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Asia’s troubled waters: Chinese advances in the South China Sea

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Satellite images show radar construction on China’s manmade island above Cuarteron Reef. And one US think tank says this is even more threatening than missiles as the satellite images show China building a new high-frequency radar system in the Spratly Islands, a move intended to boost their control of the region.

What’s going on in the South China Sea? Is China installing a high-tech radar system in the South China Sea which is detrimental to the interests of other regional powers? Why is the USA interfering in the region?

A recent report released by Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative says overhead images of the artificial island above Cuarteron Reef in the South China Sea from January to mid-February show two radar towers and a number of 65-foot poles. CSIS warns this could be a significant step in a long-term Chinese plan to assert control over the air and sea lanes of the disputed South China Sea.

China has been asserting their control over one of the world’s busiest waterways for decades, saying their claim has been indisputable since the Xia and Han dynasties. Neighboring Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Taiwan all have overlapping claims to the area, where more than $5 trillion in global trade passes every year and likely holds billions of barrels of oil.

China has sent fighter jets to a disputed island in the South China Sea, where it deployed surface-to-air missiles earlier this month, U.S. government sources said on Tuesday.

China’s missiles in the South China Sea create a sort of panic situation for the region as China regularly sends jets to Woody Island, part of the Paracel archipelago controlled by Beijing. No one had any doubts about China’s intentions to militarize the South China Sea when the Chine military occupied and began building certain structures there, making the regional powers became nervous and objected to the China’s designs.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing over the South China Sea rose after a Fox News report that the Chinese military had apparently placed advanced HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, in the Paracel group of islands. The claim, which was quickly taken up by the American and international media, accused Chinese leaders of “increasingly ‘militarizing’ its islands in the South China Sea.”

The Pentagon claims evidence of HQ-9 missile batteries on the island—a claim also made by Taiwan’s defence ministry. While not confirming the presence of the missiles, the Chinese Ministry of Defence noted that its navy and air force had kept forces in the Paracels for many years. At a press conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointedly remarked that “non-militarization is certainly in the interests of all parties, but non-militarization should not be just about one single country.”

Strategic experts say if these poles signal radar installation as the report suggests, the new system would significantly bolster China’s ability to monitor surface and air traffic across the southern portion of the South China Sea. And the Asian giant has escalated its claims to the region in the past year, by building seven small new islands and raising fears that China is militarizing the South China Sea. Just last week, Chinese surface-to-air missiles were found on Woody Island, part of the Paracel Islands, which Beijing claims are simply defense systems to protect their manned islands.

While that move was condemned, says CSIS, new radar facilities being developed in the Spratleys, on the other hand, could significantly change the operational landscape. The radar system will allow Chinese forces to detect both ship and air traffic. China already has significant radar coverage on the mainland and nearby Paracel Islands, explains CSIS, but a radar system on the Cuateron reef is crucial because it would unilaterally access busy straits and channels. All three of these capabilities “speak to a long-term anti-access strategy by China – one that would see it establish effective control over the sea and airspace throughout the South China Sea.” CSIS says South China Sea rivals can expect Chinese radar systems at the Gaven, Hughes, and Johnson South reefs as well.

Much of the media coverage of the latest missile revelations is just as exaggerated and deliberately misleading. The Paracels and the Spratlys are conflated; images of Chinese missiles are shown alongside photographs of land reclamation in the Spratlys; and the history of the disputes in the South China Sea is either ignored or distorted.

Unlike the Spratlys, where it is a relative newcomer, China has occupied Woody Island since 1956—that is, for 60 years—and controlled all of the Paracels since 1974, when it seized the remaining islands in the group from South Vietnam. At the time, North Vietnam recognised Chinese sovereignty of the Paracels, a claim that Vietnam has disputed since 1982, following its war with China in 1979.

Woody Island is the largest of the Paracels and has been used by China as an administrative centre. While President Xi Jinping gave an undertaking to Obama not to militarize the Spratlys, he gave no commitment on the Paracels. Indeed, the Chinese military has long maintained a small garrison on Woody Island and has flown fighter jets to its airstrip. China has sent air-defence missiles to the Paracels in the past.

Woody Island, one of northernmost of the Paracel group, is barely more than 300 kilometres from key Chinese naval bases on Hainan Island, which is just off the Chinese mainland. Its proximity highlights the real purpose of the Pentagon’s “freedom of navigation” operations, which is to maintain its “right” to place US warships virtually anywhere outside the immediate 12-nautical-mile limit off the Chinese coastline.

Improved radar coverage is an important piece of the puzzle – along with improved air defenses and greater reach for Chinese aircraft – toward China’s goals of establishing effective control over the sea and airspace throughout the nine-dash line. The nine-dash line refers to maps used since 1947 by China and Taiwan to claim certain islands in the region.

China says their actions are entirely legal and appropriate. “Most people in this area recognize that the facilities that China has constructed are primarily for strategic reasons. Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore: “But that’s how China will spin it.”

In a press conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the media should focus on the islands’ lighthouses and weather forecast stations, instead of the country’s “limited and necessary national defense facilities” in the region. Because as the biggest coastal state in the South China Sea, China is “providing goods and services to the international community,” says Wang. Despite last week’s missile installations and this week’s radar systems, China says their activities in the South China Sea are exclusively for civilian purposes. And any defensive facilities practiced on the islands are a mere exercise of self-defense as allowed in international law.

China wants its fellow UN veto member USA to stay out of the South China Sea dispute, while other regional powers plead for US intervention. Beijing complains that constant US close-in patrols of the region are the only reason there has been greater local tension in recent years.

Last month, after a US Navy patrol near the Triton Island, the US State Department indicated that was exercising its international rights to send ships through the area: “The excessive Chinese claims regarding Triton Island are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention”. The purpose of US naval patrols in the area, is to assert “freedom of navigation” (FON), “to ensure that US naval, coast guard, and civilian ships, and by extension those of all nations, maintain unrestricted access to their rights at sea,” while doing so in such a manner that averts military conflict with China.

Starting last October, the USA has been directly challenging Chinese maritime claims in the region by sending warships and military aircraft within the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit surrounding Chinese-administrated islets. On January 30, the destroyer, the USS Curtis Wilbur, intruded into water surrounding Triton Island in the Paracels.

Over the past five years, the Obama government has deliberately transformed the longstanding maritime disputes in the region into a dangerous global flashpoint. Washington has exploited the tensions to forge closer military ties with countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and justify its own military build-up as part of the “pivot to Asia” against China. US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday again demanded that there should be “no militarization” of the South China Sea.

Speaking after a two-day US-ASEAN summit in California, President Barack Obama called for tangible steps in the South China Sea to lower tensions. He repeated US demands for “a halt to further reclamation, new construction and militarization.” Foreshadowing further military challenges to Chinese territorial claims, Obama declared the USA would continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, and “we will support the right of all countries to do the same.”

The response of the Chinese leadership to the US “pivot,” on the one hand, has been to try to appease Washington and, on the other, to engage in a dangerous arms race, which can only end in catastrophe for the civilians in China and internationally. However, the chief responsibility for this drive to war lies with US imperialism.

USA is recklessly using its military might to maintain its dominance in Asia and around the world and using the regional powers in South Asia and Asia pacific against China.

Last month, the Washington-based think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), released a report commissioned by the Defence Department that could only be described as a blueprint for war against China. It complained about Beijing’s increased “tolerance of risk” in the face of Washington’s confrontational “pivot”—in other words, China’s refusal to buckle to US demands. The report called for a huge military expansion in Asia, not only by the United States, but all its allies and strategic partners.

Whether or not the missile claims are true, the western stories have the character of a provocation concocted within sections of the US military and intelligence establishment that have been critical of the Obama governance for not being aggressive enough in asserting against Russia and China its military super power.

The Pentagon wants to conduct more, and more complex, freedom of navigation operations as time goes on in the South China Sea. The P8-A Poseidon surveillance flight over Chinese-administered islets in the Spratly group would provide breathless footage highlighting China’s land reclamation activities.

Such operations are in line with the Pentagon’s AirSea Battle plans for war against China, which envisage massive air and missile attacks launched from bases, submarines and aircraft carriers in the western Pacific to destroy China’s military, industrial and communications infrastructure. Washington wants to cut off vital Chinese imports of energy and raw materials from Africa and the Middle East.

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Who Masterminded the Suicide Attack on Hazara Students’ Educational Center Kaj in Kabul?

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Image source: thestar.com

According to explicit intelligence information, last Friday, September 30, 2022, a suicide attack on Hazara students in an educational center called (Kaj) in the western part of Kabul was carried out by the Ministry of Education and the so-called ministry of Evil Forbidden of the Taliban in coordination with the leadership of Kandahar. Apparently, Afghans’ feelings were torn apart by the news of the Taliban’s former Minister of Education Maulvi Noorullah Munir that he had signposted in Uruzgan Province, followed by the Minister of the Evil Forbidden of the Taliban, Sheikh Muhammad Khalid Hanafi, claimed that letting women educated is opposed to Sharia law.

After his comments, he was rigorously criticized by the internal and external media, women activists, youth, the UN and the international community. Which is why the masterminds contacted the GDI of the Taliban’s intelligence agency followed by the meeting between the Akhundzada Taliban and Sheikhs of the South West Zone, while giving them permission and sharia fatwa/decree to suicide attacks on women’s schools and all institutions that encourage women to come out of their homes across Afghanistan.  In such manner they wanted to be free of international denunciation, since, the responsibility of such attacks is always claimed by the ISIS group in order to gain influence in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the high-ranking leaders of the Taliban are in contact with the ISIS group in the east of Afghanistan, so that the two groups are coordinating in such assaults to happen.

Hence, the Taliban by applying this method want to upsurge the risk and threat towards the female strata of the Afghan community getting them scared, in order to prevent them to go to schools.    Learning that, the high-ranking leaders of the Taliban government are forced to take such measures, since in the absence of such attacks, women will not stop studying, especially non-Pashtun Geno.      If girls go to school and the Taliban leaders do not stop them, then the low-ranking members and fighters of the Taliban will start rebelling against their own leaders.

As a result, there will be more internal strife and the group will become weak and eventually disappear, which is not in the interest west, who wants to employ the Taliban government and other non-state international armed groups in Afghanistan as an unofficial private militia against China and Russia. Furthermore, the Taliban’s foreign supporters are also forcing the ISIS group to take responsibility for some of the current and potential crimes committed by the Taliban, while paving the way for the Taliban to achieve their goal, subsequently, the external pressures will be  reduced and internal differences and resentment of low-ranking fighters will be avoided.

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Ethnic War a Newfangled Pakistani Forward-policy for Afghanistan

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According to the intelligence information, Pakistan’s ISI is trying to start ethnic and maneuvering war again in Afghanistan, of which distinct objective is to refurbish the age-old enmity between the Achakzai and Noorzai tribes in the southwest zone. Besides, they want to start an ethnic war among Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns across Afghanistan, and between the northern and southern directions, thus, the prominent leaders of the Taliban, who are led by the ISI, have been entrusted with the task. As in the east and north of Afghanistan, Pashtun Taliban militants are oppressing other Non-Pashtuns, raiding their homes; however, no high-ranking Pashtun Taliban officials are preventing them because the ISI network leads this strategy. In order to revamp a civil war in Afghanistan, score of influential figures have been summoned by the Pakistani military establishment. 

The latest examples are as follows: Two days ago, the Pashtun Taliban killed the former police chief and an influential tribal leader in Mandol district of Nuristan province, which caused many emotions against Pashtuns especially about southwest zone of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, in order to afresh the years of hostility between the Noorzai and Achakzi tribes in the southwestern region of Afghanistan, the ISI network raised the issue of a mass grave by several leading Taliban militants, especially by the current governor of Kandahar province and Noorzai tribe leading leader, Haji Mohammad Yousef Wafa.

Qari Aslam Noorzai call for by Pak security forces

At a time when the former leader of the Noorzai tribe, the leading smuggler of drugs and heavy weapons in Central and South Asia, and the financial supporter of the first Taliban regime, Haji Bashar Noorzai was released from the US prison in Guantánamo. The Noorzai tribe once again became twice as strong and dominant in Afghanistan, especially in the southwest zone.  Resulting threats towards the Achakzai people, on the other hand, ISI has started rapid efforts to recommence the years of enmity between these two tribes.

Hajee Feyzullah Khan Noorzai meets Pak military Intelligence

Recently, Pakistan’s intelligence network ISI, with the help of some leading social media and high-ranking Taliban officials, has kept the issue of finding a mass grave in Kandahar province in the southwestern zone of Afghanistan broiling, namely by inducing  the blame-game. Meanwhile, local tribal leaders and residents of Spin Boldak district claim that such a grave is the grave of those who were taken out of their homes by the Taliban after August 15.  Since, they were connected to Achakzai tribe and on the other hand, they served in the security departments of the overthrown Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that is why the Taliban night raided their houses, and massively killed them.

Moreover, mass murdering Hazaras at their educational institutions via suicide bombing and meantime blowing up the worship places of Sufi-Muslims, who preach the non-violent form of Islam, while calling for De-weaponization and De-politicization of Islam.

Consequently, by applying such a forward-policy, Pakistan will achieve its fancied strategic-depth in Afghanistan, while subjugating the Afghan Nation.

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Pakistani Intelligence Agencies ignite Tribal Conflicts in Pak-Afghan Region

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According to the intelligence information, Pakistani intelligence community supported by some international rings want to once again spread dispute and disharmony among the tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan; subsequently the centuries-old evils and wars between the tribes will once more take a new color and become fresh. Recently, rumors of the discovery of a mass grave in Kandahar province in the southwestern zone of Afghanistan are spreading; the blame for this mass murder falls on the former police chief of Kandahar province and the former leader of the Achagzai tribe, General Abdul Razaq Achagzai.  In order to afresh raising the reaction of the Norzi tribe against the Ackzai and anew the evil and war between these two tribes. Even though the current governing body of Afghanistan is completely under the control of the Noorzi tribe, because most of the high-ranking leaders of the Taliban, including the leader of the Taliban, Sheikh Haibatullah, are related to the Noorzi tribe, so there is a greater threat posed to the Achakzi tribe.

Even now, in spite of such menaces, more than 6000 Achakzi families live in Kandahar province, whose members served in the security departments under the command of General Abdul Razaq Achakzi, a staunch opponent of the Taliban.  Currently, in such a tense situation that the Taliban administration has control over Afghanistan and the head of this administration is connected to the Nurzi tribe, the harsh criticism of General Abdul Razaq Achakzai’s mass killings is logical, which can cause international and internal outcries.  As a result, the major victims will be the youths and leading tribal leaders of the Achakzai tribe.

By the advent of Taliban on August 15, 2021, in the first four months, more than 600 youths and tribal leaders from the Achakzi tribe were killed in the southwest zone of Afghanistan, while applying night operations or raids by the Taliban. The most famous case happened to the family of Haji Fida Mohammad Achakzai in Spin Boldak district. Haji Fida Muhammad Achakzai, known as Haji Fida Aka, is a leading leader of the Achakza tribe of Spin Boldak district and had close relations with the family of General Abdul Razaq Achakzai.

 When Kandahar province fell to the Taliban before August 15, the two young sons of him were killed by the Taliban on the first night, unfortunately none of the Taliban officials took any action to prevent the tragedy. Nevertheless, this time, there is a plan going on at the international level to renew the age-old differences between the Achakzai and Norzai tribes, which the international media warmly supports.  If this time the internal differences and conflicts between the Achakzai and Norzai tribes in Afghanistan get sturdier, then it will have damaging effects not only in Afghanistan, but also, serious negative measures will be taken against the Norzai under the leadership of Mahmoud Khan Achakzai, the head of the Achakzai tribe, in the Pakhtunkhwa provinces of Pakistan.

In the meantime, the decision of the Pakistani government to hand over the Pashtun areas in Pakhtunkhwa provinces to the Taliban was approved and supported by the Nurzi tribe, conversely, this action of the Pakistani government was strongly condemned by Mahmoud Khan Achakzai and PTM leader Manzoor Pashtun.

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