28 February 2014

A navy all at sea

c. Uday Bhaskar 
February 28, 2014 

The perception is that the navy, the traditional silent service, has been making news for the wrong reasons. 


An enabling political environment is missing. We need to introspect on what ails higher defence management. 

The unprecedented resignation of Admiral D.K. Joshi from the high office of chief of naval staff (CNS) on Wednesday, in the wake of the unfortunate accident on the Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhuratna earlier in the day, may seem impulsive. But it is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military. The unwritten tenet of the profession of arms is that success is attributed to the subordinates in the chain of command. The blame for failures and lapses rests with the top leadership — and as the “old man”, Joshi took it on the chin and burnished this principle, which alas has been ignored in India for many decades. 

Leadership applies across the civil-military spectrum. Not since former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned as the Union railway minister in 1956 (following an accident in Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu, in which 144 people were killed), has there been a display of such conviction and the resolute acceptance of moral and institutional responsibility. 

The resignation of Joshi is as unprecedented as the swift manner in which it was accepted by the government, and this aspect merits attention. The Indian navy has been under adverse scrutiny since the enormity of the loss of another Kilo-class submarine, the INS Sindhurakshak, which suffered an explosion on board in August 2013 that gutted the boat and led to the loss of 18 lives. In the interim — from Sindhughosh to the Sindhuratna mishap — there have been as many as nine incidents of operational lapses and minor accidents involving naval ships and submarines that have come under intense media focus. The perception is that the navy, the traditional silent service, has been making news for the wrong reasons. 

Unfortunately, this perception — that there was something terribly wrong with the institution — was allowed to fester and, in many ways, Sindhuratna is the straw that broke the camel’s back. The loss of life in any context is agonising and while the military profession accepts this exigency as being in the call of duty, every commander assumes the safety of the lives of those under his command as sacrosanct. Consequently, the penalties and repercussions for such occurrences are strict. The fact that two young officers lost their lives in the Sindhuratna incident may have weighed heavily on Joshi. In his resignation, the former CNS has set the same, if not higher, standard of rectitude that he had applied to his commanding officers. 

Supreme sacrifice in submarine


Kapish Muwal 
Mumbai, Feb. 27: When a Korean-made offshore patrol craft of the Indian Navy tugged the Russian-made INS Sindhuratna back into the Mumbai harbour this morning, it brought home the dead with the survivors. 

Lieutenant Commander Kapish Muwal, 32, and Lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar, 30, died not because they were slow to leave a submarine compartment filled with toxic gases but because they chose to risk their lives to save their comrades, naval sources told The Telegraph. 

“Their deaths were a supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian defence forces. They gave up their lives to save others,” said a senior naval officer of the Western Command who was part of a team that spoke to the crew of the Sindhuratna. 

A battery leak on board the submarine during a crucial mid-sea inspection on Wednesday morning had started a fire, and poisonous fumes from fire extinguishers filled two compartments. 

“Muwal and Kumar were pushing their men out of the affected compartments 3 and 4 where fumes were spreading. They were kicking and shoving (the others) and helping them escape,” the officer said. 

“In the end, one of them went back to check whether anybody had been left behind, while the other waited. That’s when the hatch between compartments 4 and 5 closed, trapping the two of them inside.” 

Muwal, from Delhi, was married and leaves behind a child. Kumar, from Jamshedpur, was single and stayed at the Western Command naval officers’ mess. 

Each had won the Sword of Honour as the best cadet in his batch. Kumar had been earmarked for promotion as acting lieutenant commander. 
Manoranjan Kumar 

Cabinet is bare

February 28, 2014

Recently, the spotlight has been turned on two ministers — Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, whose utterances on matters of free speech seldom inspire confidence in his judgement, and A.K. Antony, a politician of personal decency who has been judged by many to be a spectacular failure as defence minister. PTI 


Is there something about our politics that makes great ministers hard to find? 

Is there something about our politics that makes great ministers hard to find? 

A career in politics is no preparation for government.” This classic line from the bible of parliamentary government, Yes Minister, reveals a truth that has become even more urgent in modern politics. Recently, the spotlight has been turned on two ministers — Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, whose utterances on matters of free speech seldom inspire confidence in his judgement, and A.K. Antony, a politician of personal decency who has been judged by many to be a spectacular failure as defence minister. In any government, the character of governance, and a signal of its effectiveness, is set right at the top. The abdication of the prime minister has grievously distorted the architecture of governance. But it is hard to imagine an effective government without successful cabinet ministers. This government has been spectacularly short of effective cabinet ministers, making it look very rickety indeed. But the question is: Is our political system likely to throw up enough effective ministers? 

This question is not an unimportant one. The damage individual ministers can do is truly spectacular. Think of the decimation of the finance ministry under Pranab Mukherjee. It will take years to undo the damage. The defence ministry seems to have lost control of every issue; external affairs has been confined to secondary diplomatic tasks with the balance of power shifting. Human resource development has been awaiting a great minister for a long time. About the home ministry, we often feel “there but for the grace of god go we”. But many other ministries of great importance, like water resources and health, have languished in the absence of ministerial leadership. The question is: Is there something systematic about this mismatch between political talent and effective ministries? Has this mismatch increased with modern government? 

China Watching India-Japan Relations

By Bhaskar Roy

China has been cautiously, and with uncharacteristic restraint, watching the new flourish in India-Japan relations.

Beijing kept its counsel to itself with the state visit of the Emperor and Empress of Japan in early December 2014, followed by the visit of Prime Minster Shinzo Abe in January 24 which was a combination of guest of honour for India’s Republic Day celebration (January 26) on official visit. This was preceded by the visit of Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera earlier last year.

Apart from the trade and economic agreement signed and initiated during Abe’s visit, China would be assessing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan in May last year when an encampment of Chinese troops in the Indian side of the western border in Depsang had raised hackles in India. Dr. Singh had extended his visit by a day in Tokyo to meet Japanese business leaders.

Equally important for Chinese strategists is the fact that when Dr. Singh visited Japan in 2007, Shinzo Abe was the prime minister, and the two prime ministers agreed on the Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership.

Personalities matter, and China sees Shinzo Abe as a right wing hardliner pushing to lower the bar of Japan’s post war peaceful constitution and break the restrictive “self defence” military clause.

After a pause for thought, the official Global Times (Feb. 19) a subsidiary of the party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, published the opinion of a leading expert on South and Central Asia titled “India uncertain as Abe looks for anti-China alliance”. The expert, Wang Dehua, head of the institute of Southern and Central Asian Studies at the Shanghai Municipal center for International Studies recalled Abe’s suggestion to establish a “democratic security diamond” consisting of Australia, India, Japan and the US state of Hawaii, which the Chinese saw as an architecture to encircle China.

Wang Dehua concluded that in the event of a military clash between China and Japan, which also he said was very unlikely, India will not back Japan.

In the last several years when China began to demonstrate its assertiveness with military backing on disputed maritime territorial issues, it began to perceive an encirclement threat led by the US and supported by Japan, India and, perhaps, Australia. In its propaganda barrage aimed at India, Chinese official media also mentioned repeatedly that India always followed an independent foreign policy and was not likely to join an alliance against China.

The Chinese have their own peculiar logic to argue their case. The Global Times article mentioned that the 1962 war remained a big obstacle to India and China coming closer; in 2013 India accused China of stirring trouble along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by deploying PLA border guards in disputed territory, while China urged India not to aggravate problems on this border; but an upset India launched the Agni-V missile that is said to be aimed at China. It then went on to write positively about the developments in the India-China border issue.

Shinzo Abe’s Visit to India: Reviewing the Strategic Partnership

February 27, 2014

The India-Japan summit level meeting held on 25 January 2014 and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s presence as the chief guest of India’s Republic Day parade the following day marked the deepening bond between the two countries. There has been a high-level of bilateral exchanges between the two countries from Manmohan Singh’s visit to Tokyo in May 2013 to Abe’s latest visit. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited India in November 2013 followed by the visit of the Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera in January. Clearly, a push towards strengthening the strategic partnership between India and Japan is ongoing.

On 25 January 2014, the leadership signed eight agreements. The currency swap arrangement expanded from US$15 to 50 billion effective from January 2014. To further consolidate the relation and strengthen maritime cooperation, India has invited Japan to participate in the Malabar naval exercise 2014 despite Chinese reservations witnessed in 2007. The Japanese Coast Guards and their Indian counterparts performed a joint exercise off the coast of Kochi and Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) and the Indian Navy conducted second bilateral exercise off the coast of Chennai in January 2014 and December 2013 respectively. A dialogue mechanism between the Secretary-General of National Security Secretariat of Japan, Shotaro Yachi, and India’s National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon, has been instituted. Joint Working Group (JWG) negotiation on the ShinMaywa Industries Utility Seaplane Mark 2 (US-2) amphibian aircraft is scheduled for March 2014. Both the countries are weighing the possibility of assembling the US-2 aircraft in India, which will provide India the opportunity to access Japanese military technology.

Despite evident proximity, one of the challenges in the bilateral relation is negotiating the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. Fundamental differences on CTBT continue to make the negotiations difficult. While Japan underscores the importance of CTBT, India reiterates its commitment towards voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing. Following the 2008 NSG waiver, India has entered into civil nuclear agreements with several countries despite being a non-signatory to the CTBT. Moreover, the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement of 2008 is the framework on which India wants to model subsequent agreements. Additionally, Abe is navigating through the difficult choice of Japan’s position on nuclear non-proliferation and the commercial interests of Japanese nuclear businesses, struggling to cope with the post-Fukushima financial loss. The agreement is also important for the French and US nuclear businesses. Their projects in India are affected since critical components for the nuclear reactors are expected to be provided by the Japanese corporations. Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi have stakes in Westinghouse, General Electric and Areva respectively. Nuclear lobby is exerting pressure on the political leadership of Japan to facilitate nuclear technology export to compensate for the loss post-Fukushima accident. Delay in negotiation runs the risk of escalating cost.

While the bilateral trade figure is expanding following the 2011 Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), it reflects trade imbalance in favour of Japan, which is likely to continue in the near future. Bilateral trade in 2012-13 totalled US$18.51 billion. This figure leaves much to be desired when compared to the bilateral trade figures between Japan and China, which amounts to $334 billion despite the developments following the nationalisation of the Senkaku islands.

Asian Giants Look to the Arctic

India and China are in a race to build a presence in the energy-rich Arctic region.

By Katherine Cima and Russell Sticklor
February 26, 2014

Asian Giants Look to the ArcticAfter a lengthy courtship, China and India formalized their relationship with the Arctic Council in May 2013 by gaining admission as official observer states. In the months since, both countries have been actively seeking influence with the Council’s permanent members to further establish footholds in a region certain to emerge as a central arena of 21st century geopolitics, scientific research and commerce. But while public statements out of Beijing and New Delhi since May have often cited climate change research as the primary driver of the two countries’ Arctic engagement, the real underlying motive remains securing access to the region’s greatest natural treasure: energy.

In recent years, the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that the polar north may hold up to 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil resources*—potentially as many as 160 billion barrels—and as much as 30 percent of the world’s untapped natural gas supplies.

With climate shifts in the Arctic raising temperatures and reducing sea-ice coverage, the region has become increasingly accessible with each passing year, heightening the potential for commercial development. This has raised the prospects for not only maritime shipping across Eurasia’s northern rim, but also seabed energy-drilling operations on the continental shelves of the Arctic littoral states, where much of the oil and gas reserves are thought to lie.

As a result, since gaining observer status China and India have spent considerable time cultivating ties with key energy-rich Arctic littoral states, including Iceland, Norway and Russia. (In the case of Norway, China’s path has been somewhat tricky; Beijing is inching closer to reconciliation with Norway after a diplomatic row triggered by the award of a 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, a well-known Chinese dissident, and the two countries have been tentatively considering a joint venture to explore for oil in the waters between Norway and Iceland.) With a significant portion of the Arctic’s projected seabed energy reserves located within these states’ respective exclusive economic zones, China and India are pursuing closer diplomatic and private-sector relationships with these countries as a means to put themselves in a favorable position to receive future Arctic energy exports, and assist where applicable in the development and shipment of offshore oil and gas supplies.

The urgency of the mission that China and India feel stems from the fact that each faces significant energy shortfalls in the years ahead that threaten to decelerate the economic growth they have enjoyed in recent decades. Despite recent headline-earning investments in their domestic renewable energy industries, Beijing and New Delhi view Arctic fossil fuels as key elements in their strategies to diversify energy import supply lines, reduce reliance on Middle Eastern oil, and strengthen energy security at home. At the same time, both countries are aware that energy resource extraction in such a harsh and environmentally sensitive location will have to be undertaken carefully. The Arctic North possesses a variety of coastal and maritime ecosystems that support wildlife and fisheries upon which many of the Arctic littoral’s indigenous populations depend for sustenance and livelihoods. Oil spills in this part of the world could prove particularly harmful as a result, since no local infrastructure exists to conduct effectively and timely clean-up operations. Such spills could also be damaging from a public relations perspective. Given that environmental accidents in the Arctic Circle linked to Chinese and Indian energy development would threaten significant damage to local and international perceptions of these two countries as responsible Arctic stakeholders, both China and India will be keen to ensure that any energy-development ventures they engage in are undertaken with the necessary precautions and designed to leave as small an environmental footprint as possible.

Pakistan launches military operation against militants

February 25th, 2014
By Jim Sciutto

With Pakistan suffering from terrorist attacks "left, right and center," a senior Pakistani government official said Tuesday a massive military operation is underway in North Waziristan to "close the chapter" on the Haqqani network in Pakistan.

When the operation is complete, the Haqqani network will "reach a conclusion" in Pakistani territory, the official said.

A recent wave of terror attacks has claimed more than 200 lives in the last month alone, according to the official.

And while the Pakistani government is still involved in reconciliation talks with Pakistani militant groups, "while they are talking, they are killing people," the official said.

The overall aim of the offensive is to push the Haqqani network out of Pakistan and across the border into Afghanistan, where, the official explained, "People on the other side can receive them," a reference to US and Afghan forces.

Asked if U.S. forces were involved in the operation, the official said only through routine communication at the tactical level between commanders on either side of the border.

'Zero Option' Closer To Reality In Afghanistan?

The White House has asked the Pentagon to plan for a complete pullout from Afghanistan.

February 27, 2014

It wasn’t too long ago that the Pentagon told the White House that, in planning for a U.S. commitment to Afghanistan post-2014, the two options worth considering are at least 10,000 troops or none at all — the “Zero Option.” Now, President Obama has told the Pentagon — for the first time — to begin planning a complete withdrawal by the end of the year. Obama additionally spoke directly with Hamid Karzai, warning him of the prospect that the “Zero Option” may become a reality.

The message isn’t intended just for the Pentagon of course; it’s a pointed message to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and whoever his successor may be come April’s elections that the United States’ offer on the table (in the form of the Bilateral Security Agreement) should not be taken for granted. The U.S. has long told the Afghan government that rejecting the BSA would be hugely deleterious for Afghanistan’s security beyond next year. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel noted separately that the White House’s decision to move forward with planning for a complete withdrawal was a a “prudent step.”

In his final months in office, Hamid Karzai’s recalcitrance has deeply frustrated, and even angered, U.S. officials. He has freed prisoners who pose a threat to U.S. and NATO forces, his office was implicated in submitting false evidence to substantiate U.S. collateral damage, and has generally refused to work with U.S. partners. Karzai has defended himself, arguing that an agreement as significant as the BSA should be decided by someone with a stronger leadership mandate than himself — namely his successor. Additionally, it came to light recently that the reason Karzai, who appeared to agree with the prospect of a small U.S. presence in Afghanistan post-2014, changed his mind so suddenly due to a secret backchannel between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Now that the White House has formally requested that the Pentagon begin planning for a formal withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Karzai’s hands are tied. A White House statement on President Obama’s conversation with President Karzai noted that “the longer we go without a BSA, the more likely it will be that any post-2014 U.S. mission will be smaller in scale and ambition.” Fortunately, most of the front-runners for the Afghan presidency are likely to sign the BSA should they win election. Abdullah Abdullah, an Afghan presidential candidate, said that should he win election, he would immediately sign the BSA.

The inevitability of South Asia

February 27, 2014 

While the term South Asia is now commonly accepted, we are nowhere near implementing regionalism on the ground

Using the name of historical India to serve for that of the independent nation state was a monumental decision whose reverberations continue six decades after the British departed the Subcontinent. While the country with New Delhi as its capital inherited the mantle of “India” — as also the largest by population, geography, demographic diversity and politico-economic prowess — much of the rest of the historical India was left in suspended animation.

Secure in his/her national identity, the Indian citizen is largely unaware of the discomfiture elsewhere. Pakistan and Bangladesh today make up the sixth and eighth largest countries respectively on the planet by population, small only in comparison to India with its 1.24 billion people. The citizens there have the same history in their blood, but “India” is no longer theirs.

In each country of the neighbourhood, including India, the decades have been spent constructing xenophobic nationalism. As happens in newborn nation states, the citizens are straitjacketed into allegiance to national identities in monochrome. This exclusivity is a bane and has introduced subliminal angst all over, and it fails in the managing of myriad self-ascriptions that jostle for space within each of us.

The individual person is linked to family, clan, ethnicity, caste, faith, language, village, district, city, province and nation state — and that is where we are asked to stop the progression. But we are also South Asian, the broadest identity that links us to our past and to each other across the recently created frontiers. There is no doubt about it; ultranationalism has to be challenged with a campaign for cross-border loosening.South Asian Mahatma

To put a spin to the argument: retroactively speaking, Mahatma Gandhi was a South Asian for most of his life, i.e. a national of the “India” before Partition. He was citizen of the nation state for five-and-half months, between August 15 and his assassination on January 30. Once we make the conceptual jump from India to historical “India,” there can be no question about a Sylheti running an Indian restaurant in New York City, or a Lahori doing the same in Paris. Indian cuisine was developed long before the nation state.

If “India” had been left to its pre-Partition and even pre-colonial avatar, there would have been no reason to take recourse to the dry, a-historical, geographical “South Asia.” The term was introduced by western geo-strategists after 1947, when the need was felt to address this part of Asia. It was not long before some in South Asia too sensed the requirement.Addressing asymmetry

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was kick-started in 1985 with Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh in the lead, and it signified acceptance of the concept of cross-border regionalism by all the national establishments. But that is as far as it went, with SAARC unable to loosen frontiers or facilitate commerce. Instead, in the interim, concertina wires have come up along the India-Bangladesh and India-Pakistan dividing lines. Hobbled by a restrictive mandate and small budget, the SAARC organisation is kept on a tight leash by eight different ministries of foreign affairs.

China: Things That Must Never Be Discussed

February 27, 2014: 

The head of intelligence for the U.S. Pacific Fleet caused a stir when he openly talked about Chinese objectives and options in the Western Pacific. The scariest one had China seeking to obtain some bit of disputed territory with “grab and negotiate” tactics. The way this works the Chinese would quickly mobilize forces and seize some territory from South Korea, the Philippines or Japan or whoever and then offer to make peace. This can work, but is highly risky if you are facing a foe, like the Japanese, who are better trained, very determined and more experienced in naval operations. China denounced such talk, but did not dwell on the fact that China has used such tactics in the past and Chinese openly discuss using it again in the growing number of offshore disputes with neighbors. In response, Japanese publish discussions of how they are going to cope and the U.S. announces that it will help. Meanwhile China continues to boost its defense budget. In 2014 China will spend nearly $150 billion, more than Britain, France and Germany combines. This is the result of a trend that began when the Cold War ended in 1991. Europeans began reducing defense spending while China began preparing to heat things up on the other end of Eurasia. 

In response to growing concern in the Philippines U.S. Navy officials announced that, if China occupied disputed islands in South China Sea the United States would help, as it is obliged to do because of a mutual defense treaty with the Philippines. The U.S. refused to say exactly how it would help. The U.S. did point out that it is shifting naval forces from other parts of the world to the Pacific and currently has fifty warships in the Western Pacific and will increase that by 20 percent over the next six years. 

In Burma China is not claiming territory but is taking control of natural resources and quietly interfering in internal disputes. For example, China is helping some of the rebellious northern tribes. One example is the Wa rebels (UWSA or United Wa State Army) who live near the Chinese border. The Wa are establishing an air force. This consists of some Mi-17 helicopters from China. Some 30 Wa tribesmen are in China training to operate and maintain the helicopters. In Shan state the UWSA is a major factor and the Burmese army tends to respect UWSA military capabilities. Half the tribal militiamen in the far north belong to the UWSA, which has about 30,000 armed men operating along the Chinese border. The Wa are ethnic Chinese, and many other Wa live across the border in China. The Chinese have made it clear to the Burmese government that any attack on the Wa would not be appreciated and have pressured the Burmese on behalf of the Wa. Burmese troops continue interfering with truck traffic entering Wa territory. The Wa can get what they need from China, but some Burmese Wa live closer to roads coming from the south, rather than those coming from China. Many Wa believe that the Burmese would like to push all the Wa into China, but that is not likely to happen because of UWSA resistance and Chinese support. This sort of Chinese interference in Burmese affairs is causing many Burmese to talk of joining the anti-Chinese coalition that currently consists of most of the nations China has territorial claims on. 

Winning: Epic Fail For The Arab Spring

February 24, 2014:

After the 2008 defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq, and the 90 percent decline in al Qaeda attacks there it was believed that Islamic terrorism was on the ropes. But terrorist attacks, most of them by Moslem religious radicals, more than doubled, from 7,200 in 2009 to 18,500 in 2013. The chief cause of this growth in Islamic terrorist activity was state sponsored Islamic terrorism by Pakistan and the "Arab Spring" uprisings that began in early 2011. 

The Pakistani policy of covertly supporting and encouraging Islamic terrorist groups began in the late 1970s and after September 11, 2001 were increasingly out of Pakistani control. Pakistan found itself in the position of continuing to support Islamic terrorists who attacked India and Afghanistan while fighting a growing number of disaffected terrorist groups at home that had declared war on Pakistan. 

The Arab Spring uprisings were a popular movement to replace the many dictatorships and monarchies that have long been the cause of most of the poverty and unhappiness that have made the Middle East such an economic, educational, scientific, military and cultural backwater. But these uprisings made the mistake of accepting Islamic terrorist groups, who had long been trying to overthrow all these authoritarian rulers, as allies. The Islamic terrorists considered the secular democrats who sparked and sustained the Arab Spring as competitors for power, not allies in creating new democracies. This misreading of the Islamic terrorist groups (most of whom consider democracy un-Islamic) proved to be very expensive in terms of lives, property damage and economic losses in general. These popular rebellions led to the fall of several long time dictatorships, and a rush to reform (or give the appearance of such) by most other Arab governments. The Arab Spring also proved a major boost for Islamic terrorist morale and numbers. 

The result was a huge spike in Islamic terrorist violence. For the Arab Spring countries it meant prolonged unrest and more deaths. Worse, it isn't over, especially in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Algeria. Over 160,000 have died so far in the Arab Spring countries, and millions more wounded, imprisoned or driven from their homes. The financial cost, so far, has been over a trillion dollars. Most of that is the economic damage from shrinking GDP. The rest is destruction of buildings and possessions. The lost wages and reduced economic activity have been particularly difficult for populations that were poor to begin with. Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain have suffered most from the unrest, losing up to a third of their GDP because of the Arab Spring economic disruption. Then there is the cost in cash for wealthier monarchies and dictatorships that have spent money (sometimes borrowed) to placate their restless populations. The money spent here is not all Arab. The Assad dictatorship of Syria has been kept afloat by billions of dollars in support from Iran, and much smaller amounts from Russia. There has also been some unrest in non-Arab Moslem nations because of Arab Spring and that has cost billions to deal with. 

Iran and Saudi Arabia: A Power Struggle and A Way Forward

February 27, 2014

Al Arabiya, the news agency owned by Saudi Arabia, recently reported that Frederic Hof, a State Department official, has said that he was told by Iranian diplomats that their country considers Saudi Arabia, not Israel or the United States, as the main threat to its national security. This is important, but not new to Iranians. Ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, the relations between the two nations have been strained. Saudi Arabia has always helped in propagating the Salafi-Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam and considers itself the guardian of Islam’s holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina, but the Shiite-led revolution in Iran challenged its authority and created a competitor and alternative for what it preaches.

The first challenge to Saudi Arabia after the Iranian revolution was about Palestine. The Islamic Republic considered itself the most important supporter of the Palestinians, constantly espousing the view that the Arab governments are puppets of the United States and, hence, do not react strongly to occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel. This could not be considered as mere Shiite propaganda, as Iran was giving funds and weapons to Sunni Palestinian groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. To protect itself against Israel and to expand its influence in the region, Iran also helped in the founding of Lebanese Hezbollah.

Saudi Arabia’s Support for Iraq during its War with Iran

Less than two years after the Islamic Revolution, Saddam Hussein’s regime invaded Iran. The Arab nations of the Persian Gulf provided Iraq with tens of billions of dollars in aid. During the first 20 months of the war Saudi Arabia was giving $1 billion a month. A report by the CIA stated that Western powers gave Iraq $35 billion, while Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates provided another $30-40 billion. Another report indicated that the trio gave Iraq $30.9, $8.2, and $8 billion, respectively.

Update on Security Situation in Somalia and Yemen

Gulf of Aden Security Review

AEI Critical Threats Project
February 26, 2014

Yemen: UN Security Council authorizes sanctions in Yemen; gunmen kill intelligence officer in Hadramawt; Southern Movement criticizes freedom of press in Yemen; army troops shell position in Ma’rib; Shabwah governor signs four deals

Horn of Africa: AMISOM and Somali government soldiers face opposition in Mogadishu; string of attacks target civilian women in Mogadishu; unidentified gunmen injure four civilians in Mudug region; demonstration against AMISOM Ethiopian forces held in Gedo region

Yemen Security Brief

The UN Security Council passed a resolution unanimously that authorizes sanctions on individuals or organizations inhibition the successful political transition in Yemen, so-called “spoilers,” and establishes a committee to determine who would face sanctions.[1]
Two gunmen riding a motorcycle killed Yemeni intelligence General Rishad al Kaladi in al Mukalla in Hadramawt governorate on February 25. Gen al Kaladi was leaving a restaurant when the attack occurred.[2]
Southern Movement militants spoke out against the refusal of state-owned publishing house 14 October Printing to print the paper, al Ghad, on February 24. The paper is publicly associated with the Southern Movement and has repeatedly published critiques of the government.[3]
Yemeni army troops fired artillery on February 26 at positions occupied by the individuals who attacked the oil pipeline in Ma’rib. The Third Military Region bombed sites in Ma’rib after tribesmen refused to allow repairs to be made.[4]
The Governor of Shabwah, Ahmed Ali Salem Bahaj, met with Yemen LNG General Manager to sign four agreements. The agreements include support for local refugees, new schools, irrigation improvements, among others. Separately, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi met with a delegation from Total to discuss Yemen’s gas sector. Hadi emphasized that there was pressure to modify agreed-upon gas prices to align with the global price.[5]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

Somali government troops clashed with armed militants in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu on February 25. One Somali soldier was killed in the confrontation, which occurred as Somali troops searched for al Shabaab militants in the district. Separately, a blast targeted AMISOM soldiers in Mogadishu’s Yaqshid district on February 26. Casualty figures associated with the explosion remain unclear.[6]

Five persistent myths

Feb 28, 2014 

At a recent conference in the United States, a Pakistani interlocutor, when faced with questions about her country’s continuing dalliance with terror in Kashmir and elsewhere, neatly sidestepped the question. Instead of forthrightly confronting the country’s sorry record of involvement with a variety of terrorist organisations that it has spawned and continues to nurture, she deftly turned the tables on India. According to her, Pakistan’s possible involvement in any form of terror was merely a response to India’s support for Baluchi insurgents.

Quite apart from the paucity of evidence that clearly links India to any backing for the Baluchis, she failed to recognise that Pakistan’s association with Kashmiri insurgents long precedes the Baluch rebellion. Sadly, these verbal slights of hand are not only the staple of Pakistani diplomacy but also that of most Pakistani scholars and intellectuals. Consequently, it might serve a useful purpose to debunk at least five persistent myths that dog any discussion of Indo-Pakistani relations.

The tales are not of recent vintage. Indeed the first begins with the 1947-48 Kashmir war. Even Pakistani sources confirm that Pakistan, not India, initiated the conflict. Subsequently, following the referral of the issue to the United Nations and the passing of multiple resolutions, it is true, as Pakistani partisans argue, that India did not hold a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the Kashmiris. However, this statement overlooks a critical component of the relevant resolution: Pakistan was first expected to “vacate its aggression” before the plebiscite was held.

Even more egregious examples abound. Pakistanis loudly proclaim that India was responsible for its break-up in 1971. At one level, this is entirely correct; Indian intervention in East Pakistan was critical to the emergence of Bangladesh. However, this formulation overlooks the facts of the genocidal actions of the Pakistan Army and the flight of nearly 10 million refugees into India which had precipitated the crisis in the first place.

Other examples also abound. Pakistani defence intellectuals and strategists routinely argue that the Indian nuclear weapons test of 1974 contributed to the Pakistani nuclear weapons program. Obviously, there is little question that the Indian test boosted the Pakistani program. However, it is palpably false to argue that it was the trigger to the Pakistani program.

When US behaves as the world’s big bully

28 February 2014 

We should not accept a situation where America believes that it can resort to an arrogant conduct towards our elected politicians and diplomats. If it continues to do so, we must strongly and promptly reciprocate

Travelling across the US as the winter Olympics in Sochi commenced, one was saddened to witness how India’s international credibility had been shaken, when television audiences across the world saw three forlorn Indian athletes marching without a national flag. India faced this disgrace thanks to the avariciousness and nepotism of an internationally disgraced Indian Olympic Association. Sadly, this was accompanied by charges of corruption, nepotism, match fixing and worse involving the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Many Indian friends in the US asked in anguish: “Is there no section of national life left in India which is free from corruption and venality?”

The mood in Washington, where one had occasion to meet a wide cross-section of senior officials, business executives, analysts and scholars, was quite different. In marked contrast to earlier years, I found widespread criticism of the conduct of foreign and security policies by President Barack Obama. The Administration had not only botched up its healthcare programme, but was seen as indecisive and weak in dealing with challenges in West Asia, Afghanistan and the provocations of a jingoistic and militaristic China. President Obama, in turn, is acutely conscious of the mood in the country, which wants an end to foreign military entanglements.

More significantly, as the US moves towards becoming a net exporter of energy, thanks to expanding production of shale gas and oil, the country’s geopolitics are set for profound changes. Using its leadership in areas of productivity and innovation, the US now appears set to the stage for increasing domination of the world economic order. From across its eastern shores, the US is negotiating a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership with its European allies. Across its western shores in the Pacific, the Americans are negotiating a Transpacific Partnership, with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam as negotiating partners. While China has informally indicated an interest in joining this partnership, the US will use its influence to ensure that China is not admitted till American political and economic pre-conditions are met.

There is naturally interest in Washington in the forthcoming general election in India. The assessment appears to be that the ruling Congress is headed for a drubbing in the poll. Not many tears will be shed in Washington or elsewhere about this inevitability, as the only questions which well-wishers of India ask are how India landed itself in its present morass of corruption and whether a new dispensation, which may be fractious, will be able to restore India to a high growth path. Speaking informally, a senior Administration official recalled that President Obama had described the US-India partnership as “one of the defining partnerships of the world”. The official noted that “every meaningful partnership between powerful nations encounters setbacks”, adding that such setbacks should be minor compared to the benefits of the relationship and the magnitude of what the two could accomplish together.

The Pacific Century Myth?

Straight-line projections may predict America’s imminent ouster as top economy – but they miss much.

By James Clad and Robert A. Manning
February 25, 2014

For some time now, it has been fashionable to say that we have begun what will be a “Pacific Century.” We have seen a flood of books of late, variations on the theme of When China Rules the World, as one put it. Certainly, in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis and Great Recession, this has been the conventional wisdom, a view shaped to a large extent by linear thinking. One of the most celebrated proponents of such views is the prolific former Singapore diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, who has written a series of well received books on Asia’s rise such as The New Asian Hemisphere.

In a recent article, Mahbubani has taken this linear logic to new heights (or depths, depending on your perspective) with the premise that America’s slide to number two economic status is “inevitable by 2019.” His premise appears to be that the prospect of yielding the top spot to China appears horrible and unnatural in the collective U.S. psyche:

In 2019, barely five years away, the world will pass one of its most significant historical milestones. For the first time in 200 years, a non-western power, China, will become the number-one economy in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms… it will take longer for China’s economy to overtake America’s in nominal terms but the trend line is irresistible.

Certainly the global diffusion of power is an ongoing trend. And at $12 trillion in 2012, China’s GDP in PPP terms was at 75 percent of the U.S. level, though as most economists know, statistical precision and Chinese data don’t make easy bedfellows. But the argument that America will yield its place to China in very short order bears further scrutiny.

Even if China’s GDP does surpass that of the U.S. in PPP metrics, it says little about the quality of the economy. China’s economy is still heavily investment driven, has a fragile financial system, is SOE-dominated, and innovation-challenged (quick, how many Chinese brands can you think of?) Linear thinking also overlooks the difficult reforms China faces, which could see growth over the next five years tapering to perhaps close to America’s pace – say, 4-5 percent – with the U.S. potentially reaching the 3 percent range. For good measure, remember the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), a catchy, but always contrived notion of emerging markets. Apart from China, none will have growth reaching 2 percent this year.

Asia Turns to North America for LNG

Unhappy with oil-linked prices, energy-hungry Asian giants are looking to new gas suppliers.

By Saurav Jha
February 27, 2014

Asia Turns to North America for LNGBy 2017, a minimum of 10 percent of projected Indian liquefied natural gas (LNG) re-gasification (import) capacity is set to be serviced by the United States. With gas pipeline projects to India’s west unlikely to take off soon, Indian gas importers are on the lookout for further North American LNG supplies, which later in this decade are expected to be cheaper than oil–linked cargo originating from Qatar. Along with Japan, India is also leading an Asian buyers’ consortium to break oil-indexation in the Asian LNG space, which buyers consider a prime factor in making it the world’s most expensive regional gas market. The success of this initiative hinges on the willingness of the U.S. political economy to move more quickly in making greater supplies available to non-free trade agreement (FTA) countries such as India and Japan. The U.S. thereby has to make a strategic call to align with a buyer’s group to allow its LNG exporters to capture market share in the medium term. However, the extent to which Indian gas importers will serve as “anchor buyers” for U.S. LNG will also depend on the growth of a similar relationship with Canada.

Indian domestic gas production has actually been declining in recent years, with the demand-supply gap expected to continue to widen until at least 2020. With both the IPI and TAPI projects still subject to geopolitical headwinds, a major increase in LNG import capacity is underway. Yet Asian LNG spot prices have been hovering around the $18 per million metric British thermal units (mmbtu) mark, and at these prices there are few takers for imported gas, as Indian major GAIL is discovering with its regasification plant in Dabhol operating at only a fraction of designed capacity.

These high prices stem from their traditionally close links to Japanese Crude Cocktail (JCC) prices (consistently over $100 per mmbtu for a while now) from sources such as Qatar, which insist on it. As India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Veerappa Moily put it recently “The practice of oil-linking has no relevance … and is largely responsible for such abnormally high prices.” This sentiment is of course shared by the Japanese, who post-Fukushima have become the world’s largest LNG importers and who have been talks with India to coordinate LNG purchases globally. A result of those talks has been an agreement between Japan’s Chubu Electric Power Co and GAIL to buy LNG jointly.

This agreement comes at a time when both Indian and Japanese majors have firmed up long-term supply contracts with U.S. LNG operators who have secured complete approvals for non-FTA export at Henry Hubprices. India’s GAIL, for instance, is already contracted to receive 3.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of LNG starting 2017 from Cheniere’s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana at a 115 percent markup over Henry Hub plus a $3 per mmbtu capacity charge. Even at a Henry Hub price of $6 per mmbtu (which is unlikely once winter is over), this would still be cheaper than the price Asian buyers are paying currently and expect to pay if oil-indexation is maintained at current levels. Indeed apart from sourcing potentially cheaper gas, the move to secure Henry Hub prices is an attempt by Asian buyers to put pressure on their existing suppliers to move away from oil-indexed contracts. GAIL incidentally has also contracted to export another 2.3 mtpa from Dominion Energy’s Cove Point plant from 2017, taking its total for U.S. supplies to 6 mtpa. All of it is destined to be sold in India, which will have 48 mtpa of LNG import capacity in place by then.

Inside the Army’s First Field Manual for Cyber Electromagnetic War

Patrick Tucker
February 26, 2014
The Pentagon long has made a big effort to showcase its budding cyberwarfare capabilities. But the military has been less forthcoming about a key, more tangible component of cyber — electronic warfare – until now. 

The Army just publically released its first-ever Field Manual for Cyber Electromagnetic Activities. The manual covers operations related to cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, highlighting that for the Army electronic warfare is every bit as important as the cyber threat we hear so much about in abstract.


Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist, where he served for nine years. Tucker's writing on emerging technology ... Full Bio

Electromagnetic spectrum, or ES, is the entire field of electromagnetic radiation that surrounds all of us, including infrared, radar, TV and radio waves. It’s what allows for cellphone and radio communication. The Army’s field manual describes a variety of its electronic warfare, or EW, operations — from sending confusing signals and messages that degrade the enemy’s communication capability on the battlefield to finding enemy equipment and destroying it with big bursts of electromagnetic radiation. (Remember Goldeneye?) The manual does not explain how to conduct specific EW attacks, but it does provide guidance to soldiers on what these sorts of operations look like in terms of protocol, terminology, and command and control. And it comes right as the number of potential electronic warfare operations is growing with every new radio or internet-dependent device that the military buys. 

Want to fly a drone? Get directions from the Global Positioning System? Drop a smart bomb? Use radar to land your plane, communicate with a forward operating base on a mountaintop in Afghanistan, find an improvised explosive device or, better yet, detonate one? Then you’ll need access to the electromagnetic spectrum. Even door locks that use radio-frequency ID, requiring the chipped common access (CAC) ID card that Army employees carry, use electromagnetic radiation. 

The military has been fighting to maintain spectrum dominance since the days of World War II radio jamming. But reliance on the spectrum is going to grow considerably in the future and take a variety of forms. The lower ends of the spectrum are useful for radio and cell communication, including Bluetooth exchanges. The frequencies at the higher end of the spectrum have applications for things like cruise missile targeting and lasers. Extremely sophisticated (and expensive) military equipment like the Army’s proposed laser truck, which would shoot down enemy drones, might use spectrum frequencies in a wide number of different ways.

3D Printing Promises to Revolutionize Defense, Aerospace Industries

March 2014 

By Yasmin Tadjdeh 

New manufacturing processes, such as 3D printing, have gained worldwide attention for creating everything from entire houses to guns. While used for many novel purposes, the defense and aerospace industry is eyeing it as a way to cut costs and improve efficiency.

Three-D printing shakes up the traditional process of manufacturing — which takes raw materials and subtracts from it by whittling or drilling — by adding layers of a substance, often a polymer or metal, to create an object. The method, which is also known as additive manufacturing, only requires a user to download a blueprint to the printer. Because the process uses fewer materials, it can save companies money as well as allow them to create parts on the fly, according to industry technologists.

As printers become smaller and less expensive, the defense and aerospace industry stand to glean major cost savings from the technology. Using more advanced printers and metal-based substances, companies are looking to manufacture hard-to-make items, such as brackets and tools for multi-million dollar programs ranging from satellites to jet fighters, according to experts interviewed.

Printers can now make advanced parts for aircraft engines, said Hugh Evans, vice president of corporate development and ventures for 3D Systems, a Rock Hill, S.C.-based additive manufacturing company.

The aerospace industry is adopting additive manufacturing “at a very fast rate because you can 3D print aircraft engine parts and take weight out,” Evans said at a Council on Foreign Relations panel on the topic in Washington, D.C.

General Electric and Rolls-Royce recently announced they will begin using 3D printing to manufacture certain engine components.

General Electric has been funneling millions of dollars into 3D printing technology for years, said Steve Rengers, the lead of General Electric Aviation’s research and development group.

Battle Over Wireless Spectrum Pits Military Needs Against Economic Interests

By Sandra I. Erwin

The U.S. military has spent decades and billions of dollars modernizing its information systems in preparation for a "network centric" age of warfare. But the Pentagon now faces an acute shortage of wireless spectrum, and will either have to curtail its appetite for data or will have to increasingly share portions of the electromagnetic spectrum with civilian users.

The Pentagon for years has been under pressure to relinquish prime spectrum "real estate," and it has in the past agreed to do so. But officials caution that the military can no longer afford to give up spectrum and, instead, would be open to greater sharing of the airwaves with other users. The Obama administration has asked for an additional 500 megahertz so it can boost the capacity of commercial wireless carriers and extend Internet access to rural areas of the United States.

The allocation of wireless, or radio-frequency, spectrum is overseen by the Federal Communications Commission for commercial use and by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for federal government use.

The Pentagon unveiled a new electromagnetic spectrum strategy Feb. 20 that suggests it will resist giving up more spectrum. The strategy calls for more efficient use of the airwaves and for greater collaboration with civilian agencies and the private sector. The Pentagon began to draft the strategy in 2010 after President Obama asked for 500 MHz of spectrum to be made available for commercial use by 2020. He mandated that federal agencies free up a significant portion of wireless spectrum so that it can be used by individuals and businesses to spur domestic economic growth.

For the military, the implications are significant. "Electromagnetic spectrum access is a prerequisite for modern military operations," the DoD strategy says. The Defense Department sees rising demand for spectrum just as the global wireless broadband industry faces soaring consumer demand for global mobility and data access. "These competing requirements for finite spectrum resources have changed the spectrum landscape, nationally and internationally, for the foreseeable future," says the strategy." In the future, "our national leaders will be challenged to make decisions that balance national security with economic interests."

Defense Companies Facing Array of New Cyberthreats (UPDATED)

March 2014 

By Stew Magnuson 

Waterholes, crypto-lockers and Shodan.

These three terms are just a few of the new pitfalls out there for defense companies large and small that face a dizzying array of threats against their networks. 

Criminals and spies remain unrelenting in their pursuit of what firms have, whether it is intellectual property or financial data, cybersecurity professionals said in interviews.

The waterhole scheme is a twist on an old tactic, in which an adversary through an email tricks a company or government employee into clicking on a website that contains malware.

In this case, like a gazelle lured to the promise of a cool drink, the lion, or in this case the hacker, is in the bushes waiting to pounce.

The email contains a link to a website that appears to be perfectly legitimate, explained Paul Christman, public sector vice president at Dell Software. 

“It looks like a legitimate link, but then they hijack you to another site that injects malware. … It is a sophisticated way of getting to users who are getting smarter about links. The first one looks clean, the second is not,” he said.

Crypto-lockers, also known as ransomware, is another troubling trend that can affect any company with valuable but perishable data, said Curt Aubley, chief technology officer and North American vice president at McAfee. 

It begins again with an employee clicking on an attachment or linking to a website that allows a hacker into the network. The intruder searches for important data and then places encryption on it.

Next comes a message, Aubley said, “Look, we didn’t steal your data. But we have encrypted it and you can’t get to it, so if you pay us this amount of money, we will give you the key to unlock the data.”