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The privatization of terrorism; the rise of criminal gangs cloaked in rhetoric and arms


The scope of criminal activity by insurgent and terrorist groups is vastly underestimated by lay readers; It is as if operational money appears as Minerva from the head of Jupiter, if it is thought about at all. Terrorist organizations build criminal funding arms that have the real possibility of dwarfing the military mission, and in some cases, as I believe is happening in Northern Ireland, they become nearly pure criminal groups with a veneer of rhetoric. None are immune:

[The Red Brigades'] daily life was ruled by economics. Members of the organization spent most of their time raising money to carry out their violent attacks, to buy weapons, to rent new safe houses… The Red Brigades [often] sailed to Lebanon to pick up arms from the PLO. The weapons were them brought to Sardinia where other European groups, such as the IRA and ETA, came to collect their share of the cargo. For this service the Red Brigades received a fee. [To give an idea of the] money required by an armed organization to function, in the 1970s, the Red Brigades had a turnover of $8 to 10 million, equivalent to about $100 million today. This figure was equivalent to the turnover of a medium size Italian company. Generating such vast flow of money required constant attention and absorbed the bulk of the time of the full time members of the organization.

The "significant prospect" of an IRA strike on London, breaking a 7 year ceasefire amid the crisis sparked by the robbery of £26.5 million from the headquarters of the Northern Bank, Belfast, on 20 December 2004, is said to be due to a:

threat to its criminal interests -- estimated by the Times [to] provide an annual income of 200 million pounds -- that might prompt a return to violence. "There is a serious worry about a hardcore of terrorists coming off the ceasefire… They're gangsters who don't want to disband -- it will end their racketeering and well-heeled lifestyles."

The Independent Monitoring Commission concludes "firmly that it was planned and undertaken by the PIRA [Provisional IRA]… It follows from this that the robbery at the Northern Bank, though by far the most serious incident, was one of a series of crimes that have enabled PIRA to gain very significant resources in recent months. Violence or the threat of violence has been a feature of all these incidents. We believe that the Northern Bank robbery and abductions and the other robberies and abductions referred to above were carried out with the prior knowledge and authorisation of the leadership of PIRA."

The reporting from stalwarts such as the Telegraph and Times on IRA criminal activity has sounded at times more like screeds:

[Irish Republic] security forces seized £2.3 million in sterling and laid bare an international money-laundering operation by the Provisional IRA that senior Garda think was part of what they believe to be now the Provisional's primary project: to subvert the Irish Republic. Jim Cusack [has] claimed for the past three years: the existence of an extensive criminal empire whose purpose is to fund the Provisional IRA's project to find a "tipping point" that would see takeover in the Irish Republic. "The IRA now licenses all professional criminal activities in Dublin. But it generates even greater income from investing its criminal assets - it is now the biggest pub owner in the state." Cusack says the sums stacked up annually are so huge - possibly £200 million a year - that they argue a strategic subversive agenda. "Sinn Fein IRA is now the largest nationalist political party in Northern Ireland. All it has to do is secure 20 per cent of the vote in the Irish Republic to hold the balance of power and create the "tipping" point for a political crisis which will see them swept into power." Like many security sources, Cusack believes that the IRA's huge financial arsenal is to fund a three-point plan: electoral politics funded by criminal activity; black propaganda groups fronted by sympathetic journalists alleging "corruption" by business supporters of the mainstream parties coming up to a general election; and well-armed cadres capable of coercion of state forces.

Hugh Orde, the PSNI chief constable [who] first pinned the blame for the robbery on the IRA, is quite clear that there is no split in the IRA, no hard men pushing for a takeover. There is just an organisation that funds itself through crime and is indignant that it has been caught in the act. He says: "People talk about splits but I can’t see anything that would indicate to me that they are going to go back to their campaign."

Republicans are annoyed [because] such activity was not covered by the terms of the ceasefire and the two governments have, in the past, turned a blind eye to IRA criminality in the interests of the peace process. Mo Mowlam, during her stint as secretary of state for Northern Ireland, once referred to paramilitary punishment attacks as "housekeeping". The message was clear, as long as the IRA did not attack the security forces or loyalists, then the peace process could continue.

Routine IRA reconnaissance did not technically breach the ceasefire defined as a "complete cessation of military operations."

Updated 1 September 2010

Communication, Business, and You

Loretta Napoleoni: The intricate economics of terrorism

TEDGlobal 2009

Filmed July 2009, posted Dec 2009

The peace process must take second place to security in the Republic
By Eoghan Harris
Telegraph (UK)
NOTE: This link has now scrolled off. However, a substantial part of the quotation from the above item may be found in the following item:

Communication, Business, and You

What the IRA hase become.Anyone still want to donate money ?


Posted: 28 Aug 2006, 20:15

Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of
10 February 2005

Gordon Housworth

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Tradecraft update on N44982 (was N8068V, N379P) and N4476S (was N313P)


Consider this a tradecraft update to Gulfstream N379P becomes N8068V: the price of carelessness with flight logs, or notoriety, or just business practice. Others, such as BlueOregon and the Chicago Tribune have noticed that tail number N8068V, the G-V serial number 581, is now N44982 under new management, and that tail number N313P, the Boeing 737, is now N4476S under a different new management. (In an otherwise good analysis on the G-V, Global Security makes a rare error in stating that N8068V "was sold [by Premier] to two Limited Liabilities companies: Bayard Foreign Marketing, and Keeler and Tate Management.")

Another check beyond the airframe serial number is to go to the FAA Registry Document Index Inquiry, and enter 'Premier Executive Transport' into Party Name. That turns up the two original aircraft. Click on the old tail number and you have the new owner. A cursory look at this FAA registry for the state of Massachusetts, County of Norfolk (which contains the city of Dedham, the registry address of Premier Executive Transport Services, the prior owner of both aircraft), would indicate that PETS is not now in possession of any aircraft.

In a case of casual "security by obscurity," the issue of rendition gave rise to public 'discovery' of what any competent intel agency has known for some time. I would agree with Stygius that the more interesting news was in the bevy of front identities exposed in the 2004 Washington Post.

More likely an issue of site update lag, I note that neither Bayard Foreign Marketing or Keeler and Tate show up in the CALPs (Civil Aircraft Landing Permits) of the US Army Aeronautical Services Agency. The worldwide landing permit for Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., the former owner of both aircraft, remains in effect until 6 March, 2005. I leave it to the eager student to examine the other worldwide access holders.

Researchers miss a trove in not obtaining copies of the registration and airworthiness certificates on aircraft of interest. (Too many forget that not everything is immediately available on the web.) The Civil Aviation Registry has a Request for Copies of Aircraft Records page that will deliver a CD-ROM or paper copy for $6.25.  (For the unfamiliar, the registration and airworthiness documentation are comprised of many paper documents which for this modest sum are copied front and back and then sent on to the inquirer.) One discovers many interesting items, e.g., the airframe and electronics mods to the 737, tail number N313P now N4476S, classify it as an experimental aircraft (worth the read if you like detail) and the (former?) operator of the G-V, tail number N8068V now N44982, is as interesting as the owner. One can start to look at the airfields from which it flies, which military assets are in the vicinity, etc. Worth the trouble.

Another source is the FAA and ICAO aviation networks that drag around substantial information on the comings and goings of airline and General Aviation flights, much of it available in real-time or near real-time. There are all manner of PC-based real-time flight tracking and monitoring programs suitable for a private enthusiast, operator, or Fleet Base Operator (FBO) to track all airline and General Aviation flights over the US, Canada, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Data can be had 24/7 in both fully graphics-based presentation or XML feeds. One version for executive jet operations specifically notes "monitor your competition" as one of its benefits in addition to knowing the precise location of one's corporate aircraft, departure and arrival times, and other data to improve scheduling and aircraft utilization.

Readers can gain a cursory education by looking at the index of ARINC, formerly Aeronautical Radio, but some of the major sources are:

  • ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System)
  • SELCAL (Selective Calling) that allows ground radio alert to an air crew that the operator wants to talk with that aircraft. (Because of HF background noise levels, air crews often turn down HF audio levels until alerted by SELCAL of a message specifically intended for them.)
  • ACARS, HF and VHF real-time tracking and monitoring
  • WACARS (Windows ACARS) databases and flight data from many European and Asian users - another of those 'committed collector' class of folks
  • Photos of tracked aircraft
  • Real-time weather and sunrise/sunset if that were of interest

Substantial remote flight records can be obtained in this manner. Failing that, there is always physical access to filed flight plans, pilot and aircraft flight logs. Joint access airfields allow many opportunities.

Gordon Housworth

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The year, the decade, that Japan makes its security "concern" tangible regardless of foreign and domestic resistance


Asian nations, Japan and China notably among them, value symbolism to the point that it is all but tangible, and a useful pointer to future action - or inaction. (Remember Nakasone's lifting the Japanese defense budget .001% over the historic postwar allocation, which was itself a unspoken dodge as off-books personnel funding had already exceeded that allocation. The government endured public discussion over that .001% 'breach' but once it had subsided, it could raise the budget without confrontation or complaint.)

Japan perceives significant and rising military threats from both the DPRK and the PRC to the point that it has publicly commenced plans "to amend the Self-Defense Forces Law to define the procedures for intercepting any ballistic missiles aimed at Japan." The government has already taken the view that "the country's constitution allows pre-emptive attacks to be made as a self-defence measure if there is no other means to counter a specific threat." The decision is now what military and diplomatic means will be used to permit response or pre-emption. Japan is now publicly considering three possible scenarios for ballistic-missile defense based upon response time:

  • Sufficient time for the cabinet to meet and decide that Japan is under attack
  • The government has received intel "that another country has begun making preparations to launch a missile attack on Japan"
  • Interception of ballistic missiles post-launch

Deciding that Japan must adopt a more assertive posture to the PRC and DPRK, it has elected, for the foreseeable future, to reinforce its participation in the US-Japan Security Alliance. The final Joint Statement of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee was diplo-speak in its lack of specificity but unmistakable in its intent:

The text of the official statement, however, was not identical to what was reported earlier in the Washington Post that said that "the United States and Japan will declare Saturday for the first time in a joint agreement that Taiwan is a mutual security concern." Commenting on this, Lu said that "although the official statement differs from the media report, their spirits are perceptibly the same."

In a milestone of postwar Japanese diplomacy, Japan had dispensed with the avoidance of confrontation. The Chinese missed neither the symbolism nor the intent:

The Japan-US declaration was angrily condemned by Beijing and has heightened tensions with Tokyo. In a statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, "The Chinese government and people resolutely oppose the United States and Japan in issuing any bilateral document concerning China's Taiwan, which meddles in the internal affairs of China, and hurts China's sovereignty."

The DPRK did not miss anything either, issued a statement saying:

Because the United States insists on its hostile policy toward the D.P.R.K. and refused to co-exist with the D.P.R.K., the D.P.R.K. has no justification to take bilateral, one-to-one talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula with the United States now.

The US reminded the DPRK that "one-on-one" talks were never on offer, only the six-party talks. Ryoji Yamauchi noted that, "The document is a very significant step in [Prime Minister] Koizumi's plan to end Japan's current standing as a pacifist nation and transform it into a more assertive military force in the region."

Given the rising fears of the Japanese population over DPRK missile attacks, I would expect that Koizumi will be successful in revising the war-renouncing article of the US-authored Japanese constitution, thereby removing the hobbles on the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to become a conventional military force. China "vehemently opposes" the move. In this 60th anniversary year of the ending of WWII which will heighten Chinese memories of Japanese excesses, Japan has laid down the gauntlet to both China and North Korea.

The Dragon roars over US-Japan accord
By J Sean Curtin
Asia Times
Feb 23, 2005

U.S., Japan Worry About N. Korean Withdrawal From Talks
February 20, 2005

Joint Statement of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee
Washington, DC
February 19, 2005

Japan to devise procedures for ballistic-missile threat
Date Posted: 09-Feb-2005

Japan Inc opposes Koizumi's China policy
By J Sean Curtin
Asia Times
Dec 11, 2004

Gordon Housworth

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Remember the Bipolar client states that predated al Qaeda and Hezbollah? Think of having all of them at once


From a private list note of November 2001:

The umbrella Al Qaeda organization [has] has no choice but to contest the US -- in their terms, we "are" the West or, at the very least, personify the West. In the absence of Bipolar Politics in the collapse of the Soviet Union, nascent states or groups could no longer play west against east nor gain support from Soviet sponsors. (Readers of my age will remember that the East German and Czech security services trained certain regimes throughout Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere.) Al Qaeda cannot now get anyone else to intervene on its behalf. It must directly contest the US as the undisputed leader of the West in its quest to create a resurgent fundamentalist Islam.

The Soviet retrenchment helped propel Arab insurgents such as the Sunni al Qaeda and Shia Hezbollah to the fore and redirected American attention, effort, and warfighting, even as Bipolar confrontation ebbed. For a brief period, it was as if the USSR had left the planet. No more. Arms are Russia's third-largest industry after oil and gas. Recent Russian advanced weapon system sales to former Soviet client states and states at odds with US security interests lead me to believe that Russia has elected to pursue specific foreign policy goals in addition to hard currency:

  • Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport (Russian Defence Export), has stated that Russia would "strictly" observe international law in its export efforts but "will not restrict sales of other weapons to countries that are out of favor with the United States." (Only a joint deal on controlling MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems) is on offer.)
  • While India and China remain the two top importers of Russian defense equipment, Rosoboronexport is expanding its weapons clientele by planning to accept barter, preferentially in hydrocarbons, as payment for defense export purchases.
  • Russia is out to improve its 2004 hard currency export of US$5.8 billion, a post-Soviet record. (While Soviet era sales in the 1980s were thought to be US$20 billion per annum, most was "provided to Soviet allies on a credit or barter basis or even free of charge.")
  • Russia has renewed the time-honored Soviet debt amnesty approach to sustain bilateral relations while stimulating weapons orders, writing off "$10 billion of the $13.4 billion debt that Syria owed the USSR for arms deliveries before 1991.
  • In the Western hemisphere, Russia acknowledged puzzlement at US concerns as it sold helicopters and 100,00 assault rifles to Venezuela. Citing Russian-Venezuelan "bilateral cooperation [that] does not violate laws and obligations" and the fact that the US and other NATO nations had supplied Caracas with weapons, Russia said US protests are a "dishonest form of competition and an attempt to squeeze Russian producers from the arms market." For its part, "Venezuela is also evaluating Russian MiG-29 fighters as possible replacements for its F-16s."

But this seems to pale in the face of provocative Russian sales to the Middle East, notably Syria and Iran:

The Russian newspaper Kommersant recently reported of Russian plans to sell a number of missile systems to Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism and in particular Hezbollah. These included the shoulder-fired SS-18 Igla anti-aircraft missiles, but also and more significantly, eighteen of Russia’s new and made-for-export SS-26 Iskander missile, and the S-300PMU-2 (SA-10) air and missile defense system, similar to that which rings Moscow, and other systems. The S-300PMU-2 system is one of Moscow’s most developed air and missile defense systems. The SS-26 has increasingly made the news for its touted capabilities to evade other air-defensespossibly the U.S. Patriot interceptorsand the Russian’s plans to market it widely, including in the middle east. The export version of the SS-26 Iskander missile has a reported range of 280 km, sufficient for Syria to strike nearly all of Israel.

Regional destabilization could easily result from this arms battery:

  • APC-mounted batteries of SA-18 Igla-S are an improvement on the Strela and is highly effective against small targets such as helicopters, drones, and cruise missiles. The SA-18 purchase comes on the heels of Syria's obtaining AT-14 Kornet anti-tank missiles.
  • A replacement for the Scud B, the SS-X-26 SRBM is a mobile tactical missile system designed for theater level conflicts and is designed to defeat the Patriot PAC-3 missile shield. The SS-X-26 has two variants, the export SS-26 Iskander-E (280 km range and 480 kg payload) and the Russian Federation Tender (400 km range and 700 kg payload). Accuracy depends upon which guidance system(s) are used. The combined use of inertial navigation, GPS and optical correlation provides an accuracy of 10 to 30 m CEP. The SS-26 has been marketed to Syria and Iran, among other states.
  • The S-300P (SA-10 Grumble) surface-to-air missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy incoming ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and low-flying aircraft. The S-300 is currently deployed by the Russian Federation and exported. The most recent variants are the S-300PMU-1 (SA-10D) and the S-300PMU-2 (SA-10E Favorit). A typical S-300P system would have a 36D6 Tin Shield surveillance radar, 76N6 Clam Shell low level radar, and 30N6 Flap Lid engagement radar.
  • While Iran purchased an unidentified number of S-300PMU-1 missiles from Russia in 1993, it appears that Russia has now delivered the 36D6 Tin Shield surveillance radar, and it may have installed them at Iranian nuclear facilities. (While there are more details on offer, too many citations point back to a single DEBKAfile article, thus the prudent writer will wait for more independent corroboration.)

What fun we shall have with reemerging armed client states on the one hand and al Qaeda and a worse threat in Hezbollah on the other.

Gordon Housworth

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The how if not the who of Rafik al Hariri's assassination


The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al Hariri has implications for the Levant, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and the Middle East, thus it seems that every faction is out to lay blame for his death upon a variety of actors that include the US, Israel, Syria, Iran, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, "a jihadist of Palestinian origin," "rogue Syrian intelligence operatives, even factions among Lebanon's myriad religious groups." The response of the Lebanese government, a Syrian puppet, and the Syrians is that the perpetrator is a "suicide bomber," and a car bomber at that, that produced the explosion that decimated al Hariri's motorcade.

"Before the blast, construction work was taking place at the site, leading Mr. Hariri's personal security detail to investigate whether the bomb had been placed in a sewer or buried in the pavement" even as the Lebanon's information minister was saying that "most evidence pointed to a suicide bombing," that a "suicide bomber was able to enter the motorcade just as the cars had spread out and detonated the bomb," and that the crater "was in the middle of the road rather than at the side, further supporting the car-bomb theory." I subscribe to the idea that Syria prefers a suicide bomber as a "remote-controlled bomb [would point to] the involvement of sophisticated agents, probably tied to Syria," or Iran, or both.

When the Who is in doubt, it is best to work on the How and see where it leads. The scale of the devastation and the size and location of the crater pointed to a subsurface detonation and not a surface or vehicular burst. The first comment to colleagues was what does the water and utility network look like. An aerial photo of the Beirut Central District shows that there was a single road that would accept a fast moving convoy (in which Hariri rode in one of three vehicles) exiting Hariri's neighborhood, a point that simplified the attacker's planning.

The size of the blast was extraordinary. Jeff Ballard, of Armoured Auto Group, said that "There are precautions you can take to minimise the damage," but "no amount of car armour could have withstood such a explosion." The location of the blast rules out parked cars.

The blast left a hole 30 feet wide and 10 feet deep, relatively deep for a car bomb, they say. A number of witnesses also noted that two cars were hurled into the air, suggesting that the blast rose vertically, as with an underground bomb, not laterally, as the government maintains.

Security experts independent of the Lebanese Army and security services dismiss the car bomb:

According to former senior adviser of the United Nations Interim Forces In Lebanon (Unifil), Timur Goksel, the assassination could not have been a car bomb. Goksel, who spent much of his term in South Lebanon dealing with explosions said: "If it were a car bomb, the damage would have been lateral and not vertical and the Saint Georges Hotel would have been swept away." Goksel believes the explosion "almost certainly" came from the ground upward.

"The bomb was placed underground, especially (since) the crater was so huge," said Hisham Jaber, a retired brigadier general and former professor at the Lebanese Military and Staff Command College. "Even a car with 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of TNT wouldn't create such a crater." Jaber, who inspected the assassination site but is not part of the investigation, said a suicide attack was the least likely cause of the explosion. He noted the crater was near the middle of the road, indicating the bomb was likely placed under the street and not in a parked car. Suspicion that the bomb was under the street increased Friday when the chief military investigator demanded that police investigate recent road works in the area. Jaber said that although Hariri's motorcade had equipment to jam electronic transmissions, the device could have been circumvented by a wire-triggered bomb or a counter-device placed in a nearby vehicle.

The Lebanese Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) listserv is a supportive adjunct to the official Free Patriotic Movement in Lebanon siteso we are dealing with a group unsympathetic to the Syrians and the Lebanese security services, but they have posted an extraordinary series of captioned photographs that support the idea of a subsurface blast.

Looking on the margins - William Bowles and his Investigating Imperialism site - there is a post purporting to describe the road excavation:

We all know by now that nearly a month ago, heavy road construction works were conducted by the Beirut Municipality at the exact location of the blast... Quite a coincidence! Road works executed day & night in the middle of a harsh winter season and during a deluge of continuous rain??? Why is the Lebanese Government investigation completely ignoring an obvious scenario of a pre-planned attack carefully executed by professional bomb experts who under the cover of "hired" Municipal Construction Workers have selectively planted nearly 300 kg of the highly sophisticated & lethal C4 plastic in the middle of a major & highly traveled road, sandwiched between 2 large structures?... It could have been a bomb among many other waiting for its targets and manually triggered via an underground cable.

Requests to police to investigate "recent road works in in the area" along with "who commissioned the work as well as the identities of the laborers who carried out the work" have been made. More to follow.

Gordon Housworth

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The impact of "China priced" Russian technology in third party hands


Musing through the offerings at IDEX 2005, the 7th International Defence Exhibition, February 2005, at UAE's Abu Dhabi was another occasion to reflect on the rapidly increasingly capable, low cost, threat posture migrating into the hands of small to moderate states, as well as nonstate actors. Without pretending to be an expert on either, I attempt to remain conversant with both geopolitical strategy and military technology so that one informs the other in building risk assessments and their trend lines.

As opposed to, say, Farnborough and Eurosatory, IDEX is specifically designed to build the military capabilities of "emerging markets of the Middle East, Gulf and Asia," with the aim to both "arm local armed forces with the state-of-the-art weapons" and provide "those forces with the comprehensive technical know-how." It goes without saying that this technology is often worthy of developed nations and may be in fact lead the inventories of first world militaries as there is no/low legacy drag. It is instructive to look at the IDEX exhibitors (key in Russia, for example) and the attending delegations.

While much is made of the potential lapse or ebbing of US unipolarity, military superiority and force projection (a trend that I believe is currently in progress), the assessments become all the more sharp when one knows what a 'second tier' state can field against the US in a limited regional confrontation. In Desert Storm, for example, the Iraqis had the superb South African G5 self-propelled artillery that outgunned its US counterpart. The US prevailed for other reasons, but it is an example of the growing capacity of second and third tier states to acquire first tier capability -- and some of those states have recognized that they need the "comprehensive technical know-how" and battlefield management tools just as much as the weapons themselves.

The trickle down process continues to nonstate actors (witness Hezbollah's recent building and flying a UAV over Israeli territory unintercepted - with a video payload as proof of the flight) rapidly complicates US calculations on the low end guerrilla warfare and insurgency end. (See John Robbs global guerrilla warfare defined as a combination of open source innovation, low(er) tech weapons, and a jostling 'bazaar' of agent transactions and interactions).

Compound that with the emerging first-tier state status of China and India, and the threats that will flow from such large economies and their manufacturing base:

A combination of sustained high economic growth, expanding military capabilities, active promotion of high technologies, and large populations will be at the root of the expected rapid rise in economic and political power for both countries.

  • Because of the sheer size of China’s and India’s populations—projected [to] be 1.4 billion and almost 1.3 billion respectively by 2020—their standard of living need not approach Western levels for these countries to become important economic powers.
  • China [is] now the third largest producer of manufactured goods, its share having risen from four to 12 percent in the past decade. It should easily surpass Japan in a few years, not only in share of manufacturing but also of the world’s exports. Competition from "the China price" already powerfully restrains manufactures prices worldwide.
  • India currently lags behind China [but] it also will sustain high levels of economic growth.

I like to say, 'Follow the demographics,' both rising and falling, that, short of Malthusian checks, will point to unavoidable shifts and their implications. Large consumer cultures and growing manufacturing capacity pave the way for substantial military expenditures (witness the US in the 20th century). Shrinking/contracting economic bases (either in comparative or absolute terms) such as in the US and Europe will force a retraction or reduction in capacity, or at least the frequency of committing that capacity.

While much has been made of "the China Price" in the commercial industrial sector, i.e., 'Cut your price 30% to 50% or lose your customers,' the concept applies just as strongly in the military sector, perhaps more so -- and it applies beyond China to India, Brazil, Indonesia, and others. The US and Europe are facing, and will continue to face, steeply rising capability on offer at prices significantly under US/EU systems. It will be increasingly hard for second and third tier states to accept that cost delta as the capability delta narrows.

While the top five military spenders are the US, Japan, UK, France and China (with China, Russia and Brazil having made significant increases in their defense budgets), the top two military exporters are the US and Russia. It is the Russian technology that concerns me as while the USSR came apart, its military technology base remained vibrant and went into a massive export campaign in order to keep its doors open as Soviet procurement halted. Russian top-tier technology sells for hard currency at well below equivalent US technology and is flowing at remarkable rates to China and India who will reproduce it at far lower cost for their domestic inventories and for export in competition to the US and EU.

IDEX saw India announce its Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile ready for export. BrahMos is based on the supersonic fire-and-forget ship, submarine and coastal-launched Yakhont (Gem) capable of salvo launching and designed to attack US carrier battle groups. Russia has also sold its Mach 3 Moskit (Sunburn) air and ship launched cruise missile and its Sovremenny destroyers, carrying eight each, to China where one presumes reverse engineering is in progress. Also designed to defeat carrier battle groups, Moskit reduces response time to 25-30 seconds.

Gordon Housworth

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Rescuing the descent of nation-states: strong, weak, failed, and collapsed


The successor to Global Trends 2015, authored before 11 September, is Mapping the Global Future for 2020, authored afterwards with a very different worldview. Global Future speaks more to themes rather than taking individual nations to task. (After all, we may need such a state as a valued ally tomorrow and require the papering over of its excesses, e.g., Uzbekistan.) It speaks of "pervasive insecurity" and an "arc of instability":

Lagging economies, ethnic affiliations, intense religious convictions, and youth bulges will align to create a "perfect storm," creating conditions likely to spawn internal conflict. The governing capacity of states, however, will determine whether and to what extent conflicts actually occur. Those states unable both to satisfy the expectations of their peoples and to resolve or quell conflicting demands among them are likely to encounter the most severe and most frequent outbreaks of violence. For the most part, those states most susceptible to violence are in a great arc of instability from Sub-Saharan Africa, through North Africa, into the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus and South and Central Asia and through parts of Southeast Asia. Countries in these regions are generally those "behind" the globalization curve.

Terrorist groups (of which al Qaeda is merely one and not necessarily the most dangerous one in the longer term), criminal groups (which can include drugs but here is meant a broad-spectrum of criminal activities), and drug groups (entities devoted to production and distribution) have already hived off enclaves in all of these areas as well as significant outposts in the 'distribution targets' such as the US and Europe (often utilizing immigrant streams in mini-mart and gas stations). There is already co-opetition between these groups which we make easier by creating areas for them to establish operations and to secure documentation to sanitize people, tools (such as ships), and product. Disease (such as AIDS), natural disaster, and simple geography (as in out of the way places too hard to reach and police, e.g., Pacific islands, parts of PNG) make their contributions.

Rotberg proposes a useful taxonomy of nation-states: strong, weak, failed, and collapsed. While I will touch on some issues of the taxonomy, a weblog entry will not do this justice. See Rotberg's The Failure and Collapse of Nation-States: Breakdown, Prevention, and Repair, in Why States Fail: Causes and Consequences, Robert Rotberg (ed.), Look at the maps at the end of the PDF and you will see a depressing dispersed global supply chain that can conceive, manufacture, and delivery mayhem anywhere in the world. And since the following criteria are not about to receive redress anytime soon, we will be needing to predict and interdict state decline on a global basis:

Unless the developing world becomes much more stable, intercommunal (ethnic, linguistic, and religious) conflict is reduced or ceases altogether, corruption vanishes, good governance becomes common, or the war against terror is won conclusively, the propensity of nation-states to fail will be high and the policy consequences of that failure will correspondingly be serious and many.

I imagine that many readers will see 'interdict' in military terms which is actually too late, too costly, and too ineffective. My intent is commercial and political interdiction, but that is the very area that US nationals are the worst at. We love to be crisis managers and we too often reward and promote those in both commercial and diplomatic spheres for that ability while overlooking those who have vision and the ability to plan for the long-term, resolving problems before they mature. In this area we are at a significant disadvantage to, say, the Chinese.

Recent US actions have created in Iraq an especially potent node in this chain while depriving us of the attention, manpower, and monies needed to proactively deal with the entire chain. As I expect this chain to expand, not contract, the distraction has grave consequences.

At the taxonomy's core is governance capabilities, the "effective delivery by a nation-state of the most crucial political goods [which are] intangible and hard to quantify [and were a] claim that a citizen once made on a sovereign and now make on the state." The hierarchy of political goods starts with "the supply of security, especially human security" and proceeds to "predictable methods of adjudicating disputes and regulating both the norms and the mores of a society" and on to "medical and health care; schools and educational instruction; roads, railways, harbors and other arteries of commerce; a money and banking system," etc.

The signs of nation-state failure start with its leadership:

Preying on their own people is a sign; so is intensifying autocracy, the number of political prisoners, unexplained assassinations, and the denial of fundamental human rights and civil liberties. Judicial independence... massively declining GDPs per capita, soaring inflation, decreasing life expectancies, the growth of large-scale corruption, electoral fraud, border incursions, the rise of powerful nonstate actors, escalating rates of crime, desperately deteriorated roads, rises in the rates of emigration and smuggling, the informal adoption of outside currencies as acceptable tender, and the privatization of education and health services. [Often] present along with corruption and smuggling, are conditions conducive to terror.

The "delivery of political goods in sufficient quantity and quality to a substantial majority of citizens' can offset a level of internal strife, class conflict, insurgency, even civil war. We need to interdict here as weak states quickly become failed states. Later interdiction becomes costly even as it spawns new problems.

Gordon Housworth

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Pakistan a failed state by 2015? Why not now?


Blowback can take decades or even generations to make itself apparent, and I submit that the same original event will cause repeated 'blowbacks' which are not recognized as part of a continuum. Think how much we owe to the British, for example, for their manipulation and balkanization of tribal landscapes in Africa and Asia. The UK handed power in Rwanda to the Tutsis over the Hutu. Whenever one sees a 'straight-line' boundary on maps today, it is generally the work of Colonial powers not perceiving value in a landscape, i.e., it had no military, commercial, or diplomatic value to one or more Colonial states. Those tidy lines repeatedly divided tribal areas and are a bane of the OAU to this day.

At other locations, the British intentionally divided tribal lands in order to weaken them, e.g., the Durand Line which divided ethnic Pashtuns in half, making their dream of a Pashtunistan stillborn, as it drew a boundary between Afghanistan and then British India (this part of which later becomes Pakistan).

By the 1920's, British hold over what is now India and Pakistan was weakening. Muslims, a sizeable majority in these territories, were beginning to push for a separate state. The name "Pakistan" itself was coined in 1933, being the first letters of all the territories the Muslim separatists desired to be included in their state: Punjab, Afghania (now the NWFP), Kashmir, Iran, Sindh, Tukharistan, Afghanistan and Balochistan. The word "Pak" also means "pure" in Persian languages. The official language spoken in Pakistan today, Urdu, is related to the Farsi spoken in Iran and the Dari language spoken in Afghanistan.

Bowing to the inevitable quest for independence, the UK passed the India Independence Act in 1947, creating two dominions, India and Pakistan, that lesser states could join. In order to provide Pakistan with the port of Karachi, Balochistan, over its objections, was 'given' to Pakistan. (Desiring independence from both Pakistan and India, Balochistan was invaded by Pakistani forces after partition.) Kashmir's indecision over which dominion to join causes agony to this day.

Pakistan is a compote of Sindh, Punjabi, Baloch, Pashtu, Bengali (from Bengal and Bangladesh), Urdu-speaking Muslims (muhajirs (refugees) from India), and tribal groups predating British presence such as the Amb, Chitral, Dir, and Hunza. There are no ethnic Pakistanis, but led by a military elite trained by British officers, the compote went to war with India in 1949.

Fast forward to 2000 before Pakistan became an essential partner in the GWOT, before sanctions were lifted, before a massive nuclear weapons effort and proliferation were overlooked, and military aid, debt forgiveness and restructuring commenced in earnest. NIC's Global Trends 2015 said of Pakistan:

Pakistan... will not recover easily from decades of political and economic mismanagement, divisive politics, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction. Nascent democratic reforms will produce little change in the face of opposition from an entrenched political elite and radical Islamic parties. Further domestic decline would benefit Islamic political activists, who may significantly increase their role in national politics and alter the makeup and cohesion of the militaryonce Pakistan's most capable institution. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the central government's control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi.

A former Pakistan High Commissioner to UK, and no friend of Musharraf, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, dusted that off in order to comment on the systematic sabotage by the Baloch that damaged the Sui natural gas purification plant and its pipeline complex such that it had to be shut down, then attacked the national electrical grid, rail, and phone networks. Hasan interprets NIC's 2015 forecast to say, I believe correctly, that "Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and its complete Talibanization" and "forecast a Yugoslavia-like fate for Pakistan." (The Hindustan Times bungled it by melding Hasan's remarks with that of the NIC, but the comments are getting some regional press, some of it unwelcome around Pakistan.)

Just as the delta Nigerians are upset at receiving no benefit from the oil that Shell lifts, so are the Baloch upset at gaining no portion of the gas that would make Balochistan a wealthy nation were it independent. The result is what the Baloch describe as "a semi-war like situation imposed on us by the center." Baloch militants take pains to show the government that they are not "Bingos" (Bengali Muslims) incapable of fighting. Musharraf's invoking of language used by General Yahya as he declared war on then Bengali East Pakistan backfired as it unleashed new attacks.

Pakistan now has an armed insurgency in Balochistan via the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) to match those in the NWFP (formerly Afghania) and Waziristan to which Pakistan has responded with a garrison cantonment strategy. Atop all this, "Inter-provincial rivalries are bursting at their seams on the water issue [and] There is widespread discontent in Sindh." Islamist religious issues threaten to sunder the government even as it remains one bullet away from regime change.

Next: failed states

Will Pakistan Army Invade Balochistan as per the NIC-CIA Plan
By Wajid Shamsul Hasan
South Asia Tribune
29 Jan, 2005

Robert I. Rotberg
6 November 2003
Participant paper associated with the NIC 2020 project

Gordon Housworth

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Identifying Kamal the tailor, musing on the 'other guy'


We may not be revealing the identity of Kamal the tailor here in the US, but Arab press - even what I would call Saudi state press - has done so. While both citations in this note are AFP sourced, five months apart, I submit that Arab News qualifies as Saudi state press given that its publisher, Saudi Research and Publishing Co., was established in 1972 and commenced the first Saudi English-language daily, Arab News in 1975. (Of SRPC's eighteen titles only this one "serving the interests of both the Saudis and a large expatriate community" is in English.) I think that it carries some solemnity for them to present Kamal's identity.

Arab News and Middle East News, respectively, identify Kamal as follows:

Kamal Al-Aswadi is "a fighter from Samarra [and] a businessman with ties to Saddam’s entourage, but wrapped himself in the cloak of radical Islam after the dictator’s regime collapsed. The military believes he relies on funding from Abu Mussab Al-Zarqawi’s movement and built his armed wing around tribal connections."

Kamal Hamud al-Suwaidi "once had business ties with Saddam's entourage. Since the US-led invasion, Suwaidi declared himself a Wahabbist and has forged ties with Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi's Unity and Holy War faction, which funds him."

It is instructive to look back to Bureaucracy of Repression: The Iraqi Government in Its Own Words to gain a scale of the infrastructure, staff, and monies that the Iraqi regime had at its disposal and which many of its Sunni members inherited at the fall of Baghdad. The US military "has 20 million dollars to spend on Samarra, two million of it immediately available." I would surmise that senior insurgents could field the entire sum in an afternoon:

Samarra is still dominated by the fears of its Sunni Muslim community, deeply worried about its place of influence in Iraq that ended with the US invasion. "They're 95 percent indifferent or don't like what they perceive as the occupation. However, they are not going to do anything about it because they don't want their families hurt." [All this from an insurgency estimated] at five percent of Samarra's 250,000 people.

The insurgency has been atomized such that the "resistance is no longer cut along lines of Saddam's Baathist power structure. Rebels have countless motives, from Islam to nationalism to pure and simple crime." The 'other guy' may or may not be among the following, but the list offers a window into nationalist insurgent leaders, opportunists, and criminals wielding extremely well-financed power in the Sunni insurgency:

General Izzat Ibrahim Al-Durri was "Saddam's top deputy [and is] the man many believe is directly orchestrating much of the insurgency."

Mohammed Hadosh "was Saddam’s top bodyguard in Tikrit and the military believes he funds rebel activities in Baiji, home to Iraq’s largest refinery."

Rashi Taan Kazim is "a former governor in Al-Anbar [and] the point man for Baathist activity in Diyala. The military believes he funds groups, supplies weapons and "uses religious ideology to recruit extremists", in an example of the insurgency’s blurred lines."

Hussein Ali Muzebar "trained as a fighter in Afghanistan for three or four years before returning to Iraq around the time of the invasion. He is said to receive money from Al-Qaeda-linked groups, including Zarqawi, and to have plotted car bombings in Samarra."

Haiytham al-Saba "known as The Lion, is a young farmer who vowed to fight the Americans after his brother was killed in the aftermath of the invasion."

Taha Yassem al-Azoze "is a Salafist whose family opposed Saddam and had a brother killed by the jailed dictator and has plotted attacks against the Americans."

Abdul Rahman "is a criminal who decided to join insurgent activities."

Najam Abdul al-Takhi al-Nissani "is considered part of the insurgency's criminal element. He has published death lists of collaborators and reputedly receives funding from Fallujah and counts as many as 30 followers among his blood relatives."

Iraqi Rebels Grow Strong in Saddam’s Old Haunts
Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
Agence France Presse
11 January, 2005 (30, Dhul Qa`dah, 1425)

Bumpy road ahead to peaceful Samarra
Middle East News
October 05, 2004

Bureaucracy of Repression: The Iraqi Government in Its Own Words
Middle East Watch
Human Rights Watch
Feb, 1994

Gordon Housworth

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Parts of Iraq vote, the Red Eminence does not, and the Gray Eminence does not show his hand


Red Eminence (l’Eminence rouge), Armand-Jean du Plessis, cardinal et duc de Richelieu
Gray Eminence (l’Eminence grise), François Joseph le Clerc du Tremblay

Provisional Iraqi election results (which become official after a three-day validation and challenge period) show an 8.55 million turnout, 58% of registered voters, under the expectations at poll closing.

The major groups (which often contain more than one party) in contention were:

The news in the major winners was that the United Iraqi Alliance won at the low end of predictions:

  • United Iraqi Alliance, 47.6%
  • Kurdish Unity List (PUK and KDP et al), 25.4%
  • Iraqi List, 13.6%
  • All others, 13.4%

The major losers were the Iraqiyun (Iraqis) and Independent Iraqi Democrats Movement parties. No surprise that there was almost no turnout among Sunnis and that the highest turnout was among Kurds.

My attention is now on what I call the Red and Gray Eminence, how the other factions deal with them, and how the US influences that process:

  • Iraqi Islamic Party is the Red Eminence, the visibly non-voting Sunni minority, the '0' of the 6:2:1:0
  • Kamal and the other guy, which seem to be respective CIA and DoD insurgent specters beneath the Islamic Party

Kamal the tailor is the CIA's pseudonym for an insurgent described as a resentful "at-large Iraqi fighter who is motivated to fight because the United States is occupying his country." Opinions on Kamal vary, with dissenters describing him as "highly speculative" and understating ties to at least one major Baathist insurgent group. The 'other guy', my term, is DoD's Central Command headquarters' description of an individual for a more Abu Musab Zarqawi-like figure.

As an analyst, this bifurcation, said to have commenced when remote-control and suicide bombings started in earnest around August 2003, is intriguing. The CIA is said to be drawing upon, or confined to, the "deeply dependent on the conflicted, Sunni-run intelligence agencies and regimes of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region" and that its Kamal "fits like a glove over the CIA's prewar scenarios for co-opting and rewarding Iraq's Sunni Baathist leaders." DoD is drawing its intel directly from the theater of conflict in which it finds itself.

Hoagland is led to believe that the four political policy changes and one military policy change recently recommended to the National Security Council by DoD reflect its vision and not that of the CIA. I would imagine that the divide centers around the nature of the insurgency - internally or externally led - and would a US drawdown disarm an "essentially nationalist uprising."

I still think that it is a marriage of convenience (also here) between the two and that when the better organized Kamal no longer needs the other guy, that the other guy goes. I am not comforted by an either/or strategy.

How the US deals with its perception of the insurgent threat will have a real-time affect on the willingness and political calculations of the voting parties to deal with the Red Eminence, and it with the others.

Gordon Housworth

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