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Military Might: How the Caspian Greats Measure Up

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This work will discuss the comparative impact the two ‘greater’ Caspian littorals have on global stability based on strategic objectives backed by military power and intervention. The comparison analyzes the United States, China, Russia, Iran, and Israel.

The key areas reviewed are strategic objectives, military power, military intervention, and terrorism support. The information gathered is used to create an ordering system designed to highlight each nation’s impact on global stability. In assessing military might, the following military strength indicator chart was used to measure each nation’s capacity. This chart should be referenced throughout:  

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Scoring for the ordering system was based upon a scale of one to five, with five representing the highest threat measure. In strategic objectives a score of five was the most globally assertive and intrusive nation. Military power was scored from strongest being a five to lowest being one. Military intervention was based on global intervention operations and resultant instability. In scoring terrorism, a score of five is a nation that is a designated state supporter of terrorism, either directly or indirectly. Finally, the scores were combined to determine most threatening to least threatening for global stability.

Threat Assessment Ordering System

Country Strategic Objectives Military Power Military Intervention Terrorism Support Impact on Global Stability
Russia 5 4 4 4 17
United States 4 5 5 1 15
Iran 3 1 3 5 12
Israel 2 2 2 2 8
China 1 3 1 3 8

The United States outlined in its security strategy that it will lead with purpose, strength, by example, with capable partners, with all the power of the nation, and with long-term perspective. As outlined in Nabudere:

The U.S. believes that as a leader of the “Free World” it has the responsibility to ensure global peace and security and to do this, it needs to develop the resources in the entire world on a “free trade” basis. But, as we have seen, this has been achieved through manipulation and the use and threat of use of force against its weaker opponents in the Third World.

Since September 11, 2001, the United States expanded its perceived responsibility to ensure global peace. The events of 9/11 sparked the United States to embark on a ‘Global War on terrorism’ and the execution of this policy centered on preemptive strikes. As the undisputed world military superpower, the United States has used the preemptive strike policy since 9/11 to weaken Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and remove Saddam Hussein in Iraq. However, this has protracted into a fifteen year global war which has often crossed over into Pakistan. Overthrowing Saddam Hussein has resulted in instability within Iraq with regional implications most vividly seen in the DAESH threat. Finally, the United States has implemented a highly controversial drone program to attack and kill terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia.

The strategic objectives of China revolve around regional interest. At present, China is pursuing three core security objectives in East Asia: exerting control over its near seas, promoting China-centered regional economic integration, and defending and advancing Chinese sovereignty claims. China exerts regional leverage while attempting to keep from direct confrontation with the United States. According to the military strength indicator chart, China ranks number three. China has embarked on a long military power buildup over the previous three decades. While China has steadily professionalized its army and naval forces, the emphasis has been on regional power and security. While China still relies on Russia for many key military technologies, China has made its greatest technology strides in space as outlined in Office of the Secretary of Defense:

China possesses the most rapidly maturing space program in the world and is using its on-orbit and ground-based assets to support its national civil, economic, political, and military goals and objectives. China has invested in advanced space capabilities, with particular emphasis on satellite communication (SATCOM), intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), satellite navigation (SATNAV), and meteorology, as well as manned, unmanned, and interplanetary space exploration. Continued strides in space will lead to future technology advances that will benefit China’s military. These advances will allow China to have less dependence on Russia in the future.

China has been involved in both maritime and territorial disputes at various times with Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines. However, China chooses to handle these disputes using “Deng Xiaoping’s dictum from the early-1990s: that China should observe calmly, secure its position, cope with affairs calmly, hide its capabilities and bide its time, be good at maintaining a low profile, and never claim leadership.” While China does not directly support terrorism it is guilty of supplying arms to nations that are clear sponsors of terrorism.

Russia’s strategic objectives under Putin have been to regain legitimacy on the global stage. Russia’s current strategy has revolved around undermining American interests and to attempt to climb back to world power status, politically, diplomatically, and militarily. Russia is the number two military power on the military strength indicator chart. Russia is not afraid to use military might to achieve its objectives. Russia continues to defy the international community with military and technological support being supplied to North Korea. North Korea has been under the watchful eye of the international community for its nuclear weapons ambitions for years. However, since it is the United States leading the effort to deter these nuclear ambitions, Russia has taken actions to assist North Korea. In addition to North Korea, Russia has also provided nuclear technology and military hardware and advisors to Iran. Russia is currently leading a coalition in Syria with its own elite special forces, Iranian Quds Force members, Hezbollah fighters and Assad’s Syrian troops, all supported by Russian air power. Russia continues to embark on a global effort to reassert itself to the top of the world stage and seeks to gain international legitimacy at least on par with the United States.

To define Iran’s strategic objectives it must first be understood that Iran sees itself as the leader of the Islamic Shi’a world. Iran’s strategic objectives, therefore, are built around four overall objectives: export the Islamic revolution; regional dominance in the Middle East; gain nuclear weapons; and lastly overwhelming, if not outright destroying, Israel. Iran’s conventional military power did not make the list on the military strength indicator chart. Jane’s Defense Weekly offers this overall assessment of Iran’s military:

“Iran’s armed forces are limited, despite their size, by a very poor maintenance record caused by lack of spare parts and very poor training, [t]here is little doubt that, at the moment, Iran is not capable of presenting any credible external threat and conventional force projection is almost certainly limited to within its own borders.”

Iran’s military is old and poorly maintained and most of its conventional forces are centered on national defense via missile systems. The key to Iran’s projection of power is through the desire to acquire nuclear weapons and the exportation and support of terrorism against ‘enemies.’

While the nuclear ambitions of Iran have been slowed by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), the unintended consequence has been financial assistance for the possible support of terrorism:

But as those U.S. officials well know, Soleimani and a host of his Quds Force underlings and proxies are due to have international and EU sanctions lifted on their involvement in Iran’s supposedly now-resolved nuclear program, thanks to the contentious, American-spearheaded Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), more commonly known as the Iran deal. Sanctions relief, commingled with the $150 billion “signing bonus” Iran is set to get upon implementation of the JCPA, means an inevitable cash infusion for the Quds Force, enabling it to better prop up whatever’s left of the House of Assad, not to mention its other proxies, from Hezbollah to the Yemeni Houthis.

Israeli strategic objectives revolve around an aggressive defense of the state. Israel as a nation is surrounded on all sides by perceived enemy states or terrorist groups. Israel sees itself in a daily struggle for survival. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has embarked on a political propaganda campaign to gather support against Iran’s nuclear ambitions and to stop the United States from signing the JCPOA. The prime minister even accepted a controversial invitation to speak before the United States Congress from Speaker of the House Boehner. This was against the wishes of the White House, which saw this move as an attempt to undermine the administration and ruin the JCPOA deal. Israel is prepared to use any measure to defend its state. While Israel ranks as number fourteen on the military strength indicator chart, in reality it is one of the most advanced forces in the world. Israel backed by the United States is easily the best military in the Middle East.

In addition to superior equipment and training, Israeli forces are proven. “Israel also has one of the region’s most battle-ready armies, a force that has fought in four major engagements since 2006 and has experience securing a few of the most problematic borders on earth.” (Rosen, Bender, and Macias). Israel uses its forces to intervene or conduct preemptive strikes anytime there is a perceived threat. This has included invasions into Lebanon and air strikes on suspected Syrian nuclear facilities. Israel combats terrorism daily and has been in a consistent fight since the creation of its state.

In conclusion, Russia is the most threatening state to global stability. Russia scored a seventeen, placing it two points ahead of the United States. The major difference between Russia and the United States hinged on the indirect support Russia gives to states that sponsor terrorism, support to North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions, and direct military interference to assist in the destabilization of Ukraine and support of Syria’s Assad regime. Perhaps surprisingly, the United States scored the highest in most categories, but its high anti-terrorism agenda arguably makes the United States less a stability risk than Russia. While Iran was the leader in state support of terrorism, it is currently isolated as a regional power and severely hampered by a non-modern military. Some may be even more surprised to find China tying for last place in this assessment, but this ranking must be read with a grain of salt: two of its low scores (strategic objectives and military intervention) admittedly are fueled by an historical strategic philosophy that emphasizes stealth and subtle influence over aggressive overtness. For example, if an economic power used for military coercion factor was included in the study, China would undoubtedly score extremely high, challenged only by the United States. This is why all such studies have to be humble in the assessments made: while the information provided here is hopefully enlightening, it must never be taken as a be-all-end-all assessment of global instability and the states that act as the motor of that chaos. Nevertheless, this study shows that the Caspian ‘greaters’ are indeed major factors on the global stage and can choose to be either a force for good or for chaos when it comes to the ways of war and peace.

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Modern Russian Defense Doctrine

Sajad Abedi

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On December 26, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new military doctrine for the Russian armed forces. The document identifies the expansion of NATO and efforts to destabilize Russia and neighboring countries as the biggest security threats. This doctrine somehow is Continuation Russia’s military doctrine previous in the years 1993 – 2000- 2010.

In the Tsarist, Soviet, and Russian military tradition, doctrine plays a particularly important role. The state’s defense or military doctrine possesses a normative and even, often a juridical quality that should be binding on relevant state agencies, or at least so its adherents would like to claim. Doctrine is supposed to represent an official view or views about the character of contemporary war, the threats to Russia, and what policies the government and armed forces will initiate and implement to meet those challenges. Thus beyond being a normative or at least guiding policy document, defense doctrine should also represent an elite consensus about threats, the character of contemporary war and the policies needed to confront those threats and challenges.

Since 2002 President Vladimir Putin has regularly called for and stated that a new doctrine, to meet the challenges of the post September 11 strategic environment will soon appear. However, no such doctrine has yet appeared or is in sight. In 2003 the Defense Ministry published a kind of white paper that foreign observers then called an Ivanov doctrine after Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. But no Russian authority has followed suit. This document argued that the Russian forces must be ready for every sort of contingency from counterterrorism to large-scale conventional theater war and even nuclear war. Ivanov and the General Staff also argue that the forces can and must be able to handle two simultaneous regional or local wars. This guidance also evidently follows Putin’s direction that the armed forces must be able to wage any kind of contingency across this spectrum of conflict even though he apparently had ordered a shift in priorities from war against NATO to counter-terrorist and localized actions in 2002-03.

Within this spectrum of conflict, most published official and unofficial writing about the nature of threats to Russia repeatedly states that terrorism is the most immediate and urgent threat to Russia, that Russia has no plans to wage a war with NATO, i.e. a large-scale conventional or even nuclear war, and that Russia sees no visible threat from NATO or of this kind of war on the horizon. Indeed, Russian officials like Putin and Chief of Staff, Colonel-General Yuri N. Baluyevsky have recently renounced the quest for nuclear and conventional parity with NATO and America, a quest whose abandonment was signified in the Moscow Treaty on Nuclear Weapons in 2002. Yet the absence of doctrine suggests an ongoing lack of consensus on these issues. And this discord is particularly dangerous at a time when Russian leaders perceive that “there has been a steady trend toward broadening the use of armed forces” and that “conflicts are spreading to larger areas, including the sphere of Russia’s vital interests,” because they may be tempted to follow suit or react forcefully to real or imaginary challenges.”

Indeed, if one looks carefully at Russian procurement policies and exercises, both of which have increased in quantity and intensified in quality under Putin due to economic recovery, we still find that large-scale operations, including first-strike nuclear operations using either ICBM’s or tactical (or so called non-strategic) nuclear weapons (TNW) predominate, even when counterinsurgency and counter-terrorist exercises are included. In other words, the military-political establishment, rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, still believes that large-scale war, even with NATO or China is a real possibility. Ivanov’s speech to the Academy of Military Sciences on January 24, 2004 excoriated the General Staff for insufficient study of contemporary wars and for fixating on Chechnya. Blaming it for this fixation, he said that,

“We must admit that as of the present time military science has not defined a clear generalized type of modern war and armed conflict. Therefore the RF Armed Forces and supreme command and control entities must be prepared to participate in any kind of military conflict. Based on this, we have to answer the question of how to make the military command and control system most flexible and most capable of reacting to any threats to Russia’s military security that may arise in the modern world.”

Ivanov had earlier observed that Military preparedness, operational planning, and maintenance need to be as flexible as possible because in recent years no single type of armed conflict has dominated. The Russian armed forces will be prepared for regular and anti-guerrilla warfare, the struggle against different types of terrorism, and peacekeeping operations.

Baluevsky has also since argued that any war, even a localized armed conflict, could lead the world to the brink of global nuclear war, therefore Russian forces must train and be ready for everything. These remarks reflect the continuing preference for major theater and even intercontinental nuclear wars against America and NATO over anti-terrorist missions.

Neither are they alone. In 2003, former Deputy Chief of Staff, General (RET.) V.L. Manilov, then First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Defense and Security Committee, told an interviewer that,

Let’s take, for example, the possible development of the geopolitical and military-strategic situation around Russia. We don’t even have precisely specified definitions of national interests and national security, and there isn’t even the methodology itself of coming up with decisions concerning Russia’s fate. But without this it’s impossible to ensure the country’s progressive development. … It also should be noted that a systems analysis and the monitoring of the geostrategic situation around Russia requires the consolidation of all national resources and the involvement of state and public structures and organizations. At the same time, one has a clear sense of the shortage of intellectual potential in the centers where this problem should be handled in a qualified manner.

Since Russian planners cannot develop a truly credible hierarchy of threats or adequately define them or Russia’s national interests they inevitably see threats everywhere while lacking the conceptual means for categorizing them coherently. Lacking a priority form of war or threat for which they must train, the troops must perform traditional tasks and priority missions like defending Russia’s territorial boundaries, i.e. Soviet territorial boundaries, preventing and deterring attacks on Russia, and maintaining strategic stability. They also must participate directly in achieving Russia’s economic and political interests and conduct peacetime operations, including UN or CIS sanctioned peace operations. Consequently coherent planning and policy-making are still bedeviled by multiple threats that haunt senior military leaders. In 2003, Baluevsky said that,

In order to conduct joint maneuvers (with NATO-author), you have to determine who your enemy actually is. We still do not know. After the Warsaw pact disappeared; there was confusion in the general staffs of the world’s armies. But who was the enemy? Well, no enemy emerged. Therefore the first question is: Against whom will we fight?

But the campaign against terrorism does not require massive armies. And NATO’s massive armies have not disappeared at all. No one says “We do not need divisions, we do not need ships, and we do not need hundreds of thousands of aircraft and tanks …” The Russian military are accused of still thinking in World War II categories. Although we, incidentally realized long before the Americans that the mad race to produce thousands and thousands of nuclear warheads should be stopped!

Thus the General Staff and for that matter the Ministry have abdicated their critical task of forecasting the nature or character of today’s wars.

Today, if anything, we see a continuing inclination to turn back the strategic clock towards quasi-Cold war postures and strategies. Much evidence suggests that various political forces in Russia, particularly in the military community, are urging withdrawal from arms control treaties, not least because of NATO enlargement towards the CIS and U.S. foreign and military policy in those areas. In March, 2005 Ivanov raised the question of withdrawal from the INF Treaty with the Pentagon. Since then Russian general Vladimir Vasilenko has raised it again more recently though it is difficult to see what Russia gains from withdrawal from that treaty. Indeed, withdrawal from the INF treaty makes no sense unless one believes that Russia is threatened by NATO and especially the U.S.’ superior conventional military power and cannot meet that threat except by returning to the classical Cold War strategy of holding Europe hostage to nuclear attack to deter Washington and NATO. Apparently at least some of the interest in withdrawing from the INF treaty also stems from the fact that Vasilenko also stated that western missile defenses would determine the nature and number of future Russian missile defense systems even though admittedly it could only defend against a few missiles at a time. Thus he argued that,

Russia should give priority to high-survivable mobile ground and naval missile systems when planning the development of the force in the near and far future. … The quality of the Strategic nuclear forces of Russia will have to be significantly improved in terms of adding to their capability of penetrating [missile defense] barriers and increasing the survivability of combat elements and enhancing the properties of surveillance and control systems.

But then, Russia’s government and military are thereby postulating an inherent East-West enmity buttressed by mutual deterrence that makes no sense in today’s strategic climate, especially when virtually every Russian military leader proclaims that no plan for war with NATO is under consideration and that the main threat to Russia is terrorism, not NATO and not America. Nonetheless Russian generals do not raise the issue of withdrawal from the INF treaty unless directed to do so. As of 2003 the General Staff made clear its opposition to joint Russian-NATO exercises allegedly on the grounds of NATO enlargement and the improvement of missiles. In fact, the military’s enmity to NATO is due to the fact of its existence. As the so called Ivanov doctrine of October, 2003, stated,

Russia … expects NATO member states to put a complete end to direct and indirect elements of its anti-Russian policy, both form of the military planning and the political declarations of NATO member states. … Should NATO remain a military alliance with its current offensive military doctrine, a fundamental reassessment of Russia’s military planning and arms procurement is needed, including a change in Russia’s nuclear strategy.

Alexander Golts, one of Russia’s most prominent defense commentators, observes that the military must continue to have NATO as a ‘primordial enemy’. Otherwise their ability to mobilize millions of men and huge amounts of Russian material resources would be exposed as unjustified. Similarly Western observers have noted the resistance of the military to a genuine military reform, even though the forces are being reorganized. The problem here is well known to the Russian military. Genuine reform is a precondition for effective partnership with NATO. Therefore resistance to reform, in particular, democratization of defense policy, inhibits cooperation with NATO and is therefore deliberately created from within the military and political system. Evidently Russian leaders no longer perceive democratization as a mere ritual for the White House, as in the past, but as a threat to the foundations of Russian statehood, including a threat to the structure of the armed forces and its top command organizations.

This hostility to NATO as such also appears in the growing opposition to continuing to observe the CFE treaty. Since the bilateral partnership with NATO began, Russian officials openly stated that if the Baltic States remained outside the treaty then its future would be at issue along with Europe’s overall security of which it is a key part. Ivanov frequently says that Russia has fundamental differences with NATO over the CFE Treaty and that NATO’s insistence upon Russia withdrawing from Moldovan and Georgian bases as promised in 1999 at the OSCE’s Istanbul summit is a “farfetched” pretext for not ratifying the treaty or forcing the Baltic States to sign it. Thus the Baltic States form “a gray zone” with regard to arms control agreements that could in the future serve as a basis for first-strikes, mainly by air, upon nearby Russian targets. This sums up many of Moscow’s military arguments against the CFE treaty.

Ivanov and other officials, like former Deputy Foreign Minister, linked the CFE to the realignment of U.S. forces and bases in Europe. Likewise, speaking of the connection between the CFE treaty and enlargement, Lt. General Alexander Voronin wrote in the General Staff’s journal VoyennayaMysl©(Military Thought) that,“Russia’s opposition to CIS members’ joining NATO is immutable and that NATO’s failure to take Russia’s interests into account here is very troubling. Russia should fully take into account the alliance’s strategy of spreading its influence to countries neighboring Russia in the west, south, and southeast, uphold its interests, show strong will, make no concessions, and pursue a pragmatic and effective foreign policy. This raises a number of questions: First, why do we have to cooperate with NATO at all? Second, what could be the practical payoff from this interaction? And finally in what areas is it expedient to develop military cooperation with the alliance?”

Voronin’s answer to these rhetorical questions is that it all depends on how soon NATO overcomes Cold War inertia to meet new challenges and threats. In this respect his approach merely confirms earlier military arguments against the CFE treaty.

In 2004 Baluevsky raised the issue that the Baltic States’ membership in NATO would doom the CFE treaty. In 2005 Colonel-General Anatoly Mazurkevich, Chief of the Main Directorate of International Military Cooperation in the Russian Ministry of Defense complained that the CFE treaty has been ignored since it was revised in 1999 and that it is slowly ‘expiring’. Allegedly the CFE treaty can no longer uphold the interests of the parties or stability in Europe and now in a strategic region adjacent to Russia and under NATO’s full responsibility — the Baltic — the region is absolutely free of all treaty restrictions.

Yet since they are critical elements of any democratic reform, the failure to reach a coherent defense doctrine is a critical sign of the failure of Russia’s democratic project. This failure to devise a coherent doctrine that realistically assesses Russia’s capabilities and prospects, is not just a failure to achieve democracy, it also represents an enduring threat to Russia itself, its neighbors and interlocutors.

Author’s note: This article first published in Iran Review

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The prospect of the military and security potential of Syrian Kurds and Democratic Alliance

Sajad Abedi

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Although it is still difficult to imagine a future for Syria in general, the existence of an autonomous Kurdish region on the northern border of this country, which is increasing its autonomy every day, has become a reality. The borders of the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) have remained vague so far and may be different from what was officially announced by the PYD of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria. So far, the group’s growing efforts to expand its cantons have made it a firm and lasting commitment to mobilize Syrian Kurds in a small, economically sustainable state that extends its borders to the Mediterranean Sea, annoyingly, it can also develop the goals of its Paternal Organization in Kyrgyzstan, the PKK-Kurdistan Workers Party. Thus, the only possible alternative exists to establish a western connection with Aleppo and the Syrian government-controlled area, in which PYD needs to accelerate its timetable to, create a link to the territory with Afrin and Kobani.

It is important to remember that PKK is the origin and source of the Democratic Alliance Party and shares its objectives with the region. The expansion of the territory of the Syrian Kurds to the Mediterranean Sea can both serve to create a facility for the independence of the Turkish Kurdistan and a greater convergence with the KRG. Washington could eventually push the KRG to reopen its borders to Syrian Kurdistan. PYD has not mentioned any ambitions for reaching the Mediterranean Sea in order to build trust. Establishing a link between the 70km gap between the western borders claimed by Syria and the Kurds is a huge obstacle. Not only will the whole region be formed as a non-cohabite population, but Turkey and everyone who controls the land of Alawites will be resolutely opposed. Now, it is no doubt at least some Kurds dream of establishing a Kurdish sector, although they are far from that perspective.

After their victory in Kobani in January 2015, PYD continued to expand its territory. A large part of this expansion was achieved at the expense of ISIL, but the Kurds seized other areas from other insurgent groups in the Azaz corridor and from the Syrian army in Al-Hasaka. Even though these areas are limited to only a few square miles, they are, nonetheless, strategically important, for example, Al-Hasaka is a provincial center. So getting other neighborhoods is significant and important.

In terms of the homogeneity of the Kurdish regions of Afrin, Kobani and Qamishli, PYD is trying to conquer the territories that Arabs and Kurds together in those areas and even some non-Kurdish regions. The ultimate goal of the group is to create a proximity of land between the territories; the goal that led to the withdrawal of the Tell Abyad in the spring of 2015 and the Manbij in recent days technically, the invasion of Manbij was led by the Kurdish-Syrian Arab-Democratic forces, but The Kurds themselves alone make up 90% of the coalition’s members. The victory of February in Al-Shaddadah in the southern province of Al-Hasakah Governorate, a non-Kurdish territory, was based on the control of nearby oil supplies and the shutting down of the ISIL road between Mosul and Raqqa.

Today, the PYD controls an area of nearly two million people, but only 60% of the population is Kurdish. In the eastern canton of Aqa Cizire and the central Canton of Kobani, the Kurds constitute the majority of the 55% of the population. In the Afrin area of the West (part of the official Syrian division), the population is roughly 100 percent, but PYD maps of Syria’s Kurdistan (Rojava) indicate that Canton Afrin eventually ended up with Azaz, Tripoli, the northern part of the North, and the Manbij in the north. The result will be to reduce the Kurdish population and bring it to about 30%. PYD will probably not have an attempt to conquer the Arab and Turkmen territories of Azaz and Tripoli in the next few months, as they have a poor strategic advantage and status.

Whatever the PYD adds to its territory, the non-Kurdish population is integrated in its territory. This is particularly true of the Manbij area between the Euphrates and Afrin, where the Kurds make up less than a quarter of the population. But PYD seems to be moving in the direction of connecting its cantons, and group leaders believe that various kangaroo efforts can help bring a large part of the population under their belt. The names of villages and maps published by the French law office indicate that a significant proportion of the locals’ population, classified formally as Arabs, actually have Kurdish origins. In the case of PYD superiority, these Arabic Kurdish languages can easily select the option of connecting again with their Kurdish origins. In addition, if the Arab refugees who used to live there would no longer return to that area or would like Kurdish asylum seekers to return there on the basis of a PYD invitation, the demographic situation of the region could be fundamentally reformed. This is particularly true in the area of the Tel Aviv region, which is not acceptable to the ISIL-backed Arabs.

Unfortunately, the Kurds may want to overcome their demographic fragility in some parts of northern Syria through ethnic cleansing or unification with Arab tribes who want to take revenge alongside the strongest border actors. For example, many tribes do not want more than eliminate their rivals, the rivals who worked with ISIL and were beside them. This is the same strategy of the Shammar tribe led by Sheikh Hamidi, the tenth al-Hadi in the southeast of Al-Hasaka Governorate. PYD also hopes to capture part of the Kurdish population currently living in Damascus and Aleppo. To meet this, they need to improve the bad economic situation.

The Kurdish community is highly reactionary and can accept Spartan life conditions, but many people leave PYD-controlled areas. In order to stop the decline of the population, PYD needs to improve its economy, which requires free flow of goods both into the region and to other countries. The possibility of improving relations with Turkey and KDP will not be forthcoming, and the timeline for eradicating ISIL and the deterioration of the Euphrates is unclear.

Therefore, the only possible alternative exists to establish a western link with Aleppo and the region under the regime’s control, in which case PYD needs to expedite its timetable to create a real link with Afrin and Kobani. It is important to remember that PKK is the origin and source of the Democratic Alliance Party and shares its objectives with the region. The expansion of the territory of the Syrian Kurds to the Mediterranean Sea can both serve to create a facility for the independence of the Turkish Kurdistan and a greater convergence with the KRG. Washington, pretending to end up, could push the KRG to reopen its borders to Syrian Kurdistan. PYD has not mentioned any ambition to reach the Mediterranean Sea in order to build confidence. Establishing a link between the 70km gap between the western borders claimed by Syria and the Kurds is a huge obstacle. Not only will the whole region be formed as a non-cohabite population, but Turkey and everyone who controls the land of Alawite will be resolutely opposed. Now, it is no doubt, at least some Kurds dream of establishing a Kurdish sector, although they are far from that perspective.

Eventually, the conflict could have spread in other territories, and would advance PKK and PYD regional projects, such as an Alawite government on the coast or an outlying Sunni Arab state in the Far East. The official Kurdish map of Syria now has a western border running its way to the edge of the Alawite land, so the creation of economic relations and the benefits of coastal access to such institutions have not been questioned in the long run.

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Shifting Disposition of Nuclear Deterrence in South Asia

Hafsa Andleeb

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In the contemporary political and security architecture of south Asia the deterrence discourse has evolved with the passage of time. It was the time when both states India and Pakistan were becoming successful in deterring each other by using various deterring tools (Nuclear Weapons). But changing nature of threats has altered the contours of deterrence stability of south Asia.

Numbers of factors are responsible for changing the nature of nuclear deterrence in South Asia i.e.  Introduction of new strategies and doctrines, acquisition of missile defense shield, technical progress and other secondary factors e.g. the role of media whether it is social media, print media or electronic media. Media, which also has been considered as important entity in India, is playing a very negative role. Rather than making propagandas or giving hype to the sensitive issues media from Indian side should perform wisely and with some maturity.

Policy makers from Indian side who are trying to coin new strategies in order to deter Pakistan and also in quest of hegemonic status for India in the region which in result is changing the existing nature of nuclear deterrence. However, India is formulating new policies and strategies which according to its policy makers would be proved fruitful for India, but policy makers form Indian side should also be mindful of the fact that experiments in such a sensitive business could be proved highly dangerous for not only the fate of India as well as for the whole region.

Furtherance in conventional aspects may also provide justification to each side for launching nuclear weapon. India is continuously expanding its conventional arsenals according to the reports India is a leading buyer of conventional arms. Between 1999 and 2006, India totaled $22.4 billion in arms sales agreements, according to a 2007 report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service. That total made India first among all developing arms buyers during that period. India became the leading global arms importer in the period from 2007 to 2011, accounting for ten percent of total arms imports. This trend is expected to continue, with an increase in defense spending. It is clear from the reports that India is continuously pursuing it malicious ambitions that are highly unfavorable for the region. The steps which have been taken by the India in furtherance of conventional aspects may damage the stability of the region. It would also not be wrong to mention that actually India is confusing the purpose of deterrence. As a bigger state of the region India should lead from the front for the exploration of new horizons of Confidence Building Measures (CBM’S) with Pakistan in order to strengthen the stability of the region.

Pakistan is quite satisfied with the existing pattern of deterrence, which is also currently prevailing to some extent in South Asia. But, question arises, why Pakistan is continuously exploring the ways which ultimately lead towards the possession of low-yield nuclear weapons and advancement of nuclear capabilities. The answer to this question can be addressed in a way that it was India which was strongly portraying its Cold Start Doctrine and also showing its urge of getting defense shield. Keeping in view these initiatives or intentions of India there was no other choice remaining left for Pakistan rather than pursuing low-yield nuclear weapons and advancement of its nuclear capabilities. In other words it would not be wrong to mention that Pakistan is being compelled by the India to follow or adapt such kind of ways or policies.

After the careful study of history and acute consultation of to date existing literature, it can be strongly determined that the only purpose behind possessing deterrence for every nuclear weapon state is just to secure itself from the aggression of adversary state, which in result will maintain the peace. Therefore, it is pretty clear from the origin of deterrence that it is a political tool and sole purpose at the back end of deterrence is the maintenance, furtherance and stability of peace among states, which should be followed by the states that are in race with each other. Deterrence should not be manipulated for the purposes of gaining ultimate supremacy, but India is continuously trying to disturb the existing pattern of deterrence without keeping in view that repercussions would be dire for the whole region. Now question arises that why Pakistan is not following the lines which are being followed by the India? Answer to this question is quite simple that Pakistan doesn’t want to take such steps which ultimately could lead towards arms race, change in deterrence pattern etc. which is showing that how much Pakistan is mature and concerned about strategic stability of region. In other words, it would not be wrong to mention that Pakistan doesn’t want to instigate any adversary state in nuclear manner for the survival of strategic stability of region.

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