July 05, 2013

TWEET of the day

Subramanian SwamyWhat is a Communist like Javed Akhtar doing on the Board of Directors of Jet Airways--reading out poetry for finance?

We are ready to merge with BJP: Janata Party

Manmonia's FSB: 3% of GDP

Surjit S Bhalla : Sat Jul 06 2013, 03:10 hrs

The food security bill, sorry emergency ordinance, if implemented honestly, will cost 3 per cent of the GDP in its very first year

We have an emergency of the rarest order. The BJP stops Parliament and therefore the government passes an emergency privilege provided by the Constitution to pass the food security ordinance.

The bill, sorry ordinance, wants to provide food to the poor in order to eliminate poverty. This, according to the Congress, was Sonia Gandhi’s dream, and indeed was part of the Congress manifesto in 2009. Again, if Congress spokespersons are to be believed, this is a pathbreaking attempt to eliminate poverty. It will give the poor a legal right to claim their 5 kg of rice, wheat or coarse cereals a month at the subsidised rates of Rs 3, 2, and 1 per kg, respectively.

This act-to-be follows the same pattern and motivation as the employment guarantee act passed in 2005. At that time, the Congress had claimed this would provide much-needed employment to the poor, that it was something “new” being offered. They never once mentioned that government-guaranteed employment was first provided by the state of Maharashtra, and since the early 1980s, it has been part of Central government schemes. The food security bill (FSB) is merely an extension of the public distribution system of foodgrains that has been in operation by all Central governments since the late 1970s.

The import of this is to partly nail the blatant spin (lie!) that the Congress government is adding to its list of scams. But they can be forgiven, because this is an election year and by all accounts, the Congress is desperate. From a policy point of view, the relevance is that Indian governments and polity have considerable experience with employment guarantee schemes, as well as food distribution schemes. What does this experience tell us?

Another claim by the Congress is that the FSB will provide a legal right to the poor for the food, just as MGNREGA has provided a legal right to the poor for employment. And the poor can sue the government for lack of food or jobs — surely, the most advanced welfare system in the world, and something India, and especially the Congress, should be justly proud of.

The NREGA has been in the works since 2005-06, and for all of India since 2008-09. So there is five years of concentrated experience with employment provision to the poor. Fortunately, to date, no rich and, especially, no poor person has sued the government for lack of employment, so it must be the case that the poor are fully satisfied and employed for at least the 100 days provided by the act. Then why is it that over two-thirds of the beneficiaries of the scheme were not only not poor in 2009-10, but their average consumption was 50 per cent higher than the average expenditure of the poor beneficiaries? And these non-poor doing back-breaking NREGA work were in the top third of the distribution! Only two conclusions are possible — the middle-class rich are not doing back-breaking work, or there is a lot of corruption in the NREGA scheme (the dictionary defines a scheme as “to make plans, especially in a devious way or with intent to do something illegal or wrong”.) So that is why there have been no legal suits, even though there is lack of jobs for the poor (even the government admits to that fact) and the NREGA has not been able to spend the money allocated to it in any of the last five years.

There is little doubt that NREGA is plagued with corruption — what may be news to the “governance by ordinance” wallahs is that the PDS of food grains, whose operations the government will only multiply, is, on proven evidence, many times more corrupt than even NREGA.

Before proceeding further, I want to set up some ground rules for discussion of the FSB and the poor. In a recent panel discussion on CNN-IBN, noted food security expert and principal advisor to the commissioners of the Supreme Court, Biraj Patnaik, alleged that I “molested” poverty data. For long, I have held the belief that policy discussion should be centred on evidence, not ideology, and especially not, “you have to believe me because I am arguing for the benefit of the poor”. Hence the title of my column, “No Proof Required”. So when you look at the evidence presented in this article (above, below and in the table) please inform me which piece of data, or estimate, or conclusion, is incorrect, and whose evidence is proof of molestation.

The estimates contained in the table are from the recently released NSS consumer expenditure data for 2011-12. It presents calculations for the subsidy involved if governance by ordinance becomes law. Two columns are presented, one, a fact-based assessment of what happened in 2011-12, and the other, if the FSB was implemented faithfully, as I am sure the Congress, and Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi (hereafter Manmonia) would want to do. After all, they are honourable persons.

The simplest possible summary of the subsidy is as follows (tell me where I am wrong or mad or molesting). Assume the subsidy in year BFSB (before the bill) is 100. According to NSS data, only 45 per cent of the population was accessing the PDS in 2011-12. With the bill, it will be 67 per cent. So, based on greater coverage alone (the better for elections, my dear), the subsidy will increase to (100*67/44.5), or 150.

The NSS data states that in 2011-12, average PDS consumption was 2.1 kg per person per month. So, with greater consumption, the subsidy bill increases to (150*5/2.1), or 357.

But because India is growing so fast and can afford largesse, and it is Sonia Gandhi’s explicit dream to introduce the FSB (and the Congress’s manifesto promise), the subsidy per kg will increase from Rs 13.5 per kg to Rs 16.5 (with weighted market price staying constant at Rs 19, the subsidised price declines from Rs 5.5 to Rs 2.5 per kg.) This increases the subsidy to (357*16.5/13.5) 436.

In 2011-12, the total food subsidy (government figures) was Rs 72,000 crore. So, after the FSB, food subsidy expenditures will be Rs 72,000*4.36, or Rs 3,14,000 crore, or 3 per cent of the GDP.

This is an open challenge to Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram. Your minions are stating that the ordinance-induced food subsidy bill will only increase by about 25 per cent and will amount to 1 per cent of the GDP. I get a conservative increase of 336 per cent, or a total subsidy level of 3 per cent of GDP with an honest implementation of the bill, sorry ordinance. One of us is massively wrong. I believe it is not me. But prove it otherwise.

The writer is chairman of Oxus Investments, an emerging market advisory firm, and a senior advisor to Blufin, a leading financial information company

July 04, 2013

Crying wolf, foreign agendas and Israel's role in destabilising Syria

As Assad's brutal crackdown continues on opposition protesters, calls for foreign intervention are becoming more common.
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2012 08:34

Suva, Fiji - It's been a dismally predictable, transparent and nasty lie by regimes under assault in the Arab Spring that the mass uprisings are being whipped up by foreign agitators - usually meaning Israel and the United States, maybe France, Europe generally, now sometimes Turkey or, heaven forfend, Al Jazeera journalists. Only the most gullible swallow these claims: their principal effect is to make the claimants look like buffoons.

Still, a government's crying wolf doesn't mean a wolf isn't around somewhere. It's equally gullible to assume that foreign agendas have no role in Syria, for example.

The flood of western money, supplies, intelligence agents, satellite and drone monitoring and promises of every kind has been lavish everywhere in the Arab Spring. They have been serving outside interests in the time-honoured way of all revolutions: identifying new clients for backroom deals, playing on big-man ambitions, fostering cupidity where it was only a seed, manipulating jealousies and fears, playing off old internecine vendettas and, the new favourite, heating up sectarian bigotry. If these machinations are more low-profile in Syria, this doesn't mean they aren't operating.

The interests driving this foreign involvement haven't changed in decades: the geopolitics of oil and, as a related but also self-standing issue, Israel. These are constants, and don't tell us much. Less obvious is the exact strategy serving these goals, particularly the subtext of ostentatious calls for "democracy". Democracy became a foreign policy goal for Western powers during the Cold War when inept dictator allies kept triggering revolutions against themselves and toppling. The real goal of "democracy" was stability: instability served only where a great power wanted to pick a fight over influence.

Since the end of the Cold War, Western interests have focused almost exclusively on stability, that pillar of pax economicus beloved by investment bankers, primary-product extractors and tourism developers everywhere - with one exception: the Middle East. The hypocrisy of Western democracy promotion in the Middle East has been described too much to need further mention here, but it does bear pointing out that instability is preferred by at least one key player: Israel.

Israel's track record of fostering regional unrest is an old story. It's now a well-worn observation that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq - which dismayed the whole world and shattered US credibility in foreign affairs - was a splendid success from the perspective of its pro-Israel architects. Their core goal in promoting the war was to eliminate Iraq as a military threat to Israel and this miracle has been neatly accomplished. Oh, sure, Iraqi society is now a bomb-cratered version of its former self, but that too is a friendly outcome - insurance against a strong Iraqi state ever rising again.

Fomenting instability

And yes, it's a reckless strategy, as Iraq's splitting along ethnic and sectarian lines has created an incubator for al-Qaeda. But security-services exporters like the US and Israel are raking up big bucks in the war on terror, so a rosy aura of dollar signs hovers even over that grim prospect. Otherwise, any chance of Iraqi civil strife morphing into an independent military role for Iraq on the regional stage is securely blocked by a thick net of US arms deals and private contracts.

Rub hands together and smile.

Reducing Iraq to a bloody morass of sectarian vendettas was hardly the first such victory for Israel. It's too often forgotten these days that Israel also stoked the bloody Lebanese civil war by funding and arming its proxy Maronite Christian allies against the PLO and Sunni factions - pumping up old schisms that might otherwise have resolved more quietly. The scars of that war, which still run deep for Lebanese, still secure benefits to Israel. Even the rise of Hezbollah has not unparalysed Lebanon's foreign policy, securing Israel's northern border.

And Lebanon was no accident. It behooves us to recall also what was once a much-cited article by Israeli analyst Oded Yanon, "A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s", whose gist was reproduced in that notorious 1996 neo-con manifesto, "A Clean Break" which framed the war in Iraq. Writing in 1982, while the Lebanese civil war was still raging, Yanon outlined Israel's interests in whipping up ethnic and sectarian conflict:

Lebanon's total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world, including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula, and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically and religiously unique areas, such as in Lebanon, is Israel's primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target.

Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure... This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today... Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon.* (emphasis added)

Since Israel has followed this template ever since, remembering Yanon's piece lets us read some errant tea leaves of the Syrian opposition's present debates. That opposition is a mixed bag, with sharp disagreements, particularly about external intervention, as well as whether, when and how to negotiate with the government. These disagreements are certainly sincere and most are principled. Left alone, consensus could gel. But Israel's interests, which weave through them like a fog, run in a different direction: to steer Syrian events away from any process that will generate a representative, stable and strong country in the long run.

Far preferable for Israel is to keep things polarised to ensure a catastrophic internal crisis that will dismantle Syria's security forces, permanently fragment its political elite and paralyse domestic politics in bitter internecine squabbles (with rival foreign supporters), which as a package will ensure that a strong state can't be rebuilt. Thus Syria's independent role in the region would evaporate and Israel's foreign policy prerogatives will be secured.

Even more perfect would be a Syrian collapse defined by sectarian bigotry, a game at which Israel enjoys grand mastery.

Of course, Israel bases its whole existence ideologically on the premise that the Middle East and the world at large are entirely steered by bigotry, but this worldview has also proved useful as realist foreign policy. It's always easy to turn idle biases into rabid racism. The Mossad is also brilliant at infiltrating Arab movements, as Palestinians will bitterly attest, and has been sending agents across the Syrian border to gather intelligence and stoke "tribal" divisions for decades. It can certainly do this with much greater facility now that the country is in such upheaval.

Hence it's only sensible to assume that Israeli plants are all over the Syrian movement, among and within factions, playing off arguments about best ways forward. And as Israel's best outcome is crisis, polarisation and violence that will generate a weak Syria in the end, those arguing about negotiating with the regime must consider which of the voices rejecting negotiation are sincere and which are Israeli hand-puppets.

Destroy the whole political order

Israel's game would therefore find great advantages in the troubling tendency of the Arab Spring to equate "regime change" with ejection of a hated head of state. It's the age-old passion of the oppressed to storm the castle with pitchforks and eject the tyrant - the cruel duke, extortionist tax collector, kleptocratic mayor or feral queen - and send him or her packing. Regime change in such revolts not usually the goal: satisfaction is gained by getting a marginally more decent duke, tax collector, mayor or queen.

If true regime change is desired - that is, change in the whole political order - then fixating on removing one figure will expend a movement's energies on political drama yet leave the regime intact, like waves crashing on rocks and sending up spray. To move the rocks, a different calculus must be made.

A quick look across the Arab world confirms that regime change faces very different conditions. Yes, where state power and wealth are concentrated in a single venal family, as in Tunisia, whole chunks of the regime can be forced onto a couple of planes and shipped out, leaving the power bloc sufficiently weakened yet the shell of government sufficiently functional for reformers to wrangle real if tortuous change over months and years. But this strategy can backfire elsewhere.

If a thuggish dictator rules through a powerful party with institutionalised monopolies over force and terror, as in Saddam's Iraq, upon his removal, the regime may indeed crack and splinter, yet leave dangerously strong shards fighting over a new order that may emerge as worse. (Of all the dreadful conditions that humanity invents for itself, the most likely to favour the nefarious climbers is unpremeditated anarchy.) If a dictator has avoided creating any party and kept the government institutionally weak in order to use private channels to dispense favours and foster jealousies among the population in order to defuse any united opposition, as Gaddafi did in Libya, then upon his removal, not only the government, but the nation itself (which was indeed prevented from properly existing) may shatter into a thousand pieces.

In all these examples, the state is brittle and easily cracked; what varies is the aftermath. By contrast, a more institutionally sophisticated and rugged regime, as in Egypt, can prove much more resilient. Under Mubarak, security elites have become fused with economic elites: the state's diverse arms function like one machine with big business.

Hence its members do not rely on a figurehead but on each other, and will tend to close ranks in a crisis.

This resilience explains why mass mobilisation in Egypt has not (yet) seriously dented the culture of state power: mass revolt has no direct way to challenge the military's vast and iron grip on the national economy. Egypt even lacks an independent business sector that might become alienated from the state and defect to use its economic clout on behalf of the revolt. And since Egypt's ruling, generals enrich themselves by holding that clout themselves, they can hardly find compensation in the dignity of returning to the barracks. They have everything to lose from democracy, and know it (as Steven Walt has recently pointed out in Foreign Policy).

Hence, the mistake of the January movement in focusing so specifically on Mubarak. Yes, Mubarak built and ran Egypt's regime, but it can run just fine without him. In other words, it was not "his" regime. Going by their frequent references to "the regime of President Bashir al-Assad", Syrians have not quite grasped that they face the same dilemma. The Syrian regime is smaller and less wealthy, and now haemorrhaging members and legitimacy daily, but it's still a regime durable enough to change leaders in a crisis.

With or without Assad

The durability of the regimes in Syria and Egypt does not mean that mass revolution is doomed or should stop. On the contrary: only by making a country ungovernable can a democratic movement force a repressive state elite to consider robust reform. Until elites are convinced of this, it is indisputably pointless, even ruinous, to negotiate with a government that is still murdering and torturing its opponents with impunity. At best, the regime will negotiate only to save its own skin and make as few reforms as possible, while awaiting its moment to regain the high seat and wreak vengeance on those who dared to trust it, as we have seen in Egypt and Bahrain.

But the plain truth is that mass street action alone can't dismantle the deeper structure of power that makes up these regimes. To go after a whole regime, in a strong state like Syria, requires leveraging the leadership into real negotiations toward staged reform. This calls for careful and sober political midwifery, rather than grand gestures focussed on symbolic targets whose fall may only veil the regime's survival.

The trick is to persuade those whose main interest is their own wealth and privileges that the system which secured those privileges is unsustainable and preserving them requires a new one. Truly convince state elites of this and they will suddenly show themselves willing to discuss change on profound levels.

Such is the lesson from South Africa, anyway. Or they will be willing to ship themselves out - with amnesty, of course. Amnesty is treated by activists in Egypt these days as a dirty word, but they can take a hint from Latin American revolutionaries, who in several cases found it the best way to get the bastards out in the end without killing and maiming yet more innocent people.

This elite shift should be helped by a quantum change, already observable, in how power politics will operate in the 21st century. Repressive states all around the world are already discovering that their old tactics are not working - that they can no longer neutralise mass unrest through deceit, bribery, terror and local proxies with the same facility - because cyberspace has wrecked their capacity freely to steal, cheat, terrorise and lie their way to public passivity. Thus the Arab Spring is signalling an irrevocable change in how state power works.

In these new conditions, it isn't clear whether the old wolf pack of "foreign interests" can adapt. One of the most fascinating aspects of the Arab Spring has been watching western powers slip and stumble around this new environment.

Since the end of the cold war, trillions of dollars and euros have been spent in the Middle East and west Asia on war, regime change, hearts-and-minds development projects, "Free This-or-That" broadcast media, winging and dining proto-leaderships, grooming activists in multi-million-dollar "democracy camps" - all the old Cold War methods, still lumbering arthritically along, not to mention outright invasions or massive air campaigns at costs so stratospheric as to exceed mortal imagination.

Yet, as western foreign policy instruments, evidence of success from this cornucopia is paltry, as the assassinations, massacres, torture and general hypocrisy that have also been part of this package are exposed and tweeted in seconds among millions.

Consider the results: say, Karzai's leadership in Afghanistan - not only limited, corrupt and inept, but peppered with regular scathing denunciations of US military methods and presence. Or the Maliki government's chilly boycott of those dour ceremonies marking the US military "withdrawal" from Iraq. Or serious dissent in now-fragmented Libya about whether western powers should have the expected access to the country's wealth. Or the Egyptian military government's actually attacking human rights offices funded by its US patron.

Add to this the open sneers and hostile chants by millions of pro-democracy demonstrators in the street disgusted with US and European "pro-democracy" hypocrisy. The cold war never saw such graphic embarrassments follow great-power patronage so consistently and swiftly.

Still, foreign intervention is playing the game with frightening skill in one respect. Those seeking instability, as the ticket to weak states, have proved expert at inflaming latent sectarian devils and turning once-tolerant societies into cauldrons of snarling ethnic paranoias.

So while we sneer at transparently bogus state claims that foreign agitators are the true moteurs of these mass rebellions, we should still take heed: at least one wolf is prowling in the fold.

Virginia Tilley is Director of Governance Studies at the University of the South Pacific at Suva and author of The One-State Solution and many articles and essays on Middle East politics, some of which appear on her blog, Unpetrified Opinion.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

The Great War’s End in Syria

Jaswant Singh on Monday, 1 July 2013

As the West begins to gear up for the centenary of the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Middle East is being convulsed as never before by the legacy of the Ottoman Empire’s breakup. Look no farther than Syria, where one part of that legacy – the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the Levant into British and French spheres of influence even while the Great War still raged – is coming to a brutally violent end.
Likewise, the current turmoil in Turkey is, at least in part, a consequence of “neo-Ottoman” overreach by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government. In seeking to establish the type of regional influence that Turks have not had since Kemal Atatürk founded the Republic of Turkey, Erdoğan has fallen prey to some of the Ottoman regime’s hubris.

The Levant has, of course, been the scene of countless conflicts through the centuries. Sir Archibald Wavell, one of Britain’s greatest World War II generals and the penultimate Viceroy of India, wrote in his biography of the WWI Field-Marshal Edmund Allenby, who led the Allies in the Levant: “The greatest exploit in the history of horsed cavalry, and possibly their last success on a large scale, had ended within a short distance of the battlefield of Issus, where Alexander the Great first showed how battles could be won.”

But peace still eludes the Levant. As Middle East analyst Murtaza Hussain recently observed: “Syria and Iraq, formerly unified Arab states formed after the defeat of their former Ottoman rulers, exist today only in name.” What will emerge could be a fragmented, easily manipulated region.

This is why Syria’s civil war is now a geopolitical battle for regional domination, with multiple fractures along sectarian lines. As is now clear, no country is really free of the charge of interfering in Syria. While Shia-majority Iraq has attempted to portray itself as neutral, it has permitted Iranian flights to use its airspace to carry weapons to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Iran, too, has long used its alliance with Syria to pursue its interests in the Levant, which include support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. On the ground, Hezbollah, now openly fighting in Syria to keep Assad in power, asserts that “war is coming to Aleppo,” the ancient city that is the heart of the anti-Assad rebellion.
Indeed, according to Lakhdar Brahimi, who serves as Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria, there are an estimated 148 groups, big and small, fighting in the country. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – which Middle East commentator Saeed Naqvi has called the “most vulnerable Sunni Kingdoms” – attempt “to divert popular discontent along sectarian, Shia-Sunni lines.”
This ancient fracture, papered over by Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot 97 years ago in their secret agreement, has now swallowed Syria, with Assad portrayed as some sort of Alawite ogre. Many Western diplomats appear to be of the same superficial cast of mind as Sykes and Picot, believing that Assad’s fall from power would remove Syria from the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas axis.
But will it? And who or what will replace Assad? Surely not the ragtag groups fighting Assad’s regime, even if the United States now supplies some of them with arms, as President Barack Obama’s administration recently announced.
Recent history suggests just how malleable the elements in play in Syria really are. Consider Saudi Arabia’s actions there. As Bruce Riedel, an ex-CIA analyst and former National Security Council member, recently noted, “Ironically, [Saudi intelligence chief Prince] Bandar was crucial to the transition in Syria from Hafez Assad to Bashar back in 2000, assuring key Alawite generals, then in the regime, that Bashar was up to the job and had Saudi support.” Now the same Prince Bandar “is trying to get arms to the Sunni rebels to oust Bashar.”

Such long-term unpredictability is why the former European Union foreign-policy high representative Javier Solana and former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer assert that talks in Geneva are the only viable way out of the Syrian morass. An agreement last month between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov to launch a new political process for Syria, Geneva II, marked a possible opportunity; but hope is waning even before the talks begin.

Indeed, one reason for this is that, on the opening day of the Russia-EU Summit in Yekaterinburg on June 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that his country will honor its contract with Syria to deliver S-300 surface-to-air missiles. Putin stressed Russia’s disappointment over the EU’s failure to maintain the arms embargo against Syria, thus permitting each EU member state to arm the Syrian rebels.

Now, with Obama’s decision to send arms as well, his “red line” in Syria – the use of chemical weapons – could well create a legacy as damaging to the region as that of the Sykes-Picot “line in the sand” proved to be. To arm the rebel groups is, perhaps inevitably, also to arm their terrorist and mercenary allies. That is not a recipe for long-term stability.

This article was originally published by Project Syndicate. It is republished here with their generous permission.

Cartoon of the day

Rupee tumbles down a bottomless pit

Ishrat's diary shows LeT links: Gujarat police

By Our Special Correspondent

AHMEDABAD, JUNE 20. The Gujarat police today claimed that Ishrat Jahan Raza, who was killed in a police shootout here on Tuesday along with three other alleged terrorists, was working as "secretary" to Javed Sheikh who was driving the car.

According to the Additional Police Commissioner (Crime Branch), D.G. Vanjhara, the diary recovered from Ishrat's bag after the shootout revealed her links with the terrorists. Police called the statements made by Ishrat's mother, Shamima Raza, before the media after taking her daughter's body to Mumbra in Thane, a "lie". What she revealed before the Ahmedabad police during questioning corroborated some of the facts mentioned in the diary.

She had told police that Javed lived in Mumbra for about three years in the late 1990s during which time they had "family relations." Javed later left for Dubai where he came into contact with the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba agents and after his return, operated as its co-ordinator in India. He had taken Ishrat into confidence. She worked as a "cover" and secretary.

Ishrat maintained in her diary an account of the funds received through Javed for various terrorist activities. She had noted down that she received Rs. 4.8 lakhs, of which she paid Rs. 1.06 lakhs to Salim, alias Bunty, one of the two Pakistani nationals killed in the encounter. Police recovered Rs. 2.06 lakhs in Indian currency from the car involved in the shootout.

Mr. Vanjhara said that Ishrat along with Javed had earlier come to Ahmedabad twice and the last time they came here, on May 13, they stayed at the Shivganga hotel. They visited Gandhinagar to study the movements of the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, the security arrangements around his residence and his offices and the routes he took to reach the Secretariat. Police have seized the register of the hotel.

During the last month, Salim had been staying at Ishrat's residence in Mumbra and her mother was aware of his identity. Contrary to what she told the media, she had admitted before police that Ishrat had left home with Javed at least twice earlier. She had stayed away for about seven days at one time. Ishrat had told her mother that she had gone to Lucknow and stayed with Javed's relatives.

Mr. Vanjahara said that police had recovered proof of "oral, written and circumstantial evidences" to establish Ishrat's relationship with Javed and their close links with the alleged Pakistani terrorists

The Horsemen are Back in Cairo

People power ousted Morsi, writes Dina Ezzat
Weekly Al-Ahram, Cairo

Note; Egypt’s population is about 84 million and GDP of about $ 220 billion. It is a very poor country with few natural resources.

On the first anniversary of his inauguration as Egypt’s first ever elected president Mohamed Morsi found himself facing demonstrations, unprecedented in size, demanding his dismissal. At times it felt as if the entire population was on the streets, the vast majority asking Morsi to go.

The size of nationwide protests on 30 June wrong-footed not just Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership but also key Western capitals, not least Washington.

The mass protests were accompanied by a show of sympathy for the Armed Forces whose leadership was receiving assessments suggesting that protester numbers would exceed 10 million. Demonstrators also received a sympathetic nod from both the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar and the patriarch of the Coptic Church.

“I don’t need encouragement from anyone to join the demonstrations. I have never protested before, not during 25 January Revolution or afterwards, but I am protesting now because things cannot go on this way. I spent five hours last night queuing to get fuel for my car and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of our problems,” said Ahmed, an accountant, on the eve of 30 June demonstrations.
A day later and Ahmed’s sentiments were being expressed by millions of demonstrators who flocked to the presidential palace. Complaints of deteriorating living conditions dominated, but there was also concern over attacks on freedoms, especially the freedom of expression.

Informed sources say that as the demonstrations were growing Morsi, “secured” in an annex of the offices of the intelligence, was insisting that protesters numbered only tens of thousands, all of them supporters of the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak.

“He was not just arguing, he really believed it. When he was shown pictures of Tahrir Square he actually claimed the pictures were false,” said one source.

The leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had anticipated a much smaller turnout, was left clinging to claims of legitimacy. Numbers obviously meant nothing. “Legitimacy is on our side. People have the right to express themselves, but it doesn’t change a thing,” railed Sobhi Saleh, a leading member at the group.

The Army General Command — a 50-member committee of top brass — had already issued a 48-hour ultimatum for “all the parties concerned to bow to the will of the people”. The ultimatum was designed to prompt the president to acknowledge the mass call for early presidential elections. It failed. The president, according to one informed source, “was furious when he heard the ultimatum”.
Morsi’s fury was shared by a vast majority of the Brotherhood’s leaders, though stories circulated that there was some dissent voiced within the organization. Sources say that Saad Al-Katatni argued for a more realistic approach only to be overruled by his colleagues.

“We are doing this for a reason. Morsi is the elected president; the statement of the army is a military coup. It is a slap in the face of legitimacy,” said Muslim Brotherhood member Hamdi Hassan. “To bow to the call for Morsi to step down is to overthrow the results of the free and fair presidential elections.”

Not so, says political scientist Rabab Al-Mahdi. A coup would involve the army, for its own reasons and away from any public pressure. “We saw this happening in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez but the people went to the streets and reinstated Chavez.”

A political activist who long opposed the Mubarak regime, Al-Mahdi insists that “what we are looking at here is the military going with the popular will”.

“Democracy manifested itself when Morsi was elected,” she argues, “and it re-manifested itself when the masses took to the streets to ask Morsi to step down.”

Like many opposition figures, Al-Mahdi accepts the military’s reassurances that it will not “rule the country from the driver’s seat”.

A military source tells Al-Ahram Weekly that Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, appointed less than a year ago by Morsi to replace Hussein Tantawi, declined the Muslim Brotherhood’s offer, supported by the US, to become prime minister and retain Morsi as a “symbolic president”.

“He is very clear that there will be no military rule. Al-Sisi declined all suggestions that there should be a military prime minister with expanded prerogatives,” he said.

On the second day of the ultimatum sources say Morsi was close to agreeing to delegate his powers to a new prime minister and call early presidential elections in exchange for a safe exit and immunity from prosecution for himself and other Brotherhood leaders, only to make a U-turn and broadcast a televised statement insisting he would remain. “This is the rule of legitimacy; if we deviate from legitimacy, our democratic march would suffer a setback… and the country could fall into civil unrest.”

The statement shocked the crowds in Tahrir and in front of the presidential palaces in Heliopolis and Al-Qubba who had been expecting “a moment of celebration”.

The president’s strategy, an impression reinforced by the frantic tweeting of his aides Essam Al-Haddad and Pakinam Al-Sharkawi, had crystallised: the goal now was to persuade the international community that Morsi was threatened by a coup.

Western diplomats speaking to the Weekly insist their governments cannot endorse a military coup and want to see a resolution to the crisis via a mechanism that cannot be judged extra-constitutional. Washington issued conflicting reports, eventually telling the army leadership that it would have to suspend military aid to Egypt even in the event of a “grey coup”, according to CNN. The US capital later denied the report.

While the US embassy and the Muslim Brotherhood were pushing to keep Morsi as a “symbolic president” pending fresh presidential elections, Morsi was grabbing at an initiative that when it was proposed by the Salafist Nour Party he resolutely ignored. Suddenly he conceded that a national unity government and revisiting controversial articles of the constitution might not be such a bad idea after all.

Such were the concessions an increasingly beleaguered Morsi offered in his Monday evening speech. This time, though, it was the protesters who resolutely ignored them. “We accept no offers from him. We don’t accept him as a president, honorary or otherwise. He just needs to go. No more,” said Amr, an activist making his way to Al-Qubba palace on Tuesday afternoon. “This evening he will have to be gone. We expect a statement from opposition forces and the army any moment.”

The next day Al-Sisi and other top brass were meeting with representatives from political forces, including Islamists. It was not clear as the Weekly went to print whether Al-Katatni had heeded calls to join the meeting to allow the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) to take part in the next government.
“We are hoping to see all the key parties, including the FJP, at the table. We are not here to exclude any political group but to help Egyptians sit together and fix their differences in a way that allows the country to move away from polarisation,” said a military source.

But what is the post-Morsi roadmap?

Egypt, it appears, is heading for a new interim phase to be co-managed by the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, an independent government and the army, with the latter insisting they are not at the wheel. The controversial constitution that was adopted last winter with the support of just 20 per cent of eligible voters will be suspended and revised. A prime minister mandated to focus on the economy will be asked to form a national unity government. It is not clear how Islamists opposed to this deal will react, or how far they will go in defence of a legitimacy they do not realise they have squandered.

The Weekly went to press after the military ultimatum had ended and still no statement had been released. However, media reports stated that Al-Sisi was to address the nation at 9pm attended by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Patriarch of the Coptic Church Tawadros II and opposition leader Mohamed Al-Baradei. A flurry of reports circulated that Morsi was under house arrest and senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including Khairat Al-Shater and Essam Al-Erian, banned from travelling abroad pending investigations into their roles in the mass escape of prisoners from Wadi Al-Natroun prison two years ago.

Egypt’s Military Ousts President Morsi, Angering His Islamist Supporters
By Ashraf Khalil / Cairo @TIMEWorld  July 03


After days of mounting speculation and brinkmanship, the Egyptian army carried out its threat to end the country’s crippling ideological divide by ousting President Mohamed Morsi — just over one year after he was inaugurated as the country’s first democratically elected civilian President.
Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sissi announced the move shortly after 9 p.m. Cairo time, following two hours of military deployment with soldiers and armored personal carriers taking up positions around the capital.

Flanked by an array of public figures including opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, Coptic Pope Tawadros II and sheik of al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb, al-Sissi — who was promoted to the position by Morsi last August — announced that Adli Mansour, head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, would serve as a caretaker executive until a new presidential election could be held later this year. The constitution — which Morsi’s government rammed through with a rushed referendum in January, a divisive process that alienated large swaths of the public — has been suspended.

There has been a distinct difference between the rallies of the two opposing sides as this crisis has built since Sunday. The anti-Morsi protesters have been festive and optimistic, buoyed by a sense of momentum; the Morsi supporters defensive and a little paranoid. The Brotherhood people don’t just feel cheated; they feel hunted and persecuted. Their numbers in Nasr City have been robust and consistent. The Brotherhood has always been famously efficient at marshaling a crowd. But the pro-Morsi rallies have also been dwarfed by the size of the anti-Morsi rallies — a fact that became immediately and permanently clear on June 30 when the current protest wave began.


Behind the scenes the situation may emerge quite differently, since Egypt with a population of 85 million is dirt poor and needs financial support to survive .Even at the time of ouster from power of President Hosni Mubarak, there were wheels within wheels .In Egypt and elsewhere while Saudi Arabia has been supporting Salafis like Al Nusra in Syria, Gas rich Qatar has been supporting Muslim Brotherhood both in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere.

Wrote Kaveh L Afrasiabi in Asia Times when the coup was underway ,”

“A military takeover in Egypt would force the Arab world's biggest nation into a new and uncertain phase of political crisis with clear geopolitical ramifications. The list of questions awaiting answers is long, and includes concerns about the duration of the military government and how quickly a transition to another civilian government could take place through an election, how Morsi's supporters will respond, and the likely level of violence following the coup. Finally, what foreign policy adjustments will the Egyptian military make after toppling Morsi?

It is instructive to review Morsi's foreign policy during the (short-lived) experiment of the Muslim Brotherhood's setting of the foreign policy agenda in Egypt. From the outset, Morsi sought to adopt an "independent" line and made it known to Western powers that the past era of sheepish obedience to their interests was over. Egypt was to act according to its own interests.

It was the pursuit of this new orientation that brought Morsi to Tehran last August to participate in the Non-Aligned Summit, an occasion which he used to express solidarity with the Syrian people fighting against the Assad regime, and to propose a "Syria quartet", including Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis never showed interest in this proposal and boycotted the quartet's meeting in Cairo last year. Nor did the Saudis or the Qataris, two principal financial backers of Cairo, ever welcome Morsi's initial toying with the idea of a diplomatic rapprochement with the Islamic Republic.

Consequently, caught between conflicting priorities, Morsi scrapped a deal for direct flights between Tehran and Cairo, or the facilitation of visa requirements for Iranian tourists, and slowly backed away from the quartet in favor of a Saudi-favored hardline vis-a-vis Syria, which was reflected in his decision last month to close the Syrian embassy in Cairo, coinciding with a generous Saudi loan to Egypt.

With respect to Israel and future of Arab-Israel relations, despite a pledge to uphold the Camp David accords and closing the border tunnels dug by Palestinians holed up in Gaza, Morsi was never able to secure an American-Israeli confidence about his intentions. He was always regarded with suspicion that his intention was to consolidate his own power before turning against the accords, which the Muslim Brotherhood had denounced in the past as a sell-out. Without doubt, Morsi's downfall will be viewed as a foreign policy plus by both Washington and Tel Aviv, whose leaders dreaded Morsi's positive signals to Iran and his "cloak and dagger" approach to foreign policy.

-- (Morsi’s ) year-long presidency will likely be regarded by future historians as a short-lived attempt at foreign policy reorientation aimed at elevating Egypt's role as an independent regional actor - one that was caught in the dilemma of conflicting loyalties, such as the fact that getting closer to the Shi'ite Iranians made sense on the geopolitical level but not on the Shi'ite-Sunni fault line.

In turn, this led to incoherent policies that ultimately satisfied no one and was aggravated by Morsi's lack of diplomatic skills and inability to bargain hard for leverages.

Henceforth, a post-Morsi Egypt will likely embed itself more firmly in the Saudi-led conservative camp, take a more assertive role vis-a-vis the crisis in Syria, provide greater assurance to Israel and put to rest the US and Israeli concerns about any regional realignment, in other words, a "thermidorian" restoration of status quo foreign policy approach favored by the unreconstructed Egyptian armed forces.

For sure, such a development in Egypt is antithetical to the interests of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, not to mention Hamas in the Palestinian occupied territories, and will free the hands of Israelis even further with respect to their current policy of settlement expansion, their disregard for a Middle East peace process, and the strangulation of Gaza. Indeed, looking at Israelis discourse on the "greater Middle East" it becomes clear that an independent and self-assertive Egypt was and has never been part of their equation. Naturally, they and their American patrons prefer a docile and non-problematic Egypt that simply toes the line, just as it did for decades before the tumults of Arab Spring in 2011. But now, with the 'falling out' of Egypt from the domain of American hegemony having turned into an arrested development, the big question is how will a coup regime in Egypt tackle the powerful sentiments that brought Morsi to power exactly one year ago in the first place?

Saudis are delighted (Alarabiya is a Saudi Publication)
Saudi king congratulates Egypt's new interim president

Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz congratulated the newly-appointed Egyptian interim President, Adly Mansour, on Wednesday.

“In my own name and on behalf of the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I congratulate you on assuming the leadership of Egypt at this critical point of its history,” said the king in a cable carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). “By doing so, I appeal to Allah Almighty to help you to shoulder the responsibility laid on your shoulder to achieve the hopes of our sisterly people of the Arab Republic of Egypt.”

King Abdullah also praised the armed forces, saying: “At the same time, we strongly shake hands with the men of all the armed forces, represented by General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who managed to save Egypt at this critical moment from a dark tunnel God only could apprehend its dimensions and repercussions, but the wisdom and moderation came out of those men to preserve the rights of all parties in the political process.”

“Please accept our greetings to you and deep respect to our brothers in Egypt and its people, wishing Egypt steady stability and security.”

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is following with satisfaction the developments in Egypt, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Wednesday.
He said that his country is confident that the Egyptian people will be able to overcome the current difficult situation “to reach a safe and prosperous future,” the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Wednesday.

The UAE foreign minister also said that the Egyptian army proved that it was a “strong shield” and “protector,” which – he added – guarantees the country embraced all components of the people.

He also said that the UAE will continue to strengthen its bilateral relations with Egypt.
Jordan also commented on the latest developments in Egypt, Al Arabiya correspondent reported. The kingdom said it respected the wishes of the Egyptian people as well as the role of the armed forces.

The Qataris might be pissed off since Doha had supported MB

It was quite clear that MB may not last long .As the author , who has served in Cairo, Algeria ,Amman ,Ankara ( 8 years ) , the tussle between the secular and spiritual centres would continue in Egypt , Turkey ( Erdogan must be worried ) and Pakistan ( with a clumsy PM , the military will be buoyed up .Wait till Gen Kayani gets an extension) .

My notes and views

The Egyptian Military Moves in ; dissolves the Parliament and suspends the Constitution
By K.Gajendra Singh 14 February, 2011


The power and responsibility for clearing and cleaning up the mess created by over nearly 4 decades of pro-US regimes of Anwar al Sadat and since 1981 of the just forced out Dictator Hosni Mubarak, himself an air force general, has fallen into the lap of Egyptian armed forces. Mubarak fled from the presidential palace on 11 February.

On Sunday , 13 February , 2011, Egypt's military disbanded the country's parliament and suspended the constitution and proclaimed that it will rule for six months or until presidential and parliamentary elections are held, according to a statement by the military council read on state television. The anti-government protesters had been demanding since 25 January Mubarak’s resignation and even a trial; and the dissolution of the parliament and constitutional reforms.

The military seems to have left in place the Cabinet of ministers for day to day running of the country.

Before going away on 11 February to attend a clutch of marriages, I had circulated the following note to some friends

“The army is the most well organized force in Egypt.

There would be a clash between older military fat cats and younger officer’s .The military is composed of conscripts.

Possible  sequences  of events are Iran after the Shah fled Tehran ,but Muslim Brotherhood ( MB) is not that well organized as the Clerics were in Iran .Also there has been little bloodshed so far in Egypt .In Sunni Islam there is no old tradition of martyrdom unlike among Iran's Shias .MB would like to enter into power like Islamist AKP of Turkey , slowly step by step .Riyadh which finances AKP  would be happy to do that in Egypt too.

Washington which grants military aid worth $1.5 billion to Egypt has good connections with Egypt’s military will not be unhappy with military takeover and try to influence its policies ..

But watchout in Saudi Arabia .I have written since 3 years that unless the Saud Dynasty is disappears and its symbiotic alliance with Wahabis vanishes , there is little hope for Muslims , since Saudis like Muslims to remain backwards and obsorantist nad remain beholden to Riyadh for money for Qurans, Mosques and Jihadi activities.

 Indonesia is another example , with military still sharing power .Egypt is too homogeneous unlike Pakistan which it sixes and sevens .

So a colonel's take over like that of Abdul Gamal Nasser in 1952 cannot be ruled out .”

K.Gajendra Singh.13 February, 2011.

Peoples Revolt in Egypt; Birth Pangs of a New Middle East!

This Arab revolt is against Washington unlike the WWI British engineered against Istanbul


"Don't knock your head against it," received wisdom in the Arab world on unarmed people taking on powerful regimes, "You are just fighting a mountain."

In a revolutionary stage, once the fear of authority disappears, like virginity it cannot be undone nor repaired –Anon

“In earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people-“ Zbigniew Brzezinski  Former U.S. National Security Advisor

"There is no concern at the moment about the stability of the Egyptian government."Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Israel's new intelligence chief to Knesset members the day hundreds of thousands of Egyptians poured into the streets .

 “Saddam Hussein”, replied Iranian President Rafsanjani in Tehran in 1990 ,when Rajiv Gandhi enquired ,” Who will replace Saddam Hussein?”
Max Weber-. Power flows from the barrel of a gun but authority is rooted in legitimacy

Feb 2, 2011

It is quite clear that Egypt has started a revolutionary process a week ago in the Middle East with almost one million Egyptians out is streets in Cairo (Maidane-Tahrir - freedom square), Alexandria and elsewhere. After the brutality by Egypt’s notorious security police in which over 100 people have died and many hundreds injured , the military , consisting of conscripted soldiers ,which is now out in the streets  has allowed peaceful demonstrations .

With a population of over 80 million , centre of gravity , prime mover and leader of Sunni Arabs, Egypt ,never had this kind of spontaneous revolt by the people , called Fallahin , down trodden and mostly ruled by foreigners including queens like Cleopatra and Nefertiti .

The author was posted to Cairo in end 1962  to learn Arabic and then took over as Assistant Press Attache.

Egypt was then the centre of resurgent Arab world under nationalist –socialist President Gamal Abdul Nasser and at the forefront of non-aligned movement along with India and Yugoslavia , in decolonization of nations from Western colonial repressive rule and exploitation. Egypt and India have moved on since then but there still remains close relationship between the peoples of the two countries , with rich cultural traditions .There are many common traits including laziness ( baad bokra ;after tomorrow ,when promised work is not done and Maalish –never mind) and obligatory tipping (baksheesh).

Nasser and his group of young officers who had overthrown the corrupt Albanian origin dynasty in 1952 were full of respect for Nehru , who sometimes alone or with the Yugoslav leader Marshal Tito would explain to them the intricacies of history and international relations and the exploitation of the Asian and African countries by European colonial powers .It was perhaps the best period of Egypt and Nasser’s era  World leaders like Chou en Lai , Khrushchev (to open the Aswan dam financed by Moscow ) and others visited Cairo.

The masses were happiest with social justice and equitable economic progress .Since the end of Nasser era under IMF laid down policies, rich have become richer and poor poorer in Egypt .The corruption , lack of transparency and accountability around the world has been accompanied by upsurge in staple food prices on the London, New York and Chicago commodity exchanges. These price hikes are in large part the result of speculative trade by major financial and corporate agribusiness interests. These are leading to riots all around the world .In Egypt in particular and Muslim countries in general, a population increase of 3% has meant stagnant economies and rising unemployment and poverty .

West Stirred-up Muslims Terrorize Mumbai
by K. Gajendra Singh==
How London's Sordid Love Affair with Muslim Brotherhood was Transformed into Washington's Unleashing of Fundamentalist Islam

Let us look at the history how Britain and then USA have promoted Islamic fundamentalism against popular, nationalist and socialist governments in Muslim countries to safeguard Western interests.

In his book "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam," Robert Dreyfuss paints a vivid picture of how the United States spent the last century taking over the British imperial apparatus in the Middle East ;sponsoring and manipulating Islamic fundamentalism to control and exploit petroleum resources and politics. Dreyfuss's book based on major academic literature and actors on the scene is an excellent survey of the history of the Muslim Brotherhood and its various 20th-Century offshoots.

The United States, Dreyfuss argues, has supported radical Islamic activism over the past six decades, "sometimes overtly, sometimes covertly," and is thus "partly to blame for the emergence of Islamic terrorism as a world-wide phenomenon." He writes about U.S. support for the Muslim Brotherhood against Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, whose goal was to end Western domination and control in the Middle East. Western interests used the Islamic Brotherhood to destabilize the Nasser government. The Brotherhood remains active and continues to conduct terrorist activities in Egypt.

Britain's Imperial History of Divide and Rule in Middle East

Although the Muslim Brotherhood was formally launched in Egypt in 1928, the roots of the British-sponsored policy began in the last quarter of the 19th Century , when the British intelligence sponsored the career of a Persian-born Shia named Jamaleddin, later known as Jamaleddin al-Afghani (1838-97) to hide his sect. A British (and French) Freemason and a professed atheist, al-Afghani spent his entire adult life as an agent of British intelligence, fomenting "Islamist" insurrections where they suited British imperial goals. At points in his fascinating career, he served as Minister of War and Prime Minister of Iran, before leading an insurrection against the Shah. He was a founder of the Young Egypt movement, which was part of a worldwide network of British Jacobin fronts that waged war against Britain's imperial rivals during the second half of the 19th Century. In Sudan, following the Mahdi-led nationalist revolt and the murder of Britain's Lord Gordon, al-Afghani organized an "Islamist" counterrevolution in support of restoration of British colonial control.

Al-Afghani was backed by the British with funding, a publishing house and other amenities. Al-Afghani's leading disciple and fellow British agent was Mohammed Abduh (1849-1905). The Egypt born Abduh founded the Salafiyya movement, under the patronage of the British proconsul of Egypt, Lord Cromer. In the 1870s, al-Afghani and Abduh founded the Young Egypt movement, which battled against secular Egyptian nationalists.

In 1899, two years after al-Afghani's death, Lord Cromer made Abduh the Grand Mufti of Egypt. Abduh in turn, begot Syrian Mohammed Rashid Rida (1865-1935), his leading disciple. Rida founded the organization that would be the immediate precursor to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Society of Propaganda and Guidance and an Institute. It published a journal, The Lighthouse, which provided "Islamist" backing to the British colonial rule over Egypt, by attacking Egyptian nationalists as "atheists and infidels." In Cairo, under British patronage, Rida brought in Islamists from every part of the Muslim world to be trained in political agitation in support of British colonial rule.

Hassan al-Banna (1906-49), a graduate of the Institute for Propaganda and Guidance, founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, which was an unabashed British intelligence front. The mosque in Ismailia, Egypt, which was the first headquarters of the Brotherhood, was built by the (British) Suez Canal Company, near a British World War I military base. During World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood functioned as a de facto branch of the British military. In 1942, the Brotherhood created the "Secret Apparatus," an underground paramilitary organization that specialized in assassinations and espionage.

Hitler's and London's Grand Mufti

During the formative years of the Muslim Brotherhood, the British were simultaneously promoting the career of another "Islamist" named Haj Amin al-Husseini. A notorious anti-Semite with little Islamic theological training, he was promoted by Sir Ronald Storrs, the British Governor General and in 1921 installed as president of the Supreme Muslim Council, a British-sponsored association of hand-picked Muslim religious leaders. With British rigging , Al-Husseini was 'elected ' next year the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. During the World War II, al-Husseini, and al-Banna, wound up in Berlin as a propagandist for the Nazi assault against the Jews. But al-Husseini was back in the Holy Land, again on the British intelligence payroll, now a firebrand anti-communist propagandist for the Middle East Broadcasting Station. [The current Western proxy leaders in Iraq, Ahmed Chalabbi and Ex Prime Minister Iyad Alawi , have been unabashed operatives of CIA,MI6 and others .So the pattern continues]

Hassan al-Banna was assassinated in 1949 by Egyptian security but by that time, the Muslim Brotherhood had vastly expanded its ranks, and had spread to other parts of the Middle East, where the British had a major postwar presence. The Muslim Brotherhood established branches in Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.

'British Brains and American Brawn to rule the world' � Churchill

After the untimely death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945 , Winston Churchill 's famous "Iron Curtain" address came to define the Cold War. An Anglo-American partnership that Churchill once described: "With British brains and American brawn, we can rule the world."

During the 1950s the United States sided with Great Britain against the legitimate, popular secularist governments of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser and Iran's Mohammed Mossadegh. And in both instances, the Anglo-Americans used the Muslim Brotherhood as the battering ram to bring down the popular regimes. In the case of Egypt, President Dwight Eisenhower, in a most decisive postwar break with London, neutralized the joint British-French-Israeli invasion of Suez in 1956, temporarily backing the Nasser regime. (For years after the Suez crisis, Eisenhower and the United States were admired in Egypt).

One of the architects of playing the Islamists against the nationalist /socialist /communists in the Middle East was Dr. Bernard Lewis, a wartime British intelligence Arab Bureau spy, who in his crucial 1953 essay "Communism and Islam," argued for a strategy of promoting right-wing Islamist movements and regimes as a weapon against Soviet backed nationalist and socialist regimes in the region. Lewis's scheme was embraced by the Dulles brothers, Secretary of State John Foster and CIA Director Allen, despite reservations from President Eisenhower and some leading CIA Middle East specialists.

Despite Washington's ambivalence about Nasser, Britain's Prime Minister Anthony Eden had no doubt that the Egyptian President was a menace to British interests and had to be eliminated. George Young, a top MI6 officer posted in Cairo, ordered by Eden to assassinate Nasser, according to MI6 documents, turned to the Muslim Brotherhood's for the job , leading to a full-scale war between the Brotherhood and Nasser. Thousands were killed, and eventually, the Brotherhood was forced to flee, taking refuge in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other pro-US/UK Arab regimes. Saudi Arabia funded Egypt's Brothers against Nasser .Riyadh also funded the Brothers in Jordan as King Hussein complained when I was posted at Amman (1989-92).

Syrian Brothers

The next British-backed battle between fundamentalist Islam and nationalism occurred in Syria where the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was founded by Ramadan. When a Baathist military coup took place in 1969, the Brotherhood began a campaign of irregular warfare, that built momentum throughout the 1970s. In 1979, the Muslim Brotherhood staged a military assault on the Syrian Army academy at Hama, setting the main building on fire and killing 83 cadets mostly from Alawaite sect belonging to the ruling Assad regime. The government killed many thousands of Syrian brothers who then escaped to Saudi Arabia.

Afghanistan and Muslim Brotherhood

Dreyfuss gives a brief history of the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Afghanistan with roots in Egypt. A group of young Afghan students after spending several years at the al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, a center of Muslim Brotherhood activity, returned to Afghanistan and formed a branch of the Brothers, the Islamic Society. "The Professors," as they were known, would later form the backbone of the Afghan Mujahedeen, who waged a West and Saudi backed decade-long war against the Soviet Army occupation. The three leading "Professors" were: Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Sayyaf and Hekmatyar, in particular, were backed by the Pakistani ISI, and by Pakistan's own Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Group, founded by Abdul Ala Mawdudi. The three professors led the major factions of the Afghan insurgency.
One of the key recruiters for the Jihad in Afghanistan was a Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood member Abdullah Azzam. In 1984, under Anglo-American and Pakistani sponsorship, Azzam and a leading protégé , bin Laden, founded the Service Bureau in Peshawar, Pakistan. The Service Bureau served as a hospitality service for incoming jihadists
K Gajendra Singh ,4 July, 2013 ,Mayur Vihar, Delhi

K Gajendra Singh served as ambassador of India to Turkey and Azerbaijan from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he was ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. Apart from postings in Dakar, Paris, Bucharest , the author spent his diplomatic career in North Africa , Middle east and Turkic countries ( ten years in Turkey in two tenures ).He spent 1976 with National Defence college , New Delhi , established the Foreign Service Institute for training of diplomats ( 1987-89), was chairman / managing director of IDPL , India’s largest Drugs and Pharmaceuticals company ( 1985  and 1986 ) and while posted at Amman( 1989-92) evacuated nearly 140,000 Indian nationals who had come from Kuwait. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies

July 03, 2013

Russia to build 100 new military bases and airfields

28/06/2013 RIA Novosti

About 100 new defense infrastructure facilities, including airfields and Army and Navy maintenance and supply bases, will be built in Russia to accommodate new weapon systems, a top military official said Thursday.

By 2016, 316 garrison towns are to be built, their number due to increase to 495 by 2020, said General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces, adding that more than 3,000 facilities, including barracks, parking lots, cafeterias, etc., would be built in those locations.

All of those facilities will be put into operation months before new arms and military equipment are delivered, he said. Other installations are slated to include air, land and naval test sites and advanced training centers.
All of that will help significantly enhance personnel training standards and make the Armed Forces more efficient, Gerasimov said.

In early May, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the share of new weaponry in service with the Russian armed forces must be up to 75 percent by 2020. Russian officials previously cited rearmament goals of 30 percent by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020.

The Russian government has allocated 22 trillion rubles ($730 billion) for an ambitious armed forces rearmament program through 2020.

First published in RIA Novosti.

Nabucco: How the pipeline became a pipedream

Nabucco: How the pipeline became a pipedream

July 2, 2013 Rakesh Krishnan Simha
Nabucco was the lynchpin of America’s grand strategy to isolate Russia, but in the end the hunter became the hunted.

The covert energy war for domination of Caspian energy has ended in a humiliating defeat for the West, with the American midwifed Nabucco pipeline being stillborn.

Nabucco failed because it was a political pipeline. The $31 billion gas bridge was conceived to detach Central Asia from Russian influence. This gigantic pump was designed to divert 30 billion cubic metres of gas (nearly 10 percent of Europe’s annual consumption) away from Russian pipelines.

Egged on by the United States, the Europeans began to have fantasies about dirt cheap energy from a region floating on a sea of oil and gas. Like small minded shopkeepers they forgot that barring the 2006 spat with Ukraine, the Russians had been reliable suppliers of Siberian gas for over 30 years.

However, the Russians had the foresight – and the diplomatic muscle – to see the project fail. In June 2009 when the Europeans were about to ink an agreement on Nabucco, a leading Moscow-based commentator ridiculed their “chaotic chanting”.
Alexander Knyazev, director of the regional branch of the Institute of the CIS, said the support for the project reminded him of the haunting chorus of Hebrew slaves from Verdi's opera – “beautiful, yet altogether gloomy and hopeless”.
It was an eerily prescient remark.

Nabucco: Dubious intent

Washington's geopolitical bible is "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives". In this misguided tome, former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski says by creating instability in every country in Russia’s neighbourhood, especially in the Central Asian stans and Ukraine, and disrupting the flow of oil and gas, the US can isolate Russia, so that Moscow ceases to be a great power.

Brzezinski openly espouses provoking instability by exploiting the ethnic and religious diversity of the region. The term "Arc of Instability" came into use in the1970s to refer to a 'Muslim Crescent' extending from Afghanistan to the stans in the southern part of the former Soviet Union.

Nabucco was one of the ways the United States tried to turn this baleful fantasy into reality.

Russia steps on the gas

Nabucco was actually the West’s Plan B. The original pipeline envisaged bringing gas from Turkmenistan and even arch enemy Iran. However, the problem was Turkmenistan never seemed to make up its mind.
It doesn’t take a petroleum scientist to guess that Russians may have applied pressure. But what finally made Turkmenistan cry off was the sharp increase in instability in neighbouring Uzbekistan after the country opened up to Westerners. Wisely, the Turkmens decided all the petro dollars in the world weren’t worth it if it meant Western meddling in their internal affairs.

Iran now became Europe’s new poster boy. However, with the United States going after Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons programme, Iranian gas became more hot air than reality. The dominoes were falling.
Europe and the United States now decided to skip Turkmenistan altogether and instead decided to start in Azerbaijan. The new section was named Nabucco.

The problem now was that the pipeline had lost its main objective – to cut the Central Asian republics loose from Russia. So a new raison d’être was found. Nabucco was, said its backers, the key to weakening Russian influence on Europe by reducing dependency on Siberian gas. In reality, the West was spending a fortune on advertising a rank bad product.

Streams of gas

Because Nabucco’s sole purpose was to eat Russia’s lunch, the Russians went after it with a vengeance. Firstly, like a giant sponge, the Russian gas conglomerates soaked up all available natural gas in Central Asia and the Caspian to deny supplies to Nabucco. Secondly, in 2007, Vladimir Putin unveiled – or rather unleashed – South Stream.
South Stream is a $39 billion competing pipeline crisscrossing Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy that would carry gas to Europe. Importantly, the pipeline would bypass troublesome Ukraine, which seemed to be doing exactly what the United States wants – block Russian gas.

Then with the speed of a mechanised column – and against very obstacle put in its way by Eastern European nations – the Russians, with German backing, built Nord Stream. This 1222 km natural gas pipeline transports gas from Vyborg in northern Russia to Greifswald in Germany. Again, it bypassed the Baltic countries, thereby removing any possibility of disruption.
Nord Stream was crucial to Russia’s energy strategy because it demonstrated to Western Europe – its main gas consumer – that Moscow was serious about ensuring uninterrupted flow of energy to Europe. It deflated allegations that Russia wanted to strangle Europe.

Putin’s Stream strategy paid off. As Nabucco kept getting shorter, newer and more nimble players saw an opportunity and jumped in. Finally, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) got the nod. Because TAP can only transport a third of what Nabucco planned to, it doesn’t pose a threat to Russia’s interests.

Day after Nabucco

The very nature of a gas war makes it an extremely high stakes affair. Because gas pipelines are so expensive to build and cannot be rerouted (like ships), it is normal for buyers and sellers to ink long-term – often 20-30 year – agreements. This brings together producers and consumers as well as transit countries in a sort of pipeline alliance. Because all transit nations get a fee from the pipeline owners, there is every reason for them to have stables relations with one another.

For the Americans, that is bad news. Russia’s linkages with German, for instance, deepened after Moscow built the Siberian natural gas pipeline into the heart of Europe in the 1980s. That pipeline was built despite immense American pressure to scuttle the project
Biggest losers

No.1 United States; No.2 Turkey. Having outsized geopolitical ambitions, Turkey was hoping to draw the Central Asian Stans away from Russia into a Turkic embrace.

Plus, by becoming the main transit hub of Central Asian gas to Europe, it hoped to cozy up to Europe, which has rebuffed all attempts by Ankara to enter the European Union. Germany and France have made it abundantly clear that Europe ends at Turkey’s border. With Nabucco, Turkey was hoping to redraw that line.

The Turks were among the biggest cheerleaders for Nabucco as they were expecting a $680 million transit fee. That annual bonus is not coming back.


While the crystal would surely be clinking in the Kremlin, what remains to be seen is if South Stream would proceed as planned. In the near future, the bulk of Russian gas is destined to go east, not west. It is Asia’s ravenous economies, especially China’s, that will sustain tomorrow’s energy industry, while Europe is still on its knees.

No new European deals are in sight currently but Russia has entered into a 25-year gas contract with China, for which Beijing will pay an unprecedented $60 billion advance. In this backdrop it remains to be seen if Europe gets the leftovers or whether it regains its place in Russia’s export strategy.

As for the United States, the Nabucco wipeout, coming shortly after the global spying expose, is a taste of things to come in an increasingly multipolar world.

We’re Going Into The Greatest Depression-Gerald Celente

It's the Egyptian Identity, Stupid

By: Wael Nawara for Al-Monitor Posted on July

Observers are shocked. They do not understand as they watch millions of Egyptians marching in protest, in every major city in Egypt, against President Mohammed Morsi. In Cairo alone, some estimated the number of protesters to be 5 to 7 million. That is roughly a quarter to a third of the capital’s population. The crowds on June 30 may have been part of the largest political protest in history.

The first Egyptian revolution was about freedom, justice and dignity, but the new wave of protests is about defending Egyptian identity.

Author: Wael Nawara
Posted on: July 2 2013
Categories : Originals   Egypt

Political analysts are baffled. Egyptians put up with the fraudulently elected Mubarak for 30 years, but now seek the departure of the democratically elected Morsi after only one year? Did they expect the man to have a magic wand that would allow him to solve all of Egypt's economic problems with a single stroke?

It's not the economy, stupid. It is not just about the fuel shortages, power outages, deteriorating economy or soaring prices. Western media rarely, if ever, mention the Muslim Brotherhood's assault on Egyptian identity, culture and way of life as a core cause of protests. Could something so intangible motivate such massive demonstrations?

The reality is that culture is much more tangible than one may think at first glance. Restrictive cultural policies affect education, art, newspapers, television programs, books, academia, laws, dress, food and beverages, sports, management of antiquities and cultural heritage, tourism and public holidays. These are tangible things that impact people’s daily lives. When experiencing an abrupt change in aspects related to their self-image or the way their children are being brought up, people may panic and react quite strongly. Egypt might be experiencing one of these instances more than anything else.
Attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to convert Egyptians to their conservative values did not start just last year. Funded for several decades by generous donations from Wahhabi sheikhs, the Salafis and Muslim Brothers slowly began to infiltrate Egyptian society and gradually succeeded in making Egypt visibly different, first by calling for small things, like asking women to wear the hijab and putting their preachers in control of key mosques, and then by expanding to launch a network of charities with a political agenda — preparing Egyptian society for Islamist rule.

The Muslim Brothers was banned before the 1952 revolution because of their involvement in political assassinations and after the revolution were prosecuted by the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser after an attempt on his life. Nasser's successor, Anwar Sadat, decided to allow Islamist organizations to regroup to counterbalance socialist and Nasserist political streams in the 1970s. Sadat was assassinated in 1981 at the hands of Islamist extremists. Near the end of Mubarak’s rule, he offered large concessions to the Brothers to create a bipolar political system in which the only alternative to his ruling National Democratic Party would be the Muslim Brotherhood. After the 2011 revolution, the Brothers decided that this was their time. They had to seize the moment before it was gone.

Morsi was elected president of an ancient nation with an established way of life — in fact, one that Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Brotherhood, detested and considered immoral. Sixty-five years after Banna's death, Morsi, obedient member and leader of the Brotherhood, runs for the presidency of Egypt. As soon as he assumes office, he gets busy appointing his “Brothers” to key government positions as part of the so-called Tamkeen plan, a plot to control Egypt that is said to have been drafted by Khairat al-Shater himself.

The plan, which the opposition refers to as Akhwwana, or Brotherhoodization, requires that only officials loyal to the Brotherhood ideology be appointed to key government posts, among them the portofolios for education, media, religious affairs, social affairs and culture. The reason is simple: If Egyptians are taught to think like the Brothers, it will ensure a lengthy reign for the organization, which could then win elections before they were even held.
Of course Egyptians are angry over prices, fuel shortages and electricity outages, and these problems have amplified the cause of rebellion. But Egypt is a nation that has patiently coped with shortages for decades. What has made people especially angry now is the sense of losing Egypt’s distinctive way of life.

For starters, the constitution passed by an Islamist majority codified ultra-conservative restrictions on freedom of faith and expression, using terms that in effect could penalize people who do not allegedly comply with “social values,” meaning, more or less, whatever values the government and its allies deem fit. Education experts warned that newly appointed Brothers at the Ministry of Education were changing curricula to conform to the Muslim Brotherhood's conservative ideology. The Brothers also removed chapters from history books describing their organization’s violent past. When Minister of Culture Alaa Abdel Aziz fired a number of high-profile officials and was rumored to be considering a ban on ballet, artists and performers staged a sit-in and held several ballet performances in the street, including “Zorba the Greek.”
Emotions and feelings play an important role in how people make decisions, which are not just based on rational calculations. Rather, feelings and emotions use complex calculations that occur at the level of deeply rooted instincts for survival. Many emotional factors have contributed to making Egyptians sense a threat to the survival of Egypt as a nation.
Many Egyptians feel that Morsi is more of an obedient member to the Muslim Brotherhood than he is a president whose loyalty to his country and its people comes first. Morsi stopped military campaigns designed to cleanse the Sinai of al-Qaeda elements and other jihadist militants. At pro-Morsi demonstrations, al-Qaeda flags rather than Egyptian one are waved; chants for Osama Bin Laden can be heard. Egyptians have now seen terrorists, arguably former terrorists, rise to the highest seats of power and then appear on television and threaten them with blood and wrath if they protest to challenge Morsi’s legitimacy.

Five Egyptian Shiites were killed in Giza a few days after Morsi gathered his Islamist “clan” in a stadium on June 15 and Egyptians watched with horror as former terrorists delivered speeches full of hate toward Shiites and issued a declaration of jihad and war against Syria. Morsi’s divisive constitution and policies have made too many people feel that he does not care about the unity of the Egyptian people or the integrity of the state. His handling of the Renaissance Dam crisis vis-à-vis Ethiopia was pathetic. The Nile is not just a pretty river where pretty scenic photos can be taken. The Nile is the lifeblood of Egypt.

The ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood does not acknowledge the concept of the nation-state and calls instead for a monolithic Islamic nation that ignores national borders. Hence Egyptians have reacted with feelings of fear brought on by a credible threat to their survival as a nation and as a state. So perhaps for the first time in history, a revolution erupts because people want to defend their culture and way of life. If the January 25 revolution was about freedom, justice and dignity, the protests of June 30 were about Egyptians salvaging their Egyptian identity.
Wael Nawara is an Egyptian writer and activist. He is also the co-founder of Al Dostor Party, the National Association for Change and El Ghad Party. Formerly president of the Arab Alliance for Freedom and Democracy, he was a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. On Twitter: @WaelNawara

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/07/egyptian-identity-stupid.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=7687#ixzz2Y2cjUH9A

The Next Phase of the Arab Spring



The Arab Spring was an exercise in irony, nowhere more so than in Egypt. On the surface, it appeared to be the Arab equivalent of 1989 in Eastern Europe. There, the Soviet occupation suppressed a broad, if not universal desire for constitutional democracy modeled on Western Europe. The year 1989 shaped a generation's thinking in the West, and when they saw the crowds in the Arab streets, they assumed that they were seeing Eastern Europe once again.

There were certainly constitutional democrats in the Arab streets in 2011, but they were not the main thrust. Looking back on the Arab Spring, it is striking how few personalities were replaced, how few regimes fell, and how much chaos was left in its wake. The uprising in Libya resulted in a Western military intervention that deposed former leader Moammar Gadhafi and replaced him with massive uncertainty. The uprising in Syria has not replaced Syrian President Bashar al Assad but instead sparked a war between him and an Islamist-dominated opposition. Elsewhere, revolts have been contained with relative ease. The irony of the Arab Spring was that in opening the door for popular discontent, it demonstrated that while the discontent was real, it was neither decisive nor clearly inclined toward constitutional democracy.

This is what makes Egypt so interesting. The Egyptian uprising has always been the most ambiguous even while being cited as the most decisive. It is true that former President Hosni Mubarak fell in 2011. It is also true that elections were held in 2012, when a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's election as president highlighted the reality that a democratic election is not guaranteed to produce a liberal democratic result. In any case, the now-deposed president, Mohammed Morsi, won by only a slim margin and he was severely constrained as to what he could do.

But the real issue in Egypt has always been something else. Though a general was forced out of office in 2011, it was not clear that the military regime did not remain, if not in power, then certainly the ultimate arbiter of power in Egyptian politics. Over the past year, so long as Morsi remained the elected president, the argument could be made that the military had lost its power. But just as we argued that the fall of Hosni Mubarak had been engineered by the military in order to force a succession that the aging Mubarak resisted, we can also argue that while the military had faded into the background, it remained the decisive force in Egypt.  

Modern Egypt was founded in 1952 in a military coup by Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser was committed to modernizing Egypt, and he saw the army as the only real instrument of modernization. He was a secularist committed to the idea that Arab nations ought to be united, but not Islamist by any means. He was a socialist, but not a communist. Above all else, he was an Egyptian army officer committed to the principle that the military guaranteed the stability of the Egyptian nation.

When the uprisings of the Arab Spring came, Nasser's successors used the unrest to force Mubarak out, and then they stepped back. It is interesting to consider whether they would have been content to retain their institutional position under a Muslim Brotherhood-led government. However, Morsi never really took control of the machinery of government, partly because he was politically weak, partly because the Muslim Brotherhood was not ready to govern, and partly because the military never quite let go.  

This dynamic culminated in the demonstrations of this "Egyptian Summer." The opposition leadership appears to support constitutional democracy. Whether the masses in the streets do as well or whether they simply dislike the Muslim Brotherhood is difficult to tell, but we suspect their interests are about food and jobs more than about the principles of liberalism. Still, there was an uprising, and once again the military put it to use.

In part, the military did not want to see chaos, and it saw itself as responsible for averting it. In part, the military distrusted the Muslim Brotherhood and was happy to see it forced out of office. As in 2011, the army acted overtly to maintain order and simultaneously to shape the Egyptian political order. They deposed Morsi, effectively replacing him with a more secular and overtly liberal leadership.

But what must be kept in mind is that, just as in 2011, when the military was willing to pave the way for Morsi, so too is it now paving the way for his opposition. And this is the crucial point -- while Egypt is increasingly unstable, the army is shaping what order might come out of it. The military is less interested in the ideology of the government than in containing chaos. Given this mission, it does not see itself as doing more than stepping back. It does not see itself as letting go.

The irony of the Egyptian Arab Spring is that while it brought forth new players, it has not changed the regime or the fundamental architecture of Egyptian politics. The military remains the dominant force, and while it is prepared to shape Egypt cleverly, what matters is that it will continue to shape Egypt.

Therefore, while it is legitimate to discuss a military coup, it is barely legitimate to do so. What is going on is that there is broad unhappiness in Egypt that is now free to announce its presence. This unhappiness takes many ideological paths, as well as many that have nothing to do with ideology. Standing on stage with the unhappiness is the military, manipulating, managing and containing it. Everyone else, all of the politicians, come and go, playing a short role and moving on -- the military and the crowd caught in a long, complex and barely comprehensible dance

Read more: The Next Phase of the Arab Spring | Stratfor 
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Understanding China’s maritime aspirations


MAEBASHI, GUNMA PREF. – One strong signal that the Chinese Communist Party's 18th National Congress sent to the international community in November 2012 was that China had included becoming a sea power in its national strategy for the coming decade.

What followed were the vigorous maritime institutional reforms announced during the annual National People's Congress meeting in March 2013, which marked the actual once-in-a-decade leadership transition. China established a National Maritime Committee and combined a series of fragmental governmental sectors into the highly integrated and greatly enlarged National Maritime Bureau under the direct supervision of the Ministry of National Territory and Resources. This was a major step to strengthen the governance and management on ocean and maritime affairs, both civil and military.

Meanwhile, China significantly increased its national defense budget, a large part of which was distributed to naval development. The first aircraft carrier commissioned, Liaoning, showcased China's sophisticated naval development and deployment. Through it China projected its amplified naval power and declared its maritime strategy to the world.

China's declaration to become a sea power and its claim of maritime interests is not a sudden action. China has long dreamed of becoming a "maritime civilization." In 1988, the state-operated China Central Television (CCTV) produced a documentary that attributed China's miserable historical experience to its land civilization's inferiority to the "maritime civilization" of Western powers and Japan. It implicitly expressed a desire to develop a maritime civilization.

This episode can be viewed as China's initial consciousness of maritime importance. But at that time China's national strategy, set by leader Deng Xiaoping, focused on the domestic agenda and keeping a low global profile.

China's ascent in the 21st century led to the agenda of setting an aggressive maritime strategy. In 2005, China's "National Defense White Book" noted that China should build a strong and modernized navy to protect its maritime interests. In 2006, as an echo to the international discussion on China's rise, another CCTV documentary, "The Rise of Great Nations," featured the great powers in history and implied that they were all sea powers.

In 2008, President Hu Jintao first pointed out that China must make a transition from being from a land power to being a sea power. In December 2011, the CCTV launched a new documentary, "Toward the Sea," as a bold proclamation of China's sea-power dream. These paved the way for openly declaring the maritime strategy at the 18th National Congress of the CCP.

Traditionally China has been a continental nation. There were no substantial threats from the sea until the arrival of British and French naval vessels in the mid-19th century Opium Wars. After that, China went on to lose to Japan in a critical sea battle in 1895. History warns that China faces much greater threats from the sea than from the land.

China has abundant experience in land security management dating back to the construction of the Great Wall, but its maritime deployment is weak despite its long coastlines. In China's eyes, all existing great powers such as the United States, Japan and Russia are sea powers, while China remains a continental one.

As China rises, it wants to ensure that it can protect its expanding geopolitical interests and vital sea routes used to import critical resources. For example, 85 percent of China's oil imports has to go through the Strait of Malacca.

More importantly, the mainstream guideline of Chinese foreign policy has subtly changed. Since around 2009 China has gradually abandoned Deng Xiaoping's strategy of "hiding the capability and biding time" (taoguangyanghui) and actively increased its global engagement, with Asia as the focus. It is under these circumstances that China is ramping up its maritime strategy.

Geographically there are three directions in China's maritime strategy: the East China Sea, South China Sea, and Indian Ocean. Given their geopolitical value, China is determined to develop strongholds in the three areas to ensure access to world markets and channels for resource supplies. But there is no clear definition on the goals and spheres of China's maritime strategy so far. This ambiguity led to harboring of doubt and distrust by neighboring countries. China's growing naval presence is inevitably perceived as a threat and a source of conflict. The territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the East China Sea have intensified as China has become more assertive and expands its maritime interests and claims.

China defines "core interests" in disputed waters in a manner that had never applied to its land border disputes. China's tough stance demonstrates its strong will to build its sea power and expand its maritime interests.

China has long championed the notion of a "peaceful rise" and claims that this rise will not conflict with the interests of other nations. However, its ambitious maritime strategy has raised concerns in Japan, the U.S. and Southeast Asian countries. As China continues to expand its sea power in years to come, conflicts may result if distrust and tensions escalate.

China needs to clearly explain its maritime policy to the world and increase its maritime cooperation with other countries in the region in a transparent manner. China should strengthen its nontraditional security cooperation such as anti-piracy activities in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea with India and Southeast Asian countries, respectively.

In particular, China and Japan should seek areas of common interests including fisheries to initiate maritime cooperation in the East China Sea.

Only bilateral and multilateral conversations and cooperation can help China gain the understanding and trust of the international community regarding its regional maritime deployments.

Xie Zhihai is an assistant professor at Maebashi Kyoai Gakuen College in Gunma Prefecture. Previously a research associate at the Asian Development Bank Institute and a Japan Foundation research fellow, he received his Ph.D. in international relations from Peking University in July 2011.