A few curated security links to kick off the week, with a focus on South Asia:
India is reportedly stepping its defense cooperation with Sri Lanka and the Maldives, two island states in the Indian Ocean. According to the Times of India, the assistance will focus primarily on “capacity building” of the armed forces of both countries. New Delhi will supply equipment and assist in training. The decision to ramp up defense ties with Sri Lanka and Maldives was likely spurred by China’s interest in both those countries. Prior to his visit to India, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited both Sri Lanka and the Maldives where he promoted China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative and emphasized maritime complementarities between China and the two Indian Ocean states.
Meanwhile, India and China are holding counter-terror drills along their disputed border, where they had a major face-off involving over a thousand troops from both sides less than a month ago. The exercises are being promoted as a confidence-building measure following last month’s stand-off in the Chumar sector of Ladakh.
Following the death of a Pakistani Frontier Corps soldier from Iranian firing near the Pakistan-Iran border, tensions are high between the two countries. Islamabad summoned the Irani ambassador to protest the killing. Tehran, meanwhile, demands that Islamabad take charge of its border and prevent “terrorists and rebels” from entering Iran. This incident is the latest is a series of events causing poor relations between Iran and Pakistan. In February 2014, an Iranian minister threatened to “send forces into Pakistan” over a group of five Iranian border guards abducted by Jaish al-Adl, a Sunni militant group based in Balochistan.
Over the weekend, the South Korean border guards fired warning shots at an advancing North Korean squad over the military demarcation line (MDL) inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
Over at Defense One, James Jay Carafano makes the provocative argument that containment (the very concept itself) is a myth. Since this is a strategy that is commonly proposed with reference to China, it’s worth a read. Jerry Meyerle, also writing for Defense One, makes the case that successful containment additionally needs “boots on the ground.”
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst with years of expertise on South Asia, just penned a piece with the provocative title that “ICYMI: India-Pakistan Head for Nuke War.” Reidel makes the case that the recent flare up in cross-border violence could spark the South Asian tinderbox. ” The escalatory ladder is far more terrifying” now than it was when India and Pakistan fought their last war in 1999, writes Riedel.