As noted in earlier posts, big hopes were riding on the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). And as expected, the session was dominated by events in the ruined country known as Syria – once the beating heart of Arab nationalism – which we have discussed in recent posts here, here and here. Despite the veneer of cordiality, world leaders could not conceal the tensions between them. They are divided over the future of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. President Putin had thrown himself in the limelight in advance of the session by flexing Russia’s military might in the historic – without notice – style of the former Soviet Union. Predictably, on 28 September, he opportunistically presented himself as the missing link in the Syrian puzzle. The clever Russian president did not conceal his intentions in an impassioned speech which provided him the ideal opportunity to announce his future plans. Putin’s fans, like his blunt instrument in Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, rejoiced when military action ultimately became a reality and requested to be sent in as a ground force to fight (preferably hand-to-hand) the jihadis of ISIS.
After Putin had set the stage, just a couple of days later, on 30 September 2015, when Russia initiated airstrikes in Syria the west responded negatively and US defence secretary Ashton Carter accused the Kremlin of “pouring gasoline on fire”. However, unlike some others (e.g. Great Britain) Russia took military action with the consent of its parliament and at the invitation of a sovereign government – albeit the collapsing, murderous and much hated regime in Damascus. But Russia is nonetheless being condemned for attacking the Free Syrian Army Continue reading
Filed under Discussion, Iran, Israel, NATO, Pakistan, Palestine, Peace building, Politics, Russia, Taliban, The Middle East, UK, United States
As an emerging power with global aspirations, India must first befit a regional power
Within just six months in power, Narendra Modi has managed to induce a dramatic overhaul of India’s hitherto muffled and ill-defined foreign policy, and has dramatically increased his country’s global profile. Successful summits with the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Japan, China, Nepal and Bhutan were topped off with a high-profile visit to the United States (US) from 27-30 September. Modi’s US visit was his most interesting foreign trip: barred from entry to the US for nine years because of accusations over his role in the Gujarat massacre of 2002, the red carpet to the White House was rolled out. Modi received a ‘rockstar’ reception in the US, especially from Americans of Indian origin, for example addressing 18,000 people at Madison Square Gardens in New York.
Unlike his predecessors, Modi has underscored foreign policy as a priority from the beginning alongside a strong mandate to put India’s economy in order. Modi aspires to re-invigorate India’s emerging power status, which suffered in recent years due to poor economic growth. He has not only injected focus and ambition into India’s foreign policy, but also linked it directly to his plan to transform India’s economy. Launched in September 2014, ‘Make in India’ has become Narendra Modi’s signature programme Continue reading
On 9 August 2012, Pakistan formally joined the group of countries rejecting prospects of foreign intervention in Syria in favour of the Syrian government. The decision came in the international consultative meeting hosted by Iran and attended by representatives from Russia, China, Belarus, Mauritania, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Benin, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Oman, Venezuela, Tajikistan, India, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Sudan, Jordan, Tunisia and Palestine.
Whether the decision came as a result of Pakistan’s recently increased cooperation with Iran in order to enhance regional control over foreign relations and energy resources, or as a result of China’s blunt veto on the draft resolutions presented against the Syrian government in the United Nations, Pakistan’s stance is now crystal clear. It is sure to irk the American led Western lobby against Bashar-al-Assad of Syria. Previously Pakistan had only abstained from voting on an anti-Syria resolution in the United Nationas Security Council. Now, however, Pakistan has dared to clearly ally with the anti-US and anti-Western league of countries on the issue of Syria. Continue reading
Interest in an engaged presence in South Asia is rapidly waning in the wake of the coming American elections. It remains to be seen whether the strategy will be beneficial for both sides in the long run.
Foreign policy rarely figures prominently in American elections. The upcoming November presidential and congressional contests demonstrate the continued pertinence of this hoary political maxim. Still buffeted by an anemic recovery from the 2008 financial meltdown, few US voters will give much thought to foreign policy as they enter the polling booths. And fewer still will consider how South Asia will be affected by their choices, let alone how the region will in turn influence the leaders elected this November. Continue reading
The Bonn Conference reminds the world of the active role of Germany at decisive stages, again! The conference was held to provide a road map for the development and re-construction of Afghanistan. The agenda was inclined to strengthen the pre-transition 2014 situation to give sustainability to the post-transition era. The United States entered Afghanistan after September 11 attacks and now wants an acceptable magnitude of stability in the landlocked country. But Pakistan boycotted the conference because of the US led NATO strike on its soil. The attack – which left 24 Pakistani soldiers killed at Salala checkpost, Mohmand Agency – took place barely a month before this significant seating at Bonn.
Bonn, the former capital of West Germany, is also called UN city. It was the meeting place of international actors with Taliban under UN auspices in 2001: Bonn Agreement. Germany is emerging as a major party in the current international debate pertaining to the war against terrorism. Today’s Germany, a country of 82 million, has a history full of tides. But at every stage – regional or international – Germany has been a major player in the arena. Continue reading
NATO’s attack on Pakistan has enveloped the entire region in a serious row between regional and extra-regional forces. This dispute has compelled the regional actors to join hands to push the influence of external forces away. Rather than apologizing to Pakistan, US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter invited envoys of NATO countries in Pakistan to high tea at the US embassy in Islamabad. He asked them to persuade the Pakistani leadership to cooperate with the US. The US has been trying to portray the incident as a non-deliberate act.
However, Major General Ishfaq Nadeem, Director-General of Military Operations, had already claimed that two or three helicopters launched an unprovoked attack early on 26 November 2011. He also stated that NATO/ISAF forces had been conveyed positions of military posts through map references that left no scope for mistakes.
The response of China and Russia over this rift has exposed their serious regional concerns. China, expressing deep shock at the incident, stressed the need for ensuring Pakistan’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity at any cost. It also emphasized that the event should be investigated thoroughly. Continue reading