary regulatory decisions are yet to be put in place and the UN has tasked the IEC with the responsibility of adopting the necessary regulatory decisions.2 The procedures of auditing are going to be important and should be acceptable to the supporters of each camp. According to media estimates, roughly around 4.5 per cent of the ballot boxes have been examined for fraud. The audit has been suspended thrice since it began on July 17.
Examining the fraud

A close examination of the results of both the rounds would reveal the reasons for Ghani’s spectacular win and Abdullah’s allegations. The following table shows the comparative votes the two presidential candidates secured in the first round:

ZARB-e-AZB: Phony War or Paradigm Shift?

July 31, 2014

Touted as the ‘mother of all’ anti-insurgency operations, the much demanded (by the US) and long delayed (by Pakistan) military operation in North Waziristan (NWA), Operation Zarb-e-Azb has turned out to be quite an anti-climax. A few weeks into the operation, the Pakistan Army has been ‘valiantly’ reconquering its own territory from its own proxies and ‘strategic assets’. Ironically, the Pakistan army had itself allowed ’the terror central’ NWA to become a ‘protectorate’ where all sorts of despicable gun-totting, suicide jacket wearing, rocket wielding bunch of terrorists set up base and blithely peddled their wares in not just Afghanistan but also in Pakistan and beyond.

Quite amazingly, the Islamist terror groups were living cheek-by-jowl with the Pakistan military. For close to a decade now, the Pakistan army kept denying and deflecting all information and intelligence provided by the Americans and Afghans of suicide bomb factories, IED manufacturing units and other such grisly enterprises operating in this area. Today, these very same factories of murder and mayhem are being triumphantly discovered and displayed before Pakistan's ‘embedded’ media, and the very same army that allowed NWA to become something of a place out of Dante’s inferno – there was reportedly even a ‘man-eaters market’ where the jihadists publicly beheaded people and mutilated bodies – are prancing and preening as the saviour of Pakistan.

Questions are, however, now starting to be raised about the entire operation. For all the grandstanding by the Pakistan army and the civilian government that this operation was going to be against all kinds of terror groups based in NWA, no such thing seems to be happening. By all accounts, the ‘good’, ‘not so good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban had received adequate notice to vacate the area and move to safer places. What is more, arrangements were made for the ‘good’ Taliban – Gul Bahadur, Haqqani network, and breakaway factions like that of Khan Said Mehsud – to relocate to new camps under the guise of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). According to Afghan intelligence and some Pakistani analysts, such camps were set up in Kurram agency of FATA.

Not surprisingly then, not one significant ‘good’ Taliban commander has been either killed or captured. There have certainly been some casualties caused by the aerial attacks and also skirmishes on the ground, but there has been no major firefight, let alone pitched battle, as yet. At best some middle ranking TTP commanders and cadres have died. There is also no independent verification of the 500-odd Taliban fighters claimed to have been killed by the military. On the contrary, a few published eye-witness accounts of IDPs from NWA reveal a lot of civilian casualties. But such is conspiracy of silence in Pakistan's ‘independent’ media that no one has bothered to follow the story. There is an almost Gestapo-like control that appears to have been imposed, what with ‘good’ jihadists like LeT, JeM, Jamaat Islami and such like groups being the only ones provided unfettered access to the IDPs.

Remarkably enough, six weeks into the operation, none of the fears that served as excuses for not launching the operation earlier have come true –there has been virtually no resistance; nor has there been any Taliban retaliation in rest of Pakistan. Given Pakistan’s past record of deception, doubts are natural to arise when Pakistani officials claim that this time they are going for a total clean-up. The line being taken by varied spokespersons of the establishment is that there will be no discrimination and no distinction made on who is to be targeted and who is to remain unmolested. The problem is that no one believes that the Pakistanis have actually made a paradigm change in their policy. So what then is the purpose and strategy behind this entire exercise?

Clearly, this operation has been launched keeping an eye on the post-2014 situation in Afghanistan. The timing and the tactics suggest that this is Pakistan's first major gambit in the unfolding endgame in Afghanistan. What the Pakistanis are trying to do is push the war back into Afghanistan by sending in their proxies to fill the vacuum that is expected from the withdrawal of bulk of the foreign forces. Knowing full well that the Americans have been drawing down their forces, the Pakistanis have disingenuously been pointing fingers at both the Americans and Afghans for not providing the ‘anvil’ to their ‘hammer’. In other words, the absence of the anvil is precisely why this operation has been launched at this point in time. This means that many of the Jihadists who are being ‘expelled’ or ‘pushed out’ of Pakistan are not going to face any real problem in Afghanistan. In the process, the Pakistanis are hoping to win brownie points for having launched this much awaited operation and at the same time keep their larger game plan of keeping their ‘strategic assets’ intact.

Another extremely critical objective of this operation is to regain some measure of control over both territory and terrorists, which seems to be slipping out of Pakistan’s clutches. With the drawdown underway a window had opened for Pakistan to re-establish its control in the areas straddling the Afghan border. This window will close once the withdrawal is complete and the post-2014 jostling for power begins in Afghanistan. After Pakistan army wrests control of the Jihadists’ safe base, anyone wanting to use this area will have to do so under the command and control of the Pakistan army. This means that the jihad factory will continue to operate, but without the jihadists enjoying any of the autonomy of action that they had started taking for granted.

All the talk that the attack on Karachi airport or any of the other recent attacks served as the catalyst for this operation is hogwash. Only the most naïve will believe that the new Pakistan army chief has brought about a change in the thinking, orientation and strategy of the Pakistan army. At best, the new army chief can only tweak things and lay emphasis on certain aspects of policy. To expect that he will swing his cane and the entire behemoth called Pakistan army will be ready to make an abrupt about-turn from a jihadist policy is to expect the moon. Simply put, weaning the Pakistan army off jihadism is as difficult as making it see sense on India or Kashmir.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb also has certain clear political benefits for the army, not the least of which is that it has helped the army to refurbish its image. An added bonus is the money that the Americans have been pumping into Pakistan. For all its jihadist orientation and deep anti-Americanism, the penny seems to have suddenly dropped that Pakistan needs to keep the Americans engaged one way or another in the region for the money to keep flowing. But it isn’t just the Americans. The Chinese money too is critical for keeping Pakistan afloat. Ever since the operation started, the ISPR has been pointedly mentioning how the air strikes have been targeting ETIM and other Uighur terror groups based in NWA. Apparently the Chinese had been pressurising Pakistan to act against the Uighur terrorists and the Pakistanis obliged. Clearly, like the Americans, the Chinese seem to have convinced themselves that they can change Pakistan's behaviour by ploughing in more money and military assistance. But if America’s blindness over Pakistan's perfidy did a lot of good to it, then China too is likely to suffer a similar fate.

As for the possibility of a blowback in reaction to the operation, more than the retaliatory strikes by the ‘bad’ or ‘irreconcilable’ Taliban – these can be written off as collateral damage. It is the larger blowback of this double game that should set alarm bells ringing. In trying to get a firmer control over the situation, Gen Raheel Sharif might well have disturbed the uneasy equilibrium that his predecessor had established between the Pakistani state and the Islamist groups. Unless the military establishment can now impose the dominance of the Pakistani state over its proxies, a pretty tall order, chances are that a new equilibrium will be established in which the Pakistani state will recede even more by conceding more to the jihadists than it had until now. The paradigm shift resulting out of this phony war will therefore not be so much the elimination of terrorists as it will be their empowerment. 

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India

China Confirms Its New DF-41 Multi-Warhead ICBM

Chinese Government Website Confirms New Multi-Warhead ICBM

Bill Gertz

Washington Free Beacon , August 1, 2014

New photo of China’s newest ICBM, the DF-41

A Chinese provincial government website has confirmed China’s newest and largest intercontinental missile—the multi-warhead DF-41, which is capable of striking the United States

Official confirmation of the new multi-warhead missile was touted by state-run Chinese press a day before the Aug. 1 anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, China’s communist-controlled military that is undergoing a major crackdown on corruption that has ensnared one of the most senior uniformed officers, former Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Gen. Xu Caihou.

A report on the new missile that appeared in one of the official Communist Party newspapers, Global Times, was quickly censored by authorities shortly after it appeared on Thursday, adding to speculation that the leak was not authorized.

U.S. officials confirmed that the appearance of the DF-41 images and a description of the missile on a government website June 13 are the first official confirmations of the still-secret weapon.

PRC government work report revealing new DF-41 missile

The Shaanxi provincial government announced on its website June 13 a progress report on its Environmental Monitoring Center Station included work on the DF-41.

“On-site monitoring for Phase Two of the project’s final environmental assessment and approval of support conditions for the development of the DF-41 strategic missile by the 43rd Institute of the 4th Academy of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) was initiated,” the notice said. AVIC is China’s state-owned aerospace and defense conglomerate.

Prior to the Shaaxi provincial website report, only unofficial references and unofficial photos were posted online about the DF-41.

According to the censored Global Times report, a military expert stated that “the development of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle third generation nuclear missiles is a major trend against the backdrop of the US’ constant enhancements to its missile defense systems.”

U.S. intelligence agencies estimate that the DF-41 has a range of between 6,835 miles and 7,456 miles and will be equipped with up to 10 multiple, independently-targetable warheads. It is regarded as a potential “first strike” weapon, or a weapon capable of carrying out a surprise nuclear attack that would knock out an enemy’s arsenal and limit its counterstrike capability.

The missile is viewed by many military analysts as China’s answer to U.S. missile defenses, which are designed to counter limited missile attacks from North Korea or, in the future, from Iran, but not from China or Russia.

The Pentagon’s annual reports to Congress on China’s military several years ago stated that China halted development of the DF-41. However, after flight tests in 2012 and December, the Pentagon reversed its assessment. The latest report said, “China also is developing a new road-mobile ICBM known as the Dong Feng-41 (DF-41), possibly capable of carrying multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV).”

Five Ways Russia Could Help China's Military Become Even Deadlier

And why Washington should be worried.
Robert Farley

August 2, 2014

The continued deterioration of relations between Russia and NATO may not yet have resulted in a new Cold War, but it’s undoubtedly produce an environment in which Russia has independent reasons to try to hurt the United States.

While the arms trade between China and Russia exploded after the fall of the Soviet Union, shipments of major systems slowed in the early part of last decade. Part of the reason was demand; China felt that it no longer needed to pay top dollar for Russian systems that it could build itself. Another reason, however, involved Russian intellectual property concerns stemming from Chinese copying, and potential export, of Russian military systems. This made Russia reluctant to export its most sophisticated weapons.

But now we find ourselves in a situation where Moscow has become willing to take risks in order to give Washington a headache. One way in which Russia can do this is overcoming any internal obstacles to the export of sophisticated weapons to China.

Although the Russian defense industry has decayed since the end of the Cold War, it still retains a great deal of expertise and human capital, which China (a growing military power) could use to good effect. What kind of systems might this involve? Here are five areas in which Russia-China collaboration could prove useful to Beijing, and problematic for America.

Jet Engines

Engine construction has been one of the biggest roadblocks in the Chinese aviation industry over the past decade. Problems with power and reliability afflict not only legacy systems (such as the J-10, J-11, and J-15), but also China’s new stealth fighter prototypes, the J-20 and the J-31.

Russian engines don’t have a reputation for extraordinary reliability, but they have consistently performed better than their Chinese counterparts. One analyst argues that China’s interest in acquiring Russian Su-35 Flankers stems from an interest in examining and replicating the engines, which would jumpstart China’s own jet engine industry.

Assisting China’s jet engine industry would represent a major risk for Russia. It would eliminate one of the largest potential customers for Russian engines (China), while also improving China’s export position. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances a long-term relationship might make sense, especially if Russia expected few new orders from the PRC in any case. And Chinese jets with more powerful, reliable engines would prove a much more impressive threat to the U.S. Navy (USN) and the U.S. Air Force (USAF).


The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) continues to operate the H-6, a derivative of the old Soviet Tu-16 “Badger” bomber, a very rough equivalent of the US B-47. Various reports suggest that China is looking into a new bomber,with at least one potential prototype in the works.

Russia has considerably more experience with heavy bombers that China, and still operates several variants that exceed the capabilities of anything the PLAAF has flown. These include the Tu-95 Bear (and its maritime variant, the Tu-142), the Tu-22M Backfire, and the Tu-160 Blackjack. All of these models are old, but would still represent an advance on what China currently operates.

Recent Hacking of Canadian Government Agency Has All the Hallmarks of Chinese Military Cyber Espionage Unit in Shanghai

August 1, 2014
Hacking attack in Canada bears signs of Chinese army unit - expert

The recent hacking attempt on a sensitive Canadian government computer network is similar to attacks mounted by an elite unit of the Chinese army based in Shanghai, according to a cybersecurity expert.

Canada said on Tuesday “a highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor” had broken into the National Research Council, a leading research body that works with major companies such as aircraft and train maker Bombardier Inc. Beijing on Thursday accused Canada of making irresponsible accusations that lacked credible evidence.

While Canada did not give details of the attack, CrowdStrike Chief Technology Officer Dmitri Alperovitch said it was similar to other hacking campaigns launched by a unit of the People’s Liberation Army that his company has nicknamed ‘Putter Panda.’ The group, Unit 61486, has thousands of people and conducts intelligence on satellite and aerospace industries, he said.

"It certainly looks like one of the actors we track out of China that we’ve seen going after aircraft manufacturers in the past," Alperovitch said. CrowdStrike is a California-based security technology company.

Ottawa’s public complaint was the first time it had ever identified a suspect in a string of attacks on government and commercial computers.

A former Canadian cabinet minister, Stockwell Day, separately confirmed for the first time on Thursday that Chinese operators were suspected of hacking into the Finance Department and the Treasury Board, a body with overall responsibility for government spending, in 2011.

The Canadian government has never publicly said who it thought was behind the 2011 attacks. Day - who had some responsibility for cyber security when he was in office - said Ottawa suspected those responsible were Chinese.


China is Canada’s second most important trading partner after the United States and bilateral trade is growing. Total Canada-China trade was C$69.8 billion in 2012 and $72.9 billion in 2013, according to official Canadian data.

Although Canada enjoys good relations with China, which it sees as a promising market for crude, the high-profile nature of the latest target, the NRC, may have made it impossible for Ottawa to keep quiet.

"By making it public, it’s a warning shot across the bow, saying ‘We treat this stuff very seriously,’" said Gordon Houlden, a former Canadian diplomat who served for years in Beijing and who heads the University of Alberta’s China Institute.

In May, the United States charged five Chinese military officers and accused them of hacking into American nuclear, metal and solar companies to steal trade secrets. The officers in that case worked for PLA Unit 61398.

"All the action on the part of the U.S. government has opened the flood gates for others to talk," Alperovitch said.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Officials from Foreign Minister John Baird’s office declined to comment.

John McDougall, president of the National Research Council, told employees on a conference call on Tuesday that the hackers may have obtained client information and data.

"We know that any information held in our systems - including employees’ personal information - may have been compromised," he said in the call, a recording of which was posted on CTV television’s website.

The NRC is being forced to set up a new secure computer network which could take up to a year to build.

Day said the NRC network had links to up to 40 other systems.

"If you get inside those cyber walls you are inside the building," Day told Reuters, saying that once hackers had gained access they could "go down other corridors".

The Communications Security Establishment, which detected the attack, declined to give further details.

A spokesman said the agency was actively working with the NRC and other government partners “to assess and mitigate this cyber-intrusion event”.

China Is Developing a Next-Generation ICBM

RIA Nogvosti 
August 1, 2014 

China Confirms Development of Next-Generation Intercontinental Ballistic Missile 

MOSCOW, August 1 (RIA Novosti) -China acknowledged its development of a next-generation ballistic missile, the Dongfeng-41 (DF-41), Xinhua reported Friday. 

According to Xinhua, a government environment monitoring station in Shaanxi Province published a document, saying that one of the province’s facilities is developing a ballistic rocket with a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV). 

Xinhua quoted a Chinese military analyst as saying in an interview with local media that, “as the US continues to strengthen its missile defense system, developing third generation nuclear weapons capable of carrying multiple warheads is the trend.” 

Apart from that some military observers believe that the development of a new missile is directly linked with the United States’ THAAD missile defense system and their anti-aircraft missile complex Patriot. 

The information that China is developing a new ballistic missile first appeared last month, when the United States published its annual report on military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China. The report states, that China is pursuing “a long-term comprehensive military modernization program.” 

The international ballistic missile Dongfeng-41 has a range of 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) and is capable of delivering up to 10 nuclear warheads. 

Palestinian Fighters in Gaza Strip Demonstrating Increased Battlefield Sophistication

Palestinian militants inflict substantial casualties on Israeli forces in Gaza

IHS Jane’s Terrorism & Insurgency Centre , August 1, 2014

Palestinian militants have killed at least 53 Israeli soldiers since the launch of Israel’s latest offensive targeting the Gaza Strip. Mohammed Najib reports from the West Bank on the tactical and operational advances made by militants that have led to this relatively substantial death toll.

A total of 10 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers were killed in heavy fighting in and around the Gaza Strip on 28 July. Five soldiers were killed when unidentified Palestinian militants used a tunnel to infiltrate into Israel from Gaza and attacked the IDF unit near the Nahal Oz settlement in Israel’s Southern district. Separately, four soldiers were killed when a mortar, launched from Gaza, landed in the Eshkolot area of Southern district, while another soldier was killed when his armoured bulldozer was struck by an anti-tank missile, fired by Palestinian militants, in the town of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

The 10 fatalities on 28 July brought the total number of IDF fatalities to 53 following the launch of a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip on 17 July as part of Operation Protective Edge, which began with a concerted series of air, naval, and artillery strikes from 8 July onwards and has since killed more than 1,100 Palestinians. In clashes across Gaza since the launch of the ground offensive, Palestinian militants - and Hamas in particular - have utilised relatively sophisticated tactics and weaponry to embroil the IDF in heavy close-quarters fighting and have inflicted substantial casualties.

A key element of Hamas’s performance in this regard appears to be its emulation of the tactics of Lebanese Islamist group Hizbullah. A senior official in Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, speaking to IHS Jane’s on condition of anonymity on 22 July, stated, “We have benefited from all the Iranian, Syrian, [and] Hizbullah tactical combat schools, and finally formulated [a] Qassam independent one that matches our situation and [leaves us] capable to respond to our enemy’s challenge.”

Indeed, the day before, on 21 July, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah telephoned the head of Hamas’s Political Bureau, Khaled Mashal, and the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, offering Hizbullah’s support and expressing his admiration of the two groups’ performance and tactics during the ongoing conflict.

Hamas’s tactics and high morale have also attracted recognition from Fatah and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) officials in Ramallah, in the West Bank, who fought the IDF in southern Lebanon in 1982. A major-general in the Palestinian Authority (PA) security apparatus told IHS Jane’s on condition of anonymity on 21 July, “The casualties that the [Izz al-Din al-] Qassam fighters caused since the eruption of this operation… are more than what we caused in all [the] PLO wars in southern Lebanon.”

Hezbollah Returns to Iraq

Echoes of Syria: Hezbollah reemerges in Iraq

Alexander Orleans

Institute for the Study of War , August 1, 2014

Visibility on Lebanese Hezbollah’s current response to the crisis in Iraq has markedly increased, with reliable sources describing that military advisors are being deployed from Lebanon to assist Iraqi Shi’a militia forces. Nicholas Blanford, for example, has reported that sources close to Hezbollah have revealed that a 250-member advisory unit is being deployed to Iraq. The unit’s primary mission is to advise, train, and coordinate Iraqi Shi’a militias operating under the guidance of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The sources furthermore indicated that the advisory unit is also already engaged in conducting intelligence and reconnaissance operations against ISIS forces. This advisory mission echoes Hezbollah’s early primary role in Syria as advisers and trainers of pro-regime forces.

Operating in Iraq is nothing new to Hezbollah. In approximately 2005, Iran requested that Hezbollah stand up a group to support the training and operations of the Mahdi Army and the Special Groups in Iraq. The resulting organization was Hezbollah’s Unit 3800 (earlier known as Unit 2800), designed to supplant ongoing advisory efforts to Iraqi Shi’a militias being undertaken by Department 9000 of the IRGC-Qods Force’s (IRGC-QF) Ramazan Corps. Unit 3800 drew on expertise from Hezbollah’s Unit 1800, which provides support to Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas, as well as Hezbollah’s own special operations community.

According to a 2010 Defense Intelligence Agency report, Department 9000 and Unit 3800 were providing “the training, tactics, and technology to conduct kidnappings, small unit tactical operations, and employ sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IEDs).” From 2003 to 2005, Hezbollah’s primary engagement was with the Mahdi Army; after the Special Groups emerged in 2006, they became the primary recipients of Unit 3800’s attention. In 2007, with rising tensions between local Iraqi Shi’a and Iranian trainers alongside marked Coalition pressure on IRGC activities in-country, Unit 3800 more and more became the Arab intermediary for Iranian support to Iraqi Shia militias. By 2008, it was reported that Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah was spending “several hours” a day on matters related to Iraq.

As described by Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, Unit 3800 conducted training missions in Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran - while also supporting actual militia operations. Unit 3800 trainer and Hezbollah liaison to IRGC Ali Musa Daqduq, who was in custody from 2007 to 2012 before being released by Iraqi authorities, was tied to the January 20, 2007 attack on the Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, which resulted in the abduction and murder of four American soldiers. That attack was carried out by Qais al-Khazali’s Iranian-sponsored Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) and later linked to Abdul Reza Shahlai, the Deputy Commander of IRGC-QF Special External Operations Unit. Evidence also exists that Hezbollah may have been conducting its own operations in Iraq as well. When conducting operations outside of Lebanon, Hezbollah has traditionally relied on its feared External Security Organization (ESO), which is responsible for both terror operations abroad and contributes to some intelligence and special operations. If Hezbollah was operating in Iraq beyond providing training, it is likely that ESO members were taking part.