17 October 2016

*** The-u-s-retaliates-in-yemen

By Jacob L. Shapiro

Last Sunday, two missiles were launched at U.S. warships, the USS Mason and the USS Ponce, in the Red Sea. On Wednesday, at least three more missiles were fired at the USS Mason. In both cases the missiles failed to hit their targets. Early Thursday morning, the U.S. retaliated by destroying three radar sites in Houthi and Saleh-loyalist areas in Yemen, according to a statement released by the Pentagon. Anonymous U.S. officials told Reuters that the USS Nitze launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles that hit the radar sites. Reuters reported the sites were located in Ras Isa, on the Red Sea coast.

Yemen’s civil war made headlines last weekend when airstrikes hit a funeral hall, killing 140 people and injuring more than 500. Saudi Arabia has not publicly acknowledged its role in that attack, and the White House released a statement afterwards saying that its support of Saudi Arabia’s 18-month-long campaign to defeat the Houthis would be reviewed. It may seem slightly strange that the U.S., just a week after expressing such displeasure with Saudi Arabia, would carry out cruise missile strikes on the very group Saudi Arabia is seeking to destroy. But it is not strange for the U.S. to take offensive action against a potential threat to a key maritime chokepoint in the region.

* Watch Out For Workplace Intruders

13 October 2016

A series of high-profile computer crimes has grabbed headlines this year. An elaborate CEO email scam netted fraudsters almost $100 million from Bangladesh's central bank in February. In the spring, the Panama Papers leak of stolen electronic files exposed thousands of individual and corporate offshore bank accounts.

The U.S. Democratic National Committee and state election commissions were hit by hackers who intercepted email communications. But a warning from the FBI office in Houston in early October reminded corporate security professionals not to overlook a well-worn tactic: the physical theft of sensitive material by people who intrude into workplaces. Much like the hackers who threaten companies' efforts to keep information secure, the old-fashioned "office creeper" can use a variety of methods to penetrate physical security and gain access to company property and secrets.

A Creeping Threat

On Oct. 4, the FBI issued an appeal to the public for help in investigating intrusions from 2015 into an unnamed international energy firm's Houston offices. The FBI released surveillance footage of the two incidents: one on June 25, the other on Dec. 30. In the June incident, a man wearing a dress shirt, slacks and a baseball cap entered the company's offices at about 3 a.m. through an unlocked security door. He can be seen walking the halls, getting in an elevator and leaving with two bags that he did not possess earlier. The man moves confidently - like an employee familiar with the building, not like a thief. The FBI is concerned that he may have taken sensitive material in a possible case of industrial espionage. (In the second break-in, the culprit is shown trying but failing to enter the company's main office suite and takes a security radio off a desk on his way out.)


October 13, 2016 

During the 1990s, eminent strategic analysts such as George K. Tanham and K. Subramanyam argued that, particularly due to its aversion to power, India lacked a grand strategy. Grand strategy here refers to a nation’s strategy of deploying its political, economic, diplomatic, and military tools to accomplish its national interest. The recent Uri attack has once again raised the question: does India have a grand strategy?

At present, the essence of India’s grand strategy is to augment its national security by curtailing security competition. The underlying objectives of India’s grand strategy are essentially to establish itself as an important player internationally and to pursue sustained economic growth. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the vision of India’s grand strategy has transcended into a concrete operating model. First, there has been a visible shift in India’s national strategy from a traditional reliance on the policy of non-alignment to one of pro-active engagement with the outside world. And second, India under Modi seems to be utilizing hard power to get desired outcomes.

Political Engagement as Grand Strategy

Prime Minister Modi has emphasized forging diplomatic and political relations with neighboring countries in South Asia as well as shoring up ties with major powers such as the United States, China, and Russia. During his tenure, Modi has carefully crafted India’s national strategy through the tactic of neighborhood diplomacy. It began in 2014 when Modi invited the leaders of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations to his oath-taking ceremony. Modi’s decision to go to Bhutan for his first foreign visit after assuming office was also an indication of the importance of regional ties for India.

Indian Faces Threat From Inside, Not Outside: Menon


The real threats to India are "internal" and emanate from communal and social violence, not from outside forces such as Pakistan or China, former national security advisor Shivshankar Menon has said.

Asked if Pakistan or China pose an existential threat to India, Menon said: "No".

"In terms of national security, I think the real threats are internal," he told PTI.

"There's no existential threat to India's existence today externally, unlike in the 50s or when we were formed. And for many years till late 60s there were actual internal separatist threats, not any more. I think that we have actual dealt with," Menon said.

His long career in public service spans diplomacy, national security, and India's relations with its neighbours and major global powers. Menon served as national security advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from January 2010 to May 2014.

Menon's first book post retirement - 'Choices: Inside the making of India's Foreign Policy' - is all set to hit book stores globally next week.

Asked to elaborate on what he meant by internal threats, he said: "If there are real threats to India, to the idea of India, India's integrity, today they actually come from within the country."

"If you look at violence in India, deaths from terrorism, from left wing extremism, declined steadily throughout this 21st century until 2014-2015. Even now the basic trend for terrorism, left wing extremism is down. What has increased is since 2012, communal violence, social violence, internal violence has increase. That is something we need to find a way in dealing with," Menon said.

A sort of victory - October 14, 1956: the day Ambedkar became a Buddhist

Politics and Play: Ramachandra Guha 

B.R. Ambedkar at a public meeting in Delhi, 1955

My favourite newspaper no longer exists. It was called the Bombay Chronicle, and it was founded in 1910 as a nationalist alternative to the British-owned and British-oriented Times of India. In the first half of the 20th century, Bombay was an incredibly exciting place to live and work in. It was British India's commercial capital, and also the epicentre of the film industry, of nationalist politics, and of much else besides. The excitement and intensity of the times was vividly captured in the pages of the Bombay Chronicle. The newspaper had many fine reporters and two outstanding editors: B.G. Horniman, who was at the helm in its early years, and S.A. Brelvi, who edited it in the 1920s and 1930s.

When I thought of writing a column on B.R. Ambedkar's conversion to Buddhism, it was to the old files of Bombay Chronicle that I turned. I knew the paper had covered Ambedkar's activities ever since he entered public life, and it would be interesting to see what it said about the last major event of his career. Fortunately, the newspaper was still around to cover the event, although by this time Horniman and Brelvi were both dead.

Ambedkar converted to Buddhism in Nagpur on October 14, 1956, that is, exactly 60 years ago today. I shall come presently to the ceremony and its coverage in the Bombay Chronicle, but first I must provide some context. In October 1935, upper-caste Hindus in a Gujarati village named Kavitha boycotted untouchables for daring to ask for their children to be admitted to the local school. When Ambedkar heard of this incident, he said that "if we were members of another faith none would dare treat us so". He told his followers to "choose any religion which gives you equality of status and treatment". On Ambedkar's advice, a meeting of the Depressed Classes held in Nasik passed a resolution urging them to leave Hinduism and instead embrace a religion that gave them equal status with its other members.

Fiscal Prudence, Jobs, Safety Nets: The Building Blocks To Tackle Inequality

October 13, 2016

In his article for The Economist, US President Barack Obama highlighted the increasing inequality across the globe. Is inequality indeed on the rise?

A World Bank report shows that inequality has been down overall – because of rising incomes in India and China – but not within countries.

Countries that recorded sharp reductions in inequality ensured macro-economic stability and followed prudent fiscal policies and structural reforms.

Outgoing American President Barack Obama has dwelt at length on the problem of inequality in an article he has penned in The Economist. Titled ‘The Way Ahead’, the article talks about four issues his successor will have to focus on. In this, he talks about inequality increasing across the world, and more so in the United States, how 1 per cent of humanity controls as much wealth as the remaining 99 per cent and how CEOs (chief executive officers) are now taking home a salary that is 250 times that of the average worker (against 20-30 times at one time).

The article will be waved around by the anti-LPG (liberalisation, privatisation, globalisation) brigade as a vindication of their stand and to push for a slowing down of these three trends (though globalisation is slowing down any way in the face of increasing protectionism).

Even those who sensibly argue that some inequality is needed in society – if everyone is perfectly equal, why should anyone strive harder than the next person – will readily admit that extreme inequalities (though that may be hard to define) may not be desirable. But is inequality actually growing?

FDI: Fiscal fallout of crossing the LoC

By Ajit Ranade
Oct 03, 2016

For the past two years India has received record inflows of foreign direct investment. The inbound FDI has exceeded the foreign portfolio inflow into the stock and bond markets. This is called the FII inflow, which typically has a shorter time horizon, and is considered more volatile. FDI inflows on the other hand signify confidence in the longer-term growth prospects. Adjusted for their respective economic size, India received more FDI than China, relatively speaking. In these two years India’s global rank has jumped up on three different and important metrics. Its Ease of Doing Business rank, as computed by the World Bank is up. Its competitiveness rank as determined by the World Economic Forum has jumped up by 16 ranks. And its rank on the innovation index as per World Intellectual Property Organisation is up by 15 ranks. These rankings may be a testimony to the improving health of the macro economy, its growth prospects and the progress of economic reforms. Average inflation now is half of what it was just three years ago. Foreign exchange reserves are at record highs. Fiscal deficit limits are being adhered to, indicating tight fiscal management.

In addition to these factors are five short-term positives for the economy. Firstly, due to adequate rainfall, agriculture and the rural economy are expected to do well. Even the rabi crop will be better. Secondly, the award of the arrears of the seventh Pay Commission will add almost one percent of GDP to urban incomes (since the beneficiaries are predominantly in urban areas). This will give a boost to consumption spending. Thirdly, the continuing push in public spending on infrastructure like roads, ports and railways is beginning to manifest in a stimulus impact. It will lead to increase in the consumption of steel and cement and an increase in unskilled and semi-skilled employment. Fourthly, going by trends it looks likely that inflation and interest rates will drift downwards, further adding monetary stimulus to the recovering business cycle.

Now Is the Time to Hit Pakistan With Sanctions

It is time to put a credible threat of sanctions on the table.

On October 7, Dawn, a Pakistani based newspaper, published an article detailing the anxiousness of the inner sanctum of Pakistan’s civilian controlled government. A debate is raging within Pakistan regarding the country’s tacit support of militant groups.

The article titled, “Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military,” detailed plans articulated by the civilian government to military and defense bureaus of the need to act on banned militant groups operating in the country.
The decisive action ordered by Islamabad to combat insurgent groups operating in the country followed a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in which Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry presented to high ranking members of government that Pakistan’s diplomatic talking points were failing to sway the international community and that Pakistan faced potential international isolation.

India could use Indus River water treaty to pressure Pakistan over LOC tensions

Sunday, 9 Oct 2016

View of the Indus River passing through the town of Dasu, Pakistan.

"Blood and water can't flow together," India's Prime Minister says. This is no cliche - shared water resources are a key issue in the increasingly fraught relationship between India and Pakistan.
The South Asian neighbors have been at loggerheads since September 18, when four gunmen killed 18 Indian soldiers in an army base camp in Uri, a town in the disputed territory of Kashmir. New Delhi claimed the attackers were members of the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed, and accused Pakistan of involvement in the attack, a claim the Islamic republic denied.

Tensions were further inflamed on September 29, when India said it led "surgical strikes" on suspected terrorist bases in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir - strikes that Pakistan then insisted did not occur.

"While India has likely launched such raids in the past, those were kept under the cover of secrecy," Rebecca Keller, an analyst at geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor, told CNBC. "This was the first time New Delhi openly announced such an action, which marks a break with precedent."

She forecast further strains on ties as Islamabad mulled an appropriate response to India's more open aggression.

"This means we may see an uptick in cross-border firing between both sides across the Line of Control," she said, referring to the de facto border through Kashmir that separates India and Pakistan.

The Pakistani Mecca of Terror

OCT 13, 2016 0

Brahma Chellaney, Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research and Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin, is the author of nine books, 

BERLIN – Almost seven decades after it was created as the first Islamic republic of the postcolonial era, Pakistan is teetering on the edge of an abyss. The economy is stagnant, unemployment is high, and resources are scarce. The government is unstable, ineffective, and plagued by debt. The military – along with its rogue Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, comprising the country’s spies and secret policemen – is exempt from civilian oversight, enabling it to maintain and deepen its terrorist ties.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is now at risk of becoming a failed state. But even if it does not fail, the nexus between terrorist groups and Pakistan’s powerful military raises the specter of nuclear terrorism – a menace so large that the United States has prepared a contingency plan to take out the country’s fast-growing nuclear arsenal should the need arise.

Make no mistake: Pakistan is “ground zero” for the terrorist threat the world faces. The footprints of many terrorist attacks in the West have been traced to Pakistan, including the 2005 London bombings and the 2015 San Bernardino killings. Two key actors behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States – Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheik Mohammed – were found ensconced in Pakistan. In the recent Manhattan and New Jersey bombings, the arrested suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, was radicalized in a Pakistan seminarylocated near the Pakistani military’s hideout for the Afghan Taliban leadership.

Pentagon Metrics on Afghan War are Useless

October 12, 2016

The U.S. strategy focused on population centers ignores historical realities of Afghan’s counterrevolutionary history. 

What is going on in Afghanistan? After 15 years of U.S. and NATO involvement in the war torn country, many of Afghanistan’s cities find themselves surrounded and under siege by a resurgent Taliban force.

The train, advise, and assist mission known as Resolute Support, still contends that Afghan forces are capable of defending major cities and population centers. During a visit to the embattled city of Lashkar Gah, the commander of Resolute Support General Nicholson promised that the provincial capital of Helmand would never fall to the Taliban.

“The Afghan government and security forces are getting stronger each day and eventually they will be able to secure the entire province,” Nicholson said.

On October 11, 400 reinforcements for Afghan forces were spearheaded to the capital to prevent its collapse after a suicide bomber destroyed a police station and Taliban militants briefly entered the city.

In Farah city, Afghan forces continue to struggle against a Taliban onslaught as militants captured the city gateway and threatened to collapse the entire city, despite airstrikes carried out by Afghan forces on Monday that reportedly killed 27 Taliban militants.

2016 'Bleed India with a Thousand Cuts' Policy Is in a Shambles

14 October 

Pervez Hoodbhoy, an academic based in Lahore and Islamabad, is a frequent commentator in the Pakistani media

As a new cold war sets in between India and Pakistan in the wake of India’s retaliatory strikes on terror camps across the LoC, two Pakistani commentators present the other side of the argument 

NO ONE SEES the Kashmir dispute having a solution in the foreseeable future. Everything has been tried: war, repression, elections, and inducements. Bad as the situation is now, the dreadful possibility is that it could spiral out of control. The decades of the 1980s and 1990s could return, and thousands of more Kashmiris could die. Infinitely worse, whether by choice or accident, is the possibility of nuclear catastrophe. Having cagily pranced around the nuclear threshold for three decades, for Pakistan and India to make the final journey to hell is not impossible. 

These gloomy truths are undeniable. Fortunately, Uri was finally contained and appears to be winding down, just as Pathankot was earlier. But will the next crisis also be manageable? Realism demands calm thinking, letting passions subside and moving ahead. Rather than look for ultimate solutions now, the present needs to be managed and attitudes changed. But before that can happen, let India and Pakistan review their actions honestly. 

It was a terrible mistake for India to eliminate 22-year-old Burhan Wani and the other Kashmiri lads. Surely, these were not the monsters that murdered dozens at Victoria Terminus in Mumbai and then scoured the rooms of the Taj looking for Hindus and Jews to shoot. They were not crazed religious extremists, nor on Pakistan’s payroll. Instead, these angry rebellious youth were drawn by romance and bravado into what they saw as a war against Indian occupation. They had a few guns, but their real weapons were Facebook images. 

‘Bangladesh is no longer an exporter of terrorism’

October 14, 2016 

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Photo: A.B.M. Aktaruzzaman

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on why Bangladesh pulled out of the SAARC summit, bilateral ties with India, and tensions with Pakistan.

In a rare interview, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has been accused of wielding a heavy hand on her opposition, the media, and terror suspects, speaks for the first time about Bangladesh’s troubled ties with Pakistan, and pulling out from the SAARC summit. Ahead of her visit to India this weekend for the BIMSTEC summit, Ms. Hasina counselled India and Pakistan to maintain the sanctity of the Line of Control.


Bangladesh was a founder of SAARC in the 1980s, but it has also been one of the first countries to pull out of the summit in Pakistan this year. Is this the end of SAARC?

No, as we said in our official statement on pulling out, we consider that the environment prevailing in the SAARC region at this particular time is not conducive to hold the SAARC summit. Bangladesh has certain sensitivities over the International Crimes Tribunal [ICT of Bangladesh], where Pakistan showed its dissatisfaction with our processes and even raised the issue in their parliament. They started interfering in our internal affairs by making unacceptable remarks. We felt hurt by this, as this is an internal matter for us, we are trying war criminals in our country, and it isn’t their concern. There is a lot of pressure on me to cut off all diplomatic ties with Pakistan for their behaviour. But I have said the relations will remain, and we will have to resolve our problems. The fact is, we won our liberation war from Pakistan, and they were a defeated force. We won the war and freed the country from them, and it is expected that they won’t take it so well.

The Philippines Is About to Give Up the South China Sea to China


'We cannot win that,' President Rodrigo Duterte said of Scarborough Shoal this week. 'We can’t beat" China.

Next week Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who took power in late June, will make his first state visit to China. Of course he’s hoping for a bonanza of loans and trade deals. What he’s not expecting or demanding: the return of Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from the Philippines in 2012, sparking demonstrations by Filipinos around the world.

“We cannot win that,” he said during a speech this week. “Even if we get angry, we’ll just be putting on airs. We can’t beat [China].”

A large coral atoll with a reef-rimmed lagoon, Scarborough Shoal lies about 120 nautical miles (222 km, 138 miles) from the Philippines’ coast. Filipino fishermen have relied on the atoll’s rich fishing grounds for generations. China has blocked their access to it since the takeover.

Boycotting Chinese goods: Impractical and harms the national interest

OCTOBER 13, 2016 

The plan to boycott Chinese imports is neither practical nor is it in the Indian national interest.

There has been many nationalist calls for boycotting Chinese goods as a retaliation against China for blocking India’s bid at the UN to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist, following the Uri attacks and the subsequent surgical strikes carried out by the Indian army. Presumably, India is tired and frustrated of China tacitly supporting Pakistan and thus, the clarion call is for consumers to boycott all Chinese products en masse, so as to hurt the Chinese economy, especially at a time when it is reeling. This has obtained mass support from not only the ordinary citizens, but is being backed by influential MPs and others from the political class.

Such a move is neither practically feasible in order to obtain the desired result, nor will it be in our national interest to do so. Let us examine the feasibility angle first.

India is the biggest importer of Chinese consumer goods and the trade deficit of India with China is one of the biggest between two significant trading partners. India imports almost seven times more from China than it exports to it. The range of goods that we import from China is massive: consumer durables such as electronic products, mobile phones, plastic items, industrial goods, vehicles, solar cells, essential pharmaceutical products, including tuberculosis and leprosy drugs, antibiotics, among many others.
Impractical, at best. Impossible, in reality

ALERT! The Chinese are wiping out Tibet

October 13, 2016 

The world must hang its head in shame for being a mute spectator to the 'cultural holocaust' in Tibet, says Major General Mrinal Suman (retd), who visited Tibet recently.

Tibet continues to be an enigma to all visitors. My two visits have been no different.

One sees massive Chinese investment in road and railway infrastructure. Modern skyscrapers are coming up at a frenetic pace to house migrants from the mainland. Yet, Tibet presents a sight of a state under foreign siege.

A deceptive calm hides the underlying tension. There is no cheer in the air.

The story of Tibet is a saga of the world's apathy and indifference to the cultural genocide of Tibetan Buddhism. Brutal decimation of an ancient, rich and peace-loving culture by ruthless China has been ignored nonchalantly.

China annexed Tibet in 1950. Although the estimates vary considerably, it is believed that up to one million Tibetan natives have been killed by the Chinese to suppress their demand for freedom.

As the Tibetans are highly religious by nature, the Chinese have methodically targeted their places of worship and learning with a vengeance.

Over 6,000 monasteries have been destroyed or ransacked. Damage done to Tibet's relics, heritage and architecture has been truly horrendous; and beyond redemption.

Tibet has been amalgamated in China as the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is autonomous only in name; the Chinese government exercises total and unbridled control. The locals have no say.

Even though TAR has an ethnic Tibetan as the chairman, he is only a titular figure. He is subordinate to the branch secretary of the Communist Party of China (the real power wielder) and he is always from the Chinese mainland.

The real reason for America’s hostility to China

Summary: Well-informed Americans who read the news know that China is a designated bad guy, which justifies the full deployment of US power to contain it. Efforts by China to resist (or even defend itself) provide additional evidence of malevolent intent. Here is the rest of the story — the true story.

What is America’s strategy to manage China? To discover the opinion of US elites, I first turn toThe Economist (or Stratfor): “They have returned“, 12 August 2010 — “China should worry less about America’s ‘containment’ strategy and more about why the neighbours welcome it.” The Economist’s attempt to distract us from the containment program shows that China should worry about US efforts to contain it. To understand this conflict, we begin with the previous global struggle.

“The ‘Long War’ is a term for the conflict that began in 1914 with the First World War and concluded in 1990 with the end of the Cold War. The Long War embraces the First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam and the Cold War. The Long War can be understood as a single conflict fought over the constitutional issue of what form of the nation-state — fascist, communist or parliamentary — would succeed the imperial states of the 19th century.”

— Interview with Philip Bobbit, author of The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History (2003).

I believe the Long War as won by “market-based States”, not “parliamentary” states. Now the US attempting to retain its hegemony over the other market-based nation-states — especially China. From 1950 to 1972 one of the top goals of American foreign policy was to contain China. This culminated in the Vietnam War, as described in the memorandum from Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Johnson, dated 3 November 1965. The opening of the memo is clear (red emphasis added).

The PLA Rocket Force: Evolving Beyond the Second Artillery Corps (SAC) and Nuclear Dimension

By Anthony H. Cordesman with the assistance of Joseph Kendall
October 13, 2016

Since 1985, Chinese missile forces, which are under the command of the Second Artillery Force (SAF) or Second Artillery Corps (SAC), have changed strikingly in character. The forces have shifted from a nuclear deterrent force based primarily on intermediate and medium-range missiles to a force of intercontinental- and medium-range nuclear forces combined with a powerful conventional missile arm capable of conducting precision attacks at a medium range.

Further changes took place on the eve of 2016 as the SAF was recommissioned as the PLA Rocket Force (PLARF) on December 31, 2015. Additionally, the PLARF was elevated from an independent branch to the fourth military service alongside the PLA, PLAN, and PLAAF. Though the decision to reconstitute the PLARF as a military service indicates the importance China puts on maintaining modern missile forces, at this point it seems unlikely that the PLARF’s roles and responsibilities will differ substantially from the SAF.

A new report by the CSIS Burke Chair in Strategy provides a detailed analysis of China’s missile forces, and is available on the CSIS website at https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/161013_China_Missile_Forces_AHC.pdf.

Other recent Burke Chair studies that address these issues include:

ISIS crushes rebellion plot in Mosul as Iraqi army closes in

October 14, 2016

Islamic State crushes rebellion plot in Mosul as army closes in

Islamic State has crushed a rebellion plot in Mosul, led by one of the group’s commanders who aimed to switch sides and help deliver the caliphate’s Iraqi capital to government forces, residents and Iraqi security officials said.

Islamic State (IS) executed 58 people suspected of taking part in the plot after it was uncovered last week. Residents, who spoke to Reuters from some of the few locations in the city that have phone service, said the plotters were killed by drowning and their bodies were buried in a mass grave in a wasteland on the outskirts of the city.

Among them was a local aide of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who led the plotters, according to matching accounts given by five residents, by Hisham al-Hashimi, an expert on IS affairs that advises the government in Baghdad and by colonel Ahmed al-Taie, from Mosul’s Nineveh province Operation Command’s military intelligence.

Reuters is not publishing the name of the plot leader to avoid increasing the safety risk for his family, nor the identities of those inside the city who spoke about the plot.

The aim of the plotters was to undermine Islamic State’s defense of Mosul in the upcoming fight, expected to be the biggest battle in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Mosul is the last major stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq. With a pre-war population of around 2 million, it is at least five times the size of any other city Islamic State has controlled. Iraqi officials say a massive ground assault could begin this month, backed by U.S. air power, Kurdish security forces and Shi'ite and Sunni irregular units.

How to Win the Cyberwar Against Russia

James Stavridis
October 14, 2016

The basic facts about Russia’s election-year hacking of the American political system are clear. For more than a year, the Russian government has repeatedly infiltrated the computers of both parties’ presidential campaigns to steal data and emails to influence the outcome of the election. In response, the Obamaadministration has promised a “proportional” response against Russia.

What’s much less clear is what a “proportional” response could mean. This is an unprecedented situation for the American national security establishment — which means the Obama administration’s response will set a precedent for future foreign-directed cyber-plots.

The first thing the U.S. government will have to determine is whether the Russian actions rise to the level of an attack — something that would require a direct U.S. response. There are many examples of cyber-infiltration that fall short of that designation, qualifying rather as nuisance activities or even garden-variety espionage. The activities in question, however, cross an important political and operational threshold by attempting to influence the American public on behalf of one of the candidates for the presidency. Most egregiously, the release of internal Clinton campaign emails violates a wide variety of U.S. laws, and the potential release of material related to her email server investigation late in the campaign season could have extraordinary impact on the election.

These are actions that affect the heart of the U.S. democratic process. They may not exhibit physical damage of the sort that we saw in North Korea’s attack on Sony Pictures, which did millions of dollars of damage to hardware. But the political and symbolic meaning of Russia’s actions nonetheless elevate them to something requiring a response.

Russia Strives to Cover Its Bases

OCTOBER 11, 2016

Russia has been talking a lot lately about basing rights around the globe and is reportedly considering restoring Soviet-era bases in Egypt, Vietnam and Cuba. (YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Moscow is looking to extend its global military reach. Citing Defense and Foreign Ministry officials, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported Monday that Cairo and Moscow are negotiating a deal that would grant Russia access to military facilities in Egypt and refurbish a former Soviet air base in the Mediterranean town of Sidi Barrani. In fact, Russia has been talking a lot lately about basing rights in strategic spots around the globe, from Egypt to Vietnam to Cuba to Iran. The intent behind these explorations is fairly straightforward: When locked in a multi-theater confrontation with the United States, what better way for the Russian bear to trample the U.S. security umbrella than with a growing military footprint?

Basing can be a misleading term, however, conjuring Cold War-era assumptions of permanent basing on a large scale. People could easily conclude that new bases mean major shifts in Russia's ability to project power or in host countries' strategic alliances. After all, hosting another country on sovereign territory is no small favor. But all basing arrangements are not created equal. A state can take the route of Japan or South Korea, which host troops from various branches of the U.S. military in large numbers, tilting an entire region's strategic balance in one direction. Alternatively, a state can host another country's ship at port a few times a year for repairs and refueling, a relationship that does not necessarily imply big swings in force projection or alliances.

Is Globalization Sowing the Seeds of Its Own Undoing?

OCTOBER 12, 2016

Globalization is driving wedges between upper and lower classes in the developed economies and, in so doing, driving further wedges between the lower classes in developed economies and the citizens of other nations. (MARK MAKELA/Getty Images)

Editor's Note: The Global Affairs column is curated by Stratfor's board of contributors, a diverse group of thinkers whose expertise inspires rigorous and innovative thought. Their opinions are their own and serve to complement and even challenge our beliefs. We welcome that challenge, and we hope our readers do too.

In a recent article in The New York Times, "Put Globalization to Work for Democracies," Dani Rodrik, a professor of economics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, argues "that unmanaged globalization is undermining democracy. . . Simply put, we have pushed economic globalization too far — toward an impractical version that we might call 'hyperglobalization.'"

Rodrik's argument echoes a refrain that Philip Bobbitt and I have sounded in this space: the increasing influence of economics on politics or, as Bobbitt would put it, the emergence of the market state as the successor to the nation-state.

Rodrik's argument is pretty simple:

"Democratic politics remain tethered to nation-states, while institutions that make the rules for global markets are either weak or seem too distant, especially to middle- and lower-class voters.

"Globalization has deepened the economic and cultural divisions between those who can take advantage of the global economy and those who don't have the resources and skills to do so."

Stratfor: The superbugs are coming. We have time to prepare.

Stratfor, 4 October 2016.

Summary: Here Stratfor provides a status report on the fight against superbugs — drug-resistant germs — one of the great threats facing us in the 21st century. The last large pandemic in the West was a century ago. Another is coming. We have time to prepare.

The Insidious Threat of Drug-Resistant Disease
Absent greater incentives, the development of new antimicrobial drugs will remain limited. 
Rising global demand for meat and poultry will make it more difficult for governments to restrict the use of antimicrobial drugs in agriculture, especially in poorer countries. 

Different national interests will make it tough to achieve the international cooperation needed to combat the growing resistance to antimicrobial drugs. 


When Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, he ushered in a new era of medicine: the age of antibiotics. Infections that had once been fatal could now be treated with relatively simple cures. In the decades that followed, penicillin became just one of many antimicrobial drugs that enabled humans and animals to live longer, more productive lives. The proliferation of those drugs seemed to have few, if any, downsides.

But over the years, we have gotten into the habit — as so often with other resources, includingfish and fresh water — of overusing and misusing antimicrobial medicines. Doctors turned to them to treat illnesses, including viral infections, where antibiotics would not actually help. In time, microbes were able to build a resistance to the antibiotics deployed against them.

Kremlin Hacked Its Way Into a Crisis

Oct. 11 2016

Last Friday the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) publicly named the Russian government for directing "the recent compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations." It claimed that the disclosures of hacked emails "on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process", while "only Russia’s most senior officials could have authorized these activities."

The hacking of the DNC computer networks was first disclosed in mid-June. CrowdStrike, a private cyber intelligence firm brought in by the DNC to investigate the hacks identified with a high degree of confidence two groups of hackers with links to Russia’s intelligence services. COZY BEAR (CozyDuke or APT 29), ostensibly working for the FSB, Russia’s domestic intelligence service, breached the networks in mid-2015 and had been collecting intelligence and personal data undetected until April 2016, when another group of hackers FANCY BEAR (Sofacy or APT 29), purportedly working for GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, broke into the same network, unbeknown to the first group, and raised some flags for the system’s security. 

On July 22, on the eve of the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, WikiLeaks released some 20,000 stolen emails showing top officials at the Democratic National Committee criticized and mocked Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Hillary Clinton’s rival during the primary campaign, even though the organization publicly insisted that it was neutral in the race. At that point it became a story about Russia trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, who said he favored better U.S.-Russia ties. The timing of the leak was intended to cloud the Democratic convention in controversy, reignite party divisions, and motivate Sanders supporters not to vote for Clinton in November. 

The West's Decline Is of Its Own Making

October 13, 2016

A park close to the European Parliament in Brussels has been given a face-lift, if that is the right term. Apart from being spruced up, the area now contains newsculptures in the form of twelve ostriches. And yes, the ostriches have their heads stuck in the sand. If Europe as well as the United States weren’t suffering such a malaise as they are today, the symbolism of these birds wouldn’t matter.

But three recent events only confirm how the West continues to duck fundamental issues in ways that will leave it weaker and increasingly unable to project itself politically, socially, and economically.

The first event was the decision by the United States to cut off talks with Russia on trying to end the war in Syria. John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, who was in Brussels on October 4, tried to defend his country’s role in Syria. In a speech hosted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, he decried Russia’s support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow’s relentless bombing of civilian targets, and the way Syrian government forces were using barrel bombs and chlorine gas against their opponents.

What Kerry omitted, hardly surprisingly, was how the United States in particular had crossed its own so-called redlines when it came to Syria. U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision not to intervene, despite saying in August 2012 that any use of chemical weapons would be a redline the United States would not tolerate, gave Russia and other players a free hand to play out their cynical geostrategic interests in that wretched country.

The growing threat of cyber mercenaries


The growing threat of cyber mercenaries

Washington is focused on combating cyber attacks from nation states. But the real threat is elsewhere.

Identifying the adversaries behind a cyberattack is often the toughest part of cybersecurity. Not only are hackers skilled at covering their tracks, but they can plant evidence that implicates an innocent party. This inability to identify an attacker makes it almost impossible to stop them, or more importantly, prevent such attacks.

Nation-states are increasingly exploiting this challenge by conducting cyber operations through third-party groups—so-called cyber mercenaries. But despite this growing threat to national security for policymakers, military leaders and businesses alike, we have not done enough to protect against it.

The American public is beginning to see the dangers of an unsecure cyber domain. Just last week, the Obama administration officially accused Russia of attempting to influence the U.S. presidential election through a cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee. And a major U.S. company seems to announce a new security breach every day, from a 2014 cyberattack attributed to North Korea that targeted Sony to the recent revelation that hackers stole the account data of 500 million Yahoo users.

Commercial models for Public Wi-Fi

OCTOBER 12, 2016 

Can we have a proliferation of broadband access through public Wi-Fi networks? What are the issues and challenges?

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India held a public workshop in Bangalore on the 28th of September 2016. The objective of the workshop was to look at the possible commercial models for providing public Wi-Fi hotspots.

The first welcome step in this workshop was the emphasis on finding commercial models for providing public Wi-Fi and not on making Wi-Fi free for all. It is quite surprising that a vast majority of people expect public Wi-Fi systems to be provided for free of cost.

The present number of Wi-Fi hotspots in India is abysmally low compared to most other countries. There are 35,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in India compared to around 10 million in the US. The real challenge is to build a network of Wi-Fi hotspots through the country that can provide seamless internet access to millions of Indians.

The different network operators shouldn’t consider public Wi-Fi as being a competitive threat to their sale of data plans. Mobile data and public Wi-Fi has to work in tandem to provide seamless connectivity. However, there is an obvious benefit by increasing the reach of public Wi-Fi. The average cost of accessing the internet through the cellular network is around 23 paisa per minute as against 2 paise per minute on Wi-Fi.
Present Challenges for Public Wi-Fi hotspots:

Russian Cyberattacks By Pointing Finger at Kremlin, Obama Administration Revealed Own Impotence

Anshel Pfeffer 
Oct 09, 2016 

Obama's accusation of Moscow is unprecedented, but the real question is what the U.S. can do to retaliate for hacking its democracy. The answer? Not much.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a military parade in front of St.Basil's Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow, 2005AP Photo/ Misha Japaridze

Did the Israeli-American Stuxnet virus launch a cyber world war?

Are Putin and Wikileaks working for Trump?

Julian Assange triggers the first WikiLeaks election

Karl Marx famously said that “capitalism sows the seeds of its own destruction.” Today’s nationalist-oligarchic Russia is as far from Marxist as possible, but that strategy of exploiting the capitalist West’s tools to hack away at its weaknesses is still what Russia’s intelligence services do best.

The joint statement Friday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the national intelligence director was unprecedented – that the U.S. intelligence community “is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of emails” of Democratic Party officials and Hillary Clinton campaign officials, as well as their publication online by WikiLeaks and other websites.

The Americans' belief that “that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities” was basically a direct accusation against President Vladimir Putin, as was the motive ascribed to the attacks: “These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”

The Fog of Cyber War

OCTOBER 9, 2016

A version of this post originally appeared in the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter.

Last week produced a spate of cyber-security news, including revelations about Yahoo (again) and lousy counter intelligence at the NSA (again). But if there is a common thread, it’s that first reports often are false or incomplete and the story is not what it seems.

Take the brouhaha over Yahoo using software to feed emails to the NSA. The news led to hyper-ventilating among privacy types and predictable high-horse behaviorf rom rival tech giants like Google and Microsoft. But as my colleague Robert Hackett explained, a lot of this fulminating took place before anyone really knew the facts — which are still emerging in dribs and drabs.

Meanwhile, journalists (me included) breathlessly reported another security lapse at Edward Snowden’s old stomping groups, Booz Allen, which led the FBI to arrest a contractor for stealing secrets. But now it turns out the guy was probably just a kook and a hoarder. It’s still not a good situation but it sure doesn’t look like the stuff of a John LeCarre novel.

Part of the trouble, from a media perspective, is that a lot of the incidents we learn about are delivered by anonymous sources and wrapped in national security laws. This makes it hard to verify information — easy to jump to conclusions.