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”

US, China, Russia lend gravitas to Afghan peace talks

Chinese Special Envoy Deng Xijun (L), Russian Presidential Representative Zamir Kabulov (C) & U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (R) met in Moscow on April 26, 2019 for the second round of trilateral consultation on Afghanistan. From a modest start one month ago on March 20-21 in Washington, the trilateral format of the special representatives of … Continue reading “US, China, Russia lend gravitas to Afghan peace talks”

US, Iran tiptoeing toward engagement

(Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arriving in New York on April 19, 2019 on what is turning out to be a fateful diplomatic mission.) Winston Churchill has been often quoted as saying that Russian politics is comparable to a bulldog fight under a rug. “An outsider only hears the growling, and when he sees … Continue reading “US, Iran tiptoeing toward engagement”

Delhi must show realism on Taliban reconciliation and peace talks

(A procession escorting the body of Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman arrives to a funeral home in the Bronx borough of New York, April 22, 2019.) The trilateral meeting of the United States, Russia and China at the level of special representatives in Moscow on April 25 signifies that the Afghan peace talks will be shifting … Continue reading “Delhi must show realism on Taliban reconciliation and peace talks”

Modi govt caves in to US diktat on Iran oil

Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels around the country every day claiming to be the defender of national interests in Pulwama, Balakot, ASAT and so on. But he’s keeping deafening silence on the one issue that has come up in the foreign policy that is going to have devastating impact on the Indian economy and affect … Continue reading “Modi govt caves in to US diktat on Iran oil”

Governing Ukraine is no laughing matter

(Comedian Vladimir Zelensky sweeps to victory as Ukraine’s next president, Kiev, April 21, 2019) Comedy, it is often said, is unusual people in real situations and farce is real people in unusual situations. No doubt, it can be said that by electing comedian Vladimir Zelensky as their new president in a landslide victory in Sunday’s … Continue reading “Governing Ukraine is no laughing matter”

Iraq hopes to ease Saudi-Iranian tensions

(Speaker of the Saudi Shura Council Abdullah Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh being received by Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi at Baghdad International Airport, Iraq, April 20, 2019) To be sure, the conference of speakers of parliament in Baghdad on April 20 was an extraordinary event invested with heavy symbolism both in terms of Iraq’s role in … Continue reading “Iraq hopes to ease Saudi-Iranian tensions”

Trump, Erdogan seek reset of US-Turkey ties

(In the eye of the storm: US’ F-35 multirole ‘stealth’ jet and Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft defense system)  Even as the countdown has begun before the first batch of Russian-made S-400 missiles will arrive in Turkey — expected in coming ten weeks from now — a crisis situation envelops the Turkish-American relationship. No doubt, this crisis, … Continue reading “Trump, Erdogan seek reset of US-Turkey ties”

Pakistan-Iran ties set for makeover — II

CPEC lurches toward Iran  Imran Khan’s visit to Iran on Sunday can be seen as vindicating Tehran’s nuanced approach to the relations with Pakistan. Surely, border security will top the agenda of the discussions in Tehran between the two leaderships. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will be receiving Imran Khan.  Tehran is indeed seeking a much … Continue reading “Pakistan-Iran ties set for makeover — II”

Pakistan-Iran ties set for makeover — Part I

(Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan receiving Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Islamabad, August 31, 2018) The visit by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to Iran on April 21-22 will be a major event in regional politics. Whether it will be remembered as a landmark event, time only will tell. At its most obvious level, … Continue reading “Pakistan-Iran ties set for makeover — Part I”

How Widodo won the election — and Modi could too

(Indonesian President Joko Widodo meeting supporters at a campaign rally.) The reports from Jakarta indicate that the incumbent president Joko Widodo has won the election on April 17 and secured another five-year term in office. Widodo draws comparison with Prime Minister Modi. Both are charismatic figures. Both surged in national politics as rank ‘outsiders’. They … Continue reading “How Widodo won the election — and Modi could too”

Arab Spring and geopolitics of Sudan

The 7-year old conflict in Syria that is drawing to a close turned out to be a geopolitical struggle ultimately, although it began with the Arab Spring. For all protagonists involved in the conflict, geopolitical concerns were the overriding factor. For example, Tehran gave primacy to the geopolitical struggle because it has implications for its … Continue reading “Arab Spring and geopolitics of Sudan”

Who’s afraid of Afghan peace talks – Kabul and Delhi?

(A transfer case containing the remains of Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman at Dover Air Force Base, Del. who was among 3 American soldiers killed near Bagram base, Afghanistan on April 8, 2019)  Henry Kissinger wouldn’t have approved the way Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, handles the Afghan peace talks. Even if Tweeter … Continue reading “Who’s afraid of Afghan peace talks – Kabul and Delhi?”

Putin votes for Modi. Can he help Modi win?

(Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi react while walking near the Constantine Palace, St. Petersburg, June 2017.) The Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in Moscow on April 12 conferring on Prime Minister Narendra Modi Russia’s highest state award, the Order of St Andrew the Apostle the First-Called. This … Continue reading “Putin votes for Modi. Can he help Modi win?”

Arab Spring returns home to uncertain welcome

(Protestors in front of Army Headquarters, Khartoum, Sudan, April 11, 2019) The Arab Spring has returned to the Middle East after nearly six years in exile. It was in July 2013 that reversing the tide of democracy in Egypt that swept away the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led a … Continue reading “Arab Spring returns home to uncertain welcome”

Pakistan is blackmailing Modi and Doval

Doublespeak is commonplace in statecraft. A celebrated case is of the former US President Barack Obama who was facing re-election in 2012. Battered by criticism by his Republican contender Mitt Romney for being “soft” on Russia, Obama sought a private understanding with the Kremlin leadership that he couldn’t afford to be seen by the American … Continue reading “Pakistan is blackmailing Modi and Doval”

Don’t expect US-Iran war before 2021

(Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders report directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R))  There is no reason to disbelieve the boast by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming credit personally for US President Donald Trump’s decision to designate Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a “foreign terrorist organisation” under American law. It … Continue reading “Don’t expect US-Iran war before 2021”

Trump takes his Venezuelan itch to the UN

(President Maduro’s supporters mark 20th anniversary of rise to power of socialist predecessor Hugo Chavez, Caracas, Feb. 2, 2019) The phone briefing by a “high-ranking” US official on Friday regarding the situation in Venezuela triggered speculation that the Trump administration is considering the use of military force against the Maduro government. The US official said … Continue reading “Trump takes his Venezuelan itch to the UN”

BJP sidesteps Imran Khan on Balakot

(Imran Khan is the 9th most popular world leader on Tweeter) Isn’t it curious that the BJP has been put on the defensive by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who trashed India’s ruling party for its “attempt to win elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claims of downing a Pak F 16”?  The … Continue reading “BJP sidesteps Imran Khan on Balakot”

Rows mar NATO’s birthday bash

(Elusive unity amidst growing diversity: NATO’s 70th anniversary meet, Washington, April 3-4, 2019) In his initial remarks with the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House on April 2, US President Donald Trump charged straight into his pet grievance that America “alone accounts for the vast majority of NATO defense spending ’s spending”. Trump … Continue reading “Rows mar NATO’s birthday bash”