Archive for the ‘South Asia’ Category
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has announced a group of Afghan officials who will spearhead talks with the Taliban in the latest attempt to tamp down violence in that country.
A statement from Mr. Karzai’s office Saturday said the creation of the High Peace Council was a “significant step toward peace talks.” It said members of the council would be named later, but would include jihadi leaders, influential figures and women.
I’m not sure how well this idea will work, if at all. However, talking without promising anything could help peel off some of the Taliban’s allies who want protection from the fundamentalists.
India, the world’s most populous democracy, is taking a large step by leasing a nuclear submarine from Russia. This is in preparation for India to launch its own nuclear submarines:
The lease contract, estimated at some $900 million, was drawn up following an agreement between Moscow and New Delhi.
The Netherlands has begun withdrawing its 2,000-strong force from Afghanistan, ending its mission in that country. After a divided Parliament was elected in June, no agreement could be reached on keeping troops in that country.
The withdrawal plans were sudden and done without public announcement. Of course, this will hurt ISAF plans to keep Afghanistan secure, even as other nations are surging troops into the country.
Of course, this comes with other bad news:
Canada will pull out its nearly 3,000-strong force next year, while 2011 is also when U.S. President Barack Obama wants to start a gradual withdrawal of around 100,000 troops, a figure swollen in the last six months by a surge that aims to take on the Taliban in their spiritual homeland of Kandahar.
Germany, the third largest ISAF contributor with 4,400 soldiers, also aims to start a pullout next year, handing over responsibility for security in at least one of the nine northern provinces it controls to local forces.
The People’s Daily is reporting that the People’s Liberation Army Navy has conducted major exercises in the South China Sea.
A top military officer has warned the Chinese military to keep a close eye on the changing situation amid a large-scale naval exercise in the South China Sea, held at the same time as a joint Washington-Seoul drill, State media reported on Thursday. According to China Central Television, Chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army Chen Bingde, as well as the navy commander and other high-level military leaders, oversaw a naval exercise on Monday, the second day of the US-ROK maritime drill. The CCTV program showed major warships of the North China Sea Fleet and East China Sea Fleet appearing in the drill organized by the South China Sea Fleet, without mentioning a specific location. “Chen Bingde stressed that (the military) should pay close attention to changes in the situation and tasks, and get well prepared for military conflicts,” the program said. The exercise involved six aspects, ranging from precision striking at long range to practice against jet fighters and missiles. It took place under an electromagnetic environment meant to simulate realistic combat conditions, CCTV said.
At a meeting on Asian security in Hanoi last Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as foreign ministers of other countries, pressured Beijing on issues in the South China Sea, over which China has overlapping territorial claims with some neighbors. However Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi characterized Clinton’s comments as “an attack on China”. Beijing has always opposed any effort to “internationalize” the issue. The South China Sea issue has become more complicated since the involvement of US and Japan, Li Jie added. He also said the drill, taking place under an electromagnetic environment, has likely taken into consideration the advanced communication-jamming technologies of the US.
Please read the entire article for additional information.
Analysis. This appears to be “Invincible Spirit” on the other side. This exercise was held far enough away that it wouldn’t look like a parallel exercise, one that was aimed at defeating an carrier group. It is also somewhat worrying that the Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China would call Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks an “attack” on the PRC.
There appears to be several things at work here besides the ASEAN security meeting. Until the PRC can develop a logistic system that goes overland between the coastal plains and Central Asia, the PRC is dependent upon the sea for major imports of raw materials. It will be a long time before they can operate on interior lines of communication for these raw materials, especially oil. Until then, the ability of any power to interrupt shipping to the PRC is a vital interest.
Then there is the matter of North Korea. There is little doubt in my mind that we are working to topple the Kim family. So far this has taken the form of economic sanctions which the PRC has watered down in the UN Security Council or just plain ignored. They realize that Kim went too far when he sunk the Cheonan for whatever reason. Neither can they fail to shield him from serious retribution and even the appearance of international condemnation for fear that he will invade the South and restart the Korean War.
We know from the post this morning referencing the Chosun Ilbo that the North Korean economy was destroyed by the currency revaluation that happened last year. No kimchi for Kimchee. If the North Koreans can’t even grow cabbage, how much rice and wheat can they produce? Probably not nearly enough. Yet the DPRK is cut off from the international markets except on a cash basis. South Korea has pretty much stopped all aid. It is falling on the PRC to prop up the Kim family country. This in the middle of a transition from Kim 2 to Kim 3. The transition from Kim 1 to Kim 2 was not a pretty thing and this appears to be uglier.
It will be interesting to see what the scope of Ulchi Freedom Guardian turns out to be. If it has a non-combatant evacuation (NEO) part then I would be more than worried. If accompanied tours were canceled or severely curtailed I would also be worried. If the George Washington carrier group plays I would be worried, especially if they get anywhere near the Yellow Sea.
There may be arguments for pulling out of Afghanistan. There may be arguments that the Taliban are not a threat to the United States or the West (forgetting that the Taliban trained Faizal Shahzad). But the inhumanity and oppressive nature of this band of fundamentalist theocrats cannot and should not be denied.
In an act of sheer barbarism and desparation, the Taliban has beheaded almost a dozen ‘suspected spies.’ Remember that the Taliban also killed a pre-pubescent boy on a similar charge. Of course they did so with no trial and no legal (Sharia or otherwise) pretense.
Let us not forget that the Taliban actively sheltered al Qaeda while it was planning and implementing the September 11th atrocities and one account states that from the 1990s until the fall of the Taliban in 2001, 70,000 terrorists were trained in Afghanistan. So do we really want the Taliban back in control?
There’s a short article at CNN stating that intelligence officials think that the Pakistani Taliban is looking into striking within the United States.
The concerns about the group that authorities say directed the Times Square bombing plot are coming from multiple streams of information, including from Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bombing suspect, the official said.
The Long War Journal is reporting that some top-ranking members of botht the Taliban and al Qaeda may have been slain in an airstrike today.
Pakistani military officials claimed that Qari Zia Rahman and Faqir Mohammed were among 30 Taliban and foreign fighters killed during helicopter and airstrikes in the Pindyali region in Mohmand, The Nation reported. A commander named Fateh was also killed, according to Geo News.
China and India fought a little-known border war in the 1960s– without solving the frontier dispute. Recently, the Red Chinese and democratic Indians have been arguing over the long mountainous boundary.
The shift is significant. China has usually been quite consistent, and sometimes generous, in frontier deals and disputes with its neighbors. We have seen this over Taiwan where, despite U.S. shifts and changes, Beijing sticks to its original claim that this is Chinese territory to be reunited peacefully with the motherland provided Taiwan does not seek independence.
Perhaps these two powers will create the next superpower race. There’s already talks of a space race between the two.
According to the Wall Street Journal, President Obama is not particularly keen on the prospect of increasing Afghan security forces. While this has been an overarching goal of American policy during the last eight years, the President has taken a different tack:
In the bleak war assessment that he delivered to Mr. Obama earlier this year, Gen. McChrystal called for expanding the Afghan army to 240,000 and the Afghan police to 160,000, roughly twice the size of their current growth plans. The proposal initially found support within the administration, where senior officials have talked openly about wanting to quickly transfer security responsibility to Afghan forces.
It appears that the President has taken this new approach due to influence from Vice President Biden and the left wing of the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, without a reservoir of local forces, the United States cannot pacify Afghanistan. In Iraq, there are over 600,000 troops and police, as well as local militias. This pressure helped destroy al Qaeda and its allies.
Allies of al Qaeda have created a blatant terrorist camp in the already unstable nation of Pakistan. These terrorists, the Jaish al-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) are walled up in a compound which takes up nearly five acres.
Worse, the Pakistani government has done nothing to stop the growth of the group. Members and affiliates of the JaM were involved in the July 2005 bombings in London and has sent thousands of extremists to fight ISAF forces in Afghanistan.
Worse, there’s now evidence of Pakistan actually aiding the group:
The terrorist group was reputedly formed with help from Pakistan’s ISI military spy agency as a weapon to be used against their arch-enemy India, and the two organisations are understood to remain close.
Much as it may be against current orthodoxy, the United States should consider a strike on the base, making careful plans to ensure minimal civilian casualties. The would enrage some in the Pakistani government, but may come as a relief.
The United States may officially be the world’s last superpower, but it appears that India and China are also rising fast. India, in particular, is a growing economy with an impressive military. India and China are both nuclear powers with enormous populations.
India has taken one more step toward superpower status by launching a nuclear-powered submarine. India has become the sixth nation on the planet to achieve this fear. The INS Arihant is capable of launching missiles over 400 miles away and comes in conjunction with three Indian carriers being rebuilt or constructed.
This move is a large one for India and may be the first of a rebuilding program. Close ties with Russia, the US, and Israel could help India gain a larger military foothold.
The United States has launched another unmanned aerial assault on Taliban forces in Pakistan. This time it appears that a major Taliban commander may be killed or wounded. It appears that among the 25 already thought dead, al Qaeda members may have been with the convoy.
The attack on the convoy was the second today, and the third in 24 hours. Earlier today, eight Taliban fighters were killed when Predators fired six Hellfire missiles on a Taliban training camp in Karwan Manza. The camp is run by Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.
India is now one of the few countries outside of the NATO alliance to receive an AWACS surveillance plane, as part of a deal with Israel. India and Israel have become closer in the last several years, capped with a one-billion dollar arms deal. BBC is concerned that this could ignite an Asian arms race. India is an ally of this country and having it militarily modern is a boost for US foreign policy.
The Ilyushin-76 – which arrived in India on Monday – gives India the capability to track hundreds of aircraft and potential threats at sea and on the ground, at considerable distances.
The Taliban is attempting to make its influence known as a bomb has detonated in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city. This attack shows that the Taliban’s reach is still strong and that they are attempting to intimidate the democratic government.
Several army and intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters, said they believed that the attack was aimed at the local command center of the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, Pakistan’s premier spy agency.