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Posts Tagged Russia

The Faulty and Dangerous Logic of Missile Defense by Laura Grego in Scientific American

Russia Sells India an anti-Missile System of Dubious Effectiveness- A Win-Lose Contract-Russia wins $ 5 Bn, India gets a Lemon.

Russia has sold India S-400 anti-missile missile system, whose effectiveness in battlefield conditions have not been proven. Such systems are defensive toys, which costs India $5 billion. In a massive air-attack from 5th generation fighter jets, followed by a barrage of thousands of missiles, such defensive systems fail. Israel tried to use, the US manufactured THAAD system against HAMAS and HIZBULLAH Tin Can Rockets FAILED. MIRVs such as NASR, RAAD, and ABABEEL make  S-400 ineffective white elephants, like the Indian use of 155 mm BOFORS GUNS in the rarified air of Kargil Heights.

North Korea’s recent and dramatic tests of long-range missiles have created a sense of urgency and vulnerability in the United States, leading to renewed calls for expanding missile defenses. The administration and Congress have approved huge funding increases for existing systems, and call for developing new types of defenses—potentially including interceptors in space.

Is this the answer? How should one think about missile defense: as a protective shield or a dangerous illusion?

Missile defenses have as long a history as missiles do, and in the late 1960s, American and Soviet scientists came to believe that a defense against long-range missiles would never be effective because the other country would build more weapons to defeat it, leading to a dangerous arms race. The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which placed strict limits on U.S. and Soviet/Russian strategic missile defenses, reflected that understanding.

President Reagan’s 1983 “Star Wars” speech challenged that idea by calling for the United States to develop a large defensive system that included orbiting interceptors. Recognized by most experts as unworkable, this expansive system was pared down over the next decade and finally shelved, although work continued on interceptor technology during the Clinton administration.

Then, in 2002, President George W. Bush abandoned the logic of the ABM Treaty, by withdrawing from it and announcing that the United States would field the first interceptors of a new Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) in less than two years. To do so, the administration exempted its development from the strict “fly-before-you-buy” rules that govern all other large Pentagon projects—a step that has had dire and long-lasting consequences.

GMD remains the sole system designed to counter intercontinental ballistic missiles. Its 44 silo-based interceptors in Alaska and California are designed to be guided by space, ground and sea-based sensors to collide with an incoming warhead and destroy it with the force of impact.

Reflecting the difficulty of the task, and the haste and lack of rigor of its development, the GMD system today has an abysmal test record, even though these tests were “scripted for success” according to former Pentagon head testing official Phil Coyle.

The problems are well documented. Only about half of the 18 intercept tests since 1999 successfully destroyed their targets, and the test record has not improved with time: only two of the last five tests were successful—and GMD has still has not been tested under operationally realistic conditions. Thus, there is no evidence that the GMD 40 billion system provides a reliable defense, even against a country like North Korea.

More fundamentally, even if the reliability is improved, GMD’s prospects for providing a valid defense in the future are poor because it will face countermeasures that any country that has developed a long-range missile and a nuclear warhead could readily use to confuse or overwhelm the system.

Despite these problems, however, the administration and Congress plan to expand the system; the current budget includes funding to build 20 additional interceptors.

Given North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear-armed long-range missile, it seems reasonable to ask whether something isn’t better than nothing. That sounds plausible but does not hold up upon closer examination. The unconstrained pursuit of missile defenses can, perhaps counterintuitively, create even more significant risks.

For example, a belief that missile defense works better than it does can lead political and military leaders to adopt a more aggressive foreign policy and take more risks. U.S. officials regularly describe the system as much more capable than it has been demonstrated to be. Even President Trump stated on television last October that “We have missiles that can knock out a missile in the air 97 per cent of the time.” Yet the testing data show there is no basis to expect interceptors to work more than 40 to 50 per cent of the time even under the most generous and optimal conditions.

Using multiple interceptors against each target can improve these odds, but it does not fundamentally change the situation; the chance of a nuclear weapon getting through would still be dangerously high. Consider an attack with five missiles. Using four interceptors against each target, each with a kill probability of 50 per cent, the odds that one warhead gets through are 28 percent—or higher, if the failure modes are not independent of each other (for example, if the guidance systems of all the interceptors are faulty in the same way).

Overestimating defense effectiveness could increase policymaker support for a pre-emptive attack against North Korea, which might then fire missiles in retaliation. It would then become clear that the system could not stop those missiles.

Missile defenses can also increase nuclear risks by blocking arms control and providing incentives for Russia and China to build more and different kinds of weapons; preventing this dynamic was a core reason for the ABM Treaty’s limits. Russia and China worry the United States may come to believe it could launch a first strike without fear of retaliation because it could shoot down any surviving missiles. This fear is exacerbated by U.S. development of conventional “counterforce” weapons that can attack Chinese and Russian nuclear weapon systems.

These concerns are not theoretical. Russia has repeatedly stated that any future arms control agreements must include limits on missile defenses and says the expansion of U.S. defenses could lead it to withdraw from the New START treaty. And on March 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to field several new nuclear systems that could avoid U.S. missile defenses, including nuclear-powered nuclear-armed cruise missiles and underwater drones.

China has begun to build more long-range missiles, develop hypersonic weapons and deploy multiple warheads on its missiles, and has also discussed putting its missiles on high alert. At worst, U.S. defenses are driving developments that result in more threats and risks; at best they are providing justifications for them. The irony is that they do not provide adequate defense in any case.

Unfortunately, things are on a path to get worse. The United States is developing a ship-based interceptor that in theory could intercept strategic missiles and plans to field hundreds of them in the coming years. An influential minority in Congress has been calling for space-based missile defenseswith plans for a “space test bed” that would put dedicated weapons in orbit for the first time. Chinese and Russian military planners will not ignore these developments.

As long as nuclear-armed countries continue to believe their security relies on the ability to retaliate with nuclear weapons, missile defenses will interfere with efforts to reduce—and eventually eliminate—these weapons. Given the inherent problems with building reliable and effective missile defenses, these defenses are more a dangerous illusion than a realistic solution.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
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Future Expects Tougher Times for Afghanistan by Ishaal Zehra

Future Expects Tougher Times for Afghanistan

Ishaal Zehra

 

 

 

In the changing geopolitical scenario, President Trump’s Afghanistan policy signifies tougher times for an already fallen regime.

The US urgency for an exit from this decades’ old Afghan war is being felt by the policy thinkers and onlookers though there is no working timeline given by President Trump. Determining the cost and productiveness of the troops in Afghanistan, the businessman turned President of the United States is now interested in withdrawing those troops from this costly war. The uncertainty produced in the region thus has translated into a situation where the other regional actors are responding to the reservations by aligning their own interests.

For these countries, there is no uncertainty about the bottom line. The White House is looking for an exit with the shortest considerable timeline. This has also been confirmed by the departure of ex-trump advisor on Afghanistan, H.R. McMaster, and the appointment of Iran and North Korea focused, John Bolton as his successor.

The US military commanders are seen moving quickly to finish the job. The situation has become so obscure that the other powers in the region — the two influentials, China, Russia and neighbouring Iran, India, and Pakistan — have started recognizing their security options, threats and opportunities once the United States fully withdraws, while minutely weighing in the limitations of the Kabul government.

The US is building up the strength of Afghan units with a re-energized air campaign and new advisory units emplaced with Afghan army battalions while the administration pushes for talks with the Taliban in order to bring a negotiated end to the conflict. China has made it clear that it will support Afghan government-led efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict with the Taliban – an approach which is supported by the United States. It has also signed a defence agreement with Afghanistan to build a base in northern Afghanistan and set up a trilateral contact group with Afghanistan and Pakistan to combat terrorism.

Moscow, on the other hand, has heightened cooperation between Russia and Pakistan that is empirically visible. In February of this year, Moscow appointed an honorary consul in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan. Moreover, the addition of Russian language signage in the tribal belt and even around Islamabad also reflect upon the camaraderie both the countries are enjoying. Iran’s concern about ISIS spillover beyond her boundaries can be seen as a reason behind its move to cement relation with Pakistan. In the past Iran and India have traditionally worked together at many visible times, however, as India has now moved closer to the United States and Israel, Iran has begun to take on a more adversarial tone vis-à-vis India. This became quite visible in 2017 when Iran rejected Trump’s call for greater Indian engagement in Afghanistan and criticized Indian military actions in Kashmir.

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Other small non-aligned countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan have joined Russia and China in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) thus putting their weight behind these big regional powers. Apparently, India seems to be the only odd man out in the aligning of interests in the region. It has a long and most of the time troubled relationship with both China and Pakistan having a history of hostile conflicts with both. Her relations with Iran have become more difficult in recent years as New Delhi deepened her relations with the United States. This new friendship with the US has actually dismissed the chances of allying with her long-gone love of the past, Russia also.

Russia is the dominant military partner for Central Asia while China takes the lead in economic activities. Owing to the changing US policies in Afghanistan, both the countries, for varied reasons, are concerned about the ability of the Afghan government to keep control of its territory and its capability to fully contain the radical elements without the support of US army. Besides, they also recognize the importance of the role Pakistan is playing in reigning in the militants. And this recognition has made them adopt a two-track policy: providing support for the Afghan government while trying to get Pakistan on board vis-a-vis the Taliban.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is coming at a time when the United States has relegated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan conflict culmination strategy and blocked the military assistance funds to Islamabad on the pretext of not doing more. The inability of the Afghan government to address the prevailing security situation is having a negative impact on her economic development consequently leading the major regional powers to look for other options to stabilize the region. Moreover, India will never put her boots on the ground because she is still been haunted by her failed experience with intervention in Sri Lanka in the 1980s. Also, given the uneasy relationship with Pakistan and Iran, the geography of the region precludes an easy way to do this and Indian army is neither trained to nor have the courage to go for a war in this terrain single-handedly.

Stakeholders in Afghanistan need to understand new ground realities. Any viable regional mechanism for taking on the Afghan cauldron cannot seem possible without having Pakistan on board. Especially at a time when both Pakistan and Afghanistan are on the course of redefining mutual relations. For a peaceful and economic exit plan, the US also cannot deny that Pakistan provides unmatchable logistic routes for the foreign forces engaged in the Afghan war. Routes through Pakistan are the shortest and cheapest and presently are the safest owing to the Pakistan army’s resolve to ascertain peace in the country. Another exit option could be through aligning the SCO with US exit policy since all the major regional powers are available under this one umbrella. Interestingly, and quite contrary to the US beliefs, the members of the SCO also trust Pakistan of being the lone brave lion to handle this menace impeccably. A better understanding of regional sensitivities will help the US to better grasp the situation in Afghanistan if she really wants to end this decades-old deadly conflict.

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Frontline state mortified at anti-terror summit by Salim Bokhari

Frontline state mortified at anti-terror summit

 

Humiliating the royal way | Ready-to-speak Nawaz not invited to address Riyadh moot | Trump names India among terror victim states, skips Pakistan | Iran bashed at forum

Frontline state mortified at anti-terror summit

RIYADH – Something has gone terribly wrong. This is the only way one can describe what happened to Pakistani delegation headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Arab-Islamic-American summit held in the Saudi capital on Sunday.

The popular sentiment among the majority of Pakistani media delegation was that of a total humiliation of the sole Muslim nuclear power because not only there was no mention of Islamabad’s role against global terrorism but also the prime minister of the ‘frontline state’ was denied the opportunity to put forth its point of view.

Representatives of some minion states were allowed to speak that have not even tasted a shred of the kind of carnage faced by Pakistan, which however has turned the tide on terror in an unprecedented episode of courage, commitment and sacrifice that no other participant of the 35-state summit could even think of offering for world peace.

 

 

“The nations of Europe have also endured unspeakable horror. So too have the nations of Africa and even South America. India, Russia, China and Australia have been victims,” US President Donald Trump said in his keynote address, skipping the name of Pakistan – which lost over 70,000 civilians and more than 6,000 of its valiant soldiers to terrorism.

The mention of India among the list of terror victims was more pinching as it comes at a time Islamabad, through spy-terrorist Kalbhushan Jadhav’s case at International Court of Justice, is trying to convince the world of New Delhi’s role in fanning terror.

Terming India a victim of terrorism was also a deeply painful insult to innocent, unarmed Kashmiris who are fighting for their just cause of liberating their land from the oppressive India and facing worst kind of state terrorism at the hands of its armed forces.

Joining Muslim Nato fires back!

An even bigger setback for Pakistan’s foreign policy came when both Trump and Saudi King Salman – the most influential pair – turned the summit into a launching pad against Iran, the leader of the Shia Muslims that shares a 909 km long border with Pakistan, whose around 20 percent population is Shia by faith.

Accusing Saudi Arabia’s regional rival of fuelling “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror”, Trump called for isolating Tehran. “Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate it,” Trump said.

Saudi King Salman in his speech called Iran “the spearhead of global terrorism” and called for containing it. “We did not know terrorism and extremism until the [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini revolution reared its head [in Iran],” he said.

Pakistan has joined the 34-nation KSA-led military alliance ‘against terrorism’ and the government allowed its celebrated ex-army chief Raheel Sharif to head alliance’s rapid deployment forces – despite fierce opposition at home.

The move was opposed by almost all opposition parties over fears that the so-called ‘Muslim NATO’ could eventually turn out to be an alliance of Sunni Gulf states against Shia Iran and bring Islamabad into the vortex of transnational Sunni-Shia conflict.

The cold-shoulder attitude of King Salman to Pakistani delegation was particularly hurtful. Some diplomats were of the view that since Pakistan refused to send its troops to fight against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, it might have annoyed the Saudi monarchy.

Though both Trump and King Salman also called for defeating Sunni terrorist state-cum-organistaion of Islamic State (ISIS), it was clear that Iran and its allies are going to be the main target of this new battle in the name of terrorism.

Interestingly, it is none other than the US and the KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] which are thought to be the creators of Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Trump goes Bush

Trump, who would spit venom against Muslims during his election campaign and who is now living up to his words by pursuing anti-Muslim policies, urged Muslim leaders to take a stand against religious extremism, describing this struggle as a “battle between good and evil” – a catchphrase made popular by former US Present George W Bush.

He also conveniently overlooked the state terrorism perpetuated by the successive Israeli regimes, particularly that of Benjamin Netanyaho – who had told the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that he would continue to butcher and slaughter Palestinian men, women and children.

Mr Trump also avoided criticising his Saudi hosts and assembled leaders of Arab and Islamic nations on any human rights violations in their countries – a clear break from the practice of his predecessor Barack Obama.

Prime Embarrassment!

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, earlier on his special flight, spent nearly two and a half hours consulting his comrades-in-arms preparing and finalising his speech that he thought he would deliver at the summit.

Also, the members of the media delegation were given to understand that after checking against delivery, the speech would be released to accompanying journalists. But now, the prime minister or his staff will carry that speech folder back home.

Later, neither Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz nor any other responsible person was available to explain why the prime minister was denied the opportunity to speak to the participants of the summit, for which a Saudi minister only last week visited Islamabad and extended the invitation to PM Sharif.

It was also quite strange that though there was almost no possibility of a Sharif-Trump meeting, the Foreign Office, back at home, kept hyping it up. In the end, let alone the meeting, we were even not invited to let the others know how we think about the fight against terrorism.

Pakistan was essentially the most important Muslim country after Saudi Arabia in terms of leadership of the Muslim Ummah and the leading state in terms of fight against global terrorism, but the treatment meted out to us here in Riyadh made us feel like we are pitiful losers.

A painful day for journalists

The moment the Saudi monarch closed the summit the media persons started receiving frantic calls from their offices back home in Pakistan with questions like: what has happened, how it happened, why it happened?

One of the frequently asked questions was: “Do we have a Foreign Office? But no one had any reasonable answer to this query.

This is understood that after the summit was over the prime minister must have remained engaged in remaining activities, including proceeding to the Moatamarat for groundbreaking ceremony of World Centre against Extremisms.

All said and done, for Pakistani journalists it was a dreadful day – the one full of disappointment and hurt. In the evening, every single one of us was returning to his hotel room from the Conference Centre with a heavy heart.

Trump slams Iran in first foreign speech

Agencies add: US President Donald Trump in his speech to dozens of leaders of Muslim countries in Saudi Arabia, lashed out at Iran and softened his tone on Islam by rejecting the idea of a battle between religions.

“This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil,” Trump said in his 30-minute speech.

The address was the centrepiece of Trump’s visit to Riyadh, which started on Saturday with the announcement of billions of dollars in trade deals with Saudi Arabia and continued Sunday with the speech and a series of meetings with Arab leaders.

The visit is the first leg of an eight-day foreign tour – Trump’s first as president – that will take him on Monday to Israel and then the Palestinian territories and on to Europe.

‘Drive them out!’

His speech sought to rally Islamic leaders behind a renewed push to tackle extremism, with Trump urging religious leaders to condemn violence and governments of Muslim countries to make further efforts to end support for extremists.

“Of course, there is still much work to be done. That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.”

He focused on the financing of extremist groups, and announced plans for a US-Gulf agreement to “prevent the financing of terrorism called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia”.

Advance excerpts of the speech had Trump using the term “Islamist terrorism” – an apparent softening in tone – but the president veered off-script in the delivered speech.

Trump appealed to Muslim nations to ensure that “terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil”, and announced an agreement with Gulf states to combat financing for extremists.

“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out! Drive them out of your places of worship! Drive them out of your communities!” Trump said.

The president made no mention of human rights during his visit, and in the speech insisted: “We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live.”

In another move sure to please his hosts, Trump accused Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Shia Iran of fuelling “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror”.

“Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate it,” Trump said.

He said, “The [Iran] government that gives terrorists safe harbour, financial backing… The regime that is responsible for so much instability in that region. I am speaking of course of Iran. From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region… It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this very room.”

Trump held Iran responsible for training armed groups in the wars in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, but drew a clear distinction between the “richness and culture” of the Iranian people and the government in Tehran.

Some 35 heads of state and government from Muslim-majority countries were in Riyadh for the Arab Islamic American Summit, mainly from Sunni states friendly to Saudi Arabia.

The United States is leading a coalition battling IS, a Sunni Muslim militant organisation, in Syria and Iraq, and Trump said he would hold a press conference “in about two weeks” to give an update on how the US is faring in the battle.

On refugees, he praised Lebanon and Turkey for accommodating Syrians fleeing war at home: “This region should not be a place from which refugees leave but to which newcomers flock.”

Trump said Arab and Muslim countries had suffered the deadliest toll of radicalism.

He asked: “Behind every pair of eyes is a soul that yearns for justice and years for peace. Today billions of faces are now looking at us, waiting for us to act on the great questions of our time. Will we be indifferent in the face of evil?”

Trump concluded with the “promise that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others but to outstretch our hands.”

Trump’s speech was touted as a major event – along the lines of a landmark address to the Islamic world by Obama in Cairo in 2009.

It was especially sensitive given tensions sparked by the Trump administration’s attempted travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority nations and his previous remarks, including a 2015 statement that “Islam hates us”.

Reacting to Trump’s address, the Council on American Islamic Relations said “one speech cannot outweigh years of anti-Muslim rhetoric”, and called for “concrete actions… to reset relations with the Muslim world”.

US-KSA deals

Trump was welcomed warmly in Saudi Arabia, where he and first lady Melania Trump were given an extravagant reception by the Saudi royal family.

The first day saw the announcement of hundreds of billions of dollars in trade deals, welcome news for Trump as he faces mounting troubles at home.

Among the agreements was an arms deal worth almost $110 billion with Saudi Arabia, described as the largest in US history.

Trump proudly declared the first day of his visit “tremendous”.

On Sunday he held a series of meetings with other Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Bahrain’s King Hamad.

Warm talks with ‘friend’ Sisi

The meeting with Sisi — an avowed fan of the president — was especially warm, and Trump said he would “absolutely” be putting Egypt on his list of countries to visit “very soon”.

Trump referred to Sisi as “my friend” and Sisi said the US president was “capable of doing the impossible”, to which Trump responded: “I agree!”

Trump even complimented Sisi on his footwear, saying: “Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes. Man…”

Trump, who travels on Monday to Israel and the Palestinian territories before visiting the Vatican, Brussels and Italy for NATO and G7 meetings, is taking his first steps on the world stage as he faces increasing scandal at home.

The past week has seen a string of major developments in Trump’s domestic woes, including the announcement that James Comey, the former FBI chief fired by Trump, has agreed to testify publicly about Russian interference in the US elections.

Reports have also emerged that Trump called Comey “a nut job” and that the FBI has identified a senior White House official as a “significant person of interest” in its probe of Russian meddling.

Iran sees US ‘milking’ Saudis of $480b

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Sunday that the United States may be “milking” Saudi Arabia of $480 billion after Washington signed major deals with Tehran’s Gulf rival.

“Iran – fresh from real elections – attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation. Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480B?” Zarif tweeted.

It was the first Iranian reaction to US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, and comes after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election to a second term.

Earlier, Zarif advised President Trump to discuss how to avoid another September 11 attack with the Saudi hosts of his first official visit abroad, Zarif wrote in an editorial published on Sunday.

“(Trump) must enter into dialogue with them about ways to prevent terrorists and takfiris from continuing to fuel the fire in the region and repeating the likes of the September 11 incident by their sponsors in Western countries,” Zarif wrote for the website of the London-based Al Araby Al-Jadeed news network.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 22-May-2017 here.

 
 

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India’s Great Power game by AMB. MUNIR AKRAM

 Editors Note: We apologize for the poor formatting of this article.

India’s Great Power game

The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.
The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.

THE election of Narendra Modi as prime minister and geopolitical developments — particularly the US pivot to Asia and the Russia’s new Cold War with the West — have revived India’s prospects of achieving Great Power status. In quick succession, Modi has visited Japan’s ‘nationalistic’ prime minister; hosted China’s president; and will be received this week by the US president in Washington.

The US obviously wishes to embrace India as a partner in containing a rising China, responding to a resurgent Russia and fighting ‘Islamic terrorism’.

It is prepared to bend over backwards to secure India’s partnership. During his Washington visit, Modi is likely to be offered the most advanced American defence equipment; military training and intelligence cooperation; endorsement of India’s position on ‘terrorism’; investment, including in India’s defence industries; nuclear reactor sales; support for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and a prominent role in Afghanistan after US-Nato withdrawal. There will be no mention of the Kashmir dispute, nor of past or current human rights violations in India.

The reticence, if any, in this love fest is likely to emanate from India rather than the US. While seeking all the advantages of a strategic partnership with the US, India is unwilling to relinquish the benefits of its relationships with Russia, China, Iran and other power players.

India’s evolving relationship with China is complex. Both Asian giants see the benefits of trade and investment cooperation and want to ‘democratise’ the post-Second World War economic order dominated by America. During President Xi Jinping’s recent visit China offered to invest $20 billion in industrial parks including in Modi’s home state of Gujarat and to support India’s infrastructure development.


The most proximate impediment to India’s quest for Great Power status remains Pakistan.


Yet, there are obvious limitations in the Sino-Indian relationship. Memories of its defeat in the 1962 border war with China still rankle in India. The border dispute has been managed but not resolved. There is an expectation of future strategic rivalry, felt more strongly in India than China. New Delhi wishes to become China’s military and economic equal in Asia and the world. In particular, India desires an end to China’s strategic relationship with and support to Pakistan — a price Beijing is unwilling to pay.

Without compromising its strategic options, China is prepared to adopt a benign posture towards India, in part to prevent its incorporation in the US-led Asian alliances around China’s periphery. As some Chinese officials put it: “When you have the wolf [US] at the front door, you do not worry about the fox [India] at the back door.” If India does eventually emerge as a US strategic partner, Beijing will exercise its options to neutralize it including through greater support to Pakistan. For the present, China’s advice to Pakistan is to avoid a confrontation with India.

The complexity of the Sino-Indian relationship was on display during President Xi’s visit when news surfaced of a face-off between Chinese and Indian troops on China’s border with India-held Kashmir. It is unlikely that the Chinese would have instigated the incident while their president was in India. According to Indian sources, the “robust” Indian troop deployment to confront Chinese border forces could only have been authorized by the Indian prime minister. Was this then a demonstration of Modi’s muscular credentials meant for his hardline domestic constituency or perhaps a message of common cause to the US on the eve of Modi’s Washington visit?

The new Russia-West Cold War over Ukraine will enhance the ability of India (and other non-aligned countries) to play the two sides against each other. But it will also lower the tolerance of both protagonists for third-party positions that are seen as inimical to their vital interests.

So far, the Russians have been quite accommodative of India’s developing relationship with the US and the growing diversification of India’s huge arms purchases away from Russia.

Until now, Moscow has maintained its undeclared embargo on defense supplies to Pakistan in deference to its long-standing relationship with India. However, given India’s closer relationship with the US, Russia’s reinforced strategic cooperation with China, and the slow divorce between Pakistan and the US, the Russian reticence towards Pakistan, and its emotional bond with India, are receding. Moscow is now more likely to adopt a more ‘balanced’ posture towards India and Pakistan on defense and other issues, including Afghanistan.

The most proximate impediment to India’s quest for Great Power status remains Pakistan. So long as Pakistan does not accept India’s regional pre-eminence, other South Asian states will also resist Indian diktat. India cannot feel free to play a great global power role so long as it is strategically tied down in South Asia by Pakistan.

India under Modi has maintained the multifaceted Indian strategy to break down Pakistan’s will and capacity to resist Indian domination.

This strategy includes: building overwhelming military superiority, conventional and nuclear, against Pakistan; isolating Pakistan by portraying it as the ‘epicentre’ of terrorism; encouraging

Baloch separatism and TTP terrorism (through Afghanistan) to destabilize Pakistan; convincing Pakistan’s elite of the economic and cultural benefits of ‘cooperation’ on India’s terms.

In this endeavor, India is being actively assisted by certain quarters in the West.

Insufficient thought has been given in New Delhi and Western capitals to the unintended consequences of this strategy. It has strengthened the political position of the nationalists and the Islamic extremists in Pakistan. Islamabad’s vacillation in confronting the TTP was evidence of this. Further, the growing asymmetry in India-Pakistan conventional defense capabilities has obliged Pakistan to rely increasingly on the nuclear option to maintain credible deterrence.

The combination of unresolved disputes,especially Kashmir, the likelihood of terrorist incidents and a nuclear hair-trigger military environment, has made the India-Pakistan impasse the single greatest threat to international peace and security.

New Delhi’s bid for Great Power status could be quickly compromised if another war broke out, by design or accident, with Pakistan.

The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2014

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Arab Leaders and Aleppo- Insanity Overtakes Humanity By Mahboob Khawaja, PhD.

 Aleppo

 
 
[Photo: A general view showing damages after what activists said was an airstrike with explosive barrels from forces loyal to President al-Assad in Al-Shaar area in Aleppo] 

December 142016

Arab Leaders and Aleppo- Insanity Overtakes Humanity

By Mahboob Khawaja, PhD.

Does Authoritarian Insanity have another Name?

Authoritarian leaders kill people just as butcher slaughters cattle. Casual allusion and changing power metaphors hardly distinguish between people and animals across the Arab world.  The cycle of the dreadful humanitarian crisis unfolding in Aleppo is baffling – as if global humanity and institutions do not exist for other than Americans and Europeans. All advancements of knowledge-based humanity, laws and preservation of life and human dignity and international institutions appear null and void. Our failure to grasp the compelling realities of authoritarian atrocities against the helpless civilians makes us feel we are standing at one of the darkest timelines of history.Is the surrender of Aleppo to powerful insanity inevitable?  Given the informed and resourceful 21st century global community, we were capable to avert the bombardment and to extend security and sense of humanity to the besieged population. Yet, the UNO Security Council and US-Russia kept on talking and talking about paper resolution, abstract dialogue and no concrete action to preserve human dignity and freedom. The abyss of horrors unfolding tells of the deliberate rapes of women and execution of the civilian population by the Assad forces as stated by the outgoing UN SG Ban-Ki Moon. The fallen Aleppo brings shame and disgrace to all the Arab leaders and the global humanity for being indifferent to the ever growing humanitarian crisis.  

Where are the Muslim scholars and intellectuals to claim sense of honesty about what is happening on the ground? If values of human life and wisdom were the signs of intelligence and responsibility, the situation warranted an urgent powerful intervention to safeguard the entrenched people of Aleppo. Witnessing the authoritarian cruelty, bombardment and the on-going cold blooded massacres of innocent civilians in Aleppo, the conscientious Arab masses wonder if there are any Arab leaders to offer sense of security to the people.  Shocking as it is to discover that there are no Arab leaders to protect the people in conflict situations. They are foreign agents of influence imposed on the helpless Arabian people.

The entrenched people kept on calling upon global humanity to come to rescue them but it was an illusion turned fantasy and nothing else. The global humanity, the UNO, America and humanitarian protection laws are just empty words devoid of life, morality and just written in school books with dry ink that means nothing to the suffering humanity in Aleppo.  Today, Shamy, a 15 year old girl from Aleppo sending SOS on Twitter as if there is a living global mankind listening to her in extreme adversity.  Abdullah, a 72 year old man carried his seventy year old wounded wife on a wooden cart and was waiting for medical help but shell fell and an Al-Jazeera reporter showed the clips how she died there in split second, but Abdullah kept on moving with the dead body in search of the unknown.

London-based Al-Jazeera moderator asked 15 year old school girl Aminah Abubaker, if she was safe and had enough food. She answered, “For two weeks we are hiding in the basement watching deaths and destruction and nowhere to go and no food and no shops around here. Is this catastrophic humanitarian crisis out of the nowhere? The inhuman political metaphor is sugarcoated by Syria’s enriched neighbors –  a treacherous cluster of petro-dollar economic prosperity to furbish modernism that prevails in palaces, not amongst the masses.

While Steffan de Mustara, Kerry and Larove pretend to be talking about a ceasefire and safe corridor to allow humanitarian aid and the civilians to depart from the bombardment in Aleppo, it was all a malicious stage drama to cover-up the political failure.    For five years, millions are forcibly displaced to become unwelcomed refugees in European continents, several millions killed and others waiting to be consumed by the insanity of the Assad regime and its military allies. Are these official honest and rational or do they think the global mankind is blind. The game is the same “do nothing” and talk loud. In a global age of knowledge and information, Arab leaders cannot pretend being ignorant and unaware of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding daily on the television screen. The alleged war crimes are just a scenario for the uncertain future, but reality warranted swift action to safeguard the human lives entrapped in the war zones, and honor of Muslims and their habitats across Aleppo, Idlib, Baghdad, Mosul and Yemen. None of the puppets had courage and will to challenge the deliberate pillage and insanity imposed by the Assad forces and the superpowers. Are there no Arab Generals and no Arab armies to help the believers?  If not, why do these leaders spent billions of dollars to acquire weapons from the US and Europeans? How could the rest of the Arab leaders differentiate between their role and what is being carried out by the Assad regime? Are they all sadistic criminals and violent robbers of peoples’ right, human dignity and future? Isn’t the same insane egoism and militarism that brought downfall of Saddam Hussein, Ghaddafi and many others in the region?

All Arab leaders must be held accountable for the crimes committed against the Syrian people. To uplift their own images, when overwhelming crimes against humanity are shown by the global news media, some affluent Arab leaders take asylum in the shadow of British dwindling leadership at a gathering in Bahrain and others sent foreign ministers to Paris to mourn their own wishful thinking for failure to oust the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Often Arab leaders say next to nothing to global audience. But one of the foreign ministers spoke of Islamic extremism emerging out of Aleppo if nothing was done.  The cynical minds know nothing about the realities on the ground. Who will do what to safeguard the besieged people of Aleppo for over several years, is not clear. It is the ruthless forces of Syrian Government and its military Allies Russia, Iran and Shiite army of Hezbollah that are fighting against the civilian population opposing the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Ironically America, Britain and France had already destabilized the entire Arab region by continuous aerial bombardment and deaths and destruction to which the frontline Arab countries were an essential component. None of the Arab leaders had any imagination or capacity on how to deal with political problems and approach conflict management and security paradigm. It is always the Master – USA and Britain that dictate the oil exporting Arab states in their affairs. All of the secretive police apparatus are operated by the same egomaniac masters. It is unthinkable to imagine that Bashar Al-Assad  and his allies could ever escape the accountability by time and history.

Are the Arab Rulers Waiting to See the End Game?

Sigmund Freud (Civilization and its Discontent, 1930) noted that “the inclination to aggression is an original self-subsisting instinctual disposition in man, and that it constitutes the greatest impediment to civilization.”  The Arab Middle East is no exception.  In view of the unstoppable cycle of political killings and daily bloodbaths across Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and spill-over to other oil producing Arab nations – and reactionary militancy against the authoritarian rule and dismantling of the socio-economic infrastructures –  is the Arab world coming to its own end because of the sadistic dictators?  The Arab rulers and the masses live and breathe in conflicting time zones being unable to see the rationality of people-oriented governance. Perhaps, the worst is yet to come, surrender to foreign forces as there are no leaders to think of the future or the Arab armies to defend the people. Borrowed weapons and corrupt and failed rulers cannot extend moral or intellectual security to the masses. The question is how to decode treachery, greed, incompetence and dead conscience to tell the future generation – the real story of the Arab ruler’s aggressiveness and drudgery interjected and internalized in egoistic conscience to manage the governance.

Wars suck out positive human thinking and creative energies to articulate a sustainable future.How should humanity view contemporary Arab societies, their war-torn bloody cultures operated by foreign mercenaries and few authoritarian dictators?  What kind of message of civility, moral and intellectual values do they convey to the watchful eyes of the global community? What happened to their Islamic culture, values and glorious civilization? Was the petrodollar a conspiracy (“fitna”) to disconnect the Arab people from Islamic culture and civilization? Contemporary global affairs warrant intelligent and competent leadership not kings, not military dictators or dull princes occupying splendid palaces away from the people. Leaders manage the crisis when facts of life warrant change and adaptability to the future. Often crisis unity people of reason but not the Arab rulers.

The Syrian war will end as it cannot go for ever. Its ripple effects will haunt present and future generations. The people’s struggle could soon move to other neighboring Arab societies encouraging masses to rise against the authoritarian regimes for people-oriented Islamic governance. The super powers and Iran appear to be on the wrong side of time and history. If Iranian had Islamic consciousness and unity of the Ummah (nation) as its policy aim, it was immaterial whether Assad remains in power or not. Professing sectarian shiisim and taking sides with monsters of history and talking about Muslim unity make no sense by the Iranian speaker of the Majlis. They all breathe in self-geared illusions of wishful thinking. While the concerned mankind is shocked by the atrocities and horrors carried out by the Assad regime and Russians, ironically in West Aleppo others are celebrating the victory of insanity over the humanity. History speaks its own language that all those leaders and nations claiming to be most powerful on the planet were destroyed by their own designs and wicked strategies. Those dictators and political monsters that willfully brutalized the humanity should not go unchallenged for their crimes and accountability.

 

Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012. His forthcoming book is entitled: One Humanity and The Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution

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