7 April 2015

India to the Rescue as Australia Eyes Coal’s Crown

April 05, 2015

Australia will usurp Indonesia to reclaim its title as the world’s biggest coal exporter by 2017, according to government forecasts. In the meantime though, the industry is expected to see tough times as it adjusts to China’s slowdown and a supply overhang from the boom, along with environmental pressures, with India emerging as the new source of demand.

Highlighting sluggish prices, on Friday, Japan’s Tohoku Electric Power reportedly agreed to an annual thermal coal import deal with Rio Tinto at prices 17 percent below a year ago, according to Japan’s Nikkei newspaper. The annual price was settled in the “upper $67 range” per ton for coal from Australia for the Japanese fiscal year beginning April 1, below last year’s price of $81.80 and nearly half the peak price of $130 reached in fiscal 2011.

Silencing the Lone Voice on Balochistan’s Missing Persons

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid
April 06, 2015
Abdul Qadeer Baloch, fondly known as Mama Qadeer,made history last year with his 2,800 kilometer march from Quetta to Islamabad, which sought to draw attention to the disturbingly higher number of Baloch missing persons. The surge in the number of missing persons in Pakistan’s largest and least developed province has been linked to the military establishment, which is believed to be trying to silence “anti-state” activities and dissent.

After being disappointed by the federal government and judiciary, Mama Qadeer decided to rely on global organizations like the UN. He wanted to appeal in the International Court of Justice. As part of his efforts to create international awareness about the violations in Balochistan, Qadeer was invited to participate in a human rights conference in New York earlier this month.

Nuclear Fears in South Asia


APRIL 6, 2015

The world’s attention has rightly been riveted on negotiations aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. If and when that deal is made final, America and the other major powers that worked on it — China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany — should turn their attention to South Asia, a troubled region with growing nuclear risks of its own.

Pakistan, with the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, is unquestionably the biggest concern, one reinforced by several recent developments. Last week, Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, announced that he had approved a new deal to purchase eight diesel-electric submarines from China, which could be equipped with nuclear missiles, for an estimated $5 billion. Last month, Pakistan test-fired a ballistic missile that appears capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to any part of India. And a senior adviser, Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, reaffirmed Pakistan’s determination to continue developing short-range tactical nuclear weapons whose only purpose is use on the battlefield in a war against India.

1.5 Billion Muslims May Live in Asia in 2050

April 04, 2015

The Pew Research Center released a new report this week that sheds some light on ongoing trends in religious demographics. The report, The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050 is one of the most detailed global studies of the world’s religious future to ever conducted. You can check out findings from the report using their interactive data explorer. Below, I highlight some of the more interesting points the report made about the future of religion in Asia, in particular.

According to the report, the global Muslim population is expected to grow twice as fast as the rest of the world’s population by 2050, mostly due to high fertility rates and a youthful population. By around 2070, Islam, whose numbers are projected to increase by 73 percent, will become the world’s largest religion, surpassing Christianity. Much of this growth will occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, but Islam will grow everywhere. The Middle East and North Africa region will remain the only region of the world where Muslims will be in the solid majority, but the proportion of the world’s Muslims in the Middle East will remain at around 20 percent.

Chinese AWACS Aircraft Now Operational

April 6, 2015

Less than two years after being spotted in the air for the first time the new Chinese KJ-500 AWACS (Air Warning And Control System) aircraft has entered service. The KJ-500 AWACS can track over 60 aircraft at ranges of up to 470 kilometers. The KJ-500 aircraft looks more like the American AWACS (with a round radar dome on top) but is smaller and carried by the Y-9 four engine turboprop aircraft (similar to the U.S. C-130). The KJ-200 designs used the smaller Y-8 aircraft and a long box-like radar array on top of the aircraft. The KJ-500 will supplement and eventually replace the current eleven KJ-200 (also called the KJ-2000) that has been in service since 2005. There are also four of the export model (ZDK-03) in Pakistan. Pakistan paid $300 million each for these KJ-200 variants. 

China has been developing its own AWACS since the 1990s, ever since the U.S. forced Israel to back off selling China the Phalcon AWACS (because it used some American technology). China then bought some AWACS from Russia, while hustling to develop their own. The Chinese Air Force was not happy with its four IL-76 AWACS (A-50s from Russia, converted to use Chinese KJ-200 radar systems) and smaller systems carried in the Chinese made Y-8 aircraft. The Chinese claim that their phased array AWACS is similar to, and superior in some respects, to the Phalcon radar they tried to buy from the Israelis. The Chinese were to pay about the same price for each of the four Phalcon systems they sought to get from Israel that they are charging Pakistan.

The China challenge


By Joseph S. Nye Jr. 
APRIL 03, 2015

SINCE WORLD War II, the United States has been the most powerful state in world politics. Many analysts view a rising China as the most likely contender to end the American century. One recent book is even entitled “When China Rules the World.”

Most projections of Chinese power are based on the rapid growth rate of its GDP, and China may pass the United States in total economic size in the 2020s. But even then, it will be decades before it equals America in per capita income (a measure of the sophistication of an economy). China also has other significant power resources. In terms of basic resources, its territory is equal to that of the United States and its population is four times greater. It has the world’s largest army, more than 250 nuclear weapons, and modern capabilities in space and cyberspace. In soft power (the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than payment or coercion), China still lacks cultural industries able to compete with Hollywood; its universities are not top ranked; and it lacks the many non-governmental organizations that generate much of America’s soft or attractive power.

CHINESE ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY: NEW INITIATIVES – ANALYSIS

By Zha Daojiong

What grounds have China broken in its economic diplomacy (defined here as promotion on trade and investment through diplomatic initiatives)? Out of Chinese pronouncements and actions by the new leadership formally installed in 2012, what can be discerned about future possibilities? Addressing these and related questions can be helpful in tackling the larger question of how China relates to the rest of the world economy. Let us begin with a sketch of official Chinese visions about the country in the world today.

When China’s Foreign Ministry inaugurated a new Department of International Economic Affairs in October 2012, the country was one month away from the once-in-a-decade leadership transition. The 18th Party Congress formalised the entry of the fifth generation of Chinese leaders. Amidst expectations of continuity in foreign policy strategy, Xi Jinping, the new party secretary and president of the country, began to indicate innovations in foreign policy thinking, coined in the phrase “Chinese Dream”.

China Evacuates Foreign Nationals from Yemen

April 06, 2015

As Yemen grows increasingly dangerous following the start of Operation Decisive Storm, a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign against the Houthi rebels who have overrun large swathes of the country, several countries have initiated operations to evacuate their citizens from the increasingly unstable state. In an unprecedented move, the Chinese government dispatched a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy frigate to help evacuate 225 nationals from 10 countries. According to a report in Xinhua, citizens from Pakistan, Ethiopia, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Britain, Canada and Yemen were evacuated aboard the Type 054A Linyi frigate. Chinese military officials confirmed that this was the first time that a Chinese military vessel evacuated non-Chinese citizens in a humanitarian assistance mission.

BEFORE AND AFTER: THE SOUTH CHINA SEA TRANSFORMED


This map shows four land features in the Spratly Islands that have undergone significant construction or land reclamation work in the past year. They are: Itu Aba, Gaven Reef, Johnson South Reef, and Fiery Cross Reef. Read more details about the features of these projects and use click and drag the slider in the middle to see before and after photographs.

Iran’s grand strategy is become a regional powerhouse

By Michael Morell 
April 3

Michael Morell was acting and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013. 

One of the interesting aspects of international affairs is that states and nonstate actors will occasionally say publicly exactly what they are thinking, doing and planning to do. No need for spies, no need for diplomats — just a need to listen. 

In the mid-1990s, Osama bin Laden said repeatedly that he saw the United States as his most important enemy and therefore as his key target. Bin Laden delivered on these warnings in August 1998 in East Africa, in October 2000 in Yemen and in September 2001 in New York and Washington. 

THE GREAT CONVERGENCE WITH IRAN – ANALYSIS

By Richard Javad Heydarian

A final, comprehensive agreement is yet to be drafted and signed, but by all indications negotiators have finally achieved a breakthrough in the decade-and-a-half-long Iranian nuclear negotiations.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) framework agreement, announced in Lausanne, Switzerland, after days of grueling 11th hour haggling between Tehran and the major world powers led by the United States, is the closest we can get to a “win-win” deal. It paves the way for an end to the Iranian nuclear hysteria and a decisive rollback of punitive Western sanctions, which have collectively punished tens of millions of ordinary Iranian citizens.

The hidden hand behind the Islamic State militants? Saddam Hussein’s.

By Liz Sly 
April 4

SANLIURFA, Turkey — When Abu Hamza, a former Syrian rebel, agreed to join the Islamic State, he did so assuming he would become a part of the group’s promised Islamist utopia, which has lured foreign jihadists from around the globe.

Instead, he found himself being supervised by an Iraqi emir and receiving orders from shadowy Iraqis who moved in and out of the battlefield in Syria. When Abu Hamza disagreed with fellow commanders at an Islamic State meeting last year, he said, he was placed under arrest on the orders of a masked Iraqi man who had sat silently through the proceedings, listening and taking notes.

Rand Paul Slams Saudi Arabia

April 6, 2015 

Senator Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, rode into the Senate chamber in 2010 on a Tea Party movement that took U.S. politics by storm and caused considerable concern among the mainstream Republican rank-and-file. Although he’s only been in the Senate for a little over four years, Rand Paul has acquired a great deal of national recognition. Paul has a number of good attributes as a politician. At fifty-two years old, he’s relatively young as far as Washington goes.

Yet as he prepares for his likely presidential campaign next month, Rand Paul continues to say and do things that won’t help win over Republican voters during the primary season. Nearly a year ago, I wrote that Sen. Paul was a GOP candidate that “sounded presidential” on matters of foreign policy—in particular regarding the nuclear negotiations with Iran, in which he has been far more willing than his fellow Republicans in Congress to support the Obama administration’s strategy. I’m not so sure that label applies anymore.

Smackdown: The Houthis Will Crush Saudi Arabia in Yemen

April 6, 2015

For the better part of its independent history Yemen has been plagued by conflict and turmoil. Since the September 11 Attacks, al-Qaeda’s robust presence there has alarmed Washington policymakers. Today, however, a more conventional conflict threatens its stability and that of the larger Middle East. It has become the epicenter of the Iranian-Saudi Arabian proxy war that has gripped the region. The Yemeni theater is one that the Saudis cannot afford to lose. But unless the Saudis conjure up a heretofore absent genie, the Iranian juggernaut will likely prevail.

The Saudis are backing embattled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. In January, a rebel group known as the Houthis overthrew him. Drawing on their common Shia roots, the Iranians have come to their aid, setting up the latest Iranian-Saudi showdown.

Blocking an Iranian Bomb

April 5, 2015 

What’s the difference between a “good deal” with Iran over its nuclear program and a “bad deal”? A “good deal” is one that reduces the chance Iran will get a nuclear bomb, more than the available alternatives would. By that standard, the arrangement just announced in Lausanne, with specifics to be completed by June, is a good deal. It would greatly reduce the chance that the United States – or Israel – would ever have to face the danger or an Iranian bomb.

Why? There are both technical and political reasons.

Technically, the deal just announced would substantially reduce Iran’s ability to produce nuclear bomb material at known facilities, make it harder for Iran to build secret facilities, and greatly strengthen inspections.

Arms Control in Asia: Back to the Future?

By Christine M. Leah
April 06, 2015

Nuclear reductions and disarmament are not necessarily smart ideas. Even with the successful elimination of nuclear weapons, the tasks of strategy – deterrence, extended deterrence, and arms control – do not go away. Instead, they become even more difficult to manage. This is especially true for conventional arms control which, throughout history, has received very little attention in Asia. That is disturbing, given that Asia is now the center of global strategic gravity. Whilst nuclear disarmament will not happen any time soon (especially given escalating tensions between the U.S. and Russia and China), U.S. President Barack Obama’s initial goals of further reducing the U.S. nuclear stockpile should force us to think very carefully about the desirability of relying on conventional military balances for deterrence, because a world with significantly fewer nuclear weapons would graphically expose conventional imbalances between states, which in many instances have remained partially hidden in the current nuclear age. It is upon these imbalances that any remaining system of deterrence would increasingly rely.

Ukraine and the Russia-China Axis

By James D.J. Brown
April 02, 2015

It is easy to make an emotional case for Western assistance to the Ukrainian government in its confrontation with Russia. In principle, the people of Ukraine should have the liberty to determine their own foreign policy orientation and the international community should support their freedom to make this choice. Such a stance is morally unimpeachable. It is also a perilous basis for policymaking. Pursuing ideals in isolation from assessments of what is achievable and without reference to the broader international context risks unleashing a horror of unintended consequences. This being so, foreign policy makers must restrict themselves to the art of the possible and base their decisions on cold-hearted assessments of long-term security interests.

America: Its Own Worst Nuclear Enemy

April 5, 2015

The Obama Administration has had to overcome several obstacles to reach a framework agreement with Tehran on Iran's nuclear program. One source is the unsubtle attempt of Israel and its neoconservative allies in the United States to sabotage any prospective agreement. Another major impediment, though, is Tehran’s suspicions that Washington would not live up to its commitments if Iran dialed back the scope of its nuclear ambitions. Iranian officials, with good reason, wonder whether the United States has abandoned its policy of forcible regime change when it comes to dealing with adversaries.

President Obama Calls Preliminary Iran Nuclear Deal ‘Our Best Bet’


APRIL 5, 2015 

WASHINGTON — President Obama strongly defended last week’spreliminary agreement with Iran as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to curb the spread of nuclear weapons in a dangerous region while reassuring critics that he would keep all options available if Tehran ultimately cheated.

As he sought in an interview with The New York Times to sell the tentative deal to skeptics accusing him of giving away too much, Mr. Obama emphasized to Israel that “we’ve got their backs” in the face of Iranian hostility. And he suggested that he could accept some sort of vote in Congress if it did not block his ability to carry out the agreement.

“This is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with Thomas L. Friedman, an Op-Ed columnist for The Times, published on Sunday. “What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”

Can U.S. Slash Military Budget When Russia’s Preparing for War?

04.03.2015

The battle over sequestration continues, as Congress mandates that the Pentagon continue to slash the U.S. army down to pre-World War IIlevels. Meanwhile, the Iranian military is resurgent, peace deal or not, with the Islamic Republicincreasing its defense budget by some 33.5 percent. Then, again, being militarily active in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq takes money.

Perhaps President Obama believes he has solved the Iran problem, or is well on his way to doing so. But even if his former Secretary of State Hillary Clintoncontinues to insist her “reset” policy with Russia worked, Russian President Vladimir Putin poses an increasing threat to international security, as anyone in Georgia or Ukraine can attest. Obama may believe the situation has stabilized—after all, press attention has moved on—but it looks like the situation might soon go from bad to worse.

SAUDI ENVOY SLAMS RUSSIA’S YEMEN PROPOSAL


Abdullah Al-Moalami, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, said that Russia’s call for a humanitarian pause in Yemen was aimed at hindering a draft resolution by Gulf states and Jordan that is being negotiated by the UN Security Council.

“We always provided the necessary facilities for humanitarian assistance to be delivered,” Al-Moalami was quoted as saying in an Al Arabiya report.

“We have cooperated fully with all requests for evacuation,” he added, echoing comments made earlier by Brig.-General Ahmad Al-Assiri, a consultant in the defense minister’s office.

Russia’s Stealth Fighter Is in Serious Trouble

By ROBERT BECKHUSEN

Just a short time ago, Russia planned to have 52 advanced T-50 stealth fighters by the end of the decade. At least, that was the plan.

Now the T-50 program appears to be in serious trouble, and Russia may cut back the fighters to a fraction of the planned strength.

The first sign something was very wrong appeared last month. On March 24. Yuri Borisov, Russia’s deputy defense minister for armaments, told theKommersant newspaper that the military is drastically cutting its number of T-50s. Instead of 52 stealth fighters, Russia will build merely 12 of them.

How the U.S. Would Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Program

April 3, 2015

The U.S. military has been getting ready to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities to smithereens even longer than Secretary of State John Kerry has been trying to negotiate them away. And while Thursday’s “framework” between Tehran and the U.S. and five other nations could lead to a peaceful accord this summer, the Pentagon is ready if it doesn’t.

Iran has been conducting much of its suspected nuclear-weapons work for years in underground labs and research facilities thought to be able to survive attacks by earlier generations of U.S. military bunker-busters.

So the Defense Department has spent just as much time procuring a bigger punch.

Grexit: The Moment of Truth Is Nigh

April 6, 2015

Five years ago, Greece became the first member to endanger the survival of the eurozone, and now, once again, the Hellenic nation challenges the fundamental political, economic, institutional, and legal assumptions of the common currency's framework. Yet markets don't seem especially worried about a Grexit (partly because the European Central Bank's quantitative easing program has perverted markets).

Some respected analysts at banks and other research houses, however, are increasingly starting to worry. Barclays' Philippe Gudin wrote: "The risk of an accident is still very high in our view, which could imply a Greek default and even possibly a Greek exit from the single-currency union." Macropolis analyst Wolfgang Piccoli said "Greece's moment of truth is inexorably approaching...It is difficult to see how the situation could improve in the crucial weeks ahead."

The Obama Doctrine and Iran


In September 1996, I visited Iran. One of my most enduring memories of that trip was that in my hotel lobby there was a sign above the doorproclaiming “Down With USA.” But it wasn’t a banner or graffiti. It was tiled and plastered into the wall. I thought to myself: “Wow — that’s tiled in there! That won’t come out easily.” Nearly 20 years later, in the wake of a draft deal between the Obama administration and Iran, we have what may be the best chance to begin to pry that sign loose, to ease the U.S.-Iran cold/hot war that has roiled the region for 36 years. But it is a chance fraught with real risks to America, Israel and our Sunni Arab allies: that Iran could eventually become a nuclear-armed state.

President Obama invited me to the Oval Office Saturday afternoon to lay out exactly how he was trying to balance these risks and opportunities in the framework accord reached with Iran last week in Switzerland. What struck me most was what I’d call an “Obama doctrine” embedded in the president’s remarks. It emerged when I asked if there was a common denominator to his decisions to break free from longstanding United States policies isolating Burma, Cuba and now Iran. Obama said his view was that “engagement,” combined with meeting core strategic needs, could serve American interests vis-à-vis these three countries far better than endless sanctions and isolation. He added that America, with its overwhelming power, needs to have the self-confidence to take some calculated risks to open important new possibilities — like trying to forge a diplomatic deal with Iran that, while permitting it to keep some of its nuclear infrastructure, forestalls its ability to build a nuclear bomb for at least a decade, if not longer.

SYRIA PLEDGING CONFERENCE: THREE KEY TRENDS – ANALYSIS

By Elizabeth Dickinson

On Tuesday, international donors pledged a record US$3.8 billion towards humanitarian relief for the Syrian crisis, now in its fifth year. Here are three key trends from the conference.

1. Political frustration and polarisation

While the amount raised was up significantly on the $2.4billion pledged in 2014, it still falls far short of the $7.4 billion the UN says it needs for relief efforts in 2015. No goal had been set for how much of this the conference was set to fulfil.

There was also growing frustration about a lack of political solution for the crisis at the conference, with states becoming increasingly vocal in their criticism of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Old U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, Once Important CIA Spy Center, Now Playground for the Rich

Tim Arango
April 6, 2015

ISTANBUL — For more than a century, the grand Italianate mansion that serves as an anchor of this city’s European quarter was a beehive of American diplomacy and espionage. Spies toiled within and met their agents at the bar across the street, reporters dropped by for after-work drinks, and any Turk could walk in off the street to see the latest art exhibition or browse the library. There seemed to be a celebration every night.

“We were partying all the time,” said Ayse Ozakinci, who was a librarian for four decades in the imposing structure, the American Consulate in Istanbul. “There was a festive mood for everyone.”

And then, a dozen years ago, the party stopped and security walls enclosed the mansion, as the threat of terrorism sent American diplomats to a fortified hillside compound on the city’s outskirts, overlooking the Bosporus.

Shiite Militias Are The Real Winners of the Battle of Tikrit


Nancy A. Youssef
04.04.15 

Iranian-backed militias have played a crucial role in rolling back ISIS in Iraq, but their growing influence should concern everyone. 

The self-proclaimed Islamic State’s loss of the Iraqi city of Tikrit this week would not have been possible without thousands of rogue Iraqi Shiite militiamen, U.S. defense officials conceded. 

And that could complicate coming battles, officials said. 

With the first major victory over ISIS in Iraq, those militias, many of whom are backed by neighboring Iran, will now have a greater say in how aggressively and effectively Iraq goes after the ISIS threat. They could determine which cities to attack, how much to lean on the U.S.-led coalition and when to strike. And such a varied group of fighters will likely have differing opinions from the Iraqi government, the U.S.-led coalition, Iran and even among themselves, about what needs to happen next in the battle against ISIS.

F-35 comes with $400K helmet; pilot can ‘see’ through plane

April 2, 2015

The U.S. Air Force’s F-35 Lightning II comes with a $400,000 helmet that allows pilots to “see” through the aircraft.

Lockheed Martin’s single-engine fighter aircraft is outfitted with six cameras and 8 million lines of code, which gives a pilot wearing the helmet 360 degrees of vision. Anywhere the pilot looks, vision is not hindered.

“When the helmet’s tuned correctly to the pilot’s eyes, you almost step into this other world where all this information comes in. You can look through the jet’s eyeballs to see the world as the jet sees the world,” Al Norman, an F-35 test pilot for Lockheed Martin, told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

How Baseball Betrayed Cuba’s Covert Ops

By ADAM RAWNSLEY

April 5 is opening day for Major League Baseball. This season, there’s speculation that the recent thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations could lead to even more players from Cuba, home to some of the world’s best ballplayers and most enthusiastic fans, joining the big leagues here in the United States.

Maybe so, but it wasn’t too long ago that America and Cuba’s favorite pastime was also a battleground in Cold War espionage. On a few occasions, Cuba’s unique fondness for baseball betrayed its covert activities — at home and abroad — to American reconnaissance, thanks to the visible presence or absence of distinctive baseball diamonds.

The stories certainly have the whiff of the apocryphal about them — and they’ve since become minor pieces of intel lore. But there are kernels of truth in the tales.

BLOWBACK AS NATIONAL POLICY

April 6, 2015

The chorus of hawks and neocons, for whom Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham serve as poster children, have rarely met an international issue that doesn’t require some American muscle. From Iraq to Syria, to Ukraine and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, they mistake the willingness to use force for sagacity on foreign policy. These gray hairs have been joined by younger voices in the Senate. Senator Ted Cruz recently terrorized a little girl during his visit to New Hampshire by talking about the world being “on fire” because Obama “leads from behind.” Then there is the rank newcomer, Senator Tom Cotton, whose infamous letter to Iran’s Ayatollah seeks to derail the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program by positing a choice between concessions from Iran that no one believes are attainable and the likelihood of another American war against a Muslim country. Senator Cotton first appeared in the New York Times as an Army lieutenant demanding the imprisonment of three journalists for violating espionage laws, but as of this writing has not stretched out his arms for handcuffs for possible violation of the Logan Act.

THE STRATEGIST’S ULTIMATE MISSION

April 6, 2015

What is a strategist? We have many definitions for grand or national strategy, but despite having a community in the United States defined as “strategists,” there is little understanding of who our strategists are, and what they do. At the always thoughtful War Council Blog, Army Major Matt Cavanaugh tackled this important question. He recognizes, as did Hew Strachan, that the word “strategy” is so overused that it’s lost all meaning.

Cavanaugh decided to promote a discussion about what strategists actually do by laying out a concise but quite potent Mission Statement:

How Iran Would Go to War against America

April 6, 2015 

While all sides here in Washington battle to shape public opinion over the Iran nuclear deal, we should not kid ourselves—this is not Obama’s “Nixon goes to China” moment, nor should we expect Air Force one to touch down in Tehran anytime soon.

Call me a pessimist, but I am not that impressed. There is a long way to go from a “framework” to an actual hard deal—with decades of mistrust making the road to a deal even longer and tougher. So before we start awarding Nobel Prizes, a hard look at the facts when it comes to the U.S.-Iranian relationship are in order.

Birganj and Battle of Kantanagar Bridge

06 Apr , 2015

Birganj was the next objective enroute to Kantanagar. This was at the junction of four road axes and thereby controlled all Southward movement towards Kantanagar Bridge. It was, therefore, imperative for 7 Maratha LI to clear this town at the earliest. Contact with the enemy was established by leading elements of ‘B’ company at 1600 hours. The battalion moved ‘A’ and ‘D’ Companies, to carry out an encirclement. Seeing this quick and bold move with determined action, the enemy withdrew hastily in the fading light. Birganj was thus cleared by 1700 hours on 5 December and advance resumed to Kantanagar bridge, whose capture was expected to be a tough nut to crack because, the enemy, withdrawing under our relentless pressure, had been able to occupy previously constructed defences there.

By about 1100 hours, a few bunkers had been captured, but both the companies had suffered heavy casualties. The enemy reacted quickly and, besides a counter-attack, brought down very heavy volume of observed artillery, mortar and automatic fire.

Perkins: 'We want to put you outside your comfort zone'

April 2, 2015

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (April 2, 2015) -- In making assignment selections, the Army is looking for a broadening of experiences. "We want to put you outside your comfort zone," said Gen. David C. Perkins.

Perkins, commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, and other leaders spoke during Colloquium 2015 here, March 30, attended by 84 majors.

The general was responding in agreement to input from Maj. Harold Morris, who advocated for Soldiers getting a broad range of joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational, or JIIM, assignments.

6 April 2015

Grooming women for jihad

PARVATHI MENON
April 6, 2015 

Muslim girls in U.K. are leaving for Syria to ensure long-term stability of the IS by managing the domestic front & bearing children of fighters.

The number of British women who have gone to Syria to join the jihadist forces of the Islamic State has been slowly growing. Women are believed to account for around 10 per cent of the approximately 600 British citizens who have left for Syria since the conflict began in 2013. Most of them are young, some no more than 15 and 16. They are won over after a phase of “grooming”, primarily conducted online in a parallel world hidden from home, family and school. Though the numbers of foreign women, at least from Britain, crossing over to Syria, are relatively small, they are significant as they point to a new phase of occupation of Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State (IS). For the long-term stability of the new power structure, jihadist fighters who have come from abroad must be allowed to start families that will eventually replace the families they have left behind and may never see. Obedient wives who can manage the domestic front and bear children are therefore important for the consolidation of the IS, and must be recruited from the same countries and societies as the fighters come from.

Deep anxiety - Why are young people from Europe joining the Islamic State?

Kanwal sibal
April 6 , 2015

It is anomalous that European youth, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, should be attracted to the violent ideology of the Islamic State. That non-Muslim European youth should be beguiled by such an inhumanly violent ideology is baffling. In the case of European Muslims, it is also not easily comprehensible that having been brought up in liberal, democratic and secular societies, they should be attracted to the anti-human freedoms, anti-modern, anti-progress, anti-women, anti-minorities ideology of these jihadi groups that is devoid of economic ideas and does not offer any forward-looking vision of society.

One can object to the policies of one's country, but to join groups abroad that have such little regard for human life is another thing. One can feel strongly about injustice being perpetrated against another people, of violence being inflicted on them in the name of geopolitics, but joining groups that are dubious in their origin and are not led by particularly pious people is difficult to understand.

PAKISTAN: MQM UNDER SIEGE – ANALYSIS

By Rana Banerji

Not since Pakistan’s former Interior Minister, late Nasrullah Khan Babar’s, crackdown in mid-1995, has the Mohajir/ Muttahida Quami Movement – Altaf (MQM- A) been subjected to such a relentless siege by the Pakistan Rangers and the Sindh Police in Karachi. On March 11, 90, Azizabad, or `Nine Zero’, the home of Altaf Hussain in Federal B Area, the sanctified MQM headquarters, was raided by Pakistan Rangers. Several MQM-A party workers were arrested, arms and ammunition allegedly stolen from NATO containers seized, and five criminals wanted in the January 2011 murder of journalist Wali Khan Babbar were apprehended. The current operations in Karachi have been ongoing since August 2014.

The effort of the law and order authorities, assisted by the para-military Pakistan Rangers, has been to attempt to cleanse the greater metropolitan area of Karachi from the endemic violence, a peculiar mix of drug mafia-related crimes, extortions, kidnappings, sectarian reprisals and even `gang-warfare’, which has plagued the city for the past two decades, causing a systematic outward flow of business capital and investments from what used to be the economic hub of Pakistan.

Pakistan submarine deal won't please India

2 April 2015

A couple of weeks ago, after a visit to India, I wrote an op-ed for the Indian weekly Open with my impressions of the Indian strategic debate. The biggest take-away was how openly suspicious the Indians are about China and its intentions in the Indian Ocean.

That suspicion got another boost yesterday, with Islamabad announcing that it has approved, in principle, the purchase of eight Chinese submarines for the Pakistani navy.

This is big news for a number of reasons. First, it's a large order for a navy that currently only operates five submarines. Second, it will be the first time China has exported its submarines, which says something about the improvements in its military technology (granted, Pakistan is probably buying on price as well as capability, but this is a navy that has previously bought advanced European submarines, so its not an undiscerning customer).

What Is Behind China’s Growing Attention to Afghanistan?

Zhao Huasheng Q
MARCH 8, 2015 

In the past year, Beijing has become more diplomatically engaged with Afghanistan, raising the potential for China to play a helpful role in Afghanistan’s future economic and security prospects.

China has been intensifying its diplomatic efforts to help build a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, by hosting a regional meeting on the issue and deepening its bilateral ties with Kabul. In a new Q&A, Zhao Huasheng examines China’s growing attention to Afghanistan as well as the interests that are motivating Beijing. He says China is not seeking to fill a void left by the withdrawal of U.S. forces, but that it, in the future, could play a useful role in the reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. 

Conflict and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Strategic Net Assessment


The Asia-Pacific region is undergoing enormous change, fueled by high levels of economic growth and deepening levels of integration. These and other forces are generating a shift in the distribution of economic, political, and military power across the region. This changing security environment poses a major challenge for the United States, the historically dominant power in maritime Asia. Efforts to enhance regional cooperation, reassure allies, and deter and shape potentially destabilizing behavior are demanding a more complex mixture of U.S. skills and understanding. An array of current and likely long-term forces will drive both cooperation and conflict across the Asia-Pacific region.
Key Findings

There are five different security environments that could emerge in the Asia-Pacific region over the next twenty-five years (in order of likelihood):

Sand Pebbles: Why Are Superpowers Squabbling Over Rocks?

BY KEITH JOHNSON
APRIL 2, 201

Over the past year, Beijing has significantly raised the temperature in the South China Sea with a series of provocative actions that have unsettled nearby neighbors and furrowed brows in Washington. At question is just how the U.S. should respond to a frontal challenge that directly affects the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia without risking escalation or upending the need for broader cooperation between the world’s two great superpowers.

Since early last year, China has pushed drilling rigs into Vietnamese waters, built air-defense zones over disputed islands, and most recently has embarked on a massive land-reclamation effort on a spate of deserted reefs and rocks in the vital waterway. It appears to be part of a pattern of more assertive Chinese behavior that has intensified under the leadership of Xi Jinping, and it has policymakers, military leaders, U.S. lawmakers, and outside experts grappling with just how Washington should respond.