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China Opens a New Military Base in Tajikistan

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Western media outlets recently announced China has built military facilities on the Tajik side of the Tajik-Chinese border. The move is significant as it is first confirmation (built upon earlier unconfirmed reports) of the Chinese military/semi military presence in the Central Asia region.

The section where the Chinese facilities are located is strategically important as it overlooks one of the crucial entry points from China into Central Asia and is close to the vital corridor through which the country has a connection with Afghanistan’s heartland. The corridor is particularly important to China due to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Put into a wider context, the opening of the new base might be problematic as Central Asia is perceived by the Russians as a sphere of their own influence. As I argued in previous pieces for Georgia Today, for Moscow, Central Asia nowadays is especially important as it is the only region where the Kremlin can still extend its existing influence through military and economic means. Quite naturally, Chinese military/security measures go against Russian pillars of power in this region.

It is fashionable among world analysts to argue that Russia and China would rather cooperate in Central Asia than fight each other. However, the point here is that this cooperation might be in force in the coming years and perhaps for decades, but in the end the Russians will have to be worried (if they are not already) as China grows economically, a process concomitant with simultaneous military expansion beyond its borders.

Many believe the Chinese do not plan military expansion across Eurasia and, as yet, no statements from Chinese officials have revealed a military agenda for the continent. There is also a purely logical point in the Chinese thinking that it would be more prudent to fulfill geopolitical aims through economic and public diplomacy measures.

However, the point many scholars miss is that China, being a rising power which relies on global trade routes for internal stability and further enhancement of its world role, will eventually have to be more active in military and security affairs beyond its borders, whether it wants to or not. The new semi-military base in Tajikistan is a good indicator of this evolving Chinese approach to world security.

In other words, the Chinese see the need to be present in those territories which are strategically important. As said, the base in Tajikistan is at the crossroads of Central Asia, China and Afghanistan.

To prove further the likelihood of China’s more active stance on the Eurasian arena is that the base in Tajikistan actually is not the first one built by China. Beijing already opened a surveillance/security/semi military base in Djibouti, which controls the commercial traffic in the Red Sea.

Many may compare China to Germany of the early 20th century, when a rising power wanted a larger role for itself in world affairs, but there are many problems with this attitude. True, China, like Germany a century ago, also aspires to build a larger navy and increase its economic potential abroad. However, rather than comparing China to Germany, which was defeated in both world wars, it would be in some sense expedient to compare modern China to its current geopolitical competitor, the United States, of the late 19th to early 20th century: China today is as cautious as the United States was a century ago. Beijing acts prudently on the world stage, as any open moves in security or military affairs could inspire a strong antagonistic coalition of powers in Eurasia.

Author’s note: First published in Georgia Today

Emil Avdaliani specializes on former Soviet space and wider Eurasia with particular focus on Russia's internal and foreign policy, relations with Iran, China, the EU and the US. He teaches history and international relations at Tbilisi State University and Ilia State University (Georgia).

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Defense

Gung-ho statements by India’s jingoist military and civil leaders

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Cross fire between Indian and Pakistan forces was a recurrent phenomenon. It usually hurt the unarmed civilians rather than the troops. Realising futility of intermittent exchange of fire across the border, India and Pakistan, always at daggers drawn, agreed to ceasefire that is still being upheld. However, an agreement on no-firearms use between the two countries, akin to Sino-Indian agreement, is nowhere in the offing. Despite the accord, India and China still engaged in fisticuffs at Galwan.

As if in deliriums tremens, India’s Northern Army Commander Lt General Upendra Dwivedi shouted, “As far as the Indian Army is concerned, it will carry out any order given by the Government of India [to annex Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan “(Whenever such orders are given, we will always be ready for it, The News International, November 22, 2022).

His statement is a sycophantic follow-up to a similar statement by India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh “of taking back PoK”. Besides Rajnath many other Indian leaders including Bipen Rawat, Ajit Doval and Narendra Modi have made provocative statements about AK and GB. Pakistan’s army chief has replied to Dwivedi’s statement in befitting words. In 1994, India’s lok Sabha (house of people) passed aresolution under the then prime minister Narasimha Rao. The resolution stated that AJK and GB are an integral part of India by virtue of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India.

India’s claim to accession of the Jammu and Kashmir is unfounded. India never showed the so-called Instrument of accession to the United Nations. The UNO passed two resolutions to outlaw probable accession by the puppet JK assembly to India. The UN resolutions recognise that the dispute could be resolved only through a plebiscite. Till about 1954, India continued to owe allegiance to the UN resolutions. Then in a volte face, Nehru declared that the UN resolutions are mediatory, not mandatory in nature. India’s unilateral renunciation of the UN resolutions eminently qualified it as a rogue state subject to international sanctions.

India treacherously annexed over 500 other princely state by hook or by crook. For instance, Junagadh annexation is still an unresolved item on UN agenda.

Dwivedi means ‘one who knows two vedas’. In Sanskrit, Dvi means ‘two’ and Vedi means ‘to see’. Therefore, a Dwivedi is one with ‘two-fold vision’, or someone who is able to distinguish between right and wrong. The general’s statement reflects that he has purblind vision, not seeing consequences of a war between two nuclear armed neighbours. Victory in case of a nuclear confrontation will, at best, be pyrrhic.

Dwivedi appears to have been infatuated by provision of K9-Vajra self-propelled howitzer (50 mile range) is being manufactured by Larsen and Toubro in Gujarat. China has already provided Pakistan similar howitzers to neutralize India’s fire power (China supplies mounted howitzers to Pak to maintain arms parity with India, Hindustan Times Jan 27, 2022).

Dwivedi appears to be oblivious of facts about Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

Gilgit Baltistan

On November 1, 1947, the governor of Gilgit, Brig Ghansara Singh surrendered to the Gilgit Scouts and signed an instrument of surrender on November 3, 1947. The people of the region proclaimed Gilgit as part of Pakistan and hoisted Pakistan’s flag. Skardu was liberated after about a year on August 14, 1948, when Lt Col Thapa of 6th Jammu and Kashmir infantry along with 250 soldiers surrendered to liberation forces.

Historian Yousaf Saraf if of the view that Gilgit –Baltistan is a part of Azad Kashmir as is evident from Accord signed between AK and Pakistan government. Sartaj Aziz committee recommended to the federal government to make Gilgit-Baltistan a full-fledged province with representation in both the houses of parliament.

A psycho-analytic view” Indian leaders “frogs”

Indian civil military leaders suffer from a fight-and-flight complex. The human beings, particularly the macho typos, like Indian military leaders, think they are independent decision makers. But, subconsciously they are slaves to the subconscious to the scripts they have learned to live with. In his book, Scripts People Live, Claude Steiner analyses “life scripts” which we choose at an early age and which rule every detail of our lives until our death. Steiner postulates that people are innately healthy but develop a pattern early in life based upon negative or positive influences of those around them. Thus children decide, however unconsciously, whether they will be happy or depressed, winners or failures, STRONG or dependent, and having decided, they spend the rest of their lives making the decision come true. For those who choose a negative script, the consequences can be disastrous unless they make a conscious decision to change.

The tragedy is that the person who needs to rewrite his or her life script most is unwilling to admit that he needs to revamp his life script.

Narendra Modi is such a person who by his conduct and political statements reflects that he suffers from a negative life script. He wants to pose as a “prince”, though he is actually a “frog”. Modi’s recent statements provide a clue how he is neurologically programmed.

Concluding reflections

Modi is convinced that his electoral achievements are due to his Macho (strongman) image. Lest his image should be shattered he delayed withdrawing anti-farmer laws for about a year since the farmers began protesting. He trumpets his “surgical strikes”, celebrates “Kargil victory”, and anti-Muslim citizenship laws.

Modi is still fettered to his teen-age memory of being a waiter at a tea-stall. The Modi government should turn a new leaf in India’s relations with its neighbours by shunning the strong-man image. He could do better by attending to the economic welfare of the masses and promoting social harmony.

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Defense

Ukraine recruits fighters from Africa

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“If Ukraine decides to pay me a very good amount of money, which I know I cannot earn here, I will definitely go there and fight,” Kimanzi Nashon, a student in the Kenyan capital Nairobi said. “When we go there, and then the war ends before anything happens, I will come back to Kenya and be a millionaire.”

And Nashon isn’t alone in harboring such naive thoughts of being a hired fighter in Ukraine.

“If an opportunity presented itself for me to fight in Ukraine as a mercenary, I would be on my heels running there,” Beatrice Kaluki, who is unemployed in Kenya, told ‘Deutsche Welle’. “I would rather die on the front line in Ukraine knowing that my family would be compensated even after my death, rather than die from depression because of the insane unemployment rate!”

However, African countries have come out strongly to condemn Ukraine’s call for African fighters to join the “international legion” against the Russians.

Now Nigeria, Senegal and Algeria have criticized Ukraine’s efforts to enlist international fighters as it resists a Russians. Analysts say those who have responded to the call need to reconsider.

According to Ryan Cummings, director of ‘Signal Risk’, a South African-based security risk management consultancy, ‘President Zelenskyy might be capitalizing on Africa’s challenging socio-economic conditions to lure African fighters to Ukraine.’ According to the Nigerian daily, ‘The Guardian’, more than 100 young men registered their interest in fighting for Ukraine at the country’s embassy in Abuja.

A spokesperson for Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Francisca Omayuli, said Nigeria would not allow its nationals to volunteer as mercenaries.

Senegal has also expressed its displeasure with Ukraine’s government, saying that at least 36 people in Senegal were ready to confront Russian forces. Senegal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it was astonished to learn that the embassy of Ukraine in Dakar had posted an appeal on its Facebook page for foreign citizens to come to Ukraine’s military forces.

In a statement, the Senegalese government criticized the initiative and warned its citizens that recruiting volunteers, mercenaries, or foreign fighters on Senegalese soil is illegal.

“These young people who want to get involved [in Ukraine] have not fully considered political or religious implications,” said Serigne Bamba Gaye, a researcher on peace, security and governance at the US-based Peace Operations Training Institute (POTI).

“They are only interested in answering a call without perhaps understanding the issues surrounding the Ukrainian conflict,” Gaye said.

For security and risk analyst Ryan Cummings, African countries need to consider the implications of allowing their citizens to travel to Ukraine as hired guns. “Russia has stated any country that is actively assisting Ukraine in this war, or as Russia calls it: ‘A special military operation to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine,’ will be considered at war with Russia,” he said.

He warned that the Kremlin could also retaliate by ending diplomatic relations with African countries that support Ukraine in this way.

International Affairs

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Defense

The Reagan Institute poll: Americans are losing trust in the military

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The current era is marked by fading trust in U.S. institutions, but confidence in one pillar has held up: the military. But now even that is eroding, and the question is whether the brass will get the message, writes “The Wall Street Journal”.

The Reagan Institute releases an annual survey of public attitudes on national defense, and this year only 48% reported having “a great deal of confidence” in the U.S. military in results first detailed here. That’s down from 70% in 2018, and within the margin error of last year’s 45%.

Some 52% also had reduced confidence in uniformed officers.

General Mark Milley’s speech to Congress last year that he wanted to understand “white rage,” in response to reasonable inquiries about whether cadets at West Point should be learning critical race theory, was a lapse in judgment. Many Americans think the military is no longer an institution that runs on excellence, merit and individual submission to a larger cause.

The Pentagon denies this is a problem, but it surely is if half the public believes it.

Americans on the left have their own reasons for declining confidence in the military: 46% cited right-wing extremism, even though this scourge has been wildly overstated.

This drop in confidence comes at an ominous moment, as the public seems to know.

Some 75% in the Reagan survey viewed China as an enemy, up from 55% in 2018, and the percentage of those worried about Russia has doubled. Some 70% are concerned China might invade Taiwan within five years, and 61% support increasing the U.S. military’s Pacific footprint.

International Affairs

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