September 19, 2017

The Hidden Magic of Uncertainty

Geoff Pilkington

Futurist, Neo-Generalist, Minimalist, Millennial, Indigo Kid, Actor, Blogger, Podcaster, and Content Creator.

Sep 15

“All Great Changes Are Preceded By Chaos.”

~ Deepak Chopra

Who made the rule that we had to have an answer to everything? Who made the rule that we had to know who we are, what we want to do with our lives, what career we want to have, what religious doctrines (if any) we want to follow, who we want to marry, and what are hobbies, interests, or lack thereof entail? Who said there are these rules about being decisive? Everyone likes to give people reasons to “find themselves”. I want to take a step back today and examine the idea of the question. I digress. I know I’m asking a lot of questions here. But what if the answer was in that questioning and undecided state? We do not have answers without questions right? So as you’re wondering if you are interested in someone, if you should take this job or that job, or if you should get a salad at Whole Foods vs. drive through at Taco Bell take a step back and realize that we are constantly finding answers within our uncertain states. Want to know why?

Let me tell you a secret:

Uncertainty = Vulnerability

That’s where the magic is.

By not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable we deprive ourselves of feelings. Without feelings, we are lost. We are talking heads. In a society that endlessly pounds away at us to have the answer to the question, who’s to say “I don’t know.” is not the right answer? What is Vulnerability? What are some examples of it?

The dictionary defines it as:



the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

What does this evoke? Fear. And fear is scary. It goes without saying. But only by facing these fears, does change occur. So what are some examples of vulnerability?

In a recent presentation Melanie Childers (MA, MDiv, BCC, LPC) gives some great examples:

Telling my CEO that we won’t make payroll next month

Laying off employees

Presenting my ideas to the world and getting no response

Standing up for myself and for friends when someone else is critical or gossiping

Being accountable

Asking for forgiveness

Having faith

Waiting for the biopsy to come back

Saying no

Calling a friend whose child just died

First date after my divorce

Getting fired

Trying something new

Sharing an unpopular opinion.

Wow. Uncertainly requires bravery. It’s hard to be brave in 2017.

But ultimately…

Vulnerability = Facing Fears

Anyone ever been SkyDiving? I have. In Australia above the Great Barrier Reef. I must say it was a peaceful experience. Surprised? It was a lot of fun. And a rush. What is it about skydiving? Most people’s reaction is it seems like something incredibly scary. But once you’re in the air if you open your eyes it’s really not. Truly. It’s a “BLISSFUL” experience as Will Smith describes in the video I’m about to share.


~Will Smith

Take a look at Will Smith talking about FEAR and SkyDiving:

I can personally confirm what he is saying is 100% correct. What can we learn from this? Ultimate serenity is on the other side of fear.

With that being said here are a couple of phases of our humanity and and proof that being a little uncertain in each phase that proves that uncertainty actually is a hidden answer in and of itself.

1. Vulnerability In Romance aka. The Problem with Dating Apps

Oscar Wilde once brilliantly proclaimed that the very essence of romance is uncertainty. Dating Apps are cool but wow do they strip away the real you. You can hide behind whatever you want. You don’t ever have to meet the person. You can put whatever your best photo is forward. You can show yourself doing fun things in exotic places. All this is wonderful, but it’s rare we see someone laying on their couch watching TV and eating Doritos.

Here’s another secret. The best moments expose real vulnerability and often lead to romance and connection.

Regarding the boom of online dating apps in the past few years, writer Cassie Werber in her article “Dating Apps Make People Less Attractive In Real Life”writes:

This is quite different from the traditional romantic trajectory, in which two people get to know each other and become closer over time. “Tinder feels more like a huge menu than mutually dependent reciprocal choice,” Hall says. Based on general evaluability theory, “people devalue their partner when they rate their conversation partner against attractive others, because they had other people they would have wanted more.”

The bottom line is to find a potential mate we have to love. We have to be out in the world and raw and real. I also truly believe that most of the time the person you meet in online dating is not what you expected when you see them in person. This is not always the case however it is very easy to be let down. Want to know why? Several reasons.

Our mind creates an imaginary, idealistic view of the person on the other end making it virtually impossible to ever match it. There’s many times when a person idolizes a movie star, band, or TV personality only to meet them and be let down when they realize they are actually just another person. Same goes with dating apps but on a smaller scale.People tend to make themselves look better on dating apps instead of being true to their own inner being and inner vulnerability.We are currently living in a spur-the-moment age of wanting it all fast and now. People want something right now and are easily distracted. They play into the idea that there is always something better around the corner.

But being vulnerable is not easy to do. We have to face things we don’t want to face. Living in the raw so to speak isn’t fun at first. But once we’ve jumped out of the airplane, realize we have a parachute, and see the beautiful view, fear turns to bliss.

The fact is:

Facing Fears = Not Comfortable

Finding love online is a tough game going in. That’s not to say plenty of people don’t meet their future soulmates on apps. But it is a hard platform to find connection on. The best thing you can possibly be is you and being you comes with allowing yourself to not necessarily be a perfect 10 in your real life or online life. There’s magic in vulnerability. There’s a hidden truth in uncertainty. Embrace this and you’ll be surprised what turns your life takes.

2. Vulnerability in Career

We are constantly told we have to be ready for job interviews. You better go in and know the answer to every questions, say the answer with confidence, and do all the right things or you don’t get the job. Bit of pressure no? First off, who says you have to have the answer to every question? Even in the biggest job interview of your life, not knowing the answer could be what makes a company hire you. The reason for this is it’s the moment we are most vulnerable is when we are most connected to our inner truth and humanity. Those moments of brash rawness are a beautiful and very authentic thing.

Mallory Blair, Co-founder of Small Girls PR met with a woman recently from an investment firm who runs communications for a portfolio that includes companies such as ASOS and Facebook. The woman asked her if she felt, at 25 years old and new to the PR world, vulnerable and insecure. It reminded her of an important human truth that is often overlooked.

Mallory writes:

So yes, I definitely feel vulnerable. Some days more than others. But it’s knowing that I don’t know everything that causes me to live by these four rules:

Hire people more experienced and smarter than I am

Be clear and upfront about anticipated results and capabilities

Charge based upon the value I can confidently deliver

Work tirelessly

Those are the same four rules that end up defining the quality of my personal output and, in turn, contribute to the character of our company.

Mallory realizes the power in vulnerability and in being honest with people about it. See, vulnerability drives progress. If we aren’t vulnerable, we are comfortable. Mallory concluded that not being comfortable meant change was inevitable.

Not comfortable = Change

If we are comfortable we are at a standstill. And last I checked you can’t steer a parked car. Identifying weaknesses improves strengths. There’s no better example of this than the gym. Breaking down muscle tissue builds stronger muscle tissue. See any La-Z Boy recliners at a gym recently? Comfort is boring and not attractive to the onlooker. I was working out with professional host and fitness trainer Brittani Zonkerrecently and she mentioned focusing on the parts of the body that are weakest during the workout. Not just to go in and work out those parts. But WHILE you’re working each part think about the part. Think about the muscles moving. This is what really builds muscle. It occurred to me afterwards that by identifying those “parts” in our day to day life, we build each muscle. So it’s best to embrace this power of not knowing the answers, seeing and recognizing your flaws, and embracing your vulnerable side. This will ultimately catapult you forward.

What have we learned so far?

Uncertainty = Vulnerability

Vulnerability = Facing Fears

Facing Fears = Not Comfortable

Not comfortable = Change

So what can we conclude?

Uncertainty = Change

You must live in and embrace uncertainty if you want to build a path to change. There’s magic in vulnerability. There’s hidden truth in uncertainty. What if the real answers to the questions of life were in the questions themselves?

By Geoff Pilkington

You can connect with me on my website, or a recent podcast I was on discussing my theories on ADHD

Time for Turkey and Iran to recognize Kurdistan state as an asset

Hemin Hussein Mirkhan

Source : Kurdistan 24

The highly anticipated meeting between the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, and Turkey’s Minister of National Defense Nurettin Canikli and their views on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) upcoming referendum was the trending headline of the Turkish and Iranian media in mid August. The current state of affairs is a strong feeling of Déja-Vu. The neighboring countries' strategy is to subdue the Kurds’ ambition of having their own state. Both countries perceive any given initiatives from the Kurds as a common threat. Ever since the emergence of modern Turkey and Iran, both governments have been fighting a disgruntled Kurdish entity in their respective backyards. The main theme and challenge of the KRG’s diplomatic missions, to Baghdad and abroad, has been to alter the regional power’s misperception toward the Kurds’ political agenda. The historical context of the Turkish-Iranian cooperation/alliance against Kurds reveals how an independent Kurdistan would be an asset to other countries.

Turkey, Iran, and Iraq‘s Saadabad’s non-aggression pact was the first significant act of cooperation to avert and destroy the Kurdish movement in the region in 1937. Even though some claim the reason for the treaty was to stop Iran from reclaiming Afghanistan and the east of the Tigris River, the underlining purpose was to subdue any Kurdish movement in their respective territories. This was part of their nation-building process, a vain effort to homogenize the identity of their countries. In 1975, after over a decade of a war of attrition between Iraq and Mustafa Barzani’s so-called Aylul revolution, the regional powers were against the Kurdish nationalist's aspirations. Ultimately, they managed to end the Kurdish movement, not by force, but through diplomacy. As anticipated, it did not have a happy ending. Iran and Iraq's eight years of war were the result of that. Turks' exhausting reluctance of dealing with its resident Kurds is another example. In short, substantial facts show that military means undermine the security of the region.

The KRG can upend the century-long neighboring countries' security dilemma. It is conspicuous that the mainstream discernment of neighboring countries' – Turkey, Iran, and now Iraq – views differ from KRG’s position on an independent Kurdistan. Political theories refer to this as fear of the domino effect, which some have cited as an excuse. These countries have been unsupportive of Kurdish aspirations in Iraq as they believe the same scenario would occur within their regions. The status of the Kurds in those areas however is dependent on their situation within those states. Irrespective of what happens to the Kurdistan Region, Kurds in Turkey and Iran have to cope with their own problems. Given the increasingly globalized setting, the Kurdish issue in Iran and Turkey will last for the foreseeable future. The trend is such that nations all around the world are becoming conscious of their rights. Therefore, Turkey and Iran are going to encounter ongoing threats: dealing with non-state actors, Kurds within their countries. To solve their prolonged security issues, both countries should think twice about a new independent Kurdistan in Iraq.

The rugged-mountainous terrain of Kurdistan has been a blessing and also a curse to the Kurds. It has deprived them of access to the sea and, therefore, international commerce and modern trade. The blessing is that the national armies of their adversaries cannot efficiently operate. Last century’s “Kurdish Issue” illustrates that very compellingly. Therefore, Turkey and Iran would have an unprecedented opportunity to cooperate with independent south Kurdistan to contain these Kurdish non-state actors. Turkish Kurdish Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), Iranian Kurdish Parties such as the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and Komala are applying guerrilla warfare methods. An independent Kurdistan would only eliminate the threats of Turkey and Iran through full and sound security collaborations. The term is known as “triadic deterrence,” wherein “one state uses threats and punishments against another state to coerce it to prevent non-state actors from conducting attacks from its territory.”

The past 20 years of self-rule highlights the Kurdish leadership’s priority on national security and economic prosperity. Thus, from an economic standpoint, an independent Kurdistan, as other rentier states, would be an importing country. According to the KRG’s investment board, “Imports account for 85 percent of the estimated USD 5–5.5 billion of annual external trade in the Kurdistan Region.” Turkey and Iran share almost 90 percent of the imported goods and services. As such, this makes a landlocked Kurdistan ever dependent on these two countries. It would benefit both sides to maintain a partnership with Kurdistan. Turkey has a strategic economic interest in Kurdistan’s cheap natural resources. Iran’s export and trade with Kurdistan contribute to Iran’s employment growth and well-being, especially in its western borders. A strategic tri-lateral relation (Turkey-Iran- Kurdistan) based on common interests and opportunities would eliminate the common security threats and work on economic incentives.

The other side of the coin is maintaining the status quo, preserving Iraq’s territory, which by all standards has been unsuccessful. The failed state index placed Iraq on the alert category. Currently, Iraq is on the brink of an economic and security collapse. The United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq’s (UNAMI) monthly report on civilian and military killings in Iraq are extremely alarming. Thanks to Peshmerga forces and the coalition’s campaign against the Islamic State (IS), Iraq was saved from external military invasion. Intra-rivalries among the Shia, who have had a majority representation in the Iraqi Parliament since 2005, is discouraging. On the other hand, Sunnis neither have a strong leader nor see hope in a foreseeable future. Furthermore, relations between Baghdad and Erbil are minimal as both sides accuse each other of dishonoring the constitution. As a result, Iraq is, and will be, the source of instability for Turkey and Iran.

Baqeri and Canikli met to put pressure on the Kurds in Iraq to halt their upcoming referendum. Overtly, they asserted they wanted to secure their borders and deter terrorist activities. Nonetheless, both sides acknowledge the fact Iraq is a failed state. Excluding Iraq in the aforementioned meeting is a clear indication of their views on Iraq’s future. Therefore, the KRG’s policy-making intention is for an independent Kurdistan to be an asset to both Iran and Turkey. Against their conventional misperception toward an independent Kurdistan, these countries have a lot to lose if they try to mend an already broken Iraq. The Kurds are vigilant enough to sell their argument: An independent Kurdistan would be a source of stability and prosperity in the region.


Hemin Hussein Mirkhan is the Director of Centre for Regional and International Studies (CRIS) at the University of Kurdistan – Hewler (UKH).


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Kurdistan 24.


Editing by G.H. Renaud

September 18, 2017

Pakistan has been the face of international terrorism

Permanent Mission of India


India’s Right of Reply

in response to Pakistan's Statement under Agenda Item 3

General Debate at the 36th Human Rights Council Session


  Mr. President,

       I am taking the floor to exercise India’s right of reply in response to the statement made by Pakistan.

 2. Pakistan has been misusing this august platform to pursue its perverse political objectives. Let me reiterate, Mr. President, that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inalienable part of India and will remain so. Pakistan is in illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan's unsolicited and unwarranted comments pertaining to the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir are factually incorrect and absolutely misleading. We outrightly reject them.

 3. The foremost challenge to the stability in Kashmir and in the region is the scourge of terrorism. Pakistan’s malicious attempt to hide its interference behind the facade of domestic discontent carries no credibility with the world.

 4.  In fact, Pakistan has been the face of international terrorism. Even the Foreign Minister of Pakistan has admitted recently that internationally banned outfits, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), are operating from within Pakistan. In the wake of growing international concern, Pakistan must shut down its terrorist manufacturing units and bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice.

5. Concrete evidence on cross-border support for the terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir has been handed over to Pakistan. Instead of working with a sense of purpose to address these issues, Pakistan resorts to shortsighted tactics of diverting the attention of this Council, as we have once again seen today.

Mr. President,

6. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have chosen and reaffirmed their destiny repeatedly through India's well-established democratic processes. On the otherhand, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is run by a ‘deep state’ and has become an epicenter of terrorism. Its human rights record in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and Baluchistan is deplorable. Pakistan is known for using air-power and artillery against its own people, not once but repeatedly over the years.

7. It is high time for Pakistan to do some deep introspection and focus its energies on improving the human rights situation and dismantling the terrorist infrastructure - in Pakistan and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. This would go a long way in bringing peace and stability to the region and beyond.

Thank you, Mr. President

18 September 2017 Geneva

India slams OIC at UNHRC for making incorrect Statements

India slams OIC at UNHRC for making incorrect Statements

India's Right of Reply in response to the statement made by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation under Agenda Item 3.

Mr. President

I’m taking this floor to exercise India’s right of reply in response to the statement made by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation

India notes with utmost regret that the OIC in its statement contains factually incorrect and misleading references to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral and inseparable part of India.

India outrightly rejects all such references.

The OIC has no locus standi on India’s internal affairs.

We strongly advise the OIC to refrain from making such references in future.

Thank you

Balochistan: Video - BLF fighters ambush Pakistani Army

BLF fighters ambush Pakistani Army convoy in balochistan.


Political Activities are considered Terrorism, but Impunity to Real Terrorists 

Date: 18thSeptember 2017

His Excellency,

Mr. António Guterres,

Secretary General

United Nations,

New York

Sub: Political Activities are considered Terrorism, but Impunity to Real Terrorists 

I have the honour to submit some chilling facts about the atrocities committed by Pakistani regime against the two million indigenous people of UN disputed region, Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan (PoGB). Political activists, religious persons and students of Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan (PoGB) who do not comply with occupation regime’s dictation have been framed under the controversial anti-Terrorist act and Schedule 4. On the other hand, real terrorists who actually kill innocent civilians by bombing shrines, highways, and other places of peaceful social gatherings, roam freely despite video evidence and eye-witnesses. Those terrorists who killed thousands of innocent citizens of PoGB on KKH and in Gilgit on the basis of their faith have not been brought to Justice to this day. 


The New Definition of Terrorism in PoGB

It’s not necessary to impose anti-terrorism law in PoGB if (or when) anybody kills indigenous people or poses threat to humanity through bombing or any other means of violence. But this anti-terrorist law is instantly imposed against anyone who seeks help and raises voice against any injustice, or tries to hold a Press Conference, or writes letters to the UN, or demands for UNCIP declared rights, or the rights given by UN in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In spite of no presence of any UN declared terrorist organizations here in PoGB, more than a hundred and fifty people of PoGB are facing Schedule 4 (this is a China-Pakistan draconian law). Schedule 4 accused are subject to worst conditions than a prison, whereby the accused persons are even barred from dropping their own minor children at schools, or taking them to a Hospital for treatment. Anyone who attempts to violate these senseless restrictions is put behind bars without bail for years. Qayoom Khan of BNF is languishing in Gilgit Jail, along with several others, for the past one year without bail under this new definition of terrorism.

Those who disobey Pakistani orders by making peaceful demands for their rights are declared as terrorists. On the one hand, in an utterly disgraceful move to ensure its own colonial control over PoGB, Pakistan has deployed its citizens in all the departments including Administration, Police, and Judiciary to deprive the indigenous employee from their due rights. These Pakistani deployed senior officials are prejudiced and have evil designs against the indigenous people, who bully and defer fundamental rights of the people of occupied Gilgit Baltistan. On the other hand, Pakistan shamelessly keeps blowing the siren for self-determination for Indian controlled Jammu &Kashmir, at almost every international forum where it is invited. Since there does not exist a free, fair and legal/constitutional Judicial system in this UN-declared disputed part of J&K, the indigenous people of PoGB and BNF particularly have no place whatsoever to file an appeal/writ against any of these Pakistani allegations, slanders, and atrocities. Even in Pakistan the Judiciary is subservient to its Military. To make things worse, here inPakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan (PoGB) the whole Judiciary is under the control of Military and its intelligence agency, besides its imposed Administration. The consequence is that no Judge dares to deliver any judgement on his own against the will of Pakistan Military and its Administration (which is appointing Authority).

BNF (Balawaristan National Front) has been banned and our books, brochures, and newspapers, including the daily Baang-e-Sahar and weekly Baang have been banned and its Editor-in-Chief Daulat Jan has been put behind bars by imposing Schedule 4 and anti-terrorist act, while religious hatred and anti-Gilgit Baltistan propaganda is openly and fully supported by Pakistani occupation regime.

The lives, property and freedom of the people is under serious threat due to Pakistan and China’s joint conspiracy to strengthen their occupation under the garb of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor).

Pakistani forces have choked legitimate voices and grabbed our lands to build cantonments and torture cells for Pakistani and Chinese forces and their intelligence agencies. We may recall that under UNCIP resolution, Pakistan has no right to remain in this disputed land. Pakistani forces and its civilians had to withdraw within a period of 3 months after this UNCIP resolution passed on 28th April 1949. After a lapse of 69 years of non-compliance, Pakistan has now virtually changed the whole demography and converted 72000 Sq KM area of this UN declared disputed region into a Nazi-style Torture Camp. 

People of PoGB have no Right of vote, freedom of speech, or access to impartial Justice:

i.   Our people have no right to choose their representatives, either in India or in Pakistan parliament.

ii.  Freedom of speech is 100% denied

iii. Access to Justice is denied, because there is no Legal/Constitutional High Court and Supreme Court. The Judicial system of PoGB is under firm control of Administration and Military regime.

iv. The right to their land and resources is violated.

v. There is no free Media and Human Rights Organization.

vi. Shia religious majority of PoGB is under threat.

Pakistani political and religious parties are fully sponsored by its Military power and civil Administration to practice on their will, but the voices of indigenous nationalist political parties are choked by imposing terrorist laws, and labeling those who dare to oppose CPEC and Pakistani occupation as anti-nationals and traitors. The tyranny of Pakistan against indigenous people is not only a flagrant violation of UNCIP resolutions but it also ridicules The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and even violates Pakistan’s own constitution and Supreme Court verdicts.

BNF members and others who have been sent to Jail in false cases can be hanged or kept in prison for life without giving them the right to appeal in any fair, impartial and legal/constitutional High Court and Supreme Court. One Naveed Hussain from Bargo, Gilgit was hanged in a fabricated crime case, which, according to documents, astonishingly transpired after he was put in Jail. Baba Jan, Iftikhar and many others have been given life imprisonment, when they protested the killing of an innocent father and his son who were demanding help.

Many people including political workers and religious workers and leaders are facing death sentence in Gilgit and Chilas Jail and other areas without giving them the right to appeal in any Legal/Constitutional High Court or Supreme Court.

It’s the duty of the UN to send Fact Finding Mission to ascertain the truth of its own declared disputed region as per UNCIP 13 August 1948, 5th January 1949 and 28th April 1949 resolutions.

Finally, BNF appeals to the UN and UNSC to take over the control of this disputed region, or, at least, ask Pakistan to give the cases of the above mentioned political workers and other activists to the International Court of Justice or any other impartial Court for a fair trial. Clearly, Gilgit Baltistan (according to UNCIP resolutions of 13th August 1948, 5th Jan. 1949, and 28th April 1949 and so on) does not fall under the ambit of Pakistan’s constitution and its imposed Administration and Judicial system.

BNF and other Political and religious workers in Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan are facing death sentences in fake cases without right of appeal in any High Court and Supreme Court.


Abdul Hamid Khan


Balawaristan National Front (BNF)

Head Office: Majini Mahla, Gilgit, Balawaristan (Pakistan & China Occupied Gilgit Baltistan)




          Ph: 0032 22311750




 The following BNF (Balawaristan National Front) workers and leaders are languishing in Jail for the last one year without bail:

 1.     Majeedullah Khan (from Yasen) arrested on 2nd Oct 2016, seriously tortured by JIT (Joint Investigation Team, includes all the Pakistani agencies and Police under the ISI). A staged drama was played out alleging recovery of weapons from his possession. He was tortured until 25th October 2016 and then sent to Jail on the same day by labelling him as an Indian agent. Constant rounds of malignant rumors were spread around against him, BNF, and the whole disputed GB region, with the help of the Pakistani media.

 2.     Sanaullah Khan, a student who was living in Rawalpindi for his college was arrested by ISI and Police on 4th Oct 2016 from Rawalpindi, and sent to Jail on 25th October 2016 on judicial remand on terrorist charges. His only fault was to dispatch Brooshaaski language books from Rawalpindi, Pakistan to Gahkuch of PoGB.

3.  Inayat Karim was arrested on 30th September 2016 and sent to Jail on 25th October 2016 , charged on collecting books on Brooshaaski language and pamphlets.

 4.     Qayoom Khan GS, BNF Ghazer and candidate GBLA, arrested in Schedule 4 on 26th August 2016 from Yasen, because he participated in a meeting without permission.

 5. Qoowat Khan President BNF Yasen Unit, once released and re-arrested on 12th Oct 2016 and sent to Jail on 25th October 2016 in fake arms act.

 6. Marooko (Haveldar retired) from Yasen on 8th September 2016 was sent to Jail, when he denied to quit BNF.

7.      Mahboob Ali Advocate arrested on 12th Feb. 2017, when he was going to address the Media, along with Safdar Ali, to refute IG Police Zafar Awan’s false allegations against BNF Chairman and its members. Both Safdar and Mahboob were sent to Jail, after 7 days of JIT torture, by labelling their intended action of holding a Press Conference as an act of terrorism.

8.      Safdar Ali Central President BNF arrested on 12th  Feb. 2017, just before his Press conference in Gilgit. 

The list below consists of members of BNF who were arrested under Schedule 4. 

9.      Qayoom Khan, General Secretary district Ghazer, president Yasen unit and ex candidate GBLA, is in Jail, arrested on 26th August 2016, tortured by JIT with false cases registered against him.

10.  Daulat Jan, Chief Editor Daily Bangesahar (Urdu) and weekly Baang (Eng) was arrested under schedule 4, because of his journalistic endeavors. His newspapers were banned.


Those who are facing Schedule 4 and can be detained any time if and when they dare to speak for their rights.

1.  Asif Ali Ashraf, Leader of BNSOB hails from Yasen

2.  Aslam Inqalabi, from Yasen

3.  Burhan, General Secretary, Gilgit

4   Liaqat Ali (N.Sub. Ex ISI)  from Yasen

5.  Mohammad Rafiq, Vice Chairman, BNF from Gilgit

6. Mohammad Wali (Ex-Soldier), from Yasen

7. Saqib Umar, Kashorot, Gilgit

8. Wazir Shafi (Advocate), from Yasen 


Those who fled the country due to dire threats to their lives:

1.  Advocate Shokoor Khan was forced to flee PoGB on 14th December 2016, due to severe threats to his life. His only crime is being my brother, and refusing to take ISI’s order to be their agent against me and BNF.

2.     Sher Nadir Shahi fled on 22nd October 2016, because of severe threat to his life. He is Coordinator of BNSOB (Balawaristan National Students Organization).

3.     Shahid Hussain, BNF leader and Chief Coordinator of BNSOB & G and ex candidate of GBLA from Gilgit

4. Aafaq Ahmed (Aafaq Balawar), leader of BNSOB from Gilgit

There is nothing strategic about Trump's Afghanistan policy

There is nothing strategic about Trump's Afghanistan policy

by LAWRENCE SELLIN, PHD September 18, 2017

While accepting billions of American dollars in military and economic aid, Pakistan has been slowly bleeding the U.S. to death in Afghanistan through its support of the Taliban, Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups.

It is Pakistan's role to force the U.S. and NATO out of Afghanistan to pave the way for regional dominance of its closest ally, China.

China is, quite literally, colonizing Pakistan.

Through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China aims to connect Asia, the Middle East and Africa through land-based and maritime economic zones as part of China's global ambition to overtake the U.S. as the world's leading superpower.

One element of that effort is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an infrastructure and development project, the backbone of which is a transportation network connecting China to the Pakistani seaports of Gwadar and Karachi located on the Arabian Sea.

Although profitable for China, Pakistan has not fared as well under CPEC:

"After the Free Trade Agreement was signed, Pakistan's trade deficit with China widened further as exports to China fell to $1.62 billion in 2016-17 from $2.69bn in 2013-14 and imports from China, in contrast showed an alarming increase of 123 per cent, growing from $4.73bn in 2012-13 to $10.53bn in 2016-17."

Some Pakistani politicians have described CPEC as the Chinese version of the British East India company, which, at its height, had private army of about 260,000 and even the father of capitalism, Adam Smith, found its conquest, subjugation and plunder of the subcontinent distasteful.

According to a recent report, Chinese aspirations in Pakistan are not just about profits, but resemble the colonization of South Asia by the East India Company:

"The plan envisages a deep and broad-based penetration of most sectors of Pakistan's economy as well as its society by Chinese enterprises and culture. Its scope has no precedent in Pakistan's history in terms of how far it opens up the domestic economy to participation by foreign enterprises."

"For instance, thousands of acres of agricultural land will be leased out to Chinese enterprises to set up ‘demonstration projects' in areas ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology. A full system of monitoring and surveillance will be built in cities from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24 hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law and order. A national fibreoptic backbone will be built for the country not only for internet traffic, but also terrestrial distribution of broadcast TV, which will cooperate with Chinese media in the ‘dissemination of Chinese culture'."

In addition to the already 30,000 Chinese workers in Pakistan, CPEC calls for visa-free entry of Chinese into Pakistan and the establishment of "civil armed forces" to protect Chinese investments and "a coastal enjoyment industry that includes yacht wharfs, cruise homeports, nightlife, city parks, public squares, theaters, golf courses and spas, hot spring hotels and water sports" built for the Chinese under CPEC.

The expansion of the port of Gwadar and its international airport will include a concomitant increase in Chinese residents, estimated to reach 20,000, which may be a prelude to the establishment Chinese regional military facilities. A base in Gwadar at the mouth of the Persian Gulf would complement the Chinese base in Djibouti at entrance of the Red Sea, both strategic choke points.

So, while the U.S. is expending more blood and treasure in Afghanistan and Pakistan continues to regulate our progress there by controlling the battle tempo and the supply of our troops, China is successfully pursuing its geopolitical interests in South Asia, which will eventually include Afghanistan.

By choosing the wrong policy in Afghanistan, there is no end to what the U.S. can't accomplish strategically.

Here's a hint - you reach the Taliban through Pakistan and you reach Pakistan through China.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of "Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution ". He receives email at

Video: International Law and New Wars

Video: International Law and New Wars

In today’s video, Christine Chinkin and Mary Kaldor discuss their new book, “International Law and New Wars,” with added comments provided by Javier Solana. The problem, they contend, is that international law, which was largely constructed in the 19th and 20th centuries, continues to focus too much on traditional warfare. What’s really needed in today’s world of idiosyncratic ‘new wars’ is to match up international law with second generation notions of human security

International law and new wars


By failing to address 'new wars' international law has added to insecurity. Is it time for a second generation human security resting upon the laws of humanity? 

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. PAimages/Chen Yichen/Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved.

From hybrid peace to human security: rethinking EU strategy toward conflict: the Berlin report of the Human Security Study Group presented to High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy Federica Mogherini ( 24 February, 2016).

This report proposed that the European Union adopts a second generation human security approach to conflicts, as an alternative to Geo-Politics or the War on Terror. Second generation human security takes forward the principles of human security and adapts them to 21st century realities.

The report argues that the EU is a new type of 21st century political institution in contrast to 20th century nation-states. Twentieth-century nation states were based on a clear distinction between inside and outside. Typical outside instruments were state-to-state diplomacy or economic and military coercion. Typical inside instruments are the rule of law, politics, and policing. In today’s complex, contested and connected world, outside instruments do not work; they backfire and make things worse. Human security is about extending the inside beyond the EU.

Hybrid Peace is what happens when 20th century peace-making is applied in contemporary conflicts. Contemporary conflicts have to be understood not as Clausewitzean contests of will between two sides with legitimate goals but as a sort of predatory social condition in which networks of armed groups instrumentalise extremist identities and enrich themselves through violence.

Up to now, the EU has focused on top-down peace-making, humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction. These policies can easily be subverted because they can end up entrenching criminalised extremist networks. Second generation human security is about establishing legitimate political authority and legitimate livelihoods to counter this predatory social condition. It encompasses multi-layer, incremental and inclusive peace processes with particular emphasis on support for local ceasefires and civil society; security assistance in establishing safe areas and safe corridors and protecting individuals and their communities; economic measures including justice to undercut the illegal economy. Second generation human security involves continuous engagement so as to combine prevention, early warning, crisis response and reconstruction as intertwined activities, and places emphasis on gender so as to oppose the extreme gender relations that are constructed in contemporary wars.

The instruments of second generation human security include:

Creative diplomacy at all levels including smart multilateralismAn emphasis on justice across the entire spectrum of abuse and criminality prevalent in today’s conflictsThe use of smart sanctions where they involve engagement with civil society, impact monitoring, and compliance with international lawConditionality aimed at countering predation, corruption, sectarianism and impunity rather than introducing neo-liberal reformsCivilian-led missions that include some combination of humanitarian workers, human rights monitors, legal experts, police and where needed military forces, and that involve both men and women.

On June 20, 2017, this panel discussion launched the new book by Christine Chinkin and Mary Kaldor –International Law and New Wars – which examines how international law fails to address the contemporary experience of what are known as 'new wars' - instances of armed conflict and violence in places such as Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

International law, largely constructed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, rests to a great extent on the outmoded concept of war drawn from European experience - inter-state clashes involving battles between regular and identifiable armed forces. The book shows how different approaches are associated with different interpretations of international law, and, in some cases, this has dangerously weakened the legal restraints on war established after 1945.

It puts forward a practical case for what it defines as second generation human security and the implications this carries for international law.

Speech times:

Mary Kaldor: 3.50 - 16.18

Christine Chinkin: 16.20 - 28.40

Javier Solana: 28.42 - 37.56

Recorded on 21 June 2017 at Old Theatre, Old Building

Group Cohesion and Peace Processes


18/09/2017 Cale Salih Peace

Image courtesy of Cristian Santinon/Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

This article was originally published by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on 12 September 2017.


Weak cohesion within nonstate armed groups can—and has often threatened to—under­mine negotiated transitions away from conflict.Cohesion is measured along two axes: vertical (degree of command and control over cadres) and horizontal (degree of unity among leaders).Challenges are typically related to negotiating partners who have little credibility, nego­tiating positions that are either unclear or incoherent, factions within groups that oppose the peace process, and splintering within groups.


Weak cohesion within nonstate armed groups (NSAGs) has often threatened to undermine negoti­ated transitions from conflict.[1] This can have an impact at any time—when parties are deciding on whether to join a process, during negotiation of peace agreements, and into implementation.

Cohesion can generally be measured along two axes: vertical (command and control over cadres) and horizontal (unity among leaders). Vertical cohesion is weak when leaders cannot control their fighters, and strong when they can. Horizontal cohesion is weak when leadership includes competing and disjointed factions, and strong when leaders have consensus over goals and are coordinated in action. Weak cohesion manifests in various combinations along these axes and is often a blend of the two.[2]

Group cohesion shifts over time and can be affected by a wide range of factors. These include internal debates about participation in a peace process, differing priorities, access to criminal networks that allow cadres to profit independently, diverse (ethnic, tribal, ideological, or religious) affiliations, territorial expansion, and counterinsurgency campaigns.[3]

How Does Group Cohesion Affect Peace Processes?

Challenges to peace processes related to group cohesion range from delays in negotiating or implementing accords to undermining the viability of the entire process.

Weak negotiating partners and positions

Weak horizontal cohesion among leaders can prevent NSAGs from presenting coherent nego­tiating teams or positions. Weak vertical cohesion can make it difficult for negotiators to convince mediators and other parties that they will be able to impose the terms of an agreement on their rank and file. Both open the door to a peace process stalling or breaking down.

In Senegal, competing leadership claims within the separatist Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) have long complicated negotiations with the government. In 2006, multiple individuals claimed to be the secretary general of the MFDC though none could credibly claim to represent MFDC combatants as a whole.[4] Internal contestation among political leaders, in addition to many of those leaders’ weak links with combatants, has prevented the group from being able to convince Dakar it can implement what it promised at the negotiating table.[5]

In Uganda, the 2006–08 Juba talks between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the government also suffered from a lack of credible LRA negotiating partners. Members of LRA peace delegations, many of whom had questionable ties to LRA leader Joseph Kony, prioritized different personal grievances. This lengthened the talks, strained the agenda, and made it difficult for mediators to know whether the delegates could deliver on what they negotiated. By stressing the need to prepare papers, meet deadlines, and participate in multiple mediation initiatives, the Juba process may have shrunk the space for internal LRA reflection and thus exacerbated these problems.[6]

In Burma, leaders of the Karen National Union have between 2012 and 2017 been accused of negotiating and in some cases signing agreements without the approval of the organization’s political decision-making bodies. Personal rather than institutional decision making has exacer­bated factional rivalries within the leadership and threatened the organization’s withdrawal from negotiations associated with the country’s ceasefire and national dialogue processes.

In Colombia, however, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have managed to maintain sufficient horizontal and vertical cohesion despite years of counterinsurgency efforts designed to undermine its unity. This cohesion enabled the FARC to offer Bogotá a coherent negotiating position for new talks in 2012. The FARC maintained internal cohesion throughout the talks by “rotating its negotiating team, giving leaders from all major combat units the opportunity to learn about the process and shape its outcomes.”[7] The inability of the smaller and more decen­tralized National Liberation Army to forge robust internal consensus on the terms of disarmament, meanwhile, contributed to the failure of past talks with the state.[8]

Objecting factions

Weak groups may include factions that mobilize against rapprochement. Objecting factions may seek to delay or limit a group’s engagement in negotiations or to openly denounce decisions by other elements of the group. Some objecting factions may be marginal. Others may be veto players, able to spoil the peace process. Leaders who control large numbers of combatants, enjoy popular support, and have access to substantial weapons or money are more likely to be veto players than those who do not.[9]

In Burma, some leaders of the Kachin Independence Organization remain highly opposed to compromise in current negotiations with the government and army. Significantly, these are not marginal players: their reluctance to accept the state’s terms is shared by the majority of Kachin communities, who largely distrust the sincerity of the government and army’s overtures.[10]

In Colombia, although the FARC maintained enough cohesion to reach a peace accord with the government in 2016, some are concerned that internal dissent could undermine implementation. One of the FARC’s guerrilla fronts announced in 2016 that it would not participate in the peace process. The FARC responded by effectively expelling it. At the same time, the state made it clear that it would continue to wage counterinsurgency against any dissident FARC fronts.[11] Since the agreement was signed, various additional elements from other fronts have stopped taking orders from FARC leadership and refused to lay down their arms.[12]


When divisions within groups become irreconcilable, nonstate actors risk splintering during a peace process.[13] Disagreements may arise over whether to participate in negotiations, the content of negotiations, or during implementation. Fragmentation can make achieving sustainable peace accords more difficult. The more veto players involved, the less likely it is that a negotiated agree­ment will satisfy them all.[14] Splintering can also generate spoilers that undermine the sustainability of peace.[15]

In Burma, the Palaung State Liberation Organization splintered in 2005 over whether to accept the army’s ceasefire demands, giving rise to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, one of four non­state armed groups still in conflict with the army. This and numerous other examples of splintering in Burma have contributed to a significant fragmentation problem, rendering common agreement between all parties in the nationwide ceasefire process highly difficult.

Mediators themselves can inadvertently encourage splintering. In Darfur, for instance, the African Union’s (AU) recognition of splinter groups “encouraged divisions because factions wanted to participate in the negotiations as independent bodies and bargain for their own interests.” The AU switched tactics in 2006, refusing to recognize a Sudan Liberation Movement/Army splinter group so as not to drive further fragmentation.[16]

Conclusion: Navigating Group Cohesion

Mediators faced with the challenge of weak cohesion within a NSAG should consider the following interrelated strategies.

Conduct dynamic analyses to assess cohesion

Group cohesion is dynamic, shifting as the context (including the peace process) empowers or disempowers leaders, encourages convergence or divergence in interests, or enhances or under­mines the institutional fibers of command and control. Mediation teams should analyze cohesion along both vertical and horizontal axes throughout the process, identify objecting factions within groups, and consider whether such factions could emerge as veto players.

Provide parties with breathing space to build internal cohesion

Mediators should build enough flexibility into a peace process that NSAG leaders can periodi­cally step back to resolve internal disputes to establish support for cohesive negotiating positions. Mediators may also consider creating time and space for delegates to return home to build sup­port among both their rank and file and their broader constituency. Periods of internal reflection and joint decision making can be time-consuming. But when enough opportunities are allowed for, mediators have mitigated risks that political leaders, military brigades, or constituents might later object to or undermine negotiations.

Verify institutional positions

When horizontal cohesion is weak, mediators may need to verify that NSAG delegates have an institutional mandate to make decisions. In Burma, for instance, mediators sought to encour­age public statements from the entire organization, rather than from individuals, which helped demonstrate broad endorsement of policies and positions during negotiations. Learning from the Colombian case, mediators may also want to encourage groups to rotate their negotiating teams to both maintain and demonstrate buy-in to the process across the leadership.

Empower bridging figures

Bridging figures have both the respect of leaders within an armed group and the ability to com­mand them. When such individuals are amenable to negotiations, mediators should seek to ensure that the process empowers rather than undermines or isolates them. Turkey demonstrates their importance. For years, Abdullah Ocalan—the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party and the only person who can bridge its various centers of power—was the chief Kurdish negotia­tor in the peace process. Since 2016, however, Turkey has refused to allow him contact with the outside world via intermediaries, something a key insider has suggested is an “invitation to war.”[17]

Accommodate a broad range of interests

Mediators can support internal cohesion in NSAGs by investigating and respecting the needs of the entire organization—horizontally and vertically—including potential veto players who might not be present during negotiations. Burma’s 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, for instance, established interim arrangements that legitimized the security and administrative functions of NSAG brigades. These stipulations have the potential to provide a negotiation dividend for the semi-independent units of NSAG signatories, who might otherwise feel marginalized.

Navigate objecting factions

When objecting factions within a group are identified as potential veto players, interviews revealed, mediators may consider engaging their leaders early and disproportionately. In Burma, mediators have used confidence-building strategies to reduce trust deficits, such as commitments to issues of personal concern to the factions’ leaders (such as intervening to help secure prisoner release), or supererogatory administrative assistance (such as organizing visas and arranging travel). When mediators identify objecting factions as lower risk, nonveto players, they might want to consider how and when to isolate them from the process.18

Engage splinter groups sparingly

To discourage splintering, mediators may consider shutting out of the process any nonveto splinter groups that do emerge, as the AU began to do in Darfur. This would signal that objecting factions will not be able to participate in the process if they break away from their mother party.


Weak cohesion is not limited to nonstate actors, but state cohesion is beyond the scope of this report.See Paul Staniland, Networks of Rebellion (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014).On criminal networks, Sebastian von Einsiedel, “Civil War Trends and the Changing Nature of Armed Conflict,” Occasional Paper no. 10, UNU-CPR, March 2017; on territorial expansion, Staniland, Networks of Rebellion.Kim Mahling Clark, “Final Report: Support to the Casamance Peace Process” (Washington, DC: USAID, December 2009), 3.Paul Collier and Nicholas Sambanis, Understanding Civil War: Africa (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2005), 280.Dylan Hendrickson and Kennedy Tumutegyereize, “Dealing with Complexity in Peace Negotia­tions: Reflections on the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Juba Talks” (Conciliation Resources, January 2012), 19.International Crisis Group (ICG), “On Thinner Ice: The Final Phase of Colombia’s Peace Talks,” Briefing no. 32 (Brussels: ICG, July 2, 2015).ICG, “Left in the Cold? The ELN and Colombia’s Peace Talks,” Briefing no. 51 (Brussels: ICG, Febru­ary 26, 2014).David Cunningham, “Who Should Be at the Table?,” Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs 2, no. 1 (2013): 38–47.David Brenner, “Authority and Contestation Inside Rebel Groups: Insights from Myanmar,” Politi­cal Violence at a Glance [blog], June 21, 2017, /authority-and-contestation-inside-rebel-groups-insights-from-myanmar/.ICG, “Colombia’s Final Steps to the End of War,” Report no. 58 (Brussels: ICG, September 7, 2016).Jeremy McDermott, “FARC Unity Shatters in Colombia,” Insight Crime, January 12, 2017, www Asal, “Why Split?,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 56, no. 1 (2011): 94–117.David E. Cunningham, “Veto Players and Civil War Duration,” American Journal of Political Science 50, no. 4 (2006): 875–92.See Stephen Stedman, “Spoiler Problems in Peace Processes,” International Security 22, no. 2 (1997): 5–53; Peter Rudloff and Michael G. Findley, “The Downstream Effects of Combatant Fragmentation on Civil War Recurrence,” Journal of Peace Research 53, no. 1 (2016): 19–32.Nuredin Netabay, “The Darfur Peace Process: Understanding the Obstacles to Success,” Beyond Intractability, May 2009.Gulsen Solaker, “Ocalan’s isolation an ‘invitation to war’ in Turkey: Pro-Kurdish MP,” Haaretz, Janu­ary 7, 2016, Cunningham suggests two rules in deciding whom to include (veto players) and exclude (nonveto players) in peace processes (“Who Should Be at the Table?”).

About the Authors

Cale Salih is a research officer at the United Nations University’s Centre for Policy Research.

Stephen Gray is a strategic adviser for Hope International Development Agency, and director of Adapt Research and Consulting

How Anonymous Shell Companies Finance Insurgents, Criminals, and Dictators

18 Sep 2017

By Jodi Vittori for Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Jodi Vittori argues that anonymous shell companies directly harm US interests as they facilitate corruption, transnational crime, terrorism and more due to the secrecy they provide. However, Vittori also highlights that US laws are one of the key barriers that prevent efforts to identify the owners of such anonymous companies. To rectify the situation, Vittori believes that the US should pass legislation to disclose ownership information for all companies, increase federal contract transparency, and boost other transparency mechanisms at home and abroad.

This article was originally published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on 7 September 2017.

The Panama Papers leak of eleven million documents in April 2016 revealed that former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the brother-in-law of Chinese President Xi Jinping, longtime friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, drug kingpins, and even a soccer megastar had something in common: they all channeled money through anonymous shell companies. Anonymous shell companies are entities that usually employ few or no workers, do not conduct any substantive business, and allow their owners to store or route money while hiding their identities.

Because of the secrecy they can provide, anonymous companies represent an important nexus of corruption, money laundering, transnational organized crime, and terrorism, which directly harm U.S. interests. As one of the main facilitators of anonymous companies, the United States should pass legislation to disclose ownership information for all companies, increase federal contract transparency, and boost other business and government transparency mechanisms at home and abroad. Doing so would significantly cut back on the ability of terrorists, criminals, and their ilk to use American corporations, real estate, and trusts to finance activities that harm the United States and its foreign interests.

What Are Anonymous Shell Companies?

Anonymous shell companies are often no more than a title in a corporate registry and a name plate on a door; the actual person or persons who own and control the company—the so-called beneficial owners—are either concealed or not recorded at all. These companies enable the powerful and connected to hide their assets from law enforcement, tax authorities, or other interested parties, frequently by nesting these companies inside a complex web of businesses incorporated in different jurisdictions.

Often, shell companies are established through a corporate service provider—a company that can incorporate on behalf of one or more individuals, a firm, a charity, or some other party. Instead of recording the actual beneficial owners, the company can be registered to someone who rents out his or her identity, known as a nominee. This nominee can be a lawyer, law firm, relative, or other person connected to the real owner, or even another company or trust, which itself may be anonymously owned. Recent data from Global Witness and DataKind UK show that three thousand companies in the United Kingdom listed their beneficial owner as another company incorporated in a tax haven—a jurisdiction different from the one where the company is based, that levies low or no taxes, and whose legal and regulatory frameworks often deliberately provide a veil of secrecy regarding who owns or controls a company.

Some people use the anonymity afforded by these types of companies with no intention of breaking the law, such as Hollywood stars and corporate executives who use anonymous shell companies to shield the locations of their residences from the general public. However, for most people who establish shell companies, the fact that the company can be formed anonymously is irrelevant to the overall benefits of incorporating via a shell company. Therefore, actions to reduce anonymous ownership will not harm most owners. And although privacy concerns are important, the harm anonymous shell companies cause by facilitating criminal activity and corruption outweighs the privacy benefits.

The Problem With Shell Companies

Anonymous companies facilitate criminal networks by helping them launder money throughout the international financial system. For example, thirty-three companies and people that had been blacklisted by the U.S. government were exposed in the Panama Papers, along with drug kingpins, fraudsters, and arms dealers. Notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout also used anonymous American and foreign shell companies to run his worldwide smuggling enterprise.

Anonymous shell companies are especially useful for money laundering through real estate transactions. The U.S. Department of the Treasury recently found [PDF] that approximately 30 percent of high-end, all-cash real estate purchases in six major metropolitan areas involved a “beneficial owner or purchaser representative that is also the subject of a previous suspicious activity report.” The use of anonymized real estate ownership can have national security ramifications: earlier this year, the General Accounting Office was unable to identify the ownership information for about a third of the high-security buildings leased by the U.S. government due to a lack of beneficial ownership information. As a result, many U.S. government agencies may have no idea whether they are renting their facilities from a hostile foreign government or criminal organization.

Anonymity makes these shell companies useful tools to launder the proceeds of corruption, thereby undermining democratic governance and stability around the world. Funds intended for healthcare, education, and other public services are diverted to kleptocrats’ personal accounts through shell companies with hidden owners. A UN panel has estimated [PDF] that at least $50 billion is lost annually through a variety of illicit financial flows from Africa, with the panel citing the need for public registries of beneficial ownership to help stem this flow. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found that from 2007 until at least 2013, over $2 billion has moved between banks and shell companies linked to associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, even as Russia suffered a recession and the devaluation of the ruble as oil prices—the backbone of the Russian economy—tumbled.

Anonymous shell companies also helped facilitate the state-sponsored corruption that helped spur the Arab Spring, destabilizing American allies throughout the region and igniting conditions for the Syrian civil war and the rise of the self-declared Islamic State. Likewise, anonymous companies helped enable the kleptocratic Ukrainian regime, the downfall of which encouraged the Russian incursion into Crimea and eastern Ukraine and put a potential confrontation with Russian forces on the border of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Additionally, anonymous shell companies have helped arm the very insurgents that American troops are fighting. For example, a U.S.-led investigation [PDF] found that American taxpayer money—at least $3.3 million of a $2.16 billion contract—was funneled to the Taliban and a variety of warlords through networks of subcontractors and shell companies. The money was then used to purchase weapons for the Taliban and insurgents, putting American soldiers and civilians in danger and undermining larger strategic military and diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan.

U.S. Laws Support Shell Companies

Anonymous companies are an international challenge. In the United States and globally, failing to require beneficial ownership disclosures stymies law enforcement and national security efforts against terrorist financing, money laundering by criminal organizations, and countries evading sanctions. Finding the owners means peeling back layers of nested companies, often in different jurisdictions. This limits the effectiveness of warrants and forces authorities to make time-consuming, complex, cross-border requests for legal assistance, only to find that the trail leads to another anonymous company in yet another jurisdiction. And while global standards of information exchange have improved, many locations still have strong financial secrecy laws, limiting what is available even with the appropriate legal authorization.

U.S. laws are among the biggest barriers to uncovering the identity of beneficial owners. The United States incorporates more companies each year than any other country, but no U.S. state requires the collection of beneficial ownership information. A 2012 study of 3,700 corporate service providers in 182 countries found that U.S.-based providers had the fewest requirements, providing the easiest way to establish an untraceable company. In many cases, U.S.-based corporate service providers even offered to set up anonymous companies for inquiries that should have raised red flags as possible fronts for terrorism or corruption. The ease of forming anonymous companies puts the United States out of compliance with existing international standards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The task force’s December 2016 evaluation [PDF] states that the U.S. regulatory framework does not hold institutions and businesses—such as lawyers, investment advisors, accountants, real estate agents, and trust and company service providers—to minimum international standards and identified the “lack of timely access to adequate, accurate and current beneficial ownership information” as a major impediment to efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist finance.


Congress should pass legislation to require the disclosure of beneficial ownership information upon incorporation. The information should be kept in a regularly updated public registry of all American companies. This is already an emerging international standard: the British and Ukrainian governments publish beneficial ownership information for companies formed in their countries, and European Union member states are following suit. Because company formation in the United States originates at the state level, the federal government can either require states to begin collecting information on beneficial ownership as a condition of receiving essential federal funds for law enforcement assistance, or it can authorize a federal agency such as the Treasury Department to directly collect such information from companies when they are formed.

All federal agencies should require bidders for federal contracts, including subcontractors, and regardless of contract size, to declare their beneficial owners. Government contracting agencies should establish offices to vet contractors and subcontractors to ensure the accuracy of beneficial ownership disclosures. Federal procurement regulations should require clawback clauses, which would require that money that has benefited criminal or terrorist purposes be paid back to the U.S. government.

In compliance with international anti–money laundering standards, the Treasury Department should ensure that investment advisors, bank holding companies, security broker dealers, lawyers, accountants, and trust and company service providers comply with the same anti–money laundering standards and due diligence that banks are held to. Treasury would be the lead department, with support from Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Justice, other relevant agencies, and state and local governments. The American Bar Association should also update its Model Rules of Professional Conduct to require lawyers to carry out anti–money laundering checks.

The Treasury Department should finally lift a 2002 temporary exemption to the USA Patriot Act that grants “persons involved in real estate closings and settlements” a waiver from conducting anti–money laundering due diligence of their customers. In addition, the Treasury Department’s temporary order requiring title insurance companies in six cities to provide beneficial ownership information for all-cash, high-end real estate purchases should be made permanent and expanded to cover the entire United States.

As the United States adopts these standards at home, it should also push for their widespread adoption abroad. The State, Treasury, and Commerce Departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) should use their diplomatic influence and foreign assistance to encourage all countries to create public registries of beneficial owners and promote the widespread adoption of international standards for contract transparency and accountability, especially in government procurement, as spelled out in the Open Government Principles and Open Contracting Principles.

Because it is easy to open and use anonymous shell companies in the United States, it is already a significant entry point for criminal and corrupt proceeds. As the governments of the European Union and United Kingdom continue to adopt more stringent rules on anonymous shell companies, there is evidence that the proceeds of criminal activity and money laundering are increasingly flowing into the United States, making it an even greater money laundering hub. As a result, the United States is increasingly helping to facilitate the very narcotics traffickers, human smugglers, terrorist networks, and kleptocrats that weaken U.S. national security. Adopting these measures will demonstrate that the United States is no longer a laggard on this issue, minimize U.S. complicity in illicit activity, and provide new tools for law enforcement. If the Donald J. Trump administration is serious about fighting terrorism and transnational crime, then ending anonymous shell companies should be a priority.

About the Author

Jodi Vittori is a Senior Policy Advisor at Global Witness.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Ambitious Framework Nation: Germany in NATO: Bundeswehr Capability Planning and the ´Framework Nations Concept´

18 Sep 2017

By Rainer L Glatz and Martin Zapfe for Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP)

According to Rainer L Glatz and Martin Zapfe, Germany is currently pursuing ambitious plans for security and defense that will have significant implications for the Bundeswehr. Indeed, these plans aim for the Bundeswehr to form the backbone of European defense within NATO, along with British and French armed forces, and to contribute to the future development of allied forces, primarily through the ‘Framework Nations Concept’. However, for this to happen, Glatz and Zapfe contend Berlin must 1) accept an unfamiliar political and military leadership role; and 2) increase long-term defense spending.

This article was originally published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in September 2017.

Berlin is pursuing ambitious plans for security and defence, with significant potential for the Bundeswehr and European partner militaries. In the long-term, the Bundeswehr could well become Europe’s indispensable army, with Germany as a “framework nation” contributing decisively to NATO’s readiness. This will require the future German government to accept an unaccustomed politico-military leadership role. It will also be necessary to increase defence spending for the long term.

A stronger German role within NATO, as envisioned by the Federal Government, ultimately requires increased military capabilities. Over the last months, the German Ministry of Defence (MoD) has made significant progress in its force and capability planning with fundamental implications for both Germany and NATO. First thoughts on how to operationalize the strategic aims of its 2016 White Paper were formulated in March 2017 by the MoD’s Director General for Planning, Lieutenant General Erhard Bühler (the so-called “Bühler-Paper”). In the absence of a new and comprehensive capstone “Concept of the Bundeswehr”, this document currently constitutes the effective planning basis for the armed forces

In this process, the German and NATO perspective are inseparable. The aim for current Bundeswehr planning is twofold: Together with the British and French armed forces, the Bundeswehr is to form the backbone of European defence within NATO. In addition, and primarily through the much-discussed Framework Nations Concept (FNC), the Bundeswehr is to contribute, directly and indirectly, to the future development of allied forces, and thus to Europe’s capacity to act as part of NATO.

The practical relevance of NATO policy guidance and capability planning targets is now the highest in decades and sets the basic parameters of Berlin’s capability planning.

The Return of Collective Defence

Any attempt to understand current Bundeswehr planning must first start with a look backwards. For several years now, intense budgetary pressure and operational necessities have forced the Bundeswehr to prioritize among the core tasks outlined by NATO in 2010: collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security.

Since the end of the Cold War, the Bundeswehr had focused increasingly on international crisis management. In 2011 the MoD’s “Defence Policy Guidelines” decisively set crisis management operations as its chief structural determinant. In the process, capabilities for collective defence – as extended national defence – suffered. In addition, following the financial crisis, budgetary pressure was immense. Significant savings were realised, inter alia, by not equipping army divisions fully according to the stated requirements. Where necessary to equip units for training and operations, the required equipment was to be made available through efficient management – meaning transferring it from other units supposedly less in need of it. This invariably created “hollow structures”. The Bundeswehr’s brigades, squadrons, and flotillas should – and could – support those units on operations, but not deploy as organic formations. A scenario of collective defence was, after all, considered highly unlikely. This planning assumption became obsolete when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

Consequently, the central tenets of current Bundeswehr planning are a return to collective defence as guiding paradigm and an energetic effort to fill up the forces’ “hollow structures”. While collective defence and crisis management officially remain of equal importance, this claim lacks credibility. Structurally, the Bundeswehr prioritizes high-intensity operations for collective defence. The same single set of forces will then have to provide troops for crisis management operations. That is consequential, yet also implies that future missions (like in northern Africa) might only be sustainable by contributing smaller contingents. This compromise is the de facto basis for current Bundeswehr planning.

“Basic Posture” and “Mission Structure”

The tension between officially giving equal importance to all missions while de facto prioritizing collective defence is to be reconciled through the concepts of “basic posture”, “mission structure”, and “mission “packages”. In principle, the Bundeswehr’s “basic posture” (“Grundaufstellung”) – its garrisons and the basic order of battle – will remain roughly unchanged. Contrary to some reports, there will be no significant increase in strength. The basic posture is supposed to reflect the primary task of collective defence, especially for designated units of high readiness. Yet as a general rule all units are supposed to regroup into “mission structures” (“Einsatzsstruktur”) tailored to task-specific requirements when called to action. This is to be achieved through so-called “mission packages” (“Missionspakete”) that are intended to bridge any capability gap between the basic force posture and the operational requirements at hand.

To illustrate, if an armoured brigade were to deploy to NATO’s eastern border, the unit would move swiftly and largely in its peacetime composition. If that same brigade were to send soldiers to a stabilisation operation, it could swap its organic main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles for protected patrol vehicles externally stored as “mission packages”.

This system is key to making sense of the figures circulating in media reports. The Bühler-Paper defines a “national level of ambition” with indeed ambitious targets, especially regarding the land forces. Much like today, the German Army is to have three divisional headquarters and eight brigades by 2032. By that date, however, all of these should be deployable simultaneously for the purpose of collective defence. Looking beyond 2032, it should even be possible to deploy up to ten brigades in “mission structures”. However, more important than the mere number of brigades are efforts to reconstitute the Heer’s “hollow structures”. To regain lost operational capabilities, the field army’s brigades, divisions and corps will be reassigned critical support units. For example, to regain critical indirect fire capabilities, rocket and tube artillery is to be organically reintegrated into the brigades, divisions, and corps through so-called “artillery capability packages” (“Fähigkeitspakete Artillerie”) of as of now unspecified strength and structure.

As part of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense System, the German Air Force has traditionally been closely oriented towards the Alliance. With its flying platforms and ground-based systems, the Luftwaffe is to perform all the core functions of aerial warfare, while also preparing to provide the core of a Multinational Air Group capable of up to 350 sorties per day. Additionally, the air force is to regain a credible capacity for naval air warfare. The German Navy shall be able to provide at least 15 platforms and vital support capabilities at all times. Further capability targets are defined for the cyber domain, special operations forces, the Joint Medical Service (Zentraler Sanitätsdienst) and Joint Support Service (Streitkräftebasis). Thus, while the army might benefit from significant investments, the air force and navy are supposed to modernize and expand their capabilities primarily on the basis of existing platforms, and only secondarily by introducing new systems.

In this process, the Bundeswehr consistently subordinates itself under NATO guidance and participates in multinational force development. NATO’s role manifests itself in two ways: First, through the Bundeswehr’s near-complete integration into NATO’s Defence Planning Process (NDPP); and, second, through Germany’s often misunderstood leadership role in the Alliance’s FNC.

Guidance from Brussels

On the first aspect: With its reorientation toward collective defence, the Bundeswehr follows NATO’s strategic guidance. The NATO summits in Wales 2014 and Warsaw 2016 were landmarks of an increased Allied effort to credibly reassure Allies and deter a revanchist Russia. In its 2015 Political Guidance, the Alliance agreed on a new level of ambition based, inter alia, on an ambitious scenario of conventional collective defence (Major Joint Operation – Plus (MJO+)). On this basis, member states and NATO institutions have negotiated targets for future force planning.

Germany, for the first time and as the first major member state, accepted the outcomes of the NDPP as the basis of its own planning. While Berlin continues to retain full control over the process – only those requirements accepted fully or in part form the basis of its planning efforts, and even those are merely politically binding – this is a significant step, both in terms of symbolism and planning guidance. The majority of targets described above are to be met by 2032. Thus, Germany’s national capability targets are to be in sync with NATO’s planning, in the long term aiming at qualitatively and quantitatively sufficient capabilities across the Alliance.

Towards an “Anchor Army”

On the second aspect: The Bundeswehr is set to assume indirect responsibility for the force development of Allied armies. Few other aspects of current German force planning have received more international attention, and few are plagued by greater misconceptions, than Germany’s role in the FNC. If implemented consistently, and with strategic realism, this concept has the potential to substantially change the structure and character of European armed forces within NATO and beyond.

Today’s FNC originates in a German idea of 2013. While NATO adopted the FNC the following year, it still is essentially designed, financed, and implemented by the member states. This results in an inherent flexibility; yet on the downside, it infuses a confusing ambiguity in terminology. NATO alone effectively knows three different FNC approaches, each grouped around a respective framework nation. Parallel to the German-coordinated group, one group around the UK’s Joint Expeditionary Force aims at a specific combined and joint task force for high-intensity operations; the other, coordinated by Italy and significantly less ambitious, aims at developing capabilities for stabilisation operations. In addition, the EU, too, has decided to launch its own “Framework Nation Concept” (consciously adopted without the letter -s at the end of “Nation”) in 2015. This analysis uses the term “FNC” exclusively with regard to the group coordinated by Germany.

Processes reflect politics, and thus Germany assumes a central role in the FNC. It chairs the main steering committees and is responsible for preparing and following-up the meetings of FNC defence ministers where basic decisions are made.

The German-led FNC group has two distinct pillars which are only partially interdependent. Since the beginning, it has focused on the coordinated development of capabilities in so-called “Clusters”; since 2015, an additional focus has been placed developing large multinational formations. To this day, 19 nations have joined Germany. Out of this group of 20, seven have thus far committed troops to the “larger formations”, and several others are deliberating on this possibility. Formally, both pillars of the FNC are of equal importance. Considering its effects on current Bundeswehr and NATO planning, the development of “larger formations” is of higher significance.

Capability Development

The primary objective of the FNC’s first pillar is the coordinated closure of capability gaps by the participating states. While the initial identification of these gaps is done by NATO, the subsequent steps are taken by the FNC-members, coordinated by Germany. The German FNC has 16 clusters, each dedicated to one capability (such as Anti-Submarine Warfare). Members are free to decide in which clusters to participate, and have the alternative of obtaining observer status. Each cluster is coordinated by a unit of the German MoD.

This capability focus was not revolutionary in 2013/2014 as similar programs already existed in both NATO and the EU (Smart Defence/Pooling & Sharing). Yet the programme gained new relevance when, in 2015, the FNC defence ministers agreed to link this capability development with NATO’s strategic-operational response to Russia’s aggression. Through this link, the clusters no longer necessarily represent stand-alone solutions but can provide capabilities directly to the Alliance’s dedicated rapid reaction forces, such as NATO’s “Spearhead”, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and the enhanced NATO Response Force (eNRF). For example, a Role 2 field hospital stood up in one cluster is supposed be made available for a specific VJTF rotation, thereby providing clear parameters for planning efforts.

Developing “Larger Formations”

It is only in the context of the FNC’s “larger formations” around the framework nation that current Bundeswehr planning can be fully understood. Interpreted elsewhere as essentially creating a “European Army” (possibly even dominated by Berlin), this pillar is first only a plan for multinational force development – although an ambitious one.

Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, NATO was forced to once again lay the groundwork for credibly deterring Russia. A vital part of any such deterrent rests on credible conventional response options. Since 2014, NATO has made significant progress. The Alliance agreed to establish the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in the Baltic States and Poland, a politically balanced and military necessary step. With the eFP now deployed, the focus shifts towards the question of follow-on forces to reinforce the still rather weak forces in place. The first “wave” in any conflict would naturally be the eFP, the forces of host nations and, possibly, unilaterally deployed formations. The eNRF, and especially its “Spearhead”, is to provide the second wave. Without any designated force for the third wave, this would have to be stood-up from member states’ forces as they are.

It is here where force development and defence planning meet, and it is in this context where the second pillar of the FNC is to create effects. The aim of the “larger formations” is twofold. Firstly, to enhance interoperability and harmonise capability development of Allied forces through close cooperation with designated Bundeswehr units. Secondly, to secure the basis for combat-effective multinational divisions around Germany as the framework nation, and thus a basis from which to generate follow-on forces – with an eye primarily, but not exclusively, to NATO’s east. This is new, and a politically and militarily highly ambitious agenda.

Germany’s role in these formations and structures – whether on land, in the air, or at sea – would be significant. A view on the FNC’s timelines and objectives shows the integral links with current Bundeswehr planning. By 2032, and thus in parallel to Germany’s national plans, the FNC force pool is to provide three multinational mechanized divisions, each capable of commanding up to five armoured brigades. As of now, two of these divisions would be formed around German divisional headquarters. Indeed, for the Luftwaffe, national and FNC-targets are partly identical: The FNC’s envisioned Multinational Air Group is a basic planning parameter for the German Air Force and would rely to more than 75 percent on German capabilities. With an eye to the navy, the FNC manifests itself most clearly in the reestablishment of the well-known regional focus on the Baltic Sea, establishing a Baltic Maritime Component Command around German structures. In any scenario of collective defence Germany could thus well become the indispensable framework nation for most of its smaller FNC partners, and NATO as a whole.

It is with regard to the nature of the “subordination” of Allied FNC units under German structures where the main misconception arises. Although the Bühler-Paper’s terms are not used explicitly, its paradigm that the “basic posture” does not necessarily have to mirror the respective “mission structure” could apply to the FNC as well: Neither is any Allied brigade, whether Dutch, Czech or Romanian, completely subordinate to the Bundeswehr, nor are they permanently stationed in Germany and fully integrated into Germany’s force posture. Each state, including Germany, retains full sovereignty over its forces and will ultimately have to decide freely how to equip and whether to deploy its forces. Naturally, closely linking European forces could lead to de facto dependencies; and, indeed, the FNC’s success may well depend on coordinated dependencies. As smaller states lose capabilities, their dependency on the larger framework nation grows – a dependency potentially institutionalized through the FNC. Yet just as all states are invited to “plug in” parts of their forces to German structures, they retain the explicit right to “plug out” at any point in time. This in itself should make it clear that concerns about a “German-dominated European Army” only serve to obscure the many relevant implications of the FNC. At the same time, however, this lack of legally binding cooperation in times of crisis should also caution against overblown expectations of efficiency gains through the FNC.

Critical Implications

Of the many implications, six seem most critical for the Bundeswehr and Germany’s role in the Alliance.

A Risky Prioritisation

Structurally prioritizing high-intensity warfare and collective defence is a logical move that accurately reflects current challenges. Yet, like any prioritization, it carries risks.

For NATO as a whole, not prioritizing any specific region – its “360-degree approach” of Wales – is an acceptable political compromise, as its member states’ armed forces naturally focus on their respective regional challenges. While Paris, to take one example, focusses almost exclusively on counter-terrorism operations in Northern Africa and on its own soil, it has kept its presence in NATO’s eFP to a minimum. The Bundeswehr, however, is prioritizing collective defence, yet the “anchor army” will not will not be able to refrain from participating in potential missions to NATO’s south.

While the triad of “basic posture”, “mission structure” and “mission packages” might be able to alleviate some strains on the force structure, it cannot be a panacea. Any new stability operation on the scale of ISAF, or an escalation of Resolute Support in Afghanistan, would come with many of the same challenges around force generation and sustainability that the Bundeswehr had to consistently overcome since 1990. The MoD’s planning is refreshingly clear. Yet policy makers in government and parliament have to be aware of the associated risks.

Expensive Plans

The Bundeswehr’s ambitious plans will require a further and long-term rise in defence spending. It will be important to provide planning security that allows for long-term projects to be implemented over more than one fiscal year. Significant progress has already been made. The MoD is on course towards a budget of 42.4 billion Euros by 2021, from only 37 billion Euros in 2017. What is more, Germany already wants to reach NATO’s defence investment target of spending 20 percent of its defence budget on procurement and investments by 2020.

This trend is far more important than the politically sensitive and counterproductive debate concerning NATO’s “two per-cent goal”. While member states pledged to work towards spending 2 percent of their GDP on defence by 2024 – with varying interpretations of this pledge’s binding character – Germany is still far from that threshold, even under the current increases. By 2021, defence spending will likely have risen to about 1.3 percent of GDP – current economic growth rates remaining the same. Yet irrespective from politically sensitive numbers, it seems clear that even investments of 130 billion Euros already promised until 2030 will not suffice to modernise the Bundeswehr while meeting the FNC’s ambitious objectives.

Crucially, the FNC will not help to save money – to the contrary. The concept’s long-term success might depend on more efficient spending through harmonized equipment of the “larger formations”. Yet the FNC aims at military efficacy first, and efficiency only second. Unlike Smart Defence or Pooling & Sharing, the FNC is a politico-military investment project. As a framework nation, Germany will effectively – if indirectly – finance the capability development of allied armies. The FNC is not an economic but a security policy concept, and a politico-military leadership role will not come cheap.

Avoiding the “Modernisation Trap”

As a concept aimed at efficacy first, it is all the more important that Germany keeps the FNC focussed on its long-term goal: developing a balanced force pool from which to generate the forces for any contingency rather than creating standing and multinational rapid reaction forces. Earlier efforts of NATO and the EU to develop multinational forces in peacetime fell into the “modernisation trap”. Both the NRF and the EU Battle Groups were successful instruments of force development yet did not provide effective operational formations. Too cumbersome were their processes, too inflexible their structures, and too complicated the political negotiations among troop-contributing member states. Whenever rapid and decisive action was needed, it fell mostly to overwhelmingly national forces that were quickly mobilized and deployed.

The “modernisation trap” is inherent in the FNC’s inclusive approach: interoperability is not a precondition for participation, but rather is the ultimate objective of cooperation. While doubtless necessary to increase the number of potential partners, a look at the current “troop contributors” to the FNC’s “larger formations” implies that for many of Germany’s Central European partners, the long-term modernisation of their forces is paramount. It appears critical not to politically overstate the expectations of the “larger formations’” combat effectiveness – with the possible exception of the Dutch-German cooperation.

Germany has often, and not without reason, been suspected by some of its larger allies of regularly favouring military integration with an eye on political symbolism first, and practical concerns only second: Cooperation for the mere sake of cooperation. The FNC, however, is a systematic and structured approach to gradually build European forces within NATO, and to thereby indirectly facilitate the generation of forces for specific missions. National forces will continue to be the bedrock of NATO for many years. Thus, Berlin will not be able to “cooperate its way out” of its responsibility.

Spill-Over Effects to the EU

With few exceptions, neither NATO nor the EU permanently control forces. That is no downside, however. Through its long-term focus on generating a pool of principally national forces rather than standing multinational units, the FNC might contribute to European security beyond the Atlantic Alliance. While FNC units may be assigned to NATO, the FNC’s “larger formations” remain under the sovereign control of the member states – and may thus also be deployed for EU operations, thereby contributing significantly to the EU’s capacity to act.

Coordination with EU-processes is further facilitated by the European Defence Agency currently holding observer status within the FNC. If handled smartly, the new initiatives under the EU’s “Permanent Structured Cooperation” (PESCO), driven forward with great ambitions at the Franco-German Council of Ministers in July 2017, can be fully complementary to the FNC. Given current rifts in in transatlantic relations, the FNC has the potential to strengthen the European pillar not only within NATO, but also beyond the Alliance.

Political Challenges for Berlin

For Berlin, finding itself in a politico-military leadership role is a rather new and unfamiliar experience. Even if the FNC does not legally bind Germany, the Bundeswehr will become one of the most important armed forces in Europe; and through the FNC, it will accept an indirect responsibility for the development of Allied forces. It therefore seems vital that the political processes and debates in Berlin begin to reflect Germany’s growing weight.

For the national debate necessary, the 2015 conclusions of the “Rühe-Commission” contain concrete proposals. After a review of the law governing Bundeswehr deployments, the committee suggested steps to politically increase the binding character of these cooperation initiatives. In addition, discussing the nature of current scenarios of collective defence and its political and constitutional implications, as proposed by the commission, does not appear any less relevant today.

Necessity for German Leadership

Finally, it will need continuous German leadership to fully realize the potential of the FNC and current Bundeswehr planning. This is not an empty argument. Any lack of leadership by Berlin would likely turn the FNC’s strength – its flexibility as an initiative driven by the states – into a critical weakness. In the MoD, and within NATO, the FNC has to be led with clear responsibilities and at high levels.

As of today, the Bundeswehr’s plans as outlined above still float about at the lofty heights of ministerial concepts. Many questions remain open, and the Bundeswehr’s services are currently tasked with examining the manifold implications. Yet should Germany be willing to shoulder the long-term political, military, and financial costs associated with the Bundeswehr’s ambitious plans and the FNC – and should the German public support such a commitment – the MoD’s current course has the potential to leverage the Germany’s capability planning for its European partners within and beyond the Alliance – especially in times of crisis.

Further Reading

Rainer Glatz and Martin Zapfe

NATO Defence Planning between Wales and Warsaw. Politico-military Challenges of a Credible Assurance against Russia

SWP Comments 5/2016, January 2016

Claudia Major and Christian Mölling

The Framework Nations Concept. Germany’s Contribution to a Capable European Defence

SWP Comments 52/2014, December 2014

About the Authors

Lieutenant General Rainer L Glatz (ret.) is a Senior Associate in SWP’s International Security Division.

Dr Martin Zapfe is head of the “Global Security Team” at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at the ETH Zurich