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Archive for category STRATEGY AND WAR GAMING

Military Profile:Lt-Gen Zubair Hayat appointed DG SPD

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Lt-Gen Zubair Hayat appointed DG SPD

ISLAMABAD: The Bahawalpur Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, has been appointed as Director-General of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), one of the most sensitive positions dealing with the country’s strategic programme and assets.

The much-awaited replacement of Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai, who got 12 extensions since his retirement from the army, came about within a month of the appointment of new Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mehmood.

Kidwai’s tenure as DG SPD was seen as a “never-ending” exercise with some people talking of his 13th extension as neither General Perviaz Musharraf nor General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had replaced him for a record period.

For all practical purposes, Hayat, currently serving as Bahawalpur Corps commander, has been appointed as SPD DG as both Army Chief General Sharif and Chairman JCSC General Rashad mutually agreed to bid goodbye to KK, who never allowed any one to poke nose in the sensitive area he was handling for so long.

For all practical purposes, the SPD DG comes under Chairman JCSC, but the posting of a serving 3-star General to that position is the domain of the Army Chief.

Lt Gen Hayat, who’s father Mohammad Hayat was also retired as Lieutenant General and his two brothers—Umer Hayat and Ahmed Hayat—are 2-star Generals, belongs to a soldiers’ family similar to Army Chief General Sharif.

Top military circles say that COAS General Sharif appointed one of the best brainy, brave and bold Generals to be in charge of the country’s strategic assets in the shape of Lt Gen Zubair Hayat.

Since Pakistan’s first series of nuclear tests in May 1998 during second tenure of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it is the first time that Pakistan will have a new SPD DG as Kidwai continued to survive as SPD DG during all this period for one or the other reason.

Some circles do not hesitate in saying that things would start taking new shape and progress with the arrival of new SPD DG Lt Gen Zubair Hayat, a dynamic personality to spearhead Pakistan’s strategic nuclear and missile programme.

Lt Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat commissioned in artillery regiment of Pakistan Army in early ‘80s’He has been chief of staff to a corps and is a graduate of Command and Staff College, Camberly UK and NDU Islamabad.

He commanded an infantry brigade, division in the past and now, he was Bahawalpur Corps commander before moving in as DG SPD.After the appointment of Bahawalpur Corps Commander Lt Gen Zubair Hayat as SPD DG, there are three top positions to be filled in either by promotion of senior most 2-Star Generals to 3-Star Generals or reshuffling in the Army.

Presently, the Army Chief would fill in the vacant positions of the Bahawalpur Corps commander, Inter-General Training and Evaluation (IGT and E) and Chief of Logistic Staff (CLS). The position of IGT and E has been lying vacant since elevation and appointment of General Raheel Sharif as Army Chief, while post of CLS has been lying vacant because of pre-mature retirement of Lt Gen Haroon Aslam on being superseded.

Lt-Gen Zubair Hayat appointed DG SPD 

 
 

 

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Israel needs an enemy. Iran has left the stage. By Amir Oren, Haaretz

Excellent article to understand the Israeli mindset, and the way they think and plan with super efficient intelligence system. Their military priorities with aerial strength (fighter/Tanker combination), fast piercing Navy and ground forces reliant on tanks, all these backed by highly efficient American/home produced Nuclear armada of all types with every conceivable delivery system and ranges. They are potent because the Americans allow them that vantage. They will now surely look for a new enemy…..
SAR
 
Israel needs an enemy. Iran has left the stage.
 
By Amir Oren, Haaretz

 

 
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To attack Iran’s nuclear facilities Israel would use its F15 aircraft. They would have to be refuelled by the KC-135 refuelling Stratotanker (the big bulge at the top of the photo) which American  Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, very controversially, included in the 2013 massive arms deal with Israel.
 
 
Israel may be forced to freeze its plans for a pre-emptive strike, allowing the Israeli military to return to its proper dimensions. There may even be room for a strategic move of the diplomatic kind.
 
By Amir Oren, Haaretz
April 10, 2015
 
On October 25, 1956, four days before the Sinai Campaign started and before the Israeli cabinet had given its approval for IDF operations in the Sinai, IDF chief of staff Moshe Dayan gathered the General Staff and justified to them linking up with France and Britain against Egypt. Israel must, said Dayan, “One, carry out our operation in a manner that we will benefit as much as possible from the actions of others. By comparison, we are riding a bicycle and they are riding a motor vehicle, and it is worthwhile for us to grab on. Two, we must be sure not to be run over by that same car.”
Last week, in the Ben-Gurion House in Tel Aviv, where then-prime minister and defence minister David Ben-Gurion lay ill during the Sinai Campaign (and where, as the former authority, in May 1967 he tormented the then-IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin until he had a breakdown), Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel presented a logical structure that complemented Dayan’s from six decades earlier. Eshel is more than just an outstanding Air Force commander. He is a central member of the “cabinet” of Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, who is a year younger than him, alongside deputy chief of staff Yair Golan, one of only two major generals to have held that position since 2008.
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Israeli Air Force Commander Major General Amir Eshel (R) with American ambassador Dan Shapiro,A Zionist, as Eshel becomes the new commander of the Israeli Air Force,  May 14, 2012. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/FLASh90

The question that interested him last week at the conference dedicated to Operation Focus (Moked), the massive airstrikes that opened the Six-Day War in 1967, which were carried out by surprise and with amazing success – with former Air Force commander and Deputy Chief of Staff Ezer Weizmann being the main proponent of its planning and implementation – was whether the Air Force was capable of repeating its achievements and surprise in a new, though not identical, version of the pre-emptive attack.
The summary of Eshel’s doctrine: Yes, the Air Force has incredible capabilities, much greater than those in 1967, to carry out and surprise; and it is important that the decision makers, the political leadership, trust in its existence and its ability to carry out any order – as long as the double price of a pre-emptive strike is clear in advance in order to manage expectations with the cabinet (and the public) beforehand.
The price that will have to be paid
The first part of the price will have to be paid to the powers in the form of relations with Israel. For example, in the wording of the cease-fire resolution, which will be presented to the UN Security Council. If Israel attacks out of the blue, without a specific justification, it will take the risk of global enmity and even sanctions against it. Dayan’s bicycle was French-made, and suffered an embargo from de Gaulle – and now they are American made; in October 1973, after the supply of Phantom jets and air-to-surface missiles was made conditional on the commitment to avoid a preemptive airstrike, it was one of Dayan’s considerations (and of prime minister Golda Meir) against such an attack, alongside the fear of pressure for a withdrawal from the territories is Israel was painted as the aggressor. 
 
And even if these countries will not be enthusiastic about harming Israel, unions and other organizations could very well sabotage the supply chain of weapons and other essential items.
 
The second part of the price to be paid will be handed to the Israeli homefront. The Air Force will hit 1,000 targets a day, 2,000 on the fateful first two days of the campaign, but the home front will suffer thousands of rocket and missile attacks, since the entire offensive forces can’t go after the rocket launchers, and the entire defensive forces won’t be assigned – or will be adequate – to intercept the volleys at the homefront; there will be other high priority missions such as defending airbases and infrastructure targets.
 
As nimble the Air Force will be in its operations, defence will be only partial, also because strengthening these defenses will ruin the surprise and leave signs that will send the enemy (and especially its leaders) into hiding – or ambushes. The IDF realized this too late during the period of the reprisal operations in the 1950s, which ended with the 18 victims of Qalqilya just two weeks before that very same General Staff meeting headed by Dayan: The stimulus (terror attack) provided everyone with a warning of the response (the raid).
 
The Air Force has proved something of its power to operate nimbly and in a crowded airspace, but without any significant opposition, in Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense, and Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
 
 It was impressive in its coordination between fighter planes, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles – and between all these and the ground forces. But we cannot draw a conclusion from this that victory is guaranteed against more determined and better armed enemies; and even if the scales of military force will lean to Israel’s side, it is the diplomatic results that will determine the outcome – the framework of the ceasefire (speedy is very much desirable) and the progress in its wake to an agreement.
 
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Lausanne: surrounded by security men, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif in discussion with Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. He served as head of AEOI from 2009 to 2010 and was appointed to the post for a second time on 16 August 2013. He was also the Iranian representative in the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1998 to 2003.
 
One of the lessons of recent years is that it is worthwhile for Israel to grit its teeth, overcome its desire for revenge and call for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to come out of his bunker, where he has been sheltering since July 2006; because Israel needs an address, for a representative and authorized leadership to talk with and reach an agreement. The supreme consideration is once again not if Nasrallah’s successor will be better or worse for Israel than he is, but whether without Nasrallah, or the present leadership of Hamas, there will be anyone to talk to in order to prevent a continued war of attrition.
 
Dayan, in that same meeting with his small band in on the secrets in the General Staff (and not all of them knew all the secrets), noted that “our plans always included starting the war and fierce bombardments of the Egyptian air force in order to destroy their air power” – in other words, an unripe Operation Focus, over a decade before the Air Force was really read to carry it out; since, as the person who was really the chief planner of the operation, retired brigadier general Rafi Sibron, said last week that the self-knowledge of the pilots and the systems that planned, armed, controlled and trained for the operation was no less important than the intelligence on the enemy.
 
The surprise was not wasted in 1956 and was preserved for 1967, without the Egyptians being prepared for it (for example by building underground hangers for their warplanes or by preparing to rapidly repair the runways), since according to Dayan: “This time, because we believe that some of the work will be done by others – we will not do it. If it turns out that we made a mistake, it could be a mistake we will pay for dearly.”
 
Instead of Egypt then, we can now write Iran; instead of the British and the French – the Americans. 
 
The Lausanne deal, whose completion by June 30 will postpone the attainment of Iranian nuclear weapons until 2025 to 2030, has stolen from the IDF one of its main enemies.
 
 An enemy whose threat is the reference scenario, according to which the forces are built and prepared, and the operations are planned for. When Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel, it had a clear influence on the IDF’s order of battle (fewer regular armoured divisions) and the equipment budgets, training and active reserve service.
 
 Transferring Iran from a concrete enemy to a more fluid threat on the list of enemies that the IDF is preparing to counter in a greater war, could have a similar influence, especially in the aerial sphere.
 
The Congress, which Israel is so enthusiastic to involve in the process, seems combative today, but it is fickle and could well put on the brakes and not just speed up, mostly for internal reasons relating to the balance of powers and party considerations.
 
 In May 1967, Levi Eshkol’s government was paralyzed and it failed in its efforts to decide on carrying out Operation Focus as the kick off for the campaign in Gaza and Sinai (Dayan, who was appointed defence minister, expanded the plan), because they wanted to let the diplomatic process in Paris run its full course (France was the supplier of the Mirage jets and surface- to-surface missiles) and in Washington, with the mission of Foreign Minister Abba Eban.
 
The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Arthur Goldberg, was a mutual friend of President Lyndon Johnson and Israel. Goldberg later told how Johnson called him after Eban’s visit to the White House and expressed his worries that he went too far in his commitment to military action to break the Egyptian blockade on the sea lanes to Eilat. Goldberg, a former Supreme Court justice, calmed Johnson down: Eban also visited him and heard that the president’s commitment was subject to constitutional processes, in other words to the agreement of the Congress.
 
One of the reasons for Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s complacency on the morning of June 5, 1967, despite his general estimate that an Israeli attack was expected, was the mission of his Vice President Zakaria Mohieddin, who was considered pro-American, to Washington. 
 
Almost fifty years later, when the Iranian leadership is following to a certain extent in the footsteps of Anwar Sadat and adopting the “Infitah” Sadat’s economic policy of “opening the door” to private investment (necessarily to the West, though given the situation in the 21st century not only to them), an Israeli attack during the diplomatic contacts between the six powers and Tehran would be viewed as treachery, similar to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour at the same time Japanese messages continued to arrive at the State Department in Washington; and would lead to a harsh American response.
 
All these considerations against an Israeli attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would not apply to the Israeli-Iranian clashes in the ground floor and basement of the relations between the two countries, whether directly or through proxies; but for that the IDF doesn’t require any reinforcement – not to its means nor to its level of preparation.
 
The Iranian threat will be reduced to the level of the Iraqi threat in the period between the two wars the Americans fought against Saddam Hussein, from 1991 to 2013. During that period, before the withdrawal from Gaza and the increased missile threat from Hezbollah and Hamas, the IDF viewed Syria as its chief enemy. 
 
For its mission in the Iranian sphere, the IDF defined for itself (as usual, the government evaded this responsibility) more or less: The goal is to deter Iran from intervening militarily in a war between Israel and one of its neighbors or the Palestinian Authority. The accomplishment required to achieve this included a significant attack on a small number of specific targets over two days, the destruction of strategic infrastructure (especially nuclear), attacking the surface-to-surface missiles and preventing the sending of troops to reinforce Hezbollah and the countries abutting Israel.
 
With the exception of the nuclear infrastructure targets, which have been taken off the agenda because of the diplomatic constraints, what the Air Force and Navy have been building over the past decade, along with Military Intelligence and the Mossad, is more than enough to deal with the other Iranian challenges. Additional investments will be superfluous – it would be better to put them to other uses, in the IDF (as the General Staff has recommended) or for civilian use.
 
The decade after the Sinai Campaign was quiet, relatively, and was used to raise the standard of living, alongside the building up of the IDF in the air and with tanks, as well as the construction of the nuclear reactor in Dimona. 
 
After the Yom Kippur War Israel wasted two decades – the 1980s, despite the peace with Egypt and the Iran-Iraq War, since it threw itself into Lebanon; and the 1990s, despite the end of the Cold War and the defeat of Saddam Hussein and Iraq, since it did not have the courage to pay the price for peace with Syria.
 
The Lausanne deal, if it is completed and implemented, will provide Israel with an additional opportunity to focus its multi-year plans for the IDF on nearer and more essential priorities, without the craziness of a war with Iran. A reappraisal of the list of military purchases is also necessary. F-35 planes, for example, should be received as late as possible, once they have outgrown their childhood growing pains, and not in any rush.
 
 The best alternative would be a peace initiative, a diplomatic act of prevention instead of a military one. Given the present composition of the Israeli leadership that would be a huge surprise, maybe even for the politicians themselves.

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Bi-polarity to gasping uni-polarity by Brig. Asif Haroon Raja (Retd) Pakistan Army

Bi-polarity to gasping uni-polarity

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

End of Bi-Polar World. As explained in my earlier article titled ‘World Wars and Cold War’, during the Cold War, proxy wars were common because the two super powers didn’t dare to fight each other directly due to nuclear deterrence. The US led west demonized USSR and scared the world to keep away from the monster of communism. The US projected itself as the champion of democracy and human rights and guardian of free world. CIA was used covertly and NATO overtly to spread US area of influence. KGB assisted by Warsaw Pact military alliance of seven Eastern European States did the same. In the aftermath of defeat and pullout of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in February 1989, followed by Michael Gorbachev’s glasnost to democratize communism and Perestroika to open up and restructure economy resulted in Soviet economic meltdown. Several Soviet Republics rebelled and sought independence. With its military and nuclear power intact, the huge Soviet Empire fragmented from within on December 15, 1991 and broke into 15 smaller States and USSR shrunk to Russian Federation. The US emerged as the sole super power putting an end to bi-polar world and giving way to uni-polar world.

Islam Projected as Chief Threat

The neo-cons in USA and American Jewish lobby mulled over how to make 21st century the ‘American Century’ and to rule the world for next hundred years. For the achievement of this goal, a convincing motive had to be manufactured. The New World Order (NWO) conceived by George W. Bush senior in 1989 was modified and the Red Army threat was replaced with green flag threat. Islam was hyped and projected as the chief threat to US dominated capitalism and international order.

Within Muslim world, radical States such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Lebanon, Somalia and Iran were marked as ‘dangerous’. This was confirmed by Patrick Buchman in 2003. Samuel Huntington gave credence to this theme in 1990s by writing in his book ‘Clash of Civilizations’ that in future, wars would no longer take place between countries but between cultures and that the best candidate for the upcoming divide would be between Islam and the west.  

Brzezinski’s Concept of Eurasia. One of the major reasons of projecting Islam as the major threat to US hegemony was the concept of US uni-polarism propounded by Brzezinski in 1970s. For the achievement of this ambitious objective, he like the earlier strategists held Eurasia as the key region, the capture of which would ensure control over Africa and facilitate world domination. Eurasia is the largest continent where lay treasures of the world. For effective control of Eurasia, he had recommended establishment of western front in Europe and southern front in Asia complementing each other. He was categorical in his assessment that whosoever controlled Eurasia dominated the world.   

NATO made Relevant. NATO had lost its relevance to exist after the end of Cold War and dismantlement of Warsaw Pact for which it had been created. Some way had to be found to keep it operational. NATO was tasked to expand eastward and integrate as many East European, Baltic and Caucasus States. It got heavily involved in Balkans. Once its membership jumped from 16 to 28 States, it was made into a global task force. The western front was thus maintained and not dissolved. Paradoxically, the western front was reinforced after dismantling the southern front in Afghanistan in 1989.

Establishment of Two Fronts

Having consolidated and expanded NATO in the 1990s, the US hawks then waited for an opportunity or an excuse to establish southern front in Asia for which Afghanistan and Iraq had been earmarked as target countries in the modified draft of NWO in 1997. 9/11, whether real or engineered, provided the excuse the US was eagerly looking for to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq.  

Demolition of Afghanistan in November 2001 and Iraq in 2003 undertaken by George W Bush junior led neo-cons (Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) were aimed at establishing a secure southern front to complement the western front that was established by merging Eastern Europe into European Union in early 1990s. The underlying idea behind the establishment of two fronts was to disrupt and occupy Central Asia, capture all its energy resources and thus gain control over whole of Eurasian continent as propounded by Brzezinski.   

Russia under Boris Yeltsin. Russia under drunkard Boris Yeltsin remained economically dependent upon USA and Western Europe to survive. Yeltsin’s lackadaisical approach allowed NATO and CIA to extend their outreach into Eastern Europe and re-integrate it into Western Europe. CIA was actively involved in fomenting color revolutions in Eastern Europe, Baltic, Caucasus and Central Asia. Biggest breakthroughs were fall of Berlin wall and reunification of Germany, breakup of Yugoslavia into six independent States and disintegration of Czechoslovakia. NATO’s eastward drive towards the heartland of Russia and the US insistence to deploy Missile Defense Shield were hostile steps and in violation of the US-Russia treaty signed in 1990 that the US will not threaten Russia’s security interests.

Russia under Vladimir Putin

In the new millennium, the situation began to change when Russia came under Putin in 1999. Since then, he has remained in power at a stretch and held both the appointments of President and PM. He resolved to rebuild weakened Russia and regain part if not all the glory of demolished Soviet Empire. He started to reassert Russia’s authority in global politics as well as over its breakaway Republics by making good use of its oil and gas resources. EU became dependent upon Gazprom for gas. Six Central Asian Republics are the soft belly of Russia, on which the US has its eyes since long and which Russia can ill-afford to lose. Both Russia and China are keeping this vital region in their loop with the help of SCO.

In order to keep resurgent Russia under control, Bush administration embarked upon a highly expensive and controversial Missile Defence Shield (MDS) program under the plea of safeguarding USA from rogue States like North Korea and Iran. Poland and Czech Republic were persuaded to deploy components of the MDS. Putin expressed his concerns asserting that the MDS was Russia focused and threatened to counter the threat. It strained US-Russia relations.

Russo-US Encounters

After the CIA inspired rose revolution in Georgia which brought down President Eduard Shevardnadze and brought in pro-western President Mikhail Saakashvilli to power in 2004, the first serious Russian encounter with the US took place in Georgia in August 2008 when Russian troops invaded Georgia on August 8, 2008 and by 10th occupied several Georgian cities and bulk of breakaway South Ossetia as well as Abkhazia. Since then, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are firmly in control of Moscow.

The next standoff between the two has taken place in Ukraine. When the government of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in February 2014, he fled to Russia. Putin reacted by sending Russian troops and seizing Crimea in early March and amassing 40,000 troops along eastern border of Ukraine. Sevastopol seaport in Crimea is an important Russian naval base which it cannot afford to lose. In a popular referendum held onMarch 16, Crimeans voted to join Russia. After ratification by the two houses of Russian Parliament, annexation of Crimea was formalized on March 21.

Ten cities of Eastern Ukraine are heavily populated by Russian speaking and pro-Russia people. Unrest is going on in several cities and militants are urging Moscow to send in Russian troops. Although NATO has thus far shown restraint by desisting from moving towards Ukraine’s western border, situation is still tense. While Putin is using gas as a weapon to tighten up Ukraine, EU which is itself heavily dependent upon Russian oil and gas, at the behest of USA has imposed sanctions and threatened to apply further sanctions to force Russia to lay its hands off Ukraine. The US accused Russia for attacking Ukraine on trumped-up pretext and has hurled a warning, giving rise to fears that another Cold War may be in the offing.

Turbulent Middle East

The US controlled strategically important Middle East by propping up authoritarian regimes and establishing GCC comprising six Gulf States and making Iran under Reza Shah Pahlavi as the policemen of the Persian Gulf. In addition, Israel was created in 1948 at the cost of Palestinians. It was economically and militarily bolstered to bully the Arab States. While the US succeeded in neutralizing Egypt through Camp David Accord in 1979, it lost Iran in March 1979 after Imam Khomeini took over power. Another emerging power Iraq, seen as an obstacle in the way of Israel to become unchallenged power of the region was weakened through 8-year war with Iran, First Gulf War in 1991 and imposition of harsh sanctions.

Invasion of Iraq. When these incapacitating acts failed to bring down Saddam, the US under George W Bush led neo-cons and Jews chalked out a grand plan to change the boundaries of the Middle East, replace radical rulers with compliant and secular rulers, harness oil resources and make Israel the super power of Middle East. The plan envisaged piecemeal annexation of Arab States. The first axe fell upon Iraq in March 2003 after pasting trumped up charges. Although occupation forces left Iraq, they have left behind embers of sectarianism. Hardly a day passes without suicide attack/bomb blast.

Regime Change in Libya

Taking advantage of the Arab Spring, insurgency was fomented by CIA in Libya in 2011 to bring down Qaddafi regime. Handfuls of Libyan rebels mostly living in exile were instigated by CIA to start an armed rebellion. UK and France led the assault and within months Libya was destroyed, the regime toppled and Qaddafi brutally murdered. Chaos in Libya was premeditated because Libya was a stable African society in North Africa and Qaddafi had made it into a real welfare State. He wanted to use the water, oil and financial resources of Libya and the intelligence of the Libyan people for the reconstruction of Africa. In order to solidify African Union, Qaddafi wanted to build an African Monetary Fund, an African Central Bank, and an African common currency. Moreover, Qaddafi had moved to take over the Arab banking corporation in Bahrain, and the Libyan leadership had over $200 billion in foreign reserves. Common currency for Africa would have been a threat to Western Europe and North America and a real danger to Euro as well as to the US dollar.

Besides, Chinese had become the dominant force in infrastructure development within Libya. There were over 36,000 Chinese involved in railway, road, water, agriculture, and other forms. Libyan-Pakistan defence ties had grown manifold and Libya had placed a big order for purchasing defence equipment from Pakistan. While Libya was playing ball with Russia and China, it was also very friendly with the west and cooperating with them since 2004 but still was viewed as unpredictable by western oil and defence tycoons. To save euro/dollar and to capture Libyan oil, Qaddafi had to be removed. Although Libyan oil is now being controlled by the US/western companies, political and security situation is highly unstable.

Syrian Crisis. Syrian crisis from 2011 to 2013 saw Russia, Iran and Hezbollah standing behind Bashar al Asad and the US, EU, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Gulf States supporting Syrian Sunni rebels wanting to bring down Asad’s Alawite regime. When government forces gained an edge over the rebels in mid 2013, a chemical weapons attack on a Syrian town north of Damascus was engineered and drummed up. Making it an excuse, the US ordered NATO to strike Syrian defence infrastructure with cruise missiles. However, at the 11th hour, Obama took a u turn in the wake of Putin’s mediation, offering to dismantle Syrian chemical stockpiles. US backtracking have tensed US-Saudi relations. While the western threat has receded, Syria is engulfed in a new crisis in which the Islamic militias are fighting among each other much to the delight of Israel. Islamic State of Iraq & Levant (ISIL), till recent linked with al-Qaeda is pitched against Free Syrian Army (Sunni Syrian rebels), Syrian Revolutionary Front, Army of Mujahideen, Islamic Front (supported by Saudi Arabia) and Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front). Ghuraba al-Shams group is in clash with Nusra Front. Jundul Aqsa and Jaish al Muhajireen are independent.    

Iran’s Defiance

Iran under Khomeini completed full cycle of Islamic revolution and became militarily stronger and a staunch opponent of USA and Israel. Iran added to its military muscle by embarking upon nuclear program, which it maintained was meant for peaceful purposes. Both Israel and the US backed by the EU alleged that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon and exerted extreme diplomatic pressure together with four rounds of sanctions and military threats to force Tehran to abandon its program. Covert war was initiated by CIA to affect a regime change.

Replacement of outspoken anti-US/Israel Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with moderate pro-western Hassan Rouhani belonging to Reformist Party in June 2013 brought a change in US stance and it chose to befriend Iran after the latter signed interim nuclear deal in November 2013 pledging that it would roll back its nuclear program in return for easing of economic sanctions. Thaw in Iran-US relations further strained Saudi-US relations since Riyadh has considered Iran as a threat to Sunni Arab regimes. Rift between Riyadh and Doha over latter’s refusal to refrain from supporting Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere was another cause of concern for Saudi Kingdom.

Fears of Gulf States

Gulf Arab States want an interim government in Damascus and the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad. Gulf kingdoms also have serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its dangerous designs in the Middle East. The Shia crescent formed by Syria, Hezbollah dominated Lebanon, Bahrain, eastern Saudi Arabia and southern Iraq is seen as a big threat to Sunni kingdoms in Middle East. Suspecting that Shia uprising in Bahrain in 2011 was Iran inspired, Saudi led Gulf Force was dashed to quash it. They fear Iran’s potential nuclear weapons capability and deeply distrust the Americans for their overtures to Tehran.

Obama during his recent visit to Riyadh has tried to allay Saudi fears and has promised to provide ground-to-air portable missiles to the Sunni rebels in Syria and to disable Iran’s weapon oriented nuclear program.   

Turkey’s Phenomenal Economic Growth

Despite being the leader of seculars within the Muslim world since Kamal Ataturk days and member of NATO, Turkey has not been given membership of EU. In the 1990s, Turkey economy had become sick and it came under heavy debt of IMF. Its economy however began to progress dramatically when AKP led by Tayyip Erdogon took over in 2002 and made the country Islamic Republic. While Turkish constitution is secular, in practice it is Islamist. Within less than a decade it solved political, judicial, financial and economic problems. By 2005 all loans of IMF were cleared and in 2007 Turkey was in a position to extend loan to IMF and EU countries.

Today it is 16th largest economy in the world and is in a position to lead the Muslim world. Its output has reached $820 billion and has $400 billion worth trade. It has 27 trade partners all over the world and in a decade it attracted $120 billion FSD. Stunning economic progress made by the incumbent government coupled with Erdogon’s tough stand taken against Israel after the incident of peace flotilla in the high seas has become a cause of worry for the US led west. It is suspected that a willful vicious propaganda has been launched by the US based cleric Gullen and his supporters in Turkey and western media to undermine and bring down the government.    

Pakistan

Pakistan has emerged as the sole Muslim country with nuclear capability backed by robust armed forces with reasonably strong defence industrial and technical base and plenty of skilled labor force. Israel has remained worried that Pakistan may not gift Islamic bombs to radical Muslim countries in its neighborhood. India is more vexed since nuclear parity has blunted its blackmailing tactics and imperialist designs. The US is concerned about Sino-Pakistan conviviality since the future role assigned to India cannot be accomplished without breaking up Pakistan or making it a compliant State of India. It is vying to wean away Central Asian Republics brimming with natural resources from Sino-Russo influence and for piping out oil and gas for western markets through Port Gawadar. Indo-US-Israeli nexus has been striving hard since 1980s to denuclearize Pakistan and make it a Satellite State of India. Their efforts were stepped up after 2001 and they nearly succeeded in declaring Pakistan a failing and ungovernable State when the PPP regime was in power.

Consequent to change of government in Pakistan in May 2013 and changing alignments in Middle East, Riyadh, Bahrain and other Gulf States have begun to lean more heavily upon Pakistan. Its high officials undertook series of visits to Pakistan in January-February this year and inked several MoUs. Pak-Turk cooperation has also keyed up. South Korea has offered to make investments in Pakistan. Notwithstanding positive developments, what is worrying for Pakistan is not so friendly behavior of Afghanistan and Iran and growing strategic partnership of Iran and Afghanistan with India. Fast track development of Chahbahar Port in Iran by India is aimed at undermining Gawadar Port.

India under extremist Narendra Modi, known for his anti-Muslim/Pakistan stance may not auger well for Pakistan. Latest revelation made by Carlotta Gall that Pakistan and not Afghanistan was the real target lends strength to my repeated write ups asserting that the US is a foe and not a friend. There are worrying reports that India-Israel-Afghanistan-Iran backed by CIA have chalked out a sinister plan to launch a full-scale propaganda assault against Pakistan. Engineered attack on Hamid Mir could be a link of the same chain.       

Russo-China-US Altering Relationship

During the Cold War, USSR and China, the two largest Communist States fell apart in 1960 owing to political, cultural and ideological differences. Sino-US détente in 1972 further distanced USSR from China. Gorbachev mended fences with China in 1989 and today the two neighbors have become close allies. China has emerged as the chief rival of USA with all the trappings of future super power.

The US leans upon India to help it in encircling and containing phenomenal rise of China. The US in league with India is trying hard to win over as many littoral States around the Indian Ocean to check China’s ingress into the Indian Ocean laced with critical choke points and Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC). It is building coalitions with regional allies like Australia, Japan and the Philippines, and partners like Vietnam and India to bring Indian Ocean under full control to ensure uninterrupted flow of oil. Washington is currently promoting an ‘Indo-Pacific’ concept, which connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans as part of its approach towards Indian Ocean. Haunted by the threat to its corporate capitalism because of China’s economic model which has lifted 300 million people Chinese out of poverty; American writers are accusing China of endangering global stability.

Although China’s strategic focus continues to be on the Pacific, China’s priority will always be on protecting its energy security interests by way of securing the SLOC, spreading from the Gulf to the South China Sea. China is keen to develop Gawadar seaport so that its navy could checkmate Indo-US dominance of Indian Ocean and protect the SLOC, vital for the country’s energy imports. China has made deep inroads in the Middle East and Africa which include many Littoral States. Revival of old Silk Route through envisaged economic corridor from Kashgar to Gawadar and Karachi has the potential to make the region prosperous and self reliant. It will however upset Indo-US game-plan of developing an alternative Silk Route in which the duo would be major beneficiaries.

Uni-polar World Gasping for Life

In 1992 the US emerged as the unchallenged sole super power. In 2001 when George W. Bush triggered the Global War on Terror and the whole world fell in line, the US was economically, politically, diplomatically and militarily the strongest nation in the world. It was the largest aid-giver and leader of the First world. It had $ 15 trillion economy, and was looked at with awe and envy for being the “sole superpower.” In little over two decades, uni-polarism has begun to totter and it is speculated that all-powerful USA is fast running out of steam and sooner than later uni-polarity will be replaced by multi-polarity. Many say that the era of the US global hegemony is over. While Putin is looked at with respect for his deft handling of critical situations, American elite judge Obama as a weak president responsible for the loss of global clout which the US enjoyed.       

Today the US is burdened with a national debt of $ 16.3 trillion and a total debt close to $ 59 trillion with very little chance of recovery in the foreseeable future despite the discovery of Shale gas. Apart from the debt which it has accumulated because of its craze for foreign adventures, the US leadership has also amassed tons of hate against America around the world, raging particularly in the Muslim world. This is in spite of the US doling out aid/grants to the needy countries generously and making substantive contributions in terms of science and technology. Still, the US is presently one of the most hated nations on earth.

The US track record during and after the Cold War is that it has always attacked economically and militarily poor countries. Excepting Israel and India, the aid it lends to its allies is always attached with tough conditions and for self-serving purposes. Besides bloody wars, destabilization of elected governments or regime change through gruesome covert operations is another favorite hobby of American leaders. Pakistan has suffered the most at the hands of US and its ally India.  

Among the major reasons of USA’s decline are its dual standards and discriminatory policy with regard to Palestinian/Kashmir issues and its subservience to Israel, aggressive policies of pre-emption and unilateralism, anti-Islam/Muslim policy, its grandiose plans to redraw the boundaries of the Middle East and to take control of oil resources, lust for untapped mineral resources of Central Asia, over indulgence in highly expensive war on terror and in covert wars to neo-colonize the Muslim world. All its high-flying objectives have gone for a six after it got stuck in the quagmire of Afghanistan. Last but not least, the 2008 global recession has badly impacted the US and European economies. Rag-tag Afghan Mujahideen having humbled the Soviet Empire have now rolled the honor and prestige of the sole super/hyper power in dust.

The US sudden and rapid decline has made its self-created financial institutions like IMF and World Bank weary and defiant. They are not favoring the US suggestion to create alternative financial institutions by BRICS. While majority of Latin American States have moved out of the influence of North America, even Europe led by Germany and France is showing signs of non-cooperation. Putin is cleverly playing upon the sensitivities of European countries to draw a wedge between Europe and USA. China has reduced American influence in Africa to insignificance and is raring to become an economic super power by 2025. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States no more crave for US friendship. New power centres have emerged and new alignments are shaping up. The invincible NATO is breaking up after its humiliation in Iraq and particularly in Afghanistan. Despite using excessive force, Islam couldn’t be undermined. Rather, it has gained ground and biggest conversion rate to Islam is in USA. Growing isolation of the US in the world has blurred ‘American Century’ dream.

The US can recover ground if the leadership changes its posture from arrogance to affability, restrain Pentagon from adventurism, CIA from covert operations and media from propaganda war, gets rid of perverse influence of Israel, India and UK, decentralize power concentrated in the hands of 1% American elites, formulate even-handed global policies to make the world peaceful and last but not least, mend fences with the Muslim world.      

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist, author of four books and member PESS and MESAIC Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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