SECURITY / CONFLICTS

This article was written by Uri Dekel, and Originally published by the INSS. Article is available here.

The campaign underway by the Assad regime for the control of southern Syria, with eyes toward the Golan Heights, is yet another stage by the regime for control of the remaining rebel strongholds in Syria. Israel’s acquiescence regarding the deployment of Assad’s forces in the south, including in the Syrian Golan Heights, indicates that Israel is prepared to accept the return of Assad’s control along the border, though his forces are supported by Shiite militias and his army directed by Iranian commanders. Israel is relying on Russia to remove the Iranian forces and the Shiite militias from the border area, in exchange for Israel’s not attacking regime forces. Israel has the positive experience of the quiet and stable border with Syria that existed prior to the civil war, when Assad controlled the Golan Heights and constituted a responsible address for what occurred on the other side of the border. On this basis, Israel should launch a dialogue with the Assad regime, apparently via Russia at this stage, in order to establish stability and calm in the Golan Heights, establish the rules of the game, and discuss the limitations (in terms of geography and weapons) on the presence of Iran and its proxies. At the same time, Israel must continue to prevent the construction of an Iranian military infrastructure in Syria and retain its ability to harm the Assad regime if it deviates from the understandings and rules of the game that are established.

Credit : http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/Syria-can-be-reconciled-in-parts.html

Over the past two weeks, with the assistance of Russia and other allies, the Assad regime has conducted a military campaign aimed at seizing control of the Daraa district in southern Syria, with its eyes toward the Syrian Golan Heights (the Quneitra district). Its modus operandi is similar to what it has employed in other parts of Syria: heavy artillery fire on rebel strongholds, airstrikes that include Russian fighter aircraft, and a Russian invitation to engage in negotiations leading to the rebels’ handing over their weapons, or in other words, their unconditional surrender. As elsewhere in Syria, this military pressure has led to the collapse of rebel lines and the surrender of many localities without a fight. However, as long as the rebels refuse this offer, the attacks on their strongholds continue with mounting intensity, and Russia’s terms for a cessation of hostilities are increasingly stringent.

Southern Syria is one of the last rebel strongholds. This region has enjoyed relative stability since its inclusion in the “de-escalation zones” by means of an agreement between Russia and the United States formulated in July 2017 with Jordanian and Israeli involvement. However, there was no doubt that this de-escalation was only temporary. The campaign to seize control of Daraa is of symbolic importance for the Assad regime, as it is the region in which the uprising erupted initially in March 2011.

The motivation to violate the ceasefire and launch an offensive aimed at seizing control of the region has a number of levels. The first justification of the Assad regime for the campaign is that the area constitutes a breach through which terrorist elements associated with the Islamic State enter Syria. Indeed, the southern Golan Heights and the Yarmuk basin are still controlled by an Islamic State proxy, the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army. Second, as argued by the Syrian opposition, the goal of the campaign is to change the balance of power by improving the regime’s positions in the political contacts underway toward a settlement to stabilize Syria, and to establish the fact that Assad controls most of the country’s populated regions. The Daraa district itself is the southernmost part of the “Syrian backbone” (from Aleppo in the north, through Homs and Damascus, to Daraa in the south), which is vital to the regime. Third, once the pro-Syrian coalition completed its conquest of the area surrounding Damascus, southern Syria is a relatively comfortable area to conquer in comparison to the two other regions that remain under rebel control: Idlib in northern Syria, which is a Salafist and Islamist Sunni stronghold, and northeastern Syria, which is controlled by the Kurds via the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are supported by the United States.

In addition to being an internal Syrian struggle and a struggle for Assad’s interests, the conflict is also a power struggle among major powers. From a broader perspective, the campaign is cast as part of a “deal” that Russia is trying to promote vis-à-vis the United States and Israel, which includes the removal of Iranian forces from southern Syria in exchange for the two countries’ acceptance of Assad’s control over Syria in its entirety. In this framework, Israel’s acquiescence to the deployment of Assad’s forces in the south, including the Syrian Golan Heights, would mean de facto acceptance of Russia’s demand that Israel refrain from attacking the Assad regime, in exchange for removing Iranian forces and its proxies from regions that are in close proximity to Israel and Jordan. According to this logic, Israel must refrain from intervening when Assad’s forces bombard the rebel forces and take control of the area adjacent to its border in the Golan Heights.

At the same time, Russia is engaged in contacts with the United States in advance of the presidential summit between Trump and Putin, scheduled for July 16 in Helsinki. At work is an attempt to take advantage of President Trump’s desire to fulfill his commitment to withdraw US forces from Syria. Russia is eager for the United States to evacuate the base in al-Tanf in southeastern Syria, which is an area that is no longer central to the establishment and training of rebel groups but over time became an obstruction along the direct land route from Iran to Syria via Iraq. There is evidence that the United States is reconsidering the necessity of the base, particularly after sending the rebel forces a message that it would not intervene or provide them with support in the fighting in the south. In addition, Russia will find it convenient to make proposals to the United States regarding the removal of Iranian forces from Syria, with the Trump administration’s acceptance of Assad’s remaining in power after he reassumes control over Syria as a whole.

As a result, the fighting area in southern Syria embodies a paradox. Russia is proposing to Iran the establishment of a land bridge, which it desires, but in exchange Tehran must agree to the removal of its forces and those of its proxies – Shiite militias and Hezbollah – from southern Syria. Russian-Iranian relations are by nature characterized by a dynamic of “respect and suspicion.” Russia is trying to leverage recent developments, including Assad’s fear that Iran will draw it into a military confrontation with Israel, in order to establish a reality in which it holds the reins of power in Syria. On the other hand, Iran has no intention of giving up its influence and the consolidation of its presence in Syria, and is incorporating Revolutionary Guard commanders and fighters of the Shiite militias that are under its control into the ranks of the Syrian army, which is fighting the rebels in the south (specifically, the Tiger Forces and the National Defense Forces, or NDF).

President Trump has actually come to terms with the Russian dominance in Syria, as well as with Russian assistance that enables the Assad regime to establish control over the regions near the Jordanian and Israeli borders. He has done so in exchange for Russian guarantees that the Syrian regime will not slaughter the US-supported rebel forces, will allow them to leave the regions in southwestern Syria, and will stop forces supported by Iran from entering the region. With regard to the fighting in the region, a Pentagon spokesperson has emphasized that the United States remains focused on defeating the Islamic State, and that all the actors in the region are advised to not attack US forces and their partners in the coalition in the struggle against the Islamic State.

Consequently, opposition elements and rebel forces in Syria are facing the familiar scenario of abandonment by the countries supporting them on doomsday. This time, the countries to do so are the United States, Jordan, and Israel, which supported the rebel forces, and primarily the Free Syrian Army, and are now standing on the sidelines and allowing the pro-Assad coalition to attack them and the Syrian civilians living in the areas under their control. Nassar al-Hariri, head of the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee, has denounced what he refers to as “the American silence” in the face of the attack,” and has argued that only a “malicious deal” could explain the US failure to respond in light of the events on the ground.

According to information provided by the UN, the current fighting has resulted in the displacement of approximately 300,000 people from their homes. Most of the displaced persons are concentrated close to the border with Jordan, and thousands have settled close to the border with Israel, in the demilitarized area between the two countries that was established under the Agreement on Disengagement signed by Israel and Syria in 1974. Both Jordan and Israel are determined to prevent refugees from seeping into their territory. Israel is providing humanitarian aid to displaced persons who have settled close to its border and has announced that it will not allow the Syrian army to enter the demilitarized zone. To demonstrate its resolve, Israel has reinforced its troops in the Golan Heights.

Implications

The developments in the Daraa region underscore that the opposition is gradually losing control over its primary stronghold in southern Syria, which was the symbol of the uprising, whereas the regime is reasserting its control and influence. Once again, the rebels’ hopes for external aid to withstand the steamroller of the pro-Assad coalition have been dashed, and the rebels are faced with the reality that they are alone in the fight.

It appears that for some reason Israel and the United States are relying on Russia, with the expectation that it will remove the Iranian forces and the Shiite militias to a distance of 60-70 kilometers from the border with Israel and Jordan. Indeed, they would like Russia to eject the Iranian forces and Shite militias from Syrian territory altogether. In exchange, they are willing to come to terms with Bashar al-Assad retaining the post of President of Syria and with the continued rule of the man who is responsible for the murder of close to half a million Syrian citizens. In addition, it appears that the United States and Israel will not prevent the forces of the pro-Assad coalition from liberating the remaining territory that is still under rebel control (particularly in northern and northeastern Syria). Whereas the Trump administration seeks a settlement that will allow the quick withdrawal of US forces from Syria, Israel has chosen to accept that Assad is the winner of the civil war and hope that Russian influence in Syria will take precedence over that of Iran.

Israel has chosen to turn a blind eye to the fact that the forces belonging to the Shiite militias have been absorbed into Assad’s forces and are fighting in the Daraa area. It would thus be a mistake to assume that at the end of the fighting, the Assad regime will accede to Russia’s demand to remove the forces of Iran and its proxies. The Assad regime’s seizure of control of southern Syria and the Golan Heights will result in the perpetuation of a foreign Shiite presence in the south, whether camouflaged within the army and within Syrian militias, or as ostensibly local Shiite militias directed by Iran.

Israel is risking one of its important achievements of the years of the war in Syria thus far: the establishment of a stable and quiet border in the Golan Heights based on understandings with the local communities on the Syrian side of the border, whereby they receive humanitarian and civil aid in exchange for preventing terrorist activity from being launched from their territory against the Golan Heights. Now, Israel is ready to accept the return of control along the border region to the Assad regime, while knowing that Assad’s forces are supported by the Shiite militias and that his army is directed by Iranian commanders – all with the futile expectation that Russia will remove the Iranian forces and its proxies from Syria.

Still, Israel has the positive experience of a quiet and stable border with Syria that existed prior to the civil war, when Assad controlled the Golan Heights and constituted a responsible address for what occurred on the other side of the border. Today, Israel appears to have assessed that in the new situation, Assad will have an interest in maintaining calm along the border, as its interests are not identical with those of Iran and Hezbollah. If so, Israel should launch a dialogue with the Assad regime, apparently via Russia at this stage, in order to establish stability and calm in the Golan Heights, establish the rules of the game, and discuss the limitations (in terms of geography and weapons) on the presence of Iran and its proxies. At the same time, Israel must continue to demonstrate resolve in preventing the construction of an Iranian military infrastructure in Syria, with an emphasis on capabilities that threaten it, and retain its ability to harm the Assad regime if it deviates from the understandings and rules of the game that are established.

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About the Author : 

Udi Dekel, who joined INSS as a senior research fellow in 2012, was head of the negotiations team with the Palestinians in the Annapolis process under the Olmert government. In this framework, he coordinated the staff work and led twelve negotiating committees. In February 2013 he was appointed Managing Director of INSS.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Dekel filled many senior IDF positions in intelligence, international military cooperation, and strategic planning, His last post in the IDF was head of the Strategic Planning Division in the Planning Directorate of the General Staff, and as a reservist he is head of the Center for Strategic Planning. Previously he served as head of the foreign relations section in the General Staff and head of the Research Division in Lahak, Israel Air Force Intelligence. Brig. Gen. (res.) Dekel served as head of the Israel-UN-Lebanon committee following the Second Lebanon War and head of military committees with Egypt and Jordan. In addition, he headed a working group on strategic-operative cooperation with the United States on development of a response to the surface-to-surface missile threat and international military cooperation. He served on the 2006 commission to update Israel’s security concept and coordinated the formulation of IDF strategy.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Dekel’s areas of research include: decision making processes in Israel and the connection between policy and the military; the multidisciplinary integration in Israel of policy, diplomacy; the military; economics, society, and communications; the peace process with the Palestinians and with Syria; strategic trends in the Middle East and challenges for Israel; the influence of the new media on the Arab world and Iran; security concepts; strategic military concepts; and strategic planning processes.

Moscow— the Football for Friendship World Championship took place on the12th of June on the Sapsan Arena Stadium in Moscow as part of the Gazprom International Children’s social programme Football for Friendship, official partner of FIFA and the World Cup 2018™. 32 International

32 International Teams of Friendship, consisting of young 12-year-old athletes, boys and girls, including children with disabilities, from Africa, Europe, Asia, South and North America, Australia and Oceania, met on the football pitch.

The Sixth Season of the Football for Friendship programme was marked by an unprecedented expansion of the geography of the project: a year ago representatives of 64 countries took part in the final events, but this year Young Footballers, Young Coaches and Young Journalists from 211 countries and regions of the world met in Moscow in order to step up and build our world as it should be.

This season the 32 International Teams of Friendship were named by rare animals on verge of extinction to popularize a protection of the wild nature and increase interest of young generations to preserving the world fauna. The teams were traditionally formed on the friendship principle – the athletes of different nationalities, genders and physical abilities are playing together in each team. For example, in the team called Siberian Tiger have met the participants from Burkina Faso, East Timor, Syria, Yemen, Morocco and Jordan while the Imperial Woodpecker team consists of young sportsmen from Germany, Belize, Guatemala, Canada, Nicaragua and Slovakia.

Football stars, leaders of the Football Federations, representatives of the Russian Football Union, the Paralympic Committee of Russia as well as social activists, including Aleksandr Kerzhakov, the senior coach of the Junior Russian Team, Syrian footballer Firas Al-Khatib as well as the Prince and the footballer from Saudi Arabia, Alsayyar Abdulrahman. The final games of the Football for Friendship World Championship commented the Young Journalist from Syria Yazn Taha.

“I`ve been supporting the Gazprom International Children’s social programme Football for Friendship for a long time. All the young athletes who took part in the World Championship today are very talented and promising guys. Watching the games of Teams of Friendship, I was really concerned about the teams and I have to say that the final game was brilliant. I’m going to follow further careers of the young sportsmen with great pleasure. I am sure that each of the participants of the programme will be able to achieve outstanding sports results”, shared his impressions Alexander Kerzhakov, Head Coach of the Russian Youth Team.

On the eve of the final tournament of the young participants of the Football for Friendship programme spent three days at the International Friendship Camp on the territory of the Spartak Football Academy, where the sports trainings, lectures and master classes from the famous athletes, journalists and representatives of the reserves of rare species of animals were held. On June 12, the qualifying games of the Football for Friendship World Championship were held at the Sapsan Arena Stadium, the teams of Comodo Dragon and Chimpanzee reached the final.

“I am glad to participate in the final events of the Sixth Season of the Football for Friendship programme. It’s great that children from all over the world are united by such a project: it is important not only for sports development, but also for personal growth. It is nice to see how young talents put their heart and soul into their favorite activities, and it`s amazing that just in 3 days of the Friendship Camp the children have managed to become friends and demonstrated a real team game,” said Alexander Alaev, Director General of the Russian Football Union.

“I am very glad to have come to Moscow this year to take part in the final of the World Championship of the International Football for Friendship programme! Of course, like any football player, I dream about playing with my team at the World Cup, to score a decisive goal and become as famous as Cristiano Ronaldo. But I think that the Football for Friendship World Championship is a great start! The fact that each Team of Friendship includes guys from different countries makes the task of a joint, coordinated game even more interesting. Without Football for Friendship, I would never have made so many new friends from all over the world!” said the Young Ambassador of the Football for Friendship programme Iawiolo Batal Vanuatu.

It is also worth mentioning that the Gazprom International Children’s social programme Football for Friendship has been implemented by the PJSC Gazprom since 2013. The goal of the project is to develop children’s football, foster tolerance and respect for various cultures and nationalities among children from different countries. The key values promoted by the programme participants include friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honor.

The main event of the project is the annual International Football for Friendship Children’s Forum, which brings together young players from around the world and where they discuss the issues of respecting values around the world with representatives of the media and famous players.

 

Tanks were first introduced in large numbers in WWI, they became game changers in WWII and have been used in most land battles ever since.

 

Conflict between the United States and Russia has heightened since the recent US-led missile strikes on military targets and research facilities in Syria. On April 14, 2018, US-led three early morning air strikes on a scientific research center in Syria, where weapons were produced, and two chemical weapon facilities one of which was used for the making of sarin and second was the military command post. It is well known that President Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria has constantly been backed by Russia since the ascension of mayhem in 2011.  The United States of America has been opposing the Assad’s government by arming the insurgents who want to topple Assad’s administration as they perceive it, the best resolution for ongoing chaos in Syria.

On one hand, a heated war of words between Russia and UK over espionage scandal of Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom has led the expulsion of around twenty-three Russian diplomats from the UK. In return, Russia responded aggressively by adopting the same policy and dismissed a same number of envoys. France also joined hands with the UK in solidarity and sacked four of Russian envoys. On the other hand, the argument is that these cooperative and collaborative attacks on Syrian chemical research center could be an apparent message to Russia that if Vladimir Putin ever attempted to thwart their national interests, he would get a united befitting response.

As far as American narrative is concerned, apparently the US may have stroke down the chemical research center but if we look at the contemporary tussle going on between both the superpowers with respect to government in Syria. It can be envisaged that the US, as being the superpower of world conveyed its hegemonic stance. According to ‘Mearsheimer’, a political scientist at the University of Chicago believes that there are no oil reserves or oil flow in Syria so, the United States has neither any aspirations to dominate the Gulf region nor does it have any vital interests at stake. Have those airstrikes also deterred North Korea as Kim Jong-un administration also decided to suspend their Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile launches and further nuclear tests?

The conflict in Syria has spiraled into a proxy war with a perplexed array of players and is a byproduct of two major powers that one cannot deny. The result of this byproduct also enabled ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) to gain a strong foothold. The Syrian ground seems as if it is a game board with multiple squares, where one move in a square impacts national interests of others. Firstly, Russia steered up its armed forces in the central-western region between Damascus and Aleppo. Following the suit, Turkey beefed up its forces on Syrian-Turkish border. At last, United States surprised its adversaries by jumping into hostile territory. Thus, the current race in Syria between US and Russia appears to be a competition. It is difficult to hold out much expectation that dialogues between Russia and US will succeed until or unless both states move out from Syria by dropping out their demands. These tensions would not serve anyone’s interests; not those of America, Syria or Russia. However, in the end, Syrian nationals are the one; who are suffering and being grinded between the great game of power since the conflict has arisen.

ANOSH SAMUEL (MSc International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad) is a RESEARCH ANALYST in a private company

China has the largest aircraft carrier building program in the world, after USA. The pace of carrier building and the development of the relevant air crafts has been without any major delays or issues till now. Will China People’s Liberation Army- Navy(PLA-N) one day challenge the US Navy in the Pacific?

 

 

If we are eager to start a revolution every injustice becomes a reason. But in all our activism, let us also remember that there are no pure malignant evil people. So let our activism be directed at institutions, and not at individuals.

There is a part in every man that seeks to be guided to truth, to see a better world and an inclination to abandon own malignity. Many of our attempts to reform society are resisted or fall on deaf ears because we didn’t bring to them our authentic side. People despise our extemporaneous activism; so they go on to reject the ‘truth’ because it comes from us. They don’t hear us when speak with gags, exaggeration and fanaticism.

Activist or not, we are all radicals in certain mood. We are all better than our pretense, but it is our resistance to our true nature that robs us off our manhood and the power to reform. We lose authenticity because we never want to upset any that cheered us once. We tie ourselves with friendly chains of intellectual prostitution for few cheap praises and empty affections. To be praised and flattered; gliding ghostlike with thin masquerades – we go on skulking and pretending.

In every part of society, we still see a beam of optimism and fresh breaths of idealism – all making claims to know the best path for the rest of humanity. We are quick to stand for a thought or an idea, for new terminologies and trends – but how many of us are ready to pay the full price to realize these aspirations?

Also are pessimistic reformers – they loom over to cast shadows of doubt to foretell our destruction. With malaise and resentment, they warn us all of the impending calamities. They see no hope and no salvation for the natio unless we follow their dictates. But how does one makes activism out of doom saying?

With new spirit of protest, all are eager to declare their discontent of the conventional. Some blame government for causing all our troubles. Some can only drag in the President to rest on him all the troubles of the society. Others argue it’s the selfish or mischievous opposition leaders. Some blame it on the wickedness of ‘tribalism’, and the ‘ignorance’ of the masses.

Each reformer defies the other’s dictates like gang of kings trying to rule over one kingdom. All are proposing new projects and remedies for the salvation of the nation.

Constant – is a sincere protestation against existing evils and social injustices. Many are moved by moral conscience and want of a better and a more just society. But behind every sincere protester, quickly follows a copycat protester or a brainless underling to add plenty of vapory, hypocrisy and backsliding in our every discourse.

Every protest is still noble if it is the dictate of man’s conscience and moral beatitude – even where the perception is flawed. What is honest and original is always elegant. Solitary resistance and honest dissent is always noble. But all protests will turn vain, dull and suspicious when it is adopted for a cheap popularity.

My highest appreciation goes to the reformers calling for reform of our education system. Many students now graduate with a bag of wind, memory of words and are indoctrinated to seek out a master through their employment. Practical knowledge is rarely taught; common sense that’s not backed by theoretical speculations is rejected. Students are given these theories and philosophical dictates they could never learn to apply in practical life. Mathematics, the mother of all sciences is only taught and seen as a theoretical oppression of the analytically disadvantaged – instead of the universal language and the practical philosophy of life that it is.

We learn foreign languages through high school but couldn’t recall a word in those same languages two years after graduating. In our social studies, we memorize bunch of dates and names of the old that has zero relevance to the practical life of the man today. Still, we are told Christopher Columbus discovered America.

Very little is done to develop our intuitive faculties and students are forced to expend all their energies into useless memorization without any practical use for them in our real lives. We are taught at school that to try and fail makes one a failure, and without a certificate no amount of essential knowledge is useful. We are diminished of our true proportion and full use of common sense after we finished our formal education. Is like warfare against common sense and program to train us to serve the ‘new masters’.

Unfortunately, the push for reform in our education is abysmal. It is in political activism that our brute nature is aroused. Some of us are passionate to talk about the lies and misgivings of the government, whilst others eagerly talk about the lies and the malaise of the opposition. All seem to forget about the lies and deceptions of the common man – from whom all these lies proceed. In advancing to rid darkness, all bring along their own forms of darkness through their dogmatism but call it the ‘ultimate light’. We see with only one eye. The eye that pleases our whims!

The chaos in our activism often rises out of moral and intellectual deficiency; when the ambition to change society is outmatched by the capacity of the activists. So they employ insults and lies to guile these weaknesses instead of refining their own latent forces. When the going gets tough, some are afraid to scale or ascend because they are terrified of falling. We are afraid to help anyone whose light we assume will dim ours.

Nevertheless, this keen scrutiny of government, political and social institutions proved benefit in keeping government and institutions more responsive.

The general purpose of great many of our activists remain to be good and noble; always working on course; paid or unpaid, seen or unseen and never wasting a day on triumphing. They are always too busy working in the fields. Their only reward is to have their work done well!

Those that change the world came to it with their whole nature and hid little from our senses. They came to us with certain gravity, making even their simplest gestures look terrific! These folks don’t wait for society to choose their place for them. They act with moral courage to bring society the way – a promise of a better tomorrow.

To all these activists and reformers – I salute you.

 

Jamal Drammeh

Throughout the history of the United States, presidents have brought forward their own security strategies in order to promote effectiveness and dissuasiveness in foreign policy. As circumstances alter rapidly in the world isolationism and activism have been two fundamental instruments in U.S. foreign policy.

 

President Donald Trump delivers a speech on national security, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Many of previous presidents conducted isolationist policies such as George Washington, and many of others have conducted activist policies in foreign policy such as George W. Bush.  Mr. Obama could be seen as the last implementer of some form of isolationism. On the other hand, in the recent years, rising rivalry conspicuously began to be argued in domestic affairs and seen as a critical problem for American leadership. So, it seems that, Trump’s administration does not want to ignore the risk toward the worldwide dominance of U.S.

Critics Over Obama’s Administration

When Mr. Obama’s presidency taken in hand, it’s obvious that during his era, national security strategies of U.S. were much more inclining towards  ”Soft Power’ in an effort to appease Anti-Americanism. According to some, Obama’s presidency has prevailed reversing negative considerations toward U.S. In other respects, current president Trump is been exerting his boldness by enhancing the sense of ”Making America Great Again”.

As President Trump addressed in his national security strategy speech, he brought to the fore front the notion of ”America First”. This stands as intrinsic part of his doctrine. Also in the newly decided Security Strategy, preserving American citizens’ rights are depicted as a sworn duty of the U.S. Government.  Many people see Obama’s presidency as an era of deterioration of America’s dominance meanwhile others favor his policies.  Allegedly, his policies have enhanced Russian influence especially in Syria and even in the Black Sea in parallel with the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Therefore, it is not so hard for many to advocate Trump’s policies. During his campaign, he had showed his eagerness to convert foreign policy from Isolationism into the Activism.

As he stated numerous times, it is the right time for America to consider effective transformation in many fields such as economy, health care system (cancellation of Obamacare) and so on. According to many Republicans, predecessor’s mistakes in both domestic and foreign affairs, overwhelmingly coerces U.S. to handle with current and forthcoming circumstances. Let’s look into Trump’s commitments in his security strategy.

Dwelling on Facts

It is a striking point that during the announcement of the Security Strategy, Mr. Trump labeled Russia and China as ”Rival” powers. Also he added that they are willing to shake US dominance utterly. That could be a correct indication with many aspects. United States is the world’s leading state on military spending with approximately $600 billion (it has been decided to be increased by $80 billion) whilst Russia and China have around $200 billion combined. It is a well-known fact, Russia and China are about to increase their military and economic strength in parallel with their regional and global goals in the future.

Especially since 2015, Russian naval production is been increasing tremendously. Only within 2017, in parallel with the Russian Naval Doctrine ratified by Vladimir Putin and published in 20 July 2017, Russians aimed to include around 30 new modern warships to their naval forces in order to gear up the capacity to challenge with the U.S. dominance in the seas. Yet, U.S. Naval Forces has worldwide impact thanks to its active 11 Aircraft Carriers while Russia and China combined only have 2 Aircraft carriers in service.

 

               Putin, Rogozin and Shoigu discuss the new Naval Doctrine of Russia

 

Education, Economy and R&D

For a nation, almost all of the success comes from educational development and innovation rate of communities. When U.S. education system observed, the knowledge generation looks better than any other country. United States has 18 universities in the best 50 in the overalls meanwhile China has 6 and Russia has none (Lomonosov Moscow State University has the highest ranking in Russia, 95th). This is not the only comparison. Also most of the world innovative companies are located in the Silicon Valley.

Eventually, the development in education will reflect the economic capability and a substantial element on economic growth based on technology and innovation. When the data is observed, U.S. expenditure on Research&Development seems around $480 million in PPP. This is the highest expenditure on R&D all around the world. Chinese expenditure to R&D seems around $370 million. This is the second biggest amount after U.S. and numbers clearly demonstrates that U.S. leadership is still continuing in many fields. However, China’s growth of potential has been gaining momentum every year thanks to its high labor force with around 1.40 billion population (2017) and governments correct tax regulations towards Foreign Direct Investors.

Also, there are many reasons for investors to choose China. Towards  the end of the 20th Century, China has started the liberalisation process and trying to entice foreign firms by making circumstances convenient for them. China would get ahead of the U.S. economy in the forthcoming decades. In addition to this, China’s lead on global economy is ”inevitable” to some. Donald Trump’s nascent tax reform could be seen as kind of an attempt of clawing back the financial advantage from the hands of China. The reform includes decreasing percentage of taxation in case of firms moving back to U.S.

A Sworn Component to Soft Power: Culture 

After all of those facts taken in hand, let’s take a look at the issue from a different perspective. The importance of China in economic and also we could add military field, has been increasing sharply. Yet, these are not the only competitive fields. Also, culture is such a key instrument on rising influence. Also, it is a significant advantage that U.S. holds the world’s biggest and effective cultural tool called Hollywood. The U.S. culture is able to stretch and spread its existence. This is another reality that needs to be taken into account by rivalry candidates. The Hollywood is in the forefront in the cinema sector across the world and that accelerates spread of US identity.

This way, U.S. identity obtains a vital chance to embrace with the people with another identity. Accessibility is a superior necessity to a nation. Throughout the world, almost all sectors are being dominated by American firms. If the rivals are willing to gain leverage in any field, than the success requires an efficient mobilization backed up by a long-term planning.

 

KFC and McDonald’s signs in Xiamen, China. Photo: sly06 / Flickr Creative Commons

As a conclusion, it is not rational for rising rival powers to acquire head to head capacity in worldwide sphere in a short period. The huge potential of the east would be worth pondering in following decades. A well utilization of potential in the long-term could have an impact upon roles.

 

Mustafa Aydogan is currently working on topics related to Russian Eurasianism and Middle East. He has a Bachelor degree from  Bahcesehir University Istanbul and he is keen on pursuing an academic career in the future.

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May has received widespread praise for the steely way that she has handled the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in the sleepy market town of Salisbury. Those accolades are exaggerated. If anything, the British authorities reacted too fast and too furiously to the attack on Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer and convicted British double agent who was released from prison in 2010 in a spy swap that involved the glamorous Russian sleeper agent Anna Chapman.

May was the home secretary who in 2014 authorized an inquiry into the November 2006 assassination of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London, after having withheld permission in earlier years. Now, as prime minister, she predictably wants to show that she will stand up for the national interest. It’s vital to be seen as strong, especially at a time when the daily headlines pillory her handling of Brexit negotiations with the European Union. Westminster was bound to take stern measures, because a swapped spy is meant to have immunity from retaliation. To make matters worse, Skripal’s innocent daughter as well as a local detective constable who went to their rescue were affected by the use of a chemical nerve agent on British soil.

But just as acting too quickly can backfire, it has always been counterproductive to act too late and too meekly. It’s worth recalling that it took nine long years from the Litvinenko murder to the conclusion of the inquiry, which laid the blame on two Russian intelligence officers, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun. The Litvinenko inquiry, after exhaustive proceedings, concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “probably” given the order for his gruesome death by radioactive polonium-210 poisoning. What we do know, however, is that every Russian spokesman from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has ridiculed the use of the word “probably” ever since  and several Moscow newspapers that are usually capable of criticizing Putin followed suit. The political handling of the Skripal poisoning has exposed the British Cabinet to the same treatment by Russian officials. This time, Downing Street decided to condemn Putin without even bothering to put forward corroborating evidence.

After all, engagement with the Russian public matters, too, if the West is ever to counter the popularity that Putin currently enjoys with most Russians. For an entire week after the Salisbury poisoning, Russian TV’s Channel One carried commentaries ridiculing Britain for failing to take care of its Russian residents and rejecting British claims about Moscow’s long arm of terror as yet another example of official Russophobia. In addition to making earnest demands for proof, the TV network as well as some Russian diplomats dropped hints that the attack on Skripal was a devilish plot by the British secret services to stir up hatred of Russia and disrupt its preparations for the June 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Most Russians obtain their news primarily from Moscow-based TV channels, which subserviently toe the Kremlin line. And the prime minister’s total attribution of blame to Putin without publishing any evidence has played into the Kremlin’s hands. The same was true of British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has a habit of scoring own goals by saying the first thing that comes into his head. Johnson hinted that the England soccer team might be withdrawn from participation in the World Cup. Johnson repeated his display of idiocy by comparing Putin to Hitler — a highly insensitive comment in the minds of most Russians, who are united in the pride they take in the Soviet Union’s role in defeating the Third Reich.

May’s government has begun to recover from this shaky start. In the past, getting support for a robust diplomatic response from Washington and Brussels would have been guaranteed in advance. European anger about Brexit and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, an admitted admirer of Putin, have made it less straightforward. Trump has shown a reluctance to criticize the Russian leader even when various parts of his administration have enacted policies that run counter to Russian interests. Nevertheless, May succeeded in extracting a measure of support from Trump, and she and Johnson eventually found a sympathetic hearing among European leaders. They have also welcomed inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. They even persuaded the Trump administration and several European states to engage in a simultaneous large-scale expulsion of Russian diplomats.

Whether May and Johnson spoke more openly to U.S. and EU officials than they did in public about the evidence linking the poisoning to Putin still remains unknown. They would do themselves a favor if they were to discuss, however gradually, the contours of the evidence they have collected. When the Russian authorities make mischief by offering to assist in the investigation, the most effective response would be to accept the overture, share a sample of the poison, and then subject the Kremlin’s response to the same techniques of forensic exposure that Russians have been applying to British official announcements. It’s true that this risks could mean more RT spreading its propaganda. But Western democracies ought to have faith in their own resilience. Prolonged political transparency is more effective than secretiveness — people have had enough of politicians who seek to preserve their privileged access to information that doesn’t pose a danger for national security.

 

David İmoisi, originally from Nigeria, is currently studying international relations at Yakin Dogu Universitesi in Cyprus. His interests revolve around international politics and diplomacy.

Following a recent series of deadliest attacks, Kabul was again shaken with heinous terrorist bombing on 27 January when an ambulance loudened with explosive materials was detonated on busy road near the city hospital. According to the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan (MoPH) 95 civilians have been killed and more than 191 others have been injured. Responsibility behind this attack was claimed by proxy Taliban militants.

Another such deadly attack has occurred at Intercontinental Hotel Kabul killing 25 people, almost 14 were foreign nationals, included nine from Ukraine, two from US and others from Greece, Germany and Kazakhstan when gunmen in army uniforms entered the hotel. It was also claimed by the Taliban, the shadow of Haqqani Network. In the course of such soft targeted attacks, yet another terror attack was carried out on British run aid agency ‘Save the Children’ in Jalalabad on 23 January where at least four people were killed and dozens injured.

The gist of the above reports is that in the modern warfare strategy, the adversaries make use of irregular and covert means, in other words unconventional dimensions of war strategy to achieve their strategic and political designs which is called hybrid war. For more than four decades Afghan people are victimized and winced in this excruciation of undeclared war, which represents the essence of hybrid war, imposed upon them from neighbouring states, particularly from Pakistan due to Afghanistan unfortunate strategic location and political importance in the region. In military warfare, this undeclared war is the most sophisticated warfare strategy against an adversary.

Hybrid warfare has non-standard methods or tactics used to combat the adversary through indirect war such as terrorist actions, indiscriminate violence, criminal activity, changing perceptions and propaganda. The strategic calculations of hybrid war are more lethal, potential and cheap allurements to belligerent state due to the use of non-state actors, as forefront liners in the combat ground against the rival. In the same way, the Pakistani military elite and intelligence agency ISI have launched proxy war against Afghanistan for its so-called strategic abyss, containment of Kabul for future retribution and bulwark against New Delhi.

For disrupting and destabilizing Afghanistan and the region as whole, Pakistan military establishment uses and calculates the Taliban, Haqqani network and other militant groups as foreign policy tools for many years and now by nurturing, recruiting, financing and sheltering these goons under aegis of Islamic sentimentalities in religious madrassahs and masques where they get Islamic edict or fatwa issued by Pakistan clerics to legitimize holy war in Afghanistan and where else.

The Haqqani network is most qualified, veritable arm and sophisticated militant group for Pakistan military establishment in Rawalpindi backing and sponsoring against Afghan, US and allied forces in Afghanistan. The group is led by Siraj Haqqani, the son of the famous anti-Soviet Jihadist Jalaluddin Haqqani, who also led deputy command of Afghan Taliban after death of Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor in US drone attack in Pakistan July 2016. Since the recent past the Haqqani network preserves huge command and control lines of Taliban operations which prove more extreme, disastrous and fatal for innocent civilians of Afghanistan and its national security forces. The recent atrocious and barbaric attack in Kabul via explosive ambulance has crossed and ashamed humanity and civility at all.

However despite much confirmation of sponsoring and sheltering terrorist groups, Pakistan repeatedly denies these allegations about collaborating with Islamist proxies against Afghanistan. While on the other side, for interval of times, suspected U.S. drones find and kill high profile commander level militants of Haqqani network or Taliban in missile strikes. Even the world most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan.

In the recent months, sources close to the Haqqani Network confirmed to media that drone missiles had killed two militants of the Network in the compound in Dapa Mamuzai village of Kuram Agency Pakistan who were mid-level Afghan commanders. In response Pakistan clamours for condemning U.S. drone strikes and pursues the violation of its sovereignty and integrity while in sagaciousness, isn’t it being considered as the transgression of the territorial by Pakistan officials when its military establishment harbours, assists and foreign militants in safe havens within Pakistan soil? No, because it depicts the reality that these militants are the strategic assets the Pakistani state uses as policy tools against Afghanistan and India.

Even the US President Donald Trump’s tweets about Pakistan’s duplicities and lies in international war on terror didn’t fall on the deaf ears of Pakistan ruling elites and military establishments. Its world prospects are even narrowed down to the level that Pakistani state confronts an isolation and diplomatic failure internationally for its double standards and carries on the same covert suicidal policies of harbouring and sheltering Islamic proxy terrorists and extremists at home and abroad and making denials officially.

Through these remarkable evidences, it’s an open message for the US, international community and Afghanistan that this strategy of Pakistan via proxy groups is much worth and more prohibitive for it. Its behaviour can’t be changed unless and until the steps of international sanctions and declaration of terror sponsor state are imposed on Pakistan.

Habib Khan is an M.Phil Student of International Relations at QAU Islamabad.

Fleeing the economic collapse that has been destroying Venezuela since 2015, Esmeralda,
21, quit nursing school and left for Brazil with hopes of pursuing her education, finding a job, and providing for her family.

In her suitcase, Esmeralda packed her scrubs and books. Yet in Roraima,
Brazil’s northernmost state, her work uniform became something different altogether: a
short, tight dress and heels. Without many job opportunities, and facing discrimination from
Brazilian employers, Esmeralda is one of the hundreds of Venezuelan women who have been
pushed into sex work to make ends meet.

“My family doesn’t know I work like this, it would bring them shame. I didn’t study to have
this life,” she says, after hopping out of a client’s vehicle. Shame – and fear – are common
feelings among women like Esmeralda, especially when they have families waiting for them
in their home country. To avoid exposing her identity, Esmeralda chose not to disclose her
surname.

“I’m pregnant, and I don’t know what I’m going to do moving forward,” says Maria, a 36-yearold
former hairdresser who declines to give her last name. “[The baby is] my husband’s,” she
then explains, as if trying to set the record straight.

Maria has mailed food to her three kids, who are 14, 18, and 21 years old, and her husband,
all of whom are still living in Venezuela. She hasn’t told them how she earns the money to pay
for the goods she sends them. Some of Maria’s income still stems from her former trade: in
cities located on the outskirts of Boa Vista, she gives manicures and haircuts to her fellow
sex workers.

Since Venezuela’s economic collapse began in 2015, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan
migrants have crossed the Brazilian border. According to data from the International
Monetary Fund, Venezuela has the world’s worst economic growth. Inflation rates should
spiral to 13,000 percent this year, and its currency has lost 99 percent of its value since
2012. As Matt O’Brien wrote for The Independent in 2016: “Venezuela is the answer to what
would happen if an economically illiterate drug cartel took over a country.”
Despite the migration free-flow that has been occurring for more than two years, it is only
now that the Brazilian government has decided to act on the migration crisis in northern
Brazil. President Michel Temer recently declared a “state of social calamity” and will send
resources to help the state government deal with the situation. Justice Minister Raul
Jungmann announced that 200 military troops will act on the border “not to forbid their
entry in Brazil, but to give some order to this process.”

Risky bussiness

In 2017 alone, more than 70,000 Venezuelan nationals have passed through Roraima –
especially now that Colombia has imposed barriers at its border. Over the past 45 days,
18,000 Venezuelans have applied for a Brazilian visa.

Around 40,000 of these refugees have stayed in Boa Vista, the state capital. Roraima is
isolated from other states by vast stretches of treacherous rainforest. A plane ticket to São
Paulo, for instance, usually costs over 1,000 BRL – more than the country’s minimum wage.
The sheer lack of options forces many Venezuelans to settle in Boa Vista, and they now
amount to over ten percent of the city’s population.

But though it is a state capital, Boa Vista is by no means a dynamic urban center – and
employment is lacking, with formal opportunities scarcer than many other cities in
Brazil. Unemployment rates have surpassed 11 percent, the highest of the state’s history.
The few available jobs often impose degrading work conditions. Aware of the desperation of
migrants, many Brazilian employers offer salaries far below normal rates, and for long hours.
The same happens in the sex work industry.

Since the 1990s, when gold miners started to occupy the region, the Caimbé district has
gained notoriety for its brothels and street prostitution. But since 2015, those activities have
intensified. Previously, sexual services were sold in the Caimbé district of Boa Vista for an
average of 100 BRL – that is, until the arrival of the Spanish-speaking call girls.
As the numbers of foreign women working in the streets have surged, the average price has
fallen to 80 BRL – a number that has become these women’s nickname: the ochenta(eighty, in
Spanish). The epithet has turned into a song, Xote das Ochenta, a ballad about a mean-spirited
man bargaining to lower a Venezuelan sex worker’s rate.

But in addition to payment problems, the ochenta are often forced to deal with violence.
Several of them are controlled by pimps, who lurk around the women disguised as coffee or
chocolate vendors. Whenever a man enquires about rates, the pimps approach to sell a treat
– but they are actually controlling how much the woman is charging for her services. Last
year, three men were arrested by the Federal Police for pimping and extorting women.
Nor are the clients any less dangerous.

Back in December, a Venezuelan woman was raped, stabbed and abandoned in a roadway
outside of Boa Vista. Yet despite the severity of the attack, she survived – and told the police
that the man attacked her after she refused to have sexual relations without a condom. The
suspect was identified, but he has not been arrested.

To avoid a similar fate, other girls have a security system. Whenever one of them hops into
the car of a client, the others use a rock to write the car’s license plate on the wall. “If she’s
away for too long, we call the cops,” explains Maria.

For many of the ochentas, like Michele and Valencia, the daily routine starts as early as 7 a.m.
The two 20-year-old friends arrived in Boa Vista two weeks ago, from the Venezuelan city of
Maracay. Their clients start coming soon after, looking for sex before going off to work. They
come back during lunchtime, and then again from 5 p.m. until the early hours of the next day.
Michele, a former nurse, is nostalgic about her days in Venezuela. “I loved my work helping
women to give birth. I had always dreamt of being a nurse,” she said as she headed towards
her next client’s car.

 

This article, written by Eliane Rocha was originally published by The Brazilian Report and is available here.