Dirgahayu, TLDM

In the current flavour of the 26th ASEAN Summit now in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi where Malaysia is chairing, the world should be reminded that the Royal Malaysian Navy celebrates its 81st anniversary today.

It was formed as Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve and it has grown so far ever since. RMN is now a formidable and respectable naval force in region, especially after acquiring submarine force capability and assets since 2009.

Two RMN Perdana Class submarines in Sepanggar Bay and an RMAF S61 Nuri helicopter approaching and the Mount Kinabalu as the backdrop

Two RMN Perdana Class submarines in Sepanggar Bay and an RMAF S61 Nuri helicopter approaching and the Mount Kinabalu as the backdrop

Malaysia is a maritime nation. 30% of the nation’s food resource and over 90% of the trade requires safe passageway in the open seas.

Coupled with the fact that the world’s second most busiest maritime passageway, the Straits of Melaka and South China Sea are part of the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as defined under United Nation Conference Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), arisen the requirement for a strong naval and maritime force.

A detailed map of China's claims into ASEAN nations' EEZ

A detailed map of China’s claims into ASEAN nations’ EEZ

It is imperative that a seemingly formidable naval and maritime force exist to police and serve the security and defense requirements and obligation, to maintain the safe passageway as well as sovereignty and the defence of the realm.

In the complexity of modern day hybrid of economic, political and even military projection of power and eventually control and dominance, Malaysia too must keep herself abreast with all these developments. Needless to say, makes the necessary preparations and upgrade existing capability and role and positioning.

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China should back off from its aggressive maneuvers in South China Sea and stick to commitment of the Document of Conduct (DOC)  signed with ASEAN in November 2002, which agreed to resolve issues which include multiple claims on disputed territories via multilateral discourses based on United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) dated 1982.

The fact is that many are watching all the military manoeuvres by PLAN and tough diplomatic warnings, China is out to set ‘De Facto Control’ in the South China Sea.

The Wall Street Journal story:

China Set to Consolidate ‘De Facto Control’ of South China Sea, Philippine Official Says

By JASON NG and BEN OTTO

April 26, 2015 6:39 a.m. ET

KUALA LUMPUR—The Philippines cautioned Sunday that China will likely continue reclamation work in the South China Sea and called on Southeast Asian nations to confront the issue before their much-larger neighbor extends its influence over the contested waters.

Beijing claims sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea. In recent months, China has been expanding two islands it controls and began construction of seven new islets in the sea under its reclamation program.

China is “poised to consolidate de facto control of the South China Sea,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario told his counterparts during a meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The implications, he said, are “urgent and far-reaching, going beyond the region to encompass the global community.”

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Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei—all members of Asean—lay claim to part of the sea. Asean members and China signed a nonbinding pact in 2002 to refrain from actions in the disputed region such as building on islets. That pact was to lead to a legally binding code of conduct in the region, which remains pending.

The Philippines and Vietnam have accused China of breaking the deal through its recent activities, while China says it is entitled to undertake construction projects within its own sovereign territory. Manila has long led the charge against China in the disputed waters, last year warning Asean members that Chinese reclamation threatened to militarize the region and filing a complaint at the United Nations.

Mr. Del Rosario warned that if China successfully completes its reclamation work before signing the binding code—“which is likely to happen”—any eventual agreement would have the effect of “legitimizing China’s reclamation.”

“Asean should assert its leadership, centrality and solidarity,” Mr. Del Rosario stressed. “Asean must show the world that it has the resolve to act in the common interest.”

Chinese officials didn’t immediately comment publicly on Mr. Del Rosario’s remarks.

Write to Jason Ng at jason.ng@wsj.com and Ben Otto at ben.otto@wsj.com

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It is a very important ingredient to maintain sovereignty, safe passageway for maritime and economic purposes, serve the extension of foreign and other policy and above all, maintain neutrality.

The progression of China’s attitude of territorial expansion and imperialism, especially in the unsubstantiated claims of the Nine-Dash-Line is a growingly thorny and worrying issue to ASEAN nations. One of hand China wants to be ‘friendly’ with ASEAN but the aggressiveness and  actions of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy points the other way.

The Code of Conduct

The signatories of the Document  of Conduct

Despite being signatory to the Declaration of Conduct in November 2002 with ASEAN, China has demonstrated her unwillingness to progress further to ensure that Conduct of Conduct (COC) is complied but intead stubbornness to adhere.

Almost a year ago, ASEAN through its Secretary General made the call that “China should exit the ‘Disputed Waters’ , which will conducive to restore confidence in the talks to resolve the multiple0claims by others”.

It is necessary that the desire which has since been translated into wrongful (as per defined by UNCLOS) occupation should be impeded from further progression.

Associated Press story:

Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China’s land reclamation in South China Sea

Published April 26, 2015 Associated Press
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Philippines on Sunday urged the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take immediate steps to halt land reclamation by China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, warning that failure to do so will see Beijing take “de facto control” of the area.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers that if China’s construction of artificial islands on reefs claimed by other countries is allowed to be completed, then Beijing will impose its claim over more than 85 percent of the sea.

Rosario urged the grouping to “stand up” to China by urging it to halt its reclamation work.

China, Taiwan and ASEAN members Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

ASEAN has maintained a cautious stand in the dispute to avoid angering China, a key trading partner.

Rosario said the reclamation threatened to militarize the region, infringe on rights of other states and damage the marine environment.

He warned that China, which has been dragging its foot on ASEAN’s push for a binding code of conduct governing behavior in the sea, will aim to complete its reclamation activities before it agrees to conclude the code.

If this happens, he said that the code will legitimize China’s reclamation.

“The threats posed by these massive reclamations are real and cannot be ignored or denied,” he said. “ASEAN should assert its leadership, centrality and solidarity. ASEAN must show the world that it has the resolve to act in the common interest.”

The Philippines filed a case with an international arbitration tribunal in 2013 challenging China’s claim.

Beijing has defended the reclamation, saying it is Chinese territory and the structures are for public service use and to support Chinese fishermen.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said Friday that ASEAN leaders are expected to raise concerns over Chinese land reclamation at their two-day summit starting Monday and will seek to speed up plans for the code of conduct with China.

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Atolls and reefs within the Nine-Dash-Line that China illegally occupy or for lack of better words, invaded, have since witness the rapid reclamation exercise and construction for bigger permanent facilities such as an airstrip.

IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly story:

China starts work on Mischief Reef land reclamation

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 19 July 2014 and 30 January 2015 shows the start of dredging by China at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. (CNES 2014/Distribution Airbus DS/IHS)

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 19 July 2014 and 30 January 2015 shows the start of dredging by China at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. (CNES 2014/Distribution Airbus DS/IHS)

James Hardy, London and Sean O’Connor, Indianapolis, IN – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly
11 March 2015

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 19 July 2014 and 30 January 2015 shows the start of dredging by China at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. (CNES 2014/Distribution Airbus DS/IHS)
China has begun to create land on Mischief Reef in Beijing’s latest move to firm up its South China Sea claims.

IHS Maritime identified the dredger as Tian Kai , a trailing suction hopper dredger operated by CCCC Tianjin Dredging Co Ltd that was in the area from 14 January to 16 February.

The Airbus imagery shows Tian Kai dredging a channel close to one of China’s existing platforms in the reef, and depositing the spoil on the reef to create a landmass.

China’s existing presence on Mischief Reef consisted of two small concrete platforms that included buildings and shelters for fishermen.

Other data from IHS Maritime suggests that China is deploying its latest China Coast Guard (CCG) offshore patrol vessels to monitor potential outside interest in the dredging activities. AISLive data showed that Haijing 3307 , a 3000-tonne OPV fitted with water cannon and capable of embarking a helicopter, patrolled an area to the southeast of Mischief Reef from 5 to 24 January and again from 12 to 27 February.

Chinese media have also released satellite images suggesting China is beginning to create a landmass at Subi Reef, which is about 25 km southwest of the Philippine-occupied Thitu Island: Manila’s only Spratly island to have an airstrip. China’s presence on Subi Reef previously consisted of a concrete platform that included buildings, a helipad, and geodesic dome probably fitted with communications equipment.

Meanwhile, Beijing has reacted strongly to comments by the Vietnamese head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in which he rejected China’s ‘dashed-line claim’ to the South China Sea.

ASEAN secretary general Le Luong Minh told Philippine reporters in Jakarta on 4 March that all ASEAN claimants opposed the dotted line concept because it did not accord with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and because the dotted line covered “90% of the South China Sea”.

“There is no way it can be accepted by any party to UNCLOS,” Le said.

Le described China’s land reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands as potentially dangerous as they were changing “the status quo”.

“The expansion and illegal [occupation] of islands affect the status quo and [they are] complicating the situation,” he added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei responded on 11 March by saying that ASEAN was not a party to the South China Sea dispute and that Le “has many times made partisan statements that do not accord with the facts nor suit his position” as ASEAN secretary general.

“This is a serious deviation from the neutral position ASEAN and its secretary general ought to have on the relevant issue, and damages the image of ASEAN as a regional international organisation,” Hong added.

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It is considerably unlikely that China would bow to diplomatic pressure and response positively, despite the steady growth of trade between the ambitious neo-pesudo Super Power and ASEAN. A good example is that being a signatory of DOC, China refuse to resolve the Scarborough Shoals issues with the Philippines at the International Court of Justice.

The only way to check on PLAN for further illegal intrusion and possession on atolls and reefs especially in disputed multiple-claims territory such as the Spratlys and most of South China Sea under the unsubstantiated Nine-Dash-Line is to have a formidable naval force.

Hence, the Royal Malaysian Navy must be expanded in its role and capability in the soonest and shortest time to ensure that it serves the obligation to provide defence of Malaysia’s EEZ on top of its new role as the ‘extension of Malaysia’s foreign policy’.

Published in: on April 27, 2015 at 01:30  Comments (10)  

Not allowed under the “Queen’s peace” rule?

The relatives of those who killed by the British Army in 1948 near Batang Kali, are claiming from the British Government to own up for the shooting of the 24 men.

BBC.com story:

1948 Malayan killings case reaches UK Supreme Court

14 minutes ago
From the section UK

Relatives of the dead men lost a case at the Court of Appeal last year

Relatives of the dead men lost a case at the Court of Appeal last year

Relatives of 24 men killed by British troops in Malaya in 1948 have begun making their case in the UK Supreme Court for a public inquiry.


Five judges are considering whether the UK has a duty under human rights laws to investigate the shooting of villagers at Batang Kali.


The families, who say the men were “massacred”, had their case rejected by the UK Court of Appeal last year.
British forces at the time of the killings said the men were insurgents.


Lawyers for the families argue that Britain has a responsibility to commission an independent inquiry under the European Convention on Human Rights – even though the convention was signed after the incident took place.
BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said the case was “extraordinary and very troubling”.
He said the relatives of the 24 men had fought a “six-and-a-half-decade battle to get the case to the highest court in the land”.


Among those attending the Supreme Court proceedings was 78-year-old Madam Lim Ah Yin, who was 11 years old at the time of the killings.


She said: “I want to let them [the judges] know the struggle and hardship that my beloved mother suffered after the death of my dad during the massacre.”


The families’ solicitor, John Halford, said those killed were “British subjects living in a British Protected State”.
“They and their families have a right to meaningful British justice.”


Last year, the Court of Appeal heard that at least three of the soldiers who were on patrol and at least five villagers who were at Batang Kali were still alive.


They were told oral evidence from living witnesses, including soldiers and the appellants, would be available to an inquiry.
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What is the case about?

Last year relatives said their “journey to seek redress and justice has not come to an end”

On 11 and 12 December 1948 – when Malaya was still a British colony – 24 villagers were killed by a platoon of Scots Guards during a raid at Batang Kali.


The men were Chinese migrant workers suspected by the British of helping rebels during the Malayan Emergency – a conflict between communist guerrillas and British and Commonwealth forces, which lasted 12 years.
An investigation at the time cleared the soldiers of wrongdoing, but in 1970 some of the soldiers said the villagers had been executed.


In the 1990s, authorities in Malaysia opened an investigation, but it was halted before a conclusion was reached.
There have been numerous calls for a public inquiry – all of which have been rejected by the UK.
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‘Deeply regrettable’
Giving last year’s Court of Appeal’s ruling, Lord Justice Maurice Kay said it was alleged that 24 civilians were “executed without any justification, and that the authorities thereafter have either covered up what occurred or have been reluctant to take the necessary steps to enable the truth – whatever it may be – to be revealed”.


He added: “This has never been accepted by the British authorities, who have maintained that the deceased were shot while they were attempting to escape.”


Michael Fordham QC, representing relatives, said that what happened in 1948 remained a “hugely significant and unresolved instance of human rights abuse”.


He told the court that, despite the passage of time, it was still worthwhile for “historic wrongs” to be investigated.
The judges acknowledged that the original investigation into the killings had been “woefully inadequate”, and said it was “probable” the relatives’ case would succeed in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.


In 2012, a UK government spokesman called the 1948 incident “deeply regrettable” but said a public inquiry “would not be able to reach any credible conclusions given the length of time passed”.

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It is thought that all responsible or had first hand knowledge of this bloody incident are no longer alive. Hence, no one is unable to come forth, to testify if there is any inquiry or tribunal.

This include if any of these men of G platoon, 2nd Scots Guard who rounded up Chinese villagemen in a plantation near Batang Kali Selangor on 12 December 1948, who believed they acted under the “Queen’s Peace” rule.

After all, the British and Commonwealth Forces were present in Malaya were in a state of war, despite it wasn’t declared as a ‘war’.

Malayan Communist Party, whose members are the Malayan People’s Liberation Army and predominantly of Chinese ethnicity, continued the struggle of an armed rebellion as terrorists despite Japanese Imperial Army surrender on 15 August 1945.

They were initially armed by British commandoes at the start of World War II as part of the resistance group in Malaya, during the Japanese occupation (8 December 1941 – 15 August 1945).

A quarter of million dollars bounty for Chin

A quarter of million dollars bounty for Chin “Butcher of Malaya” Peng, from a 1950s Straits Time headline

On 16 June 1948, these rebels killed three British planters in Sungai Siput, Perak and the British government administering Malaya summarily declared the whole peninsular under a state of emergency.

They terrorised the common people, paralysed infrastructure, destroyed amenities and this adversely affected economy. Rubber trees in plantations were hacked, factories, smokehouses and dredges were attacked and destroyed.

War is a tragedy. The man who started and led this armed rebellion to begin with and for over 42 years, has too died since.

The attempt to absolve this case in the name of human rights should also be extended to the other over 10,000 souls perished as the result of brutality caused by the armed rebellion of MCP. Mr Fordham QC should consider this larger lot as well.

Published in: on April 22, 2015 at 23:59  Comments (12)  

PLA protagonists’ powerful ploy

China People’s Liberation Army finally admitted using cyber-technology as an offensive weapon, affirming their position on their cyberspace prowess in the age where all walks of everyday life is dependent on communication and connectivity.

China (Finally) Admits to Hacking

An updated military document for the first time admits that the Chinese government sponsors offensive cyber units.

shannon-tiezzi
By Shannon Tiezzi
March 18, 2015

China’s military has finally pulled back the curtain on its cyber strategy, admitting for the first time that it (like countries around the world) has cyber units set up not only for defense, but for attack.

Officially, China’s line has always been that its government does not sponsor any form of hacking. Those denials rang hollow to foreign experts, however, who pointed both to evidence of Chinese cyberattacks and to the sheer folly of a country of China’s size and global importance not including cyberespionage in its intelligence-gathering arsenal.

Now Beijing may finally be ready to drop the charade. The updated edition of The Science of Military Strategy, an authoritative analysis of China’s military thinking, includes references to China’s cyber-warfare units. “This is the first time we’ve seen an explicit acknowledgement of the existence of China’s secretive cyber-warfare forces from the Chinese side,” Joe McReynolds of the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis told The Daily Beast. “[T]hey’ve come out and said, ‘Yes, we do in fact have network attack forces, and we have teams on both the military and civilian-government sides.’”

The Science of Military Strategy, published in Chinese in 2001 (and translated into English in 2007) is a staple reference not only for Western scholars but for senior PLA strategists and decision makers, explains Andrew Erickson, an expert on Chinese military affairs at the U.S. Naval War College. The updated edition was published in Chinese in December 2013 but only recently became available to foreign analysts. China is well aware that the book is widely studied by foreign experts as well as Chinese military thinkers, meaning the reference to cyber-attack forces was likely a carefully considered decision.

McReynolds said China has dedicated cyber units operating in both the military and the civilian sphere. Within the PLA, China has “specialized military network warfare forces” for carrying out both offensive and defense cyber operations. China also has cyber specialists within civilian organizations, including the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Public Security, “authorized by the military to carry out network warfare operations.”

China has previously acknowledged that its military employs cyber experts – for example, a story about a 30-person “Blue Army” of PLA cyber-specialists made headlines in 2011. However, China continued to insist that its cyber capabilities were 100 percent focused on defending Chinese networks, rather than probing foreign systems for information or weaknesses. “The Blue Army’s main target is self-defense. We won’t initiate an attack on anyone,” a senior PLA official insisted when news of the unit’s existence broke.

Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry spokespeople have likewise consistently and categorically denied that the Chinese government sponsors hacking activities of any kind. Now that The Science of Military Strategy has stated otherwise, “[t]hey can’t make that claim anymore,” McReynolds said.

The news that China does, in fact, have units of cyber spies won’t be “earth-shattering” to foreign experts, James Lewis, an expert on China’s cyber strategies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Daily Beast (see here for more from Lewis on China’s cyber activities). However, the new openness on the part of the PLA could have long-lasting implications if it does turn out to be part of a policy shift.

The U.S. government has been seeking to entice more PLA transparency on cyber issues by openly explaining its own cyber-strategy. Those overtures hadn’t paid off – China continued to block any real discussion by denying it partakes in any cyber-espionage activities. The acknowledgement of offensive cyber units in The Science of Military Strategy may mean that Beijing is increasing cyber transparency, which could pave the way for discussions on the issue.

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This very much attest the theory of China’s invasionary and dominance attitude.

Published in: on April 13, 2015 at 18:30  Comments (10)  

770 surface combat ships compared to 710

US Navy has lost its supremacy as the most feared naval force to China’s Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) Navy when a USN Admiral told US lawmakers about the six more submarines against Uncle Sam’s.

RT.com story:

China outpaces America in sub numbers – US admiral

Published time: February 26, 2015 07:51 Get short URL
Reuters/Guang NiuReuters/Guang Niu

The Chinese Navy now has more diesel and nuclear attack submarines than America does, a US Navy admiral told lawmakers. Some of them are “fairly amazing” and Beijing is exploring new ways of projecting its power on the seas.

The Chinese are experimenting with new geographic location, length of missions and new weapons, Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower Subcommittee on Wednesday.

“They may not be the same quality, but their submarine forces are growing at a tremendous rate. They now have more diesel and nuclear attack submarines than we have,” the admiral told the lawmakers. “They are producing some fairly amazing submarines and they are actually deploying them.”

Read more
​NATO member Turkey to buy $3.4 billion worth of incompatible Chinese antimissiles

The Chinese naval missions included at least three deployments into the Indian Ocean, Mulloy told the committee. They can also send strategic ballistic missile submarines on missions lasting for 95 days.

“We don’t think they have nuclear weapons on board, but we’ve seen them producing the missiles and testing them,” the admiral said. “We know they are out experimenting and looking at operating and clearly want to be in this world of advanced submarines.”

The US Navy reported having 71 commissioned submarines. The Chinese, according to Pentagon estimates voiced last year, has 77 principal surface combatant ships, more than 60 submarines, 55 large and medium amphibious ships, and about 85 missile-equipped small combatants.

Read more
US could permanently base warships in Australia – admiral

Despite having world largest defense budget, the US has been looking wearily at other nations building up their armed forces. China is investing heavily in new technology, seeking to project its military power in the Pacific region.

Washington has repeatedly criticized Beijing, saying it’s using its military to put leverage on other regional players, including US allies like Japan and South Korea, in territorial disputes.

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If a submarine is deemed to be the equivalent of ten surface warships when a consideration for naval conflict is drafted, then PLAN  now has 60 additional surface warships as compared to the USN.

USN currently operates 283 ships and 3,659 aircrafts.

The U.S. Navy has identified a need for 313 combat ships, but under the current plans will only be able to afford 232 to 243. In March 2014, the Navy is considering counting deployable ships such as minesweepers, patrol craft, and hospital ships in the “battle fleet” in order to reach a count of 291 and also ships that have been put in “shrink wrap”.

The navy had established a minimum requirement for 11 aircraft carriers, but dropped to 10 when Enterprise was retired in December 2012, before Gerald R. Ford enters service.

As compared to PLAN, as of 1987, it consisted (as it does now) of the naval headquarters in Beijing; three fleet commands – the North Sea Fleet, based at Qingdao, Shandong; the East Sea Fleet, based at Ningbo; and the South Sea Fleet, based at Zhanjiang, Guangdong and about 2,000 ships.

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

This massive naval force power is without a doubt be a major threat around the region, especially with China’s heavy-handedness attitude and approach towards issues such as multiple claims on specific areas which include Exclusive Economic Zone such as the fictitious Nine-Dash-Line.

PLAN has been deploying warships right into EEZ of her neighbours, which include Malaysia. The oath taking in James Shoal almost two years ago is still fresh in everyone’s mind.

This is new development is something not comforting.

Published in: on February 26, 2015 at 20:27  Comments (5)  

Orde-Wingate’s Burma Brigade To Be Revived For Cyber Warfare

Brigadier Charles Orde-Wingate’s legendary 77th Brigade “Chindits” is to be revived to fight the growing cyber-warfare and psychological warfare, particularly in social media.

BBC.com story:

Army sets up new brigade ‘for information age’

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British soldiers in silhouette
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The Army is setting up a new unit that will use psychological operations and social media to help fight wars “in the information age”.

Head of the Army General Sir Nick Carter said the move was about trying to operate “smarter”.

The 77th Brigade, made up of reservists and regular troops and based in Hermitage, Berkshire, will be formally created in April.

It has been inspired by the Chindits who fought in Burma in World War Two.

‘Bespoke skills’
An Army spokesman said the unit would “play a key part in enabling the UK to fight in the information age” and that it “consists of more than just traditional capabilities”.

Chief of the British Army Gen Sir Nick Carter. The Army, led by Gen Sir Nick Carter, could face cuts following the general election

He said: “77 Brigade is being created to draw together a host of existing and developing capabilities essential to meet the challenges of modern conflict and warfare.

“It recognises that the actions of others in a modern battlefield can be affected in ways that are not necessarily violent and it draws heavily on important lessons from our commitments to operations in Afghanistan amongst others.”

Recruitment for the brigade, 42% of whose personnel will be reservists, will begin this spring.

Its members will come from the Royal Navy and RAF as well as from the Army.

One former commander of British forces in Afghanistan has warned the new operation should not mean fewer troops on the frontline.

Colonel Richard Kemp said: “My view is that this should not be done at the expense of combat troops. Where are these 2,000 people going to come from?”

“They are likely to come from savings made in combat troops. I think that’s a mistake.

“I think the British forces have already been cut far too much in a very uncertain and increasingly dangerous world.

He acknowledged the need for this type of innovation, but said “it should be added to the forces, not created out of savings found elsewhere.”

The creation of the new unit is part of a major restructuring of the military under the Army 2020 plan, which will see the military scaled down to around 82,000 regular troops in the next five years.

Chindits in the Burmese jungle, 1943
The new unit is said to share the “spirit of innovation” of the Chindits in the Burma Campaign of 1942-45
The unit will also seek “new ways of allowing civilians with bespoke skills to serve alongside their military counterparts”.

The Army spokesman said it would share the “spirit of innovation” of the Chindits in the Burma Campaign of 1942 to 1945.

Chindits was the name given to the Long Range Penetration (LRP) groups that operated in the Burmese jungle behind enemy lines, targeting Japanese communications.

The new unit will also use the old Chindit insignia of a Chinthe, a mythical Burmese creature which is half-lion and half-dragon.

Tony Redding from Kent, whose father was in the Chindits, told the BBC he was disappointed by the move. He said: “Sadly the Ministry of Defence didn’t inform the surviving Chindit veterans of the decision to use the badge in this way.

“I’ve tried very hard to look for similarities and the only common denominator I can find is that the Chindits 70 years ago were a highly unconventional force. Perhaps this new force are to use some unconventional means of warfare.”

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Brigadier Charles Orde-Wingate commanded the 77th Brigade in Burma during World War II and the highly effective guerrilla warfare gave the Japanese Imperial Army a good run for their money.

It is part of the Ministry of Defense (MOD) strategic media game where the control of perception and first impression of the world public matters, in the challenges with dynamism of the integral communication and information at cyber speed and reach.

The ability to control social media has become a priority in the strategy of controlling any fields of warfare.

It is believed that the traditional politically adverse nations to the UK and United States such as Russia, China and even North Korea have invested a lot to be strategically commanding in the cyber warfare game.

The ongoing global warfare against international terrorism such as the current conflict against Islamic State so-called Jihadist is getting more chronic and complicated. The battle has been taken into cybersphere when the US Central Command social account was hacked by pro-IS ‘Cyber Caliphate’.

BBC.com story:

12 January 2015 Last updated at 23:10

US Centcom Twitter account hacked by pro-IS group

Centcom Twitter
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The Twitter and YouTube accounts of the US military command were suspended for a few hours after being hacked by a group claiming to back Islamic State.

One message on Centcom’s Twitter feed said: “American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back.”

It was signed by Isis, another name for the Islamic State. Some internal military documents also appeared on the Centcom Twitter feed.

Centcom said it was “cyber-vandalism” and not a serious data breach.

In a statement, it said there was no operational impact and no classified information was posted.

“We are viewing this purely as a case of cyber-vandalism,” it said. Later on Monday, its Twitter feed became visible again, although not active.

Embarrassingly, the hack happened as President Barack Obama was giving a speech on cyber-security.

Reflecting on major breaches like a recent hack of Sony Pictures, Mr Obama said in his speech the US had been reminded of “enormous vulnerabilities for us as a nation and for our economy”.

Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
President Obama said the internet creates “enormous vulnerabilities”
His spokesman Josh Earnest said the US is looking into the Centcom hacking.

He said they were investigating the extent of the incident, and that there was a significant difference between a large data breach and the hacking of a Twitter account.

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Analysis – Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence correspondent
This is an irritating hack rather than a matter of major security concern, but it will inevitably lead to a review to see if there are any more fundamental vulnerabilities in the US military’s public facing web and Twitter accounts.

The material posted on the site represents an amateurish and unconvincing attempt to publicise “secrets”. Most of the information is hardly secret at all – the postal address at the Pentagon of the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.

A variety of maps and diagrams were also posted by the hackers. Two appeared to be slides from a presentation at the Lincoln Laboratory – a government funded think-tank at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

They showed maritime defences on the Chinese coast, but not in any great detail. There were also simple maps of North Korea showing population centres, nuclear installations and missile sites.

You can find maps showing the same things on the websites of many US think-tanks.

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Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
The White House says it is monitoring the extent of the hack
An unnamed Pentagon official told Reuters the hacking was an embarrassment but did not appear to be a security threat.

And Professor Alan Woodward, from the University of Surrey, said he did not consider the attack to be a major breach of security.

“I wouldn’t say it’s trivial, but it’s just a slip,” he told the BBC.

“Twitter accounts are usually looked after by an individual in an organisation – it’s very easy to give away that password.

“In terms of if this is a hack into something secret, or sensitive – no, it’s not. An individual has made a slight mistake.”

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IS have been very effective using the media, which include social media for their publicity. Their psychological warfare which encompasses the recoding of execution of foreign nationals and journos managed to struck fear in the eyes and minds of millions of people worldwide.

This is on top of their overwhelming success in recruiting fighters and sympathisers from ordinary people, through their strategic use of social media.

Thousands of multinationals which include 40-50 Malaysians, not only just men but women too, to be drawn into their organised international terrorism which have since grown into a formidable conventional army in Syria and Iraq.

The inability to control the cyber warfare would prove to be disastrous.

Almost ten years ago, the suicide bombers struck a co-ordinated attack on the London Underground system and bus. 52 people were killed and 770 others were injured. It was later proven that the suicide bombers communicated using ams just before the attack commenced.

That was a very painful lesson for the Brits and their paranoia did prove to be substantial.

Almost three weeks ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron pronounced that encrypted communication which include social media would not be allowed in the UK.

The Telegraph story:

Spies should be able to monitor all online messaging, says David Cameron

The Tory leader said: ‘If I am prime minister I will make sure that it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that does not allow terrorists safe space to communicate with eachother’

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David Cameron
David Cameron Photo: SkyNews
Christopher Hope By Christopher Hope, Senior Political Correspondent3:50PM GMT 12 Jan 2015

The Security Services will be given the powers to read all messages sent over the internet, if the Conservatives win the general election.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, made the pledge at a campaign event attended by up to 100 Conservative activists in Nottingham.

The police and the intelligence agencies have expressed concerns that they are not able to access the content of some of the new ways to communicate over the internet.

The Prime Minister – who on Monday morning chaired a meeting of the Security Services to discuss lessons that be learned from last week’s terrorist attacks on Paris – said a Tory Government would pass a law in the next Parliament to ensure that the police and Security Services can read internet messages.

The problem at the moment was that new ways of communicating over the internet were impossible for the agencies to keep track of, he said.

Plans for a Communications Data Bill – branded a “snoopers’ charter” by critics – were blocked by Liberal Democrat opposition in the Coalition, but Conservatives have signalled they will revive the legislation if they secure an overall majority in May’s general election.

Mr Cameron said: “The next Government will have to legislate again in 2016. If I am prime minister I will make sure that it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that does not allow terrorists safe space to communicate with eachother.

“That is the key principle: do we allow terrorists safer spaces for them to talk to each other. I say no we don’t – and we should legislate accordingly. And if I am in Government that is what you will get.”

He added: “I have a very simple principle which will be the heart of the new legislation that will be necessary. In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which even in extremis, with a signed warrant from the home secretary personally, that we cannot read? “Up until now, governments have said: ‘No, we must not’.

“That is why in extremis it has been possible to read someone’s letter, to listen to someone’s telephone, to mobile communications.

“But the question remains: are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read. My answer to that question is: ‘No we must not’.

“The first duty of any government is to keep our country and people safe. The attacks in Paris demonstrated the scale of the threat that we face and the need to have robust powers through our intelligence and security agencies in order to keep our people safe.

“The powers that I believe we need, whether on communications data, or on the content of communications, I feel very comfortable these are absolutely right for a modern, liberal democracy.”

Mr Cameron also said that a Tory Government would pass a new law to ensure that the intelligence agencies would be able to track phone calls and internet messages.

He said that this power to track “who made which call, to which person, and when” was “absolutely crucial not just in terrorism but finding missing people, murder investigations, almost every single serious crime.
“What matters is that we can access this communications data whether people are using fixed phones, mobile phones or more modern ways of communicating via the internet.”

************

Published in: on February 1, 2015 at 04:30  Comments (4)  

Lessons from Paracels XX: Najib’s Extended and Multi-tiered Diplomacy

China's imaginary and unsubstantiated Nine-Dash-Line

China’s imaginary and unsubstantiated Nine-Dash-Line

Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s extended and multi-tiered and multi-pronged diplomacy is his administration’s strength to manage the multiple geo-political issues arisen from the multi nations’ claim over the Nine-Dash-Line in South China Sea.

Eurasia Review story:

1, ANALYSIS, BUSINESS, CHINA, MALAYSIA

MORE NUANCED THAN JUST ‘HEDGING': MALAYSIA AND SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTES – ANALYSIS

JANUARY 16, 2015 RSIS LEAVE A COMMENT
By RSIS

As ASEAN Chairman this year Malaysia has to tackle the South China Seas disputes. Malaysia’s supposed “hedging” stance should be viewed more comprehensively.

By Oh Ei Sun*

2015 sees Malaysia stepping up to the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN, just as the ten member states are poised to embrace the much anticipated ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Amidst the continued global economic slowdown, it is perhaps understandable that much attention has been focused on AEC as yet another impetus to spur regional economic growth, and by extension on Malaysia’s hopefully adroit skill in ASEAN’s driver’s seat.

Nevertheless, the disputes over the territorial and maritime sovereignty of a large part of the South China Sea, although apparently quietened down late last year, continued to be a latent challenge for all regional parties concerned. How skillfully Malaysia, both as a claimant party as well as ASEAN chair, handles the South China Sea disputes in relation to its three ASEAN co-claimants as well as China is crucial to regional peace and security.

Priority for economic cooperation

Recently, some researchers characterised Malaysia’s management of its South China Sea dispute with China as a “hedging” one, balancing its national interest of maintaining close economic relations with Beijing with the “regional” interest of ASEAN solidarity vis-a-vis China. While this “hedging” label on Malaysia may be partially accurate, it begs a more comprehensive and nuanced view of Malaysia’s international role as well as a more realistic regional outlook.

Firstly, for hundreds of years, Malaysia (and its preceding constituent states) has been a vibrant regional trading hub. This is especially so when the country undertook rapid industrialisation in the last half century, albeit with the vital assistance of foreign investments. The prevalent Malaysian national psyche, including and especially that of the ruling elite, thus exhibits a strong natural predilection toward economic concerns such as improved trade and investment, as opposed to overly ideological and nationalistic concerns.

Malaysia’s trade volume with China is indeed tremendous, surpassing US$100 billion annually over the last few years, making China its largest overall trading partner, and Malaysia China’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia. These fruitful and escalating bilateral economic ties thus understandably overshadow the intermittent South China Sea disputes, which do not show any immediate or even medium-term resolution.

Malaysia’s non-adoption of the more confrontational approaches of Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea disputes is therefore not surprising. Vietnam unfortunately experienced protracted and traumatic armed conflicts in its road towards nation-building, and its arguably more nationalistic attitude can thus be somewhat understood. The Philippines for obvious domestic reasons was not endowed with the massive economic development (and the resulting preference for trade) seen in the case of Malaysia.

Regional solidarity

But even if the term “hedging” were to describe Malaysia’s handling of the South China Sea disputes, it should at least be construed in a wider context. It is widely known that in addition to maintaining fertile trading relations with China, Malaysia, not unlike its many Southeast Asian neighbours, also welcomes the United States to continue playing a constructive role in regional security matters. Joint exercises (including maritime ones in or near the disputed waters), port calls and anti-terror efforts, to name but a few, continue to be cornerstones of US-Malaysia security cooperation.

Malaysia’s US-friendly stance, at least in security-related aspects, thus does not differ substantially from that exhibited by either Vietnam or the Philippines. It is perhaps also interesting to note that Malaysia and China will reportedly hold their first-ever joint military field exercise later this year.

Indeed, Malaysia certainly did not abandon regional solidarity with its neighbours when it comes to the South China Sea disputes. Malaysia remains committed and is proactively pushing for eventual region-wide solutions to the disputes. Malaysia is also equally comfortable with China’s preference for bilateral dealings over the South China Sea issue.

But whether bilaterally or multilaterally, Malaysia is flexible in terms of the ways and means – direct negotiation, mediation, joint development, arbitration, adjudication or otherwise – for resolving the disputes. Most of these have been successfully employed to conclusively settle its territorial disputes with neighbours such as Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore.

Malaysia, in this respect, looks favourably toward the region-wide (including both China and Southeast Asian claimant states) adoption of the Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea. Although the COC supposedly does not touch on sovereignty issues, it should provide a pragmatic framework for potentially managing, if not resolving, the South China Sea disputes. As ASEAN chairman Malaysia is likely to accord high priority to the adoption of the COC.

Confrontational benefits elusive

More fundamentally, it could also be argued that the more aggressive approaches preferred by the Philippines and Vietnam in dealing with China on the South China Sea disputes did not quite produce the results that they would have desired. For example, in the aftermath of the Philippines’ 2012 run-in with China over the Scarborough Shoal (which China calls Huangyan Island), Beijing assumes de facto control over access to the territory.

Similarly, despite Vietnam’s repeated skirmishes with China over the Paracel Islands/Xisha, these remain firmly under Chinese administration. As such, other Southeast Asian claimants, Malaysia included, could not elicit positive lessons from such confrontational styles.

Even the Philippines and Vietnam did not always confront China resolutely over the South China Sea disputes. In the midst of the Scarborough Shoal standoff, the Philippines inaugurated a China-funded dam project. Vietnam, which shares similar ideological outlook with China, often sees its South China Sea conflicts with China tone down after high-level party-to-party visits between the two countries.

For all these reasons, and with the benefit of a more comprehensive grasp of regional and international power-play realities, Malaysia may be said to more than just “hedge” its way out of the South China Sea disputes. It hews to a more comprehensive approach towards the eventual peaceful resolution of these disputes.

*Oh Ei Sun is a Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. A version of this commentary also appeared in Global Times.

 

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Oh’s brief analysis basically sums up Prime Minister Najib’s diplomacy and friendship with world leaders which include President Xi Jinping of China, President Barack H. Obama of United States of America, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President David Cameron of United Kingdom.

This is not withstanding the extremely close relationship with Brunei Sultan Sir Hassanal Bolkiah, the Philippines President Benigno “Nonoy” Acquino III and Singapore Prime Minister Brig. Gen. (NS) Lee Hsien Loong.

The continuous and pro-active work spearheaded by Foreign Minister Dato’ Seri Anifah Aman fortified the foreign policy and extended multi-tiered and multi-pronged diplomacy further, which include the non-permanent membership of UN Security Council, Chairmanship of ASEAN and in the Commonwealth Office in Whitehall.

The ‘consultive approach’ really bore fruit even in the trickiest spot.

However, some statements made through media by Cabinet colleagues such as Defense Minister Dato’ Seri Hishamuddin Hussein is taking all these good work a few steps the other direction.

NST story:

Eastern Sabah hotspot for militant activities: Hishammuddin

BY TASNIM LOKMAN – 23 JANUARY 2015 @ 5:38 PM

LABUAN: Eastern Sabah continues to be a hotspot for militants to spread their skewed ideologies, in line with the Islamic State (IS) belief, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

Speaking to reporters at the Labuan Air Force Base site visit, Hishammuddin said based on intelligence, terror activities were very much active here with existence of Darul Islam elements.

He said it was important that countries in the regions, specifically Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines were on the same page in handling the terror threat, adding that the government will take preventative measures to avoid the situation from getting worse.

“What we are doing here (making Labuan Air Force Base as the front line and working with the Asean community in addressing militancy activities) now is to have preventative measures.

“Terror activities, especially IS, is still under control but if we don’t take immediate action, it can be very serious and worsened,” he said, adding that Syria and Iraq failed to address it earlier, having to bear the cost now.

On making Labuan as the front line and headquarters for the Air Force, Hishammuddin said the decision saw the state as a strategic defence location.

He said the stability and security of the region needs to be holistic, where they will use a more creative approach.

******************

It is not sure the rational for the Minister in-charge of External Security to share all these information with the general public and how it would benefit them or the nation. Especially when these matters provide little comfort or worse still, reduced confidence for the general Malaysian public and a few notches lower for the international perception towards Malaysia.

However, the media crave politician would capitalise every moment to be relevant in the Malaysian media and hopefully, in the international media even at the expense of the political implication or perception towards the country.

Published in: on January 24, 2015 at 23:59  Comments (10)  

The Rising of the Land of the Rising Sun

Japan is making pro-active moves towards playing a more significant role as a military might, especially in the wake of the need to balance China’s ‘expansionary attitude and manoeuvres’.

The Sydney Morning Herald story:

Australia-Japan military ties are a ‘quasi-alliance’, say officials

Date October 26, 2014 – 11:45PM

John Garnaut

Asia Pacific editor for Fairfax Media
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Tony Abbott with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Parliament House in July. Photo: AFP
Military ties between Australia and Japan have been growing so fast that they amount to a “quasi-alliance”, according to Japanese officials.

Ties have expanding so rapidly that each country had become the other’s most important defence partner behind the United States, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another official, Takuma Kajita, principal deputy director of the National Security Policy Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in an interview that an unprecedented decision this month to explore the possibility of jointly developing Japan’s coveted submarine technology showed the “two countries would be tied up in the most important area of security”.

He said this and other recent moves, including the sharing of Australian space surveillance intelligence (which could potentially be linked to ballistic missile defence systems) reflected years of bipartisan commitment, recent challenges from China and also a close personal rapport between prime ministers Tony Abbott and Shinzo Abe.

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“Mr Abe wants to raise the relationship between Japan and Australia considerably, his instructions are very clear, and he wants good trilateral relations between Japan, Australia and the US,” said Mr Kajita.

A unique “Australia-Japan Defence Co-operation Office” was established within Japan’s Ministry of Defence on April 1 this year in order to handle the rapid escalation of activity.

Publicly, especially in Australia, officials have been circumspect about the pace of change in part to avoid triggering an escalatory response from China.
Officials say there are no plans to progress the relationship into a formal treaty that would include reciprocal obligations to defend each other in the event of war.

And Japan is constrained by a sceptical population and pacifist constitution imposed in the wake of World War II that, among other things, requires its armed forces to operate as the Japanese Self-Defence Forces.

But some analysts warn that the Australian public has not yet grasped the dimensions and implications of deepening military ties, including the possibility of being drawn into armed conflict over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in Chinese) in the East China Sea.

“The dual-tightening of Australia’s alliance with the US and its defence partnership with Japan is the most important strategic decision that Australia has made in the post-cold war era,” said Malcolm Cook, a regional security expert at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian studies.

“If there is fighting in the East China Sea then the US will be drawn in. And can you imagine the pressure for Australia to become involved?”

Japanese sources say that the two most dangerous incidents occurred just months ago, in May and June, when Chinese fighter planes used provocative measures including firing afterburners to intercept Japanese surveillance planes at a time of Sino-Russian military drills.

But the temperature has cooled considerably since then.

A high-level maritime co-operation forum resumed on September 25, after a 28-month interregnum. And what had been almost daily Chinese maritime incursions into Japanese-controlled waters have dropped substantially in frequency and intensity.

“Chinese ships now enter Japanese territorial waters every two weeks, for exactly two hours,” said one Japanese official who was present at the maritime meeting. “It used to be four, six or even eight ships but now it is only three or four,” said the official, while noting that Chinese activities in the “contiguous zone” had not diminished at all.

Japanese officials say the continuing incursions are “unacceptable” but nevertheless the atmosphere had become conducive to a first meeting between Mr Abe and China’s President Xi jinping on the sidelines of next month’s APEC meeting in Shanghai.

The new Australia liaison office in Tokyo illustrates how Australia has leapfrogged all nations except the US in Japanese military thinking.

South Korea was listed as Japan’s second most important military partner in a strategy document released less than a year ago, but those ties have cooled due to disagreements over the memory of World War II.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/australiajapan-military-ties-are-a-quasialliance-say-officials-20141026-11c4bi.html#ixzz3HFyCH2fS

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Japan  under Prime Minister Shintaro Abe is seeking to reinterpret ate and probably to amend the ‘pacifist’ post World War Two Constitution, paving the way for Japanese military forces to fight abroad. Since the times of General of the Army Douglass McArthur, Japan only allowed to have a ‘Defence Forces’.

United States supports this notion with the excuse that Japan should play a more significant role to defend itself.

Obviously, China is disturbed by this development.

The BBC story:

9 October 2014 Last updated at 07:10

China media criticise ‘growing’ US-Japan military ties

Papers in China criticise the US for pursuing closer military ties with Japan and Vietnam.

Ties between China and Japan have been strained in recent months over territorial disputes in the East China Sea.

According to reports, Japan and the United States are revising their mutual defence guidelines to pursue a wider partnership.

The US, in an interim report released on Wednesday, said that the new guidelines “are in response to new threats extant in the world and to a new willingness of Japan to embrace a greater role in the world”.

Responding to the report, an article in the Liberation Army Daily warns the US is “inviting calamities by nurturing a tiger”.

“By requesting Tokyo to support its military actions, the US is still sticking to the old arrangement of Japan taking instructions,” notes the article written by Liu Qiang, a strategic expert at the Liberation Army Institute for International Relations.

Japan may become the “destroyer of peace” because it feels threatened and wants to expand its military, and Washington may not be able to control it, he cautions.

“If Washington is not on its guard against Tokyo’s military development and continues to allow it to expand, the US may not be able to control its development effectively in the future. By turning a blind eye to Japan’s actions, Washington is inviting trouble, and that is worrisome,” he adds.

A commentary in the People’s Daily overseas edition points out that the US and Japan are treating China as an “imagery enemy”.

“The idea of sharing hegemony between Washington and Tokyo is secretly developing. With the permission of the US, Japan may become a new international police…Such dangerous development is worrying many countries,” it says, warning that the alliance will instead “increase distrust and worsen conflicts” in the region.

Chen Yan, an expert on Japan affairs with the Qianjiang Evening News, however, points out that the new guidelines will not affect China.

“The US will not confront China because of Japan, and in reality, Japan will not want to go to war with China too. Both are only putting up a gesture to pressurise China,” he argues.

Defence capability
Meanwhile, several state-run media outlets, including Xinhua News Agency and the People’s Daily website, have published photos of a completed airport runway and ongoing construction works on Yongxing Island (Woody Island), the largest of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

The Philippines and Vietnam are two of several nations currently engaged in territorial disputes with China over the islands.

Several other media outlets note that the completion of the 2,000m-long runway will allow military jet to station, and “it will hugely raise China’s defence capability in the Spratly and Paracel Islands”.

Elsewhere, some state-run media outlets criticise US-Vietnam ties as Washington eases its ban on arm sales to Hanoi.

The US announced last week that it would partially lift its decades-old embargo on providing lethal military support to Vietnam to help improve its maritime security.

“Hanoi is looking to the US for support in its maritime territorial dispute with China, especially since tensions between Vietnam and China escalated earlier this year amid a dispute over China’s oil drilling operations in the South China Sea,” notes an article in the China Daily.

However, the commentary reminds the Southeast Asia state that “it is only one small piece on the US’ strategic rebalancing chessboard” and there is “deep acrimony and distrust” between the two countries.

“Besides, both need to be mindful that their strengthened military ties do not compromise each country’s relationship with Beijing. After all, a head-on confrontation in the South China Sea would serve no one’s interests,” it warns.

**************

In the wake against China’s aggressive military-centric expansionary attitude and premonition, Japan started to exert herself into the clout of anti-China sentiments around Asia. Despite China’s strong opposition, Japan has continued on the new policy which would see a balance to China’s military might in East Asia.

*Updated midnight

Published in: on October 26, 2014 at 21:00  Comments (9)  

Eagles Vs Dragon

The most productive and economically progressive region in the world has come much closer into threats of Super Powers flexing their muscle in more aggressive manner, which in turn would compound the escalation into a race of demonstration of serious military presence and projection and power.

President Barack H. Obama is asserting a more protagonist role in East and South East Asia as “A top priority”, in the wake of China’s ‘expansionary attitude and manoeuvres’ of late.

A detailed map of China's claims into ASEAN nations' EEZ

A detailed map of China’s claims into ASEAN nations’ EEZ

This China’s ‘expansionary attitude’, is vastly demonstrated in the claims over disputed territories all over South China Sea at the ‘Nine Dash Line’. Most of these territories have been defined as part of an ASEAN nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), which China is a signatory.

Reuters story:

Chuck Hagel Accuses China Of ‘Destabilizing’ Asia Over South China Sea Claims

Reuters
Posted: 05/31/2014 7:50 am EDT Updated: 07/31/2014 5:59 am EDT

HAGEL

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By David Brunnstrom and Lee Chyen Yee

SINGAPORE, May 31 (Reuters) – The United States and China squared off at an Asian security forum on Saturday, with the U.S. defense secretary accusing Beijing of destabilizing the region and a top Chinese general retorting that his comments were “threat and intimidation”.

Using unusually strong language, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took aim at Beijing’s handling of territorial disputes with its Asian neighbors.

“In recent months, China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea,” Hagel said.

He warned Beijing that the United States was committed to its geopolitical rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and “will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged”.

Hagel said the United States took no position on the merits of rival territorial claims in the region, but added: “We firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert these claims.”

His speech at Singapore’s Shangri-La Dialog, Asia biggest security forum, provoked an angry reaction from the deputy chief of staff of the Chinese Army, Lieutenant-General Wang Guanzhong.

“I felt that Secretary Hagel’s speech is full of hegemonism, threat and intimidation,” he told reporters just after the speech.

Wang said the speech was aimed at causing trouble in the Asia-Pacific.

Hagel’s comments followed the keynote address by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the same forum on Friday evening, who pledged “utmost support” to Southeast Asian countries, several of which are locked in maritime disputes with China.

“I felt that they were just trying to echo each other,” Wang said.

Hagel later held a bilateral meeting with Wang, where the Chinese military leader expressed his surprise at the U.S. defense secretary’s speech.

“You were very candid this morning, and to be frank, more than our expectations,” he said. “Although I do think those criticisms are groundless, I do appreciate your candor  likewise we will also share our candor.”

A senior U.S. defense official said that, despite Wang’s opening remarks, the tone of the meeting had been “businesslike and fairly amicable”.

While Hagel went over ground he covered in his speech, Wang spent most of the meeting talking about U.S.-China military-to-military contacts, including Chinese participation in forthcoming military exercises, the official said.

The U.S. official said Hagel’s speech had been well received by other Asian delegations with the exception of China.
ONLY IF PROVOKED

In Beijing, President Xi Jinping said China would not initiate aggressive action in the South China Sea but would respond if others did, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

“We will never stir up trouble, but will react in the necessary way to the provocations of countries involved,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying in a meeting on Friday with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia.

China claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Seas, and dismisses competing claims from Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Japan also has a territorial row with China over islands in the East China Sea.

Tensions have surged in recent weeks after China placed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, and the Philippines said Beijing could be building an airstrip on a disputed island.

Japan’s defense ministry said Chinese SU-27 fighters came as close as 50 meters (170 ft) to a Japanese OP-3C surveillance plane near disputed islets last week and within 30 meters of a YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tokyo perceived an “increasingly severe regional security environment”.

“It is unfortunate that there are security concerns in the East and South China Seas,” he said. “Japan as well as all concerned parties must uphold the rule of law and never attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pitched his plan for Japan to take on a bigger international security role and told the Singapore forum that Tokyo would offer its “utmost support” to Southeast Asian countries in their efforts to protect their seas and airspace.

In a pointed dig at China, he said Japan would provide coastguard patrol boats to the Philippines and Vietnam.
JAPAN OFFER SNUBBED

Wang, China’s deputy chief of staff, also snubbed an offer for talks with Japan made by Defense Minister Onodera, the semi-official China News Service said.

“This will hinge on whether the Japanese side is willing to amend the erroneous policy towards China and improve relations between China and Japan,” he said. “Japan should correct its mistakes as soon as possible to improve China-Japan ties.”

The strong comments at the Shangri-La Dialog come as Abe pursues a controversial push to ease restrictions of the post-war, pacifist constitution that has kept Japan’s military from fighting overseas since World War Two.

Despite memories of Japan’s harsh wartime occupation of much of Southeast Asia, several countries in the region may view Abe’s message favorably because of China’s increasing assertiveness.

Hagel repeatedly stressed Obama’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific rebalance and said the strong U.S. military presence in the region would endure.

“To ensure that the rebalance is fully implemented, both President Obama and I remain committed to ensuring that any reductions in U.S. defense spending do not come at the expense of America’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific,” he said. (Additional reporting by Rachel Armstrong and Masayuki Kitano in Singapore and John Ruwitch in Shanghai; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson)

******************

United States, which is maximising this “China’s expansionary attitude and manoeuvres” by exerting its diplomatic and military might around the region, is also attempting to play the international diplomacy drama by asking China to ‘cool off’. As expected, it was ignored.

Reuters story when ASEAN Head of Government met at Myanmar:

U.S. call for South China Sea ‘freeze’ gets cool response from China

BY PAUL MOONEY AND LESLEY WROUGHTON
NAYPYIDAW Sat Aug 9, 2014 1:46pm EDT

CREDIT: REUTERS/NICOLAS ASFOURI/POOL
RELATED NEWS
Kerry presses Myanmar leaders on human rights, reforms

(Reuters) – A U.S. proposal for a freeze on provocative acts in the South China Sea got a cool response from China and some Southeast Asian nations on Saturday, an apparent setback to Washington’s efforts to rein in China’s assertive actions.

To China’s annoyance, the United States is using a regional meeting in Myanmar this weekend to step up its engagement in the maritime tension by calling for a moratorium on actions such as China’s planting of a giant oil rig in Vietnamese waters in May.

Its ally the Philippines has also called for a freeze as part of a three-step plan to ease tension in the resource-rich sea, through which passes $5 trillion of trade a year.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw, on Saturday for the ASEAN Regional Forum, joining foreign ministers and other top diplomats from China, Russia, Japan, India, Australia, the European Union and Southeast Asia among others.

“The United States and ASEAN have a common responsibility to ensure the maritime security of critical sea, lands and ports,” Kerry said in opening comments.

“We need to work together to manage tensions in the South China Sea and to manage them peacefully, and also to manage them on the basis of international law.”

But Le Luong Minh, secretary-general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the U.S. proposal was not discussed by ASEAN ministers because there was already a mechanism in place to curtail sensitive action such as land reclamation and building on disputed islands.

CHINA SAYS SITUATION STABLE

The top ASEAN diplomat said it was up to ASEAN to work with China to reduce tension by improving compliance with a 2002 agreement, as they also work to conclude a binding Code of Conduct for maritime actions. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the sea.

“It is up to ASEAN to encourage China to achieve a serious and effective implementation of this commitment, rather than ASEAN asking whether it should support or not support the (U.S.) proposal,” he said.

Most claimants have flouted the 2002 guidelines, leading to rising tension in the South China Sea between four ASEAN claimant nations and China, which claims 90 percent of the waters. The rancour has split ASEAN, with several states including some of the claimants reluctant to antagonize Asia’s economic giant.

China rejects U.S. involvement in the dispute and has already dismissed the proposal for a freeze. China accuses the United States of emboldening claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam with its military “pivot” back to Asia.

“Currently the situation in the South China Sea is stable on the whole. There has not been any problem regarding navigation in the South China Sea,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters.

“Someone has been exaggerating or playing up the so-called tensions in the South China Sea. We don’t agree with such a practice.”

Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario also appeared to tone down his proposal for a freeze or moratorium on activities causing tension in the South China Sea, calling instead for a “cessation” in remarks to reporters on Friday.

A senior U.S. official said the change in language was not significant. “Maybe they just want to differentiate their proposal from our proposal.”

ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

(Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Robert Birsel)

******************

Also the dispute which has escalated into a military stand off with Japan at Senkaku Island, a couple of rocks in the middle of huge hydrocarbon deposits off Taiwan.

Reuters:

China criticizes U.S. missile defense radar in Japan

BEIJING Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:56am EDT
(Reuters) – The United States is damaging stability in the Asia-Pacific region by positioning a missile defense radar in Japan, China said on Thursday.

Japan, an ally of the United States, has voiced growing anxiety over China’s more assertive posture in the East China Sea, where the neighbors are locked in a dispute over control of a group of uninhabited islets.

North Korea has carried out a series of missile tests this year, including two medium-range missiles capable of hitting Japan. Pyongyang has also threatened another nuclear test.

Japan’s defense ministry has said an X-Band radar system was delivered on Tuesday to the U.S. military’s communication facility in Kyoto in the western part of the country. It is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of the year.
“Neighboring countries pushing forward the deployment of anti-missile systems in the Asia-Pacific and seeking unilateral security is not beneficial to strategic stability and mutual trust in the region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing.

“It is not beneficial to peace and stability in Northeast Asia.”

Countries should not use “excuses to harm the security interests of other countries,” Hua added, describing the situation as “deeply concerning”.

China has racheted up military spending in recent years, putting in place new submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles, which the U.S. sees as a counter to its military presence in the region.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said two Navy destroyers equipped with missile defense systems would be deployed to Japan by 2017 in response to provocations from North Korea.

(Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan, Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in TOKYO; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

*************

That invited reciprocity from the Dragon of East Asia. The fact is that as part of China’s military build up, the Peoples’ Liberation Army has planned and acquired various nuclear weapon systems and programs, which include nuclear submarines with ICBM capability.

A Wall Street Journal story:

Deep Threat

China’s Submarines Add Nuclear-Strike Capability, Altering Strategic Balance

BY JEREMY PAGE

One Sunday morning last December, China’s defense ministry summoned military attachés from several embassies to its monolithic Beijing headquarters.

To the foreigners’ surprise, the Chinese said that one of their nuclear-powered submarines would soon pass through the Strait of Malacca, a passage between Malaysia and Indonesia that carries much of world trade, say people briefed on the meeting.

Two days later, a Chinese attack sub—a so-called hunter-killer, designed to seek out and destroy enemy vessels—slipped through the strait above water and disappeared. It resurfaced near Sri Lanka and then in the Persian Gulf, say people familiar with its movements, before returning through the strait in February—the first known voyage of a Chinese sub to the Indian Ocean.

The message was clear: China had fulfilled its four-decade quest to join the elite club of countries with nuclear subs that can ply the high seas. The defense ministry summoned attachés again to disclose another Chinese deployment to the Indian Ocean in September—this time a diesel-powered sub, which stopped off in Sri Lanka.

China’s increasingly potent and active sub force represents the rising power’s most significant military challenge yet for the region. Its expanding undersea fleet not only bolsters China’s nuclear arsenal but also enhances the country’s capacity to enforce its territorial claims and thwart U.S. intervention.

China is expected to pass another milestone this year when it sets a different type of sub to sea—a “boomer,” carrying fully armed nuclear missiles for the first time—says the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, or ONI.

China is hardly hiding its new boomers. Tourists could clearly see three of them at a base opposite a resort recently in China’s Hainan province. On the beach, rented Jet Skis were accompanied by guides to make sure riders didn’t stray too close.

These boomers’ missiles have the range to hit Hawaii and Alaska from East Asia and the continental U.S. from the mid-Pacific, the ONI says.

“This is a trump card that makes our motherland proud and our adversaries terrified,” China’s navy chief, Adm. Wu Shengli, wrote of the country’s missile-sub fleet in a Communist Party magazine in December. “It is a strategic force symbolizing great-power status and supporting national security.”

To naval commanders from other countries, the Chinese nuclear sub’s nonstop Indian Ocean voyage was especially striking, proving that it has the endurance to reach the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s headquarters in Hawaii.

“They were very clear with respect to messaging,” says Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, a former submariner who commands the U.S. Seventh Fleet, “to say that, ‘We’re a professional navy, we’re a professional submarine force, and we’re global. We’re no longer just a coastal-water submarine force.’ ”

In recent years, public attention has focused on China’s expanding military arsenal, including its first aircraft carrier and stealth fighter. But subs are more strategically potent weapons: A single one can project power far from China and deter other countries simply by its presence.

China’s nuclear attack subs, in particular, are integral to what Washington sees as an emerging strategy to prevent the U.S. from intervening in a conflict over Taiwan, or with Japan and the Philippines—both U.S. allies locked in territorial disputes with Beijing.

And even a few functional Chinese boomers compel the U.S. to plan for a theoretical Chinese nuclear-missile strike from the sea. China’s boomer patrols will make it one of only three countries—alongside the U.S. and Russia—that can launch atomic weapons from sea, air and land.

“I think they’ve watched the U.S. submarine force and its ability to operate globally for many, many years—and the potential influence that can have in various places around the globe,” says Adm. Thomas, “and they’ve decided to go after that model.”

China’s nuclear-sub deployments, some naval experts say, may become the opening gambits of an undersea contest in Asia that echoes the cat-and-mouse game between U.S. and Soviet subs during the Cold War—a history popularized by Tom Clancy’s 1984 novel “The Hunt for Red October.”

Back then, each side sent boomers to lurk at sea, ready to fire missiles at the other’s territory. Each dispatched nuclear hunter-killers to track the other’s boomers and be ready to destroy them.

The collapse of the Soviet Union ended that tournament. But today, as China increases its undersea firepower, the U.S. and its allies are boosting their submarine and anti-sub forces in Asia to counter it.

Neither China nor the U.S. wants a Cold War rerun. Their economies are too interdependent, and today’s market-minded China doesn’t seek global revolution or military parity with the U.S.

Chinese officials say their subs don’t threaten other countries and are part of a program to protect China’s territory and expanding global interests. Chinese defense officials told foreign attachés that the subs entering the Indian Ocean would assist antipiracy patrols off Somalia, say people briefed on the meetings.

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Asked about those meetings, China’s defense ministry said its navy’s activities in the Indian and Pacific Oceans “comply with international law and practice, and we maintain good communication with all relevant parties.”

Submarines help Beijing fulfill international duties without changing its defense policy, says China’s navy spokesman, Sr. Capt. Liang Yang. “If a soldier originally has a handgun, and you give him an assault rifle, you’ve increased his firepower, but his responsibilities haven’t changed.” He declines to comment on boomer patrols.

Still, the U.S. has moved subs to the forefront of its so-called rebalancing, a strategy of focusing more military and diplomatic resources on Asia. Sixty percent of the U.S. undersea force is in the Pacific, U.S. naval commanders say, compared with half the U.S. surface fleet. The U.S. Navy plans to station a fourth nuclear attack sub in Guam next year, they say.

Since December, the U.S. has positioned six new P-8 anti-submarine aircraft in Okinawa, Japan. The U.S. has also revitalized an undersea microphone system designed to track Soviet subs and is testing new technologies such as underwater drones to search for Chinese subs.

Related Article: As China Deploys Nuclear Submarines, U.S. P-8 Poseidon Jets Snoop on Them

Several nearby countries, including Australia, have said they plan to expand or upgrade their submarine and anti-sub forces. Vietnam, which is embroiled in a territorial dispute with China, has since December received at least two of the six Russian-made attack subs it has ordered.

Australia’s navy chief, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the 12 subs his country is buying to replace its six-strong current fleet would need to operate far afield, potentially in contested areas of the South China Sea. “There are other nations in the area that are building their submarine forces as well,” he said. “The issue for us is to be able to consider that we may need to counter those things.”

Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, the commander of U.S. submarine forces in the Pacific, says that many more submarines are now operating in the region than during the Cold War. “One of my biggest concerns truthfully is submarine safety,” he says on a recent dive aboard the USS Houston, a nuclear-attack sub based in Hawaii. “The more submarines you put in the same body of water, the higher the probability that they might collide.”

China now has one of the world’s biggest attack-sub fleets, with five nuclear models and at least 50 diesel models. It has four boomers, the ONI says.

Beijing’s quest for a nuclear-sub fleet dates to the 1960s, say Chinese historians. Mao Zedong once declared, “We will build a nuclear submarine even if it takes us 10,000 years!”

China has used diesel subs since the 1950s, but they have proved easy to find because they must surface every few hours. Nuclear subs are faster and can stay submerged for months. China launched its first nuclear sub on Mao’s birthday in 1970 and test-fired its first missile from underwater in 1988, although its first boomer never patrolled carrying armed nuclear missiles, U.S. naval officers say.

China officially unveiled its nuclear undersea forces in October 2013 in an unprecedented open day for domestic media at a nuclear-sub base. Its capabilities aren’t close to those of the U.S., which has 14 boomers and 55 nuclear attack subs.

The U.S. concern is how to maintain that edge in Asia when the Navy projects that fiscal constraints will shrink its attack-sub fleet to 41 by 2028.

Beijing isn’t likely to try matching the U.S. sub force, having studied the way the Cold War arms race drained the Soviet Union’s finances. “We’re not that stupid,” says retired Maj. Gen. Xu Guangyu, a former vice president of the People’s Liberation Army Defense Institute.

“But we need enough nuclear submarines to be a credible force—to have some bargaining chips,” he says. “They must go out to the Pacific Ocean and the rest of the world.”

On his desk is a glass-encased naval chart with white labels marking China’s submarine bases. Drawn on the map are two lines marking “First Island Chain” and “Second Island Chain.”

Over the past few years, Chinese attack subs have broken beyond the first chain to operate regularly in the Philippine Sea and have started patrolling year-round, Adm. Sawyer says. Penetrating the second chain is the next logical step, he adds: “They are not just building more units and more assets, but they’re actually working to get proficient with them and understand how they’d operate in a far-away-from-home environment.” Related article: When Sub Goes Silent, Who Has Control of Its Nuclear Warheads?

Adm. Sawyer declines to say whether China has sent a sub as far as Hawaii but says the December Indian Ocean expedition shows that it has “the capability and the endurance” to do so.

That was a Shang-class sub, a type naval experts say China first launched in 2002 that can carry torpedoes and cruise missiles. In peacetime, China would probably use these hunter-killers to protect sea lanes, track foreign vessels and gather intelligence, naval experts say. But in a conflict, they would likely try to break through the First Island Chain to threaten approaching vessels and disrupt supply lines.

Still, the two recent sub voyages highlighted a weak point for China. Its subs must use narrow straits to reach the Pacific or Indian Oceans. Those chokepoints—among them, the Malacca, Sunda, Lombok, Luzon and Miyako Straits—can be relatively easily monitored or blockaded.

Moreover, China’s anti-sub capabilities remain relatively weak. U.S. subs can track their Chinese counterparts even near China’s shores, where U.S. ships and planes are vulnerable to Chinese aircraft and missiles, American naval officers say.

Adm. Sawyer declines to say whether the U.S. tracked the Shang or how close U.S. subs get to China, saying only: “I’m comfortable with the U.S. submarine force’s capability to execute whatever tasking we’re given.”

The USS Houston returned recently from a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific. Its commanding officer, Cmdr. Dearcy P. Davis, declines to say exactly where the sub went but adds, “I can say that we went untracked by anyone. We have the ability to break down the door if someone [else] can’t. That’s not trivial.”

China’s missile-carrying boomers present a longer-term challenge.

From the Lan Sanya beach resort in Hainan, guests can easily make out the matte-black hulls of what naval experts say are three of China’s new boomers, known as the Jin-class, and one Shang-class attack sub. As he threw open a hotel room’s curtains, a bellboy beamed with pride and pointed out the vessels across the bay. “Better not go that way,” joked a Jet Ski guide on a recent ride. “They might shoot at us.”

China hasn’t said when it might launch boomer patrols. But Western naval officers saw the October nuclear-sub event as a signal that the Jin subs and their JL-2 missiles were ready to start.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, a former submariner who is now the U.S. chief of naval operations, says that the U.S. is waiting to see how China will use its new boomers. “Is it an occasional patrol they’re going to choose to do? Is it going to be a continuous patrol? Are they going to try to be sure that this patrol is totally undetected?” he says. “I think that’s all going to be in the equation as to our response.”

Soviet boomers ventured far into the Pacific and Atlantic into the 1970s because their missiles couldn’t reach the U.S. from Soviet waters. As missile ranges increased, Soviet subs retreated to so-called bastions, such as the Sea of Okhotsk. The U.S. deployed hunter-killers around those bastions.

Similar dynamics are at play as China decides whether to send its own boomers into the Pacific. Their JL-2 missiles can travel about 4,600 miles—possibly enough to strike the U.S. West Coast from East Asia, the ONI says. To strike more U.S. targets, they would need to lurk throughout the Pacific.

But China’s boomers probably couldn’t pass undetected through many straits, say U.S. officers and Chinese experts. “The Jin class is too noisy: It’s probably at the level of the Soviets between 1970 and 1980,” says Wu Riqiang, a former missile specialist who studies nuclear strategy at Beijing’s Renmin University. “As long as you are noisy, you won’t even go through the chokepoints.”

Early in the Cold War, the U.S. built a network of seabed microphones to listen at chokepoints leading to the Pacific and Atlantic. In recent years, the U.S. has revitalized parts of that network, called the Sound Surveillance System, or Sosus. The U.S. is also now adding mobile networks of sensors—some on underwater drones—and seeking surveillance data from Asian countries. Related Article: Underwater Drones Join Microphones to Listen for Chinese Subs

Meanwhile, China is trying to replicate Sosus, say several naval experts. A government-backed scientific journal reported last year that China had built a fiber-optic acoustic network in the South China Sea.

Last November, China declared an “air-defense identification zone” over the East China Sea and warned of measures against aircraft that entered without identifying themselves in advance. Many U.S. officials expect China to do the same over the South China Sea, although Chinese officials say they have no immediate plans for that.

In August, the Pentagon said a Chinese fighter had flown dangerously close to a U.S. P-8 near Hainan. China’s defense ministry publicly said that its pilot flew safely and asked the U.S. to cease such operations.

The problem with confining boomers to the South China Sea is that Beijing fears that missiles fired from there could be neutralized by the next stages of a U.S. regional missile-defense system, Chinese nuclear experts say.

Prof. Wu, who has taken part in nuclear-strategy negotiations with the U.S., predicts that over the next two decades, China will make quieter boomers that can patrol the open sea even as the U.S. pursues a global missile-defense system.

“I hope the U.S. and China can break this cycle,” he says, “but I’m not optimistic.”

—Rob Taylor in Canberra contributed to this article.

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Another interesting fact is that the truth about the United States has never faced with a Super Power like what China is today, so economically driven and progressing but backed and controlled by sophisticatedly strategically minded communists leaders and their plans to move forward.

The Hufftington Post story:

Bob Hawke Headshot

America Has Never Faced a Power Like China

Posted: 06/19/2014 11:38 am EDT Updated: 08/19/2014 5:59 am EDT 125941046
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The article is an excerpt from a speech delivered at the 2nd International Symposium on Security and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region, hosted by the China Institute for International Strategic Studies in Beijing.

BEIJING — There can be no doubt that the biggest question today about Asia’s future order revolves around the relationships among three nations — the United States, China and Japan. If a solid and durable foundation can be found for cooperative relations among the three powers, building a sustainable new order in Asia will not be difficult. If rivalry among them escalates, it might become impossible.

STATUS QUO VS. A NEW ORDER

The differences between their separate visions are not hard to see. America wants to preserve the status quo in which its leading position remains the keystone of the regional order, and the Chinese acceptance of U.S. leadership is the basis of U.S.-China relationship. While it is willing to consult more closely with China on a wide range of issues as China’s power grows, it does not envisage any fundamental change in the nature of their relationship, or of China’s role in Asia, over the coming years.

Americans argue that this status quo has worked very well for Asia — including for China — for many years, and they believe that it remains the best basis for regional stability in the future.

China, on the other hand, wants to change the status quo. President Xi Jinping has made this quite clear in his repeated calls for a “new type of major-power relationship.” By this, he does not just mean that he hopes the U.S. and China can avoid the rivalry that throughout history has so often escalated between rising and established powers.

He also means that to avoid escalating rivalry, America and China should agree on a new basis for their relationship, different from the basis that was agreed between Chairman Mao Zedong and former U.S. President Richard Nixon back in 1972. Clearly, China does not believe that Chinese deference to the U.S. leadership is any longer an acceptable basis for U.S.-China relations.

From America’s side, there seems to be increasing concern that China’s real aim is to push America out of Asia and establish its own version of regional primacy. They point to China’s assertive diplomacy over regional maritime sovereignty questions as evidence of China’s malign intentions, and its willingness to use force to shape the regional order in its favor.

From China’s side, there is an equal but opposite fear that America’s real aim is to contain China’s rise in order to preserve U.S. primacy. China points to U.S. President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” including its highly-publicized military elements designed to bolster U.S. combat power in Asia, as evidence of America’s mala fide intentions and its willingness to use force to achieve them. These suspicions clearly make it much harder for the two sides to contemplate serious accommodation with one another.

Many Americans seem still to underestimate just how much China’s wealth and power have grown, and how strong China’s ambitions have become. They do not yet take China’s challenges to the status quo in Asia seriously.

On April 30, London-based Financial Times had a front-page banner headline that read, “China to take over from U.S. as top economic power this year.” The story beneath the headline reported the World Bank’s latest comparative survey of the size of national economies in 2011 based on their relative purchasing power.

It showed that on this measure, China’s economy in 2011 was 87 percent the size of America’s, and was trending to overtake it this year. Perhaps it has already done so.

The word “historic” is often applied rather freely, but this really is a historic moment. As the Financial Times noted, America overtook Britain to become the largest economy in the world in 1872. For almost 150 years U.S. economic preeminence has been the foundation and the source of American power, and the American power has done more than anything else to define a whole era in world history, and shape the world as we know it today.

It would be a profound mistake for America not to see what this means. It does not mean that America is in decline. Nor does it mean that China will necessarily replace America at the pinnacle of global power that it has occupied for so long: China will not “rule the world.”

But it does mean that China today is a country that is fundamentally more powerful than any that America has ever had to encounter before. It is also a country that has a stronger sense of its place and status than any country in the world except perhaps America itself.

Both need to rid themselves of the assumption that the other cannot be a trusted partner in such a deal. There is no reason at all to assume that a mutual accommodation cannot be reached between them. America will not accept the establishment of Chinese primacy over Asia, but it might well be brought to accept that it should share the leadership in Asia with China, thus according China far more status and influence in Asia than it has enjoyed for centuries.

As Japan considers how far it can rely on U.S. assurances of support for its position on the disputed islands, it is also wondering how far it can continue to rely on the U.S. for Japan’s overall security as America’s relative power and influence in Asia decline.

Likewise as America considers how far it should go in supporting Japan in the East China Sea dispute, it is also thinking about the consequences for the U.S.-Japan alliance, and for the whole U.S. position in Asia, of any failure to fulfill its alliance commitments.

The stakes therefore could hardly be higher for all three countries, which is what makes the situation rather risky. And it suggests that to reduce those risks, it will be necessary not just to reach some agreement on the islands themselves, but to address the underlying questions about the roles of the U.S., China and Japan in Asia’s new order.

MORE:

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Since 2008, China has openly demonstrated its aggressiveness to be a Super Power when it embarked on various nuclear weapon programs that followed suit the admission of its military might expansionism.

That actually brought various Asian nations to work closer together and in a metaphoric way diplomatically isolating China as the ‘neighbourhood bully’.

The Bloomberg story:

Japan and India Pledge to Strengthen Ties as China Rises

By Isabel Reynolds and Maiko Takahashi Sep 2, 2014 10:05 AM GMT+0800 – Comments Email Print

Japan, India Look to Strengthen Ties
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged an upgrade of economic and security ties with India, saying Japan would double investment and expand defense cooperation amid concerns about China’s growing influence in the region.

Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at a summit meeting in Tokyo yesterday agreed to elevate ties to a special strategic and global partnership. Abe offered 50 billion yen ($480 million) in infrastructure loans and pledged 3.5 trillion yen of public and private investment and financing in India in five years.

“I often say that Japan-India relations have more potential than any other ties in the world,” Abe said. “This time, hand in hand with Prime Minister Modi, I want to boost ties in every possible field and elevate this to a special strategic and global partnership.”

The declaration comes three months after Modi took office pledging to take a tougher stance with neighbors China and Pakistan on border disputes, and hours after Japan said three Chinese coast guard vessels entered waters near disputed islands. Japan is courting India as it seeks to counter China and deter the use of force in disputes over contested territory.

The two leaders are known to have a close relationship, and Abe made the unusual gesture of traveling to the ancient capital of Kyoto at the weekend to host an informal dinner for Modi. Abe also accepted an invitation to visit India for a summit in 2015. Modi, 63, brought a delegation of executives with him on the four-day trip. He was set to meet Emperor Akihito and deliver a speech today, before leaving Tokyo tomorrow.
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, gestures as he makes a speech during a luncheon… Read More
‘Strong Bond’

China remains India’s largest trading partner, accounting for about 9 percent of the country’s total commerce, more than four times that of Japan, according to Indian Commerce Ministry data. Japan is the fourth-largest foreign direct investor in India, while China is not in the top 10, the data show.

“We are determined to increase our economic cooperation and the magnitude to which Japan is offering financial support signals a strong bond between our two countries,” Modi said after the meeting. “The success of the 21st century will largely depend on the path our two nations follow.”

Japan and India agreed to speed up talks on the transfer of US-2 amphibian rescue aircraft to India and on the signing of an agreement on civil nuclear power. They consented to look into ways to cooperate on defense technology.

Territorial Spats

The two leaders also affirmed their commitment to maritime security, freedom of navigation and the peaceful settlement of disputes under international law, a veiled dig at China, which is involved in disputes with at least half a dozen Asian nations over territory in the East and South China Seas and in the case of India, on land.

Modi earlier criticized the expansionist policies of some countries during a speech to business leaders in Tokyo.

“The world is divided in two camps. One camp believes in expansionist policies while the other believes in development,” Modi told a gathering of business leaders in Tokyo. “We have to decide whether the world should get caught in the grip of expansionist policies or we should lead it on the path of development and create opportunities that take it to greater heights.”

Japan and China have been embroiled in a dispute over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, while India accuses China of occupying 38,000 square kilometers (about 15,000 square miles) of its territory.

When asked about these comments, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China and India are strategic partners that seek common development.

“The increasing intimacy between Tokyo and New Delhi will bring at most psychological comfort to the two countries,” China’s Global Times said today in an editorial. “If Japan attempts to form a united front centered on India, it will be a crazy fantasy generated by Tokyo’s anxiety of facing a rising Beijing.”

2

To contact the reporters on this story: Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at ireynolds1@bloomberg.net; Maiko Takahashi in Tokyo at mtakahashi61@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Davis at abdavis@bloomberg.net Andy Sharp, Neil Western

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It is no mystery that China is hungry for energy, around the region, to power and drive its near galloping economy. That is a threat to the West. Never the less, China too is very aggressive to exert control over the world’s most productive and potential trade area, where the second most busiest and strategic waterway runs through.

The fact that China’s attitude of ‘Take All and Sundry’, is the worrying bit for the rest of Asia plus friends (United States and Australia) that when China devours, there would nothing left to be shared by others.

The rest of East and South East Asia do not wish to be sovereign but subservient states and serve China, economically and most of all, politically.

Published in: on October 25, 2014 at 12:00  Comments (5)  

Congratulations, Anifah

Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

It has just been confirmed that Malaysia is the new Non Permanent Member of United Nations Security Council for 2015-6, after polling 187 out of total 192 votes casted. The South East Asian nation is in the cohort of New Zealand, Venezuela and Angola, for a two years term beginning 31 December 2014.

UN General Assembly voting to elect non-permanent Security Council members

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16 October 2014 –

With one round of voting complete, the United Nations General Assembly has just elected Angola, Malaysia, Venezuela, New Zealand to serve as non-permanent members on the Security Council for two-year terms beginning on 1 January 2014.

The new members will take up their seats on 1 January 2015 and will serve on the Council until 31 December 2016.

The Assembly will move into a round of restricted balloting to choose either Spain or Turkey to fill the remaining seat on the Council open to the Western European and Other States Group.

The five seats available for election in 2014, distributed regionally, are: one seat for the African Group (currently held by Rwanda); one seat for the Group of Asia- Pacific Group (currently held by the Republic of Korea); one seat for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, (currently held by Argentina); and two seats for the Western European and Others Group (currently held by Australia and Luxembourg).

Lithuania will maintain for another year, the seat for the Eastern European Group.

The respective contenders for the upcoming vacancies were Angola (Africa), Malaysia (Asia-Pacific) and Venezuela (Latin America and the Caribbean). There were three nations vying for the two seats designated for Western European and Other States – New Zealand, Spain and Turkey.

New Zealand was selected in the first round of voting.

The five permanent Council members, which each wield the power of veto, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Along with Lithuania, the non-permanent members that will remain on the Council until the end of 2015 are Chad, Chile, Jordan, and Nigeria.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Each of the Council’s members has one vote. Under the Charter, all UN Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The Security Council also recommends to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and the admission of new Members to the United Nations. And, together with the General Assembly, it elects the judges of the International Court of Justice.

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The Malaysian foreign policy of a moderate muslim nation under Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak and consistent hardwork of Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman in the international politics and diplomacy arena, provided the confidence of this membership the most strategic defense and security forum.

Malaysia also provided pivotal role in regional security when peace was managed to be brokered in South Thailand and Southern Philippines.

Malaysia’s foreign policy is an extension of the attitude and strategy as a trading nation, which befriends all nations based on universally accepted international law and bi-lateral relationship.

This is the fourth time Malaysia was accepted into the UN Security Council as a Non Permanent Member, after stints in 1965. 1989 and 1999.

*Updated 17 October 2014 0830hrs

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak who is in Milan, Italy for the ASEM summit with EU leaders, accolades Malaysia’s consistent policy as a moderate muslim nation as they point of getting the international community trust and confidence for the two years stint at UNSC:

The Star story:

Published: Friday October 17, 2014 MYT 8:36:00 AM
Updated: Friday October 17, 2014 MYT 8:46:38 AM

Najib: Malaysia’s stand in moderation helped country clinched UN seat

BY ESTHER NG

MILAN (Italy): Malaysia won a seat in the United Nations Security Council largely because of the country’s stand in moderation and its international relations, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

The Prime Minister, who described the success in securing a seat in the 15-man body as “extremely meaningful”, said he believed the international community reacted positively to Malaysia’s policies, its responsible approach to issues and principle-based measures.

“They know we absolutely reject extremism which I made very clear in my speech at the United Nations last month,” he told reporters here, Friday.

Najib, who was delighted with the results, said Malaysia’s success in winning over 187 out of 193 votes was excellent.

On Thursday night, Malaysia was “returned” to the UN Security Council after a 15-year absence, representing the Asia Pacific region.

Malaysia had officially put in its bid for the seat, one of five vacancies of the total 10 non-permanent seats. Five others are permanent members.

He said the number of countries, which supported Malaysia exceeded that of the two previous occasions – 143 votes (for the 1989 to 1990 term) and 174 votes (the 1999 to 2000 term).

Najib said Malaysia’s success reflected the acceptance of the international community towards the country’s principled-based foreign policies.

“This also means they think we are highly credible and deserve to have a say in the Security Council,” he added.

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Published in: on October 16, 2014 at 23:30  Comments (17)  

Militant Wahabism on global dominance

The current self declared ‘Islamic State’ crisis (previously known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS]) is sending never before shivers deep along the spine of leaders and people alike around the West Asia region and most of the free Western world.

The Guardian posting:

Obama meets foreign military chiefs to discuss Isis strategy

US president gathers foreign defence chiefs at Andrews air force base in attempt to strengthen coalition response to crisis

 

Agencies in Washington and Mursitpinar
The Guardian, Tuesday 14 October 2014 08.06 BST

Obama critic Senator John McCain said on Sunday that ‘they’re winning and we’re not,’ referring to Isis.
Barack Obama is to discuss the US-led strategy to counter Islamic State (Isis) with military leaders from 20 countries including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, amid growing pressure for the US-led coalition to do more to stop the militants’ advance.

President Obama will attend a meeting on Tuesday led by Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, with foreign defence chiefs at Andrews air force base outside Washington.

“It is part of ongoing efforts to build the coalition and integrate the capabilities of each country into the broader strategy,” said Alistair Baskey, spokesman for the White House national security council.

The meeting comes after the US-led coalition launched air strikes on Monday evening on Isis positions in Syria, most on the town of Kobani near Turkey.

The coalition’s strategy is being called into question. The Republican senator John McCain, a frequent Obama critic, said on Sunday that “they’re winning and we’re not”, referring to Isis.

The UN said on Monday that fighting in Iraq’s western Anbar province had forced up to 180,000 people to flee after Isis captured the city of Hit.

“This is a long campaign. It hasn’t gone badly, but it certainly hasn’t gone well,” said Anthony Cordesman, national security analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

“It is very important, quite aside from trying to show Americans that he’s [Obama is] leading, that he shows other countries he’s committed,” Cordesman said, adding that the defence officials from abroad were in many cases more involved in setting policy than their US military counterparts.

Representatives from Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates were expected to attend.

Col Ed Thomas, Dempsey’s spokesman, said no major policy decisions were expected at the meeting, adding: “It’s about coming together in person to discuss the vision, the challenges, the way ahead.”

Having Turkey at the table will be key. Ankara has come under some pressure to send its own ground troops into Syria against Isis forces. The country could announce after the meeting that it will join Saudi Arabia in training moderate Syrian rebels, Cordesman said.

Turkey has not reached a new agreement to let the US use its Incirlik air base but reached an agreement with Washington on training Syrian rebels, sources at the Turkish prime minister’s office told reporters on Monday, without saying who would train the insurgents or where.

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These are some interesting perspective on ISIS and political development around the Arabian subcontinent and the West Asia region.

Former MI6 analyst Alastair Crooke’s posting on The Hufftington Post:

You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

Posted: 08/27/2014 11:56 am EDT Updated: 09/05/2014 5:59 pm EDT

BEIRUT — The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed — and horrified — by its violence and its evident magnetism for Sunni youth. But more than this, they find Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence in the face of this manifestation both troubling and inexplicable, wondering, “Don’t the Saudis understand that ISIS threatens them, too?”

It appears — even now — that Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite is divided. Some applaud that ISIS is fighting Iranian Shiite “fire” with Sunni “fire”; that a new Sunni state is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony; and they are drawn by Da’ish’s strict Salafist ideology.

Other Saudis are more fearful, and recall the history of the revolt against Abd-al Aziz by the Wahhabist Ikhwan (Disclaimer: this Ikhwan has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan — please note, all further references hereafter are to the Wahhabist Ikhwan, and not to the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan), but which nearly imploded Wahhabism and the al-Saud in the late 1920s.

Many Saudis are deeply disturbed by the radical doctrines of Da’ish (ISIS) — and are beginning to question some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s direction and discourse.

THE SAUDI DUALITY

Saudi Arabia’s internal discord and tensions over ISIS can only be understood by grasping the inherent (and persisting) duality that lies at the core of the Kingdom’s doctrinal makeup and its historical origins.

One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. (The latter was then no more than a minor leader — amongst many — of continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.)

The second strand to this perplexing duality, relates precisely to King Abd-al Aziz’s subsequent shift towards statehood in the 1920s: his curbing of Ikhwani violence (in order to have diplomatic standing as a nation-state with Britain and America); his institutionalization of the original Wahhabist impulse — and the subsequent seizing of the opportunely surging petrodollar spigot in the 1970s, to channel the volatile Ikhwani current away from home towards export — by diffusing a cultural revolution, rather than violent revolution throughout the Muslim world.

But this “cultural revolution” was no docile reformism. It was a revolution based on Abd al-Wahhab’s Jacobin-like hatred for the putrescence and deviationism that he perceived all about him — hence his call to purge Islam of all its heresies and idolatries.

MUSLIM IMPOSTORS

The American author and journalist, Steven Coll, has written how this austere and censorious disciple of the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, Abd al-Wahhab, despised “the decorous, arty, tobacco smoking, hashish imbibing, drum pounding Egyptian and Ottoman nobility who travelled across Arabia to pray at Mecca.”

In Abd al-Wahhab’s view, these were not Muslims; they were imposters masquerading as Muslims. Nor, indeed, did he find the behavior of local Bedouin Arabs much better. They aggravated Abd al-Wahhab by their honoring of saints, by their erecting of tombstones, and their “superstition” (e.g. revering graves or places that were deemed particularly imbued with the divine).

All this behavior, Abd al-Wahhab denounced as bida — forbidden by God.

Like Taymiyyah before him, Abd al-Wahhab believed that the period of the Prophet Muhammad’s stay in Medina was the ideal of Muslim society (the “best of times”), to which all Muslims should aspire to emulate (this, essentially, is Salafism).

Taymiyyah had declared war on Shi’ism, Sufism and Greek philosophy. He spoke out, too against visiting the grave of the prophet and the celebration of his birthday, declaring that all such behavior represented mere imitation of the Christian worship of Jesus as God (i.e. idolatry). Abd al-Wahhab assimilated all this earlier teaching, stating that “any doubt or hesitation” on the part of a believer in respect to his or her acknowledging this particular interpretation of Islam should “deprive a man of immunity of his property and his life.”

One of the main tenets of Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine has become the key idea of takfir. Under the takfiri doctrine, Abd al-Wahhab and his followers could deem fellow Muslims infidels should they engage in activities that in any way could be said to encroach on the sovereignty of the absolute Authority (that is, the King). Abd al-Wahhab denounced all Muslims who honored the dead, saints, or angels. He held that such sentiments detracted from the complete subservience one must feel towards God, and only God. Wahhabi Islam thus bans any prayer to saints and dead loved ones, pilgrimages to tombs and special mosques, religious festivals celebrating saints, the honoring of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and even prohibits the use of gravestones when burying the dead.
“Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote. ”

Abd al-Wahhab demanded conformity — a conformity that was to be demonstrated in physical and tangible ways. He argued that all Muslims must individually pledge their allegiance to a single Muslim leader (a Caliph, if there were one). Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote. The list of apostates meriting death included the Shiite, Sufis and other Muslim denominations, whom Abd al-Wahhab did not consider to be Muslim at all.

There is nothing here that separates Wahhabism from ISIS. The rift would emerge only later: from the subsequent institutionalization of Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s doctrine of “One Ruler, One Authority, One Mosque” — these three pillars being taken respectively to refer to the Saudi king, the absolute authority of official Wahhabism, and its control of “the word” (i.e. the mosque).

It is this rift — the ISIS denial of these three pillars on which the whole of Sunni authority presently rests — makes ISIS, which in all other respects conforms to Wahhabism, a deep threat to Saudi Arabia.

BRIEF HISTORY 1741- 1818

Abd al-Wahhab’s advocacy of these ultra radical views inevitably led to his expulsion from his own town — and in 1741, after some wanderings, he found refuge under the protection of Ibn Saud and his tribe. What Ibn Saud perceived in Abd al-Wahhab’s novel teaching was the means to overturn Arab tradition and convention. It was a path to seizing power.

“Their strategy — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the peoples whom they conquered into submission. They aimed to instill fear. ”
Ibn Saud’s clan, seizing on Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine, now could do what they always did, which was raiding neighboring villages and robbing them of their possessions. Only now they were doing it not within the ambit of Arab tradition, but rather under the banner of jihad. Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab also reintroduced the idea of martyrdom in the name of jihad, as it granted those martyred immediate entry into paradise.

In the beginning, they conquered a few local communities and imposed their rule over them. (The conquered inhabitants were given a limited choice: conversion to Wahhabism or death.) By 1790, the Alliance controlled most of the Arabian Peninsula and repeatedly raided Medina, Syria and Iraq.

Their strategy — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the peoples whom they conquered into submission. They aimed to instill fear. In 1801, the Allies attacked the Holy City of Karbala in Iraq. They massacred thousands of Shiites, including women and children. Many Shiite shrines were destroyed, including the shrine of Imam Hussein, the murdered grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

A British official, Lieutenant Francis Warden, observing the situation at the time, wrote: “They pillaged the whole of it [Karbala], and plundered the Tomb of Hussein… slaying in the course of the day, with circumstances of peculiar cruelty, above five thousand of the inhabitants …”

Osman Ibn Bishr Najdi, the historian of the first Saudi state, wrote that Ibn Saud committed a massacre in Karbala in 1801. He proudly documented that massacre saying, “we took Karbala and slaughtered and took its people (as slaves), then praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and we do not apologize for that and say: ‘And to the unbelievers: the same treatment.'”

In 1803, Abdul Aziz then entered the Holy City of Mecca, which surrendered under the impact of terror and panic (the same fate was to befall Medina, too). Abd al-Wahhab’s followers demolished historical monuments and all the tombs and shrines in their midst. By the end, they had destroyed centuries of Islamic architecture near the Grand Mosque.

But in November of 1803, a Shiite assassin killed King Abdul Aziz (taking revenge for the massacre at Karbala). His son, Saud bin Abd al Aziz, succeeded him and continued the conquest of Arabia. Ottoman rulers, however, could no longer just sit back and watch as their empire was devoured piece by piece. In 1812, the Ottoman army, composed of Egyptians, pushed the Alliance out from Medina, Jeddah and Mecca. In 1814, Saud bin Abd al Aziz died of fever. His unfortunate son Abdullah bin Saud, however, was taken by the Ottomans to Istanbul, where he was gruesomely executed (a visitor to Istanbul reported seeing him having been humiliated in the streets of Istanbul for three days, then hanged and beheaded, his severed head fired from a canon, and his heart cut out and impaled on his body).

In 1815, Wahhabi forces were crushed by the Egyptians (acting on the Ottoman’s behalf) in a decisive battle. In 1818, the Ottomans captured and destroyed the Wahhabi capital of Dariyah. The first Saudi state was no more. The few remaining Wahhabis withdrew into the desert to regroup, and there they remained, quiescent for most of the 19th century.

HISTORY RETURNS WITH ISIS

It is not hard to understand how the founding of the Islamic State by ISIS in contemporary Iraq might resonate amongst those who recall this history. Indeed, the ethos of 18th century Wahhabism did not just wither in Nejd, but it roared back into life when the Ottoman Empire collapsed amongst the chaos of World War I.

The Al Saud — in this 20th century renaissance — were led by the laconic and politically astute Abd-al Aziz, who, on uniting the fractious Bedouin tribes, launched the Saudi “Ikhwan” in the spirit of Abd-al Wahhab’s and Ibn Saud’s earlier fighting proselytisers.

The Ikhwan was a reincarnation of the early, fierce, semi-independent vanguard movement of committed armed Wahhabist “moralists” who almost had succeeded in seizing Arabia by the early 1800s. In the same manner as earlier, the Ikhwan again succeeded in capturing Mecca, Medina and Jeddah between 1914 and 1926. Abd-al Aziz, however, began to feel his wider interests to be threatened by the revolutionary “Jacobinism” exhibited by the Ikhwan. The Ikhwan revolted — leading to a civil war that lasted until the 1930s, when the King had them put down: he machine-gunned them.

For this king, (Abd-al Aziz), the simple verities of previous decades were eroding. Oil was being discovered in the peninsular. Britain and America were courting Abd-al Aziz, but still were inclined to support Sharif Husain as the only legitimate ruler of Arabia. The Saudis needed to develop a more sophisticated diplomatic posture.

So Wahhabism was forcefully changed from a movement of revolutionary jihad and theological takfiri purification, to a movement of conservative social, political, theological, and religious da’wa (Islamic call) and to justifying the institution that upholds loyalty to the royal Saudi family and the King’s absolute power.

OIL WEALTH SPREAD WAHHABISM

With the advent of the oil bonanza — as the French scholar, Giles Kepel writes, Saudi goals were to “reach out and spread Wahhabism across the Muslim world … to “Wahhabise” Islam, thereby reducing the “multitude of voices within the religion” to a “single creed” — a movement which would transcend national divisions. Billions of dollars were — and continue to be — invested in this manifestation of soft power.

It was this heady mix of billion dollar soft power projection — and the Saudi willingness to manage Sunni Islam both to further America’s interests, as it concomitantly embedded Wahhabism educationally, socially and culturally throughout the lands of Islam — that brought into being a western policy dependency on Saudi Arabia, a dependency that has endured since Abd-al Aziz’s meeting with Roosevelt on a U.S. warship (returning the president from the Yalta Conference) until today.

Westerners looked at the Kingdom and their gaze was taken by the wealth; by the apparent modernization; by the professed leadership of the Islamic world. They chose to presume that the Kingdom was bending to the imperatives of modern life — and that the management of Sunni Islam would bend the Kingdom, too, to modern life.

“On the one hand, ISIS is deeply Wahhabist. On the other hand, it is ultra radical in a different way. It could be seen essentially as a corrective movement to contemporary Wahhabism.”
But the Saudi Ikhwan approach to Islam did not die in the 1930s. It retreated, but it maintained its hold over parts of the system — hence the duality that we observe today in the Saudi attitude towards ISIS.

On the one hand, ISIS is deeply Wahhabist. On the other hand, it is ultra radical in a different way. It could be seen essentially as a corrective movement to contemporary Wahhabism.

ISIS is a “post-Medina” movement: it looks to the actions of the first two Caliphs, rather than the Prophet Muhammad himself, as a source of emulation, and it forcefully denies the Saudis’ claim of authority to rule.

As the Saudi monarchy blossomed in the oil age into an ever more inflated institution, the appeal of the Ikhwan message gained ground (despite King Faisal’s modernization campaign). The “Ikhwan approach” enjoyed — and still enjoys — the support of many prominent men and women and sheikhs. In a sense, Osama bin Laden was precisely the representative of a late flowering of this Ikhwani approach.

Today, ISIS’ undermining of the legitimacy of the King’s legitimacy is not seen to be problematic, but rather a return to the true origins of the Saudi-Wahhab project.

In the collaborative management of the region by the Saudis and the West in pursuit of the many western projects (countering socialism, Ba’athism, Nasserism, Soviet and Iranian influence), western politicians have highlighted their chosen reading of Saudi Arabia (wealth, modernization and influence), but they chose to ignore the Wahhabist impulse.

After all, the more radical Islamist movements were perceived by Western intelligence services as being more effective in toppling the USSR in Afghanistan — and in combatting out-of-favor Middle Eastern leaders and states.

Why should we be surprised then, that from Prince Bandar’s Saudi-Western mandate to manage the insurgency in Syria against President Assad should have emerged a neo-Ikhwan type of violent, fear-inducing vanguard movement: ISIS? And why should we be surprised — knowing a little about Wahhabism — that “moderate” insurgents in Syria would become rarer than a mythical unicorn? Why should we have imagined that radical Wahhabism would create moderates? Or why could we imagine that a doctrine of “One leader, One authority, One mosque: submit to it, or be killed” could ever ultimately lead to moderation or tolerance?

Or, perhaps, we never imagined.

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And the continuum:

Alastair Crooke Become a fan
Fmr. MI-6 agent; Author, ‘Resistance: The Essence of Islamic Revolution’

Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia

Posted: 09/02/2014 8:43 pm EDT Updated: 09/05/2014 5:59 pm EDT

This article is Part II of Alastair Crooke’s historical analysis of the roots of ISIS and its impact on the future of the Middle East. Read Part I here.

BEIRUT — ISIS is indeed a veritable time bomb inserted into the heart of the Middle East. But its destructive power is not as commonly understood. It is not with the “March of the Beheaders”; it is not with the killings; the seizure of towns and villages; the harshest of “justice” — terrible though they are — that its true explosive power lies. It is yet more potent than its exponential pull on young Muslims, its huge arsenal of weapons and its hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.”

Its real potential for destruction lies elsewhere — in the implosion of Saudi Arabia as a foundation stone of the modern Middle East. We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.

The clue to its truly explosive potential, as Saudi scholar Fouad Ibrahim has pointed out (but which has passed, almost wholly overlooked, or its significance has gone unnoticed), is ISIS’ deliberate and intentional use in its doctrine — of the language of Abd-al Wahhab, the 18th century founder, together with Ibn Saud, of Wahhabism and the Saudi project:

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the first “prince of the faithful” in the Islamic State of Iraq, in 2006 formulated, for instance, the principles of his prospective state … Among its goals is disseminating monotheism “which is the purpose [for which humans were created] and [for which purpose they must be called] to Islam…” This language replicates exactly Abd-al Wahhab’s formulation. And, not surprisingly, the latter’s writings and Wahhabi commentaries on his works are widely distributed in the areas under ISIS’ control and are made the subject of study sessions. Baghdadi subsequently was to note approvingly, “a generation of young men [have been] trained based on the forgotten doctrine of loyalty and disavowal.”
And what is this “forgotten” tradition of “loyalty and disavowal?” It is Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine that belief in a sole (for him an anthropomorphic) God — who was alone worthy of worship — was in itself insufficient to render man or woman a Muslim?

He or she could be no true believer, unless additionally, he or she actively denied (and destroyed) any other subject of worship. The list of such potential subjects of idolatrous worship, which al-Wahhab condemned as idolatry, was so extensive that almost all Muslims were at risk of falling under his definition of “unbelievers.” They therefore faced a choice: Either they convert to al-Wahhab’s vision of Islam — or be killed, and their wives, their children and physical property taken as the spoils of jihad. Even to express doubts about this doctrine, al-Wahhab said, should occasion execution.

“Through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion — one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively.”

The point Fuad Ibrahim is making, I believe, is not merely to reemphasize the extreme reductionism of al-Wahhab’s vision, but to hint at something entirely different: That through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion — one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively.

For it was precisely this idealistic, puritan, proselytizing formulation by al-Wahhab that was “father” to the entire Saudi “project” (one that was violently suppressed by the Ottomans in 1818, but spectacularly resurrected in the 1920s, to become the Saudi Kingdom that we know today). But since its renaissance in the 1920s, the Saudi project has always carried within it, the “gene” of its own self-destruction.

THE SAUDI TAIL HAS WAGGED BRITAIN AND U.S. IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Paradoxically, it was a maverick British official, who helped embed the gene into the new state. The British official attached to Aziz, was one Harry St. John Philby (the father of the MI6 officer who spied for the Soviet KGB, Kim Philby). He was to become King Abd al-Aziz’s close adviser, having resigned as a British official, and was until his death, a key member of the Ruler’s Court. He, like Lawrence of Arabia, was an Arabist. He was also a convert to Wahhabi Islam and known as Sheikh Abdullah.

St. John Philby was a man on the make: he had determined to make his friend, Abd al-Aziz, the ruler of Arabia. Indeed, it is clear that in furthering this ambition he was not acting on official instructions. When, for example, he encouraged King Aziz to expand in northern Nejd, he was ordered to desist. But (as American author, Stephen Schwartz notes), Aziz was well aware that Britain had pledged repeatedly that the defeat of the Ottomans would produce an Arab state, and this no doubt, encouraged Philby and Aziz to aspire to the latter becoming its new ruler.

It is not clear exactly what passed between Philby and the Ruler (the details seem somehow to have been suppressed), but it would appear that Philby’s vision was not confined to state-building in the conventional way, but rather was one of transforming the wider Islamic ummah (or community of believers) into a Wahhabist instrument that would entrench the al-Saud as Arabia’s leaders. And for this to happen, Aziz needed to win British acquiescence (and much later, American endorsement). “This was the gambit that Abd al-Aziz made his own, with advice from Philby,” notes Schwartz.

BRITISH GODFATHER OF SAUDI ARABIA

In a sense, Philby may be said to be “godfather” to this momentous pact by which the Saudi leadership would use its clout to “manage” Sunni Islam on behalf of western objectives (containing socialism, Ba’athism, Nasserism, Soviet influence, Iran, etc.) — and in return, the West would acquiesce to Saudi Arabia’s soft-power Wahhabisation of the Islamic ummah (with its concomitant destruction of Islam’s intellectual traditions and diversity and its sowing of deep divisions within the Muslim world).

“In political and financial terms, the Saud-Philby strategy has been an astonishing success. But it was always rooted in British and American intellectual obtuseness: the refusal to see the dangerous ‘gene’ within the Wahhabist project, its latent potential to mutate, at any time, back into its original a bloody, puritan strain. In any event, this has just happened: ISIS is it.”

As a result — from then until now — British and American policy has been bound to Saudi aims (as tightly as to their own ones), and has been heavily dependent on Saudi Arabia for direction in pursuing its course in the Middle East.

In political and financial terms, the Saud-Philby strategy has been an astonishing success (if taken on its own, cynical, self-serving terms). But it was always rooted in British and American intellectual obtuseness: the refusal to see the dangerous “gene” within the Wahhabist project, its latent potential to mutate, at any time, back into its original a bloody, puritan strain. In any event, this has just happened: ISIS is it.

Winning western endorsement (and continued western endorsement), however, required a change of mode: the “project” had to change from being an armed, proselytizing Islamic vanguard movement into something resembling statecraft. This was never going to be easy because of the inherent contradictions involved (puritan morality versus realpolitik and money) — and as time has progressed, the problems of accommodating the “modernity” that statehood requires, has caused “the gene” to become more active, rather than become more inert.

Even Abd al-Aziz himself faced an allergic reaction: in the form of a serious rebellion from his own Wahhabi militia, the Saudi Ikhwan. When the expansion of control by the Ikhwan reached the border of territories controlled by Britain, Abd al-Aziz tried to restrain his militia (Philby was urging him to seek British patronage), but the Ikwhan, already critical of his use of modern technology (the telephone, telegraph and the machine gun), “were outraged by the abandonment of jihad for reasons of worldly realpolitik … They refused to lay down their weapons; and instead rebelled against their king … After a series of bloody clashes, they were crushed in 1929. Ikhwan members who had remained loyal, were later absorbed into the [Saudi] National Guard.”

King Aziz’s son and heir, Saud, faced a different form of reaction (less bloody, but more effective). Aziz’s son was deposed from the throne by the religious establishment — in favor of his brother Faisal — because of his ostentatious and extravagant conduct. His lavish, ostentatious style, offended the religious establishment who expected the “Imam of Muslims,” to pursue a pious, proselytizing lifestyle.

King Faisal, Saud’s successor, in his turn, was shot by his nephew in 1975, who had appeared at Court ostensibly to make his oath of allegiance, but who instead, pulled out a pistol and shot the king in his head. The nephew had been perturbed by the encroachment of western beliefs and innovation into Wahhabi society, to the detriment of the original ideals of the Wahhabist project.

SEIZING THE GRAND MOSQUE IN 1979

Far more serious, however, was the revived Ikhwan of Juhayman al-Otaybi, which culminated in the seizure of the Grand Mosque by some 400-500 armed men and women in 1979. Juhayman was from the influential Otaybi tribe from the Nejd, which had led and been a principal element in the original Ikhwan of the 1920s.

Juhayman and his followers, many of whom came from the Medina seminary, had the tacit support, amongst other clerics, of Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Bin Baz, the former Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Juhayman stated that Sheikh Bin Baz never objected to his Ikhwan teachings (which were also critical of ulema laxity towards “disbelief”), but that bin Baz had blamed him mostly for harking on that “the ruling al-Saud dynasty had lost its legitimacy because it was corrupt, ostentatious and had destroyed Saudi culture by an aggressive policy of westernisation.”

Significantly, Juhayman’s followers preached their Ikhwani message in a number of mosques in Saudi Arabia initially without being arrested, but when Juhayman and a number of the Ikhwan finally were held for questioning in 1978. Members of the ulema (including bin Baz) cross-examined them for heresy, but then ordered their release because they saw them as being no more than traditionalists harkening back to the Ikhwan– like Juhayman grandfather — and therefore not a threat.

Even when the mosque seizure was defeated and over, a certain level of forbearance by the ulema for the rebels remained. When the government asked for a fatwa allowing for armed force to be used in the mosque, the language of bin Baz and other senior ulema was curiously restrained. The scholars did not declare Juhayman and his followers non-Muslims, despite their violation of the sanctity of the Grand Mosque, but only termed them al-jamaah al-musallahah (the armed group).

The group that Juhayman led was far from marginalized from important sources of power and wealth. In a sense, it swam in friendly, receptive waters. Juhayman’s grandfather had been one of the leaders of the the original Ikhwan, and after the rebellion against Abdel Aziz, many of his grandfather’s comrades in arms were absorbed into the National Guard — indeed Juhayman himself had served within the Guard — thus Juhayman was able to obtain weapons and military expertise from sympathizers in the National Guard, and the necessary arms and food to sustain the siege were pre-positioned, and hidden, within the Grand Mosque. Juhayman was also able to call on wealthy individuals to fund the enterprise.

ISIS VS. WESTERNIZED SAUDIS

The point of rehearsing this history is to underline how uneasy the Saudi leadership must be at the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Previous Ikhwani manifestations were suppressed — but these all occurred inside the kingdom.

ISIS however, is a neo-Ikhwani rejectionist protest that is taking place outside the kingdom — and which, moreover, follows the Juhayman dissidence in its trenchant criticism of the al-Saud ruling family.

This is the deep schism we see today in Saudi Arabia, between the modernizing current of which King Abdullah is a part, and the “Juhayman” orientation of which bin Laden, and the Saudi supporters of ISIS and the Saudi religious establishment are a part. It is also a schism that exists within the Saudi royal family itself.

According to the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper, in July 2014 “an opinion poll of Saudis [was] released on social networking sites, claiming that 92 percent of the target group believes that ‘IS conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law.'” The leading Saudi commentator, Jamal Khashoggi, recently warned of ISIS’ Saudi supporters who “watch from the shadows.”

There are angry youths with a skewed mentality and understanding of life and sharia, and they are canceling a heritage of centuries and the supposed gains of a modernization that hasn’t been completed. They turned into rebels, emirs and a caliph invading a vast area of our land. They are hijacking our children’s minds and canceling borders. They reject all rules and legislations, throwing it [a]way … for their vision of politics, governance, life, society and economy. [For] the citizens of the self-declared “commander of the faithful,” or Caliph, you have no other choice … They don’t care if you stand out among your people and if you are an educated man, or a lecturer, or a tribe leader, or a religious leader, or an active politician or even a judge … You must obey the commander of the faithful and pledge the oath of allegiance to him. When their policies are questioned, Abu Obedia al-Jazrawi yells, saying: “Shut up. Our reference is the book and the Sunnah and that’s it.”
“What did we do wrong?” Khashoggi asks. With 3,000-4,000 Saudi fighters in the Islamic State today, he advises of the need to “look inward to explain ISIS’ rise”. Maybe it is time, he says, to admit “our political mistakes,” to “correct the mistakes of our predecessors.”

MODERNIZING KING THE MOST VULNERABLE

The present Saudi king, Abdullah, paradoxically is all the more vulnerable precisely because he has been a modernizer. The King has curbed the influence of the religious institutions and the religious police — and importantly has permitted the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence to be used, by those who adhere to them (al-Wahhab, by contrast, objected to all other schools of jurisprudence other than his own).

“The key political question is whether the simple fact of ISIS’ successes, and the full manifestation (flowering) of all the original pieties and vanguardism of the archetypal impulse, will stimulate and activate the dissenter ‘gene’ — within the Saudi kingdom. If it does, and Saudi Arabia is engulfed by the ISIS fervor, the Gulf will never be the same again. Saudi Arabia will deconstruct and the Middle East will be unrecognizable.”

It is even possible too for Shiite residents of eastern Saudi Arabia to invoke Ja’afri jurisprudence and to turn to Ja’afari Shiite clerics for rulings. (In clear contrast, al-Wahhab held a particular animosity towards the Shiite and held them to be apostates. As recently as the 1990s, clerics such as bin Baz — the former Mufti — and Abdullah Jibrin reiterated the customary view that the Shiite were infidels).

Some contemporary Saudi ulema would regard such reforms as constituting almost a provocation against Wahhabist doctrines, or at the very least, another example of westernization. ISIS, for example, regards any who seek jurisdiction other than that offered by the Islamic State itself to be guilty of disbelief — since all such “other” jurisdictions embody innovation or “borrowings” from other cultures in its view.

The key political question is whether the simple fact of ISIS’ successes, and the full manifestation (flowering) of all the original pieties and vanguardism of the archetypal impulse, will stimulate and activate the dissenter ‘gene’ — within the Saudi kingdom.

If it does, and Saudi Arabia is engulfed by the ISIS fervor, the Gulf will never be the same again. Saudi Arabia will deconstruct and the Middle East will be unrecognizable.

“They hold up a mirror to Saudi society that seems to reflect back to them an image of ‘purity’ lost”

In short, this is the nature of the time bomb tossed into the Middle East. The ISIS allusions to Abd al-Wahhab and Juhayman (whose dissident writings are circulated within ISIS) present a powerful provocation: they hold up a mirror to Saudi society that seems to reflect back to them an image of “purity” lost and early beliefs and certainties displaced by shows of wealth and indulgence.

This is the ISIS “bomb” hurled into Saudi society. King Abdullah — and his reforms — are popular, and perhaps he can contain a new outbreak of Ikwhani dissidence. But will that option remain a possibility after his death?

And here is the difficulty with evolving U.S. policy, which seems to be one of “leading from behind” again — and looking to Sunni states and communities to coalesce in the fight against ISIS (as in Iraq with the Awakening Councils).

It is a strategy that seems highly implausible. Who would want to insert themselves into this sensitive intra-Saudi rift? And would concerted Sunni attacks on ISIS make King Abdullah’s situation better, or might it inflame and anger domestic Saudi dissidence even further? So whom precisely does ISIS threaten? It could not be clearer. It does not directly threaten the West (though westerners should remain wary, and not tread on this particular scorpion).

The Saudi Ikhwani history is plain: As Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab made it such in the 18th century; and as the Saudi Ikhwan made it such in the 20th century. ISIS’ real target must be the Hijaz — the seizure of Mecca and Medina — and the legitimacy that this will confer on ISIS as the new Emirs of Arabia.

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The truth is the ISIS phenomena became a very quick developing crisis where exactly a year ago, the concentration was only on the several factions fighting along the Western backed Free Syrian Army and the involvement of several ‘terrorist organisations’ namely the Al Qaeda in their attempt to topple Bashar Assad’s regime.

Published in: on October 16, 2014 at 00:01  Comments (11)  
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