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The Turkish Gambit

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Turkey goes on with an unusual and risky policy in military and technical cooperation, effectively regarding it to be a continuation of Recep Erdogan’s foreign policy agenda. Following a memorable game round when Ankara, much to its own surprise, ended up purchasing Russia’s S-400 ABM systems, Turkey has now decided to update its fighter fleet.

Turkey’s policy could be seen as a “balancing act” between major actors on the international stage. This term, however, usually implies alternating friendly signals, while for Ankara this seems to mean a proportionate share of annoying and blackmailing for all of its “partners”, with the tactics manifested across a broad range of foreign policy action. In this article, we will be focusing on the issues of military and technical cooperation.

The Original Purchasing Sin

The current situation in Turkey’s defence procurement has its roots in the peculiar politics of Recep Erdogan, where the purchase of Russia’s S-400 “Triumf” air defence missile systems came to be a turning point. Ironically, as far as we can tell, it accidentally resulted from a series of concurrent, though unrelated events.

Turkey’s armed forces are rather large and well-armed. The Turkish army is often claimed to be second largest in NATO after that of the United States; while this is true for overall numbers, it may not necessarily be so in terms of combat capabilities. The country is making quite a few efforts to advance the national military-industrial complex, increasingly striving to provide itself with domestically-produced weapons, including hi-tech arms. There remain major “gaps,” however, particularly in the most sophisticated and expensive areas, which is almost indecent for a major military power whose leadership has such daring ambitions.

Until recently, one such sector was ground-based medium range (or—better yet—long-range) air defence missile systems. In the early 2010s, the U.S. MIM-23 “Hawk” XXI was the best such system Turkey had. While Turkey had it undergo a profound modernization on the premises of American and Norwegian companies, it was still a system designed back in the 1960s, failing to meet the requirements of today. In 2007, Turkey sent requests to foreign manufacturers asking for offers on state-of-the-art air and missile systems. The U.S. PATRIOT PAC-3 competed against Europe’s ASTER 30 SAMP/T, Russia’s S-300VM Antey-2500,[1] and China’s HQ-9 in Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS (Turkish Long-Range Air-and Missile-Defence System) tender. NATO allies were considered unquestionable frontrunners, but their price tag far exceeded the cap set by Turkey. Turkey officially announced that it was willing to pay around $1 billion for four companies. This was, of course, an unrealistic lowball offer. While we know nothing of the details of the talks, a 2009 notice to Congress suggests that the American side was looking for $7.8 billion. As a result, Turkey announced in September 2013 its shocking decision to purchase the Chinese HQ-9 that was manufactured in China under a Russian S-300 license. Officially, the deal was $3.4 bn worth.

The level of indignation from Turkey’s senior partners across the ocean was quite understandable, even though it was nothing like what it would have been the case today. The U.S. used the same arguments it had put forward to try and dissuade Turkey from allowing Russia and China to take part in the tender to sell air defence missile systems to a NATO country, warning Ankara that it would be impossible to integrate “alien” systems into NATO’s common scout/attack information infrastructure. Meanwhile, the allies would probably have to consider restricting Ankara’s access to prevent operative information from getting into the hands of “instructors from the East” who are certain to arrive together with the missile systems. In particular, there were claims that anti-missile radars would be unable to assign targets to Chinese missile systems. Apparently, these referred to AN/TPY-2 radars deployed at Kürecik Radar Station in Turkey and Nevatim Air Force Base in Israel. These radars are rather “off-radar” ingredients of the U.S. global missile defence system.

It is likely, however, that Recep Erdogan has from the outset been using China as a means of putting pressure on the United States with a view to getting a better deal regarding price and technology transfer. Negotiations with Beijing were half-hearted, and September 2014 saw a contrived announcement that the deal had fallen through. It was at this time that Turkey started to play the “European card,” with the media believing that Ankara was now favoring the European offer. This is only partially a feint, though, as the later purchase of the S-400 did not prevent the two signing an agreement on the joint development of advanced air defence missile systems with a European consortium, which suggests that Europe was most likely needed to assist in developing Turkey’s own “Hisar” systems.

Things would likely have ended with the purchase of some “allied” system if it had not been for the Turkish Armed Forces, dissatisfied with Recep Erdogan’s politics, that attempted a military coup on July 15–16, 2016. Various estimates suggest that this ill-planned move, failing to take public sentiments into account and ignoring the fact that the secret services would remain loyal to the president, claimed the lives of 240 to 350 people and resulted in large-scale repressions against the army and society. Erdogan was angry with the United States as well, since the Turkish Armed Forces were rightly believed to be pro-American, maintaining unofficial ties with their fellows from American military academies. Washington probably suspected, if not knew for a fact, that the attempted putsch was possible.

That Ankara wanted to get under the skin of the United States was manifested in the spontaneous decision to purchase Russia’s S-400, simply out of spite. At that point, Moscow–Ankara relations were, as we remember, at their lowest ebb over their conflicting stances in Syria. The downing of the Russian Su-24M by a Turkish fighter jet on November 24, 2015 as the Russian aircraft was delivering strikes against pro-Turkish terrorists operating close to Turkey’s border was still fresh in the minds in Russia. However, the suppression of the supposedly “pro-American” coup largely mitigated the attitude of the Russian leadership, which likely saw the advantages of supporting Ankara in its desire to harm its relations with Washington. Besides, and for once, it cost absolutely nothing—on the contrary, Russia could make money and advertise its weaponry.

The contract was signed almost a year to the day after the coup, which speaks to the utterly unique timeframe for approving such a deal. The decision was made at the top level and involved expectations to proceed as quickly as possible. The framework agreement put the cost of two regiments at approximately $2.5 billion. Moreover, the Turkish side requested that subsequent deliveries under the contract be expedited and pushed forward by eight months, something unprecedented for the military-technical area, where deadlines are only pushed back. Deliveries of the first regiment started in July 2019 and continued until October of that year. Currently, the contract for the second regiment is pending approval, while it is expected to be signed by the end of 2021. In October 2020, Turkey conducted first independent practice firing, meaning that the regiment is at least partially combat-ready as of now.

The breakneck speed of striking a deal with Russia, as well as Turkey’s sudden interest in it, were certainly spurred on by Ankara’s deteriorating relations with the United States after the attempted coup. It is hard to say what kind of response Ankara expected to its accusations and demands—in particular, the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, who was accused of masterminding the attempted coup—but repentance was certainly not forthcoming, and the attempt at blackmail by purchasing S-400 prompted pure rage. It was no longer 2013, and a NATO country buying Russian weapons caused much more than a murmur of protest. Subsequently, the United States even imposed sanctions against Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) under CAATSA.

Clipped Wings

However, Turkey’s main “punishment” would be its expulsion from the programme to develop the fifth generation F-35 Lightning II fighter jet. In June 2018, Congress passed a bill suspending Turkey’s participation in the programme—a year later, when the “red line” was crossed with the start of S-400 deliveries, Turkey was entirely cut from the programme. The official notice was sent on April 2021.

The rather unusual format of the programme merits description. Strictly speaking, it is a multi-national programme rather than a purely American project. Alongside the U.S., another eight partner countries are involved the project, having “signed up” during the initial stages: the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey. From a practical point of view, only the United Kingdom makes significant R&D contributions to the project. [2] The other countries have mostly assumed financial obligations in the form of rather small direct financial payments to the R&D programme, also purchasing the first “limited-run” fighter jets used to fine-tune the aircraft and train the pilots. These jets are somewhat unfinished and more expensive than the mass production. However, the rewards far exceed the expenses, with the most significant of them being not even priority deliveries but participation in the mass production. The programme’s slogan is that every F-35 will have parts from every partner state. The U.S., however, is be able to manufacture all, or virtually all, parts—therefore, what is meant here is duplicating and distributing the workload. Still, the programme entails that parts and spares for thousands of jets will be manufactured for decades to come. For instance, Denmark, with its rather small aircraft industry, produces elements of wing centre section, tail section, weapon pylons, gun pods and radar parts. Some companies can “live” off these contracts for many years to come—which is apparently what they are planning to do. This explains why the partner states are so enamoured with the programme. This had led to a number of comic situations. For instance, the Canadian authorities have officially stated that Ottawa will not purchase F-35 fighter jets, yet the country still makes regular payments to the programme and has not officially withdrawn from it, since such a move would cut Canada’s industry off from the related manufacturing orders.

With a rather strong aircraft industry, Turkey could certainly benefit from the programme, especially since it has a rather good experience of similar projects. One example is its state-owned aircraft-building company TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries), which manufactured the licensed F-16 fighter jets for the Turkish and Egyptian air forces and the spare parts of these fighter jets for other countries since the late 1980s. This time, Turkey planned to purchase at least 100 ground-based F-35A jets. Additional commissions were likely to follow—in particular, for F-35В that could be based on Anadolu-class amphibious assault ships.[3] Turkey would likely have been one of the biggest purchasers of F-35 jets alongside Japan, which has commissioned 147 units.

The rewards for Turkish industry were great. Chief among these were TAI manufacturing the centre sections of the fuselage and power unit components, and the planned opening of a European jet engine servicing facility. All in all, Turkish companies were to manufacture about 900 jet parts. U.S. estimates suggest that Turkish companies will lose $9 billion once expelled from the programme. Still, the painful process of reshaping manufacturing plans and redistributing orders has dragged on for several years, costing the United States some $500–600 million and affecting production speeds. Turkish companies are expected to make final deliveries of the components they manufacture in 2022.

This is only the economic blow. Without F-35s, Turkey faces the ultimate question: What aircraft will the Turkish Air Force use? Today, the F-16 fighter jet family is its principal aircraft: Turkey has 260 jets [4], making it the world’s third-largest fleet after the U.S. and Israel. Additionally, Turkey has a small number of modified, yet significantly outdated and worn-out, F-4 and F-5 fighter jets. These planes are on their last legs and thus should not be taken into account when determining the future of the Turkish Air Force.

Over half of the country’s F-16 are F-16C/D Block 30/40 jets commissioned in 1987–1994. Although they were mostly modified along the lines of the newer Block 50 jets (and work is being done to extend their life even further), older jets are nearing the end of their operational life. Delays in implementing the F-35 programme forced the Turkish leadership to purchase thirty F-16 jets in 2007, which were delivered in 2011–2012. This was a stop-gap measure while Turkey awaited mass deliveries of F-35 jets that were to start in 2015.

It was not until June 18, 2018 that Turkey officially received its first F-35A, and the first flight of a Turkish pilot took place on August 29. An explanation is in order here: the first aircraft manufactured for Turkey, just like for other partner states, remain in the United States, where pilots and technicians undergo centralized training at international training facilities. Subsequently, aircraft can be sent to the relevant country or may remain in the United States. In the case of Turkey, this approach failed: Turkish personnel was reportedly trained in a slipshod manner, and the training was stopped altogether in June 2019, with the trainees told to pack their things and go home—without the aircraft, of course. The handover of the fighter jets that Turkey had paid for and formally owned was legally prohibited, so the aircraft could be considered “sequestered.” This applied to the first six aircraft that had formally been handed over to Turkey and which had already flown with Turkish identification marks. The aircraft that were in various stages of manufacturing were then purchased by U.S. Air Force. It currently has 16 fighter jets that were initially built for Turkey, while 24 aircraft were originally ordered. Closed-door talks on settling grievances are underway, and it is highly unlikely that they will be quick and easy. However, it would be safe to say that that Turkey was not fully compensated for the “American stunts” (and there is nothing to suggest it will be compensated at all). Erdogan has noted that Turkey had spent $1.4 billion on the programme.

The United States has offered a rather comical justification for its actions: the issue was no longer in the impossibility of integrating S-400 into NATO’s information space; instead, they claimed that the very fact of Russian air-defence missile systems operating in the immediate proximity of F-35’s was a security threat, since such systems would secretly collect intelligence and forward it to Moscow. Even Turkey’s statements that it is sending back Russian assistants and that the systems are now “100 per cent under Turkey’s control” produce no tangible outcome. What is funny here is that these fighter jets are sold to Poland, while U.S., British and Israeli aircraft participate in strikes against targets in Syria and U.S. fighter jets visit the Baltic states etc. In all these situations, F-35s find themselves in close proximity to S-400’s operated by Russian personnel.

The arguments about “collecting intelligence” were obviously contrived, and the United States merely wants to punish the obstinate Turkish leader. For similar reasons, NATO became extremely concerned about the plight of Kurds following Turkey’s armed intervention in the north of Syria, and initiated a blocking of military-technical cooperation with Turkey, even though Ankara had regularly conducted anti-Kurdish operations (including operations in adjacent states) in the past. Another round of restrictions was prompted by Turkey’s involvement in the wars in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. Naturally, such restrictions are publicly imposed and quietly lifted, being frequently bypassed by the parties concerned, but they still present significant inconveniences for Turkey. At the peak of concerns over U.S. sanctions, Turkey was feverishly scrambling to purchase spare parts for its F-16 aircraft and other equipment originating in the U.S., but no embargo on technical support and maintenance for Turkey’s aircraft fleet was ever imposed.

After all this, the Turkish Air Force found itself without the aircraft around which its entire fighter jet fleet was to be built. Ankara has a national TAI TF-X programme for designing an MMU fighter jet. It entails cooperation with foreign partners (in particular, the UK’s Rolls-Royce is designing the power unit), yet even the most optimistic plans slate the prototype’s unveiling for 2023, with the aircraft entering service in the early 2030s. In such cases, deadlines are usually pushed back, and it is unclear how rocky the start will be and whether mass production will go smoothly. South Korea, Japan and India have similar programmes, but they have no plans to abandon aircraft imports as of right now. Clearly, it is becoming rather urgent for the Turkish Air Force to purchase new fighters.

Ankara, in the meantime, seems posed to go on with its “balancing” policy. Erdogan was the main guest at the MAKS Air Show 2019 in Zhukovsky. Afterwards, Vladimir Putin said they were discussing the possibility of selling Russian Su-35 and Su-57 fighters to Turkey, while the Turkish leader confirmed that this was indeed possible if the United States refused to deliver F-35. The parties launched talks on the subject, and the Turkish media wasted no time in reporting that a contract for the purchase of 36 Su-35 jets would be signed soon. The Turkish Minister of Defence denied these claims, though, saying that Turkey was planning to make sure the United States would deliver the F-35 jets. Contradictory statements are constantly made on the subject.

More fuel was added to the fire on September 30 when reports appeared that Turkey had sent an official request to the Unites States for the purchase of 40 new Block 70 versions of F-16 as well as for 80 kits for upgrading its fighter jets.

As of now, F-16V Viper Block 70 is the latest F-16 modification exclusively developed for exports (the U.S. Air Force’s modernization programme uses only a few similar components). The aircraft was first presented in 2012, although we’d better say this was when the commercial offer for this “configuration” was born. There were only minor differences from the previous build-ups: a new Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar, a cockpit featuring a large 10-inch display in place of analogue equipment, new electronic warfare and communications systems ensuring interaction with fifth-generation fighter jets, a more powerful mainframe computer, an automatic ground collision avoidance system, and a significantly longer airframe life. The U.S. offers both the new version of the aircraft assembled at a new plant in South Carolina (the old plant in Texas only manufactures F-35’s), and parts for modernizing the old F-16 jets. New aircraft were purchased by Taiwan (66), Bahrain (16), Slovakia (14), Bulgaria (8) and, possibly, Morocco (24), as the latter purchase was never officially confirmed, something typical for the country’s procurement practices. What is more, Taiwan, Greece and Bahrain purchased even larger modernization kits. Talks are under way on potential sales to Jordan and the Philippines and on modernizing South Korea’s aircraft fleet.

The new aircraft should make it possible to phase out the last of the F-4 “Phantom II”. The transaction is estimated to be $6–7 billion worth. U.S. and Turkish leaders were expected to discuss it in person at the G20 Rome summit on October 30–31. The issue of F-35 deliveries is expected to be brought up as well.

What ultimately becomes of Turkey’s request will tell us a lot about how the relations between Washington and Ankara will develop moving forward. On the one hand, Turkey really needs fighter jets, and its request is modest enough. Joe Biden has repeatedly said that NATO needs to bolster its defence capabilities and unity. On the other hand, against the backdrop of the request to purchase fighter jets, Turkey’s rhetoric concerning its further S-400 procurements is an insulting dismissal of the grievances put forward by the United States. Erdogan and his policies have not become more popular in the United States over the recent years, which is to put it mildly: in addition to Erdogan’s “friendship” with Putin, Turkey has a questionable human rights record (something that is ideologically important for the incumbent U.S. administration), and the Turkish president is not popular among many of the diasporas in the United States (Armenian, Greek, etc.), which have already launched a campaign against the contract. Were it only a matter to convince the executive branch, Erdogan could stand good chances. In the United States, though, such contracts have to be authorized by the Congress, and it is not at all clear how Turkey could obtain this approval. U.S. legislators will clearly demand steps that the obstinate Turkish leader will deem insulting (such as withdrawing S-400 systems from active duty and putting them into storage or abandoning military-technical and possibly some economic cooperation with Russia).

So far, Washington has responded rather coldly to Erdogan’s recent populist statements that the United States had allegedly offered to sell F-16’s to Turkey as a compensation for the “debt” for the latter’s financing the F-35 programme (Turkey’s own request does not quite jibe with Erdogan’s statements since this request is far more than $1.4 billion worth). The spokesperson for the United States Department of State suggested the Turkish government be asked about the country’s procurement plans but noted that the U.S. has definitely not made any offers concerning Turkey’s request.

On the other hand, denying Turkey’s request—widely and early discussed in the media—may be a real insult and an “absolution” for buying Russian or Chinese fighters. The decision will be difficult, far more difficult than buying air defence missile systems: the officer corps of the Turkish Air Force has been trained by Americans and on American aircraft; this would require new weapons and ground infrastructure to be purchased; and there would be very real integration issues, as well as problems with operations and maintenance. Still, there are countries (such as India, Malaysia and Egypt) that operate aircraft manufactured in different countries. Consequently, this is quite possible, meaning that such “minor” difficulties may not stop the Turkish leader, who has repeatedly demonstrated his readiness to make radical decisions. Additionally, it will serve as useful practice for transitioning to domestic-made aviation. If Turkey’s Western partners refuse to cooperate once again, it could hope for Russia’s assistance in developing its domestic-made fleet. The Russian aviation, independent of American supplies, will serve as a partial insurance against an embargo.

From Russia’s standpoint, the situation is simple enough. Moscow benefits from arguments and schisms in NATO, particularly those between major players. A metaphorical “downing” of a hundred F-35s with a single regiment of S-400s is a fantastic success—at least, Turkey using these aircraft has been delayed for years. For once, Russia may get paid for it, while the United States and NATO bear additional costs. It would thus work in Russia’s favour to offer Su-35’s to Turkey.

The main arguments “against” boil down to the danger of technical secrets and weapons being leaked by a country whose friendly status is highly debatable. The dangers are not to be overestimated, though. First, the Su-35S was designed to be exported. As things stand, export versions are already different in the sensitive aspects of their equipment from those intended for the domestic market. The aircraft had already been intended for countries that were no less likely than Turkey to leak secrets to the United States (the Gulf monarchies, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, etc.). Second, in Turkey’s hands, Russian aviation and other military equipment is less dangerous for Russia than the equipment manufactured in other countries. The manufacturer knows these aircraft and its equipment inside and out, and it is widely believed that something may “suddenly” go awry if these hi-tech weapons are turned against their manufacturer.

  1. There is information that Russia considered offering S-400s during the initial stages of the tender, but the idea was later abandoned.
  2. In particular, Rolls-Royce has designed the engine unit for the vertical landing version of the F-35B fighter jet.
  3. The first TCG Anadolu (L-400) is to join the Turkish Navy in 2022, with the construction of a sistership, Trakya, planned. The assault ship is equipped with a springboard for basing aircraft of shortened takeoff and vertical landing, such as the F-35B.
  4. The Military Balance 2021.

From our partner RIAC

Defense

U.S Vs China view on the Iranian nuclear proliferation risks

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The Chinese view and philosophy on Iranian nuclear proliferation can be understood through (the Chinese emphasis on the current global security situation and its passing through complex and profound changes, and the challenges of curbing and exacerbating proliferation and nuclear security are exacerbating, while the threat of nuclear terrorism cannot be ignored), which it overlooked and ignored the Western powers and American policies themselves, contrary to the Chinese vision.

 The Chinese understanding regarding confronting the US pressure on Iran over its nuclear program is characterized by the mechanism of Iran’s regional positioning in the Middle East and making it a major regional power, especially after the “strategic partnership agreement with Iran for 25 years in March 2021”, with China intensifying its partnership efforts with other powers to mobilize them and recruit them to the Chinese side to exert collective pressures on the United States of America regarding forcing it to accept the Iranian conditions on negotiating the nuclear proliferation file, and the importance of Washington making concessions in favor of Tehran, especially related to lifting and easing US sanctions imposed on Iran.

   And what can be emphasized here, that it seems important here, in light of the growing competition between the United States and China, that (the countries of the region pay attention to bridging the gaps, liquidating regional conflicts, rebuilding strategic alliances and security initiatives), which makes the region a difficult figure in the face of (all  Attempts to employ it in the context of the conflict between the major powers). The countries of the region should also deepen their relations with the countries and partners of the middle and influential powers in the international system, especially those countries that have permanent membership in the UN Security Council, as well as the European Union, so that there are (alternatives and front lines of defense on the part of these powers to defend their interests in the region  And to impose a balanced equation that prevents exposure to the effects of any new cold war that may affect the region, due to the policies of US-Chinese competition).

   In my personal opinion, that (the Iranians may have another opportunity to negotiate about it by turning back the movement of history), and what I mean here is (Iran’s presentation during the rule of former President “Mohammed Khatami” and after the United States invaded Iraq after 2003, a generous offer to the West from  During what is known, as (Swiss diplomacy), where that show was known at the time, as the “Grand Bargain Deal”).

     By that (Swiss diplomacy) means the (Iranian pledge to be fully transparent about its nuclear file, and to prove stopping its support for Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon, in return for full security guarantees from the United States of America, and full normalization of relations with it), and I believe that Iran according to that  Swiss diplomacy will win the ranks of the international community, including (Israel and the Arab Gulf states as Iran’s staunch enemies in the Middle East).

   China also wants, with the Iranian side, to stick to the 2015 negotiations, known as the “5+1” Group”, which includes: (USA, France, Britain, Russia, China, in addition to Germany with Iran). But, the US withdrawal came unilaterally during Trump’s term in 2018, which formed a series of tensions about the reasons for this American withdrawal in the media and diplomacy, and China’s constant question about (the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency in confronting Washington and its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear agreement that the USA has signed with Iran in 2015).

    I can also stop here on a serious issue that is rarely touched upon, regarding (the role of the Western, American and even the Israeli media itself towards Iran and mobilizing the whole world against it, by accusing Iran that it is months away from manufacturing the first nuclear weapon, which represents real pressure on the work of the Agency). In my personal opinion, Iran still needs long-term years to complete its nuclear project, especially in light of the severe economic crisis that the Islamic Republic of Iran is suffering from, which lacks sufficient financial, technical and psychological resources and the final decision to possess this nuclear weapon in its final form.

    China is seeking to reach an agreement on a tight and comprehensive framework on the Iranian nuclear program, which guarantees (complete and free international control without US, Israeli or international pressures on uranium enrichment and plutonium residues), which may block any endeavor to manufacture a nuclear weapon, according to the assurances of the American experts themselves in the nuclear technicians file.

   Here, China insists on a number of terms and conditions in advance, regarding the new mechanism relating to (the renegotiation of the Iranian nuclear file against the United States of America), which are:

Calling on China to (lift the economic sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States on Iran), as a prerequisite for goodwill towards Iran.

  China understands the International Atomic Energy Agency’s long-term restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, but China supports the (continuation of uranium enrichment in small, identifiable proportions, for the purpose of Iran’s peaceful nuclear uses in legitimate work such as electricity generation), and so on.

China’s support for the efforts of (reducing the number of Iranian centrifuges by two-thirds, while keeping the rest and monitoring the nature of its peaceful uses).

 China’s monitoring and supervision of the activities (disposal of enriched Iranian uranium under the supervision of the supervisors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, without American pressures), which may be exercised on them to random level of accusations against Iran.

 China agrees with the Iranians not to export nuclear fuel in the coming years, and support (the strategy of not building Iranian reactors that may operate with heavy water generating dangerous nuclear uses, and China’s support for the IAEA’s scarcity of not transferring Iranian equipment from one nuclear facility to another in Tehran for a period of approximately 15 years, in order to ensure integrity and transparency).

The Iranian allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to enter all suspected sites, including: the Iranian military sites, but this is done after “consulting with Tehran itself out of respect for its internal affairs and sovereignty”.

 The necessity of maintaining (the ban on the import of Iranian weapons for an additional five years, and eight years for ballistic missiles).

 China’s requesting from the US and the international community to (release of Iran’s frozen assets, which are estimated at billions of dollars), in order to restore the wheel of development and economic growth for the benefit of the Iranian people themselves.

 China is demanding to (lift the ban on Iranian aviation, as well as on the Central Bank and Iranian companies).

 China’s call to the International Atomic Energy Agency to cooperate with Iran internationally in (the areas of its superiority in energy and technology to benefit from it on the one hand and to integrate and qualify Iran to win the affection of the international community on the other hand).

    Here, we find China’s keenness to (the success of the negotiations of the Iranian nuclear agreement, as a Chinese diplomatic success and victory in the face of Washington), and this was demonstrated through the previous Chinese proposals, which (included a negotiating framework based on mutual concession step by step to make it a success, meaning Iran’s concession in exchange for the concession of the United States of America and IAEA negotiators).

  The Chinese long-term vision is represented in proposing and negotiating all endeavors, proposals, and solutions regarding the Iranian nuclear file, in order to (gain a double international political weight for Beijing as a superpower in the face of American and Western policies, and in support of the Chinese position calling for international pluralism and the existence of a multilateral system that is active in it). If this is achieved, Beijing will be the (first and most international beneficiary of the completion of the Iranian nuclear agreement on conditions satisfactory to all), whether on the political or economic level, and without leaving any clear negative repercussions on the Chinese side itself in the future.

   During the various stages of the negotiations, China also made unremitting efforts to resolve the differences between Washington and Tehran, especially (encouraging Beijing to adhere to the international joint plan of action, which China proposed as a solution to the problem of the Iranian nuclear file), known as: “JPOA”

  The most prominent (proposals for the formulation of the Chinese negotiating framework towards Iran and the international community) to reach a comprehensive solution are the development of Chinese proposals, based on five points, as follows:

  1. Ensuring commitment to dialogue between the (5+1) group and Iran.
  2. Seeking a comprehensive, fair, appropriate and long-term solution.
  3. Follow the principle of solution step by step and alternately.
  4. Creating a suitable atmosphere for dialogue and negotiation.
  5. Ensuring a comprehensive approach to address the symptoms and root causes of the crisis.

  The “Chinese comprehensive solution strategy towards the Iranian nuclear crisis”, is also based on China’s proposal for a comprehensive solution based on four points, the most prominent of which, represented in:

 It is necessary to activate political decisions with Iran, and not just rely solely on technical solutions, given that the (Iranian nuclear file has a political-security character).

  All international parties must meet and move with each other in the middle of the road to achieve the necessary flexibility, and this requires (accepting settlements from all international parties, including Iran).

 Follow the principle of “step-by-step and reciprocal solution”, which is the common item in all the internationally proposed Chinese proposals.

Thinking outside the box to find a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, meaning: reaching solutions that may be (new, innovative, technical and technical), as steps in achieving negotiations with Iran.

   The most prominent of these innovative, new and unconventional Chinese solutions for the step of resolving the nuclear crisis with Tehran, is (China’s proposal for a solution that includes redesigning the core of the “Arak Heavy Water Facility” reactor, which will distance it from the nuclear problem by reducing its consumption and reducing the efficiency and degree of its work to the maximum extent), and here, we can note that the Iranian Arak nuclear facility is capable of producing plutonium, a dangerous substance that is usually used to make a nuclear bomb, that is, for military uses. The (Iranian Arak reactor) was a serious obstacle to the progress of negotiations with Iran, until China proposed an innovative solution outside the box, it is (the idea of ​​redesigning the Iranian reactor core so that it is unable to produce plutonium for military purposes).

    China adheres here, in accordance with the text of the previous nuclear agreement with Tehran in 2015, to establish (a mechanism that guarantees common responsibilities among all, especially the group of negotiating countries (5+1), which are the countries that participated in the negotiations with Iran for the purpose of reaching the nuclear agreement), especially at the invitation of China towards a step of the (international integration of Iran in the fields of peaceful nuclear cooperation, as well as providing technical and technical assistance to Iran for peaceful purposes). Hence, China will have a leading role in achieving the future negotiation plan with Iran.

   According to the official Chinese vision, (setting a condition for lifting the sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, in exchange for Iran imposing long-term restrictions on its nuclear program), that the West suspects is aimed at making an Iranian nuclear bomb in the long run, with China constantly launching a major diplomatic offensive to counter all the unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and Europe.

    An official Chinese assertion came, through (a major report issued by the “Chinese People’s Daily”, which is the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party of China, which confirmed that “China’s leadership of talks with Iran has sent a message of hope to the world about the success of Chinese diplomatic efforts towards the solution step”. The Chinese newspaper emphasized the result, by emphasizing of “The facts are now showing that dialogue and negotiations were the only correct and effective path to an appropriate solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, and that a particular country’s threat to use force against Iran and impose unilateral sanctions is unacceptable”. The Chinese People’s Daily concluded its directed primarily speech  to the international community, by emphasizing that: “China is one of the main advocates of the principle of searching for political solutions regarding Iran, and that Iranian talks, according to Beijing’s vision and philosophy have always demonstrated the importance of this philosophy”.

  The confirmation made by the current Chinese Foreign Minister, (Wang Yi) who has assured that: “China and the United States of America bear great responsibilities in protecting the international regime for nuclear non-proliferation, so they should remain in good contact during the negotiations, and trying to instill positive energy towards the negotiation file with Iran”.

   China is trying (to prove its ability before the International Atomic Energy Agency and the international community to convince the Iranians of appropriate solutions, through China’s supervision of the formulation of a neutral agreement that satisfies all parties, through China’s continued close coordination with all relevant parties, including the United States of America itself), and the Chinese attempt to supervise  on all arrangements and play a constructive role during this process.  This is despite the differences between China and the United States of America on everything, starting with (the United States of America signing the AUKUS Defense agreements and the Quad agreement to confront China, electronic security differences between the two parties, the dispute over the value of the Chinese currency, trade differences, and the United States’ ban on dealing with the Chinese company of “Huawei” to introduce the fifth generation of the networks)….etc.

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Defense

War Between Russia and Ukraine: A Basic Scenario?

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Concern is growing in the Western media over Russian military activity in the southwestern theatre. There are opinions that Russia is preparing a military campaign against Ukraine. The supposed goal is to break the deadlock of the Minsk Agreements, to impose further coexistence conditions on Kiev and its Western partners, to prevent the US and NATO from “developing” the territory of Ukraine for military purposes, and also to reformat the country’s political system and its state structure. Such rumours are spreading quickly, causing alarm among the political leaders of foreign countries as well as latent, albeit tangible fears in the business community. However, it is still premature to consider such a development as a baseline scenario.

Several circumstances speak in favour of the military scenario outlined by foreign commentators. The first is the recent experience of the Russian armed forces and the political consequences of their use. Moscow intervened in Georgia’s conflict with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, quickly changing the situation and recognising the two autonomies as independent states. In 2014, Russia carried out a lightning-fast operation in Crimea, creating conditions for the subsequent referendum on reunification. Later, the Ukrainian army was defeated in Donbass, and the political consequence was the formation of the LPR and DPR. In 2015, Moscow radically changed the military situation in Syria by deploying a compact but highly effective air group. The political result has been the preservation of power in the hands of the Assad government and the defeat of a number of terrorist groups. All these events indicate that Russia is ready to use force suddenly, in a concentrated manner and at the same time to seek concrete political changes.

The second circumstance is that the international political consequences for Russia which resulted from the military campaigns were relatively insufficient. No foreign state has intervened openly in these conflicts. Foreign military aid does not radically alter the balance of power. Economic sanctions in their current form harm the Russian economy, but they are still not the main factor contributing to existing problems. The economy itself is stable. In short, there are no major checks and balances on a new military campaign.

The third circumstance is that Russia is not ready to bear with the existing status quo in relations with Ukraine. Kiev is almost openly talking about sabotaging the Minsk agreements, and is not ready to implement them. The US and the EU cannot or do not want to change this; while at the same time they are verbally calling on Russia to abide by the agreements. Ukraine itself, after 2014, for obvious reasons, has been pursuing an anti-Russian line. The events of 2014 significantly strengthened the position of the nationalists. Any attempt to pursue a political dialogue with Russia is deemed unacceptable. A “mopping-up” of politicians who are in any way loyal to Russia is under way. Militarily weak and fearful of further complications with Moscow, Ukraine is seeking to deepen its defence ties with the United States and its allies, as well as trying to expand military aid and supplies. In Moscow, this is perceived as the “utilisation” of the territory of Ukraine by Western countries and is accompanied with subsequent threats to the strategic interests of Russia. Moscow considers the emergence of Western military infrastructure in Ukraine only a matter of time.

Taking into account these circumstances, a scenario where Russia takes action can be hypothetically considered in the West and in Ukraine in the following vein. With a sudden and decisive blow in several directions at once, Russian troops dismember the armed forces of Ukraine in the East of the country, surround separate groups, or press them against the Dnieper river. The actions of tank and motorised units are accompanied by powerful air, missile and artillery strikes. The Russian Aerospace Forces seize air supremacy. The apotheosis of the operation should be the encirclement and the subsequent capture of Kiev, and the stabilisation of the front line along the Dnieper. The creation of a new Ukrainian state with the capital in Kiev would be announced and recognised by Russia. It would include the previously-independent DPR and LPR. Russia thereby resolves several historical problems at once. The immediate threat to the southwestern borders is removed. Full control over the Sea of Azov and a land corridor to the Republic of Crimea are ensured. Two Ukrainian states appear on the map, one of which should be “friendly and fraternal”.

Even if one fails to write off this scenario as a reflection of existing phobias and nationalist complexes, it still seems unlikely for a number of reasons.

First, such a military conflict is unlikely to culminate in any intelligible agreement. A victory over the armed forces of Ukraine will not by itself lead to a fast peace. The war could develop into a long and sluggish confrontation, especially if part of the territory (for example, Western Ukraine) remains under the control of the Ukrainian armed forces. Capturing the whole of Ukraine is technically possible. However, it will be more costly, and subsequent control would be much more difficult. The option of “two Ukrainian states” would allow Russia to squeeze nationalists out by sending them West. Under a “one Ukraine” scenario, this would be impossible, given all the ensuing consequences.

Second, the conflict would inevitably lead to a sharp change in the Western approach toward providing Ukraine with modern weapons and military equipment. In the United States and in the West as a whole, the new situation would be considered as an emergency and they would not limit funds to support the armed forces of Ukraine. Moreover, in this case, all possible types of conventional weapons will be supplied. Large-scale military aid from the West would prolong the conflict. Russia would not be able to block such supplies. The United States and its allies will not enter open military confrontation with Moscow. However, the level of support for the Ukrainian army will grow significantly.

Third, regarding the Ukrainian issue, Russia would find itself in diplomatic isolation. It is unlikely that any country would voice support for Moscow’s actions. Unlike Crimea and Donbass, we’re talking about a large-scale and open clash between the armed forces, that is, about a full-fledged war. Russia would certainly be on the offensive. This would allow its actions to be classified as aggression without any problems. While the situation in Crimea and Donbass arose against the backdrop of revolutionary events in Ukraine and could be construed as part of a civil conflict, then in this scenario, such conditions are not visible. At the moment, there is no obvious conflict between the East and West of Ukraine. The legitimacy of Moscow’s actions in this case would be extremely weak, if not entirely impossible. In addition, Russia would have to bear responsibility for the civilian casualties, which would be inevitable in a large-scale conflict.

Fourth, all key Western players would introduce qualitatively new sanctions and restrictions against Russia. These would harm a number of Western countries and cause temporary shocks in world markets. But in an emergency situation, the West would take such measures, despite their economic cost. Possible measures include blocking sanctions against all Russian banks, including the Bank of Russia. This would largely cut Russia off from the global financial system. Another possible measure is a ban on the purchase of Russian oil, and then gas. Such bans can be increased gradually in order to avoid crisis situations with fuel supplies in the West itself. But in the event of a war in Ukraine, the West would take these measures. Other, more focused restrictions would be applied to imports and exports of oil and gas. The cumulative damage to the Russian economy would be colossal in scale.

Fifth, controlling Ukraine, even its eastern part, could be problematic. Taking into account the Western sanctions blockade, any transactions with the territories of Ukraine under Russian control would be impossible. Russia would have to take on a huge territory. The big question is whether the Russian market, in the grip of new sanctions, would be able to compensate for the damage to the Ukrainian territories under Russian control. The seizure of territories wouldn’t solve any of the problems facing the Russian economy today.

Sixth, the loyalty of the population of Eastern Ukraine to Russia is not obvious. Despite all the internal disagreements, over the past 30 years Ukraine has developed its own civic identity. The population of the eastern regions may have a negative attitude towards excessive nationalism. However, this does not guarantee their loyalty to Russia. Moreover, the war could finally undermine sympathy for Russia, which has already dwindled over the past six years.

Finally, seventh, the war is fraught with destabilisation of the situation inside Russia itself. There is no demand in society for a war with a neighbour, even despite the odiousness of the anti-Russia discourse in Ukraine. It is quite possible that Russian troops would be able to inflict resounding defeats on the armed forces of Ukraine and push them to the West. The losses, however, would still amount to hundreds, and possibly thousands of fighters. In the event of a possible prolongation of the conflict, human losses would become a permanent factor. Combined with a possible economic crisis, these are not the best conditions for generating public support. While reunification with Crimea was accepted with enthusiasm in Russian society for many reasons, a big war is unlikely to find such support.

In other words, the costs of a possible war far outweigh the benefits. The war is fraught with significant risks to the economy, political stability and Russian foreign policy. It fails to solve key security problems, while it creates many new ones.

The question arises—to whom and under what conditions is this scenario beneficial? First of all, it is attractive precisely as a hypothetical rather than a real situation. In this form, it makes it possible to consolidate Ukraine on an anti-Russian basis, to seek the expansion of Western military aid, and to justify such aid to the West. The threat of war and an exercise of power can also be used by the Russian side. Moscow shows that it is technically ready for a radical scenario and will not allow its “red lines” to be crossed. These “red lines” include a military solution to the Donbass problem. In other words, the scenario has a practical meaning as a tool for information warfare and political signals.

From the point of view of the balance of benefits and losses, neither side is interested in a real war. Therefore, it is hardly worth considering the war scenario as a likely one. However, history knows many examples when rational calculations have failed to put an end to escalation. There is only the hope that this isn’t the case here.

From our partner RIAC

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Defense

Contemporary World and the Era of Hybrid Warfare

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From the start of time, mankind is involved in many wars and conflicts for different reasons. Not so far, in the 20th century World has witnessed two major Wars of Human History also known as the World Wars, where every country was fighting either directly or indirectly with its opponent to serve their self-interests. It is a matter of fact that only World War-I caused around 40 Million Civil and Military casualties around the globe out of which 20 Million deaths were reported and 21 Million wounded cases were reported.

Similarly, World War II caused the death of around 75 million people out of which 20 Million Military and 40 Million Civilian deaths were reported. Not only was that but there were also some 10-15 Million deaths that were caused by war-related disease and famine. But with the start of the 21st century, the new concept of hybrid warfare is introduced in the strategic community that not only covers the traditional means of warfare but also involves the non-traditional means such as proxies, exploitation of population, trade, and economy.

The point to understand is, traditional wars were based on only state-centric approaches, but the hybrid war is not only limited to the state-centric approach as it can also target the individuals of any country easily to serve its interests.

Considering the tools of Hybrid Warfare and Pakistan’s internal security, the importance of drugs and Narcoterrorism cannot be ignored. Pakistan is sharing a border with Afghanistan that is well known for its opium production. Unfortunately, Afghanistan soil was used against Pakistan during recent years under the influence of India and it was reported that several drug trafficking and narcoterrorism activities were conducted by Indian sponsored groups. However, The Taliban Government has announced that they will no longer support the opium production on their land.

But this confirmation from the Taliban Government is not enough to maintain the internal security of Pakistan. Pakistan needs to protect its young generation from this narcoterrorism as the young generation of Pakistan is also one of the most important assets of the country and to whom the future of Pakistan belongs. No doubt, Pakistani Law enforcement agencies are playing their vital role to control drug trafficking but there are numerous weak points in the system that are affecting the whole infrastructure.

According to recent reports, almost every educational institution in Islamabad is a haven for drug dealers and drug suppliers where they are easily targeting the young minds of Pakistan. It’s a matter of fact that authorities are not successfully getting hold of these drug dealers as easily as a young college-going student can easily find them. And in the end, these drugs and narcotics not only affect the mental and physical health of young students but also cost them financially, emotionally, and socially by lacking their confidence and competitiveness.

Authorities need to handle this security threat to the young minds of the nation by controlling the spread of drugs and narcotics in educational institutions. A drug test should be mandatory in educational institutes with strict compliance to be followed. Authorities should also need to engage youth in more extracurricular sports activities by encouraging them with rewards on the national level so that they may find the true reason to stay away from the company of drugs and narcotics. And on the least level, authorities with the contribution of Parents and Teachers, need to share the consequences of drugs on life and a healthy body as an awareness campaign on every platform so that we can make sure that we are protecting our young generation from the silent yet destructive tool of hybrid warfare in the contemporary world.

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