22 December 2015

Fact-Checking The Debate On Encryption

Special Report from ProPublica
-- this post authored by Jeff Larson and Julia Angwin
As politicians and counter-terrorism officials search for lessons from the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, senior officials have called for limits on technology that sends encrypted messages.

It's a debate that has repeatedly recurred for more than a decade.In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration directed technology companies to store copies of their encryption keys with the government. That would have given the government a "backdoor" to allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies easy access to encrypted communications. That idea was dropped after sharp criticism from technologists and civil liberties advocates.
More recently, intelligence officials in Europe and the United States have asserted that encryption hampers their ability to detect plots and trace perpetrators. But many have questioned whether it would be practical or wise to allow governments widespread power to read encrypted messages.

To help readers appreciate the arguments on both sides, we've pulled together some FAQs on a subject that is sure to be hotly debated in the years to come.

Q: Are terrorists really using encrypted messages to plot attacks?
A: There's mounting evidence that terrorist groups are using encryption, but so does nearly everyone living in modern society. Encryption protects your bank information, prevents your password from being stolen when you log into a website, and allows all e-commerce transactions to take place securely.
In addition, apps that send encrypted text messaging apps through Wi-Fi, such as WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram, have become increasingly commonplace in places where text messaging is expensive.
One piece of evidence that terror networks are using encrypted messages surfaced in a recent issue of ISIS's Dabiq magazine,where the group listed a contact number in Telegram. Soon after,Telegram shut down many ISIS-connected groups using its service. And earlier this year, a West Point researcher found copies of an encryption manual designed for journalists and activists on an Internet forum linked to ISIS.



Contrary to many assertions, defeating the self-proclaimed Islamic State may not be particularly complex in the parts of Iraq, Syria, Libya and other countries where the group has sought to hold terrain. If local armed forces get organized and receive air support, they will defeat the Islamic State on the battlefield, and in doing so they will tarnish the group’s reputation for success and limit its recruitment potential. But there is one thing standing in the way of this victory: the lack of unity and motivation of its opponents.

In the absence of a major international ground force deployment, the pace of the war will continue to be driven by local actors — meaning the fight will run on their timeline rather than ours. While defeating the Islamic State may be Washington’s top concern, it is not the over-riding priority of most local actors arrayed against the group on the ground. The reality is that there is no cohesive team of allies fighting against the Islamic State and this war is only one of a number of wars being fought or prepared for across the region. In many cases actors are fighting the Islamic State purely to better positon themselves for these other conflicts.

The United States and the international coalition fighting the group in the Middle East has sought to keep the war against the Islamic State as simple as possible by stressing points of agreement between allies and avoiding the issue of nation-building. Coalition military planners has have been told to avoid considering the broader regional impact and interconnections of the war and have instead been blinkered. They are like carthorses only allowed to see the road ahead.

Peering into the Past and Future of Urban Warfare in Israel

David Betz, December 17, 2015

I traveled recently to Israel to visit a state-of-the-art military training facility in the southern Negev Desert opened by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) last year. The facility, at the Tze’elim army base, is meant to simulate urban operations of the kind the Israelis have so often faced in their conflicts with Palestinian and Lebanese militants. Though the degree of emphasis the IDF has placed on military operations in urban terrain has waxed and waned, since the mid-1980s at least it has maintained an extensive training infrastructure for this purpose, which from time to time other armies have admired. After the Second Intifada, however — a conflict that was fought almost exclusively in the densely built-up environment of the West Bank and Gaza — the need for even more and better urban warfare training was deemed all the greater.

Known as “Baladia” (Arabic for “city”), the core of this facility is indeed a small city — or large town — of some 600 buildings of a range of types, including five mosques, several cafes, a clinic, a town hall, a casbah, an eight-story apartment building, a cemetery, and a “youth club,” all arranged in Middle Eastern fashion with narrow winding streets, alleys, and passageways running higgledy-piggledy throughout. Some War on the Rocks readers may be familiar with the place as American and other forces train there quite regularly — and it may remind other readers of their deployments to Iraq. (There was a good Vice News video report on it a year ago that is worth watching).

The wider purpose of my visit to this base was for research on a new book I am writing on the resurgence of fortification strategies in contemporary security affairs — Israel, for obvious reasons, being an important case in point. Specifically, though, at Tze’elim I was hoping to answer a few questions:
1) Does the Israeli defense establishment believe there has been an “urban turn” in military and strategic affairs? Does this mean there is a need to develop (or perhaps more accurately re-develop) skills in modes of conflict such as fortification and siegecraft, tunneling and counter-tunneling, and urban warfare generally, that have been out of fashion for a century or so?
2) Do the Israelis think there is something important to contemporary urban operations that was illuminated by “postmodernist” thinking, as is commonly portrayed in the academic literature on the subject?
3) Is there anything actually new about warfare that the IDF has learned in the urban warfare business?

Infographic Of The Day: Why The US Needs More Cyber Professionals

Organizations were the target of 122 successful attacks per week on average such as viruses, malware, denial of service attacks and data exfiltration.

Norwich University�s Master of Science in Information Security & Assurance Program

Source: http://infoassurance.norwich.edu/609-2/

21 December 2015

The Ottoman caliphate Straddling two worlds Worldly, pluralist, hedonistic—and Muslim, too

Dec 19th 2015 | ISTANBUL |
ORHAN OSMANOGLU cradles a French handkerchief embossed with the letter H. “This is all I have left that’s my great-great-grandfather’s, the caliph’s,” he says. His family has fallen far since those illustrious days. Abdulhamid II lived in a palace, Yildiz, in the heart of Ottoman Istanbul; Orhan lives in a high-rise at the end of an Istanbul bus route. Europe’s royals flocked to caliphal functions, but when Orhan’s daughter married, Turkey’s present rulers stayed away. Worst of all, an Iraqi impostor has stolen the title his family bore for hundreds of years. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s barbaric outfit, Islamic State (IS), promises to restore the caliphate. Does Mr Baghdadi know what he is talking about?

For 1,300 years the caliphs, or “successors”, prided themselves on developing the Islamic community the Prophet Muhammad left behind. The Ottoman Empire, which rivalled the Roman one in longevity, came to include not only the Middle East, but north Africa, much of the north Black Sea coast, and south-eastern Europe all the way to the gates of Vienna. Ruling from Istanbul, the caliphs kept polyglot courts, reflecting the multiple religions and races represented there. French was a lingua franca at the Ottoman court; Persian, Armenian and Arabic were also spoken.
The caliphs were far from doctrinaire. Abdulhamid II, who ruled from 1876 to 1909, was one of the more Islamist, but he loved music (forbidden by IS) with a passion. He grew up in a court where the princesses played a piano coated in gold leaf given by Napoleon III, and Layla Hanoum taught the princes the cello. On Thursday evenings he would accompany Sufi masters in reciting the dhikr (rhythmic repetition of the name of God), and his imperial orchestra would play Offenbach on the way back from Friday prayers at the mosque. At state banquets the orchestra would match each course to a different concerto, including some by “Pasha” Giuseppe Donizetti, Gaetano’s older brother, who was the court composer. The last caliph, Abdulmecid II, played the violin, entertaining a mixed audience of men and women at concerts.

Writing, Integrity, and National Security

By Larry D. Miller and Laura A. Wackwitz | October 01, 2015


Advanced professional military education (PME) affords senior officers the opportunity to acquire solid intellectual footing and enter the strategic dialogue following over 20 years of progressively more responsible leadership. With that opportunity, however, comes a responsibility new to many career officers: engaging in ethical professional scholarship. The zenith of PME is transitional. Selected senior military officers are invited, indeed encouraged, to become “warrior-scholars”—individuals who recognize and understand strategic issues, have the intellectual skills to chart a path forward, and have mastered the professional competencies to make it happen.1

The mission is both educational and knowledge generative. Effective execution requires development of critical thinking and writing skills well beyond the norm in military culture. Throughout the military, “officers headed for high rank need to be challenged intellectually and to sharpen their skills in critical, precise, rigorous, and imaginative thinking and writing.”2 At the highest levels, the tasks shift from artfully executing campaigns and missions crafted by others to identifying strategic challenges, rendering assessments, and advocating well-reasoned options to the most senior military and civilian leadership. No longer is the requirement simply to understand what is being done, why, and how to do it; the new goal is to merge professional experience, critical thinking competencies, and acute insights to identify what could or should be done while advancing thoughtful analyses and perceptive recommendations supported by reason and evidence. Most officers arrive at senior Service colleges (SSCs) with considerable experience writing memoranda, operation orders, policy letters, point papers, and the like, but their written documents have been little more than tools for getting the job done effectively and efficiently.3 Customarily, Army documents are written at a reading level halfway between that appropriate for a 12th-grade reader and a college graduate.4 A well-honed mentality and skill set primed almost exclusively for efficient and cooperative execution provide little room and minimal appeal for the time-consuming, heavy intellectual lifting normally associated with knowledge generation.

The transition from writing as a routine day-to-day management tool to writing as the primary vehicle through which to demonstrate subject matter mastery, advance fresh insights,5 and make reasoned strategic-level arguments is a challenge, to say the least. Though only a few of the best students are able to fully rise to the occasion, most learn to reason well and embrace writing as a tool for achieving strategic-level objectives. Some, however, fail to grasp the importance of the mission and fulfill it. The most unfortunate of these turn to plagiarism as a means of satisfying institutional requirements, demonstrating competence with the written word, and completing the degree program. Such is the nature of a normal distribution—some perform exceedingly well, most are successful, and a few fail miserably. But at an SSC, even the plagiarists are accomplished, well-seasoned military professionals, many of whom have held command over thousands, rendered decisions impacting human life, assumed responsibility for multimillion-dollar equipment, and generally devoted their careers to the service of the Nation. What accounts for plagiarism among a select population of respected warriors-scholars? Do writing integrity and personal/professional integrity equate? Yes and no.

POLICY BRIEF The Naga Peace Accord: Manipur Connections

Sushil Kumar SharmaDecember 18, 2015

A framework agreement was signed between the National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak-Muivah [NSCN(IM)] and the Government of India on August 3, 2015. The leadership of NSCN(IM) has shown flexibility and realism in terms of its willingness to alter goals from complete sovereignty and Greater Nagalim to acceptance of the constitutional framework, albeit with a provision for the grant of greater autonomy to the Naga inhabited areas outside of Nagaland through the establishment of autonomous district councils.1 The response to the accord has been guarded in that no celebration has been observed in Nagaland. However, the Nagas in Manipur have welcomed the peace accord.

The Government of India had signed a ceasefire agreement with NSCN(IM) on July 25, 1997, which came into effect on August 1, 1997. The cease-fire in Nagaland had political implications in Manipur, particularly to the insurgency in that state. The demand of Greater Nagaland by the NSCN(IM) had created a political storm in the region particularly in the states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. On June 14, 2001, the Union government had decided to extend the ceasefire with the NSCN(IM) 'without territorial limits' to all Naga-dominated areas in the North East. This decision was perceived as threatening the territorial integrity of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, by the people of these states. This resulted in widespread violent protests against this ceasefire extension, especially in the Meitei-dominated areas of Manipur on 18 June 2001 and following days in which 18 people lost their lives. This day is now remembered as the ‘Great Uprising Day’. Faced with violent protests in Manipur, the Union government, on July 27, 2001, reverted to the original ceasefire ground rules with the NSCN(IM).2

The people of Manipur feared that the Government of India may accede to the NSCN(IM) demand of ‘Greater Nagalim’, which would result in the redrawing of the inter-state boundary, with the Naga-dominated districts going to Nagaland. While this fear probably has been dispelled with the signing of the framework agreement with NSCN(IM), it is important to understand the connections of this accord to Manipur for possible policy interventions.
Factors that need Consideration

Manipur’s boundary runs along Myanmar in the east and south, Nagaland in the north, Cachar (Assam) in the west and Mizoram in the south-west. The impact of insurgencies in these neighbouring states and the interplay of measures being implemented in other states with the steps undertaken in Manipur are relevant factors that need consideration. 

Warning For Beijing India-Japan rail diplomacy is a setback for China’s One Belt, One Road initiative.

Written by Tien Sze Fang | Updated: December 17, 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on December 12, 2015. (PIB) The recently concluded visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India has been the focus of the international media in recent days. India and Japan inked seven high-profile pacts to ramp up engagement in key areas — economic, nuclear and defence cooperation.

Among the agreements signed, the Rs 98,000 crore deal to build India’s first bullet train network, which will link Mumbai and Ahmedabad, emerged as the most eye-catching issue, mainly because of the China factor. Tokyo and Beijing have competed fiercely to export their high-speed railway systems. Less than three months ago, Japan lost to China the chance to build Indonesia’s first high-speed railway. So, India’s decision to opt for Japan’s Shinkansen system came as a relief to Abe. Jakarta’s decision was based on financial considerations — China offered a highly concessional loan without a guarantee from Indonesia’s government. The Japanese seem to have leaned a lesson from this. In order to win the contract for the proposed 500-km railway in India, Japan agreed to offer a $12 billion loan at 0.1 per cent interest, to be repaid over 50 years.

The Indo-Japanese rail agreement is widely seen as a blow to China’s “high-speed rail diplomacy”. However, it is premature to conclude that China is out of the game. In fact, China just won the contract to assess the feasibility of a high-speed train between Delhi and Mumbai. No matter how slim, there’s still hope for China to export its high-speed train system to India. That is why the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman emphasised that there is high-speed railway cooperation between China and India, too.

Not on TV, Twitter or in Parliament: A crisis that no one is talking about

But you should. Because it affects the price of your food, and by extension, everything else.
Scroll Staff ·
Indian agriculture has had a terrible year.
Unseasonal rains hit north India in February and March. The monsoon rains were inadequate in several states. Then floods hit south India in November and December.
Vast stretches of farmland lie devastated and the effects are showing up in the countryside where in states like Uttar Pradesh, as Scroll.in reported, the poor are eating rotis made of weeds.
In the first week of December, the agricultural minister Radha Mohan Singh told Parliament that deficit rainfall in the monsoon had affected crops spread over 19 million hectares in seven states.
The minister also said the planting of the winter crop was down by 18%.

In some parts of Madhya Pradesh, the water levels are so low that the administration has banned the drawing of water from public reservoirs for irrigation.
It might not be long before the cities feel the pinch.
Rise in food inflation
A failed crop doesn't affect farmers alone – it pushes up the price of food for everybody.
As Business Standard reported this week, there has been a steady decline over the last year in the wholesale price index which reflects the price of goods traded by companies. But the consumer price index, which shows the price of goods available to consumers, remains high, primarily because of the rising prices of food.
This week, in a written reply to a question in Parliament, the food minister Ram Vilas Paswan put out data on the retail prices of food in the month of December over the last four years.
The data showed a shockingly steep rise in the price of arhar and urad dal.

The crisis of dal

Basing Stabilisation Efforts on Evidence of What Works: Lessons from Afghanistan


by Jon Moss,Journal Article | December 19, 2015

The current context of the Middle East demands complex multifaceted strategies that merge hard, soft and smart power. The UK Government has continued its commitment to supporting interventions in fragile states as evidenced in the launch of the GBP 1.3 billion Conflict Stability and Security Fund. It is therefore vital to understand the structures that have to be in place to ensure money is effectively targeted.

Monitoring and evaluation of collective stabilisation efforts is extremely challenging; there have been limited examples of successful approaches. Most approaches for fragile states are predicated on the notion that a complex series of concurrent mutually reinforcing interventions needs to be carefully sequenced and integrated to foster stability. This implies that there is some overarching stabilisation strategy and plan. It also implies that there is a process in place to monitor and evaluate activity to support the continued application of these approaches. Crucially, interventions need to be designed to be capable of modification during implementation, reflecting changes in the context and environment (changes captured through monitoring).

There is limited evidence and experience of how to implement such monitoring and evaluation (M&E) successfully. This paper draws on some recent experience and seeks to identify attributes of a successful approach. It captures the experience of the author through 10 years of working in governance, security and justice in fragile and conflict affected states.

A Short History of Monitoring and Evaluation in Stabilisation

In late 2007, the UK government commissioned a short internal review of about USD 700 million of investment in stabilisation activity undertaken in Iraq from 2003 to 2007. Funds had been used for everything from fish and poultry farms, roads, bridges, power and water distribution schemes to spraying date palms and revitalising the entire date growing industry. The diversity and scale of activity was quite bewildering.

Understanding Pakistan’s Role in the Saudi-Led Anti-Terror Coalition

Islamabad is reportedly part of the new alliance. What might that mean?
By Akhilesh Pillalamarri, December 19, 2015

According to recent reports, Pakistan is now part of a Saudi Arabia-led Islamic military alliance of 34 countries fighting terrorism in the Muslim world. Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah confirmed this on Thursday, December 17, telling reporters, “Yes, we’re part of it.” Saudi Arabia announced the anti-terror alliance on Tuesday.
This news comes after initial confusion regarding the purpose and extent of this alliance, including in Pakistan itself. On Wednesday, just one day before Pakistan declared it was part of the Saudi alliance, its officials said otherwise, declaring that they had not been consulted by anyone in Saudi Arabia. Aizaz Chaudhry, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, told reporters on December 16 that he had asked his ambassador in Riyadh to discover how the “error” was made. By the next day however, these two diverging narratives were reconciled, with Khalilullah denying that Pakistan was “surprised” about its inclusion in the alliance, and insisting that Chaudhry had earlier “only said that Pakistan was ‘ascertaining details’ about the announcement.”

One possible explanation is that Pakistan genuinely did not know it was part of the Saudi-led alliance but changed its position to save face and shore up its ties with Saudi Arabia. The two countries are close, and it would seriously undermine the alliance in its infancy if Pakistan did not sign up. Additionally, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia both confirmed that they had been exchanging ideas on how to deal with terrorism prior to the announcement. It is also possible that the delay in Pakistan’s confirmation of membership was a function of internal debates in that country about joining the alliance, with the military establishment being more in favor than the civilian government, despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s close ties with Saudi Arabia. It is in fact quite possible that the confusion was due to the fact that the military took the decision to cooperate with Saudi Arabia without consulting with Pakistan’s civilian government. Pakistan’s military has never really ceded control over the country’s foreign and defense policies to the civilian government.

Unaccountable China

Brahma Chellaney, DEC 18, 2015 15
HO CHI MINH CITY – Since late 2013, China has been engaged in the frenzied creation of artificial islands and the militarization of the South China Sea. This amounts to an alarming quest for control over a strategically crucial corridor through which $5.3 trillion in trade flows each year. But what is even more shocking – not to mention dangerous – is that China has incurred no international costs for its behavior.

Of course, the international community has a lot on its plate nowadays, not least a massive refugee crisis fueled by chaos in the Middle East. But the reality is that, as long as China feels free to maneuver without consequence, it will continue to do so, fueling tensions with its neighbors that could easily turn into all-out conflict, derailing Asia’s rise.

A key component of China’s strategy in the South China Sea is the dredging of low-tide elevations to make small islands, including in areas that, as China’s deputy foreign minister for Asian affairs, Liu Zhenmin, recently acknowledged, “are far from the Chinese mainland.” In China’s view, that distance makes it “necessary” to build “military facilities” on the islands. And, indeed, three of the seven newly constructed islets include airfields, from which Chinese warplanes could challenge the US Navy’s ability to operate unhindered in the region.

By militarizing the South China Sea, China is seeking to establish a de facto Air Defense Identification Zone like the one that it formally – and unilaterally – declared in 2013 in the East China Sea, where it claims islands that it does not control. China knows that, under international law, its claim to sovereignty over virtually all of the resource-endowed South China Sea, based on an “historic right,” is weak; that is why it has opposed international adjudication. Instead, it is trying to secure “effective control” – which, under international law, enhances significantly the legitimacy of a country’s territorial claim – just as it has done in the Himalayas and elsewhere.

But China’s ambitions extend beyond the South China Sea: It aims to create a strongly Sino-centric Asia. Thus, the country recently established its first overseas military base – a naval hub in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa – and it has repeatedly sent submarines into the Indian Ocean. Moreover, China is engaging in far-reaching economic projects – such as the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which entails the construction of infrastructure linking Asia to Europe – that will strengthen its presence in, and influence over, a number of countries, thereby recasting regional geopolitics in its image.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama’s administration remains hesitant to back up its much-publicized “pivot” toward Asia with meaningful action – especially action to constrain China. Instead of, say, imposing sanctions or exerting localized military pressure on China, the Obama administration has attempted to pass the buck. Specifically, it has stepped up military cooperation with other Asia-Pacific countries, encouraged other claimants to territory in the South China Sea to shore up their defenses, and supported a more active role in regional security for democratic powers like Australia, India, and even Japan.

To put it bluntly, that is not enough. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, unlike natural islands, China’s constructed islands – which were built on top of natural features that did not originally rise above the water at high tide – do not have sovereignty over 12 nautical miles of surrounding sea. Yet it was not until recently that the United States sent a warship within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island. And even then, it was just a sail-through that an official Chinese mouthpiece dismissed as a “political show.” The US did not challenge China’s territorial claims directly, or demand that China halt its island-building program.

In fact, even as China persists with its fast-paced dredging, which has already created more than 1,200 hectares of artificial land, US officials insist that the South China Sea issue should not be allowed to hijack Sino-American relations. This feckless approach to China’s quietly emerging hegemony in the South China Sea has heightened concerns of the region’s smaller countries. They know that when two great powers bargain with each other, it is countries like them that usually lose.

Some already have. In 2012, China seized the disputed Scarborough Shoal, located well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. The US, which had just brokered an agreement requiring Chinese and Filipino vessels to withdraw from the area, did nothing, despite its mutual-defense treaty with the Philippines.

But Asia’s smaller countries are not the only ones that should be worried. Given the South China Sea’s strategic importance, disorder there threatens to destabilize the entire region. Moreover, if China gets its way, it will become more assertive in the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific. Perhaps most important, if Chinese bullying enables it to ignore international rules and norms, a very dangerous precedent will have been set. One can easily think of other countries that would be sure to embrace it.

Read more at https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/south-china-sea-chinese-accountability-by-brahma-chellaney-2015-12#2w5gm0Wd6yJWsBrD.99

China's 2,500 Mile-Range 'Carrier-Killer' Missile: A Nuclear Threat?


Harry J. Kazianis, December 18, 2015
When Americans ponder the phrase “national security” they likely think of only one thing these days: the Islamic State. And considering the headlines, who can blame them? However, news out of China concerning a new generation of “carrier-killer” missiles—now sporting a 2,500 mile range—should remind Washington’s national security leaders of the long-term challenges America faces in the Pacific.

Countless ink has already been spilled when it comes to China’s first anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), the DF-21D, over the last six years or so. In September, Beijing unveiled a longer-range version of the weapon, the DF-26. While countless news articles marked the debut of the system, specific information on the new weapon was scarce. However, thanks to the sleuthing skills of U.S. Naval War College Professor Andrew Erickson, we now know a little more about the weapon—and its possible uses beyond the much discussed “killing” of carriers.

But first, a recap of how both the DF-21D and DF-26 work: The missile is launched from a mobile truck-mounted launcher into the atmosphere, with over-the-horizon radar, satellite tracking and possibly unmanned aerial vehicles providing guidance. It also incorporates a maneuverable warhead (MaRV) to help find its target—and defeat an adversary's missile defenses. Such a device could be instrumental in striking a vessel in the open ocean or denying access to a potential opponent in transiting to a conflict zone (think Taiwan or in the East and South China Seas).

So now that we know how the weapon works, the next set of questions are obvious: When would Beijing use it? What is the overall strategy for its use in a potential conflict? And what are its capabilities? This is where Andrew Erickson’s discovery comes in: he has uncovered the only in-depth article that gives at least some hard information concerning the weapon. While you can read the whole article here in Mandarin, written by Wang Changqin and Fang Guangming in China Youth Daily, here are five key points from the article worth knowing (the translation was also discovered by Dr. Erickson):

Point #1 - The DF-26 has multiple uses—not just killing carriers.

China and Climate Change: Three Things to Watch After Paris


China has made its promises. Will it now deliver?
By Elizabeth Economy
December 19, 2015

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, so it is not surprising that Beijing’s every statement on the issue is swallowed, digested, and regurgitated by the rest of the world. My colleagues Yanzhong Huang and Ariella Rotenberg penned a helpful piece early in the Paris climate negotiations outlining the dramatic turnaround in China’s negotiating posture over the past six years, from obstreperous in Copenhagen to virtuous in Paris. Now that Paris is over, however, the question remains as to whether China will meet its target of capping CO2 emissions by around 2030. The good news is that most analysts seem to feel that Beijing has under-promised so that it can over-deliver: Many climate experts argue that it would not be surprising for Beijing to meet its targets by 2025.

China is off to a good start on the policy front by establishing a number of clear objectives: a target of 20 percent non-fossil fuels in its overall energy mix by 2030 (about half of which is slated to come from nuclear), additional targets to reduce carbon intensity and energy intensity, and coal consumption caps for a number of provinces. The year 2017 will be a big one: China is slated to inaugurate a nationwide cap-and-trade system for CO2, as well as an environmental tax. A slowing economy will also contribute to reducing the country’s growth in emissions. Nonetheless, as another colleague of mine, Michael Levi, has noted, within every country there will be barriers to strong action. So what does this mean in terms of the world’s largest emitter? Here are three implications:

Cap-and-trade: China has pledged to launch a nationwide cap-and-trade system for CO2 in 2017. As designed, it will quickly become the largest in the world. Yet experts who have looked closely at China’s pilot projects to date raise a number of concerns surrounding the likely efficacy of Beijing’s effort. First, China’s non-market economy and weak rule of law pose a real challenge to such a system, given that cap-and-trade is designed to operate within a transparent, rules-based market system. What else is missing in China? A number of the essentials: an up-to-date inventory on emissions that will allow Beijing to set the original cap of allowances properly; transparency in the auctioning process as well as in the amount of emissions; a robust system for monitoring emissions; a law that governs rules for a cap-and-trade system, without which “regulators must operate largely in a politically uncertain environment”; and a penalty structure for non-compliance that is tough enough to induce behavioral change. China will likely find its own version of cap-and-trade with Chinese characteristics; what that means remains to be seen.

China Deploys First Nuclear Deterrence Patrol

China reportedly deployed its first-ever submarine nuclear deterrence patrol. What does it mean?
By Benjamin David Baker, December 19, 2015
During the Cold War, nuclear deterrence was ultimately perceived to be an effective way of keeping tensions between the Warsaw Pact and NATO from exploding into war. Although much of the rhetoric surrounding Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) disappeared along with the Soviet Union, nuclear states still keep sizable arsenals to dissuade others from attacking them.

A central part of having a credible nuclear response option is to develop a so-called “nuclear triad.” This consists of having ground-, air- and sea-based nuclear capabilities, in order to retain a “second strike” capability in case an opponent launches its nukes first. Submarines and small, mobile land-based launch platforms armed with nuclear ballistic and so-called Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs) are crucial to a second strike capability, since they are difficult to detect and target.
China has recently achieved some important milestones with regards to both these capabilities. According to IHS Jane’s, U.S. military officials confirmed that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has deployed a Type-094 Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic submarine on a nuclear deterrence patrol. If true, this represents the first time that China has deployed a sub on this kind of mission.

Due to the secrecy surrounding China’s military in general, it is impossible to confirm whether this boat is actually armed with nuclear-tipped missiles. However, U.S. four-star Admiral Cecil Haney is assuming so: “Have they put the missile we’ve seen them test, in for a package that is doing strategic deterrent patrols? I have to consider them today that they are on strategic patrol.”

Pak pal China now on jihadi radar

By JAYADEVA RANADE | NEW DELHI | 19 December, 2015
ISIS had earlier issued a map depicting large swathes of Chinese territory as part of the ISIS Caliphate and in July 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi identified China as a country that suppresses Muslims.
ISIS, the world’s most violent Islamist terrorist outfit, for the first time specifically put China on notice last weekend when it released a four-minute video in Mandarin aimed at recruiting China’s estimated 23 million Muslims. The catchy nasheed (chants) in the video calls upon “Muslim brothers” to shake off the “shameful” memory of a “century of slavery” and “awaken and fight on the battlefield”. It stresses that they will “abide only by the Quran and the Sunnah and no power can stop their progress”.
Coming amidst the hitherto unchecked violence by Uyghurs protesting Chinese rule in the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region, the video will further heighten the anxieties of China’s leadership. There has been no direct official Chinese response to the video yet and, in a bid to prevent spread of the video and its contents, the strictly-controlled official Chinese language media has blanked out its mention. Reference to the video has been noticed on only one blogsite on sina.com. 
Posted on 11 December 2015, this blog referred to the nasheed and observed that ISIS, and Islamic outfits based especially in Turkey, had condemned China’s “anti-Islamic policies” in Xinjiang. Citing a survey done in 2010, it stated that China has about 10 million Uyghurs and 10 million Hui, both Sunnis and with the Hui nationality speaking Mandarin. The blog recalled that a group fighting Bashar al Assad released an online video in 2013 showing a Chinese ISIS “soldier” named Yusuf (Wang Bo in Chinese) and that in a speech in July 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had said that citizens of twelve countries, including China, had joined the ranks of ISIS fighters. Also in 2014, Iraq’s Defence Ministry disclosed that it had captured Chinese nationals fighting for ISIS in September, but gave no details. 
The release of this video in Mandarin appears to be a deliberate move by ISIS. It had earlier issued a map depicting large swathes of Chinese territory as part of the ISIS Caliphate and in July 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi identified China as a country that suppresses Muslims. Most recently, on 18 November, ISIS announced the execution of Fan Jinghui, its first Chinese hostage and Beijing native. 

How Many Air Strikes Have Been Carried Out On Isis?

posted on 18 December 2015
by Felix Richter, Statista.com,  -- this post authored by Niall McCarthy

One of Statista's recent infographics featured in the i100 shows that over 8,500 coalition air strikes had been carried out across Iraq and Syria as of December 1st.

The bulk of these have been conducted by the United States, especially in Syria. The US Department of Defense has recorded 2,776 American air strikes in Syria while coalition partners including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE have carried out a total of 158.

This chart shows US and coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria as of December 1, 2015.

You will find more statistics at Statista

Has ISIS Become The Top Cyber Threat?

Dec 18, 2015, Sean Lawson

The media coverage and public debate following the November terror attacks in Paris might give one the impression that ISIS has suddenly become the top cyber threat to Western countries. Officials in France, the U.K., and Canada have seized on the Paris attack to promote a number of cyber security initiatives. In the United States, we have seen a renewed debate over encryption, as well a calls from both leading Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to censor the Internet to combat the threat that ISIS poses there. This is despite the fact that the Paris attacks were not cyber attacks and were planned “in plain sight” and without widespread use of sophisticated encryption technologies by the attackers.

We should ask two questions: First, has our attention really shifted towards ISIS as a cyber threat? Second, if so, is this shift warranted? In short, my answer to these questions is yes, there is reason to believe our attention has shifted, and no, this shift is not warranted.
As I have argued in my previous work, close observers of the history of the U.S. cyber security debate have noted a tendency for cyber threat perceptions to mirror larger national security concerns. That is, the perception of cyber threat actors can be influenced by other perceived threats that are not primarily about cyber security. Paris seems to provide an example of this phenomenon.

To try to get a sense of whether public attention has indeed shifted towards ISIS as a cyber threat actor in the wake of the Paris attacks, I did what is, admittedly, a quick and dirty comparison of mentions between ISIS and China in news articles also mentioning some variation of the terms cyberwar, cyberterror, or cybersecurity. I used LexisNexis Academic Universe to search newspapers for articles meeting these criteria for one month leading up to the Paris attacks on November 13 and then for one month following the attacks. (Note that in the ISIS search, “Anonymous” was excluded from the search string to avoid articles that were primarily about Anonymous’ “cyber war on ISIS” instead of primarily about ISIS itself.)

Figure 1 – Percent of total cyber threat-related articles for China and ISIS, before and after the Paris attacks.

Could IS Turn Next to Cyber War?


FILE - Hackers who say they are loyal to the Islamic State group, take over the U.S. Central Command Twitter account, Jan. 12, 2015.
Sharon Behn, December 18, 2015 3:33 PM

The power is out. Gas stations are out of gas. Factories are going haywire.
It sounds like an action movie, but some analysts tell VOA that U.S. industries need to significantly ramp up their cyber security or risk having the Islamic State (IS) hack, attack and create mayhem inside their systems.

"This is definitely a threat to the U.S. government and other western governments, but also to our industrial control systems — the ones that run our manufacturing plants, moving energy across the country, that have vulnerabilities," said Bob Gourley, the former chief technology officer of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Unlike cyberattacks by Russia and China, Gourley said, groups like IS are less interested in just extracting information and more interested in disrupting essential systems.

"They are going to want to cause mischief and grab attention, so destroying equipment or changing information that makes us question our own systems," said Gourley, who heads the firm Cognitio and is publisher of ThreatBrief.com.

COP21: The Toothless Paris Agreement

Shebonti Ray Dadwal and Satyam Malaviya, December 18, 2015

After two weeks of intense negotiations in Paris, 196 nations signed what is being hailed as a ‘landmark’ deal to limit carbon emissions, restrict the rise in global temperatures to below 20C of pre-industrial levels, and make the world economy carbon neutral by the second half of the century. But how effective can an accord, which aims to assuage the concerns of diverse countries with diverse agendas, be especially when the commitments that have been made are voluntary?

Unsurprisingly, there is more scepticism than optimism that governments will do the needful to transform their fossil fuel-dependent economies to ones that use more sustainable and cleaner energy resources.

For instance, a recent New York Times article reported that Chinese state owned companies have undertaken, and have commenced, the construction of coal-fired power plants in 27 countries across the developing world with loans from the Chinese Exim Bank. The report also stated that Beijing is in fact encouraging its state-owned firms to go out and seek projects in neighbouring countries in order to offset declining profits at home due to a glut in domestic coal-fired plants, increase demand for Chinese steel and bind the Chinese economy more closely with its neighbours. In fact, coal-based plants account for 68 per cent of the generation capacity built by China in the rest of Asia, and that figure is set to increase.1