The CSS Blog Network

Turkey’s Incursion into Syria: Making Things Better or Worse?

Image courtesy of Kaufdex/Pixabay

This article was published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on 2 October 2017.

It is not easy to follow what has been happening in Syria. After six years of war and between 300,000 and 400,000 people killed — with half the population displaced and a dizzying array of factions, foreign armies and extremist groups fighting — it is hard to know who shares what interest with whom or how the killing stops.

Over the last few weeks, the fight for Raqqa, the Islamic State’s Syrian capital, and the battle for Deir Ezzor, the gateway to Iraq and the location of oil fields, have heated up, but the intensity of fighting in some other parts of the country has diminished. This is because Syrian government forces and their allies — Hezbollah, Shia militias from Iraq, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Russian bombers — have taken and held territory. The Russians have also taken the lead in establishing “de-escalation zones” in parts of seven provinces and in eastern Ghouta near Damascus. » More

The Middle Eastern Roots of Nuclear Alarmism over North Korea

Image courtesy of United States Department of Energy

This article was originally published by War On The Rocks on 3 October 2017.

Nuclear alarmism is reaching a fever pitch in Washington. President Donald Trump has responded to North Korea’s push toward a nuclear-capable ICBM with paroxysms of bluster: He warned that North Korean threats to the United States would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” proclaimed Kim Jong Un a “Rocket Man” (and now “Little Rocket Man”) on a “suicide mission,” and averred the North Korean regime “won’t be around for much longer.” Other members of the administration have echoed the president’s rhetoric: National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster suggested that Kim is undeterrable. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley trumpeted “plenty of military options.” The White House has engaged in open discussion of preventive war. » More

Strategic Contours of China’s Arms Exports

Image courtesy of Manuel Faisco/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) on 11 September 2017.

Synopsis

China’s global geopolitical aspirations, backed by growing economic clout, shape the direction and character of its military-technological choices and China’s strategic interest to strengthen its position in global arms markets.

Commentary

Over the past decade, China has been able to accelerate its transition from a large arms importer to a major exporter, with a potential to become one of the world’s leading arms exporters, by providing low cost and affordable service and upgrade packages without geopolitical strings.

According to recent data by SIPRI, the Stockholm-based think-tank, Chinese exports of major arms have increased by 74 percent between 2012 and 2016, and its share of global arms exports rose from 3.8 to 6.2 percent, making it the world’s third-largest supplier in the world, after the United States and Russia. The geographic spread and number of recipients of Chinese weapons exports have also increased. In 2012-16, China delivered major arms to 44 countries – more than 60 percent of China’s exports went to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar and another 22 percent went to Africa. China also delivered major arms to ex-Soviet states for the first time, including the 2016 delivery of surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems HQ9 (FD-2000) to Turkmenistan.

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China and India Pull Back on Doklam, Choosing to Fight Another Day

Image courtesy of Times ASi/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by YaleGlobal Online on 14 September 2017.

India deftly used the BRICS summit to end the standoff with China in Bhutan, but challenges remain for bilateral relations

One week can be a long time in inter-state relations. In a week’s time, India and China had kissed and made up after their armies stood eyeball to eyeball at the Doklam Plateau for more than two months. The trouble at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction started June 16, when Indian soldiers detected construction activity on what is considered disputed territory on the Doklam Plateau. Chinese workers seemed to be building a road that would have allowed China to project power further into the territory claimed by Bhutan, thereby giving Beijing an ability to cut India’s northeast from the mainland.

India’s response was immediate. The government sent troops into Bhutan to halt the roadbuilding, demanding restoration of status quo ante. As the Indian external affairs minister explained in the Indian Parliament: “Our [Indian] concerns emanate from Chinese action on the ground which have implications for the determination of the tri-junction boundary point between India, China and Bhutan and the alignment of India-China boundary in the Sikkim sector.” Sushma Swaraj added that “dialogue is the only way out of the Doklam standoff…and this should be seen in the context of the entire bilateral relationship.”

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Silent Guns: Examining the Two-Year Absence of Coups in Africa

Image courtesy of Dr Case/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published by Political Violence @ a Glance on 18 September 2017.

This Sunday, 17 September 2017, marks two years since the last attempted military coup d’état in Africa. Defined as “illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive.” Coups have been attempted over 200 times in Africa, with over 100 succeeding.

However, the last decade has seen a pronounced decline in and—with no coup attempts since September 2015 and no successes since 2014—this trend appears to be gaining momentum. This extraordinary shift away from what Samuel Decalo once referred to as the “most visible and recurrent characteristic of the African political experience” likely has its roots in both external and internal dynamics. Each of these dynamics can be seen with the continent’s last coup attempt.

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