In January 2014, Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak noted that “the phenomenon of terrorism is global in nature. So, wherever you are, you might become a target.”
While this statement is not false – the threat of terrorism remains global, even if most of the activity in 2013 was locally focused – the data for 2013 strongly suggests the more practical conclusion that terrorism and insurgency activity in 2013 was overwhelmingly concentrated in a relatively small handful of roughly geographically proximate states. Indeed, 85% of all 2013 fatalities occurred in five states: Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Terror Unbridled Ajit Kumar Singh Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management
Terrorism in Pakistan has already resulted in at least 460 fatalities, including 241 civilians, 86 Security Force (SF) personnel and 133 militants in just the first month of 2014, according to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). 38 major incidents (each resulting in three or more fatalities) have inflicted at least 309 fatalities, and 70 explosions have also been recorded, accounting for 167 deaths. In one of the worst attacks of 2014 targeting civilians, at least 24 Shia pilgrims returning from Iran were killed and another 40 were injured in a bomb attack targeting their bus in the Khusak area of Kanak in the Mastung District of Balochistan Province, on January 21, 2014. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for the attack.
Clearly, the ‘terror industry’ that was established by Islamabad decades ago with the primary intention of exporting mujahideen into neighbouring countries, including India and Afghanistan, to secure Pakistan‘s perceived ‘strategic interests’, continues to thrive. This vast misadventure, however, turned progressively against its very creators, and, since 9/11, Pakistan has itself become the increasing target of several formerly state sponsored terrorist formations that have ‘gone rogue’, even as international pressure has forced Islamabad to undertake visibly reluctant operations against some of these groups. The process escalated after the creation of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the aftermath of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) operations in 2007, causing a spiral of violence that now threatens the very existence of the country. Pakistan’s undiminished tolerance for religious extremists has not just destroyed lives and alienated entire communities; it is destroying Pakistani society and the very idea and edifice of the nation.
English: Paracel Island map Source: Adapted from image from CIA World Factbook vi:HÃ¬nh:ParacelIslands.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Forty years on, the battle has enduring lessons for Vietnam’s naval
By Ngo Minh Tri and Koh Swee Lean Collin
January 23, 2014
On January 16, 1974, the Republic of Vietnam Navy (RVN) discovered the presence of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the Crescent Group in the western Paracel Islands, which was held by South Vietnam. This was an unexpected development, because notwithstanding the reduced U.S. military assistance to Saigon after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, and subsequent reduction of South Vietnamese garrisons on the islands, the Chinese had not taken unilateral actions to subvert the status quo – by which the Amphitrite Group in the eastern Paracels and the Crescent Group were respectively under Chinese and South Vietnamese control.
The Diplomat takes a look at the long and complex background to some of the region’s most intractable disputes.
Next month, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will deliver its verdict in the case of Cambodia and Thailand’s territorial dispute over the Preah Vihear temple. For several months, the court has been poring over a judgment it made on the same issue fifty years earlier. That judgment was partly based on interpretations of old treaties, old maps and other fragments pertaining to the temple’s 900-year history. The whole exercise, in other words, has been as much an historical investigation as it has been a legal process.
Since neither the Thais nor the Cambodians seem inclined to accept an unfavorable verdict, the ICJ’s decision will probably go down as just another moment in the temple’s long and contested history, rather than as the end of the story so far as the dispute goes. Even so, the matter may be nearer closure than some of Asia’s other most tortuous territorial arguments.
Editor’s note:Periodically, Stratfor publishes guidance produced for its analysis team and shares it with readers. This guidance sets the parameters used in our own ongoing examination and assessment of events surrounding Syria‘s use of chemical weapons as the crisis evolves into a confrontation between the United States and Russia. Given the importance we ascribe to this fast-evolving standoff, we believe it important that readers have access to this additional insight.
In the wake of President Barack Obama’s change of tack from a strike on Syria, the threat of war has not dissolved. It has, however, been pushed off beyond this round of negotiations.
The president’s minimalist claims are in place, but they are under serious debate. There is no chance of an attack on chemical weapons stockpiles. Therefore, the attack, if any, will be on command and control and political targets. Obama has options on the table and there will be force in place for any contingency he selects. Nothing is locked in despite public statements and rhetoric in Washington, London, Paris or Moscow.
Since last month, Cambodians and Filipinos have been staging massive outdoor rallies in their respective capitals but curiously they are denying that these are protests.
After accusing the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) of manipulating the July 28 election results, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) organized an assembly on August 6, presumably to protest the election fraud. But party leaders clarified that the aim of the gathering at the Phnom Penh Freedom Park was simply to thank supporters and voters. Another outdoor “meeting” was called on August 26 to inform the people about their demand for the establishment of an independent committee to probe the recent elections.
Thousands of Cambodians attended these assemblies which somehow reflected the rising public dissatisfaction against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen who has been in power for the past three decades.
BAGHDAD — Al Qaeda in Iraq carried out one of the most coordinated and baldly sectarian series of attacks in years on Monday, aiming for Shiite targets with car bombs, checkpoint ambushes, and assaults on a military base and police officers in their homes in an offensive that its leadership appeared to equate with the Sunni-led uprising in neighboring Syria.
The offensive by Al Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni extremist group, left at least 100 people dead, in what the Iraqi authorities described as an ambitiously staged sequence of 40 attacks that covered a broad area of the country. The attacks reinforced fears that the civil conflict in Syria, which has become increasingly sectarian in nature, now threatened to spill over the border.
The attacks followed a declaration by Al Qaeda in Iraq’s leader, Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi, drawing parallels between its hostility to the Shiite-led government in Iraq and the predominantly Sunni revolt against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whose Alawite sect is closely aligned to the Shiites.
Mr. Baghdadi, in a 33-minute speech posted Sunday on a Web site often used for messages by Al Qaeda, promised that a new offensive, which he called Breaking Down Walls, would begin soon. He described the impending campaign as part of a battle by Sunnis against Iraq’s Shiite leaders and people.