Monday, February 27, 2017

Defense Department delivers plan to defeat ISIS to White House

By Loree Lewis,, February 27, 201

Image from article, with caption: President Donald J. Trump speaks with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and other senior leaders of the armed forces at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2017.

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary James Mattis will brief senior administration officials Monday on a classified plan to defeat ISIS, the Pentagon said.
The classified plan, which Pentagon spokesperson Navy Capt. Jeff Davis described Monday as a “framework for a broader plan,” presents options to destroy ISIS and counter other extremist groups, including al Qaeda and the Taliban, in Iraq, Syria and beyond.
“It draws upon all elements of national power – diplomatic, financial, cyber, intelligence, public diplomacy,” Davis said. “And it’s been drafted in close coordination with our interagency partners.”
Mattis is presenting the plan, which is a written report with accompanying graphics, to members of the National Security Council Principals Committee on Monday afternoon. Davis said it is not a “check the block” kind of plan, wherein President Donald Trump would choose one route to pursue. It will include discussion of authorities, authorizations and resources.
The review comes at a decisive moment in the campaign to defeat ISIS, as the group is under attack in both its Iraq and Syria strongholds, of Mosul and Raqqa respectively, after losing its stronghold in Libya, of Sirte. The lead U.S. commander in the fight, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said in early February that the seizure of both cities could be completed by August.
The anti-ISIS fight is being waged “by, with and through” local partners on the ground and this strategy isn’t expected to change, even as the White House weighs sending more troops to Syria to accelerate the taking of Raqqa, where they would join a small number of largely Special Operations forces, and military leaders talk of an enduring U.S. presence in Iraq even after the fall of Mosul and a potential NATO training mission for the Iraqi security forces.
In Syria, the U.S. will need to decide whether to arm local Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG (People’s Protection Units), who comprise part of the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) despite objections from NATO ally Turkey. Turkey, which shares its southern border with Syria and allows the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition to use its Incirlik Air Base, regards the YPG as an offshoot of a terrorist organization, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), which has fought a three decade on-and-off insurgency inside its borders.
“We have noted in the past that the only force that is capable of retaking Raqqa quickly is the Syrian Arab Coalition, with the SDF,” Davis said. “Any other answer would require a longer lead line.”
The Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) is the Arab, rather than Kurdish, component of the SDF. The plan addresses issues of diplomacy with players in the conflict, including Turkey and Russia, which is allied to Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to give any details on the meeting of the NSC Principals Committee, saying that the White House is focused on a newly rolled out budget proposal that includes a 10 percent boost in military spending.
Shortly after taking office, Trump signed a Jan. 28 memorandum requesting a “preliminary draft” of a “comprehensive strategy” to defeat ISIS, including guidelines to fund the plan, within 30-days.

Good Relations Benificial [sic] to Both, March 2, 2017

Ambassador Li Daoyu advises building of mutual trust

Image from article, with caption: Ambassador Li Daoyu talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton at the White House in June 1993

Li Daoyu, former Ambassador to the United States from 1993 to 1998, witnessed dramatic change in the aftermath of the end of Cold War, as well as ups and downs of China-U.S. relations. Li shared some memories of his ambassadorial posting with Beijing Review to shed light on the development of China-U.S. ties during his tenure.
The year of 1993 was a critical year not only for China-U.S. relations, but also for me. As soon as I assumed my new post of Chinese Ambassador to the United States that year, I faced a major challenge. The then newly elected U.S. President Bill Clinton adopted a tough stance against China, threatening to abolish the United States' most-favored-nation treatment of China if the latter would not make concessions over the so-called human rights issues.
The Clinton administration also caused other troubles in China-U.S. relations. The U.S. Navy warships tailed after a Chinese cargo ship and interfered in its sailing in international waters from late July to August. Washington alleged the ship was carrying chemical weapons to Iran, an allegation that was later proved false and groundless. Washington also encouraged members of the U.S. Congress in opposing Beijing's bid to host the Olympic Games in 2000.
In contrast with the Clinton administration's hardline policy on China, however, state governments in the United States preferred to strengthen connections with China in order to improve bilateral economic and trade prospects. Governance in the United States relies not only on decision making by top government officials, think tanks, entrepreneurs, the media and a diverse range of other organizations also exert significant influence on U.S. politics. Thus, undertaking public diplomacy was an important task for me. As ambassador, and to promote China in the United States, I traveled all over the nation, delivering more than 200 public speeches during my tenure.
In August 1993, good news came about a possible warming of China-U.S. relations. The then U.S. National Security Adviser Anthony Lake told me that President Clinton hoped to talk with the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin during the first APEC summit meeting, which was scheduled to take place in Seattle in November of that year. I emphasized that while the APEC meeting was an informal event, the meeting between the two leaders would have to be formal and official. Jiang's U.S. visit was successful, and in meeting with Clinton, the Chinese leader focused on how China-U.S. relations could be developed in the 21st century.
During the Clinton administration, though, U.S. policy toward China often changed course, which adversely affected the bilateral relationship.
In April 1994, I met Lake at the funeral of former U.S. President Richard Nixon. Lake said the White House had decided to send a special envoy to Beijing for talks on the United States' most-favored-nation treatment of China. In this way, President Clinton would engage directly with Beijing on the issue. In the end, the Clinton administration continued to apply most-favored-nation treatment to China and also supported China's entry into the World Trade Organization.
During my tenure as ambassador, the worst problem to affect China-U.S. relations was when Washington allowed the then Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui to visit the United States in 1995. As a result, China-U.S. relations hit rock bottom. From June to October 1995, China recalled itself ambassadors. Only after the U.S. Government promised to abide by the one-China policy, did I return to Washington D.C.
Over the past two decades, the nature of China-U.S. relations has basically not changed. Despite the two nations' many differences, their common interests have continued to grow, with economic and trade interdependency reaching unprecedented levels. The two governments have also cooperated in political, military, security and cultural affairs.

Institute for Global Leadership hosts 32nd EPIIC Symposium

Jesse Najarro, Kyle Anderson, Natasha Mayor,

Pandith image from
The Institute for Global Leadership (IGL) [at Tufts University] hosted its 32nd annual Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC) Symposium this past weekend in ASEAN Auditorium. The theme of this year’s symposium was “The World of Tomorrow: Order and Chaos in the 21st Century.”
Panelists discussed the existence, significance and future of nation-states in a discussion on Friday afternoon. ... The speakers ... [included] ... Special Representative to Muslim Communities at the U.S. Department of State Farah Pandith (F ’95). ...
Pandith was presented with the Robert and JoAnn Bendetson Public Diplomacy Award by sophomore Minh Dinh.
Pandith spoke about the identity crisis affecting Muslim youth worldwide. She explained that groups like Al Qaeda target young Muslims looking for answers on the Internet, and she spoke about the necessity of providing counter narratives. Pandith advocated for ending the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ ideology and called on the audience to consider Muslims in defining American identity.
“People are owning their own space,” Pandith said. “They’re redefining what it means to be American. I would ask you to own that space too and understand why that identity of who you are — not just the Muslim identity — matters.” ... 

Israel Isn’t Just a Country, It Is a Way of Thinking!

BY GENC MLLOJA, Albanian Daily News

Image from article

The friendship between Albania and Israel is strong and both countries seek to deepen their cooperation sharing the mutual experience and knowledge that they have gained over the years in many areas, the Israeli Deputy Ambassador, Yuvai Fischer told Albanian Daily News.

In an exclusive interview he described the relations between the two countries as excellent and in this frame many Israeli companies are encouraged to come to this Balkan country. Mr. Fischer pointed out that the history of the two countries goes back centuries.

"The relations between our two countries are expanding in trade, investments, energy and water. So, it is clear that our focus is exactly here. In addition, the children are the future of tomorrow," he said.

It was interesting to learn that he loved culture, and Albania is blessed with special artists of all kind.
"I am playing the violin and write poems and I sing at the European choir," revealed the Israeli Deputy Ambassador in the following interview:

­How would you define the relations between Albania and Israel?

­The relations between Albania and Israel are excellent. We are bringing Israeli companies to invest in Albania, while there are mutual visits of high levels from both countries. Also, my agenda is to strengthen the issues of human rights between our countries, to have and create cultural activities, and also to promote initiatives with Public Diplomacy. For example, we displayed at the International Book fair in Tirana for the first time ever, the new Albanian-­Israeli booklet for useful daily life
phrases and interactions.

­ As a newly appointed deputy ambassador of Israel to Albania, how do you see our country?

­Albania is a country that shows things can be different. Albania and Israel are both countries that are relatively young but with a history that goes back centuries. We share certain similarities including pride in our national heritage and we both cherish democracy and human dignity. Our friendship is strong and we seek to deepen our cooperation with Albania, sharing our mutual experience and knowledge that we have gained over the years in many areas.

Since June 2008, people­-to­-people contacts between the Albanians and Israelis were given a significant boost with Albanian citizens receiving exemption from entry visas to Israel.

This further strengthens bilateral relations by increasing the flow of tourism and business ties.

­What are the areas you consider as most important in our bilateral relations?

­The relations between our two countries are expanding in trade, investments, energy and water. So, it is clear that our focus is exactly here. In addition, the children are the future of tomorrow.

So, we need to invest in the younger generations through scholarships, cultural, education and scientific agreements. We are about to achieve such an agreement this year.

­How about innovation and entrepreneurship? How can Israel help Albania in this direction?

­Israeli culture is also a unique combination on of innovation and entrepreneurship. Israel isn’t just a country, it is a way of thinking and the Israeli policy regarding innovation, research and development as well as serving in the army are key factors in the growth of our country. The only capital (fortune) we had was the human personnel and for example, when we found that we are lack of water, we looked for substitutes and we make a way for science and technology. So, our first startup was
in agriculture.

We, as a country, put a lot of vision on vision. We are a small country, surrounded with threats, so the Army created research and development of its own. Israel is still a small country in territory and population. So, Israel can’t be a large industrial, so we invest in quality than in quantity.

­Human rights seem a big share in the common agenda of both countries. Recently you participated in an event on children with disabilities. Please can you share your thoughts on it?

­Human rights are part of my agenda. The week for the awareness for children with disabilities was born two month ago and after discussing the issues with the Deputy Minister of Welfare, Mrs. Kospiri, I decided to create this amazing week and to bring three experts from Israel, Mr. Michael Arnon, an expert for children with disabilities concerning education and training, Mrs. Ayala Gerber, an expert for Therapy with Music and Mr. Kobi Mizrachi, a well known chef that cooked Israeli food for the children. Those experts made an excellent job with the children. We were in four cities: Tirana, Fier, Durres and Kurbin. In Kurbin I met the Mayor who gave us a warm hospitality and discussed future collaboration on those issues. We also started collaboration on with the Minister of Welfare, the World Vision organization and Down syndrome Albania.

­How is your work boosted by your personal hobbies?

­I love culture. Albania is blessed with special artists of all kind. I met the new director of the Opera and Ballet House of Tirana, Mrs. Zana Cela, and I’m having a privilege to see the amazing talented dancers’ performances and opera singing.

What’s behind Saudi Arabia’s new diplomatic offensives?

Bruce Riedel, [Original article contains inks.]

image from
Saudi Arabia has sent both its king and his foreign minister on important foreign trips recently, as a key part of a significant diplomatic offensive to improve its strategic relations.
King Salman’s month-long trip to Asia, which began Sunday, is the most visible part of the offensive. He is traveling with a 600-strong entourage to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, China, Japan, and the Maldives before attending the Arab League summit in Jordan at the end of March. It will be the first visit by a Saudi king to Indonesia since King Faysal in the 1970s and the first ever by a Saudi King to Japan.
Saudi royals often take long excursions outside the kingdom. Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, for example, spent over a month in Algeria just a year ago. But those trips are private and involve little public diplomacy. King Salman is traveling with a much more public role. His entourage will actually grow on the trip to over 1,500.
An unspoken goal of such a lengthy trip is to demonstrate the king’s vitality and resilience. Salman turned 81 on December 31. Rumors about his health are endemic, especially about his mental acuity. A vigorous agenda will test him, so the court has included lengthy stops along the trip to provide plenty of time for rest. ...

Armenia after 25 years of Independence: Maintaining Stability in an Unpredictable Neighborhood

Russia International Affairs Council,

image from
Continual strengthening of the strategic alliance with Russia, regardless of the dynamics in the CSTO or Eurasian Economic Union, will continue to be a priority for any government in Yerevan. Yet it is important to open up new channels of interaction between Moscow and Yerevan and to remove Soviet-era mentalities on both sides, otherwise miscommunication will deepen over time, as seen with other post-Soviet countries. Just to bring one vivid example: in “The Strongman” (2013) Angus Roxburgh interviewed many experts and high-level politicians in Russia — and none of them could predict the events that would happen in Ukraine; moreover, the scenario of a worsening of bilateral relations with Ukraine was mostly ridiculed by the interviewees.
Intensive exchanges of students, academic visits by university researchers, and enhanced humanitarian cooperation and public diplomacy will eventually replace the “common past” narrative, which is mostly irrelevant for the post-independence generation. Of course, the mass media in both countries has a big role to play, gradually embracing proper expertise instead of ”know-it-all” commentators.
The present situation sometimes sends false signals of consensus within the Russian elite that Armenia is and will remain Russia’s key and unparalleled ally in the region. The 17% drop in public perception of Russia’s “friendliness” in Armenia, observed in a Eurasian Development Bank survey in October 2016, should be an alarm bell for both sides ...

Pakistanis must learn the limits of military led counter-terrorism

Muhammad Feyyaz,

image from article
Ever since Pakistan’s participation in the so- called war on terror, the country has solely relied on a warfare approach to deal with terrorism. ...
The military being characteristically a coercive instrument, does not possess the diplomatic acumen to materialize aspects of foreign policy. Public diplomacy likewise requires articulation of a coherent, plausible and professionally devised narrative to challenge the militants’ radicalizing appeals, that has not happened. ...
Now when the military is readjusting, so it appears, to democratic imperatives, political leadership should come forward to reclaim its writ though a wholesome and result oriented governance commitment among other things, to arrest violent persuasions in the society while retaining the military as an instrument of last resort only. In any way, reactive response to acts of terrorism is transitory and hence unlikely to yield any meaningful results.