Russia’s Project Altair Makes an Appearance at Kazan


Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov

It’s well known that Russia lags behind the rest of the world’s drone powers in a range of missions.

Following Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008, it became clear that Russia required substantial investment for indigenous development—and still does if it wants to catch up.

In 2012, the Russian government publicized the intent to pour up to USD 13 billion into drone development by 2020, an intent reiterated by Russia’s Defense Minister in 2014. But as everyone knows, drone development takes time.

A quick look at the drones currently in service with Russia’s armed forces and it’s easy to see that Russia’s UAVs are constrained, carrying out limited reconnaissance or command and control missions.

By 2013, when President Vladimir Putin called for the speeding up of Russian drone development, few were left wondering why. This year Putin was apparently answered by Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov.

On January 25, Borisov said that the Russian military was putting the finishing touches on several drones. “We are finalizing research and development work related to the drones that will solve an array of tactical, operational and strategic tasks,” Borisov commented.

One of these drones appears to be the Altius-M, a medium-altitude long endurance UAV capable of performing the elusive ground strike mission.

DG (24OCT14) Kazan

DigitalGlobe imagery from 24 October 2014

Recent satellite imagery acquired by DigitalGlobe from 24 October 2014 shows an Altius prototype parked in front of an engine test stand at the Kazan Aircraft Production Association airfield.

According to measurements taken in Google Earth the V-tailed Altius has a wingspan of 28 meters and a length of about 11 meters. Due to the low image fidelity, these measurements are only an approximate value.

Despite lacking exact dimensions long thin tapered wings suggest a high aspect ratio supporting the assertion that the Altius is a medium altitude UAV. Put simply, the long wings should produce good lift but inhibit high speeds and maneuverability—characteristics of more advanced drones. It’s size and shape suggests it resembles the U.S. Reaper UAV.

In comparison however, the Altius exceeds the wingspan of the Reaper whose similarly shaped wings only measure 20 meters. It also falls short, as expected, of the higher altitude U.S. Global Hawk at 39 meters.

It is powered by two German-built Red A03 engines which provide up to 500 hp each, similar to the Reaper’s single propeller driven TPE-331 sporting 950 hp. Built by the Raikhlin Engine Development GmbH in Adenau, these propeller driven turbo-intercooled V-12s run on both diesel and jet fuel which make the platform easier to support in the field.

While few additional details of the drone’s characteristics are known, it was reported in the Russian press that flight tests should begin in the 2014-2015 period. Satellite imagery may help support that assessment.

FEB 2013 Sergei Shoigu Kazan

Also known as Project Altair, the design of the drone was first revealed to the public in February 2013 when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited the regional republic of Tartarstan.

There at the Kazan Aircraft Production Association, Shoigu had his picture taken with the drone model which later appeared on Tartarstan’s official website. The handheld was subsequently removed, but not before several other Russian-language sites picked up the story.

While 2013 brought images of the Altius to the public, the development of the drone actually began in 2011 when the Tartarstan-based Sokol and St Petersburg-based Tranzas won the RUB 1 billion contract to build the five-ton class aircraft.

However, it wasn’t until March 2014, footage of Russia’s first Altius-M prototype appeared online giving watchers a small taste of what to expect (header image).

Given this timeline, some interesting implications can be drawn. For example, while all of Moscow’s armed forces are interested in drone development — largely as a result of Russia’s new military doctrine — only Russia’s Ground Forces General Staff has established a directorate to handle UAV-specific doctrine and development issues. That directorate was stood up in December 2012.

That suggests that whatever lessons learned in the field may not have been incorporated in this drone’s design. Like with MIG’s Skat this may be just another technology demonstrator never to support troops in actual service. Never mind the potential discussions about sanctions and the fact that the aircraft is driven by German engines. Or perhaps that Russia’s DARPA has consistently said that domestic optics and electronic systems are of low quality.

In the meantime, Russia’s 20 year gap in UAV development has left it with a sizable technological hurdle—meaning it has some serious work to do to catch up.

Posted in Chris B, English, International, Russia, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kurdistan is Full of Arab Refugees, And Kurds Can’t Agree on How to Treat Them (Part 2)

by Kevin Knodell (read part 1 here). He is a freelance journalist based in Tacoma, Washington, USA. He currently coordinates and edits War is Boring’s Iraq field coverage with an international team of journalists. You can follow him on twitter at @KJKnodell

This is an expanded version of a feature originally published at War is Boring at Due to safety concerns, several names have been altered and contributing journalists left anonymous

• • •

Sign held by a Kurdish activist at an  Anti-Arab rally

Sign held by a Kurdish activist at a summer protest

• • •

The Sinjar tragedy
Anti-Arab sentiment has been on the rise in Iraqi Kurdistan since Islamic State militants broke Kurdish lines in August, seizing town of Sinjar. The town was home to the largest Yezidi community in Iraq, but also has a sizable Arab community. Arab and Yezidi merchants had a long history of doing business together.

But the militants regard Yezidis as devil worshippers, and when they took the town, they embarked on a campaign of rape and slaughter against the Yezidi people. They tore families apart and militants sold captured women into slavery. The Yezidis fled to nearby Mount Sinjar, many bringing Christian and Shia refugees they had been sheltering with them. The United Nations harshly condemned Islamic State’s actions, going so far as to warn of the possibility of genocide.

Not long after, the American air campaign began. Jets struck militant positions, while cargo planes dropped food and water for the refugees. Many Arabs risked their lives trying to help their Yezidi friends and neighbors escape. But others — whether out of fear or ambivalence — stood by and did nothing. Worse, many of them helped the militants, telling the Islamists where Yezidis were hiding. Some even participated in the rapes and killings. Afterwards, some Arabs ransacked abandoned Yezidi homes and took their livestock to sell in Mosul. Many Yezidis feel their Arab neighbors betrayed them. Some say that they don’t ever want to go back to Sinjar after what happened there, and many say that they want to leave Iraq altogether.

Mohsin Saadoun, a Kurdish Democratic Party representative serving in the Iraqi National Assembly recently proposed a legislation to segregate Kurds and Arabs in mixed communities in the north. A politician from Zummar, Saadoun, said that there is no way for Kurds and Arabs to be neighbors again. The Yezidi refugees’ stories have evoked a strong emotional response in Kurdistan. Some Kurds are channeling that response towards Arab refugees.

Kurdish activists have staged protests in cities all over Kurdistan. Many Kurds want Arabs put in centralized camps so authorities can keep tabs on them. Others want the Kurdish government to expel the Arabs altogether. “The first time I saw the demonstrations in the street here I was shocked”, recalls Ramiza. She couldn’t believe that Kurds — who have experienced displacement so frequently — could so quickly turn on the refugees. “If you talk with any person he would tell you about 1991″, she says. “But now things have changed” (Between March and April 1991, Iraqi forces suppress rebellions in the southern and northern parts of the country, creating a humanitarian disaster on the borders of Turkey and Iran).

Kurdish authorities have struggled with balancing allowing open discourse with protecting refugees. Not to mention Arab residents like Dirar and Ramiza, who have lived peacefully in the region for years. “A lot of Arabs, who live in Erbil, for example, who have lived there with their families since 2007, they feel insecure”, Ramiza explains. “So for those Asayish, who know old Arab families, who live in Erbil, they called them and asked them to stay calm… that is nice, in a way”.

Kawergosk Syrian refugee camp near Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, is home to nearly 14,000 people, many of whom are Syrian Kurds from northeastern Syria (Photo: Sophia Jones).

Kawergosk Syrian refugee camp near Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, is home to nearly 14,000 people, many of whom are Syrian Kurds from northeastern Syria (Photo: Sophia Jones).

As demonstrations ramped up in Erbil, Ramiza says that an Asayish officer called the father of one her Christian Arab friends in the city. The officer asked him not to do anything if he saw or was in the middle of an anti-Arab protest. The officer informed him that the Asayish couldn’t stop the protest, but wanted to promise him that the officers would keep the Arabs in the city safe. When she saw her first demonstration, Ramiza was with her sisters. The protesters scared her sisters, they told Ramiza the Kurds hated them. She insisted that her sisters had nothing to be afraid of, that these protesters were just an angry fringe group that didn’t know better.

“Then they saw all those comments and offensive posts on Facebook”, she says. Many Kurds have taken to the Internet to voice their opinions. Politics, race, patriotism and religion are all popular sources of conversation in Kurdish social media circles. Some Kurdish Facebook pages, like Naheshtni Arab la Kurdistan, commonly express anti-Arab sentiments. “I posted photos of the demonstration on Facebook and I wrote that these are not the Kurdish people I have known and lived with. Kurdish people are not this group”, Ramiza says. She said Kurdish friends and relatives got defensive. They told her they weren’t protesting her, just the refugees. She said it only made her angrier that they would protest people seeking safety for their families.

Dirar said that one of his Kurdish friends wrote on Facebook “all the Arabic people, who came here, most of them have jobs, they have high posts in the companies and good houses to live in. Then the Kurdish citizen is left sitting in the house without warmth because the Arab gets it”. When Dirar messaged him, his friend told him he didn’t mean Dirar because he was a Turkman. “I had to tell him that I am an Arab”.

Ramiza says that she has even been drawn into debates with her husband’s family. “This whole fight started when one of my husband’s relatives wrote that their neighborhood is officially Arab… and you know there were tons of comments going on saying, ‘Yeah we hate them, now we cannot go anywhere because it’s all full of Arabs'”. She got into a heated argument with her in-laws. Her Kurdish relatives told her they didn’t understand why she was so upset. She eventually wrote back that the Arabs did not invade Kurdish houses, that they have papers and are legally paying rent for their homes. She told them that if they have a problem with that, they need to demonstrate against the Kurdish landlords, who are giving those houses to Arabs. “There are a lot of pages there that are attacking Arabs, not only refugees”, Ramiza says. “What I saw on Facebook was pages asking the Kurdish government to take all Arabs out, to attack them and put them in prison.”

Ramiza doesn’t know what to make of it. She is particularly disturbed by what she has seen in her friends and colleagues — fellow human rights workers, who she thinks should be fighting for the refugees. “The most disappointing thing was when I first heard people close to me talking about Arabs in a bad way”, she says. “They might have forgotten that I am originally Arab because I speak Kurdish. “I’ve heard bad comments about Arabs and a lot of people attacked Arabs in front of me, people that I wouldn’t imagine would do that, open minded people like women activists, like human rights activists. They were like, ‘No, no, no Arabs need to be in camps.'”

Kurdish activists during summer protests

Kurdish activists during summer protests

Security Concerns
Kalan is a college student, who has taken part in the protests. But he insists that he isn’t motivated by hatred or racism. He says that the situation is far more complicated. “We are not against the Arab refugees which came from the war, who were kicked out by the ISIS. We have a problem with the refugees, who have ISIS in their minds”, he says.

He is concerned that the refugees pose a massive security risk. “We want some security procedures. Those procedures are putting the Arab refugees in a camp, not in the cities.” He claims that terrorists and sympathizers have already infiltrated Kurdistan under the guise of being refugees. “[Last summer,] Islamic State was close to Erbil, and Arabs inside the city were having a party,” he says. He explains that hundreds of Arabs were arrested as they celebrated the militants’ advance. The Arabs told Kurdish authorities they had no right arresting them for celebrating.

He says that many arab refugee families, are women and children living in Kurdistan while their husbands and fathers fight for Islamic State. “They see that Kurdistan is safe. They are fighting against Peshmerga and their families are safe.” He says there have been specific documented cases. He cites a sniper that Peshmerga forces captured in Jalawla. “He was ex-Saddam’s army. He was a great sniper, he killed six Peshmerga”. Reportedly, when the Peshmerga captured the militant they asked him where his family was. Kalan says that the sniper told the Peshmerga that he had sent his family to Sulaymaniyah, becauss he knew they would be safe there. “So you can imagine, this [(Kurdistan)] is the safe part, his family is living there, but he is still fighting against us,” Kalan remarks.

But he insists that he doesn’t hate Arabs. “They can change, we can help them. We can open universities inside their cities, we can open schools for them,” he explains. “Maybe in 20 years, the next generation of them will be a society like yours. I could never hate them. There are cities like Karbala, there’s not any hate towards the Kurdish.” He says that he has a friend, who tells people they don’t have any problems with the Arabs, who came to the bars or nightclubs, but they have a problem with those, who came to the mosques. Kalan says that he is willing to concede that some of the protesters probably are racist though. “Of course there are many of them that hate Arabs,” he says. “Many Kurds hate the Arabs and many Arabs hate the Kurdish.”

He thinks that the influx of refugees has exacerbated ethnic tensions. That’s part of the reason he advocates sending Arabs to camps or out of Kurdistan as soon as possible. “If we don’t take care of the problem, if we don’t move the people to the camps or move them back to their cities, people will not trust Arabs. Especially the Syrian Kurdish. If the government doesn’t take care of the Arabs, I think the Syrian Kurdish will attack the Arabs.”

He explains that putting people in camps is a normal thing, and it’s something the Kurds had to put up with in the aftermath of their wars with the Ba’athists. “Let me explain this to you: when the Kurds went to Iran as refugees, do you know what Iran did? Iran put them in camps, camps like the ones animals lived in.” Iranians didn’t let any Kurds into the cities, even though all of the cities along the border were overwhelmingly Kurdish. “There are many families, who have cousins in the Iranian part. [The Iranians] didn’t even let them go to their cousins. Despite this we are very grateful for what the Iranians did for us, even if they treat us like animals. At least they didn’t kill us.”

But he believes the Kurds can do it better than the Iranians. “I don’t say to keep [the Arabs] in camps and treat them like the Iranians treated the Kurdish,” Kalan clarifies. “I’m saying put them in the camps and treat them well. Not like what the Iranians did, not like what Turkey did.”

A young girl plays in one area of her family's cramped tent in Kawergosk Syrian refugee camp, Iraqi Kurdistan, as the adults discuss recent gains by the extremist group ISIS in northern Iraq (Photo: Sophia Jones).

A young girl plays in one area of her family’s cramped tent in Kawergosk Syrian refugee camp, Iraqi Kurdistan, as the adults discuss recent gains by the extremist group ISIS in northern Iraq (Photo: Sophia Jones).

A Common Enemy
Ramiza says that division is the wrong strategy. She says that Islamic State represents something far more sinister than a regional feud. The way she sees it, it’s more important than ever for Kurds and Arabs to come together. “There is ISIS out there and we all need to go and fight them. Not only Peshmerga, not only Iraqi Army, because they are attacking everybody,” she says. “They don’t distinguish if you are Kurdish or Arab.”

Rana points out that many ethnic Kurds have also been fighting with the militants against the Peshmerga and Iraqi Army. Islamic State includes members from all over the world — including radicalized white westerners. It’s far from a strictly Arab movement.

Many Peshmerga actually involved in fighting the militants also believe that shelving old hatreds — at least of the time being — is vital to defeating Islamic State. They say that getting the support of Sunni Arabs is critical to undermining the militants’ power base and ensuring a lasting solution. For instance, Major general Abdulla Musla Boor — known in Kurdistan as “The Dark Lion” — expressly told War is Boring that Sunni Arabs, who oppose Islamic State need more support. One of his officers — a retired Peshmerga officer named Sherda, who recently returned from England to fight — echoed this sentiment. Sherda insisted that it was their duty to protect all innocent people regardless of ethnicity or sect.

When War Is Boring visited Jalawla in June, Mjor Borham Mohamad — the Kurdish officer in charge of supplying Kurdish troops fighting in the city — said he had sympathy for the Sunni Arabs in the town, even members of the Karwy tribe — a tribe that moved to the area as part of the Ba’athist Arabization. By August, the Kurds had actually recruited some members of the traditionally hostile Karwy tribe to help track militants and gather intelligence. “Move forward people. There is no Saddam now, no Ba’ath party,” Ramiza proclaims. “There are Sunni and Shia and Kurds, who are fighting for positions and that’s it.”

But what will it take get the Kurds, Turkman, Shias, Christians, Yezidis and Sunnis to work together? “We need a superhero,” Darir puts forth jokingly. “When all Iraqis will be united against them, then ISIS will be finished,” he adds more seriously. He insists that the sooner that happens, the sooner the refugees will leave Kurdistan. “They are poor people, running away from death. They don’t want to change the demography of Kurdistan,” Darir says. “As soon as every thing is normal again they will go back to their cities. They are not happy to be far away from their neighbors, their childhood homes.”

But Kalan is skeptical. “They don’t, I am sure they don’t,” he says. He compares them to Kurdish refugees, who left for Britain in the 1990s. “[Do] you hear about those Kurdish coming back to Kurdistan? A little, very little return. Even before these problems they don’t come back. Why? Because Britain is better than Kurdistan. They want to stay in a better country.”



A Long Way from Home
“At any point he could ask us to leave, if he wanted to finish it or sell it he can ask us to leave.” Salam says of his family’s Kurdish benefactor as he stands in the small unfinished house they call home. He says that he doesn’t know what he would do if his family has find a new place to live. “We could rent a house for two months and then we would have no money left,” he explains. And he has no way of getting more money.

Salam used to work as a shuttle driver, driving people to work and school. He even still has his van — it’s parked outside the house — and he is more than happy to work and earn rent money. But he says that the Asayish told him only Arabs with a residency card are allowed to work. “We do not have a residency card, maybe this will mean we will have to leave Kurdistan. The residency card, you can only get it, if you have a Kurdish sponsor,” he says. “But because I don’t speak the language,” he laments, “I don’t know how make a Kurdish friend to be a sponsor, so it is very hard for us to do this.” Even so, Salam says that the people of Piramagrun have been good to him and his family. But he says that he is homesick. He is tired of living as a refugee. “We have not lived like this before, we do not have the things we need,” he says. “You can see are sitting on the dirty ground. We are not used to it.”

“Everybody, who left misses their house, their land, their neighbors, their home,” he says longingly. All he wants to do is go back to his home town. But until he can, he will stay wherever he can keep his family sheltered, fed and safe.

Posted in English, Iraq, Kevin Knodell, Migration, Security Policy | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Atomwaffen: Die Geister, die ich rief – Teil 1

Von Danny Chahbouni. Danny studiert Geschichte und Politikwissenschaft an der Philipps-Universität Marburg.

Die unkontrollierte Verbreitung von Massenvernichtungswaffen wird im sicherheitspolitischen Jargon als “Proliferation” bezeichnet. Während die Weltgemeinschaft weiterhin versucht die nuklearen Ambitionen Irans zu unterbinden, haben Staaten wie Nordkorea, Pakistan und auch Israel bereits eigene Waffen durch klandestine Geheimdienstaktivitäten und transnationale Schmugglernetzwerke erlangt. Im Teil 1 einer neuen Serie soll zunächst der Weg hin zu einem internationalen Kontrollregime nachgezeichnet werden. Teil 2 wird sich der Problematik des transnationalen Handels mit Atomwaffentechnologie beschäftigen. Weitere Teile, u.a. über die Nukleare Teilhabe innerhalb der Bündnisse des Kalten Krieges, sind für das Jahr 2015 geplant.

Männer die auf Trümmer starren? Robert Oppenheimer (heller Hut) und General Leslie Groves (rechts von Oppenheimer) besichtigen den Ground Zero des Trinity Tests. Von dem Stahlturm, auf dem die Bombe gezündet wurde, ist nur noch das Betonfundament übrig. Quelle: Wikipedia

Männer die auf Trümmer starren? Robert Oppenheimer (heller Hut) und General Leslie Groves (rechts von Oppenheimer) besichtigen den Ground Zero des Trinity Test. Von dem Stahlturm, auf dem die Bombe gezündet wurde, ist nur noch das Betonfundament übrig.

Am 16. Juli 1945, um 05:29:45 Uhr Ortszeit veränderte sich die internationale Ordnung in Sekundenbruchteilen. Mit der erfolgreichen Explosion der ersten Atombombe im US-Bundesstaat New Mexico, teilte sich die Welt fortan in Staaten, die über Nuklearwaffen verfügen und solche, die dies nicht tun. Konkurrenz und Atom-Spionage prägten dabei bereits die Kindertage der Atombombe. Auslöser für das amerikanisch-britisch-kanadische Manhattan-Projekt war die Furcht vor einer deutschen Atombombe. Die Sowjetunion hatte indessen ein eigenes Atombombenprogramm gestartet, nachdem Josef Stalin im April 1942 durch den Physiker Georgi Nikolajewitsch Fljorow in einem Brief gewarnt wurde, dass das Deutsche Reich und auch die Amerikaner vermutlich mittlerweile an Atomwaffen arbeiten würden. Interessanterweise ist auch das Manhattan-Projekt erst durch den von Leo Szilard, Edward Teller und Eugene Wigner verfassten und von Albert Einstein unterschriebenen Brief an US-Präsident Roosevelt, in dem die Physiker im August 1939 warnten, dass Deutschland bald im Besitz einer Atombombe sein könnte, in die Wege geleitet worden.

Bereits kurz nach dem Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs und dem einzigen, bis heute jemals erfolgten Kriegseinsatz von Atomwaffen gegen die japanischen Städte Hiroshima und Nagasaki, stellten sich drängende Fragen über die Zukunft der destruktivsten Waffen, die Menschen jemals entwickelt hatten: Wer sollte die Kontrolle über die Bombe haben und wer sollte sie besitzen dürfen?

Die charakteristische Pilzwolke nach dem Angriff auf Nagasaki.

Die charakteristische Pilzwolke nach dem Angriff auf Nagasaki.

Der Club wächst
Als Roosevelt Stalin auf der Potsdamer Konferenz über die erfolgreich getestete neue Waffe informierte, zeigte sich dieser unbeeindruckt. Das lag vor allem daran, dass das Manhattan-Projekt durchsetzt war von sowjetischen Spionen, wie dem deutschen Emigranten Klaus Fuchs, der als theoretischer Physiker in die Entwicklung der Bombe involviert war. Die amerikanische Monopolstellung war am 29. August 1949, um Punkt 06 Uhr morgens beendet, als die Sowjetunion die erste Bombe zündete, die im Wesentlichen dem amerikanischen MK-3 Design (Fat Man) entsprach.

Das gleiche Plutonium-Design des MK-3 Sprengsatzes lag auch der britischen Bombe zugrunde. Die Briten waren ursprünglich durch das Abkommen von Quebec ein elementarer Bestandteil des Manhattan-Projekts, wurden aber durch den McMahon Act, der u.a. die Weitergabe von fachbezogenen Informationen neu regelte, von den USA aus der Forschung ausgeschlossen. Die Folge war ein eigenes Programm, welches am 03. Oktober 1952 im ersten britischen Atomtest einen erfolgreichen Abschluss fand. Sieben Jahre nach der ersten Atomexplosion gab es bereits drei Atommächte. Zum zwanzigsten Jahrestag des Atombombenabwurfs auf Hiroshima am 06. August 1945 waren mit Frankreich und der Volksrepublik China zwei weitere Staaten in die Liga der Atomwaffenbesitzer aufgestiegen. Eine ganze Reihe weiterer Staaten besaß zudem das Know-how um Atomwaffen zu bauen. Was für politische Theoretiker aus der Retrospektive möglicherweise eine unausweichliche Entwicklung darstellt, die aus der zwischenstaatlichen Konkurrenz erwachsen musste, war für die Zeitgenossen keineswegs vorherbestimmt.

"Fat Man" (Typ MK-3) wird für den Einsatz gegen die Stadt Nagasaki verladen. Dieser Waffentyp wurde auch Grundlage für die sowjetische und britische Atombombe.

“Fat Man” (Typ MK-3) wird für den Einsatz gegen die Stadt Nagasaki verladen. Dieser Waffentyp wurde auch Grundlage für die sowjetische und britische Atombombe.

Wohin mit der Bombe?
Bereits kurz nach der Kapitulation Japans begannen sich – vor allem innerhalb des wissenschaftlichen Personals des Manhattan-Projekts – Zweifel und Reue über die Mitarbeit an einer derart todbringenden Technologie auszubreiten. Als einer der berühmtesten Kritiker der Atombombe trat nach Kriegsende Albert Einstein auf. Er zwar nicht direkt am Manhattan-Projekt beteiligt, jedoch durch seinen Brief an Roosevelt hatte er den Stein ins Rollen gebracht.

Die Arbeit an neuen Bomben indessen, ging auch nach Kriegsende weiter. Von den ursprünglich vier gebauten Sprengsätzen, waren drei aufgebraucht worden. Weitere Bomben nach dem MK-3 Design wurden angefertigt und im Rahmen der Operation Crossroads unter den Decknamen “Able” und “Baker” im Juli 1946 auf dem Bikini-Atoll getestet. Am 31. Dezember 1946 wurde das Manhattan-Projekt für beendet erklärt und die Verwaltung aller Nuklearangelegenheiten der Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) übertragen. Obwohl die AEC ein militärisches Verbindungskommando unterhielt, wurde zusätzlich eine weitere Behörde innerhalb der US-amerikanischen Streitkräfte geschaffen, die als Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (AFSWP) die Wartung, Lagerung, den Transport und Unterstützung bei Atomtest, gewährleisten sollte. Reibereien und Kompetenzstreitigkeiten beider Behörden waren mit der engen Aufgabenteilung vorprogrammiert.

Die juristische Grundlage für beide Organisationen bildete der weiter oben bereits erwähnte McMahon Act. Vorausgegangen war eine gewisse Ratlosigkeit, wie man mit der neuen Technologie umgehen sollte. Von Abrüstung, bis hin zu kontrollierter Verbreitung schienen sämtliche Optionen offen zu sein. Da auch Roosevelts Nachfolger Harry S. Truman zunächst keine klare Linie für die zukünftige Atompolitik hatte, wurden Außenminister Dean Acheson und der Verwaltungschef der Tennessee Valley Authority, David Lilienthal, beauftragt den Sachverhalt zu untersuchen. Die Ergebnisse wurden im März 1946 im sogenannten Acheson-Lilienthal-Report zusammengefasst. Der Tenor des Reports tendierte hin zu einer internationalen Verwaltung des spaltbaren Materials. Was 1945 noch von den USA und der Sowjetunion befürwortet wurde, war kaum ein halbes Jahr später allerdings wieder gänzlich offen.

Am 24. Januar 1946 wurde durch die UN-Generalversammlung in der Resolution 1 die United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC) gegründet. Der amerikanische Vertreter in der Kommission, Bernard Baruch, schlug im Juni 1946 einen konkreten Plan auf der Grundlage des Acheson-Lilienthal-Reports vor, nachdem alle verbleibenden Atombomben abgerüstet und die weitere, friedliche Entwicklung der Atomkraft unter Kontrolle der Vereinten Nationen gestellt werden sollte — allerdings ohne Veto-Möglicheit für den UN-Sicherheitsrat. Die ausschließlich friedliche Nutzung des spaltbaren Materials sollte durch ein Sanktionssystem und Kontrollen überwacht werden. Für die USA hätte die Umsetzung die unilaterale Preisgabe des Monopols bedeutet, für die Sowjetunion den Verzicht auf etwas, woran man längst mit voller Kraft arbeitete. Dass der Plan abgelehnt wurde, lag nicht zuletzt an der sowjetischen Furcht vor Sanktionen und ungehindertem Zugang internationaler Inspektoren in die UdSSR, sondern auch daran, dass die Vereinten Nationen von den Sowjets als westlich dominiert betrachtet wurden. Die USA dagegen weigerten sich das Atomwaffen-Monopol aufzugeben, solange kein internationales Kontrollregime bestand. Die Weichen für den kommenden Rüstungswettlauf waren durch das Scheitern des Baruch-Plans gestellt.

Ein Blick auf die erste UN-Generalversammlung 1946 in der Central Hall in London.

Ein Blick auf die erste UN-Generalversammlung 1946 in der Central Hall in London.

Atome für den Frieden
Die Schrecken von Hiroshima und Nagasaki konnten eine generelle Euphorie über die vermeintlich gezähmte Technologie jedoch nicht überdecken. Die Atomenergie löste eine regelrechte Aufbruchstimmung aus, die aus heutiger Sicht fast schon naiv wirkt. Am 08. Dezember 1953 hielt US-Präsident Dwight D. Eisenhower vor der UN-Generalversammlung seine berühmt gewordene “Atoms for Peace”- Rede, die besonders sinnbildlich die Widersprüchlichkeit der Atomtechnik verdeutlicht, vor allem vor dem Hintergrund der immer weiter steigenden Zahl an Atombomben und dem Bau der ersten Wasserstoffbomben. Eisenhowers Vision der friedlichen Nutzung der Kernenergie sah wiederum eine internationale Behörde vor, die sich um die Kontrolle und Sicherheit des nuklearen Materials kümmern sollte. Diese Pläne wurden auf der 1. Genfer Atomkonferenz soweit konkretisiert, dass zwei Jahren später die Internationale Atomenergieorganisation (IAEA) gegründet wurde, die bis heute durch ein Sonderabkommen mit den Vereinten Nationen verbunden ist.

Gleichzeitig versuchten die USA und andere westliche Staaten unter dem Motto “Atoms for Peace” Atomtechnologie zu friedlichen Zwecken zu exportieren. So waren die USA und Kanada maßgeblich am indischen Atomprogramm beteiligt, ebenso wie die USA und Frankreich Israel beim Bau von Reaktoren unterstützten. Die Unterstützung wurde zwar immer unter der Prämisse gewährt, die Technologie nur zu friedlichen Zwecken zu nutzen, das Problem der Begrenzung eines Atomprogramms auf friedliche Zwecke besteht jedoch bis heute fort.

Werbebriefmarke des "Atoms for Peace" - Programms. Quelle: Wikipedia

Werbebriefmarke des “Atoms for Peace” – Programms.

Der Atomwaffensperrvertrag
Frankreich stellte zwar seine Uran-Lieferungen an Israel ein, die Israelis schafften es jedoch – höchst wahrscheinlich durch den Mossad – weitere Rohstoffe über Umwege einzukaufen. Die internationale Nachfrage nach Technologie und Rohstoffen führte nicht zuletzt zur Etablierung eines blühenden Schwarzmarktes. Die Proliferation wurde zunehmend zu einem Problem, was die bisherigen Atommächte – allesamt Veto-Mächte des UN-Sicherheitsrats – veranlasste, ein Regime auf den Weg zu bringen, um die Verbreitung einzudämmen. Als ersten unterzeichneten die USA, die Sowjetunion und Großbritannien am 01. Juli 1968 den Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), besser bekannt als Atomwaffensperrvertrag. Der Vertrag gesteht den Staaten, die vor dem 1. Januar 1967 eine Atombombe gezündet haben, das Recht zu Atomwaffen zu besitzen und verpflichtet sie gleichzeitig zur gegenseitigen Abrüstung. Alle anderen Unterzeichnerstaaten verpflichten sich auf den Erwerb von Atomwaffen zu verzichten, haben jedoch das ausdrückliche Recht auf zivile Atomprogramme. Das Dilemma, dass zivile Atomprogramme auch zur Anreicherung von waffenfähigem Uran genutzt werden können, ist durch den Fall des Irans aktueller denn je. Nordkorea hat das Regime 2003 vertragsgemäß verlassen und bezeichnet sich mittlerweile selbst als Atommacht. Im Falle von Pakistan hat das Land den Vertrag niemals unterzeichnet und sich auf illegalem Weg der nötigen Technologie bemächtigt. Im Falle der offiziellen Atommächte muss man den Willen zu gegenseitiger Abrüstung zumindest in Frage stellen. Zu guter letzt hat die IAEA, die eigentlich als Hüterin des Vertrages fungiert, keine Sanktionsmacht, sondern kann etwaige Vertragsbrüche nur an den Sicherheitsrat herantragen.

Eine wirkliche Nuklearwaffenkonvention, wie sie u.a. für Bio- und Chemiewaffen besteht, ist zwar als Entwurf durchaus mehrmals durchdacht worden, die Realisierung liegt jedoch in weiter Ferne. Die geopolitischen Verwerfungen des letzten Jahres, sowohl in Europa, als auch im asiatischen Raum, scheinen eher eine Renaissance der Atomwaffen als Machtmittel zu befeuern. Das alles passiert in einer Welt, in der transnationale Terrorgruppen operieren und die durch die moderne Informationstechnologie und Verkehrinfrastruktur so stark vernetzt ist, wie niemals zuvor in der Geschichte. Für die Verhinderung der unkontrollierten Verbreitung von Atomwaffen und zugehöriger Technologie eine zusätzliche Herausforderung, die im nächsten Teil genauer beleuchtet wird.
Obwohl die Atomkraft als Technologie seit Jahrzehnten ihren Zenit überschritten hat, bleibt die Waffentechnik des Zweiten Weltkriegs nach wie vor eine der gewichtigsten Variablen des internationalen Systems. Bei der Beschäftigung mit dem Thema kann einem beinahe der Zauberlehrling von Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in den Sinn kommen: “Die ich rief, die Geister, Werd’ ich nun nicht los.”


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Boko Haram, das Massaker von Baga und die regionale Dimension

von Peter Dörrie. If you don’t understand German, then check out “Boko Haram Killed Hundreds of Civilians After Troops Fled” about the same topic, also written by Peter Dörrie, published on “War is Boring“.

Burnt-out cars are seen at the scene of a blast in Abuja, June 25, 2014 (Foto: Afolabi Sotunde).

Burnt-out cars are seen at the scene of a blast in Abuja, June 25, 2014 (Foto: Afolabi Sotunde).

Laut Amnesty International war es das vermutlich schlimmste Massaker, das die islamistische Miliz Boko Haram bisher verübt hat: hunderte Menschen, vielleicht sogar bis zu 2’000, wurden bei dem Angriff der Rebellengruppe auf die Stadt Baga am Ufer des Tschadsees am 7. Januar getötet. Baga selbst wurde praktisch komplett zerstört.

Boko Haram griff Baga bereits am Samstag, dem 3. Januar an. Das Ziel war damals noch die örtliche Basis des nigerianischen Militärs. Obwohl es schon der fünfte Überfall auf Baga in den letzten zwei Jahren war, war die Armee offenbar nicht ausreichend vorbereitet. Nach mehreren Stunden Feuergefecht flohen die Soldaten und ließen Medienberichten zufolge erhebliche Waffen- und Munitionslager zurück. Verstärkung konnte nicht anrücken, denn die umliegenden Gebiete sind schon seit längerem unter der Kontrolle von Boko Haram.

Kämpfer der Miliz kehrten dann am Mittwoch in die nun schutzlose Stadt zurück. Gezielt wurden Häuser in Brand gesteckt und auf die fliehenden Zivilisten geschossen. Die BBC zitierte einen Bewohner Bagas, der zu Protokoll gab das es mehr Leichen gebe, als die Überlebenden beerdigen könnten. Praktisch alle der 10’000 Bewohner Bagas sind inzwischen auf der Flucht.

Zeitgleich überfiel und besetzte Boko Haram auch mindestens 16 andere Orte im Bundesstaat Borno, während die nigerianische Armee einen Angriff auf Damaturu, die Hauptstadt des benachbarten Bundesstaats Yobe offenbar abwehren konnte.

Der Fall von Baga ist aber nicht nur wegen der katastrophal hohen Opferzahl relevant. Das Massaker ist in mehrerer Hinsicht symbolisch, nicht zuletzt weil der nigerianische Präsident Goodluck Jonathan, in dessen seit 2010 dauernder Amtszeit ein großer Teil des Konflikts fällt, nur einen Tag später offiziell seine Wahlkampagne für die Präsidentschaftswahl am 14. Februar 2015 startete. Baga erwähnte er in seiner Rede mit keinem Wort.

Das wäre vielleicht angebracht gewesen, denn Baga hat nicht nur innenpolitische Relevanz. Die dortige Militärbasis war das offizielle Hauptquartier der Multinational Joint Task Force, einer regionale Militärtruppe mit dem Ziel, Boko Haram in dieser Region ohne effektive Grenzen das Handwerk zu legen. Nigeria, Niger, Tschad, Kamerun und Benin hatten vereinbart, je 700 Soldaten der Truppe zur Verfügung zu stellen und so eine effektive Bekämpfung der Gruppe zu ermöglichen.

Allerdings wurde die Initative nie richtig implementiert. Die Regierungen des Tschad, Nigers und Kamerung haben zuletzt ihren nigerianischen Kollegen mangelnden Willen zur Lösung der Krise vorgeworfen, wobei die Sorgen dieser Länder vor einem Überschwappen der Gewalt immer größer werden (siehe auch “Boko Haram crisis: Niger ‘will not help retake’ town of Baga“, BBC, 09.01.2015).

A car burns at the scene of a bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria's capital Abuja, December 25, 2011 (Foto: Afolabi Sotunde).

A car burns at the scene of a bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria’s capital Abuja, December 25, 2011 (Foto: Afolabi Sotunde).

Am stärksten betroffen ist Kamerun. In Nigerias östlichem Nachbarland sind Angriffe durch Boko Haram inzwischen an der Tagesordnung und der Anführer der Terrorgruppe, Abubakar Shekau, wandte sich mit einer seiner Drohungen per YouTube kürzlich direkt an den kamerunischen Präsidenten Paul Biya: “Oh Paul Biya, if you don’t stop this, your evil plot, you will taste what has befallen Nigeria. Your troops cannot do anything to us.” (“Boko Haram leader threatens Cameroon in YouTube video“, AFP, 07.01.2015).

Biya ist einer der lautesten Fürsprecher für eine internationale Reaktion auf Boko Haram. Die Gruppe, so der kamerunische Präsident, sei Teil des globalen Problems Terrorismus und müsse dementsprechend auch global bekämpft werden. Diese Ansicht wird in vielen westlichen Regierungen offenbar geteilt. Boko Haram wird in Regierungserklärungen immer öfter in einem Atemzug mit der IS, al-Qaida und al-Shabaab genannt. Diese Analyse und Rhetorik könnte allerdings mehr zum Problem, als zur Lösung beitragen.

Mit einigen wenigen Ausnahmen wie der Bombenangriff auf das U.N. Gebäude in Abuja 2011, die Entführung westlicher Geiseln und verbalen Drohungen hat Boko Haram bisher erstaunlich wenig internationale Ambitionen erkennen lassen. Vielmehr macht eine Betrachtung der Geschichte der Gruppierung deutlich, wie eng ihre Entwicklung mit lokalen Problemen zusammenhängt. Die politische und wirtschaftliche Marginalisierung des Nordostens Nigerias und Nordens Kameruns spielen dabei ebenso eine Rolle, wie die unglaubliche Korruption und schlechte Regierungsführung der politischen Eliten dieser Länder. Teil der Identität Boko Harams ist der Widerstand gegen dieses System – mit dem auch die unglaubliche Barbarei des Kampfes begründet wird.

Inzwischen ist der Konflikt völlig ausser Kontrolle geraten und droht auch die Nachbarländer mit in seinen Strudel zu ziehen. Neben den Attacken in Kamerun rekrutiert Boko Haram neue Kämpfer im Niger und Tschad. Gelöst werden muss der Konflikt allerdings primär auf lokaler Ebene, durch einen neuen sozio-politischen Konsens innerhalb des nigerianischen Staates. Biyas Versuche, den Konflikt zu internationalisieren und zu einer globalen Herausforderung zu stilisieren könnten in diesem Kontext schwerwiegende Konsequenzen haben. Die Intervention etwa durch westliche Soldaten würde Boko Haram erst Recht einen Grund geben, sich auch gegen westliche Ziele zu richten und den Druck auf lokale Eliten zu verringern, dringen nötige politische und wirtschaftliche Reformen umzusetzen.

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NATO-Osterweiterung: ein gebrochenes Versprechen?

von Patrick Truffer. Patrick Truffer absolviert momentan ein Masterstudiengang in Internationale Beziehungen an der Freien Universität Berlin

In Diskussionen zum Verhältnis zwischen Russland und der NATO ist öfters das Argument zu hören, dass die NATO mit ihrer Osterweiterungen in den Jahren 1999 und 2004 ein Versprechen gebrochen habe, welches im Rahmen der Deutschen Wiedervereinigung an die Sowjetunion abgegeben wurde (siehe beispielsweise auch Nick Ottens, “Russia’s Crimea Invasion Follows Decades of Perceived Humiliation“,, 05.03.2014). Aber stimmt dieses Argument wirklich? Dieser Artikel soll darüber Klarheit schaffen.

[The West] have lied to us many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed us before an accomplished fact. This happened with NATO’s expansion to the East, as well as the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. — Vladimir Putin, “Address by President of the Russian Federation“, President of Russia, 18.03.2014.

Die NATO-Operation "Allied Force" 1999 wurde nicht vom UN Sicherheitsrat autorisiert.

Die NATO-Operation “Allied Force” 1999 wurde nicht vom UN Sicherheitsrat autorisiert.

In seinen Ansprachen betonte der russische Präsident Vladimir Putin immer wieder, dass die NATO-Osterweiterungen dem Bruch eines Versprechens gleich kam. Basierend auf dem Realismus nimmt Russland die NATO-Osterweiterung als Machtverschiebung war, welche zu Ungunsten Russlands erfolgte und dementsprechend negativ interpretiert wird. Ob die NATO in guter oder schlechter Absicht nach Osten expandierte, spielt dabei keine Rolle und kann bei der folgenden Betrachtung vernachlässigt werden.

Ob die NATO mit der Ausdehnung über die Grenzen von 1991 tatsächlich ein Versprechen oder gar eine Vereinbarung brach, stellt eine wichtige moralische Beurteilung des Verteidigungsbündnisses dar. Dies ist um so wichtiger, weil die NATO sich 1999 bei der Operation “Allied Force” über internationales Recht hinwegsetzte und die damalige Bundesrepublik Jugoslawien ohne Zustimmung des UN Sicherheitsrates bombardierte. Kritiker der NATO könnten sowohl “Allied Force” wie auch die Osterweiterung als eine offensive Form der Machtausdehnung auslegen. Damit wäre das paranoid anmutende Bedrohungsempfinden Russlands gegenüber dem westlichen Verteidigungsbündnisses wenigstens ansatzweise begründet und die NATO als die eigentliche Quelle der Spannungen in den Beziehungen mit Russland identifiziert. Die genaue Untersuchung dieses Falles besitzt also durchaus eine gewisse Relevanz. Was die Operation “Allied Force” angeht, muss jedoch berücksichtigt werden, dass ein Ende März 1999 von Russland in den UN-Sicherheitsrat eingebrachter Resolutionsentwurf, welcher die Intervention der NATO verurteilen sollte, deutlich mit 12 gegen 3 Stimmen (Russland, China und Namibia) abgelehnt wurde (United Nations, “Belarus, India and Russian Federation: draft resolution, 26.03.1999). Das Eingreifen der NATO in den Kosovokrieg wird deshalb heutzutage bei der Mehrheit der im Internationalen Recht tätigen Spezialisten als moralisch legitimiert betrachtet (siehe dazu Bruno Simma, “NATO, the UN and the use of force: legal aspects“, European Journal of International Law 10, Nr. 1, 1999, p 1–22).

Die Frage, ob es ein formelles Übereinkommen zwischen der NATO und Russland bezüglich einer Osterweiterung gab, wurde bereits 1997 aufgeworfen (siehe Michael R. Gordon, “The Anatomy of a Misunderstanding“, The New York Times, 25.05.1997). Im Zuge der Wiedervereinigung Deutschlands wurde dessen Bündniszugehörigkeit zwischen US-Aussenminister James A. Baker und dem sowjetischen Generalsekretär Michail S. Gorbatschow im Februar 1990 – also zu einem Zeitpunkt als der Warschauer Pakt noch existierte und noch keine umfassendere NATO-Osterweiterung in Betracht gezogen wurde – besprochen. Betreffend der Bündniszugehörigkeit des wiedervereinigten Deutschlands gab es verschiedene Verhandlungsvarianten, wobei eine der Varianten eine Integration Deutschlands in die NATO ausgeschlossen hätte. Nach den Verhandlungen im Februar 1990 hielt Baker deshalb auf einer Notiz fest: “End result: Unified Ger. anchored in a changed (polit.) NATO — whose juris. would not move eastward!” (Mary Elise Sarotte, “A Broken Promise?“, Foreign Affairs, 11.08.2014). Damit waren jedoch die Verhandlungen mit Gorbatschow noch nicht abgeschlossen und keine Übereinkommen unterschrieben. In einem bilateralen Treffen im Juli 1990 und in einem emotional geführten Telefongespräch im September des gleichen Jahres überzeugte (bzw. “kaufte”) der deutsche Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl Gorbatschow, eine NATO-Mitgliedsschaft des wiedervereinigten Deutschlands unter gewissen Bedingungen, welche formell festgehalten und am 12. September 1990 unterschrieben wurden, zuzulassen (Elise, 2014).

Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl und Michail Gorbatschow im November 1990 in Bonn. (Foto:  Schambeck, Bundesregierung).

Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl und Michail Gorbatschow im November 1990 in Bonn. (Foto: Schambeck, Bundesregierung).

Die Bedingungen umfassten folgende Punkte (Steven Pifer, “Did NATO Promise Not to Enlarge? Gorbachev Says ‘No’“, The Brookings Institution, 6.11.2014):

  1. Bis zum vollständigen sowjetischen Truppenabzug aus der DDR dürfen ausschliesslich Kräfte der Deutschen Bundeswehr, die nicht in der NATO integriert sind, in diesem Territorium eingesetzt werde.
  2. Die Mannschaftsstärke und der zahlenmässige Umfang des Equipments der US-amerikanischen, britischen und französischen Truppen, welche in Berlin stationiert sind, dürfen nicht erhöht werden.
  3. Nachdem die sowjetischen Truppen abgezogen wurden, können der NATO zugewiesene deutsche Kräfte auf dem Gebiet der ehemaligen DDR stationiert werden. Ausländische Kräfte oder Nuklearwaffen dürfen jedoch nicht in diesem Gebiet stationiert werden.

Gorbatschow wurde also kein Verzicht auf die NATO-Osterweiterung versprochen. Es existieren keinerlei dementsprechenden formellen Vereinbarungen und die dabei zitierte Notiz von Baker ist aus dem Kontext der deutschen Wiedervereinigung gerissen (Gordon, 1997). Abschliessende Klarheit bringt eine in einem Interview vom Oktober 2014 gemachte Stellungnahme Gorbatschows:

The topic of “NATO expansion” was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years. I say this with full responsibility. Not a singe Eastern European country raised the issue, not even after the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist in 1991. Western leaders didn’t bring it up, either. Another issue we brought up was discussed: making sure that NATO’s military structures would not advance and that additional armed forces from the alliance would not be deployed on the territory of the then-GDR after German reunification. Baker’s statement, mentioned in your question, was made in that context. Kohl and [German Vice Chancellor Hans-Dietrich] Genscher talked about it.

Everything that could have been and needed to be done to solidify that political obligation was done. And fulfilled. The agreement on a final settlement with Germany said that no new military structures would be created in the eastern part of the country; no additional troops would be deployed; no weapons of mass destruction would be placed there. It has been observed all these years. So don’t portray Gorbachev and the then-Soviet authorities as naïve people who were wrapped around the West’s finger. If there was naïveté, it was later, when the issue arose. Russia at first did not object. — Maxim Korshunov und Mikhail Gorbachev, “Mikhail Gorbachev: I am against all walls“, Russia Beyond The Headlines, 16.10.2014.

Formell kann der NATO kein Bruch eines Versprechens oder einer Vereinbarung angelastet werden. Hinsichtlich der Osterweiterung bleibt jedoch trotzdem ein schaler Nachgeschmack übrig, welcher Gorbachev im obigen Interview wie folgt wiedergibt: “[To expand NATO into the east was] a big mistake from the very beginning. It was definitely a violation of the spirit of the statements and assurances made to us in 1990″ (Korshunov und Gorbachev, 2014; eigene Hervorhebung). Ausserdem musste es den NATO-Mitgliedsstaaten bewusst gewesen sein, dass jede weitere Ausweitung des Einflusses in den Interessenraum Russlands (besondere in die Staaten der Commonwealth of Independent States) die Spannungen in den gegenseitigen Beziehungen erhöhen wird.

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Schism in the South: Will South Sudan Achieve Lasting Peace? 1/3

by Cameron Reed. Cameron Reed is a graduate student of International Relations and Public Policy in the US and Germany. He has worked extensively on security and conflict analysis of the Middle East and Africa. Christopher Thompson, an expert on South Sudan and Africa relations, contributed significant sections of this report.

An overview of key conflict drivers in South Sudan illustrates politically steeped motivation, but which manifest through ethnic or resource-oriented violence. However, South Sudan will remain important to the region and to notable international actors, including the US, China, UN, and IGAD, due to its interest in oil reserves and the rising death tolls. As fighting continues between groups lead by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, the rest of the country will suffer. If protracted peace talks in Addis Ababa, mediated by IGAD, bear no fruit, South Sudan’s people will fall into deeper caustic living conditions and risks of violent outbreaks will increase. The following report sheds light on the root causes, as well as instrumental means for conflict in South Sudan. The first section covers a historical overview of the country and the current situation. The second addresses the major threats of ethnic conflict and security of oil installations. The third section evaluates economic dependence of South Sudan and human insecurity of its people. (The second and third section will be online in the next weeks). A clearer understanding of the threats to stability will facilitate stronger foundations for peace.

sudan_mapThe security situation in South Sudan is characterized by layered, structural, and entrenched sources of instability that are causing an immediate humanitarian crisis that has only worsened since 2013. The country currently is embroiled in a violent internal conflict precipitated by President Salva Kiir’s sacking of his cabinet (including Vice Present Riek Machar) in June 2013 and by a sudden firefight between elements of the Presidential Guard. This crisis has become what can be characterized as a civil war (Isma’Il Kushkush and Nicholas Kulish, “Civilians Flee as Violence Worsens in South Sudan“, The New York Times, February 26, 2014). Recent violence has included alleged human rights violations by both sides. Fighting has largely fallen along ethnic lines, but, as this report — developed from open-source materials — shows, its origins are clearly political.

The current civil war is of foremost significance to the South Sudanese security situation because it will determine whether the country is resilient and cohesive enough to remain viable or if ethnic conflict will divide it. The outcome of the war will undoubtedly shape the immediate future of the country’s political system. Nonetheless, other long-term sources of instability continue to plague the country. In order to map South Sudan’s security landscape, this report includes:

  • A general overview of the republic
  • An overview of the current crisis and its implications
  • An evaluation of major security threats

While its oil reserves make South Sudan strategically important to the international political economy, its status as a newly independent country emerging from a brutal civil war has drawn interest from members of the international community that are concerned about its feasibility as a state. International organizations, non-governmental organizations, and faith-based organizations also have taken particular interest in the country for a variety of reasons, mostly humanitarian.

Notably, the US, which played a leading role in the peace process that ended the Second Sudanese Civil War and enabled independence, has a significant stake in the country’s future. During the height of the current crisis, National Security Advisor Susan Rice briefed US President Barack Obama daily on South Sudan, an unusual level of attention for a Sub-Saharan African nation. American politicians feel a paternal sense of responsibility for South Sudan because of America’s support for the southern rebellion and eventual statehood, but America also fears the humanitarian and energy market impacts that a failed South Sudan would have. Additionally, China’s oil interests in Africa have been consistently challenged by the conflict. As a result, China stepped up its UN peacekeeper presence in the region from 1,800 to 2,500, which follows in tow of the recently extended UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) of 12,500. Even if South Sudan emerges intact from the current crisis, its future is still largely dependent on its ability to confront a slew of structural security issues. This report will explore some of these security issues:

  • Ethnic conflict and cattle rustling in Jonglei State
  • The security of oil installations and pipelines
  • Economic dependence on oil and foreign aid
  • Human insecurity
Mongolian peacekeepers of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) stand in formation during a medal ceremony at their base in Bentiu (UN Photo: Martine Perret, 08 November 2013).

Mongolian peacekeepers of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) stand in formation during a medal ceremony at their base in Bentiu (UN Photo: Martine Perret, 08 November 2013).

Pre-Independence History
South Sudan’s insecurity and underdevelopment have deep historical roots. During Sudan’s history, as part of the Anglo-Egyptian condominium, the British administered northern and southern Sudan separately until very shortly before independence. The North (particularly the areas along the Nile) was the target of almost all development activities, while the south was almost entirely neglected. The British developed the economy and transportation infrastructure in the north, but the only administrative efforts they undertook in the south were to allocate regions to different religious denominations for missionary activities. Despite being administered separately during nearly the entire colonial period, Sudan became independent in 1953 as one nation.

The ethnic and religious differences between the north and south, compounded by the economic and political inequalities that were institutionalized after independence, led to the First Sudanese Civil War, from 1955 to 1972. The signing of the Addis Ababa Agreement in March 1972 officially ended the conflict, but peace would only last for a little more than a decade. In 1983, Sudanese President Gaafar Nimeiry declared all of Sudan to be under Sharia law and abolished the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region that had afforded the South political autonomy after the first war.

Nimeiry’s abrogation of the Addis Agreement plunged Sudan into renewed conflict, known as the Second Sudanese Civil War, from 1983 to 2005. It left an estimated 2 million people dead from war-related killing, famine, and disease. Millions were displaced due to the fighting. The Second Sudanese Civil War officially ended with the signing of the US-brokered Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA—also known as the Naivasha Agreement) in 2005, a deal that allowed the south to hold a referendum to determine whether it wanted to remain part of the north or become independent. After a period of joint administration of the south from 2005 to 2011, the referendum was held on schedule in January 2011—and 98.83% of southern citizens voted for independence (“South Sudan Backs Independence – Results“, BBC, February 7, 2011). South Sudan officially became an independent nation on July 9, 2011.

A man with a South Sudan map painted on his face celebrates independence in July 2011.

A man with a South Sudan map painted on his face celebrates independence in July 2011.

Post-Independence State Building
Even though the South Sudan’s independence brought it political independence, its economy is still closely connected to the North. Notably, the only pipeline that can bring Southern crude petroleum exports to port goes through Sudan to the city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea. South Sudan also does not have any oil refineries located south of the border. The South’s dependence on the North for oil pipelines and refineries gave the North significant leverage during the post-independence negotiations over oil transit fees. During the negotiations, the South proposed paying $1 per barrel and the North countered by demanding at least $32 per barrel. Tensions escalated considerably and came to a head in January 2012, when the North began seizing Southern oil shipments as payment for unpaid oil transit fees. The South then shut down its oil production instead of paying the North what it considered to be an exorbitant fee. The oil shutdown had a devastating impact on the southern economy, which relies on oil revenue for 98% of its budget. After more than a year of negotiations, the two countries reached a deal on September 27, 2012 that allowed the South to pipe and process its oil through the north for between $9 and $11 per barrel (depending on the facility), plus compensation for previously unpaid fees (“Sudan and South Sudan“, US Energy Information Administration, September 3, 2014).

A lack of development, two brutal civil wars, and the recent oil shutdown have made South Sudan very dependent on foreign economic aid, which comes in the form of unilateral transfers from the US and other international patrons and through the programmatic efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have entered the country following the CPA in 2005. Government budgetary shortfalls, mismanagement, and the predominance of NGOs have combined to severely limit government capacity to perform basic state functions, such as providing education, healthcare, and infrastructure development.

The current crisis and its implications
South Sudan is in the midst of a power struggle that has the making of turning into a civil war between the Dinka contingent of the state military, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and Nuer rebel elements, which include Nuer contingents of the SPLA. Violence erupted on December 15, 2013 after a dispute during a meeting of the Presidential Guard resulted in gunfire, but the true origins of the political crisis can be traced back to President Salva Kiir’s efforts to consolidate his power throughout 2013 and particularly his dismissal of the cabinet in July 2013 (“South Sudan’s Presidential Guards Clash in Juba“, Sudan Tribune, December 16, 2013; Simon Tisdall, “South Sudan President Sacks Cabinet in Power Struggle“, The Guardian. July 24, 2013). Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer and former SPLA commander during the Second Sudanese Civil War, and Pagan Amum, the prominent Secretary-General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (the government’s political party), were also sacked.

Machar responded to his dismissal by declaring his intention to challenge Kiir in the 2015 presidential elections and urging his Nuer supporters not to take up arms. Meanwhile, Kiir appointed loyalists into the empty cabinet and party leadership positions in order to consolidate his power.

Rebels loyal to Riek Machar in Lankien, South Sudan, Jan 23, 2014 (Photo:  Jerome Starkey).

Rebels loyal to Riek Machar in Lankien, South Sudan, Jan 23, 2014 (Photo: Jerome Starkey).

Tensions simmered through late summer and fall until the events of December 15, 2013 precipitated a descent into ethnic violence that is ongoing as of February 2014. After the firefight during the Presidential Guard meeting late on the night of December 15, 2013, President Kiir accused Machar and other opposition leaders of attempting a coup (Isma’Il Kushkush, “President Says a Coup Failed in South Sudan“, The New York Times, December 16, 2013). The charge, dismissed by Machar and his allies, led to a roundup of Nuer opposition leaders in Juba and the declaration of a curfew for the city. Allegations based on eyewitness accounts, such as Human Rights Watch’s January 17, 2014 report documenting “ethnic targeting and widespread killings”, have emerged accusing Dinka SPLA soldiers of carrying out targeted killing of Nuer civilians in Juba in the days following the firefight (“South Sudan: Ethnic Targeting, Widespread Killings“, Human Rights Watch, January 16, 2014).

Terrified civilians, mostly Nuer, fled to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compounds in Juba after fighting broke out. International reporters, notably from the BBCThe Guardian, and Reuters, collected eyewitness testimony in the compounds that told of human rights abuses and war crimes committed by SPLA soldiers against Nuer civilians. One such story, told by a 20-year-old Nuer student named Simon K. to The Guardian, described one such case of targeted killing during those days (Daniel Howden, “South Sudan: The State that Fell Apart in a Week“, The Guardian, December 23, 2013). Simon said that he observed Dinka soldiers going door-to-door in Juba and asking people “What is your name?” in the Dinka language. If the person could not understand, then the soldiers identified them as Nuer and arrested them. Simon and 252 others were detained in this way and taken to a police station in the Gudele market district of Juba, where they were thrown in a locked room with other Nuer civilians. According to Simon, the Dinka soldiers then “put guns in through the windows and started to shoot us.” The soldiers would periodically return and shoot through the windows for the next two days. Simon and 12 others survived by hiding under dead bodies.

South Sudan at a Glance (Source: CIA World Factbook).

South Sudan at a Glance (Source: CIA World Factbook).

South Sudan’s descent into chaos caught the international community off-guard. Toby Lanzer, the UN’s Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan and a vocal advocate for international intervention, said, “It would have been difficult one week ago to imagine that things would unravel to this extent.” (Howden, 2013). What began as ethnic clashes in Juba soon escalated and spread across the country. Machar, who denied attempting a coup, nevertheless saw the events as a point of no return and decided to take the reins of what had become a full-blown Nuer rebellion. During his time as leader of the SPLA-Nasir and the Nuer White Army during the Second Sudanese Civil War, Machar was responsible for carrying out the killing of an estimated 2,000 Dinka civilians in the town of Bor in 1991. This event, for which Machar has since issued a tearful apology, has been a source of enmity between Nuer and Dinka ever since (“Riek Machar In Tears As He Admits to 1991 Massacres“, The London Evening Post, August 16 2011). Machar’s decision to embrace the armed rebellion in late December 2013, and the concentration of fighting in Bor and other Nuer-populated areas, had ominous connotations as the country descended into full-blown Civil War.

On December. 19, 2013 a Nuer militia led by defected SPLA commander Peter Gadet, took control of the strategically important town of Bor, which lies just down the Nile River from the capital of Juba (“South Sudan Rebels Take Flashpoint Town“, Al Jazeera, December 19, 2013).

Nuer fighters overran the UNIMISS compound in the town, a development that caused a mass civilian exodus (“UN Says Base in South Sudan Stormed“, Al Jazeera, December 19, 2013). Kiir immediately mobilized Dinka SPLA soldiers in Juba and prepared for an invasion to recapture Bor. Over the following days and weeks, Bor changed hands between government and rebel forces numerous times and accusations began to mount of both sides targeting civilians of the opposite ethnic group. Mass graves already have been discovered that may be evidence of significant human rights violations and war crimes (Goran Tomasevic, “South Sudan Violence: UN Says 75 Bodies Found in Mass Grave“, CBS News, December 24, 2013). Current government control of the town has limited the extent to which UN investigators and international journalists can work unhindered to uncover evidence of war crimes committed by both sides, but mass graves containing the bodies of Dinka civilians have been found.

Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, and Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state, also have seen fierce battles. These two cities are of significant concern for the international community because oil installations have been targeted in both areas. The rebel movement, essentially divided into professional, defected SPLA elements and loose bands of armed Nuer youth, has engaged in opportunistic fighting under a mostly decentralized command and control structure in these regions. For this reason, South Sudan watchers have been concerned about the ability of the opposition leaders to control their fighters. Other Nuer elements, such as the feared Nuer White Army, are highly disciplined, but relatively autonomous.

Photo: Steve Evans

Photo: Steve Evans

Government and opposition leaders signed a ceasefire agreement on January 23, 2014 in Addis Ababa that pledged to halt hostilities until a political resolution could be achieved (Jason Hanna and Susanna Capelouto, “South Sudan, Rebels Reach Ceasefire After Weeks of Fighting“, CNN, January 24, 2014). However, renewed fighting soon erupted between rebel elements and government forces in northern Unity State and eastern Jonglei state in spite of the agreement (“South Sudan Fighting Despite Ceasefire“, The Daily Star, January 26, 2014). Both sides blamed the other for the attacks, a pattern during the entire conflict. Both returned to the negotiating table, but fighting has not ceased in the flashpoint areas of Unity state and Jonglei, as nearly 40,000 civilians and many aid workers sought refuge in UNMISS compounds in Bentiu as recently as August of 2014 as a result of fighting (Associated Press, “South Sudan: Fighting Erupts After Lull“, The new York Times, August 15, 2014). Though, the credibility of the mediators in the spotlight, Ethiopia and IGAD, is dwindling as neither side can come to an agreement. Other international actors, including the UN and EU, have imposed sanctions targeting actors that “[undermine] political stability and [abuse] human rights”, which signals increased involvement (Louis Charbonneau and Michael Nichols, “U.S. Says to Propose U.N. Sanctions Regime for South Sudan“, Reuters, November 4, 2014; EU, “EU Imposes Sanctions on South Sudanese Military Leaders“, European External Action Service, July 15, 2014).

The international community remains deeply concerned that South Sudan could collapse entirely into prolonged ethnic violence unless a broad-based political agreement is reached between President Kiir and the opposition leaders. The next few months are crucial, as the rainy season begins in South Sudan in late spring and the roads will be impassable for large troop convoys until late summer or early fall. If the country can pass the next few months without major clashes, then the rainy season could conceivably give the two sides a window to carry out wide-ranging negotiations and reach a comprehensive resolution. If such an agreement is to resolve the root causes of political and ethnic tension in the country, Kiir must agree to include Nuer opposition figures in his government. Furthermore, Kiir and the parliament must agree to reduce the power of the presidency and empower the parliament and state governors. Government corruption, a scourge that continues to plague the country and has been a chief talking point for Machar, must be mitigated and reduced to boost public trust in any new or reformed government. Additionally, Machar has raised serious concerns during the most recent peace talks about the presence of President Yoweri Museveni’s Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in South Sudan. A staunch ally of Kiir, Museveni has, in the media, allegedly had ties to Ugandan-native Joseph Kony, who has been known to operate in South Sudan. Museveni claims his concern is with the integrity of Juba and will pull out his troops as long as Machar can ensure its protection. Machar also claims that the UPDF has meddled in the internal affairs of South Sudan and provided cover for Kiir’s forces to continue violence, instead of working towards peace (“S. Sudan Rebels Decry Museveni’s Non-withdrawal Position“, Sudan Tribune, December 28, 2014). Solid peace will results from resolution of these key sticking points.

Read the second section of this series (online in the next week), a continuation of the analysis of key threats to stability, namely ethnic violence, Jonglei dynamics, and oil installation security.

Posted in Cameron Reed, English, International, Peacekeeping, Security Policy, South Sudan, Sudan | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Russian Radars Started Active Combat Duty in 2014

Voronezh-M in Lekhtusi first operational in 2009.

Voronezh-M in Lekhtusi, first operational in 2009

Олег Майданович

Major-General Oleg Maidanovich

Last month Major-General Oleg Maidanovich, the commander of Russia’s Space Command announced that four early warning radars began active combat duty in 2014.

The long range Voronezh class radars located at Yeniseysk, Barnaul, Irkutsk and Kaliningrad are currently in a mixed state of full active and experimental combat duty.

The two variants, the Voronezh-DM and Voronezh-M/VP have been in the sights of Russian watchers for some time. That’s because they help form the backbone of Russia’s new early warning radar system, scheduled to be complete by 2020.

Their deployment supports Russia’s ongoing efforts to modernize the military which suffered following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The four radars joined a network of existing Voronezh and older Dnepr, Daryal, and Volga radars located across Russia and the near abroad.

The latest in the series, they are meant to be more cost effective, capable and scalable, according to Russia’s Kommersant Daily. For example, the Voronezh-DM was reported to consume only 0.7 megawatts of power—down from 2 MW and 50 MW that the older Dnepr and Daryal consume.

However, procurement costs have risen in recent years and the radars now range between RUB 2.85 billion and RUB 4.4 billion, up from initial estimates of RUB 1.5 billion. Despite doubling in price, gains have been made in other areas such as faster assembly using prefabricated modules and a lower personnel requirement for operation.

With a reported range of 4200 km, these third generation radars are designed to detect ballistic and cruise missile launches well beyond Russia’s borders. As the primary land-based component for the early warning mission, Russia has moved quickly to complete their construction. Once in operation, they compliment Russia’s early warning space assets, Cosmos 2422 and Cosmos 2446, both in highly-elliptical orbit.

Voronezh DM radar station in Kaliningrad (2011)

Voronezh DM radar station in Kaliningrad (2011)

Current Voronezh Locations
So far, the four radars join only two additional Voronezh sites in operation, the Voronezh-M at Lekhtusi (outside St. Petersburg) and a Voronezh-DM at Armavir (Krasnodar Krai). They went on combat duty in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

According to satellite imagery, the Yeniseysk radar is located in Krasnoyarsk Krai less than 100km from Russia’s old Daryal radar site. Its UHF array is directed at Russia’s northeast boundary.

Watching the southeast, especially China, Pakistan and India, Russia has the Voronezh-DM at Barnaul in Altayskiy. The latest satellite shots viewed in Google Earth still showed construction activity in June.

The third radar, the Irkutsk-based Voronezh-M—also reported as Mishelevka—is located in Siberia’s Lake Baikal region. Fielding two arrays, one points northeast overlapping with Yeniseysk and another is directed southeast. Built at a previous Dnepr radar site, the radar fills gaps in coverage over parts of China and Japan.

The last radar station mentioned by Maidanovich is at Russia’s Kaliningrad located at the southeast section of the abandoned Dunayevka airfield. A beachhead between Lithuania and Poland, Kaliningrad sports a Voronezh-DM stretching coverage over most of Western Europe, overlapping with the site at Armavir.

Voronezh Radar Coverage

Voronezh Radar Coverage (KMZ by Pavel Podvig)

Beyond these six sites, two additional Voronezh class radars are currently under construction at Vorkuta and Orsk. The latest imagery from August shows substantial construction activity at Orsk while a patchwork of imagery from 2013 and 2014 had yet to show signs of construction in Vorkuta. Russia announced in late 2013, that construction had commenced.

In the meantime, the Russian press in 2012 said that another Voronezh would be setup at Olenegorsk with a planned deployment date for sometime in 2017. Since the Voronezh can be deployed in approximately 12 to 18 months, we may not see signs of a site until 2016.

For those who haven’t kept up with the Voronezh deployments, Pavel Podvig, a Russian strategic forces analyst, has created a KMZ file with the Voronezh locations and their respective fields of view for display in Google Earth. I suggest you check out his work over at

Posted in Chris B, English, Intelligence, International, Russia | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Way Out in Ukraine?

Sören Behnke is a Research Fellow at the Foreign Policy Circle based in Berlin and is currently enrolled in the ‘Military Studies’ M.A. at the University of Potsdam.

As Winter is settling in across eastern Europe, the war in Ukraine seems to be literally freezing. Some analysts have taken this together with Russia’s worsening economic situation as indicators, that Moscow might be looking for a way out of the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

A graphical overview of the War Zone by Marktaff, ZomBear (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International).

A graphical overview of the War Zone by Marktaff, ZomBear (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International via Wikimedia Commons).

Over the last few weeks Moscow’s tone has turned noticeably more conciliatory, going as far as reminding the Kyiv government, that the Donbas region is part of Ukraine, for which they should take on economic responsibility. Russia already has to cope with financing the Crimea region, in which it’s heavily investing into infrastructure development and modernisation, which by August 2014 made up for at least $4.5 billion. Obviously Moscow has no appetite for further financial investment in the once beloved ‘Novorossiya‘ region and thus is trying to get Kyiv to lift it’s economic and financial blockade of the self-proclaimed ‘Republics’. The latter of which has been especially hurtful to what little of an economy is left in the Donbas, as the Russian state run news agency ITAR-TASS notes.

As it could be routinely observed during this conflict, the shift in Russian policy has been visible in a shift in the official and semi-official language employed by Russian officials and news stations, as Vladimir Socor notes in a Analysis for the Jamestown Foundation: “During the month of November, Kremlin-controlled television channels wound down their previously intense propagation of the ‘Novorossiya’ project” (see also Vladimir Socor, “Moldova: Russia’s Next Target if the West Falters in Ukraine (Part Two)“, Eurasia Daily Monitor 11, Issue 98, May 27, 2014). “Russian President Vladimir Putin had not mentioned ‘Novorossiya’ and ‘statehood for Ukraine’s South-East’ since the end of August, but the propaganda outlets persisted longer. The Novorossiya project’s political, military, and ideological exponents have been switched off by now.”

The rift between the Kremlin and the leaderships of the self-proclaimed ‘Republics’ in eastern Ukraine has become more visible over the last month, as the Kremlin recalled prominent Russian figures like the infamous Igor Girkin, also known by his popular alias ‘Strelkov‘. This led to a media clash of sorts, between the nationalist elements like Girkin and his supporters, which the Kremlin employed in the early stages of the Russian-backed insurgency, and the official Kremlin outlets. Another point in this case came, when Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t mention the ‘Novorossya’ in his annual address to the two chambers of Russian parliament in early December, instead focusing only on Crimea and it’s spiritual significance for the Russian Federation.

So what does this tactical shift in the Russian political language signify for the war in Ukraine?

Even though the seizure and annexation of Crimea may have been planned for long ahead as Andrei Illarionov noted in his speech to the NATO Assembly in Lithuania in May 2014, the Russian intervention in the Donbas regions seems to have been rather impromptu and improvised. It might have been, that the Kremlin for some time considered the idea of welcoming these regions into the Russian Federation as well, or was at least publicly ambiguous about it, this is clearly over by now. The Kremlin has seen is strategy of dividing the Ukrainian populace backfire in recent months when public opinion polls showed a growing support for the Ukrainian State and a commitment to the West. This clearly collides with Russia’s strategic imperative of having a at least neutral or defunct Ukrainian State at it’s border, serving as a geographical buffer between itself and the West. Carving out the eastern chunk of Ukraine would make the situation worse for Russia, as the rest of Ukraine would probably become even more committed to joining the EU and possibly even the NATO. Therefore it seems that the Kremlin has settled into the idea of con-federalisation of Ukraine, which would make it’s central government too weak to join the EU and/or the NATO and retain Russia’s influence, an idea it successfully advocated during the Minsk Peace Talks.

In the weeks leading up to the last meeting of the Contact Group on December 24th combat operations nearly halted, indicating the desire of all parties to at least explore political and diplomatic options. Russia signaled it’s interest in a political solution, which in the words of Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would have to include a ‘constitutional reform‘ in Ukraine, while probably retaining the option of resuming military operations if no deal was to be reached. As the meetings resulted in nothing more than a prisoner exchange between the self-proclaimed ‘Republics’ and the Ukrainian government, the latter part seems to have materialised, and news of renewed violence came shortly after the failed deliberations.

And though it may seem that Russia’s economic woes taken together with the conciliatory signs may signal a breakthrough in the making, it is unlikely that the Kremlin will alter it’s stance on Crimea. This after all is a fact neither the Western nor the Ukrainian government seem willing to accept. Herein lies the main problem for any political solution to the war in Ukraine, because Putin practically overcommitted himself to Crimea by calling it a holy place for Russia in his state of the nation address in December. Putins position inside the Russian system of power rests on his ability to act as a intermediary between different rivalling factions, or clans as they sometimes are called. By overcommitting like this he signalled to his peers and rivals that whatever the cost, he won’t let Crimea be taken from Russia, basically tying his own personal success to Russia’s newest province.

Thus any political solution of the war in Ukraine from a Russian point of view would have to include the West to at least ignore the question of the legal status of Crimea. Obviously this would be hard to swallow for most western leaders, even though a solution could stop short of the west actually accepting Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The scenario for this could lie somewhere along the lines of the Israeli-Syrian Golan Heights Case: no official recognition, no finalised peace deal, but a somewhat stable working relationship. But as long as the Ukrainian government still believes in succeeding with it’s military operations in the Donbas region, it understandably won’t consider giving in to Russia’s demands. And the western States, clinging to the somewhat overrated notion of credibility in international affairs, is not willing to accept Russia breaking one of the most important rules of the concert of Nation-States, namely the territorial integrity of each of them, which they believe might inspire other states elsewhere to probe into the same misbehaviour.

This leads to a paradoxical situation on the ground. Russia, even though it obviously does not seem interested in taking on the burden of more economically unstable provinces, has to keep up support for the self-proclaimed Republics because it needs them as a bargaining chip in any possible deal with Ukraine and the West. And Kyiv, still hoping for any kind of significant military support by the West, won’t give in to a diplomatic process as long as there is hope for altering the facts on the ground in taking away this bargaining chip in Ukraine’s eastern provinces. Not to speak of the different rebel factions and warlords, who clearly do have their own reasons for keeping the hostilities alive.

Currently all the involved parties do have a interest in continuing the war of attrition in the Donbas region, and the NATO states, that could easily alter the fortune of Ukraine, remain indecisive. This means that all the conciliatory signs aside, and in spite all the fruits a political solution could yield, this war will most likely drag on throughout 2015.

Posted in English, Russia, Sören Behnke, Security Policy, States and Regions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cartoon of the month: Tell me …

The journalist2

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This cartoon was drawn by Israeli cartoonist Shlomo Cohen. He was born in 1943 in Israel, and studied art at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. He works as political cartoonist for the newspaper “Israel Hayom“, producing daily cartoons. For additional cartoons by Shlomo Cohen check out his page on Cartoon Movement or his Facebook page.

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The Brazilian Navy: Green Water or Blue?

by Paul Pryce. Paul Pryce is a Junior Research Fellow at the Atlantic Council of Canada. With degrees in political science from universities on both sides of the pond, he has previously worked in conflict resolution as a Research Fellow with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and as an infantryman in the Canadian Forces. His current research interests include African security issues and NATO-Russia relations.

Although much attention has been directed toward the uncertain fate of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ships that were being built in Saint-Nazaire, France for export to Russia, there has been considerably less reporting on Brazil’s quiet naval expansion. The Brazilian Navy has frequently been dubbed a ‘green-water’ force to distinguish it from conventional ‘blue-water’ or ‘brown-water’ navies. Whereas a blue-water navy is concerned with operations on the high seas and engaging in far-ranging expeditions, brown-water navies are geared toward patrolling the shallow waters of the coastline or riverine warfare. Green-water navies, however, mix both capabilities, focusing mainly on securing a country’s littorals but also retaining the ability to venture out into the deep waters of the oceans.

For several decades, this green-water label has been accurate to the Brazilian Navy. Although possessing a vast array of inland patrol ships and river troop transports to exert sovereignty over Brazil’s many rivers and drainage basins, the Brazilian Navy also boasts the BNS Sao Paulo, a Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier purchased from France in 2000. But there has recently been a shift in Brazil’s maritime priorities, suggesting that it may soon be more accurate to regard the Brazilian Navy as a blue-water force with some lingering vestiges of brown-water capabilities. Begun under Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil from 2003 until 2011, and intensified under the Dilma Rouseff’s current government, Brazil has been on a shopping spree for military hardware. Although this has included procuring 36 Gripen NG multirole fighter aircraft from Saab for use by the Brazilian Air Force, much of the recent contracts have pertained to the purchase of vessels intended to modernize the Brazilian Navy.

Brazil’s five Type 209 diesel-electric attack submarines, acquired from Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, will be joined by four Scorpène-class diesel-electric attack submarines to be built domestically with completion of the first vessel expected in 2017. In March 2013, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff inaugurated a domestic shipyard at which Brazil’s first nuclear-powered submarine – the fittingly named BNS Alvaro Alberto – will be built with French support. Delivery of the completed vessel is not expected until 2025 but the success of the project would bring Brazil into a very small club of countries with operational nuclear-powered submarines: the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, India, and China.

The Barroso-class corvette commissioned in late 2008 also seems to have inspired a new series of ships for the Brazilian Navy. The domestic shipbuilder Arsenal de Marinha do Rio de Janeiro has been contracted to build four vessels based on the design of the Barroso-class but with “stealth capabilities” and which will possess both anti-ship and anti-air armaments. Delivery of the first of these new stealth corvettes is expected in 2019 and as such many specific details about the design are currently unknown. Furthermore, delivery of two new Macaé-class offshore patrol vessels is expected in 2015, while an additional two will be delivered in 2016-2017, bringing Brazil’s fleet of these patrol vessels to seven in total.

But why is there this rapid buildup in maritime forces for Brazil? To some degree, these new procurement projects are intended to offset the Brazilian Navy’s diminished capabilities following the retirement of 21 vessels between 1996 and 2005. This would not explain the focus on vessels with longer-range expeditionary capabilities, though. Some observers may attribute the acquisition of ships with capabilities clearly not intended for the patrol of inland waterways, such as the new “stealth-capable” Barroso-class corvettes, to the threat posed by Guinea-Bissau’s instability. That Lusophone West African country, which has been dubbed a “narco-state”, has been a major hub in the international drug trade; Colombian cocaine often makes its way to Guinea-Bissau from the Brazilian coast, only to then be exported onward to Europe. But President José Mário Vaz, who was elected by a decisive margin to lead Guinea-Bissau in May 2014, has quickly moved to crackdown on corruption in the Bissau-Guinean military and seems set to make counter-trafficking a priority during his term in office. Even if Brazilian policymakers believe it may be necessary to exert a stronger presence in the South Atlantic to discourage narcotics trafficking, a nuclear-powered attack submarine is not at all the right tool for the task.

Rather, it seems most likely that there are two principal factors motivating Brazil’s naval procurement projects. With regard to BNS Alvaro Alberto and the potential acquisition of a second aircraft carrier, Brazil craves the prestige of at least appearing to be the leading maritime power in the Southern Hemisphere. Participation in major international maritime exercises, such as the IBSAMAR series conducted jointly with Indian and South African forces, are intended to promote a view of Brazil as a power that ought to be respected and consulted, particularly as Brazilian policymakers continue to pursue a permanent seat for their country on the United Nations Security Council. More importantly, however, the shipbuilding projects on which Brazil has embarked are intended to build up domestic industry and contribute to economic growth.

Brazil is already attracting considerable interest as a shipbuilder. In September 2014, the Angolan Navy placed an order for seven Macaé-class offshore patrol vessels, with four to be built at Brazilian shipyards. Over the past several years, Brazil has exported various vessels and equipment for use by the Namibian Navy. Equatorial Guinea has expressed its intent to acquire a Barroso-class corvette from Brazil for counter-piracy purposes. The A-29 Super Tucano, a turboprop aircraft intended for close air support and aerial reconnaissance, is produced by Brazilian manufacturer Embraer and has been exported for use in roughly a dozen national air forces. If Brazilian industry is successful in producing submarines and stealth corvettes, demand for Brazilian military hardware will only grow, generating impressive revenue and creating many jobs.

Of concern, however, are Brazil’s long-term intentions with regard to the construction of BNS Alvaro Alberto. There are few navies in the world with the infrastructure and know-how necessary to successfully operate one or more aircraft carriers; after all, the club of those countries with aircraft carriers in service is limited to just nine. But the export of nuclear-powered attack submarines would undermine the international community’s non-proliferation treaty and could potentially harm international peace and stability. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been rumoured to occasionally entertain plans to obtain a nuclear-powered submarine, while the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has allegedly expressed a private interest in obtaining Soviet-era nuclear-powered submarines from the Russian Federation. This is not to say that Brazilian authorities would consider exporting such vessels to Iran, North Korea or other such regimes, but there is certainly a market for future submarines modelled on BNS Alvaro Alberto. It will be necessary to keep a very close eye on the Brazilian shipbuilding and nuclear industries in the 2030s, especially as domestic demand for this class of vessel is satisfied.

A plate on the Brasilian submarine rescue ship BNS K11 Felinto Perry.

A plate on the Brasilian submarine rescue ship BNS K11 Felinto Perry.

To obtain a deeper understanding of Brazil’s long-term strategic goals and to perhaps exert some degree of influence over Brazilian arms exports, it would be advisable for NATO to seek a partnership with the country. In August 2013, a partnership was established between NATO and Colombia, demonstrating that the Alliance certainly is interested in security affairs in the South Atlantic. Brazil could also contribute much know-how to NATO members, especially as the Alliance attempts to find its place post-Afghanistan. Clearly, there is much work to be done in the area of trust-building if such a partnership is to be found prior to the expected completion of BNS Alvaro Alberto: as Colombian officials visited with NATO counterparts to discuss the partnership, Brazilian policymakers were among those Latin American figures who condemned Colombia for the initiative.

Partnering with Brazil will be very challenging diplomatically, but it is an effort that must be made. This rising power will soon find itself with a blue-water navy and, as such, military vessels flying the Brazilian ensign will become an increasingly frequent sight in the South Atlantic.

Posted in Brazil, English, International, Paul Pryce, Sea Powers, Security Policy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments