New Strategy for Afghanistan
In his speech at the Fort Myer base in Arlington, President Trump outlined the administration’s new plans for the war in Afghanistan. A key change will be the shift from a time-based approach to a one based on conditions. There will be no arbitrary timetables and deadlines, which in the past encouraged the insurgents to stay patient and wait out the military operations. Other pillars include integration of all instruments of American power — diplomatic, economic, and military — towards a successful outcome; dealing with Pakistan’s safe havens; promoting a strategic partnership with India and giving a free rein to the military. Although Trump’s original idea was to withdraw from Afghanistan completely, he has changed his mind. On the contrary, it was said earlier this week that up to 4 000 additional US troops would be deployed to Afghanistan.
.@FareedZakaria: "Fundamentally, Trump just signed on to the forever war in Afghanistan" https://t.co/s26xhWvFpo
— CNN (@CNN) August 22, 2017
North Korean Missile Test Causes Alarm in Japan
North Korea snap tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile Hwasong-12 on Tuesday early morning. It was its fourth missile test in four days. Moreover, the missile flew over the Tōhoku region in northern Japan, causing alarm to go off and stopping trains. The missile landed approximately 1300 km east of the coast of Japan. It was the first time since 2009 that North Korean missile flew over Japan. The test followed new UN sanctions introduced against Pyongyang earlier this month. The UN Security Council condemned the test on Tuesday but did not propose new sanctions, mainly because the veto-wielding China and Russia usually view only a test of a long-range missile or a nuclear weapon as a trigger for UN sanctions.
Kim Jong Un calls North Korea's missile test a "prelude" to containing U.S. territory Guam https://t.co/mErAbAafP2 pic.twitter.com/dCf6jgKCCy
— Bloomberg (@business) August 30, 2017
On Wednesday Pyongyang announced that Kim Jong Un called for more weapons tests targeting the Pacific Ocean.
Kim’s Engines Smuggled from Dnipro?
A study by Michael Elleman from the International Institute for Strategic Studies finds that the recent success of North Korean missile program might be linked to sales of rocket engines possibly from Ukraine. A study of the photographs of the new rocket engines concluded that they derive from Soviet-era designs. Those are, in turn, linked only to few former production sites, one of them a missile factory in Dnipro, on the edge of the ongoing war. Their hypothesis is that the poorly performing factory may have turned to illicit sales of its engines. However, the knowledge or direct involvement of either Kiev or Moscow is unknown. An investigation was ordered by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko into the findings of the New York Times article which first brought up the issue. Its conclusion is that Ukraine was not involved in the development of North Korea’s ballistic missiles program.
Mr. Elleman tried to clarify the findings of his article on twitter before he was forced to delete his account after Twitter outrage against him.
New US Sanctions Help Putin
Not all sanctions punish the adversary. Especially in authoritarian regimes, some sanctions (so called “dumb”) actually help the adversary’s government. That is precisely what happened with the recent limit on US travel visas for Russian citizens, according to Mark Galeotti. Firstly, the public announcement gave Kremlin a useful propaganda ammo. Moreover, ordinary Russians actually tend to like Americans and the US has a tremendous soft-power advantage. The more people travel to the West and see it for themselves, the less power will the official Russian propaganda have over the people, and the more pressure will it put on the government demanding change.
Washington Just Punished #Russia — and Helped #Putin
My contrarian take on new visa restrictions in @ForeignPolicy https://t.co/2lyIgbyjzk
— Mark Galeotti (@MarkGaleotti) August 24, 2017
China and India end standoff
On Monday China and India have agreed to end a standoff on their border near Bhutan, ending more than a two-month-long crisis. The decision comes ahead of a BRICS summit in China beginning on Sunday which Indian PM Modi is supposed to attend. While Indian troops withdrew, Chinese troops continue to patrol the disputed Doklam region. The heart of the matter is a self-contradictory 1890 treaty which unclearly defines the border between the three nations. The incident was ignited when Chinese PLA roadbuilders appeared to build a road into the disputed territory. After return to the status quo before the start of the crisis, most see India as coming tactically on top from the nuclear power standoff. The situation was the most serious incident along their disputed Himalayan border since a brief war in 1962.
MEA Press Statement on Doklam Disengagement Understanding pic.twitter.com/fVo4N0eaf8
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) August 28, 2017
STRATPOL Memos is a project which on a bi-weekly basis provides a short overview of the most important selected moments of Euro-Atlantic security and related areas. Our goal is to provide brief and informative comments with short analysis putting news into broader context.
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