Ukraine has won

October 9, 2022

In reality, Russia has already lost the war in Ukraine both on the battlefield, in the propaganda war and geopolitically. Russia’s losses, the country’s army’s performance, the failure of the mobilization and the zero motivation of the soldiers are slowly beginning to become clear to ordinary citizens as well. The Russian middle class has also already begun to see the sanctions affecting their everyday life. All this eats away at the confidence in President Putin, who can no longer find any honorable way out of the situation he completely misjudged.

Screenshot 2022-10-09 1.40.59 PM

The Russian military – comprising at least the land, air and naval forces, as well as external and internal intelligence, command system and leadership at all levels – demonstrated its inability to wage even a conventional war; there is no experience of nuclear war yet, but in a system permeated by corruption, there may also be shortcomings in its execution.

At the start of the war, the Ukrainian army was not necessarily in better shape than Russia’s, but its motivation, intelligence capabilities, political leadership and Western support made it superior compared to its opponent.

When Ukraine now takes back the territories annexed to Russia, is able to strike even in Crimea, and when Russia is unable to cover its losses, the situation has completely turned in Ukraine’s favor. Even if Russia makes a full mobilization, this will not bring any solution in Russia’s favor either: the most competent material has already left the country, there are not enough weapons or trainers for those who remain, if the reserves are taken to the front, the massive losses and mass surrenders underline the complete failure.

unnamedPresident Putin’s only remaining playing card is a nuclear weapon, and when cornered, he can also use it. At the mildest end, what can be expected is a show-like test shot, which in itself is not harmful to anyone. The situation becomes more challenging if a tactical nuclear warhead is used in Ukraine, I don’t doubt that the Western countries would then be able to destroy the Russian armed forces in the territory of Ukraine with conventional missiles.

Putin may be ready to use strategic nuclear weapons as well, but I doubt that even the power elite – the silovaki – are ready to sacrifice their lives at the behest of their leader who is alienated from reality.

If Putin considers using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, the threshold for its use within the scope of the Russian security services will emerge. Even at the level of the power elite, the security agencies and the army are not a united, unanimous group, and at lower levels, a realistic picture of the situation is certainly available. The consequences of using a nuclear weapon can create a sufficient vision that Putin should be replaced already now by another leader who might be able to negotiate with Ukraine and the Western powers even about a “cold peace”, a cease-fire that would return the entire region up to Crimea to Ukraine, but would perhaps leave the war crime and reparations issues for the future.

There is also a small chance of a diplomatic solution if Putin, Ukraine and the USA work out some kind of truce at the meeting of the G-20 countries in Bali on November 15-16, 2022.


As Sirens Blare in Israel, Cybersecurity Experts Suspect Iranian Breach – A Guest post

June 26, 2022

Below you can find a guest post made by Radiflow, an award-winning OT Cybersecurity company, on a strange cybersecurity incident that occurred here in Israel last night.

Without being triggered by any known sources, air raid sirens in the Israeli cities of Jerusalem and Eilat blared, creating commotion and finger-pointing. It was determined that it may have been an Iranian-triggered cybersecurity attack.

The article covers:

¤ The history of Iranian cyberattacks on Israel

¤ Identifying if this is a follow-up to Iran’s earlier attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco

¤ Municipality infrastructure in the US and Europe is under attack

¤ What can be done to protect citizens and their vital resources?

As Sirens Blare in Israel, Cybersecurity Experts Suspect Iranian Breach

Iran is suspected to have triggered air raid sirens in Israel in Israel, a reminder of their growing cyber warfare capabilities. “Whether this siren attack by Iran was a false flag or accidental triggering remains to be seen but the lack of municipal cybersecurity is clear,” said Ilan Barda, Co-Founder & CEO of Radiflow.
Jerusalem, Israel, June 20, 2022– Life momentarily came to a halt last night in the Israeli cities of Jerusalem and Eilat as air raid sirens were triggered, despite there being no projectile in motion. The Israeli Military has announced that they suspect the false alarm to have been triggered by a cybersecurity attack at the municipal levels, not via military systems.

Just two years ago, Iran had successfully breached six Israeli water management facilities, threatening the health and safety of civilians. Yet, these threats are not limited to bouts between Israel and Iran. Throughout the US and Europe, breaches at the municipal level have been putting people in increased danger over the last few years. In July 2021, a Florida water management facility was attacked as hackers tried to poison the water by increasing the level of Sodium Hydroxide 11-fold. This puts consumers in danger of severe respiratory reactions as a result of this poisoning.

Unfortunately, this story has been played out continuously over the last few years as OT environments, such as water, electricity, and other critical municipality-run facilities are brought online. Looking to the future, traffic lights, public transportation, and other municipality-run systems will be brought online and automated.

Part of the challenge is that municipalities are not set up to manage the cat and mouse game that cybersecurity experts are accustomed to operating in. Once a cybersecurity system is in place, regardless of its capabilities, it will become obsolete as hackers learn how to discover and manipulate vulnerabilities. Without regular updates and management, even the best systems are put at risk.

Alarming consequences with few answers
In the case of this morning’s sirens throughout two major Israeli cities, many answers remain unanswered. The first of which is, why carry out such a bold incident on an ordinary morning?

“Whether this siren attack by Iran was a false flag or accidental triggering remains to be seen but the lack of municipal cybersecurity is clear,” said Ilan Barda, Co-Founder & CEO of Radiflow. If this was meant to cause disruption to civilian life, it would make more sense to conduct this incident during a religious holiday or time of large gatherings to shatter any sense of security. It is possible that the sirens were triggered while hackers were still exploring for vulnerabilities within the municipality’s security system or that it was a false flag, being used as a distraction as another not yet published cyber attack was carried out. An example of this was the 2017 Iranian cyber attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, where a breach was discovered, only to have thousands of computer systems compromised later, causing a devastating meltdown or explosion. Going after a municipality would bring a city or region to a halt, impacting supply chains, food deliveries, and more- putting a city under siege.

For municipalities of any region to protect themselves, they must work with experienced managed cybersecurity service providers who understand the layered nature of how today’s OT facilities and utilities operate in the online space. Without a deep understanding of industrial controls and their vulnerabilities, it is near impossible to properly secure them in the short or long term. For municipalities to be as secure as today’s leading technology firms, they must build a partnership with their managed cybersecurity service provider over time.

This means that proper installation and maintenance is a top priority along with ongoing monitoring through a digital environment. This will go beyond being able to identify an attack, along with its gateway or access point, to allowing the team to practice mitigating attacks without impacting the physical environment.  Only then can governments ensure that the critical systems their population relies on are truly safe.


Sanctions Against Russia Are Accelerating De-dollarization

March 4, 2022

Russia appears to have adopted a full-scale invasion approach to Ukraine.  All of those forces around Ukraine as well air units located further north would seek to defeat Ukraine militarily; attacking from Russia, Belarus and Crimea and with separatist forces. In response, the US, NATO and EU have united their actions against Russia by giving some military aid and especially implementing economic sanctions. In the beginning of March it seems that Russia will defeat Ukraine militarily but the US and EU will defeat Russia economically.  The outcome seems to be polarization of the world both militarily and economically.  

As the ruble has gone down, when there is some measures to limit Moscow’s use of a US$640 billion war chest and when Russians are queuing at ATMs trying to get their money out, one might think that the game is over. In my opinion economic war is only intensifying.  As the US and EU are developing their block Russia is not left alone either – e.g. China, India and Brazil have not participated in sanctions.

sanctions

Credit: dailymail.co.uk

De-dollarizarion accelerates

In the year 2014 I published an article ¥uan and Waterloo of Petro$  where I predicted following:

As the Americans and their allies are trying to squeeze Russia and Iran with a combination of economic sanctions and political isolation, alternative poles of power are emerging that soon may present a serious challenge to the U.S.-dominated world that emerged from the end of the Cold War…The Ukraine War might be the U.S. Dollar Waterloo event.

Russia has pulled the trigger on a “de-dollarization” plan half a decade ago. For decades, virtually all oil and natural gas around the world has been bought and sold for U.S. dollars. This has been a massive advantage for the U.S. economy.  As part of the plan mentioned e.g. Gazprom, has signed agreements with some of their biggest customers to switch payments for natural gas from US dollars to euros. If other nations start following suit – start trading a lot of oil and natural gas for currencies other than the US$ – that will be a massive blow for the petrodollar, and it could end up dramatically changing the global economic landscape.

the-petrodollar-system-breaking-down-where-oil-is-no-longer-paid-for

 

As Russia annexed Crimea 2014 “de-dollarization” plan started.  A quotation from my article mentioned above: 

 

China just overtook the US as the world’s largest economy. The US national debt is now past €17 trillion. China – their biggest creditor – has been cutting on US debt holdings and hoarding gold on the side to be prepared for the possible collapse of the dollar. “Over the last few weeks there has been a significant interest in the market from large Russian corporations to start using various products in renminbi and other Asian currencies, and to set up accounts in Asian locations,” Pavel Teplukhin, head of Deutsche Bank in Russia, told the Financial Times [2014], The renminbi is the official currency of the People’s Republic of China. literally means “people’s currency”. The yuan is the basic unit of the renminbi, but is also used to refer to the Chinese currency generally, especially in international contexts.

Moving the yuan towards internationalisation involves three distinct phases: turning the Chinese currency into a) a trading currency, b) an investment currency, and c) a reserve currency.

In 2017, SPFS, a Russian equivalent of the SWIFT financial transfer system, was developed by the Central Bank of Russia. The system has been in development since 2014, after the United States government threatened to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT system. Lukoil, a state-owned company, has announced that it will find a replacement for the dollar. Since 2011, China is gradually shifting from trade in US dollar and in favor of Chinese yuan. It made agreements with Australia, Russia, Japan, Brazil, and Iran to trade in national currencies. In 2015, China launched CIPS, a payment system which offers clearing and settlement services for its participants in cross-border Renminbi payments and trade as an alternative to SWIFT.

One part of Western sanctions, due Ukraine, is freezing assets of Russian oligarchs.  However, the situation hits also to Western business life.  Spot shortages in aluminum, copper, steel, precious metals, and rare earths are likely to appear in the months ahead and conflict in Ukraine will exacerbate supply shortfalls. Russia has been switching out Federal Reserve Notes for gold since 2014.  Now  the Bank of Russia holds more of its foreign reserves in gold (23%) than in dollars (22%). It’s likely that also some Western investors will de-dollarize their property by  replacing paper assets with physical precious metals.

Bypassing the US dollar system is a spear-head of Russia’s counter-offensive. Besides monetary war the emergencing cooperation on different pro-Russian fields and energy policy are linked to ongoing geopolitical turmoil.The wider picture includes the Sino-Russian cooperation, the BRICS, the SCO, the EAEU, the energy war and other bilateral operations.

SCO_MAP_10_July_2015_-_Including_two_new_permanent_members_Pakistan_and_India

SCO. Credit: wikicommons

The SCO

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is the cradle in which the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership (RCSP) was born and raised. Originally founded as the Shanghai Five in 1996, it was reformed as the SCO in 2001 with the inclusion of Uzbekistan. Less than a month after the BRICS’ declaration of independence from the current strictures of world finance, the SCO—which includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—approved India, Pakistan, Iran, and Mongolia for membership in the organization. Also SCO has received applications for the status of observers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Nepal and Sri Lanka.  The United States applied for observer status in the SCO, but was rejected in 2005.

 

EAEU

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is an economic union of post-Soviet states located in Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Central Asia. The Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union was signed on 29 May 2014 by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, and now also  Armenia, Kyrgyzstan are full members and  Cuba, Moldova and Uzbekistan observers.

Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia have been offered by both the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union to join their integration unions. All three countries signed Association Agreements with the EU on 21 March 2014. However, break-away regions of Moldova (Transnistria), Ukraine (Donetsk and Luhansk) and Georgia (South Ossetia and Abkhazia) have expressed a desire to join the Eurasian Customs Union and integrate into the Eurasian Economic Union. 

The BRICS

As SCO and EAEU are Eurasian organizations, the BRICS also includes South-America and Africa.  Since 2009/2010 five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa have cooperated with common forum.  BRICS covers about 26.7% of the world land surface and 41.5% of the world population.

BRICS grouping is not a real formal alliance; there are economic, territorial, and political disputes among the five governments.  Bilateral relations among BRICS states are mainly based on mutual benefit.  E.g. in case of sanctions both Brazil and India are very dependent on Russian fertilizers while China needs gas and raw-materials from Russia. One could also mention that after Crimea annexation Russia and India made 20 deals in 24 hours (on 11th Dec. 2014) given $100 billion-worth boost to their economies (More in  Russia’s Strategic Shift To East Continues: Now India). It can be that these countries are also ready to conquer the “sanction vacuum”. 

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My conclusions

With China signing the natural gas etc.  deals with Russia and the president of China publicly stating that it’s time to create a new security model for the Asian nations that includes Russia and Iran, it seems to me that during the last decade there is going to be a coalition of new axis with Eurasia and China.  Russia and China are leading the development of developing a network of “parallel structures” to existing international organizations and institutions. The end goal is to create an alternative reality for international engagement, so that China can expand its own influence while escaping the restrictions of the current US dominated system.

Sure China has huge economic interests in US – as their biggest creditor so it remains to see if China is now ready to set Eurasian networks and parallel structures in motion, is China now ready to challenge US in  the South China Sea and in case of Taiwan.  So far Ukraine conflict has created best possibilities for Eurasian actions. 

Russia’s strategic shift to East during last decade in my opinion is a strong symptom that alternative poles of power are emerging. Today China-Russia axis is almost impossible to defeat militarily, quite impregnable to sanctions and serious economic destabilization. If China so decides, the impact will be a drastic shift from US dominance to more balanced juxtaposition of US and Eurasia.

 


Ukraine’s End-Game: Diplomatic Solution After Or No-Invasion

February 21, 2022

In late January, as Western countries escalated their rhetoric about an “imminent invasion” by Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy questioned this narrative at a press conference with foreign reporters. “I’m the president of Ukraine and I’m based here and I think I know the details better here,” he said following his phone call with US President Joe Biden.

So what to expect about this warmongering narratives, panic and media hysteria which prevails everywhere except in Ukraine.

Nimetön piirustus (1)

Image source: BILD

Some background

The Russian Federation has deployed land, air and naval forces that give the Kremlin a range of possibilities should it seek to initiate military action.  The US has warned war every day , now it should begin straight after Olympics.  US has perhaps forgotten, unlike the Ukrainians, that the latest war began already 2014. 

Just after 2004 Orange Revolution Ukraine took course towards Nato and EU, the new leadership had popular backing to fulfill fast forward hopes its policy. Instead of the fast forward progress scenarios the outcome has been a totally different crisis scenarios including possible confrontation between Ukraine and Russia, a new dispute over the supply of Russian natural gas to and via Ukraine, different ethnic tensions with minorities and of course declining economy with all social impact.

US had big role especialy with Euromaidan 2013-14 when it began openly training the battalions – notably the neo-Nazi Azov battalion.  These far-right elements came well-armed paramilitary organization with thousands of members, and Members of Parliament; Right Sector became the symbol of the brute force at Euromaidan. Neo-Nazis have their big influence also today both in Ukraine’s political sphere as well in military forntline against separatist regions.  

Peoples in Ukraine vote

Peoples in Ukraine vote

Some scenarios

I see four possible military scenarios for the current conflict in Ukraine:

Scenario 1: Full-scale invasion

With full invasion approach all of those forces around Ukraine as well air units located further north would seek to defeat Ukraine militarily; attacking from Russia, Belarus, Crimea and Transdnistria with separatist forces. They would use recent experience in combat operations in Syria to defeat any popular insurgency against Russian forces.  This scenario costs too much politically and economically especially as it would lead to long guerilla warfare.  

Scenario 2: Decapitation

In the decapitation approach, Russian military and security forces would seek to remove the current government and state powers in order to insert replace them with people more favorable to (and owned by) Moscow.  This alternative is very challenging to implement. 

Scenario 3: Secure separist regions

The most likely scenario in my opinion is  the limited eastern war approach. Here, Russian forces would seek to reinforce the breakaway regions in the Donbas with arms, supplies and intelligence. These areas would then be used as a springboard to take more Ukrainian territory to more fully cover those areas where ethnic Russians and Russian speaking Ukrainians are located.  With this scenario it might be possible to avoid Western sanctions.

Scenario 4: Novorossiya

War in the east could take Russian troops as far as the Dnieper river, which splits the country into east and west. It could also stretch across the coast of the Black Sea all the way to the Moldova border (where another Russian reinforced Transdnistria region is located).  This scenario could be next step if there is coming Western sanctions about implementing scenario 3.

Nimetön piirustus (2)

My conclusion

In my opinion a Kremlin military offensive – more limited in scope than full-scale – seems possible if not likely. Now or probably after small military operation there might be also diplomatic solution. When Volodymyr Zelenskiy sought to become Ukraine’s president he stood on a platform of peace. Zelenskiy promised to sit down with Vladimir Putin and to reach a deal with Russia. He would end the unpopular war in the east and concentrate on important domestic reforms. These included ridding the country of corruption and oligarchs. From my point of view now is good time to implement these promises.

In public, western governments have expressed solidarity with Zelenskiy, but critics think that by refusing to make concessions to Moscow, Zelenskiy is steering his country towards disaster. So the way out is to find a pragmatic solution to the dangerous standoff with Russia.  Ukraine needs a more constructive approach towards the Minsk accords where Kyiv would grant more or less autonomy to the separatist regions and  ruling out Nato membership for Ukraine for now.   

The obstacle of this pragmatic solution is Zelenskiy’s fear of  a backlash from supporters of his hawkish predecessor Petro Poroshenko and rightwing nationalists and reducing his chance of winning reelection in 2024.   From my viewpoint he could take the risk as he still is Ukraine’s most popular politician and I believe that most of Ukrainians prefer peace instead of nazi propaganda. 

In my opinion Ukrainian nationalists do not care what most Ukrainians would think about sacrificing themselves in a long-term crusade against Russia like Ukrainian nationalist movement. Neither the Ukrainian oligarchs nor US imperialism has an interest in ending the conflict because it is simply too profitable. What people need is jobs, healthcare, income security and pensions, not war.  “Russian threat to Ukraine” diverts public attention from the really fatal problems such as transnational corporate looting and polluting.

At the best the outcome might be an international agreement about Ukrainian neutrality – with or without its Eastern autonomies – or the so-called “Finlandisation” of Ukraine, which refers to Finland’s historic decision to associate with Europe, but avoid hostility towards Russia.


Guest post: Healthcare OT Facilities Remain Exposed as IndustryExperienced 68 Attempted Ransomware Attacks in Q3

November 30, 2021

Radiflow noticed a massive uptick in cybersecurity attacks during Q3 of this year (let’s see what Q4 brings us). Many of these attacks specifically target the healthcare sector as their data is so sensitive, and continuous access to their systems is a matter of life and death.

As guest post here is a press release by Radiflow that covers:

  • Data on 68 Q3 attacks as reported by the US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Impact of OT cyberattacks on healthcare facilities such as the publication of records for 290,000 patients from a single attack
  • Foreign state-sponsored cyber-terror in the Middle East

Ilan Barda, Founder and CEO of RadiflowHealthcare facilities are prime targets for hackers, given their legacy devices and wealth of patient data. “With the high cost of each attack, healthcare providers must protect facilities so they can safely deliver excellent care without interruption,” said Ilan Barda, CEO of Radiflow.

Tel Aviv, Israel, November 29, 2021- Last month saw an alarming rise in cyber attacks against healthcare facilities. Ransomware attacks across the globe out of their respective networks during Q3 of this year alone, threatening patient safety and privacy. Experts fear that patients will suddenly be unable to receive critical care at a targeted facility without a holistic whole-facility cybersecurity approach.

Johnson Memorial Health Hospital in Franklin, Indiana, US, and the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, Israel, are just two examples of the attacked medical facilities. At Johnson Memorial, the early-October attack locked databases and exposed patient data. Days after the attack, a ransom amount was strangely not yet requested. In early November, Hillel Yaffe Medical Center was attacked by an allegedly Iran-backed group, Black Shadow. The personal data of 290,000 individuals were released, and investigators estimated that it would take many weeks to recover and understand the full scope of what had been accessed.

As healthcare facilities modernize, their legacy OT equipment becomes vulnerable to hackers. Water, HVAC, oxygen, electrical, and other critical systems are connected, yet may fall short of proper cybersecurity monitoring and protection. Compromising any of these utilities will negatively impact patient care, potentially threatening the lives of those being treated.

“Accessing patient data is worrisome, but the idea of hackers gaining access to components in a specific ward or even a single operating room is alarming,” said Ilan Barda, CEO of Radiflow. “CISOs at facilities should focus on both IT systems and OT environments, starting from risk assessment to threat monitoring. There should be continuous holistic risk management for more mature organizations that combine both IT and OT systems. With Radiflow, teams can monitor the full range of a healthcare OT security from one central location.”

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had warned about the alarming trends in 2021, with 68 global attacks on healthcare facilities in Q3 of this year alone. Companies such as Radiflow, partnering with MSSPs around the globe, have spent over a decade protecting OT facilities by creating purpose-driven technologies to monitor complex always-on systems, such as those found throughout hospitals. “CISOs today need to allocate resources carefully. To optimize their resource allocation, they can use CIARA OT-BAS tool to monitor for weak points and assess their risk exposure,” said Barda.

Healthcare facilities are prime targets for hackers, given their legacy devices and wealth of patient data. “With the high cost of each attack, healthcare providers must protect facilities so they can safely deliver excellent care without interruption,” said Ilan Barda, CEO of Radiflow.

Tel Aviv, Israel, November 29, 2021- Last month saw an alarming rise in cyber attacks against healthcare facilities. Ransomware attacks across the globe locked 68 care providers out of their respective networks during Q3 of this year alone, threatening patient safety and privacy. Experts fear that patients will suddenly be unable to receive critical care at a targeted facility without a holistic whole-facility cybersecurity approach.

Johnson Memorial Health Hospital in Franklin, Indiana, US, and the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, Israel, are just two examples of the attacked medical facilities. At Johnson Memorial, the early-October attack locked databases and exposed patient data. Days after the attack, a ransom amount was strangely not yet requested. In early November, Hillel Yaffe Medical Center was attacked by an allegedly Iran-backed group, Black Shadow. The personal data of 290,000 individuals were released, and investigators estimated that it would take many weeks to recover and understand the full scope of what had been accessed.

As healthcare facilities modernize, their legacy OT equipment becomes vulnerable to hackers. Water, HVAC, oxygen, electrical, and other critical systems are connected, yet may fall short of proper cybersecurity monitoring and protection. Compromising any of these utilities will negatively impact patient care, potentially threatening the lives of those being treated.

“Accessing patient data is worrisome, but the idea of hackers gaining access to components in a specific ward or even a single operating room is alarming,” said Ilan Barda, CEO of Radiflow. “CISOs at facilities should focus on both IT systems and OT environments, starting from risk assessment to threat monitoring. There should be continuous holistic risk management for more mature organizations that combine both IT and OT systems. With Radiflow, teams can monitor the full range of a healthcare OT security from one central location.”

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had warned about the alarming trends in 2021, with 68 global attacks on healthcare facilities in Q3 of this year alone. Companies such as Radiflow, partnering with MSSPs around the globe, have spent over a decade protecting OT facilities by creating purpose-driven technologies to monitor complex always-on systems, such as those found throughout hospitals. “CISOs today need to allocate resources carefully. To optimize their resource allocation, they can use CIARA OT-BAS tool to monitor for weak points and assess their risk exposure,” said Barda.


Sudanese Coup and Some Regional Aspects

November 7, 2021

The Sudanese coup in October 2021 is condemned by most Western countries and international organizations such as  UN, EU and African Union.  The coup was met with resistance from pro-democracy Sudanese civilians some of whom took to the streets of Khartoum as well around Sudan in protest;  many banks, schools and businesses were closed. 

It was predicted strong civilian resistance to the coup but the military however tooked the risk.Factors motivating the military to halt the transition to democracy might include their personal interests but one can not exclude some regions and economic aspects.

Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the Sudanese military, announced the army will run the country until elections can be held

Sudan is Africa’s third-largest country by area, and the third-largest by area in the Arab League and it has population of some 45 million people. Sudan’s history goes back to the Pharaonic period, but only on 1st January 1956, Sudan was duly declared an independent state.  Since independence, Sudan has been ruled by a series of unstable parliamentary governments and military regimes.

Between 1989 and 2019, Sudan experienced a 30-year-long military dictatorship led by Omar al-Bashir accused of human rights abuses including torture, persecution of minorities, allegations of sponsoring global terrorism, and ethnic genocide due to its role in the War in the Darfur region that broke out in 2003.

On 19th December 2018, massive protests began against the rule of President al-Bashir, who finally was ousted on 11th April 2019 and his government was replaced by Transitional Military Council (later joint military-civilian Sovereignty Council of Sudan). Islam was Sudan’s state religion and Islamic laws applied from 1983 until 2020. An accord between the transitional government and rebel group leadership was signed in September 2020, in which the government agreed to officially separate the state and religion, ending three decades of rule under Islamic law. It also agreed that no official state religion will be established.

The Sudanese Coup

As of August 2021, the country was jointly led by Chairman of the Transitional Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok. In October 2021 a military coup resulted in the capture of the civilian government including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The coup was led by general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan with help of general Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemetti), who was the Deputy Chairman of the Transitional Military Council (TMC).

General al-Burhan subsequently declared a state of emergency.  The African Union suspended Sudan’s membership, pending a return to power of the Hamdok government. Also the European Union, the United States and other western powers stated that they continued to recognise the Hamdok cabinet as “the constitutional leaders of the transitional government”.

Before the October coup the Chair of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan was planned to be transferred to a civilian selected by the FFC civilian members of the Sovereignty Council in November 2021.  The factors motivating the military to halt the transition to democracy might have included their personal risk of national or international war crimes charges and their risk of loss of military control of the national budget that could disrupt military-owned commercial interests and of losing control of the gold trade and other personal business.

Israel

Israel and Sudan began normalising their relations since sc Abraham Accords 2020.  It tries to stabilize and develop cooperation with Sudan in long term basis.  According to intelnews Israeli government officials, which likely included members of the Mossad spy agency, paid a secret visit  to Sudan in the days prior to the October 25 coup d’état, but were given no indication of what was about to happen, according to reports from Israel.

According to the report, the Israeli delegation held several meetings with leading Sudanese government officials, among them Abdel Rahim Hamdan Dagalo (Hemetti), a general in Sudan’s notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group. The RSF was a leading actor in the October 25th coup, which resulted in the arrest of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and most of his cabinet.

Unlike most Western countries have condemned the Sudanese coup, Israel has not issued any statements against the military takeover of power.  The reason for this might be because the Sudanese military  is the main supporter of normalizing Sudan’s relations with Israel. On the other hand, the civilian-led revolutionary movement, has been critical of Israel and has expressed strong support for the Palestinians.

Burhan with Israel’s Minister of Intelligence, Eli Cohen, in January 2021

Israeli officials visited Khartoum also a week after the military coup in Sudan,, meeting with Sudanese generals, including Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemetti),  to assess the local situation.  And weeks before the coup, Dagalo had travelled to Israel to meet members of the Israeli National Security Council and officials in the prime minister’s office.

The silence can be seen as a sign of support for the military. Sudanese security leaders have been seen as more active in normalisation efforts towards Israel than civilian members of the former government.

Israel has one special relationship to Ethiopia and Sudan as sc Aliyah from Ethiopia is the immigration of the Beta Israel people to Israel. In the absence of full diplomatic relations with Ethiopia, the Israeli Mossad contacted officials in Sudan, which is adjacent to Ethiopia. Thousands of Beta Israel from Ethiopia traveled by foot to the border with Sudan, and waited there in temporary camps until they were flown to Israel. Today there is ~160,000 people in Israel from Ethiopian origin.

Tigray

Sudan and Ethiopia had peaceful relations for decades despite a long-standing border dispute over the agricultural area known as al-Fashaqa, which is adjacent to Ethiopia’s northwest Amhara region.  But last November 2020, while the Ethiopian army was busy battling against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels, the Sudanese army took control of the contested area.

In Ethiopia last November (2021), conflict broke out between the federal government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the governing party of the northern Tigray region that dominated Ethiopian politics until being sidelined by Abiy. Nearly 10 months later, the conflict has grown into a de facto civil war. According al-Jazeera, the fight spreads across the country, it is bringing with it famine, massive refugee flows, widespread civilian deaths and sexual assaults, and fears of ethnic cleansing.

Tigrays’ landscape

According the report  of The Guardian (1st November 2021),  Tigrayan forces said they had seized control of the strategic cities of Dessie and Kombolcha, positioning them to move down a major road towards Addis Ababa. Ethiopian government forces and their allies – e.g. from Eritrea –  have been fighting against TPLF, for just over a year.

But the conflict has developed rapidly after the Ethiopians suffered a series of reverses since June, and the TPLF has recruited more allies to its cause.Eight other rebel groups, including the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), announced they and the TPLF were joining forces amid growing speculation they will attempt to march on the capital following a series of military gains. The success of TPLF is remarkable as Tigray has population some seven million compared to Ethiopia with nearly 120 million population total.   

GERD – Waterwar

Sudanese Coup and Tigray war are connected to so-far less intensive but potentially larger clash which has been brewing over control of the Nile River. After 10 years of construction, Ethiopia has begun filling the reservoir of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopia asserts that the GERD project, one of the world’s largest hydroelectric facilities, is necessary to meet the country’s growing energy needs. Downriver countries Sudan and Egypt, on the other hand, have warned that disruptions of the flow of the Nile River would be devastating. Khartoum and Cairo have demanded that Ethiopia share information and coordinate control of the dam’s operations with them, a request that Ethiopia has dismissed as a violation of its own sovereignty.

The primary purpose of the dam is electricity production to relieve Ethiopia’s acute energy shortage and for electricity export to neighboring countries. With a planned installed capacity of 6.45 gigawatts, the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed, as well as the seventh largest in the world.

Filling the reservoir began in July 2020. It will take between 4 and 7 years to fill with water, depending on hydrologic conditions during the filling period.  The second filling was completed on 19th July 2021, without the agreement of Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed has remained intractable, and the Tigray crisis seems to have only hardened his resolve to reject negotiations or compromise over the GERD. Formally, Sudan and Egypt have pursued political and legal avenues to resolve the dispute, appealing to the UN Security Council and the African Union, among others, to intervene. More ominously, however, both countries have hinted that military action could be on the table if a peaceful solution is not achieved. Earlier this year, Sudan and Egypt held joint military drills, giving the exercises the unsubtle name, “Guardians of the Nile”. Although Egypt potentially has more to lose from interrupted access to the Nile, which supplies nearly all of the country’s water, Sudan’s proximity to Ethiopia makes it likely that any fight over the GERD would largely play out between Sudanese and Ethiopian forces, especially given the other sources of tension that exist along the border.

One should also note that earlier on 19 December 2020, Sudanese army and Rapid Support Forces retook areas previously taken by Ethiopia and Amhara Region militias in Al Qadarif, Sudan.

Concluding remarks

The leaders of Sudanese coup are well connected with powerful friends.  In May 2019, Burhan’s first international trip was to Egypt to meet Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.  Earlier he had military training in Egypt and Jordania.  Today he is mostly supported by Egypt.

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemetti) traded camels prior to the War in Darfur, now he is the biggest gold trader in Sudan.  This gave him considerable financial power in Sudan since gold trade constituted forty percent of Sudanese exports in 2017.  In May 2019, Hemetti’s first international trip was to Saudi Arabia to meet Mohammad bin Salman, during which he stated: “Sudan is standing with the kingdom against all threats and attacks from Iran and Houthi militias.” He has been providing mercenaries for the Saudi war in Yemen, and is  mostly supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.

Egyptian establishment has been providing financial, military, and diplomatic assistance to armed and unarmed Ethiopian forces in its bid to destabilize and weaken Ethiopia and thwart its ambition to utilize the resources of the Nile River.  Egypt has been assisting the Gumuz militia in Ethiopia’s western Benishangul-Gumuz state, where the dam is located.  According to the Ethiopian government, the sole aim of the Gumuz militia, which has been trying to block the main road leading to the dam, is to trigger a civil war in the region and beyond and eventually delay or thwart the dam’s construction.

Also, according to Ethiopian officials, Egypt tried to befriend the federal government of Somalia by promising military aid, but the Somali authorities refused it. After this Egypt turned to Somaliland, a self-ruling region that has been at loggerheads with the federal government. Egyptian policy is explained not only by the Blue Nile Water War (GERD), but also by the country’s quest to gain a foothold in the Horn of Africa and wider influence in the region.

Israel has kept a low profile regarding its relationship with Khartoum and the new junta and unlike most Western countries has not issued any statements against the military takeover of power. The silence can be seen as a sign of support for the military.

The position of Israel can be understood from a regional perspective. For decades, Egypt has been the main mediator in Israeli clashes with Hamas. Sudan is a major Arab country with which Israel seeks to normalize relations. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are a significant part of the alliance against Israel’s main enemy – Iran.

Sources e.g: intelnews , The New Arab , al-Jazeera , Africanews  


Guest post: European EV market could gain from a Russian gas supply

October 6, 2021

Russian project L-Charge starts to roll out its gas powered charging infrastructure for EVs in Europe. Russian share in European gas imports is expected to grow by 10% in upcoming years.  L-Charge offers to develop a virtual grid of mobile and stationary mini power plants using natural gas to generate power for EVs. That could ease the pressure on the energy grid while securing the development of the EV market.  Here one can find a guest post European EV market could gain from a Russian gas supply by Ludmila Gorodnicheva, PR manager L-Charge:

European EV market could gain from a Russian gas supply


While gas prices are skyrocketing, analysts say this should soon normalize. At the same time a gas supply could boost the charging infrastructure development as another Russian company promises to roll out a gas powered charging infrastructure for EVs in Europe.

Russian share in European gas imports is expected to grow by 10% in upcoming years. LNG supplies are also expected to pick up by 2025 to around 90 Bcm, and peaking in 2030 at some 130 Bcm – SPGlobal says .

As of 2020 Russia occupies over 43% in natural gas imports into the European Union. But apart from the Nord Stream 2 project it could also start exporting value added gas-powered electricity for ever-growing European electric vehicles market as another Russian project L-Charge starts to roll out its network in Europe.

Natural gas demand in the EU is forecasted to grow by 14% to 23% until 2030, with most of the growth expected to come from power plants and the transport industry – Oxford Institute for Energy says. .

Wind and solar can provide up to 60% of power in countries like Germany and Britain, but long periods of quiet and cloudy weather puts pressure on the back-up capacity. So the natural gas is just gaining weight as the main source for power generation. And the abnormal price growth for natural gas illustrates the trend.

European gas market prices have skyrocketed more than 116% since the start of the year, with the ICIS TTF benchmark closing at an all-time high of 47.86 euros ($56.17) per megawatt-hour on Aug. 16. It is reflective of a tight market, with Europe facing incredibly low natural gas storage levels. The continent has to boost its own buffer stockpiles ahead of the heating season, with countries from the U.K. to Spain and Germany already contending with energy inflation due to soaring gas and electricity prices. This creates a pressure on European energy grid and the consumer’s prices for electricity. Carbon free strategy and the electric car revolution in Europe could be jeopardized if electric power generation fails to keep up with demand, while the charging network itself needs to sharpen up its act. However, analyst says that the prices will normalize as storage facilities for gas will be extended. Current situation speaks more of an importance of this source for power generation in following decades. Another problem emerging is that dramatically underdeveloped energy grid infrastructure.

Chris Burghardt, managing director of ChargePoint Europe says building and linked-to-grids charging infrastructure for EVs might require something between 60 and €100 billion investments a year in the coming 10 years in Europe alone. Which seems to be quite a heavy duty considering the postpandemic uncertainty in global economy. However, there could be a solution in developing off-the-grid infrastructure powered by natural gas.

Another Russian company L-Charge offers to develop a virtual grid of mobile and stationary mini power plants using natural gas to generate power for EVs. That could ease the pressure on the energy grid while securing the development of the EV market.”An essential problem still separates us from the massive transition to EV – the underdeveloped charging infrastructure. It is possible to solve this problem quickly by deploying an off-grid network of charging stations”, – says Dmitry Lashin, CEO of L-Charge.

Power generation requires massive spending by governments in Europe while improving public access to charging means companies must end the current bewildering fragmentation, and make taking on board electricity as user-friendly as provided by the traditional fossil fuel network.

“Though there might be enough electricity available, what really matters is the power requirement. If all the EVs decide to charge at the same time, there will be a huge demand on power rather than total energy needed. It will require big investments in additional power generation which has to be CO2 free”, – Gautam Kalghatgi, engineering expert and visiting professor at Oxford University explains.

L-Charge promises to solve both problems as it has presented its mobile EV charger at Smarter Europe in Munich on 6th of October. Designed for highways, gas stations, and parking lots, L-Charge’s stationary charger does not require any staff or connection to an external power grid. Chargers run on an internal supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or LNG/H2 mixture. 600 kW power generators are the core of the L-Charge stationary mini-power station for fast charging of EV. 

The L-Charge team notes their devices emit 7.05kg of CO2 per 100km of charge power, 68% less than diesel vehicles. 

L-Charge plans to roll out its EV charging stations in Europe by 2022. But the first charger will be available in Munich, Barcelona and Amsterdam starting this autumn.  The service has already been in operation in Moscow and will come into full operation in Abu Dhabi by the end of 2021.

According to the German OEKO the electric vehicle demand share of total electricity demand will varying between 3% and 25% among the EU-28 countries by 2050. It will increase to more than 10% in many countries. On EU average, it will make up 9.5% by 2050 with an electric car stock penetration of 80%. With the rolling out of the gas powered charging infrastructure for EVs that will mean a greater presence of Russia in European energy market. But this is also how it could benefit from it.


Guest post: European EV market could gain from a Russian gas supply

October 6, 2021

Kosovo Leaders in International Court – Finally

September 17, 2021

The first trial opened on Sep.15th 2021 at a special court (The Kosovo Specialist Chambers- KSC) dealing with crimes during the 1998-1999 Kosovo conflict.  The first case is against Salih Mustafa, 50, a former pro-independence commander who faces charges of murder, accused of running a prison unit. Prosecutors said victims were fellow Kosovo Albanians who disagreed politically with Kosovo Liberation Army fighters. The KSC has indicted eight suspects, all of whom are in custody at a detention unit in the Dutch seaside town of Scheveningen. 

The Kosovo tribunal’s highest-profile suspect is former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, who resigned in 2020 and turned himself last year to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  One could note that less than a year ago, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned after he was summoned by the same court on suspicion of war crimes.

Thaçi is from the region of Drenica in Kosovo, which is where the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) originated. He studied philosophy in Prishtina before moving to Switzerland, where he joined the KLA  in 1993. He rose through the ranks of the KLA to become leader of the most powerful faction by 1999, during the Rambouillet negotiations. He then joined the interim Kosovo administration after the war.

Thaçi became leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which won the largest share of the vote in the 2007 Kosovo elections. In 2008, Thaçi declared the independence of Kosovo and became its first prime minister. In 2016 he was elected President of Kosovo. Thaçi has pursued a pro-American policy while in office. There have been controversies regarding Thaçi’s role in the KLA and allegations about him being involved in organized crime. In 2020, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office filed a ten-count Indictment, charging Hashim Thaçi and others for crimes against humanity and war crimes.Thaci, a U.S.-backed national hero, embarked on his political career after leading the KLA’s battle against forces under Milosevic. He has been the dominant political figure in the country since its independence 13 years ago. Thaçi subsequently resigned from his position as president, in his words, in order to “protect the integrity of the presidency of Kosovo”.

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Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA aka UÇK) were established mid-90s during war in Bosnia. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties.  In my earlier article Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo  (in 2008) I described how (Kosovo) Albanian organized crime organizations gained remarkable role in Europe. 

 

Thaçi and other members of his inner circle were “commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports” . For example the German secret state agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), describes Thaçi’s Drenica group “as the most dangerous of the KLA’s ‘criminal bosses’.

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In April 2008 Madam Carla Del Ponte, the former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), published a book “La caccia – Io e i criminali di guerra”. In the book, almost ten years after the end of the war in Kosovo, there appeared revelations of trafficking in human organs taken from Serb prisoners, reportedly carried out by leading commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The report, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo” , for Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), prepared by Swiss prosecutor-turned-politician Dick Marty, expands on allegations made by Mrs. Del Ponte.

The PACE report claims that civilians – Serbian and non-KLA-supporting Kosovan Albanians detained by the KLA in the 1999 hostilities – were shot in northern Albania and their kidneys extracted and sold on the black market. It names Hashim Thaçi, the former leader of the KLA and Kosovo’s prime minister, as the boss of a “mafia-like” group engaged in criminal activity – including heroin trading – since before the 1999 war.

I agree with those who claim that it is clear that Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, as well as its hasty recognition as an independent state, was a mistake. While I was working in Kosovo after bombings as EU expert for local administration it was clear how Kosovo Albanian ”freedom fighters” started to transform themselves to political leaders of this then international protectorate. International community – via UN/UNMIK, NATO/KFOR, EU/TAFKO/EAR and affiliates – which were administrating Kosovo, was well aware of the direct links between organized crime clans and political leaders.

kos1

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More reading:

My articles:

About possible solutions e.g. my articles

More about link between organized crime and Kosovo political leaders one can find e.g. from “leaked” German Intelligence report BND report 2005 .

The report, Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo”, prepared by Swiss prosecutor-turned-politician Dick Marty. Investigations conducted by the Swiss diplomat, Dick Marty on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have revealed the true picture of Kosovo’s prime minister Hashim Thaci. In his report to the PACE’s Commission, Thaci is presented as the leader of a criminal gang engaged in the smuggling of weapons, the distribution of illegal drugs throughout Europe and the selling of human organs for unlawful transplantation. The Swiss senator conducted a two-year inquiry into organised crime in Kosovo after the Council of Europe mandated him to investigate claims of organ harvesting by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) after the war with Serbia ended in 1999.

A good article by F. William Engdahl: Washington’s Bizarre Kosovo Strategy could Destroy NATO  .

Sources e.g Reuters , live update from the KSC , Wikipedia.


Anti-Taliban War is Not Over, It’s Already Starting

August 21, 2021

On Aug. 2021 the Taliban was taking over provinces one by one till they finally reached the power centre, Kabul.  However while the militants appear firmly in control, some prominent figures vowed to continue resistance as protests erupted in two cities and millions of Afghans parsed clues about the Taliban’s intentions.  So the anti-Taliban war is not over, it’s starting and not hopefully only in Afghanistan.

Since the collapse of Kabul, there has been a comparison with similar events in Vietnam. Images of the evacuation of Americans from the embassy are similar, as are the inability of government forces to resist the occupiers. However, the main difference is in the opponent: Vietcong was superior in both manpower and skill compared to the Taliban. The only similarity was in the spirit of struggle, based on the former to Communism and the latter to radical Islamism.

Taliban fighters are mostly inexperienced poorly trained madrasa students just to know how to follow the orders of their Mullahs.  Now they have very sophisticated weapons seized from government forces but it takes time to learn how to use this arsenal.  The strength of Taliban forces is estimated to be between 70 000 – 100 000 fighters so it is not any wide people’s army.

However Taliban has been a powerful grass roots movement in the last decades in Afghanistan. The Taliban insurgents have been doing much more than the Afghan government to establish good governance and accountability. In the remote provinces, the Taliban’s efforts have reinforced two images: on the one hand an absent and/or corrupt Afghan central government and effective and accountable Taliban administration on the other. The Taliban has been answering better to the needs of ordinary citizens than the U.S. and their puppet government in Kabul.  This is the base to their success and I can agree that Talibans have real support in conservative countryside and provinces.

Base of a mass uprising

There is a wide anti-Taliban spirit based on experience or hope of better life and freedom without Taliban rule. Also there is fear that the Taliban will act like before.  In urban areas, girls have been able to go to school, women have been able to work in demanding positions, for example in the media. The younger generation has gotten a glimpse of Western freedom, entrepreneurs have seen more earning opportunities than just drug trafficking. This operating environment, especially in urban areas, lays the foundation for an anti-Taliban uprising.

One should note that many warlords did not surrendered, they moved with their militia and arms e.g. to Uzbekistan.  Also part of Afghanistan airforce –  tenths of aircrafts and pilots – moved to Uzbekistan.Already now the anti-Taliban demonstrations have begun. For example Taliban fighters used gunfire to disperse demonstrations in the northeastern city of Jalalabad and the southeastern city of Khost, with some of the protesters raising the Afghan government flags that the Taliban had taken down just days earlier. News reports said two or three people were killed in Jalalabad.  Similar events have occurred across the country.

Taliban does not rule the whole Afghanistan

Though the Taliban hold control of nearly all of the country, some prominent figures continued to hold out with a corps of loyal fighters, saying they do not recognize the Taliban as legitimate rulers. One of them, Amrullah Saleh, the vice president in the toppled government, claimed that Mr. Ghani’s flight from the country had made him the acting president.  Mr Saleh is getting support from Defense Minister Gen. Dismillan Mohammad as well Norhern Alliance leader Ahmad Massoud.

Panjshir valley has newer been occupied or captured by any external force – not USSR in 80s, not Taliban 90s and not now.  The Panjshir valley north of Kabul is still littered with the wrecked carcasses of Soviet armoured vehicles destroyed in unsuccessful battles to conquer it, and the region also held out against the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan in 1996-2001.

Mr. Saleh is allied with a regional leader, Ahmad Massoud, whose father, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was the leading anti-Taliban commander a generation ago, until he was assassinated two days before the Sept. 11 attacks.  Ahmad Shah Massoud always struggled and hoped for an independent, self-sufficient, and strong Afghanistan with a just and democratic political system. He was respected, and would always insist on democracy, and inclusive elections where both men and women could participate.

Ahmad Massoud, the 32-year-old son of Ahmad Shah Massoud,has pledged on Aug 19th 2021 to hold out against the Taliban from his stronghold in the Panjshir valley.

“We have stores of ammunition and arms that we have patiently collected since my father’s time, because we knew this day might come,” he said according Reuters, adding that some of the forces who had joined him had brought their weapons. “If Taliban warlords launch an assault, they will of course face staunch resistance from us,” he said. 

He said his forces would not be able to hold out without help from the West and he appealed for support and logistical help from the United States, Britain and France.

“The Taliban are not a problem for the Afghan people alone. Under Taliban control, Afghanistan will without doubt become ground zero of radical Islamist terrorism; plots against democracies will be hatched here once again,” he said.

Three scenarios

In my opinion there is now three scenarios how the situation is developing during next weeks and they are as follows:

  1. Zero-option
  2. Humanitarian intervention
  3. Coin implemented by anti-Taliban forces

The zero-option is already ongoing, the actions are focused to ad hoc evacuation of foreigners from Afghanistan and to secure Kabul airport so long that they are out with so many Afghans than possible.

In my view the probable outcome will be that in one month the most part of Afghanistan, including Kabul, is under the Taliban rule meaning sharia law, some ethnic cleansing, some massacres, throwing basic human rights to trash, big amount of Afghan refugees inside and outside the country and naturally a human catastrophe e.g. due lack of food.  The international community will react to this with some high flow statements and humanitarian aid to refugee camps.

Humanitarian intervention better sooner than later is unlikely and/or expensive.   Fast decisions could be made only in U.S. and Russia and the best scenario would be a joint operation, first airstrikes and then ground operation.

Sure effective counter-insurgency (aka “Coin”) operation – implemented be U.S. and Russia, financed partly EU i.a. –  could be solution.  Effective means that some 600 000 counter -insurgents/soldiers should be send to Afghanistan as soon as possible to work in cities, villages and country-side with local tribes.  The idea is to disarm local Taliban troops and with local tribes start to build some basic public services, local government  and economy with vision of even some human rights.  After few years time might be right to start build national wide cooperation based on these local units, “cantons” or provinces.  The outcome might be loose federation or  confederation with minimal central governance.  

As said I don’t see any interest in international community to implement this scenario.  (More in Will Coin work in Afghanistan? )

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Coin implemented by anti-Taliban forces

Counter-insurgency (aka “Coin”) strategy was planned for Afghanistan by U.S. but it was not implemented. Coin theory emphasises a “population-centric” over an “enemy-centric” approach. Coin is predicated on the idea that it is possible to win supporters for an insurgency by providing security and basic services, and ensuring the presence of a strong, legitimate government. Idea was to split the country into smaller units that could be controlled by local warlords and tribes.

In my opinion the best option is to start anti-Taliban fight from Panjshir valley which is already ruled by anti-Taliban forces – over 10 000 well trained soldiers with superior fighting spirit. I have no doubt that Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud could lead the anti-Taliban struggle to the victory in much of Afghanistan, including Kabul.

Northern alliance has support also outside Panjshir valley as members of the Afghan military including some from the elite Special Forces units had rallied to Massaud’s cause.  In addition some troops dodged, with their weapons, recent Taliban invasion to neighbour countries and also part of Afghanistan airforce –  tenths of aircrafts and pilots – moved to Uzbekistan.  It might be possible that outside Panjshir valley there is over 50 000 armed and well trained soldier to join anti-Taliban battle. 

One yet unused potential with anti-Taliban fight are Afghan women.  Educated and skilled Afghan women can work in diverse support functions and even as armed forces after a short training. Women’s forces demonstrated their effectiveness in the Kurdish Peshmerga army in Iraq as fundamentalist ISIS forces fled their path for fear of being killed by women and thus out of Paradise.

In my view, it is clear that the so-called international community is not making any humanitarian intervention in Afghanistan, it is at most working to limit the feared influx of refugees and to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and its borders.

Fortunately, in my view, Afghans can win the anti-Taliban struggle themselves without a foreign ground operation. Willing outsiders, states, communities, and individuals can accelerate this process by supporting the anti-Taliban struggle with donations, weapons, ammunition, intelligence, and perhaps at some point limited air strikes.

Outcome

If or when anti-Taliban forces gain power in most of Afghanistan, the civil war could end and there might be some possibilities to think Afghanistan as a state.   Maybe the best democratic idea could be use an emergency loya jirga (a temporary council traditionally made up of representatives from Afghan tribes and opposing factions used decide matters of national significance). Loya jirga with 1,500 to 2,000 delegates representing all of the major players and parts of the countries could resolve today’s problems like they have traditionally resolved them in the past.


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