June 27, 2008

25th Oxford Analytica International Conference



17–19 September 2008
Christ Church Oxford



Today's financial uncertainty and challenging business environment is placing a real pressure on profitability. Keeping intelligently informed is critical to your success in our fast changing global landscape.

We invite you to join a select group of international business leaders for two days of intensive debate and discussion on the Global Outlook 2009 in the splendid setting of Christ Church, Oxford.

Our renowned group of over 70 world-class experts will provide you with strategic intelligence on all the world regions as well as on specific challenges such as the outlook for the global economy, terrorism and the internet. We offer a participant-expert ratio of 2:1 as well as one-on-one sessions on request. This highly personalised approach is very much the hallmark of our Conference.

In addition, we offer a partners' programme, a social programme with plenty of opportunity for relationship building, and the Blenheim Banquet, with special guest speaker. Last year's speaker was Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, giving his first major address after leaving office. Details of this year's speaker will be available upon registration.

A summary of what is on offer includes the following:

Six in-depth seminar sessions from a choice of 14
Two topical panel discussions from a choice of 7
Distinguished guest luncheon and dinner speakers
A Partner Seminar Programme and Social Programme
Access to Oxford Analytica's Daily Brief


Black-tie Banquet at Blenheim Palace
For further information

Email: conference@oxford-analytica.com

Visit: www.oxan.com/conferences


Each September an opinion-forming elite drawn from the international corporate sector, international financial institutions, governments and multilateral agencies gather in Oxford to participate in Oxford Analytica's annual International Conference.

The Conference is renowned for providing these international decision makers with the insights needed to guide their organisations through the challenging geopolitical, economic and social developments in the year ahead.

Much of the day is spent in small seminar groups or panel sessions, with each participant having a personalised schedule designed to meet his specific needs. The Conference is residential so offering plenty of opportunity for relationship building and closes with a spectacular banquet at Blenheim Palace. Our most recent guest speakers have been Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who gave the Blenheim Address shortly after leaving office last year and Ambassador John Negroponte, the then US Director of National Intelligence in 2006. Participants will be given information on this year's guest speaker upon registration.

Information on the issues under discussion at our 14 seminars is now available as is initial information on the panel discussions.

The last two years have been oversubscribed. Should you wish to attend, please register your interest using our online form:

Register your interest



2008 Overview
We are delighted to announce the following speakers:


Lord Patten of Barnes, former Governor of Hong Kong, and current Chancellor of Oxford University, will be our opening night dinner speaker
Neville Isdell, Chief Executive Officer, Coca-Cola and Chairman of the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum, will be our Friday luncheon speaker

The Oxford Analytica International Conference is based on the Oxford style tutorial, and is unique in its format. Participants attend a series of seminars, where a renowned panel of experts give insight and analysis on each world region and topics of global interest, followed by extensive debate and discussion.

A taster of the many key questions and issues to be considered this year are listed below:

North America: Would any president be able to institute a rapid withdrawal from Iraq?
China: Beijing as a global player: what does it want? Will it get it?
The Balance of Power: Is US decline inevitable or is it reversible?
Russia: Foreign investors: Welcome, up to a point…
Europe: Strong euro, weak economy: Europe's preparedness for a recession
International terrorism: The coming terrorist diaspora from Iraq
Full programme details can be found on our Programme Page

Plenty of opportunity for networking and relationship building is provided at lunches and dinners in the Great Hall and during regular coffee breaks. There will also be the opportunity to meet with our Principal Sponsors and speakers throughout the Conference as well as having one-to-one discussions with our experts on request. A social programme is also available for all partners joining us in Oxford.

ImageSat : Public/Private Partnership in Intelligence Imagery

Source: INTELLIGENCEONLINE

Supplying observation satellites on a turn-key basis to its customers (see article on Page 5), the Israeli firm ImageSat is an intriguing example of how Israeli state-owned groups can hitch up with private investors.

ImageSat’s Eros A and B satellites sprang out of Israel’s Ofeq military program. Israel Aerospace Industries, architect of Ofeq, is the main stakeholder in ImageSat with a 37% holding (see graph below). But ImageSat also employs a lot of former Israeli intelligence officials. The company’s present commercial director, Rani Hellerman, is a former SIGINT and IMINT specialist in the Israeli armed forces. One of the founders of ImageSat, Haim Yifrah, was chief intelligence officer of the Israeli Defense Forces between 1995-99.

The close ties between ImageSat and Israel’s military-industrial complex can go some way towards explaining why certain of the group’s contracts, although never fully carried out, were paid in full by customers. Angola, which had ordered a land station from the group - it was never completed - probably paid off ImageSat, but in return for other, unspecified types of services supplied by Israel. And conversely, ImageSat has laid on some of its services free of charge. That was clearly in exchange for contracts with some of the group’s state-owned shareholders.

But the interests of the Israeli state-owned companies and ImageSat converged only up to a point. Last year, ImageSat’s management cited links between Venezuela and Iran as a reason for ImageSat to break off commercial talks with Hugo Chavez’s government which would have been worth a small fortune to ImageSat. Furious that business was being lost because of reasons of state, the small private shareholders in the group filed suit.

June 26, 2008

ASIA’S CHALLENGING STRATEGIC CALCULUS

Source: SAAG

by Dr. Subhash Kapila

Introductory Observations

Asia’s strategic calculus contemporarily is in a state of flux and dominated by strategic uncertainties due to a complex power-play within Asia itself. The global strategic calculus too reflects this state of flux as the Asian landmass extends geo-strategically from the Mediterranean to the Pacific and from Russia in the North to the tip of the Indian Peninsula, jutting prominently into the Indian Ocean, in the South. Asia’s strategic complexion therefore vitally affects the global power-play between the United States and Russia.

Lately, far too much has been made in policy analysis circles of the prospects of the “Asian Century” being on the horizon. Such summations basically emerge from an overwhelming weightage being given to Asia’s economic resurgence without taking into account Asia’s strategic uncertainties. Such summations also arise from a disproportionate weightage being given to the so-called strategic decline of the United States and the mistaken reading of Russia’s resurgence in the Cold War mould of ideological confrontation resulting in congealed lines of military confrontation in Europe and elsewhere around the globe.

That the coming into existence of an “Asian Century” is a myth stands analyzed in a previous SAAG Paper of this Author. SAAG Paper No. 2677 dated 12.04.2008 (http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers27/paper2677.html) “Asian Century” Is Strategically A Myth

Optimistically, at the global level the power-play between the United States and Russia can be expected to end with the dawning of a strategic realisation that both the United States and Russia would stand to gain by a mutual co-ptive strategic management of the Asian strategic calculus as opposed to exploitation of Asia’s strategic uncertainties for gains at each others expense.

The strategic calculus within Asia itself is far too complex and conflictual and does not present a picture of optimism in terms of stability, both strategic and political. Asia’s strategic calculus today includes two emerging powers i.e. China and India with global aspirations and a host of other powers jostling for regional power status in different regions of Asia.

Asia’s strategic calculus gets further complicated by an over-abundance of territorial disputes and ethnic disputes all superimposed by new challenges in the form of energy security strategic moves and water disputes.

Asia’s complex strategic calculus would be incomplete without reference to the fact that it abounds in countries with nuclear arsenals, namely China, India, Pakistan and Israel and those with closet nuclear weapons like North Korea and Iran.

Asia’s strategic calculus is challenging and further more challenging because Asian nations, even the major ones have not reached the stage of political development and maturity which could further Asian regional cooperation and security.

Asia today stands bedeviled with more strategic issues that divide it within than those that unite it.

This itself is a powerful pointer to the strategic reality that Asian stability and security has to be underwritten by the United States, primarily.

In such a strategic setting, it becomes that much more pertinent to carry out a general survey of the strategic challenges, conflictual issues and prospects of stability in each of the major regions of Asia. With this in view this Paper addresses the theme under the following heads:
The Middle East: Asia’s Explosive Powder Keg
Central Asia: The Strategic Power Play
South Asia: Strategic Destabilization by China-Pakistan Nexus
South East Asia: Up for Grabs by China
East Asia: Global and Regional Power Tussle
Asia’s Security & Stability: Future Perspectives

The Middle East: Asia’s Explosive Powder Keg

The Middle East as being Asia’s explosive powder keg would be an understatement. Israel as the only island of political stability in the Middle East has been under relentless military and terrorism onslaughts from its Arab neighbours over the Palestine-Israel dispute.

In 60 years of incessant armed conflict neither the combined effort of major Arab nations nor a vituperative Iran have been able to wipe Israel off the map as they nauseatingly threaten.

However, it are the new strategic conflicts and challenges that have emerged lately that make the Middle East more explosive. These are: (1) United States as the prime ideological enemy of Islamic fundamentalists/Jihadis combine. (2) Strategic rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional power status. (3) Implicit in this is also the sectarian Sunni-Shia conflict that predominates in the Islamic World (4) Nuclear arms race that would be generated by Iran’s nuclear weapons program (5) United States and Western countries severe opposition to Iranian nuclear weapons program (6) The current confrontation in Iraq between USA and Sunni/Shia armed militias (7) Ethnic problems like those of Kurdistan. (8) The US-Iran confrontation.

While any global power play would be confined to control of energy resources, strategic choke points and political influence in the region, it’s the intra-regional conflicts and rivalries that make the Middle East as an explosive powder keg and a region of acute strategic uncertainties.

Conflict resolution in the Middle East has been a mirage so far and would continue to be so for years to come.

Arab unity or Islamic unity as cementing forces for stability within the region have remained a myth.

The United States continues to be the most powerful strategic player in the Middle East with predominant military and political coercive capabilities.

Central Asia: The Strategic Power Play

Central Asia as a distinct region on its own came into focus after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The Central Asian Republics that emerged were all Islamic by religion and were soon engulfed as targets for control by Islamic fundamentalists with varying degrees of success.

The strategic salience of Central Asia has emerged post 9/11 as an area of strategic rivalries between the United States, Russia and China. All of them jostle for the Central Asian strategic space.

The United States would wish to draw these nations into the Western orbit for reasons of energy security and so also for strategic hemming-in of China.

While no infra-regional disputes exist, strategic turbulence does exist as a result of the power play between USA and Russia.

In terms of military and political coercive capabilities in the region, Russia is better placed currently by virtue of geographical contiguity and the economic interdependence of this region on Russia.

South Asia: Strategic Destabilization by China-Pakistan Nexus

South Asia would have emerged as a region of peace and stability if the naturally predominant and strategically pre-eminent power of India would have been allowed to prevail.

However, South Asia got caught up in global and regional power games. During the Cold War, it was the United States which ended building up Pakistan as the regional spoiler state, militarily.

China in its bid for Asian domination ended up more venomously by building up Pakistan as a nuclear weapons and nuclear missiles state to confront India. China has been using Pakistan as a proxy to keep India strategically off-balance.

Kashmir was used as a conflictual flashpoint excuse to strategically brow-beat India. However, even after four wars being imposed by Pakistan and one war by China, India has emerged as a contending power for global player status.

And here lies the strategic rub for South Asia. It is no longer the focus of India-Pakistan rivalry. South Asia has emerged as the prime arena for a more powerful strategic rivalry between India and China as they jostle for global power status.

Despite their meaningless friendly rhetoric China and India perceive each other as military threats. In the case of China, this has become more pronounced with the evolution of the US-India Strategic Partnership.

One can expect a hardening of stances in the future between China and India, and while both may not opt for direct war, they could end up doing the same through proxies.

Afghanistan continues to be militarily turbulent with sizeable United States/NATO Forces now deployed in restoring stability. The turbulence is due to Pakistan Army's unceasing military support to the Taliban to strategically destabilize US operations and the Karzai Government. China too is involved in military supplies to the Taliban against the United States.

All of the above generates a clash of strategic interests between USA and India with the Pakistan-China strategic nexus

South East Asia: Up for Grabs by China

South East Asia’s strategic complexion can be expressed very briefly as follows: (1) Strategic vacuum has been caused in the region by US strategic distractions in Iraq and Afghanistan (2) US has lost interest in South East Asia after open efforts by countries like Malaysia to keep the United States out of the East Asia Summit economic grouping (3) Russia under Putin has made limited forays in the region.

In such an environment, the region is ripe for a strategic grab by China. Such an attempt by China in itself carries the seeds of confrontation with USA as it would not be that China just walks-in and grabs South East Asia. The United States would not strategically tolerate a China takeover of South East Asia however late in the day.

East Asia: Global and Regional Power Tussle

In the Asian strategic calculus, it is East Asia that figures most significantly after the Middle East. However, as opposed to the Middle East mired in intra-regional tussles, East Asia is distinguished by a power play on a much higher plane.

In East Asia, China and the United States perceive each other as major military threats more pointedly. If ever China makes a grab for superpower status, it will be East Asia as the starting block where it will attempt to force the United States to exit from its forward military presence in the Western Pacific.

In East Asia, in terms of American forward military presence, the largest number of military bases and deployments exist here. That signifies how seriously USA takes the China threat in its strategic planning.

Russia’s resurgence could witness restoration of Russia’s strategic assets in the region also but it is unlikely that this would tilt the military balance in China's favor.

China like Pakistan in South Asia, has built up North Korea as the regional spoiler state to destabilize the region. Once the United States stabilizes Iraq and Afghanistan it is likely to deal with North Korea's strategic delinquencies more firmly.

East Asia is also a witness to the regional power tussle between China and Japan. Japan is no strategic push-over and complicates the East Asian strategic calculus for China in favor of the United States.

Asia’s Security & Stability: Future Perspectives

Asia may be presenting a very rosy picture, but this rosy picture is a luxury which only economists can thrive on. For strategists, Asia’s picture in terms of security and stability perspectives into the future, if not dismal, are not promising either, as the foregoing survey would indicate.

In terms of future strategic perspectives on Asia the following realities are likely to prevail:
“Asia Century” is a myth strategically
Within Asia a strategic power tussle between China, India and Japan would predominate
In this three-some power play China would stand isolated with India and Japan enjoying strategic convergences
This Asian power tussle will have corresponding impact on the global power play.
In the global power play, it would be more logical and advisable for the United States and Russia as the erstwhile “status-quo” global powers to view the challenge from China as a ‘revisionist power’ in strategically convergent terms.
The Middle East and East Asia will be the most challenging regions in the Asian strategic calculus.

Concluding Observations

Asia’s strategic calculus presents more complex and complicated challenges than opportunities for security and stability.

Asia has not reached the stage of political development and maturity which could facilitate emergence of regional groupings for security and stability.

The Asian power tussle between China, India and Japan adds further strategic uncertainties to an already complex Asian strategic calculus. It is unlikely that a China-India-Japan triumvirate could emerge to jointly ensure political and strategic stability in Asia.

In terms of Asia figuring in the global strategic power play, while India’s and Japan’s rise as major powers would be viewed as benign and in positive terms, the same would not apply to China.

In terms of global power play, China could therefore end up as a “strategic threat” for the United States and a “strategic irritant” for Russia.

(The author is an International Relations and Strategic Affairs analyst. He is the Consultant, Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. Email:drsubhashkapila@yahoo.com)

INDIA : Full text of the nuclear scientists' letter to PM

In a press release issued Tuesday, three top scientists expressed their ‘grave concerns’ over the Indo-US nuclear deal. This is what they said:

We were part of a group of senior nuclear scientists who had in the past expressed our grave concerns and objections to India entering into a nuclear co-operation agreement with the US under the aegis of the Hyde Act 2006. We had written to the Parliamentarians on this matter, and the Prime Minister had given us an opportunity to meet with him and discuss our views.

At this critical juncture, when the Government is about to rush the safeguards agreement to the IAEA without giving its details even to their own UPA-Left Committee created specifically for a joint evaluation of the Deal, there is a great deal of disquiet among the scientific community at large in this country.


We, therefore, are strongly of the opinion that the Government should not proceed to seek IAEA Board approval for the current draft safeguards agreement, until its implications are debated more fully within the country, or at least within the UPA-Left Committee as well as with a group of experts who were not party to the IAEA negotiations.

The government is enthusiastically pushing the Deal on the basis that it will bring about energy security to India, since it will enable the import of foreign nuclear power reactors. But, analysts have convincingly and quantitatively shown that this additional power will come at a much higher cost per unit of electricity compared to conventional coal or hydro power, which India can generate without any foreign imports.

Once the Deal is in place, it is also clear that India's commercial nuclear interactions with the US, as well as with any other country, will be firmly controlled from Washington via the stipulations of the Hyde Act 2006 enforced through the stranglehold which the US retains on the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Any argument to the effect that the Deal will be governed only by the bilateral 123 Agreement is untenable, because this Agreement in turn is anchored in US domestic laws, which include the Hyde Act. And, the Hyde Act contains several stipulations which are extraneous to the issue of bilateral nuclear co-operation, including foreign policy behaviour which India needs to adhere to if the Deal is to be kept alive.

Special: Indo-US nuclear deal | Full coverage

The real issue facing India, therefore, is whether or not we want this mythical extra 'energy security ' through this Deal, paying almost thrice the unit capital cost of conventional power plants, with the additional burden of subjugating the freedom to pursue a foreign policy and indigenous nuclear R&D program of our own .

The nuclear Deal could also have other serious repercussions, including a potential weakening of India's nuclear deterrent and an inability to protect & promote indigenous R&D efforts in nuclear technology. A combination of the extreme secrecy with which the government has carried forward this deal, the media hype they were able to generate in its favour, the parochial interests of opportunistic individuals & organizations, and the unfortunate ignorance of the issues involved among the general public have put the country on a dangerous path, likely to lead to the detriment of the current & future generations of Indians. Today's urgency to rush to the IAEA Board, in consonance with the American timetable, to get the safeguards agreement approved and thereafter clinch the Deal during the tenures of the current governments in India and the US must, therefore, be replaced with an openness & introspection that is vital for a serious debate which the situation demands.

The central issue about the IAEA safeguards agreement has been the doubt as to how "India-specific" these are. In particular, since it is distinctly clear from the Hyde Act and the 123 Agreement that no uninterrupted fuel supplies have been guaranteed in these documents for reactors which India will place under safeguards, the Government had assured that this defect will be corrected in the safeguards agreement. Since the IAEA was all along known to be no fuel-supply guarantor, there is serious doubt whether Indian negotiators obtained any assurance in this regard.

As per the 123 Agreement, the Government has all along asserted that the IAEA safeguards will have "provisions for corrective measures that India may take to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supplies. Taking this into account, India will place its civilian nuclear facilities under India-specific safeguards in perpetuity".

The nation would like to know clearly what these "corrective measures" will be, before plunging headlong into this Deal.

India being merely allowed to withdraw from safeguards the Indian-built PHWRs we may place under safeguards, and that too after stripping them of all spent & fresh fuel and components of foreign origin, is no corrective step at all because such action does not ensure uninterrupted operation of these civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supplies. Besides, this relaxation does not apply to the imported power reactors, which will use up the bulk of our investments in nuclear power ; these units will perpetually stay under safeguards , even after fuel supplies are denied .The Hyde Act prohibits the US Administration from directly or indirectly (through the IAEA or other countries) assisting India with life-time fuel supplies after suspension of the Deal. Therefore , the Government owes a clarification in this regard to the UPA-Left Committee and the Indian public.

The 123 Agreement states that the imports under the Deal "shall be subject to safeguards in perpetuity in accordance with the India-specific Safeguards Agreement between India and the IAEA and an Additional Protocol, when in force".

While the actual draft of the Additional Protocol (AP) applicable to India may have to be negotiated and agreed to at a later date, it is absolutely necessary that a prior agreement between the IAEA and India on the essential features of such an Additional Protocol must be reached simultaneous with the finalization of the safeguards agreement and before signing it. The most intrusive actions under safeguards are always taken on the basis of this protocol, including the "pursuit clause" which permits interference with our non-civilian programs on the basis of unsubstantiated suspicion . India needs to make it clear what the limits are beyond which we will not entertain any IAEA action or intrusion, and it should be clear that a standard Model Protocol applicable to non-nuclear weapon States will not be acceptable to India.

The leverage to debate and get the kind of restricted Additional Protocol we want will be entirely lost once a safeguards agreement alone is first put in place and the installations put under safeguards . As we understand, the limitations within which India is willing to enter into the Additional Protocol regime was neither discussed by Indian negotiators at the IAEA nor do they appear in the safeguards draft or its attachments. Government needs to clarify their thinking on the Additional Protocol before proceeding to the IAEA Board.

Reprocessing the spent-fuel arising from burning fresh imported fuel in our civilian reactors provides us valuable additional plutonium, which in turn can be recycled into future civilian fast breeder reactors (FBRs) or advanced heavy water reactors (AHWRs). Reprocessing, therefore, is at the core of India's plans to build long-term energy security.

The government had all along pledged to secure an unqualified right to reprocess spent-fuel and even termed India's right to reprocess "non-negotiable". But, in the 123 Agreement, what has finally been obtained is merely an empty theoretical right to reprocess. The actual permission to reprocess will come after years, when a dedicated state-of-the art reprocessing plant is built anew to treat foreign fuel, along with a host of allied facilities.

There will be a large number of safeguards & Additional Protocol issues related to this, and all these hurdles will have to be crossed to reach the beginning of reprocessing . Much of the fundamental basis on which all this will be done has to be discussed and settled now at the outset, while the overall safeguards agreement is being finalized. But, the Government has not done this exercise during the recent set of negotiations with the IAEA, and this deficiency will come to haunt India in future unless it is removed.

In the above manner, there are several other key safeguards-related issues of crucial importance, for which no one, including the UPA-Left Committee which the Government created, has been provided answers. None of the issues raised in this Press Release can be addressed adequately and in an acceptable manner unless the entire safeguards agreement and its associated papers are made available to the UPA-Left Committee for their evaluation, as well as to a set of independent national experts who have so far not been part of the Government's negotiations with the IAEA.

SIGNATORIES :

Dr. P.K.Iyengar, Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission

Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan, Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board

Dr. A.N. Prasad, Former Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Center

June 23, 2008

INDIA : Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos gets airborne variant news



Source: domain-b.com

21 June 2008



New Delhi: The Indo-Russian BrahMos Aerospace joint venture has completed the development of the airborne version of an advanced supersonic missile, according to a statement by the company's managing director, Dr Sivathanu Pillai.

BrahMos Aerospace designs, produces, and markets the BrahMos, which is a unique missile, the world's only supersonic cruise missile. The project was started in 1998, and its sea-based and land-based versions have been tested and successfully deployed into service with the Indian Army and the Indian Navy.

The airborne version, primarily for use by the Air Force, was the only pending variant to complete the deployment suite of the supersonic cruise missile.

According to Dr Pillai, the mass of the missile had to be reduced to maintain the requisite aerodynamic stability post launch from an aircraft. On launch from an aircraft, the missile is already in motion and has some initial speed, which necessitates reducing the booster size.

''Now the missile is ready," Dr Pillai told Russian media.

Pillai added that the Indian Air Force had picked the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI (Nato : Flanker – H) fighter as the trial platform for the airborne version of the missile. The missile has a range of 180 miles (290 kilometres) and is named after the Indian and Russian rivers Brahmaputra and the Moskva.

The BrahMos is capable of delivering a conventional warhead, weighing in at a maximum of 660 pounds, against targets on land and sea while flying at a surface-hugging altitude of as low as 10 meters (30 feet), that too at a speed of Mach 2.8. That speed is around three times faster than that of the US-made Tomahawk cruise missile.

Pillai said that progress on the scheduled flight trials has been slow on account of Russia's Sukhoi Design Bureau according priority for the fifth generation aircraft. India intends to manufacture around 140 Su-30 MKI multi-role fighters by 2014, under a Russian license and with full technology transfer.

Defence analysts estimate that India could buy around 1,000 BrahMos missiles for deployment in its armed forces over the next 10 years, and could also export around 2,000 units of the missile to third countries in the same period.

Russian agency RIA Novosti also reported that a new class of Russian frigates, currently under construction at a shipyard in St. Petersburg, could be fitted with the naval version of the BrahMos.

According to the report, the only Russian combat ship that could feature the BrahMos missiles is the new Project 22350 Admiral Sergei Gorshkov class frigate, currently under construction at the Severnaya Verf shipyard in St. Petersburg. The Admiral Sergei Gorshkov is a new class of warships that the Russian Navy is building for itself.

The first unit is scheduled for launch in 2009, and the Russian Navy could eventually acquire around 20 of these vessels. The frigate has a displacement of around 4,500 tons, a length of over 130 meters (430 feet), a maximum width of 16 meters (51 feet). It has a range of over 4,000 miles.

Additionally, the three Project 11356 Krivak IV-class guided missile frigates, a follow-on order that is being made by Russia for the Indian Navy, will also carry the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile system.

Russia’s nuclear interest revived

Source: AirforceTimes


By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jun 23, 2008 10:49:37 EDT

The Russian nuclear threat crumbled not long after the Berlin Wall fell.

But almost two decades later, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is warning that the Russian military is reinvesting in its nuclear mission — at the same time the U.S. Air Force has allowed its nuclear standards to slip.

“For a whole bunch of reasons, demographics and everything else, it seems clear that the Russians are focused ... on strengthening their nuclear capabilities,” Gates told reporters as he flew June 9 from Langley Air Force Base, Va., to Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Gates described a Russian military with a renewed commitment to building up its nuclear enterprise rather than focusing solely on strengthening the conventionally armed Russian army.

“To the extent that they rely more and more on their nuclear capabilities as opposed to what historically has been a huge conventional military capability it seems to me that it underscores the importance of our sustaining a valid nuclear deterrent,” he said.

The urgency of Gates’ message — preparing to meet any Russian threat — was underscored by the purpose of his trip: reassuring airmen at three Air Force bases after firing the chief of staff and service secretary due to declining nuclear standards and two embarrassing nuclear mishaps.

A February flight of a Russian Tu-95 Bear bomber — capable of carrying nuclear air-launch cruise missiles — over the aircraft carrier Nimitz was reminiscent of the Cold War, when Russian nuclear bombers commonly flew near U.S. borders and buzzed U.S. warships.

But until recently, those flyovers had all but stopped.

Between August and December 2007, Russia’s strategic bombers conducted more than 20 flights and test-fired 217 air-launch missiles during long-range exercises over the North Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans and the Black Sea — a significant increase over previous years, according to a report in the May/June Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

In addition to bolstering the strategic bomber portion of its nuclear triad, Russia is also making serious investments in its intercontinental ballistic missile force and nuclear submarine fleet.

A nuclear-capable Russian naval task force, led by its aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, sailed into the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean last winter for the first time in 15 years. The two-month cruise included test firings of cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles that could be armed with nuclear warheads.

Last Christmas, former Russian President Vladimir Putin described successful ICBM and submarine-launched ballistic-missile flight tests as “holiday fireworks.”

The head of Russia’s Strategic Missile Command told Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency that he plans to double the number of test launches of ICBMs per year after 2009 or 2010, which could bring the number to 22, according to the bulletin report.

Russia’s military engineers, who are trying to develop an advanced nuclear warhead and ballistic missile system, could benefit from the increased launches, although it’s unclear how far they’ve come, said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

Retired Gen. Chuck Horner, a former NORAD commander, said Russia’s recent nuclear buildup should concern U.S. officials but added that he doesn’t think it poses a significant strategic threat.

Instead, Horner said, the flexing of Russian nuclear muscle is one way Putin can re-exert the onetime superpower’s military might.

“Nuclear forces were the ultimate status symbol emblematic of superpower rank,” said Robert Norris, an associate with National Research Defense Council’s nuclear program. “I think we’re witnessing a Russia that has decided to emphasize a greater role in the world with its newfound oil and natural gas money.”

Norris said the Russians also have been motivated by the U.S. push to establish an anti-ballistic missile program, especially in Eastern Europe.

As Russia continues to develop its nuclear arsenal — and concerns about nuclear weapons and proliferation in Pakistan, India, Iran and North Korea continue to occupy diplomats around the world — the U.S.’s own problems managing its nuclear force detract from its credibility on the issue.

“It undermines our message, when our message is clear that any country has to take extra efforts to ensure they are safe and secure,” Norris said.


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Shortage of officer-level personnel in the army and signals from the border

ORGANISER

By V. Shanmuganathan

India wants to maintain good relations with her neighbours. Our armed forces are not provocative. India never tried to enter into any confrontation with any country. We always try to develop friendly relations with our neighbours. Of late, certain tensions are mounting on the borders. We cannot ignore our neighbouring country’s army personnel crossing our border and making incursions. We have to be alert, ever vigilant and our armed forces must be fully prepared to face any eventuality at any time. We share a border of thousands of kilometers with China, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. World knows that Pakistan is encouraging the cross border terrorism to create tension on day-to-day basis.

In spite of our long history of continuous friendship with the people of Nepal, developments during and after elections draw our attention. The track record of the Maiosts who have staked their claim to power in Nepal is not positive. Attacks in the past by them on Indians and Indian interests in Nepal, their leader’s open warning to India after the elections, the violation of Indian borders by their cadres give cause for concern.

The border between India and China is currently defined by a 4,056 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) which is neither marked on the ground nor on mutually acceptable maps. Efforts to have a recognised LAC since the mid 1980s through a Joint Working Group (JWG) of officials and experts have made little headway.

China is still holding a large chunk of territory in Kashmir, 38000 sq.km. (14,670 sq. miles) of Aksai Chin, which it seized after the 1962 blatant invasion, and claims more.

Another 5,180 sq.km. (2000 sq. miles) of northern Kashmir was given by Pakistan to Beijing as price for an all weather friendship pact signed in 1963. China had already built a road through Aksai Chin linking Tibet with its Zinjiang province before it laid an aggressive claim on it. Now it seeks a political solution, not a technical one, to the border problem.

Chinese soldiers were coming deeper into our territory, inside Arunachal Pradesh. There had been 270 incursions last year alone.

The Chinese troops were preventing locals from going up to regions where they had been taking their animals for grazing.

There was a statue of the Buddha well inside Indian territory. Local inhabitants used to go upto it and make their prayers and offerings. The commander of the Chinese troops had asked Indian soldiers to remove the statue. Our soldiers had pointed out that the statue was well within Indian territory. And so there was no question of removing it. The Chinese troops came and blown off the statue. China has developed several launching pads by Land Sea and air to strike at the enemy country’s targets. In this background we must be truly prepared to deal with Chinese incursions, simultaneously we have to counter Pakistan’s proxy war.

We need to develop a strong and modern armed force to protect our border. Our armed forces must be ever ready to face any eventuality.

We have approximately 11,00,000 Army personnel. 140 Sukhoi aircrafts are getting added to the Indian Air Force presently. INS Jalashwa has been purchased. Moderanisation of the Army, the Navy and Air Force must be the top most priorities.

Along the border states’ infrastructure must be developed on an emergency basis. Most modern roads, railway lines and air fields are necessay to be built along the border areas of J&K, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and the states bordering Myanmar.

Our defence forces are facing several problems. There is a shortage of officers in all the three services. The Army is still holding obsolete Air Defence Equipment and needs to make its deficiencies to manageable levels. The Air Force is much below its minimum holding of 39.5 squadron of combat aircraft. The Navy is at a low of 131 ships against a minimum holding of 140.

We still have neither a clearly enunciated National Security Policy nor a defence policy document.

There should be a comprehensive defence review based on “Thereat Perception”.

The perspective plan should be based on an analysis likely to be reviewed in future with evaluation of options and alternatives.

The ‘Tehalka episode’ and accusation of kickbacks have created caution and reluctance of taking any deep interest in defence deals. The problem is our faulty acquisition plans and system where a lot of reforms are necessary.

Defence material is generally not available on the shelf. Moreover, technological advances are quite rapid and by the time an equipment or weapon system gets outdated when it actually arrives after purchase deal. Thus its effectiveness or usage gets marginalised. Defence actuations have to be planned in advance, taking into consideration our planned capabilities and modernisation plans ahead.

Our R&D constitutes a mere 6.1 per cent of the defence budget. But of this, a mere 7 to 10 per cent is spent on fundamental research whereas the bulk goes for the import of foreign technologies. We need to provide sophisticated weaponry to our infantry battalions. This is possible only when we make sufficient allocation for defence.

While making allocations to our defence forces, we need to consider the amount that our potential adversaries are spending on defence and their state of preparedness and capabilities.

A quick look of Pakistan and China defence spending for the year 2008-09 would show that their enhancement of capabilities is much higher than ours. Pakistan allocated 3.5 per cent of the GDP on defence by the year 2008-09, whereas China has allocated 4.3 per cent of GDP foe defence.

In terms of GDP allocation, there has been a downward trend in the last five years, that is, from 2.14 per cent in 2004-05 to 1.99 per cent in 2008-09. In our country, Rs 1,05,600 crore was allocated for defence during 2008-09.

Apart from the allocation of funds, and availability of modern weapons, the support the countrymen gives more encouragement and increases the morale of the armed forces. Our Indian Army is known for its ‘will to succeed’ with discipline, dedication and determination. Kargil was the first war victory of Indian Army in the full glare of television. The battle of Monte Casino fought during the Second World War, said to be one of the toughest of mountain warfare. That success appears to be dwarfed before Kargil victory. The war at the peak of Kargil displayed the most conspicuous bravery of the Indian Army personnel.

(The writer is additional secretary of BJP Parliamentary Party.)

India, France to float joint venture to make SAMs

A K Dhar
Paris, Jun 22 (PTI) India and France may soon join hands to make the latest variants of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) with a lethal hundred per cent kill probability, on the lines of the highly successful Indo-Russian Brahmos supersonic cruise missile.

The proposed joint venture, for which intense groundwork has been done by the missile industry officials from both countries, could take shape in a year's time.

The name of the new series of lethal co-produced missile has been proposed as 'Maitri' and it aims to fulfil the demand of the Army, Navy and Air Force in India for procuring thousands of such missiles to cover up the "yawning" gap in country's air defence.

India is currently in the process of replacing its entire range of surface-to-air missile defence system to weed out the ageing SAM series of missile procured from the erstwhile Soviet Union in the late 60's and 70's.

The procurement of the new range of such missiles is to give more foolproof and vibrant defending capabilities to the nation's vital assets, VVIP complexes as well as provide mobile air cover to troops in operations.

"Our missile industry officials are in intense negotiations with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and India's sole missile producer, Hyderabad-based Bharat Dynamics Limited for setting up of such a joint venture," Antoine Bouvier, CEO of the Euorpean Missile Consortium MBDA, told Indian newsmen here.

The French proposal comes as the Indian Army recently floated a 2 billion Euro contract for purchasing 1,000 short- range quick reaction missiles. PTI

China, Japan agree on East China Sea gas deposits

20:14 | 23/ 06/ 2008



MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fesyun) - Japan and China have agreed to jointly develop part of the gas deposits in the East China Sea. The deal allows Japan to invest in and claim proportional profits from several projects at the Chunxiao fields, which Japan calls Shirakaba. Two Chinese companies are already drilling the site.

In the past, China and Japan disputed the right to develop offshore gas reserves of the Senkaku Islands (or Diaoyu Islands under their Chinese name).

Senkaku is a group of five small volcanic islands and three "rocks" considered too small for human habitation, located in the East China Sea 410 km (255 miles) southwest of mainland Okinawa, 170 km (106 miles) northeast of Keelung, Taiwan, and 145 km (90 miles) northwest of the Japanese Ishigaki Islands.

Energy-hungry China was exploring the area and preparing to develop the gas fields. Japan was anxious to stop it.

After years of negotiations, historical and economic reality finally compelled them to lay aside the dispute. Japan will provide technological and investment support for the joint development of Shirakaba and Longjing/Asunaro.

At another location near a possible median line, the two countries are yet to determine mutually agreed sites for joint exploration. The unnamed area of 2,700 square kilometers is just south of Longjing/Asunaro.

Japan and China have both been quick to assure their people that they have not abandoned their previously expressed positions. China is currently developing two gas fields located in its economic zone, which are not covered by the agreement.

The problem concerned the demarcation line in the exclusive economic zones. China said the line should be the edge of the continental shelf, which approaches the Okinawa archipelago. Japan maintained that the boundary between the two nations' exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea is the median line between their coastlines.

Japan has more than once accused China of drilling in, or too close to, its exclusive economic zone, demanding that it has the right to know the results of Chinese research there. China proposed a joint project in the disputed area. They have held several rounds of talks, none of them successful.

The two countries even sent warships and patrol aircraft to the area, and Japanese generals said coastguard ships should protect the offshore project in the East China Sea and proposed reinforcing the naval group patrolling the country's southern borders.

In the end, though, nobody wanted to fight. About three years ago, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) started an exploration and drilling project off Chunxiao (the Shirakaba fields). In response, Japan granted exploration rights for the area to Teikoku Sekiyu (Empire Oil), which never started working there because it feared for its personnel.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry submitted official protests over granting the license in the East China Sea to Teikoku Sekiyu, which Chinese diplomats described as "an open provocation and infringement on the interests and sovereignty of China."

In short, political considerations only added fuel into the fire, deprived Japanese companies of lucrative contracts, and resulted in a boycott of Japanese goods in China.

In May this year, Chinese President Hu Jintao went to Tokyo, where he agreed with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to work jointly in the disputed area.

The recent statement by the Japanese Foreign Ministry avoids mention of another gas field north of Asunaro, because Japan and China do not want South Korea to join the fray.

Seoul has more than once hinted that gas projects in the area infringe on its economic rights. The region's third dragon has its own ideas about the demarcation of economic zones.

The main thing for the two countries' leaders is to convince their people that they have not betrayed their national interests, which is why they write about concessions the other partner has made, and assure the people that their political stances have not changed.

During a joint press conference in Tokyo, Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari said the agreement was "a considerable achievement in strategic bilateral relations."

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura described it as "an example of the two countries' ability to solve very complicated problems at the negotiating table." He added, though, that "Japan and China have different stands, and the talks [on their rapprochement] will be very long."

The Japanese-Chinese agreement on the joint development of the gas fields in the East China Sea is a substantial, even if enforced, movement away from ideologically laden positions.

One would like to see similar agreements on the joint development of the Kuril Islands signed between Russia and Japan in the foreseeable future. The foundation for such an agreement has been laid by a recent Gazprom announcement about a possible increase in gas production at the Sakhalin-II offshore field.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Deepening Political Crisis in Sri Lanka

Guest Column by R. Swaminathan

The theme “Deepening Political Crisis in Sri Lanka”, may be an under-statement. The current situation in Sri Lanka is in reality more than just a political crisis. It is a military crisis (that has already caused nearly 70,000 deaths), a crisis of governance (with fairness and equity), a crisis of confidence between the different ethnic groups – all of which threaten the very existence a united and integrated Sri Lanka. What started as apparent linguistic chauvinism (and the reaction to it) has taken on most of the aspects of an ethnic civil war.

The India Factor

India, with its growing influence in international affairs, should reasonably be expected to make her overall national interest the primary and supreme consideration in formulating foreign and security policies. Domestic politics and partisan interests would continue to provide major inputs during the stage of consultations, but are unlikely to become reasons for casting doubts on the credibility of the evolved national foreign policy. It is not difficult to perceive that India’s long-term strategic and regional interests require a special relationship with Sri Lanka, going well beyond the immediate Tamil ethnic issue.

The regional political parties in Tamil Nadu often find it difficult to adopt moderate positions on Sri Lanka related issues, lest they surrender ground to the more radical amongst them. Even considering their present disproportionate influence in decision-making by the Central Government, I do not think that the mainstream politicians in Tamil Nadu would attempt to make the Central Government agree to intervene physically in the crisis in Sri Lanka; or that they would succeed if they made the attempt.

India and Sri Lanka are physically separated by a narrow strip of sea, but the peoples of the two countries are bound together by bonds of geographic proximity, historical ties, religious and cultural affinities and similarities etc. State level relations tend to fluctuate from time to time, influenced by domestic political compulsions, international situation, economic needs etc. Stable state level relations are possible only when they closely reflect the reality of people-to-people ties.

A major irritant in Indo-Sri Lankan relations relates to Kachchativu. The issue is really less about ownership and sovereignty over a small island than about fishing rights around it. Despite the Maritime Boundary Agreements, Indian fishermen have continued to fish in areas (including those in Sri Lankan territorial waters) where they have traditionally been carrying on their vocation. It is unfortunate that all the concerned entities seem to find it convenient to let the situation simmer and be available (whenever required) as a stick to beat the other entities with. The issue needs to be defused with a sense of urgency. The fishing communities on both sides of Palk Bay had jointly exploited (with hardly any outside intervention) the local marine resources for centuries. An effort needs to be made to restore to those communities the right and responsibility to work out friendly, cooperative and sustainable fishing in these waters that are the common heritage of India and Sri Lanka.

India cannot easily shrug off her moral responsibility to support the aspiration of the Tamils to be “equal” citizens of Sri Lanka. However, India has consistently been opposed to the carving out of a separate sovereign state of Tamil Eelam. Such an entity is unlikely to function as a classical “buffer state”, but is more likely to have the potential of becoming a focus for pan-Tamil parochialism and nationalism. That this is not a hypothetical fear is shown by a recent appeal by LTTE political wing leader B Nadesan, made directly to the people of Tamil Nadu, "to rise in solidarity with our cause". He said that the "Tamils in Tamil Nadu should not remain silent spectators as we suffer. … Eelam Tamils could record Himalayan victories if they had an upsurge in Tamil Nadu in their support, as well as the backing of the estimated 80 million Tamils living in the world." If LTTE could make such an open call for the Tamils of Tamil Nadu to revolt against the Indian State and the elected governments in Tamil Nadu and at the Centre, when it is still on the defensive and is in need of support, what could one expect from it if and when it becomes the power-holder in the sovereign state of Tamil Eelam?

A week later (on 16 June 2008), in what could be termed a damage-control exercise, KV Balakumaran assured the Australian Tamil Broadcasting Corporation that the demand for Tamil Eelam is not against India's interest. LTTE sought only 'credible alternate proposals' to resolve the 25-year-old ethnic conflict. “We believe firmly, our strong cultural ties to our brothers and sisters in India will help their policy makers to select a just and fair path towards our people. …. We will uphold Indian welfare as our own. There was a time when India looked after our welfare as her own. India will change its current policy towards us one day.” He added that “We cannot wait for India's change of mind to continue with our liberation. One fact should be clear; no one should doubt our friendship, and strong ties to India.”

LTTE

LTTE was one of the many parallel Tamil movements that came up in protest against SLG’s decisions that were seen as being discriminatory against the Tamils. Over a period of time, mainly through the free use of the weapons of violence and assassination, LTTE has eliminated or marginalized most other Tamil movements. LTTE has arguably been the most effective champion of the Tamil cause, but its other face of a dreaded terrorist organization does not elicit the same extent of willing support from the Tamils. However, the reality of LTTE cannot be ignored when attempting any solution to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka, though it may still be very difficult for India officially to deal with an LTTE led by those involved in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

LTTE’s alternating tirades against and appeals to the international community to rethink their approach of supporting the SLG, as well as the repeated appeals for support from Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora, seem to display elements of frustration and desperation at the present situation. I feel that the stage has come when LTTE should undertake a serious exercise of introspection, taking into account all the realities, and decide whether or not to pursue the goal of an independent Eelam, through violent means.

Way Forward

When Mahinda Rajapakse won the Presidential election in November 2005, with the support of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), it could be anticipated that his government would move away from Chandrika’s federal formula and towards an attempted military solution. Historical evidence shows that ethnic or ideological insurrections or revolutionary movements suffer from their own versions of revolutionary (battle) fatigue. Some time after the CFA stabilized to a certain extent, LTTE showed signs of having reached that critical stage. Though the LTTE was initially nudged back to the negotiating table at Geneva, the repeated provocative attacks by the Tigers on the security forces and the retaliatory attacks by SLG on Tamil areas led to a situation where the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) died and was formally revoked. The intensified military offensives by SLG has probably done more to re-motivate and re-invigorate the fighting cadres of LTTE than any exhortation by Pirabhakaran could have achieved. Though LTTE has repeatedly shown great resilience and capacity to rebound, it seems that its best days are behind it.

It would appear that the capabilities of the Sea Tigers have been severely crippled, at least for the present. Though advances on the ground have been claimed, aerial bombardment of one’s own territory (not under foreign occupation), with resultant casualties amongst innocent civilians, does not show SLG as being in total control of the situation. Some of the counter-attacks (particularly the recent claymore mine attacks on soft targets) by LTTE have highlighted the weaknesses of the government. It seems that the military offensives cannot be carried to their logical conclusion. I doubt the ability of the Sri Lankan Security Forces totally to eradicate the presence or influence of militant LTTE cadres from the areas presently controlled by them, much less from all of Sri Lanka. There will always be bitter remnants which will continue to destabilize society.

The continued military offensive by SLG ignores the lessons of history. Any movement by an ethnic minority, essentially based on legitimate grievances of discrimination and perceived suppression, cannot be eradicated totally by military means alone. Military measures should be accompanied by sincere and sympathetic efforts to address the legitimate grievances and to minimize any discrimination by the state. Ideally, the solution should be totally indigenous and arrived at by consensus. Less ideally, it can be achieved with the help of mediators or intermediaries from outside. It should be realized that any solution imposed only by military force or majoritarian fiat would neither be effective nor durable.

On its part, the LTTE has clearly demonstrated that it is not prepared to work within the existing (or a slightly modified) system. Along with the LTTE, the legitimate and democratically elected SLG has done little to help in resolving the “Tamil problem”. If anything, the Mahinda government has been equally responsible for escalating an intractable problem into one that is becoming near-impossible to solve. One suspects that there is an absence of any serious desire for a settlement.

It has been reported that the JVP is planning to mount a legal challenge (in the Supreme Court) to the dissolution of the North-Central and Sabaragamuva Provincial Councils. It seems to me that this would be an indirect challenge to 'unitary’ Constitution that empowers the President to dissolve the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies.

It is unrealistic to expect any miracle cure to the deepening crisis. The existing crisis of confidence needs to be overcome and the first essential step would be to take measures to convince the majority of the Tamils that their legitimate grievances and aspirations would be attended to, without their having to resort to coercive actions. As a comprehensive agreement with the different Tamil protagonists seems unattainable, President Rajapakse and his party should display the courage and vision to take the initial steps unilaterally and hope that the rest of the Sinhala leaders and the Tamils would respond favorably to those gestures of reconciliation. Terminology like “unitary”, “federal”, “self-determination” etc. could be jettisoned as excess baggage and pragmatic efforts made – placing the overall interests of an integrated Sri Lankan State above those of individuals, parties etc. Any such package should give legal sanctity to Sri Lanka being a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual country. It should address all major grievances of all ethnic minorities and meet their minimum legitimate aspirations – particularly relating to equality of all citizens (under the law and in reality); inclusive economic development; and constitutionally-sanctioned, significant participation in their own governance.

Such an action would strengthen and embolden the presently-silent moderates amongst the Tamils. It may be noted in this context that V. Anandasangaree, President of TULF, issued a press release on 8 June 2008, inter alia reiterating that the SLG should come out with a reasonable proposal acceptable to the International Community, not out of fear of the LTTE , but to enable the International Community to step in and to tell the LTTE to stop all their brutal killings of innocent civilians. He described the present situation as one in which a group that claims to be waging a war against the Government for the liberation of the Tamils is fighting against another group of ultra-nationalists claiming to be great patriots trying to save the country from the former. Neither group realizes that a patriot is not one who merely loves his country but also its people as well. The ultra-nationalists should appreciate that the [moderate] Tamil Leadership openly opposes separation, defying the LTTE at grave risk to their lives. They have declared that they will be satisfied with a reasonable and an acceptable solution within a United Sri Lanka. Whatever be the solution that is arrived at should be the last and final one that will strongly unite all sections of the people of Sri Lanka to a common identity as Sri Lankans, to live in peace and amity, enjoying all rights equally with others. Could such views be supported by the Sinhala leadership of different hues and could they summon the necessary sagacity, maturity, tolerance and pragmatism to do so? Let us hope so.

(This note was prepared by R. Swaminathan, Former Special Secretary, DG (Security), Govt. of India, to form the basis of his valedictory address on 19 June 2008 at a two-day, bi-national seminar on “Deepening Political Crisis in Sri Lanka”, organized by the Indian Centre for South Asian Studies, Chennai. The author can be contacted at rsnathan@gmail.com)

Benazir Bhutto's Assassination Case In Cold Storage

International Terrorism Monitor---Paper No. 403
by B. Raman

As Pakistan observed on June 21 the 55th birth anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated at Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, there has been an intriguing reluctance on the part of the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) to pursue the investigation into her assassination vigorously and to prosecute those already arrested.

2. While Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the former Amir of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), who had been named by her as a principal suspect in the failed attempt to kill her at Karachi on October 18, 2007, has been quietly released after being in police custody for some time, the police investigation into her assassination on December 27, 2007, has been discontinued. While legal proceedings have been delayed against those who have already been arrested and who have confessed about their role in the assassination, no action to arrest others, who had been declared as proclaimed offenders in the case by a court, has been taken.

3. Among those declared as proclaimed offenders in the case is Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Instead of taking action to have him arrested and prosecuted, the Government has been negotiating a peace deal with him under which in return for his releasing Pakistani security forces personnel in the custody of the TTP and calling off all acts of suicide terrorism, the Government has offered to withdraw the Army from South Waziristan and make the Frontier Corps, a para-military force consisting largely of local Pashtun tribals, many of them sympathetic to the Taliban, responsible for internal security in South Waziristan.

4. The Government was embarrassed when US spokesmen repeatedly expressed their surprise over the Pakistani Government holding talks with the principal suspect in the assassination of Benazir and when Baitullah addressed a press conference in which he said that any peace deal will apply only to Pakistani territory and not to the operations of his men in the Afghan territory against the NATO forces and the Afghan National Army. Following these developments, the Govt. has suspended the peace talks with him, but has not asked the security forces to go after him in order to arrest him in the Benazir Bhutto case.

5. The case against those already arrested is being adjourned frequently under some pretext or the other on petitions filed by the defence counsels without the Government opposing these adjournments, which are against the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which clearly stipulate that the legal proceedings in terrorism-related cases should be held on a day-to-day basis without adjournments.

6. Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) No I of Rawalpindi once again adjourned on June 21, 2008, the hearing into the Benazir murder case till July 14, 2008.

7. Critics of Asif Ali Zardari and Rehman Mallick, his confidante, who is the Advisor to the Ministry of the Interior with the status of a Cabinet Minister, have been alleging that neither of them seems to be interested in pursuing the case in order to bring to justice those responsible for her assassination. Rehman Mallick was a senior official of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) during the second tenure of Benazir as the Prime Minister (1993-96) and became a close confidante of Zardari. When former President Farooq Leghari dismissed her in 1996, he also suspended Rehman Mallick and ordered an investigation into charges of corruption against him. He escaped to the UK, from where he was co-ordinating the personal security of Benazir during her travels while she was in political exile. When she returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, he returned before her and was looking after her physical security. There was considerable criticism of his absence from the vicinity of Benazir on December 27, 2007, when she was assassinated.

8. Despite his alleged failure to protect her, he continues to enjoy the trust of Zardari who got him appointed as the Advisor to the Ministry of the Interior.

9. Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the younger brother of Benazir, was killed in a police encounter outside his Karachi residence in September,1996, after he had returned to Karachi from a visit to Islamabad where he allegedly had a quarrel with Zardari, who reportedly opposed his demand that he should be designated as the Vice-Chairman of the PPP. The failure of the Karachi Police to vigorously pursue the investigation was one of the reasons used by Farooq Leghari to dismiss Benazir shortly after the murder of her brother. Zardari was among those arrested and prosecuted by the police after her dismissal in connection with the murder of her brother. He was got discharged honourably from the case by the PPP-led coalition after it assumed office in the last week of March, 2008.

10. Till today, the full facts relating to the murder of Murtaza and the identities of those responsible are not known to the public. The whole case has been covered up. There seems to be a similar attempt to cover up the case relating to the assassination of Benazir despite the Government ostensibly moving the UN for an international investigation under the supervision of the UN Security Council. After her assassination, President Pervez Musharraf, in response to allegations of a cover-up by PPP leaders including Zardari, had requested the British Government to depute a team from the Scotland Yard to help in the forensic investigation. A team visited Pakistan and did a thorough forensic investigation. No action has been taken by the Government to follow up on their forensic investigation either.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

Iraq's KRG: Managing political Islam

Iraq's Kurdish autonomy faces significant challenges as it seeks to negotiate its relations with political Islam, writes Dominic Moran for ISN Security Watch.

By Dominic Moran in Tel Aviv for ISN Security Watch (20/06/08)

With its soaring economy and relative stability, Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has a window of opportunity to manage its relations with Sunni Islamic political movements as it plays on the challenge posed by radical militant offshoots.

The Kurdish nationalist movement in Iraq's north is dominated by the avowedly secular nationalist Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and it has proved difficult to gauge the extent and influence of Sunni Islamic parties and groups.

Three of the primary movements within this trend, the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (IMK), Islamic Group of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) have failed to win significant support in previous Kurdish regional polls and the 2005 Iraqi national election.

However, they stand to gain from the institutionalization of corrupt PUK and KDP mechanisms within KRG governance structures and potential future instability.

Foreign influence
The IMK emerged as a purportedly Iranian-sponsored counter to the Saddam Hussein regime between 1986-1988, seizing control of the area around its current base, Halabja, which it controlled directly from 1998-2000.

During the 1994-1998 conflict between the KDP and PUK, fighters from the IMK were forced to withdraw to the Iranian border following a series of military reverses. Tehran brokered a ceasefire deal between the IMK and the PUK in 1997. The IMK agreed to participate in KRG institutions in 1998 and disarmed in 2003 but has enjoyed a somewhat mixed relationship with the twin ruling parties.

"I think Iranian influence is pervasive," Dr. David Romano from Rhodes College in Memphis, told ISN Security Watch, adding that this influence has extended to both radical militant groups and the IMK. At times this aid was moral and diplomatic "and sometimes it was quite direct and material support on the border, including sanctuary," he said.

"For the Iranians this is stick they can brandish sometimes along with the carrot of better relations with Iran when they want to influence the KDP and PUK," he said, noting, "[The latter two] offer sanctuary but not operations for Iranian Kurdish dissident groups. It is a delicate balancing act that each actor does vis-à-vis the other."

The US and Saudi Arabia reportedly moved to address Iranian influence through providing counter-funding to the IMK – the US since 1998. This despite a sometimes rocky relationship that included the arrest of leader Mullah Ali Abd al-Aziz Halabji by US-led forces in Iraq in 2003.

Turkey has also sought to build its influence in the area in recent years while protecting its economic ties to Iran. University of Kentucky's Dr Robert Olson told ISN Security Watch, "One of the major things that they [Turkey and Iran] have in common is [a desire] to control and manage the Kurdish nationalist movement. In that I include all of the various movements: the Islamic movements, the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party], PJAK [Party of Free Life of Kurdistan],"

Turkish-US and Iranian-Turkish military cooperation against PKK and PJAK militants in the far north threatens the type of security vacuum into which radical Islamists have moved in the past – though neither group appear on the verge of collapse.

Shadowy relations
A series of IMK splinters and reformations have occurred. These reflect wider trends within the diffuse Islamic movement, motivated by differing religious commitments and attitudes to violent struggle and the KRG and the relative powerlessness of political Islam in the face of KDP-PUK predominance.

The Islamic Group of Kurdistan broke away from the IMK under the temporal and spiritual leadership of Ali Bapir in 2001 and is based in Khormal. Bapir was arrested by US-led forces in 2003 and imprisoned for two years.

The splinter group reportedly receives significant support from the PUK and takes a moderate line on cooperation with other Islamic groups despite holding to a fundamentalist line. Along with the IMK, the Islamic Group eschews purported ties to the largest jihadi group recently active in Kurdish areas, Ansar al-Islam.

Romano explained the delicate relationship that exists between the IMK , the Islamic Group and KRG, which falls well short of integration or cooption: "The IMK used to [participate in KRG governance structures] but they have too many links to violent Islamist groups.

"Communications channels were obviously always open between the IMK and their splinter groups and it was [un]clear how moderate the IMK was, and even more so with the Islamic Group," he said. "So what the KRG generally does is to let them have a small office but only pseudo-legality and this makes it easier for the KRG to keep tabs on them."

Militancy
The failure of the IMK to institute Sharia in its areas of influence around Halabja between 1998-2000 reportedly led to the breakaway of radical militant splinter groups including Tawhid and Hamas, which bears the same name as the Palestinian group but has no relationship

Tawhid, which emerged in Irbil, the regional capital, united with Hamas and a radical IMK offshoot, the Soran Second Force in Jund al-Islam, in September 2001 declaring jihad against secular Kurdish movements. Following a series of military reverses at the hands of PUK troops, the group re-emerged in December as Ansar al-Islam under the spiritual leadership of cleric Mullah Krekar.

Strengthened that year by Arab recruits from Afghanistan, the group seized several villages near the Iranian border from the IMK and Islamic Group fighters before agreeing to a ceasefire with Bapir's group.

Ansar al-Islam was driven out of its northern mountain stronghold in March 2003 and has appeared to diminish in strength in the intervening years with some analysts positing the subsequent integration of members in Ansar al-Sunna. The latter group purportedly incorporates Arab and other foreign fighters and has reportedly been active in fighting against US-led forces in central and northern Iraq.

Romano notes that there is a lack of direct evidence demonstrating Ansar al-Islam cooperation with the IMK or Islamic Group but, "When you have Ansar al-Islam people moving through Islamic Group territory unmolested, clearly with permission, then you can say there is some cooperation.

"But then, a month later, you have some Islamic Group people killing Ansar al-Islam people […] and I think the story there is the waxing and waning of their relations," he said.

Moderate force
The KIU is the Islamic movement most closely integrated into the KRG governance structure, running on the KDP/PUK-dominated Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan list in January 2005 KRG elections.

The Irbil-based party, has enjoyed purported Gulf funding, and is rumored to maintain ongoing ties with the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood. Since returning to the Kurdish region in 1991 the group has developed a significant institutional network including charities and media outlets.

Its decision to run separately from the KDP-PUK-dominated National Alliance list in the December 2005 Iraqi legislative elections reportedly provoked official harassment and a riot in Dohuk in which four KIU members were killed in the mob storming of party offices.

Referring to KIU integration, Romano said, "It is a balancing act for the KDP and the PUK because on one level they want democratic and somewhat liberal politics for the legitimacy it gives any government, so they need the Kurdistan Islamic Union in that respect […] At the same time they don't want them to do so well as to [become a threat]," he said.

The US is reportedly negotiating for the permanent presence of up to 58 bases on Iraqi soil, many of which will be sited in KRG territory. Kurdish parties support an ongoing US presence as a guarantee of future independence and stability, but a failure to integrate Kurdish Islamic groups in the Iraqi and internal KRG debate on the issue may prove costly in the long-run.

"I think behind closed doors there needs to be some bringing in of the KIU on discussions that deal with bases in the north because if there is not then they may pull what you might call a Moqtada al-Sadr and cast themselves as the ones against the US presence," Romano said.

Danger signs
While the stability of the KRG is maintained, existing measures to prevent the efflorescence of radical Islamist tendencies, including the official supervision of school curricula, security surveillance of imams and mosque closures after prayers, appear a sufficient counter.

However, experience in other regional states has shown that the type of systemic, endemic corruption seen in the KRG, alongside the impact of burgeoning inflation on the poor, acts as a primary factor that prevents rapid economic development from serving as a bulwark against Islamic radicalization.

"They [KDP/PUK] are aware of this [corruption] and they know that they gradually have to phase this out," Romano said.

"But if they are too slow about it [reform] and if there is too much popular sentiment that unless you are in tight with one of the two parties, then you really have a limited future and limited prospects. Then, people are going to turn increasingly towards the KIU."




Dr Dominic Moran, based in Tel Aviv, is ISN Security Watch's senior correspondent in the Middle East and the Director of Operations of ISA Consulting.

Czech Republic: Issues 'under the radar'

Parliamentary deal-making, vendettas and the US presidential election further complicate the US missile defense radar system proposal for the Czech Republic.

Image: Photo Courtesy of US Army Commentary by Andrew Thompson for ISN Security Watch (23/06/08)


No issue has dominated US-Czech relations in the past year as substantially as the proposal to station a US missile defense system X band radar in the Brdy military area 90 kilometers southwest of Prague.

While US policymakers and negotiators would have hoped to keep the issue low-key and under the radar, so to speak, a complex mix of basic political opposition, pacifist activism, anti-US sentiment, a personal tug-of-war between the center-right prime minister and the social-democratic opposition leader, as well as external Soviet-style power posturing by Russia, have brought the issue to the forefront of Czech public attention and to the center of the national political agenda (See The Prague-Washington swindle by Jeremy Druker for ISN Security Watch).

The radar proposal has triggered hunger strikes for and against the installation. Opinion polls show a 65 percent rejection rate by the Czech public, while Greenpeace has staged powerfully creative protests at the Brdy site. There have also been reports of foreign espionage infiltration at Brdy along with hints from Russia of possibly aiming its nuclear arsenal at the proposed site. Most recently, the Czech foreign minister threatened to resign over the issue.

Aside from placing the Czech Republic in the midst of the geo-strategic interests and defense planning processes of the two Cold War superpowers, the radar issue has also put a substantial strain on the ruling coalition government, which already faces the uphill battle of governing the country without a majority in parliament and has been dependent on opposition defectors or independents to push through legislation.

Indeed, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek's fragile and somewhat unlikely coalition of his own Civic Democratic Party (ODS) together with the Christian-Democrats (KDU-ČSL) and the Greens (SZ) has often been gridlocked through the staunch opposition of the Social-Democrats (ČSSD) and the non-reformed Communists (KSČM), as both blocks carry half of the votes in the 200 seat lower house of parliament.

While this volatile parliamentary stalemate has already hindered the coalition government from passing several important domestic bills, it makes it seem even less likely that the bilateral radar treaty with the US could win parliamentary ratification: Even several members of the government's own Green Party are against the measure despite the fact that their political figurehead, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, has been one of its most vocal proponents.

While, together with Schwarzenberg, Topolánek has made it a personal mission and a personal prestige point to push the radar treaty through, Topolánek's chief rival, Social-Democratic Party chairman and former prime minister Jiří Paroubek, has turned the radar into one of many personal vendettas between himself and Topolánek.

In the court of public opinion, Paroubek has so far prevailed and has tried to exploit the issue for his party's benefit. The fact that local and regional elections are scheduled to take place in the Czech Republic this fall is an added catalyst.

To what degree the regional electoral outcome and the division over the radar might bring down the government, or if Topolánek can hang on until the Czech Republic takes over the rotating presidency of the EU in January 2009, remains to be seen.

The large level of political uncertainty has led to some intriguing suggestions of possible deal-brokering between the rival fractions in parliament.

One such scenario entails the suggested provision of Social-Democratic support for radar in exchange for approval of the EU Treaty of Lisbon by the Euroskeptic Civic Democrats. The political viability and realistic feasibility of such a complex deal and compromise package, however, is far from certain and already faces many questions.

If and when the advanced X band radar presently installed at a US army base in the Pacific Marshall Islands will ever be moved to the Czech Republic is at this point very difficult to predict, as simply too many political uncertainties are still involved.

As if the instability or volatility of the Czech political make-up would not be complex enough on its own, the forthcoming January 2009 change in US presidential administration is sure to impact the issue if a radar deal has not been signed and sealed by the end of this year.

While it can be expected that an administration under Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain would probably carry on the radar framework as laid out by the Bush administration, it is not clear if his administration would be willing to offer as many political concessions or fringe benefits such as re-assurances of preferential security treatment to the Czech Republic and Poland, a proposed site for US interceptor missiles, in return.

How a Democratic administration under presumptive candidate Senator Barack Obama would treat the issue is only a matter of speculation at this point, but it can be assumed that under his presidency, the sense of urgency in investing into a costly European missile defense shield, locally opposed, politically unpopular and seen by Russia as cause for additional military posturing on its own part, would be rather subdued.

Indeed, Obama previously has gone on record detailing his unwillingness to push forward technically unrefined missile defense technologies and even hinted at possible investment cuts into further missile defense programs.

His stated desire to hold further talks with Russia on mutual reductions of nuclear arsenals and his unwillingness to spark a renewed global arms race could have major implications on the issue of missile defense in the heart of Europe.

The Bush administration's concept of placing major missile defense installations right into the former Eastern-bloc countries, which it has seen as part of the concept of a "New Europe," also runs contrary to Obama's stated goal of avoiding the creation of additional security divisions between the "New" and "Old Europe."

The fate of the proposed X band radar system in Central Europe is hence up in the air, just like the objects that it is designed to track. Rather than "flying under the radar," the issue will remain front and center on the political agenda and a lightning rod of public opinion for quite some time.





Andrew Thompson in an editor for the International Relations and Security Network (ISN) in Zurich.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not the International Relations and Security Network (ISN).