17 September 2014

Towards an Asian century of prosperity

Xi Jinping 
September 17, 2014 

Progress has been made in the negotiations on the boundary question, and the two sides have worked together to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area. Picture shows the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh. Photo: AP 

Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China 
The combination of the world’s factory and the world’s back office will produce the most competitive production base, writes Xi Jinping, President of China 

My first visit to this ancient and magic land was 17 years ago, a time when the Indian economy was undergoing reform and beginning to show new vitality in growth. The market was booming in Mumbai, the economic centre. Bangalore was becoming increasingly famous as India’s Silicon Valley. And Bollywood movies and yoga were popular throughout the world. Its people were full of expectations and the ancient civilisation was rejuvenated. 

Now 17 years later, I am about to once again visit India, an enchanting and beautiful land that has captured world attention. India is an emerging economy and a big developing country. It is Asia’s third largest economy and the world’s second largest exporter of software and agriculture products. A member of the United Nations, the G20, the BRICS and other organisations, India is playing an increasingly important role in the regional and international arena. The “Story of India” has spread far and wide. With the new government coming into office, a new wave of reform and development has been sweeping across India, greatly boosting the confidence of the Indian people and attracting keen international interest in its opportunities. 

Progress in relations 

Relations between China and India have made significant progress in the new century. The strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity has been established. China has become India’s largest trading partner, with their bilateral trade volume increasing from less than US$3 billion early this century to nearly US$70 billion. Mutual visits reached 8,20,000 last year. We have had close coordination and cooperation on climate change, food security, energy security and other global issues and upheld the common interests of our two countries as well as the developing world as a whole. Progress has been made in the negotiations on the boundary question, and the two sides have worked together to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area. China-India relations have become one of the most dynamic and promising bilateral relations in the 21st century. 

Our bilateral relations have reached where they are today as a result of the following efforts: we have deepened mutual trust by strengthening strategic dialogue and enhancing political confidence; we have brought more benefits to each other by expanding the areas of cooperation and making the pie of common interests bigger; we have forged closer friendship by encouraging more people-to-people exchanges and cementing popular support for our bilateral relations; and we have treated each other with sincerity by respecting and accommodating each other’s concerns and properly managing problems and differences. 

Crucial stage of reform 

Obama’s Syrian dilemma

Vijay Prashad 
September 17, 2014 

Syria provides no easy answers. This time, IS knows that the U.S. will not send massive troop deployments into Syrian territory and has signalled that it does not care about international norms and western reaction. It recognises that the West has its hands tied 

Drawn into a confrontation with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State (IS) by the execution of western journalists and aid workers, United States President Barack Obama asks his bombers to start their engines. Domestic political entanglements make anything more than aerial strikes hard to promote: the U.S. public is exhausted by the long War on Terror. Mr. Obama, unlike Mr. George W. Bush, is too suave for braggadocio. He tried to downgrade the “War on Terror” to “Overseas Contingency Operations,” but this did not have the necessary ring for public opinion. Like Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama has sought a Coalition of the Willing, but unlike Mr. Bush he will not involve U.S. ground troops. There will be “boots on the ground,” but the feet in them will be local. 

The Iraq campaign is clearer than the Syrian one. Thus far U.S. close air support has assisted the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga and the Iraqi military. Political problems in Iraq have been swept under the carpet with the removal of Mr. Nouri al-Maliki and the installation of his Dawa Party comrade, Haider al-Abadi. This is more theatre than actual change, but it provides Mr. Obama with the opportunity to speak of new beginnings. 

Little advance 

Syria provides no easy answers. In Syria, IS faces three adversaries: Kurdish fighters, the Syrian government and an assortment of the Syrian opposition. Of these three, the U.S. will not overtly cooperate with the first two. Mr. Obama’s commitment to the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad means that he has rejected the calls from Damascus for a coordinated strategy against the Islamic State. Mr. Assad has mainly ignored the IS, allowing it to fester in the northern reaches as he had recalled his armies to defend Damascus and the western coastline. With the Syrian Army tied down with the defence of Syria’s heartland, the IS has been able to concentrate its firepower against the other rebels. 

The most capable force to tackle the IS has been the Kurdish fighters of the YPG (Syria) and the PKK (Turkey), the latter considered by the U.S. and Turkey as a terrorist organisation. Turkey is loathe to join the U.S. mission in Syria not because the Islamic State holds Turkish hostages but for two other reasons. First, the anti-IS campaign would strengthen the prestige of the PKK and the YPG. Inside Turkey, the government of Recip Tayyip Erdog˘an has conducted negotiations with the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan; but this “Imrali Process” has not provided sufficient confidence to allow the PKK a free run in Syria. Second, Turkey’s government remains committed to the overthrow of Mr. Assad. Mr. Erdog˘an’s pan-Islamism is in line with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, who also rejected the Obama plan unless “the first bullet is directed at Assad’s head.” Turkey is loathed to close its border.Jihadis continue to stream across the border, while injured IS fighters rush to hospitals in Urfa (Turkey) for free medical care. 

Head Strong How Psychology is Revolutionizing War

by Michael D. Matthews, Ph.D.

Psychology and a Less Lethal Military Strategy
A new approach to war and peace.
Published on August 31, 2014 by Michael D. Matthews, Ph.D. in Head Strong

In the two World Wars of the 20th century raw kinetic military firepower was essential to victory. In World War I, rapid advances in chemistry led to more powerful traditional weapons, including explosives and nerve gas. Physics, of course, played a key role in World War II. It produced the atomic bomb – the use of which hastened the end of the war. Arguably, the innovation of useful radar systems – also a product of physics – proved to be a decisive factor in the Allied victory over the Axis powers. In any case, victory was obtained through the mass use of kinetic energy, from rifle fire to the atomic bomb. The enemy nations surrendered when their military, industrial base, and in many cases their cities, lay in ruin.

Psychology played a key role in these wars, of course. It was psychologists who developed the aptitude tests that the military so desperately needed during World War I to assign new soldiers to ever more complicated military jobs. In World War II, psychologists refined these selection tests, clinical psychologists enhanced the understanding of how to treat psychological battle injuries, and applied experimental psychologists laid the groundwork for a new sub discipline of psychology, human factors engineering, as they helped design high performance military aircraft that accounted for strengths and limitations of human

The historian Alan Beyerchen argues that all major wars since 1900 have been greatly influenced by different sciences, which he calls amplifiers.[i]Chemistry was the amplifier for World War I and for World War II it was physics. In the cold war, information technology gave the edge to Western nations. For the Global War on Terror (GWOT), Beyerchen argues that the social sciences are the amplifier.

So while psychology has always been important to warfare, it is only recently that it has risen to the level of being the difference maker in who wins and who loses. The most fundamental reason that kinetic energy alone cannot win the wars we currently find ourselves in is there is no enemy state or nation, per se, against which to unleash megatons of kinetic power. Suppose that the 9/11 attacks had clearly been perpetrated by a specific nation. Once a nation launches an attack of that sort, there is little likelihood of peace through diplomatic channels. The United States, with its vast and unmatched military power, would have quickly destroyed the military and industrial base of the offending nation. Its military defeated, the threat to the United States would be ended. With a clearly defined enemy and threat, there is also a clearly defined end state.

But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are fundamentally different. In Iraq, the United States quickly defeated the Iraqi military and overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime. In Afghanistan, the objective initially was to find and kill Osama bin Laden, and later expanded to stop insurgent fighters including Al Qaeda. After the fall of Hussein’s government, and throughout the war in Afghanistan, coalition forces have been mired down in a fight against a completely different sort of foe – ideologically based and inspired insurgents – not a formal, state-based military force.

US to fight its noblest war against Ebola

Sep 17, 2014

Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after a briefing on the response to the deadly Ebola virus epidemic in west Africa in Atlanta.

WASHINGTON: Pilloried for fighting needless, provocative wars across the world, the United States is embarking on one of its noblest interventions - fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. President Barack Obama is sending 3,000 American military personnel and committing $500 million from country's war chest to combat the spread of the deadly virus that a German virologist has alarmingly declared is already out of control and will kill 5 million people. 

The US President is expected to roll out details of the plan in an address at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta later today but initial information coming from the administration is that U.S troops will use Liberia, one of the countries most affected, as a beachhead to help in the construction of 17 Ebola treatment centers with 1700 beds. The military will be providing engineers to help build the additional treatment facilities and will also send people to train up to 500 health care workers a week to deal with the crisis. 

The US government will also provide 400,000 Ebola home health and treatment kits to Liberia and neighboring countries to help test whether people have the disease. Public health campaigns will be broadcast through existing networks in the countries most affected by the virus -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- from where people are still trying to flee even as the world has imposed a cordon sanitaire around the region. 

"We've seen dozens of cases turn into hundreds, then hundreds turn into thousands," one US official who briefed journalists ahead of Obama's address in Atlanta said. "If we do not arrest that growth, and don't arrest that growth now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of cases." 

Already, a West German virologist has said it is too late to contain the virus in the affected countries and the next strategy should be to prevent it from escaping the region. "The right time to get this epidemic under control in these countries has been missed," Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told Radio Deutsche Welle. "That time was May and June. Now it is too late." 

The virologist said hope is all but lost for the inhabitants of Sierra Leone and Liberia and that the virus will only "burn itself out" when it has infected the entire population and killed five million people in the region alone. 

The World Health Organisation and the US have refused to take such a grim, alarmist view. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said there was still a "very low" likelihood the Ebola virus could mutate in a way that poses a threat to the United States, but warned, "that risk would only increase if there were not a robust response on the part of the United States." 

Officials estimate that the effort could cost up to $750 million over the next six months, and since the Pentagon will lead the fight, at least $500 million of it will come from the country's depleted war chest that funded operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

GROWTH AND CHAOS - Roadblocks in development


The Modi government won the general election on the promise of development. Its focus in office seems to be on it. What is not in focus is also important. That is the rising wave ofHindutva and anti-Muslim propaganda. If the government is not careful this could swamp the development agenda. To repeat the development mantra: development must result in improvement in living standards, better health services that are accessible and affordable to all, more educational institutions and greater focus on their quality, improving livelihoods through a massive programme of skills development, and constantly expanding the numbers in employment. India is a country with very many poor who lack basic comforts, sometimes not even enough food, and poor services for health, education, skills development and nutrition. Clearly, any rational expectation must be that economic growth and development will result in more consumption of goods, and also of services like health, education, and so on. This must reflect in an increasing volume of the production of consumption goods (from agriculture and manufacturing). There must also be a greater availability of services.

Thus, services in the Gross Domestic Product have two aspects: those that are directly consumed and those that enable consumption. Health services, education, skills training, rail transport and other public transportation, hotel and restaurant services, retail stores are services that are directly consumed. But there is also the other aspect, that they have to be constructed. For that there has to be investment in buildings, classrooms, roads, railways, hospitals, shops and so on. This construction provides employment. A different quality of employee is required to deliver these services to the consumer.

Surprisingly for a poor country, the primary and secondary elements in the net domestic produce (at 2004-05 prices), namely agriculture and allied products, mining and quarrying, manufacturing in both registered and unregistered enterprises have varied between 40 and 50 per cent. Transport, communications, hotels, trade, finance, insurance, real estate, public administration and defence make up the rest, and are higher than the primary products. One would have expected that, as a country develops and consumption expands to more of the population, primary products would account for a growing proportion. In this, manufacturing is low.

US general is open to ground forces in fight against ISIS

Mark Landler & Jeremy W Peters
Sep 17, 2014

US defense secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Army Gen Martin Dempsey.

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama's top military adviser said on Tuesday that he would recommend deploying United States forces in ground operations against Islamic extremists in Iraq if airstrikes prove insufficient, opening the door to a riskier, more expansive American combat role than the president has publicly outlined. 

Gen Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that while he was confident that an American-led coalition would defeat the Islamic State, he would not foreclose the possibility of asking Obama to send American troops to fight the militants on the ground — something Obama has ruled out. 

"My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true," General Dempsey said. "But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I, of course, would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of US military ground forces." 

General Dempsey acknowledged that this would run counter to the president's policy, but he said, "He has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis." 

The general's statement lays bare the challenge the president will face in selling an expanded military campaign to a war-weary American public. Obama, seeking to allay fears of another Iraq war, has promised that American ground troops will not be involved in fighting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. In a sign of the administration's mixed message, the president pointedly did not call it a war, while his advisers later did. 

China's Tibetan Tussle



Published: 17th September 2014 

China has raised the profile of the Tibet issue in the weeks leading up to Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit (September 17-19) to India. There have been at least two direct propaganda initiatives and another is planned for September 19, when the Chinese ministry of defence will take dozens of Beijing-based defence attaches to witness the progress Tibet has made since the Chinese takeover. Incidentally, Chinese defence attaches based in India do not travel to Jammu and Kashmir on tours organised by India’s defence ministry as China considers the state “disputed”. Reliable reports earlier emanating from Beijing indicated China’s leadership was deliberating whether to insist that, in the joint statement to be issued after Xi Jinping’s visit, India should reiterate that Tibet is a part of China, a statement India has withheld making for the past four years.

The first propaganda initiative to get international endorsement of Tibet’s progress under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule was when China organised its first ever international “2014 Forum on the Development of Tibet’” in Lhasa on August 12-13. Over 100 invitees including 40 foreign delegates attended. N Ram —chairman of Kasturi and Sons Limited and publisher of The Hindu and an invitee—was quoted as saying that “thanks to China, Tibet’s interaction and integration with the rest of China has deepened and its isolation from the rest of the world has decisively been ended”. The delegates were later taken on “field trips” in Lhasa and to Nyingchi prefecture, which includes Arunachal Pradesh within its administrative jurisdiction.

Article 7 of the “Lhasa Consensus” issued by the conference, explicitly attacked the Dalai Lama and international media coverage of Tibet, generating some controversy. It stated that: “Participants unanimously agree that what they have actually seen in Tibet differs radically from what the 14th Dalai [Lama] and the Dalai clique have said. The Dalai clique’s statements on Tibet are distorted and incorrect... Many Western media reports are biased and have led to much misunderstanding.” Sir Bob Parker, former mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand, while still in Tibet clarified: “I’m aware that the statement was made but I certainly haven’t signed up to it. I think a number of people who were there were a little surprised to hear about that statement.”

Chinese takeaway

 A banner in Mandarin area of Ahmedabad welcomes the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Written by C Raja Mohan | Posted: September 17, 2014 

In receiving Chinese President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad on Wednesday and hosting a private dinner for him on the banks of the Sabarmati river , Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a chance to break the mould of Indian diplomacy towards China. For too long, India’s summit-level engagement with China has been too formal, with little space for relaxed conversation. With Modi at the helm in New Delhi for five years and Xi slated to rule China for nine, it makes sense to add a touch of political informality and personal intimacy to the interaction between the two leaderships.

China’s political investment in Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat, at a time when America and Europe were unwilling to touch him with a bargepole, has generated rare personal goodwill for Beijing with an Indian leader. The ease of doing business in Gujarat during Modi’s tenure saw many Chinese companies set up shop in the state. Since his election as prime minister, the Chinese media has written glowingly about the “Gujarat model” of economic development and the likelihood of its extension to the rest of the country.

China is also conscious of the fact that Modi is the first Indian leader since Rajiv Gandhi to have a majority in the Lok Sabha and the popularity at home to address difficult issues in bilateral relations and seize the possibilities for changing the nature of the bilateral ties.
Beijing recognises that Delhi’s political will has been burnished under Modi and is willing to overlook, at least for the moment, the PM’s statements on “Chinese expansionism” and his outreach to Japan and the United States. In agreeing to spend time with Modi on his birthday in Gujarat, Xi is signalling that he is ready to build a long-term personal relationship with the Indian PM.

Beyond sweet talk and tempting deals


For Xi, the stakes in a successful visit to Delhi are high.
Posted: September 17, 2014 
By: Minxin Pei

As New Delhi gets ready to roll out the red carpet for Chinese President Xi Jinping, the question on the minds of most observers is, what exactly does he seek to accomplish during his state visit to India?

Few doubt the importance of Xi’s visit. Both countries have recently changed top leadership. Establishing a good working relationship at the top is a necessary step towards managing the complex and friction-prone Sino-Indian ties. For Xi, the stakes in a successful visit to Delhi are high. Since assuming his position as the Communist Party of China’s general secretary in November 2012, Xi has opted for a risky foreign policy strategy that has resulted in a simultaneous deterioration in Sino-Japanese and Sino-American relations — a troubling development for a country that has prided itself on a pragmatic and low-profile foreign policy for the last three decades.

While Xi may be eager to show Washington and Tokyo his toughness, he nevertheless seems aware that he would be courting assured strategic encirclement if he antagonises China’s powerful neighbour to the west — India. A sensible policy towards Delhi, therefore, should be one that seeks to reduce India’s fears of growing Chinese power and assertive foreign policy behaviour. This objective, modest as it may seem on the surface, is not easy to achieve. Mutual strategic suspicions run deep. Longstanding contentious issues, in particular unresolved border disputes and Chinese support for Pakistan, greatly limit the extent to which bilateral relations can be improved.
Therefore, from the Chinese perspective, Xi’s visit has high stakes but modest, albeit realistic, objectives. The India-China summit will be seen as a success if both sides reach a fundamental understanding that a strategic conflict between the world’s two largest developing nations is both unnecessary and calamitous.

Yet, reassuring rhetoric may not be enough to allow Xi to earn Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trust. Xi needs to back up his words of reassurance with concrete action. There are three ways Xi can charm and convince Modi, who has carefully avoided upsetting Beijing, that India can gain far more from working with China than working against it.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014 |

As in 1962 and other military crises, none will come to India's help. India should quickly close the strategic and military gaps with China. That will strengthen the tool-kit for bargaining and influence

The most powerful President of China since Mao, Mr Xi Jinping starts his visit to India on September 17, armed with charm, guile and $100 billion. My mother used to say, “With Pakistan you act tough but when it comes to China you become docile”. After all, the Chinese inflicted a humiliating Himalayan defeat in 1962. China’s tumultuous economic and military rise has left India way behind, nursing an inferiority complex. That imposes costs and diminishes leverage and bargaining power to settle border disputes. But now, worried that India may align itself with the US, China has offered a strategic and cooperative partnership agreement.

In Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Earnest is seeking the hand of his beloved, Gwendolyn. While probing his status, Lady Bracknell enquires about his family. She is informed that he has lost both his parents. “To lose one parent”, she tells Earnest “is unfortunate.” “But to lose both is carelessness”. New Delhi has been both unfortunate and careless in carrying the baggage of two unsettled borders with all-weather allies, China and Pakistan. The indirect cost of unsettled borders is nearly five percent of the GDP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has wisely identified growth and strength to boost influence and bargaining power.

From offering a swap deal in the 1960s, China raised the stakes from concessions in the East for concessions in the West, to demanding concessions in both sectors. It spurned the clarification of Line of Actual Control and exchange of maps, and has now stalled the 2005 agreement on political parameters and guiding principles for settling the border dispute. According to a mandarin in South Block, during the Special Representatives talks, the addition of the word “due” — on the insistence of the Chinese — to the parameter on settled populations, created ambiguities to the detriment of Indian interests. .

Richer, yet not safer

The Statesman

17 Sep 2014

Increased road fatalities in India have garnered a lot of attention in recent times, especially after the tragic death of a senior politician in a car crash at the heart of the Indian capital within days of being sworn in as a Union Minister. The high number of road fatalities in countries like India and China is justifiably of concern. However, a higher absolute number of fatalities in China and India is not unexpected, given their large populations, which place many more people at risk of accidents. According to data published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) account for a much larger share of worldwide road fatalities than the more developed and industrialized Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries ~ 48 per cent versus 9 per cent, with BRICS also accounting for a much larger share of the global population ~ 44 versus 18 per cent. Not surprisingly, the BRICS nations also have a smaller share of total registered vehicles in the world ~ 28 per cent, in contrast to nearly half (49 per cent) of the registered vehicles being in the richer OECD bloc.

A more useful and reliable metric than the absolute number or share of fatalities is the rate of fatalities per 100,000 people, since it takes the contribution of relative size of the population into account, or helps in leaving population-size out of the picture in such comparisons. Using such a robust metric, the BRICS still end up with a much higher rate of fatalities ~ 22.5 per 100,000 versus 7.4 in the OECD countries. These aggregated data would therefore seem to suggest an inevitability of higher incidence of fatalities in the relatively poorer countries, together with lower fatalities in the developed and richer countries that have higher vehicle ownership as well as better transportation facilities. It is almost as if more wealth is also associated with safer roads. Such a sweeping generalization can however mask important details and complexities in individual country-level data. Also, it is important to ask ~ what roles can public policy and regulation play in curbing traffic fatalities?

To probe deeper into the pattern identified above, we look at the relationship between fatalities per 100,000 and the number of registered vehicles per 100,000 for a handful of countries. Specifically, we look at this relationship for the three largest countries in BRICS ~ China, India, and Brazil ~ that account for more than 90 per cent of the BRICS population, as well as for the three largest OECD countries ~ USA, Japan, and Mexico ~ that account for close to half of the OECD population.

For the three largest BRICS countries, an increase in per capita income and the number of registered vehicles per 100,000 moving from India to China to Brazil is actually accompanied by a simultaneous increase in fatalities per 100,000, instead of the expected decrease suggested by the broad pattern across the two groups of countries (Panel A). In other words, greater prosperity, that is, higher per capita income, and an increase in the number of registered vehicles on the road are associated with a greater risk of dying from traffic accidents in China and Brazil, compared to that in India. Hence, the experience of the three largest BRICS countries runs counter to the broad pattern in the data identified above.

Cleaning Up the Ganges

By Sudha Ramachandran
September 15, 2014

Narendra Modi will need more than just rhetoric to clean up India’s most important river. 

Already, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cleanup plan for the Ganges river has come in for criticism from various quarters. The sharpest censure came recently from India’s Supreme Court, which observed that the government’s action plan may not result in a clean Ganges “even after 200 years.”

The apex court has ordered the government to provide a cleanup plan with stages and a schedule.

Promises to clean the Ganges figured in Modi’s election speeches and in his party’s election manifesto. Soon after coming to power in May, he signaled that the Ganges would be a priority by creating a Ministry for Water Resources, River Development and Ganges Rejuvenation. A flurry of meetings followed. In July, the government announced “Namami Ganga,” (in Sanskrit it means “obeisance to the Ganges”), an Integrated Ganges Development Project, and allocated around $334 million for it. It promised a clean Ganges in three years.

However, little is known about the Ganges project or what it entails.

“All we have are some indications in a statement here and a report there of some of the likely elements of the plan: cleaning the Ganges, removing the pollution, environmental flows, at least one branch of Ganges to be free-flowing, construction of ghats [steps leading to the river] at some selected points, and making the Ganges navigable from Allahabad to Haldia,” observes Shripad Dharmadhikary, founder of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, an NGO that works on water-related issues. “But there is no clarity about each of these components and how they would fit together,” he told The Diplomat.

Modi’s Clean Ganges crusade, while rich in rhetoric, seems parsimonious on details.

Al-Qaida jihad call unlikely to echo in India

D. Suba Chandran
The call for jihad in South Asia by Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is to augment his falling fortunes within the jihadi infrastructure, rather than expanding the focus of the operations of the Al-Qaida.

HOW real is Zawahiri’s threat to have an Al-Qaida base in India? Will he succeed in establishing a jihadi base in India for the Base? Perhaps, Zawahiri is buoyed by Al-Qaida’s success and reception in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the region, and believes he could repeat the performance of his organisation in India and the rest of South Asia as well. Zawahiri’s enthusiasm is misplaced and his strategy is unlikely to succeed, for the following reasons.

First, Al-Qaida today is not what it was until few years ago. Especially, after the killing of Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaida has lost much of its lethality and sheen. In fact, the erstwhile franchisees of the Al-Qaida have become more powerful and have formed their own franchise independently, as in the case of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. Even within Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Al-Qaida network has been hounded by the American intelligence on the ground and by the drones and attack helicopters. Most of the top leadership belonging to the Al- Qaida has been neutralised by military and covert operations.

Weakened Al-Qaida

MATTER OF FAITH: Sufi shrines in India are the greatest inter-faith laboratories, and will remain the centre of Islamic practices in the country. Devotees at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, New Delhi. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui 

The fact that the Al-Qaida has to consider starting an operation elsewhere in South Asia in itself shows its growing weakness. The Islamic State (IS) is able to better attract a section of the radicalised Muslim Youths. From US and Canada to Philippines and Indonesia, a substantial number within the radicalised section have joined the IS, and not the Al-Qaida. Perhaps, Zawahiri fears that the IS becoming the “real base” today to lead the radical Islamic movement, and not the Al-Qaida.

There are more Muslims living in India and Bangladesh combined, than most of the other regions — either the Middle East or Southeast Asia. The Al-Qaida needs human resources to fight jihad, though it may have adequate financial support. Hence, the call for jihad in South Asia by Zawahiri is to augment his falling fortunes within the jihadi infrastructure, rather than expanding the focus of the operations of the Al-Qaida.

Establishing a network

A 2012 file photo of Ayman al-Zawahiri 

Second, India is remarkably different from Pakistan, and most of the other countries where Al-Qaida has succeeded in establishing its own network. It has not been the policy of the State in India to promote radical groups – either to achieve an internal political objective or to pursue a foreign policy agenda, as has been the case in Pakistan. The military leadership under Zia, needed political legitimacy, hence used the Islamic groups, which paved way for radical groups get entrenched within the Establishment. Externally, the use of jihad in Afghanistan and also in Jammu and Kashmir in the 1980s and 1990s, provided a base to radical groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to establish themselves closely with the ruling regime and intelligence agencies.

Osama bin Laden’s entry into Pakistan, establishment of “the Base” and his final hiding before being neutralised by the Americans few years before by the Neptune Spear – none of them would have happened without the knowledge and links with the Pakistani intelligence agencies. In other words, Al-Qaida could find its place and become a success subsequently, mainly due to an active State support – both overt and covert. In the case of India, Bangladesh and other countries such as Nepal and Sri Lanka, Zawahiri is not likely to receive any such support – either for domestic or external reasons. Without the State support, it is difficult to accept that the Al-Qaida would have survived in Pakistan until now; and without a similar support, it would not be easy to establish a network in India.

India a stable state

A brief intermission

The ceasefire holds uneasily, but tension in eastern Ukraine will still trouble the governments in both Kiev and Moscow Sep 13th 2014 | DONETSK, KIEV AND MOSCOW

Time for a cigarette break, at least
THE war in eastern Ukraine has quietened, for now. Its disparate factions have as much reason to keep fighting as to put away their guns. But a ceasefire signed on September 5th in Minsk is so far mostly holding. Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, does not want to fight an unwinnable war against Russia, which is the situation he would have been in had he pressed on with Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation” in the east. His Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, is happy to see Donetsk and Luhansk turn into breakaway territories that can serve as instruments against Kiev.

From the outset the Kremlin has been advocating a permanent ceasefire, not from humanitarian impulses but because it likes the idea of frozen conflict-zones in the east of Ukraine. The political mood in Kiev spurred Mr Poroshenko to press on as long as Ukrainian forces had momentum. But the incursion by Russian troops with heavy weapons in late August showed that Mr Putin would not allow Kiev a military victory. Without direct NATO aid, Mr Poroshenko felt forced to make a deal.

In the short term this will seem like a victory for Moscow. It has a mechanism to influence Ukrainian politics, much as it has in Moldova and Georgia. For as long as the status of Donetsk and Luhansk are undefined Ukraine cannot possibly join NATO. Mr Putin will have noted that his insertion of regular Russian soldiers met criticism but little action from abroad. Barack Obama declined to call it an invasion, but rather “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now”. The European Union will apply new sanctions next week, but describes them as “reversible”, perhaps to show that it is reluctant to isolate Russia. This week Russia’s Gazprom cut gas supplies to Poland in an effort to stop resupply back to Ukraine.

The war has felt distant to most Russians. State television has manipulated its narrative of the conflict to soothe viewers’ feelings of inadequacy and imperial nostalgia, while talking up Western plots and machinations. A poll by the Levada Centre found that 77% of those surveyed said America was the main initiator of Kiev’s operations in the east. The secret burials of Russian paratroopers killed in Ukraine, only to be disavowed by the Russian state, have proved uncomfortable. But compared with the short-lived season of protest three years ago, Russian society seems docile and unthreatening. Another Levada poll found only 8% willing to join protests if they started, against 21% in 2011.

Yet Mr Putin’s adventurism and revanchism will create new dangers for his regime. A falling rouble and a Kremlin-imposed ban on food imports from America and Europe means that inflation could hit 8% next year. That may spur a level of social discontent which the war itself has not. Existing sanctions, and the prospect of more to come, are dragging down Russia’s already faltering economy. Morgan Stanley forecasts a recession in 2015. Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil producer, has asked the government for $40 billion to refinance its debts. Global oil prices have dipped below $100 a barrel, whereas the Russian budget is calibrated to balance at a price between $110 and $117 a barrel. Plugging those holes will be costly: Mr Putin must make awkward choices over what interests to offend. His likely response to economic hardship will be to blame Russia’s enemies abroad for starting a new cold war.

$1 Trillion Trove of Rare Minerals Revealed Under Afghanistan

By Charles Q. Choi
September 5, 2014 

In this undated photo released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are rare-earth oxides, clockwise from top center: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium. Across the West, early miners digging for gold, silver and copper had no idea that one day something even more valuable would be hidden in the piles of dirt and rocks they tossed aside. Now there’s a rush in the U.S. to find key components of cellphones, televisions, weapons systems, wind turbines, MRI machines and the regenerative brakes in hybrid cars, a group of versatile minerals on the periodic table called rare earth elements and old mining tailings piles just might be the answer. (AP Photo/U.S. Department of Agriculture, Peggy Greb)

Despite being one of the poorest nations in the world, Afghanistan may be sitting on one of the richest troves of minerals in the world, valued at nearly $1 trillion, according to U.S. scientists.

Afghanistan, a country nearly the size of Texas, is loaded with minerals deposited by the violent collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began inspecting what mineral resources Afghanistan had after U.S.-led forces drove the Taliban from power in the country in 2004. As it turns out, the Afghanistan Geological Survey staff had kept Soviet geological maps and reports up to 50 years old or more that hinted at a geological gold mine.

In 2006, U.S. researchers flew airborne missions to conduct magnetic, gravity and hyperspectral surveys over Afghanistan. The magnetic surveys probed for iron-bearing minerals up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) below the surface, while the gravity surveys tried to identify sediment-filled basins potentially rich in oil and gas. The hyperspectral survey looked at the spectrum of light reflected off rocks to identify the light signatures unique to each mineral. More than 70 percent of the country was mapped in just two months. [Facts About Rare Earth Minerals (Infographic)]

15 September 2014 INDUS-TAN Pakistan: Why is Army against Nawaz Sharif?

Sushant SareenSenior Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation 

It appears Nawaz Sharif has managed to survive the first major attempt to oust him from office. A series of fortuitous developments – the whistle-blowing by Javed Hashmi about Imran Khan’s links with the Pakistan Army stands at the top of the list – coupled with not just the uncharacteristic flexibility displayed in conceding most of the demands being raised by his adversaries but also the characteristic obstinacy in refusing to resign, have all helped Nawaz Sharif to come out on top in the latest round of Pakistan's unending, but also sinister, political drama. 

While the ‘establishment’ might have failed to decapitate the Nawaz Sharif government, they have definitely succeeded in degrading it to a point where the Prime Minister is reduced to no more than a chairman of a municipality.

Even if Nawaz Sharif reconciles to a subordinate role to the military, it will not address the fundamental problem that the ‘establishment’ has with him. In other words, the army cannot reconcile to Nawaz Sharif’s political primacy and prominence because his core constituency – Punjabi, right-wing, conservative, religiously inclined, business-trader community – is also the constituency that the army cultivates for pushing its own political and national agenda. This is a constituency that the army has consciously built and nurtured to gain political legitimacy and counter forces that it perceived as hostile to its interests. 

Nawaz Sharif himself is a product of such a political engineering. Today, not only has he has effectively split, nay captured, this natural constituency of the army, but has gone a step further with his anti-establishment stance – insistence on civilian supremacy. If Sharif is allowed to get away with this, it will have far reaching implications for civil-military relations. The clear and present danger for the Army is to allow the core constituency to turn against itself (in terms of its role and interference in politics). Then the balance of force will tilt against, which the army is simply not ready to accept. 

Hence, the army wants to get rid of the Sharif brothers, which will create the space for retrieving control over its constituency. In many ways, the military’s aversion to Sharif and PMLN is similar to its aversion to Zulfikar Bhutto and the PPP. The latter posed a threat to the army’s political position but was countered by building up and strengthening the right-wing. With the right-wing now sliding out of control, the Army finds itself in a bit of a bind. 

Compromise with political Islam is impossible

14 September 2014

On the 20th anniversary of the fundamentalist assassination of Algerian educator Salah Chouaki, Karima Bennoune translates his warning - so relevant today - about the need to be uncompromising in the battle against the very ideology that motivated his murder.

Salah Chouaki, noted education expert and dedicated leftwing activist, murdered on September 14, 1994Algerian educator Salah Chouaki published this article in the newspaper El Watan on 15 March 1993 as Algeria headed into its “dark decade” of fundamentalist violence and state counter terror abuses. He was amazingly prescient about the rising threat of political Islam. The day after this article appeared a campaign of fundamentalist assassinations of Algerian intellectuals escalated with the killing of former Minister of Education Djilali Liabes. Just eighteen months later, on 14 September 1994, after receiving threats which failed to silence him, Chouaki himself was gunned down by the Armed Islamic Group. During the subsequent decade, as many as 200,000 Algerians were killed.

The feminist activist Ourida Chouaki said that one of the most important ways to remember is by combatting the fundamentalist ideology which motivated his killing, and by discrediting jihadist terrorism. His article is translated into English for publication today in that spirit, and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the killing of this progressive North African thinker and activist. Salah Chouaki wrote, that “the most dangerous and deadly illusion… is to underestimate fundamentalism… the mortal enemy of our people.” His brave words and warnings – that like so many other Algerian intellectuals he gave his life to articulate - remain tragically relevant today around the world.

Compromise with political Islam is impossible

Final stage of leaving an Army base in Afghanistan

September 12

Forward Operating Base Lightning is in its final days. The small base near the city of Gardez in Paktia province, Afghanistan, is down to its final stages as an operational hub for U.S. troops, set to end combat operations in December. Lightning itself is attached to the considerably larger FOB Thunder, home to around 4,000 Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel.

How does a FOB wither? It starts with the luxuries.

The contracted caterers left a week ago, so the Army has gone back to feeding itself. (Thursday night is Meals Ready to Eat night). The Post Exchange (PX) where soldiers could shop for non-essential items like candy and deodorant closed up the week before that. The garbage guys are no longer picking up. By the end of this week, Sniper Hill, the Afghanistan-wide FOB internet service provider, will remove its routers, equipment and personnel. Across the base, soldiers can be seen dumping those luxuries that they won’t be carrying home. Everything from rugs to lamps is piling up around the dumpsters. Everything that exits the base goes by helicopter, or by road, and everything that leaves needs to be provided protection.

Early one morning last week I took a ride along with the Quick Reaction Force on hand for convoy support. The QRF group of armored vehicles filled with Third Cavalry infantry leapfrogged ahead of the draw-down convoy at various points to be ready to assist in case the convoy came under attack.

Like all things ‘Army,’ the QRF team liked to get a jump-start on the day, so we set off into the pitch dark at around 2 a.m. in advance of the convoy. Inside the armored vehicles all white lights are off. Conditions are cramped. Every spare space is filled with ammunition, and what remains is stuffed with soldiers. Drawing in the pitch black is not an easy thing for obvious reasons, but I managed these thanks to my red headlight. Sometime in the middle of the night we heard over the radio that five rockets had been fired at the FOB we had just left.

The scourge within Pakistan

Huma Yusuf
16 Sep 2014

Perhaps it is the shocking violence in Iraq. Or it might be the growing brutality of the attackers, who now pursue the relatives of previous victims and do not hesitate to slay women and children.

It could also be the growing allegations against a political party. Whatever the trigger, there has been a growing realisation in recent weeks of how drastic the issue of sectarian violence has become in Pakistan.

More than 160 members of the Shia community have been targeted in Karachi alone this year, and national tolls continue to soar.

We refer to the attacks as targeted killings, but there is nothing targeted about them: scholars, doctors, teachers, school­children and shopkeepers have all been hit with equal disregard.

Each attack claims a victim or two (though the cumulative effect is horrifying), so it is easy to forget that sectarianism is Pakistan’s greatest security ~ and societal ~ challenge.

There are many reasons why sectarianism should be acknowledged as arguably the greatest threat facing our country.

The human rights implications of sectarian violence are obviously immense, but regard for the freedom of religion and the sanctity of life count for little in today’s Pakistan.

Which brings us to other reasons: sectarian affiliations are deeply felt, and this form of violence has the potential to involve large swathes of society.

In a cultu­rally diverse context, sectarianism offers the false promise of social cohesion across ethnic and linguistic divides, all while creating new schisms.

The diversity of sects in Pakistan also means that such violence is never-ending.

Sectarianism is Pakistan’s greatest security and societal challenge.

New STAR in the East may Herald an India-China Partnership

A new Star is rising over the East, and it may herald a world changing era of partnership between Asia’s two giants and a corridor of prosperity to Europe.

This corridor, still in the conceptual stage, has been named the Trans-Asian Railway (STAR), running from Kapikale in the European part of Turkey to Kunming in southern China. In the audacity of its ambition, it aims to secure a European bridgehead for the great production centres of Asia. For Europe, its manufacturers would gain easy and convenient access to the great Asian markets.

By 2030, Asia is expected to account for about 60% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With much of the fast growing territories of Asia in its south, any transport link with southern China,Vietnam, Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Asia will integrate a region that now accounts for the bulk of the world’s population; and in due course the much of its GDP too. Thus, there can be few questions about the desirability of STAR.

China’s Finger Problem – will President Xi cure?

15 Sep , 2014

The Maurya Empire of India was one of the largest empires of its time. At the pinnacle of its glory, this empire stretched to the north right up to the natural boundaries of the Himalayas and to the west right beyond Baluchistan to the Hindu Kush Mountains of what is present day Afghanistan. The Empire included India’s central and southern regions of the Deccan Plateau by Emperors Chandragupta and Bindusara. The only small region of Kalinga (present day Odisha) too was conquered by Emperor Ashoka. Internal and external trade, agriculture and economic activity thrived through the expanse of the empire and beyond.

…the five fingers strategized by Mao Zhedong and Deng Xiaoping – Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and NEFA, claims to which have been baseless but erratic.

Emperor Ashoka having embraced Buddhism, laid the foundation not only of a reign of social and political peace and non-violence across all India but also spread the thoughts of Buddhism ideals to Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, West Asia and even into Mediterranean Europe and Siberia. The population of the Mauryan Empire was estimated to be in the region of 60 million. The Arthshastra was written in that period and the Lion Capital of Emperor Ashoka is the national emblem of India.

Then was the Chola Dynasty, one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the history of Southern India spanning five centuries, the earliest reference to which are found in the inscriptions left by Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Empire. The heartland of the Chola Empire was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River but at the height of their empire spanning five centuries, the Chola Dynasty became a military, economic and cultural power in South Asia and South East Asia. Cholas were the first to develop naval infantry, which was put to good use. The Chola territories spread from the islands of Maldives in the South and Sri Lanka, also successfully invading cities of Srivijaya of Malaysia, Indonesia and Burmese kingdom of Pegu. Temples built by Chola kings are seen in Bali in Indonesia and Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka today. According to the Malay chronicle Sejarah Melayu the rulers of the Sultanate of Malacca were descendants of the kings of the Chola Empire.

Why Modi-Jinping talks should also focus on CoK - China-occupied Kashmir

By Sanjeev Nayar
Sep 14, 2014 

The common perception in India is that we have a problem with Pakistan over Kashmir, with our western neighbour not only sitting on large chunks of our territory (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, or PoK) but also sending jihadis over to create mayhem on this side of the line-of-control (LoC).

What Indians do not so readily acknowledge is that we also have a CoK problem in addition to the PoK one. CoK is China-occupied Kashmir, and this part of real estate grabbed un China accounts for nearly a fifth of the original Jammu & Kashmir state that joined the Indian Union in 1948 after its Maharaja Hari Singh signing the instrument of accession.

So when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits India from 17-19 September, the Indian side will not only have to focus on trade, investments and the broader issues that strain the relationship (the unsettled border row over which we fought a war in 1962), but also on CoK. Narendra Modi will have to bring CoK also in his discussions with Jinping - even though the border problem is not going to be solved in a hurry.

The problem with Indians is that we tend to forget what the Kashmir issue is really about as the decades pass. This writer will thus like to refresh memories on what the issue is really about, and on what China is up to (the full monograph on Kashmir will soon be published by Firstpost in a downloadable ebook shortly).

Chinese President Xi Jinping. AFP

Let’s start with a brief chronology of key events in Jammu and Kashmir. The problem became a formal India-Pakistan flashpoint when Pakistan, in a bid to force the ruler to join Pakistan, sent in around 5,000 Pathan tribesmen to invade J&K starting on 21 October 1947. That set off a chain of events of which the highlights are the following:

China Creates New 'Asia for Asians' Security Forum

September 15, 2014

By inviting the Japanese and North and South Korean defense chiefs, Beijing hopes to create its own Shangri-La Dialogue. 

In a sign that China is looking to increase its leadership role in regional security, Beijing invited the defense chiefs of South Korea, North Korea, and Japan to the Xiangshan Forum regional security conference later this year. The conference will be organized by the Chinese Defense Ministry and will take place from November 20 to 22. The Xiangshan Forum is a bi-yearly track-II defense exchange that mostly involves defense scholars. During its last iteration, in November 2012, over 60 defense experts from 21 states were present. Beijing’s decision to invite regional defense chiefs to this year’s conference is a first for the forum whose theme will be ”cooperation and win-win, build Asian community of destiny.”

According to a South Korean government source who spoke to Yonhap News, China sent invitations to “South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo, North Korean Defense Minister Hyon Yong-chol and Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.” The Xiangshan Forum remains fairly obscure owing to its relatively small size and track-II status, but it looks like Beijing is attempting to transform it from an academic exchange “into a high-profile security and defense forum.” Indeed, in comments earlier this year, Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesman Yang Yujun noted that the Xiangshan Forum will be “upgraded” this year, though he did not specify how. By inviting top regional defense officials, we now have a better idea of how Beijing sees the future of the forum.

In many ways, what Beijing is doing with the Xiangshan Forum resembles a China-hosted version of the Shangri-La Forum (a track 1.5 security summit hosted annually by the International Institute for Strategic Studies). The Xiangshan Forum is supported by the Chinese Defense Ministry but is hosted and organized by the China Military Sciences Society (CMSS), a government-affiliated academic organization. Beijing has been taking the initiative with security multilateralism in Asia under President Xi Jinping who sees the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), and other China-led groupings as the future of a security order that reflects an “Asia for Asians,” sidelining the United States and its allies in the process.

Beijing’s decision to invite officials from across the region comes after the first trilateral meeting between high-level Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean in 11 months. If both the South Korean and Japanese defense ministers attend this forum, it would represent the second high-level trilateral exchange between China, Japan and South Korea in a two month span. Additionally, at last week’s trilateral meeting, which took place at the deputy foreign minister level, all three countries agreed to hold a trilateral summit before the end of the year. These develops could signal that the once-moribund Northeast Asian diplomatic scene could temporarily spring back to life.


China Created ISIS, Too

September 15, 2014

Don’t just blame the U.S. China helped support the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham’s rise as well. 

In recent days there has been a lot of attention given to the potential role China could play in suppressing the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq.The Diplomat has not shied away from this, featuringa diverse array of articles on China and ISIS.

Much of this interest has been spurred by the Obama administration announcing that it has requested China’s help in fighting ISIS in Iraq. Even among the Chinese analysts supportive of Beijing playing a direct role in the war on ISIS, many have suggested that China should do it at least in part to earn goodwill from the United States.

This is preposterous. Not only does ISIS pose a greater threat to China and Chinese interests, but Beijing has had a large role in ISIS’s rise as well.

As I’ve noted before, ISIS did not directly threaten the United States before America began conducting airstrikes against it last month. The same cannot be said of ISIS’s stance toward China. For instance, in a speech he made back in July, ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi noted to his followers that “Muslim rights are forcibly seized in China, India, Palestine” and elsewhere around the world. A five-year expansion map released at the same time showed ISIS’s aspirations to swallow up Xinjiang province.

Then, after returning from a trip to the region later that same month, Wu Sike — then China’s Middle East envoy — revealed that at least 100 Chinese citizens were training with ISIS in the Middle East. He said most were members of Uyghur separatist groups who have stepped up their own terrorist attacks against the Chinese state over the past year. “After being immersed in extremist ideas, when they return to their home country they will pose a severe challenge and security risk to those countries,” Wu said at the time.

The past week has seemed to offer confirmation of this, as the Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced the capture of a Chinese national fighting with ISIS. This is a serious threat to China given that, largely unlike the United States, China actually experiences frequent terrorist attacks from its disenfranchised Muslim population.

Besides the security threat ISIS poses to China, the group also threatens Beijing’s energy security. It’s no secret that while the U.S. fought the Iraq War, it was China and Iran who won it. Since the 2003 U.S. invasion, Chinese energy companies have invested some $10 billion in Iraq’s nascent oil industry. In recent years, China has been the destination for around half of Iraq’s oil exports. This is not insignificant from China’s perspective either. China’s oil imports from Iraq have doubled since 2011 and grew by 50 percent in 2013 alone, the largest growth of any country last year. This made Iraq China’s fifth largest oil supplier after Russia, with Iraqi oil accounting for roughly 10 percent of China’s imports (the U.S. imports far less of its oil and only 4 percent of its imports came from Iraq last year). Moreover, China is the largest importer of Middle Eastern crude, with over 50 percent of its imports coming from the region last year.

Although China clearly has more at stake in countering ISIS, some may charge that the U.S. and its allies should bear the full burden since they helped fuel ISIS’s rise by invading Iraq in 2003. These same observers might also rightly point out that China opposed this invasion.

You won’t find an argument with me about this. I’ve already written that the U.S. did more than any other outside power to fuel ISIS’s rise. This point seems indisputable to me.

That being said, China is also directly culpable for ISIS’s rise. Although America’s 2003 invasion directly contributed to the creation of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) — the predecessor of ISIS — the group was largely a spent force after the U.S. surge and the Anbar Awakening. Even after it refashioned itself as the Islamic State of Iraq, the group remained a marginal force at best.

It was the Syrian civil war that fueled ISIS’s revival. The sectarian nature of the Assad regime and its brutal crackdown, which played into ISIS’s own strategy, was what helped the group revive itself. That war, as well as the Nouri al-Maliki government’s sectarian nature, gave ISIS the chance to rise from the ashes of history.

Of course, it was China who joined Russia and Iran in propping up the Assad regime over America’s strident objections. That policy has now backfired, as China itself has implicitly admitted. Had China, Russia, and Iran listened to the U.S. and not continued to back Assad, it’s unlikely his regime could’ve stayed in power. And without the outside threat presented by the Alawites and Shia, Syrian and Iraqi Sunnis would’ve never gotten behind ISIS.

If anything, then, it is China who should be appreciative of any role the United States plays in fighting the jihadist group, not the other way around.