Monday, September 30, 2013

Mindanao's Rebellion: Aquino Is Running Out of Time

Mindanao's Rebellion: Aquino Is Running Out of Time

Posted: 09/30/2013 7:13 am

Since serious negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) culminated in the signing of the Framework Agreement between it and the government of the Philippines in 2012, the government had hoped that its decades-long battle with rebel movement in the southern Philippines was drawing to a close. It had taken a lot of effort to reach that Agreement, and many analysts believed a political resolution was indeed possible. Yet events over the past six weeks have called into question whether such a resolution is indeed possible - the result of actions taken by another rebel group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Under the administration of former President Ramos, the Philippine government completed peace accords with the MNLF in 1996, creating the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Its leader, Nur Misurari, became the Region's governor, but in the immediate aftermath of the agreement, the MILF became a breakaway faction of the MNLF and carried out acts of insurrection in the southern Philippines. So while the MNLF had been successfully incorporated into the political process, the MILF kept fighting. Last year's Framework Agreement was supposed to have addressed the MILF's concerns and created a path forward to a lasting peace in the southern Philippines.
So it came as a great surprise to the government that last month, the MNLF declared independence from the Philippines in Sulu province and attacked the southern port city of Zamboanga, taking hostages, and sparking a siege that has lasted more than three weeks. A similar event occurred in 2001, when dozens of people were killed when the MNLF attacked Zamboanga City and Jolo Island. That siege ended in a stalemate, with the MNLF perpetrators being allowed to escape in exchange for the lives of the hostages. The Aquino administration has made sure that the current siege would not end in similar fashion, giving the rebels two choices: surrender or die. As of last week, at least 400 rebels loyal to Misuari had been either killed or captured. It will take several more weeks before the city is entirely cleared of MNLF rebels, and and ex-ARMM Governor Misuari has yet to be captured.
Analysts in the Philippines generally agree that Misuari's declaration of independence and the attack on Zamboanga were prompted by the Philippine government's pace and position in peace talks with the MNLF splinter group, the MILF. Professor Julkipli Wadi, dean of the University of the Philippines Institute of Islamic Studies, believes that the MNLF felt "isolated" in the peace talks between rival MILF and the government, despite the existence of the ARMM.
Since 1996, the MNLF peace agreement has been regularly reviewed in tripartite talks, with Indonesia acting as mediator. According to recent media reports, the presidential commission tasked with negotiating with rebel groups sought the termination of the tripartite review, which further angered the MNLF. The Aquino government denied this, noting that a meeting with the MNLF and Indonesia was scheduled prior to the Zamboanga attack. What seems clear is that, after receiving millions of dollars for the development of the Mindanao autonomous region under previous administrations, Misuari and his supporters felt left out of the process under the Aquino administration.
The government can only speculate whether the MNLF had been ostracized from talks involving its own break-away faction, or how meaningful and all-inclusive the talks have been. To end the unrest, Aquino must deliver the type of meaningful economic development that exists in other regions of the Philippines, such as Luzon and the Visayas, while at the same time ensuring that peace and security prevail, as preconditions to a favorable business climate. Given the region's history and recent events, this will be doubly difficult to achieve.
Mr. Aquino can emulate the approach of previous administrations and throw money at the problem, or he can attempt to produce a more holistic solution that will address the resurgent separatist violence in Mindanao. At the heart of the issue is that many Muslims in the southern Philippines believe the country's Christians have oppressed them and exploited the natural resources derived from Mindanao. Factionalism among the rebel organizations is complicated by allegiance to regional clans, requiring the government to negotiate with a complicated aggregation of players whose allegiance has shifted over time. To be successful in negotiating with the rebels, an umbrella agreement must be concluded that draws a myriad of groups into the process. Simply negotiating with Misuari and the MNLF will not be sufficient.
The Mindanao issue has already been partly addressed through the formation of the semi-autonomous ARMM. Under the proposed peace agreement with the MILF, which mirrors the multi-staged incremental peacebuilding models of South Africa and Northern Ireland, the ARMM will be dissolved and a new entity -- the Bangsamoro -- will be formed. Under this plan major parts of Mindanao will be governed under a framework closely resembling a federal system, operating under a unitary national government holding overriding constitutional jurisdiction. Under a previous agreement with the government, the majority of tax revenue derived from metals mining, and half of fossil fuel taxes, will remain in Mindanao. Any future agreement will need to contain a similar arrangement.
The seeds of the unrest are ultimately a question of power, and just how inclusive political participation is perceived to be, and actually is, in the governance of resource-rich Mindanao. The Moro people -- from the militants to the moderates -- have long sought self-determination because Philippine politics is perceived by many southerners as too Manila-centric. Mr. Aquino has little choice but to strike another deal with Misuari, as he ultimately stands a better chance of negotiating with the devil he knows. The challenge in doing so is enabling other rebel groups to feel a legitimate part of the process. That will be no easy task, but if anyone stands a reasonable chance at succeeding, it would be Mr. Aquino, who has confounded his critics in a variety of areas since the beginning of his presidency. He is running out of time.
*Edsel Tupaz is owner of Tupaz and Associates and a professor of international and comparative law, based in Manila, Philippines. He is a graduate of the Harvard and Ateneo Law Schools. Daniel Wagner is CEO of Country Risk Solutions, a cross-border risk advisory firm based in Connecticut (USA), and author of the book "Managing Country Risk". The authors thank Jojo Malig, editor, for his thoughts and comments.
Follow Edsel Tupaz on Twitter:
Follow Daniel Wagner on Twitter:

Follow Edsel Tupaz on Twitter:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

13 Things About America That Would Make The Founding Fathers Turn Over In Their Graves

13 Things About America That Would Make The Founding Fathers Turn Over In Their Graves

Sep. 28, 2013

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." -- The Declaration of Independence
We're a nation that was founded by principled revolutionaries who took on the super power of their day over almost insignificant taxes they felt Britain had no right to levy. These men were small government fanatics who felt very comfortable with God, guns, and taking care of themselves. The principles those men put in place and the standards they set were what helped turn America into the most successful nation that has ever existed on God's green earth.
In order to be fair, it's worth noting that in some respects, we've done a better job of fulfilling the vision of the Founding Fathers than they were able to accomplish in their lifetimes. We got rid of slavery, became the world's only superpower, and delivered a level of economic prosperity that wasn't even dreamed of when men like Ben Franklin, John Hancock, and George Washington roamed the earth.
In a time when it's commonplace to hear intelligent people speculating privately about how long it's going to be before America experiences a debt-driven economic crash that the country may NEVER recover from, it's worth considering how far off the rails we've gone from what the Founding Fathers originally wanted and intended for this nation. For all of our success, many things that Americans unquestioningly accept today would have been considered intolerable to the Founding Fathers.
In a time when our nation is engaged in unsustainable economic policies that seem likely to put an end to America's run as a great nation, perhaps it's time to consider whether our real problem is that we've veered so far from the most successful blueprint for a country ever devised that the Founding Fathers would turn over in their graves if they found out about….
1) Not just 15% of Americans being on food stamps, but the existence of a food stamp program.
2) Forcing Americans to buy health insurance via Obamacare as a condition of American citizenship.
3) Members of Congress voting on bills that they haven't read.
4) The Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, not so much because the Founding Fathers would oppose abortion, although they would, but because the Court is unconstitutionally taking power away from each state to make its own decision.
5) The federal government taxing states and then using that money to blackmail the states into doing what the Feds want to get their own money back.
6) The average government workers making more than the average citizens paying their taxes.
7) In 2010, the average net worth of a senator was 13 million dollars while the net worth of the average American family was $77,300.
8) A permanent income tax.
9) Expelling children from government schools for playing with toy guns on their own property.
10) Having TSA agents putting their hands on people's crotches and sticking their fingers inside people's pants at the airports.
11) Having the NSA collect the phone records and emails of hundreds of millions of law abiding Americans.
12) Having Christian prayers, the Ten Commandments, and mentions of God banned in schoolhouses and on government property.
and last but not least....
13) The fact that snooty Brit Piers Morgan is lecturing Americans on TV. Patrick Henry would tell him to shove his fish and chips where the sun doesn't shine.

Obama Vs. Putin And The Surprise Investment of 2014

Obama Vs. Putin And The Surprise Investment of 2014

Sep. 28, 2013
I couldn't invent a better investment scenario than the one I am about to share with you.
A monumental shift is about to take place... and it could mean big profits for smart investors. It all has to do with a little-known treaty signed decades ago.
And while Barack Obama's White House wants to renew this treaty, Vladimir Putin and his cronies have stated that it's not going to happen.
Sure, not great for diplomacy... but as an investor, your focus should be on making money.
So what's the opportunity? Let me explain...
At the end of the year, a treaty signed back in 1991 between the United States and Russia will expire.
Few investors realize it, but -- thanks to this treaty -- uranium from old Russian nuclear warheads has been used to generate about 10% of our nation's total electricity -- more than solar, wind and hydroelectric combined.
About 31 million Americans rely on electricity generated by this Russian uranium, which fuels U.S. nuclear plants.
What does this mean for investors today? Simply put, before this uranium supply is disrupted, the price of uranium mining stocks could rise sharply.
Many of you may think uranium and nuclear energy are on the way out, especially after the catastrophic tsunami in Japan in 2011, which led to the ongoing Fukushima disaster. But I am here to tell you, nuclear power is still a growth industry.
Since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, it's true that country has lost its appetite for nuclear power. But many other nations don't have that option. Nuclear power is still the best bet for cash-strapped emerging economies around the globe, which means the obituary that was written for nuclear power is premature.
In fact, only 10 of the world's 445 reactors stopped operating after the accident. Meanwhile, more than 60 new ones are under construction in 13 different countries... and 370 more are in the planning stage.
China, for example, has plans to build dozens of reactors in coming years, which is why that country is now lining up long-term uranium supply agreements.
It's not just China, either. India has tripled electricity generation since 1990, but that's not enough to meet booming demand. Moreover, oil imports are leading to chronic trade imbalances, a trend that will only worsen as oil prices rise. So India's leaders have committed to giving nuclear energy 25% of the nation's power generating capacity, up from 2.5% today.
To get there, India's uranium appetite is forecast to spike tenfold over the next decade.
Problem is there's not enough to go around... The world's 435 active reactors burned through about 180 million pounds of uranium last year.But miners could only produce around 140 million pounds.
And that's where the 1991 treaty with Russia comes in to play.
That40 million-pound shortfallhas been made up by salvaging uranium from other sources -- like recycled Russian warheads. When that extra supply dries up, we could see uranium prices soar.
That's why you need to be focused on uranium right now. From exchange-traded funds (ETFs) like Global X Uranium ETF (NSYE: URA) to a range of small international uranium mining firms... there are myriad ways to profit from the looming supply/demand imbalance.
But why not go with the best?
Cameco (NYSE:CCJ), the world's second-largest uranium producer, is your best bet to profit.
The company owns a high-grade mother lode that boasts the richest uranium ore body on the planet -- with concentrations 100 times stronger than average. Extraction costs are so low it could turn a profit even if prices drop by half.
This firm produced almost 20% of the world's uranium mined last year. What's more, it's sitting on 65% of the world's known uranium supply.
In truth, it's the only uranium miner in the world that has a chance of ramping up production fast enough to satisfy the coming wave of demand.
But despite the bright long-term picture, this is a stock that has simply slipped off of most investors' radars.
Shares stood above $40 in early 2011 but now trade for half as much. The key catalyst to get this stock moving back northward: firming uranium prices. As the Russian supply agreement winds down, and as China and India cement their nuclear power plans, look for the commodity -- and this stock -- to pivot right back on to investors' radars.
P.S. I'm calling my prediction about uranium the "surprise investment of 2014," but there's much more... My team and I have spent over 4,000 hours researching and compiling a report of game-changing investment predictions for 2014, which you can access for free. In it, you'll learn about Apple's next breakthrough... George W. Bush's private millionaire stock market... a tiny company that could kill the gasoline engine... and more...Click here to see it now.
This article was originally published on

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Real Terrorists

Vaccine A: The Covert Government Experiment That's Killing Our Soldiers--and Why GI's Are Only the First Victims

Vaccine-A uncovers a story of betrayal -- the betrayal of the men and women who serve in the armed forces, the betrayal of medical ethics, and the betrayal of the American people by military and civilian leaders sworn to defend and protect. Veteran journalist Gary Matsumoto shows that the worst friendly-fire incident in military history came from something no soldier had any reason to think would harm him: a vaccine administered by the military's own medics. When troops went to the Middle East to fight the Gulf War in 1991 and the Iraq War in 2003, many -- perhaps thousands -- received an experimental anthrax vaccine instead of the FDA-approved vaccine. Without their knowledge or consent, the U. S. government used them as human guinea pigs in a massive medical experiment that went disastrously wrong.(less)
MF59® Adjuvant Fact Sheet
MF59® Adjuvant
MF59®, Novartis Vaccines’ proprietary adjuvant, is the first oil-in-water
adjuvant to be commercialized in combination with a seasonal influenza
vaccine (Fluad®). Fluad is currently licensed for use in people 65 years
of age and above. Designed to enhance the body’s immune response
to prepandemic, pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccines, MF59
increases the immune response compared to non-adjuvanted vaccines.
MF59 has been tested extensively – in more than 60 clinical trials
involving more than 33,000 people. With
more than 12 years of clinical
experience and more
than 45 million doses of adjuvanted vaccines
distributed, MF59 has an established safety profile and has been shown
to be well tolerated in children, adults and the elderly.
Studies have shown that MF59 helps elicit broad, cross-reactive
immune responses against a wide range
of influenza strains, including
some strains not contained in a seasonal influenza vaccine, as well as
the majority of H5 avian influenza
virus strains. The adjuvant has also
demonstrated the ability to provide strong immune memory and
sustained antibody responses when included in both seasonal and
prepandemic vaccines. This response can help the immune system
produce a protective response when boosted several years following
initial vaccination.
Novartis Vaccines has utilized MF
59 to develop influenza vaccines
designed specifically for those who
need it most – individuals who have
compromised immune systems, such as young children and older
adults, and people with no natural immunity to a virus. The first MF59-
adjuvanted vaccine was Fluad, an inactivated, subunit seasonal
influenza vaccine shown to provide a greater immune response than
traditional inactivated influenza vaccines in individuals aged 65 years
and older. First registered in Italy in 1997, Fluad marked a major
milestone in influenza vaccinology.
Currently, MF59 is being studied in Aflunov, an investigational
prepandemic influenza vaccine adjuvanted with MF59. In clinical trials
Aflunov has demonstrated a strong immune response against several
H5N1 avian influenza virus strains in all age groups – from young
children to older adults.
In response to the World Health Organization’s declaration of the H1N1
Novartis Vaccines
proprietary adjuvant
Clinical trial results with
MF59 helps elicit broad
cross-reactive immune
MF59-adjuvanted vaccines
MF59® Adjuvant Fact Sheet
pandemic in June 2009, Novartis Vaccines also is studying MF59 in
combination with two H1N1 pandemic
vaccines: Focetria and Celtura.
Focetria is a mock-up pandemic influenza vaccine that is indicated for
use in the European Union during a pandemic situation. Celtura is a
pandemic vaccine developed using cell culture technology. In
September 2009, in its initial clinic
al trials, Celtura showed favorable
results which suggested that on
e dose of the vaccine provided
comparable protection to two doses of non-adjuvanted vaccines.
Adjuvants were originally identified
in the 1920s by Gaston Ramon, a
French veterinarian working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Ramon
noticed that when he added certain substances to his vaccines, they
generated a stronger immune response than ordinary formulations.
Ramon named these substances “adjuvants” after
, the Latin
word for “to help,” and they became an indispensable ingredient in
vaccines against everything from hepatitis to meningitis to rabies.
The only problem, as Ramon quickly di
scovered, was that only salts of
aluminum – collectively referred to as alum – seemed safe for human
use, but alum does not always generate an optimal immune response.
Despite intense efforts by vaccino
logists to find more effective
alternatives, a new, safe adjuvant
was not discovered until Novartis
Vaccines created MF59.
MF59 was developed in the 1990s by researchers at Ciba-Geigy (a
Novartis heritage company) and Chiron (acquired by Novartis in 2006)
who were searching for an adjuvant that was not only capable of
improving the immune response but was also well tolerated. The
resulting compound – subsequently
named MF59 – demonstrated a
good safety profile in people and was able to “jump start” the innate
immune response, a vital part of the immune system that determines
the magnitude and precise nature of
the body’s immune response to an
Adjuvants first developed in
History of MF59
MF59® Adjuvant Fact Sheet
Historically, vaccine development has focused on refining the antigen –
proteins that stimulate the production of an antibody and provide the
immune response. Increasingly, vaccines are made from purified
antigens rather than inactivated – or killed – viruses. While this can
produce better characterized an
tigens and help reduce potential
reactions, purified antigens are less likely to spark an innate immune
response; this issue necessitates the use of an adjuvant.
Novartis Vaccines researchers have made significant progress in
unraveling how adjuvants fuel the
immune response. Their research
has revealed that adjuvants help increase antibody production by
activating one or more components of the immune system, including:
recruiting immune cells to the injection site, which increases the
immune response to the influenza vaccine
promoting the uptake of influenza vaccine antigens into immune
cells, which boosts the immune response.
Because adjuvants bolster the body’s immune response to a pathogen,
a smaller amount of antigen is required
to trigger protective immunity.
Studies have shown that MF59 can reduce the amount of antigen
required to generate an immune response for both seasonal and
prepandemic vaccines.
How adjuvants work
Seasonal influenza
Seasonal influenza is a highly communicable, acute viral infection that
predominantly attacks the respiratory tract and sometimes the lungs. It
can cause mild to severe illness and may lead to death. Between 5
and 15 percent of the worldwide populat
ion is infected each year and
between 250,000 to 500,000 people die. More than 90 percent of
deaths associated with influenza in industrialized countries occur
among those 65 years of age and over.
Dangers of seasonal
Despite the severity of the illness,
many people mistakenly believe that
influenza is merely a severe cold. While colds and influenza share
many symptoms, they are caused by
different viruses and result in
different consequences for patients.
Influenza-related complications
can include pneumonia and dehydration, and worsening of chronic
conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease or diabetes.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

South China Sea: Southeast Asia Maritime Treaty

Background Brief
South China Sea: Southeast Asia
Maritime Treaty
Carlyle A. Thayer
September 20, 2013
[client name deleted]
We note that you are in Phnom Penh for the Conference on ASEAN and the South
Chins Sea. With respect to your conference paper, we would like to request the
following clarifications:
Q1. What feedback did you receive from the other participants on your proposal for
a Southeast Asian Maritime Treaty?
ANSWER: The conference was held under Chatham House rules. In the final session it
was obliquely mentioned that my proposal was too general and unattainable. The
focus should be on Vietnam's proposal for the no first use of force.
Q2. Any feedback from other regional researchers?
ANSWER: This was a Track 2 conference comprising academics from regional think
tanks and government officials speaking in their private capacity. The participants
were drawn from most regional states including China. There were participants from
Laos and Myanmar. Participants appeared more relaxed and open in their comments
compared to other conferences on the South China Sea held this year.
Q3. What were the reactions from the Southeast Asians who were present?
ANSWER: Non-committal.
Q4. Concretely, what benefits can Vietnam expect if your proposal for a Southeast
Asia Martime Treaty became a reality?
ANSWER: The Treaty would make all ASEAN states stakeholders in maritime security.
There would be more insulation for Vietnam from a unified ASEAN position. But
Vietnam would have to bring its baselines in the southeast ('the pregnant lady') into
line with international law, clarify its claims, including making a distinction between
rocks, low tide elevations and islands.
Q5. How long does it take to conclude a "sensitive" treaty like the one you
ANSWER: This is a ten year project at the least. But it could be the focal point for
building an ASEAN Political-Security Community.
Q6. What are the difficulties ahead?
Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123
ANSWER: There are certain maritime disputes that are of long-standing and some Southeast Asian attendees feel they should stay that way. Moving towards a treaty would open old wounds.
Q7. What is "Vietnam's proposal for the no first use of force"?
ANSWER: Vietnam has presented a proposal for ASEAN and China to agree that none of them will be the first to use force in South China Sea disputes. This would be a pledge by all parties that when an incident occurs they will exercise restraint and not resort to force. This would be an important confidence building measure.
Q8. What do you mean by saying that "Vietnam would have to bring its baselines in the southeast ('the pregnant lady') into line with international law"?
ANSWER: If you look at a map showing Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) there is a noticeable bulge or extension of its southeast coast to take in Tu Chinh (or Wen Anbei in Chinese). This is an excessive claim. Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone should be drawn from straight base lines from its coast.
The bulge is referred to colloquially in Vietnamese as "the pregnant lady". When Vietnam's draft Law of the Sea went to the Politburo maritime specialists recommended bringing Vietnam's claimed EEZ into accord with international law. This was rejected on the grounds that Vietnam would have to negotiate with China sometime in future and that its excessive EEZ claim was the starting point for negotiations.
Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, South China Sea: Southeast Asia Maritime Treaty,” Thayer Consultancy Background Brief, September 20, 2013. All background briefs are posted on (search for Thayer). To remove yourself from the mailing list type UNSUBSCRIBE in the Subject heading and hit the Reply key.
Thayer Consultancy provides political analysis of current regional security issues and other research support to selected clients. Thayer Consultancy was officially registered as a small business in Australia in 2002.
Background Brief
South China Sea: China’s Peace
Ark and ‘the String of Pearls’
Carlyle A. Thayer
September 25, 2013
[client name deleted]
We are interested in the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) hospital ship – the
Peace Ark -that has docked in Sihanoukville Autonomous Port this week. Interesting
timing, and also an interesting route the ship has been on the past four months; its
almost a join-the-dots connecting the pearls of China's string.
The Chinese military attaché here has been quoted as stating that he has never
heard of the ‘string of pearls’ and that the Peace Ark’s visit was a friendship mission.
The Peace Ark stopped in Karachi, Mumbai, Thilawa Port, Chittagong and the rest.
We request your assessment of the following:
Q1. Why is the Chinese Navy undertaking such an operation?
ANSWER: China is taking a leaf out of the U.S. naval engagement play book. The US
hospital ship, USNS Mercy (T-AH-19), regularly calls in at regional ports to deliver
medical and dental assistance. The US ship is staffed with American doctors and
medical specialists from the region. These visits are for good will and demonstrate
humanitarian concern.
The Peace Ark performs similar engagement activities for the China. Both the USNS
Mercy and Peace Ark gain valuable experience in working in local condition,
experience that will be useful in future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief
missions. In return, local medical personnel receive valuable experience in working
alongside foreign counterparts.
Q2. What is your assessment of reports about China's interests in all these ports as
part of its "String of Pearls" or strategic bases?
ANSWER: The 'string of pearls' is not a term China uses. As China's economic power
has grown, so too has China's interest in secure sea lines of communication (SLOCs).
China needs to call in at ports for to provision and for crew morale. The ports that
China visits all belong to countries that have close economic relations with China.
Contrary to speculation by strategic analysis, China had not used the ports forming
the so-called 'string of pearls' as military bases or for military purposes. The Chinese
navy does, however, make good will port visits, a normal part of naval diplomacy.
Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123
Q3. How strong a parallel can be drawn between the route of the "Peace Ark" and the "String of Pearls"?
ANSWER: The Peace Ark is visiting ports of friendly nations. This coincides with some of the ports comprising 'the string of pearls'. This is a normal component of naval diplomacy.
Q4. What can China gain from such a humanitarian mission? How does it reflect on the disputes in the East and South China seas?
ANSWER: China gains operational experience in foreign waters and ports, and knowledge of local medical conditions. China and the medical authorities in local ports each benefit from the exchange of knowledge and experience. Further, China gains in prestige and possibly increased influence in the countries visited.
The voyage of the Peace Ark does not have a direct impact on the disputes in the East and South China Sea. But the Peace Ark's port visits do assist China in portraying itself as having humanitarian concerns. This deflects, to a limited extent, from regional concerns about the growth of Chinese naval power – the so-called China threat.
Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “South China Sea: China’s Peace Ark and ‘the String of Pearls’,” Thayer Consultancy Background Brief, September 25, 2013. All background briefs are posted on (search for Thayer). To remove yourself from the mailing list type UNSUBSCRIBE in the Subject heading and hit the Reply key.
Thayer Consultancy provides political analysis of current regional security issues and other research support to selected clients. Thayer Consultancy was officially registered as a small business in Australia in 2002.

Australia: ‘More Indonesia, Less Geneva’ – the New Government

Background Brief
Australia: ‘More Indonesia, Less
Geneva’ – the New Government
Carlyle A. Thayer
September 24, 2013
[client name deleted]
We request your assessment of the following:
Q 1. The new Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has suggested ‘more
Indonesia, less Europe’. What are the implications for Australia’s future diplomacy?
ANSWER: The Abbott Government has moved quickly to align policy on foreign
affairs, defence, and economic, trade and aid issue. Prime Minister Abbott has
announced he will give priority to visiting regional states – Indonesia, China, Japan
and South Korea - before going to Washington and London.
Indonesia is an emerging power whose economy is expected to overtake that of
Australia in the decades to come. Indonesia is located to Australia’s immediate
north and is Australia’s second closest neighbor after Papua New Guinea. It is
imperative that Australia and Indonesia have the best possible bilateral relations.
In practical terms, Indonesia will command priority attention. It was the most
contentious issue in the recent national election. Some in Australia view the boat
people as illegal migrants motivated by a desire for a better life. Others view the
boat people as asylum seekers seeking safety from persecution back in their home
There are two major irritants in relations with Indonesia that the new government
seeks to address. Far and away the most important issue is boat people that stop in
Indonesia on their way to Australia. The boat people are organized by criminal
syndicates of professional people-smugglers.
Prime Minister Abbot has moved swiftly to assert control over Operation Sovereign
Borders, launched by the previous Government. Prime Minister Abbot wants to stop
boats of so-called asylum seeker by turning them back. This has provoked a negative
reaction in Indonesia. As a priority the Abbott government must work out an
acceptable means of cooperation with Indonesia on this issue.
The second irritant concerns the export of live beef to Indonesia. Last year the Labor
Government announced the ban of live beef cattle to Indonesia after a television
documentary showed cruel treatment in several of Indonesian abattoirs. The
Australian government did not consult with Indonesia first. Indonesia retaliated by
halting imports. This year there was some negative Australian protectionist reaction
Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123
to a news report that Indonesian investors would buy a majority share in a huge cattle station and import live cattle into Indonesia. Prime Minister Abbott will have to reassure Indonesia about the reliability of Australian cattle sales.
The case of Indonesia is illustrative of the Abbott Government’s greater stress on bilateral relations. Australia can also be expected to improve bilateral relations with both China and India. It is notable that both the defence and foreign ministers come from Western Australia which borders on the Indian Ocean.
Q2. Australia has tried to hedge between Beijing and Washington. Do you think it is possible with Abbott's conservative nature?
ANSWER: IMany Australian would not accept the premise of your question. Hedging refers to the strategic behavior of a country vis-à-vis two major powers. Australia is and will remain a treaty ally of the United States and Canberra’s strategic policy will be closely aligned with Washington. Under the Abbott government there is likely to be increased receptivity to a greater US military presence in Australia.
At the moment US-China relations are heading in a positive direction, and that is favourable for Australia. The Abbott Government will push for a Free Trade Agreement with China and work to improve the climate for Chinese investment.
China is Australia’s largest trading partner but the United States is Australia’s largest investor. American investment dwarfs Chinese investment. Australia will also develop its own unique set of bilateral relations with China, including defence ties. As Australia permits US Marines to rotate through Darwin, it will invite China and Indonesia to participate in multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises.
Q3. How will the new diplomatic policy impact on the region's geopolitical landscape?
ANSWER: Foreign policy did not feature prominently in Australia’s recent national election. The most serious area of disagreement between the two major parties was over the boat people/asylum seeker issue.
Both parties support a strong alliance with the United States. The Abbott Government will give more stress to bilateral relations with key regional states such as China and Indonesia.
However, there will be more continuity in the Abbott government’s relations with Asia than change. For example, the Abbott Government extended the term of Australia’s current ambassador in Washington, appointed by the Labor Government.
A new government has the opportunity to change specific policies that weren’t working well or to develop new policies.
In the case of China, the former Gillard Government reached agreement with Chinese leaders to hold annual high-level meetings. The new Abbott Government will capitalize on this to enhance relations with China. Both Prime Minister Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will visit China to develop the bilateral strategic relations at the invitation of the Chinese Government.
The Abbott Government will produce a new Defence White Paper in eighteen months. Already the Australian media are reporting that it will be more favorable in its assessment of China’s military modernization that previous White Papers.
Australia will resist pressures from either Beijing or Washington to choose between them. Neither Beijing or Washington is likely to do so. Australia will exercise its own independent judgment and offer its own views. Australia will support the better management of US-China relations and urge both parties to cooperate to build strategic trust.
Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “Australia: ‘More Indonesia, Less Geneva’ – the New Government,” Thayer Consultancy Background Brief, September 24, 2013. All background briefs are posted on (search for Thayer). To remove yourself from the mailing list type UNSUBSCRIBE in the Subject heading and hit the Reply key.
Thayer Consultancy provides political analysis of current regional security issues and other research support to selected clients. Thayer Consultancy was officially registered as a small business in Australia in 2002.


Published time: September 24, 2013 14:06Reuters / Mike SegarReuters / Mike Segar
JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Credit Suisse, and 10 other world’s biggest international lenders are being
sued by a US regulator for causing millions of losses to credit unions by allegedly manipulating the Libor 
benchmark rate.
Five credit unions were forced to close after they received less interest income than they were entitled 
to because of the manipulated Libor rates, according to the statement released on Monday by the National 
Credit Union Associations (NCUA). The complaint was filed in Kansas in a US District Court, Reuters reports.
“We have a responsibility to pursue recoveries through every available avenue against those who caused 
billions of dollars in losses to credit unions,” NCUA Board Chairman Debbie Matz said the Monday night 
“Some firms were manipulating international interest rates in a way that cost the five corporates to lose 
millions of dollars. Just as we are doing in our other suits, we are seeking to hold responsible parties 
accountable for their actions,” Matz added.

Other banks facing a slew of probes are Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Westb AG, Royal Bank of Scotland, Cooperation Centrale Raiffesisen Boerenfleenbank, The Norinchukin Bank, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., HBOS Plc., Societe Generale SA, and Royal Bank of Canada.

The London Interbank Offered Rate, or the Libor, is the world’s most widely used benchmark for 
short-term interest rates in the interbank market. It’s calculated on a daily basis by the British Bankers’ 
Association (BBA) on the basis of the average of the world’s most creditworthy banks’ interbank deposit rates 
for larger loans. While the rate reflects the cost of borrowing among the banks, it also automatically reflects 
lending rates for individuals.

Rigging ‘soap opera’

Dozens of banks have been investigated over their involvement in losses between 2005 and 2010 due to the
lenders’ manipulation of the Libor.
US mortgage company Freddie Mac claims it suffered more than $3 billion in losses, and is suing 
more than a dozen banks, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, CitiGroup, Royal Bank 
of Scotland, and Credit Suisse for setting the Libor low against the dollar in order to hide problems 
and boost profits.
The Freddie Mac complaint was filed March 14 in US District Court in the state of Virginia.
Barclays, UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland were fined a total of $2.6 billion for manipulating rates. Last week UBS 
agreed to pay $1.5 billion to revolve all international civil and regulatory probes.
The scandal forced both Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond and chairman Marcus Agius to resign. 
New Barclays chief Anthony Jenkins has insisted employees sign a ‘code of honor’ to avoid future 
rigging scandals.
RBS, the biggest state-owned British bank, was fined $610 million by UK and US authorities for its part in the Libor 
rate-fixing scandal.  The bank’s annual losses ballooned to over $9 billion in 2012 up from $3.03 billion in the previous 
In June 2012, Barclays paid £290 million in fines to US and UK financial agencies.
The European Union is considering the transfer of control of the Libor from the UK to France. It is to 
restore trust in the key interbank lending rate after the rigging scandal.
Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg have expressed interest in controlling the Libor rate as neutral data 
providers or bank ‘outsiders.’ [These folks are cabal! ~J]

"If a Nation expects to be ignorant and free then they expect what never was and what never will be." 
Thomas Jefferson

"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their
wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7: 14

"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not to costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival.  There may even be a worse case; you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."  **********   Winston Churchill

The sender of this email stands on the organic jurisdiction of America and is an American National by birth right and blood.

The sender of this email is not a US CITIZEN or US PERSON and not subject to any definition by statute or code that defines US jurisdiction or person subject thereto.   

Confidentiality Notice: Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, distribution or invasion of privacy is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy all copies of the original.

All rights and Remedies Reserved. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Enemy of My Enemy: Perils of Training Syrian Rebels

RSIS presents the following commentary The Enemy of My Enemy: Perils of Training Syrian Rebels by Nah Liang Tuang. It is also available online at this link. (To print it, click on this link.). Kindly forward any comments or feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, at

No. 174/2013 dated 24 September 2013
The Enemy of My Enemy:
Perils of Training Syrian Rebels

By Nah Liang Tuang

Training rebels to combat a common enemy is an established practice. However, in Syria’s fluid situation, where today’s freedom fighter might morph into tomorrow’s terrorist, imparting war-fighting skills to insurgents might backfire.
TRAINING AND supporting insurgents against one’s adversaries has been a cost effective strategy since the late 20th Century, when states co-opted their adversaries’ enemies as proxy forces, avoiding the monetary cost of deploying their own soldiers and the political cost of casualties.

The recent announcement that the United States is considering deploying its forces to train Syrian rebels en masse in a friendly third country in order to improve the insurgents’ capability to counter the Syrian military suggests that Washington might be heading down that path. This might backfire badly.

Short term logic
It’s known that the CIA supported the Afghan Mujahideen with weapons and training against Soviet forces during their occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to1989. Although this resistance cost the USSR dearly and contributed to their eventual withdrawal, it also destabilised Afghanistan and fostered a territory controlled by rival warlords who were no match for the Pakistani-backed Taliban which ended up controlling most of Afghanistan. The Taliban then provided refuge and training grounds for Al-Qaeda, the prime enemy of America.

Turning to Britain’s support for insurgents who would eventually bite the hand that fed them, the communist-led Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army received guerilla training as well as arms from the British during World War Two but ended up forming the main body of the Malayan National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Malayan Communists who engaged in the insurgency in Malaya from 1948 to 1960.

Even though the British would eventually win this counter-insurgency campaign, they had to pay the price of at least 1860 British and allied deaths and over 2400 wounded.

Minimising risks

In Syria, excluding the ostensibly secular Free Syrian Army - and assuming that the US would be able to screen out Al-Qaeda affiliates like the Al-Nusra Front from receiving combat training - the groups in the anti-Assad rebel alliance like the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front, Al-Tawhid Brigade and Syrian Islamic Front are driven by Islamist ideology. Training them would conflict with US foreign policy.

Hence, there is a distinct possibility that anti-Assad regime insurgents given warfighting training by the US and armed by sympathetic Arab governments could end up using their lethal capabilities against US forces or interests in a future conflict.

While caution advises against widespread training of Syrian rebels, the instruction syllabus should be carefully designed to minimise any risk of strategic blowback on the US, if the Obama administration decides to go ahead and upgrade the skills of Syrian rebels. Specifically, any training programme should strictly omit instruction on special forces-type skills like combat demolitions and long range sniping, avoid teaching the rebels commando tactics (such as enemy personnel seizure raids, sabotage operations and other missions) and leave out any mention of psychological operations and counter-intelligence measures.

Essentially, training for the rebels should exclude skills useful for terrorism and/or assassination, preclude the possibility that the insurgency could acquire special forces capabilities that might be used against the US in future and prevent the rise of violent Islamist leaders who have keen persuasive abilities while being resistant to Western/US intelligence monitoring or surveillance.    

On the other hand, training should concentrate on imparting the tactical skills and mindsets necessary to operate in disciplined groups of platoon, company and even battalion strength so that the insurgency can more effectively face the Al-Assad military and function despite casualties. Next, detailed instruction in the employment of anti-tank weapons and tactics along with the effective use of light artillery would help to even the odds against government forces.

Avoid shooting its own foot

Additionally, effort should not be spared in inculcating a sense of professionalism and ethics amongst junior and mid-level commanders so that civilians will be respected and atrocities against captured government troops avoided. In essence, the training should not only sharpen the edge of the insurgency but also lay the foundation for a respected, professional and reformed Syrian military if the Al-Assad regime is ever deposed.

In as much as the Al-Assad regime needs to be actively opposed for reasons laid out by the Obama administration such as the use of chemical weapons, it bears repeating that any friendly intent of Syrian insurgents towards the US cannot be guaranteed over the long term.

Hence to avoid blowback from combat training provided to any Syrian rebel faction, Washington needs to be very circumspect regarding the type of warfighting training conducted so that the US does not unwittingly sow the seeds for a future Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda. In short, America’s policy vis-à-vis Syria must avoid shooting itself in the foot.

Nah Liang Tuang is an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.