Iran’s seizes UK tanker in counter-escalation

The British tanker seized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Strait of Hormuz, Jul 20, 2019 The seizure of a British oil tanker by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on July 20 in the Strait of Hormuz has all the hallmarks of a retaliatory act in the downstream of the seizure of an Iranian … Continue reading “Iran’s seizes UK tanker in counter-escalation”

Kulbhushan Jadhav on re-trial. Future lies in India’s hands

Kulbhushan Jadhav, alleged Indian spy on death row in Pakistan, met his relatives from India, Islamabad, December 24, 2017 The External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s statement in the Parliament on July 18 regarding the judgment by the International Court of Justice on Kulbhushan Jadhav — he called it “certain important development — was noteworthy for … Continue reading “Kulbhushan Jadhav on re-trial. Future lies in India’s hands”

If no CAATSA for Turkey, none for India too

Turkish Foreign Ministry: Removing Turkey from from US’ F-35 fighter jet program “will irreparably damage relations”, Ankara, July 17, 2019 President Trump’s statement on July 17 to block the sale of the advanced F-35 jet to Turkey and to remove Turkey altogether from the fighter jet programme marks an inflection point in the Turkish-American relations.  … Continue reading “If no CAATSA for Turkey, none for India too”

Turkey undeterred by US sanctions threat

Components of S-400 missile defense system are unloaded from a Russian plane at Akinci Air Base, near Ankara, July 12, 2019. The loss of Istanbul to an opposition candidate in Turkey’s recent local elections was hyped up by many American commentators, especially pro-Israeli analysts, as marking the end of President Recep Erdogan’s 17-year long dominance … Continue reading “Turkey undeterred by US sanctions threat”

Ukraine remains the signpost of world politics

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky made a working visit to the frontline positions in Luhansk region in May 2019 The ice in the frozen lake shifting is one of the coolest sounds you can hear. The air is cold but not freezing, and the woods are silent. The frozen lake looks like it’s been stopped in time, … Continue reading “Ukraine remains the signpost of world politics”

India loses Afghan proxy war

The Four-Party Meeting on the Afghan Peace Process, held in Beijing last Thursday and Friday, comprising China, the US, Russia and Pakistan, is a dramatic development auguring a peace settlement in Afghanistan. In a regional setting, it also signifies that Pakistan has inflicted a heavy defeat on India in the decade-old proxy war in Afghanistan.  … Continue reading “India loses Afghan proxy war”

US pours oil into fire in Gulf, mum’s the word for India

Iranian supertanker Grace 1 seized by British Navy off Gibralter, July 5, 2019 The illegal seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off Gibralter by the British Navy last Friday is fast acquiring a farcical character. Britain acted at the behest of the US; in turn, the US probably acted at the behest of the ‘B … Continue reading “US pours oil into fire in Gulf, mum’s the word for India”

Trump’s volte-face on Pakistan is a moment of truth for India

A Taliban delegation led by Abdul Ghani Baradar (centre) visited China recently, according to Beijing. The announcement in Washington on Wednesday regarding Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’ visit to the United States cannot but be noted as a watershed event in regional politics.  At its most obvious level, the announcement coincides with the news coming out … Continue reading “Trump’s volte-face on Pakistan is a moment of truth for India”

The rise and rise of Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent official visit to China on July 1-6 highlights a new template in regional politics — the rise of Bangladesh as regional power.  Last year Bangladesh outstripped India as the fastest growing economy in South Asia — at 7.3%. Hasina has set the compass to navigate her country to … Continue reading “The rise and rise of Bangladesh”

Iran’s shock therapy breaks JCPOA stalemate

Iran’s enriched uranium to fuel its nuclear power plant in Bushehr (file photo) A series of announcements in Tehran through the past week took the situation around the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (known as the JCPOA) — and the US-Iranian standoff — to an inflection point. On July 1, it transpired that Iran has exceeded … Continue reading “Iran’s shock therapy breaks JCPOA stalemate”

Trump outflanks Iran to the west and east

(Incirlik air base in eastern Turkey housing US warplanes and 50 nuclear bombs. File photo) The Turkish state news agency Anadolu has featured an analysis titled US sanctions on Iran increasing public unease, which is highly critical of the Iranian ruling elite’s approach to the current standoff with the US. The thrust of the commentary … Continue reading “Trump outflanks Iran to the west and east”

Trump is finished with the Afghan war

US soldiers like these deployed to Afghanistan have been in the landlocked mountainous country since late 2001 (AFP Photo) There could be several ways of interpreting the US State Department’s decision on Tuesday to designate the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, which imposes economic sanctions on the group and anyone affiliated … Continue reading “Trump is finished with the Afghan war”

US eyes Sri Lanka as its military logistics hub

(Sri Lankan presidential aspirant Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the radical Buddhist monk Gnanasara Thera of Bodu Bala Sena. File photo.) The Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka on 21st April in which 259 people were killed and over 500 injured were initially attributed to the Islamic State (IS). But no hard evidence is available to … Continue reading “US eyes Sri Lanka as its military logistics hub”

Long and winding road for US-China trade talks

(US-China talks at Osaka led by President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping, Osaka, June 29, 2019) The spotlight at the G20 summit in Osaka was undoubtedly on the meeting last Saturday between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Much of the ‘feel-good’ impression of that event was based on three things.  One, … Continue reading “Long and winding road for US-China trade talks”

Israeli attack on Syria is a message for Russia

(Russian President Vladimir Putin met US President Donald Trump at Osaka on June 29, 2019) Although G20 summit in Osaka achieved nothing and there were no breakthrough decisions, a pleasant feeling had appeared momentarily that in the disjointed world situation, all the participants in the event at least reconfirmed their commitment to continue efforts to improve the global trade … Continue reading “Israeli attack on Syria is a message for Russia”

Russia tamps down US-Iran tensions

(Donald Trump signed an executive order for new sanctions against Iran on June 24, 2019) The US President Donald Trump is learning that Persian is a tricky language and does not easily yield its hidden charms to westerners. The western media attributed to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani a remark during his televised speech on June … Continue reading “Russia tamps down US-Iran tensions”

Will India and Turkey jointly broker an easing of US-Iran tensions?

How amazing that the defeat of the Turkish ruling party AKP in the election for Istanbul mayor on Sunday turns out to be world class headline in the western media! At the most obvious level, it only highlights the deep antipathy toward Turkish President Recep Erdogan in the West and the US’ regional allies in … Continue reading “Will India and Turkey jointly broker an easing of US-Iran tensions?”

Israel is leading Trump up the garden path

When Michael Rubin at the American Enterprise Institute argued in an article in the National Interest last week that the ‘maximum pressure’ policy of the Trump administration against Iran must be maintained despite the dangerous brinkmanship at the Strait of Hormuz last week, we got an authentic version of Israel’s stance on the current US-Iran … Continue reading “Israel is leading Trump up the garden path”

US credibility dented in Iran standoff

(File photo of US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk identified by the US as the drone shot down by Iran over the Strait of Hormuz, June 20) Iran’s President Trump’s reported decision abruptly to call off military strike against Iran which he’d previously ordered, highlights the growing complexity of the US-Iranian entanglement.  Indeed, it takes political … Continue reading “US credibility dented in Iran standoff”

Discords with US are more than moving parts in a transactional relationship

The Indian analysts view US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s forthcoming visit to New Delhi early next week through the looking glass of the ‘tariff war’ between the two countries and / or India’s purchase of the S-400 anti-ballistic missile system from Russia. However, this gives a tunnel vision. The point is, there is the … Continue reading “Discords with US are more than moving parts in a transactional relationship”

Modi wades into Eurasianism

(Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin with their delegations, Bishkek, June 14, 2019 on the sidelines of the SCO Summit.) The Bishkek Declaration, issued after the summit meeting (June 14-15) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation devotes one sentence praising China’s Belt and Road Initiative: “The Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the … Continue reading “Modi wades into Eurasianism”

Iran can be Trump’s nemesis

(Smoke billows from the Front Altair oil tanker, Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019) What a coincidence that a leaked document from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) just exposed that the chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria in April, 2018 was most likely staged. In security parlance, it was a false … Continue reading “Iran can be Trump’s nemesis”

Pompeo coming with American goodies

From an Indian perspective, the much-touted speech by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the India Ideas Summit and the annual meeting of the US-India Business Council at Washington, DC turned out to be a disappointment, its boastful advertisement notwithstanding.  Nonetheless, it draws attention as a the ‘curtain-raiser’ to his forthcoming visit to … Continue reading “Pompeo coming with American goodies”

SCO summit: Inflection point for Indian diplomacy

(Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, Bishkek, June 13-14.) When India applied for SCO membership or when observers like myself felt elated when India was finally admitted into the grouping in 2017, no one could have foreseen that the grouping held such potential in … Continue reading “SCO summit: Inflection point for Indian diplomacy”

Abe’s mediatory mission to Tehran hangs in the balance

(Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses an Eid gathering of academics, scholars, intellectuals and elites, Tehran, May 29, 2019)  With two days to go for the arrival of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tehran on a peace mission to promote US-Iran talks, a great deal of shadow boxing has been going on. Typically, … Continue reading “Abe’s mediatory mission to Tehran hangs in the balance”

US sees Turkey’s S-400 deal as fait accompli

Three developments in quick succession in the weekend bring closer to a flashpoint the brewing discord between the US and Turkey on account of the latter’s purchase of the S-400 air defence system.  First, Russia disclosed on Friday that the delivery of the S-400 missile defense system will begin within two months. Turkey has made … Continue reading “US sees Turkey’s S-400 deal as fait accompli”

Modi heads south to the Rimland

(Geopolitical models: Mackinder and Spykman in US foreign policy) The Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s customary briefing to the media on the upcoming visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Maldives and Sri Lanka highlighted that the event “underlines the continued emphasis that the government lays on the Neighbourhood First policy.” The MEA’s subsequent press … Continue reading “Modi heads south to the Rimland”

Modi turns foreign policy as tool of national strategies

(File photo of S. Jaishankar who took over as India’s External Affairs Minister) This is the season for political gossiping and for tossing hypotheses into the air. Most of them perish, while a handful may survive. The election fever has subsided except amongst a clutch of irreconcilables who won’t accept defeat.  But they forget that … Continue reading “Modi turns foreign policy as tool of national strategies”

Venezuela explores peace talks. Will US allow it?

(Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) received Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Moscow, 5th December 2018) The US project on ‘regime change’ in Venezuela has crash-landed. Far-fetched assumptions that have no basis in the ground realities are withering away. The core assumption was  that the existing regime in Caracas is lacking legitimacy. But the failure of … Continue reading “Venezuela explores peace talks. Will US allow it?”

Japan moves up mediation on Iran nuclear issue

(Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo, May 16, 2019.) The reports from Tokyo indicate that the dates for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state visit to Iran have been firmed up — June 12-14. Abe will have a meeting with Iranian President … Continue reading “Japan moves up mediation on Iran nuclear issue”

Indian Muslims show up on US’ ISIS map

(Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on May 31, 2019 at New Delhi) Political developments in India inevitably receive big attention in the neighbouring South Asian countries. Sri Lanka is a special case where Indian developments have impacted the country’s political landscape. Unsurprisingly, the Sri Lankan ruling elite is always keenly … Continue reading “Indian Muslims show up on US’ ISIS map”

Russia has more in common with Israel than meets the eye

The rocky partnership between Russia and Iran in the Syrian conflict is entering a turbulent period. The unprecedented US-Russia-Israel security summit due to take place in Jerusalem next month has no other explanation.  A tersely worded White House statement on May 29 said that the summit, which will be attended by the national security advisors … Continue reading “Russia has more in common with Israel than meets the eye”

Trump makes big-time overture to Iran

(US President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chat during dinner in Tokyo, Sunday, May 26, 2019) The extraordinary remarks on Iran made by the US President Donald Trump at his joint press conference with his host Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on May 27 merit careful analysis. There are several elements in it … Continue reading “Trump makes big-time overture to Iran”

New India expects Pak obedience, not camaraderie

(PM Modi met Imran Khan on Dec. 11, 2015 at New Delhi. File photo.) It is no big secret that the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a damp squib. The impression becomes unavoidable that the decision to invite the little-known BIMSTEC leaders to PM Narendra Modi’s inaugural ceremony … Continue reading “New India expects Pak obedience, not camaraderie”

Maldives affirms fealty to Diego Garcia

(Maldives, Diego Garcia, Mauritius, Seychelles & Madagascar make ‘second island chain’ controlling Indian Ocean sea lanes to the west of Straits  of Malacca)    A British ambassador in Tashkent once narrated to me a curious role she was called upon to play as tutor in international diplomacy with the novices in the foreign ministry of … Continue reading “Maldives affirms fealty to Diego Garcia”

Iran resets its foreign policy calculus

(Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Beijing,  May 17, 2019.) The unannounced overnight visit by Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to Pakistan on Thursday can be seen at the very minimum as forming part of a diplomatic campaign in the backdrop of the war clouds building … Continue reading “Iran resets its foreign policy calculus”

Why Kerala balked the Modi wave

Through the looking glass of a staunchly ‘secular-minded’ Malayali — a dirty word in the current idiom when triumphalist cultural nationalism is on the march — the Indian election results evoke mixed feelings.  On the one hand, there is the wave of fear, anxiety, despair raging in the mind as one surveys the dismal national … Continue reading “Why Kerala balked the Modi wave”

India reengages Pakistan — albeit informally

(Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan — Sushma Swaraj (R) and Shah Mehmood Qureshi (L) — met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Council’s FMs conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, May 22, 2019)  The two-day meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on May 21-22 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, assumes importance … Continue reading “India reengages Pakistan — albeit informally”

China hails Modi victory. This is why.

(Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the informal summit in Wuhan, China, April 2019) The first Chinese commentaries have appeared on the outcome of the general elections in India. The timing is important, since the counting of votes is yet to take place in India. Yet, Chinese commentaries have presumed that … Continue reading “China hails Modi victory. This is why.”

China’s Belt and Road is increasingly popular

The tunnel vision of Indian strategic analysts with regard to China’s Belt and Road Initiative has become the mainstream opinion in the country, inevitably. This is unfortunate because it is a flawed assumption basically to conclude that the tiny slice one sees through the tunnel is the  whole world. The Indian analysts have made Sri … Continue reading “China’s Belt and Road is increasingly popular”

China extends helping hand to Sri Lanka

(Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 14, 2019.) The visit to China by the President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena underscores how inextricably the internal developments in the island country are connected to the geopolitics of the South Asian region. … Continue reading “China extends helping hand to Sri Lanka”

India’s betrayal of Iran is only the beginning

The sudden visit to New Delhi by the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif for a meeting on May 14 with the outgoing External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the dying days of the Modi government underscores dramatically how much Tehran has been traumatised by the Indian decision under American pressure to summarily stop all … Continue reading “India’s betrayal of Iran is only the beginning”

Mayawati demolishes Modi’s aura

(Dalit supporters of Mayawati at a massive rally in Lucknow, UP. File photo.) The tumultuous 2-month long campaign for the general election is drawing to a close. The scathing remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political persona by the leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Mayawati has taken the election campaign to a stunning … Continue reading “Mayawati demolishes Modi’s aura”

US, Russia engage on Venezuela

(Government supporters throng streets if Caracas after the failure of the US-backed coup attempt, Venezuela, May 1, 2019)   The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov remarked last Thursday in Moscow that no contacts between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are expected at the G20 summit in Japan on June 28-29. “An encounter is … Continue reading “US, Russia engage on Venezuela”

Iran circles wagons as Trump’s B Team beats war drum

(Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani addressing the cabinet meeting, Tehran, May 8, 2019) If there can be a lethal game of Russian roulette in international politics, this is it — what just began on May 8, the first anniversary of the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal of July 2015.  Iran exercised “strategic patience” … Continue reading “Iran circles wagons as Trump’s B Team beats war drum”

Iran to even the nuclear score with US

It is going to be 30 years in another six months since the USS Abraham Lincoln, named in honour of the 16th US President, was commissioned on Nov.11, 1989 as the 5th Nimitz-class aircraft carrier of the American Navy. Now, as it leaves Croatia and heads toward the Persian Gulf, the carrier would have mixed … Continue reading “Iran to even the nuclear score with US”

Will China engage in arms control?

(Game changer: Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine of Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy that can strike the US from thousands of miles away) The US President Donald Trump’s phone call to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday comes within 3 weeks of the release of the redacted report of the Robert Mueller inquiry into his … Continue reading “Will China engage in arms control?”

US ends waiver on India’s Iran oil imports. What next?

(Oil facility on Iran’s Kharg Island. US cancels waivers on Iran oil imports.) China’s stance vis-a-vis the US sanctions against Iran’s oil exports is evolving. These are early days. Quite obviously, the Chinese assessment that Iran is not going to wilt under US pressure gives a realistic picture. But it means that there is a long … Continue reading “US ends waiver on India’s Iran oil imports. What next?”

Did you know Akbar is a Muslim?

As patriotic Indians, we savour this moment as we hear the good news that the United Nations is blacklisting Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. The country applauds India’s diplomats who have finally clinched the issue through quiet, patient, dedicated work. On a personal note, it makes me feel proud of my erstwhile colleagues in … Continue reading “Did you know Akbar is a Muslim?”

Rethink India’s Belt and Road options

(Venue of the Leaders’ Roundtable Summit at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation meet, Beijing, April 25-27, 2019)  India’s absence from the recently concluded second summit meeting of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on April 25-27 was more a topic of animated discussion in our country — that we “rejected” … Continue reading “Rethink India’s Belt and Road options”