Security News Today – 9/18/10

Posted by Chris van Avery on 20Sep10.

Global Governance: Vital But Impossible?
This morning, the Atlantic Council hosted the launch of Global Governance 2025, a report following a long collaboration with several partners. The fundamental takeaway is that, while cooperation between the United States and Europe is essential, it “is no longer enough to effectively manage global challenges.” Instead, key players from around the globe will need to develop new institutions to deal with the world’s problems. The report stresses that “formerly localized threats are no longer locally containable but are now potentially dangerous to global security and stability.” The listed challenges range from migration problems to resource scarcity to climate change to state collapse.

Japan urges calm after China severs contacts over fishermen’s detention
Japan urged China to remain calm and not inflame their diplomatic spat further Monday after Beijing severed high-level contacts and then called off a visit by Japanese youth over the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain near disputed islands.

Japan FM Voices Concern On China Defense Spending
Japan’s new Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara on Sept. 17 voiced concern over the level of China’s defense spending, speaking hours after he was appointed and amid a tense territorial fight with China.

China’s maritime aggression should be wake-up call to Japan
The Sino-Japanese standoff over Japan’s detention of a Chinese trawler captain who acted aggressively towards the Japanese coast guard in waters near the disputed Senkaku islands is part of a larger pattern of Chinese assertiveness towards its neighbors over the past few years. This pattern includes renewed Chinese claims to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, Beijing’s increasingly forceful claims to sovereignty over the South China Sea, China’s effort to claim suzerainty over the Yellow Sea (where it sought to prevent recent U.S.-South Korean naval exercises), and a series of naval provocations directed at Japan.

Iraq Suffers Deadliest Day Since U.S. Drawdown
A string of bombings killed 37 people Sunday in Iraq’s deadliest day since Aug. 31, when President Barack Obama said the U.S. military’s seven-year-old combat mission there had ended. Twin car bombs exploded within moments of each other around 11 a.m. in Baghdad — one near a facility housing federal police, which killed 19 people, the other a few miles away at a busy intersection in the Mansour neighborhood, killing 10, Iraqi authorities said.

Succession in North Korea
Kim Jong-il’s stroke back in August 2008 and his continued frail health have brought the succession question to the center of the North Korean political/military agenda and to the forefront of global discussion and speculation regarding the insular communist state.

Rogues in a ‘rogue state’?
An independent attack could explain the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan at such an inopportune moment for the Pyongyang hierarchy, even though the very concept of the North Korean military acting independently challenges established United States and South Korean foreign policy convention towards North Korea.

Referendum Deepens Fragmentation in Turkey
In the Turkish referendum held on September 12, voters supported the constitutional amendment package promoted by the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP). Despite earlier forecasts and opinion polls, the changes were approved by a wide margin: 58 percent voted in favor, while 42 percent opposed the amendment (Anadolu Ajansi, September 13). This rather surprising outcome will have significant implications for Turkish politics, possibly accelerating social fragmentation.

France raises terror security; new threat reported
France has stepped up its vigilance against terror threats, a top official announced Monday amid reports of various new threats, including one against the Paris transport network. “The terrorist threat is real and today our vigilance, therefore, is reinforced,” Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said.

Terrorism concerns rise around Commonwealth Games in Delhi
Britain and Australia issued travel warnings on visiting the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi, after two Taiwanese tourists were shot Sunday.

Georgia Warns Of ‘Threat’ From French Warship Sale To Russia
Georgia said Sept. 20 that French plans to supply Mistral-class helicopter carriers to the Russian navy posed a threat to regional security.

Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamond Trade Continues To Grow With Chinese Help
Zimbabwe’s generals are accumulating a secret slush fund from diamond sales, a campaign group claims. Diplomats fear the vast mines put the army in a powerful position to dictate the terms of succession after the death of Robert Mugabe.

NATO commander: Pirates find less success
Somali pirates are having fewer successful attacks against merchant ships, but the number of pirate groups is on the rise, according to a key NATO commander.

India surging to record trade deficit
Strong economic expansion is driving up India’s imports at too fast a pace for its strong export sector to match. With protectionism among trading partners, notably in the United States, on the rise, New Delhi is urging manufacturers to seek new markets.

China: Energy superpower
China’s emergence as the world’s top energy consumer – and the likelihood of it keeping that status – has immense implications for the future of great-power politics and of the planet. Washington is watching with anxiety.

Why China will continue to disappoint as a “near-peer” rival
Part of the dynamic we witness in elite US circles right now is an attempt to redirect our fears away from non-state actors and back toward the rising “near-peer”–an old Pentagon code phrase for China. It is seen as part and parcel of admitting our need to get our own economic house in order, pull back from “empire” and keep our powder dry for the real threat down the road. For many, this is a highly tempting path. But the problem with it is, the Chinese will continue to disappoint.

Red Shirts rise up again
Thousands of pro-democracy Red Shirt activists Sunday defied a state of emergency decree and demonstrated in downtown Bangkok – their first major act since government forces crushed their rebellion and drove them from the very same area in May.

Pakistan Taliban threats to West limited, analysts say
Pakistan’s Taliban militia is vowing to launch terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe, but they lack the capability to conduct global attacks on their own, according to terrorism specialists.

US Assessment Of Terrorist Threats Poor, Says Panel
Only “low confidence” should be placed in most of the risk analyses of terrorist threats conducted by the US Department of Homeland Security, concludes a review by a National Research Council panel. Created after the 9/11 attacks to cover national perils ranging from terrorism to natural disasters, the DHS got off to a rough start. Critics blasted its lack of attention to natural disasters after its bungled response to hurricane Katrina.

Brazil Building Itself Into Regional Military Power
Brazil’s signing of a new strategic cooperation accord with Britain – adding to a pile of similar deals with other European countries and the U.S. – has underlined its ambition to become Latin America’s pre-eminent military power.

Chris van Avery is an Asia-Pacific FAO and Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, and blogs on a variety of topics at The Yankee Sage .

  Russia/Georgia Developments

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 19Jun09.

A report surfaced today of low level violence, suspicious activities and possible Russian troop movements along the Georgian border.

[Georgian MP} Davitaia had visited locations near the Mamisoni Pass in the Racha Mountains of Western Georgia, and on his way back witnessed a big explosion close to the border. The MP assumed that the blast was connected with the Kavkaz-2009 Russian military exercises.

“I was moving with our border guards on the perimeter of the border. The border police are under constant provocation from the Russian side of the border. They say Russian troops and Ossetian separatists who are also located nearby often open fire on the Georgian border police positions. The summer camp for border police has already been destroyed by fire,” Davitaia told The Messenger on June 17.
Commenting on the situation at the Mamisoni Pass, spokesperson for the Georgian Interior Ministry Shota Utiashvili told The Messenger that the reason for the explosion mentioned by Davitaia is “unclear yet”, adding that the Ministry is trying to investigate the incident.

The Messenger story also reports the following:

Georgian political experts are warning of a possible new Russian aggression against the country. According to political analyst Mamuka Areshidze all the strategic locations in the Caucasus Mountains, on the whole perimeter of the Georgian-Russian border, are already occupied by Russian troops.
Areshidze also underlined that Russia, just as in summer 2008, is now conducting large scale military exercises, the ‘Kavkaz-2009’. “Compared to last August Russia is involving much stronger forces in these trainings, including military helicopters. Everything now depends on whether this is just a demonstration of force or preparation for a new military aggression,” stated Areshidze.

Not suprisingly, Georgia's Foreign Ministry posted a statment on its web site that it viewed Russia's upcoming exercises as a threat to Georgia and the region .

Finally, the head of the Georgian intelligence service asserted yesterday that Moscow's desire for early elections in Georgia are part of a grand plan to bring about regime change in T'blisi.

Gela Bezhuashvili, the head of Georgian intelligence service, said Russia had intensified efforts aimed at “destabilizing” Georgia and “overthrowing” the Georgian government, including through “supporting the idea of early elections.”

He told lawmakers from the parliamentary committee for defense and security that Russia was using for that purpose “resources” of former Georgian officials and Georgian criminal bosses now living in Russia.

“Russia is interested in internal destabilization in Georgia,” Bezhuashvili said. “Russia has all the resources and it uses them. It works actively with Georgian diaspora in Russia; it uses all those persons, who emigrated from Georgia in recent years [to Russia], including former officials.”

“The purpose of this mobilization of resources is overthrowing of the legally elected government in Georgia. Russia is doing its best to support the idea of any destabilization and disorder, including through supporting the idea of holding early elections in Georgia,” he said.

Referring to President Medvedev’s recent remarks made, Bezhuashvili said that Russia’s top leadership was “opening confirming” having interest in holding of early elections in Georgia.

  Russia & Georgia Resume Their Deadly Dance

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 18Jun09.

As predicted , Russia is starting to turn up the rhetoric and heat in its ongoing dispute with Georgia. As expected, Russia vetoed any continuation of observer missions in Georgia. And, though the U.S. and Georgia will hold the first session of a newly established a “ Strategic Partnership Council “, Russia is sending clear signals to the U.S., Georgia and its near abroad that Moscow intends to further isolate–or even intervene again–in Georgia.

In addition, the Jamestown Foundation reports the following interesting details concerning the imminent Russian exercise in the Caucuses:

This month the Russian military will stage massive exercises in the North Caucasus, “Kavkaz-2009.” According to the defense ministry’s official spokesman Colonel Aleksandr Drobyshevskiy the exercises will involve 8,500 soldiers, 200 tanks, 450 armored combat vehicles and 250 guns and last from June 29 to July 6. [Russian Chief of Staff] General Makarov will be directly in command. The official aim of “Kavkaz-2009″ is to prepare to counter terrorists (, June 11). Makarov previously told the press that “Kavkaz-2009″ will be held from June 29 to July 10, and that it will be “a large-scale exercise,” involving “all the brigades of the North Caucasia military district, the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla marines brigades,” as well as troops from other districts (RIA Novosti, June 5). This would seem to indicate that much more than 8,500 men will be involved. It is also unprecedented in Russian military tradition for the Chief of the General Staff to be directly in command of a routine regional exercise aimed at countering terrorism.

Better political and military timing for an invasion of Georgia would be hard to imagine. With Washington’s hands full with problems in Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea and Iran–not to mention the myriad of real and manufactured “crises” domestically–the administration would be hard pressed to offer anything more than lip service to any Russian aggression.

Pavel Felgenhauer offers the following opinion on the timing of a potential Russian operation, and I concur:

The most dangerous period within which a new full-scale war with Georgia might occur will be from July 10 until after President Barack Obama visits Moscow in August, while the invasion forces are already deployed and poised for action, under the cover of “Kavkaz-2009.”

  Russia Moving To Eliminate Prying Eyes In Georgia

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 15Jun09.

The Jamestown Foundation reports that Russia is moving to eliminate the UN and OSCE observers in Georgia unless both organizations recognize the independence of Abkhazia and Ossetia.

Russia is running the countdown to zero on the OSCE and U.N. observer missions in Georgia. The mandates of both are due to expire before the end of this month, their re-negotiation subject to a Russian veto. Moscow threatens to kill both missions imminently by vetoing their mandates, unless the two organizations accept the “independence” of Georgia’s Russian-occupied territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, respectively.

On June 11 Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov reaffirmed the position that “the presence of U.N. and OSCE observers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia [is only possible on the basis of the new situation [whereby] South Ossetia and Abkhazia have become independent states.” If the OSCE and U.N. accept those “realities,” Lavrov told a news conference, then their mandates regarding South Ossetia and Abkhazia, respectively, can be agreed upon [i.e, Russia would not veto]. But, if the two organizations “stick to Georgia’s territorial integrity within its former borders, then they will get no results [on the mandates] (Interfax, June 11).

This of course would leave Georgia with no internationally sanction impartial observers of the situation and would make it considerably easier for Russia to execute any plan to topple the elected government in Tblisi.

With NATO exercises in Georgia scheduled to wrap up around the time the UN and OSCE mandates expire, observers should expect to see the rhetoric, demonstrations and possibly Russian troop movements ramp up in the next few weeks.

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