After the Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged in a series of explosions, it triggered worldwide concerns about the security of critical infrastructure in Europe. People are concerned that pipeline sabotage could open a Pandora’s box, putting key global infrastructure such as oil and gas pipelines, and underwater communications cables in great danger.
Such concerns have been confirmed by what happened recently. In less than a month, a barrage of mysterious attacks have taken place across Europe. The underwater internet cables in Norway, France and UK were cut off, and the railway cables in Germany were broken. All these incidents occurred after the explosions of the Nord Stream pipelines. It has not yet been confirmed whether these incidents are related, but the frequency with which they occurred is notable, indicating an increase in the number of hybrid attacks across Europe.
Accidents or sabotage?
On October 19 and 20, three key undersea cables in the southern France connecting the city of Marseille to Lyon, Milan, and Barcelona were severed. Theses damages reportedly caused widespread internet connectivity problems in Europe, Asia, the US, and potentially other parts of the world.
Jay Chaudhry, CEO of the cloud security company Zscaler Trust, claimed that the damage to the cable in France was an “act of vandalism”.
While in the United Kingdom, according to BBC, an undersea cable linking Shetland to Scotland was damaged around the same time as the southern France incident. The Shetland disruption took place while technicians were still working to restore another cable from the Faroe Islands to Shetland that was severed a week ago. The two separate incidents left much of the islands isolated from the rest of the world.
Páll Vesturbú, head of Faroese Telecom told the BBC that it was unusual to have two incidents simultaneously. “We expect it will be fishing vessels that damaged the cable but it is very rare that we have two problems at the same time,” Vesturbú told the BBC.
However, it is hard to say who was behind the submarine cable incidents. The cause of the incidents remains unknown and local and global investigations are underway.
On October 8, the railway cables were deliberately cut at two different locations in Germany, according to the German Transport Minister Volker Wissing.
And just a few days earlier, on October 4, the seabed internet cable between Henningsvær and Svolvær in Lofoten, Norway was broken. The reason for the damage still remains unknown.
Who destroyed the Nord Stream pipelines?
Despite various assumptions made by the media, there are tstraws in the wind pointing to the United States. Below are three types of circumstantial evidence that you may want to know:
– The US government and its intelligence agency has showed obvious intention before the incident.
As early as February 7, 2022, the U.S. President Joe Biden in a joint conference with Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz threatened: “If Russia invades, then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”
At the same time, Victoria Nuland, a senior diplomat in the Biden administration, issued Russia much the same warning, telling reporters: “If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.”
Weeks ahead of any incident being reported around the Nord Stream pipelines, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned the German government that there would be attacks on Nord Stream gas pipelines, reported by German newspaper Der Spiegel.
– A series of suspicious operations of the US Navy have been widely detected.
In early September, a US Navy Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopter (Flight FFAB123) spent hours loitering over the site of the damaged natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea near Bornholm for several consecutive days. Its flight track was exactly the same as the pipelines leaks route.
On September 14, The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), flagship of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) arrived in Gdynia and Gdansk respectively. Both the location are in Poland and near the sites of pipelines explosions.
On September 26, at 00:03 GMT, just hours after the first explosion to the Nord Stream pipelines, a P-8A Poseidon aircraft flew over the North Sea. According to tracking date reviewed by Reuters, the aircraft flew a number of regular racetrack-shaped circuits above Poland before breaking away towards the Baltic pipeline area. Although that US Navy spokesperson indicated that the aircraft was conducted a routine Baltic Sea maritime reconnaissance flight, it is still under suspicion whether the P-8A Poseidon aircraft was conducting a post-damage monitoring task.
– Credible suggestions were made by political and academic figures.
After the pipelines explosions, Douglas McGregor, a 69-year-old retired US Army colonel and former adviser to the head of the Pentagon during Donald Trump’s presidency said in an interview: “We need to see which countries have had the opportunity to do this. And here we are talking about the Royal Navy of Great Britain, and the US Navy. I think this is quite obvious”.
Jeffrey Sachs, the influential economist and UN advisor, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University told the Bloomberg: “I would bet the explosion was a US action, perhaps US and Poland”. And he added that there was sufficient evidence to verify the speculation that is was done by US, such as the radar evidence of the US Navy, the threat by Biden, the remarkable statement by Blinken and so on.
Security concerns are now exacerbating
It is unusual to have multiple cables incidents occurred in such a consecutive manner, especially after the deliberate mass destruction of the Russian undersea gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea last month, which is an attack conducted out of unprecedented insanity.
The participant in a two-day EU Summit in Brussel condemned the acts of sabotage against critical infrastructure such as the Nord Stream gas pipelines and promised a united and determined response, says the final statement on the EU summit, in which there is no mention of either responsibility for this crime or its investigation. Why are they unwilling to tell the truth? Are they afraid to name the real culprit?
With all these incidents, it is no doubt that the energy crisis in Europe will further intensify, and the situation will continue to deteriorate. However, what people cannot make sure is that once the Pandora’s box is opened, what new horrors in the game of great powers will emerge. With the bottom line of competitions or conflicts continuously lowered, it may further open a new battlefield for them, turning the whole world into a state of panicky volatility sooner or later.
Russia points to evidence exposing Kiev’s intentions to use biological weapons
Documents uncovered in the special military operation in Ukraine corroborate the evidence exposing the Kiev regime’s intentions to use biological weapons, Head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Research Center for Chemical and Biological Threats Dmitry Poklonsky said in the run-up to the Ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention. “In some cases, the study focused on infectious disease agents that had never been registered on Ukrainian soil,” he said – informs TASS.
“We have obtained reports of investigations into a collection of microorganisms that indicate the accumulation of pathogens in unsubstantiated amounts. There are documents confirming the intentions to acquire unmanned delivery vehicles that could be used for employing biological weapons. Considering the non-transparent nature of this work and the absence of any substantiated responses from the United States and Ukraine, we, of course, regard the documents obtained as proof that Article 1.4 of the Convention was violated,” the defense official said.
The documents obtained in the special military operation in Ukraine, including reports by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense, corroborate that the nature of work carried out there frequently ran counter to pressing healthcare problems, he stressed.
“In some cases, the study focused on infectious disease agents that had never been registered on Ukrainian soil,” Poklonsky pointed out.
Neither Washington nor Kiev deny the fact of the existence of biological labs in Ukraine bankrolled by the Pentagon, he pointed out.
“It was confirmed by the 2005 agreement between the US Department of Defense and the Ukrainian Health Ministry. Far more questions arise from the nature of the studies being carried out in these biological laboratories and how this work complies with the Convention’s requirements,” the chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Chemical and Biological Threats said.
Psychological Warfare (PSYOPS)- The Pandora’s Box of Security Issues
The world, functioning in its numerous forms and dimensions, is primarily perceived and misperceived by individuals through the faculty of the human Mind. A factor that creates a significant difference vis-a-vis human beings and other species is the complex cognitive ability possessed by humans. The mind is fundamentally an expression of thoughts circulated and imbibed through various means of communication. Deconstructing it further, thoughts portray the information consumed by an individual. In other words, this complex combination of the human mind, thoughts, and information shapes and reshapes our psychology.
Psychological war, in this context, can be perceived as a strategically orchestrated arrangement of information derived from variables like history, polity, religion, culture, literature, and philosophy broadly to channel propaganda with the prime objective of influencing and manipulating the behavior of the enemy to further one own interest. The term Psychological war is believed to be coined by a British Historian and military analyst, J.F.C Fuller, in 1920. One can observe that psychological war as an instrument of strategic importance is not of recent origin. Instead, the evolution of this tactic can be traced long back in history since the emergence of the State. It is considered one of the fundamental tools of statecraft and quite often has been put into the application as an instrument of state policy. Drawing a logical parallel, it can be advocated that psychological war has a close resemblance with the ancient notion of the allegory of the cave when applied in the present context.
Relevance of Psychological War
Napoleon Bonaparte once said “There are two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the mind.” With the gradual progress of human intelligentsia, the world is and will be shaped and reshaped through the use of technology. The hyperconnected nature of a modern globalized world broadly portrays the image of a collective human consciousness deeply engrossed in the overwhelming nature of technology that reverberates with every emerging aspect of human life. When viewed from the prism of the State as a governing body in the international forum, technology will be the emerging axis of geopolitics since no state and its citizen can exist in silos devoid of the influence of other states. This is primarily due to the free flow of data. In this context, due to the free flow of data, the power of propaganda as a significant dimension of psychological war would prove to be an effective instrument used by the State to further its national interest.
In this contextual framework, the role of conscious manufacturing of narratives under the larger ambit of the idea of psychological war must be given due consideration. In his famous book,The Ultimate Goal: A Former R&AW Chief Deconstructs How Nations and Intelligence Agency Construct Narratives, Vikram Sood unfolds the idea of how narratives are created, propagated, sustained, and refined in domestic countries and abroad to further the national interest. He emphasizes not only the power of information but also the power of disinformation to de-track and mislead the collective consciousness of the nation. Therefore, it is of critical significance for a nation to enhance its understanding of psychological war, considering it a major security issue.
The cost and the expense of war are also major concerns for the State. In this regard, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval establishes the viewpoint that wars are gradually becoming ineffective in achieving political and military objectives and that they are also highly expensive and are gradually becoming unaffordable. He further puts forward the idea of the 4th generation warfare where the operational target of the objective would be civil society. A fair understanding of the 4th generation warfare is of critical importance due to the fact that the modus operandi to target civil society would primarily be through the perpetual use of psychological war. The cost of psychological war, when compared with other forms of war, is abysmally low and also highly effective in manipulating the behaviour of the State. The cost-effectiveness helps it be more sustainable, which can be continued for an extended period of time.
Materialisation of Psychological War
Psychological war is applied by many States as an instrument of state policy. China, in this regard, can be considered a prominent player that has materialized this idea. In the strategic book on statecraft, The Art Of War, Sun Tzu states that “All warfare is based on deception.” China has consciously tried to bridge the gap between the theory and practice of psychological war. The Dhoklam issue in 2017 substantiates how the Chinese government used psychological war as an instrument of state policy to further its national interest.
The hostile approach of Pakistan towards India is not of recent origin. Instead, it is a phenomenon that can be traced back in history during the early germination of the idea of Pakistan when the Muslin League was formed in 1906. After the materialization of this idea by a painful partition of India in 1947, Kashmir became the bone of contention right after Pakistan’s inception as a nation-state. Pakistan, over the years, has become cognizant of the conventional asymmetry between the two nations. Therefore, it has operationalized the path of psychological war in the Kashmir region with a more pinpointed approach of using Twitter as an operational instrument to create misperceptions at a low cost to achieve its objectives.
Psychological War and the Indian Perspective
Taking a momentary glance at the historical evolution of India as a civilizational State, it can be rightly stated that understanding the nature of the mind has been a perpetual theme in the philosophical construct of India. The use of psychological war is not a new phenomenon. The references to it can be prominently found in Indian mythology. In this regard, the epic story of The Mahabharatha is a prominent example.
In one of the instances, Krishna applied this idea of psychological war by disclosing a fact to Karna, which hitherto was kept secret and hidden from him. Krishna, just before the war, unfolded the fact to Karna that he is the eldest son of Kunti, his father is the Sun God, and the Pandavas his brothers. This very fact and the timing of the disclosure of this fact put Karna in a deep psychological trauma that depletes his mental strength. It was at this moment that Krishna offered Karna to join the battle from the side of Pandavas. A similar instance of psychological war used by India was found during The Bangladesh liberation war.
In the context of psychological war, Arthashstra is also a relevant text. It mentions the art of Kutayuddha. In Sanskrit, the word Kuta implies the application of deception, the creation of misperception, and misleading the enemy state; Yudh means war. Kautilya is a staunch advocate of establishing a network of espionage to initiate intelligence and counterintelligence measures as a major security initiative for a state. Therefore, it can be rightly perceived that India has a history of psychological war, which it has implemented to maintain security and stability.
Taking an analogical perspective, if the mechanism of psychological war is like a gun, then information is the potential bullets that are fired from it to target the enemy. The flow of Information can be considered the most important factor that makes psychological war lethal, precise, and effective. Therefore, there exists an urgent need for the establishment of an ‘Information Operations Command’ to tackle the issue of psychological war that is rapidly maturing and enhancing in its nature and methodology, fusing with the 5th generation warfare.
Another area of critical importance in this regard is the pressing need for a ‘National Security Doctrine.’ A national security doctrine is primarily a broad vision of a nation in the domain of its security from an inclusive perspective. Strong inter-agency coordination and refined analysis of security issues are needed.
Psychological war, as a rapidly evolving tool of statecraft in the security domain, acts as a linchpin vis-a-vis the 4th and 5th generation warfare where civil society and citizens are targeted with a perfect blend of technology and information. This makes it a war that doesn’t have a start or an end date. It is fought every minute, and progress can be achieved, even though at a minuscule level, but on a daily basis. Therefore, India as a major player in international politics with two hostile neighbors on its eastern and western border, must hold into perspective the scope, significance, and emerging dynamics of psychological war to keep herself abreast with other states at the international level on the security front.
Growing India Israel Relations: A Threat to Sovereignty of Gulf States
India has developed remarkable ties with the Gulf nations, particularly the GCC, over the past few decades. The significant trade between GCC nations and India and Israel are the main cause. This gradualist approach and efforts on part of India is to include Israel in a broader Middle East policy. Under the Namenda Modi administration, since 2017 Israel is “special and normal” because India has avoided the negative repercussions and no longer have fears opened relations with the Jewish state.
However, the point of concern is that India and Israel’s growing ties must not result in a coalition against Muslims. Modi and Netanyahu have many good reasons to rejoice over their thawing ties. But the gulf countries must discredit them if they use that proximity to advance a common narrative of extreme nationalism, exclusion, and labeling Muslims as the enemy.
Since October 25th, 2022, news reports have been making the rounds in the media revealing India’s involvement in global terrorism. Eight former Indian Navy officers have recently been detained in Qatar on suspicion of espionage and terrorism supported by the Indian government. These spy-officers were arrested in August 2022 for their involvement in international terrorism, espionage, and spying while working in Qatar for a private company and providing training and other services to the Qatari Emiri Navy.
Purnendu Tiwari, a retired (Naval commander) who received the Pravasi Samman 2019 (Highest Indian Award Abroad), was the brains behind the transfer of data from a major Gulf Muslim nation to Israel and India. It has been reported in the media that these Indian officers had access to sensitive information while working with Qatar’s enemies and the Defense, Security, and other government agencies. This is not the first time; India has been involved in espionage operations that violate foreign governments’ sovereignty, though it continues to deny it. International terrorism perpetrated by India has also frequently targeted Pakistan in the past. One such instance is the Kalbushan Yadav case.
The relationship between India and Israel is frequently described as a result of a natural convergence of ideologies between their respective ruling BJP and Liked parties. The BJP’s Hindutva and right-wing Zionism are two ethno-nationalist political movements that naturally discriminate against other races and religions because they are based on the majority populations they serve. In comparison to earlier, more liberal iterations of Hindutva and Zionism, both parties have become more racist. Therefore, by all means, India’s continued close strategic, economic, and security ties with Israel are more ideological than pragmatic.
India should make an effort to protect itself ideologically from the threat of Hindutva becoming the state’s guiding principle and a vehicle for incitement both domestically and abroad. Its exclusivist and discriminatory belief that India is only the property of Hindus is dangerous, especially at a time when Muslim minorities are increasingly being lynched in the name of cow vigilantism.
Today, the Gulf is an integral part of India’s ‘extended neighborhood’, both by way of geographical proximity and as an area of expanded interests and growing Indian influence. However, as a result of escalating anti-Muslim sentiment and the Hindutva movement’s flawed ideology, the BJP, government is arguably facing its most difficult diplomatic challenge in its nine years in office. A few years ago in 2020, Muslim nations were outraged by Nupur Sharma’s (a BJP official) insulting comments made during a TV debate about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Islamic-majority nations voiced their opposition through tweets, official statements, and by summoning Indian diplomats. The BJP was compelled to take action against the party officials for posting a screenshot of offensive tweet.
Subsequently, Princess Hend al-Qassimi of the UAE then made a rare public statement in response to the rising Islamophobia among Indians, saying in a tweet, “I miss the peaceful India.” She did this after she specifically called out a tweet from an Indian resident of the UAE as being “openly racist and discriminatory,” reminding her followers that the penalty for hate speech could be a fine or even expulsion. These statements come after the Islamic world, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, urged India to act quickly to defend the rights of its Muslim minority and expressed concern about how the BJP treats Indian Muslims.
This suggests that the relationships New Delhi has worked so hard to build over the past few years drawing on the efforts of the previous administration is now seriously in jeopardy. India’s diplomatic achievement is starting to fall apart due to domestic developments that target its 200 million Muslims. The flagrant mistreatment of India’s Muslim communities now jeopardizes New Delhi’s carefully crafted Middle Eastern diplomacy, particularly with regard to the Gulf States.
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