Sunday, September 26, 2021
China believes that America is forging alliances to stop its rise
A new pact between America, Australia and Britain is seen as evidence
Sep 25th 2021
FOR CHINESE leaders, the rows about AUKUS, a new security pact between America, Australia and Britain, confirm cherished prejudices about the Western world. China has always believed that America’s network of global alliances is a cover for hegemony, even if American leaders offer warm words about defending universal values, standing up for friends and opposing “attempts by stronger countries to dominate weaker ones”, as President Joe Biden did at the UNon September 21st.Listen to this story
Chinese suspicions are, in this case, bolstered by French anger over AUKUS, which was born out of Australia’s decision to break a deal to buy diesel-electric submarines from France, in favour of buying nuclear-powered ones from America. When a French government minister accused Britain of returning to the American fold and “accepting a form of vassal status”, that was a vindication for China. Indeed, the Frenchman’s attack could be printed, without alteration, in the People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of China’s Communist Party. For all that, at least to date, the Chinese official response has been a study in caution, avoiding loud expressions of solidarity with France. That is revealing, because China normally praises French leaders when they call for Europe to pursue “strategic autonomy” in its foreign and security policies. Chinese diplomats know that France’s vision of autonomy is code for avoiding over-reliance on America.
Instead, China has so far pursued narrower, rather technical lines of attack on AUKUS, related to the eight nuclear-propelled submarines that Australia is to buy from America. China’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a nuclear watchdog, accused America of undermining non-proliferation work by transferring nuclear know-how and weapons-grade uranium to Australia, saying this would make it harder to stop Iran and North Korea from seeking similar technologies. The foreign ministry in Beijing added some tut-tutting about countries forming small cliques. By the standards of recent America-bashing in China, such grumbles barely count as throat-clearing.
After speaking to various wise owls in Beijing, both Chinese and foreign, Chaguan has explanations to offer. It is true that AUKUS confirms prejudices dear to Chinese officials and scholars. The first of these is that power is the driver of geopolitics, even if smaller countries talk of putting their faith in multinational co-operation, the rules-based order and other pretty phrases. If Australia would rather be America’s vassal than France’s partner, that merely confirms China’s bleak, might-makes-right worldview. That view is reflected in lectures that China delivers to envoys in Beijing. With tiresome regularity, it is the lot of Western ambassadors to be informed that, if their small or midsized home country has dared to challenge China, it can only be because their government is foolishly trying to please America, whose hand is behind all of China’s troubles.
The AUKUS pact also reinforces a talking point that the Western world is far from united about China, especially when it comes to speaking out about questions of principle, such as the crushing of Hong Kong’s democratic opposition or the repression of Muslims in Xinjiang. These are mostly Anglo-Saxon obsessions, Chinese diplomats and scholars like to suggest. Alas, they sigh, Americans, the British and their friends in the Anglosphere think it is their birthright to run the world, like some gang of finger-wagging missionaries or sunburnt colonial administrators. Chinese officials praise leaders whom they see as more focused on business interests, such as Angela Merkel in Germany.
Still, China has not hastened to woo France in its hour of wrath. For one thing, China may see a benefit in letting Western powers feud, uninterrupted. For another, France’s furious response is a bit undignified. In Chinese culture, a public tantrum may signal nao xiu cheng nu, or “from shame to rage”, meaning the specific form of high-decibel meltdown staged by someone facing humiliation. Ticking off reasons why France might be cross, a Chinese scholar lists the cancelled contract worth tens of billions of dollars, and a “loss of face” caused by Australia’s hint that French submarines are not capable enough to deter China.
Nor is AUKUS hailed as a chance to divide the West. Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University in Beijing, notes China’s relatively weak anti-submarine capabilities. “For Australia to have nuclear submarines is very dangerous for China,” he says. “They are not needed for Australia’s national defence. This is about China.”
An arms race looms
Chinese leaders have a double view of America. They remain exceedingly wary of American areas of strength, from its armed forces to its high technology. Chinese leaders can see for themselves America’s robust economic growth, compared with Europe or Japan. Yet they increasingly believe that Western societies are growing decadent. “The key competition between China and the US is about domestic governance,” explains Professor Wang, before listing America’s failings, from economic and racial inequalities to its handling of covid-19. “In the view of the Chinese ruling elite, US domestic governance is in serious trouble,” he says.
In Beijing it is seen as enraging that this failing ex-hegemon remains strong enough to defy or dream of containing China. Mr Biden is called a weak, transitional figure. Chinese diplomats have treated his envoys, including his secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, and climate envoy, John Kerry, with studied belligerence. Under President Xi Jinping, a stern autocrat, China is impatient with being criticised. It rejects Mr Biden’s assertion that the relationship can be at once sharply competitive and co-operative when needed. Above all, China is sure that America is trying to create alliances to stop its rise. A cautious initial reaction to AUKUSshould not be misread. Discretion is not the same as calm. ■
This article appeared in the China section of the print edition under the headline “How AUKUS is viewed from Beijing”
The Kirov-class nuclear powered cruiser (project 11442M) Admiral Nakhimov which is currently being repaired and upgraded by the Sevmash Shipyard will enter sea trials in 2023, Deputy CEO for Military Shipbuilding of the United Shipbuilding Corporation Vladimir Korolyov told TASS.
By TASS Russian news agency
“We can say that our work is proceeding on schedule… I believe that the cruiser will start trials in 2023,” Korolyov said in reply to a question about when the work on the Admiral Nakhimov would be completed.
While upgrading the Admiral Nakhimov cruiser, the shipbuilders have to deal with a lot of issues related to the warship’s powerplant, its weapons and radio-electronic armament. Specialists are carrying out large-scale work on the cruiser’s missile systems, he said.
The pace of work on the Admiral Nakhimov demonstrates that the Sevmash shipbuilders can both construct nuclear-powered missile-carrying submarines and restore the technical readiness of such unique warships as Project 1144 Orlan-class heavy nuclear-powered cruisers, the deputy CEO said.
The Admiral Nakhimov has been under repairs at the Sevmash Shipyard since 1999. Real work on the warship started in 2013. It was reported earlier that the heavy missile cruiser Admiral Nakhimov would enter trials in 2021.
During the upgrade, the cruiser’s strike capabilities have been enhanced. The ship will carry Kalibr (NATO reporting name: SS-N-27 Sizzler) and Onyx (SS-N-26 Strobile) missile systems. In future, the Admiral Nakhimov will get Tsirkon hypersonic missiles.
For the record, the “Admiral Nakhimov” (Project 1144 “Orlan”) was named “Kalinin” until 1992. It was laid down on May 17, 1983 at the Baltic Shipyard. Launched on April 25, 1986 and commissioned with the Soviet Navy on December 30, 1988. On April 22, 1992 it was renamed “Admiral Nakhimov”.
The vessel arrived from Severomorsk to Severodvinsk at Sevmash shipyard to undergo repair and modernization back in 1997. On August 14, 1999, the ship was officially accepted for repair and modernization at the shipyard. However, the work did not start fora while, and only in September 2008 the spent nuclear fuel was unloaded.
In 2012, the technical project for the modernization of the ship under the project 11442M was completed. On June 13, 2013, Sevmash signed a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense worth 50 billion rubles for the repair and modernization of the cruiser, with a contractual deadline for its return to the fleet in 2018. On October 24, 2014, the cruiser was brought into the Sevmash pool/dry dock, after which the actual modernization work began. The vessel was put back in the water in August 2020. Experts estimate that the vessel won’t be back at sea for post-modernization sea trials until 2022 at best.
Modernization of the weapon systems includes, according to Sevmash CEO, the Fort-M (NATO reporting name: SA-N-6 Grumble) and Pantsyr-M (SA-22 Greyhound) air defense systems and the high-power Paket-NK and Otvet antisubmarine warfare weapons. According to H I Sutton, the cruiser will be also armed with the 3M22 Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missile, possibly a total of 60 missiles.
BAGHDAD–The Sadrist movement and its leader, Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, are hoping to snatch the lion’s share of votes in Iraq’s October elections, in a way that will enable the movement and its political allies to form the next government.
Sadr’s hope of victory comes as his movement is opening new channels of dialogue with the West through British and American diplomats.
Sadr, observers say, is working to promote his movement as a moderate and effective alternative on the Iraqi Shia political scene. In this regard, he wants to reassure the West, particularly the United States and Britain, that the Sadrists will prevent the transformation of Iraq into an ideal bridge for Iran to reach Syria, Lebanon and the Mediterranean.
Washington, the observers explain, does not mind dealing with Sadr, provided that he commits to countering the control of Iran-backed militias, notably the Popular Mobilisation Forces, over state institutions in Iraq.
Sadr has for weeks been mobilising his supporters across various Iraqi cities to join a massive rally ahead of elections,
in a show of force that could echo the extent of the cleric’s political and sectarian influence.
Sadr said Thursday that the “gang of corruption” is posing a threat to Iraq’s future, demanding that “we [Iraqi] reform ourselves and then our bitter reality, which is currently controlled by corrupt people.”
Sadr’ statements come as his movement is engaged in one of the fiercest electoral battles in years, especially with the Iran-backed militias and forces competing for a majority that would allow them to name the next premier.
Under Iraq’s post-Saddam Hussein governing system, the prime minister has always been a Shia while the largely ceremonial post of president is held by a Kurd and the speaker of parliament is a Sunni.
Sadr, a former nemesis of the United States, who is also considered as the most influential figure in Iraq, is hoping to double his parliamentary share in the upcoming elections and to name the next prime minister.
Dhiaa al-Asadi, a prominent member of the Sadrist movement, said that Sadr “announced that we want the position of prime minister,” referring to a position that is typically agreed via parliamentary negotiations in the absence of a majority.
An informed Iraqi political source had previously revealed to The Arab Weekly that there were electoral understandings between Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and Sadr. These understandings include the naming of Kadhimi to head the next government.
The source, which spoke on condition of anonymity, also said that these understandings have garnered the support of some Shia forces, including former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and head of the Wisdom Movement Ammar al-Hakim. There is also the support of some other prominent figure, including Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi, a Sunni and Masoud Barzani, a Kurd.
Meanwhile, the Sadrist movement is promoting itself among regional and international players as a moderate political force that will save Iraq from Iran-backed militias and corrupt people who have infiltrated the country’s institutions.
Sadr is well aware that his Shia opponents are now in their weakest position. This will make him push to expand his influence within the state through supporting Kadhimi and improving ties with Washington.
In a recent report, the Financial Times said that ,”for some western policymakers worried about Iranian influence in Iraq, the man once dubbed the most dangerous in Iraq by US news media may prove an attractive alternative to more pro-Iran groups.”
“The relationship between Sadr and the west has improved significantly over the last few years,” said Lahib Higel, senior Iraq analyst at Crisis Group told The Financial Times. “Sadr is increasingly being seen as a nationalist alternative and a potential buffer against the more Iran-leaning parties.”
The Financial Times also revealed that Sadrists working in the Iraqi government have met western diplomats, in what is viewed as an illustration “of how much the group has changed.”
“The orientation of the Sadrist movement is to open up to the world,” Asadi said. This should be on the basis of mutual interest, he added. “No country should have the right to intervene in the Iraqi business.”
Sadr was previously viewed as an Iranian proxy, but his close ties with Tehran have soured over the few last years.
“They’re like, tell us more about Sadr, is he really anti-Iranian, what’s his position on the US, what’s the room for co-operation with him,” Marsin Alshamary, a Baghdad-based fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, told The Financial Times.
“No one really buys that he doesn’t have ties to Iran, or that he wouldn’t shift towards an Iranian alliance,” added Alshamary. “But at this moment in time … he can point out the [pro-Iran militias] and say look, they’re the ones who are hurling rockets at the American embassy … we must be the rational, reliable actors who have Iraq’s best interest in mind.”
However, Iraqi political analyst Ali al-Rubaie believes that the premiership in Iraq is not solely depending on election results but rather on Iranian-American settlements about who could be accepted as new prime minister.
Rubaie said in a statement to The Arab Weekly, “Neither the Sadrist movement nor any sectarian Shia bloc has a vision for building the state, a political project for Iraq, or even a real government programme to provide basic services.”
In late August, Sadr reversed his decision to boycott elections and said his movement would take part in order to help “end corruption.”
Sadr, whose political manoeuvres have at times puzzled observers, has appeared under pressure in recent weeks, with pro-Iran groups and individuals attacking him on social media and accusing him of responsibility for Iraq’s recent woes, including electricity shortages and two deadly hospital fires.
The parliamentary vote is set to be held under a new electoral law that reduces the size of constituencies and eliminates list-based voting in favour of votes for individual candidates.
Kadhimi, who came to power in May last year after months of unprecedented mass protests against a ruling class seen as corrupt, inept and subordinate to Tehran, had called the early vote in response to demands by pro-democracy activists.
Sadr’s supporters have been expected to make major gains under the new electoral system.
His Saeroon bloc is currently the largest in parliament, with 54 out of 329 seats.
India may test nuclear-rich Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Agni-V on Thursday. Countries like China and Pakistan are trembling with fear about the test of this missile because they have an idea of its power. However, it is a different matter that India has already successfully tested the Agni-5 missile seven times.
According to experts, the fear of China is also justified because its entire country is coming in the range of Agni-V missile.
The Agni-V Intercontinental Ballistic Missile has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). It is believed that the range of this missile is 5,000 to 8,000 km. However, the exact range is not yet clear. Some countries including China say that India is not disclosing the correct range of Agni-V.
The Agni-V missile weighs 50,000 kgs. It is 17.5 meters long and has a diameter of 6.7 feet. On top of this, a nuclear weapon weighing 1,500 kg can be installed. The missile has three-stage rocket boosters, which fly on solid fuel. The speed of Agni-V is 24 times more than the speed of sound. That is, it covers a distance of 8.16 kilometres in one second. According to the information, the missile is capable of attacking the enemy at a speed of 29,401 kilometres per hour. It is fitted with Ring Laser Gyroscope Inertial Navigation System, GPS, NavIC Satellite Guidance System.
The missile hits its target perfectly. If there is a difference in accuracy due to any reason, then it will be just 10 to 80 meters. However, this difference does not reduce the lethal strikes of the missile. A ground mobile launcher is used to launch Agni-V. It can be loaded on the truck and transported to any place by road. Scientist M Natarajan had planned about Agni for the first time in the year 2007.
Experts believe that if India fires this missile, it can attack the whole of Asia, Europe, parts of Africa. In other words, half the world is in its range. The most striking feature of the Agni-V is its MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles) technology. In this technique, multiple weapons can be installed instead of one in the warhead mounted on the missile. That is, a missile can hit multiple targets simultaneously.
The first successful test of Agni-V took place on 19 April 2012. This was followed by successful trials on 15 September 2013, 31 January 2015, 26 December 2016, 18 January 2018, 3 June 2018 and 10 December 2018. Altogether there have been 7 successful tests of the Agni-V missile, this missile was tested on different parameters in different tests, from which it came to the fore that the missile is the best weapon to destroy the enemy.
Due to MIRV technology in this missile, two to 10 weapons can be installed. That is, the same missile can simultaneously target 2 to 10 different targets spread over several hundred kilometres. Chinese expert Du Wenlong said some time ago that the Agni-V missile has a range of 8,000 km, but the Indian government is not disclosing this range. So that countries around the world do not object to it. The Agni-V missile is controlled by a control and guidance system of 200 grams.
Apart from China and Pakistan, England and America have praised India for this missile. Media organizations in England have said that India will join the list of countries like China, Russia, France, America, England and probably Israel after the successful test of Agni-V. America has also spoken in support of India. Whereas NATO said that India’s missile test poses no threat to the world. India is making its technology more state-of-the-art and no one should have any problem with this.
US House lawmakers overwhelmingly approve bill that would provide additional funding for Israeli missile defence system.
Ali Harb23 Sep 2021
Washington, DC – The US House of Representatives has approved $1bn in additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system after days of controversy around the push.
Legislators passed the bill in a 420 to nine vote on Thursday, paving the way for a significant increase in US support for the system.
The bill will now go to the Senate, where it is expected to pass easily before being signed into law by President Joe Biden, who already has signalled support for the additional aid.
The move came amid an intensifying debate about US support for Israel and as a growing number of progressive voices in Congress are calling on Biden to condition US assistance to Israel on the country’s human rights record.
Earlier this week, the inclusion – and subsequent exclusion – of the Iron Dome funding from a different bill created an uproar in Washington.
The $1bn provision first appeared on Tuesday morning in proposed House of Representatives legislation aimed at providing short-term emergency funding for the US government to avoid a shutdown. But by the afternoon, it had been removed without explanation.
While various US media outlets have reported that progressive lawmakers were responsible for excluding the funding for Israel from Tuesday’s bill, no legislator has taken credit for the move.
Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), said it was “strange” to include $1bn in aid for Israel in a generic bill designed to fund the US government to “keep the lights on”.
Democratic leaders, she said, wanted to “circumvent” discussions and debates that come with that typical legislative process by including the aid for Israel in the short-term funding bill.
“It strikes me as a remarkable own-goal by leadership because if they somehow thought that this would prevent members from speaking up and allow them to get this through without controversy, they were mistaken,” Friedman told Al Jazeera earlier this week.
Although the $1bn is in addition to the usual US funding for the Iron Dome, Republicans and pro-Israel Democrats expressed anger at the eventual dropping of the provision.
Supporters of the added funding say it aims to “replenish” the Iron Dome batteries after the recent fighting in Gaza, but the $1bn approved by the House on Thursday represents a significant increase of US funding for the programme.
Israel receives $3.8bn in US military assistance annually, codified through a 10-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by President Barack Obama in 2016. Of that, 500 million goes to missile defence annually.
Last year, Congress granted $73m for the Iron Dome specifically, one of several missile defence programmes.
“A missile defense system (i.e. Iron Dome) defends civilians from missiles. Hence the name. Only in a morally inverted universe would this be considered a ‘controversy’,” Ritchie Torres, a first-term Democrat from New York, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called the initial move to remove the Israel funding from the broader House bill “despicable”.
“I hope the American people are watching and understand that funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system is essential to the survival of the State of Israel, America’s most reliable ally in a troubled and dangerous region,” Graham tweeted on Tuesday.
There appeared to be a lot of confusion around the nature of the aid. Many lawmakers presented the removal of the provision on the Iron Dome funding on Tuesday as an end to US assistance to the missile defence programme.
In reality, the regular Iron Dome assistance of $108m this year, part of the MoU-mandated annual aid, is included in the defence appropriations bill that was being debated almost simultaneously with Tuesday’s resolution.
The MoU says that Israel may not seek additional funding for missile defence from the US beyond the $500m allocation “except in exceptional circumstances”.
The House-approved bill on Thursday said the “funds shall be provided to address emergent requirements in support of Operation Guardian of the Walls”, referring to Israel’s offensive on Gaza that ended months ago.
Pro-Israel legislators have been pushing for extra funding for Israel since the end of the fighting between the Israeli military and Palestinian groups in Gaza in May. The war killed at least 253 Palestinians, including 66 children, in Gaza and 12 people in Israel.
“There will be a $1bn request coming to the Pentagon this week from the [Israeli] defence minister to replenish the Iron Dome and a few other things, to upgrade the system,” Senator Graham told reporters in Jerusalem during a visit shortly after the ceasefire.
He told Fox News during the same trip: “Every time somebody tries to destroy Israel, our response is going to be more aid.” Graham’s office did not return Al Jazeera’s request for comment on Thursday by time of publication.
The Biden administration had signalledsupport for the Israeli request for more Iron Dome funding.
The looming increase in US military assistance to Israel comes as Palestine solidarity activists and some progressive members of the Democratic Party are calling for restricting or conditioning the aid to pressure Israel to respect Palestinians’ human rights.
Some Palestinian rights groups rejoiced in the exclusion of the Iron Dome aid from the government funding resolution earlier this week, arguing that it signals a shift from the traditionally staunch support that Israel enjoys in Congress, especially around security assistance.
Beth Miller, senior government affairs manager at Jewish Voice for Peace Action, an advocacy group that supports Palestinian rights, accused House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of attempting to “sneak” the extra aid for Israel through the funding bill.
“There was a time when no one in DC blinked an eye at more military funding to Israel, but progressives in Congress just showed that the time of rubber stamping unconditional support for Israel is over,” Miller said in a statement on Tuesday. “This is an unprecedented win for the fight for Palestinian rights.”
But if there were a victory for Palestinian rights advocates through this brouhaha, it appears to have been short-lived with the House approving the funding on Thursday.
Congresswoman Rashid Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat of Palestinian descent who was one of the few members to vote against the bill, criticised her colleagues for neglecting the safety needs of Palestinians, whom she said are living under a “violent apartheid system”.
“We should also be talking about Palestinian need for security from Israeli attacks, we must be consistent in our commitment to human life, period. Everyone deserves to be safe there,” she said in an impassioned speech before the vote.
Saturday, September 25, 2021