Category Archives: Uncategorized

Afghanistan’s New Best Friends

The April 30th NightWatch contained some very interesting information about what will happen in Afghanistan once NATO withdrawal is complete.

India-Russia-Afghanistan: India, Russia and Afghanistan quietly have created a triangular arrangement for providing arms aid to Afghanistan after NATO withdraws. None of the countries have made an official announcement. Only a small number of news services, including The Moscow Times and Pakistani newspapers, have published articles about it.

The arrangement was finalized in February when an India team visited Moscow, but it had been under discussion during the past year. It was one of the discussion items when President Karzai visited India last December.

Under the agreement, smaller arms such as light artillery and mortars will be provided by Russia and moved to Afghanistan from the north, while India paid Russia for the equipment. An inventory of Russian-made equipment in Afghanistan has been completed. Afghanistan has presented India with a list of requirements and Russia reportedly has made one or more initial shipments.

An Indian Ministry of External Affairs officer said, “We can’t commit troops on the ground; we can’t give them the military equipment that they have been asking us for, for all sorts of reasons including the lack of surplus stocks….Involving a third party is the next best option.”

Afghanistan India Russia

Afghanistan India Russia

This is a very touchy matter for Pakistan, their strategic opponent India providing weapons to a country on the opposite side, creating the potential for a two front war. KGS NightWatch reports this is actually pleasing to the other countries in the region, as it keeps Afghanistan from sliding into the Pakistani sphere, and then into play with their internal conflicts.

Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979 and this hopeless, endless conflict is named as one of the key components that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union twelve years later. When Romanian NATO troops showed up with Russian looking uniforms and AK-47s it caused consternation among the locals, who feared the Russians had returned. Russian weapons have never left – AK-47s, 12.7x108mm machine guns, and RPG7 rocket launchers are still the right small weapons for this geographic area.

Calculus in the region is complicated by the urge for independence in Balochistan, which would affect Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.

Balochistan

Balochistan

China has been investing heavily in the region, from the port of Gwadar on the Balochi Pakistan coast to internal rail improvements. Russia has been less active in terms of foreign investment but they have already made their weight felt with regards to Syria and are now participants in a regional stability scheme for Central Asia.

Neo-Conservatives will have a case of the vapors over this, but the blame for reduced U.S. influence on the region falls squarely on their shoulders for their role in engineering Bush’s disastrous adventure in Iraq. Afghanistan has always been an unruly empire killer and I am in favor of anything which can keep trouble there from radiating into Pakistan.

GDELT’s Analysis Service

I first noticed the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone on New Years day, which led me to write Foreign Policy’s Global Conversation Infograhic. Three weeks later the service was mysteriously suspended and five days later we got an explanation as to what happened.

Since the successful resolution of concerns regarding data and processes used by GDELT they have made dramatic progress. GDELT Analysis Service offers fourteen different visualizations and export of the associated data. I entered the keyword ‘Ukraine’, selected all data for 2014, and about a minute later I received an email with this link to a live heatmap and another link to a CSV file.

Ukraine Mentions During 2014

Ukraine Mentions During 2014

Next I used the timeline tool. I was hoping for a live page like the location heat map, but it just produces a static image and a CSV file.

Each GDELT event contains a date, geographic coordinates, the players involved, and the type of interaction. The content is regular enough that it could be mapped to an import process for Sentinel Visualizer, an intelligence sector link analysis tool. I had set out to do something similar with the Global Terrorism Database last summer, but there were license issues, and the dataset lacks the live feed feature that GDELT provides.

GDELT is clearly going to grow services based on the live stream of content they have available. These services are likely to play to the strengths they have in defining and operating the stream. There should be plenty of room for follow on qualitative analysis and integration of data sources external to their feed. Data sources such as spot commodity prices in locations trending towards trouble would be particularly helpful in spotting hazards before they get out of hand.

What Edward Snowden May Reveal

U.S. intelligence officials are generally comfortable with the new collaboration. Those I have spoken to over the past three weeks have only one major concern. The fear is that details of these operations, including the identities of the targets covered by these operations, currently reside in the four laptops reportedly held by Edward Snowden, who has spent the past three weeks in the transit lounge at Sheremetyevo Airport outside Moscow waiting for his fate to be decided. Officials at both the CIA and NSA know that the public disclosure of these operations would cause incalculable damage to U.S. intelligence operations abroad as well as massive embarrassment to the U.S. government. If anyone wonders why the U.S. government wants to get its hands on Edward Snowden and his computers so badly, this is an important reason why.

Admin Note: Intimidation, Infiltration, Investigation

Who Is th3j35t3r?

Who Is th3j35t3r?

Around the time @Pythorian made the above blog post a bunch of weirdos started acting even weirder than normal.

Intimidation

“blah blah blah blah I know X about you tee hee”.

Pastebin it or STFU.

Infiltration

OK, my LinkedIn account with no back story, no profile photo, and a goofy name I am just sure he will not catch has five whole contacts.

Take a number