Etiket arşivi: u.s.

U.S. State Department OSAC Libya Reports May 2011-September 2012


Fatal Car Bombs Hit Tripoli.pdf

Libya Instability Continues.pdf

Libyan Elections.pdf

OSAC-Libya-5.pdf

Progress Elusive in Libya.pdf

Iranian militias ‘pose threat to U.S.’


Iran’s extremist militias and their proxies were behind a recent string of terrorist attacks against Israeli diplomatic targets around the globe and might seek to strike the United States, U.S. counterterrorism officials said Wednesday.

Quds Force, Hezbollah and others have shown they both have the capability and the willingness to extend beyond that [Middle East] region of the world and likely here into the homeland itself,” Kevin L. Perkins, associate deputy director of the FBI, told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“We look at it as a serious threat,” he added, saying the bureau is “focusing intelligence analysts and other resources on that on a daily basis to monitor that threat.”

Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said “Iran remains the foremost state-sponsor of terrorism in the world. We have seen an uptick in operational activity by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Quds Force over the last year or so.”

The Quds Force is the elite division of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, responsible for operations abroad, and Mr. Olsen cited the federal prosecution last year of a foiled Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. by bombing a Washington restaurant.

A senior official of the Quds Force, Gholam Shakuri, was indicted in October for his involvement in the plot, which actually was an elaborate sting by a Drug Enforcement Administration informant. He remains at large in Iran.

The Treasury Department later sanctioned both the Quds Force and its commander, Brig. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, for their roles in the plot.

Iran has denied the charges.

The Quds Force and the Lebanese Shiite extremist militia Hezbollah, which the Iranians have used as a proxy for terrorist attacks in the past, have been “reaching outside of their normal areas of operation in the Middle East and conducting attacks elsewhere,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and committee chairman.

Quds Force operatives had been involved in anti-Israeli attacks and plots as far afield as India and Georgia, Mr. Olsen said.

Adding to concern about Hezbollah is an article in the Times of London on Wednesday based on an interview with a major general in the Syrian army who recently defected. Gen. Adnan Sillu told the paper that the Syrian regime had plans to provide chemical weapons to Hezbollah for use in rocket attacks against Israel.

The regime now has “nothing to lose” in sharing the weapons, he added. “If a war starts between Hezbollah and Israel, it will be only good for Syria.”

Read more: Iranian militias ‘pose threat to U.S.’ – Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/sep/20/iranian-militias-pose-threat-to-us/#ixzz272jB2on3

Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

U.S. Suspected of Creating Three More Computer Viruses


Two independent teams of researchers studying the Flame computer virus believe that the maker of the malware — all but certain to be the United States — has architected three additional programs to conduct clandestine cyberwar or espionage.

Both Symantec Corp of the United States and Kaspersky Lab of Russia acknowledged on Monday that their research of Flame has led them to believe that whoever had a role in creating that virus has also put their efforts behind three other similar programs.

A team of engineers at Kaspersky released new information on Monday collected during forensic analysis of Flame command-and-Control servers that were examined with the assistance of Symantec, ITU-IMPACT and CERT-Bund/BSI. Researchers had first disclosed in May that Flame, a sophisticated espionage virus, targeted computer systems in Iran and was likely the product of a nation-state, specifically the US. With this week’s update, however, it appears as if the United States’ endeavors in cyberwar may have stretched past even what researchers had imagined.

“Based on the code from the servers, it can be said that they were working with at least three other programs similar to Flame. The code names of those programs are IP, SP and SPE,” Kaspersky Lab chief security expert Aleks Gostev told RT.

Although the United States government has not gone on the record to take credit for either Flame or Stuxnet, a similar computer worm that targeted Iranian nuclear facilities first discovered in 2010, experts have long maintained that the US is involved in both viruses, perhaps even enlisting Israeli scientists for assistance.

Speaking at a TED Talk in 2011, researcher Ralph Langner said, “My opinion is that the Mossad is involved but that the leading force is not Israel. The leading force behind Stuxnet is the cyber superpower – there is only one; and that’s the United States.”

In January of this year, Mike McConnell, the former director of national intelligence at the National Security Agency under George W Bush, told Reuters that the US had indeed attacked foreign computer systems at one time or another, and confirmed that America has “the ability to attack, degrade or destroy” the e-grids of adversaries. When the New York Times followed up with a report of their own only five months later, members of US President Barack Obama’s national security team admitted on condition of anonymity that the White House continued cyber-assaults on Iran’s nuclear program through Stuxnet, which Mr. Obama himself endorsed.

Once compared with coding from Flame, security experts saw an immediate correlation.

“Stuxnet of 2009 had a large piece of code similar to that of Flame, so apparently creators of Stuxnet and Flame were working in close collaboration,” Gostev from Kaspersky Lab said.

With America all but confirmed as the culprit behind both viruses, this week it’s revealed that the United States may have crafted another three coded programs to target Iran and its allies. Speaking to Reuters, researchers involved in the latest analysis say they are still trying to figure out the basic facts about the three new viruses, but believe that the same entity responsible for Stuxnet and Flame are at it again.

“We know that it is definitely out there. We just can’t figure out a way to actually get our hands on it. We are trying,”Symantec researcher Vikram Thakur tells Reuters.

Also in their report, Kaspersy say that the heavy encryption and nature of the newest programs “fits the profile of military and/or intelligence operations.”

Cold War II: U.S. and China


Cold War II
Muhammad Arif Shafi

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The first decade of the 21st century witnessed invasions and change of regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq without any solid reason by the US and its allies. The second decade is more violent and Syria is facing a civil war with the clear interference of Western powers. Iran is being threatened and Pakistan is facing continuous violations against its national sovereignty in the shape of drone attacks.

[T]he Obama administration in January 2010 announced the sale of $6 billion worth of Patriot anti-missile systems to Taiwan. Chinese officials on that occasion called the step “a stab in the back”. China cut off military ties with the US soon after the deal.

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The Cold War term was used for the first time in 1945 by George Orwell, an English writer, in his article, ‘You and the Atomic Bomb’. It denotes indirect conflict between two atomic superpowers — the United States (US) and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Their hostility started soon after the end of World War II. Although both powers fought as allies in that war, they considered each side a danger for world peace after the victory of the allied forces. The US feared Soviet expansionism and thought the Soviets would control the whole world. Communists were also not happy with US interference in world affairs and its growing military power. The Cold War ended with the dismemberment of the USSR, following great losses in the Afghan war.

The world was called ‘uni-polar’ from then on and the US became free to interfere and dominate it. The first decade of the 21st century witnessed invasions and change of regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq without any solid reason by the US and its allies. The second decade is more violent and Syria is facing a civil war with the clear interference of Western powers. Iran is being threatened and Pakistan is facing continuous violations against its national sovereignty in the shape of drone attacks.

China, yet another communist state without an expansionist policy, has emerged as another world power. Although the Chinese economy started growth from 1949 onward, in recent years the country has shown enormous progress, covering almost the whole of the world market. The US and China have clarified on a number of occasions in the near past that they are not rivals, but some recent developments and a difference of opinion in several aspects of world affairs give evidence that the second cold war has started, and that too without a declaration.

In 1962, a month-long war (from October 20 to November 20) was fought between India and China over a number of border disputes, which ended with a decisive victory by China. The war coincided with the US-Cuba missile crisis and, no doubt, the US did not play any direct role in the Indo-China war at that point. However, in the following years India was supported by the US to become a regional power. India also provided political asylum to the Tibetan spiritual and political leader, the Dalai Lama, who escaped to India during the uprising in Tibet in 1959. The Dalai Lama is still a thorn in Indo-Chinese relationship.

India, as a large country and economy, is important for US foreign policy in the region, and growing strategic relations between the US and India during the last few years have alarmed China.

In 2003, when the US was busy with the Iraq war, the Bush administration, on a number of occasions, had said they supported the one-China policy and were against an independent Taiwan. China claims Taiwan is a part of its territory. However, after seven years, the Obama administration in January 2010, announced the sale of $6 billion worth of Patriot anti-missile systems to Taiwan. Chinese officials on that occasion called the step “a stab in the back”. China cut off military ties with the US soon after the deal.

In September 2011, although denying having sold new F-16 fighter jets, the US made a deal of $5.85 billion to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of F-16s. The Chinese deputy foreign minister demanded an immediate cancellation of “the wrong decision”. People’s Daily, a top Chinese newspaper and mouthpiece of China’s Communist Party, called it a “huge mistake” and wrote, “If American politicians feel that the United States can irresponsibly and randomly damage China’s core interests without paying a price, that is a major and huge mistake.”

According to some analysts, the Taliban while they were in power in Afghanistan had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on the US, and the US had other strategic motives behind the occupation of Afghanistan. One of those motives was to establish bases near the Chinese border. Besides the 11-year long war and the loss of more than 3,000 soldiers of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), no major changes have occurred in Afghanistan. The US has agreed with the Afghan government to maintain military bases in the country until 2014.

China has a dispute over islands in the East China Sea with Japan and tension between the two nations has grown during the last few days. Although the US has not shown a clear position on the dispute, Tokyo is a longtime ally of Washington and under the US-Japan Security Treaty the US is obliged to respond to any attack on Japan or its territory.

Asia is not a limit to this undeclared cold war; in fact, Africa is also witnessing the growing influence of both powers. China is investing $490 billion in Africa, making the continent the third largest recipient of its Outward Foreign Direct Investment (OFDI), following Asia and Europe.

Recently (in August 2012), US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Africa with a number of executives from leading American companies to assure Africans that the US was interested in investing in the continent. Although late, the US has realised that China benefits from African potential by investing there.

Australia is the third continent where growing rivalry between the two powers can be witnessed. Addressing the Australian parliament during his visit last November, US President Barack Obama announced an agreement between the two nations under which the US would send an additional 2,500 marines to the port city of Darwin in northern Australia. Both China and the US want to increase their influence in Australia, which is mostly a militarily dependent state. China considers the Australian decision as a sign of joining sides. The arrival of US marines is a sign that the establishment of a land base will take place there and it is considered as a move against China.

War is a misery for humans, it does not matter if it is cold or hot, and the world, especially the US and China, must realise that before it is too late.

The writer can be reached at Arifshafi6

U.S. Joint Forces Command Military Support to Economic Normalization Draft Handbook


U.S. Joint Forces Command Military Support to Economic Normalization Draft Handbook.pdf

Al-Qaeda now a U.S. ally in Syria


While we reflect on the 11th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on American soil, there is a blinding light that may obscure our view: this sworn enemy now fights hand in hand with the US against the Syrian regime.

The historic State of the Union address by US president George W. Bush on September 20, 2001 is loaded with morals and principles about good and evil.

The president’s ultimatum was clear: either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.

In Syria, there is mounting evidence that Al Qaeda and its allies are actively deploying terror tactics and suicide bombers to overthrow the Assad regime.

Syrian citizens who prefer the secular and stable state to the prospect of an Iraqi-style sectarian state may well be turning this same question around to the US government: are you with us, or with the terrorists?

This week, head of the Salafi jihad and close ally of al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf, pledged ”deadly attacks” against Syria as ”our fighters are coming to get you” because ”crimes” by the regime ”prompts us to jihad”.

Bush referred to al Qaeda as the enemies of freedom: ”the terrorists’ directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews”. But Sheikh Muhammad al Zughbey proclaimed that ”your jihad against this infidel criminal and his people is a religious duty … Alawites are more infidel than the Jews and Christians”. Because the new jihad targets Alawites rather than Jews and Christians, does this render them better bed fellows?

By his own admission, Bush stated that al Qaeda was ”linked to many other organisations in different countries … They are recruited from their own nations … where they are trained in the tactics of terror … They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction”.

Yet this is precisely how the foreign jihadists in Syria have been described by reporters. They are funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And they collaborate with the Free Syrian Army which is aided and abetted by the US.

Bush condemned the Taliban regime because they were ”sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists. By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder”. Eleven years later, the parallels produce an uncomfortable truth.

If only the Syrian uprising was as simple as the Arab Spring narrative where citizens seek democracy and freedom. But those unarmed protests have long since been hijacked by a cocktail of agendas which have little to do with Syrian democracy, and more to do with a proxy war to create a sectarian Sunni state that weakens Shi’te Iran’s main partner in the region.

Bush was correct in claiming that al Qaeda ”want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan” – who were all US-Israel allies at that time.

But his list stopped short of mentioning Syria or Iraq, the real targets of al Qaeda. Why does overthrowing Syria, using the same terror tactics, fail to attract the same degree of outrage?

Bush continues: ”We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism.”

This pledge appears to have fallen on its own sword, given the funding of the jihadists in Syria. The terrorists have bred and spread across borders, which is the opposite of Bush’s prophecy.

The US administration must come clean about its financial aid. It cannot use one hand to sign a blank cheque to the rebels, and the other hand to cover its eyes to their immoral and illegal tactics. It cannot hide behind ”the end justifies the means” as there are too many innocent lives at stake.

Bush rode off on his high horse: ”We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them … may God grant us wisdom”.

If the principles and morality are to be taken seriously, then they need to be applied consistently.

The US regime should be actively and publicly distancing itself from the foreign terrorists and Salafist jihadists that are proliferating within sovereign Syria.

It should be condemning al Qaeda for its militant intervention. It should be condemning the Saudi sheikhs who issue fatwas for an Alawite holocaust.

The wisdom that we see is grief over the al Qaeda crime 11 years ago, yet covert collaboration with this sworn enemy today.

Perhaps the US is applying another principle that they may have learned from their pragmatic Arab allies – the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Joseph Wakim is the founder of Australian Arabic Council.

After End Of Soviet Union, U.S. Pins China On Combat Chart


U.S. politicians need to stop counterproductive meddling

By Liu Chang

BEIJING: Designedly turning a blind eye to Japan’s recent reckless and provocative actions of “buying” China’s Diaoyu Islands, some U.S. lawmakers brazenly blamed China for the flaring tensions in the region.

Republican Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehitinen of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday groundlessly rounded upon China, saying China was a “schoolyard bully” towards its maritime neighbors and aspired to dominate the region.

Such remarks would not only do no good to the worsening ties between Beijing and Tokyo, but also embolden the Japanese government and some other countries in the region that have maritime disputes with China to take even more actions that could undermine stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific.

The Philippines has already attempted to fish in the troubled waters. Manila on Wednesday unilaterally renamed as the “West Philippine Sea” a portion of the South China Sea that includes waters around some Chinese islands, a serious breach of China’s sovereign rights.

In fact, it would not be necessary to employ complicated high technology to determine who is both right and reasonable in these territorial disputes in the region. There are plenty of historical texts and records that can effectively prove China’s ownership of these islands and waters.

Therefore, the only reason why a handful of U.S. politicians always stand against China’s legitimate ownership of these islets is that they purposely choose to do so.

In fact, since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Washington has been inclined to pin China on its combat chart and take it as a potential challenger to its so-called strategic interests and self-claimed leadership in the Asia-Pacific area.

However, with misgivings about Beijing’s rapid emergence onto the world stage, the United States still wants to grab a big share of China’s extended and lucrative markets for business profits.

And it would be self-deceiving that China could not see through Washington’s calculations, and such a two-pronged policy of containment and engagement towards China could never possibly underpin a stable and constructive China-U.S. relationship.

Moreover, for generations, there have always been some U.S. politicians trying to make political capital out of China-bashing games. They have also helped to boost America’s half-hearted China policy.

China has demonstrated to the world that it seeks no regional domination. It is dedicated to developing its economy and improving the Chinese people’s livelihood. Therefore, there is no reason for China to undermine the regional stability and thus disrupt its development.

In the meantime, it has been China’s steadfast policy and long-term practice to resolve the maritime disputes in the region through bilateral talks.

Nevertheless, that does not mean that China would allow any alien trespasses over its sovereignty. China has the will and ability to safeguard its territorial integrity.

U.S. politicians should refrain from making irresponsible remarks that would serve nothing but to stoke more tensions. Washington needs to heed China’s call that it play a constructive role in the Asia-Pacific.

U.S. Middle Eastern Policies Backfire


Time for U.S. to rethink its Mideast policies after ambassador’s tragic death

By Wu Liming

BEIJING: The attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya on Tuesday were hair-raising, and the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was tragic.

On the surface, the attacks stemmed from a U.S.-made film that “defames Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.” But their causes run deeper than that, highlighting America’s flawed strategy in the Middle East and the necessity for Washington to rethink its policies toward the region.

Both Libya and Egypt witnessed drastic political upheavals in the past year, in which the United States played a crucial role. However, many Egyptians and Libyans don’t seem grateful to America, and the deadly attacks appear to reveal deep resentment. Why?

First and foremost, the United States has been pursuing hegemony in the Middle East for decades, and people in the region are fed up with the image of “the arrogant American.”

Years ago, the United States launched the “war on terror” and turned Iraq into bloody chaos, causing numerous deaths and casualties, with millions of people displaced.

Despite all its rhetoric, the United States failed to bring prosperity to the region and the people there remain mired in dire situations.

For instance, Iraq is still troubled by explosions, sectarian conflicts, a slow reconstruction process and the resurgence of al-Qaida.

Secondly, the attacks dealt a big blow to America’s decades-old scheme of trying to set up a coalition in the region to bring down the Mideast governments it dislikes, like Iran and Syria.

To that end, America and its allies have been trying to push for regime change in the name of democratization. But the region is still volatile, and the coalition has been weakened instead of getting stronger.

Not long ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Middle East in an bid to patch up cracks that emerged in the region’s relationship with America. But she met with protests. And the latest attacks demonstrated again how unpopular Americans are in the region.

Thirdly, America’s partiality for Israel leads to widespread hatred among Arabs, shaking the foundation of America’s strategy in the region.

Moreover, the political patterns in many Mideast countries have gradually changed following the rise of religious forces, which is bad news for the United States.

Fourthly, America’s inaction in restarting the Mideast peace process has added to local people’s revulsion at America.

The world held high hopes for the peace process when U.S. President Barack Obama took office, but over the past four years the Obama administration made no substantial progress in that regard.

Finally, America proves unable to resolve the bigger issue of culture conflict.

Following America’s deeds in the Middle East over the decades, the cultural gap between America and the Middle East has actually widened.

According to media reports, apart from being angry with the above-mentioned film, the protesters in Benghazi and Cairo “said they were demonstrating against anti-Islamic attitudes in the United States.”

All in all, the attacks serve as a reminder that it is time for Washington to rethink its policies toward the Middle East or it will face a dead end there.

U.S. Deploys Warships, Marines To Libya


Following the deaths of American ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three members of his staff in a coordinated attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi on September 11, Washington is deploying two Aegis class destroyers off the coast of Libya as well as having already dispatched Marines to Benghazi and elsewhere in the nation.

The guided missile warship USS Laboon is already positioned in the Mediterranean Sea near Libya and USS McFaul is heading to the same destination from the Strait of Gibraltar. Both are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, used in a massive barrage against Libya in the opening hours of so-called Operation Odyssey Dawn on March 19, 2011.

In the words of a Pentagon official cited by CNN, “These ships will give the administration flexibility” in the event Washington orders new attacks inside Libya.

According to the same American news source, “The US Navy typically keeps up to four Aegis-equipped missile warships ships in the eastern Mediterranean to aid in defending Israel and missile defense for southern Europe.”

The latter is a reference to the Obama administration’s European Phased Adaptive Approach interceptor missile system which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization announced to have achieved initial operational capability at its summit in Chicago in May. U.S. guided missile destroyers and cruisers carrying Standard Missile-3 interceptors have been active in the Mediterranean since USS Monterrey was deployed there in March of 2011, the month the U.S. and NATO began over six-months of missile and air attacks against Libya.

According to a Reuters report, eight American Marines were flown into Benghazi by helicopter the day after the attack on the U.S. mission, with two of them being killed and two wounded in a fierce mortar attack on the building.

The Associated Press claimed that the U.S. has deployed 50 members of the elite U.S. Marine Corps Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team to Libya.

U.S. Africa Command’s first war and NATO’s first war in Africa officially ended on October 31 of last year, after the U.S. and Britain launched well over 100 Tomahawk missiles into Libya and NATO followed with over 26,000 air missions, among them almost 9,000 strike sorties, in Operation Unified Protector and the nation’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was brutally murdered outside his hometown of Sirte.

But as with NATO’s military operations from the Balkans to Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, one armed conflict inevitably gives way to another and the Western military bloc continues to execute plans to expand into a global military strike force.

Global Balance Of Power: U.S.’s Strategic Chess Move In Asia-Pacific


USA – managing China’s rise
By Imran Malik*

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The USA’s strategic moves do indicate an emerging crescent of containment around China. It ranges from Afghanistan in the west to Arunachal Pradesh on the Sino-India border in the Himalayas in the centre and onto the Pacific Ocean in the east where the US and its allies are present with their formidable militaries.

China is reacting to counter this ominous and blatant attempt to hem it in and circumscribe its strategic space for manoeuvre. It seeks credible alternatives.

Geopolitically, it must garner succour and support from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which must be expanded immediately to include Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and India as full members. Such a move may deter India from joining the US camp too eagerly.

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The rapacious and insatiable global US juggernaut is on the prowl again. Having wreaked death, devastation and misery on the peoples of the Greater Middle East Region (GMER-Iraq), the South-Central Asian Region (SCAR-Afghanistan, Pakistan), North Africa (Tunisia, Libya, Egypt), the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen), the Mediterranean (Syria) and still keeping the Persian Gulf sub-region (Iran) on tenterhooks, it has now set its sights on the Asia Pacific Region (APR).

Its ambitions and intentions to “contain and manage the rise of China” could not have been starker. Leon Panetta has declared the USA’s intent to “shift, pivot or rebalance” to the APR by deploying 60 percent of its naval assets there by 2020 – a major paradigm shift from the GMER/SCAR to the APR – with menacing geopolitical and strategic connotations.

While it indicates its geopolitical orientations for the future, it also questions its capabilities to project power simultaneously in multiple theatres of war. The US was generally expected to fight and win at least two-and-a-half Major Regional Conflicts (MRCs) simultaneously – meaning thereby that it could fight and win two major and one minor conflict in different theatres of war at the same time.

Some analysts now degrade that capability to about one-and-a-half MRC, for a myriad of reasons. Would this mean that the US does not foresee fighting a major war elsewhere (other than the APR) in the world circa 2020 and beyond? Is it by choice or a genuine limitation? The US sees China’s emerging economic military power as a major threat to its global and national aspirations, and thus feels compelled to “contain and manage its rise.”

It has made the preliminary geopolitical and strategic moves to manoeuvre into an advantageous position in the APR. It is reconfirming existing alliances and forging new ones. It can count upon known old allies such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia (US troops are to be based in the northern territories), Singapore, etc., while hoping to co-opt others like the ASEAN membership, the South Pacific Islands, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and ominously India.

India’s importance lies in not only keeping the Chinese distracted in the Himalayas, but also lets the US and its allies exploit the strategic advantages its military assets and facilities at the Nicobar and Andaman Islands provide.

Furthermore, the Indian Peninsula jutting out so prominently into the Indian Ocean allows great strategic oversight on all global East-West trade/SLOCs.

The two major likely areas of conflict in the APR (apart from Taiwan) are the South China Sea and the Malacca Straits. The South China Sea issue is gaining momentum with many regional countries, including China, laying claims to the Spratly Islands archipelago and its mineral/fossil riches.

The Malacca Straits (as opposed to the Lombok, Makassar and Mindoro Straits and the Sibutu Passage) provide the most economical Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs). All the countries or economies of the APR thus have a compulsion to keep it open and navigable at all times. And the only naval power with the wherewithal to decisively control the Malacca Straits and other SLOCs – is the US.

Could the South China Sea issue then become the flashpoint to initiate a war with China to stunt its rapid growth into a global rival of the US? Could the blockade of the SLOCs through the Malacca Straits (and others) be the leverage that could force China to submit to US demands or hegemony?

The USA’s strategic moves do indicate an emerging crescent of containment around China. It ranges from Afghanistan in the west to Arunachal Pradesh on the Sino-India border in the Himalayas in the centre and onto the Pacific Ocean in the east where the US and its allies are present with their formidable militaries.

China is reacting to counter this ominous and blatant attempt to hem it in and circumscribe its strategic space for manoeuvre. It seeks credible alternatives.

Geopolitically, it must garner succour and support from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which must be expanded immediately to include Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and India as full members. Such a move may deter India from joining the US camp too eagerly.

Further, an assertive and proactive SCO in the SCAR/AfPak region could help nullify pressure on the Chinese western flank to a great extent. Its ‘String of Pearls Strategy’ is designed to find viable alternatives to the Malacca Straits and to seek a presence in the Indian Ocean.

It must translate its proactive interests in Pakistan (Gwadar), Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar, etc. into tangible counter moves. It must also launch a massive diplomatic initiative and particularly engage ASEAN, regional countries and India to forestall their joining cause with the US.

Geo-economically, Pakistan is indispensable to the Chinese. Together they could develop the North-South trade corridor linking Xinjiang province in western China to Pakistani ports on the Arabian Sea. China’s presence in Gwadar will bring it close to Iran and the Hormuz Straits. An extension of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline to China, an oil pipeline running parallel to it and a railway line along the Karakoram Highway (KKH) would provide viable and practical (though partial) alternatives to the SLOCs/Malacca Straits.

The Chinese already have an oil pipeline coming in from Kazakhstan into western China. Geo-strategically, with China sitting at Gwadar/the Straits of Hormuz (a strategic vulnerability for the US and its allies), it could project power and gain an even more devastating leverage over the US and its allies than they would have at the Malacca Straits.

When push comes to shove, this would give it a priceless and overwhelming bargaining, and negotiating advantage over the US and it hapless allies. A possible China-Pakistan-Iran nexus (SCO?) could actually be a geopolitical and strategic game changer in the emerging scenario.

Furthermore, Pakistan could keep the bulk of Indian forces tied to its borders and thus obviate meaningful hostilities against China in the Arunachal Pradesh region. It makes for a great game of chess at the global level. One only hopes that the US understands the regional and global ramifications of its shenanigans in the APR. World beware.

*The writer is a retired brigadier and a former defence attaché to Australia and New Zealand.

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