RUSI in the News: 24 September - 7 October

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Will the UK Tories choose common interest or fear?

And in a country that is still in a phase of transition after Brexit, Britons needed to hear more on policy, particularly on the economy, and how the government would take steps to ameliorate the impact of leaving the European Union, particularly as it seems they are now, regrettably, consigned to leaving the single market.

HA Hellyer for The National, 6 October

Can Saudi Arabia's bold reforms cure growing financial woes?

The al-Saud family enjoy widespread popular support in the Kingdom, and the young prince and his team have expended great energy warning that austerity is coming. But it is one thing to warn about austerity, and quite another to then implement it.

Michael Stephens for The BBC, 30 September

Kashmir: Why is India's Modi going on the offensive?

In truth, the strike itself does not represent a radical new policy. India conducted local cross-border raids through the 1990s and 2000s, usually as reprisals for particular attacks. But this high-altitude, tit-for-tat war on the Line of Control, which divides Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir, was largely unknown to the Indian public, who grew frustrated at their government's apparent inaction.

Shashank Joshi for CNN, 30 September

Three shades of denial

"The chest thumping in some parts of the Indian media is dangerous, because it exaggerates capabilities, underplays risks, and substitutes strategy with emotion. But far worse is the systematic denial that the terrorist groups that operate on Pakistani soil are, at root, instruments of the state."

Shashank Joshi for The Hindu, 6 October

So now we know: Russia is as powerless in Syria as the West 

Any renewed co-operation will be based on a better understanding: no one is strong enough to win this war. It is therefore in the interests of both Russia and the US to end it before either suffers a humiliating reverse as events spiral out of control.

Sarah Lain for The Telegraph, 26 September

What does Russia actually want in Syria?

Did Russia care much about the actual implementation of the ceasefire deal, agreed to last month? Or was it simply a diplomatic coup to be seen as a peace-broker with the US? It is likely that Russia was interested in a deal that at least began a move toward ending the conflict, but the approach and objectives of Russia and the US have been too different and, at times, mutually exclusive.

Sarah Lain for CNN, 5 October

Quoted in the Media

The Syria Crisis

Russia tries to strongarm US with Aleppo assault

By backing government forces in Aleppo, Moscow seeks "to close that important pocket of rebels' resistance at last", said Igor Sutyagin, a Russia expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

Igor Sutyagin for Middle East Online, 27 September

Why the fight for Aleppo is a turning point in the Syrian war

"They're actually a very strange choice to use against cities unless you're trying to hit something in particular, so they're likely to be on the basis of specific intelligence -- hitting things like buried supply tunnels, underground command centers," said Justin Bronk, a military scientist with the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank. "Or civilian shelters -- they would go straight through."

Justin Bronk for Acramax, 28 September

Russian bunker buster bombs kill families hiding in Aleppo cellars

“If they scatter across urban areas there is a build-up of an enormous stock of unexploded sub-munitions which will continue to kill — particularly children — over a long period, which is why they are forbidden,” said Justin Bronk, research fellow for combat air power at the Royal United Services Institute.

Justin Bronk for The Australian, 28 September

Syria Civil War: Petraeus Says Country May Never Reunify

"I think that most people would consider it a Herculean effort if we could just reduce the violence and bloodshed and indeed achieve a cease-fire while still being able to go after" ISIS and other extremists, he said. "But ... I think that the prospects for that are unlikely," added Petraeus, who gave the interview after holding a discussion at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank where he is senior vice president. He is also a partner with global investment firm KKR.

General David Petraeus in NBC News, 6 October

Anti-Daesh Sunnis bombed in strike coordinated by Iraqi government

 “No doubt the Iraqi state sees rival military organisations as problematic and the Sunni Hashd [TMF] don’t operate smoothly alongside the main Iraqi state. It’s unclear to me what happens to the [TMF] after the Sunni heartlands are cleared of [Daesh]…Perhaps a Sunni Hashd could form the backbone of some sort of national guard, but given how Baghdad has discussed this issue it’s unlikely to happen,” Stephens explained.

Michael Stephens for Middle East Online, 6 October

What will the school history books of the future say about the Syria conflict?

Michael Stephens, a Middle East research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a security think tank, agrees that 2003 is a "good start" but other dates are also key. "People in Syria up until 2001 only had two television stations, which were controlled by the state," he explains. Once people there had internet access, they could better communicate with the wider world and people were spurred on to "want more" for themselves. "The economic crash of 2007/08 had a huge economic impact on the Arab world which led to the Arab Spring."

Michael Stephens  for The BBC, 4 October

North Korea

North Korea's cold war era allies taking strong action to isolate Kim Jong-un regime

'Presumably in the course of that diplomatic interaction it is also being made clear to Pyongyang's partners that deeper trade ties with economies like South Korea will not be fully realizable'

Andrea Berger in International Business Times, 26 September

Squeezing North Korea: old friends take steps to isolate regime

"If long-standing friends of North Korea continue to publicly curb their ties with the country, Pyongyang will have fewer places overseas where its illicit networks can operate unhindered or with political cover from the host capital," said Andrea Berger, deputy director of the proliferation and nuclear policy program at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Andrea Berger in Reuters, 26 September

India-Pakistan Relations

India Says It Hit Pakistan Terror Camps After Attack on Army

"India has conducted covert, retaliatory cross-border raids on many occasions in the 1990s and 2000s, but to prominently announce them is a provocative new approach," he said in an e-mail. "Depending on how far the Indians penetrated and the nature of the targets, these might also represent much more ambitious operations."

Shashank Joshi in The Washington Post, 29 September

India launches ‘strikes’ on Pakistan terror targets

“Previous raids — and there have been many — were private signals between the Indians and the Pakistanis,” says Shashank Joshi, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. “This is a dramatic change. It’s a way of mollifying public audiences within India, and sending a powerful international signal about India’s intent to ensure these attacks do not go unpunished.”

Shashank Joshi in The Financial Times, 29 September

Tensions with India complicate Pakistan’s pick for next army chief

“Kashmir, which is in the midst of some of the worst unrest in years, will undoubtedly feature in Nawaz Sharif’s thinking,” said Ms Emily Winterbotham, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in London. “The next army chief will also have to look internally at the extremist threat” and preside over the military’s withdrawal in the tribal areas, she said.

Emily Winterbotham for Today, 7 October

Modi, Sharif curb tensions after raid across Pakistan border

"Pakistan's first response has been to deny that there was a raid. This helps Pakistan save face, and so reduces the risk of serious escalation," said Shashank Joshi, a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. "But Pakistan will understand that the public announcement of the raid by India means the rules of the game are changing, and we are likely to see greater defensive measures on the line of control."

Shashank Joshi in The Chicago Tribune, and Bloomberg, NBC News, 30 September

India evacuates 10,000 from border with Pakistan amid reprisal fears after Kashmir 'strikes'

“For Pakistan, shelling is an easy way to show defiance and helps infiltration,” said Mr Joshi. "India will respond and there will be an escalation of shelling which will have grave consequences for border villages, who suffer terribly in these cases. But if the ceasefire breaks down too much it hurts India more than Pakistan. India will want to draw back soon.”

Shashank Joshi for The Telegraph, 30 September

European Army

U.S.-Led NATO in Spotlight as Europe Pushes Joint Army, Defenses

"Can you name which conflict the EU wanted to be involved with but didn't because it didn't have a command headquarters?" he asked. "Is there an example of a time when the Americans did not allow the Europeans to go fighting? A lot of this army plan is in the realm of make-believe."

Jonathan Eyal for NBC News, 3 October

Saudi-US Relations

Angered by 9/11 law, Saudis rethink US alliance

“The countries still need each other, but it does increasingly look like a marriage that is past its sell-by date,” said Michael Stephens, the head of the Royal United Services Institute Qatar. “Both sides are questioning the utility of being hitched together.”

Michael Stephens for The Gulf News, 30 September

UK Resilience

Designated Survivor UK: What Happens if the British Government is Wiped Out?

“No, because it is assumed that this would be for just a short period of time”, he explains. “We are not likely to get wars like the First World War or the Second World War where it starts and it just goes on and on for years. It's not going to be over in 5 minutes, but clearly the critical element will be to respond to an immediate crisis at a time when a prime minister may be dead or killed or whatever.”

Jonathan Eyal for Gizmodo, 29 September

Cyber Security

You might have a Yahoo account and not even realize it: If you use Flickr, Tumblr or play fantasy sport you could be affected by massive breach of 500 million accounts

Would, for example, Russian intelligence wish to conduct a large-scale hack on a major internet company like Yahoo? Absolutely they would,' Shashank Joshi, senior research fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, told AFP.

Shashank Joshi in AFP, 24 September

Indian Defence Procurement

India buys 36 Rafale jets to bolster aging fleet

The purchase “addresses the question of shrinking numbers, but it still leaves India in a situation where it will be considerably outnumbered by the Chinese air force and it won’t have the considerable edge it had over the Pakistani air force at the beginning of the decade,” Joshi said in an interview.

Shashank Joshi in Business Mirror, 24 September

India’s Rafale deal belies strained procurement ability

Shashank Joshi, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute think-tank, says: “The problem is, every single bureaucrat wants to get through their time in office without having a procurement scandal.”

Shashank Joshi in The Financial Times, 25 September

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