July 07, 2012

BALOCH FREEDOM-STRUGGLE: TIME FOR NEW STRATEGY



B.RAMAN

Against great odds, the Baloch freedom-fighters, who started their second war of independence in 2005, have managed to keep up their valiant struggle for the independence of their homeland.

2.Despite repression and torture by the Pakistani Army, its Frontier Corps and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the freedom-fighters, operating in different groups under different names, have managed to steadily weaken the hold of the Pakistani security forces and intelligence in their homeland and challenge the attempts of the Pakistani authorities to deprive the Balochs of their natural resources such as the Sui gas which were being diverted for the benefit of the Punjabis.

3. Despite repeated expressions of their interest in finding a political solution to the grievances of the Balochs ranging from greater and genuine autonomy to independence, the mainstream political parties of Pakistan such as the Pakistan People's Party of President Asif Ali Zardari and the two factions of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) led by Mr.Nawaz Sharif and ChaudhuryShujatHussain have not taken any action to withdraw the security forces from Balochistan, release all political prisoners and put an end to the obnoxious practice of missing persons.

4. Under this practice, Baloch youth perceived as hostile to the Army and the ISI are kidnapped by the intelligence agencies for illegal detention. They are projected by the police as having joined the militancy and hence missing from their homes. Weeks and months later, their mutilated bodies are found thrown in remote areas of the province.

5.The Pakistani Supreme Court as well as Pakistani human rights organisations and activists have increasingly drawn attention to the serious violations of the human rights of the Balochs and to the continuing obnoxious practice of missing persons. The Baloch grievances now receive greater attention from enlightened sections of the Pakistani society as well as political elements and human rights activists in the US and the European Union countries.In recent months, there was greater sympathy for Baloch rights in some sections of the US Congress.

6. The Baloch freedom-fighters operating from Balochistan and Baloch political activists in the Baloch diaspora in the US and Europe have for the first time succeeded in creating a growing understanding of the Baloch cause and the Baloch political and economic grievances.

7. The deterioration in the relations between Washington DC and Islamabad after the Abbottabad raid of May 2 last year by the US Navy Seals to kill Osama bin Laden also created for the first time greater empathy for the Baloch cause in sections of the US political circles. There was greater interest in what was happening in Balochistan and a greater dissemination of correct information regarding the real state of affairs in Balochistan. This was a positive gain for the Baloch freedom-struggle and a  significantstrategic step forward. From a war of tactics, the freedom-struggle seemed to be moving towards a strategic war with greater thinking and debate on a Baloch vision of the future.

8. No country in the world was officially prepared to support the Baloch freedom struggle. No State could have supported the freedom struggle and the objective of an independent Balochistan. That could have been projected by Islamabad as amounting to interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan.But there was growing sympathy for the Baloch cause and vision in sections of the civil societies of different countries.

9. Despite these strategic gains of recent months, the Baloch freedom-fighters are still far from their ultimate objective of an independent Balochistan.Lack of unity among different organisations in Balochistan itself and among different diaspora groups abroad continue to stand in the way of unity of action to give a final decisive push forward to the independence struggle.Unless the persisting factionalism and ego clashes among different Baloch leaders is put an end to and a unified leadership starts guiding the movement, the enormous sacrifices being made by Balochistan'sGenNext may prove to be in vain.This is an issue that needs attention from all Baloch leaders and activists.

10. They don't have the luxury of time. They already seem to have missed the window of opportunity provided by the intense distrust of the Pakistani Army and Intelligence in the US political and administrative circles after the Abbottabad raid and the US discovery that the Pakistan Army and its ISI, while pretending to fight against Al Qaeda and its associates, have actually been acting in collusion with them.

11. As the US Presidential elections approach in November next, the US itself as well as other NATO countries seem to be in a hurry to start the process of disengagement from Afghanistan. The recent  decision by the US to mend fences with Pakistan at least tactically if not strategically to facilitate the on-coming process of disengagement is likely to have unfortunate consequences for the Baloch freedom struggle.Those in the US, who had started evincing increasing interest in the Baloch cause and struggle, may start developing second thoughts about the wisdom of continuing to show empathy for the Balochs at a time when the US might need the co-operation of the Pakistani State to disengage from Afghanistan. At this time, when greater Baloch unity is needed, if the different groups continue to indulge in ego clashes, the State of Pakistan might be the beneficiary.

12. Since the beginning of this year, the Pakistani Army and ISI have been following an insidious new policy in Balochistan in an attempt to discredit the Baloch freedom-fighters in the eyes of Western public opinion as terrorists.There has been a wave of massacres of Shias in Balochistan---some settlers from Punjab and many members of the Hazara tribal community. Over 80 Shia fatalities have been reported in the last six months as a result of the targeted attacks on the Shias.

13. The Sunni extremist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) of Pakistan, which had helped the Afghan Taliban in carrying out massacres of the Hazara Shias of Afghanistan before the Taliban was overthrown in 2001, has claimed responsibility for some of these massacres in Balochistan. The Pakistan Army and ISI have not taken any action against the LEJ and to protect the Shias.Instead, one could discern the beginning of an insidious campaign by the ISI to project these massacres as carried out by sections of the Baloch freedom fighters because many of the Shias had migrated from Punjab.This insidious campaign needs to be effectively countered by theBaloch activists.

14. As the NATO powers start the process of disengaging from Afghanistan and seek the co-operation of the Pakistan Army and ISI for this purpose, support for the Baloch cause in sections of Western societies may freeze and even start declining.How to prevent this is a question that needs the serious attention of the strategists of the Baloch freedomstruggle.The Baloch vision will remain the same,but there is going to be a need for a new Baloch strategy to give shape to this vision at a time of unpredictable transition in Afghanistan.

15.The previous Baloch freedom struggle petered out after the Soviet disengagement from Afghanistan post-1988.History could repeat itself after the forthcoming NATO disengagement, unless the Baloch leaders unite and evolve a new strategy to meet the newly-developing situation. It has to be an indigenous strategy and not one spoon-fed from outside. (8-7-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-Mail: seventyone2@gmail.com . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Aurangzeb responsible for 4.6 million deaths

Aurangzeb responsible for 4.6 million deaths - Graphic from 'Population Control, Marauder Style', The New York Times Aurangzeb responsible for 4.6 million deaths

Why Turkey cannot go to war with Syria?




 
Having spent ten years in Turkey ( 1969-93 & 1992-98 ) and kept a watch on Turkey since 1967 , I have been dismayed by the events in and around Turkey in the last decade , some engineered by the Turks themselves ,  others beyond their control like the US led 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq , which fortuitously it did not join , thanks to strong peoples opposition and a non-committal Military .The military, a well organized and disciplined force and till now secular and stake holder in the country having helped Kemal Ataturk create it out of the ashes of the ruins of the defeated Ottoman empire after WWI , when the victorious and rapacious Europeans led by the British wanted to reduce the present state to one fourth of its current territory .
 
The autonomous military establishment has been fiddled with and weakened perhaps even as a war machine in the wake of arrest of many serving and retired senior officers including respected generals on not too believable charges by special courts, the kind which Ataturk used in 1930s against London conspiracies against the new republic after the British forces moved into Iraqi Kurdistan oil areas of Kirkuk after the ceasefire .Turkey has still hopes of recovering that area.
 
In spite of late President Turgot Ozal itching to get into the war into Iraq in 1991 , the Turkish military opposed it and military chief even resigned on this question . Turkey has little experience of a real full scale war since  WWI , and the War of independence against encroaching European forces from all sides , wherein Ataturk and the military made its reputation .
 
A Turkish brigade fought valiantly in the 1950s Korean war, to help entry into NATO .Since then a police action against the militia in Cyprus in 1974 has nothing to write home about .Yes it has fought a war of attrition against Kurdish rebellion in SE Turkey since 1984, in which 45,000 Turks mostly Kurds but including 5000 soldiers have lost their lives.
 
Syria was the base for the Kurdish PKK under the leadership of Abdullah Ocalan, now imprisoned in a prison near Istanbul. He was expelled from Syria in 1999 when following the collapse of USSR , Damascus sans its ally USSR was forced to send out Ocalan under threat of military attack from Turkey .Now Syria has full support of Russia , Iran and indirectly of China and Shia ruled Baghdad and Hezbollah in Lebanon .
 
After the expulsion of Ocalan and the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 , relations between Ankara and Damascus improved beyond recognition , but the revolt of the Arab masses against US supported dictators in the Middle East and Washington and Riyadh concern to divert the movements away from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf , and Riyadh's massive financial aid and support has made a mincemeat of FM Davutoglu's foreign policy of Zero friction with neighbours not helped by PM Erdogan's hot headedness and love for applause of Arabs ( for speaking out against Israel)  , now Sunni leaders if not the masses on its stand first on Libya and now Syria ..But it is not gonna be anything like that .Turkey has got itself into a real mess in its foreign policy ,with no friend around in neighbourhood.
 
Turkey should also remember that it's not happy population of Kurds is around 20% looking at Kurds in autonomous north Iraq , lording over oil revenues ( while Turkey has little) and about 15% Alevis, Shias like those of Iran and ruling minority Alwaite dominated leadership in Damascus .Turkey' border province of Hatay –Antakya( old Antioch) has a sizable Alevi population , and was awarded to Turkey after allegedly a rigged referendum by the West , which hoped that Ankara would join the Allies in WWII , in which it remained neutral as wisely advised  by Ataturk to his successors before his death in 1938 .Damascus then ruled by Sunnis did not object much but it has not given up hope .Whenever  the author crossed over to Syria while posted in Jordan ( 1989-92) , he found the Syrian border officers very friendly and hospitable but  also noticed that Hatay was shown inside Syria in its maps .
 
The Middle East is a tapestry of religions, beliefs, nationalities, ethnicities and languages which the Ottoman Sultans with their Turkestan's imperial and catholic outlook kept together by allowing them called Millets freedom in their beliefs, education, language and customs. It is estimated that the population of those who migrated from central Asia to Turkey is no more than 15% .The rest are local population who were Islamized and Turkified over centuries .Kurds, an Indo-Iranian people are indigenous, while the Turks entered what was known as Anatolia/Asia Minor in early 11th century when it was Byzantine empire and Istanbul was known as Constantinople.  
 
As perceptive diplomats have known, big powers can make deal at the cost of smaller nations, while still maintaining an adversial posture.
 
Read below what Pepe has to say in his inimitable style.  
 
K. Gajendra Singh 7 July 2012. Delhi
 
Why Turkey won't go to war with Syria
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan never saw it coming                                        By Pepe Escobar 6 July, 2012
 
He knew he was in trouble when the Pentagon leaked that the Turkish Phantom RF-4E shot down last week by Syrian anti-aircraft artillery happened off the Syrian coastline, directly contradicting Erdogan's account, who claimed it happened in international air space.
 
And it got worse; Moscow, via Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, offered"objective radar data" as proof.
 
There was not much to do except change the subject. That's when Ankara introduced a de facto buffer zone of four miles (6.4km) along the Syrian-Turkish border - now enforced by F-16s taking off from NATO's Incirlik base at regular intervals.
 
Ankara also dispatched tanks, missile batteries and heavy artillery to the 500 mile (800km) border, right after Erdogan effectively branded Syria "a hostile state".
 
What next? Shock and awe? Hold your (neo-Ottoman) horses.
 
Lord Balfour, I presume?
The immediate future of Syria was designed in Geneva recently, in one more of those absurdist "international community" plays when the US, Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council's Qatar and Kuwait sat down to devise a "peaceful solution" for the Syrian drama, even though most of them are reportedly weaponising the opposition to Damascus.
 
One would be excused to believe it was all back to the Balfour Declaration days, when foreign powers would decide the fate of a country without the merest consultation of its people, who, by the way, never asked them to do it on their behalf.
 
Anyway, in a nutshell: there won't be a NATO war on Syria - at least for now. Beyond the fact that Lavrov routinely eats US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for breakfast, Russia wins - for now.
Predictably, Moscow won't force regime change on Assad; it fears the follow-up to be the absolute collapse of Syrian state machinery, with cataclysmic consequences. Washington's position boils down to accepting a very weak, but not necessarily out, Assad.
 
The problem is the interpretation of "mutual consent", on which a "transitional government" in Syria would be based - the vague formulation that emerged in Geneva. For the Obama administration, this means Assad has to go. For Moscow - and, crucially, for Beijing - this means the transition must include Assad.
 
Expect major fireworks dancing around the interpretation. Because a case can be made that the new "no-fly zone" over Libya - turned by NATO into a 30,000-sortie bombing campaign - will become Syria's "transitional government", based on "mutual consent".
 
One thing is certain: nothing happens before the US presidential election in November. This means that for the next five months or so Moscow will be trying to extract some sort of "transitional government" from the bickering Syrian players. Afterwards, all bets are off. A Washington under Mitt Romney may well order NATO to attack in early 2013.
 
A case can be made that a Putin-Obama or US-Russia deal may have been reached even before Geneva.
 
Russia has eased up on NATO in Afghanistan. Then there was the highly choreographed move of the US offering a formal apology and Pakistan duly accepting it - thus reopening NATO's supply routes to Afghanistan.
 
It's crucial to keep in mind that Pakistan is an observer and inevitable future full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) - run by China and Russia, both BRICS members highly interested in seeing the US and NATO out of Afghanistan for good.  
 
The "price" paid by Washington is, of course, to go easy on Damascus - at least for now. There is not much Erdogan can do about it; he really was not in the loop.
 
Keep the division of labour intact
So here's the perverse essence of Geneva: the (foreign) players agreed to disagree - and to hell with Syrian civilians caught in the civil war crossfire.
 
In the absence of a NATO attack, the question is how the Assad system may be able to contain or win what is, by all practical purposes, a foreign-sponsored civil war.
 
Yes, because the division of labour will remain intact. Turkey will keep offering the logistical base for mercenaries coming from "liberated" Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebanon. The House of Saud will keep coming up with the cash to weaponise them. And Washington, London and Paris will keep fine-tuning the tactics in what remains the long, simmering foreplay for a NATO attack on Damascus.
 
Even though the armed Syrian opposition does not control anything remotely significant inside Syria, expect the mercenaries reportedly weaponised by the House of Saud and Qatar to become even more ruthless. Expect the not-exactly-Free Syrian Army to keep mounting operations for months, if not years. A key point is whether enough supply lines will remain in place - if not from Jordan, certainly from Turkey and Lebanon.
 
Damascus may not have the power to strike the top Western actors in this drama. But it can certainly wreak havoc among the supporting actors - as in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and, of course, Turkey.
 
Jordan, the weak link, a wobbly regime at best, has already closed off supply lines. Hezbollah sooner or later will do something about the Lebanese routes. Erdogan sooner or later will have to get real about what was decided in Geneva.
 
Moreover, one can't forget that Saudi Arabia would be willing to fight only to the last dead American; it won't risk Saudis to fight Syrians.
 
As for red alerts about Saudi troops getting closer to southern Syria through Jordan, that's a joke. The House of Saud military couldn't even defeat the ragtag Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen.
A final juicy point. The Russian naval base at Tartus - approximately a mere 55 miles (90km) away from where the Panthom RF-4E was shot down - now has its radar on 24/7. And it takes just a single Russian warship anchored in Syrian waters to send the message; if anyone comes up with funny ideas, just look at what happened to Georgia in 2008.
 
Time to shuffle those cards
Erdogan has very few cards left to play, if any. Assad, in an interview with Turkey's Cumhuriyet newspaper, regretted "100 per cent" the downing of the RF-4E, and argued, "the plane was flying in an area previously used by Israel's air force".
 
The fact remains that impulsive Erdogan got an apology from wily Assad. By contrast, after the Mavi Marmara disaster, Erdogan didn't even get an unpeeled banana from Israel.
The real suicidal scenario would be for Erdogan to order another F4-style provocation and then declare war on Damascus on behalf of the not-exactly-Free Syrian Army. It won't happen. Damascus has already proved it is deploying a decent air defence network.
 
Every self-respecting military analyst knows that war on Syria will be light years away from previous "piece of cake" Iraq and Libya operations. NATO commanders, for all their ineptitude, know they could easily collect full armouries of bloody noses.
 
As for the Turkish military, their supreme obsession is the Kurds in Anatolia, not Assad. They do receive some US military assistance. But what they really crave is an army of US drones to be unleashed over Anatolia.
 
Turkey routinely crosses into Northern Iraq targeting Kurdish PKK guerrillas accused of killing Turkish security forces.  Now, guerrillas based in Turkey are reportedly crossing the border into Syria and killing Syrian security forces, and even civilians. It would be too much to force Ankara to admit its hypocrisy.
 
Erdogan, anyway, should proceed with extreme caution. His rough tactics are isolating him; more than two-thirds of Turkish public opinion is against an attack on Syria.
 
It's come to the point that Turkish magazine Radikal asked their readers whether Turkey should be a model for the new Middle East. Turkey used to be "the sick man of Europe"; now Turkey is "becoming the lonely man of the Middle East", says the article.
 
It's a gas, gas, gas
Most of all, Erdogan simply cannot afford to antagonise Russia. There are at least 100,000 Russians in Syria - doing everything from building dams to advising on the operation of those defence systems.
 
And then there's the inescapable Pipelineistan angle. Turkey happens to be Gazprom's second-largest customer. Erdogan can't afford to antagonise Gazprom. The whole Turkish energy security architecture depends on gas from Russia - and Iran. Crucially, one year ago a $10bn Pipelineistan deal was clinchedbetween Iran, Iraq and Syria for a natural gas pipeline from Iran's giant South Pars field to Iraq, Syria and further on towards Turkey and eventually connecting to Europe.
During the past 12 months, with Syria plunging into civil war, key players stopped talking about it. Not anymore. Any self-respecting analyst in Brussels admits that the EU's supreme paranoia is to be a hostage of Gazprom. The Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline would be essential to diversify Europe's energy supplies away from Russia.
 
For the US and the EU, this is the real game, and if it takes two or more years of Assad in power, so be it. And it must be done in a way that does not fully antagonise Russia. That's where reassurances in Geneva to Russia keeping its interests intact in a post-Assad Syria come in.
 
No eyebrows should be raised. This is how ultra-hardcore geopolitics is played behind closed doors. It remains to be seen whether Erdogan will get the message.
 
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is named Obama Does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Top 5 Things Only Spies Used To Do (But Everyone Does Now)



http://sourcesandmethods.blogspot.com/2012/07/top-5-things-only-spies-used-to-do-but.html

There has been a good bit of recent evidence that the gap between what spies do and what we all do is narrowing -- and the spies are clearly worried about it.

GEN David Petraeus, Director of the CIA, started the most recent round of hand-wringing back in March when he gave a speech at the In-Q-Tel CEO Summit:
"First, given the digital transparency I just mentioned, we have to rethink our notions of identity and secrecy...We must, for example, figure out how to protect the identity of our officers who increasingly have a digital footprint from birth, given that proud parents document the arrival and growth of their future CIA officer in all forms of social media that the world can access for decades to come."
Richard Fadden, the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), added his own thoughts in a speech only recently made public:
"In today's information universe of WikiLeaks, the Internet and social media, there are fewer and fewer meaningful secrets for the James Bonds of the world to steal," Fadden told a conference of the Canadian Association of Professional Intelligence Analysts in November 2011. "Suddenly the ability to make sense of information is as valued a skill as collecting it."
Next I ran across a speech given by Robert Grenier, a former case officer, chief of station and 27 year veteran of the clandestine service, given at a conference at the University of Delaware.  In it, he describes the moment he realized that the paradigm was shifting (and not in his favor):
"Grenier said he came to realize the practice of espionage would have to change when he received a standard form letter at a hotel overseas, while undercover, thanking him for visiting again.  When he realized electronic records now tracked where he had been for certain date ranges, he said he knew the practice of espionage was going to have to change.  “It was like the future in a flash that opened up before my eyes,” Grenier said."
(Note:  While I could not embed the video here, the entire one hour speech is well worth watching.  The part of particular relevance to this post begins around minute 8 in the video.   This is, by the way, fantastic stuff for use in an intelligence studies class).

Finally  (and what really got me thinking), one of my students made an off-handed comment regarding his own security practices.  I needed to send him a large attachment and I asked for his Gmail account. In response, he gave me his "good" address, explaining that he only used his other Gmail address as a "spam account", i.e. when he had to give a valid email address to a website he suspected was going to fill his in-box with spam.

That's when it hit me.  Not only is it getting harder to be a traditional spy, it is getting easier (far easier) to do the kinds of things that only spies used to do.  The gap is clearly closing from both ends.

With all this exposition in mind, here is my list of the Top 5 Things Only Spies Used To Do (But Everyone Does Now) -- Don't hesitate to leave your own additions in the comments:

#5 -- Have a cover story.  That is precisely what my student was doing with his spam account.  In fact, most people I know have multiple email accounts for various aspects of their lives.  This is just the beginning, though.  How many of us use different social media platforms for different purposes?  Take a look at someone you are friends with on Facebook and are connected to on LinkedIn and I'll bet you can spot all the essential elements of a cover story.  Need more proof?  Watch the video below:


The only reason we think this ad is funny is because we intuitively understand the idea of "cover" and we understand the consequences of having that cover blown.

#4 -- Shake a tail.   It used to be that spies had to be in their Aston Martins running from burly East Germans to qualify as someone in the process of "shaking a tail."  Today we are mostly busy running from government and corporate algorithms that are trying to understand our every action and divine our every need, but the concept is the same.  Whether you are doing simple stuff like using a search engine likeDuckDuckGo that doesn't track you or engaging "porn mode" on your Firefox or Chrome browser, or more sophisticated stuff like enabling the popular cookie manager, NoScript, or even more sophisticated stuff like using Tor or some other proxy server service to mask your internet habits, we are using increasingly sophisticated tools to help us navigate the internet without being followed.

#3 -- Use passwords and encrypt data.  Did you buy anything over the internet in the last week or so?  Chances are good you used a password and encrypted your data (or, if you didn't, don't be surprised when you wind up buying a dining room set for someone in Minsk).  Passwords used to be reserved for sturdy doors in dingy alleyways, for safe houses or for entering friendly lines.  Now they are so common that we need password management software to keep up with them all.  Need more examples? Ever use an HTTPS site?  Your business make you use a Virtual Private Network?  The list is endless.

#2 -- Have an agent network.  Sure, that's not what we call them, but that is what they are:  LinkedIn, Yelp, Foursquare and the best agent network of all -- Twitter.  An agent network is a group of humans who we have vetted and recruited to help us get the information we want.   How is that truly different from making a connection on LinkedIn or following someone on Twitter?  We "target" (identify people who might be useful to us in some way), "vet" their credentials (look at their profiles, websites, Google them), "recruit" them (Easy-peasy!  Just hit "follow"...), and then, once the trust relationship has been established, "task" them as assets ("Please RT!" or "Can you introduce me?" or "Contact me via DM").  Feel like a spy now (or just a little bit dirtier)?

#1 -- Use satellites.  Back in 2000, I went to work at the US Embassy in The Hague.  I worked on a daily basis with the prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal For the Former Yugoslavia.  That collaboration, while not always easy, bore results like the ones that led US Judge Patricia Wald to say, "I found most astounding in the Srebrenica case the satellite aerial image photography furnished by the U.S. military intelligence  (Ed. Note:  See example) which pinpointed to the minute movements on the ground of men and transports in remote Eastern Bosnian locations. These photographs not only assisted the prosecution in locating the mass grave sites over hundreds of miles of terrain, they were also introduced to validate its witnesses’ accounts of where thousands of civilians were detained and eventually killed."  It is hard to believe that only 12 years ago this was state of the art stuff.

Today, from Google Earth to the Satellite Sentinel Project, overhead imagery combined with hyper-detailed maps are everywhere.  And that is just the start.  We use satellites to make our phone calls, to get our television, and to guide our cars, boats and trucks.  We use satellites to track our progress when we work out and to track our packages in transit.  Most of us carry capabilities in our cell phones, enabled by satellites, that were not even dreamed of by the most sophisticated of international spies a mere decade ago.

-----------------------

If this is today, what will the future bring?  Will we all be writing our own versions of Stuxnet and Flame?  Or, more likely, will we be using drones to scout the perfect campsite?  Feel free to speculate in the comments!
There has been a good bit of recent evidence that the gap between what spies do and what we all do is narrowing -- and the spies are clearly worried about it.

GEN David Petraeus, Director of the CIA, started the most recent round of hand-wringing back in March when he gave a speech at the In-Q-Tel CEO Summit:
"First, given the digital transparency I just mentioned, we have to rethink our notions of identity and secrecy...We must, for example, figure out how to protect the identity of our officers who increasingly have a digital footprint from birth, given that proud parents document the arrival and growth of their future CIA officer in all forms of social media that the world can access for decades to come."
Richard Fadden, the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), added his own thoughts in a speech only recently made public:
"In today's information universe of WikiLeaks, the Internet and social media, there are fewer and fewer meaningful secrets for the James Bonds of the world to steal," Fadden told a conference of the Canadian Association of Professional Intelligence Analysts in November 2011. "Suddenly the ability to make sense of information is as valued a skill as collecting it."
Next I ran across a speech given by Robert Grenier, a former case officer, chief of station and 27 year veteran of the clandestine service, given at a conference at the University of Delaware.  In it, he describes the moment he realized that the paradigm was shifting (and not in his favor):
"Grenier said he came to realize the practice of espionage would have to change when he received a standard form letter at a hotel overseas, while undercover, thanking him for visiting again.  When he realized electronic records now tracked where he had been for certain date ranges, he said he knew the practice of espionage was going to have to change.  “It was like the future in a flash that opened up before my eyes,” Grenier said."
(Note:  While I could not embed the video here, the entire one hour speech is well worth watching.  The part of particular relevance to this post begins around minute 8 in the video.   This is, by the way, fantastic stuff for use in an intelligence studies class).

Finally  (and what really got me thinking), one of my students made an off-handed comment regarding his own security practices.  I needed to send him a large attachment and I asked for his Gmail account. In response, he gave me his "good" address, explaining that he only used his other Gmail address as a "spam account", i.e. when he had to give a valid email address to a website he suspected was going to fill his in-box with spam.

That's when it hit me.  Not only is it getting harder to be a traditional spy, it is getting easier (far easier) to do the kinds of things that only spies used to do.  The gap is clearly closing from both ends.

With all this exposition in mind, here is my list of the Top 5 Things Only Spies Used To Do (But Everyone Does Now) -- Don't hesitate to leave your own additions in the comments:

#5 -- Have a cover story.  That is precisely what my student was doing with his spam account.  In fact, most people I know have multiple email accounts for various aspects of their lives.  This is just the beginning, though.  How many of us use different social media platforms for different purposes?  Take a look at someone you are friends with on Facebook and are connected to on LinkedIn and I'll bet you can spot all the essential elements of a cover story.  Need more proof?  Watch the video below:


The only reason we think this ad is funny is because we intuitively understand the idea of "cover" and we understand the consequences of having that cover blown.

#4 -- Shake a tail.   It used to be that spies had to be in their Aston Martins running from burly East Germans to qualify as someone in the process of "shaking a tail."  Today we are mostly busy running from government and corporate algorithms that are trying to understand our every action and divine our every need, but the concept is the same.  Whether you are doing simple stuff like using a search engine likeDuckDuckGo that doesn't track you or engaging "porn mode" on your Firefox or Chrome browser, or more sophisticated stuff like enabling the popular cookie manager, NoScript, or even more sophisticated stuff like using Tor or some other proxy server service to mask your internet habits, we are using increasingly sophisticated tools to help us navigate the internet without being followed.

#3 -- Use passwords and encrypt data.  Did you buy anything over the internet in the last week or so?  Chances are good you used a password and encrypted your data (or, if you didn't, don't be surprised when you wind up buying a dining room set for someone in Minsk).  Passwords used to be reserved for sturdy doors in dingy alleyways, for safe houses or for entering friendly lines.  Now they are so common that we need password management software to keep up with them all.  Need more examples? Ever use an HTTPS site?  Your business make you use a Virtual Private Network?  The list is endless.

#2 -- Have an agent network.  Sure, that's not what we call them, but that is what they are:  LinkedIn, Yelp, Foursquare and the best agent network of all -- Twitter.  An agent network is a group of humans who we have vetted and recruited to help us get the information we want.   How is that truly different from making a connection on LinkedIn or following someone on Twitter?  We "target" (identify people who might be useful to us in some way), "vet" their credentials (look at their profiles, websites, Google them), "recruit" them (Easy-peasy!  Just hit "follow"...), and then, once the trust relationship has been established, "task" them as assets ("Please RT!" or "Can you introduce me?" or "Contact me via DM").  Feel like a spy now (or just a little bit dirtier)?

#1 -- Use satellites.  Back in 2000, I went to work at the US Embassy in The Hague.  I worked on a daily basis with the prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal For the Former Yugoslavia.  That collaboration, while not always easy, bore results like the ones that led US Judge Patricia Wald to say, "I found most astounding in the Srebrenica case the satellite aerial image photography furnished by the U.S. military intelligence  (Ed. Note:  See example) which pinpointed to the minute movements on the ground of men and transports in remote Eastern Bosnian locations. These photographs not only assisted the prosecution in locating the mass grave sites over hundreds of miles of terrain, they were also introduced to validate its witnesses’ accounts of where thousands of civilians were detained and eventually killed."  It is hard to believe that only 12 years ago this was state of the art stuff.

Today, from Google Earth to the Satellite Sentinel Project, overhead imagery combined with hyper-detailed maps are everywhere.  And that is just the start.  We use satellites to make our phone calls, to get our television, and to guide our cars, boats and trucks.  We use satellites to track our progress when we work out and to track our packages in transit.  Most of us carry capabilities in our cell phones, enabled by satellites, that were not even dreamed of by the most sophisticated of international spies a mere decade ago.

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If this is today, what will the future bring?  Will we all be writing our own versions of Stuxnet and Flame?  Or, more likely, will we be using drones to scout the perfect campsite?  Feel free to speculate in the comments!

Crack the whip : Pakistan needs an Indian put-down




Puffed up by the US apology, Pakistan needs an Indian put-down, writes N.V.Subramanian.

6 July 2012: The failure of Indo-Pak talks should not come as a surprise especially after the US apology for killing Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan-Pakistan border. The United States needs Pakistan more than it likes and this indispensability will continue to fuel Pakistani belligerence against India. The best way out for India, therefore, is to seclude the US from Indian engagement of Pakistan, keep the South Asia element minimal in Indo-US relations' building, and generally approach strategic issues from wholly Indian perspectives and needs.

In a break from the Vietnam era, the United States has no stomach for long wars. That era was characterized by overall continuity between administrations in respect of displaying will to fight foreign wars. This continuity certainly magnified violence and tragedies and scarred affected portions of the world epically. But continuity also gave US allies confidence to make tactical and strategic investments in Pax Americana despite underlying fear of sudden end so brilliantly captured in the picturization of the song of The Doors.

All that changed with the termination of the Cold War. 9/11 and the September 2008 bankruptcies drove final nails in the coffin of Pax Americana. Rightly or wrongly, two terms of George W.Bush drove the United States to fight two wars in two Muslim countries. George Bush's successor, Barack Obama, was for early closure of the wars, and this has happened in Iraq, where the situation is worse than when the US intervened, and that is likely to be replicated soon in Afghanistan, where American troops are in pullout mode. America needs Pakistan for a tidy Afghan withdrawal and India must keep strictly away from their messy and insane bargaining.

India was correct to reject US pressure to establish a military footprint in Afghanistan. It's not so much about doing the US's dirty job as that the United States is an unreliable ally. Objectively speaking, India cannot have a military role in Afghanistan which has been the graveyard of big powers. But making plans on US assurances and guarantees is still more suicidal. For all the tough US talk against Pakistan, there was niggling fear that America would succumb to Pakistani pressure. And since American support to Pakistan (military and otherwise) has determined its behavior towards India, Pakistan was expected to play hardball during recent talks after the US apology. And so it has happened. Not all the evidence in the world will move Pakistan to shut down its anti-India terror assets.

So what lessons are to be learnt from recent events? Indo-US relations must follow a separate course from Indo-Pak ties. No hyphenation must be permitted. Where the United States needs India's tactical and strategic cooperation to punish Pakistani terrorism and nuclear proliferation, it must be given, with no reciprocation expected. But India should rebuff demands for Kashmir concessions or leniency on Siachen to make Pakistan more amiable for peace in South Asia and particularly towards India.

In other words, India must be reconciled to never finding peace with Pakistan. With the pre-eminence of the army in that country, peace can never come. The army leads the deep state. But such cruel understanding of Pakistan should also advise India what to do for a long time. It must do everything to prop up/ legitimize Pakistan's civil-democratic forces and fight the military's putschist propensity and anti-India terror policies. For that reason, back channels must remain open with Pakistan's top civilian leaders, including president Asif Ali Zardari and opposition leader Nawaz Sharief.

But no concessions should be made to Pakistan. It must be clarified to Pakistanis that India is not United States. It will not submit to nuclear or terror blackmail. Pakistan's best chance is for its civilian leaders to strengthen democratic institutions, contain the military's extra-constitutional ambitions, put the lid on disputes with India, and work for peace and prosperity in the sub-continent. These principles should guide India's engagement with Pakistan from where the US must be thoroughly excluded. It is only when Pakistan realizes that the US does not -- and won't -- matter in its relations with India that sense will dawn.
It is up to India to crack the whip.
N.V.Subramanian is Editor, www.newsinsight.net and writes on politics and strategic affairs.
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Shadow-boxing in the south China sea



Nayan Chanda | Jul 6, 2012, 10.18PM IST



Barely weeks after US defence secretary Leon Panetta's flag-waving visit to the region, the long-running South China Sea dispute is making waves. Following a stand-off with US ally, the Philippines, China has dispatched "combat-ready" surveillance vessels to the area and Manila raised the possibility of US spy planes overflying the contested waters to watch Chinese moves. This flurry of activities seems designed to extend respective physical control and change the reality on the ground. Possession, after all, is nine-tenths of the law.

The contest over the South China Sea islands surfaced as soon as the Vietnam War ended. Hanoi asserted its claim to the Paracel island, which erstwhile ally China had grabbed from the Thieu regime in the waning days of the war. The conflict since has slowly expanded, with claims from coastal neighbours like Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. China and Vietnam have taken control of islands, reefs and shoals, setting up military installations and observation posts.
China has drawn nine dash lines on the map covering most of the South China Sea as China's historic territory. Other countries have also projected lines demarcating territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), basing their claims on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. At stake in the burgeoning conflict are the rich energy and marine resources contained in the waters and the seabed.

The tensions led to a recent stand-off between China and the Philippines over fishing in Scarborough shoal - which falls within the Philippines' 200-mile economic exclusion zone. The tension was defused when the Philippines vessels, far outnumbered by the Chinese, were withdrawn. But since the April stand-off, a series of measures taken by both sides has steadily raised the temperature.

The May visit of US general Martin E Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, to the Philippines was followed by the country's president Benigno Aquino meeting with US presidentBarack Obama to secure strong US support. China on its part has deployed its first deep-water drilling rig near the disputed islands and its state-run oil company CNOOC invited foreign bids for exploring in blocks clearly within Vietnam's EEZ. In early June, Beijing followed up by announcing the creation of a military district covering the entire South China Sea and dispatched four "combat-ready" marine surveillance ships to "enforce law and order" in the territory it claims.

For the Philippines, with its rust bucket navy, the main defence has involved winning American support. Manila announced plan to host a US ground-based radar installation and to welcome the US back to its former naval and air bases. These moves were followed up this week with President Aquino revealing that the US may be invited to fly P3C Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft over what the Philippines now calls the West Philippine Sea. Basing those aircraft in the Philippines would be a logical next step. Not surprisingly, China has denounced Manila forstirring up the South China Sea issue as part of "its plots".

Since 2008 when the financial crisis convinced China of its supre-macy, Beijing has been aggressively asserting its rights to what it claims as its "historic waters". Both in terms of its deep-sea drilling technology and its capacity to enforce its claims on the South China Sea, China has never been stronger. The appearance of the US as an active player seems to have added urgency to Chinese moves to make its claims an on-the-ground reality. It had earlier scared off a western company from drilling in Vietnamese water. The Chinese have repeatedly disrupted Vietnamese oil explorations by cutting seismic research cables. Now, by deploying its own drilling rig in waters claimed by Vietnam and by providing patrols, Beijing wants to impress upon foreign companies that they can safely tap new energy resources.

The Philippines' attempts to use the threat of US surveillance as a scarecrow are unlikely to impress China. It had long contested US rights of spying near its coast and has been involved in several air and naval incidents with the US navy. The shadow-boxing might at best persuade American oil giants to stay away. For Beijing, apart from reinforcing its claims to the South China Sea, the rising tension with its neighbours may actually help to burnish the party's nationalist credentials in the run-up to its leadership succession.
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Bahrain: The Opposition Radicalizes

If you talk to Sunni Muslims about the plight of Shias , poor and downtrodden in most Sunni states , the Sunnis have as much time as Brahmin led high castes have for the grievances of Dalits .I had done a long piece as a retort to the typical Sunni manifest destiny attitude of One Pakistani author , Wahabi, salafi and Taleban loving Ayesha Siddiqa who had lambasted poor Saeed Naqvi on Shia Zardari's visit to Ajmer Sharif. It was copied by a few Pak blogs including Pushtun sites 

Criminal and corrupt west is deafeningly quiet at the ill treatment and abuse of Shias , a massive majority in Bahrain , next door to Saudi Arabia , or the plight of Shias who sit on rich oil resources in  Saudi areas adjoining Shia south Iraq. Kuwait has a big Shia population.thus needling Iran can have fatal blow back with martyrdom Shias weapon by tradition history and not a newly one of the Sunnis first faishonned to counter Soviets and now against  US led West .

Read latest on Shia majority Bahrain.Not a squeak form jet setting frustrated Lady Clinton , France , NATO and GCC Sunni states .West exploits it and has put on the course of a collision Shias against Sunnis  with Riyadh influenced Ankara too falling in the trap.

Bahrain: The Opposition Radicalizes

 
Joe Dyke AlAkhbar , Lebanon
 Friday, July 6, 2012

On Friday June 8, thousands of Bahrainis gathered on the outskirts of the capital Manama in what was expected to be another huge protest against ongoing government repression. But as the marchers assembled, they began to split into two groups, each trying to pull confused latecomers over to their side.

There were in fact two marches that day. One, which headed west, was sanctioned by the government as an official protest organized by the al-Wefaq political party, while the other, which headed east towards Pearl Square, was illegal and arranged by the loosely organized, more radical February 14.

The former was made up predominantly of middle-aged men and women chanting for political reforms, while the latter were largely young men, many with their faces covered, confronting security forces and calling for the downfall of the ruling al-Khalifa family.

Alaa Shehabi, a rights leader in Bahrain, said the protest was a major moment for the Bahraini opposition. "It was the first time the February 14 Coalition, on the back of al-Wefaq protests, managed not just to mobilize but really to sabotage it and take it in the other direction."

The opposition to the ruling al-Khalifa family in Bahrain has never been fully united: al-Wefaq has taken a more conciliatory tone and offered negotiations while February 14 has refused all dialogue on the basis that the regime has no legitimacy. Yet as the uprising which started last February has worn on, hostility between the two groups has intensified.
Jane Kinninmont, a Bahrain expert at Chatham House, says the failure of al-Wefaq to extract any meaningful concessions from the government is leading younger Bahrainis to radicalism.

The opposition to the ruling al-Khalifa family in Bahrain has never been fully united: al-Wefaq has taken a more conciliatory tone and offered negotiations while February 14 has refused all dialogue."There are those that think maybe we can negotiate at least some compromise with the government and there is a whole other element that say: 'we have woken up, we are not going to live under a monarchy any more,'" she says. "Their ranks have grown massively since the uprising started…(and) they are adopting an increasingly angry rhetoric towards groups like al-Wefaq."

While February 14 would never publicly condemn al-Wefaq, behind the scenes they accuse them of many acts including collusion with America. In a movement where anti-US sentiment is understandably high – the regime continues to buy weapons from America – such a claim is tantamount to an accusation of treason.
One senior February 14 activist, who prefers to remains anonymous, sees the fact that no senior al-Wefaq figures are currently in jail – when leaders linked to February 14 such as Nabeel Rajab have been arrested many times – as a sign of US dominance over the movement.

"Their strategy has failed but they have no other choice. Last year the government attempted to close al-Wefaq and another society. The government abandoned its decision after a clear call from the White House. This makes it clear that if Wefaq changes its tone and becomes more confrontational it will be closed down and the figures will be sent to jail – so they have no other choice," says the activist.

Fighting Violence With Violence?

If the momentum is with the more radicalized elements in the Bahraini uprising, there are questions over how their strategy may differ from al-Wefaq's. It is clear that they continue to oppose any negotiations and the activist stresses that they will never seek the government's permission to protest – instead organizing illegal marches.
As long as the images of men, women and children injured by security forces continue to pour onto the Internet, there is the danger more activists may resort to violence.

Kinnimont says there is some evidence that such a path is being pursued but stresses that it is still a very small minority. "There are increasing opposition documents being circulated on things like how to make a Molotov cocktail. There are discussion forums based in some of the Shia villages where some of the worst repression has been, and there are definitely young guys who are teaching each other how to make home-made explosives and things like that," she says.
Ali Mushaima, an activist who has sought refuge in London after his father was jailed, is one of the leading exiled Bahrainis calling for direct action. Earlier this year he took to the roof of the Bahraini embassy in London in a form of direct protest that briefly put the forgotten uprising back on the news agenda. There have even been accusations that he is calling for the opposition inside Bahrain to militarize. Mushaima denies these claims but says he will "do anything to help my country" but opposes all negotiations.

"Everyday, everywhere you have people shouting Down with (King) Hamad, demanding to change the regime in every village and police attack people every day. Even if al-Wefaq sit with al-Khalifa the people will not listen to what they decide or are talking about," he says.
"I will continue my protests. I don't have any special plans but I am always thinking of what I can do to support my people and to show everybody the facts in Bahrain," he adds.

Lack of support

There are increasing opposition documents being circulated on things like how to make a Molotov cocktail.While al-Wefaq's strategy of trying to change US policy appears to have failed, it is far from clear that February 14 have a more coherent one. With Bahraini government policy unlikely to change, the alliance risks running short on potential allies. While every activist Al-Akhbar spoke to stressed their opposition to Iranian influence in the region, Kinnimont thinks they may be forced to turn to Tehran.

"By regionalizing the conflict it does then encourage people to think 'where can we get backing.' So people that may have no love for Iran, if they see the West doing nothing and they see their enemies have got massive backing (in Saudi) then they are going to look for something. This is massively worrying."

The February 14 activist admits that the movement runs the risk of isolation, but believes the place they should look for change is not in the US, or Iran, but in Saudi Arabia. The autocratic regime has cracked down on opposition in its Eastern Province but the activist remained hopeful that change could rock the kingdom.
"We don't think the United States will change its stance but Saudi Arabia is not a stable country and as long as the revolution remains alive in Bahrain you need to watch out in Saudi."

BALOCHISTAN: Jumma Marri in The Bonn conference…


The Bonn conference…


by Jumma Marri on Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 5:49pm ·

My German visit to The Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum…


The Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum is a congress with international reach. It draws media representatives from around the world and people from the fields of politics, culture, business, development and science.


Baloch voice foundations an NGO formed by my friend Munir Mengal an active Baloch political activist and I were invited by this great forum to visit and take part in this great gathering.


There were more than 2000 participants from most countries of the world fortunately Balochistan was represented by me and Munir Mengal.


The conference started from 25th till 28th June had 50 different topics of discussions ranging between politics to social life and education, we had the opportunity to attend some of them.

During breaks we had meetings with different people both from journalist to political figures and we introduced Baloch sufferings and discussed them, Baloch issue is still left ignored due to lack of communication and information, western mass media journalists and public except for few most people does not have any idea about Balochistan and Baloch people this is because of ineffectiveness of Baloch Diaspora lack of unity and action.  

We had private meetings with many prominent people from different German political and media bosses they were all supportive to Baloch cause but had no first hand information about Balochistan as one must know high profile people are always on the move they have no time to watch TV news or read news papers this means only direct interactions with them will give them some information and may lead to some action plans.

I  had handshake and 5 minutes standing talks with German foreign minister told him about the appalling situation in Balochistan and human rights violations there the German minster said I regret to tell you that there are still forces on earth who try to solve political issue with medieval cruelty and inhuman methods and said we stand for human rights and human dignity and we will keep reminding every nation the standing resolutions of UN and  UN charter for human rights and declarations which all members states signed and he left…


Only with first meeting Mr. Erik Bettermann the director general of Deutsche Welle he called his assistants to meet and discuss and help with all possible ways the needs of Baloch people, soon we had many meetings with his assistance we demanded air time for Balochi programmes both TV and Radio, we were given green light, TV programmes were promised weekly 3 hours and radio daily 30 minutes.

We meet with director general of DW-academy Dr. Helmut Osang who train journalists from many different countries on scholarships and exchanges bases, he promised to help train Baloch talented journalists in their academy

We meet with very interesting person who is very senior person in German political circles he is Dr Heinrich Kreft who spoke very strongly against Pakistani genocide against Baloch people he is the person who advises his govt on Asian affairs and policy making, he questioned that western world still cannot digest that fact how come Pakistani military establishment hide and not know where Osma bin ladin was?  He advised us to be more proactive and not miss any avenue to raise Baloch issues internationally, he invited me personally to visit Berlin from 9th and 10th July to attend German parliament meetings and read five minutes small statement about Balochistan informing us how the human rights are being violated in Balochistan under the watchful eyes of western powers he said Pakistan is yet to regret that…


Now my friend Mr. Sergio Grassi who chairs desk office for south African departments Division for international cooperation said he is very much interested with Asian Affairs since he worked for Chinese desk many years after one year he will again lead South Asian affairs and he will study Baloch affairs and advise his Govt to take tougher stand on Pakistan who kills Baloch people without any mercy in order to loot their resources and expend their fundamentalist empire in western boarders since they cannot expend east due to strong powers like china and India.

Meet many foreign delegates who spoke in favour of Baloch national freedom justice and equality…

We were invited as privileged delegates and guests for 60th anniversary of Deutsche Welle…

Now the questions arises do we have the right people to fulfill the task we requested? Those TV progamme makers the radio programme planers and broadcasters with international standards it is not easy to finish the task with one meeting it is ongoing process to meet and settle all outstanding issues can we afford to revisit the expensive western capitals  and stay there and handle issues and problems? 


Baloch parties leaders and activist in Diaspora and back home must stand together to show the world their Baloch national identity today Baloch are welcomed internationally their pains are heard with attentions but the problem is that there are no one to tell them….we are either divided or short of funds to travel and meet the people… we have no international financial supporters Baloch so called leaders are busy with business and rich do not care whose own life is peaceful enough to care for Baloch national cause, they have enough waters to drink and swim in… where to turn for help only Allah knows…


I strongly condemn the egoist self-proclaimed so called Baloch leadership who does nothing to promote Baloch affairs but if given any chances try to promote their self and protect their own interests and are absolutely not interested or worried about Baloch unity or have any interests of dialogue with rest Baloch they need shoes cleaners which they have few and their fairy tales about independence has no substances at all…as long as their business and photo secession goes smooth they do not care about the rest…


We lack everything we are doing nothing to help our people let us be frank and self critics if we were united and dedicated we could move the world… after recent US congressional hearings for two months Balochistan was main focus of discussions both in Pakistani media and Baloch people now the dust has settled down everybody forgot Balochistan once again Baloch peoples sufferings are on steep rise both in lives and economically…


We missed many golden chances before and I’m afraid we will miss this last chance also, international community will not wait and see when Baloch might unite and show their strength to be counted as serious players in their back yards if we stay divided and ineffective like this within few years….they will find other partners and turn their back to us, we still have time to unite and play our cards cleverly and effectively….more comments are to come Insha’Allah…