27 June 2015

Why India is alone in the war against terrorism and Pakistan

By Col R Hariharan
25 Jun , 2015

There are three disturbing trends brought out in the latest Country Reports on Terrorism 2014 released by the US State Department on June 19, 2015 that affect India’s national interest. The first is the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) as world’s number one jihadi terror group and its impact on South Asia; the continuing doublespeak of the US on Pakistan’s state sponsored terrorism; and the existence of the overseas network of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Tigers (LTTE) and the financial support it enjoys.

The report states: “A number of these attacks were planned and launched from safe havens in Pakistan…”

India's Upgraded Attack Submarine Heads Into Final Trials

June 26, 2015

India’s INS Sindhukirti is set to reenter service after nearly a decade-long upgrade process. 

The Indian Navy’s INS Sindhukirti is set to enter its final “full-power trials” from this Friday after a decade-long upgrade process. According to the Times of India, the attack submarine will formally return into service with the Indian Navy next month, offering a much-needed windfall to India’s limited submarine force. Sindhukirti is the seventh Sindhughosh-class (Indian name for the Russian Kilo-class) diesel-electric attack submarine in the Indian Navy, and was originally commissioned in 1990. The Sindhukirti entered its upgrade process in 2006.

In WikiLeaks, how Saudi Arabia wanted to match Iranian influence over India

June 24, 2015 

Newly released documents in Arabic indicate how Iran's engagement with India and its Shia community was worrying Saudi Arabia.

The dump of diplomatic documents that these revelations are part of, allegedly from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), were released by WikiLeaks on Friday.

Saudi Arabia is worried about Iran’s growing influence in India and Tehran’s outreach to the Shia community in the country, according to diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks last week. Secretariat General of the Muslim World League (Mecca), a controversial organisation with terror funding links, had requested Saudi Arabia to establish the organisation’s Salafi/Wahhabi centres in India, the documents show. And while Riyadh desired to improve relations with India, it was also cognisant of issues that may be sensitive to Pakistan.

Crass politicization of terrorism in India

By RSN Singh
26 Jun , 2015

Ever since India began to be subjected to unremitting terrorism from Pakistan, mostly in direct collusion with the authorities in that country, there have been unmistakable signs on part of certain vested interests in India to hang on to some straw of ‘Hindu’ or ‘saffron terror’. The jihadi terror emanating from Pakistan, disconcerted these political vested interests not for reasons for the security concerns of the people and the country as such, but vote bank considerations. They nurtured the outrageous notion that the externally orchestrated ‘jihadi terror’ was polarizing the country on communal lines, which could severely impact on their brand of ‘secular politics’. Therefore, they embarked on a programme to ‘balance terror’ even if it meant fabricating a phenomenon called ‘Hindu Terror’.

It is purely imaginary, just like as it was in the immediate aftermath of partition in Pakistan. It may be instructive to know that the Cabinet Secretary of Pakistan, Mohd Ali, when asked by a top Indian bureaucrat, BK Nehru, regarding the persistent use of abusive language against India and Hindus by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn (Muslim League’s mouthpiece), replied that though he knew that it was wrong, but such fabrications about an enemy was necessary for building Pakistan. When Nehru retorted by asking what would happen if India was also to conjure up the bogey of “Hinduism in danger”, Ali quickly announced that Hinduism was incapable of fanaticism.

The Folly of India's Hubris in Myanmar

The Indian army’s cross-border strike against insurgents over the border with Myanmar has received significant attention over the past few weeks. Lost amidst the debates about the rise of a potential new Indian ‘doctrine’ and endless details about the operation itself has been the effect that such incidents – as well as the posturing that results from them – can have on the relationship between New Delhi and Naypyidaw. Indeed, an assessment of the overall Indo-Myanmar relationship suggests the need for greater Indian humility, rather than hubris, in its relationship with its Southeast Asian neighbor.

By focusing too much on the operation itself, some have missed two valuable points. First, India-Myanmar ties have reached a strategic depth. This alignment is based on a new understanding of shifting inter-regional geopolitics and a shared sense of security challenges as a result of years of efforts from both India and Myanmar. While Naypyidaw is incrementally turning away from its most important partner – China – its engagement with India is a strategic gain for the latter and a positive gesture from its ASEAN neighbor. In a display of strategic quid pro quo, Indian assistance to Myanmar against the Kachin has reportedly won Myanmar’s support against the Naga insurgents.

India-Pakistan: China Comes Through For Islamic Terrorism

June 23, 2015: The Pakistani Army is being criticized for not capturing any of the major Islamic terrorist leaders during their yearlong campaign in North Waziristan. There are failures, like over a million refugees, driven out of the area to deny the Islamic terrorists the ability to hide among them and still waiting to go home. The U.S. comes right out and accuses Pakistan of ignoring Islamic terror groups that concentrate their attacks on India. The largest of these groups is Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) which is very popular among middle and upper class high school and college students. LeT was organized and long supported by the Pakistani military, mainly to organize and carry out terrorist attacks in India. This is widely known in Pakistan where few people will dare criticize the attacks inside India. Also spared in the offensive was Haqqani Network, which specializes in attacks inside Afghanistan.

The U.S. agrees that the offensive in northwest Pakistan (North Waziristan) has done serious damage to the Pakistani Taliban with over 2,700 Islamic terrorists killed and much equipment (including 253 tons of explosives and other bomb making components) eliminated. The U.S., and many others, also point out that the government has not yet cracked down on Islamic terrorist recruiting in the 13,000 religious schools and their 1.8 million students. In the tribal northwest most of the religious schools are sponsored or run by an Islamic terror groups. Many of the radical mosques and religious schools in non-tribal Pakistan are not associated with the Taliban or al Qaeda, but with local Islamic radical groups. About twenty percent of Pakistanis support Islamic radicalism and resist efforts to monitor or regulate religious schools. This provides Islamic terrorists with friends in the government and a political voice amidst all the mayhem Islamic terrorist violence creates.

Why Are India's Warships in Thailand and Cambodia?

Indian vessels visited the two Southeast Asian nations this week as part of India’s ‘Act East’ policy.

This week, Indian warships visited Cambodia and Thailand as part of a two-month long operational deployment in surrounding waters in pursuit of India’s ‘Act East’ Policy.

According to a June 23 press release by the Indian embassy in Bangkok seen by The Diplomat, the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Ajendra Bahadur Singh entered the two Southeast Asian countries as part of a broader operational deployment to Southeast Asia and the Southern Indian Ocean. The ships had been on a 45-day deployment, which included port calls to Jakarta (Indonesia), Fremantle (Australia), and Singapore, where they participated in the bilateral exercise SIMBEX-15 with the Royal Singapore Navy.

Constitutional Reform Fails in Myanmar Ahead of Polls

By Prashanth Parameswaran
June 26, 2015

On Thursday, a move to amend Myanmar’s constitution largely failed in the country’s parliament, confirming that the military’s effective veto will remain and that opposition leader and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi cannot become president heading into elections scheduled for later this year.

Constitutional reform has been a buzzword of sorts in Myanmar as the country prepares for polls following a historic opening in 2011 after a half a century of military rule. But hopes have dimmed in recent months, with Suu Kyi telling The Washington Post in an interview earlier this month that “the government is totally opposed to constitutional amendment.”

After three days of parliamentary debate, two key amendments failed to be adopted because they fell short of the voted required. The first was one to trim the share of votes needed to amend the constitution from 75 percent to 70 percent, which would have ended the effective veto that unelected members of the military have by holding a quarter of the seats.

China's WW2 Military Parade to Include Russia, Mongolia - and Taiwan

June 26, 2015

China unveiled new details this week regarding its September 3 military parade, which will take place as part of China’s commemoration of the end of World War II. It will be the first time a parade is held to correspond with the anniversary of Japan’s surrender. Details emerged at two recent press conferences – a presser specifically dedicated to the parade held by the State Council Information Office on Tuesday, and a regular monthly briefing at China’s Ministry of National Defense on Thursday.

Among the details was confirmation that China would invite foreign troops to participate in the parade. Russia did the same at its Victory Day parade in May; Chinese troops took part along with troops from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India, Mongolia, and Serbia. China wants its parade to have a similar international flair. “It’s the first time to invite the foreign troops to participate. We hope through this year’s military parade… China and the world can be connected and the message of peace and development can be sent,” one of the parade’s organizers, Qu Rui, said.

The Danger of China's Cultural Protectionism

June 26, 2015

By shutting down cultural events and attacking internationalism, Beijing is only hurting itself. 

On my first trip to Beijing, what I liked most wasn’t the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace or the Temple of Heaven. It wasn’t the city’s history, art, or its cuisine. It was the simmering mix of locals, Chinese transplants, expats, and travelers. Beijing roared like an engine in low gear, ready to shift from the likes of Pyongyang to Seoul or Tokyo. In other words, an international center of culture and commerce. Alas, Beijing has apparently since decided it isn’t ready for the world stage, and that it wants to be left alone.

The People’s Republic of China initially closed its doors to everyone but the Soviets and experimented withjuche-like self-reliance, which was an abject failure. But China was quick to rally. The 1978 reforms introduced market competition, rapidly turning the nation into one of the most impressive economic engines on the planet. It’s a rising tide that has failed to lift all boats, however, and those left to turn in the waves have little to cling to but the flag. For its part, the government encourages nationalism, perhaps hoping it will pacify the masses.

US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue: Putting on a Brave Face

June 26, 2015

The U.S. and China tried their best to steer clear of controversy at their premier dialogue platform. 

The seventh U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) closed in Washington, D.C. yesterday, after two days of meetings. The dialogue brought together U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on the strategic track and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on the economic track. The two sides tried to avoid controversy in their public remarks, attempting to put a positive spin on a relationship increasingly marked by tensions.

The Trouble With China's 'One Belt One Road' Strategy

By Jiayi Zhou, Karl Hallding, and Guoyi Han
June 26, 2015

The ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy risks exacerbating China’s economic imbalances. 

In 2009, former deputy director of China’s State Administration of Taxation Xu Shanda submitted to the Ministry of Commerce a proposal titled the “Chinese Marshall Plan.” In the wake of the global financial crisis, slumping exports, and extensive internal discussions on how to “create demand,” Xu’s strategy concept suggested utilizing China’s vast foreign reserves to offer loans to developing countries, which would then contract Chinese enterprises for major projects of infrastructure and construction. In short, this so-called Marshall Plan would be a roundabout subsidy, keeping Chinese industry and production robust, employment in place, and GDP growth high. Such projects would literally and figuratively pave the roads for Chinese goods and services to enter new markets, as one of the explicit goals of Xu’s strategy was also to find outlets for China’s excess production capacity.


Behnam Ben Taleblu
June 25, 2015 

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has played his cards right. As the June 30 deadline for a comprehensive nuclear accord approaches, Iran’s supreme leader has maintained his rhetoric of resistance, dismissing long-term limits on Iran’s nuclear program as “a lifetime.” While certain Washington analysts — including on this forum— dismiss his statements as mere bravado and concerns about them as “overblown,” Khamenei’s role in Iran’s nuclear diplomacy must not be minimized. Rather, the principles laid down by the supreme leader remain the best barometer for assessing Iran’s negotiating behavior.

In Sept. 2013, shortly after Hassan Rouhani’s election as president, Khamenei gave a speech authorizing nuclear diplomacy based on the principle of “heroic flexibility.” That flexibility, however, represented a shift in tactics rather than strategy. To date, the negotiations have earned Iran sanctions relief and a diminished threat of a preemptive military strike while allowing it to continue advancing its nuclear program through ongoing low-level enrichment and nuclear-related research and development — all without altering Tehran’s fundamental objectives.

Central Asia Is Just Not Interested in ISIS

June 26, 2015

Central Asia has not been an area of interest for ISIS and Central Asians haven’t been overly interested in ISIS either, according to a recently released reportfrom by the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM). The report’s authors take a comparative approach, examining the region’s five states against the Middle East and Europe, which currently supply the most foreign fighters to ISIS.

“If poverty, political repression, political marginalisation, poor governance and corruption, undoubtedly present in Central Asia,” the report notes, “are to pave the way for the appearance of ISIS in a given country then we should look at how these factors influence the decisions of Europeans and the inhabitants of MENA who are quite eager to travel to Iraq and Syria.”

Saddam is Long Gone, but His Minefields Still Kill

June 24, 2015

In the spring sunshine on the rolling green pastures along the Iraqi border with Syria, a Kurdish man scans the ground between two red flags. Under the surface, deadly mines lie in wait. As he moves his Vallon mine detector across a patch of grass, the man’s headphones squeal into his ear.

He’s found a contact.

We’re near the village of Shilkye, and we’ve come to observe a team from the Mines Advisory Group, one of the most experienced demining non-governmental organizations working in the region.

Founded by former British Army Royal Engineer Rae McGrath, MAG has been clearing mines across the world since 1989. The deminers have worked in Kurdistan since 1992, continuing even during the 1996 Kurdish civil war.

Russia's Lethal Nuclear Arsenal Gets an Upgrade: Should NATO Worry?

Adam Mount
June 25, 2015
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave brief remarks at the opening ceremony of ARMY-2015, an exposition where Russia’s defense contractors demonstrated new military technology for foreign weapons buyers. The speech was relatively sedate. It omitted much of the aggressive rhetoric that has become commonplace for the Kremlin, amounting to little more than a sales pitch for Russia’s military systems. Highlighting several pieces of Russia’s plan to modernize its military, Putin mentioned that, “This year we will supply more than forty new intercontinental ballistic missiles [ICBMs] to our nuclear force.”

This simple statement ignited a minor fervor in NATO countries. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that, “Nobody should hear that kind of announcement… and not be concerned.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “This nuclear sabre-rattling of Russia is unjustified…. It’s also one of the reasons we are now increasing the readiness and preparedness of our forces.” Reuters says Russia is “beefing up” its arsenal, CNBC asked whether it meant a new cold war, and many others worried about the prospect of a new arms race.


Matt Cavanaugh
June 25, 2015

Ellen DeGeneres is wrong.

Misleading, maybe. Her show features military family reunions, following a year of separation, complete with hugs, kisses — all for the cameras. Sometimes even a free trip. The audience loves it; millions take in theYouTube clip.

Unfortunately, this happy view is as inaccurate as focusing on a marathon’s final strides. What about the other 26.1 miles? Or, oppositely, the start? What about the military experience, the moment of deployment departure, when family and all that matters is about to fade into the rearview mirror — what does this feel like?

In my case, excruciatingly conflicted. I love my wife and adore my two daughters, but this coming weekend I will leave them for a year to guard the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in South Korea.

The ‘World’s Deadliest Tank’: Not as Deadly as Putin Thinks?

June 26, 2015

Some Western defense analysts caution that there is still much we don’t know about Russia’s new T-14. 

The new Russian T-14 Armata main battle tank (MBT), dubbed the “world’s deadliest tank,” has been making headlines ever since its first public appearance during this year’s May 9 Victory parade in Moscow.

With its brand-new design – dissimilar to any Soviet-legacy armored ground vehicles – paired with bombastic statements by the tank’s developers, analysts as well as the media have been mesmerized by the T-14s alleged groundbreaking new technology features.

For example, this week, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reported yet another previously unknown system that the Armata is purportedly fitted with: a new generation of explosive reactive armor (ERA) that, according to a Russian defense industry source, has “no known world equivalents.”

Can the UN Make a Difference in North Korea?

June 26, 2015

A UN field office for monitoring human rights abuses in North Korea opened in Seoul on Tuesday, the culmination of unprecedented scrutiny on conditions in North Korea since the establishment of a special Commission of Inquiry.

The establishment of the branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights fulfills a recommendation from last year’s UN investigation, which detailed shocking human rights violations in North Korea. Among the many abuses described as “without parallel in the contemporary world,” the UN panel documented witness testimony of summary executions, torture, and rape at North Korea’s infamous prison camps.

NGOs welcomed the new field office, while United Nations High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said it would build “on the landmark work of the Commission of Inquiry and Special Rapporteur” by documenting regime abuses.

But can the office have any real impact on conditions inside North Korea?

While the COI focused global attention, it hasn’t spurred any actual improvement in human rights conditions in North Korea — at least as far as the outside world can see with its limited view into the closed-off nation.

Pride and Prejudice: The Drivers of China-US Conflict

By Jin Kai
June 26, 2015

Conflict between the two powers has been and will be the norm. 

It is not contradictory to talk about China-U.S. distrust and discord when two sides just concluded their seventh Strategic and Economic Dialogue and sixth Consultation on People-to-People Exchange in Washington, D.C. In fact, Chinese President Xi Jinping particularly expressed his concern about strategic misjudgments between China and the U.S. to his counterpart, President Barack Obama, through this dialogue. Verbally, the two sides have again reached a consensus on cooperation — the same consensus that has been reached and more or less shelved many times in the past.