Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

18
Aug

What Exactly Is Going On In Ukraine?

Written on August 18, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, Foreign Policy, Security

Among Russia watchers, the month of August has become somewhat notorious. Rare is the year that goes by without an eventful August. Sometimes the chaos is internal (the wildfires of 2010 and 2012), while other years the events are external (2008’s Russia-Georgia War comes to mind).

This year, another August surprise seems increasingly possible. The Ukrainian territories that have been occupied by Russia since 2014 are taking their turn in the spotlight. While violence in the east of the country—the so-called Lugansk and Donetsk Peoples Republics—has begun to ramp up considerably, the past days have seen worrisome developments in Russian-annexed Crimea.

The circumstances are still somewhat murky, but it seems clear that some kind of incident occurred on the Russian-occupied side of the Crimean border that resulted in the death of two Russian service members. While the events occurred over the weekend, they did not fully escalate until a few days later. The Russians have accused Ukraine of crossing that border—into what is de jure Ukrainian land—and committing “terrorist acts” that “we will not let pass idly by.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation’s monitoring mission could not “confirm media reports of security incidents involving shooting or military activities” in northern Crimea, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has written that the United States “government has seen nothing so far that corroborates Russian allegations.” Read more…

Hannah Thoburn, Aug. 11th, hudson.org.org

19
Jul

Deniz Torcu es economista y máster en Estudios de la UE y en Relaciones internacionales
19.07.2016

El intento de golpe de Estado en la noche del viernes 15 de julio ha sido una sorpresa tanto para Turquía como para la comunidad internacional. A pesar de haber sobrevivido a una historia llena con golpes de Estado en el siglo pasado, nadie preveía un nuevo –y débil– intento de tomar el poder en este siglo. Una fracción del ejército turco supuestamente vinculada a Fettulah Gülen, el clérigo islámico que reside en Pensilvania desde hace décadas en un exilio autoimpuesto, trató de tomar el control del Estado de una manera bastante torpe, apenas cerrando puentes y enviando tanques a los principales aeropuertos, mientras que el objetivo principal, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, era capaz de detener tranquilamente sus vacaciones en la costa del Sur para conectar con los medios de comunicación a través de su teléfono móvil.

Nada más aterrizar con total seguridad en el aeropuerto Ataturk de Estambul, Erdogan pidió a la gente salir a las calles. Su llamada fue seguida de inmediato por miles de seguidores y tuvo el eco de numerosas mezquitas que comenzaron a llamar a la oración, para apoyar al Gobierno y luchar contra los rebeldes del Ejército. Y con las primeras luces del sábado 16, Erdogan anunció que “el Presidente y el Gobierno democráticamente elegidos están a cargo de la situación y todo terminará bien”. Al cabo de pocas horas, grandes fracciones rebeldes del ejército comenzaron a entregarse a una policía que en todo momento se mantuvo leal a Erdogan. Read more…

8
Jul

Fighters from forces aligned with Libya's new unity government fire anti-aircraft guns from their vehicles at Islamic State positions in Algharbiyat area, Sirte, June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Although there has been some progress in forming a national unity government in Libya, “unity” is a rather inapplicable word for the country. In reality, friction between various political actors remains high. Ultimately, perhaps a form of disunity—confederation, rather than centralization—is the best model for Libya.

Libyan politics: A primer

During the summer of 2014, the Libyan leadership, after an initial hint of cooperation, split into two governments:

  • One, headquartered in Tobruk and based on a secular matrix, was recognized internationally. It received support from the House of Representatives and was abetted by General Khalifa Haftar and his so-called National Libyan Army. Externally, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia have supported this government because of its anti-Islamist ideology. In May 2014, Haftar launched “Operation Dignity” against the Islamist militias, supported by the Zintan brigades (consisting of the Civic, al-Sawaiq, and al-Qaaqa brigades), and the militias coming from the ethnic minorities of Tebu and Fezzan.
  • The other, headquartered in Tripoli, was Islamic in nature. It was supported by the new General National Congress (GNC) and was part of the Libya Dawn group of pro-Islamist militias (which included groups from Misrata, Amazigh, and Tuareg). Qatar, Sudan, and Turkey have supported this government for different reasons, including to earn a more prominent place on the global stage or to support the Muslim Brotherhood.

But it gets more complicated, since it wasn’t just the Tobruk- and Tripoli-based governments that competed to fill the power vacuum post-Gadhafi. The constellation of militias and brigades has changed continuously. There are Salafist groups such as:

  • Ansar al-Sharia Libya (or ASL, located between Benghazi and Derna);
  • Muhammad Jamal Network (between Benghazi and Derna);
  • Al-Murabitun (in the southeast, around Ghat, Ubari, Tasawah, and Murzuq);
  • Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (or AQIM, in the southwest and northeast of Libya); and
  • Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia (or AST, located between Derna and Ajdabiya). Read more…

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5
Jul

RICHARD SOKOLSKY is a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s policy planning staff.

In a pre-retirement interview[1] on May 1, NATO’s top military officer, General Philip Breedlove, warned that the Russian military might not be ten feet tall but was “certainly close to seven.” NATO’s war planners are right to worry about the Russian military threat to its eastern flank. Fortunately, the alliance may be in a stronger position than it thinks—and although its leaders may not realize it, what is important is that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his generals almost certainly do.

NATO’s efforts to build a stronger deterrent and defense posture in the east are necessary and long overdue. But they may not be enough to de-escalate the alliance’s confrontation with Russia and reduce the risk of a direct conflict. Two years after NATO launched plans to beef up defenses on its eastern front, a midcourse correction is needed to reduce the risk of a collision with Russia.

NATO’s perception of the Russian threat has changed dramatically since Moscow gobbled up Crimea. Once thought to be outmanned and outgunned[2] by NATO, Russia is now seen by many observers as a superior military force, poised to overrun an alliance that is “outnumbered, outranged, and outgunned[3]” on its eastern flank. From the West’s perspective, Russia is a revisionist, neoimperialist, and expansionist power determined to overturn the post–Cold War European security order, destroy NATO’s cohesion, and restore its sphere of influence throughout the former Soviet Union. As a military alliance with a collective security commitment at its core, NATO should be reinforcing its exposed eastern flank with a more persistent presence of heavier forces to reassure these countries of NATO’s resolve and capacity to make good on its Article 5 commitment. Military organizations are prone to plan conservatively, and NATO is basing its plans on a worst-case scenario.

From where Putin sits, however, “the correlation of forces,” to use an old Soviet phrase, probably looks quite different. From the Kremlin’s perspective, in its decision to spread east, NATO has muscled in on Russia’s traditional turf. Meanwhile, Moscow believes the United States seeks to subvert the Putin regime by promoting democracy in and around the country. Russia’s estimates of the military balance with NATO are permeated by a deep sense of inferiority in terms of conventional Prompt Global Strike capabilities, nuclear weapons, missile defenses, cyberweapons, and even the much-hyped hybrid forms of warfare. The Russian general staff, like NATO’s military planners, are basing their plans on worst-case thinking as well. Read more…

June 29, 2016; www.foreignaffairs.com

6
Jun

An obscure court in The Hague will soon issue a ruling likely to inflame tensions in the South China Sea and force Washington to clarify how far it is willing to go to defend its allies in Manila.

The international tribunal is due to issue a decision this month over territorial disputes in the strategic waterway that have pitted China against its smaller neighbor, the Philippines. Most experts believe the court will side with Manila on the key issues.

But China has already rejected the court’s authority and vowed to stick to its far-reaching claims over the contested shoals, reefs, and rocks that the Philippines also asserts are its own. With a minuscule navy and coast guard, Manila will be looking to the United States for both diplomatic and military support. But, so far, Washington has stopped short of promising to come to the rescue of the Philippines if its ships clash with Chinese vessels in the South China Sea.

“We’ve had a number of uncomfortable senior-level engagements with the Filipinos over the past few years where they have pressed us, quite hard at times, to make our commitments clear,” a former senior U.S. government official, who was present at some of the discussions, told Foreign Policy. But the United States always declined to clarify its stance, the ex-official said.

The showdown in the South China Sea has been heating up for years, thanks to China’s large-scale land reclamation and aggressive use of fishing fleets and coast guard ships to bully other countries to steer clear of what Beijing considers its territory. Read more…

  • By Dan De Luce is Foreign Policy’s chief national security correspondent., Keith Johnson is a senior reporter covering energy for Foreign Policy.
  • June 2, 2016

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