24 April 2018

Stand Up Against China

Lt Gen Prakash Menon

India should not seek a reset with China that is based on our inferiority. We can and must assert ourselves.

Some of India’s chickens of statecraft have come home to roost. India has embarked on a “reset of relations” with China and simultaneously seeks to “redefine ties” with the USA. The simultaneity is structurally imperative when it comes to India’s role in the context of great power tensions.

In the case of China, it is based on its enormous economic and military power. The Indian political leadership seems convinced that China’s coercive power does not call for a confrontation, but instead demands a form of adjustment that would serve to preserve our national development goals. With the USA, a partnership founded on common interests is expected to provide political, strategic and technological support that can further Indian goals. The reset would also involve a tilt away from the USA, to perhaps, a slightly less-than-neutral position.

How Tibet lost its independence and India its gentle neighbour


It relates to the sequence of events and the role of KM Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador in China, during the weeks after the invasion of Tibet. Claude Arpi, holding the Field Marshal KM Cariappa Chair of Excellence from the United Service Institution of India (USI), for his research on the Indian Presence in Tibet 1947-1962 (in 4 volumes), has extensively worked in the National Archives of India and well the Nehru Library (on the Nehru Papers) on the history of Tibet, the Indian frontiers and particularly the Indian Frontier Administrative Service. The Last Months of a Free Nation — India Tibet Relations (1947-1962) is the first volume of the series, using never-accessed-before Indian archival material. Though Tibet’s system of governance had serious lacunas, the Land of Snows was a free and independent nation till October 1950, when Mao decided to “liberate”it. But “liberate” from what, was the question on many diplomats' and politicians' lips in India; they realised that it would soon be a tragedy for India too; Delhi would have to live with a new neighbor, whose ideology was the opposite of Tibet’s Buddhist values; the border would not be safe anymore.

The Brahmaputra Diversion and the Tsinghai Clique


Some fifteen years ago, a Chinese engineer Li Ling and a retired PLA General Gao Kai, seriously worked on a scheme for the diversion of the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra. Li Ling published a book called Tibet's Waters will Save China in which he detailed the diversion project, also known as Shuomatan Canal (from Suma Tan in Central Tibet to Tanjing in China). At that time, 'experts' denounced the plans of Li Ling and Gao Kai. Beijing also decided to cool down India’s legitimate worries.In 2006, the Chinese Water Resources Minister Wang Shucheng, a hydraulic engineer, affirmed that the proposal was "unnecessary, unfeasible and unscientific. There is no need for such dramatic and unscientific projects."

China develops the Indian border


Che Dalha (alias Qizhala), the head of the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s (TAR) Government (and TAR’s Senior Deputy Secretary) visited Chayul area in the vicinity of Yume village adopted by Xi Jinjing. Che, who is also director of the district border defense committee, inspected a Hero Memorial Park in Chayul area. He told the villagers that the masses should deeply cherish the memory of the revolutionary martyrs. He laid a wreath for 447 Revolutionary Martyrs' War Memorial. Why and where these ‘martyrs’ died?

When the snows melt


Every year during the months of May and June, the high passes of Himalayas witness activity as the Chinese cross over and intrude on Indian territory. The Himalayan snows will soon start melting. Every year during the months of May and June, the high passes witness activities not in consonance with the majestic peace-conducive surrounding peaks. This year again, the Chinese will cross over and intrude on the Indian territory, or to put it nicely like the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs does, “in what we perceived our side of the border”.

EU Ambassadors Condemn China’s Belt and Road Initiative

By Ravi Prasad

On Wednesday, it was reported by Handelsblatt that 27 out of 28 EU ambassadors to China signed a report criticizing China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Hungarian ambassador was the only exception. It is unclear when the report will get published, and whether Handelsblatt saw a draft of the report or a finished version. However, if Handelsblatt’s claims turn out to be true, it will mark one of the biggest setbacks the BRI has seen to date.

CPEC's Environmental Toll

By Shah Meer Baloch

Pakistan’s virgin beaches are located in District Gwadar, which is the major coastal town of Balochistan, and also said to be the epicenter of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). But the beaches are in danger of being badly affected by a newly planned 300MW coal power plant in Gwadar. Besides the beaches, there will be a significant impact on human lives and the environment. Pakistan is already on suffering from climate change. Will the environment and people remain safe as Pakistan carries out plans to invest billions of dollars in imported coal power plants through various projects under CPEC?

China’s Belt and Road, and implications for ASEAN connectivity

By ANUSHKA KAPAHI

The ASEAN Master Plan for Connectivity (AMPC) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative have major commonalities. Both envisage transport connectivity as a way of bringing countries closer to one another, facilitating better access to trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people exchanges. Similar to the BRI project, AMPC calls for a system of roads and railways to link contiguous members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with one another, as well as a system of ports for vessels and short shipping routes to link Southeast Asian countries with one another.

THE EVOLUTION OF ONLINE TERRORIST PROPAGANDA


Europol hosted the second conference of the European Counter Terrorism Centre Advisory Group to present and discuss new strategies against online terrorist propaganda and radicalisation. Terrorist propaganda constantly shifts on to new and diverse platforms and the quantity of information exchanged, either publicly or in private spaces, is increasing. In order to face these evolving threats, Europol hosted the second conference of the European Counter Terrorism Centre Advisory Group on 17 and 18 April 2018. During the conference several academic research papers were discussed, relevant to ECTC’s complex tasks in a way that is effective and in compliance with Europol’s high data protection standards. External and diversified contributions are fundamental to analysing a world-wide phenomenon as terrorist propaganda. This year’s event built on the success of the first conference of the ECTC Advisory Group in April 2017.

Iran's Army of Drones, Target of Syria Strike: Rising Force or Limited Threat?

by Yaniv Kubovich

The recent airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel has brought to the forefront Iran’s intentions of establishing a network of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) in that country. The project could expand the Islamic Republic’s capabilities of gathering intelligence and prepare the groundwork for possible attacks. Iran began producing drones in the 1980s, building dozens of them, mainly for spying and aerial photography. In recent years, since joining the fighting in support of the Assad regime, its drones have been seen in the skies of Syria and Iraq. Israel believes it still has the upper hand when it comes to drones, but that the Iranian ones do constitute a limited threat.

How Can We Know If a Chemical Weapons Attack Took Place in Syria?

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Every atrocity in the Syrian civil war provokes a furious row about whether it happened and, if so, who was responsible for carrying it out. The merciless brutality of all sides combines with partisan reporting and lack of access for independent investigators to make it possible for doubts to be generated about even the most blatant war crime. One good rule is that participants in the war are often accurate about the crimes of their opponents while they invariably lie or are silent about their own. This rule appears to hold good in the case of the poison gas attack on the city of Douma on 7 April, which killed at least 34 people and possibly twice as many. The Russian military claim that the attack was faked by pro-opposition activists and that samples taken from the site of where the civilians died were not toxic. The Syrian government issues blanket denials when accused of using poison gas.

Syria, Turkey, and the Eastern Mediterranean


Two Eastern Mediterranean countries—Syria and Turkey—present some of the most vexing problems for U.S. foreign policy today. The Syrian civil war has become a magnet for both terrorists and U.S. adversaries. Turkey, a NATO ally, is facing terrorism and a refugee crisis. Domestically, it is increasingly turning away from democratic principles and making choices that are at odds with the United States. The United States needs to take a new strategic approach to the Eastern Mediterranean, outlined in a CSIS report forthcoming in May 2018. An urgent part of that strategy, outlined here, is recalibrating U.S. policy toward Syria and Turkey. 

A few weeks ago I gave an interview to a French periodical concerning the state of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).


A few weeks ago I gave an interview to a French periodical concerning the state of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Today, 19 April 2018, being Israel’s 70th Independence Day, I thought this topic would be of interest to the readers of this blog.

Can you give us an overview of the actual situation of the Israeli armed forces?

One could argue that, taking a grand strategic perspective and starting with the establishment of the State of Israel seventy years ago, some things have not changed very much. First, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) remain the armed organization of a democratic country, one in which it is the politicians who decide and the military which obeys. Second, the objective of the IDF was and remains to defend the country, a outrance if necessary, against any military threats that may confront it. Third, Israel remains in a state of war with several other Middle countries; nor is there any way in the world it can bring the conflict to an end by defeating them and compelling them to make peace against their will. Fourth, the occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights notwithstanding, Israel remains a small country with very little strategic depth. Fifth, the lack of strategic depth implies a heavy reliance on intelligence to detect threats before they materialize. Sixth, and for the same reason, Israeli military doctrine remains basically offensive, with a strong emphasis on destroying the opposing armed forces.

A Thirty Years’ War?

Source Link

For those of you who have forgotten, here is a short reminder. The Thirty Years’ War started in May 1618 when the Protestant Estates of Bohemia revolted against the Catholic Emperor Ferdinand II. They threw his envoys out of the windows of the palace at Prague. Fortunately for them, the moat into which they fell was filled with rubbish and nobody was killed. Had the revolt remained local, it would have been suppressed fairly quickly. As, in fact, it was in 1620 when the Habsburgs and their allies won the Battle of the White Mountain. Instead it expanded and expanded. First the Hungarians and then the Ottomans were drawn in (though they did not stay in for long). Then came the Spaniards, then the Danes, then the Swedes, and finally the French. Some did less, others more. Many petty European states, cities, and more or less independent robber barons also set up militias and joined what developed into a wild free for all. For three decades armies and militias chased each other all over central Europe. Robbing, burning, raping, killing. By the time the Treaty of Westphalia ended the hostilities in 1648 the population of Germany had been reduced by an estimated one third.

Russia Is Jamming US Drones Flying Over Syria

By Kyle Mizokami

Russian forces are actively trying to jam U.S. military drones flying over Syria, disrupting flight operations by interfering with the signal broadcast by the worldwide Global Positioning System (GPS). The jamming is “seriously affecting” U.S. drone operations, but it’s not yet clear how serious the Russian meddling really is. NBC News, citing four sources inside the Pentagon, reports that the jamming began weeks ago. It started shortly after suspected chemical attacks by the Syrian regime in the rebel-held Ghouta region. Russian forces were reportedly concerned that the U.S. military would retaliate for the use of chemical weapons and jammed drones to prevent U.S. forces gathering information.

Control of the Syrian Airspace: Russian Geopolitical Ambitions and Air Threat Assessment By Can Kasapoglu


Russia has mounted its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) footprint in the Levant and also boosted the Syrian Arab Air Defense Force’s capabilities. Syrian skies now remain a heavily contested combat airspace and a dangerous flashpoint. Moreover, there is another grave threat to monitor at low altitudes. Throughout the civil war, various non-state armed groups have acquired advanced man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), which pose a menacing challenge not only to the deployed forces, but also to commercial aviation around the world. In the face of these threats, NATO needs to draw key lessons-learned from the contemporary Russian operational art, and more importantly, to develop a new understanding in order to grasp the emerging reality in Syria. Simply put, control of the Syrian airspace is becoming an extremely crucial issue, and it will be a determining factor for the war-torn country’s future status quo.

4 essential elements of a U.S. strategy on Syria

Michael E. O’Hanlon
In April 16’s Wall Street Journal, former U.S. ambassador to Syria Ryan Crocker and I suggest how President Trump can build on the recent U.S.-U.K.-French reprisal attacks against Syrian chemical weapons facilities. In our view, this should be with an eye toward developing a fuller strategy for the Syria conflict that could prove at least moderately effective and durable at modest cost. The ideas build on related writings that Ambassador Crocker and I have done recently with Brookings nonresident scholar Pavel Baev of PRIO in Oslo. Specifically, we lay out the following four elements for a broad strategy, some of which build on ideas the Trump administration has itself supported at times:

How Jim Mattis Became Trump’s “Last Man Standing”

By Susan B. Glasser
Last Tuesday, after waking up to tweet about the previous day’s F.B.I. raid on his lawyer’s office (“a total witch hunt!!!”), President Trump called one of his outside Republican advisers to ask what to do about Syria, and its latest chemical-weapons attack on civilians. “We should bomb the shit out of them, Mr. President,” came the answer, which was exactly the one Trump seemed to be looking for. Over the weekend, the President, outraged by the photographs of dead children in the Syrian enclave of Douma he had apparently seen on TV, had tweeted vows of retaliation against “Animal Assad,” and the Syrian leader’s backers in Russia and Iran. Trump’s hawkish new national-security adviser, John Bolton, who had started work that Monday, was also pressing for punishing strikes. On the phone call, Trump listened approvingly to the hit-’em-hard advice: that, politically, “the minimum should be bigger than it was last year,” when Trump had launched a single-day strike on a Syrian airfield, designed—unsuccessfully, as it turned out—to deter future chemical-weapons use.

New U.S. Sanctions on Russia Make It Personal


Recently passed U.S. sanctions against key Russian oligarchs and officials probably won't have a major effect on the Russian economy, but they will hurt key companies such as aluminum producer Rusal. Given Rusal's importance to the global aluminum industry, the effects of the U.S. sanctions will extend beyond Russia, and Chinese companies are the logical replacement for the Russian giant on the international market. Russia will offer financial support to relieve the affected companies and oligarchs while pushing back against the U.S. sanctions, not only through political and economic means but also potentially on the battlefield in Syria and Ukraine. 

Drones Level the Battlefield for Extremists

By Alexander Harper

In early 2016, I contributed to an Armament Research Services (ARES) report on the use of commercially available drones by non-state actors in contemporary conflicts, including in Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine. We predicted that the use of commercial drones, which up until that point had been used for reconnaissance purposes predominantly, would soon be regularly weaponised. As recent events in Syria have shown, weaponised commercial drones are now a regular feature in a range of conflicts, notably involving non-state actors. Drone use by non-state actors in the Middle East is not a new phenomenon. Libyan rebels spent more than US$100,000 buying a drone in 2011 to aid their fight against forces loyal to Gaddafi. Hezbollah has been operating Iranian-built drones against Israel for years, but these have been predominantly military-grade models and thus fairly sophisticated.