Publication: China Brief Volume: 15 Issue: 4
Between May 31 and July 28, 2014, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began the annual large-scale exercise codenamed “Stride 2014.” The Stride exercises have been a regular occurrence, focusing largely on the rapid deployment of large field formations into unfamiliar territory and conducting confrontation drills. The 2014 version, however, was different in its scale, unit composition, intensity and the nature of the opponent the units faced. No fewer than seven of the PLA’s top brigades from seven different group armies (GA) were deployed to the Zhurihe Training Base in Inner Mongolia, under the Beijing Military Region. During the six confrontation exercises that followed, only one resulted in a victory for the visiting “Red Forces” (REDFOR), and at heavy cost. The drubbing received by the REDFOR actually reflects a new age in PLA training that is closely linked with the unit that taught them the lesson, China’s first dedicated opposing forces brigade (OPFOR).  Read the rest of this entry »
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction never came up once at VP Cheney’s dinner. An invasion, the participants agreed, would be designed to trigger a democratic process in Iraq, thus completing a peaceful Arab circle around Israel. Read the rest of this entry »
By Michael Rubin, Special to CNN
Editor’s Note: Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes. The views expressed are his own.
Iraq is on a precipice from which it may never recover. The fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to forces ostensibly from the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), may simply be the tip of the iceberg. What has happened in Iraq increasingly appears not simply to be a binary struggle between government and insurgent, but rather a more complicated problem that may be impossible to fully unravel.
I drove from Tikrit through Beiji to Mosul earlier this year, and into Syria along the same roads ISIS and other insurgents now use. Even then, government control over Mosul was tenuous. Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints on the outskirts of town urged me and my driver to reconsider my trip because Mosul was not safe; they relented only because a local vouched for me. After all, while Tikrit was home to former President Saddam Hussein and his immediate entourage, Mosul was the hometown of much of Saddam Hussein’s officer corps. It still is. As I continued on to the Syrian border, a special security agent at a checkpoint separated me from my taxi driver and another man accompanying us to ensure that I was there of my own free will. A senior security official in Baghdad subsequently told me that was standard protocol. It also reflects, however, the lawlessness of that area. Read the rest of this entry »
25 July 2012 6:11 PM
There is a degree of panic, and rightly so, over whether the Syrian tyrant Basher al Assad will use chemical weapons against either his own people or foreign attackers. His regime has this week threatened to do the latter, thus finally confirming what was long suspected but never openly admitted, that Syria possesses chemical weapons. It is believed to have mustard gas as well as nerve agents such as tabun, sarin and VX. The fear is either that the Assad regime uses them or that they fall into the hands of Hezbollah, al Qaeda or other Islamic terrorist groups. Either prospect is utterly nightmarish. Even Russia says it has told Syria it is unacceptable to threaten to use them.
In the last few days, this has been much discussed. What has not been raised, however, is the question of how Syria managed to develop such a chemical weapons stockpile in the first place. No-one in the western media seems remotely curious about how Syria has managed to arm itself to the teeth with them beneath the radar of international scrutiny.
Dr Danny Shoham, at the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, is an expert in chemical and biological warfare. In a Middle East Quarterly article in 2002, Guile, Gas and Germs: Syria’s Ultimate Weapons, he set out the extraordinary history of Syria’s chemical weapons programme.
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
AMMAN (Reuters) – Iraq‘s Nuri al-Maliki is acting like Saddam Hussein in trying to silence opposition and he risks provoking a new fightback against dictatorship, one of Maliki‘s predecessors as prime minister said Tuesday.
Speaking to Reuters two days after the final departure of the U.S. forces that ended Saddam’s Sunni-dominated rule, Allawi called for international efforts to prevent the Shi’ite premier from provoking renewed sectarian warfare of the kind that killed tens of thousands in the years after Saddam fell in 2003.
“This is terrifying, to bring fabricated confessions,” Allawi said shortly before leaving the Jordanian capital Amman to return to Iraq. “It reminds me personally of what Saddam Hussein used to do where he would accuse his political opponents of being terrorists and conspirators.”
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who has taken refuge in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, denies allegations he ordered bombings and shootings against his opponents. The move against him, on the very day U.S. troops left the country, threatens to upset a balance among Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions.
“We fear the return of dictatorship by this authoritarian way of governing. It’s the latest in a build-up of atrocities, arrests and intimidation that has been going on on a wide scale,” said Allawi, who comes from the Shi’ite Muslim majority but who has drawn support heavily from disaffected Sunnis.
Nine years ago, I drove into Iraq one spring morning. As we leave it’s worth recalling: After all the angry commissions and self-serving memoirs, the war was always more complicated than it seemed.
BY SUSAN B. GLASSER DECEMBER 15, 2011
So much has happened since that it’s a shock to go back and remember. The smell of confusion on that first day of the ground war, when we rose in the middle of the night and drove our rental cars from the Kuwait City airport through the blowing sands until we found an obliging British unit that didn’t mind letting a pack of anxious, unauthorized reporters into Iraq. When we found ourselves facing gunfire — not parades — and little boys throwing stones, and mines placed along the side of Highway 8, the main road to Baghdad, the one that U.S. troops were even then pounding north on.
This was during the period that President George W. Bush so memorably, and incorrectly, referred to as “major combat operations” in his ill-advised victory speech a few months later. Of course, with nine years of hindsight, it’s fair to say it was most likely the safest time for an American to be driving around southern Iraq in a rental car, Motown music blaring, accompanied only by a few friends and a single shared interpreter whose Beirut dialect of Arabic was hardly any help at all in Basra as it turned out.
We did not see what we expected. But then again, who did? Could anyone have imagined where we would be nine years later, as another president and another era finally bring to a close the chaos unleashed that night in the warm air of southern Iraq? Read the rest of this entry »
Six reasons why it’s been so tough to get Qaddafi to quit.
BY DANIEL BYMAN, MATTHEW WAXMAN | JUNE 2, 2011
As the war in Libya drags on, the United States faces a familiar predicament: Why, despite possessing overwhelming military superiority over any foe, does it have such a hard time using the threat of force to push much weaker dictators around?
This isn’t a new problem. During the 1990s, the United States and its allies found it much harder than expected to convince Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to stop repressing opposition groups and open suspected weapons facilities to inspectors, to protect civilians in Bosnia, to force Somali warlords to stop pillaging humanitarian relief efforts, and to compel Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to end his violent ethnic cleansing campaign in Kosovo.
A decade ago, we wrote a book pondering this very puzzle. The short answer was that political constraints often bind the United States and its coalition partners much more tightly than their adversaries, and in ways that offset advantages in raw military power. Those painfully learned lessons apply more than ever in Libya today and help explain why Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi isn’t flinching against the world’s most sophisticated military forces — despite his near-complete international isolation.
JANUARY 1, 2010, 6:30 P.M. ET
If ever one year in recent times was a catalyst for change in the broader Middle East and Muslim world, it was 1979. One ray of bright light in that year of darkness was the signing of the historic Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Conversely, three events had dire consequences with which we live today.
First, there was the overthrow of the shah of Iran by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Second, there was the takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, by a group of Islamic extremists. And third, there was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Each event fostered the forces of radicalization with implications far beyond the region’s borders.
• Iran becomes a theocracy. Khomeini’s revolution in the early months of 1979 established the wilayat al-faqih, or rule by a Muslim cleric who became the Supreme Leader. He, in effect, formed a theocratic system in Iran, a predominantly Shiite country, and declared the new regime to be “God’s government,” warning that subsequent disobedience was a “revolt against God.” Read the rest of this entry »