14 February 2018

Can the SCO Bring India and Pakistan Together?

By Sabena Siddiqi

Since Pakistan and India’s formal induction into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) last year, the group now represents 40 percent of the world’s population and almost 20 percent of its GDP. Bringing these two South Asian neighbors into the folds of the SCO in June 2017 initially gave rise to conjecture as to whether they could coexist. On a positive note, in the SCO the participation of all member states in its activities is mandatory so interaction and dialogue is unavoidable. Considering the tense relations between India and Pakistan, it should be interesting to see them participating in multilateral military exercises under the auspices of the SCO, as the memorandum of obligations makes joint military exercises compulsory.

How Can America Change Pakistani Behavior?


BRAHMA CHELLANEY

The US has plenty of incentive to put pressure on Pakistan, a country that has long pretended to be an ally, even as it continues to aid the militant groups fighting and killing US soldiers in neighboring Afghanistan. In fact, it is partly because of that aid that Afghanistan is a failing state, leaving the US mired in its longest-ever war.

US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to freeze some $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan as punishment for the country’s refusal to crack down on transnational terrorist groups is a step in the right direction. But more steps are needed.

Flagging Pakistani Taliban Loses Another Top Gun

By Daud Khattak

Mehsud Taliban leader Khan Said Sajna is reported dead in a drone strike. 

The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) received a serious blow on Friday when the group’s second-in-command Khan Said, alias Sajna, was reportedly killed in a suspected drone strike in Afghanistan’s southeastern Paktika province on February 9.

Khan Said Sajna was the deputy of the TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah, who is reportedly hiding in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province since his miraculous escape from a massive military operation by the Pakistani security forces in the country’s tourist resort of Swat in mid-2009.

Suspected U.S. drone strikes kill Pakistani Taliban commander, officials say

Reuters

PESHAWAR/DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - A pair of suspected U.S. missile strikes killed a senior Pakistani Taliban deputy and other militants in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said on Friday.

Four Pakistani intelligence officials and three Taliban commanders told Reuters on Friday that two separate U.S. missile strikes on Wednesday killed the fighters.

One of the strikes, they said, killed a Pakistani Taliban commander, Khan Said, alias Sajna, and three more people, when missiles struck his pick-up truck in Margha village of Birmal district in Paktika province of Afghanistan.

A realist Indian strategy for Maldives — and South Asia

RAJESH RAJAGOPALAN

The Maldives conundrum is an opportunity for India to craft a better policy towards India’s smaller neighbours.

No one would wish to be in the shoes of India’s key foreign policy decision-makers today, as they try to grapple with what to do about Maldives. They face three unpalatable choices, with unpredictable consequences stemming from each. They could seek to talk to President Abdulla Yameen, hoping he will understand India’s security concerns. They could order a military intervention, with all its unpredictable consequences. Or they could wait in the hope that President Yameen’s intentions become unambiguous, taking the risk that New Delhi will run out of options if Chinese personnel move into Maldives.

Oman: How India Can Benefit In Calm Amidst Storm In West Asia – Analysis


By Kabir Taneja


The geography of West Asia today is under immense stress, with conflicts visible on most of the boundaries in the region. While on the face of it much of the blame would point towards the Syrian war and the entry of the Islamic State (ISIS) into the jihadist discourse, it is in fact the increasingly confrontational rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran that is spreading a lot of discord around the region’s politics and the fragile sectarian environment that holds these states together.

The sultanate of Oman, the last stop of Prime Minister Modi’s tri-nation trip to the region covering Palestine (with Jordan facilitating the stopover to Ramallah) and UAE before he lands in Muscat, has been conflict-free since the Dhofar Rebellion which lasted from 1963 till 1976, leading to a radical modernisation of the previously downtrodden and impoverished Omani state. Amidst this political kerfuffle, then Omani Sultan Said bin Taimur (who gained his education from Mayo College, Rajputana—India, in the 1920s) was deposed in a coup by his son Qaboos Bin Said al Said with support from the British. Qaboos, as of today, is the longest serving Arab leader.

Religion and Violence in Myanmar

By Matthew J. Walton

Since late August, more than 600,000 Rohingya have left Myanmar, fleeing a state-led campaign of violence against them. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority and predominantly live in Rakhine State, in Myanmar’s west. They have experienced persistent, institutionalized discrimination for years. (The members of the state’s Rakhine Buddhist majority believe that they, too, have been discriminated against, mostly by the central government.)

China's Big Plans to Win Its Next War

By Jeffrey Engstrom

The 1991 Gulf War and the 1999 Kosovo War heralded a new era of warfare for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Stunning victories by U.S.-led coalitions over Iraq and Yugoslavia were unique not only because they emphasized stealth and precision-guided weaponry, but more importantly, because victory did not require the annihilation of enemy forces on the battlefield. Indeed, the ability of Iraqi and Yugoslav forces to function on the battlefield, had become according to one PLA source, “limited, deprived, and rendered useless,” and their annihilation was not necessary to achieve operational success.

There's a Crack Between the U.S. and Europe Over China


In several new strategy documents, the Trump administration argues that America needs to gear up for prolonged geopolitical competition with China. This shift in U.S. policy is welcome -- even if it so far remains mostly rhetorical -- because it reflects the growing threat that a revisionist, authoritarian China poses to American interests in the Asia-Pacific and to the liberal international system more broadly. Yet even though U.S.-China competition is primarily a transpacific matter, a transatlantic divergence may hamper American strategy on how to handle Beijing. America’s European allies have long been its most important partners, but today, Europeans and Americans often see the China challenge in very different ways.

China Is Gaining on the United States. What Are We Doing About It?

By ORIANA SKYLAR MASTRO and ELY RATNER 

President Trump needs to devote real resources to re-establishing U.S. dominance in Asia. 

America’s military advantage over China is rapidly eroding. This fact was underscored by the Trump administration’s first National Defense Strategy recently released by Defense Secretary James Mattis, who declared that “great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.” This pronouncement of China as a top priority is well-considered, long overdue, and—potentially—historic.

Eye on China — 9.2.2018


Ni hao! Welcome to Eye on China, a weekly bulletin offering news and analysis related to the Middle Kingdom.

1. Troubled Waters: Fresh controversy erupted along the South China Sea this week, after The Inquirer, a Philippines daily, published new picturesrevealing the extent of Chinese militarization of islands along the Spratly archipelago. Most of the photos, the report says, were taken between June and December 2017. It adds that the images indicate China is “in the final stages of development as air and naval bases” on the artificial islands.

Tech entanglement—China, the United States, and artificial intelligence

Elsa B. Kania

In Washington and Beijing’s complex bilateral relationship, artificial intelligence has emerged as a new domain of both cooperation and competition. Even as China and the United States increasingly compete in artificial intelligence on the national level, the two countries’ business and technology sectors are deeply entangled, competing and collaborating by turn.

Hypocritic Oath How WHO and other international agencies aid Assad’s war against Syria’s civilians

BY ANNIE SPARROW

Eastern Ghouta, a lush, semiagricultural region just 10 miles northeast of Syria’s capital, was once the breadbasket of Damascus. Known for its liberal-minded residents, religious and ethnic diversity, democratically inclined politicians, and independently wealthy entrepreneurs, it has long been loathed by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his regime. In August 2013, Eastern Ghouta was the target of the Syrian government’s sarin gas attack, which killed 1,466 people in a single night, mostly women and children.

In the immediate aftermath of the sarin massacre, facing the credible threat of international force, the Assad regime ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention and agreed to hand over its stockpile to Russia. For a few weeks, the airstrikes ceased. Then, in October, the Syrian military began its siege of Eastern Ghouta in earnest.

Why Ukraine should become a Balkan country

Ukrainian politicians, diplomats, journalists and intellectuals should start paying more attention to how the countries of South-Eastern Europe (SEE) are currently preparing for their entry into the European Union. Kyiv can accelerate its own European integration by entering a number of SEE cooperation formats specifically designed to prepare the Western Balkan states for their future EU membership. 

Piketty Thinks the EU Is Bad for Eastern Europe. He's Half Right.

Leonid Bershidsky 

Rock star economist Thomas Piketty's view of eastern European countries as "owned" by their wealthier Western neighbors has helped nationalist parties in that part of the world make a case for economic decolonization. But Piketty's arguments as he frames them are rather easy to dismiss -- which is a problem: There are stronger ones to be made.

Last month, Piketty used his blog on the center-left French daily Le Monde's web page to argue that European Union membership may not have been net beneficial for countries such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He compared these countries' net outflows of profits and incomes from property with the net transfers they have received from the EU and finds that the outflows have been higher. "Of course, one might reasonably argue that Western investment enabled the productivity of the economies concerned to increase and therefore everyone benefited," Piketty wrote. "But the East European leaders never miss an opportunity to recall that investors take advantage of their position of strength to keep wages low and maintain excessive margins."

“Fair Winds And Following Seas” For Post-Brexit Anglo-French Military Relations

By MURIELLE DELAPORTE

The French and British Chiefs of Staff, Général d’armée Pierre de Villiers and Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach planted a symbolic tree at the French Defense Ministry to celebrate Anglo-French friendship in 2016

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union could be compared to France’s departure from NATO in 1966. Paris left the integrated military command structure “but not the Atlantic Alliance” just as London intends to leave the EU “but not Europe.”

But in defense terms virtually nothing is changing about how Britain works with France, with NATO or the European Union.

Does America Have A Caste System?


In the United States, inequality tends to be framed as an issue of either class, race or both. Consider, for example, criticism that Republicans’ new tax plan is a weapon of “class warfare," or accusations that the recent U.S. government shutdown was racist.

Many Americans would be appalled to think that anything like caste could exist in a country allegedly founded on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. After all, India’s atrocious caste system determines social status by birth, compels marriage within a community and restricts job opportunity.

Maoists Deploying Pressure Mines – Analysis

By P. V. Ramana*

Pressure mines may not be lethal, but can certainly decapitate a person. On February 7, 2018, one personnel of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) was injured in a pressure mine blast in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district, near Dhanora.

For over more than a decade, Naxalites of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), Maoists in in short, have been widely deploying pressure mines, especially in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, as well as in other parts where they operate.

Sleep Walking into a War

Tobias Stone

Weare 10 years into a war. A war most people don’t realise is happening, and which our governments are only just beginning to see. This is the Great Cyber War.

If this was a conventional war, by now your street would have been bombed, friends would have been killed at the Front, and food would be running short. But this is a new war, a hybrid war, an information war. So instead, you are confused. Whenever you think you are sure of something, someone else will either counter it with an alternative truth, or will disagree with you so strongly that you wonder if your take on reality is correct. Our houses are still standing but our perception lies in ruins.

IS YOUR IPHONE SAFE? APPLE IBOOT SOURCE CODE IS 'BIGGEST LEAK IN HISTORY'

BY ANTHONY CUTHBERTSON

Apple has acknowledged that source code used in the software of iPhones and iPads has been leaked online, which security experts warn could present a major opportunity for hackers. The so-called iBoot code for iOS 9, the ninth iteration of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system released in 2016, was briefly posted to GitHub before Apple sent a DMCA notice to the software platform demanding it be taken down.

The leaked code, which was first reported by Motherboard, offers a way for security researchers outside of Apple to inspect and probe the source code for possible weaknesses. This could potentially trigger the emergence of new ways to jailbreak iPhones and iPads running older versions of the iOS mobile operating system.