12 Jul 2012

Weaponizing Markets: India’s Naxalite Insurgency

“I have said in the past that left-wing extremism is the single biggest security challenge to the Indian state. It continues to be so.” – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh There is a threat to India’s existence. It has little to do with radical Islam or potential conflict with Pakistan.The once-suppressed Naxalite insurgency is siphoning the flows of globalization and inhibiting the economic expansion of almost half the country. In just five years, Naxals have killed hundreds of security personnel, and more than doubled their reach from 75 to 200 districts.[i] From Ideology To Warfare The insurgency takes its name from the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal. There, in March 1967, a generation of college-educated Maoist ideologues was given purpose when it united to free the peasant class from the bonds of land-owner servitude. In short order, these ragtag forces, armed with crude bows, arrows, and farming implements had claimed some 300 square miles of territory – 2,000 villages and 15,000 residents. Within this ‘liberated zone’ the cadre set up a governing body that canceled debt, destroyed ownership records, and fixed commodity prices. Delivering on ideology took precedence over security, and soon a combination of poor tactical skills, lack of modern weaponry, and overwhelming police force put an end to this insurrection. 5,000 attempts to reignite the flames of revolution over the next three years failed, and by 1972, some 40,000 members and leaders of the insurgency languished in jail. ii For the next decade, the Naxals lay mostly dormant. A handful of highly fragmented groups focused on energizing their rural population base. Some conducting sporadic guerrilla operations. However, when violence gained intensity, it faced ruthless opposition, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, and failed to achieve lasting impact. It was not until India’s economy was pried open in 1991 that the Naxals again emerged on the national stage. Resurgence Over the past twenty years, India has signed thousands of contracts that parcel out its reserves of bauxite, thorium, and coal, respectively 10 percent, 12 percent, and 7 percent of the world’s reserves. Should the Naxals allow it, India could earn upwards of $80 billion for its significant mineral resources.iii Unfortunately 80 percent these natural resources are found in four states that lack both governance and opportunity. Despite aggregate foreign direct investment of $145 billion in this area since 1991, the Reserve Bank of India estimates those states receive less than five percent of this cash flow.iv Consequently, these states constitute only 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.The average per capita income level for all, combined, is less than the $900 per year. A recent study found that, compared to non-Naxal affected states, these resource-rich but prosperity-poor states lost on average 12 percent of economic productivity year on year.v Sensing opportunity in this disconnect, the modern Naxal has pioneered a strategy that enables the organization to control these the flows of resources, and wield them against the state.   A New Strategy “We are ready with a blueprint to prevent entry into the region.” -Rakeshji, Naxal Spokesman, Orissa. Instead of relying on ideology to amass huge numbers with shared purpose, this generation emphasizes execution: building tactical training, capturing popular support, and stockpiling equipment. The goal remains the same – rendering the Indian state incapable of governing – but the means are notably different. Overruns On April 6, 2010, a convoy of 120 federal and state police forces returning from conducting operations deep in the forests of Dantewada was ambushed. Two land mines detonated, then 300 Naxals swarmed the fatigued and disoriented troops. Reinforcements rushed to the scene, only to discover 75 dead policemen and burning wreckage. At the time, this was the insurgency’s deadliest attack. Naxals regularly overrun targets – that is, concentrate overwhelming numbers and firepower on a single location. In contrast to a strategy designed to maintain control of an area, as

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09 Apr 2012

Militants attack Egypt’s gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan

“Militants on Monday blew up a gas pipeline in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that transports fuel to neighboring Israel and Jordan, a senior Egyptian security official said.” (Source: Militants attack Egypt’s gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan – The Washington Post.)

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