Dispatch from Beijing: PLA Writings on the New Silk Road

Publication: China Brief Volume: 15 Issue: 4

February 20, 2015 02:12 PM Age: 1 day By: Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafag

Major General Ji Mingkui, a professor at China’s National Defense University and a   prolific writer on the New Silk Road.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “New Silk Road” has become a signature policy initiative, with over 50 countries participating and a new $40 billion Silk Road Fund to ensure its success (see China Brief, December 19, 2014; Xinhua, February 5). First espoused in 2013 by President Xi, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, also known as “one belt, one road,” places China’s growing economy at the center of a global trading network. While there is no public military component to the New Silk Road, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has become an active participant in China’s internal debate over its future shape and implications. Continue reading

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Three Possible Scenarios for Iran’s Nuclear Talks

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tayebeh Mohammadikia
PhD Candidate of International Relations in Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehra

Iran‘s nuclear negotiations have reached their sensitive stage. Now, the time is ripe to review future prospects of these negotiations more accurately and talk about the final outcome of the nuclear talks with more precision. However, the way ahead is still surrounded by ambiguity and problems. Under the present circumstances, analysts focusing on these negotiations are faced with three main assumptions: inability of the two sides to reach an agreement, achievement of a final agreement, and finally, further extension of the negotiations. Each of these possible scenarios is discussed in more detail below.

1. Achievement of a final agreement

Any analysis of conditions that may surface after “achievement of an agreement” will be a function of the arrangement of powers on the two main sides of the equation; that is, Iran and the United States, as well as the analysis of other forces that have their own influence at international, regional and global levels. Here, possible options available to powerful political forces within domestic political scene of these two countries will be explained first before turning to major influential powers in international arena.

   1.1. Arrangement of powers in Iran and the US if an agreement is not achieved

A nuclear agreement has staunch supporters and proponents both in Iran and the United States. However, the other possibility, that is, inability to reach an agreement, has also its own important and influential proponents. Continue reading

The Maldives-Syria Connection: Jihad in Paradise?

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 22
November 21, 2014 04:03 PM

 

Screenshot from Abu Turab video in Divehi (Source: YouTube)

The Maldives, the Muslim-majority archipelago country in the Indian Ocean, is going through a tumultuous time, facing increasing Islamist activities at home, an exodus of radicalized youth to join the jihad in Syria and a growing domestic clamor for the implementation of Shari’a law. This has been accompanied by the targeted abduction and intimidation of local Maldivians who hold progressive ideals and secular values. Although the country is better known as a romantic honeymoon destination, these developments – which include the establishment of the “Islamic State of the Maldives” (ISM) group – have exposed the deep extremist undercurrents in Maldivian society and are increasingly drawing the attention of local and international security forces. Continue reading

Another Clash Reported Between Security Forces and Rebels in Chechnya

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 209
November 21, 2014 02:59 PM Age: 9 hrs By: Mairbek Vatchagaev

(Source: Vestnik Kavkaza)

As he has done for years, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov was the first to announce the latest government operation against rebel militants in Chechnya. Kadyrov stated on his personal Instagram webpage that government forces had killed a group of four bandits in the republic’s Sunzha district, on the administrative border with Ingushetia. According to Kadyrov, the authorities had been conducting a manhunt for some time. Government sources said they had received information that the militants had been ordered by their leader, Beslan Makhauri (Emir Muhammad), to carry out bomb attacks (instagram.com, November 17). The Chechen Republic’s head specified that government forces had started the special operation a week earlier, after the body of a hunter was found. Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on the government forces’ losses in the operation. “Last night on the outskirts of Sernovodskaya, four members of the bandit underground were surrounded. They used arms to resist the police. In the clash, the bandits were eliminated; two police officers were injured” (Interfax, November 17). The Interfax report shows that law enforcement did not simply happen to be located in the area, but were searching for people accused of killing the hunter. Continue reading

Russia Is Testing NATO’s Resolve in Eastern Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin is feeling around for the gaps that have emerged in NATO’s defenses, and it may take more than military spending to patch them up

A few years ago, when NATO strategists would stop to consider a possible threat from Russia, their chief concern was the possibility, however slight, that the Russian state would implode, lose control of its nuclear arsenal and allow a few warheads to fall into the wrong hands. That at least was the worry Ivo Daalder expressed in the fall of 2010, when he paid a visit to Moscow as the U.S. ambassador to NATO. But on the whole, he says he just wasn’t very concerned about Russia at the time. The alliance was too busy with that year’s troop surge in Afghanistan and with newfangled threats like cyber warfare.

“As a security concern Russia wasn’t really on the agenda in 2010,” he tells TIME by phone on Friday from Chicago. “The focus with Russia was really on cooperation.” Continue reading

Russia: Digging Themselves in Deeper

Why Big Oil is doubling down on Putin’s Russia.

BY Keith Johnson APRIL 22, 2014

Russia may have become an international outcast in the wake of its annexation of Crimea and continued destabilization of eastern Ukraine. But for one group of powerful multinationals, Russia these days is less pariah than promised land.

Big Western oil companies from BP to Shell have not just stayed the course in Russia in recent months — many have essentially doubled down on oil and gas investments there and built even closer ties with Russian energy firms. Taken together, the deals could send billions of dollars flowing into the Russian economy just when Barack Obama’s administration is trying to hammer it hard enough to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to reverse his annexation of Crimea and stop menacing eastern Ukraine.

“We’ve made clear that we’d be prepared to target certain sectors of the Russian economy if we see a significant escalation, including direct Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine,” White House spokesperson Laura Lucas Magnuson has said. Continue reading

North Korea fires ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan

25 March 2014

North Korea is believed to have launched two No Dong ballistic missiles on 26 March. The No Dong was seen on a transport-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle with five axles at a military parade in Pyongyang in late 2010. Source: PA

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on 26 March: the latest in a series of test launches.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that two missiles were launched from the Sukchon region at 02.35 and 02.42 local time respectively. It added that the launches were in violation of “UN Security Council Resolutions [UNSCR] 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013) and 2094 (2013), which prohibit North Korea from all activities related to ballistic missile programmes.” Continue reading