12 July 2015


July 10, 2015 

Happy Friday, readers! It’s time to break out that lawn chair, grab a cold beer and spend some time in the sun with some quality reading material, which we’ve collected for this edition of weekend reading. Here are some of the best things we’ve read this week.

Parsing the National Military Strategy. Recently, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey released a new National Military Strategy. While there are few surprises in the document, it provides insight into the preoccupations of Pentagon strategists and is surprisingly readable — for an official Department of Defense publication. Over atDefense in Depth, Janine Davidson highlights key takeaways from the document so you don’t need to read the whole thing.

Looking “Beyond the Iran Deal.” As the deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran looms closer, Ilan Goldenberg and Avner Golov analyze the broader implications of an agreement on global nonproliferation norms and regional security in The National Interest. A successful deal could allow the United States to “take the most positive elements of the agreement with Iran and turn them into global best practices,” but only if coupled with the “right combination of policies after a deal including reassuring partners, pushing back against Iranian surrogates and proxies, and leveraging the agreement in the broader non-proliferation arena.”


July 10, 2015 

British archives contain little on covert action. The Secret Intelligence Service, (SIS, more commonly known as MI6) was only legally avowed in 1994 and is not well-known for transparency. It does not release files to the National Archives, and its own archive is exempt from the 1958 Public Records Act and is beyond the scope of the 2000 Freedom of Information Act. Moreover, the British state employs “weeders” to prevent other sensitive material from reaching the National Archives.

To be fair, a few years ago MI6 commissioned an excellent official history, written by Professor Keith Jeffery, to mark its centenary. As with many official histories however, readers remain unable to examine the sources for themselves. In addition, the history only went up to 1949 and primarily explored the service’s foremost task: intelligence gathering.

Japan could become a permanent participant in the U.S.-India-led Malabar naval exercises.

July 10, 2015

Will Japan Become a Permanent Part of US-India-led Naval Exercise?

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces (MSDF) will likely be a permanent participant in the U.S.-India-led Malabar naval exercise going forward, according to a report by the Yomiuri Shimbun. As Prashanth Parameswaran noted in these pages recently, the MSDF will return to the Malabar exercise this year in October, which will take place in the Bay of Bengal, off the Indian coast. This will be the first time the MSDF will have returned to participate in Malabar in the Bay of Bengal—it first did so in 2007 in a larger exercise which comprised the navies of Australia, Singapore in addition to the U.S. and Indian navies. Malabar began as an annual bilateral naval exercise in 1992 and usually alternates between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

In addition to Malabar 2007, Japan participated in the exercise’s 2009 and 2014 iterations. Its involvement in Malabar 2015 marks the first time Japan has participated in the exercises in two consecutive years. Japan’s increasing participation comes amid a general strategic convergence between India and Japan, and a reassessment of the U.S.-Japan defense guidelines spurred by reforms pursued by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japan and India, while not allies, regard each other as strategic global partners. Starting in late 2013, the Japan-India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) formalized regular bilateral naval exercises between New Delhi and Tokyo; the first iteration of that exercise was held in the Bay of Bengal in December 2013.

Washington’s Military Gift to Uzbekistan Questioned

A donation of military vehicles to a regime with a poor human rights record is questioned in Congress.
Earlier this week, Eurasianet’s Joshua Kucera flaggedan interesting, largely overlooked bit in last month’s U.S. congressional hearing on civil and political rights in Central Asia. Speaking before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central Asia Dan Rosenblum took a break from discussing Washington’s fledgling, floundering focus on human rights in the region to discuss a move with which his name has become synonymous: America’sdecision to give some 300 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to the Uzbek regime, the largest single military donation the U.S. has ever offered the region.

11 July 2015

The Ufa takeaways and reason for hope

July 11, 2015

The Ufa engagement proves the strength of the fundamentals of the India-Pakistan relationship, and that despite all that happens to derail the ties, the two countries have always returned to the table

The meeting on Friday between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif — who met for nearly an hour in Ufa in Russia on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit to discuss an entire gamut of issues between the two countries — has kicked off a new season of engagement between India and Pakistan. There is now a clear road map of events in the next few months to take the dialogue process forward.

Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan, S. Jaishankar and Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, held a joint press meet where they read out a joint statement on the outcome of the meeting and listed out five points. These are: a meeting in New Delhi between the two National Security Adviser (NSA) to discuss all issues linked to terrorism; early meetings of the Directors General of the Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers followed by that of the Directors General Military Operations (DGMO); the decision to release fishermen in each other’s custody, along with their boats, within a period of 15 days; a mechanism for facilitating religious tourism, and both sides agreeing to discuss ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial, including additional information like providing voice samples.

Bonhomie after acrimony

Prime Minister Modi takes up Lakhvi issue with Chinese President

India makes concerns known after China blocked UN move

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday and raised concerns about China's move to put a “technical hold” on India’s attempt in the United Nations to question Pakistan on the release of 2008 Mumbai attacks accused Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi. Foreign secretary S Jaishankar said the Chinese side was impressed with India's clarity on the issue during the 95-minute meeting in Ufa, Russia, ahead of the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summits. China had cited "insufficient information" for blocking India's request. Meanwhile, reports suggested that Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif will meet on Friday on the sidelines of the summit.

High Court refuses CBI probe in Vyapam scam

The Daily Fix: The Narendra Modi-Nawaz Sharif meet in Ufa is a good sign (but don't expect much)

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

Above the Fold: Top stories of the day
1. The Japanese navy could be set to join naval exercises planned between India and the United States, a move that might cause consternation in Beijing.

2. The Supreme Court issued notice to Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav to reply on a petition challenging the quashing of a First Information Report against him alleging involvement in the MP Vyapam scam.

3. Rohan Bopanna and his Romanian partner Florin Mergea have been knocked out of the Wimbledon after losing in the men's doubles semifinals. His compatriot Leander Paes has reached the mixed doubles semifinals along with Martina Hingis, who will also be playing in the women's doubles semifinals today, alongside Sania Mirza.

The Big Story: Piecemeal Process

Six reasons the right wing disdain for Amartya Sen is just wrong


He is exactly the kind of intellectual democrat they should have on their team.

All right, we know he is the world's foremost argumentative Indian, perhaps our most playful public intellectual, and a Nobel laureate who hasn't given up his Indian passport. That is clearly not enough to make the right wingers proud of Amartya Sen. So I would urge them to read his remarkable and very timely collection of essays, The Country of First Boys - and Other Essays, edited by Antara Dev Sen and Pratik Kanjilal, just out from The Little Magazine and Oxford University Press. It will remind them - or reveal to them - why he is exactly the kind of intellectual democrat (to quote from Gopalkrishna Gandhi's lovely preface to the book) they should have on their team. If indeed Team India needs to have two teams.

British Army Lessons Learned in Afghanistan

Brigadier Ben Barry (ret.) 

The British Army that entered Afghanistan in late in 2001 had a quarter century of successes from Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, the Falkland Islands, Operation Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor and Sierra Leone. All these operations were supported by Parliament, the public and the media. There were remarkably few casualties. Many aspects of these operations were demanding, but in all these conflicts the opposition was of lower average quality than British forces, was mostly unwilling to stand and fight and was overmatched by the arms and joint war-fighting capabilities of the UK and its allies.

So war in a broken country against enemies who rejected Western values and were prepared to stand, fight and die was a strategic shock. The army was faced with far greater challenges than it had expected. There were periods of intense fighting. Most soldiers, officers and units performed well, often outstandingly so.

Many International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) nations experienced similar shocks. Those who also provided troops to the US-led Operation Iraqi Freedom were doubly challenged. For the UK this was not only related to the difficulties of sustaining forces in two different operational theatres, but also to the fact that the ever-decreasing popularity of the Iraq War contaminated the public, media and parliamentary popularity of the UK operations in Afghanistan. These factors greatly challenged the British government, its Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the army. All were too slow to adapt. Overall, the British in Afghanistan were not as effective as they could have been.

The UK and ISAF – A Brief Summary

Afghan-Taliban Talks Widely Welcomed

Afghan security forces inspect site of suicide attack after clashes with Taliban fighters at the gate of an intelligence facility in Kabul, July 7, 2015.

The first direct talks between Afghan government and Taliban representatives in neighboring Pakistan are being widely welcomed as an important step towards ending years of hostilities in Afghanistan.

Intelligence sources tell VOA a four-member Taliban delegation attended the Pakistan-hosted talks near Islamabad with “complete consent” of the insurgent group’s fugitive “central leadership.”

The Taliban delegation was led by senior leader Mullah Abbas Durrani; Afghan Deputy Foreign Ministry Hekmat Khalil Karzai headed the Kabul delegation, which included close aids of Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

American and Chinese representatives also participated as observers in what is being dubbed an “ice-breaking, historic” meeting that, lasting several hours, ended after midnight.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will transform the region, predicts China expert

This is a serious effort on Beijing’s part to try to shift the terms of the game in South Asia.

Andrew Small, a fellow with the Asia programme at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, is an expert on Chinese policy in South Asia. His most recent book, The China-Pakistan Axis, explores Pakistan's role in China's geostrategic ambitions and its emerging struggles with Islamic militancy. In this interview with Sanjay Kapoor of Hardnews, Small explained Beijing's changing relationship with Islamabad.

Two months ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Islamabad and announced Beijing's biggest investment in recent times: $46 billion, to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Is there a message in the fact that this occurred just weeks before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to Beijing?Not really. In fact, China was keen to decouple the Xi visit to Pakistan and Modi’s visit to China as much as possible. The cancellation of the Chinese president’s originally-scheduled trip to Islamabad last year provided an opportunity for Beijing to shift the usual optics of these visits when he finally made it there in April. This was the first time in decades that a Chinese leader has visited Pakistan and India separately. Although there is, of course, an important strategic component of the China-Pakistan relationship that is India-focused, there are many elements that really have no reference to India. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is one of them.

A number of factors are driving Cambodia’s strategic convergence with China.

According to conventional wisdom, the international system leaves small states less room for maneuver. Cambodia is no exception. Since the kingdom won its independence from France in 1953, it had been preoccupied with protecting that independence, as well as its sovereignty and territorial integrity. During the Cold War, Cambodian foreign policymakers tried various approaches, from neutrality to alliances with major power(s) and, worst of all, isolationism. Yet Cambodia remained a victim of power politics, and ended up with a civil war and some of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

Early in the 21st century, China has emerged as a regional and global power. China’s power and influence can be felt in all corners of the globe, most evidently in continental Southeast Asia. In this context, the Cambodia-China bilateral relationship has experienced a remarkable transformation over the last decade or so. Although rooted in mistrust due to the involvement of China in Cambodia’s civil war and social strife, especially Beijing’s support for the Khmer Rouge regime, bilateral ties have noticeably consolidated and improved since 1997.

The American Call for Greater Flexibility on Greece

By Michael Leigh
July 8, 2015

BRUSSELS - For the United States, Greece is a valued NATO ally and a land of relative stability, between the faltering Balkans, North Africa, and the Middle East. Its strategic importance throughout the Mediterranean has increased following the failure of the Arab uprisings and the falling-out of two U.S. allies, Turkey and Israel. Greece's cooperation is crucial in counter-terrorism and in efforts to cope with the flow of refugees from Syria and the Horn of Africa. It has become a security partner for Israel, a relationship reflected in growing links between the Greek and Jewish communities in the United States.

The United States has an interest in Europe's drive for greater energy security and diversification of supply away from Russia. Greece aspires to an important role in Europe's energy security through its own offshore exploration for oil and gas and potential future production and through new interconnectors to the Balkans and up into central Europe.

Overall, the "Europeanization" of Greece has saved it from the tribulations of its Balkan neighbors. Much would be lost for the Greek people, the region, the EU, and the United States if Greece became a failed state in an increasingly troubled neighborhood. Russian President Vladimir Putin's efforts to seduce wayward European states might then have greater success.

The New H-6K is China's B-52

July 8, 2015

Beijing’s new bomber flies farther, carries more than older models — but there’s a catch

Today just three countries operate long-range heavy bombers. Russia has 170 or so Bears, Backfires and Blackjacks. America fields 160 swing-wing B-1s, radar-evading B-2s and stalwart B-52s.

China’s bomber force is smaller with around 130 H-6s. And most of the H-6s, copies of Russia’s Cold War Tu-16, lack the long range and heavy payload that many of the Russian and American bombers boast.

But that’s changing. After years of work, the Chinese air force has reportedly outfitted two regiments—together possessing around 36 bombers — with a new, much more capable “K” version of the H-6.

The H-6K is Beijing’s B-52 — a far-flying, fuel-efficient heavy bomber combining a simple, time-tested airframe with modern electronics and powerful, precision weaponry. Although to be fair, the B-52 flies much farther with more bombs and missiles.

Why Is China's Stock Market Crashing?

July 08, 2015

China’s stocks tumbled in recent weeks. Barely three weeks earlier, on June 12 (Friday), Shanghai Composite (SSEC) closed at 5166.35 points, the highest since January 18, 2008. Yet by the end of July 3, the SSEC shed 1481.99 points, losing almost 29 percent of its recent high and more than $2.8 trillion of value (i.e., 10 times of Greece’s annual GDP).

What is vexing for policymakers is that the Chinese stock markets ignored signals from the Chinese leaders and continued their downward fall. Following the 7.40 percent dive on Friday (June 26), the People’s Bank of China (the central bank of China) on Saturday responded by cutting its benchmark interest rates and the amount of reserves certain banks are required to hold. The central bank cut its one-year benchmark lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.85 percent and its one-year deposit rate by the same scale to 2 percent.

Moreover, Monday, June 29, was supposed to be an auspicious day when the ceremony for the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a China-led international bank, was held. But investors disregarded these strong signals and continued their selling. The SSEC lost 12 percent for the week, the worst weekly performance since the financial crisis.

Obama Admin Fears Iran Deal Will Release Billions for Terror Attacks

Any nuclear deal with Tehran is going to mean a huge influx of cash for Iran. And even the White House is worried that could mean new funds for Tehran’s terror proxies.

A nuclear agreement with Iran could give Tehran a $100 billion financial windfall—a sum that even the Obama administration is concerned could be used to finance terrorism against American interests.

Iran has billions in assets frozen by an international sanctions regime led by the United States and other world powers. Should a nuclear agreement be reached, as is expected later this week, these assets would be eventually released to the Iranian government.

“We are of course aware and concerned that, despite the massive domestic spending needs facing Iran, some of the resulting sanctions relief could be used by Iran to fund destabilizing actions,” a State Department official told The Daily Beast.

It's Time to Recognize a Failing Strategy

July 8, 2015

In the Islamic State (ISIS), we face a determined enemy melding terrorism and guerrilla warfare with an expansionist, state-building agenda and a mastery of online propaganda. And no country has yet mustered the political will or strategic understanding to defeat the group. In strikingly similar speeches on both sides of the Atlantic on 6 July 6, US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron each admitted that no complete strategy is yet in place, and acknowledged this will be a protracted ‘generational’ struggle with many setbacks.

Over the past year, since its capture of Mosul drew a belated response from the United States, Australia and others, ISIS has adapted to western counterterror efforts, repeatedly beaten Iraqi and Syrian regular troops and Iranian-backed militias, established provinces in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, the Caucasus, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and inspired attacks in western states and several North African and Middle Eastern countries.

Who, What, Why: Is it illegal to display an IS flag?

Police have been criticised for not arresting a man who walked through Westminster apparently displaying the black flag associated with the Islamic State group. Is such an act against the law, asks Finlo Rohrer.

The man, with a small child on his shoulders also holding a flag, walked near the Houses of Parliament while draped in the black flag, apparently similar to that used by the Islamist militant group.

The Metropolitan Police said they stopped him but then let him go on his way. "This man was spoken to by officers, with consideration given to relevant legislation, particularly the Public Order Act, and the decision was taken by officers at the time that the man was acting within the law. He was not arrested.

"Wearing, carrying or displaying of an emblem or flag, by itself, is not an offence unless the way in which, or the circumstance in which, the emblem is worn, carried or displayed is such as to cause reasonable suspicion that the person is a supporter or member of a proscribed organisation. While support of and membership of [IS] is unlawful it is not a criminal offence to advocate the creation of an independent state."

The answer

Bangladesh's Success Against Terror

by Tahseen Ali 
July 8, 2015

The U.S. State Department has gone out of its way to praise the government of Bangladesh for fighting against extremism and terror. The accolade is well deserved.

This country of 160 million people is ripe for terrorist influence. According to the State Department's annual Country Reports on Terrorism, "terrorist organizations used social media to spread their radical ideologies and solicit foreign fighters from Bangladesh." Indeed, al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri once singled out Bangladesh as one of the countries in which the newly-established al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent seeks to operate.

Bangladesh has responded adroitly. The government has arrested Bangladeshis who have returned to their country from abroad for attempting to recruit its citizens to join the so-called Islamic State. Indeed, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh in June, he praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a formidable force in fighting regional and global terrorism.

The Third Iraq War

By Lisa Beyer 
Jul 7, 2015

After sending its soldiers to fight in Iraq twice in 20 years, a war-weary U.S. withdrew the last of its troops there in 2011. Three years later, it returned after big chunks of Iraq and Syria fell to the jihadists of Islamic State. No one in authority calls it America’s Third Iraq War, but Operation Inherent Resolve, a 62-nation campaign of airstrikes coupled with the strengthening of Iraqi military and Syrian rebel forces, is led and mostly conducted by the U.S. While President Barack Obama and his critics disagree over whether the effort can defeat Islamic State, others question whether another Iraq war can serve U.S. interests at all.

The Situation