Showing posts with label South Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Asia. Show all posts

23 March 2019

The Quad: Whistling By Its Grave – Analysis

By Mark J. Valencia

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad) is an informal strategic dialogue between the US, Japan, Australia and India. It was initiated in 2007 by then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his first term. Since 2014, these discussions have been bolstered by the annual trilateral Malabar (US-Japan –India), other trilateral exercises and at least one quadrilateral naval exercise. It was widely perceived as part of a China containment strategy. After China issued formal diplomatic protests to its members asking their intention, Australia withdrew from the Quad and the meetings ceased.

In 2018 the administration of US President Donald J. Trump re –raised the concept as part of its ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ strategy. But some members are balking. In 2018, India—in deference to China– objected to Australia’s inclusion in Malabar even though the exercise took place in US waters. Admiral Phil Davidson, the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has suggested that the Quad be shelved for now. https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2019/03/07/indopacom-the-quad-might-be-shelved/

13 March 2019

A South Asian Threat in America

by Sam Westrop

Few Americans have heard of Jamaat-e-Islami. But in South Asia, it is notorious. In 1971, Jamaati paramilitary groups slaughtered tens of thousands of Bangladeshis during its War of Liberation from Pakistan. Its terrorist ties today extend from Asia to America.

A new resolution introduced in the House by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) demands an end to U.S. government funding for Jamaat's U.S. proxies and calls for a criminal investigation into links between a prominent American Jamaati charity and one of Pakistan's most prominent terrorist movements.

Founded in British India in 1941 by the prominent Islamist theorist Abul Ala Maududi, Jamaat is active across the Indian subcontinent and has been closely involved with terror.

In 2014, Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre from IHS Markit named Jamaat's student wing in Bangladesh, Islami Chhatra Shibir, the third-most violent non-state armed group in the world. In 2017, the U.S. government designated the head of a Jamaat affiliate in Pakistan and Kashmir a "global terrorist." And over the past few months, Jamaat gained international attention after its supporters rallied for the killing of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.

7 March 2019

With Crown Prince's Visits, Saudi Arabia's Balancing Act in South Asia Continues

Devirupa Mitra

New Delhi: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s visits to India and Pakistan in the immediate aftermath of a deadly suicide attack on Indian security personnel in Kashmir have been a test of Riyadh’s policy to keep its relations with the two neighbours in strictly separate silos.

With Salman’s statements in Pakistan getting wide coverage, the Saudi visitor’s comments on terrorism in the Indian capital were minutely parsed and scrutinised. His travel itinerary for Asia had been decided months ahead, but finally took place under the shadow of the car bomb attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy which left over 40 dead on February 14.

Talking about terror

2 March 2019

China's Economic Pain Will Power Southeast Asia's Gains


The U.S.-China trade war is speeding up the relocation of low-end manufacturing investment outside China into parts of Southeast Asia. A highly effective tech supply chain makes it hard for companies to diversify their own beyond China's but political considerations could prompt some Asian tech giants, especially those from South Korea and Taiwan, to look elsewhere. The U.S.-China trade war and China's weakened export sector will continue to place a drag on Southeast Asian economies, inflicting greater pain on countries highly dependent on trade or with high current account deficits.

Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's upcoming 2019 Second-Quarter Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis on key developments over the next quarter.

6 February 2019

Myanmar: China on “Overdrive” to solve the Ethnic Question: Why?

By S.Chandrasekharan

From the flurry of activities of Sun Guoxiang, Special Envoy for Asian Affairs and the Chinese Ambassador at Yangon, it looks hat Chinese are in a desperate hurry to solve the question of the ethnic minorities and their armed organisations operating in the Kachin and the Shan areas on the Chinese border.

It is not that the China that has armed, encouraged and supported the ethnic armed organisations since Myanmar’s independence have suddenly realized that peace is essential for Myanmar. Their strategy had all along been to keep the ‘pot boiling’ to have leverage over Myanmar.

What has changed the strategic course of China is the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative where 6 of the 24 projects under the Belt Road are due to be initiated in 2019 for which the cooperation of Myanmar Government is essential. These include the 1700 Km road from Yunnan to Mandalay and then on to Yangon and their flagship project the Kyaukphyu Port and SEZ project, upgradation of three major roads in Kachin and Shan areas besides others.

29 January 2019

War On Drugs: How To Win In Philippines, Bangladesh – Analysis

By Iftekharul Bashar*

The counter-narcotics efforts of the Philippines and Bangladesh can be successful only if a comprehensive and long-term approach is taken.

The increase in drugs-related crimes in the Philippines and Bangladesh has pushed both governments to adopt a hard-line approach to get rid of the scourge of drugs. Though human rights groups often criticise the tough anti-narcotics measures, undoubtedly there is popular support for it in both the countries.

Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, he has made it clear that war on drugs is his top priority. Likewise, Bangladesh under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina started its crackdown on drugs in mid-2018. However it seems neither the Philippines nor Bangladesh has been successful in eradicating the scourge. Both countries need to adopt a comprehensive and long-term approach.

28 January 2019

East And South Asia Remain World’s Most Dynamic Regions, But Risks Are Increasing: UN Report


The global economy will continue to grow at a steady pace of around 3 per cent in 2019 and 2020 amid signs that global growth has peaked. However, a worrisome combination of development challenges could further undermine growth, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2019, which was launched Wednesday.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres cautioned, “While global economic indicators remain largely favourable, they do not tell the whole story.” He said the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019 “raises concerns over the sustainability of global economic growth in the face of rising financial, social and environmental challenges.”
Growth prospects in East and South Asia

19 January 2019

A Cold Start to Nuclear War in South Asia

BY: Aaron Kliegman

The number of foreign-policy challenges facing President Trump is daunting—from a nuclear-armed North Korea to a revanchist Russia, from an imperialist Iran to an increasingly belligerent China. These global threats garner numerous headlines each day, and deservedly so. Amid this chaos, however, one conflict receives too little attention in Western media.

South Asia is home to the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan, the international dispute most likely to produce, in the near term, a war between two large, powerful countries in which the belligerents use nuclear weapons. Indeed, the neighboring countries, each with well over 100 nuclear warheads, have gone to war four times since 1947, in addition to several other standoffs, skirmishes, and crises that nearly escalated into war. A primary reason this bilateral tension is so concerning today is that both India and Pakistan have adopted military doctrines that make another war—a large-scale one with nuclear weapons involved—all too foreseeable. A new development from India just last week provides the latest reminder of this reality.

13 January 2019

Will Indonesia Purchase the Indo-Russian BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile?

By Ankit Panda

The Indian government is seriously examining the possibility of selling the ship-launched variant of the BrahMos, its supersonic cruise missile co-developed with Russia, to Indonesia, according to a report in the Hindustan Times. According to the report, a team from the BrahMos joint venture between New Delhi and Moscow visited an Indonesian shipyard in Surabaya in 2018 to “assess the fitting of the missile on Indonesian warships.”

The sale of the BrahMos to Indonesia is likely to face considerable obstacles. Jakarta is the second prospective Southeast Asian customer for the missile, which is among the best-performing in the class of air-breathing supersonic cruise missiles. Vietnam and India have long been in talks over a sale of the missile as well.

The Hindustan Times notes that India and Indonesia have not yet reached a final agreement on the prospective sale. For now, the seriousness of Indonesian interest in buying and joint Indo-Russia interest in selling stems from the visit last year to the shipyard to explore how and whether Indonesian warships might be able to accommodate the missile.

The uniting powers of Northeast Asia may be a counterweight to the might of the United States of America

Anthony Rowley
Source Link

Northeast Asia has long been denied its economic potential by being in a state of diplomatic deep freeze. There is a good chance that the thaw between Japan and China will spread to the Korean peninsula and maybe to Russia in 2019.

The post-war order symbolised by US economic dominance was already under challenge before Donald Trump became president of the world’s largest economy in 2016. But he has undermined national power in a way that suggests that US influence will continue to diminish even after he leaves office.

Despite assertions to the contrary, the world’s second-biggest economy (China) is not yet ready, or able to assume the role of a global hegemon. Even the role of Asia’s regional hegemon is not yet fully within reach.

6 January 2019

The Future of Democracy in South Asia Why Citizens Must Stay Vigilant

By Paul Staniland

On November 14, a fight broke out in the Sri Lankan Parliament. When the Speaker tried to call a vote, a group of MPs heckled him and rushed the podium. A rival faction tried to push the hecklers back. Men traded punches. One brandished a knife. A lawmaker cut himself trying to steal the Speaker’s microphone and ended up in the hospital.

The chaos was the result of a constitutional crisis that erupted in October, when the country’s president, Maithripala Sirisena, tried to oust the prime minister and replace him with a former president, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Lawmakers and citizens protested; Sirisena dissolved Parliament, until the Supreme Court ruled this unconstitutional; and Rajapaksa, rejected by Parliament, refused to step aside. The stalemate broke only in December, when Sirisena reinstated the deposed prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, in the face of concerted opposition from the judiciary and a majority of Parliament. 

4 January 2019

The Bell Tolls on Bangladesh's Democracy

By Tamim Choudhury

As Bangladesh, a South Asian nation of 165 million people, went through another round of parliamentary elections, high-stakes gamesmanship unfolded. Opposition activists were arrested in the thousands, and a pervasive climate of repression filled the thick, sweaty air. Whereas the ruling party kept with the mantra “Vote for us, and economic progress will continue,” the opposition hobbled together an alliance led by the widely respected Kamal Hossain, the Oxford-trained lawyer who drafted the nation’s constitution.

Even though the ruling Awami League has secured a landslide victory, surpassing its previous wins with a record 288 out of 300 parliamentary seats, allegations of vote-rigging are rife. The BBC reported that ballot boxes at a polling center were already filled right after polls opened; the presiding officer refused to comment on the discrepancy. There are anecdotal reports of opposition supporters — whole families — being barred from entering polling centers to cast their votes.

3 January 2019

Balkans In 2018: Year Of Crises And Challanges – Analysis

By Balkan Insight

With new regional and international tensions, internal political quarrels, stagnating economies and worsening public services, many people in the Balkans will probably want to forget the past year as 12 wasted months.

From deepening political divisions and tensions over the general elections in Bosnia, to worsened relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and from mass protests in Serbia and Romania to the arrests of so-called “Gulenists”, sought by Turkey, the Balkans saw a good deal of turmoil and political and economic instability in 2018.

In addition to country reports looking at each country’s perspectives in 2019, which promises to be at least as interesting as this year, BIRN is offering this brief overview of the key developments in the Balkan countries in 2018.
Bosnia in 2018: Politics overshadowed by elections

The Asia-Pacific in 2019: What to Expect

By The Diplomat

Another year has come and gone, and it was a doozy. 2018 saw the much-feared U.S.-China trade war actually come to fruition; an unexpected but rapid thaw on the Korean Peninsula; crucial elections in Malaysia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; and surprisingly rapid reforms continue under Uzbekistan’s new president.

This year promises to be a busy one as well. Indonesians will vote for their next president while Australia, Thailand, and India will hold general elections that could seat new prime ministers. The People’s Republic of China will turn 70 to much fanfare, just a few months after the government studiously ignores the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. The world will continue to watch if the Korean peace holds. And, over everything, the “Trump factor” will continue to drench the region in uncertainty for yet another year.

1 January 2019

The Fourth Estate in South Asia: Media’s Role in Inter-State Crises

By Hannah Haegeland and Ruhee Neog

Last month, the world paused to remember the tenth anniversary of 26/11 — the 2008 attack launched by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, in a series of carefully planned and orchestrated attacks. Official Pakistani connections to LeT added an inter-state dynamic to the attack, triggering a major India-Pakistan crisis — one of several in a long history of subcontinental crises that have sometimes resulted in military mobilization and outright conflict. 26/11 spanned three days and was transmitted in real time on our television screens. In its aftermath, the Indian news media was censured for flouting journalistic ethics on the ground and in newsrooms by revealing operational details and resorting to invective and jingoistic language to frame events. Ten years on, however, media behavior, determined to a large extent by the nature of its interaction with policymakers and the public, remains an understudied dynamic in inter-state crises in and beyond South Asia.

31 December 2018

Warnings From Eurasia

by Nikolas K. Gvosdev

One of the major blind spots in how the U.S. national security apparatus responds to and formulates policy for issues that arise across the Eurasian heartland is how the American government has chosen to bureaucratically define the region.

Namely: the continued inclusion of Russia within the diplomatic confines of a larger European bureau has intellectually limited assessments about Russia’s position in the world by framing Russian action primarily through a European lens.

Not only does this undercount Russia’s ability to be a major player in the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia, it has also, in my view, tended to overweight the importance of the Baltic littoral to Russian policy. Poll U.S. experts and at the top of any risk prediction for 2019 will be the threat of a Russian incursion into the Baltic states—and the importance of continued efforts to reinforce NATO’s north-eastern frontier as a result. At the same time, bureaucratic lines drawn both for the State and Defense Departments detach much of Central Asia and assign it, either to be grouped together with India and Pakistan (for State) or with the Arab world and Iran (in the case of the Pentagon). In both cases, much of the Eurasian core is relegated to second-tier status in terms of U.S. attention and priorities.

The Fourth Estate in South Asia: Media’s Role in Inter-State Crises

By Hannah Haegeland and Ruhee Neog

Last month, the world paused to remember the tenth anniversary of 26/11 — the 2008 attack launched by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, in a series of carefully planned and orchestrated attacks. Official Pakistani connections to LeT added an inter-state dynamic to the attack, triggering a major India-Pakistan crisis — one of several in a long history of subcontinental crises that have sometimes resulted in military mobilization and outright conflict. 26/11 spanned three days and was transmitted in real time on our television screens. In its aftermath, the Indian news media was censured for flouting journalistic ethics on the ground and in newsrooms by revealing operational details and resorting to invective and jingoistic language to frame events. Ten years on, however, media behavior, determined to a large extent by the nature of its interaction with policymakers and the public, remains an understudied dynamic in inter-state crises in and beyond South Asia.

21 December 2018

Sri Lanka: What Does Post-Crisis Situation Mean For India? – Analysis

By N Sathiya Moorthy

As a “close neighbour and true friend”, India has welcomed the “resolution of the political situation in Sri Lanka”, External Affairs Ministry (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a statement in New Delhi, a day after Ranil Wickremesinghe returned as the Prime Minister in Colombo. The statement commented that the Sri Lankan developments were a “reflection of the maturity demonstrated by all political forces, and also of the resilience of Sri Lankan democracy and its institutions”.

As the MEA spokesman said, “India remains committed to taking forward its people-oriented development projects in Sri Lanka. We are confident that India-Sri Lanka relations will continue to move on an upward trajectory,” the statement added. As is self-evident, the statement kept the focus on development projects. Otherwise, it worded bilateral issues in general and generalised terms, without seeming to take sides.

19 December 2018

India, Maldives Recalibrate Their Bilateral Relationship With Modi-Solih Summit

By Ankit Panda

On Monday, Ibrahim “Ibu” Mohamed Solih, the new president of the Maldives, met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top Indian officials in his first overseas trip since assuming the presidency. Solih’s trip to India marks the beginning of a recalibration in the Maldives’ foreign policy back toward New Delhi, its closest historical partner, after a swing away from India during the tenure of former President Abdulla Yameen.

Yameen’s remarkable defeat in the September elections this year marked a moment of political transition in the Maldives, which had veered away from democracy and toward authoritarianism under his leadership. Yameen had also pivoted the Maldives toward China; in December 2017, the two countries concluded a free trade agreement and Malé took on considerable Chinese financing for infrastructure projects.

12 December 2018

Myanmar: Kyaukphyu Port-The Dragon Enters in a Big Way

By S. Chandrasekharan

In a meeting with Suu Kyi, the Chairman of the China Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC), Ning Jizhe, tried to hustle Myanmar to workout an ‘implementation Plan’ for the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) under the Belt Road Initiative. Suu Kyi stood her ground and made a very significant response that said – “the CMEC Projects (are) needed to be implemented in line with the Myanmar’s sustainable Development Plan and should support the long-term interest of both peoples. Th message was that it should not be in the interest of China alone but that of Myanmar also.

She also stressed that China needed to negotiate the projects systematically and in accordance with domestic rules and regulations.( thus avoid going to BRI Courts in Xian in China later)

This timely reminder to China is not only for Myanmar itself but for other countries who are negotiating various projects in this region under the BRI.