10 September 2014

The dam way

By: Zubair A. Dar
Posted: September 10, 2014 

Apart from dredging the Jhelum, which would increase its carrying capacity, the state’s flood control policy has little to offer. (Source: Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi) Apart from dredging the Jhelum, which would increase its carrying capacity, the state’s flood control policy has little to offer. (Source: Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

The floods in J&K — the worst in the last 50 years — also inundated a large part of the Kashmir Valley, which was hitherto thought to be safe from them. Common people as well as water policy experts are in shock. No amount of short-term relief will bring back what each household has lost. A gaping hole in the state’s flood management has been exposed.

After the shortage of essential supplies and threat of disease have been dealt with, the focus should shift to revamping the state’s flood management policy and widening it to include strategies that other parts of the world have successfully employed. There is no doubt that 15 inches of precipitation in a week will always be dangerous. Yet, its destructive capacity can be tempered. Right now, the state’s irrigation and flood control department has limited options. The dredging of rivers carried out in the last decade has not helped the situation. In fact, it has made it worse in certain cases — for example, the Doodhganga and Rambiyaar tributaries of the Jhelum. As the floodwaters carried a high sediment load, the sheer force swept away the bridges and roads that embank these turbulent streams.

To prevent flooding, low-lying areas should be used to strategically divert water in order to avoid the inundation of cities and towns. But in Kashmir, such areas, especially the ones around Srinagar, have either been converted into residential neighbourhoods or used for infrastructure projects. But even if these areas were available, the volume of water that causes major floods would far surpass their capacity. Apart from dredging the Jhelum, which would increase its carrying capacity, the state’s flood control policy has little to offer.

The state has a specific objective to generate electricity from run-of-the-river projects and has no dams. The construction of large dams is not permitted under the Indus Waters Treaty. As Kashmir is yet to fully exploit its run-of-the-river power generation potential, this was not seen as a limitation. But the state is vulnerable during intense precipitation, the incidence of which is likely to increase if global climate change patterns replicate themselves in the Himalayan region and intensify extreme weather conditions.

What deters investment in India today?

Sunanda Sen Zico Dasgupta
September 10, 2014 

Stagnation in the Indian industry cannot be explained only in terms of risk-aversion unless one looks at the pattern of corporate investments in the financial sector

An explanation for the slow growth rate of manufacturing in India, as recently offered by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), runs in terms of the ‘poor risk-appetite’ of the country’s industrial sector. This not only overlooks the cost of credit, considered very high even by the Ministry of Finance, but also aspects concerning the portfolio balance of firms in the corporate sector.

Looking at the balance sheets of Indian corporates, as per RBI estimates, one notices a decline in the share of industrial securities as a proportion of investments in non-financial public limited companies. The share dropped from around 40 per cent in 2002-03 to around 15 per cent or even less by 2011-12 and the following years. As opposed to this, the share of financial securities rose from less than 60 per cent to 70 per cent.

The RBI’s figures tally with those available in the Prowess database — which covers nearly 28,000 companies in India — and relate to the changing composition of the stock of assets held by the corporate sector.

Asset base of Indian corporates

The tendency of Indian corporates to invest a greater proportion of their investment in the financial sector makes it vital to look at the composition of financial assets. The share of equities as part of the total financial assets has fallen from 72.5 per cent in 2001 to 63 per cent in 2013, with respective shares of mutual funds (at 18.9 per cent) debt instruments (6.5 per cent) and other categories like approved securities and preference shares providing for the rest. Evidently, the ongoing pace of financialisation has played a role in enticing Indian corporates to seek the high-return short term financial assets.

However, despite these moves, corporate assets have been subject to a sharp decline. Asset growth rate, according to Prowess data, has dropped from a 3.1 per cent rate in 2011 to zero per cent in 2012 and further down to (-)6 per cent in 2013.

A strong foundation for the roof of the world

Suhasini Haider
Published: September 9, 2014 

Given the possible changes in China’s policy towards Tibet, India must lose no time in adjusting to the new possibilities they bring

When asked about the Dalai Lama and prospects of talks with Tibetans living in India, Chinese officials normally follow a hard line by portraying the 14th spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists as being a “splittist,”and his supporters across the world as being secessionists, even “terrorists.” This is why the response of Wu Yingie, the second most important person in the Chinese communist party in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), came as a bolt from the blue. “Talks with the Dalai Lama are ongoing and smooth,” he told journalists from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries visiting Tibet last month. “What we are discussing, however, is not Tibet’s future, but his own.”

The remarks were significant for two reasons. One, because Chinese references to the Dalai Lama are now polite and even acknowledge his religious status. Second, for the admission that talks with his personal envoys, which are known to be under way, were discussing the question of his possible return to Tibet. The unwritten significance is the new confidence that the Chinese government feels with regard to Tibet — a development India must engage with.

Less security

That confidence is evident on the ground, especially when compared to the nervousness prevalent during the Olympic Games in 2008 when reports of self-immolations and protests were common. At that time, security forces manned Lhasa’s streets, with locals undergoing frequent document checks. Today, the security presence is minimal, even as “crowd control kiosks” — police outposts that were stocked with riot gear — now lie padlocked. The influx of (Han) Chinese migrants from other parts of the country has also changed things. While there is no way of confirming figures put out by a Human Rights Watch report in 2013 of “two million” migrants being resettled, it is quite obvious that they now own or run a sizeable number of shops, malls, and hotels in Lhasa and other cities. The other obvious change is in infrastructure. Over the past 20 years, Beijing has pumped in more than $14-billion into the region. In 2014, it announced a further investment of $21-billion for more airports, a lakh-plus kilometres of roads, and 1,300 kilometres of railway lines.

“Given the possible changes in China’s policy towards Tibet, India must lose no time in adjusting to the new possibilities they bring”

Neel Mukherjee’s book makes the cut for Man Booker Prize

Published: September 9, 2014 

Special ArrangementThe Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
Special ArrangementThe Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

Kolkata-born British author Neel Mukherjee’s latest novel The Lives of Others, set in troubled Bengal of the 1960s and centred around a dysfunctional family, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize 2014, in its debut as a global literary award.

Mr. Mukherjee, who studied at Oxford and Cambridge, was also the only Indian-origin author to be longlisted earlier this year, the first time the prestigious literary award opened up for anyone writing in English regardless of nationality.

“We are delighted to announce our international shortlist. As the Man Booker Prize expands its borders, these six exceptional books take the reader on journeys around the world, between the U.K., New York, Thailand, Italy, Calcutta and times past, present and future,” said A.C. Grayling, chair of the 2014 judging panel.

“We had a lengthy and intensive debate to whittle the list down to these six. It is a strong, thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and range of contemporary fiction in English,” he added.

Mr. Mukherjee, now a British citizen, reviews fiction for the Times and the Sunday Telegraph and his first novel, A Life Apart was a joint winner of the Vodafone-Crossword Award in India.

A break from the past

Previously, the prize was open only to authors from the U.K. and Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe. For the first time in its 46-year history, the £50,000-prize has been opened up to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the U.K.

Printable version | Sep 10, 2014 6:29:42 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/books/booker-shortlist-neel-mukherjees-the-lives-of-others-makes-the-cut/article6394350.ece

© The Hindu

A welcome record of failure

Shashank Joshi

AN AL-QAEDA WAVE UNLIKELY: In recent years, al-Qaeda’s mobilisation of Indians has been feeble. Picture shows a sand sculpture of Osama bin Laden on a beach in Puri, Odisha, created after his death in May 2011. — PHOTO: REUTERS 

Al-Qaeda’s move to create a South Asian wing should be viewed in the context of its patchy subcontinental record

Al-Qaeda’s announcement of the creation of a South Asian wing, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), has garnered headlines around the world and alarm in India. This is precisely what the group sought to achieve, its appeal having been eclipsed by the remarkable successes of the rival Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria in recent months. But while a wounded al-Qaeda is a dangerous beast, its latest move should be viewed as the evolution of a threat rather than a drastic shift, and with its thin subcontinental record in mind.

Throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, Kashmir would frequently crop up in the pronouncements of Osama bin Laden and his associates. But don’t forget that it would usually be buried in a laundry list of allegedly occupied Muslim lands, including those as obscure as Pattani in Thailand and the Ogaden in Somalia.Nor was there much concrete follow-up. Some have argued that al-Qaeda played a role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, pointing to the testimony given by detained jihadist Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari as well as alleged communication between Osama bin Laden and Hafiz Saeed. But there’s little reliable evidence. Al-Qaeda did claim responsibility for a 2010 bombing in Pune, but the bomb was placed by an Indian Mujahideen operative.

Nothing novel in the speech

What, then, is driving al-Qaeda to re-focus on South Asia beyond its host nation, Pakistan? It is true that the region has some theological resonance. In his founding announcement, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri explicitly invoked the concept of Ghazwa-e-Hind, an apocalyptic battle for India and a clutch of surrounding territory. But there’s nothing novel about this. Pakistan-based jihadists have been talking about it long before al-Qaeda showed up.Then there’s the fact that al-Qaeda views India as a ripe opportunity — both as a source of recruits and as a target in its own right. India has a large and marginalised Muslim population; a history of periodic communal violence; and a weak state along its periphery. Myanmar has experienced its own serious anti-Muslim pogroms in recent years. But this, too, is old news. India’s vulnerabilities were far greater twenty years ago, when the situation in Kashmir was at its lowest ebb, or even a decade ago, just after the Gujarat riots.

In recent years, al-Qaeda’s mobilisation of Indians has been feeble. Only last year, the group broadcast a message complaining of Indian Muslims’ apathy towards the civil war in Syria, according to Bibhu Prasad Routray, former deputy director of India’s National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). It included laments, harking back to the eighteenth century, such as: “the Muslims of southern India, it seems, have totally forgotten those words of the lion of Mysore” and “has the land of Bihar become so barren that it is unable to prepare even a single group of the like of the Mujahideen of Azimabad?”

Chinese takeaway: BJP’s Beijing

Written by C Raja Mohan
September 10, 2014 

Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi certainly gets much credit for putting ties with China back on track in 1988, after they were derailed nearly three decades earlier under the first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has much greater political space at home than his predecessor Manmohan Singh in making more confident moves towards China. If Singh was hobbled by the Congress party’s ambivalence towards China, the BJP has been far less inhibited. BJP leaders, hawkish in opposition towards China, tended to be pragmatic in their approach to Beijing when in power.

In democracies, rightwing parties that talk tough on national security don’t have to look over their shoulder in making bold foreign policy moves. They can also count on the support of left and liberal sections when they reach out to presumed national adversaries. If Modi generates new warmth in relations with China, many of his critics at home will find it hard not to clap.

Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi certainly gets much credit for putting ties with China back on track in 1988, after they were derailed nearly three decades earlier under the first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Conventional wisdom, however, glosses over the fact that it was the BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who served as India’s foreign minister in the Janata government led by Morarji Desai, who first extended the hand of friendship to China after Nehru. Vajpayee travelled to Beijing nearly a decade before Gandhi did. When he became prime minister, Vajpayee surprised Beijing by citing the threat from China as the principal justification for his decision to conduct five nuclear tests in May 1998, less than two months after he was sworn in. But Vajpayee moved quickly to repair relations with China.

Vajpayee took the initiative to resolve the dispute with China over Sikkim. During his visit to China in 2003, Vajpayee persuaded Chinese leaders to begin a new political effort to settle the boundary question. The fruits from this endeavour fell into the UPA government’s lap two years later in the summer of 2005, in the form of an agreement on the guiding principles for the resolution of the boundary dispute.


The Congress leadership did not have the political will to push forward on the China relationship. The Congress always talked about friendship with China in grandiose terms. But it did not have the stomach to take the hard decisions on key issues in India’s China policy: settling the boundary dispute, deepening economic cooperation and competing vigorously with Beijing for strategic influence in Asia. The Congress leadership seemed paralysed by the fear of offending China and drew red lines for itself on the engagement with other nations, especially the United States and Japan. Modi appears to be turning this failed policy on its head.

Next Move on Lanka Policy

The recent visit of a six-member Tamil National Alliance (TNA) delegation to New Delhi marks an important milestone in India’s Sri Lanka policy. The delegation had a free and frank exchange of views with the prime minister, the minister for external affairs and the national security adviser. In a conversation with this author, Sampanthan pointed out that the talks were highly rewarding and instructive. New Delhi reiterated its commitment that it stood solidly behind TNA in its objective to get substantial autonomy to Tamil areas within a united Sri Lanka. Narendra Modi urged all stakeholders to engage constructively in a spirit of partnership and mutual accommodation to find a political solution on the basis of the 13th Amendment. In a rare gesture of goodwill the delegation called on former prime minister Manmohan Singh and requested him to inform the present government as to how Mahinda Rajapaksa had gone back on the solemn commitments he had made to the Government of India.

The visit is significant for another reason. Colombo had played up certain statements made by Indian friends of Mahinda Rajapaksa that the BJP-led government has revised its Sri Lanka policy. Subramaniam Swamy is reported to have stated that the prime minister will not meet the TNA without prior approval of the Sri Lankan government. He had also remarked that there was no ethnic problem in Sri Lanka, but only a linguistic problem. He also stated that in India there were certain states which did not have police powers, which was music to Sinhalese ears. Avadash Kaushal, recently appointed Indian adviser to the presidential commission on disappearances and war crimes, expressed his disapproval of the TNA visit to New Delhi and asked, “How will we in India feel if Sri Lanka calls and talks to Indian separatists?”

The above statements do not reflect the reality of the situation. Since July 1983, India is actively involved in the ethnic imbroglio. It was due to New Delhi’s good offices that the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) was persuaded to come back to the negotiating table, though the party had decided in the Mannar convention not to have any more talks with the government. From their goal of an independent state of Tamil Eelam, TULF scaled down its demand to a union of states within a united Sri Lanka. However the hope that Annexure C, drafted in consultation with New Delhi, would form the basis of negotiations was soon shattered. The all -party conference ceased to be a conference of recognised political parties, with a number of them walking in and out as and when it suited the government.

Why Al Qaeda's new wing is likely to fail in India

Manoj Joshi
08 September 2014

No one is clear as to why Ayman al Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the chief of the Al Qaeda, has decided to create a new South Asian wing of his organisation. For years, the Al Qaeda has been effectively based in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Even in his most recent announcement, al Zawahiri has declared his Bait (oath of allegiance) to Mullah Omar, the chief of the Taliban. 

Out of necessity, Osama bin Laden and Al Zawahiri saw Afghanistan as the centre of the global Islamic Caliphate, Mullah Omar as its Caliph. Al Qaeda and its leaders saw their own role as keepers of its ideological faith. But they had no doubts about the fact that their goal was to conquer the Arab world. But with the US attack on Afghanistan in 2001, all three became hunted figures and maintaining contact with the outside world became difficult. Even so, they were able to maintain their hold in the Arab world by creating direct and indirect affiliates. In the 2000s they used the chaos in the Arab world to franchise their ideology first to Abu Musab al Zarqawi and then to the Al Nusra Front in Syria, the al Shaabab in Somalia, al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula ( a merger of the Saudi and Yemeni groups), the Islamic Jihad in Egypt, and the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (north Africa). 

The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (Syria) or the ISIS is threatening its self-image as the leading edge of the Islamist movement in the world. The declaration of the creation of a Caliphate by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and his projection of Iraq and Syria as the ultimate Muslim battlefield against all the enemies of faith—Shias, Jews Christians and so on-- has mirrored what the al Qaeda had once achieved in Afghanistan. But where Afghanistan may be the mythical Khorasan where the end of times battle will be fought, Syria and Iraq were the territory of the first Caliphate and Baghdad its capital. 

Equally important is the fact that getting to Syria is much easier for Arab and European fighters than it was to go to Afghanistan. And unlike Afghanistan, they do not face the kind of isolation and hardship that they have in Syria which is still wired into the global internet, something the militants use to good effect. 

According to reports, there are some 12,000 fighters from 81 nations in Syria/Iraq with 3,000 from the west, mainly UK. The bulk of the fighters are from neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon, as well as Tunisia. The numbers are only growing and are way beyond what the Al Qaeda was able to attract in its heyday. They are a mixed bag and their motives equally diverse. Some are in it because they believe that they are at last in an environment where Islamic laws prevail, others, especially the European Muslims are there to discover their own confused identities. 

That the ground has been shifting from beneath the Al Qaeda's feet was apparent when, earlier this year, nine al-Qaeda emirs from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran declared their allegiance to al Baghdadi in what was termed as the "Khorasan pledge," and al Zawahiri was attacked for deviating from the true faith. This brought the local al Qaeda affiliate the al Nusra front into direct confrontation with the ISIS. 

Anyone who has followed the Al Qaeda movement knows that they take their role as religious leaders and mentors very seriously. But it would appear that the ISIS' tactics of brutality, and more brutality, to push their version of Islam has outflanked the appeal of the al Qaeda among the more radical young Muslim youth across the world. 


September 8, 2014 · 

SPIEGEL ONLINE International

The fragile cease-fire in Ukraine appears to be holding, but President Vladimir Putin still has the upper hand. Increasingly, it looks like he intends to establish a Russian protectorate in eastern Ukraine.

In the morning, when he drives from his apartment across from the German Embassy to his office in the Kiev city hall, everything seems normal. Outdoor cafés are humming with activity and wind surfers make their way to the shores of the Dnieper River.


Kiev, these days, feels like a city enjoying an eternal summer, as long as one ignores the enormous poster hanging at Euromaidan square in the city center. “Pray for Ukraine,” it reads. One also has to look away from the old buses used by the Ukrainian army to ferry its soldiers and reserves to the front. They are part of the last contingent Kiev has to offer.

Vitali Klitschko has to turn on his car’s air conditioning. “It’s 30 degrees here today,” (86 degrees Fahrenheit) he says on the phone. “It’s hard to believe that winter will be arriving soon.”

The call took place last Friday, just as the NATO summit in Wales was drawing to a close. Once again, the West expressed its solidarity with Ukraine, but failed to agree on anything that would be of much help.

“The West has spent too much time thinking,” Klitschko says. “The border should have been much more decisively demarcated from the beginning. It is no longer a secret that the Russian army is fighting in Ukraine. And that’s not just a problem for Europe. The fact that Russia wants to redraw borders and expand its territory is a problem for the entire world.”

Map: “Novorossiya” and Eastern Ukraine Zoom


Map: “Novorossiya” and Eastern Ukraine

Klitschko is the mayor of Kiev and is now focused on evaluating crisis scenarios to get the Ukrainian capital through the winter in the event Russia cuts off the natural gas supply. Already, hot water has been shut off throughout the city. Hope — of the kind Vitali Klitschko embodied last winter when he became one of the symbols of the protests that led to the ousting of then-President Viktor Yanukovych — is also in short supply.

‘Back in the USSR’


September 9, 2014

The NATO summit in Wales was treated in Russia with a great deal of equanimity. The official reaction was quite predictable, with the Foreign Ministry putting out astatement that claimed that interfering in the affairs of foreign states was part of NATO’s “genetic code” and flowed directly from the organization’s desperate search for a role in the global security system after the end of the Cold War. The ministry went on to claim that NATO policy is dictated by hawks in Europe and the United States who have been “striving for military domination in Europe.” Moreover, the statement claimed, these hawks have shown themselves willing to prevent the emergence of a common Euro-Atlantic security system and sacrifice international efforts to counter real threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking, and WMD proliferation in order to achieve this end.

The Foreign Ministry argued that the build-up of NATO presence near Russia’s borders is part of a long-nurtured plan to strengthen the alliance’s forces in the east to counter Russia, with the Ukraine crisis serving as an excuse to begin its implementation. The statement continued, insisting that these plans, together with announced plans for joint exercises with Ukrainian forces, will escalate tensions in the region and forestall progress toward a peaceful settlement in Ukraine. The head of the State Duma’s International Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov,stated that the buildup of NATO rapid reaction forces in Poland and the Baltic States is a hostile act towards Russia.

Unofficial reactions, by contrast, were far more muted. The most prominent foreign policy commentators chose to focus their regular columns on the ceasefire in Ukraine, rather than on the summit. The few who did generally de-emphasized the summit’s impact on Russia and focused more on the extent of the alliance’s support for Ukraine. For example, Victor Miasnikov, a columnist for the Independent Military Review, said that the 15 million euros allocated by NATO for military assistance to Ukraine was just pennies and would not have an impact on Ukrainian capabilities. Similarly,Andrei Kortunov of the New Eurasia Foundation argued that this assistance was no more than a symbolic act to show sympathy for Ukraine and to serve as a signal to Russia. Ukraine had sought substantial military assistance, including lethal weapons, which NATO was not willing to provide (though some individual member states have indicated that bilateral military assistance may be forthcoming). Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of the Russia in Global Affairs journal, and other commentators argued that the chances of a successful ceasefire rose as a result of this decision, with Ukrainian President Poroshenko understanding that Ukraine would have to base its actions on its own (limited) resources, rather than persevering on the hope of receiving more assistance from the West.

Ukraine's Cease-Fire Is Putin's Victory

SEP 5, 2014 

Ukraine has signed a cease-fire deal with the Russian-backed rebels holding part of its territory. For Kiev, this is an admission of defeat: Having failed to secure meaningful Western help, President Petro Poroshenko, who had vowed never to negotiate with the "terrorists," is cutting his losses.

It is far from assured that the cease-fire will hold, given all the bad blood between the two sides and the officially unacknowledged presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. If both sides, as well as Russia, whose ambassador to Kiev Mikhail Zurabov attended the talks, are serious about an end to fighting, however, it's a big deal for civilians in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The UN says the conflict has already displaced more than 1 million Ukrainians. Even last night, people in Donetsk were hearing explosions as the Ukrainian forces shelled the separatist stronghold. The rebels and Russian soldiers, for their part, advanced on Mariupol, a port city that before the war was home to 400,000 people. Even as the cease-fire talks progressed, people on the beach there were watching plumes of smoke rising from the east, where exhausted Ukrainian troops and paramilitaries tried to push back the onslaught.

"The highest value is human life," Poroshenko said in a statement. "We must do everything possible and impossible to terminate bloodshed and put an end to people's suffering." That wasn't his approach when he attempted a military solution to the Russia-backed rebellion and almost won: the Ukrainian military ruthlessly shelled and bombed residential areas where the separatists took cover. Then Russia sent in crack troops and reversed the situation in a matter of days. In wars, little is black-and-white: If the cease-fire holds, the Russian interference may have spared civilian lives. History brooks no subjunctives, and it is impossible to say now how or when the conflict would have ended, had it been allowed to run its course.

Now, it's up to the sides to hammer out a compromise. Igor Plotnitsky, prime minister of the Lugansk People's Republic, said after the talks that the separatists would continue to seek independence from Ukraine. Poroshenko, for his part, tweeted: "Ukraine's territorial integrity and independence are not up for negotiations. They remain as they are."

The last sentence sounds ambiguous now that Russia has a firm hold on annexed Crimea and the rebels are ensconced in Donetsk and Lugansk, backed up by Russian military might. For Poroshenko, though, there is no ambiguity: He was elected with a mandate to keep the country together, and he promised to recapture Crimea, too.

The Ukrainian leader is now in an untenable position. On the one hand, he has nothing to show for his recent photo opportunities with U.S. President Barack Obama and European leaders at the NATO summit in Wales. "We cannot deal with Russia alone," Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said today as he waited for the cease-fire talks to end.

The State of Terrorism in Pakistan

September 08, 2014

Operation Zarb-e-Azb accelerated TTP fracturing, but must face radicalization from forces like the Islamic State. 

When the Pakistani military announced the launch of a comprehensive anti-terrorist operation in North Waziristan and other tribal agencies of the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) called “Zarb-e-Azb” (named after one of the swords belonging to the Prophet Muhammad) in June, many feared an escalation of violence throughout the country, with a significant increase in terrorist attacks, especially in urban centers, where organizations like the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and others have both active and dormant cells.

Now more than two and a half months later, not only did this scenario not materialize, there has even been a noticeable decrease in attacks and the number of victims. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, in the months of July and August terrorist attacks killed 245 civilians, while in the same period of 2013 the number was 464. Two years earlier, in 2011, it was 853. The data suggest that the military operation has been quite effective.

According to the last Inter Services Public Relations’ statement, since the beginning of the Zarb-e-Azb operation 910 terrorists have been killed and various locations previously considered strongholds of the TTP and other groups active in the area have been cleared. And in addition to the action taken in the FATA, the Pakistani security forces have neutralized many other cells across the country (particularly in Karachi and in the province of Baluchistan), killing 42 alleged terrorists and arresting 114 others.

However, the Zarb-i-Azb operation is not the only reason behind the decrease in terrorist attacks in the country, although it has contributed to some extent.

The Pakistani terrorist community is experiencing a period of considerable agitation, characterized by power struggles, splits and internal reorganizations.

Since its creation in 2007, the TTP has been the most active terrorist group in the country, claiming a long series of attacks, including the one carried out on June 8 at the International Airport of Karachi, which pushed the authorities in Islamabad to take military action in the FATA. In recent years, however, growing tensions within the group have emerged, resulting in the secession of two of its main components.

China’s dilemmas in Af-Pak region

By Col R Hariharan

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan to be scheduled along with his visit to India this month has been cancelled. It was strategically a very important visit for both China and Pakistan and a lot of preparation had gone into it.

Evidently the cancellation was related to the political paralysis in which the Nawaz Sharif government finds itself. This has been so for over three weeks after Imran Khan-Tahirul Qadri duo have laid siege to the parliament calling for resignation of the Nawaz government.

The crisis in Pakistan highlights the arc of instability in the Af-Pak region which could become a major game changer in the strategic scene in South Asia. This region poses a major dilemma for President Xi when he holds formal talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to build a win-win relationship between the two countries as both India and China have competing strategic interests in the region.

Even before the political crisis in Pakistan, the Af-Pak was heading for a period of instability due to the expected resurgence of Jihadi terrorism after the last of the American troops thin out by end 2014.

Pakistan had been using terrorists operating from its soil to strategically ‘bleed’ India. Like India, Afghanistan also has been ‘bled’ by fraternal Jihadi terrorists operating from sanctuaries in Pakistan. So, the political crisis in Pakistan would affect Af-Pak region much more than developments elsewhere.

Both the Asian giants would need greater convergence in their actions to successfully handle developments which affect them both. Both Prime Minister Modi and President Xi will be required to take some hard decisions on this count without compromising their national interests if the talks are to make meaningful progress.

However, Chinese leader’s dilemmas appear more complex than India’s as China has invested heavily in creating strategic assets in its Western border regions, Pakistan, as well as Central Asia. According to a September 2013 assessment “China has come to displace both the United States and Russia as the great power with the most influence in Central Asia.”[i][i]

At the moment Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan, looks more unstable. Democracy is on a precarious perch after the Nawaz Sharif government was compelled to seek the help of the army when thousands of followers of two opposition groups - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) – entered the secure area of the National Assembly and the Secretariat.

The army’s lukewarm response to the situation followed by the breach of security zone by agitators has raised serious doubts about its role in triggering the crisis. The two opposition parties demanding the resignation of the Nawaz Sharif government are suspected to be proxy of Pakistan army. Even in the early stages, Pakistani columnists considered it a sort of soft coup.[ii][ii] 

Political parleys have yielded no results, as leaders of both sides do not appear to be willing to give in. Prolonged paralysis of the government which enjoys a 209-seat majority in the 342-member parliament would help justify Army intervention. Though the Army has denied any such intention, the chances for it are increasing with the continuing political gridlock.

In this context, the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s timely reiteration of China’s support to Pakistan “realize national security, stability and economic development” on August 27, 2014 when a Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) delegation called upon him is interesting. On the occasion he also said China also “supports Pakistan's efforts to safeguard its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, while hoping it can ensure the safety of Chinese projects and people there.” [iii][iii]

These are probably not merely words of solidarity but an affirmation of China’s strategic interest in Pakistan’s political stability for other countries (particularly India) to take notice. 

Japan's Abe Visits Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

September 08, 2014

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Sri Lanka and Bangladesh with economics and security in mind. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe can’t seem to get enough of South Asia. After hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a five-day visit in Tokyo, he set out to visit India’s neighbors Bangladesh and Sri Lanka last week. Abe’s visit to these countries comes at a time when both countries have deepened their cooperation with China. With his visit, Abe emphasizes Tokyo’s interest in retaining influence in South Asia. Abe’s visits to Dhaka and Colombo are primarily meant to foster greater economic cooperation between them and Japan. Abe made no attempt to hide this: he brought “50 top Japanese corporate executives,” involved in industries ranging from transportation to finance to construction, along with him. Abe described Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as ”countries with a growing influence in economic and political domains.” He further added that he hoped “to introduce the dynamism of both countries to Japan’s economy by strengthening relations with them and engaging in top-level sales activities.” Overall, Abe emphasized the economic aspects of his visit.

Abe’s trip to Bangladesh followed on the heels of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Tokyo earlier this year in May. Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to visit Bangladesh in 14 years–Yoshiro Mori visited the country in 2000. Bangladesh has been trying to woo Japanese investment and made no secret of its intentions during Abe’s visit. As Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali noted point blank: ”This time what we want is investment.” He continued to describe Abe’s visit to Bangladesh as a “milestone” in relations between the two countries. During Hasina’s visit to Japan earlier this year, the Abe government announced $6 billion in aid for Bangladesh. Additionally, a 120 million yen ($1.1 million) deal between the two countries was announced earlier this summer to set up a coal-fired power plant in Bangladesh. Both China and South Korea have historically outpaced Japan in terms of their investment in Bangladesh.

Ahead of Abe’s trip, analysts pondered a possible point of dispute between Japan and Bangladesh as both countries would be vying for a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council for the 2015-2016 term. However, Hasina, following her meeting with Abe, announced that Bangladesh would withdraw its bid for a non-permanent seat, and support Japan’s candidacy instead. Abe and Hasina also agreed to set up a vice foreign ministerial meeting between their governments early next year to fast-track closer relations between their two countries. Finally, according to Japan Times, Hasina was receptive to the Abe government’s recent resolution reinterpreting Japan’s constitutional ban on collective self-defense, welcoming a more active Japanese role in Asian security affairs.

Relations between Sri Lanka and Japan have been steadily growing. Last year, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Japan and met with Abe and the emperor and empress of Japan. With his visit this year, Abe becomes the first Japanese prime minister to visit the country in 24 years. Economic relations between the two countries remain modest. Only 2.4 percent of Sri Lanka’s exports go to Japan. Sri Lanka is a member of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), a multilateral body comprising Bhutan, India, Nepal, Thailand, and Myanmar. BIMSTEC has been studying the possibility of establishing a free trade agreement with Japan to boost its trade with its member states. Burgeoning bilateral cooperation will likely result in greater trade between Japan and Sri Lanka. Apart from trade matters, Tokyo will finance a new passenger terminal at Colombo’s international airport by means of a $330 million development loan. Meanwhile, China has provided $500 million in funding for a port terminal in Colombo. Japan remains Sri Lanka’s single largest source of foreign development assistance.


September 6, 2014 


I am a fan of the analytic approach Mr. Luttwak uses here. History is important. Ancient history is important. It might seem silly or frivolous to examine ancient polities in order to understand modern politics, but the insights this lens of analysis makes possible are hard to get through other means. Many of these insights come from seeing the world through the long view. The political and social structures civilizations are built on emerge on a timescale far longer than the lifespan of any individual human being. Many of the constraints societies face-be they physical or cultural-can only be seen clearly by examining centuries of conflict, competition, and collapse.
What Luttwak is describing is the heqin, or the “peace marriage” system. The system was put in place during the reign of Han Gaozu, first emperor of the Han Dynasty, shortly after his disastrous defeat at Pingcheng (200 BC) The empire was at that time still quite new and the Han did not have the resources to wage large-scale war against the Xiongnu. Gaozu was left with the difficult task of finding a permanent resolution to threat the Xiongnu posed to his realm. The heqin system was the best his court could come up with.

The heqin system had four components:

•The Han Emperor and Xiongnu Chanyu would address each other as equals and brothers. The Xiongnu would acknowledge Han suzerainty of all people of the plow; the Han, for their part, would acknowledge Xiongnu over lordship of the ‘people of the bow.’

•The Han Emperor would provide an imperial princess to be a wife of every Chanyu (Note: In reality the ‘princess’ was always a concubine taken from the imperial palace. A multitude of legends and love stories about these concubines have made this a strong and enduring memory in Chinese popular culture for the last two millennia).

•The Chanyu-or one of his subordinates-would take regular trips to Chang’an (the Han capital) to pay his respect to the emperor. During these visits the emperor would bestow lavish gifts upon the Xiongnu retinue as a sign of their


•Trade between the Xiongnu and the Han commoners would be allowed at select border stations across the frontier. [4]
Luttwak’s descriptions of the heqin policy’s aim is basically correct. It was designed to corrupt the Xiongnu and slowly ‘Sinicize’ them. It was designed, through the power of Confucian family norms, to subordinate the Xiongnu ruler to Han Emperor.

What Luttwak neglects to mention is that the policy was a complete and utter failure.

What Edward Luttwak Doesn’t Know About Ancient China (Or a Short History of Han-Xiongnu Relations), pt. 1

http://scholars-stage. blogspot.com/2014/09/what- edward-luttwak-doesnt-know- about.html?m=1

A Mongolian stamp depicting Maodun, founder of the Xiongnu Empire.
Image source.


China’s increasing engagement in development cooperation is part of a broader international trend. The share of development cooperation provided by non-OECD countries has almost doubled from 5% in the 1990s to 10% by 2006 (Grimm/ He 2013). China’s economic rise, its increasing global financial weight and its expanding engagement in developing countries, makes it an increasingly important partner for other major actors in international development cooperation, including the European Union (EU). In this context, the EU-China strategic partnership, which was launched in 2003, should help facilitate dialogue and build trust between the two sides over the longer term.

However, Chinese-European engagement on international development is problematic owing to differing political ideologies and strategic approaches, as well as the challenge of coordinating a variety of Chinese and European actors, including the commercial enterprises that implement Chinese development projects. China does not accept the consensus of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on what development cooperation is or how it should be provided. It also rejects key tenets of the European approach, such as the idea of un-tied1 aid and the application of conditionalities related to domestic reforms in recipient countries. Moreover, unlike EU actors, the Chinese government sees development cooperation primarily as a tool of foreign economic diplomacy. Given these major differences, any substantial coordination and collaboration between the EU and China on development remains highly unlikely.

China’s development agenda

China’s approach to international development cooperation is based on the principle of non-interference and the conception of cooperation as based on ‘mutual benefit’ and driven by economic considerations. Chinese rhetoric remains strongly that of south-south cooperation. This south-south emphasis has its origins in the non-aligned movement, which China used to distinguish itself from the Socialist camp under the leadership of the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s. China’s current emphasis on a non-interference policy is closely linked to these principles of south-south cooperation, as well as reflecting China’s resistance to external criticism of its political system. Additionally, its stance on non-interference is a signal to Western powers that China no longer strives to export revolution.2 The Chinese government is adamant that China should not be seen as a donor and its policy papers usually start with the statement that China is a developing country itself.

Since its reengagement with the developing world at the turn of the twenty-first century, China’s policy approach has become pragmatic and driven more by economic interests than ideology. The need to secure its supply of raw materials, particularly energy resources,3 as well as the need to engage in new markets is China’s overriding preoccupation. China’s neighbours in South and South East Asia constitute important growing markets and potential regional allies for China, while Africa is strategically important owing to its abundant and underexploited mineral wealth.4

Chinese development cooperation in third countries

Chinese aid is usually a package of trade, infrastructure construction (facilitated by loans from Chinese banking institutions), and investment. Revenue from commodities produced by recipient countries is often used as a guarantee for credit. Through this model, developing nations receive substantial and immediate so-called “no-strings attached” loans for major infrastructure projects while banking on future revenue from commodities.

Modi’s Japan visit: Can India Ignore China?

Guest Column by Prof. B. R. Deepak

Prime Minister Narendera Modi concluded his 5 day long Japan visit and returned home on September 3, 2014. The visit has been regarded as a success as both the countries upgraded bilateral relations to ‘special strategic and global partnership’ as Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to strengthen economic and security ties.

Modi’s close ties with Abe were distinctly reflected in the rhetoric such as ‘Japan is the closest and most reliable partner of India’, and that ‘No country has done more for modernizing India's infrastructure than Japan.’ Modi’s words including those pronounced at a gathering of business leaders in Tokyo when he said that ‘the world is divided in two camps. One camp believes in expansionist policies while the other believes in development,” and that ‘We have to decide whether the world should get caught in the grip of expansionist policies or we should lead it on the path of development and create opportunities that take it to greater heights’ were certainly offered to please his host who in an unusual gesture traveled all the way to receive Modi in Kyoto at the weekend to host an informal dinner for Modi.

The 56 point long Tokyo Declaration issued on September 1, 2014 after the summit meeting is a blue print for future collaboration between India and Japan and incorporates areas such as infrastructure, investment, energy security, agriculture and food, regional connectivity, defense and maritime security, science and technology, and people to people exchanges. The biggest take away from the summit meeting could be Japanese pledge to invest 35 billion US dollars in India within a span of five years and 480 million dollars in infrastructure loans to India.

Though Japan has been providing yen loans to India since 1958, and has remained largest aid donor of India, however, the trade and economic relations between India and Japan have remained abysmal in the light of sheer market size of India and Japan’s capital accumulation as well as technological advancement. Just consider China’s trade volume with Japan irrespective of the fact that China established relations with Japan 27 years after India’s establishment of relation with Japan. Irrespective of Senkaku/Diaoyu spat, Japan’s trade volume with China is over 300 billion US dollars, almost 4 times bigger than its trade with India. Though Japanese investment in the wake of Senkaku/Diaoyu standoff has dwindled to the tune of 9 billion US dollars per annum, but the sheer size of trade and investment tells us that China-Japan trade relations remains extremely important to both the countries and no one is willing to pull the rug, for it would be disastrous for both the countries, and may be the region as well. 

On the defense and security front nothing substantive happened, the Indian side was expecting a breakthrough in the civil nuclear cooperation as well as the purchase of US-2 amphibious planes, albeit both sides have directed the concerned departments to move ahead with the negotiations on these areas. As India has raised the private equity in defense industry to 49%, there may be joint research and development of defense related technology in future; Japan lifting the ban it imposed on 6 defense enterprises in the wake of 1998 nuclear explosion is an indication that the cooperation in defense sector is likely to be strengthened.

Notwithstanding the signals of increased cooperation in the field of security, India must be watchful of fishing is the troubled waters when the spat between Japan and China is concerned. India must pursue its stated foreign policy of strategic autonomy; therefore, to gang up with a particular country/countries against another, or slip in to the arms of US are not the options for India. In Tokyo Modi referring to ‘expansionist policies’ of some countries was totally uncalled for, as it is utterly explicit as to whom one is referring to even if one do not name the country.

India needs both Japan and China. We need investment and technology from both the countries. China undoubtedly remains India’s largest trading partner, accounting for almost 9 percent of our total trade. However, it does not figure amongst top 10 as far as foreign direct investment is concerned; Japan figures at number 4.

Could Tibet be defended?

08 Sep , 2014

Harishwar Dayal, PO in Sikkim (here with Lowell Thomas)

I am posting here an interesting note from Harishwar Dayal, the Political Officer in Sikkim between 1948 and 1952.

The note dates from the early months of 1950.

Dayal answers some points made by K.M. Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador to China.

Tibet: Secret

I have had the advantage of seeing Sardar Panikkar’s note on our attitude to Tibet.

The main points in the note are these.

If China decides to make her sovereignty effective we cannot interfere as long as our treaty interests, trade rights and boundary are respected. Any intervention on our part would be regarded as aggression. 

China will invade Tibet. Invasion is not difficult. Tibet has no chance of successful resistance and will be overrun. 

We have no legal right to intervene. We have never regarded Tibet as independent. The contention that Chinese suzerainty should be dependent on Chinese recognition of Tibetan autonomy was never accepted by China. If China decides to make her sovereignty effective we cannot interfere as long as our treaty interests, trade rights and boundary are respected. Any intervention on our part would be regarded as aggression. 

Political intervention would also be futile. To incite the Tibetans to resist would serve no useful purpose. 

The Peking Government has not repudiated pre-1946 treaties. When China overruns Tibet, our political interests will go, but our trading rights may be preserved as China will not be able to develop trade with outlying provinces for some time. 

The wisest course for us to take is to be vigilant, to give such help to Tibet as we can now, to be strictly neutral when the war comes and to resume diplomatic relations with China as soon as possible so that we may be able to guard our interests as far as we can. 

I think most of these arguments and conclusions are incontrovertible. But I should like to draw attention to certain matters which perhaps are not made very clear in Sardar Panikkar’s note.

The Legal Position

Apart from the trade regulations of 1908, framed under the treaty of 1904, there is – as far as I know – no agreement signed by China, India and Tibet together. All other treaties and conventions have been either between India and China (the Chegoo Ceonvention of 1876, the convention of 1890, the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 1906) or between India and Tibet (the Treaty of 1904, the Simla Convention of 1914). At Simla in 1914 the Chinese representative initialed the agreement, but the Chinese Government repudiated it. On the other hand, Tibet has repudiated our agreements with China (Convention of 1890, Trade Regulations of 1893, the Convention of 1906).

China, from her own point of view, might refuse to be bound by any of these treaties.

The Chinese have always claimed at least suzerainty with no qualifications or conditions, the Tibetans have always claimed independence but have been prepared at times. To recognize Chinese suzerainty if China would recognize Tibetan autonomy and agree on a boundary (e.g. in 1914 and again in 1934) and India has generally recognized Chinese suzerainty but in 1943 declared that this was meant to be conditioned on Chinese recognition of Tibetan autonomy.

Update on Developments In China’s Strategic Nuclear Missile Force

Strategic Weapons: China Produces A Guam Killer

September 8, 2014

China recently revealed (apparently by accident) the existence of the DF-26 IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile.) This one appears to have a range of 3,500 kilometers and based on the earlier DF-21. There have been reports of such a missile since 2007 and the DF-26C appears to have been in service for several years. The DF-26C is notable because it has the range to hit American military bases in the Central Pacific island of Guam. 

China tends to keep a lot of military data secret, even after foreigners have discovered the new items via satellite photos or curious Chinese taking cell phone photos and posting them. That was how the existence of the DF-41 missile became known in the last few years. In 2012 China tested the DF-41 ICBM equipped with a final stage containing multiple warheads. The U.S. announced the test and had apparently monitored it with satellites and other air, land, and sea based sensors. It was not revealed how many warheads were involved, although it was earlier mentioned that China could put 3-10 warheads in the DF-41 final stage. The DF-41 has not been displayed publicly but thanks to cell phone there are photos of the DF-41 available. The DF-41 appears to have had a lot of development problems because few have been built and fewer (less than a dozen) put into service. The DF-41 is the only Chinese ICBM that can reach all of the United States.

China is believed to have over 400 nuclear warheads, most of them installed on ballistic missiles. Only a few dozen of these missiles can reach the United States. These include the older (and about to be retired) DF-5, plus the newer DF-31A and DF-41. About two thirds of Chinese nuclear warheads are believed to be in missile warheads, most of them DF-21s and these will be replaced by DF-26Cs. Normally the nuclear warheads are stored separately and mated to the missiles only for actual use or the occasional training exercise. In 2009 China announced that its nuclear armed ballistic missiles were not aimed at anyone. Like most countries, China has long refused to say who its nuclear armed missiles are aimed at. Most of those missiles only have enough range to hit Russia or India, or other nearby nations. For a long time most were very definitely aimed at Russia, which had rocky relations with China from the 1960s to the 1990s. But after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the new and much smaller Russia became friendlier with the wealthier (more capitalist but still run by communists) China. Relations between China and India also warmed up, then went into a deep freeze during the past decade.

For the last two decades China has had about two dozen DF-5 ICBMs nominally in service because they can reach the United States. Few of these are believed to be operational because of reliability and maintenance problems. The U.S. has since installed 18 ICBM interceptor missile systems in Alaska. These are to deal with North Korean missiles but could also destroy most Chinese missiles headed for the western United States. Thus it makes sense for China to simply say that it is not aiming any of its missiles at anyone. Modern guidance systems can be quickly (in less than an hour) programmed for a new target, so it doesn’t really matter that, normally, the missiles have no target information in them. The DF-5s, moreover, are liquid fueled and the considerable activity required to ready them for launch can be detected by spy satellites.

Ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine


SEP 8, 2014

On Friday September 5, a ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatist rebels in the east of the country (mainly Donestk and Luhansk oblasts) went into effect, following the meeting in Minsk of a “contact group” representing Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Russia. 

Q1: Why did the two sides agree to a ceasefire? Why now?

A1: In the weeks leading up to the Minsk agreement, Ukrainian forces’ gains against the rebels in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk (a region collectively referred to as the Donbas) were rapidly reversed after Russian troops began intervening directly in the conflict. Russian military forces advanced in the direction of Mariupol, a major port on the Sea of Azov in southeastern Ukraine, opening up a new front even as additional Russian assistance allowed the rebels to push the Ukrainian army back from Donetsk and Luhansk, which had been on the verge of succumbing just weeks before. Meanwhile, the lead-up to the NATO summit, which convened in Wales September 4-5 made clear that, despite President Poroshenko’s request for assistance and a path to membership, the Alliance was not prepared to provide Kyiv with significant military aid that would allow it to change the balance of forces on the ground (the summit agreed to provide $20 million of non-lethal aid as well as a commitment to expand training of Ukrainian forces, but neither NATO nor its individual members have offered Kyiv weaponry).

Ukraine’s economy is also deteriorating rapidly. The IMF estimates that Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 6.5% this year, and warned that Ukraine requires an additional $19 billion just to cover a shortfall in the central bank’s reserve (in addition to the $17 billion already provided by the IMF this past spring). Allowing the conflict to stretch on into the winter threatens Ukraine with a gas crisis as well, since Russia has halted shipment of gas though Ukrainian pipelines since the start of the conflict. The situation on the ground in Donetsk and Luhansk is also becoming increasingly dire. Over 3,000 people have been killed and at least another 5,956 wounded since mid-April 2014, and more than 200,000 others have fled to Russia.. Kyiv cannot afford to see the Donbas completely devastated if it harbors any hopes of maintaining control of the region over the longer term.

For the rebels, the ceasefire creates an opportunity to pursue their political aims from a position of relative strength. These aims include greater autonomy from Kyiv and closer ties to Russia, though some rebel factions continue to advocate for outright independence. The ceasefire also allows Moscow to insert itself as a direct participant in the process of determining the future status of Donetsk and Luhansk—as well as of Ukraine itself. Moscow’s push for a ceasefire last week was also likely motivated by a desire to affect NATO summit discussions of assistance to Kyiv as well as limit the impact of additional sanctions imposed by the United States and the EU. A new round of EU sanctions, targeting the Russian oil and gas sectors in particular, is slated to come into effect on Tuesday September 9, but EU officials havestated that these sanctions could be suspended or extended depending on developments on the ground in Ukraine.

Q2: What are the terms of the ceasefire?

A2: The ceasefire agreement, which was signed in Minsk by former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, the Russian Ambassador to Ukraine, and the OSCE Permanent Representative, contains twelve points. Rebels from the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” participated in the Minsk talks but did not sign the final peace plan.

The twelve points of the ceasefire agreement include:
An immediate cessation of hostilities by both sides;
Deployment of an OSCE monitoring and verification mission to ensure compliance;
Kyiv’s agreement to decentralize power to “certain regions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts” under a law on special status for these regions;
A permanent OSCE monitoring team along the Russo-Ukrainian border and creation of a “security zone” on both sides of the border;
Unconditional release of all prisoners and detainees;
Kyiv’s agreement to pass a law granting amnesty to those who took up arms against the government in Donetsk and Luhansk;
Agreement to conduct an inclusive national dialogue in Ukraine;
Agreement to take steps to improve the humanitarian situation in the areas where fighting has taken place;
Immediate elections in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts under the law on special status;
Removal of “illegal armed formations, military equipment, as well as fighters and recruits” from Ukrainian territory;
A program for the economic rehabilitation of the Donbas;
Guarantees for the personal security of those engaged in peace talks.