China Conference Re-Cap
Vladimir Socor Op-Ed in WSJ
Most Read Articles
General Mattis to Lead Board Trip to Egypt
New Report on al-Shabaab in Kenya Available
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Fifth Annual China Defense and Security Conference
The Jamestown Foundation hosted its Fifth Annual China Defense and Security Conference on March 12, 2015, bringing together leading experts on China and 120 participants to discuss recent developments and new research. A PDF version of the conference papers and DVD of the all-day event are available for purchase on the Jamestown website.
The conference began with a keynote speech by Dr. Kurt M. Campbell, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Dr. Campbell discussed the challenges facing the United States in Asia, the need for closer cooperation with U.S. allies while also constructively engaging China and the vital role China Brief plays informing U.S. policy makers.
The first panel explored recent development by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) under Chinese President Xi Jinping. Dennis Blasko detailed the role of special operations forces, including the limits they face in supporting China’s military power projection, while Ken Allen gave an overview of the PLA’s foreign relations programs. Andrew Yang, former Taiwanese Minister of Defense, explained Taiwan’s self-defense strategy, and Austin Strange looked back on the PLA Navy’s six years of deployments in the Gulf of Aden anti-piracy missions.
Showcasing China Brief’s newest area of focus, the second panel covered China’s cyber strategy. Joe McReynolds revealed that PLA writings now, for the first time, acknowledge that China has offensive cyber capabilities and forces. Amy Chang placed China’s cyber activities—censorship, corporate espionage and government spying—in the context of the Party’s desire to stay in power. John Costello linked Chinese thinking on cyber with space and electronic warfare, explaining how Beijing sees these three battlespaces as interconnected.
The third panel adapted the Foundation’s emphasis on understanding “the whole picture” to create a net assessment of the New Silk Road. Dr. Erica Downs tracked the impact of the New Silk Road on China’s energy strategy in Central Asia, ultimately finding much consistency with long-standing policy. Morgan Clemens leveraged PLA writings to explore the military implications of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and limited utility for PLA Navy power projection. Jacob Zenn discussed the challenges the Silk Road Economic Belt will face in Central Asia, especially from growing terrorism concerns.
The fourth panel generated debate on the elite politics of China’s foreign policy. Senior Fellow Willy Lam spoke on the PLA’s outsize role in President Xi’s foreign policy decision-making, while Christopher Johnson highlighted President Xi’s independence on policy decisions due to his unrivaled power in the Chinese system. David Millar couched Chinese narratives on three conflicts—the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute with Japan, Taiwan and the South China Sea—as subconsciously reflecting deep mistrust, an inter-family dispute and reasserting China’s rightful role in Asia, respectively.
Vladimir Socor in the Wall Street Journal: Russia’s Master Plan to Break the Trans-Atlantic Alliance
Nuclear deal-making with Iran has been dominating the headlines, but a deal already done over Ukraine now threatens to unravel the peace in Europe.
When Ukraine made a choice in 2014 to turn toward Euro-Atlantic integration, a momentous strategic and political gift landed in the West’s lap. Russia’s war against Ukraine since that time has instead helped the Kremlin expose the European Union’s fragmentation and drift and capitalize on the Obama administration’s ambivalence.
The armistice signed on Feb. 12 regarding occupied parts of eastern Ukraine is more than a military cease fire. The political clauses of Minsk Two, as the agreement is called, allow Russia and its local proxies to sit in judgment on Ukraine’s democracy. The armistice authorizes the two Kremlin-controlled “people’s republics” established by Moscow-backed forces inside Ukraine to participate in negotiations for reforming Ukraine’s Constitution and legislation. If fulfilled as intended, these terms could block Ukraine’s European course. The terms also allow Russia and the secessionist “republics” to maintain their troops in Ukraine’s east, and to station their own forces along what is legally the Ukrainian side of the Ukraine-Russia border there. They can do so indefinitely without technically violating this armistice.
Yet the Kremlin’s real objectives lie beyond Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin is angling for European consent to establish a Russian sphere of influence directly opposite the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as part of an overall effort to undo the status quo that has developed since the Cold War. Mr. Putin’s diplomacy seeks Russian participation, on what he has called “an equal basis” with other European powers, in decision-making about European security and economic affairs. This would enable Russia to subvert European policies from the inside—further intimidating an already demilitarizing Europe and splintering European societies—and, as Moscow hopes, to decouple Europe from the U.S.
Upcoming Board Trip to Egypt
The Jamestown Foundation is proud to announce that it is organizing a visit to Egypt from May 8 to 11, consisting of Jamestown board members, private business leaders and experts on international terrorism. The 12-member delegation will be led by former CENTCOM commander General James N. Mattis (ret). Participating in the delegation will be Jamestown board member and noted terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman, as well as Jamestown Senior Fellow Michael Ryan.
Jamestown President Glen Howard noted that “we are delighted that General Mattis will be leading the delegation whose aim is to learn more about Egyptian efforts to counter terrorism and al-Qaeda inspired groups. The three-day visit will include meetings with senior Egyptian government officials including the Minister of Defense, the Foreign Minister and other key Egyptian officials, as well as representatives of Egyptian think-tanks that deal with regional security and terrorism.
The Kenyan Face of al-Shabaab: A Militant Leadership Monitor Special Report
Three months before the recent storming of Garissa University College in Kenya by al-Shabaab militants, Jamestown analyst Muhyadin Ahmed Roble wrote that the Somali terrorist group was still capable of mounting devastating attacks and remained a viable threat in regional security. In light of recent events, Jamestown announces the release of its first Quarterly Strategic Review (QSR) for 2015 on the Kenyan face of al-Shabaab. Despite the loss of territory and setbacks with the loss of its key leader Ahmad Abdi Godane, al-Shabaab remains resilient and has maintained a steady eye on Kenya since the Westgate Mall attack in September 2013.
The QSR begins with a strategic overview of al-Shabaab and developments within the organization over the past year, including the loss of its territory and leadership. The QSR also contains a key profile of the new leader of al-Shabaab, Ahmad Umar, by Sungata West and how the death of Godane has affected the direction of the organization. Purges within al-Shabaab are addressed by Kenya-based Jamestown analyst Muhyadin Ahmed Roble in his profile of al-Shabaab spokesperson Mukhtar Robow, who was caught in the middle of Godane’s purges when he was removed from his position. This is followed with a post-mortem analysis of Ahmed Abdiqadir Abdullahi, Godane’s second-in-command. The next profile is of Fu’ad Muhammad Khalaf, who was openly challenging Godane’s decisions, by Dario Cristiani. Another leading expert, Andrew McGregor, provides a profile of Ikrima al-Muhajir, a high-level Kenyan leader within al-Shabaab. Sunguta West then discusses al-Shabaab’s inroads in Kenya, giving details on al-Shabaab’s continued focus on this important country. Finally, Kathryn Basinsky provides a unique timeline of key events related to al-Shabaab that offer a retrospective on key developments within this organization since 2006.
Die Bild quoted Wladimir van Wilgenburg on the role of former Iraqi Baathists within the Islamic State organization.
Senior Fellow Willy Lam discussed the influence of Lee Kuan Yew on China and Chinese leadership for the Wall Street Journal.
CNN discussed Boko Haram’s oath of allegiance to the Islamic State with Jacob Zenn.
President Glen Howard was quoted by The New York Times on recent personnel changes at the Voice of America.
A recent China Brief article by Jamestown Fellow Peter Mattis was cited in an article by UPI on Chinese military espionage.
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