2 July 2014

India among jihad targets of ISIS

Praveen Swami
Published: July 2, 2014

In Ramzan message, ISIS chief al-Badri calls on followers worldwide to wage jihad

Ibrahim Awwad al-Badri, commander of the insurgent group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS), has vowed war against several countries, including India, in a Ramzan speech released online late on Tuesday.

The reference to India, the first in an ISIS manifesto, raises new concerns for the safety of the almost hundreds of its nationals trapped in Iraqi cities controlled by the Islamist group, which is battling the governments of Iraq and Syria.

The Ramzan speech by Mr al-Badri — also known by the pseudonym Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — calls on believers to take up arms during the month of penitence, and “terrify the enemies of Allah and seek death in the places where you expect to find it, for the dunya (worldly life) will come to an end”.

“Muslims’ rights”, Mr. al-Badri states in his speech, “are forcibly seized in China, India, Palestine, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Caucasus, Sham (the Levant), Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Ahvaz, Iran (by the rafidah (shia)), Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco, in the East and in the West” [all text as in original released by ISIS].

“Prisoners are moaning and crying for help”, Mr. al-Badri continues. “Orphans and widows are complaining of their plight. Women who have lost their children are weeping. Masajid (plural of masjid) are desecrated and sanctities are violated”.

Thus, he says, “the ummah of Islam is watching your jihad with eyes of hope, and indeed you have brothers in many parts of the world being inflicted with the worst kinds of torture”.

Mr. al-Badri’s speech, released online in English, Russian, French, Albanian and Russian, apart from Arabic, appeared part of a campaign to reach out to violent Islamists worldwide.

Earlier this week, ISIS had declared Mr. Badri the amir al-mumineen, or commander of the faithful, and declared him the leader of the Islamic caliphate it seeks to create.

Printable version  http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/india-among-jihad-targets-of-isis/article6167595.ece

Minimum deterrent and large arsenal

R. Rajaraman
Published: July 2, 2014

PTIA SENSIBLE POLICY: India has been following a system of keeping its warheads de-mated from their missiles and delivery aircraft, a policy that the new government must continue to follow. Picture shows a long range missile being launched from Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha.

A show of determination and toughness on non-nuclear fronts such as terrorism is more important than stockpiling nuclear weapons

Although the 42-page-long BJP election manifesto had only one short paragraph addressing strategic nuclear policy, that presumably does not reflect the priority that the newly elected government will attach to the subject. It is well-known that the BJP lays great importance on national security, of which nuclear policy forms an important component. Indeed, one of the first tasks undertaken by the Modi government was the appointment of a National Security Advisor.

Sooner or later the new government will undertake, perhaps quietly, a review of our nuclear doctrine. Now is an appropriate time to offer suggestions on what needs to be revised and what can be left as is.

The current official nuclear doctrine, released by the Cabinet Committee on Security on January 4, 2003, summarises our nuclear policy in eight succinct points. Of these, only a few of them really call for significant modification, because in recent years things have been relatively stable on the South Asian nuclear front.

This is despite the fact that both India and Pakistan continue to produce weapons-usable Plutonium at the Dhruva reactor and the Khushab reactors respectively. Pakistan may also be continuing to produce some weapons-grade Uranium at its centrifuge plants, despite its overall Uranium ore constraints. All this fissile material is presumably being assembled into warheads. So both arsenals have been growing, as have all the attendant dangers of maintaining a nuclear force. Nevertheless the situation has, by and large, just been “more of the same.” Therefore there is no call for any radical change of our nuclear doctrine. But a few features do need to be clarified and others underlined.No First Use

Government to seek U.S. explanation after reports of snooping on BJP

Suhasini Haidar
Published: July 2, 2014

Caught off guard by the latest round of revelations from former U.S. CIA contractor Edward Snowden, sources in the government on Tuesday said they are “mulling immediate action” against the U.S. for reports that India and the BJP in particular were under American surveillance in 2010.

“Whether it is individuals or organisations, we have raised this issue with the authorities concerned in the U.S. as well as through our embassy. If the reports are correct, we will follow the same process,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, calling the invasion of privacy “unacceptable.”

Sources told The Hindu the issue would be taken up with U.S. authorities even before U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns visits India next week and the government intends to seek “a full explanation and assurance” from the U.S. government that it has discontinued such acts of surveillance.

According to documents released by Mr. Snowden through the Washington Post on Monday, the Bharatiya Janata Party was one of six political parties worldwide that the U.S. NSA sought a court order to conduct surveillance on in 2010.

Printable version | Jul 2, 2014 6:25:41 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-to-seek-us-explanation-after-reports-of-snooping-on-bjp/article6167637.ece

The great Game Folio: Kashmir rail

C. Raja Mohan 
 July 2, 2014

The railways were at the heart of modern India’s territorial construction.

When he inaugurates a small section — a 25-km link between Udhampur and Katra — of the long-awaited railroad to Kashmir this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should reflect on India’s failure to take its railways to the far-flung corners of the country. That China is now preparing to extend its railway into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir should stir Modi to recognise the significance of the railways for India’s national security and factor it into the rail budget to be presented to Parliament next week.

The railways were at the heart of modern India’s territorial construction. The railways were also critical in securing the undivided subcontinent against external powers and defending its vast frontiers. The Raj extended its railways in the late-19th century to the Bolan (Quetta) and Khyber (Peshawar) passes in the North-West Frontier, as Russia brought its railways to the Amu Darya to the north of Afghanistan and Germany sought to build a railroad from Berlin to Baghdad. The Raj also built a railroad to the northeastern frontier in Assam by the last decade of the 19th century.

In the post-Independence period, New Delhi’s appreciation of the importance of railways in promoting national unity and frontier security began to diminish. The partition of the subcontinent and Delhi’s inward economic orientation helped blur a strategic conception of railways. Making matters worse, the provincialism of the railway ministry’s political leadership in recent decades played havoc with what was one of the world’s greatest institutions. Having gained political control of the ministry, Modi has the opportunity to put the Indian Railways (IR) back at the centre of the nation’s strategies for development and security. He must also revitalise India’s impressive tradition of building railroads in other countries.


If India neglected one of the world’s largest rail networks inherited from the Raj, China has dramatically expanded its railways as part of a strategy to deepen internal and external connectivity. Last week, Beijing announced plans to build a railway line across the Khunjerab Pass, which links the Xinjiang province in western China with PoK. The project is part of a proposed transport corridor from Xinjiang’s Kashgar hub to the Gwadar port on Pakistan’s Makran coast and integral to Chinese president Xi Jinping’s ambitious Silk Road strategy.

*** The Sunni Ramadan Offensive and the Lessons of Tet Read more: The Sunni Ramadan Offensive and the Lessons of Tet

By George Friedman
Tuesday, July 1,

In February 1968, the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong launched a general offensive in Vietnam during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. From mid-1966 onward, the North Vietnamese had found themselves under increasing pressure from American and South Vietnamese forces. They were far from defeated, but they were weakening and the likelihood of their military victory was receding. The North Vietnamese decided to reverse the course of the war militarily and politically by marshaling available forces, retaining only limited reserves and going on the offensive throughout South Vietnam.

The attack had three strategic purposes. First, the North Vietnamese wanted to trigger a general uprising against the Americans and the South Vietnamese government. Second, they wanted to move the insurgency to the next stage by seizing and holding significant territory and resisting counterattack. And third, they wanted to destabilize their enemy psychologically by demonstrating that intelligence reports indicating their increasing weakness were wrong. They also wanted to impose casualties on the Americans at an unprecedented rate. The American metric in the war was the body count; increasing the body count dramatically would therefore create a crisis of confidence in the U.S. public and within the military and intelligence community.
General Offensives and Crises of Confidence

From a military standpoint, the offensive was a failure. The North Vietnamese military was crippled by its losses. While seizing Hue and other locations, the North Vietnamese were unable to hold them. But they succeeded psychologically and politically by raising doubts about U.S. intelligence and by creating a political crisis in the United States. In war, perception of the enemy's strength and will, and confidence in your own evaluation of those things, shifts the manner in which one fights. The U.S. intelligence estimate before Tet was more right than wrong, but by marshaling all forces for a general offensive, the North caused U.S. trust in that evaluation to collapse. Even though the North Vietnamese were militarily far weaker after the offensive, the military failure proved less relevant than this creation of a crisis of confidence.

The use of a general offensive to reverse military decline is not unique to Tet. The Germans did the same in their offensive in 1944 at the Battle of the Bulge. While the Germans also had a military intent, their psychological intent was as important. Before the battle, the Allies thought the Germans were finished. They were, and so the Germans had to show they still had power. They accordingly threw their reserves into a battle to break the Allies' nerve.

When launched at a time when it is assumed it could not be launched, the general offensive is a powerful weapon. Such an offensive is now underway in Iraq. When we step back, we see a broad offensive by Sunni jihadists underway in a range of countries. In Afghanistan, a massive summer offensive is underway in parts of the country once regarded as secure. To the south, the Pakistani Taliban launched a major offensive a few weeks ago that sparked a Pakistani counteroffensive, putting the Pakistani Taliban on the defensive. In Syria, while the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has not surged, it also has not declined. Southern Jordan has meanwhile seen clashes between jihadists and government forces. In the Palestinian territories, Hamas has announced, though not launched, a third intifada. To the west, Egypt is experiencing terrorism, while in Libya jihadists have asserted themselves in various ways.
The Question of Coordination

Up in Arms: Foreign Investment in Indian Defense

By Vivek Mishra
June 30, 2014

Talk of allowing up to 100 percent foreign direct investment has proven controversial, to say the least.

No sooner had India’s new government announced its intention to move forward with a promised revision of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defense sector, mooting a 100 percent FDI limit (up from the current 26 percent), and a backlash began. In the vanguard of this opposition lies India Inc.

Look closely and two clear strands can be perceived in the opposition. The first stems from the financial and manufacturing repercussions that India’s domestic defense industries are likely to face in the event of a 100 percent FDI limit. For Indian companies—which include Tata Group, Larsen and Toubro, Bharat Forge, Mahindra and Punj Lloyd—still struggling to find their feet in the areas of manufacturing, production, technology, capital and competitiveness, this concern may well be genuine.

The second apprehension involves those who view India’s defense sector as the sanctum sanctorum of national pride and patriotism. For these critics, any attempt to invite no-holds-barred FDI in this sector is not just a breach of traditional principles, but a financial invasion of sorts.

The idea to increase FDI in defense was first mooted in 2010 in a Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) discussion paper. In July 2013, the Cabinet Committee on Security led by India’s former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided that the limit of FDI in the defense sector would be 26 percent but that higher FDI (up to 100 percent) would be allowed on a case-to-case basis by the CCS. To that extent, the proposal to increase the FDI to 100 percent is not entirely new. Nonetheless, the legislation (still only a Cabinet draft) that has been floated by DIPP has come under fire. Joining Indian conglomerates involved in defense are sections of media, the bureaucracy and ex-servicemen. Are the concerns valid?

A Mistaken Identity: Muslim Radicalism as a Complex Phenomenon

Paper No 5734 Dated 27-Jun-2014

Guest Column By Moorthy S. Muthuswamy Ph.D.(The views expressed are author's own)

If the above premise holds true, the coming years promise a new and potentially fruitful approach to mitigating the threat of ever-growing violent Muslim radicalism.

First, some background.

About a decade ago, the Afghanistan-Pakistan region was the main theatre of violent transnational Islamic radicalism. The phenomenon has spread far and wide, despite the immense efforts of the United States and its allies. First, the AfPak region appears to be all set to revert to its pre-9/11 days; second, militant groups are now operating in vast swaths of territory from the Middle East to North Africa. Moreover, even the Western counties themselves are hardly free from terrorism conducted by resident jihadists. Countries such as India, Israel, China, the Philippines and Thailand that border Muslim nations and have significant Muslim minorities are reeling under increasing attacks by home-grown Muslim radicals.

If these results are any indication, both the experts in the intelligence world who drive policies and in the academia have failed to delineate the dominant causes that drive Muslim radicalism. For instance, terrorism scholar Marc Sageman pointed out in 2013 that “overall, the same stale arguments about ‘how can this [a terrorist incident] happen?’ are debated over and over again—with very little new insight.” This could mean two possibilities: one, that the learned experts have yet to comprehend this phenomenon and two, that the phenomenon itself may be so complex that it is hardly driven by one or two dominant causes.

It appears that most experts in Western intelligence world are being made to focus on short-term projects that put them at a disadvantage in taking a long-view of the phenomenon. Moreover, as Sageman notes, they usually lack a high-end analytical background. However, the experts in academia, typically PhDs in political science, may have a different shortcoming. Recently, questions have been raised about the quality and relevance of academic scholarship, with a well-respected political scientist noting that “[p]olitical science Ph.D.’s often aren’t prepared to do real-world analysis.”

The Underlying Simplicity

While the conventional wisdom holds that the radicalization process is “complex,” I am positing that such a characterization is unwarranted for the following reasons: Violence conduced in the name of Islam is preponderant compared to other religions; almost always, this radicalism invokes sharia and armed jihad; this violence transcends, ethno-cultural, linguistic, geographic and income fault-lines.

The above universality suggests that specific religion based causes or processes are behind the modern phenomenon called Muslim radicalism. The extent of its spread suggests that these processes could not be complex and that they are likely to be simple to the extent that, many Muslims understand and identify with them.

India-China Panchsheel Agreement: Hanging on to a moth-eaten rag:

Paper No. 5735 Dated 30-Jun-2014
By Dr Subhash Kapila

Prime Minister Modi would be well-advised to reconsider the visit China to this year- the 60thanniversary of signing the Panchsheel Agreement. Implicitly, India would be perceived as endorsing a moth-eaten rag rendered irrelevant by China’s perfidies.

China in the last 60 years stands more often in breach of each and every principle so loftily enshrined in this much heralded Panchsheel Agreement. It is therefore ironic that India sent its Vice President to Beijing to participate in the anniversary celebrations.

Further, it is outrageous, but in conformity with Chin’s established pattern of the past, that while the Indian Vice President was in Beijing, a new map showing Arunachal Pradesh as part of China was coincidently released along with Chinese Army incursions in Ladakh. .

India’s 60 years of China-diplomacy and use of Special Envoys has not made the slightest dent in China’s entrenched imperial mind-sets in dealing with India in a condescending manner. This primarily arises from China’s perceptions of Indian supinity and strategic timidity.

So how does Indian perpetuation of the moth-eaten rag of Panchsheel Agreement and extolling it in deference to China’s own image- building exercise bring any political or strategic gains for India?

China at every stage has sought to strategically diminish India in Asian eyes and it is time to call a halt to the China-appeasement policies.

Much quoted in the past was veteran political leader Acharya Kriplani’s statement then that the Panchsheel Agreement was ‘born in sin’. Events and China’s continued demonstrated pattern of aggressive behaviour on our borders and in our neighbourhood reinforces this assertion.

The Panchsheel Agreement was a strategic sell out by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and even his favourite acolyte Krishna Menon is quoted as having stated that it was a poorly drafted document. Nehru’s give away of India’s national security interests to China was sought to be given high moral tones by labelling it as an extraordinary and principled new template in inter-state relations.

In a very hard hitting indictment, but true in every word, were these two strategic nuggets that I came across in an article entitled “60 Years On: Unforgiving Legacy of Panchsheel Agreement” by R. N. Ravi, a former Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau with 20 years of experience of China –watching to his credit, and he forcefully asserts that: 
“The Panchsheel Agreement is ‘damnosa heredatas’, a dark legacy bequeathed by Nehru to India. In its DNA lies the subconscious fount of India’s schizophrenic geopolitics that forsook in one sweep all its historically entrenched strategic interests in Tibet in favour of China.” 
“The Panchsheel Agreement is India’s acquiescent endorsement of militarily altered, China-centric geopolitical and geostrategic balance of power on India’s northern frontiers.” 

So what is India celebrating about 60 years of Panchsheel Agreement signing when it turned out to be a total betrayal of India’s trust that was reposed in China? The Indian Vice President need not have gone even if the previous Government had so ordained.

Where have all Pakistan's militants gone?

By M Ilyas Khan BBC News, Islamabad
30 June 2014
The Pakistani Taliban and other groups turned Waziristan into a militant bastion

After years of reluctance, Pakistan's infantry and special services troops have finally moved into "militant central" - Miranshah in North Waziristan.

The town has served as the joint command-and-control centre of powerful local groups and their foreign allies in the tribal region, believed to be the last major militant sanctuary in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

Troops moved in from a nearby garrison early on Monday following two weeks of aerial bombardment to soften militant targets ahead of the ground offensive. Officials had ordered the evacuation of nearly half a million people from the area to deprive the militants of "human shields".

So what have we discovered on day one of the ground offensive?

In the absence of the media, the only source of information is the military. It has reported the killing of some "militants" in a shootout, the discovery of some tunnels and a few factories that manufactured improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

But there is no word, for example, about the top- or mid-ranking leadership of the main groups that were entrenched in the area, such as the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), the Haqqani network, the many foreigners, or the three native Waziristan-based militant groups.

Recent evidence suggests that most of these groups have already left the regions around Miranshah and the other main town in North Waziristan, Mir Ali.
Ground operations have been expected since the aerial bombardment began two weeks ago
Nearly half a million people have moved out of North Waziristan
The main market in Miranshah is seen shuttered during a curfew in mid-June

The most prominent among these are the Uzbek fighters allied to the TTP who claimed the 7 June assault on Karachi airport, and are believed by many to be one of the two major targets of the current operation, along with the TTP.

North Waziristan Is Burning


June 29, 2014: India and the U.S. recently revealed that both countries were working together to detect and disrupt international Islamic terrorist networks. This involves sharing information and coordinating activities. Both the U.S. and India have considerable intelligence resources devoted to Pakistan, which is a major source of Islamic terrorist activity in the region and internationally.

Despite continued violence from Maoists in eastern India and Islamic terrorists mainly in the northwest, India still suffers about one tenth the number of terrorist related deaths compared to Pakistan (which has a sixth as many people as India). In short, terrorist violence remains largely a Pakistani problem.

In Pakistan efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban have been abandoned as the army enters its third week of offensive operations against Islamic terrorists in the tribal territories. In mid-June the Pakistani Army began massing troops for a ground offensive and many civilians in North Waziristan fled the air attacks which began on June 10th. The military reports that over 370 Islamic terrorists, 12 soldiers and police and no civilians were killed in these North Waziristan operations so far . Several dozen terrorists have been captured and over fifty terrorist bases (often individual buildings or compounds) captured or destroyed (usually from the air). There’s no way to confirm these claims as no journalists are allowed in. A few months ago there were nearly 200,000 troops in the Pakistani tribal territories, and over 40,000 surrounding North Waziristan. Since then more of these troops were moved to North Waziristan or near it. Most of these troops are trying to prevent Islamic terrorists from escaping and helping control the large number of refugees. Only about half the troops are actually going into North Waziristan to occupy terrorist bases and generally look around.

North Waziristan is an area of 4,700 square kilometers, with 370,000 people that is the only sanctuary Islamic terrorist groups like the Taliban and Haqqani Network have in the tribal territories. About one percent of the people in North Waziristan are Islamic terrorists and while the military controls some of the larger towns, the tribes and Islamic terrorists control the countryside. Most of the people in North Waziristan have fled the air strikes and they report some civilian casualties. Afghanistan claims 65,000 have fled across the border into Khost and Paktika provinces so far. Some refugees claim that most Islamic terrorists fled the area before the air strikes began. The Pakistani military has issued several reports a week giving precise number of Islamic terrorists killed by the air strikes. There have been some Islamic terrorist attacks against troops maintaining the cordon around North Waziristan. The Islamic terrorists have taken casualties but are disrupted not destroyed.

The attack on North Waziristan initially involved F-16s, helicopter gunships and army artillery. The air force also provided pretty good aerial reconnaissance. Until the last few days ground troops did little attacking but thousands manned checkpoints on the borders of North Waziristan and mounted regular patrols along those borders. Despite this those borders still provided many opportunities for people to sneak past the troops. Most of the North Waziristan border is with Afghanistan and that was not as tightly guarded, which made it relatively easy for Islamic terrorists to hike across the border to villages that are hospitable to Pakistani Islamic terrorists.


By Shujaat Bukhari, IPCS

Last year when I wrote about the boys who had graduated in different streams and joined the “Jihad” in Kashmir and the increasing number of people joining their funeral prayers, many “analysts” responded by saying that it was “a mere exaggeration”. But the killing of a young boy in Sopore on Monday stands testimony to the fact how the Kashmir society, particularly the youth, are identifying themselves with the renewed phase of militancy. The boy—Arshad Ahmad was not part of a group that was demonstrating against the breakdown in power supply, nor was he among those agitating for a Tehsil or a Block. He was part of the group that was protesting against the killing of a local militant in an encounter with forces a few hours before.

His killing is a grim reminder about how the state has lost control over its forces.

Once known as “Capital of Militancy”, Sopore has a long history of being at forefront to voice the dissent. Notwithstanding the fact that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah held the first meeting of the then converted Muslim Conference into National Conference in Sopore only after he faced resentment in Srinagar, the town has emerged as symbol of resistance for many decades now. It has paid the price for being anti-establishment as it voted the fire brand Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani to Assembly at least three times, thus rejecting the traditional National Conference. When armed rebellion broke out in 1989, Sopore was leading the movement and one of the formidable organisation’s – Hizbul Mujahideen’s – base outfit Tehreek e Jehadi Islami was born here only. For being on the opposite side, Sopore has been neglected in development as compared to other towns. It records almost zero polling so the attention towards the development is well understood.

The incident last Monday refreshes our memory not only about the town but also the renewed phase of youth opting for violence to fight for their political rights. Some may call them misguided or paid, but the fact is that there are lots who choose this dangerous path with a conviction. According to outgoing General Officer Commanding (GoC) Lt Gen Gurmit Singh, the number of militants killed since 2013 in Valley is 102.

By any assessment and analysis this is a big number keeping in view the statements from the government that the militancy was waning and it should be considered as “residual”. If the official sources are to be believed the number of local boys in the ranks has now crossed 50 percent. The militant groups also get the support at the ground level. In Sopore area alone there have been number of encounters in the recent past which suggests that the trend of “foreigners dominating militant ranks” is now reversing.

Will Aung San Suu Kyi be president? Odds are lengthening


30 June 2014

A year ago, a Lowy Institute panel was asked whether Aung San Suu Kyi would become president of Burma (Myanmar). The question was also raised on The Interpreter. The answer on both occasions was that such an outcome was far from certain. Powerful forces in Burma were working hard to prevent it. Few informed observers were optimistic about her future.

Since then, the odds on the charismatic opposition leader becoming president have lengthened considerably.

When writing about Burma, it is always prudent to begin by saying that its internal affairs are difficult to read, and the country has always had the capacity to surprise. That said, there have been increasing signs that a decision has been made to extend the period of 'disciplined democracy' beyond President Thein Sein's term, and that steps are being taken to ensure that Aung San Suu Kyi cannot contest the presidency after the 2015 general elections.

After a mixed civilian-military government was formed in 2011, Aung San Suu Kyi seemed to feel that her best interests, and those of her party, lay in a compromise with Thein Sein, whose ambitious reform program she publicly endorsed. She also tried to get closer to the armed forces (Tatmadaw) in an apparent attempt to reassure its leaders that she did not pose a threat to their institutional or personal interests.

Since then, however, Aung San Suu Kyi has clearly become disillusioned with Thein Sein and the slow pace of political reform. She has also failed to weaken the armed forces' commitment to a gradual, controlled, top-down transition to a more democratic system. This seems to have prompted her discussions with power brokers like Shwe Mann, the speaker of the parliament's lower house, in what was probably an attempt to outflank her opponents.

At the same time, she increased her efforts to persuade other countries to put pressure on Naypyidaw. She warned world leaders (including Australia's prime minister) not to get too comfortable in dealing with Burma's current government. She also sought their help in getting the 2008 constitution amended to remove those provisions enshrining the Tatmadaw's special place in national politics and preventing her from becoming president.

Yet, over the past six months, the president and Tatmadaw commander-in-chief have reiterated their commitment to the 2008 constitution and to a 'disciplined democracy'. Both have hinted that they favour another five-year term under a former general. And on 13 June a parliamentary committee dominated by pro-government members voted against amending the clause of the constitution which bars from the presidency anyone (like Aung San Suu Kyi) whose family has foreign ties.


By Pinak Chakravarty Eurasia Review

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj returned home on June 27 after her maiden stand-alone visit abroad to Bangladesh. By making Dhaka her first stop, Minister Sushma Swaraj began the task of fine-tuning of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ground breaking foreign policy gambit that saw the leaders of SAARC countries and Mauritius attend the swearing-in ceremony of the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues.

Billed as a “goodwill” visit, the Indian minister met the top leadership of Bangladesh, including President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Sushma Swaraj also met Begum Khaleda Zia, leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and Begum Raushan Ershad, leader of the Jatiya Party, to send out a message that India will reach out to all mainstream political parties in Bangladesh.

The renewed emphasis on reaching out to neighbours is an adroit move by India’s new government. It also signals the growing bipartisan nature of the conduct of foreign policy, cutting across party lines, by India’s political leadership. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is badly in need of rejuvenation.

Cultivating good relations with neighbouring countries helps in providing a secure and stable environment for economic growth for all countries. A fundamental objective of India’s foreign policy is to create an external environment that helps the transformation of India. In pursuing this objective, India will have to work with all neighbours to ensure greater integration among SAARC countries. While intra-SAARC trade is increasing, it is still anaemic when compared to trade within other groupings like the European Union, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Bangladesh is India’s largest trading partner in SAARC. It shares the longest border with India, of almost 4,096 km. There is a common history and heritage, as well as a modern one, of a shared struggle for freedom and liberation sealed in blood in the war of 1971. During Prime Minister Hasina’s six years in office, India-Bangladesh relations have improved dramatically.

Arguably, Prime Minister Hasina deserves much credit for this transformation. Her sagacity and statesmanship in dealing with issues of security has led to a win-win situation for both countries, and has contributed hugely to mutual trust and confidence. India has also reciprocated by opening up its markets for Bangladesh’s exports by permitting zero tariff entry of all Bangladeshi products, except 25 banned items in a negative list.

Ukraine, the European Union and Russia: a Game of Absolutes?

By Sarah Lain, Research Fellow RUSI Analysis
29 Jun 2014

Ukraine has finally signed an economic agreement with the European Union which will further add to the tense atmosphere between Ukraine and Russia. As pivots more firmly to the West, Ukraine will have to assert its own political independence without alienating Russia.
Following a relatively unsuccessful ceasefire, Ukraine’s president Poroshenko has signed a long-awaited economic agreement with the European Union (EU). Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych had been set to sign this agreement in November 2013, but in a last minute about-turn opted for Russian aid instead. Ukraine is not the only ex-Soviet state to move closer to the EU: Georgia and Moldova also signed similar agreements at the same time. These events have concerned Russia, and economic counter-measures are to be expected. There will certainly be long-term challenges in implementing the agreement given the changes Ukraine needs to make. However, having finally taken measures to strengthen relations with the EU, Ukraine will not only test the reality of Russia’s leverage over the country, but it will also determine whether stronger ties with Europe are in fact positive for the country.

Ukraine has already signed an EU Association Agreement establishing closer political ties. On Friday 27 June it signed the EU Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreement (DCFTA).This agreement stipulates the removal of trade tariffs in both directions, and it is estimated that Ukrainian exporters will save €487m per year due to reduced duties . It not only addresses free trade, but also means Ukraine agrees to bring its goods in line with European standards, with EU support. Moreover, Ukraine must comply with EU legislation on areas such as public procurement and, with the exception of defence, will have access to public procurement markets. .

It is unsurprising that Ukraine wants to open up its markets and diversify like many other nations are doing. Not only is there popular support in the country for closer European relations, Ukraine is very aware that Russia has shown a propensity to use trade as a pressure tool against countries acting in a way it disagrees with. In July 2013, in the lead-up to Yanukovych’s signing the deal with the EU that never materialised, Russia announced l it was banning imports of Roshen confectionary claiming violations of food health and safety standards. Following the annexation of Crimea Russia also delayed and halted some imports from Ukraine, again citing food contamination issues.
Russia Under Threat?

There will certainly be practical challenges accompanying the implementation of this agreement, as it will take time and money for Ukraine to bring its products and legislation in line with that of the EU. Moreover, whether there will be significant resistance from the established oligarch business powers is unclear. Russia has threatened a potential loss of trade, and has repeatedly stated its concern that implementation of the agreement will cause an influx of unchecked EU products duty-free to Russia, which will hurt local producers. Although Russia is justified in considering the effects of this agreement on its own economy, there does not seem to be such a strong justification for this particular concern. Both Ukraine and Russia are members of the World Trade Organisation, the guidelines of which are cited in the DCFTA. This stipulates for ‘rules of origin’ which are there to determine the national source of a product. Furthermore,although 25.7% of Ukraine’s exports are to Russia , 5.7% of Russia’s imports come from Ukraine, making Ukraine Russia’s third largest import source.
European Union vs Eurasian Economic Union

There is one genuine ‘either, or’ scenario that has played out in this agreement, and that is that by signing the EU agreement Ukraine cannot join the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). The EEU members (Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) had hoped that Ukraine would join. A meeting was held between the EEU partners on 23 June 2014 to discuss group protectionist measures that could be taken in anticipation of Ukraine’s signing of the EU agreement – but the three were unable to reach a consensus. Russian first deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov later announced that Russia would in fact take its own national measures. He plans to examine addendum 6 in the CIS free trade zone agreement, of which Ukraine is a part, which states that members may implement tariffs on imports from member states, if that state has entered into agreements with third parties that in turn significantly increase the imports across borders of the region. However, Russia will also need to take into account how this will affect the trade mechanisms, and credibility, of the EEU.
Ukraine Stepping Up

This agreement is provocative to Russia. Moscow sees it as an encroachment on its traditional sphere of influence – and interprets the document’s use of the term ‘integration’ as a sign that Ukraine will eventually become a member of the European Union. This frustration is understandable to a degree, but it also perpetuates a zero-sum view of Europe–Russia relations instead of recognising the real need to stabilise Ukraine economically.

Furthermore, it demonstrates that Russia is not comfortable with the idea of Ukraine becoming independent enough to make its own decisions. What Ukraine’s government now needs to do is to prove that it can genuinely reform its economy and be taken seriously by all sides. Without seeking to alienate Russia, Ukraine needs to redefine its own identity to defend itself against the use of political and economic leverage from stronger powers.

Will China's Nine Dashes Ever Turn Into One Line?

July 01, 2014

Why does Beijing keep its dashed-line claim to the South China Sea?

As Diplomat readers might be aware, China released a new official map of its territory. As far as Beijing’s provocative moves go, this one was … actually not too bad compared to China’s relatively recent decisions to impose an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea or move oil rigs into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). All Beijing did was publish a new map. This map has caused concerns among China’s neighbors in the South China Sea and even India (but nothing profoundly new in either case). Here on Flashpoints, Harry Kazianis called China’s approach “mapfare.” There is certainly truth in this description. By publishing these maps, Beijing continues to push its version of the facts on the ground, which it then enforces with declarations like the ADIZ, brazen resource exploration, and coast guard patrols (the Philippines became all too aware of this in 2012 in the Scarborough Shoal). One major curiosity with China’s official maps continues to be its audacious nine-dash line claim (now officially ten dashes for those of you keeping count). Why won’t Beijing just convert its dashes into a continuous maritime border?

First, what are the benefits to Beijing of maintaining nine (or ten) dashes instead of a continuous line? Well, in order for there to be any benefit at all, maps would have to matter in the first place. I would argue that they certainly do in the Asia-Pacific. Each of the maritime claimants in the South China Sea comes to the table with their own map of the region. China’s claim to Asia’s cauldron (as Robert Kaplan puts it) is by far the most capacious and substantiated with ten dashes dating back to maps used by the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China in 1947. As others have noted, the primary advantage of these dashes is a degree of calculated ambiguity. According to Beijing, the dashes do not represent an inviolable sovereign claim to the entirety of the area demarcated by the dashes but in reality represent the maximum extent of Chinese control over the region.

This is a subtlety that often goes unappreciated in contemporary debates on China’s claim to the South China Sea. By maintaining its dashes, Beijing actually sees its position on its maritime claims as conciliatory and open somewhat to negotiation with other South China Sea states. One account of a Track II exchange between Western and Chinese scholars in 2009, recounted by Carl Thayer, states that “if nations which made claims for extended continental shelves withdrew such claims, there would be several areas within the dotted line might be amenable to joint development,” according to Chinese scholars.

CHINA: Stumbling in Xinjiang

Paper No. 5736 Dated 30-Jun-2014
By Col. R.Hariharan

There are clear indications that the Chinese are stumbling in their effort to crush the Uighur struggle against the Han Chinese domination in Xinjiang.

The scrupulous semantics used by Chinese state-controlled media describe them as terrorists though the attacks lack the sophistication of modern day terrorism. It has not helped to cover up the Chinese failure to give confidence to the restive "minority" Uighurs who form a majority in Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China's Northwest.

The way the Chinese have handled the "terror" carried out in Beijing in October 2013 is a case in point to understand all that is wrong with Chinese appraoch to tackling terrorism

The “terror attack” occurred when Usman Ahmet, a Uighur driving a jeep ploughed into a crowd of people near the Tienanmen Square in Beijing on October 28, 2013 killing three people and injuring 39 others. The driver and his mother and wife who were in the jeep also died on the spot. According to initial report, some eyewitnesses said the jeep was being chased by someone; it was probably trying to get away from the pursuer

The three Uighurs facing death row were found guilty of “leading a terrorist group and endangering public security.” Along with the driver of the fatal vehicle, they had “looked for guns and explosives in different places, watched terrorism videos and jointly planned terrorist acts such as blasts and killings in Beijing.”

Two others were sentenced to life and 20 years in jail respectively for guilty of “participating in a terrorist group and endangering public security. Three more Uighurs were sentenced to five to 10 years imprisonment for “participating in a terrorist group.” 

The Beijing attack was not as deadly as the explosive attack carried out in Urumqi market on May 22, 2014. Thirty nine civilians were killed and 94 others injured in the attack. But the Beijing attack typifies the Chinese way of handling separatist extremism that goes by the name of terrorism in China.

It also shows the increasingly innovative ways in which Uighur separatists had taken their “operations’ beyond the confines of Xinjiang and in this case to the national capital

There is a problem with Chinese approach to unconventional warfare. In India where semantic niceties dominate the thought process on COIN, “extremism”, “militancy”, “insurgency” and “terrorism” often indicate how the state authority would like to handle the threat. However, to be fair to the Chinese, the fine line separating various types of anti-state violence is getting increasingly subsumed thanks to rise and spread of Jihadi terrorism worldwide.

Stop Comparing Iraq to the Vietnam War


Heather Marie Stur

July 1, 2014

Pundits, journalists, and scholars are once again comparing the conflict in Iraq to the Vietnam War. After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, observers began drawing the analogy in earnest, and now that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is threatening the government in Baghdad, analysts are continuing to draw parallels between the two wars. They point out the lack of motivation of Iraqi and South Vietnamese troops, the unpopularity of Nguyen Van Thieu and Nouri al-Maliki, and the inability of U.S. military power to achieve decisive victory. Commentators chide the U.S. government and military strategists for not learning from the mistakes their predecessors made in Vietnam. Some envision a chaotic evacuation of the U.S Embassy in Baghdad a la Saigon 1975.

It is easy to understand why this line of comparison is convenient. U.S. troops and political advisors went to Iraq and Vietnam ostensibly to help establish a democratic nation. In both cases, Americans severely misunderstood the local conditions that made it difficult for democracy to take root. The inability to make sense of the domestic contexts caused the U.S. to sink into a military quagmire in which winning battles did not lead to overall victory in war. In both countries, ideological movements -- radical Islam in Iraq, communism in Vietnam -- trumped nationalism so that brothers fought brothers in civil wars. For those on the Left, the Vietnam War remains the ultimate symbol of the hubris of American imperialism. Some on the Right see Vietnam as an example of what happens when the U.S. abandons an ally. Across the political spectrum, the Vietnam War has become shorthand for U.S. foreign policy and military failure, and so when a shaky government that Americans have tried to pass off as a democracy begins to crumble, some analysts are quick to christen it "another Vietnam."

Despite the commonalities, it is time to stop comparing Iraq to Vietnam. It is unproductive to view the conflict in Iraq through the lens of the Vietnam War, in which U.S. intervention began more than fifty years ago and ended forty years ago in a very different international context. To justify the war in Vietnam, American policy makers exaggerated communism's threat to American security and considered Vietnam a place where the U.S. could showcase its nation-building capabilities as post-World War II decolonization produced new countries in Africa and Asia. The U.S. has executed military engagements since Vietnam, particularly the first Persian Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan, that offer more accurate points of comparison. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 1991 was America's first post-Cold War conflict and one that illustrated the "new world order" in which the U.S. was the globe's sole super-power. Gulf War I was also the root of the current conflict in Iraq. From the crippling sanctions the U.N. Security Council imposed on Iraq in 1990 to George W. Bush's effort to "finish the job" of his father and get Saddam Hussein, the first Gulf War offers a more direct map for understanding the progression of events that led to ISIS's advance in Iraq than the Vietnam War does. Looking beyond Iraq, Afghanistan reveals how difficult it is to impose and maintain democracy in the face of violent religious extremists. Afghanistan is America's other 21st century war, and it, like Iraq, began as part of the "global war on terror." By returning to the old Vietnam War comparison every time the U.S. stages a military intervention, we miss opportunities to evaluate more recent conflicts which are directly related to Iraq, rather than basing analysis on the general parallels between the Iraq and Vietnam wars.

America Broke Iraq: Three Lessons for Washington


"America should get out of the business of invasion and occupation."
Kishore Mahbubani

July 1, 2014
Colin Powell put it clearly and succinctly: “If you break it, you own it.” America broke Iraq. America owns Iraq. This is how the rest of the world sees it. This is also why the world is mystified by the current Obama-Cheney debate. Both these camps are saying, “You did it.” Actually both the camps should say, “Wedid it.”

The tragedy about this divisive debate is that America is missing a great opportunity to reflect on a big and fundamental question: why is America so bad at the simple task of invading and occupying countries? Surely, the American invasion and occupation of Iraq will go down in history as one of the most botched operations of its kind. America spent $4 trillion, lost thousands of American lives and millions of Iraqi lives, and at the end of the day, achieved nothing. Since the failure was so catastrophic, why not at least try to learn some valuable lessons from it? There are at least three lessons that scream for attention.

The first lesson is the folly of good intentions. Let’s be clear about one thing: Americans are not evil people.They do not conquer countries to rape, pillage and loot. Instead, they conquer countries to help the people. President George W. Bush’s goal was to set up a stable, functioning Iraqi democracy, not to set up an American colony in perpetuity. The British colonial rulers of Iraq in the early twentieth century would have been totally mystified by these good intentions. And they would have been even more flummoxed by the methods used to achieve these good intentions. For example, the British would preserve local institutions, not destroy them.

The last successful American occupation was the occupation of Japan. MacArthur wisely preserved Japanese institutions—including Emperor Hirohito, despite his role in the war. By contrast, America destroyed both Saddam’s army and his Ba’ath party at the beginning, thereby condemning the occupation to failure. Some Americans believed they could manage Iraq because American governance was inherently superior. Paul Bremer assumed he could rule Iraq effortlessly with his big boots, without ever being aware that his big boots were culturally offensive.

Iraqi Hydrocarbon Prize of U.S. Invasion in Danger?

By Nicola Nasser
Global Research, June 28, 2014
Url of this article:

Excluding “boots on the ground” and leaving combat missions to local and regional “partners,” President Barak Obama and his administration say the United States keeps “all options on the table” to respond militarily to the terrorists’ threat to “American interests” in Iraq, which are now in “danger.”

Similarly, former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on TV screens and in print has recently urged western governments to “put aside the differences of the past and act now” and to intervene militarily in Iraq “to save the future” because “we do have interests in this.”

Both men refrained from indicating what are exactly the “American” and “western” interests in Iraq that need military intervention to defend, but the major prize of their invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the country’s hydrocarbon assets. There lies their “interests.

On June 13 however, Obama hinted to a possible major “disruption” in Iraqi oil output and urged “other producers in the Gulf” to be “able to pick up the slack.”

The United States has already moved the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, escorted by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun, from the northern Arabian Sea into the Arabian Gulf (Persian according to Iran) “to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq,” according to Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, on June 14. Media is reporting that U.S. intelligence units and air reconnaissance are already operating in Iraq.

The unfolding collapse of the U.S. proxy government in Baghdad has cut short a process of legalizing the de-nationalization of the hydrocarbon industry in Iraq, which became within reach with the latest electoral victory of the Iraqi prime minister since 2006, Noori al-Maliki.

Anti-American armed resistance to the U.S. proxy ruling regime in Baghdad, especially the Baath-led backbone, is on record as seeking to return to the status quo ante with regard to the country’s strategic hydrocarbon assets, i.e. nationalization.

Nigeria: Part Of The Problem, Not The Solution


June 30, 2014: Boko Haram are still trying to negotiate a prisoner swap for the 219 girls they are holding since April. The government has understandably refused to such a trade as that would mean Boko Haram would simply keep kidnapping women in order to get any captured Islamic terrorists released. The government has completed its investigation into the mass kidnapping last April. The conclusion was that 219 girls are still being held. Beyond that the government has not got much to report. Despite foreign help with intelligence and air reconnaissance there has been no reported progress in finding or rescuing the captives. Of course if a major rescue effort is in the works it would be a good idea to keep details out of the news.

The U.S. has contributed vehicles, communications gear and protective vests to Nigeria for use by elite units fighting Boko Haram. The U.S. is also providing training and intelligence support. American UAVs and manned aircraft have completed their survey of the three northern states where Boko Haram is most active and have shared that data with other nations providing aerial reconnaissance help. The problem now is for Nigerian ground forces to make use of the data collected. This the Nigerians are reluctant to do because the Boko Haram fighters use booby traps ambushes to defend their rural bases. It’s a bloody business going after Boko Haram where they live. Not a lot of Nigerian army or police commanders are eager to take this on. There is also fear of failure, especially when it comes to rescuing all the women being held hostage. Nevertheless the Nigerians have improved their intelligence collecting. Part of this is the result of American electronic eavesdropping technology, which provides a lot of tips on what Boko Haram may be up to and where these Islamic terrorists are operating. This has enabled Nigerian intelligence to develop more informants on the ground. Most Moslems, and nearly all Christians, fear and hate Boko Haram and will pass on information to the army or police. Foreign intelligence agencies have helped the Nigerians improve their ability to collect and process all these tips and this is providing more timely warnings on what the Islamic terrorists are up to. Bombs that are found and disabled and attacks that are otherwise disrupted is not the sort of thing that makes the headlines, but a lot more of it has been happening. What is not so easily fixed is the poor leadership and training found in so many police and army units, as well as the culture of corruption and impunity in the security forces. For the soldiers and police the scariest thing about Boko Haram is their fearlessness and readiness to fight back if attacked. Nigerian soldiers and police are not used to this sort of attitude and are having trouble adapting to it.

The continuing Boko Haram violence in the north has killed more than 2,000 people so far this year and created over 250,000 refugees. Most have fled to other areas in Nigeria but about a quarter have fled the country (mainly Cameroon). A disproportionate number of the refugees are Christians, who are frequent targets of Boko Haram. Christian leaders, especially those in the north, disagree with Moslem leaders who blame the rise of Boko Haram on misrule by the current Christian president. It is pointed out that the educational and economic disparities between the north and south existed before the country was created by the British and made independent in the 1960s. Christians accuse Moslems, especially Moslem leaders, of always blaming Moslem problems on outsiders and ignoring internal shortcomings. Leaving the Moslem community blameless means the problems never get fixed. Christian leaders also point out that the Islamic leaders of the north are generally as corrupt as the southern (Christian) politicians they accuse of causing all the problems in the north. Moreover the northern religious leaders, because they are often traditional tribal leaders as well, have political as well as religious duties and that makes them more prone to corrupt behavior, which is what Boko Haram is fighting against. Several of these northern religious leaders have been attacked by Boko Haram and some killed. Others have been secretly allied with Boko Haram, some out of conviction but others out of fear. Christian leaders believe that until their northern counterparts adopt a more clearheaded view of the Boko Haram problem those northern leaders will be more part of the problem than of any solution.