Booms of outgoing artillery shaking the ground, militia fighters from the remote Libyan mountain town of Zintan hunker down in the passenger terminal to defend Tripoli airport, the biggest prize in the capital. The collapse of Gaddafi’s four decades of single man rule has left Libya an armed free-for-all, where cities, regions, charismatic individuals, urban neighbourhoods and rural tribes all field their own armed forces.
The conflicts raging today in Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine share some common features. Irregular belligerents — Hamas, ISIL/ISIS and Ukrainian separatists — are each aggressively shaping these conflicts in skillful ways to outmaneuver their more conventional adversaries. These irregular warriors seek creative and often indirect ways to accomplish their wartime ends, often without fighting in conventional fashion. Their tactics and equipment reflect a new and ever-varying combination of conventional high-tech weaponry.
Global conflicts are increasingly fuelled by the desire for oil and natural gas and the funds they generate. Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine, the East and South China Seas: wherever you look, the world is aflame with new or intensifying conflicts. At first glance, these upheavals appear to be independent events, driven by their own unique and idiosyncratic circumstances. But look more closely, and they share several key characteristics, notably, a witch’s brew of ethnic, religious, and national antagonisms that has been stirred to the boiling point by a fixation on energy.
In early 2012, Saudi authorities arrested Sayeed Zabiudeen Ansari, a (LeT) operative accused of playing a central role in planning and executing the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India. Ansari was deported to India, where he was publicly re-arrested and interrogated extensively. Ansari had traveled to Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport and his interrogation was almost certain to implicate the ISI—and by extension, provide strong evidence on the question of the Pakistani state’s support to terrorists.
The EGF was originally planned around the turn of the millennium by Italy and France as EU force. Several Member States, including Germany, but had objections to such a paramilitary unit. The governments in Rome and Paris stuck to the plan and eventually founded the EGF as a multilateral, independent of EU unity. According to its statutes, the capabilities of NATO, the OSCE, the UN and the EU can be borrowed. In the foreground, however, are inserts of the European Union.
The Australian Army’s Directorate of Future Land Warfare has published a report that warns Australia’s future land wars will be very different from recent conflicts in the rural and remote terrain of Afghanistan and Iraq. With the world’s population expected to reach 8 billion by 2030, the directorate sees Asia’s mega-cities as key potential future battlegrounds. Population pressures, ethnic tensions and conflicts over food, water and resources are believed likely to create environments in which insurgencies and terrorists can freely plan and execute attacks.
We live in an energy-centric world where control over oil and gas resources (and their means of delivery) translates into geopolitical clout for some and economic vulnerability for others. Because so many countries are dependent on energy imports, nations with surpluses to export — including Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, and South Sudan — often exercise disproportionate influence on the world stage. What happens in these countries sometimes matters as much to the rest of us as to the people living in them, and so the risk of external involvement in their conflicts.
The Gulf governments seem worried these days. None of them had imagined, a few months ago, that individuals entrusted with security, people’s lives, oil fields and weapons would eventually pose the main threat to all these valuables. ISIS leaders, the likes of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, are well aware of al-Qaeda’s past experience and they do realize that the Islamic caliphate will never be truly fulfilled without controlling the region’s most important treasures, i.e. oil and gas resources.
Analysts have also been talking about a pincer movement by Egyptian and Algerian forces on either side of Libya’s desert regions, with Chadian and French forces cutting off Libya’s southern frontiers thus entrapping “terrorist” groups within Libya’s Sahara. Algeria’s El Khabar newspaper, which is close to Algeria’s military, said on 11 June that Algeria was coming under increasing pressure from western countries to intervene in Libya to destroy the “jihadist Salafist” groups.
It is no longer enough to just refer to the Atlantic Alliance’s Article 5: Russia’s new types of warfare combines economic and political pressures with cyber attacks, corruption, propaganda and provocative events organized by secret agents and special forces. NATO is not structured to handle such. Command structure to make military decisions. Everything else is politics and governed by consensus. At a NATO conference in Brussels last month about information warfare, I urged the organization to become better at using social media.
The recent pattern of pro-Russian unrest and fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine resembles a Russian military playbook used in exercises simulating invasion drills, according to a new analysis. The analysis, by ex-NATO commander Wesley Clark and Phillip Karber. The plan was announced despite NATO evidence, disputed by Russia, that President Vladimir Putin is resuming his nation’s buildup of troops near the Ukrainian border.
U.S. arms supplies to Syrian rebels may create Somali-style warlords and are undermining Washington’s allies in the rebels’ exile military command, the former Syrian army general who leads it said. Brigadier General Abdelilah al-Bashir, who defected in 2012 and led rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces in the Golan before becoming chief-of-staff of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council in February, told Reuters that Washington was bypassing the SMC in sending weapons directly to groups that were hard to control.
Imagine warfare waged in financial cyberspace: electronic, remote, fought in hypervelocity with millions of engagements per second, and with nations forced to construct redundant systems, sacrificing billions in economic efficiency for survival capacity. Financial warfare strikes can blockade vital industries; delink countries from the global marketplace; bankrupt sovereign economies in the space of a few days, and cause mass exoduses, starvation, riots, and regime change.
Thailand, one of Asia’s most prosperous countries, seems determined to render itself a basket case. A military coup, imposed following the Thai constitutional court’s ouster of an elected government on spurious legal grounds, can lead only to an artificial peace. To Thailand’s east, Vietnam is the latest Asian country to feel pinched by China’s policy of creating facts on the ground, or in this case at sea, to enhance its sovereignty claims on disputed territory.
An independent think-thank says the Strait of Hormuz remains one of the most significant, volatile and strategic areas in the world. The Oman Supreme Council of Planning announced that it will begin constructing a 90 square kilometre logistics hub near the central coast of the country near one of the Strait’s two entry/exit points. That project aims to capitalise on the high volume of traffic that moves through the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.
The Uyghur Autonomous Region (UAR) represents an important source of natural resources such as oil for the fast-growing Chinese economy. In addition, the region also has become a hub for energy transit routes from Central Asia and – after the construction of the pipeline from Gwadar Port in Pakistan to the region – from the Middle East and Africa to China. Since China became a net importer of oil and natural gas in the mid-1990s, the safety of energy routes and transit has constituted important pillars of economic security for China.
Over the last six months, levels of conflict and political violence have jumped significantly in 48 countries as a consequence of popular revolutions and regime change, a study released reveals. In its latest conflict and political violence index, global risk analytics company Maplecroft analyzed 197 nations, placing the most risky at the top of the list. These countries include resource-rich Central African Republic (ranked 2nd most at risk), South Sudan (4th), Somalia (6th), DR Congo (7th), and Libya (8th), all of which saw significant increases in risk.
Asia’s growing dependence on Middle Eastern oil has amplified the risks it faces if the Strait of Hormuz is suddenly shut, making it more vulnerable to such a disruption than other regions, UK think-tank Chatham House said on Wednesday. Asia is more at risk than Europe and the United States to a cut in Middle Eastern supplies as it buys 75 percent of the region’s oil exports, said Chatham House energy security expert John Mitchell in a report – Asia’s Oil Supply: Risks and Pragmatic Remedies.
For Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of Estonia, the legal order preserving Europe’s borders changed utterly when Russia invaded Crimea. The European Union’s meek response has made it a laughing stock. “There is nothing left to hold on to,” declares Mr Ilves. Except NATO. Unlike Ukraine, the Balts are members of the NATO military alliance, under whose founding treaty an armed attack on any member is considered an attack on all. This means America is committed to protecting its European allies. And for now, they believe it will.
Here’s a scenario that’s bound to go well. Take one of the most militarized countries on Earth and start adding Russian weapons and money into the mix. Southern Cyprus is also building ties with Russia, whose navy is increasingly active in the eastern Mediterranean. This means arms sales and access to Cypriot ports and airfields. At the same time, Limassol has become a transit point for illegal Russian arms shipments heading to Syria.
Turkey’s active support for the rebels in the war ongoing right next to it in Syria is increasing concerns that the country might end up like Pakistan, which actively participated in the Afghan-Russian war and the ensuing civil war. The first person to ever express such a concern was President Abdullah Gül, who said in an interview with the Guardian in November that Syria is turning into an “Afghanistan on the shores of the Mediterranean,” a statement which has led experts to this question: If Syria is Afghanistan, who is Pakistan?
Throughout human history our capacity to use the sea for moving goods, people and resources has been vital. Until mechanical land and air transport was developed (and even after it) sea lanes were the main arteries of global communication, thereby fundamentally shaping human history in the process. Indeed, even in an increasingly globalised world ships still carry the vast majority of global trade. That said, sea transport is still quite often taken for granted – so much so that ‘sea blindness’ is a common affliction among the world’s political elites.
The durability of the US-centric system of global security provision is now a matter of growing concern for strategic planners around the world. At the source of their preoccupations are doubts regarding the ability of the system’s underwriters to sustain long-standing commitments in the face of increasing military and economic constraints. Chief among these are restrictions on the unmatched ability of the US armed forces – and, at a much lower level, those of first echelon allies like the United Kingdom and France.
The criminalisation of the jihadis is designed in part to persuade the Americans that Saudi Arabia is not encouraging Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), both al-Qa’ida-type groups, to take over northern Syria and western Iraq. On the contrary, the Saudis say they want to fund and supply a third military force in Syria that will fight both President Assad and the anti-Assad jihadi forces.
Russia does seem to have an outsized decision power and influence over the EAU. Russia does seem to have an outsized decision power and influence over the EAU. For instance, Russia receives nearly 90% of all collected custom duties. And in the union’s regulatory agency, the EEU, Russia has one vote weighted at 57%, while Belarus and Kazakhstan both have a vote weighted at 21.5%.
Breedlove was very impressed, both by the preparation of the “incursion”, under cover of maneuvers allowed by security agreements, by its execution. “The incursion of Russia into Georgia… was probably not the smoothest,” he said. “By way of comparison, the foray into Crimea went very much like clockwork, starting with almost a complete disconnection of the Crimean forces from their command and control via jamming and cyberattacks and then a complete envelopment by the Russian forces inside of Crimea.”»
The Navy could also go on the offensive in space. As demonstrated in 2008’s Operation Burnt Frost, the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system is capable of destroying targets in space. While the Missile Defense Agency called Operation Burnt Frost a “one-time Aegis BMD mission,” any SM-3 equipped Aegis ship with the same software modifications as the USS Lake Erie would be capable of attacking satellites in low earth orbit.
Russia has deployed troops on the border of eastern Ukraine, either as part of an invasion force or as a threat to gain diplomatic leverage. Russian troops and Russian-backed militia are digging into the Crimea. To counter Russia’s moves, on Friday the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia—former client states of the Soviet Union—signed a military pact creating a unified defense force. The group, called the Visegrad 4, says the combat unit will operate under the auspices of NATO and the European Union.
Iran, China and Russia are apparently one force against the US and its allies and want Pakistan to strengthen its ties with Tehran whereas Washington is pressing Islamabad to purchase gas from Qatar and Turkmenistan to meet domestic needs. In this scenario, two blocs are in the process of making – one comprising Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China if the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project gets under way. Russia and China are in favour of Pakistan opt for this project According to experts, the US wants to strengthen ties among Pakistan, Afghanistan and India by pushing them to work on the Turkmenistan-Pakistan-Afghanistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline.
Iran and Iraq – at least theoretically – hold considerable reserves of crude oil and jointly have the potential to match Riyadh’s crude output capacity. The US’ EIA says that Saudi Arabia has a proven oil reserve of about 267 billion barrels, far ahead of Iran’s 151 billion barrels worth of reserves and Iraq’s 143 billion barrels of proven reserves. But combined, Iran and Iraq would have the capacity to possibly shift the balance of power, as this could challenge Riyadh’s capacity to stabilize the markets. And this carries ominous consequences too – for the global crude markets – some are now arguing.
Ever since an acrimonious split with larger neighbor Malaysia in 1965, Singapore has placed a strong emphasis on the military. The greatest fears for a small country like Singapore lie in two things – coercion by bigger powers and strategic uncertainty that arises from any conflict between great powers,” said William Choong, Shangri-La Dialogue senior fellow for Asia-Pacific Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “Singapore’s defense spending should be seen in such a context.” Last year the government allocated about $12 billion of its budget to national defense.
There is an unmistakeable sense among Western decision-makers of power slipping away. It’s not an argument about American abstention or decline, although that plays into it for some critics of the Obama administration. It is more to do with the exhaustion – moral, political and economic – of nations that have been in the forefront of the international security business, and the vibrant ascendancy of some other players. “It means,” he says, “we will have less influence on the international scene. The vacuum will be filled by other powers and they do not necessarily share our interests and our values.”
Today, the US invasion of Afghanistan and opening of military bases in Central Asia and the economic expansion of China into the region have convinced experts that a new Great Game is afoot. German journalist Lutz Kleveman writes that a new Great Game “rages in the region.” Quoting Bill Richardson, former Secretary of Energy and US ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton years, Kleveman writes that the US is involved in Central Asia not only to defeat al Qaeda but also to “diversify [its] sources of oil and gas [and to] prevent strategic inroads by those who don’t share [its] values.”
The Mediterranean Dialogue (MD), initiated in l994, signaled the Alliance’s recognition of the growing importance of security challenges from the south. The MD includes: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Mauritania. Progress in developing the initiative, however, has been slow. While bilateral cooperation has developed relatively smoothly, multilateral cooperation has proven difficult because of members’ differences with Israel regarding the Palestinian issue and more recently the deterioration of Turkish-Israeli relations.
Top economic advisers are forecasting war and unrest. They give the following reasons for their forecast:
Countries start wars to distract their populations from lousy economies. Currency and trade wars end up turning into shooting wars. The U.S. is still seeking to secure oil supplies, and the U.S. doesn’t like any country to leave the dollar standard. Additionally, the American policy of using the military to contain China’s growing economic influence – and of considering economic rivalry to be a basis for war – is creating a tinderbox.
In 2007, Iceland was celebrated for attaining the world’s highest standard of living according to the U.N.’s annual Human Development Index report. In less than a decade, the tiny North Atlantic island had transformed from a traditional fishing and tourism-based economic backwater into a finance and banking powerhouse, rocketing the country’s wealth and living standards to enviable new heights. Sadly, Iceland’s economic boom was an illusion based on a reckless credit and asset bubble that led to a terrifying financial crisis when it popped in 2008.
From strategic point of view, the Russian diplomacy concerned the Balkans and the South-East Europe as essential for the Russian state security and above all for the stability of the Russian state frontiers. It was the Russian intention to obtain favourable frontier in Bessarabia (today independent Moldova) and to have a control over the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which became very important to the Russian commercial and economic development in particular for the shipment of surplus grain (from present-day Ukraine) to the world markets. The Bosporus and the Dardanelles became a part of Russia’s “security zone” (in both economic and political terms).
Ortega’s current move to permit indefinite re-election set off alarm bells in some sectors, most notably the episcopal conference of Roman Catholic prelates, which warned of “the perpetuation of a long-term absolute power.” The National Assembly will consider the matter again early this year. Until then, however, the question for many here is whether Ortega would ever cede power to his wife. Those who have known the two say their relationship is complicated, and sometimes strained.
Many of the ASEAN nations prefer informal defense cooperation that allows the United States to act as a regional stabilizer. However, this situation is also advantageous for China. For decades, China has waged a low-intensity conflict in disputed maritime zones while politically isolating Taiwan. It has illegally built facilities on contested islands in the South China Sea, harassed the Philippines, and are trying to spark a confrontation with Japan in the East China Sea. With its massive military buildup, China will soon have the conventional military-power projection to seize contested areas and potentially deter U.S. intervention.
Domestically, the militias also pose a threat to Libya’s unity and stability. Their diktat over strategic zones, including the oilfields the economy is so desperately reliant upon, has greatly undermined the government’s credibility and the country’s livelihood in recent months. For example, the Political Bureau of Cyrenaica, a federalist group headed by the self-styled Ibrahim Jadhran, has occupied strategic oil terminals since July. In October, the group announced the creation of a federal state of Cyrenaica.
Are we on the brink of war? Academic sparks debate by drawing comparisons between 1914 past and 2014 present
A CENTURY ago, a simple assassination was enough to topple a tenuous balance between the old and new worlds. The resulting war killed millions and spanned the globe. Is history about to repeat itself? The year was 1914. The world was experimenting with economic globalisation. Optimists believed this new world economy would eliminate war. But the concept proved to be in conflict with old notions of empire and fresh attitudes of expansionism. There was friction between the industrial and military powers of the “old” world and the ambitions of the revitalised “new” economies.
As Paul J. Smith, Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, explained: “I don’t think the issue is the possession of submarines per se; it is China’s increasing influence in Bangladesh (including possibilities that China may be able to transform Chittagong into ‘Gwadar East’)”. This is what military planners in India are really worried about.” Gwadar is a strategic Pakistani port-affording access to the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The port, which is especially strategic for its importance in the global shipping trade.
The world will face countless challenges in 2014, but a few nations in flux stand out in the crowd. NBC News correspondents and writers explain how the outcome of wars, negotiations and elections in these countries could have a deep impact on their own populations and regions, and sometimes the world. Will the Islamic Republic of Iran re-enter the mainstream of world affairs in 2014? The answer to this question won’t only impact Iran’s future but that of the entire Middle East, where it is stuck in a struggle for pre-eminence with Saudi Arabia.
As 2013 draws to a close, Gateway House examines the tumultous year and the significant developments that affected foreign policy globally. Below is our geopolitical forecast for 2014. The Central and South Asian regions will experience even more disorder in 2014, emanating from the transition to a smaller and still unsettled role for the West in Afghanistan. With a new president at the helm, Afghanistan will be in a suspended state as the West hastens to exit. It will be making unprincipled deals with the Taliban for the latter’s return as a player in the contested politico-military space in Afghanistan.
The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has received substantial imports of Iraqi crude oil from an Egyptian port in the last nine months, shipping and payments documents show, part of an under-the-radar trade that has kept his military running despite Western sanctions. Assad’s government has been blacklisted by Western powers for its role in the two-and-a-half year civil war, forcing Damascus to rely on strategic ally Iran – itself the target of Western sanctions over its nuclear program – as its main supplier of crude oil.
Poison In Our Waters: A Brief Overview of the Proposed Militarization of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
The U.S. has long viewed the island of Guam, an unincorporated U.S. territory that already hosts two of the Department of Defense’s most “valuable” bases in the world,2an indispensable part of its “Pacific Century.” Prior to talk of the “Pacific Pivot,” the Governments of Japan (“GOJ”) and the United States agreed to reduce the number of Marines on Okinawa in response to intense local pressure. Defense Department planning for Guam is closely bound up with changing plans for basing in Okinawa. In 2006, the governments of Japan and the US formalized a “roadmap” to move 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
China today can be seen as a giant Wei Qi board, where the pieces represents the Chinese SOEs (State Owned Enterprises) and private Chinese investors be it local or Overseas Chinese or rather known as the Bamboo Network that has spread their wings in all four corners of the Earth. They are starting to move their pieces (investments) and scattering all over the world. Although their move might be sporadic at the moment but in time they will be able to achieve economies of scale and move into areas that shows signs of economic boom quickly.
For the first time in decades, this direction will be led from inside the region, by those Mideast states, groups, sects and parties most threatened by the extremism. Because nobody else is coming to “save” the Middle East today. As Salafist militants swarm various borders – from the Levant to the Persian Gulf to North Africa and beyond – states are disintegrating, their territorial integrity and sovereignty under threat, their institutions and economies in shambles, and their armed forces impotent against the irregular warfare practiced by these invaders.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a business empire as well as the country’s most powerful military force, have been a vocal critic of recent nuclear diplomacy. President Hassan Rouhani is fighting back, setting up a contest that may shape his presidency. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps expanded under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, benefiting from multi-billion-dollar contracts to build Iran’s nuclear facilities and develop the world’s biggest natural-gas field at South Pars in the Persian Gulf. Former officers, who made up more than half of Ahmadinejad’s cabinet, are down to four out of 18 ministerial jobs under Rouhani.
The Gulen community has been at odds with the Prime Minister over a range of issues, including the wide powers afforded to his intelligence agency, his handling of the Gezi Park protests, and his government’s foreign policy. The blowback began with reports that Erdogan was engineering a purge of the Turkish bureaucracy, in which the Gulenists had established a number of powerful fiefdoms. In November, when the government confirmed that it would go ahead with plans to shut down Turkey’s exam prep schools—one of the Gulen movement’s financial lifelines—it reached a peak.
While “regime change” is too strong a term for what Germany is seeking, it’s not entirely off base. Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the European People’s Party (EPP), a family of European conservative parties, have chosen Klitschko as their de facto representative in Ukraine. His job is to unite and lead the opposition — on the street, in parliament and, finally, in the 2015 presidential election. “Klitschko is our man,” say senior EPP politicians, “he has a clear European agenda.” And Merkel still has a score to settle with Putin.
In recent years, we have also witnessed a reduction in the number and the scale of European military operations outside the Continent. Europe’s contribution to global security and stability is mainly composed of training and support, and does not involve the proper deployment of military resources. The lack of unity and resources in the EU was highlighted by the intervention in Libya where Europe was obliged to let the United States and NATO take the initiative. In the cases of Mali and the Central African Republic, France did not wait for the EU to express an opinion, because as a French diplomat, who was quoted by Le Figaro explained: “Waiting for Europe is like waiting for Godot.”
Balochistan being an Achilles heel of Pakistan. And not only a largest province of Pakistan but also in the entire South Asia, having a great geo-strategic location with huge energy and minerals resources, having a deep sea port at Gawadar but remained a sparsely populated and backward province. Ever since Pakistan’s independence, Baluchistan has been under focus due to a host of reason and it’s political, social and security situation remained fragile. The main factors behind this unrest in Baluchistan are diversified standpoints of Nationalists / socialist groups, tribal sardars, prevailing sense of deprivation, poverty / unemployment, exploitation of resources by others.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which is being built upon the initiative of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia, is among the most important transportation projects in reviving the Silk Road on the Caspian Transit Corridor. The project would not only connect Azerbaijan and Turkey but also connect the Caucasus and Europe, Middle Asia and Europe and “at the end it could connect the East with Europe,” Osmanli said. Completion of the 826-kilometre railway is scheduled for 2014, and it will be able to transport 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tonnes of freight at the first stage.
European countries bordering Russia’s territory of Kaliningrad say they are worried at reports that Moscow has put nuclear-capable missiles there. Lithuania and Poland both issued statements of concern. Russia has not confirmed the report but insists it has every right to station missiles in its western-most region. Moscow has long threatened to move Iskander short-range missile systems to Kaliningrad in response to the United States’ own European missile shield. Russia sees the missile shield as a threat to its nuclear deterrent.
The European Parliament voted this week to lift import duties on Moldovan wine, responding to the “unjustified and arbitrary pressures exerted by Russia”, which banned the product as of 1 January next year. But Russia has not had its last word yet, analysts warn, urging the European Union to speed up its association process with Chisinau to avoid a Ukraine-like scenario.The move comes two months after Russia banned wine exports from Moldova citing “food safety concerns”, and just a few weeks after Moldova initialed a key association agreement with the EU in Vilnius, which is yet to be formally signed.
Saudi Arabia is calling on the Gulf monarchies to unite for their own self-defence. But in a speech at the Manama Dialogue security forum in Bahrain, Saudi Assistant Foreign Minister Nizar Madani said “Gulf countries should no longer depend on others to ensure their safety.” The oil-rich monarchies “must unite under one political entity in order to face internal and external challenges,” said the minister. “All countries have realised that blind dependence on a foreign power is no longer acceptable. GCC countries must decide their own futures,” said Madani.
For France’s happy interventionists, each expedition has had a primary humanitarian focus. But they have also served to bolster fading French international prestige, especially in its former African colonies, and to boost Hollande’s low approval ratings. Oppressed by economic woes, the French appear to enjoy incisive military action abroad (as long at it works). As Napoleon, another pint-sized French leader knew, la gloiremakes little men feel grand. The Hollande doctrine promotes a broader agenda, about how to “do” international security.
An effective European security and defence policy would allow the EU to ‘project influence globally’, argues Maria Eleni Koppa. European security and defence is a topic that has been attracting a lot of attention after the decision of the European council to hold a special discussion dedicated on security and defence – for the first time since 2008 – at the forthcoming December summit. In this context, on 21 November, the European parliament adopted the report on the implementation of European security and defence policy, concerning the positions of the parliament for the future of the common security and defence policy (CSDP).
Nasrallah rarely mentions Saudi Arabia by name, only referring to the monarchy in vague terms in order to maintain plausible deniability. But that all changed on Tuesday, when he accused Saudi agents of being behind the suicide bomb attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut last month that claimed 23 lives. In doing so he has openly declared a war that has long been fought in the shadows, first in Lebanon where Hizballah-allied parties are at a political impasse with the Saudi-backed Future Movement of Saad Hariri, and now in Syria.
Ukrainians taking to the streets to protest their government’s refusal to strike a trade deal with the European Union may be the first of several post-Soviet states facing the choice between Russia and Europe as Georgia and Moldova gear up for their place on the bargaining table.
Decades have passed since they each gained their sovereignty, but post-Soviet states west of the Eurasian divide continue to struggle between their European identities and the influence and benefits that can come from allying with Russia.
“The maritime domain in general has got more complex, with the undersea domain a huge part of that with more sophisticated submarines and the emergence of long-endurance, unmanned or remotely operated vehicles,” he said. “You see it just in oceanographic capabilities. Frankly the way countries globally are using technology in the undersea domain is going to make it a very interesting operational space. You’re going to have to bring a lot more capability into that operating space to ensure you stay dominant — economically as well as militarily.
The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) operates Boeing E-767s, 160-foot airplanes stuffed with radar and electronics that enable them to detect aircraft from 200 miles away. They confirm that the Chinese drone is wheeling above the Senkakus, and Japan dispatches F-15Js to intercept it—and shoot it down—obviously ignoring China’s Air Defense ID Zone. Chinese long-range, back-scatter radar spots the F-15Js in the air, and China dispatches quad-prop Y-8X maritime patrol for a better-resolution look. They also alert their best fighters—Sukhoi Flankers (Su 30) and Chengdu J-10s—to prepare to take off.
India is now the world’s third-largest grain producer after China and the United States. The adoption of higher-yielding crop varieties and the spread of irrigation have led to this remarkable tripling of output since the early 1960s. Unfortunately, a growing share of the water that irrigates three-fifths of India’s grain harvest is coming from wells that are starting to go dry. This sets the stage for a major disruption in food supplies for India’s growing population. In recent years about 27 million wells have been drilled, chasing water tables downward in every Indian state.
The proposed corridor will cover 1.65 million square kilometres, encompassing an estimated 440 million people in China’s Yunnan Province, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bihar in Northern India through the combination of road, rail, water and air linkages in the region. This interconnectedness would facilitate the cross-border flow of people and goods, minimise overland trade obstacles, ensure greater market access and increase multilateral trade. Leaders hope the economic corridor will bring back to the days of the ancient Silk Road and its south-western trade route.
There are different views in Russia. Some people believe that we have to block any improvements in US – Iranian relationship. For example, they say, the current “special” relationship is based largely on Tehran’s being burdened by the sanctions and having nowhere else to turn but to Russia. But as soon as Iran has other opportunities, it will immediately reorient itself toward more influential Western countries. Of course, there is always the risk that the country that was eager to be “friendly” in times of trouble will turn away as soon as the grip of isolation loosens.
November has been a torrid month for France, rapped by the European Commission for failing to reform its economy and hit by a new sovereign debt downgrade. Nationwide anger at rising taxes has sparked often violent protests, notably by Breton livestock workers up in arms over a planned road freight levy. Yet abroad, it has exuded self-confidence and strength: it played hard ball in major-power nuclear talks with Iran that brought a landmark deal on Sunday; it is gearing up for a risky new peace intervention in ex-colony Central African Republic.
It is perhaps no coincidence that the two kamikaze attack on November 19 against the Iranian embassy in Beirut took place on the eve of the resumption of nuclear talks between the 5 +1 ( United States , Russia , China, France, Britain and Germany) and Iran in Geneva on November 20. If last summer, two attacks had hit the southern suburbs of Beirut , a stronghold of Hezbollah, the Shiite party backed by Iran, this is the first time that Iranian interests were directly affected by a terrorist act (25 dead, including the Iranian cultural advisor and four guards, and 146 injured).
Espionage, especially spying on friends, has always involved a cost-benefit calculation – weighing the benefits of eavesdropping against the costs of being found out. But the expansion in sheer information gathering and storage capabilities since the 9/11 terrorist attacks has swamped any efforts to set limits and the proclivity to weigh the pros and cons, analysts say. And the downsides of that, they add, could be many and even lead to a damaging of the counterterrorism efforts that lie at the core of international intelligence cooperation.
Although the term “energy security” is now ubiquitous in political speeches and the media, international relations scholars have only just begun to rediscover the topic after a 30-year hiatus. The 1970s oil shocks prompted a wave of research in the 1970s and 1980s but did not produce systematic theories about oil and war. Emerging scholarship assesses the potential threats to energy-importing countries and examines how energy security issues shape importers’ foreign policies, including their decisions to use military force.
It was 1993, and Shahid Javed Burki, then director of the World Bank’s China operations and later Pakistan’s caretaker finance minister, was calling on the then vice-premier in Beijing. China’s “all-weather friend” is an integral part of its “look west” policy to find economic sustenance for landlocked western provinces. This is why China in 1986 started working on a 600-kilometre highway across the Karakoram mountain range connecting Kashgar in Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s northeast.
The Vikramaditya has a lot in common with China’s first aircraft carrier the Liaoning, that was commissioned in September last year. Both carriers are symbols of great national maritime pride and manifest the blue water ambitions of the world’s fastest growing economies. There is also a reason why these two carriers with their majestic bow ski-jump are nearly identical to Russian naval flagship, the Kuznetsov. All three carriers are designs of the St Peterburg-based Severonye design bureau. These designs were translated into reality at the only warm water egress of the Soviet empire: the Nikolayev South Shipyard on the Black Sea (now in Ukraine).
The European Union’s (EU’s) relationship with Eastern Europe and the Caucasus is at a turning point. Russia’s increasingly assertive tactics have chipped away at the ties that bind the six Eastern Partnership countries to the EU, and the entire Eastern Partnership is on the verge of unraveling. To rescue its association with its Eastern partners, the EU must deliver more tangible results. Europe can be both geopolitical and committed to reform—but to strike the right balance, the EU must be more strategic.
China’s decision to set up a powerful national security committee has spurred deep fears in the country of society slipping further into a police state. “This worry is not unfounded, since China’s rulers have always managed to blur the line between ‘national security’ and the security for them to govern,” wrote Jin Manlou, a Shanghai-based writer on weibo. “Often in China, the army is used in domestic situations instead of in international conflicts.” Others speculated about the high status granted to the new agency, comparing it with that of the KGB.
Two arch-rivals, RAW and the ISI have been always trying to outwit each other, to dictate the terms for Bangladesh. At times RAW was successful, a few times the ISI was successful. Ill-prepared security networks, paid and unpaid agents, friends, and loyalists in Bangladesh also played significant roles here. Members of the Indian or Pakistani intelligence forces were patted on the back by their seniors and the government for doing a good job, though not necessarily good for Bangladesh.
There is international consensus that failing states should not become havens for the next wave of terrorists keen to attack the West. The aim is to do so without committing troops, with the Central African Republic a potent example. As the UN warns of impending genocide, it has become the lethal playground for indigenous Seleka rebels along with fighters from al-Qa’ida in the Maghreb, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Sudan’s Janjaweed, the Lord’s Resistance Army and Malian Islamists. France has kept around 400 troops in the capital, Bangui, to keep the airport road open.
In the past, every time North Korea sets off a nuclear bomb or launches a missile into orbit, the event is preceded by a number of things occurring in North Korea, in the region, and in the international community. What are those things? Is it possible to somehow register them and then look at present day activity to see if the same or similar things are occurring? And if they are, would that not be a pretty good indication that North Korea will, soon, once again light the fuse on one of its nuclear playthings?
Let’s define strategy as the intellectual framework guiding individuals and/or organizations towards sustained success, which in turn can be defined as a sustainable outcome that is valuable and satisfying over time. Strategic thinking has been systematized into what this article’s co-author, USAF Col. (Ret) John A. Warden III, terms the “Prometheus Process.” Prometheus was the Greek god who gave man the capacity for forethought and the ability to make fire. In essence, Prometheus gave mankind the power to create the future, to strategize.
Despite growing ties between Taiwan and China, Beijing has never abandoned the option of using force to bring about ‘reunification’ and continues to regard the island as a core strategic interest. The balance of military power in the Taiwan Strait has shifted decisively to China’s advantage and will continue to do so over the next decade, making armed intervention by Beijing theoretically practicable. Nevertheless, strategic developments will weigh on Beijing, including the extent of the US’s rebalancing of policy towards Asia, the outcome of Taiwan’s 2016 elections, social order on the island, and the situation in Hong Kong.
As the latest militant-Kurdish military showdown eases in northeast Syria, Baghdad is keeping a close watch on a battle which threatens even greater instability in Iraq. Kurdish forces and al Qaeda-linked groups have for weeks fought over territory, with the Kurds taking over a key border point late last month. But with the likelihood of more fighting to follow, Baghdad is worried of militants securing a wider corridor between eastern Syria and western Iraq.
A former officer said: “The primary goal the authorities will have had is to present Bouteflika as strong and in control of the state—including the security apparatus. On the other hand, the big changes taking place in the region, the security deterioration along Algeria’s borders, and the corruption scandals that have come to light have forced these actions and changes in military and government officials. But to say that there is a struggle between the intelligence service and the presidency—this is just to distract public opinion. There is no struggle whatsoever; they are in perfect harmony.”
Asia is now more prone to conflict than at any time in recent memory, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) academic Michael Auslin wrote in an article published in the Wall Street Journal. “The East China Sea may see the world’s first war started by aerial drones,” Auslin wrote in the article, which also appeared on the institute’s Web site. The British version of the Journal also published an editorial this week titled “Alarm over the Taiwan Strait, which said it is time for Taipei and Washington to shore up Taiwan’s deteriorating defenses.
Did the Obama Administration ever spy on Mitt Romney during the recent presidential contest? Alex Tabarrok, who raised the question at the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution, acknowledges that it is provocative. Until recently, he would’ve regarded it as a “loony” question, he writes, and he doesn’t think that President Obama ordered the NSA to spy on Romney for political gain. Let’s be clear: I don’t think so either. In every way, I regard Obama as our legitimate head of state, full stop. But I agree with Tabarrok that today, “the only loonies are those who think the question unreasonable.”
Afghan parliamentarians and analysts are concerned about the Iranian regime’s machinations in Afghanistan. “Iran is quite busy inventing crisis in Afghanistan,” Abdul Ghafoor Liwal, a writer and director of the Regional Study Centre in Kabul, said. “Iran has two goals,” he told Central Asia Online. “First, it wants to create barriers to Western countries, and second, it wants to build up its own influence by establishing pro-Iran universities, religious seminaries and media outlets.” Nazir Ahmadzai accused Tehran of supporting insurgents in order to destabilise Afghanistan before its April elections.
Iran will lead a club of the world’s biggest natural gas exporters as its own shipments abroad are hampered by U.S. and European Union sanctions that force the country to burn off billions of dollars worth of the fuel. Mohammad Hossein Adeli, the country’s former deputy foreign minister, was elected secretary-general of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, whose 13 member countries hold 60 percent of the world’s reserves, the group said in a statement. Adeli, vowed to turn the Persian nation into a “major player among the gas exporting countries,” he told reporters after a group meeting in Tehran.
The recent endorsement by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of a multibillion dollar construction corridor encompassing Bangladesh, China, India and Burma—if it materializes—could redraw the economic and geopolitical map of Asia. Termed “an international gateway to South Asia,” the BMIC corridor, as it is known, was the highlight of Li’s recent visit to India. The Chinese premier’s office commented that the link “will surely release enormous growth energy and provide new vitality for the Asian economic integration and global growth.”
In a world where budgets are tight, and bottom lines daunting, it makes sense that governments around the world have to do more with less, or they just have to do less. Surprisingly, one part of the state apparatus that most countries seem happy to outsource is one of its most fundamental—security. At home, cash-strapped American cities, and even communities, are turning to private forces to protect public order. And a report out of the UN on Monday shows that the private security industry is experiencing a global economic boom that many of its customers would love.
Ukraine is leaving Russia for Europe. That’s what many observers see as the likely consequence of the Association Agreement that Ukraine and the European Union are expected to sign at a summit meeting in Vilnius at the end of this month. But those who expect Ukraine to embark on a fast transformation should not be complacent. Bitter disputes persist within the Ukraine-E.U.-Russia triangle, complicated conflicts that are about selfish interests, not universal values.
It’s an election in name only: even the challengers to Tajikistan’s autocratic president have praised him and the only real opposition candidate has been barred from the race in the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation. Emomali Rakhmon, 61, who has led the mountainous, Sunni Muslim nation neighboring Afghanistan and China for more than two decades, is all but certain to win a fourth presidential term in Wednesday’s vote. He polled 79 percent in the previous election seven years ago. Western monitors criticized it as lacking any genuine competition.
On 28 October, work started at the former airbase at Deveselu in southern Romania on installing elements of the US missile defence system, specifically an Aegis system with SM-3 interceptors. This means that the missile defence project is being implemented on schedule. The move confirms the close, fast-growing military cooperation between Romania and the United States, and means Bucharest is now one of Washington’s main security partners, not just in the region, but increasingly on the European scale.
France receives almost 80% of its energy from nuclear power, more than any other country in the world. The state-owned energy giant, Areva, which mines for uranium and builds and operates nuclear plants, gets a third of its uranium (French) from two mines in Niger, where it is the second largest employer after the state. Later this year, Areva is expected to begin extracting uranium from a site called Imouraren, which is thought to contain the second largest uranium deposit in the world.
Many times I have been asked to assess whether one nation or another is “increasing influence,” usually to categorize as “good” or “bad” developing events for someone with little time or understanding of the situation. Frequently, the right answer – “It depends…” – has to be discarded due an enforced sense of urgency that limits the ability to explain or discuss fully the individual’s thoughts or concerns. The next best answer is to highlight the particular situational gain or loss in specific terms, such as economic, diplomatic, or security..
By fate, Poland has always found itself in a geopolitical quagmire forcing the Polish nation to struggle to maintain its own sovereign state, and at the worst of times fight to keep its own nation alive. It comes as no surprise that prominent historian Norman Davies decided to title his book regarding Polish history God’s Playground. The pivotal location of Poland on the map of Europe has made it yet another point of interest for another recent geopolitical play: missile defence.
Security in Sana’a has deteriorated since popular unrest pushed President Ali Abdullah Saleh from office in 2011. Dozens of intelligence and security officials have been assassinated, al-Qaeda continues to attack government targets and Shiite-Muslim Houthi rebels, who are fighting Sunni Islamists in the north, are encamped in the city. “Yemen is slipping into chaos,” Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, said by phone. “Assassinations of intelligence figures and threats to foreigners are rising.”
A paper on German foreign and security policy prepared by two leading think tanks calls for a consolidation of national defense industries to ensure that Europe’s defense industry stays competitive in the long term. The paper, “New Power New Responsibility: Elements of a German Foreign and Security Policy for a Changing World,” was presented here Oct. 30 by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States. It drew on expertise from working groups made up of government officials, parliament officials, think tanks and nongovernmental organizations.
Oxford academic Paul Collier is well known for his book The Bottom Billion in which he maps the links between the world’s poorest people and the world’s most war-torn countries. In a chapter in a new book for IPPR, edited by Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, Collier argues that what Africa needs is an “African NATO”. He writes that the international community oscillates between “pusillanimous passivity” and “gung-ho intervention”.
Saudi Arabia’s declining power : The kingdom’s frustrations with President Obama are tied to its own weakness
This clash of interests has been brewing for some time. In 2011, during the early days of the Arab Spring, the Saudi royals expressed their alarm at Obama’s refusal to rescue Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from his street-demanded ouster (as if any American president could, much less should, have saved Mubarak’s skin). This past summer, the Saudis were once again enraged by Obama’s less-than-full support for the Egyptian generals’ overthrow of the elected president, Mohammed Morsi—and even more flummoxed by his calls for them not to ban Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party.
China’s interest in a peaceful Middle East is enormous, by contrast. Beijing is not only the biggest customer of precisely those oil powers who presently are fanning the flames of conflict in Syria; as a VIP customer, Beijing has growing political influence, which it should use openly. The word of the Chinese foreign minister has just as much weight in Tehran and Riyadh as that of his American counterpart. China’s situation, Zand continues, is rather like Germany’s after reunification: a state whose economic power is growing will eventually be asked what it puts on the table politically.
The GCC countries spent about $130 billion in 2012 to bolster their defences, according to ‘Jane’s Defence Weekly’. While most of their requirements are currently sourced from Western manufacturers, there is change in the offing. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Saudi Arabia made a $15-billion weapons contracts proposal to Russia in July 2013. And, if the possibility of Turkey choosing a $4 billion Chinese missile defence system materialises, at the cost of Western firms, it will create big openings for the Asian giant in the Gulf.
By virtue of our unique geography”, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a 2011 Foreign Policy article, “the United States is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power.” Russia, meanwhile, has seen itself as a Euro-Asian country, as Vladimir Putin has argued from the start of his first term in the Kremlin. The American attitude, which in Secretary Clinton’s locution is about as uncontroversial a statement as an American Secretary of State can make, reflects the country’s historic “maritime” vocation. The Russian one reflects the longstanding fascination with the country’s continental scale and reflects its traditional terrestrial focus.