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Showing posts from August 31, 2014

China’s ‘nine-dot’ line makes for choppy South China Sea

China's economic influence in Cambodia and Laos is set to undercut ASEAN's response to China's maritime assertiveness. Meanwhile, a nationalist turn in China -- vis-à-vis both the South China and East China Seas -- will lead Beijing to ignore pressure to revise its nine-dot line and reject a binding Code of Conduct in the disputed waters. The United States' Asia 'pivot' will act as an important counterweight, but risks fuelling Beijing's insecurity -- and counterproductively -- its nationalism. While Myanmar -- as ASEAN's 2014 chair -- attempts a fine geostrategic balance, South-east Asian littoral states are likely to be more assertive, particularly Vietnam, which will extend military and economic engagement with likeminded stakeholders Japan and India and seek to invoke the UN Law of the Sea Convention.

Islamic State will use water as weapon in Iraq, Syria   The Oxford Analytica Daily Brief ® - Tuesday, September 2 2014 The US airforce carried out three airstrikes on Islamic State group militants near Mosul Dam yesterday. The dramatic advances made by the group this year have grave implications for the water resources of Syria and Iraq. Large swathes of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers have fallen under the group's control in 2014. Beyond the direct humanitarian and food security implications, this development raises the prospect of the group using water resources as a weapon in the conflict. Analysis Water scarcity is a perennial problem in the Middle East, particularly given the region's population growth. Annual renewable internal freshwater resources per capita are 1,108 cubic meters in Iraq and 325 cubic meters in Syria: Syria. Prior to the conflict, a combination of drought and the regime's poor agricultural policies resulted in massive rural-to-urban

Iran Builds Space Radars, Uses New Passive Phased Array Radars

  TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran announced on Saturday that it has finalized construction of space radars to detect satellite and space objects' trajectories, adding that the country is now using new passive phased array radars to detect stealth targets and cruise missiles. "The executive stages of Sepehr (Sky) space radar with the range of over 2,500km have been accomplished and the point for its deployment has also been specified," Commander of Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli told reporters in Tehran on Saturday. He also pointed to the designing and building of new passive phased array radars under the name of 'Soundless Project', and said, "The radar is capable of detecting stealth (radar-evading) targets and cruise missiles and enjoys a high movement and mobility capabilities and acts in different ranges." In relevant remarks in February, former Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said that Iran planned to

Urbanization and Demographics Could Skew China's Economic Rebalancing

STRATFOR Analysis SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 | 0415  Print   Text Size    Summary China's urban population may grow by as many as 230 million people in the next 15 years. But most growth will take place not in metropolises like Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing but in the myriad small- and medium-sized satellite cities around them. And as residents flock to these cities, China's working-age population will begin to decline, and its elderly population will grow dramatically. Together, these processes will underpin major changes not only in China's overall economic structure, but also in the financial, fiscal and political relationship between central and local government. The added burdens facing small- and medium-sized cities, especially those located deep inside China that are sequestered from mainstream global trade, will be substantial and perhaps socially and politically destabilizing.  Analysis In July, the Chinese government announced that a revision to the one-child policy had

Rawalpindi’s ongoing Puppet Show in Islamabad   In my recent article  (URL above) on the ongoing turmoil in Pakistan, I had stated that in 'the Book' based polity of Islam, the lines between the Mir and the Pir ,the temporal ruler and spiritual ruler still remain blurred ,contested and changing ,with examples of Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt. Hopefully this tussle will keep on going peacefully and a balance /separation between the military and civilian leadership would be achieved one day .Finally with overall control of the popularly elected representative and accountable civilian administration. This tug of war will take its time depending on the history of the state before Islam was imposed by force, by persuasion or by other means. Saudi Arabia from which Islam emerged might have been Jahiliya, but Egypt, Anatolia aka Turkey and the subcontinent had ancient and flourishing civilisations before the arrival of Islam. Saudi Arabia's billions

"Colors of Kurdistan" Art Exhibit

Kurdistan Regional Government - USA 4 September 2014 Greetings from the KRG-US.  "Colors of Kurdistan" has opened at Foundry Gallery in Washington, D.C.!  The art exhibit features two prominent Kurdish artists: Ramzi Ghotbaldin and Sardar Kestay.  The exhibit will be open through September 28th, but please be sure to stop by the opening reception on Friday, September 5th from 6-8 pm to enjoy refreshments and meet the artists.  At the reception, KRG staff will graciously accept monetary donations for the humanitarian crisis in Kurdistan. 100% of the donations will go directly to the governorates providing life-saving relief to the over 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons in the Region.   Please see the attached invitation for details.  We hope to see you there! Sincerely,   Kurdistan Regional Government - USA Reception Invitation  Join us at the opening reception and meet the artists  Friday September 5, 6-8 pm The Foundry Gallery  1314 18th Street, NW Washingt

Maoist War Against India: Time for United & Strong Response Ajit Doval, KC - Former Director, VIF The May 25th extremist attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh was one of the depredations that hit India. But, more tragic is what follows – delayed tactical response, leadership confusion and helplessness, scripted statements carrying no conviction and even ministers looking for opportunities to derive political mileage. In the world of security what happens is important, but what decides the end game is how the governments respond to them. While the former is not always and fully in their control, the latter is a matter of their conscious choice. The tragedy of what they fail to protect and prevent is compounded by the wrong or inadequate response that guarantees perpetual failures. There is a predictable pattern of discourse that follows major attacks. Political statements and counter statements, Centre versus State blame game, accusations

Is Pakistan On Way from Failing to Failed State?     Sushant Sareen, Senior Fellow, VIF A theatre of the absurd is on display in Islamabad with the street-fighters of Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri breaching the barricades to storm the Parliament and lay siege to the Prime Minister's House. The denouement of this clear collapse of state authority in the face of a marauding mob is not yet clear. What is clear is that democracy has been grievously damaged, the civilian government has been reduced to a mockery and the political and administrative system has been brought to the verge of a meltdown. The question is no longer about whether or not Nawaz Sharif survives, but of what sort of a caricature he will be reduced to if he survives and what will replace him if he doesn't survive. Even more important will be the impact of the political implosion underway on the security, stability and economic viability of Pakistan. To be fair t

Japan’s white paper on defence: An overview Naval Jagota September 01, 2014 Japan released its annual white paper on defence on August 5, 2014. The document attempts to shift Japan's approach from being predominantly China-oriented towards a broader role in enhancing regional stability. The 2014 white paper evaluates Japan's strategic thoughts and takes stock of its military activities in the Asian region along with other military forces, both regional and extra regional. The white paper also highlights Japan's alliance relationship and brings out the internal structural changes to address future challenges in the region. The security concerns of Japan, as detailed in the paper, "has become increasingly severe, being encompassed by various challenges and destabilizing factors, which are becoming more tangible and acute" as well as "Opaque and uncertain factors such as issues of territorial rights and reunification remai

India’s Revised Defence FDI Policy

Laxman K Behera September 01, 2014 On 26th August, the government formally notified the revised defence FDI policy, which was first announced in the defence and finance minister's budget speech in July. Coming with immediate effect, the revised policy increases the benchmark FDI cap from 26 per cent to a composite level of 49 per cent under the normal approval route with a further provision that FDI beyond 49 per cent (26 per cent under previous policy) could be allowed if such investment results in access to 'modern and state-of-the-art technology'. Apart from increasing the FDI cap, the revised policy also deals with numerous other aspects. The commentary examines the key provisions of the revised FDI policy and the likely impact on flow of foreign funds to Indian defence industry. With increase in the FDI cap, the government has also made a change in the kind of foreign investments per

I am a PhD too

Kirti Dua I booked my railway ticket in IIIrd AC of Hemkunt Express for my journey from Jammu to Ludhiana. On the day of the journey, I boarded the train and kept my suitcase underneath my lower berth. On the opposite lower berth a middle-aged lady was lying. A gentleman boarded the train, and after having a glance at the berth, told the lady that it was his seat. The lady replied that the TTE had allotted this seat along with four other seats to her family members. The man got annoyed and told the lady in a little loud voice that he had a proper reservation for the seat. He was well-educated and a PhD, neither the TTE nor that lady could befool him. In the meantime, her husband came and after a careful examination of the ticket of the gentleman, told him to go to IInd AC compartment as his reservation was for that class. The husband of the lady then said that a PhD did not guarantee wisdom and common sense; one had to be careful

Dialogue not an end in itself

Hazards of a poorly planned engagement with Pakistan G Parthasarathy A diplomatic engagement with a neighbour having territorial ambitions has to be carefully calibrated and executed. Apart from realistically assessing the balance of military and economic power, one has also to carefully assess the neighbour's internal political imperatives and the readiness of its leadership to live at peace, without resort to terrorism. Sadly, there are vociferous sections in India which believe that dialogue with Pakistan is an end in itself, without carefully considering what the available options are. Moreover, has continuing dialogue produced better results than no dialogue at all? Imran Khan supporters at a rally in Islamabad. The demonstrations led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri enjoy the backing of the military establishment Imran Khan supporters at a rally in Islamabad. The demonstrations led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri enjoy

Obama’s another pause on Syrian front Saturday, 30 August 2014 | S Rajagopalan | in Oped         A year after shelving plan to airstrike Assad forces, the US faces a similar predicament in Syria after declaring to 'do what is necessary' against the Islamic State in the wake of the gruesome killing of James Foley Exactly a year ago, President Barack Obama was bracing for a military strike against Syria as America's long-time bete noire Bashar al-Assad crossed the "red line" with his alleged use of chemical weapons. However, after all the sabre-rattling for nearly a fortnight, Mr Obama reversed course when confronted by unexpectedly massive domestic headwinds, both on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, with his camp-followers not relishing the sight of an "anti-war President" launching his own war. Much to his relief, Russia, using its clout with Assad, came up with a diplomatic proposal for international contro

AN ABNORMAL SITUATION  - India is itself partly responsible for the Hurriyat blowback   Kanwal Sibal   Pakistan created an abnormal situation by asking its high commissioner to meet the Hurriyat leaders despite the Indian foreign secretary's "advice" against such a move. Advice like this is not given normally to a foreign envoy unless an issue of high political sensitivity to the host government is involved. But, if given, the expectation is that it will be accepted. A foreign envoy has to maintain a functional relationship with his host government that can be seriously impaired if a confrontational choice is made. After all, the advice to the high commissioner was against meeting a category of Indian citizens on Indian soil — a request that did not abridge his country's sovereignty on its own territory. So, it is aberrant of the Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson to raise the issue of Pakistan's &q