In the wake of Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile success record in knocking down Palestinian missiles and rockets fired from Gaza earlier this month and the smuggling of more power Iranian missiles into Gaza, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced legislation to increase American funding for the advanced weapon defense system.
The legislation, which authorizes the President to provide additional funding if requested by the Israeli government, sets no dollar amount, but a formal request is expected shortly. Last year the United States provided $205 million for Iron Dome.
Cosponsoring the bill are Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), the Chairman of the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), and U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY).
In responding to the recent round of attacks by terrorist groups in Gaza, the first operational test for the missile interceptor "achieved some notable successes," said Mark A. Heller of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies. "It was able to discriminate between rockets likely to land in open areas and those headed for population centers, and to refrain from wasting itself on the former while intercepting about 80 percent of the latter." The IDF has put the success rate at 90 percent.
Israeli Amb. Michael Oren has said Israel needs at least 10 more Iron Dome batteries in addition to the three currently deployed and in southern Israel and two more under construction. The goal is 16 batteries to cover all of Israel, including the Syrian and Lebanese-Hizbullah borders in the north.
Iron Dome doesn't go after every missile fired at Israel but is able to determine which are headed for populated areas and ignore those that are most likely to strike harmlessly.
Dov Raviv, an Israeli expert in missile defense, has said that without Iron Dome interceptors the only way to stop the missiles and protect the residents of southern Israel "would be to occupy Gaza or go back to Operation Cast Lead."
Iron Dome is designed to defend against missiles fired from between 2.5 and 45 miles away but reportedly is not yet able to intercept longer-range Fajr missiles, supplied and built by Iran and capable of hitting Tel Aviv from Gaza.
Despite this month's success record, Iron Dome has not been tested against a massive barrage fired from Gaza or Lebanon, as happened prior years.
"The real test will come when the number of rockets is more significant and the potential damage also increases," said an Israeli air force commander.
"We Have Done With Hope and Honor, We are lost to Love and Truth.
We are Dropping down the ladder rung by rung;
And the measurement of our torment is the measure of our youth.
God help us; for we knew the worst too young."
Recent raids on Gaza were not just about allocating more money to defense - they were also about war with Iran.
In response to the recent assassination of Zuhair al-Qaisi, the Secretary General of the Popular Resistance Committees in the Gaza Strip, along with another fighter, Palestinians fired rockets at southern Israel and the Israeli military launched air strikes at targets throughout the Strip.
Within hours, the media fanfare began. Israeli news outlets began glorifying the interception missiles by repeatedly showing images of an Iron Dome battery, often with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak standing in front of the defense system. Reporters continuously emphasized the Iron Dome's high rate of success in intercepting the short-range rockets launched from Gaza towards Israel. One columnist characterized it as a "system that provides the goods, authentic Israeli brilliance, true pride", while another columnist stated that this "weekend Israel took its hat off [to salute] Iron Dome".
Initially, the government and security establishment claimed that "al-Qaisi was assassinated in order to prevent an attack that was in the final stages of preparation". Two days after Israel carried out the extra-judicial execution, however, the claim that al-Qaisi presented an imminent danger dissipated.
On March 11, Ofer Shelah reported that "even from the statements made yesterday by the Minister of Defense one got the sense that the assassination was not about direct prevention: Barak clearly stated that it is not totally clear what was being planned, from where, and whether the attack had been foiled. From this, it can be assumed that the attack was more about deterrence".
As the days passed, several commentators revealed that the assassination had been planned well in advance and that the military had made the necessary preparations, including deployment of the Iron Dome batteries. "A Planned Escalation," read the title of one article in Yedioth Ahronoth and in the text, the analyst explained that the "IDF had prepared an ambush" for al-Qaisi. Yoav Limor, an "expert on military affairs", wrote that in essence "al-Qaisi was alive-dead for over a week, and his assassination was delayed until the prime minister completed his diplomatic campaign in Washington, and until after the Purim Holiday and the weather cleared up". Most analysts intimated that Israel knew that the assassination would lead to an escalation. And this, it almost seems, is what it wanted.
The question, of course, is why?
There are those who totally misunderstood Israel's goals. Ma'ariv's top political analyst Ben Kaspit called for an extensive attack against the Strip, portraying the residents of southern Israel as hostages of a "terrorist gang that has infested Gaza… [and] that can spray the whole south with rockets". In his view Barak had stopped the IDF at the beginning of Operation Cast Lead ostensibly for humanitarian reasons, but fortunately the operation turned out to be successful not least because in its midst "the leaders of Hamas cut their beards and went down to the tunnels". Kaspit concludes that it is now time to "complete the job". "We need to understand," he tells his readers, "that no one will clean Gaza for us… and terror, unfortunately, understands only one language."
Judy Nir Moses Shalom, the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, is not the most sophisticated thinker either. "I hope," she wrote on her Facebook page, "that during the cabinet meeting a decision will be reached to enter Gaza and to liquidate all those responsible for the nightmare which the south is undergoing. Enough silence. The time has come to make Gaza's passive residents suffer like [Israel's southern] residents." As if this kind of beastly reaction was not enough, she also tweeted to her followers: "Have a good week. I hope that today it will be decided to demolish Gaza if the shooting does not stop. So that they will suffer too."
Most analysts wittingly or unwittingly intimated, however, that there were other reasons for initiating the current cycle of violence, and justifying a major offensive on Gaza was not one of them.
Message for Iran
The majority of reporters and columnists served as the mouthpiece for the security establishment, calling on the government to allocate more funds to buy additional Iron Domes. Or Heller from Channel Ten is a good example. He asked his audience to "imagine how this cycle would have looked without the success of three Iron Dome batteries… imagine the tanks that would have had to enter Gaza's mud… a fourth battery is on its way. What about a fifth battery? God is great and the budget is small. It is clear to everyone today that we need more and more Iron Domes." Ofer Shelah from NRG put it succinctly: "The prime minister must decide unequivocally… that Iron Dome, like other defense mechanisms, is beyond the realm of the budget debate." Another more reflective reporter pointed out that the Grad rockets “flying from the Strip serve as the best lobbyist for the defense budget".
The recent attack is, however, not only about allocating more money to the military; it is also about Iran. The media continuously drew a connection between the Islamic jihad, which launched most of the rockets against Israel, and Iran. The IDF spokesperson pointed an accusing finger towards Teheran, claiming that it is transferring weapons and money to the Islamic Jihad. A couple of days later a headline in Yisrael Hayom declared, "Iran is Behind the Jihad's Rocket Attack". Hence, another objective was to show the Israeli public that Iran, by means of a proxy, had already begun attacking Israel.
Next, a link was drawn between Iron Dome's success and the perceived Iranian threat. Ynet cited a military general who stated that the escalation is about Gaza today, "but I am not sure that this is the scenario for which I am preparing the fighters. There are threats from the north and threats from further away". A columnist noted that Iron Dome's effectiveness "helped demonstrate to everyone that the Israeli home front enjoys a relatively good defense today... Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran will have to reconsider their strategy of missile terrorism..."
Indeed, many analysts emphasized that only a handful of Israelis had been injured, but none fatally. The fighting, they accordingly claimed, produced relatively little pressure on the home front. Alon Ben David from Channel Ten summed up this perspective when he wrote: "There is no doubt that Iron Dome alongside the population's exemplary behavior prevented casualties on the Israeli side and enabled Israel to come out of this cycle - I would say - with a sense of satisfaction. Twenty-two [combatants] were killed on the other side, and another three or four civilians; we have zero losses… under these conditions we can conduct a monitored [fray] that we initiate…"
Zvi Barel from Haaretz was one of the lone critical voices, providing readers some insight into Israel's real objectives. He exposed the logic behind the Iron Dome's glorification, claiming that it helps Netanyahu "sell" the planned attack against Iran: "After Iron Dome demonstrated its 95 per cent effectiveness, there is no better proof to Israeli citizens that they will not suffer serious damage following an assault against Iran. Escalation in Gaza is good for Israel, meaning for those who support attacking Iran".
In a slightly different context and using Netanyahu's duck allegory, Haaretz's editor-in-chief Aluf Benn wrote, "what looks like a preparation for war, acts like a preparation for war, and quacks like a preparation for war, is a preparation for war, and not just a 'bluff' or a diversion tactic".
"We Have Done With Hope and Honor, We are lost to Love and Truth.
We are Dropping down the ladder rung by rung;
And the measurement of our torment is the measure of our youth.
God help us; for we knew the worst too young."
New Protests Test Saudi Monarchy's Control
March 21, 2012 | 1238 GMT
Shiite women protest Feb. 24 for self-determination
The Arabian Peninsula has not been immune to the wave of recent demonstrations in countries across the Middle East. Notably, protests have been ongoing in Saudi Arabia's Shiite-concentrated Eastern Province for more than a year. Recently, however, unrelated demonstrations began in parts of the country where such unrest is rare, including a March 19 protest by female students demanding changes in university regulations and an improved infrastructure and academic environment at the Women's College of Art campuses in Asir province and Qassim province.
Historically, the Saudi monarchy has employed a series of tactics and sophisticated religious and tribal networks of influence to shut down -- or at least maintain control over -- the relatively few demonstrations that have developed outside the Shiite-majority region. But the new, Sunni-led protests are primarily youth-driven and supported by modern tools such as the Internet -- factors that could erode the monarchy's reliable methods of dissent suppression and potentially lead to an unprecedented escalation of demonstrations.
The protest that sparked the recent string of demonstrations in Saudi Arabia began March 7 at an all-female campus of King Khalid University in Asir province. Hundreds of students reportedly protested against discrimination and mismanagement at the university before security forces dispersed the crowd with batons, injuring dozens. The incident reportedly spurred similar gatherings by both men and women in solidarity with the King Khalid University students -- as well as in demand for better facilities -- at several other universities across Saudi Arabia, including in Riyadh. According to social media and news reports, additional demonstrations are planned for the coming weeks.
Protests are banned in Saudi Arabia, making the recent events quite anomalous. Thus far, the demonstrations outside Eastern Province have not called for political reform or involved slogans expressing grievances against the government. The demonstrations could cease to gain traction, or be satisfied with minor concessions and die out. However, small human rights protests often lead to larger demands for political change.
There are several key differences between the protests in Eastern Province and those in other parts of the country. Since February 2011, eastern Shiite demonstrators have demanded political reforms, the release of political prisoners and increased recognition of human rights. In contrast, the recent protests outside Eastern Province are Sunni-led and have called primarily for better university facilities. The demonstrators have not yet called for political reforms, which could threaten the Saudi government.
Suppression and Stability Strategies
The Saudi royals fear that a nascent reformist faction will gain traction due to the rise of political Islamists elsewhere in the Arab world. These concerns are growing at a time when the Saudi rulers are also facing upcoming challenges in the royal family succession. At this point, the demonstrations do not pose a serious threat to the stability of the monarchy, and the royals still have a number of well-established mechanisms to contain the dissent.
The monarchy maintains a tight security apparatus, which can be quickly dispatched to break up demonstrations. However, unlike other regimes, Saudi authorities avoid using brute force against protesters. Instead, to maintain their hegemony and social stability, the Saudi authorities isolate instigators from wider society (often through a series of arrests) and seek to use their entrenched influence among the Saudi tribal and religious networks to quell public dissent before it spreads.
To keep the population and local leaders happy, the monarchy provides a combination of cash handouts, subsidies and benefits. It also regularly marries into and develops relationships with nearly every tribe and province. And it cultivates varying degrees of influence in the country's ulema, or religious networks, by instilling fear of religious condemnation and arrests into both religious leaders and the general population. This nexus between local and religious leadership and the al-Saud family provides the monarchy networks that can be wielded to exert influence among a wide array of Saudi citizens. The networks also help perpetuate a norm among Saudis that public dissent, especially protests, is a taboo Western tactic and is fundamentally un-Islamic.
Cultural Shifts and Challenges
It is important to watch for signs of erosion of this norm, which is a possibility considering that the demonstrations have occurred primarily among Saudi youth, who might not be as influenced by the hierarchies of Saudi tribes and families. In addition, the youth have access to previously unavailable tools, such as the Internet, which is used by some to discuss current circumstances and continue to explore ideas even when demonstrations are shut down. The frequency and growing geographical diversity of the protests suggests the monarchy cannot rely on Saudi norms and networks to pacify dissent.
If demonstrations strengthen and become more political, authorities might decide that stronger suppression tactics, similar to those employed to manage the simmering unrest in the Eastern Province, are necessary. Indeed, tactics such as arrests, a heavier security presence, the use of rubber bullets and tear gas, and controlling the clerics through ulema networks have allowed authorities to largely contain the demonstrations and prevent them from undermining governance and the economy in the Eastern Province. If the new protests escalate, how the demonstrators respond to the government's tactics -- and whether the spirit of protest endure -- will be increasingly important to observe.
Read more: New Protests Test Saudi Monarchy's Control | Stratfor
Troops in Mali have attacked the presidential palace in the capital Bamako hours after staging a mutiny.
The renegade troops traded gunfire with soldiers loyal to the government.
The mutineers say the government is not giving them enough arms to battle a rebellion by ethnic Tuaregs.
There has been heavy gunfire in Bamako and armoured vehicles have moved in to protect the presidential palace.
Martin Vogl is in Bamako.
Mutineers in Mali palace attack
Sand and fury: Mali's Tuareg rebels
Ex-Tuareg leader in Niger arrest
In the ripples of Libya's revolution
Mali fighting 'displaces 130,000'
UN warning over Malian refugees
Mali coup fears after military mutiny
The Associated Press
Posted: Mar 21, 2012 11:03 PM ET
Last Updated: Mar 21, 2012 11:02 PM ET
Civilians walk past burning tires lit in support of mutinying soldiers, in Bamako, Mali, on March 21. Civilians walk past burning tires lit in support of mutinying soldiers, in Bamako, Mali, on March 21. (Harouna Traore/Associated Press)
Soldiers have stormed the state TV and radio station in Mali, as fears of a possible coup gripped the West African country in the wake of a military mutiny that spread from a garrison in the capital of Bamako to one thousands of kilometres away.
The sound of heavy weapons rang out Wednesday and trucks carrying soldiers were seen fanning out around the building housing the state broadcaster. Television screens went black across the landlocked nation for roughly seven hours, coming back a little before midnight to announce that a government statement would soon be issued.
Throughout Africa, coups usually begin with the seizing of national television, and the population was on edge. The presidential palace rushed to deny that a coup was in progress, issuing a tweet, saying: "There is no coup in Mali. There's just a mutiny."
The mutiny began Wednesday morning at a military camp in the capital, during a visit by Defence Minister Gen. Sadio Gassama. In his speech to the troops, the minister failed to address the grievances of the rank-and-file soldiers, who are angry over what they say is the government's mismanagement of a rebellion in the north of the country by Tuareg separatists.
The rebellion has claimed the lives of numerous soldiers, and those sent to fight are not given sufficient supplies, including arms and food.
Recruits started firing into the air, according to a soldier who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press. By afternoon, soldiers had surrounded the state television station in central Bamako, and by evening, troops had started rioting at a military garrison located in the northern town of Gao.
State television goes dark
A freelance journalist from Sweden who was driving to her hotel near the TV station at around 4 p.m. local time said that trucks full of soldiers surrounded the building.
"We saw a couple of trucks, with military on them. They came and started setting up checkpoints. There were military in the streets, stopping people. People were afraid," said Katarina Hoije. "When we reached our hotel which is just in front of the TV station, there were lots of military outside, and more cars kept arriving — pickup trucks with soldiers on them."
She said that they set up two machine-guns facing the building. Soon after, TV stations throughout the capital went black. There was no signal on state radio.
The soldiers who took part in the attack said they want to pressure the government to listen to their demands, and not to overthrow the landlocked nation's democratically elected leaders. But in the capital which has weathered multiple coups, the population was rattled. Businesses closed early and office workers rushed to get home.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: "The situation is currently unclear and unfolding quickly. We understand that radio and television signals are dead. There are reports of military forces surrounding the presidential palace and movement of vehicles between the palace and the military barracks."
UN chief calls for peace
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for calm and for grievances to be resolved peacefully and within the democratic process, according to UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey.
In the strategic northern town of Gao, located over 3,000 kilometres from the capital, the mutiny started at sundown at a military base just outside the city. A military student who was at the base and who asked not to be named out of fear for his safety said that the young recruits started shooting in the air. They then took hostage four to five of their senior commanding officers, and sequestered them, saying they will not release them until their demands are met.
They then began going door-to-door looking for the commander of the camp, a general who is in charge of operations against the Tuaregs, said the student.
The general was nowhere to be found and by nightfall, the soldiers had broadened their search beyond the barracks to the town of Gao, located six kilometres away.
The Tuareg uprising that began in mid-January is being fuelled by arms left over from the civil war in neighbouring Libya. Tens of thousands of people have fled the north, and refugees have spilled over into four of the countries neighbouring Mali due to the uprising.
U.S. intelligence agencies monitoring China’s Internet say that from March 14 to Wednesday bloggers circulated alarming reports of tanks entering Beijing and shots being fired in the city as part of what is said to have been a high-level political battle among party leaders - and even a possible military coup.
The Internet discussions included photos posted online of tanks and other military vehicles moving around Beijing.
The reports followed the ouster last week of senior Politburo member and Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, who was linked to corruption, but who is said to remain close to China’s increasingly nationalistic military.
Chinese microblogging sites Sina Weibo, QQ Weibo, and the bulletin board of the search engine Baidu all reported “abnormalities” in Beijing on the night of March 19.
The comments included rumors of the downfall of the Shanghai leadership faction and a possible “military coup,” along with reports of gunfire on Beijing’s Changan Street. The reports were quickly removed by Chinese censors shortly after postings and could no longer be accessed by Wednesday.
The unusual postings included reports that military vehicles were sent to control Changan Street, along with plainclothes police officers and metal barriers.
Another posting quoted internal sources as saying senior Communist Party leaders are divided over the ouster of Mr. Bo. The divide was said to pit Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and against party security forces and Minister of Public Security Zhou Yongkang.
Late Wednesday, another alarming indicator came when Beijing authorities ordered all levels of public-security and internal-security forces under Mr. Zhou to conduct nationwide study sessions, although Mr. Zhou’s name was not on the order - a sign his future may be in doubt.
Additional references on Chinese social media included vague mention of high-level party political struggles and related police activity in Beijing.
One posting referred to a mysterious atmosphere in Beijing and a reported shooting Tuesday night. The posting was quickly censored by authorities.
PENTAGON CYBERSECURITY LACKING
A defense official told Congress this week that Pentagon security efforts against hackers and other threats remain weak.
Kaigham J. Gabriel, acting director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, told a Senate hearing Tuesday that the Pentagon is “capability-limited in cyber, both defensively and offensively.”
“We need to change that,” Mr. Gabriel said.
He noted that most details of cybersecurity threats and efforts to counter them can only be disclosed at the “special-access level,” the most secret security classification.
However, in both public and prepared statements to the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats, Mr. Gabriel issued unusually blunt criticism of Pentagon cyberwarfare programs, both offensive and defensive.
As for cyberdefenses, Mr. Gabriel revealed that “attackers can penetrate our networks.”
“In just 3 days and at a cost of only $18,000, the Host-Based Security System was penetrated,” he said.
Also, password security remains a “weak link.” For example, in security tests, 53,000 passwords were given to simulated hackers and, within 48 hours, 38,000 passwords were cracked.
Also, the defense supply chain is “at risk,” Mr. Gabriel said.
“More than two-thirds of electronics in U.S. advanced fighter aircraft are fabricated in off-shore foundries,” he said.
Additionally, physical systems can be penetrated easily by hackers. In one case, a smartphone hundreds of miles away took control of a car’s drive system through a security hole in its wireless interface.
“The United States continues to spend on cybersecurity with limited increase in security,” Mr. Gabriel said. “The federal government expended billions of dollars in 2010, but the number of malicious cyberintrusions has increased.”
Mr. Gabriel said the Pentagon has used a layered approach to protecting networks from attack that is not well-suited to dealing with evolving cyberthreats.
“Malicious cyberattacks are not merely an existential threat to [Defense Department] bits and bytes. They are a real threat to physical systems, including military systems, and to U.S. warfighters,” he said. “The United States will not prevail against these threats simply by scaling our current approaches.”
Regarding offensive cyberwarfare operations, Mr. Gabriel said the Pentagon “must have the capability to conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our nation, allies, and interests.”
The Pentagon needs a full range of cybertools for offensive attacks to secure national interests.
“Modern operations will demand the effective use of cyber, kinetic, and combined cyber and kinetic means,” Mr. Gabriel said. He said the shelf life for such weapons may be “days” as defenses are devised or offensive attacks thwarted.
Cyberwarfare tools also can be adapted from intelligence-gathering methods, Mr. Garbriel said.
“Rather, cyber [warfare] options are needed that can be executed at the speed, scale, and pace of our military kinetic options with comparable predicted outcomes,” he said.
In criticism of current U.S. government squabbling over controls and structure, Mr. Gabriel said a better question to be asked once lines of authority are clarified is: “What now?”
“The lack of capability is the overwhelming issue,” Mr. Gabriel said. “Further oversight strategies must be updated and be at pace with the threat.”
SCHWARTZ ON CHINA
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told the Senate this week that he is most concerned by China’s military integration.
Asked during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday about China’s aircraft carriers, stealth fights and advanced space programs, Gen. Schwartz said he is less worried about hardware than developments in joint-warfighting and electronic advances.
“I would say their areas, in not so much hardware, but in integration of electronic warfare techniques, of cyber capabilities and so on, with more traditional tools of the trade,” Gen. Schwartz said. “They are becoming more sophisticated in this respect, and that is the thing that I am paying the most attention to.”
China is rapidly building up its military forces to be able to conduct high-technology warfare using a combination of advanced conventional weapons and a growing arsenal of nuclear and non-nuclear strategic weapons.
They include new nuclear arms, multiple-warhead missiles, an advanced anti-ship ballistic missiles, anti-satellite weapons and cyber warfare capabilities.
Last edited by Housecarl; 03-21-2012 at 11:45 PM.
Reason: added links to threads
The unceremonious dismissal March 15 of high-ranking communist official Bo Xilai - the powerful party chief of the world’s largest metropolis, Chongqing - is causing major concern over the Communist Party’s ability to control the ultimate guarantor of the regime, the 2.28 million-strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Mr. Bo, a flamboyant member of the 25-man collective party dictatorship group called the Politburo, had a penchant for fanning Maoist populism. He was purged after his police chief and vice mayor, Wang Lijun, walked into the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6 and stayed overnight there in what ultimately was a failed attempt to seek political asylum.
In cleaning up the political fallout Mr. Bo created in Chongqing, Beijing leaders discovered a far more frightening aspect of Mr. Bo’s ambition: his assiduous efforts to infiltrate the army leadership to prepare for a possible military coup if his political ambition were not fulfilled, according to the reported confessions of the current mayor of Chongqing, Huang Qifan, who until a week ago had been Mr. Bo’s henchman and spin doctor for public media on the Wang Lijun scandal.
According to an inside source from the nation’s capital, Mr. Huang revealed a plot to internal party investigators who had been dispatched from Beijing.
“Bo Xilai told me repeatedly that he had actual control over at least two PLA army corps and that if ‘that idiot Xi Jinping’ really becomes the successor to Hu Jintao, [Bo] would immediately order the troops into Beijing and eliminate those SOBs!” Mr. Huang said.
The first scare of a possible military action taken by Mr. Bo occurred in November, when President Hu Jintao was out of the country in Hawaii for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting.
In Mr. Hu’s absence, Mr. Bo staged a large, boisterous military exercise in Chongqing. He invited China’s defense minister, Gen. Liang Guanglie, and all other local party strongmen in southwestern China to attend, in violation of a series of Communist Party procedural taboos with regard to troop movements.
Mr. Bo belongs to the powerful faction of “princelings” whose fathers were founding members of the People's Republic of China. The princelings constitute about 40 percent of the current 25-man Politburo.
Although civilians exercise the dominant influence in the Politburo, princelings occupy a growing number of important positions in the highest echelons of the army. Those princelings’ links to the army worry the party’s high command most.
In addition, Zhou Yongkang - Mr. Bo’s fellow princeling in the Politburo and China’s internal security chief, who commands a vast, 1.2 million-member paramilitary force called the People’s Armed Police - is widely known as Mr. Bo’s closest political ally. He also was implicated in the Wang Lijun scandal, according to various news reports in China.
On Monday, the People’s Liberation Army Daily, mouthpiece of the Central Military Commission, published an unusually timed editorial calling for the army’s “absolute obedience to the command of the [party’s] Central Committee, the Central Military Commission and Chairman Hu.”
Such editorials in the past followed major holidays or anniversaries. Some are published in an apparent bid to squelch an internal crisis by signaling to the public that a major purge is in the offing. Monday’s date, March 19, carries no political or celebratory significance in China.
“We must unequivocally oppose all kinds of erroneous ideas and always listen to the party and follow the party,” an editorial urged the troops.
HACKERS STOLE F-35 SECRETS
Chinese computer hackers recently hit the British defense contractor BAE, a partner in the U.S. Air Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
“For 18 months, Chinese cyber attacks had taken place against BAE and had managed to get hold of plans of one of its latest fighters,” a senior BAE executive told London’s Sunday Times.
There were similar reports of Chinese cyberattacks against Northrop Grumman, another partner in the F-35 JSF project.
“Chinese hackers actually sat in on what were supposed to have been secure, online program-progress conferences,” the Feb. 3 edition of Aviation Week quoted U.S. government officials as saying.
China has shown rapid development of advanced, next-generation aircraft and unmanned aircraft that appear uncannily similar to original U.S. designs. They include China’s J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter and what appear to be homemade adaptations of Global Hawk and other intelligence and sensor aircraft.
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