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Russia

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Surveys conducted by various Afghan and foreign agencies show that the Afghan people ranked Indian assistance as the most suitable because of the positive role India has played in the development programme of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan and defence ties with U.S. are expected to be the prime issues during James Mattis’s visit to India next week. Mr. Trump’s policy includes more pressure on Pakistan, no early U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, great military action on counter-terrorism and a greater role for India in sync with the U.S.

On January 4, 1950, India signed a Treaty of Friendship with Afghanistan which permitted opening of consulates in each other’s country. Surveys conducted by various Afghan and foreign agencies show that the Afghan people ranked Indian assistance as the most suitable because of the positive role India has played in the development programme of Afghanistan. The Afghans also appreciate the fact that India has never interfered in their internal affairs till date.

The energy basket of Asia needs to be exploited for the benefit of Afghanistan and the surrounding region. The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline is one such example.

It is also necessary to redouble counter-narcotics efforts as Afghanistan remains the world’s largest producer of opium, accounting for 90% of the world’s supply.

A Stable Afghanistan requires involvement of the Central Asian Republics, Russia and Iran, which border Afghanistan. It is important for India to coordinate its efforts with those to ensure success.

 

The international political scenario is heating up steadily and gradually. The main reason and crux of this heat is none other but expansionist China, Pakistan and North Korea, the difficult trio who’ve literary disturbed the whole equation of the otherwise peaceful and tranquil South Asian Subcontinent.

Now Russia also seems to have completely fallen in the trap of notorious China. Today, on the one hand while India and its prime minister Narendra Modi is succesfully establishing cementing friendly relations with the dragon’s bete noire Japan’ s prime minister Shinze Abe by having ten meetings with him in just a short span of three years after his assuming charge as the prime minister of the largest democracy of the world since 2014, including having dinner diplomacy today as well in Gujarat, the two powerful heads of the developed nations China and Russia are finalising deals to help and support India’ s arch rival Pakistan at all costs in the event of United States of America taking any stand against it.

The two Asian giants have pledged to stand with terror supporting Pakistan in any eventuality, particularly if United States stands against it, blocks monetary aid and applies sanctions in future. This recent development has unambiguously created two separate blocks with Pakistan being their common unstinted and faithful ally, come what may.

This unique declaration by China and Russia to cohesively stand in support of Pakistan against a super power America directly and against India indirectly, especially when China’s bete noire Japanese Prime Minister Shinze Abe is India’ s guest and likely to sign various bilateral agreements of assistence and mutual cooperation to the tune of 5 lakh crores that also includes an over ambitious hi tech bullet train project with Japanese support, from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, speaks of the fact that China is today the most jealous country who wanted to see India doomed at any cost.

The deflection of Russia from the path of Indian friendship after having been influenced by China is the result of India’s increasing closeness towards United States of America as a permanent ally and the special treatment being meted out to India and Prime Minister Modi by President Donald Trump by taking Pakistan to task on Afgan policy and giving extra weitage to India.

Since the day, United states of America, its Congress and President Donald Trump had scolded Pak rulers on Afgan policy and held it directly responsible for aiding and abetting terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan by openly supporting the Talibanese and Haqqani Network, unabatedly killing the American soldiers and military officers and stopping the annual US aid of 255 million US dollars, since then the badly frustrated Pakistan has started unstinting efforts to approach its actual God Father China who has further roped in Russia to stand strongly and forcefully with Pakistan.

Today China, Russia and Pakistan are the common enemies of mighty United States of America and the silent foes of this trio are India, US, Japan, England, Saudi Arabia, Europeon Union and the NATO countries, who are today in princple and spirit strongly unified agaist them ( the above trio) who are constantly instigating North Koria and its paranoid ruler to expode nuclear missiles on Japanese sea to intimidate US and Japan which expansionist China and Russia can’t ever think of endeavoring themselves to annoy the mighty US. Reports are also pouring in that anti US, Iran who was restricted by the former to disengage its Nuclear Missile programme is also trying to join China and Russia to stand in support of Pakistan in the eventuality of United States’ anti Pakistan posture in the near future.

Meanwhile, in view of Pakistan’s open hostile posture against US by establishing more cohesive proximity with China and Russia and the duo’s concrete assurance to stand with Pakistan in the event of US leaving it, President Donald Trump has softened his obstinate anti Pak stance and has expressed its willingness no to loose its taditional and long term Ally (Pakistan).

The United States has reassured Pakistan to release the financial aid if necessary and is trying to reassure the annoyed Islamic nation to come to terms with it.

SUNIL NEGI

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The 12th century mosque, the Grand al-Nuri in Mosul, from where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself the ‘Caliph’ of the world’s Muslims was destroyed by IS as they retreated from the Iraqi troops. Shortly after that, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally announced the liberation of Mosul.

The Iraqi army with help from Iran-trained militias, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the U.S. Air Force liberated small cities first, such as Ramadi and Fallujah, before moving towards Mosul in October 2016.

Recently IS has faced many setbacks like:

  • Losing more than half of the territories it once held.
  • Finding it harder to recruit new jihadists under strain of battlefield losses.
  • Its leader Baghdadi being either dead or on the run.

But these setbacks do not mean that the IS has been defeated, because of many reasons:

  • It still controls various strategic territories in Iraq. Hawijah, Tal Afar, Salahuddin province and pockets in Anbar and Diyala. In Syria, it still controls Raqqa, and Deir Ezzor.
  • There’s no guarantee that the IS won’t come back to the cities it lost.

In Syria, the battle against the IS, is more complicated than that in Iraq. In Iraq at least there is a consensus of America, the Kurds and Iran and Shia militias about what the legitimate force is against the IS i.e. the Iraqi government. But in Syria, Raqqa is being attacked by SDF and the government troops both. Russia is backing the regime, while the U.S. is supporting the SDF. Turkey, another country that’s involved by its proxies in the war, is wary of the SDF. So even if Raqqa is liberated someday, it will be difficult to reach on a peaceful decision on who will eventually run the city.

IS which started as an insurgency, has transformed itself into a proto-state. Now the proto-state is under attack, but it can retreat to insurgency (uprising/revolt) for its continued survival.

It has changed its strategy very recently. Instead of expanding its territories now, it has become defensive and released a wave of terror attacks in various parts of the world.

IS has established franchises in other countries. Boko Haram, Africa’s most dreaded terror outfit, has declared loyalty to the IS. In eastern Afghanistan, the Islamic State of Khorasa is a branch of the IS, which is controlling the group’s operations in South Asia. In Philippines, armed jihadist groups have declared their loyalty to the IS and are fighting the government forces also.

 

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Israel on Tuesday for a 48-hour visit. Modi’s visit to the Jewish country is the first by an Indian pioneer of politics. Him being a Hindu patriot, traditionalist and adherent to free markets, he has the benefit of extraordinary prominence at home, and according to many think tanks he is bound to be re-elected as the PM in 2019.

As per a rundown given by Minister of State to External Affairs V.K. Singh, in an answer to an inquiry, after first going to Bhutan in June 2014, Modi went to visit the U.S. four times, and Nepal, Russia , Japan, China and Afghanistan  twice each. He has actually made 56 International visits since accepting charge.

Such a forceful attitude by the PM towards visiting to various nations as a method of strategy is a sensational change as compared to all the strategies adopted by  the predecessors except the first Prime Minister of the nation, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Such visits are focused about building the brand India picture and to showcase our countries capabilities on international stages. To prove that Indian business visionaries with world-class ideas and visions possess the capacity to exhibit their ability and find genuine accomplices and resources to recreate their dreams.

The impact of such visits is a get together for mutually beneficial trade partners and political thinkers, for example, the Indo-Japan Trade Forum. The CEOs of various Silicon Valley based companies have also begun to show a lot more interest in our country as of late, most of which is directed towards Modi’s enthusiastic approach to ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ ventures.

The benefits of his International visits are of course boasted by all his supporters, but there is a group largely comprising of the opposition in India that claims that such visits are a waste of tax payer’s hard earned money. According to them the PM should focus more on the internal problems of the country. Modi, who is too busy to pay heed to such talks, will soon be making a trip to Germany, to participate in the G20 Summit in Hamburg.

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Turkey and Russian relations have been very uneven and the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrey G Karlov was apparently an expression of anger by a lone Islamist who screamed Allahu Akbar adding ” Don’t forget Syria, Don’t forget Aleppo”but Russian president has chosen not to escalate the incident though there are  discussions of World War III breaking out on the lines of World War 1 that started after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria,the heir  to the Austro-Hungarian throne.
But the motives of the assassin, Mevlut Mert Altintas are not known. He could be connected to a jihadist group ie ISIS or lodging a protest against the role of Russia in Syria or could otherwise be a person with Islamic inclination.
As Turkey accused exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen for the killing of Russia’s envoy to Ankara ,Kremlin spokesman Dimitri peskov stated that Turkey should not be in a rush to make conclusions  and wait for the results of a joint investigation.
If it is Islamic inclination or jihadist group than it is a cause for worry because the migration from war-ridden countries like Syria  and others has led such persons to various countries of the world and it is difficult to identify such elements from amongst the migrants.
While Russia has its own problem in Caucasus having large Muslim population where  recently a leader of Islamic State militant group was killed in Caucasus region of Daghestan.There has been a long history of armed insurgency in the North Caucasus  between Russia  and militants associated  with the Caucasus Emirate  and Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
Even ISIS released a video in which the members of the jihadist group warned Russian President Vladimir Putin and threatened “Putin,we will come to Russia  and will kill you at your homes.”
As a staunch ally of Bashar al-Assad,Russia actually intervened militarily in the Syrian civil war in September 2015 and conducted air raids on the rebel and jihadist groups. But in November 2015 , Turkey shot down  a Russian jet  that precipitated a major crisis.Then in 2016 President Recep Tayyip Erdogen held talks with Vladimir Putin in St.Petersburg and mended ties after the failed military coup in Turkey.
The bone of contention is that Turkey is preventing Syrian Kurdish groups along its border with Syria that may strengthen Kurdish separatism in Turkey while Russia  considers Assad as an strategic ally in Syria and is increasing the number of its allies to oppose US .
Meanwhile, Turkey has accused United States for conspiring with Turkish  cleric Fethullah Gulen to bring down the Turkish government in a coup.
Erdogen ,who has been allowing militants including the Islamic State jihadists to cross into Syria now finds Russia a better ally than US to secure his presidency and his interests in Syria.Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu,who is currently in Moscow for talks with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Mohammad Javed Zarif  agreed to find a political solution to Syria .

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The tensions between  US and Russia mounted as the additional United States and NATO troops are positioning themselves in the first week of January 2017 in Poland, Baltic nations and Romania before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Russian led military bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are meeting in St Petersburg on December 26th for appropriate response to NATO’s move.

An armoured brigade of US combat team from Fort Carson is set to be deployed in Poland and other US-NATO battalions in Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and Romania.

This heightening of activities were due to 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and the increased presence of Russian military and deployment of S-400 surface-to-air missiles and nuclear capable Iskander systems in the exclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland and Lithuania thus destabilizing European security. Due to Russia’s aggressive military designs, Baltic nations have doubled their military spending including hardware and weaponry.

The North Atlantic Treaty organization (NATO) is a military alliance of 28 countries formed on the purpose that an armed attack against one Nato member shall be considered an attack against all of them. (Nato member includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, UK, USA, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Albania, Croatia) 

The Kremlin claims that military posturing is aimed at countering US nuclear arsenal in the event of war. The United States activated the first phase of missile defense system in Romania in May and another stage is due in Poland in 2018.

Actually President Vladimir Putin ultimate aim is to practically destroy NATO and bring the old European countries that were previously under the Soviet Union back into the Russian empire.

To achieve this end, Russian government has been hacking politicians servers, US government officials, agencies, violating the rules in order to change the world order and dividing the European Union by funding the anti-EU political parties and sow discord over Muslim immigration caused due to crisis in Middle East especially Syria and Iraq.

It is now incumbent on Trump to checkmate Russian designs.

Article Courtesy : Arti Bali, Senior Journalist & Analyst

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Much is being talked about how US President-elect Donald Trump  foreign policy will unfold in the Middle East where America is leading the coalition to fight ISIS, some critical decisions about Pacific where China, a close ally of North Korea is determinant power will also have a bearing on US-China changing relations. With Trump  devising new terms and conditions for the military alliance between US-Japan-South Korea after January 20th whereby these countries will have to put their defense expenditure, China  with its massive military built up in South China Sea will aggressively confront US to dictate terms to bring North Korea for the resumption of six-party talks.

Meanwhile, China is opposing unilateral sanctions on North Korea outside the framework of Security Council resolutions. 

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula reached a high level in 2015 when Pyongyang conducted two nuclear tests and a string of ballistic missile launches and as a response South Korea is about to complete the deployment of an advanced US missile defense system by May 2017. The tensions will further rise as Russia, China and North Korea termed the action of US  and Seoul as provocative. But Park Geun-hye impeachment has created political uncertainty in South Korea. 

If Trump is thinking of having normal ties with Russia  and using Moscow card to browbeat China then he is bound to fail as because Russia-China ties are far deeper than US-Russia understanding though Putin had in someway helped Trump win the US Presidential elections.

Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command ,warned China that Washington would not accept Chinese control of the South China Sea, despite Beijing’s having undertaken rapid development of artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

Harris further added “We will cooperate where we can but we will be ready to confront where we must and the US fought its first war following our independence to ensure freedom of navigation”.  

Trump may have to tackle China by involving countries having ties with both the countries and will have to take into confidence his own intelligence agencies,especially the CIA as well as moderate Republican  and Democratic members of Congress.

Article Courtesy : Arti Bali, Senior Journalist & Analyst

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China and India are ranged against each other in every respect. India has become  a key US partner and the two militaries have participated in numerous bilateral exercises during the past decade. While China, a all-weather friend of Pakistan and allied with Russia and North Korea claims large chunks of Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh, Kashmir and Uttarakhand. China has therefore been opposing and curtailing India’s interests and influence in various international forums. 

The Nuclear Supplier’s group agreed in October 2008 to treat India differently with special exemption in following the stringent guidelines but China has reiterated that it will continue to oppose India’s joining  till a consensus emerges on allowing in countries that have not signed the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. 

India’s bid to join the NSG in June was backed by the US and France  but China, South Africa, New Zealand and Austria opposed it. Despite the clean waiver and special exemption made for India, NSG members including Australia argued that it will not supply nuclear fuel to India unless India signs nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Currently, the NSG has the membership  of 46 nuclear supplier countries including China, Russia and the United States. 

Chinese String of pearls include several major maritime choke points such as the Strait of Mandeb, the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormouz  as well as other strategic centres in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives thus aggressively  encircling India’s position.

As part of this policy, China said it will continue to support Pakistan and block India’s efforts to get the imposition of UN sanctions on the Jaish-e- Mohammad chief Masood Azhar. 

As an extension of its anti-India policy it has recently threatened Magnolias against seeking financial assistance from India. As India provided Mongolia with aid of USD one billion.

To completely damage India-Nepal historical ties, China has completed rail-road connectivity with Nepal to boost cargo trade as a part of Belt and Road (Silk Road ) initiative. India will be better advised to spell its foreign policy towards China in a bold manner.

Article Courtesy : Arti Bali, Senior Journalist & Analyst

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With the announcement of retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as Defense Secretary of the United States, President-elect Donald Trump has amply outlined the major changes that Pentagon contemplates in dealing with China, Russia, Iran and Israel and in changing Afghanistan through Pakistan that also envisage eliminating Haqqani network from Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Admirers call Mattis as “Mad Dog” or “Warrior Monk”, a tough general attributed with strong handling of wars.

On Afghanistan Policy, Mattis favours to be a strategic partner with Pakistan  to target terrorists including Talibans in the region. His famous quotes for Afghanistan like “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

He said “there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot. “Therefore Trump will not participate in nation building in Afghanistan.

Mattis will never allow politicization in the Department of Defense. Mad Dog was on the front line of the 2001 assault on Afghanistan, led the Marine attack on Baghdad in 2003.

China and Russia will have to be cautious as Mattis is against Beijing’s increasing naval power and warships in the South China Sea. He had held that China must be denied “veto power” over the territorial claims, security and economic  conditions in the pacific.

Warrior Monk said that Putin creating instability along Russia’s border and is skeptical about Russia-China strategic partnership that points  to blending of China’s One belt, One road with Russia’s Eurasia Economic Union.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already changed Army chief of Staff and ISI chief keeping in view the appointment of Mattis in Pentagon .

Mattis considers Pakistan strategically important for defeating Taliban and regaining control of the lost territories of Afghanistan to Taliban in recent years. Mattis was anti to US-Iran Nuclear deal that led President Obama to replace him as Centcom commander.

As far as One China Policy is concerned, Trump is in no mood to entertain China  and will move forward to strengthen and deepen diplomatic ties with Taiwan  and help it become stronger economically and boost its military status.

Article Courtesy : Arti Bali, Senior Journalist & Analyst

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Two points on which the Heart of Asia Conference revolves are : cross border terrorism in India by Pakistan and the participation of Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistan Prime Minister’s advisor on foreign affairs, secondly, the Islamic State attacks in Afghanistan when 60% of the country is under Taliban. 

As India hosts the Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar on December, senior officials from 14 countries including China and Pakistan will participate. In this meet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold one-to-one discussion with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani where there is an apparent nexus between the Islamic State and Taliban and the latter controls 60% of Afghanistan. India has completed the delivery of the final Mi-24 gunship to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) to arm the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) with more lethal weaponry. 

Adviser Aziz announced that he would participate in the conference as Pakistan supports any initiative aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan and that it would be a “good opportunity” to “defuse the tension” between the two neighbors. 

In spite of the fact that northern Afghanistan has strong presence of ISIS jihadists, President Ashraf Ghani also traveled  to the Caspian Sea and gave an oblique hint of having cultural and ethnic  relations with the Muslim population of Caucasus countries which are controlled by Russian minority population. Russia will also watch their interests in a prominent way.

The Afghan leadership therefore harbors ambitions about Caucasus as well as is showing itself to tackle ISIS-Taliban nexus. 

Afghan officials have decided to ask China to play a lead role in the region for development and infrastructure purposes while proposing India to play a developmental role in the education sector. 

Further elaborating his government’s stance, Ambassador Shaida Mohammad Abdali said, “Afghanistan is no longer a landlocked country in the practical sense of the term. In recent months, we have entered into several connectivity projects including Chabahar (that connects India with Kabul via Iran) and initiatives that will link our nation with Central Asia and Black Sea. 

Ghani after assuming power in Afghanistan made clear his vision of including Caucasus region of Russia in the purview of Afghanistan connectivity and thus proximity to European markets. Meanwhile, Ghani appealed to the US to re-examine the 2016 timetable for withdrawing the remaining US led coalition troops from Afghanistan. But US-President elect Donald Trump policy on Afghanistan will be outlined after his inauguration in January 2017 with a hint that countries will have to foot their bills themselves for their security. 

While accusing Pakistan of interfering in Afghanistan, Abdali said that Heart of Asia governments had agreed that implementation of non-interference in Afghanistan requires “resolutely combating  and eliminating terrorism and dismantling terror infrastructure and acknowledging that terrorism is a threat to international peace and security.” 

As India is witnessing terror attacks from Pakistan it also desires examination of terror activities and infrastructure from Pakistan and Sartaj Aziz will have to respond to India’s concerns in this regard.

This is one of the crucial meeting where India and Pakistan are participating as in August 25, 2014 the Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary level talks were called off after High Commissioner Abdul Basit held meetings with Kashmiri Separatists leaders where after terror attacks in India like in Udampur, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Uri were witnessed.

Article Courtesy : Arti Bali, Senior Journalist & Analyst