May 23, 2017

Third maritime patrol ship inducted for security of CPEC

THE NEWS SCROLL23 MAY 2017  Last Updated at 11:04 AM

Karachi [Pakistan], May 23 : Pakistan has inducted PMSS Dasht as the third Chinese-built maritime patrol ship for the protection and security of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

karachi [pakistan], May 23 : Pakistan has inducted PMSS Dasht as the third Chinese-built maritime patrol ship for the protection and security of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The other two ships are the PMSS Hingol and the PMSS Basol, reports the Dawn.

The induction ceremony was done in the presence of Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo.

Speaking on the occasion, Bizenjo said major challenges have been witnessed and experienced by Pakistan and with the inception of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the nation has become a centre of global attention.

The PMSS Dasht has been built for the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) and arrived in Karachi earlier this month.

Bizenjo was quoted, as saying, "The CPEC has the potential to change the regional canvas and the world. The importance of the project for Pakistan's strategic strength and economic prosperity needs no elaboration. Every effort is being made to secure the important trade lifeline both on land and at sea."

He added,"The government allocated over USD 150 million to enable the PMSA fleet to protect our maritime area and sea lines of communication. This will add a great deal to the security fibre not only for the CPEC but for all maritime zones of Pakistan."

He said that he had met a few Chinese engineers and technicians associated with the project and appreciated their valuable contribution and shows the strength of deep-rooted friendship between islamabad and beijing.

Meanwhile, two more ships are under construction at the Karachi shipyard

May 22, 2017

Our speech which called for a free Balochistan in Washington D.C.

Published on August 27th, 2016 | by Israel's Voice Staff

By Michael Mendelson

Shalom to the attendees here and the people of Balochistan from an American- Israeli Jewish man who proudly stands with Balochistan.  My name is Michael Mendelson and I am the president of Israel’s Voice, a non- profit organization aimed at combating anti- Semitism.

Representing Israel’s Voice, I stand here today in solidarity with the Baloch people on one of the darkest days in the history of Balochistan.

Most of us have heard this famous quote:

“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

For this, Israel’s Voice and our board members, Grissell Gallegos, Cema Milicich and I are here today to stand up for you.

It is time to speak out against the injustices committed to the Baloch people and recognize the struggle they have suffered during their journey to become an independent country.

On this day 10 years ago a towering figure of modern Balochistan history Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was assassinated by Pakistan army. The killing was most condemnable since Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was a secular leader who rejected Islamic radicals.

I have read Shaheed Nawab Bugti lived the life of a hero and embraced eternal glory by his unselfish sacrifice and conviction. His fight for the freedom of Balochistan instills courage in the hearts of Baloch youths who are demanding freedom.

Let me quote from an article in InFocus, the official blog of CAMERA, or Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting website. The article is entitled “Kurds, Baloch and Israelis” and was written by Elisa Greenberg. She wrote, “Just as the Jewish people were left without a Jewish state for thousands of years and occupied by others, from the Romans to the Byzantines to the Ottomans, the Kurdish and Baloch people are also nations without a country. The land of Kurds is divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and parts of Syria, Armenia and Azerbaijan, while the Baloch reside in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Just as the Jewish people never gave up on the Jewish state of Israel, the Kurds and Baloch have never been willing to give up their dream” of having their own free countries, where they could be masters of their own destiny without outside coercion.

Greenberg further writes and I concur, ” In 1948, Pakistan attacked Balochistan, occupied the land, looted its natural resources , and suppressed the Balochi language and culture in classic colonialist style. Under the Pakistani occupation, thousands of Baloch people have been massacred, hundreds of thousands made refugees, and thousands more have disappeared or been tortured and jailed, often without trial. Details of Pakistan’s human rights abuses in Balochistan are well documented by Pakistani and international human rights groups, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.”

Though the Islamic Republic of Pakistan promotes hatred of Jews and Hindus as part of its so-called Islamic ideology of Pakistan, Baloch people of Balochistan refuse to believe what Islamabad says or be brainwashed. It is therefore incumbent upon all secular democracies to respect the secularism of the more than 25 million Baloch people who are facing the onslaught of not one but two brutal Islamic republics: Pakistan and Iran.

I must say the interest in Baloch and Balochistan is slowly but surely growing in Israel. Many Baloch activists are reaching out to secular democracies of Israel and India and this is clear proof of Baloch secularism. Pakistan has always blamed India for its troubles though there is no doubts that the jihadi army of Pakistan is the root cause of all the problems being faced by that country. In recent years, Pakistan has also blamed  Israel of supporting Baloch freedom fighters. I wish this was true. Mainly because Jew hatred, the world seems to be focused only on the anti- Israel propaganda and on the lies against the Jewish State while they ignore the terrible acts and human right violations that are committed by totalitarian Islamic regimes.

Israel’s Voice through our social media platforms has been informing about crimes against humanity in Balochistan and will continue doing it until more people in USA, Israel and the world acknowledge the atrocities committed against Balochistan.

Pakistan is one of the countries that are in the forefront when it comes to anti-Semitism. While it sheds tears over Kashmir and Judea and Samaria AKA West Bank, Pakistan security forces atrocities against the Baloch have few parallels in recent times.

We are very concerned over reports of mass graves and the non-stop kill and dump policy pursued by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, military Intelligence and Frontier Corps in Balochistan. We are appealing  to the government of Israel to open direct talks with secular Baloch leaders.

I am delighted to have followed the radio interview of Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti, political successor of Nawab Akbar Bugti who has requested Israel to help the freedom struggle in Balochistan. I hope Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti, president of the Baoch Republican Party, will be the first Baloch political leader and my friend Ahmar Mustikhan, founder of the American Friends of Balochistan will be the first Baloch journalist to visit Israel.

I’d also like to thank Inaf Dear Ashraf Sherjan from the Baloch Republican Party Germany for his endless efforts in educating the world. His influence has touched may people including myself and our following on social media sites.

Pakistan is indeed a very dangerous country, with fastest growing nuclear weapons program. I am disappointed to note Pakistan army generals have not learned anything from their defeat in former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh and are committing the same crimes against humanity in Balochistan. The silence of the free world and the Obama administration on the plight of Balochistan and its people are condemnable.

In conclusion, I call upon Pakistan to recognize the right to self determination of the Baloch people. Islamabad must understand demanding freedom and the right to pursuit happiness is not a crime. I am sure Balochistan will emerge on the world map as a friend of Israel.

Israel has supported the creation of an independent Kurdistan. I appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu to declare support for free Balochistan Just like Prime Minister Narendra Modi did on August 15 from the Red Fort.

On behalf of Israel’s Voice, we pray for a better world and peace for all. Thank you. Shalom

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

May 22, 2017/ 5 Comments

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

Military Strikes Continue Against ISIS Terrorists in Syria, Iraq

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, May 22, 2017 —U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria yesterday, conducting 22 strikes consisting of 72 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of yesterday’s strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

In Syria, coalition military forces conducted 18 strikes consisting of 29 engagements against ISIS targets:

-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, four strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed three ISIS barges, two ISIS wellheads, a vehicle, an ISIS oil storage tank and an ISIS oil processing equipment item.

-- Near Raqqa, 13 strikes engaged 12 ISIS tactical units and destroyed 11 fighting positions, nine vehicles, two supply caches, a mortar system, an ISIS headquarters; and suppressed an ISIS tactical unit.

-- Near Tabqah, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two fighting positions.

Strikes in Iraq

In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of 43 engagements against ISIS targets:

-- Near Kirkuk, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two fighting positions.

-- Near Mosul, three strikes engaged three ISIS tactical units and a sniper; destroyed 18 fighting positions, nine medium machine guns, six vehicle bombs, four rocket systems, three rocket-propelled grenade systems, three heavy machine guns, a command-and-control node, a vehicle, a supply cache, a mortar system and a tunnel; damaged 15 ISIS supply roads, a fighting position; and suppressed an ISIS tactical unit.

Additionally, two strikes were conducted in Syria and Iraq on May 20 that closed within the last 24 hours:

-- Near Raqqa, Syria, a strike destroyed an ISIS headquarters and an ISIS staging area.

-- Near Mosul, Iraq, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed four vehicles, two heavy machine guns, two fighting positions and two vehicle bombs.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group's ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect. For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target

Germany is quietly building a European army under its command

Elisabeth Braw, Foreign Policy

14h 27,563

A member of the German Bundeswehr's 371st Armoured Infantry Battalion seen during a media event at the battalion's base in 2015 in Marienberg, Germany.Getty Images

Every few years, the idea of a European Union army finds its way back into the news, causing a kerfuffle. The concept is both fantasy and bogeyman: For every federalist in Brussels who thinks a common-defense force is what Europe needs to boost its standing in the world, there are those in London and elsewhere who recoil at the notion of a potential NATO rival.

But this year, far from the headlines, Germany and two of its European allies, the Czech Republic and Romania, quietly took a radical step down a path toward something that looks like an EU army while avoiding the messy politics associated with it: They announced the integration of their armed forces.

Romania's entire military won't join the Bundeswehr, nor will the Czech armed forces become a mere German subdivision. But in the next several months each country will integrate one brigade into the German armed forces: Romania's 81st Mechanized Brigade will join the Bundeswehr's Rapid Response Forces Division, while the Czech 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, which has served in Afghanistan and Kosovo and is considered the Czech Army's spearhead force, will become part of the Germans' 10th Armored Division.

In doing so, they'll follow in the footsteps of two Dutch brigades, one of which has already joined the Bundeswehr's Rapid Response Forces Division and another that has been integrated into the Bundeswehr's 1st Armored Division. According to Carlo Masala, a professor of international politics at the University of the Bundeswehr in Munich, "The German government is showing that it's willing to proceed with European military integration" - even if others on the continent aren't yet.

The European Commission's president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has repeatedly floated the idea of an EU army, only to be met with ridicule or awkward silence. That remains the case even as the UK, a perennial foe of the idea, is on its way out of the union. There's little agreement among remaining member states over what exactly such a force would look like and which capabilities national armed forces would give up as a result.

And so progress has been slow going. This March, the European Union created a joint military headquarters - but it's in charge only of training missions in Somalia, Mali, and the Central African Republic and has a meager staff of 30. Other multinational concepts have been designed, such as the Nordic Battle Group, a 2,400-troop rapid-reaction force formed by the Baltic states and several Nordic countries and the Netherlands, and Britain's Joint Expeditionary Force, a "mini-NATO" whose members include the Baltic states, Sweden, and Finland. But in the absence of suitable deployment opportunities, such operations-based teams may as well not exist.

But under the bland label of the Framework Nations Concept, Germany has been at work on something far more ambitious - the creation of what is essentially a Bundeswehr-led network of European miniarmies. "The initiative came out of the weakness of the Bundeswehr," said Justyna Gotkowska, a Northern Europe security analyst at Poland's Centre for Eastern Studies think tank. "The Germans realized that the Bundeswehr needed to fill gaps in its land forces … in order to gain political and military influence within NATO." An assist from junior partners may be Germany's best shot at bulking out its military quickly - and German-led miniarmies may be Europe's most realistic option if it's to get serious about joint security. "It's an attempt to prevent joint European security from completely failing," Masala said.

German Bundeswehr troops demonstrating their skills at Kaserne Hochstaufen in Bad Reichenhall.Thomson Reuters

"Gaps" in the Bundeswehr is an understatement. In 1989, the West German government spent 2.7% of gross domestic product on defense, but by 2000 spending had dropped to 1.4%, where it remained for years. Indeed, from 2013 to 2016 defense spending was stuck at 1.2% - far from NATO's 2% benchmark. In a 2014 report to the Bundestag, the German parliament, the Bundeswehr's inspectors-general presented a woeful picture: Most of the Navy's helicopters were not working, and of the Army's 64 helicopters, only 18 were usable. And while the Cold War Bundeswehr had consisted of 370,000 troops, by last summer it was only 176,015 men and women strong.

Since then the Bundeswehr has grown to more than 178,000 active-duty troops; last year the government increased funding by 4.2%, and this year defense spending will grow by 8%. But Germany still lags far behind France and the UK as a military power. And boosting defense spending is not uncontroversial in Germany, which is wary of its history as a military power. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel recently said it was "completely unrealistic" to think that Germany would reach NATO's defense-spending benchmark of 2% of GDP - even though nearly all of Germany's allies, from smaller European countries to the US, are urging it to play a larger military role in the world.

Germany may not yet have the political will to expand its military forces on the scale that many are hoping for - but what it has had since 2013 is the Framework Nations Concept. For Germany, the idea is to share its resources with smaller countries in exchange for the use of their troops.

For these smaller countries, the initiative is a way of getting Germany more involved in European security while sidestepping the tricky politics of Germany military expansion. "It's a move towards more European military independence," Masala said. "The UK and France are not available to take a lead in European security" - the UK is on a collision course with its EU allies, while France, a military heavyweight, has often been a reluctant participant in multinational efforts within NATO. "That leaves Germany," he said. Operationally, the resulting binational units are more deployable because they're permanent (most multinational units have so far been ad hoc). Crucially for the junior partners, it also amplifies their military muscle. And should Germany decide to deploy an integrated unit, it could only do so with the junior partner's consent.

Of course, since 1945 Germany has been extraordinarily reluctant to deploy its military abroad, until 1990 even barring the Bundeswehr from foreign deployments. Indeed, junior partners - and potential junior partners - hope that the Framework Nations arrangement will make Germany take on more responsibility for European security. So far, Germany and its multinational miniarmies remain only that: small-scale initiatives, far removed from a full-fledged European army. But the initiative is likely to grow.

Germany's partners have been touting the practical benefits of integration: For Romania and the Czech Republic, it means bringing their troops to the same level of training as the German military; for the Netherlands, it has meant regaining tank capabilities. (The Dutch had sold the last of their tanks in 2011, but the 43rd Mechanized Brigade's troops, who are partially based with the 1st Armored Division in the western German city of Oldenburg, now drive the Germans' tanks and could use them if deployed with the rest of the Dutch army.)

German Chancellor Merkel meeting soldiers of 4th Company SES at army barracks in Leer.Thomson Reuters

Col. Anthony Leuvering, the 43rd Mechanized's Oldenburg-based commander, told me that the integration has had remarkably few hiccups. "The Bundeswehr has some 180,000 personnel, but they don't treat us like an underdog," he said. He expects more countries to jump on the bandwagon: "Many, many countries want to cooperate with the Bundeswehr." The Bundeswehr, in turn, has a list of junior partners in mind, said Robin Allers, a German associate professor at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies who has seen the German military's list. According to Masala, the Scandinavian countries - which already use a large amount of German-made equipment - would be the best candidates for the Bundeswehr's next round of integration.

So far, the low-profile and ad hoc approach of the Framework Nations Concept has worked to its advantage; few people in Europe have objected to the integration of Dutch or Romanian units into German divisions, partly because they may not have noticed. Whether there will be political repercussions should more nations sign up to the initiative is less clear.

Outside politics, the real test of the Framework Nations' value will be the integrated units' success in combat. But the trickiest part of integration, on the battlefield and off, may turn out to be finding a lingua franca. Should troops learn each other's languages? Or should the junior partner speak German? The German-speaking Dutch Col. Leuvering reports that the binational Oldenburg division is moving toward using English.

Read the original article on Foreign Policy. "Real World. Real Time." Follow Foreign Policy on Facebook. Subscribe to Foreign Policy here. Co

Intelligence Leaks and a Duplicitous Press

Susan Stamper Brown  | May 22, 2017

A Harvard study published May 18 reveals what thoughtful Americans already knew: Extreme anti-Trump bias runs rampant in corporate media. The study found that CNN, CBS, and NBC produced more than 90 percent negative coverage during Trump’s first 100 days, followed by the New York Times at 87 percent, and the Washington Post, 83 percent. Only Fox News offered close to balanced coverage with 52 percent negative coverage.

That explains why the week was filled with over-the-top reporting about President Trump sharing sensitive intelligence with Russian officials visiting the White House. Reportedly, the disclosure included information that ISIS has developed a way to mask bombs inside laptop computers that can slip undetected through airport screening.

Russia is a lot of things, but in the case of ISIS, Russia in our ally.

The overdramatic hype about Trump doing what every president before him has done to share information with an ally to prevent a terror attack is a head-scratcher to those who recall the events of September 11, 2001 as a bad thing.


The Most Disgusting Response to the Ariana Grande Tragedy

We are aware of these details thanks to an agenda-driven media lacking discretion and leakers lacking a conscience. Who in their right mind would leak to the public information that burns intelligence sources? It’s obvious there is no longer an ethical code by which most of the press abides.

Those whispering secrets to the wind do so for a reason.

Given the unprecedented volume of leaks and the Obama administration’s lack of integrity, someone should re-sweep the White House for bugs.

If it is “treasonous” for the president to share information to protect lives with an ally behind White House closed doors, then what shall we call it when a blabbermouth leaks this sensitive information to media organizations, which in turn proverbially broadcasts it with a bullhorn?

This is not about the First Amendment; we’re talking about discretion.

It’s also about intent. If anonymous sources are not authorized to speak publicly about intelligence matters but share them with the media, we should focus on prosecuting both the leaker and culpable media.

At the very least, fed-up Americans should cancel subscriptions to the Washington Post and New York Times and stop watching news channels that care more about destroying the president than they do about protecting American lives.

Sure, Trump’s methods might be questionable, but what’s not in dispute is his pure-hearted desire to keep Americans safe.

The same media in full throttle to destroy Donald Trump performed journalistic backflips to protect the proverbial WikiLeaks of all presidential administrations, the Obama administration, which sprung so many leaks even Flex Seal wouldn’t help.

Leaks such as the time the Obama administration put a proverbial target on Navy SEAL Team 6 operators’ backs when it leaked key operational details about the Osama bin Laden raid, blabbing about SEAL Team 6’s participation. To this day, family members blame the Obama administration for what they believe was retaliation when the Taliban later downed a helicopter in Afghanistan which killed 30 soldiers, including 15 SEAL Team 6 members.

In 2012, Obama leaked sensitive details about an “underwear-bombing” plot and the mission was forced to a standstill because of that leak, which former House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers suggested was utilized to generate positive press and boost Obama’s reelection chances.

The media also snoozed as the pantsuit queen they pre-crowned as president was caught transporting classified emails on an illegal server hidden in a bathroom. It was “nothing to see here” even when evidence unfolded about a complex scheme to conceal or destroy emails and burn or hide potentially damning daily calendar entries.

Every administration has intelligence leaks. The current leaks are due to a convoluted effort intended to hurt President Trump, while Obama’s leaks were about making him look good. What they have in common is the press involvement which ends up potentially endangering human life

AIIB is global institution

Rock legend: the AIIB sign and HQ in Financial Street, Beijing CREDIT: ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY

22 MAY 2017 • 6:02PM

Andrew Moody

China is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s biggest shareholder, but it is just one of 57 members, including Britain, France and Germany, says the bank’s vice-president, Sir Danny Alexander.

Sir Danny Alexander believes a lack of infrastructure is holding back the development of Asia. The former senior British politician and now vice-president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank says many whose image of the region is of gleaming skyscrapers do not realise how backward some parts of the continent are.

“You know there are still hundreds of millions of people in Asia who don’t have access to electricity. In terms of economic and social development, that is massively important.”

Sir Danny, chief secretary to the treasury in David Cameron’s coalition government of 2010-15, was speaking at his office in Financial Street in the Xicheng district of Beijing that has panoramic views across the city. The 44-year-old Scot took up his position at the bank in February last year after losing his parliamentary seat in the general election a year earlier. He says he is not planning to return to Westminster any time soon, despite Prime Minister Theresa May triggering a snap general election last month.

“Well, I certainly have no immediate plans to return to UK politics,” he laughs. “Look, I mean this work is fascinating, the opportunity to be part of setting up and shaping a new institution is an extraordinary opportunity and, you know, I’m very fortunate to have that chance.”

Some in China were said to be initially disappointed by Sir Danny’s appointment because it was said he lacked experience in international finance or banking, but he has now become one of the bank’s most public faces. “My role is part of the senior management and corporate secretary responsible for governance in the bank,” he says.

“I think I am well suited for that role. I was one of the four most senior ministers in the government taking key political decisions for the UK. I was also involved in strengthening and improving the UK’s economic relationships, you know, in Asia, with China and India.”

Infrastructure is not just important to Asian countries. That is why I think you have so many non-Asian countries who have joined the bankSir Danny Alexander, AIIB vice-president

Sir Danny says the bank has a vital role because many underestimate just how important developing Asian infrastructure is in maintaining global economic growth. A recent report by the Asian Development Bank said Asia needs $1.7 trillion (£1.3 trillion) of investment every year until 2030 just to maintain its current growth momentum. Current actual spending is only about half that at $881 billion.

“It is massively important. Asia is the fastest-growing part of the world economy. Infrastructure is not just important to Asian countries. That is why I think you have so many non-Asian countries who have joined the bank.”

The AIIB is a Chinese initiative that was proposed by President Xi Jinping in a speech in Jakarta in October 2013. It opened in January last year with 57 founding members. A further 13 new members were approved in March.

Although China remains the largest shareholder of the bank with a 26 per cent holding, Sir Danny is clear it is now a multilateral institution. “The AIIB is an international institution. It is owned by all of its shareholders and we are answerable to all of our shareholders. China is the biggest, but it is one out of 57.”

Sir Danny says it is wrong also to see the bank as the financial arm of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. “I think it is worth saying that the AIIB and Belt and Road are separate initiatives. Belt and Road is an initiative of the Chinese government. The AIIB is an international financial institution whose existence was proposed by the Chinese government but is now owned by many countries, including the UK, Russia, France, Germany and so on.”

He agrees, however, that the bank and the Belt and Road have similar goals. “There is a lot of commonality between the two initiatives in the sense that we are a bank that is focused on investing in infrastructure in Asia. Belt and Road is about how it [China] can improve connectivity among its neighbours in Asia.”

Sir Danny, who studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, was head of communications for the Cairngorms National Park Authority in Scotland before being elected a Liberal Democrat MP in 2005. He went on to become a senior cabinet minister just five years later.

Knight in Beijing: Danny Alexander says the AIIB has a vital role to play in the development of Asian infrastructure CREDIT: ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY

He was, however, a high-profile casualty of the 2015 general election, losing his Scottish parliamentary seat to the Scottish National Party, which won 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland. He is now settling in to a new life in China.

“I am enjoying it very much,” he says. I like living in Beijing. It is a fascinating city. It is a great jumping-off point to explore China and Asia as well.”

His elder daughter, 9, has made far greater progress in learning Chinese than he has, he says. “I was with my kids at their school this morning. They were having a sort of open day for parents, and listening to my older daughter speak Chinese was wonderful. She is learning fast, and it was a sort of admonition of myself for the lack of progress I have made.”

The bank’s work is vital for preserving the planet for his children’s generation and beyond, he says. Some 1.5 billion people are set to move to cities in Asia over the next 25 years, and if the necessary infrastructure is not built in an environmentally sustainable way the environment could suffer immensely. He says: “Sustainable infrastructure is a massive priority for us. All our members have made major commitments under the Paris process to reduce their emissions or to help bring global emissions under control.

“And, you know, this period of the next 20 years is the absolutely crucial period for the world, determining whether or not we are going to be sustainable in keeping global temperature rises under control.

“We have to have more sustainable infrastructure; we have to have more sustainable cities.”

Whether or not the US ever decides to join is a matter for their administration; they know that the door is open should they wish toSir Danny Alexander, AIIB vice-president

Sir Danny’s involvement with the AIIB predates him taking his current post. When he was a UK cabinet minister he played a key role in the UK becoming a member in the AIIB, much to the chagrin of the United States, which refused to join.

Following Britain’s decision, other European countries, including France and Germany, also signed up.

“George Osborne [former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer] and myself and other colleagues worked hard to ensure that the UK was one of the early adapters of this idea,” he says. “We were, I think it is fair to say, one of the first major European countries to join.”

It is not too late for the US to join, he adds. “Whether or not the US ever decides to join is a matter for their administration, and they know that the door is open should they wish to.

“They can see on the basis of the first year and a bit of the bank’s work that it meets very high standards. It is not trying to lower standards. It is a bank that is working closely and collaborating with other institutions like the World Bank. It is not seeking to undermine them.”

Sir Danny is keen to stress that the AIIB is not about creating a China-led alternative to the post-Second World War US-led Bretton Woods system of global governance and has collaborated in projects with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which was created as a Japanese initiative in 1966.

The president of the bank, Jin Liqun, is a former World Bank director and vice-president of the Asian Development Bank. “We are working very co-operatively with those institutions, Sir Danny says.  “It’s a great benefit to us that we can do so. There is more than enough work for all our institutions and much more besides in the Asia region.”

Sir Danny, however, insists the AIIB has the tools at its disposal to make a difference: “We have plenty of financial firepower and we are still in the early stages of developing how we use that.”

This article was originally produced and published by China Daily. View the original article at

May 21, 2017

CPEC all about China, not Pakistan's prosperity: Senior Pak journalist

Updated: May 21, 2017 16:10 IST      

Islamabad [Pakistan], May 21 (ANI): Contrary to the claims made by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a game changer for the economy of a country, senior Pakistani Journalist Najam Sethi noted that the project is all about boosting the position of Beijing and its currency.

Presenting his critical review of the project, Sethi said that today China is competing globally to make the Yuan an alternate currency to the Dollar and its One Belt One Road (OBOR), in which CPEC is a project, is to play a major role in this.

Sethi explained that Pakistan is not receiving any foreign investment as it is viewed as a relatively volatile country surrounded by conflict ridden regions.

Islamabad has conflict on border with India, Afghanistan as well Iran but China is ready to risk the instability and invest because of the influence it enjoys over the country.

🔴"Firstly they think Pakistan cannot sustain without China and in terms of the military hardware and protection on Foreign policy especially against India that China provides. (This is something) Pakistan can't loose," said Sethi on a Television show on Geo News.

Since, China realises that Pakistan is completely dependent on it for military and national security so, its policy is whatever regime is in power, it will work with them, the journalist noted, adding that this approach in turn makes its investments in CPEC secure irrespective of the fact that who is in power.

Another way of keeping its stronghold on the project, Sethi says is through increasing rates.

🔴 "Second thing is if there is a risk, China then increases its rates. Say a good is sold at 10 paise in the international market but China will sell it at 15 paise saying there is risk involved in investments. Furthermore now that Pakistan has to pay that 15 percent (which it is unable to due to financial restrictions), China will say that 'ok we will give you a loan now and you will get good investment return on this project and then you can pay back'. In such a situation no Pakistan authority really questions them, that's why something that is available for 10 paise is being sold at 15 paise," explained Sethi, adding that China is the supplier as well as the creditor.

"Pakistan has no opportunity for bidding, it takes whatever China provides and in such a scenario transparency does not exists," he said.

He added that it is also the reason that the financial transactions happening under the CPEC lack transparency.

Earlier, Prime Minister Sharif had said that the multi-billion CPEC project will bring prosperity and development in the country as well as employment opportunities to the youth. To this, the journalist said that it may generate some limited employment but won't help much with prosperity as the things produced in the industries set up by China would be exported by it which in return would generate profit for Beijing and not Islamabad.

He added that China is also trying to establish the Yuan as an alternative currency to compete with the dollar.

Sethi explained,

🔴 "China's export surplus is huge and it is in debt of almost every trader. They have developed their banks on the lines of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and have even created their stock exchange. And you never know that the 60 billion worth of deals happening with Pakistan are tied with the Yuan. Then the trading would happen in Yuan instead of the Dollar. This is a very ambitious initiative of China to turn its currency into a global currency." (ANI)

Russian National Economic Security Strategy until 2030 approved

Vladimir Putin signed the Executive Order On the Russian Federation Economic Security Strategy until 2030.

May 15, 2017  


The strategy defines the economic challenges and threats and also the goals, priority areas and tasks for state economic security policy.

The Strategy aims to counter economic security challenges and threats, prevent crisis situations in the raw materials, production, science and technology, and financial sectors, and maintain people’s living standards.

Among the main economic security threats and challenges the Strategy includes the developed countries’ desire to use their economic and high-tech development advantages as instruments in global competition, the use of discriminatory measures against key sectors of the Russian economy, the Russian financial system’s vulnerability to global risks, technology lag, imbalances in the national budget system, high levels of crime and corruption in economic life, and growing gaps in personal income, regional development levels, and pace of socioeconomic growth.

Among the main policy goals for ensuring economic security, the Strategy lists strengthening economic sovereignty, bolstering the economy’s resistance to internal and external factors and threats, ensuring economic growth, maintaining scientific and technological potential at world levels, and raising living standards. The main policy implementation areas are developing the national governance system, economic forecasting and strategic planning, developing human potential, and establishing conditions for developing and using modern technology.

Tasks for reaching these goals include improving the investment climate, de-offshoring the economy, enhancing response measures in the event of sanctions, optimising the tax burden on businesses, making budget spending more effective, breaking the dependence on imports of complex equipment, developing the national finance market and payments system infrastructure, and priority economic development of Eastern Siberia, the Far North, the Far East, the North Caucasus, Crimea, and Kaliningrad Region. The Strategy also outlines tasks for foreign economic cooperation.

The Strategy calls for the establishment of a national risk management system to identify and evaluate existing and potential threats and challenges and plan measures for implementing state economic security policy.

Economic security indicators named in the Strategy include the physical GDP index, Russia’s GDP as a share of global GDP, the level of public debt, high-tech production as a share of GDP, and other indicators.

The Government has three months to draft organisational, legal and methodological measures needed for the Strategy’s implementation

Chinese baizuo gibe a rebuttal to West’s moral superiority

By Zhang Yi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/22 0:13:40


A Chinese-created term is catching attention on American social networks. Baizuo, or literally the "white left," has triggered heated discussions about how it should be interpreted. 

The term can now be found on Urban Dictionary, a crowdsourced online dictionary of slang words and phrases. The dictionary describes the buzzword as "meaning a naive Western-educated person who advocates for peace and equality only to satisfy their own feelings of moral superiority."

baizuo only cares about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment. The term first became a hit amid the European refugee crisis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first Western politician tagged with the baizuo label because of her open-door refugee policy. Reporters said that Chinese students and job hunters complained that they had to try hard to stay in Europe, while unskilled refugees could just claim asylum and get welfare.

But the anti-baizuo discourse in China's Internet sphere is a fresh indication of Chinese netizens' dissatisfaction with the Western approach of solving global issues, which is often biased, elitist, ignorant of other peoples' concerns and constantly applying double standards.

For instance, the "elite" Western media, out of their deep-rooted bias and double standards, refuses to recognize the violence and attacks in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as acts of terrorism. In their portrayal, only terrorist attacks on Western soil can be defined as acts of terrorism. 

To many Chinese, the ideology upheld by Baizuo only shows their ignorance as their self-claimed superiority is based on a shaky ground. The sense of superiority of Westerners stems from the advantageous position their countries enjoyed under an unfair global economic system. People from the developing world had to work in labor-intensive, low-income and high-pollution industries, but the dividends were taken by those from the Western countries who were able to live a decent life. 

As the explanation in the Urban Dictionary goes, "The Chinese see the baizuo as ignorant and arrogant Westerners who pity the rest of the world and think they are saviors." Obviously, the "saviors" scene only happens in American blockbusters; the reality is the Western approach is creating problems in many places of the world.

A fair global system needs to be strived for by all countries. It is unrealistic to expect the Westerners to surrender their advantageous position, be they white left or white right

NYT’s spy in China story full of narcissism

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/22 0:13:39


The Chinese government allegedly killed or imprisoned more than a dozen CIA sources between 2010 and 2012, dismantling US spying operations in the country, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

According to the article, "Investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the CIA had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the CIA used to communicate with its foreign sources." The report included a sensational detail that one source "was shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building - a message to others who might have been working for the CIA."

This NYT article has been widely quoted, yet its authenticity remains unknown. If CIA spying operations in China were crippled, the US has nothing to be proud of. But the NYT report portrayed the people that spied for the US as innocents, but the Chinese national security forces as merciless. The report also claimed "China has been particularly aggressive in its espionage in recent years."

If this article is telling the truth, we would like to applaud China's anti-espionage activities. Not only was the CIA's spy network dismantled, but Washington had no idea what happened and which part of the spy network had gone wrong. It can be taken as a sweeping victory. Perhaps it means even if the CIA makes efforts to rebuild its spy network in China, it could face the same result.

As for one source being shot in a government courtyard, that is a purely fabricated story, most likely a piece of American-style imagination based on ideology.

It is worth noting that the NYT report comes at a time when Sino-US relations are relatively smooth with some unsolved problems. The first round of China-US diplomatic and security dialogue will be held in June. Many American political elites are willing to see more friction between China and the US. Now with the latest report, they have found a new angle to stir up distrust between the US and China over espionage.

It is well known that the US is the world's largest intelligence-gatherer. It not only defines the moral standards of spies based its own national interests, but also tries to make these standards universal. The NYT report seems to be a white-knuckle beginning for a new version of Mission: Impossible: American spies who worked in China disappeared, and some of them died miserably. However, no one knew the reason for their deaths. The journalists who wrote the report must have been deeply addicted to the franchise. 

The CIA has apparently increased its espionage activities in China, which will inevitably lead to China simultaneously strengthening its counterintelligence efforts. No matter how Americans see it, international law will affirm that China's anti-espionage activities are just and legal, while the CIA's spying is illegitimate. 

When the US media is keen on hyping up "catching Chinese spies," they should forego their moral narcissism when reporting CIA espionage in China. It's absurd that under their description, the US is always the noble side whether it is catching spies or sending spies

China, Myanmar conduct naval drills

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/22 0:08:40


First joint exercise shows political trust

The Chinese navy on Sunday conducted its first joint exercise with Myanmar's navy as its fleet concluded a four-day visit to the country.  

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy fleet, composed of three domestically made ships: missile destroyer Changchun, missile frigate Jingzhou and supply ship Chaohu, left Yangon on Sunday morning.

The visit is part of a 180-day goodwill visit that will tour more than 20 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania. The fleet has already visited the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia, and is now en route for its next stop in Bangladesh. 

Li Jie, a Beijing-based navy expert, said the ships China sent are comparatively advanced and experienced in escort, drill and patrol missions, and the F11 Aung Zeya and UMS Anawrahta (771) sent by Myanmar's navy are also the country's two flagship warships in service.  

Wu Qian, Ministry of National Defense spokesperson, told the press on Saturday that the drill would involve exercises in fleet formation, fleet communication and joint search-and-rescue operations. 

Wu added that China is willing to proactively implement the significant consensus agreed by the two countries' leaders, enhance communication and deepen practical cooperation, so as to promote military ties and safeguard regional peace and stability.

Mutual Trust

Previously, Myanmar's military exchanges with China were "weak and mostly symbolic," compared with China's exchanges with other South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand, Li said. However, the first naval drill is a good sign of cooperation based on political mutual trust, he added.

"For Myanmar, the drill could help the country's navy improve combat capability, which is also a significant move to secure maritime safety in the Bay of Bengal," Song Qingrun, a research fellow at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Meanwhile, the drill is also necessary after the China-Myanmar crude oil pipeline was put into operation last month, as it could familiarize both countries' navy forces with the response to potential hazards, Li said. 

The pipeline project, designed to carry 22 million tons of crude oil annually, will help strengthen China's position in South Asia, and ease the country's dependence on the Strait of Malacca.

The drill comes one week after Chinese President Xi Jinping met Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, who attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14-15.

The two had expressed wishes for mutual understanding, mutual trust and expanded cooperation that will benefit the two peoples. 

Good momentum

More diversified and deeper cooperation between China and Myanmar, covering military, economic and cultural cooperation, has been seen in the past, and the good momentum will continue, especially exchanges under the framework of the One Belt and One Road initiative, Song said. 

China's Ministry of Commerce signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a China-Myanmar Border Economic Cooperation Zone with the Ministry of Commerce of Myanmar on Tuesday in Beijing. The zone will serve as a platform to implement the initiative. 

The zone may strive to develop the manufacturing industry, especially labor-intensive industries such as textiles, electronics and component manufacturing, as it is the fastest and most convenient way to boost the local economy and employment, said experts. 

Such cooperation, which benefits local people and local development, has garnered more understanding and acceptance among the Myanmese and is helping to ease skeptics of the Belt and Road initiative, who questioned China's increasing influence in the region with the waning of Western influence on Myanmar. 

China has no intention to "control" or "dominate" the region, nor does it have the capability to do so, and the network of highways, railroads, and maritime routes comes for the greater picture of serving the benefits of the two peoples, Song said, adding that the goodwill is understood by more people in Myanmar. 

"Unlike the West, China is next door; it's resourceful and prepared to play the long game," read an editorial by on May 12.



MAY 18, 2017

“Our troops went to the battlefront with a gun in one hand, and the Human Rights Charter in the other.” The imagery is striking. All the more so because it was invoked (repeatedly) by then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, defending Sri Lanka’s military offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In the face of credible allegations that his forces had slaughtered tens of thousands of Tamil civilians, the claim was jaw-droppingly brazen. Yet, as the evidence mounted, the Rajapaksa government and its representatives continued to dispute not only its culpability, but also the very fact of mass civilian death.

Much has been made of the example set by Sri Lanka’s ruthless strategy as an alternative to “hearts and minds” counterinsurgency efforts. Governments battling stubborn militant movements continue to seek advice from Colombo on employing the “Rajapaksa model.” But the successful elimination of the LTTE in 2009 wasn’t the only unexpected feat Sri Lanka accomplished. It also managed to preempt international action long enough to conclude its brutal campaign, despite state-perpetrated civilian casualties on a massive scale. Syria, where more than 200,000 civilians have died since 2011, is poised to test the limits of this precedent.

It is therefore perhaps no surprise that Syria’s reaction to accusations of war crimes contains unsettling echoes of Sri Lanka’s. As the civilian death toll has mounted over the past six years, President Bashar Assad has rejected all allegations of atrocities as “devoid of logic” because “the Syrian Army is made up of Syrian people.” When confronted with overwhelming evidence of systematic violations of the laws of war, he has stuck to this line, insisting: “We don’t kill civilians, because we don’t have the moral incentive, we don’t have the interest to kill civilians.”

Of course, there are key differences between the two cases, most notably the greater internationalization of Syria’s conflict and the fact that its rebels seek to topple the government, rather than secede. And importantly, the Rajapaksa government enjoyed much greater international support than Assad. But, like Sri Lanka, Syria is a strong state with a well-organized military fighting territory-holding rebels who have significant popular support. While the scale of civilian death is greater in Syria, the pattern of violations is similar: custodial torture and extrajudicial killings of suspected regime opponents, attacks on civilian targets including hospitals and aid conveys, and the use of prohibited weapons.  And in both cases international audiences raised the alarm about mass atrocities.

The striking similarity of the response to allegations of war crimes extends beyond bald-faced denials. Syria has employed three other key elements of the Sri Lankan playbook. The first is to restrict the flow of information. In addition to forbidding foreign correspondents and human rights organizations access to the conflict zone, the Sri Lankan government terrorized the domestic press. Under Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka became one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. The delivery of humanitarian aid was also severely restricted. In September 2008, the government ordered all aid workers out of the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka. The Assad regime has followed this example closely. While foreign journalists are not officially banned from the country, access to regime-held territory is limited to pre-approved journalists, often accompanied by a minder. Today, it tops the list of deadliest countries for journalists, in large part due to regime attacks on the domestic press. Humanitarian aid delivery has been restricted since the conflict began. In both Sri Lanka and Syria, these measures cut off nearly all sources of independent information.

The second tactic out of Colombo’s playbook is to vehemently contest the limited information that does trickle out of the war zone. The Sri Lankan government challenged all casualty reports as “Tiger propaganda.” In late April 2009, as thousands were dying from government shelling, the Sri Lankan Air Force denied that it was carrying out any operations. Both during and after the war, the Rajapaksa regime also challenged the veracity of all photographic and video evidence. Syria has pursued an identical approach. In 2016, Assad disputed the existence of the Aleppo siege, arguing that if it were true, “people would have been dead by now.” (One estimate suggests that more than 30,000 people died in Aleppo between 2012 and 2016.) The regime has disputed the authenticity of photo and video evidence of chemical weapons attacksbarrel bombstorture, and extrajudicial killings. And Assad’s farcical suggestion last month that the dead children in the videos from Idlib were actors was almost identical to Sri Lanka’s claim that video evidence of extrajudicial killing was faked by “Tamil rebels in army uniform.”

Finally, like Sri Lanka, Syria has disputed the attribution of all war crimes it can’t deny, and portrayed its opponent as the only blameworthy actor. Despite the implausibility of the claim, Sri Lanka insisted that any shelling of civilian targets had been committed by the “terrorists.” The government also repeatedly accused the LTTE of employing civilians as human shields, arguing (incorrectly) that this exonerated the military of any responsibility for their deaths. Likewise, Syria has attempted to shift the blame for atrocities to the rebels. Early in the conflict, Assad told international media that “Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government.” In 2013, he rejected responsibility for the sarin gas attack in Ghouta, insisting “We’re not there.” Finally, the Syrian government has accused the rebels of using civilians as human shields, and excused its targeting of hospitals and schools on the grounds that “terrorists” are using them as bases and weapons storage.

On first look, these tactics – all of which amount to contesting empirically verifiable facts –  appear deluded. Against reams of physical and testimonial evidence of war crimes, who would believe a self-interested denial? But sometimes it works.

The strategy paid off for Sri Lanka. In fact, immediately following its victory, the Rajapaksa regime was commended by the U.N. Human Rights Council for its efforts “to ensure the safety and security of all Sri Lankans.” And as impunity for war crimes was compounded by a litany of human rights abuses in the aftermath of the war, the most significant sanctions the government faced were reductions in aid and trade. The war ended eight years ago this week, and to this day no member of the civilian or military leadership has faced justice for war crimes.

This is encouraging precedent for the Assad regime. Especially because Sri Lanka’s success did not depend on actually convincing anyone that it hadn’t committed war crimes. It simply relied on muddying the waters enough to prevent international action. Two structural features of the situation enabled this strategy: First, Sri Lanka was mostly insulated from action at the U.N. Security Council or at the International Criminal Court. Consequently, there was no straightforward path to halting the violations or ensuring justice for them. Any intervention (military, judicial, or otherwise) would have been costly and challenging to coordinate. And second, the final phase of the conflict played out against the backdrop of the Global War on Terror, allowing Sri Lanka to emphasize the LTTE’s use of terrorist tactics and characterize their eradication as an international necessity. There was widespread support (both overt and tacit) for the fight against the LTTE. If the first dynamic meant that the bar for international action was set higher than it would have been otherwise, the second meant that Sri Lanka’s actions, seen through the more permissive lens of a fight against terrorism, were less likely to clear that bar.

Both of these factors are arguably present for Syria, although in different measure. The Assad regime’s close relationship with Russia means that it is even more well-protected than Sri Lanka was from either enforcement measures under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter or an International Criminal Court referral. And although Syria’s war, unlike Sri Lanka’s, is widely viewed as illegitimate, it has still benefited immensely from the fact that the opposition includes militant Islamic groups, whose defeat members of the international community prioritize above Assad’s ouster.

For six years, victims’ advocates, international human rights activists, and horrified onlookers have been asking themselves how high the death toll in Syria has to get before someone will step in. But international action on mass atrocities is the exception rather than the rule. The Sri Lankan experience shows that obfuscation and denial can be enough to exploit this inertia and prevent intervention. If Syria manages to do likewise, it will show that even an international pariah can get away with mass murder.


Kate Cronin-Furman is a postdoctoral fellow in the International Security Program at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She holds a Ph.D. in political science (2015) and a J.D. (2006) from Columbia University and is currently writing a book about the politics of justice for mass atrocities

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Pakistan media response to ICJ order

There is a pervasive sense of defeat about the ICJ order and a temptation to blame the Nawaz government for not taking the issue seriously. However, there is a determination to fight the case marshaling all the resources available in the future hearings at the ICJ.

There is a significant section advocating grant of consular access to Kulbushan, but they now recognise that there is no other option now but to defend the position in light of the bilateral agreement between the two nations in 2008.

Many commentators argued that by taking the case to the ICJ, India has provided a unique opportunity to acquaint international community with India's real intentions vis-a-vis Pakistan and provide ICJ with all plausible evidence of Indian conspiracies against Pakistan and its sponsorship of terrorist activities within Pakistan. 


India's "new Silk Road" snub highlights gulf with China

By Reuters | Updated: May 21, 2017, 08.33 AM IST

India's snub to the "Belt and Road" project was the strongest move yet by Modi to stand up to China.

NEW DELHI: China invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and six cabinet colleagues to its "new Silk Road" summit this month, even offering to rename a flagship Pakistani project running through disputed territory to persuade them to attend, a top official in Modi's ruling group and diplomats said. 

But New Delhi rebuffed Beijing's diplomatic push, incensed that a key project in its massive initiative to open land and sea corridors linking China with the rest of Asia and beyond runs through Pakistani controlled Kashmir. 

The failure of China's efforts to bring India on board, details of which have not been previously reported, shows the depths to which relations between the two countries have fallen over territorial disputes and Beijing's support of Pakistan

India's snub to the "Belt and Road" project was the strongest move yet by Modi to stand up to China. 

But it risks leaving India isolated at a time when it may no longer be able to count on the United States to back it as a counterweight to China's growing influence in Asia, Chinese commentators and some Indian experts have said. 

Representatives of 60 countries, including the United States and Japan, travelled to Beijing for the May 14-15 summit on President Xi Jinping's signature project. 

But Ram Madhav, an influential leader of Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) involved in shaping foreign policy, said India could not sign up so long as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) - a large part of the "Belt and Road" enterprise - ran through parts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir that India considers its own territory. 

"China routinely threatens countries when it finds issues even remotely connected to its own sovereignty question being violated," Madhav said. "No country compromises with its sovereignty for the sake of trade and commerce interests." 

India, due to the size and pace of expansion of its economy, could potentially be the biggest recipient of Chinese investment from the plan to spur trade by building infrastructure linking Asia with Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to a Credit Suisse report released before the summit. 

Chinese investments into India could be anything from $84 billion to $126 billion between 2017 to 2021, far higher than Russia, Indonesia and Pakistan, countries that have signed off on the initiative, it said. 

China has not offered any specific projects to India, but many existing schemes, such as a Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor that has been planned for years, have now been wrapped into the Belt and Road enterprise. 

China is also conducting feasibility studies for high-speed rail networks linking Delhi with Chennai in southern India that would eventually connect to the modern day "Silk Road" it is seeking to create. 

But if India continues to hold back from joining China's regional connectivity plans the commercial viability of those plans will be called into question, analysts say. 

China has held talks with Nepal to build an $8 billion railway line from Tibet to Kathmandu, but it ultimately wants the network to reach the Indian border to allow goods to reach the huge Indian market. 

India has other worries over China's growing presence in the region, fearing strategic encirclement by a "string of pearls" around the India Ocean and on land as China builds ports, railways and power stations in country such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. 

Ashok Kantha, who was India's ambassador to China until 2016, said India had repeatedly conveyed its concerns to China, especially about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the need to have open discussions about it. 

"Where is the economic rational for CPEC?" he said. "There is no major economic driver, the drivers are essentially political and strategic in character." 

Just a week before the summit, China's ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, offered to change the name of CPEC to placate New Delhi and ensure it didn't boycott the Beijing conference. 

Luo did no elaborate on the proposal, made during a speech at an Indian military think-tank, according to people who attended the meeting and local media reports. A transcript released later by the Chinese embassy did not include a reference to changing the project's name. 

But Chinese officials in the past have suggested this could mean adding India to the name to make it the "China-Pakistan-India Economic Corridor". 

A Chinese diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested India could build infrastructure on its side of Kashmir which could eventually be linked to the roads and power lines China planned to build in Pakistani Kashmir. 

Indian experts said another proposal explored in meetings between former diplomats and academics from the two sides was renaming the project the "Indus Corridor" to overcome India's objection that the "China-Pakistan" name endorses Pakistan's claim to Kashmir. Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which they both claim in full. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not comment directly on any offer to change the name of CPEC, but drew attention to President Xi's remarks during the summit that China would follow the principle of peaceful co-existence and that New Delhi need not worry. 

"I think the concerns from the India side should be able to be resolved," she said. 

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay said New Delhi had not received any suggestions through proper channels and that India wanted a meaningful discussion with China on the whole project