January 25, 2014

A mismatch of nuclear doctrines

  http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-mismatch-of-nuclear-doctrines/article5602609.ece
RAJA MENON
  VITAL QUESTIONS: The ‘massive’ retaliation promised in the Indian nuclear doctrine is being increasingly questioned by scholars and analysts. This handout photograph released by the Defence Research and Development Organisation shows the launch of Agni V intercontinental ballistic missile at Wheeler Island, Odisha, on September 15, 2013.
VITAL QUESTIONS: The ‘massive’ retaliation promised in the Indian nuclear doctrine is being increasingly questioned by scholars and analysts. This handout photograph released by the Defence Research and Development Organisation shows the launch of Agni V intercontinental ballistic missile at Wheeler Island, Odisha, on September 15, 2013.



India intends to deter nuclear use by Pakistan while Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are meant to compensate for conventional arms asymmetry.

Manufacturing a nuclear weapon does not, as a senior Indian Minister in 1998 claimed, create credible deterrence. Deterrence is entirely a matter of perceptions, a mental effect that is created on the adversary that nuclear use will entail assured retaliatory holocaust. The possibility of nuclear use is thereby pre-empted. The Indian nuclear doctrine, in that sense, is well articulated — on paper. Since 1998, more than 15 years have passed and in the Indian sub-continent, nuclear arsenals have grown far beyond the small nuclear ambitions that were articulated then. Yet there is an increasing fund of world literature being published, pointing to structural and operational weaknesses in the Indian nuclear arsenal. The question is not whether India has built enough nuclear bombs. Hardly anyone questions this basic fact, but the ideational systems that will ensure the ‘massive’ retaliation promised in the doctrine are being increasingly questioned by scholars and analysts worldwide. Pakistani observers cannot help but be swayed and dangerously influenced by such literature, thereby inducing them to think the unthinkable. What does not help in encouraging sober thinking is the fact that since the end of the Second World War, South Asia has seen the largest number of shooting wars in the world. So the questions of nuclear use will not arise in the quiet peace of neighbourly relations, but in the stress of combat over the Line of Control or the international border.

The 1998 test
Critics of the credibility of India’s nuclear arsenal begin with their doubts on the success of the thermo-nuclear test of 1998, which they claim was a ‘fizzle.’ There has been much toing-and-froing in technical journals, of the veracity, accuracy and interpretation of seismic readings. There has also been an occasional closed door briefing by select bomb makers — but surprisingly there has not been, to date, a clear unambiguous public statement from the right source about the country’s thermo-nuclear capacity being fielded in India’s nuclear arsenal. This is a matter of some negligence, considering that the only members of the scientific community who have spoken on this issue are deeply sceptical of the success of the thermo-nuclear test.

The command and control of nuclear forces are another area of criticism, and not surprisingly so, since India is the only nuclear weapon country without a Chief of Defence Staff to act as the interface between the Prime Minister, the National Command Authority and the military who ‘own’ the weapons — at least most of it. In the guise of safety, India’s nuclear weapons are not only ‘de-mated’ and the core and ignition device separated from the warhead, but the separate components are under different departmental control. The actual reason for this bizarre arrangement is quite obvious. There is a petty turf war, and neither the Department of Atomic Energy nor the DRDO is willing to let go of the controlling part of the bomb, even if it means a cumbersome and unnecessary loss of control. Needless to say, between the military, the DAE and the DRDO, none of them has any hierarchical control over the other two.

Other critics have written to say that having opted for road or rail mobile launching arrangements, India does not have the robust transport, road and rail infrastructure to move the missiles, warheads and cores from safe storage to launch hideouts and dispersal points with confidence and alacrity.

These weaknesses have led to critics stating that India’s nuclear capability is disaggregated and with weak institutional features. In the case of China, it is conceded that India feels more threatened by Chinese nuclear delivery than vice-versa. Yet, in the absence of the Agni long-range missiles, it is vaguely surmised that the Indian retaliatory capacity is based on air delivery weapons, which could mean anything — Mirages, Jaguars, Su 30s. The absence of the CDS results in even knowledgeable Indians conjecturing that the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) will completely bypass the military chain of command and operate directly under the PMO. This, of course, raises other more serious problems.

In the case of deterrence with Pakistan, it is accepted that the doctrines of the two countries are mismatched. India intends to deter nuclear use by Pakistan while Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are meant to compensate for conventional arms asymmetry. At the same time, Pakistan relies on 20,000 LeT cadres as an extension of its armed forces to create terror strikes, to which the Indian answer is to punish the Pakistani state with conventional war. Thus arises the vague and elastic concept of a nuclear threshold. Yet, the Indian National Command Authority is ill designed to manage the inevitable South Asian transition from conventional war to a possible nuclear exchange — or the frantic strategic signalling that is bound to occur as the threshold approaches.

If, for instance, the threshold was to materialise as a result of an armoured incursion, the Indian NCA by its location, composition and infrastructure would be entirely unaware of the impending catastrophe. Hanging untethered to any commanding authority, civilian or military, would be the Integrated Defence Staff, a well-staffed organisation designed for the civilian-military interface, but currently without a head, nor with any links to the SFC.

After much persuasion, there now exists a skeleton nuclear staff under the NSA, normally headed by the retired SFC. But while its Pakistani counterpart, the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), is highly active both on the domestic and international conference circuit, its Indian counterpart seems to be totally tongue tied, non-participatory and holed up at its desk. Foreign critics have noted the introduction of battlefield nuclear weapons in Pakistan’s arsenal and raised doubts of the likelihood of ‘massive’ retaliation in response to a small ‘warning’ shot by Islamabad. This is what the Indian doctrine promises. Life for the leaders of the strategic community would be easy if a doctrine, once written on paper, could be left unchanged for decades without reinforcement, to prove its validity.

That unfortunately is not the case in a dynamic field where the stakes are the survival of nations. Even K. Subramanyam had warned that ‘massive’ retaliation was an outmoded concept and difficult to enforce without periodic reinforcement. So this article is inspired not because India is not continuing to arm itself with bombs and missiles. This piece is inspired by the increasing clamour in international literature that India’s penchant for secrecy is ill-suited to conveying the stabilising threat of nuclear deterrence. Against China where our capabilities are undeveloped, a certain amount of ambiguity is sensible, but against a country which is openly wedded to first use, and is introducing battlefield weapons, an untended 10-year-old piece of paper is inadequate.

Signalling, overdue
Something needs to be done to reassure both the domestic and international audience that with high pressure terrorism lurking across the border, it is not just India’s strategic restraint that will keep the peace — as it did after Mumbai and the attack on Parliament. Nuclear signalling from the Indian government is hugely overdue, so much so that it will take some effort to restore stability to South Asian deterrence. The first target should be the Indian strategic community and there are enough discussions and conferences where officers from the SFC and nuclear staff could provide discrete assurances that things are not anarchic with India’s nuclear command and control.

The strategic community in turn will carry the message abroad or to foreign observers that in the face of Indian official silence, they need not imagine the worst. The establishment needs to do more than arrogantly refer to the doctrine as being the sole answer to all questions. In deterrence, only perceptions matter and there is a disturbing build-up of literature indicating that the disbelief of others in our nuclear command and control is in urgent need of correction.

(Raja Menon is a strategic analyst)

Pakistani forces kill 5 and detain 17 Baloch citizens in Panjgur, Balochistan


Sat Jan 25, 2014





PANJGUR: Five Baloch citizens were killed and 17 others were detained by Pakistani occupying FC forces in Panjgur district, in Balochistan, after FC soldiers fired rockets on the house of a suspected Baloch militant, in Washbood Village, in the District of Panjgur.

According to the local sources, on Friday after Pakistani occupying forces surrounded the house of Shahmir Baloch in Washbood area of Panjgur district, as a part of their search operation that was being conducted by Pakistani FC forces in different parts of Balochistan.

The shooting started between the residents of the house and the FC soldiers after FC men tried to force break-in and enter the house compound.


The search and military operation in Balochistan comes after a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, attended by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, DG ISI, DG Military Operations, DG Military Intelligence, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar along with all other higher officials, who decided in principle to launch the military operation against the anti-state groups in Balochistan.


Earlier a Shia pilgrim bus, in-route to Quetta, capital of Balochista, was blown up in Mustung with a remote controlled bomb, killing 28 pilgrims and injuring scores others including women and children.


Many people believe that the bus bombing was a handiwork of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a terrorist proxy group of Pakistan's ISI and FC, to use it as a pre-text to launch the targeted operation and grand military invasion in Balochistan against the Baloch militants, who are battling Pakistani forces against the illegal occupation of their homeland Balochistan and exploitation of their resources by Pakistan with the help of Chines companies. 

Russia's Growing Regional Debts Threaten Stability

Analysis
JANUARY 20, 2014
Stratfor|

Russia's New Crisis: Regional DebtStratfor
Summary

Editor's Note: The following is the first installment of a three-part series on growing debt for Russia's regional governments.

Since the 2009 financial crisis, the Kremlin has allowed Russia's regions to take the brunt of the country's economic decline in order to keep the federal government seemingly healthy, with a nominally small budget deficit and large currency reserves. But now most of Russia's regional governments' debt is so high, it is becoming dangerous for the federal government and big banks and could soon become unmanageable.

Analysis
Russia is so large that the Kremlin lacks the resources to run each region of the country directly. Currently Russia is split into 83 regions of all shapes and sizes, which fall into categories of oblasts, republics, krais, federal cities and autonomous okrugs. Historically, the Kremlin has given regional leaders (mayors, governors, heads or republic presidents) the power to run their own regions and ensure loyalty to the Kremlin and stability for the country.

However, the Kremlin is constantly concerned with its control over the regions. The federal government's ability to maintain the loyalty of each region has been tested often throughout history. For instance, dozens of regions attempted to break away after the fall of the Soviet Union, occasionally leading to wars such as those in Chechnya.

The central government's control over the regions was demolished during the devastating financial crisis in 1998. Many of the regional heads defied the federal government in order to look out for their own regions' survival. It was the second-worst regional breakdown in Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it was related directly to the chaos caused by that collapse. This is why the currently growing economic strains in the regions will be of great concern for the Kremlin.

The Regions' Mounting Debts

Most of Russia's regional governments have always had some level of debt, but resource-based export revenues have kept it mostly manageable since the 1998 crisis. However, since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, most of the regions' debt has risen by more than 100 percent -- from $35 billion in 2010 to an estimated $78 billion in 2014, and Standard & Poor's has estimated that this will rise to $103 billion in 2015. Russia's overall government debt -- the federal and regional governments combined -- is around $300 billion, or 14 percent of gross domestic product. This is small for a country as large as Russia, but the problem is that so much of the debt is concentrated in the regions, which do not have as many debt reduction tools as the federal government does.

Of the 83 regional subjects in Russia, only 20 will be able to keep a budget surplus or a moderate level of debt by 2015, according to Standard & Poor's calculations. This leaves the other 63 regions at risk of needing a federal bailout or defaulting on their debt.

Currently, the Russian regions are financing their debt via bank loans, bonds and budget credits (federal loans, for example). Each region has to get federal approval to issue bonds, because regional bonds create more market competition for the federal and business bonds. Most of the banking loans to the regions carry high interest rates and are short term (mostly between two and five years). The federal loans come with much lower rates and longer repayment schedules (mostly between five and 20 years), so naturally federal credits and loans are more attractive for the local governments, though unprofitable for the federal government. The issuance of federal credits or loans to the regions in 2013 was limited; initially, Moscow said it would issue $4.8 billion in new credits to the regions in 2013, but only issued $2.4 billion due to its own budgetary restrictions. This is one contributing factor to the dramatic local-government debt increases.

Economic Stagnation

The next contributing factor to the rise in regional debt is the overall economic stagnation that has plagued Russia since the 2009 financial crisis and subsequent stimulus aimed at pulling Russia out of the crisis. Despite high energy prices all year, Russia's gross domestic product growth slowed dramatically in 2013 to 1.5 percent growth after an initial 3-4 percent growth target by the Kremlin at the start of that year. This is low compared to the 7-8 percent growth seen yearly in Russia in the mid-2000s. Most analysts believe the only way Russia's growth remained positive was through its large energy revenues, which make up half of the federal government's budget and 20-25 percent of the country's gross domestic product.


There are a handful of reasons for Russia's economic stagnation. First, investment in Russia was lower than expected in 2013. Fixed investment was down 1.8 percent year-on-year in the first 10 months of 2013, compared with a 9.1 percent year-on-year growth in the same period in 2012. Private sector outflows of capital were high in 2013, with a net outflow of $48 billion leaving Russia in the first nine months of 2013, compared with $46 billion for the same period in 2012. Moreover, the investment sentiment in Russia is poor at the moment, as the Central Bank of Russia has begun closing some 800 smaller banks in a consolidation. Many of those banks were regionally based, and their closure is making investment in the regions less attractive.

Lower investment, coupled with less corporate borrowing and a decline in demand in many sectors, such as metals, led to lower industrial production. In the first 10 months of 2013, industrial production was flat compared with 2.8 percent growth in the same period in 2012. Industrial production is region-specific in Russia; industry provides nearly the entire economy in some regions. Thirty-one Russian regions, including Komi and Barents, had negative industrial production indexes for 2013. This could get worse in 2014, as many of the metals giants are planning to continue shutting down plants due to a lack of demand and low prices. For example, the world's largest aluminum producer, Rusal, is shutting down five aluminum plants in the Volgograd, Karelia, Leningrad and Urals regions and laying off tens of thousands of workers.

http://www.stratfor.com/video/russias-geographic-challenge

Federal Obligations

Another factor contributing to the regions' rising debts is increasingly burdensome obligations to the federal government. Of the income generated in a particular region, only 37 percent of the income stays in that region and the rest goes to the federal budget. The federal government does return some of the funds to the region in the form of subsidies and intergovernmental transfers, but not more than 20 percent. The amount of income that the Kremlin has taken from the regions has increased 12 percent in the past three years (via increases in taxes and decreases in subsidizations), leaving less and less for the regions to work with.

There has also been a large outcry from the regional governments in response to a series of presidential edicts that Vladimir Putin declared when he was re-elected to his third term in late 2011. Putin ordered the regional governments to do a series of tasks, such as replace all dilapidated housing by 2014, and to raise regional and municipal salaries by 7-10 percent in 2014 and another 10 percent in 2015. The regions are calling these "unfunded mandates," as the federal government is not helping the regions pay for these projects. Already, the Kremlin has had to postpone the housing replacement edict to 2016 due to lack of funding in the regions, but the salary edict remains in place and is estimated to cost the regions $56.6 billion over the next two years.



Read more: Russia's Growing Regional Debts Threaten Stability | Stratfor
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The Barriers to Iranian – American Rapprochement: Israel and Saudi Arabia (II)

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/01/24/barriers-iranian-american-rapprochement-within-iran-and-us-ii.html

Mahdi Darius NAZEMROAYA | 24.01.2014 | 00:00

Part I


Among US clients and allies in the Middle East there are fears that the security of their regimes had been compromised or that the US has secretly sold them off during its bilateral and multilateral negotiations with Iran. The Saudi-controlled media and its propagandists went into overdrive frantically deriding and lamenting Washington’s decision to engage Tehran in direct and public high-level diplomatic dialogue whereas Israeli leaders said that the agreement should be rescinded… As a result both the US and Iranian government have sought to reassure some of the different players in the Middle East to calm down.

Washington has had to repeatedly assure Israeli leaders and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regimes about the deal with Iran. US Secretary of State John Kerry has visited Israel several times. Kerry has promised that Tel Aviv will be consulted about the negotiations with Tehran and has re-emphasize that the strategic alliance between the US and Israel is «unbreakable.»

The Iranian government began to reach out to the Arab petro-sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif started visiting Arab capitals in December 2013 for this purpose. He visited Kuwait followed by Oman, then Qatar, and finally the United Arab Emirates, where the head of the UAE was invited to visit Tehran.

Zarif let it be known publicly while he was in Qatar that the goal of his government was to assure the Arab regimes of the Persian Gulf that the interim nuclear agreement between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States (the «Permanent/P 5+1» or «EU3+3») was in their best interests. Rouhani’s administration even began asserting that it wanted to work with Saudi Arabia and that Riyadh was an important regional player in the Middle East. Zarif was clearly trying to reassure the House of Saud and keep it calm about the steps towards rapprochement that the US and Iran had taken.

Al-Saud and Israeli Opposition to Iranian-US Rapprochement

Even though Saudi Arabia was tied to the terrorist attacks targeting the Iranian Embassy in Beirut and has launched a series of terrorist attacks against Iranian interests across the Middle East, Zarif visited Lebanon in mid-January 2014 and signaled that Tehran was willing to facilitate compromises with the House of Saud and its clients in Lebanon. Just before Zarif’s visit to Lebanon, Hezbollah softened its stance on the formation of a new government in Beirut, giving some leeway to the March 14 Alliance. Saudi Arabia’s Lebanese client Saad Hariri announced afterwards that he would return to Lebanon and even form a government that included Hezbollah ministers. Hariri’s remarks were followed by an announcement by Lebanese President Michel Sleiman that there no longer existed any obstacles to the formation of a new Lebanese government.

Together with Israel, the Saudi regime is viciously opposed to any rapprochement between Tehran and Washington. In this context, Israel’s Arutz 2 (Channel 2) reported that Israeli senior officials held secret meetings with certain senior officials from some of the Arab regimes and that one senior Arab official from the Persian Gulf had visited Israel for coordination work.

The Jerusalem Post reported on the Israeli-Saudi alliance too in an article published on September 22, 2013. Michael Oren, Tel Aviv’s ambassador to the US, told Herb Keinon that because of Syria and Iran that «there has probably never been a greater confluence of interest between» Israel and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf. Oren also explained that Israel had mutual agreements with these Arab regimes not only on Iran and Syria, but also on Egypt and Palestine.

As a result of its fears, Saudi Arabia has tried to assimilate the other Arab petro-sheikhdoms by pushing for the amalgamation of the GCC into a full-fledged union with a united military force. The idea was put forward in 2011 and even earlier, but Saudi fears about the thawing of relations between Tehran and Washington has reinvigorated the House of Saud to pursue the objective much more rapidly.

Not wishing to lose its sovereignty or fall under the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s control and to become embroiled in a Saudi-Israeli regional conflict against Iran, the Sultanate of Oman has politely refused to get involved with Riyadh’s plans. Omani officials have said that they will not rock the boat by obstructing the Saudi amalgamation plans for the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Instead Oman will withdraw silently from the GCC. On the other hand, the leaders of the United Arab Emirates have been ambivalent about the Saudi idea, whereas the regimes of Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar have accepted the plan.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia and the GCC have made demands to have oversight on the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 to protect their own interests. During a security gathering in Bahrain for the Manama Dialogue, they argued that they should have been consulted on the interim agreement that the P5+1 made with Tehran and even that Saudi Arabia or the entire GCC should have been included in a P5+2 formula. This argument was specifically voiced through Qatar by Doha’s Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Attiyah. The aim of the GCC demands to be included in the negotiations with Iran is very clearly aimed at imposing additional demands on Iran, which like the talks in Geneva have nothing to do with the Iranian nuclear program itself.

The foreign-backed sham Syrian National Coalition (SNC) has also involved itself in the interim nuclear agreement. It has been against the sanctions relief that Iran gets under the agreement. The SNC has declared that the deal struck with Iran in Geneva would benefit the Syrian government, because it would allow the Iranians to divert a portion of the amount of money that is scheduled to be unlocked from the over 100 billion dollar frozen Iranian funds to the Syrian government.

The Motivations for the Opposition to Iranian-US Rapprochement

In regards to hostility of some of the regional regimes towards any rapprochement between Iran and the US, it should be remembered that Tehran was once one of Washington’s most important and prized allies before the Iranian Revolution. The United States strategically valued Iran much higher than all the other states in the broader Middle East. The regional headquarters of almost all American and Western European companies in the Middle East were almost always located inside Iran. Tehran was even a candidate for consideration into entry into NATO when the alliance was being formed and considered a vital member of the Western Bloc.

It was the monarchy in Iran that would intervene on behalf of the US to protect American allies and clients in the region. Just like how the Saudi Arabian military intervened in Bahrain to keep the undemocratic Bahraini regime in power, the Iranian military intervened in the Sultanate of Oman in the 1970s to keep Oman’s absolute monarchy in place against the revolt that started with the Dhofar Rebelion and ultimately intended to create a socialist republic. The US also used Iran to engage the Kurdish peoples because of the ethnic and linguistic links between the peoples of Iran and the Kurds in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Iran was also the second Muslim country to formally recognize Israel and the Iranians even sent UN peacekeepers to stand separate the Israelis and the Arabs.

When the US and Iran cut ties, many of the less important US allies and clients in the region benefited due to the gap or vacuum that was created by the cutting of Iran-US ties. The United Arab Emirates benefited because Dubai was allowed to grow through all the diverted shipping and trade that would have normally gone to Bandar Abbas and other Iranian ports in the Persian Gulf. The energy infrastructure in the rest of the Persian Gulf received more resources for development. Washington was forced to divert its military support to the Arab petro-sheikhdoms and to place greater weight on its ties with Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. President Saddam Hussein’s regime also benefited, albeit temporarily, because Washington’s unwavering support for Tehran against Baghdad was gone and the US began looking to Iraq to contain Iranian regional influence.

Many of America’s allies that benefited from the dissociation of Washington and Tehran are now fearful that what they gained due to the absence of Iran can be reversed. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Israel have been startled most of all. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily denounced the interim nuclear agreement as a «historic mistake» when he heard about it. On the other hand, the House of Saud began threatening to do something that it is actually incapable of doing: form its own «independent» foreign policy,

Syria and Other Considerations

All in all, the US sanctions regime against the Iranian economy was barely holding, albeit it was hurting the Iranian economy. India was in the process of finding a way to circumvent the sanctions and Turkey was continuing business with Iran. It was uncertain how much longer and further the sanctions could go. They had virtually reached a limit.

The sanctions relief comes at a time when Libyan energy supplies have become disrupted and insecurity is on the rise in Iraq. An increase in Iranian hydrocarbon exports can offset this. The opening up of Iranian trade will also help the ailing economies of the European Union and Turkey, which have been negatively affected by the trade cutoff with Iran too.

What has probably made US allies and clients the most nervous about rapprochement between Iran and the US are the secret negotiations both sides were having before the Syrian chemical weapons incident in Ghouta. The US had been secretly negotiating with Russia and Iran for a political settlement in Syria. The threats to attack Syria due to the chemical attack in Ghouta were aimed at giving the US leverage in these negotiations with Moscow and Tehran. As soon as an American-Iranian-Russian agreement to reduce tensions was reached, the Saudis became scared because they were probably kept in the dark about what was happening in the backchannels. Even the Israeli media has insinuated that the Iranians persuaded their Syrian allies to give up their chemical weapons in exchange for a broader US bargain with Tehran and Damascus as a result of an initial secret deal between the US and Iran.

Throughout the negotiation process there has been pressure on Iran from US allies. Parallel to Wendy Sherman’s request in October 2013 that the drive to write new sanctions against the Iranians be halted, the Israeli military publicized a «special long-range flight exercise» and showed its footage as a veiled threat to the Iranians. This could have been a sign that Israel was against US negotiations or a move meant to help the US by pressuring Tehran into making a deal with Washington.

The French engaged in some underhanded moves in November 2013. Not only did Paris want to preserve its influence over the medical nuclear isotope market, but it was also bribed. French President Francois Hollande told the Israelis and the Saudis that he would oppose any easing of sanctions against the Iranian economy and as a result the French stonewalled the negotiations. France was repaid through lucrative arms contracts in the Middle East.

Even though France was responsible for disrupting the negotiations in Geneva, the US publicly blamed the Iranian side. This prompted Foreign Minister Zarif into rhetorically asking Secretary Kerry the following on Twitter: «Mr. Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of US draft Thursday night? [A]nd publicly commented against it Friday morning?»

If it was not apparent right away, it became apparent afterwards that the US was coordinating with the French too. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov would explain later that the US had actually prepared a draft that included all the French demands and circulated to all the other negotiating teams «literally at the last moment, when we were about to leave Geneva.»

Even while headway was being made on the diplomatic front, the US and the EU refused to loosen the noose. The General Court of the European Union (EGC), which deals with legal proceedings involving the European Union and its different bodies, ruled on September 6, 2013 that the EU sanctions against several Iranian companies were illegal and annulled the EU asset freezes placed on these companies. The European Commission, however, decided to ignore the court’s legal rulings and continue with the sanctions against Iran and the same Iranian companies that the EGC ruled in support of in the legal case.

So many domestic and international interests are involved in the nuclear negotiations. The negotiations have little to do with Iranians nuclear energy program and more to do with the international system and order. It will surely take almost an entire year before a proper appraisal can be made what the outcomes will be and if Tehran and Washington will restore their ties fully.

Pakistan army is planning a "Sri Lankan style anti-Tamil" massive military operation in Balochistan



WASHINGTON D.C: According to some reliable sources, Pakistan army is planning, a Sri Lankan style anti-Tamil, massive military operation against the Sarmachaars (the Baloch Freedom Fighters) in Balochistan.

The key elements of this evil plan are;

- The Operation, as a part of the new Security Policy of Pakistan, is planned to start in Spring of 2014.
- The Operation will be carried out throughout Balochistan, but mostly it will be focused in Mekran, where most Sarmachaars (The Baloch freedom Fighters) are active.
- Beside the already stationed 120,000 paramilitary FC forces, another 80,000 regular army troops, backed with 12 military gunships helicopters, will take part in this offensive against the Baloch Freedom Fighters.
- It is learnt that the Chinese and Sari-Lankan commandos will also join Paki forces to help them carry out their offensive against the Baloch Freedom Fighters. Let's not forget that the China and Pakistan army played a key role in crushing the Tamil rebellion in Sri Lanka by supplying weapons to Sri Lankan Government. Pakistan has already given the control of Balochistan's strategically located key port of Gwadar to China and China wants to remove any Baloch opposition to Pakistan-China military strategic plans for Gwadar.

- Punjab Forum, a mouth piece of Pakistan's army and it's ISI, have repeatedly asked Pakistan military to carry out SriLankan style Full-Scale military Operation in Balochistan to crush Baloch rebellion.

http://balochistannewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2012/04/punjab-forum-suggest-full-scale.html
http://www.brecorder.com/market-data/rates-a-schedules/118/1221157/

Baloch Society of North America alert and appeal to the UNO, Obama Administration, State of Israel and Indian Government to not let this massacre and genocidal plan be carried out by Pakistani terrorist army against the freedom fighting secular Baloch people, the very true friends, ally and strategic assets of the US, India, State of Israel and of civilized world against the Islamic Extremists and Chinese expansion in the region. Because, if Balochs are killed and their struggle for freedom and justice is crushed, the Islamic extremists and Terrorists of Pakistan and Iran will win and they will turn Balochistan into another safe heaven for their terrorist activities against the US, India, State of Israel and the civilized world.

The planned Paki military massacre of innocent Baloch people, who are fighting for their freedom for long time, must be prevented and stopped at all cost. A counter international intervention plan must be in place to prevent the Paki massacre of Baloch people,  if and when the Paki terrorist army decides to go on with their genocidal plan against the Baloch people, similar to that of Bangladesh in 1971, to crush the Baloch freedom fighters.

We hope that the world community and friends of Baloch will not sit as silent spectators and watch the Baloch massacre goes on for too long.

Thank you,

Sincerely,

Dr. Wahid Baloch
President
Baloch Society of North America

US, India step forward tentatively as iced out ties starts to thaw


Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN | Jan 25, 2014, 04.23 AM IST

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/US-India-step-forward-tentatively-as-iced-out-ties-starts-to-thaw/articleshow/29327017.cms


WASHINGTON: Not a word was said about the toxic, month-long spat that seemed to poison the much-vaunted strategic relationship between the two sides. Instead, there was gloss and platitude aimed ostensibly at healing the lacerations caused by the so-called Khobragade episode, which both sides are trying to consign to the back-burner.

At the reception to mark India's Republic Day, hosted on Thursday by S Jaishankar, India's new ambassador to the United States, there was modest representation from the US administration, with what was unsaid on the occasion being as important as what as said. There was no reference at all, not even in passing, to the recent diplomatic skirmishes (some of which is still ongoing) stemming from the ugly face-off. On the contrary, belying the icy, sub-zero weather outside, mandarins from the two sides attempted to thaw out the relationship, if not return it to warmth, over chicken tikka masala and gajar halwa.

"India's Republic Day reminds us of the strength of India's democratic institutions and traditions. And it also reminds us of the strength of the ties between our people and our governments," intoned Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom, the highest ranking US official to attend the reception, in her brief remarks. It was rather unconvincingly, given the recent misunderstandings.

Then, for good mandatory measure, she harked back to the "strategic partnership between the oldest and the largest democracies in the world," adding that, "the bottom line is that this partnership is broad and it is strong." The Indian Ambassador made similar remarks. Both officials wore pins that fused the tri-color and the star-spangled banner.

But in sideline conversations, the Khobragade episode was never far away, with sotto voce inquiries on whether the worst was over. US officials clearly thought it was, and their broad reading was the incident had "tested" the relationship which had never been tested like this, and both sides ought to get over it and move forward.

But clearly, the episode still rankles in the Indian ranks and there is plenty of unfinished business, including having the case against Devyani dropped, and arriving at a modus vivendi on the whole issue of domestic assistants and their wages. All this will continue to simmer in the background.

American interlocutors who wish the relationship well agreed that the incident was unnecessary and traumatic, and they blamed the "law-and-order" approach of some of their colleagues for the spat, which defending and explaining that that is the way system worked — the guys in dark-suits and earpieces (in this case the Bureau of Diplomatic Security) called the shots although the political leadership should have stepped in to reign them. After Benghazi, it hard to do that, one American sighed despairingly.

From the Indian side too, in more candid moments, there was acknowledgment of lack of focus and leadership at time of transition in the South Asia bureau (where the new Assistant Secretary Nisha Desai Biswal was in the process of being confirmed) and the Indian Embassy in Washington (where both former Ambassador Nirupama Rao and her deputy Arun Singh) were winding down. Basically, said one Indian interlocutor, there was "sloppiness all around" and everyone assumed that since bilateral ties were so good in most other aspects, nothing untoward would happen - least of all such a train wreck based on a deep misreading of each others' bureaucratic cultures.

What emerged after two hours of private conversations on the margins of an event that was friendly, if not bonhomous, was this: Both sides realize they are coming out losers in the game of bureaucratic chicken, but neither side knows how to step back, given the way the US "law and order" folks insist on their right to prosecute and the Indian bureaucratic elite guard their hard-won privileges. As party attendees headed out into the icy winter weather on Thursday, the footsteps were decidedly tentative given the black ice that was hard to detect on the asphalt

US, India start discussions on diplomatic immunity


Washington, Jan 25, 2014 (AP)

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/382666/us-india-start-discussions-diplomatic.html

 India's Ambassador to the United States, Dr. S. Jaishankar, gestures during an interviewed with The Associated Press in Washington, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. AP photo

India and the US are holding preliminary discussions to resolve their differing interpretations of diplomatic immunity as they look to mend ties damaged by the row over American treatment of an Indian diplomat who was arrested and strip-searched in New York, India's ambassador said.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India's new envoy in Washington, said yesterday his priority is to raise the "morale" of a relationship that remains fundamentally good despite the spat over Devyani Khobragade, who was expelled from the US this month after she was indicted on accusations of exploiting her housekeeper.

"As you would say in the markets, the fundamentals are good, it's the sentiment that needs improving," Jaishankar told The Associated Press in an interview.


The US and India, the world's largest democracies, have forged closer economic and defence ties in the past decade, but relations took a tumble because of Indian outrage over the treatment of Khobragade, who was the nation's deputy consul general in New York. She was strip-searched after her December 13 arrest, which US Marshals say is common practice for a suspect taken into custody, but was viewed in India as unnecessarily humiliating.

India unleashed a steady stream of retaliatory measures against US diplomats, including restrictions at the American Center in New Delhi and revoking new ID cards for some diplomats. Key to the dispute was Washington and Delhi's differing interpretations of what type of immunity was due to Khobragade. US officials argued that as a consular official, she was immune from prosecution from acts performed in the exercise of consular functions, and not full diplomatic immunity.

Jaishankar said while that's the rule for foreign diplomats in the US, he questioned whether Washington expects its diplomats abroad to be treated in kind. He said India has issued new identity cards for US consular officials to specify that their diplomatic immunity does not cover "serious crimes", referred to as "felonies" in the US.

"There is an issue of what does the US expect abroad and what does the US give at home. I think there's a reconciliation there that needs to be done," the ambassador said. "What fairness would dictate is we would expect and give what you (the US) expect and give."

He said India is starting to work through the issue with the State Department, and US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid discussed it when they met Wednesday on the sidelines of a conference on Syria in Switzerland, their first face-to-face since the imbroglio over Khobragade.

Seminar on Computers and Samskrit by Srinivas Varkhedi

January 23, 2014

Pakistan Protection Ordinance - President approves

ISLAMABAD: The government reinforced its anti-terror legislation on Sunday as President Mamnoon Hussain approved the Pakistan Protection Ordinance, a document that declares all peace-disrupting elements as ‘enemies of the state’, and states protection of life to be the state’s top priority.

The President stamped his approval following advice from the Prime Minister. This is a separate ordinance which promises to bring in new legislation to improve the country’s precarious security situation and strengthen the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance 2013.

According to the new Ordinance, “Security of life, property and dignified living of our own people shall be the prime goal for all functionaries of the state.”

“Writ of the state shall be restored with full might of the law; those to pursue fruit of terror and fear, regardless of nationality, color, creed or religion shall be treated as enemy aliens and dealt with strictly without any compunction”, the ordinance stated.

The government pledged itself to increasing security of life in the country and to summon every possible resource and tactic to serve the state’s mission of reviving peace in the country.

The Ordinance included the following clauses:

1. Every possible state instrument and resource will be deployed to defeat and frustrate all or any nefarious attempt to create disorder.
2.The cancer of syndicated crime, in all its forms and manifestations, shall be responded by proportionate use of state force under the law.
3. Separate police stations will be designated for professional and expeditious investigations of specified crime, prosecuted through federal Prosecutors.
4. Special Federal Courts shall be designated to render inexpensive justice with promptitude as mandated by Article 37.
5. Joint investigation teams shall be constituted to conduct investigations by security agencies and police in all heinous crimes committed in areas where civil armed forces are invited to aid civil power.
6. Those involved in syndicated crime shall be relocated to other parts of the country for transparency and fair trial.
7. Judicious and effective use of preventive detentions shall be made in cases involving serious crimes by criminal gangs and mafias.
8. Special jails shall be designated to detain hardened criminals and the minimum quantum of punishments is now re-determined at ten years.
9. The state will not allow Afghan immigrants or other foreign nationals to be used for terrorist purposes.
Anti-terrorism legislation piling up
Sunday’s ordinance is just another addition to a list of anti-terrorism legislation the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government has been introducing in the recent past.
Earlier this month, the President had promulgated another ordinance, which proposed longer detention for suspects and accepted electronic evidences and trials by video links.
The amendments also introduced new witness protection measures and instructed provincial governments “to take necessary steps to ensure that prisoners in jails do not have access to mobile phones.”

Full text of the ordinance is produced below:
Ordinance
further to amend the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997

WHEREAS it is expedient further to amend the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997 (XXVII of 1997), for the purposes hereinafter appearing;
AND WHEREAS the National Assembly and the Senate are not in session and the President is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action;
NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 89 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President is pleased to make and promulgate the following Ordinance:-
1.         Short title and commencement.-
(1) This Ordinance may be called the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013.
(2)        It shall come into force at once.

2.         Amendment of section 5, Act XXVII of 1997.- In the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997 (XXVII of 1997), hereinafter referred to as the said Act, in section 5, in sub-section (2), in paragraph (i), for the words “when fired upon” the words and comma “after forming reasonable apprehension that death, grievous hurt or destruction of property may be caused by such act” shall be substituted;
3.         Amendment of section 11EEEE, Act XXVII of 1997.– In the said Act, in section 11EEEE,-

(i)         for sub-section (1), the following shall be substituted, namely,-

“(1) The Government or, where the provisions of section 4 have been invoked, the armed forces or civil armed forces, as the case may be, subject to the  specific or general order of the Government in this regard, for period not exceeding three months and after recording reasons thereof, issue order for the preventive detention of any person who has been concerned in any offence under this Act relating to the security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, or public order relating to target killing, kidnapping for ransom, and extortion / bhatta, or the maintenance of supplies or services, or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made or credible information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists of his having been so concerned, for purpose of inquiry:
Provided that further detention of such person if necessary shall be subject to provisions of Article 10 of the Constitution.”;
(ii)              in sub-section (2), for the full stop at the end a colon shall be substituted and thereafter the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:-
“Provided that where the detention order has been issued by the armed forces or civil armed forces under sub-section (1), the inquiry shall be conducted by the JIT comprising members of armed forces or civil armed forces, as the case may be, intelligence agencies and other law enforcement agencies, including a police officer not below the rank of Superintendent of Police; and
(iii)       after sub-section (2) amended as aforesaid, the following new sub-section shall be inserted, namely:-
“(2a) The provisions of sub-sections (1) and (2) amended as aforesaid shall remain in force for such period as may be notified by the Government from time to time:
Provided that such period shall not exceed two years from the commencement of the enactment of this Ordinance by Parliament.”.

4.         Amendment of section 18, Act XXVII of 1997.- In the said Act, in section 18, in sub-section (1), the word “Provincial” shall be omitted.

5.         Amendment of section 19, Act XXVII of 1997.- In the said Act, in section 19,-   (i)         for sub-section (1), the following shall be substituted, namely:-
“(1) The offences under this Act shall be investigated by a police officer not below the rank of Inspector or, where the Government deems it necessary, by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to be constituted by the Government comprising the investigating officer of police not below the rank of Inspector, and officers from intelligence agencies and other law enforcement agencies. The investigating officer or the JIT, as the case may be, shall complete the investigation in respect of cases triable by the Court within thirty working days. The report under section 173 of the Code shall be signed and forwarded by the investigating officer of police directly to the Court:

Provided that where the provisions of sections 4 and 5 have been invoked, the investigation shall be conducted by the JIT comprising members of armed forces or civil armed forces, as the case may be, intelligence agencies and other law enforcement agencies including an investigating officer of police not below the rank of Inspector who shall sign the report under section 173 of the Code and forward it to the Court.

Provided further that, where investigation is not completed within a period of thirty days from the date of recording of the first information report under section 154 of the Code, the investigating officer or the JIT shall, within three days after expiration of such period, forward to the Court through the Public Prosecutor, an interim report under section 173 of the Code, stating therein the result of investigation made until then and the Court shall commence the trial on the basis of such interim report, unless, for reasons to be recorded, the Court decides that the trial may not so commence. The interim report shall be signed by the investigating officer of police.”;

(ii)        after sub-section (1A), the following new sub-section shall be inserted, namely:-

“(1B) Where any person has been arrested by the armed forces or civil armed forces under section 5, he shall be handed over to the investigating officer of the police station designated for the purpose by the Provincial Government in each District.”;

(iii)       for sub-section (7), the following shall be substituted, namely:-
“(7) The Court shall, on taking cognizance of a case, proceed with the trial from day-to-day and shall decide the case within seven days, failing which the matter shall be brought to the notice of the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned for appropriate directions, keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case.”;

(iv)       in sub-section (8), for the words “consecutive adjournments during the trial of the case” the words “adjournments during the trial of the case and that too on imposition of exemplary costs” shall be substituted; and

(v)        in sub-section (8a), after the word “sub-section” the brackets, figure and word “ (7) or” shall be inserted.

6.         Insertion of new section, Act XXVII of 1997.- In the said Act, after section 19A, the following new section shall be inserted, namely:-

“19B Pre-trial scrutiny.- Before commencement of the trial, the Prosecutor shall  scrutinize the case file to ensure that all pre-trial formalities have been completed so that the actual trial proceeds uninterrupted from day-to-day.”.

7.         Amendment of section 21, Act XXVII of 1997.- In the said Act, in section 21,-


(1)        in sub-section (2), after the word “proceedings” and full-stop at the end, the following shall be inserted, namely:-
“These measures may include the following, namely:-
(a)        screens may be used during trial to shield witnesses,             Judges and Prosecutors from public view;
(b)        trial may be held in jail premises or through video link
(c)          witness protection programmes may be established by          the Government through law or rules.

The Provincial Government shall take necessary steps to ensure that prisoners in jails do not have access to mobile phones.”; and

(2)        after sub-section (3), the following new sub-section shall be inserted, namely:-
“(4) The provisions of this section shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, including the Qanun-e-Shahadat, 1984 (P.O. No. 10 of 1984).”.

8.         Amendment of section 27, Act XXVII of 1997.- (1)  Section 27 shall be renumbered as sub-section (1) thereof, and,-

(i)         in the short title, after the word “investigation” the words “and reward for             successful investigation” shall be added; and
(ii)       after sub-section (1) renumbered as aforesaid, the following new sub-        section shall be inserted, namely,-

“(2) Incentive systems shall be introduced by the Provincial Governments providing for appropriate rewards to investigating officers who conduct successful investigation.”.

9.         Insertion of new section, Act XXVII of 1997.- In the said Act, after section 27A,  the following new secers who conduct successful investigation.”.

9.         Insertion of new section, Act XXVII of 1997.- In the said Act, after section 27A,  the following new section shall be inserted, namely:-
“27B. Conviction solely on the basis of electronic or forensic evidence etc.- Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or Qanun-e-Shahadat, 1984 (P.O.No.10 of 1984) or any other law for the time being in force, the conviction of an accused for an offence under this Act solely on the basis of electronic or forensic evidence or such other evidence that may have become available because of modern devices or techniques referred to in Article 164 of the Qanun-e-Shahdat, 1984 (P.O. No. 10 of 1984), shall be lawful.”.

10.       Amendment of section 28, Act XXVII of 1997.- In the said Act, in section 28,-(i)           after sub-section (1), the following new sub-section shall be inserted, namely:-

“(1A) Where it appears to the Government that it would be in the interest of justice or expedient for protection and safety of judges, witnesses or prosecutors, it may apply to the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned for transfer of a case from an Anti-terrorism Court falling within its jurisdiction to an Anti-terrorism Court in any other place in Pakistan, and for this purpose shall also seek concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned.”; and

(ii)        after sub-section (2), the following new sub-sections shall be added, namely:-
“(3) The Federal Government may in the interests of justice and for protection and safety of witnesses and investigators, transfer the investigation of any case from one place to any other place in Pakistan.

(4) The investigating officer or the agency to which case is transferred under sub-section (3), may proceed from the stage the inquiry or investigation was left or may proceed with the case as if it had been originally entrusted to him or the agency, as the case may be.

(5) On completion of investigation and before submission of report under section 173 of the Code, the Federal Government may direct that the case falling in the jurisdiction of a particular Anti-terrorism court may be forwarded for trial to another Anti-terrorism court any where in Pakistan, as may be specified by the Federal Government in this behalf, in the public interest or for the safety and protection of judges, public prosecutors or witnesses.”

http://tribune.com.pk/story/620059/anti-terror-president-approves-pakistan-protection-ordinance/

Narendra Modi shares his Idea of India

January 22, 2014

Manohar Parrikar: The real common man

 A file photo of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar

If you are a visitor to the sunny State of Goa, watch out! You might bump into the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, in a place you least expect. You might find him riding a humble scooter in a sleepy village somewhere or you might find him enjoying his chai at a simple, unpretentious cafe! READ MORE

Modi to address Vijay Shankhnad Rally in Gorakhpur at 1 pm today

Niticentral Staff 23 Jan 2014
http://www.niticentral.com/2014/01/23/modi-to-address-vijay-shankhnad-rally-in-gorakhpur-at-1-pm-today-182313.html

Modi to address Vijay Shankhnad Rally in Gorakhpur at 1 pm today
Modi to address Vijay Shankhnad Rally in Gorakhpur at 1 pm today

BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will address the ‘Vijay Shankhnad Rally’ at Manbela in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh at 1.00 pm on Thursday. Modi will address a large gathering of around three lakh karyakartas and supporters.

BJP’s UP chief Laxmikant Vajpayee said live streaming of audio and video of the rally will be telecast in 37 countries.

All arrangements are in place to provide fool proof security for the rally, apart from deployment of special police team from Gujarat, sources said.

Top BJP leaders have started coming in Gorakhpur on Wednesday for the rally to be held at Manbela ground, 20 kilometres from the city.

The State BJP chief said that, “it will be the greatest of all Modi’s rally so far held in UP.”

The rally is exclusively for eastern UP, consisting 62 Assembly and 13 Lok Sabha seats, Vajpayee said, adding that at present, the party has only 3 Lok Sabha members from the area.

He said, with ‘Vijay Shankhanad Rally’ BJP will herald its electioneering in the eastern UP.

“Problems of eastern UP, like sugar-cane arrears, issues of Benarasi saree weavers of Azamgarh and spread of encephalitis in Gorakhpur are likely to come up during Modi’s address,” the BJP leadar said.

Local convener of the rally and BJP MP Yogi Adityanath said, “BJP will perform best of all parties in UP,” when asked how many seats does he expect from the area.

Elaborate parking arrangements for buses, four wheelers and three wheelers have also been made so that normal traffic is not affected, said the media in-charge, Satyendra Sinha.

Narendra Modi is expected to arrive here by air at around 10 AM on Thursday, he said.

Saudi Arabia Has Always Acted against Iran’s Interests

http://irdiplomacy.ir/en/page/1927146/Saudi+Arabia+Has+Always+Acted+against+Iran’s+Interests.html

A speech made by Seyyed Mohammad Sadegh Kharrazi, Iran’s former ambassador to France, in the roundtable meeting entitled ‘Regional and International Impacts of the Geneva Agreement’

There are many arguments in favor and against the Geneva Agreement. It is quite obvious that the Geneva Agreement is the start of the policy of a government whose slogan is wisdom, prudence and hope. The most important achievement in Geneva was negotiation. Before, there was no such thing as negotiation but this time they negotiated with us and gave and took and we were able to gain significant achievements under the direction of our respected Foreign Minister and prominent diplomat Dr. Zarif.

Our policies and diplomacy during the past eight years had changed and were completely different from the policies that we pursue at present. Before that we had also been able to create an expanded diplomatic atmosphere with the slogan of détente and through confidence-building measures, the result of which was diplomatic visits.

Western countries have no choice but to accept us; if they don’t, they do not like us. We either have to act like Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, or be independent. And when we are supposed to be independent, then it is natural that the Europeans and the Americans will not be compatible with us. Nevertheless, at the present time and with regard to the slogans of the new administration, the approach of the international community has been changed towards Iran.

The issue of diplomacy is not limited only to the nuclear issue. It would be a big mistake to think as such. There are the issues of the Caspian Sea, Iraq and relations with other countries, all of which must be part of our diplomatic activities.

With regard to Saudi Arabia, I must say that this country is faced with great chaos and deep contradiction in its foreign policy. We must accept that this country no longer has its special status in the US. It is totally obvious that the US has serious reservations about Saudi Arabia. One of the main reasons is Saudi Arabia’s support of terrorism and fundamentalism. Following the September 11th attacks, US policy was based on separation from any country or power which supported radicalism. Prior to that, US doctrine was supporting radical movements against its rival countries, including al-Qaeda. But after September 11th, this policy changed. September 11th was a phenomenon of radicalism and extremism. This incident caused radicalism to lose its status in the US’ strategy. Think tanks in the US, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the RAND Corporation or the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and others have all reached the conclusion that radicalism and terrorism should not be supported. That is why we see that the US has problems with terrorist movements all around the world. This is, incidentally, to the benefit of Iran. If we decide one day to cooperate with the US, the beginning point of this cooperation will be the issue of terrorism.

Of course, today, Iran’s foreign policy is cooperating with the US on the nuclear issue. This issue could be used for verification. Iran can find out whether the Americans have a strategic look with regard to Iran or pursue other objectives. Our foreign policy is based on ideology. The slogans of the Revolution are regarded in our foreign policy. Iran can verify whether the US can accept Iran with its characteristics. If the answer is positive, then we could cooperate with the US in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and other places.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy will be faced with serious challenges after Abdullah. Right now, a major part of the Saudi educated elites have joined the opposition. Many of those who have been educated in the US have now turned to the opposition. They protest against corruption, authoritarianism, the control of power by a limited number of people and the very closed atmosphere which rules the country. The Saudis have comprehended this issue well. Kerry has even mentioned this point in his meeting with King Abdullah. He has said that the US’ foreign policy is based on its slogans including democracy and you must accept it.

I believe that Saudi Arabia and Israel cooperate with each other in the region against the interests of the world of Islam, Iran and peace and security in the region. They actually have very close cooperation in this regard. A French diplomat once told me that we hate having interactions with Saudi Arabia. Whenever we return from that country with precious gifts, we see that they support radicalism which contradicts our strategy and foreign policy and is, in fact, a threat against our national security. Of course it must be said that the Saudis have failed in advancing this policy. Saudi Arabia has failed in all of its projects in the region during the past three decades. In Iraq during the Saddam Hussein era, in Syria and other places, the policies of Saudi Arabia have all been unsuccessful. Following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Saudi Arabia has never had good relations with Iran. Even during the presidency of Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, when a security pact was signed between the two countries and is remembered as the era of good relations with Saudi Arabia, our relations were limited and did not expand. Any step that Saudi Arabia takes at the moment is against the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran. On the other hand, due to the energy issue and the crisis of resources and its closed policy, it is no longer very attractive for the US. At the same time, it is also faced with crisis inside the country. Saudi Arabia cooperates with Israel as its strategic ally against Iran. Today Saudi Arabia and Israel are two wings against the world of Islam. The positions taken by Saudi Arabia have moved beyond the region and are unfortunately pumped up by Arabic hatred and prejudice.

We are unofficially in conflict with Saudi Arabia beyond our borders. I am not optimistic about the future. If Iran’s foreign policy assumes that it can move towards confidence-building and a state of no war and no peace, it is being optimistic to some extent. Otherwise, Saudi Arabia has stood against Iran and is considered as the most important anti-Iran element in interaction with the West. They feel damaged by any closeness between Iran and Europe and the US, thus, they create obstacles in these relations. Their security system acts completely against Iran’s national interests.

IRAN: The Quintessential Conservative

http://irdiplomacy.ir/en/page/1927195/The+Quintessential+Conservative.html

Alireza Zakani comes from the very core of Islamic Republic loyal base, and can prove more influential in the upcoming years, as his anti-corruption agenda might appeal to the public.

Iranian Diplomacy- A biography of Alireza Zakani, published by a conservative political alliance with the pompous title “The Islamic Revolution’s Epic-Makers’ Front”, opens with verification of two basic qualities every Iranian politician could boast of: that he was born in a pious family, and in southern (less prosperous) part of Tehran. The biography also reminds of his ‘revolutionary presence’ in all fields of activity, from the eight-year war against Iraq to his step-by-step promotion in the Student Basij Organization by ‘his trust in God’ and his own capacity, to his confrontation with ‘sedition’ –that is, the Green Movement, ‘deviation’ –the inner circle of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad led by his Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei; and corruption.



Alireza Zakani is a prominent figure among the second generation of the Iranian conservative camp, a generation that asserted its role in Iranian politics after their patrons lost four successive elections to the Reform movement in the late 1990s. In the early 2000s, the younger generation, now united under the title of Principalists –intended to differentiate them from Reformists by showing their loyalty to principles of the Islamic Revolution and Islam- made a shift in their discourse, stressing the issues of justice and welfare, criticizing what they regarded as the Western, irrelevant project of ‘political development’ followed by Mohammad Khatami and his fellow Reformists.

Zakani started his upwardly mobile trajectory within the Principalist camp since the mid 90s inside the academia. The Reform movement, with a solid base among the educated youth, had a powerful presence in the universities, and the traditionally left-leaning Islamic Association of Students functioned as its powerful arm in mobilizing the students for the cause. Against this prominent presence, Zakani and Co. led the Student Basij Organization which had established ties with the conservative camp, and served as a vocal critic of the Reformists up until their virtual marginalization in Iranian politics in 2005.



The resurrection of conservatives started from the days when they seemed to be at their weakest position, that is, with the start of Mohammad Khatami’s second presidential term in 2001. The right had started a face lift, shifting its discourse from abstract revolutionary ideals towards down-to-earth matters of social justice and economy (as evident in the candidacy of left-leaning Ahmad Tavakkoli in 2001, as opposed to the nomination of the conservative patriarch Akbar Nategh Nouri in 1997), rejuvenating itself by embracing new political figures, many of them with military backgrounds. At this time, the term Principalist came to replace the term ‘right wing’ in Iranian political discourse to define their identity.

Victory started from the Second City Council elections in Tehran, when, disillusioned with the excessive politicking of the first Reformist-dominated council, Tehrani citizens, or any for that matter, as their turnout had dropped to one-third of the previous election, overwhelmingly voted for the Principalist alliance called Abaadgaraan-e Iran-e Eslami (Builders of Islamic Iran) in what was known as one of the most democratic elections in the later history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In February 2004, Abaadgaran secured a strong parliamentary majority, this time in a competition which hardly saw any strong Reformist opponent as they were already disqualified for running by the conservative Guardian Council. Zakani entered the 7th Parliament from Tehran constituency, along with 29 fellow Principalists, promised to fight corruption and bring justice, perhaps envisaging, as famously, but erroneously, attributed to Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, the speaker of the parliament, “an Islamic Japan”. At the parliament, Zakani was head of a committee formed to investigate the records of academic mega-conglomerate Islamic Azad University, a position which brought him not his last serious confrontation with then powerful Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi. Jahan News, the news website associated with Zakani, was once blocked by the order Saeed Mortazavi in 2008, as the battle between the MP and the PG over Islami Azad University became heated.



Principalists’ rollercoaster ride in Iranian politics continued afterwards. In 2005, to the surprise of many political analysts, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the relatively unknown mayor of Tehran, unexpectedly defeated old guard Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani by a margin of 7 million votes. The election campaign had started unpromisingly for the Principalists, who, despite enormous backstage and on-stage bargaining, had failed to seal consensus over a single candidate. Zakani served as campaign director for ambitious Bagher Ghalibaf, who, with his outstanding record in the police force, believed that he could easily secure the presidential post. The ex-police chief failed to get to the run-off round; however, and in the polarized competition between Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, Zakani joined the electoral campaign of the latter, who, like him, belonged to the younger generation of the Principalist camp after all, not the older generation who still viewed Hashemi as a patron.



The ebb and flow of Zakani-Ahmadinejad relations was in tandem with the general mood of the Principalist camp from 2005 to 2013. The full force support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the conservatives declined step by step, despite a lukewarm support for him in 2009.  Zakani played a leading role in investigating post-election violence, once again falling in a verbal fight with Saeed Mortazavi, whom, despite his fierce denials, Zakani introduced as the primary culprit for death of four detainees in the notorious Kahrizak Camp.



With Ahmadinejad’s fall from grace in the Spring of 2011, after he disobeyed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei over reinstating his intelligence minister, Zakani and others accelerated their dissociation from the president, witnessing his sharp policy shifts. Jahan News played an active role in directing allegations of financial corruption and political ‘deviation’ towards the inner circle of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, including his Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, his deputy Mohammad Reza Rahimi and a number of their close associates.  “A person whose entourage is immersed in corruption cannot claim fight against corruption” he said in spring of 2013, as Ahmadinejad’s presidential term was coming to an end and hardliners found it detrimental to support him anymore. Zakani was rewarded with counter-allegations, accused of violating academic regulations during his study of medicine in Tehran University, and mocked for his low grades in high school, according to documents published by pro-Ahmadinejad media. Later in April 2013, as Zakani was floating the idea of entering presidential elections, another document was released, a contract for 430 thousand USD between the Islamic Development Organization and Panjereh, a weekly published by Zakani, to “support cultural and religious activities” through “increasing religious and political insight”, among other responsibilities.



Zakani was disqualified from running for the election by the Guardian Council, most likely not because his credentials were deemed inadequate or non-reliable, since Zakani is a quintessential Principalist, and comes from the very core of Islamic Republic loyalist base; but perhaps because the Council -usually refusing to explain the disqualifications- thought that with presence of Principalist candidates like Saeed Jalili, Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel or Baqer Qalibaf, the presence of Zakani would add not so much flavor to the competition. He received the ban graciously, announcing his support for “both” Jalili and Haddad Adel, probably believing that they could by the ones capable to advance his visions of “Islamic development” and “foresighted resistance” for the country, and returning to his parliamentary seat. Zakani has already accumulated adequate political and revolutionary credentials beside holding at his arm two relatively influential media, Jahan News and Panjereh Weekly. With the typical periodic shift of politicians’ and public discourse in Iran, one could predict that Zakani can play a more influential rule by the end of Hassan Rouhani’s first (and perhaps second) presidential term, with a swing in public taste from Rouhani’s economically liberal discourse, towards an anti-corruption, pro-justice agenda, perhaps one not unlike the shift at the end of Khatami’s second term, which brought Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

INS Vikramaditya – Deployment Options for India


Abhijit Singh

January 21, 2014
http://idsa.in/issuebrief/INSVikramadityaDeploymentOptionsforIndia_asingh_210114

Six weeks after it set sail from Severodvinsk in North Russia, India’s newly commissioned aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, home-ported at the Karwar naval base in Karnataka recently. The ship, escorted along nearly its entire passage by INS Trikand – the Indian navy’s latest and the last of the six Talwar class ‘stealth’ frigates ordered from Russia - the INS Delhi and the tanker-ship INS Deepak, traversed a distance of nearly 10,000 nautical miles before reaching Indian waters. On entering the Indian navy’s area of operations in the Indian Ocean, it was greeted by the entire Western Fleet that had sailed all the way from Mumbai to receive the ship.

The Indian navy is understandably elated at the development. For naval planners, it has been a long wait for their premier operational platform. It was almost nine years ago that the Vikramaditya’s procurement process got underway, with the ship entering an extensive refit and refurbishment programme at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk, North Russia. Many additions and alterations later, and a series of installations and trials - involving numerous hits and misses, reverses and successes - the aircraft carrier’s was finally commissioned on Nov 16, 2013.

Now, as the new aircraft carrier enters an Indian port for the first time, it is time to finally take a good hard look at the asset and examine its possible uses and deployment options.

A Brief History
An assessment of the Vikramaditya’s attributes and capabilities needs an objective and clinical consideration of the history of its acquisition. The ship’s metaphoric ‘journey’ into an Indian realm has, indeed, been a long and eventful one. For starters, this was not an aircraft carrier in its original form at all. Formerly, the ‘Baku’ - a Ukraine constructed, Kiev class ‘aircraft carrying cruiser’ – the ship was originally designed for Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) fighters like the Yakovlev-38 aircraft. The ‘Baku’ was renamed as the ‘Admiral Gorshov’ in Nov 1990 and remained in service till 1996 when high cost of operation in the post-cold war era led the Soviet navy to decommission many of its ships.1

Negotiations for acquiring the 44,500 ton Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier started in 1994 after the ship was put up on offer by Russia – ironically, as a ‘free gift’ to India provided the costs for refit and fighters were paid.2 The Indian navy was then looking for a new carrier, as the old warhorse ‘Vikrant’ was on its last legs. By the time the Vikrant retired in 1997, the navy’s search had turned frantic. So when Russia repeated its offer, it was just too attractive for India to pass up. New Delhi moved fast, assigning naval and scientific delegations to examine the ship. Soon, the ship’s hull has been assessed and declared it fit for procurement.

The deal, however, got bogged down in the official negotiations. While a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in Dec 1998, followed by an Inter-Governmental Agreement, there was still some ambiguity about the price and the extent of work. As per the initial terms of purchase in April 2000, the refit cost of the ship was set at $400 million. However, by the time a commercial contract came up for consideration in Jan 2004 the price had jumped to $1.5 billion (Rs 4881.17 crores) for the entire package of ship, spares, infrastructure augmentation and documentation (with $974 million earmarked for the refit and rest for 16 MiG-29Ks).3 At that point, the ship was scheduled to be completed within 52 weeks at the Sevmash shipyard.4

Designated "Project 11430", the ship was handed over to the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk so that the process of refurbishment could start.5 India, however, was to soon find out that Russia has plans to milk the deal further – this time, on the grounds that the refit work was in need of a serious review on account of a gross underestimation. A bitter wrangling began, which caused much sourness in the India-Russia bilateral relationship. A slighted India, accused Russia of reneging from its commitment to a "fixed price contract".6

Another deal was inked in 2010 – the revised cost, this time, set at $2.33 billion - with training, logistics packages and shore facilities counted, but excluding an additional $2 billion for 45 MiG-29Ks.7 Finally, Russia agreed to deliver the INS Vikramaditya by December 2012. Work shifted into high gear to complete the refurbishment work. But there was to be one final slip: during the concluding sea trials it was observed that there was a major snag in the boilers. During the last full speed trails of the ship, insulation ‘bricks’ in eight fast firing boilers collapsed setting back the ship’s delivery by another 12 months.8

Essential Characteristics
The Vikramaditya has a 44,500-tonne displacement, and is 284m in length. With 22 decks and1600 crew members, it is virtually a floating city. A capacity of over 8,000 tonnes of fuel, gives the ship an operational range of over 7,000 nautical miles.

The modification work on the ship involved converting it from VTOL aircraft operating cruiser ship, to a STOBAR (Short take off but arrested recovery) class of a conventional aircraft carrier. This involved a massive redesign and modifications including changing the flight deck to include ski-jump and arrester gear; modification of bulbous bow. Nearly 2000 compartments in the ship are said to have been modified with the required installation of required equipment and fittings. Apart from engine room boilers, generators, distilling plants, sensors and warfare equipment installed, this also included installation of a new 14 degree Ski jump and arrester gear to accommodate MiG 29 K fighters. The steel work for carrying out structural modification on flight deck is said to have added almost 2500 tons to the ships weight.

A glaring limitation with the ship is that it lacks an on-board close-in-weapon-system and short range surface-to-air missiles.9 In the absence of integral defensive capability, it needs an entire armada of escort ships and defending aircraft to perform its intended role effectively. The navy, apparently, has plans to rectify this deficiency by an urgent installation of defensive systems (Long Range SAMs and Close-in-weapons systems) onboard the ship.10


Displacement44,570 ton
Deck273m, 14 degrees Ski jump
Aircraft complement20 MiG-29 fighters and up to eight Kamov Ka-28/Ka-31 anti submarine helicopters
Operational Capabilities
The main-stay of the Vikramaditya’s aviation capability is the MiG-29K naval combat aircraft. Along with the Kamov 31 and Kamov 28 anti-submarine warfare and maritime surveillance helicopters, the Mig 29Ks form the operational spearhead of the ship’scombat capabilities. Additionally, there are plans for the aircraft carrier to host Sea Kings, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters. With its aircraft and helicopters, the ship is able to exercise sea-control over a three-dimensional bubble of about a 400-450 mile radius.11

Reportedly, the aircraft carrier is already being prepared for the next phase of integration with the air wing, comprising about 30 Mig 29K aircraft and six Kamov Ka-31 reconnaissance and anti-submarine helicopters. The procedure of integration of the air-component is likely to take around four to six months after which the aircraft carrier will be officially ready to take on fully operational role. This is also when the ship will be equipped with surface-to-air missile (SAM) and close-in weapon system (CIWS) – a telling gap in its defensive capabilities.

Meanwhile, Indian naval fighter pilots are in the final phase of training to carry out flying operations from the carrier deck. In May 2013, the Indian Navy commissioned a ‘Black-Panther’ squadron at INS Hansa in Goa.12 A batch of combat fliers from the squadron has already undertaken simulator drills in Moscow, and are perfecting their take-off and landing skills on the shore-based test facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa in Goa.

For the Indian Navy, operating two full-fledged carrier battle groups (CBGs) - one each for the eastern and western seaboards – is not just a long-standing ambition, but also an essential component of its operational strategy. The ship, though, has a crucial limitation. It has no air defence systems and relies completely on its escort ships for defence against incoming enemy missiles. The INS Vikramaditya brings the navy one step closer to actualising a desirable end-state. If intended plans are properly implemented, by the end of the next phase, the navy will induct the 40,000-tonne INS Vikrant, being built at the Cochin Shipyard. The Vikramaditya, in the words of India’s Naval Chief, Admiral D K Joshi, is in many ways intended to “bridge the gap between the INS Viraat’s decommissioned, and the entry of the indigenous INS Vikrant”.13

An Aircraft Carrier’s Operational Role
The Vikramaditya’s commissioning brings into focus a debate among maritime analysts on the relevant of aircraft carriers. Proponents argue they constitutes the core of a blue-water navy’s operational strategy, while opponents say an aircraft carrier’s high vulnerability and inadequate logistical sustainability renders it an obsolete asset. Not only is it an exorbitant proposition, it is also incapable of projecting any considerable offensive power. The fact that it is virtually defenceless against under-water attacks, make it a liability in war.

Compelling as the sceptics sound, it is the proponents that still make the stronger case. Modern day maritime discourse, supporters aver, requires aircraft carriers to be seen in radically new light. Ocean-going navies today need three types of conventional assets. The first category comprises ‘hard-power assets’ - fighting platforms like destroyers, frigates, missile boats and attack submarines meant for the real combat operations in a conventional naval battle. Many of these platforms are used - in what is usually referred to as - a ‘sea denial’ role. The second lot is of ‘soft power’ assets like hospital ships, HADR ships, survey vessels, etc. These provide a valuable regional (and global) service and are critical for a navy’s soft power outreach, also contributing substantively to a nation’s diplomatic effort. Finally, and most significantly, a navy needs assets for ‘power projection’ – a critical component of a nation’s military and foreign policy. Power projection assets are embodiments of a nation’s strategic capability and political intent. Aircraft carriers fall in this category.

The Indian navy is beginning to realise that hard-shelled ‘persuasion’ is usually more effective than a tepid form of regional outreach characterised by low-level maritime exercises. The sight of combat aircraft and helicopters operating from the deck of an aircraft carrier in distant waters sometimes does more to convince potential partners of the potency of a maritime force, and the benefits of a potential partnership than any other form of engagement.

Options for Deployment
Navies are inherently inclined to see aircraft carriers are combat assets first - meant to control the seas, project power and convey strategic intent. Indeed, in light of the Indian Navy’s increasing role as guardian of sea-lanes, it is natural for the Indian navy to conceptualise the new aircraft carrier’s operational role in hard power terms - for the policing of the SLOCs and to maintain a strong presence in the Indian Ocean. The Vikramaditya is likely to be a huge force multiplier, as it not only adds a lethal punch to the navy’s arsenal, but also allows for an integration of operational platforms and capabilities allowing them to be used flexibly in both defensive and offensive ways.

The Indian Navy would also be keen to use to use the carrier to retain its expertise in aircraft carrier operations. It is germane that the delay in acquiring the indigenous aircraft carrier caused great anxiety among the navy’s leadership about an eventual loss of skill and proficiency in handling aircraft carrier operations.14 This was one of the primary reasons why the Indian navy pushed for the Gorshkov’s acquisition. The new carrier enables the Indian navy to continue with its fine tradition of maintaining an aircraft carrier in its armada. It is just as well that the Vikramaditya is a major improvement over the INS Viraat, which has technically reached the end of its service life, with an aging bunch of Sea Harrier fighters.

As significant as the ship’s ‘hard power’ role is, however, the Indian navy can ill-afford to ignore its utility in a disaster-relief and humanitarian role. As the previous section of this brief observes, aircraft carriers, these days, have more than a hard-power role. The U.S. response to typhoon Haiyan disaster in the Philippines recently showed that the deployment of an aircraft carrier in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations is singularly the most important strategic mission for a navy. In the case of the US navy, during the past five years, its principal strategic deployments have all been deployments of aircraft carriers for disaster relief missions in Indonesia, Pakistan, Haiti and Japan.15 These ships are now deemed useful instruments in the U.S. foreign policy tool-kit and play a part in the conduct of US strategic relations.

In contemplating the Vikramaditya’s ‘soft-power’ role, the Indian navy will also be aware of China’s maritime ambitions and the role that the PLA-N’s new aircraft carrier – the Liaoning – might play in China’s Indian Ocean expansion. China’s new aircraft carrier may play an increasing role in the PLA-N’s soft power diplomacy, a key component of its ‘far-seas’ naval strategy.

Needless to say, there are both opportunities and vulnerabilities inherent in aircraft carrier operations. In Dec 2013, for instance, the U.S. Navy deployed the USS George Washington and two other cruisers for the disaster relief mission in the Philippines. A few days later, one of these ships - the USS Cowpens - ended up getting embroiled in an incident with the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, as it shadowed the latter during a PLA-N training exercise in the South China Sea.16

Regardless, however, of how it eventually culminated, the incident is a reminder of the overlap that exists between non-traditional and traditional naval missions these days. Ships planned to deliver humanitarian aid in one mission, are usually sent for patrolling, surveillance and presence missions in the very next instance – all during the same deployment. Naval assets thus end-up being used along the entire spectrum of combat and non-combat operations.

A Soft ‘Power Projection’ Mode
It is instructive that the developing tactics of naval operations suggests an inclination towards a benign power projection role for naval assets. The pattern of operations of naval operational trend with both the US navy and PLA-N suggests that maritime power is welcomed if it is for altruistic purposes. This has especially been the case with the multi-national anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. Importantly, when naval ships are deployed in a non-traditional mission, it has most often created opportunities for navies to also play a hard-power role. Smart maritime forces recognise this aspect and capitalise on these chances.

If the Indian navy acknowledges this unique feature of evolving maritime operations it may consider a bigger role for the Vikramaditya in HADR operations. In this, the navy might be well served if it acquired a hospital ship. The absence of such a platform constrains India’s ability to expand its humanitarian role in its region of influence. In the case of the US, the USNS Mercy had played a robust role in disaster relief operations and has been a part of nearly all recent strategic missions.17 Even the PLA-N has been actively deploying its own hospital ship, the ‘Peace Ark’ for a variety of humanitarian and out-of-area contingency missions – deployments that have only helped in the greater expansion of its national influence. More pertinently, a hospital ship validates the legitimacy of a humanitarian mission. When an aircraft carrier is accompanied by a hospital ship, the mission acquires the complexion of a genuinely benign operation – thereby making the former’s deployment more palatable for regional countries.

This is not, in any way, to detract from the Indian navy’s contribution in regional humanitarian operations. If anything, the service has a fine track-record of participation in such missions – amply attested to by its relief and aid effort in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. In recent years, the Indian navy has, in fact, developed a better appreciation of itself a tool of regional diplomacy and humanitarian relief.18 The Indian naval maritime doctrine professes to the new diplomatic role that the service envisages for itself.19 Within the broad framework of its envisioned role, the navy must now think about using the new carrier in a ‘soft power projection’ role - both showcasing India’s growing regional influence, and carrying out benign out-of-area contingency missions.

For a start, the new aircraft carrier must be deployed on India’s East coast and also, if possible, to the far-flung island territories, including the Andaman Islands. This will amply demonstrate the Indian navy’s power, presence and influence in both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. India must then plan dispatching the ship on a tour of the Gulf countries and even consider sending it, at a later date, for a foray into the Western Pacific – as a goodwill measure, and a sign of India’s willingness to be a part of the security dynamic of the Asia-Pacific region.

Conclusion
An aircraft carrier has the ability to combine soft power and hard power in one entity, producing smart power projection on a scale unmatched by any other platform in existence today. As an operational platform while the Vikramaditya will enhance the Indian navy’s ‘blue-water capability, it is equally representative of the nation’s fundamental maritime ‘vision’. The Indian navy must thus view the ship as a ‘versatile’ asset – one that can switch smoothly between ‘soft power diplomacy’, ‘power projection’ and a ‘combat’ role

The Vikramaditya must also be seen as a potent measure of India’s regional outreach, and used liberally to showcase the quality and depth of India’s relations with its neighbours (through increased port calls) and to validate India’s growing role in humanitarian relief and disaster assistance efforts (by way of substantive missions and increased HADR exercises).

In the final analysis, the Vikramadiya could prove to be a unique platform with the ability to burnish the Indian navy’s image as a potent player in the Indian Ocean, and a capable and compassionate force of common good. It must go beyond being a blunt instrument of military might by embracing “soft power” initiatives. Only then will it be able to effectively shape India’s maritime environment.

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.

1. Lawrence Sondhaus , “The Soviet navy, 1956-1991”, Navies in Naval War History, Reaktion Books, London, UK, 2004, p 36
2. INS Vikramaditya: All about India's second aircraft carrier, Dec 17, 2013, Defence News, available at http://www.defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.asp?get=new&id=2701
3. ibid
4. Vikramaditya is like no other ship Indian Navy ever had, Defence News, Nov 16, 2013, available at http://www.defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.asp?get=disagree&id=2465
5. Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd), “A Sea Change”, The Indian Express, Nov 18, 2013
6. RajatPandit , “'INS Vikramaditya will be a game-changer”, Times of India, Nov 14, 2013
7. Vladimir Karnozov, “First Navy Day with Vikramaditya in commission”, Dec 4, 2013, Russian Aviation, available at http://www.ruaviation.com/docs/3/2013/12/4/76/print/
8. “Vikramaditya’s Boiler Problem. How Serious?”, Indian Strategic Studies, Nov 18, 2012, available at http://strategicstudyindia.blogspot.in/2012/11/vikramadityas-boiler-problem-how-serious.html
9. “Vikramaditya may lack air defence”, The New Indian Express, Aug 3,2013
10. Reportedly, by 2017 the IN plans to fit the ship with locally-developed Close-In Weapon Systems and Rafael-Israel Aerospace Industries’ Barak 8 long-range air-defence missile system; See Rahul Bedi, “India's Vikramaditya arrives at home port”, Jan 7, 2014, IHS Jane's Navy International, available at http://www.janes.com/article/32159/india-s-vikramaditya-arrives-at-home-port
11. Vladimir Karnozov, n 9
12. Indian Naval Air Squadron 303 (INAS 303), nicknamed the Black Panthers was commissioned in May 2013 and will operate 16 single-seat MiG-29K fighters, and four twin-seat MiG-29KUB aircraft. A second squadron of MiG-29K fighters still remains to be delivered by Russia, which was earmarked for the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-1) that Cochin Shipyards is expected to deliver by 2015; See Ajai Shukla, “Indian Navy commissions first MiG-29K squadron”, The Business Standard, May 12, 2013
13. “INS Vikramaditya Sets Sail for India”, The Hindu, Nov 27, 2013
14. “The Gorshkov Package”, The Hindu, Jan 22, 2004, available on http://www.hindu.com/2004/01/22/stories/ 2004012201301000.htm
15. Commander Elton C. Parker III, “Aircraft Carriers and What Comes Next”, War on the Rocks, Dec 2013, available on http://warontherocks.com/2013/12/aircraft-carriers-90000-tons-of-soft-and-hard-power-projection-but-what-comes-next/
16. Carl Thayer, “USS Cowpens Incident Reveals Strategic Mistrust Between U.S. and China”, The Diplomat, Dec 17, 2013, available at http://thediplomat.com/2013/12/uss-cowpens-incident-reveals-strategic-mistrust-between-u-s-and-china/
17. Admiral Gary Roughead (USN Ret.), J. Stephen Morrison, Rear Admiral Thomas Cullison (USN Ret.), Seth Gannon U.S. Navy “Humanitarian Assistance in an Era of Austerity”, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Global Health Policy Center March 2013
18. Hash Pant eds, The Rise of the Indian Navy; C Uday Bhaskar, “The Navy an instrument of Foreign Policy”, Ashgate Publishing Company, 2012, p 41
19. What is worth noting is that what was defined as naval diplomacy in 1998 has been split into two different roles – benign and diplomatic – in 2009.; See “Diplomatic Role – Objectives, Missions, Tasks”, Indian Maritime Doctrine, Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy), 2009, p 105