16 August 2014

Opportunity in the Southeast


By Harsh V Pant

Published: 16th August 2014 
Addressing the 12th India-ASEAN Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw last week, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj rightly underlined that “the ASEAN-India strategic partnership owes its strength to the fact that our ‘Look East’ to ASEAN meets your ‘Look West’ towards India”. Swaraj has done well to reassure the region that the new Indian government would like to stand with them, taking the trajectories of common interests higher in the coming years, both in terms of achievement and relevance to the bilateral ASEAN+1 relationship and of the multilateral ambition at the regional and global levels. This is important because there is a lot of concern in the region about the viability of New Delhi as regional balancer, a role that became a casualty of the policy paralysis in the previous regime. Ironically, this happened at a time when the region has been passing through one of the most critical phases in its evolution.

This was evident last week when China dismissed a new US proposal for a freeze on hostile actions that could heighten tensions in the disputed South China Sea, leaving Washington unable to overturn an impression that it can do little to back up allies at odds with Beijing over the contested waters and islands. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) remains divided and hasn’t been able to mount a credible challenge to China. The ASEAN member-states have largely supported American suggestions for easing of tensions, including the start of negotiations for a binding regional “code of conduct” to govern activities involving conflicting claims. But China has resisted, and progress on the code has been slow. This has opened up crucial geopolitical space for India in the region.

In 2012, India and the 10 members of ASEAN marked their 20 years of partnership with a commemorative summit in New Delhi. The highlight of the summit was the conclusion of talks on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on services and investment which is expected to increase bilateral trade to $200 billion by 2022 and lead to talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which also includes Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. As then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh had underlined, together India and the ASEAN states “constitute a community of 1.8 billion people, representing one-fourth of humanity, with a combined GDP of $3.8 trillion” and therefore “it is only natural that India should attach the highest priority to its relationship with ASEAN”.

India was admitted as sectoral dialogue partner of the ASEAN in 1992 and went on to become a full-fledged dialogue partner in 1996. There has been a significant increase in India-ASEAN trade from $42 billion in 2008 to $80 billion in 2012. This trade relationship will get further boost with the two signing the FTA on services and investment. The FTA on goods was signed in 2010 despite some significant opposition in India and since its implementation last year India has been keen on expanding trade in services in order to leverage its own strengths. The relationship is now officially “strategic” with the two sides deciding to elevate their ties from a mere dialogue partnership.

Gaza and Crimea conflicts could have been predicted by monitoring cyber attacks


A surge in cyber attacks preceeded both the conflict in Ukraine and in Gaza, new research has found - leading to suggestions that the technique could be used to predict future fighting
Inside the Carmel Tunnels in Haifa, Israel, which were targeted by a "Trojan" programme that nearly shut down the city Photo: Alamy

Surges in cyber attacks could be used as an early warning system to predict conflicts between countries, researchers from an internet security company have found.
Before both the recent Gaza conflict and the annexation of Crimea analysts noted a spike in "malware" – malicious software – sending out messages.

"We can see the digital equivalent of troops on the border," said Kevin Thompson, a threat analyst for FireEye – the security company which carried out the research.
Many countries are now using malware to both gather intelligence and actively attack targets in hostile countries.
"If the US, or Korea, or Japan was about to go to war, you would see a bump in callbacks – it's just part and parcel of today's national security undertakings," said Kenneth Geers, one of the researchers.

FireEye analysed the amount of communications sent by malware programmes over the past 18 months – using data collected from more than 5,000 corporate and government clients around the world. They looked at the so-called "callback" messages which malware sends once it is installed within a network, usually to "phone home" and report its status to the controllers or receive new commands.

And they discovered that, amid the millions of messages captured, there was a dramatic spike in malware signals in the lead-up to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine over the future of Crimea, and in the days before Israel's recent hostilities with Hamas in Gaza.
Now FireEye are hoping to extend their research to see whether there it still applies over a longer time frame.

"We'd like to look back at a whole year of data and try to correlate with all the world events in the same period," said Mr Thompson.
Stewart Rowles, assistant director for operations at KCS – a strategic intelligence firm – said that governments were increasingly monitoring surges in malware attacks to identify potential conflicts.

"Malware is not only used by fraudsters but also by governments and terrorist groups – who now devote significant resources to create legions of cyber warriors whose only function is to spy on rival powers," he told The Telegraph.
"Cyber espionage and, increasingly, cyber warfare are now such an integral part of any conflict that spikes in malware activity in a specific region are increasingly used by the world's intelligence services to identify 'hot spots' around the globe, which are likely to explode into conflict of some sort."

One of Israel's major infrastructure hubs was shut down by a cyber-attack last September, according to insiders. Haifa's Carmel Tunnels were targeted by a "Trojan" programme that nearly shut down the city,according to itproportal.com.

Iran, in return, has accused the US and Israel of sending computer programmes to destroy their nuclear facilities.

And hackers based in or near Moscow have “systematically targeted” diplomats at embassies belonging to former Eastern Bloc countries around the world, according to internet security experts who have been tracking the activity for at least four years and recently revealed details.

The New Cold War and India

By Bhaskar Roy

The old cold war between the US and the Soviet Union, or the NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries, had some clear lines of division. China gradually moved from the anti-US camp to the anti-Soviet comp and in the course maximised its benefits, proving self-interest and not ideology was the essence.

It fell from grace with the US and the west following the bloody crack down on student demonstrators in June, 1989 at the Tienanmen Square. Ignoring western sanctions, India continued with normal relations with China. It was the Nehrurian policy of third world solidarity from one angle.

Or that, India was not in a position to antagonize China. The 1962 defeat in the border war with China had eroded India’s confidence. The only task Indian strategist were concerns with was how to avoid another border war with China, and resolve the China-India border issue.

During the cold war India tried to maintain its traditional non-aligned position, although it had to fight two wars with Pakistan, one in 1965 and the other in 1971. In 1971, the US supported Pakistan, but China was cautious enough to decline US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger’s plea to move the People Liberation Army (PLA) on Indian borders. Mao Zedong was particularly apprehensive that if China mobilized its troops to the India border Japan may take the opportunity to seize some maritime territories claimed by China. This was the first time when non-aligned India was forced enter into a quasi military agreement with the Soviet union under the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty to counter US pressure.

Otherwise, India generally walked the middle line. American strategists, however, still believe that India was in the Soviet camp. India’s socialistic philosophy still rankle the US state department, the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA. India’s political philosophy may change to creative capitalism under the new NDA government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

There is, however, a fundamental difference between the old cold war and the new one evolving. There is no Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), though China nuclear arsenal especially its delivery system is becoming more sophisticated and accurate and can hit US targets. In the old cold war there were two definite camps. In the new cold war adversaries and competitors are interdependent, with other powers either oscillating between the two camps or maintaining strategic ambivalence. In the last cold war the two adversaries had European minds, where as in the new cold war there in an oriental mind of 5000 years of warfare of a very different kind of psychological intrigues. Ideological differences between the two remain, but not pronounced.

To be sure this generation is not going to suffer nuclear Armageddon. For some, however, a new entrant will be a “succubus” syndrome of old ideologies of capitalism and socialism giving way to a new dictatorship.

It was correctly predicted that the 21st century would belong to the Asia Pacific Region (APR). This was in terms of economic development led by the region from which all contributors would benefit. Following Senior Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s policy of “reform and opening up” and redefining classical socialism for China as “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, it was the market that dictated China under strong control of the communist party.

Since then China’s development was spectacular, with double digit growth for almost two decades. It is immaterial at what cost, human and environmental, this was achieved. The fact is that China is about to overtake, according some forecasts, the economy of the US in gross terms. Of course in per capita terms China is way down the scale.

For decades, China was content to have US military presence in the Asia Pacific region or western pacific. The US not only acted as a buffer to Soviet/Russian attempt to make a major presence in the region. Equally, if not more, it was Japan that China was concerned about. It believed the US presence would compel Tokyo to remain within its post-war peaceful constitution dictated basically by the US. Beijing was still haunted by the two defeats it suffered at the hands of the Japanese.

The US Attack on ISIS – Fool Us Once, Shame On You; Fool Us Twice, Shame on Us; Fool Us Thrice…?

By Professor Gareth Stansfield, Senior Associate Fellow and Director of Middle East Studies
11 Aug 2014

While the US relies on limited air attacks and equips the peshmerga as a defensive rather than offensive force, the initiative remains with ISIS, as does the opportunity for them to exploit their opponents’ continued strategic miscalculation.

When ISIS took ownership of Mosul on 10 June, they fooled the Government of Iraq – that remained focused upon its own parochial concerns of government formation – and they fooled the international community that, until 10 June, remained in a state of wishful thinking about Iraq’s democratic transition. Even the Kurds, perhaps the most fearfully aware of the danger of ISIS after 10 June, did not foresee the ferocity of the ISIS attacks in the disputed territories and their own defensive weaknesses in the face of a multi-dimensional assault.

When ISIS turned its attention towards the Kurds and minority populations around Nineveh in August, they in effect took by surprise even the most ardent of observers who had believed that the seemingly powerful Kurds, with their peshmerga forces, would be an unattractive proposition for ISIS, that would now surely consolidate its hold across its territories in Syria and Iraq. In effect, they had fooled all for a second time with ISIS wrong-footing its opponents on two occasions, securing a complete victory on 10 June, and exposing the fragility of the Kurdistan Region on the second.

Recent precedents suggest that limited air strikes could serve to further legitimise ISIS, giving rise to longer-term consequences of these short term, reactive measures designed to protect the Kurdistan Region and throw a life-line to minorities at risk. In all likelihood, ISIS will remain a potent threat: from Iraq through to the Levant. It leads us to the question that may be arising in Western and Middle Eastern capitals of where will they now ‘fool me thrice’?


R. James Woolsey And Peter Vincent Pry
August 13, 2014
The Growing Threat From an EMP Attack

A nuclear device detonated above the U.S. could kill millions, and we’ve done almost nothing to prepare.

In a recent letter to investors, billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer warned that an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is “the most significant threat” to the U.S. and our allies in the world. He’s right. Our food and water supplies, communications, banking, hospitals, law enforcement, etc., all depend on the electric grid. Yet until recently little attention has been paid to the ease of generating EMPs by detonating a nuclear weapon in orbit above the U.S., and thus bringing our civilization to a cold, dark halt.

Recent declassification of EMP studies by the U.S. government has begun to draw attention to this dire threat. Rogue nations such as North Korea (and possibly Iran) will soon match Russia and China and have the primary ingredients for an EMP attack: simple ballistic missiles such as Scuds that could be launched from a freighter near our shores; space-launch vehicles able to loft low-earth-orbit satellites; and simple low-yield nuclear weapons that can generate gamma rays and fireballs.

The much neglected 2004 and 2008 reports by the congressional EMP Commission—only now garnering increased public attention—warn that “terrorists or state actors that possess relatively unsophisticated missiles armed with nuclear weapons may well calculate that, instead of destroying a city or a military base, they may gain the greatest political-military utility from one or a few such weapons by using them—or threatening their use—in an EMP attack.”

The EMP Commission reports that: “China and Russia have considered limited nuclear-attack options that, unlike their Cold War plans, employ EMP as the primary or sole means of attack.” The report further warns that: “designs for variants of such weapons may have been illicitly trafficked for a quarter-century.”

During the Cold War, Russia designed an orbiting nuclear warhead resembling a satellite and peaceful space-launch vehicle called a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System. It would use a trajectory that does not approach the U.S. from the north, where our sensors and few modest ballistic-missile defenses are located, but rather from the south. The nuclear weapon would be detonated in orbit, perhaps during its first orbit, destroying much of the U.S. electric grid with a single explosion high above North America.

In 2004, the EMP Commission met with senior Russian military personnel who warned that Russian scientists had been recruited by North Korea to help develop its nuclear arsenal as well as EMP-attack capabilities. In December 2012, the North Koreans successfully orbited a satellite, the KSM-3, compatible with the size and weight of a small nuclear warhead. The trajectory of the KSM-3 had the characteristics for delivery of a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the U.S.

What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.

In 2009 the congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, whose co-chairmen were former Secretaries of Defense William Perry and James Schlesinger, concurred with the findings of the EMP Commission and urged immediate action to protect the electric grid. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Intelligence Council reached similar conclusions.

What to do?

Surge arrestors, faraday cages and other devices that prevent EMP from damaging electronics, as well micro-grids that are inherently less susceptible to EMP, have been used by the Defense Department for more than 50 years to protect crucial military installations and strategic forces. These can be adapted to protect civilian infrastructure as well. The cost of protecting the national electric grid, according to a 2008 EMP Commission estimate, would be about $2 billion—roughly what the U.S. gives each year in foreign aid to Pakistan.

Last year President Obama signed an executive order to guard critical infrastructure against cyberattacks. But so far this administration doesn’t seem to grasp the urgency of the EMP threat. However, in a rare display of bipartisanship, Congress is addressing the threat. In June 2013, Rep. Trent Franks (R., Ariz.) and Rep. Yvette Clark (D., N.Y.) introduced the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage, or Shield, Act. Unfortunately, the legislation is stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In October 2013, Rep. Franks and Rep. Pete Sessions (R., Texas) introduced the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act. CIPA directs the Department of Homeland Security to adopt a new National Planning Scenario focused on federal, state and local emergency planning, training and resource allocation for survival and recovery from an EMP catastrophe. Yet this important legislation hasn’t come to a vote either.

What is lacking in Washington is a sense of urgency. Lawmakers and the administration need to move rapidly to build resilience into our electric grid and defend against an EMP attack that could deliver a devastating blow to the U.S. economy and the American people. Congress should pass and the president should sign into law the Shield Act and CIPA as soon as possible. Literally millions of American lives could depend on it.

Mr. Woolsey is chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former director of the CIA.Mr. Pry served on the EMP Commission, in the CIA, and is the author of “Electric Armageddon” (CreateSpace, 2013).

Pentagon: Airstrikes and Kurdish Fighters Have Broken the ISISI Siege of Mount Sinjar

Helene Cooper and Michael D Shear 
August 14, 2014 
Militants’ Siege on Mountain in Iraq Is Over, Pentagon Says 
Displaced Yazidis crossing the Iraqi-Syrian border at the Fishkhabur crossing, in northern Iraq, on Wednesday. Thousands who had been besieged have escaped.Credit Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials said late Wednesday that United States airstrikes and Kurdish fighters had broken the Islamic militants’ siege of Mount Sinjar, allowing thousands of the Yazidis trapped there to escape. 

An initial report from about a dozen Marines and Special Operations forces who arrived on Tuesday and spent 24 hours on the northern Iraqi mountain said that “the situation is much more manageable,” a senior Defense official said in an interview. 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking to reporters Wednesday night at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., said it was “far less likely now” that the United States would undertake a rescue mission because the assessment team reported far fewer Yazidis on the mountain than expected, and that those still there were in relatively good condition. 

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, credited American airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops as well as efforts of the Kurdish pesh merga fighters in allowing “thousands of Yazidis to evacuate from the mountain each night over the last several days” and to escape the militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 
Administration officials said that several thousand Yazidis remained on the mountain, not the tens of thousands who originally were there. Some of the people on Mount Sinjar indicated to American forces that they considered the mountain to be a place of refuge and a home and did not want to leave, a second United States official said. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. 

Ukrainian Rebels Deny That Igor Strelkov Has Been Wounded in Fighting With Ukrainian Troops

August 13, 2014 
Ukraine Separatists Deny Rebel Commander Wounded in Fighting 

MOSCOW — Separatists in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday denied a report that rebel commander Igor Strelkov had been wounded in fighting, the Russian state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported. 

"It’s not the first time such rumours appear, and they’ve never been confirmed. Everything is fine with Igor Strelkov," the paper quoted Fyodor Berezin, the deputy defence minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), as saying. 

A small separatist Internet news outlet Novorossiya, quoting an unnamed source, earlier said Strelkov, whose real name is Igor Girkin, had been badly wounded. 

Reuters could not independently confirm the report, and an aide to Strelkov declined to comment, saying: “No comments. I have clear instructions.” 

The Itar-Tass news agency quoted another separatist leader as saying he could not rule out the report. 

"I don’t have specific information, but it is likely true," said Andrei Purgin, the DNR’s deputy prime minister. "There is heavy fighting in that area." 

A serious injury to one of the rebels’ chief commanders would be a further blow to the separatists, who have abandoned a string of towns in eastern Ukraine to government forces in recent weeks. 

Kiev says rebel leaders, some of whom are Russian and who want union with Russia, are receiving arms from Moscow, an allegation the Kremlin denies. 


8 AUGUST 2014

In this Analysis, Lowy Institute International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf and Nonresident Fellow C. Raja Mohan argue that Chinese assertiveness and uncertainties about America’s role in Indo-Pacific Asia are causing middle powers to look for alternative approaches to regional security. The Analysis argues that enhanced security cooperation between Indo-Pacific middle powers should be extended to the creation of “middle-power coalitions” in the region.

China’s assertiveness and uncertainties about America’s response are causing middle powers in Indo-Pacific Asia to look beyond traditional approaches to security

Cooperation between Indo-Pacific middle power coalitions would build regional resilience against the vagaries of US-China relations
India and Australia are well placed to form the core of middle power coalition building 
FULL TEXT + Show Table of Contents 

China’s rising assertiveness and uncertainties about America’s response to it are causing middle powers in Indo-Pacific Asia to look beyond traditional approaches to security. India, Australia, Japan and some ASEAN countries are expanding security cooperation with each other. The next step should be the creation of ‘middle power coalitions’: informal arrangements where regional players cooperate with one another on strategic issues, working in self-selecting groups that do not include China or the United States.

Areas of cooperation could include security dialogues, intelligence exchanges, military capacity building, technology sharing, agenda setting for regional forums and coordinated diplomatic initiatives to influence both US and Chinese strategic calculations. This would build regional resilience against the vagaries of US-China relations, including against the extremes either of conflict or collusion. It would also reinforce the multipolar quality of the emerging Indo-Pacific order, encouraging leaders due to meet soon, India and Australia are well placed to form the core of this middle power coalition building.

Until recently it was widely hoped that a combination of economic interdependence and regional institutions would mitigate great power rivalry and all but eliminate the possibility of major interstate conflict in Asia. [1] This hope, however, now seems forlorn. In particular, countries in the region are increasingly concerned about the risky trajectory of US-China relations. This is in turn bringing into question traditional approaches to regional security, whether it be dependence on US alliances, multilateral frameworks or non-alignment. [2]

Asian countries that until just a few years ago were willing to bet on China’s peaceful rise are now preparing to hedge in the face of China’s increasingly coercive behaviour against Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. To insulate themselves from the risks of strategic competition or collusion between China and the United States, Asia’s diverse ‘powers in the middle’ – including India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam and other ASEAN countries – are adopting a range of strategies. Strikingly, these nations are looking beyond formal regional multilateral institutions, alliance with the United States, and traditional postures of non-alignment to cooperate with each other.[3]


August 12, 2014 
PLA Navy Set to Build 10 Aircraft Carriers

China tests its first carrier battle group in the South China Sea in January 2014. 

To create its first blue-water navy, China plans to construct a total of 10 domestic aircraft carriers according to the Kanwa Defense Review, a Chinese-language military magazine operated by Andrei Chang also known as Pinkov, a military analyst from Canada.

After Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the US chief of naval operations, visited China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, a refitted Soviet-era carrier purchased from Ukraine, the blueprint of the nation’s first domestic carrier is nearly complete, according to Kanwa. Greenert said China is speeding up the construction of its second aircraft carrier and even predicted the vessel will enter service in the near future.

Richard Fisher, a military expert from US thinktank the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said China may have between four and five aircraft carriers in active service by 2030. This number may eventually increase to 10 in the next few decades. Greenert said, however, that the gap between US and Chinese aircraft carriers is still large. While a US carrier is capable of launching and retrieving 100 aircraft simultaneously, a Chinese aircraft carrier can only operate 10.

Before the PLA Navy is able to put its aircraft carriers into action, a great deal of work has to be done, Greenert said, adding however that China has achieved much in a very short period of time. Kanwa reported that China has acquired blueprints for a Soviet-era nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, also from Ukraine.

Quoting from the Singapore-based Straits Times, the article said that China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier will be able to carry 50 J-15B carrier-based fighters and other aircraft such as the K-8 or the Z-8 early warning helicopters. In the future, between 25 and 27 stealth fighters such as the J-20 or the J-31 may serve aboard the Chinese aircraft carriers to replace the J-15, the PLA’s current carrier-based fighter.

The article said China has great ambitions to build a navy which is stronger than the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

China’s "Gorbachev" Is Tearing the Communist Party Apart

August 14, 2014
Xi, like Gorbachev, is a figure wanting to accomplish great deeds in reforming an ailing system. And like the last Soviet leader, Xi has started something he cannot control.

“In my struggle against corruption, I don’t care about life or death, or ruining my reputation,” said Xi Jinping at a closed-door session of the Communist Party’s Politburo on June 26. China’s ambitious leader also referred to two armies in the country, one of “corruption” and the other of “anticorruption.” These forces, according to him, “are at a stalemate.”

The quotations, reported by a Central Committee member, look accurate and are consistent with reports that Xi gave a “shockingly harsh” speech on his so-called corruption campaign then. The South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong newspaper, noted that a source familiar with Xi’s speech confirmed the report. Evidently, there is severe infighting in senior Beijing circles.

Until recently, the overwhelming opinion was that Xi had quickly consolidated his political position after becoming Party general secretary in November 2012. For instance, last year, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, on the eve of the “shirtsleeves” summit between Xi and President Obama in early June, reported that White House officials had determined that he had asserted control over the Party apparatus and military much faster than anticipated.

China Launching “Severe” Cyber Attacks on Taiwan Computers Every Few Months, Taiwan Minister

August 14, 2014 
Minister: China Launching ‘Severe’ Cyber Attacks on Taiwan 
The inaugural minister for Taiwan’s new Science and Technology Ministry, Simon Chang, speaks during a March 3 ceremony. 

TAIPEI — Taiwan’s science and technology minister said Wednesday that China is launching frequent cyber attacks on the island despite warming ties between the two former rivals.

“The Chinese cyberwar units have been engaging with Taiwan units almost every day, with some severe attacks every few months,” Simon Chang said during an interview with the UFO radio network.

“Many of the attacks were aimed at stealing relevant information for use in negotiations with Taiwan,” he said.

Zhang Zhijun, director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, met his counterpart on the island in June despite vocal opposition from Taiwanese people suspicious of closer ties with Beijing.

Zhang holds ministerial status and was the most senior official to fly over from the mainland since the beginning of Communist rule in China, when the two sides parted.

Chang said the Taiwanese military had set up its own cyber units but that they were outnumbered by China’s online forces.

Taiwanese government websites have frequently suffered digital bombardments from China, usually during disputes between the two sides, military authorities say.

Ties between Taiwan and China have improved markedly since 2008 when President Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power on a platform of beefing up trade and tourism links. He was re-elected in 2012.

In June 2010 Taiwan and China signed the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, a pact widely characterized as the boldest step yet towards reconciliation.

Yet Beijing has still refused to renounce its use of force against the island, which it regards as part of its territory even though Taiwan has ruled itself for more than six decades since their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

The United States, a key ally of Taiwan, routinely accuses China of cyber attacks and spying. Five Chinese military officers were indicted for hacking into US companies in May. 

Chinese Takeaway: One Belt, One Road New Delhi

Raja Mohan 
AUGUST 13, 2014


The states of Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—are closely watching the political situation in Afghanistan, a neighbor with whom three of them share a border. This situation concerns them very deeply.

Central Asian governments view with alarm and pessimism the withdrawal by the end of 2014 of most of the Western troops that have been present in Afghanistan since a NATO-led security mission began in 2001. Kabul’s neighbors expect the already-unstable situation in Afghanistan to deteriorate and threaten their own security and stability. They fear that a radical Islamist regime in Afghanistan will emerge from a Taliban military victory—a scenario that many Central Asian leaders and analysts believe is inevitable and will spill over across Afghanistan’s northern border.

Such concerns have sometimes been expressed openly in recent years, for example by Tokon Mamytov, the chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security, who feared an incursion from Afghanistan into his homeland even in 2013 or 2014. Observers who live far away from the Afghan regional environment, or who have forgotten recent history, may see such reactions with cynicism. But for those who remember the impact that the 1979–1989 Soviet war in Afghanistan had on radical Islamist and jihadist movements in the Arab world and Southeast Asia, regional concerns are no laughing matter.

How likely is Central Asia to become a hotbed of radical Islamic ideologies on the eve of the planned Western withdrawal from Afghanistan? A simplistic answer—that there is no real threat or, on the contrary, that Central Asian leaders will face hell on earth after 2014—is not appropriate. To say that Central Asian jihadism emanating from Afghanistan and Pakistan has no influence on the region’s security after 2014 would be to ignore both geography and common knowledge about the main Central Asian jihadist groups. The threat from these groups is real, but it should not be seen as the only danger, or even the main one, facing Central Asian regimes.


The term “jihadist threat” is used in this article with a distinct, specific meaning: a Salafist or radical Islamic approach that does not seek to conquer hearts and minds. Other Islamists with strong political organizations, such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), or Tunisia’s Ennahda party, have adopted more pragmatic and moderate positions. Jihadists, however, seek to impose their ideas on others by force—first through terrorism and then, if possible, by seizing power and instituting a government crackdown on any vision that runs counter to their ideology.

Of course, with such an approach to governing, jihadists are never attractive to a large number of people, as they have no true socially oriented, grassroots strategy. These groups are in fact no more than small cells or, as they consider themselves, a “vanguard.” The fact that jihadists are always relatively few in numbers may explain why scholars and security professionals do not take them seriously—until they manage to pull off a spectacular, large-scale attack.

The perfect example of the effects of limited numbers is al-Qaeda. For even this most well-known jihadist group, its small size means that the maximum effect it can achieve with an attack is when a state commits a major political error in response. Such mistakes include invading a country that had nothing to do with the attack, ratcheting up diplomatic tensions, or cracking down on a religious or ethnic minority.

As soon as a state commits one of these faux pas, the jihadists can use their extremist discourse to its maximum advantage and fuel the vicious cycle of attacks, crackdowns, and recruitment that is key to their existence. A final defining feature of jihadists is that their ideological radicalism, tendency to form small groups, and lack of interest in nonviolent political influence lead them to eschew traditional national loyalties.2


There are two significant jihadist groups originating in post-Soviet Central Asia: the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU).3 The latter seceded from the former after the “emirate” of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was toppled by the international security mission in 2001. That made the IMU the historical jihadist movement for post-Soviet Central Asia.


The IMU, Central Asia’s largest jihadist group, was born out of local issues. The movement’s predecessor, Adolat (Justice), appeared in the eastern Uzbek city of Namangan in the early 1990s as a reaction to the shock and local disorganization that resulted from the fall of the Soviet Union.

In the Fergana Valley, a region that forms the historical heart of Central Asia, the negative impact of the collapse of Communism was particularly strong on the “new poor”—industrial and construction workers and the employees of institutions and firms previously funded by the Soviet state—as well as the unemployed youth. At the same time, this region experienced the loss of a welfare state, the rise of criminal gangs and profiteers that the police was unable or unwilling to oppose, and the disappearance of any ideological goal.

We’re Arming the Kurds — Why Aren’t We Buying Their Oil? Giant tanker full of Kurdish crude in limbo off Texas

Robert Beckhusen 
Aug 13, 2014

Sixty miles from Galveston in the Gulf of Mexico sits an oil tanker with $100 million worth of Kurdish oil. And it’s not going anywhere.

Were authorities to allow in the 81,000-ton United Kalavrvta, it would set a precedence for further Kurdish regional ambitions—including Kurdish separatism—payed for with oil that won’t trickle down to the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.

The U.S. government doesn’t say no one can buy it.

“There is no U.S. ban on the transfer or sale of oil originating from any part of Iraq,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk said on Twitter. “As in many cases involving legal disputes, however, the U.S. recommends that parties make their own decision with advice of counsel.”

The two U.S. buyers of Kurdish crude, LyondellBasell Industries and Axeon Speciality Products, say they won’t buy the oil due to the risk of a legal dust-up with Baghdad. Despite officials asserting there’s no ban, U.S. marshals are under order to seize any Kurdish crude from the vessel.

If the tanker were to offload its oil, it would likely be onto smaller lightering ships, as the Marshall Islands-flagged United Kalavrvta is too large to dock in the Houston Ship Channel. In the meantime, the ship is burning around $60,000 in shipping fees every day it’s at sea without a buyer.

But the status of the tanker reveals a paradox in U.S. strategy. Arm and support the Kurds—which helps them create a state of their own—while not buying the oil the Kurds’ need to make their state viable.

There’s an argument we should buy their oil—and lots of it. For one, the Kurds are our friends. The Kurdistan Regional Government provides protections for refugees and religious minorities, and its citizens are friendly to Western countries and their values.

“It’s the one part of Iraq that actually works and has a bright future ahead of it,” journalist Michael Totten blogged. “Refusing to defend it would be like refusing to defend Poland, Taiwan or Japan.”

Kurdish oil facility. Matt Cetti-Roberts photo

“It’s an area that’s taken in refugees, and its stability is great enough for international investors,” Jim Krane, a researcher in energy geopolitics at Rice University’s Baker Institute tells War is Boring. “It’s a bulwark of international stability and an investor haven that’s coming under threat.”

So it seems that buying Kurdish oil makes sense. It’s good for U.S. and Kurdish interests, and it means supporting a pro-U.S. ally with an openness to American companies. But really, it’s not as simple as that.

How to best externalize the R2P in Iraq?

http://kingsofwar.org.uk/13 AUGUST 2014ANDREAS KRIEG

Dr. Andreas Krieg, Lecturer Defence Studies Department, King’s College London, Qatar Armed Forces – @andreas_krieg

Ever since the bearded fighters under the Prophet’s banner rode into Mosul in June this year, the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as ISIS, has been on the radar of the international community. What had long been ignored as a local phenomenon in Iraq’s al Anbar Province and parts of Northern Syria, now grasped the attention of military strategists, analysts and the intelligence community from Tehran and Riyadh over Tel Aviv to Washington. Yet, it was not so much the horrific images of barbarism circulating on social media that concerned the international community as much more the implications of IS’ seizure of strategic positions in Northern Iraq and Syria. The negative integration witnessed in the Middle East uniting Israelis and Saudis as well as Americans and Iranians, was not founded on a genuine concern for the tens of thousands of individuals exposed to ethnic cleansing, mass executions or barbaric torture, but revolved around the strategic interests of those seeing the Levant as their sphere of influence. Now the suffering of the Yazidis has become the graphic testimony to the international community’s failure to protect individuals from the inability and unwillingness of regimes in Damascus and Baghdad to provide security inclusively. The international community responds reluctantly, ignoring its duties under the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), by propping up the Kurds as a surrogate to act as a force multiplier. The long-term solution to this humanitarian disaster, however, cannot be found in Kurdistan, but lies with Sunni militants in Syria and Iraq who out of feelings of abandonment by the international community and arising despair have been the backbone of jihadist advances.

In the shadow of civil-societal outcries over Israel’s recent Gaza campaign, the self-proclaimed Caliphate of the Islamic State has deviated so far from the righteous path of Islam that the horrors of its reign have alienated Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Chopped off heads decorate town squares in Northern Syria, women are being stoned publicly for adultery, prisoners of war beg for their life before being mass executed in desert sandpits, men are being crucified for apostasy. The Islamic State spurns Islamic traditions of peaceful coexistence and tolerance by cleansing its area of responsibility of Christians, Kurds, Yazidis and of course, all other Muslims not ascribing to a 7th century Islamic lifestyle. The most recent tragedy of Yazidi men, women and children being trapped on the Sinjar Mountains, is just another result of the Islamic State’s ruthless attempt to catapult the region back to medieval times. In face of these atrocities that essentially root in the international community’s strategic failure to deal with the Civil War in Syria, the UN Security Council has missed the opportunity to go beyond merely ‘expressing grave concern’ about the humanitarian situation in the ‘Islamic State’. Consecutive Security Council Resolutions, including the most recent resolution 2169, have ignored the de facto reality on the ground by affirming the de jure sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. The Islamic State operates transnationally providing quasi-state functions within its area of responsibility beyond any reach of the government in Baghdad, which merely controls the capital and the Shite South of the country. The territorial integrity of Iraq is history, its sovereignty undermined by the direct interventions of the US and Iran. Instead of accepting this reality, the UN Security Council beats around the bush, failing under the pressure of Western war fatigue to affirm the R2P:

“Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect”[1].

British Options in Iraq: Capabilities, Strategies, and Risks

By Shashank Joshi, Senior Research Fellow
13 Aug 2014

Pressure is building for the government to recall parliament over the crisis in Iraq and consider intervening alongside US forces. But what are the options for Britain, and what risks do they carry?
Pressure is building on the government to recall parliament to debate the prospect of British intervention in Iraq – our third Iraq war in under 25 years.

Britain has participated in a small number of humanitarian airdrops of food and water, has sent Tornado fighter jets to Cyprus, ostensibly to reconnoitre airdrop sites, and has said it will ferry military supplies to Kurdish forces. But Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has insisted, ‘we don’t envisage a combat role at this time’. One non-political reason for ministerial reticence is that the question of strategy remains unclear. Action in Iraq would be legal, because the sovereign state of Iraq has asked for it; parliamentary debate gives it no more or less legal sanction. But such a debate might clarify several outstanding questions over Britain’s prospective role.
First, will a British Role Make a Difference? 

A series of 15 American airstrikes involving over 90 missions a day, in conjunction with Kurdish ground forces known as peshmerga and Iraqi government airstrikes, have blocked ISIS’ eastward advance towards the Kurdish capital Erbil. 14 US airdrops of food and water, as well as further Iraqi and Kurdish airdrops, have also relieved civilian suffering.

The US has a large number of forces deployed in the region, including ninety aircraft in nearby states, an assortment of armed drones (e.g., on Kuwaiti airbases), and aircraft carriers (the most recent strikes were conducted from the Nimitz-class USS George H W Bush, which hosts 65 strike and support aircraft). The US also runs a joint operation centres with Iraqi forces in Erbil and Baghdad, and has deployed Apache attack helicopters and around 500 US troops to the capital.

What, therefore, can Britain provide that is not being currently available? Virtually nothing. However, a UK role would serve three functions: an act of moral responsibility, recognising the British role in engendering Iraqi instability after 2003; an act of burden sharing, for instance easing the strain on US pilots if the operational tempo were to quicken; and third, visible support for the UK’s most significant diplomatic and military ally. In addition, ministers might also consider the positive effect on British influence with a Kurdish administration that could, in due course, form an independent state.
Second, What Capabilities Can Britain Provide?

New Intelligence Assessment: ISIS Poses “Unacceptable Terrorism Risk” to U.S.

August 14, 2014 
Obama weighs strategy against Islamic State 
Associated Press 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is grappling with how to bridge the gap between its increasingly dire assessment of the threat posed by the Islamic State group and the limited, defensive air campaign it has so far undertaken, which military officials acknowledge will not blunt the group’s momentum. 

For months, administration officials have been divided about the threat posed by the Islamic State as it seized parts of Syria and advanced on towns in Iraq. Now, amid new intelligence about its growing strength, a consensus is forming that the group presents an unacceptable terrorism risk to the United States and its allies. 

At issue is whether President Barack Obama, elected on a platform of ending the Iraq war, will heed calls for a campaign to contain or destroy the Islamic State, an undertaking that could dominate U.S. foreign policy for the remainder of his term. 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the group poses “a threat to the civilized world,” while Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called the Islamic State a “terrorist army” that must be defeated. But Obama has not used similar language. He has authorized a limited campaign of targeted airstrikes designed to protect refugees and American personnel in the Kurdish region — but not take out the group’s leadership or logistical hubs. 

A strategy to destroy the Islamic State would not require large numbers of American ground troops, but it would amount to a significant escalation from the recent air operations, analysts say. It might also require military action in western Syria, where the group has its headquarters in the city of Ar-Raqqah. 

Proponents of doing so argue that the Islamic State must be stopped because it will destabilize America’s allies in the region and eventually export terror to Europe and the U.S. Critics of the idea are urging the president just as strongly not to get sucked into another Middle East war, arguing that years of American micromanagement in that region have ended in tears. 

Clashes Between ISIS and Iraqi Army Erupt Outside Militant-Held City of Fallujah West of Baghdad

August 14, 2014 
Iraqi Army, Militants Clash West of Baghdad 

BAGHDAD — Clashes between Iraqi troops and Sunni militants west of Baghdad killed at least four children on Thursday as the United Nations announced its highest level of emergency for the Arab country’s humanitarian crisis in the wake of the onslaught by the extremist Islamic State group. 

Since their blitz offensive in June, the al-Qaida-breakaway group has overrun much of Iraq’s north and west and driven out hundreds of thousands from their homes. The push has displaced members of the minority Christian and Yazidi religious communities and threatened Iraqi Kurds in the Kurdish autonomous region in the north. 

The U.N. on Wednesday declared the situation in Iraq a “Level 3 Emergency” — a development that will trigger additional goods, funds and assets to respond to the needs of the displaced, said U.N. special representative Nickolay Mladenov, pointing to the “scale and complexity of the current humanitarian catastrophe.” 

The Security Council also said it was backing a newly nominated premier-designate in the hope that he can swiftly form an “inclusive government” that could counter the insurgent threat, which has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011. 

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled the Islamic State group’s advance to take refuge in the remote desert Sinjar mountain range. 

The U.S. and Iraqi military have dropped food and water supplies, and in recent days Kurds from neighboring Syria battled to open a corridor to the mountain, allowing some 45,000 to escape. 

The U.N. said it would provide increased support to those who have escaped Sinjar and to 400,000 other Iraqis who have fled since June to the Kurdish province of Dahuk. Others have fled to other parts of the Kurdish region or further south. 

White House Shows No Urgency In Responding to Growing ISIS Threat in Northern Iraq

Greg Jaffe and Greg Miller 
August 14, 2014 
Obama administration shows little urgency for stemming Islamic State violence 

Senior U.S. officials describe the threat posed by the Islamic State in chilling terms, but have mounted a decidedly modest military campaign to check its advance through northern Iraq. 

The radical Islamist organization has attracted more fighters, controls more territory and has access to a larger stream of money than al-Qaeda did before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to U.S. officials and terrorism experts. Its refusal to rein in its brand of rampant violence accounts in part for its break from the better-known terrorist group. 

“This is serious business,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry told reporters earlier this week. “I think the world is beginning to come to grips with the degree to which this is unacceptable.” 

So far, though, the Obama administration’s response to the group’s blitzkrieg through northern Iraq has been defined primarily by the limits it has placed on the U.S. military’s intervention. 

The disconnect between the unnerving assessments of the Islamic State and the apparent lack of urgency in confronting it reflects a mix of political and military constraints. Among them are no clear military strategy for reversing the group’s recent territorial gains, a war weariness that pervades the Obama administration and the country, and significant uncertainty about the extent to which the Islamic State is prepared to morph from a regional force into a transnational terrorist threat that could target Europe and the United States.
The U.S. military’s campaign against the Islamic State has focused on protecting U.S. citizens in Baghdad and Irbil and delivering aid to thousands of Yazidi refugees who had been trapped on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq and appeared Wednesday to be making their way down to safety to. 

Clashes Between ISIS and Iraqi Army Erupt Outside Militant-Held City of Fallujah West of Baghdad

August 14, 2014
Iraqi Army, Militants Clash West of Baghdad

BAGHDAD — Clashes between Iraqi troops and Sunni militants west of Baghdad killed at least four children on Thursday as the United Nations announced its highest level of emergency for the Arab country’s humanitarian crisis in the wake of the onslaught by the extremist Islamic State group.

Since their blitz offensive in June, the al-Qaida-breakaway group has overrun much of Iraq’s north and west and driven out hundreds of thousands from their homes. The push has displaced members of the minority Christian and Yazidi religious communities and threatened Iraqi Kurds in the Kurdish autonomous region in the north.

The U.N. on Wednesday declared the situation in Iraq a “Level 3 Emergency” — a development that will trigger additional goods, funds and assets to respond to the needs of the displaced, said U.N. special representative Nickolay Mladenov, pointing to the “scale and complexity of the current humanitarian catastrophe.”

The Security Council also said it was backing a newly nominated premier-designate in the hope that he can swiftly form an “inclusive government” that could counter the insurgent threat, which has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled the Islamic State group’s advance to take refuge in the remote desert Sinjar mountain range.

The U.S. and Iraqi military have dropped food and water supplies, and in recent days Kurds from neighboring Syria battled to open a corridor to the mountain, allowing some 45,000 to escape.

The U.N. said it would provide increased support to those who have escaped Sinjar and to 400,000 other Iraqis who have fled since June to the Kurdish province of Dahuk. Others have fled to other parts of the Kurdish region or further south.

A total of 1.5 million have been displaced by the fighting since the insurgents captured Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, in June and quickly swept over other parts of the country.

The United States has been carrying out airstrikes in recent days against Islamic State fighters, helping fend back their advance on Kurdish regions.

Fighting erupted early on Thursday in the militant-held city of Fallujah, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad. The clashes on the city’s northern outskirts killed four children, along with a woman and at least 10 militants, said Fallujah hospital director Ahmed Shami. He had no further details on clashes, beyond saying that four other children and another woman were wounded in the violence.

It was difficult to gauge the situation in Fallujah, which has been in the hands of the Islamic State since early January, when the militants seized much of the Western Anbar province along with parts of the provincial capital of Ramadi.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s central government in Baghdad continued to be mired in political turmoil, after the president nominated a Shiite politician, Haider al-Abadi, to form the next government, putting him on track to replace embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Al-Maliki on Wednesday said he will not relinquish power until a federal court rules on what he called a “constitutional violation” by President Fouad Massoum.

Al-Maliki insists he should have a third term in office but he is appearing increasingly isolated as the international community lines up behind al-Abadi, who has 30 days to come up with a proposal for a Cabinet.

The U.N. Security Council urged al-Abadi to work swiftly to form “an inclusive government that represents all segments of the Iraqi population and that contributes to finding a viable and sustainable solution to the country’s current challenges.”