Tensions Rise Between India And Pakistan


This article was originally published by openDemocracy on 10 January 2015.

International constraint and mutual nuclear deterrence may have prevented all-out war with Pakistan in the past over contested Kashmir. With thousands fleeing their homes amid escalating violence, that may not remain a secure wager.

Rising tension at the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan is putting in question the widely-held assumption that their conflict will not escalate to an all-out conventional or even nuclear war. International concern has extended to the US, previously resistant to mediating in the Kashmir dispute.

This is at the heart of the existential rivalry between the two states. Kashmir has become so symbolically significant to both India and Pakistan that they are beset by zero-sum thinking, though a resolution would potentially put an end to their hostilities. In the current context that seems unlikely. » More

Inspired, Networked & Directed – The Muddled Jihad of ISIS & Al Qaeda Post Hebdo

Place de la Bastille in Paris during a demonstration in memory of the journalists killed in a terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo. Laurent Tine/flickr

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 12 January, 2015.

The jihadi movement may have finally become what its original luminaries always wanted it to be – and in Paris of all places. The amorphous connections between the Charlie Hebdo attackers, the Kouachi brothers – who attributed their actions to “al Qaeda in Yemen” – and kosher market attacker Amedy Coulibali – who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a recently released online video – may reflect exactly what some early jihadi strategists intended: broad based jihad via a loose social movement. Terrorism researchers, obsessed with the writings of their academic adversary in jihad, Abu Musab al Suri, have for years suggested the social movement approach represented the ultimate vision of al Qaeda’s founding leadership. » More

Chinese Special Operations Forces: Not Like “Back at Bragg”

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Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Image: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr.

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 1 January 2015.

The PLA’s special forces: secrets revealed,” promised Want China Times, a Taiwan-based English-language website. The article describes China’s “10 major special operations forces, each with its own unique characteristics and code names” and was based on a translation of an earlier blog posting on the PLA Daily website with photos and descriptions of several People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and People’s Armed Police (PAP) special operations units. » More

China Dreamin’

The three Mandarins, icons of Confucianism. Image: Internet Archve Books Images/Flickr

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 8 December, 2014.

Every Chinese leader since Mao has attempted to separate themselves from their predecessor by articulating a new overarching praxis. For Xi Jingping this grand idea is the ‘China Dream’ – that is, a call for ‘national rejuvenation’ which improves people’s livelihoods, strengthens the military, and restores China’s status as a great power. The ‘dream’ has come with an official propaganda blitz – everything from TV shows and educational campaigns, to Party School courses and academic funding streams to research the ‘dream’. » More

The United Nations Turns to Stabilization

A United Nations long range patrol in Liberia, 2006. Image: Irish Defence Forces/Flickr

This article was originally published by the IPI Global Observatory on 5 December 2014.

Stabilization is catching on in security and development circles. It is the object of growing attention among military practitioners in particular, and US-led stability operations are currently ongoing in at least 50 fragile settings, especially in the Americas, Africa and the Middle East. Other governments including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom are invested in stabilization, albeit adopting different approaches. Although expanding in number and scale, the conceptual and operational parameters of these stabilization interventions are still opaque. Moreover, their actual record of success is still only dimly understood. There is in fact an emerging backlash challenging the underlying theory, assumptions and practices of stabilization. » More

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