US’ pathway to Iran has thorny shrubs

Iran’s president-elect Ebrahim Raisi addresses his first press conference in Tehran, June 21, 2021 It is painful to read the US reports commenting on the result of Iran’s presidential  election. The New York Times carried a blurb on Monday, “Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s ultraconservative president-elect, said that he would not meet with President Biden, and that … Continue reading “US’ pathway to Iran has thorny shrubs”

Fizz is gone from Biden-Putin summit

The morning after a Russian-American summit is most critical to know whether the previous day’s bonhomie was real, surreal or unreal. Surveying the Geneva Summit (June 16) between presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, I cautiously assessed the next day,  “Does Biden have the political capital to press ahead with a project to create “stability and … Continue reading “Fizz is gone from Biden-Putin summit”

Biden has a worthy interlocutor in Raisi

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (L) meets the media with President-elect Ebrahim Raisi (R) in Tehran, June 19, 2021 This may seem a paradox but the truth is that the United States does not realise that Iran’s presidential election result — the resounding victory of the conservative head of the judiciary Ebrahim Raisi — can be … Continue reading “Biden has a worthy interlocutor in Raisi”

Takeaways from Biden-Putin summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and US President Joe Biden shake hands before their summit in Geneva, June 16, 2021  On the diplomatic stage, there is nothing to beat Russian-American summits in sheer theatrics. When the leaders of the two most powerful nuclear powers on earth sit face to face, anything can happen.  What happened in … Continue reading “Takeaways from Biden-Putin summit”

NATO declares China as global security challenge

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit in Brussels on Monday reminds us once again of what a hoax the United States had perpetrated on the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 by assuring him that the western alliance would expand “not one inch eastward” once Moscow allowed German Unification and disbanded the Warsaw … Continue reading “NATO declares China as global security challenge”

US accent is on bilateral track to China

The G7 leaders celebrated that the tumultuous Donald Trump presidency is over. French President Emmanuel Macron (L) sharing happy moment with President Biden, Cornwall, UK, June 12, 2021 (The first part of this essay titled G7 and China: Fault lines in the world order is here.)  The European countries have their own plans, while welcoming the … Continue reading “US accent is on bilateral track to China”

G7 and China: Fault lines in the world order

G7 leaders at their summit in Cornwall, UK, June 12-13, 2021 The G7 has come a long way since its inception in the mid-1970s at the initiative of then French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt to discuss the world economy and consult on an international economic policy following the first … Continue reading “G7 and China: Fault lines in the world order”

US reclaims Turkey for the western alliance

The first components of Turkey’s S-400 air defence missiles arrived from Russia in Ankara in July, 2019. (File Photo)  Less than forty-eight hours separate the US President Joe Biden’s meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdogan in Brussels from his summit with Vladimir Putin at Geneva on June 16. In between comes the shadow of the … Continue reading “US reclaims Turkey for the western alliance”

Congress reset transforms Kerala politics

K Sudhakaran, Member of Lok Sabha, has been appointed as the president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, June 8, 2021 (File photo)  The long-awaited decision by the Congress high command in Delhi to appoint party veteran K Sudhakaran, a sitting member of the Lok Sabha, as the next president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress … Continue reading “Congress reset transforms Kerala politics”

What to expect when Biden, Erdogan meet

Expectations are soaring in Ankara over the forthcoming meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels on June 14. Erdogan said recently, “I believe that our meeting with Mr. Biden at the NATO summit will be the harbinger of a new era.”  … Continue reading “What to expect when Biden, Erdogan meet”

Biden clears the air on Russia ties

The US President Joe Biden’s op-ed in today’s Washington Post My trip to Europe is about America rallying the world’s democracies will draw wide attention in world capitals from Brussels to Beijing.  He says right at the outset that this weeklong trip to Europe, the first overseas trip of his presidency, is “about realising America’s … Continue reading “Biden clears the air on Russia ties”

India’s ‘westernism’ is its undoing in vaccine strategy

A full week after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s extended four-day visit to the United States, the country is still in the dark as to the Biden administration’s generosity to spare some of their surplus stockpiles of Covid-18 vaccines.  We leap out of the famous Samuel Becket play Waiting for Godot — of two tramps … Continue reading “India’s ‘westernism’ is its undoing in vaccine strategy”

Israeli politics breaks through glass ceiling

The incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lost his last-minute legal challenge to stall government formation by opposition right wing politician Naftali Bennett and his potential coalition partner, centrist politician Yair Lapid. Bennett and Lapid have a Wednesday midnight deadline to formally submit the bid for the newly proposed government coalition before President Reuven … Continue reading “Israeli politics breaks through glass ceiling”

Let Iran choose its next president

Iran’s presidential candidate Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi began his election campaign with two events: a meeting with businessmen and a visit to Tehran Grand Bazar, May 26, 2021  The western analysts feel agitated about Iran’s refusal to play by the rule book of liberal democracy. They feel indignant even as Tehran released on Tuesday the final … Continue reading “Let Iran choose its next president”

Israel-Palestine conflict at inflection point

The well-known French philosopher, writer and political activist, late Paul-Michel Foucault has written about a conversation he had with an Iranian during his visit to Tehran in November 1978 on the eve of the Islamic Revolution. The stranger remarked, “They will never let go of us of their own will. No more than they did in … Continue reading “Israel-Palestine conflict at inflection point”

Biden wants to remain engaged with Russia, China

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (L) and USTR Katherine Tai held their first call after the latter’s Senate confirmation, May 26, 2021 Anyone who tried to divine the Russia policy of the Biden presidency out of the corpus of statements by current and prospective officials in the new administration would know by now that the … Continue reading “Biden wants to remain engaged with Russia, China”

Afghan nationalism faces existential challenge — Part 2

Afghan children walk past a Taliban Red Unit, an elite force, Alingar district, Laghman province in eastern Afghanistan (File photo)  Apocalyptic scenario is unwarranted  The Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on May 13, “We will not allow boots on the ground or military bases on our territory.” He was referring to the future … Continue reading “Afghan nationalism faces existential challenge — Part 2”

Afghan nationalism faces existential challenge — Part 1

A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle being loaded on to a flatbed trailer, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. (File photo)  Afghan conundrum is mutating  The commencement of the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has got off to a flying start. So far there has been no hiccup. … Continue reading “Afghan nationalism faces existential challenge — Part 1”

Biden-Putin summit is on

On March 17, on the eve of the first scheduled meeting in Alaska of senior Chinese and American diplomats since President took office, the United States sanctioned twenty-four Chinese officials for undermining Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms, including a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo, Wang Chen. In diplomatic terms, the timing of the action was pointed … Continue reading “Biden-Putin summit is on”

To Indians, Palestine’s Hamas remains a riddle

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) met Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Tehran, (File photo)  One major outcome of the current conflict in Gaza, West Bank and Jerusalem will be the emergence of Hamas which is now recognised as the charioteer of the Palestinian resistance movement against Israel.  The Hamas’ historic ascendence will pose a … Continue reading “To Indians, Palestine’s Hamas remains a riddle”

How India lost its way in Persian Gulf

India gets booted out of Farzad-B gas field in Persian Gulf. There have been two successive setbacks in the past one-year period to the India-Iran relationship. India has been literally eased out of two strategically important projects in Iran that were full of promise to uplift the ties in a medium and long term perspective.  … Continue reading “How India lost its way in Persian Gulf”

Israel’s Pyrrhic victory in Gaza, Netanyahu is real winner

Building housing the offices of Associated Press and other media collapses after Israeli airstrike, Gaza City, May 15, 2021. Egypt has once again been thrust onto the forefront of brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi remarked on Monday that a ceasefire might still be within reach.  As he put it, … Continue reading “Israel’s Pyrrhic victory in Gaza, Netanyahu is real winner”

China blocks US bases in Central Asia

1300-km long Tajik-Afghan border runs through difficult and dangerous terrain and is a major drug crossing area (File photo)   Ten months after the first meeting of the foreign ministers of China and the five Central Asian states, Beijing has followed through with a second session on May 11 at a gathering in Xi’an, China, … Continue reading “China blocks US bases in Central Asia”

China blocks US bases in Central Asia

1300-km long Tajik-Afghan border runs through difficult and dangerous terrain and is a major drug crossing area (File photo)   Ten months after the first meeting of the foreign ministers of China and the five Central Asian states, Beijing has followed through with a second session on May 11 at a gathering in Xi’an, China, … Continue reading “China blocks US bases in Central Asia”

Gouri Amma leaves a void hard to fill

The legendary couple of Kerala politics:  KR Gouri (R) and TV Thomas (L), two iconic figures of the communist movement. The vernacular dailies and the New Indian Express almost forgot the raging Covid-19 pandemic in Kerala. Obituaries to KR Gouri — better known as “Gouri Amma” (Mother) — is their lead story.  As I waded through the … Continue reading “Gouri Amma leaves a void hard to fill”

Saudi-Iran reset will take time

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (R) received Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (L), Jeddah, May 11, 2021 The Saudi-Iranian contacts that began last month in secrecy has gained gravitas. The unannounced trip to Jeddah last night by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and the exceptional courtesies he … Continue reading “Saudi-Iran reset will take time”

China on the horizon as ‘world’s pharmacy’

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus announced approval for China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, Geneva, May 7, 2021 The World Health Organisation’s approval Friday for China’s Covid-19 vaccine known as Sinopharm dramatically transforms the ecosystem of the pandemic. In immediate terms, this has potential to boost global vaccine supply, as China’s overall yearly production capacity is approaching five … Continue reading “China on the horizon as ‘world’s pharmacy’”

US-Taliban acquiesce to live and let live

Handover ceremony at Camp Anthonic, from US Army to Afghan Special Forces, Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 2, 2021. As the US and NATO troop withdrawal from Afghanistan enters the second week, certain trends are appearing on the security front as well as at the diplomatic and political level. The graph of violence is rising while … Continue reading “US-Taliban acquiesce to live and let live”

Biden’s decision on TRIPS waiver is political theatre. India cannot pin hopes on it.

Employees work in the production of Biontech/Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine at a facility in Reinbek, Germany  The Ministry of External Affairs has welcomed the statement of the US government of 5th May announcing their support for a relaxation in the norms of the agreement on TRIPS, to ensure quick and affordable access to vaccines and medicines … Continue reading “Biden’s decision on TRIPS waiver is political theatre. India cannot pin hopes on it.”

India will be front-line state in Myanmar civil war

Hakha Town in Myanmar’s Chin State bordering Mizoram was the scene of attacks on the military by rebel fighters on May 5, 2021    How some animals get to sense when earthquakes are imminent remains a mystery. Just before the great Asian tsunami on December 26, 2004, elephants in Sri Lanka and Sumatra moved to … Continue reading “India will be front-line state in Myanmar civil war”

Boris Johnson walks away laughing with India’s Serum Institute in tow

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson coming out of the Intensive Care Unit at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, April 9, 2020 (File photo)  Three cheers for the Indian Supreme Court’s suo moto intervention on the issue of distribution of essential supplies and services during the pandemic. India, the “world pharmacy”, is entering shark-infested waters, as vaccine … Continue reading “Boris Johnson walks away laughing with India’s Serum Institute in tow”

Breakthrough in Afghan peace process!

The “extended Troika” on the Afghan problem comprising the United States, Russia, and China — and Pakistan — have announced in Doha on Thursday a road map in consultation with the Ashraf Ghani government and Taliban as regards the way forward in immediate terms for reaching a peace settlement. The announcement followed consultations in Doha … Continue reading “Breakthrough in Afghan peace process!”

Post-American Afghanistan through looking glass

Ex-CIA officer Bruce Riedel at Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, whose familiarity with Afghanistan is never in doubt, has held a looking glass to figure out the future course of events even as the US troop withdrawal commences.  History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes. Riedel sees in the haziness old familiar shapes appearing — the … Continue reading “Post-American Afghanistan through looking glass”

Biden chips away at ties with Turkey

People lineup at the monument to Ottoman Turks, Yerevan, Armenia, April 24, 2021. Armenia is praising US’ recognition of deaths of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as “genocide”. If there is a Nobel Prize for the US president who first recognised the 1915 ‘Armenian Genocide’, that could have gone to Ronald Reagan. But he didn’t make … Continue reading “Biden chips away at ties with Turkey”

Putin recites the distribution of power in central Europe

Russian military’s armoured vehicles roll into landing vessels after drill in Crimea, Black Sea, April 23, 2021 The Colossus in modern European history with whom Russian President Vladimir Putin would draw comparison might be Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of the German Empire who unified his country out of the scattered pieces. Putin is … Continue reading “Putin recites the distribution of power in central Europe”

Tradeoff for US vaccine unthinkable

In a sudden change of heart, US President Biden may relent to lift the ban on export of raw materials for India’s Covid vaccine.   In the coming week, the commander of the US Central Command Gen Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. is expected to provide Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with options for potential future counterterrorism … Continue reading “Tradeoff for US vaccine unthinkable”

Modi Govt’s vaccine diplomacy unravels—within India and abroad

The viral picture that defines India’s Covid distress — an exhausted Chandrakala Singh, sitting stone-faced in an electric rickshaw with the body of her son Vineet Singh (cropped out) by her feet on a busy street in the city of Varanasi in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, emblematic of the plight of Indians trapped … Continue reading “Modi Govt’s vaccine diplomacy unravels—within India and abroad”

Afghanistan: US exit is with caveats

US to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by Sept 11, 2021  The United States and NATO are yet to begin the withdrawal of their forces from Afghanistan but the eyes are cast over the horizon at what lies after the ‘forever war’ formally ends. The US exit strategy in Afghanistan assumes the look of that random … Continue reading “Afghanistan: US exit is with caveats”

Gulf security paradigm in historic shift

Foreign Ministers of Cyprus, Israel and Greece and the diplomatic adviser of UAE’s President met in Paphos, Cyprus April 16, 2021 The geopolitical alignments of the Gulf region are rapidly transforming both in bilateral and multilateral formats. Starting with the rapprochement between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in January, the common thread here is that the … Continue reading “Gulf security paradigm in historic shift”

I pray for Manmohan Singh ji’s speedy recovery

Multiple burning pyres of patients who died of the Covid-19 infections at a crematorium in New Delhi, April 19, 2021 (Getty Images) The siren of ambulances rushing to hospitals has a plaintive sound that causes anguish. While on the treadmill this evening at home, which is situated not far from a cluster of super-speciality hospitals … Continue reading “I pray for Manmohan Singh ji’s speedy recovery”

US’ China policy at inflection point

China-France-Germany climate summit, Beijing, April 16, 2021   Considering the US media build-up as President Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry set out for China, the 4-day visit turned out to be an uneventful affair. Perhaps, the chances of President Xi Jinping participating in the signature event in Washington — the Leaders Summit on Climate on … Continue reading “US’ China policy at inflection point”

US expects Russia to submit. Will it?

US President Joe Biden departs after delivering remarks on Russia in the East Room at White House, Washington, DC, April 15, 2021 In his landmark foreign policy speech delivered from the US state department on February 4, President Joe Biden had proclaimed that “America is back. Diplomacy is back at the centre of our foreign … Continue reading “US expects Russia to submit. Will it?”

Chronicle of the unavailing Afghan war

President Joe Biden wipes his eye as he walks through Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen veterans of Afghan war, April 14, 2021 One missing part in US President Joe Biden’s remarks Wednesday announcing troop withdrawal from Afghanistan was that he didn’t order a commission of inquiry into the disastrous military invasion of 2001.  It’s … Continue reading “Chronicle of the unavailing Afghan war”

India should welcome the end of US occupation of Afghanistan

A Taliban unit in Laghman, Afghanistan, Dec. 2020 (File photo) The spectre haunting India today is that its worst case scenario in Afghanistan is becoming reality — a Taliban takeover. Delhi watches with disquiet the United States unceremoniously dumping its “conditions-based” troop withdrawal agenda, cutting loose and quitting the war.  The salience of the background … Continue reading “India should welcome the end of US occupation of Afghanistan”

A “win-win” for US, Turkey in Hindu Kush

Turkey is a pillar of NATO mission to Afghanistan (File photo) The zeal with which Washington is soliciting Turkey’s services to plot the pathway leading to the mainstreaming of Taliban in Afghanistan raises some troubling questions. Acting on Washington’s request, Turkey will be hosting high-level talks on the Afghanistan peace process (likely April 16) to … Continue reading “A “win-win” for US, Turkey in Hindu Kush”

US: Indian Ocean is not India’s ocean

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones prepares to pull alongside aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (File photo)  The guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones sailing past Lakshadweep Islands April 7 has thrown India’s Sinophobes into confusion. One leading daily noted it as a “rare falling out between the two partners in the Quad grouping.” … Continue reading “US: Indian Ocean is not India’s ocean”

US, Turkey, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Taliban make one happy family

Exactly a decade after the United States sought a pioneering role by Turkey for launching the regime change project in Syria, it has solicited help from Ankara in regard of another political transition in the Greater Middle East — in Afghanistan. Analogies never hold one hundred percent in politics or diplomacy, but the similarities are … Continue reading “US, Turkey, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Taliban make one happy family”

Whither India-Russia ties?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) at press conference with  External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar (R), Delhi, April 6, 2021   On Monday, the prominent Moscow daily Kommersant commented that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to New Delhi on April 5-6 “is not going to be easy because relations between the two countries are … Continue reading “Whither India-Russia ties?”

Coup attempt in Jordan leaves a trail

“What happens in the Middle East has a way of making itself felt everywhere around the world,” Jordan’s King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein while addressing the European Parliament, Strasbourg, 15th January 2021 A coup attempt is an orphan unless it succeeds. Therefore, all we can say is that a coup was in the making in … Continue reading “Coup attempt in Jordan leaves a trail”

Ukraine: Frozen conflict is hotting up

US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter sails in the Bosphorus, Istanbul, on its way to the Black Sea, January 28, 2021 The terrible beauty of “frozen conflicts” is that it takes hardly any effort to turn up the heat and re-escalate them into hot violence, but pressing the “pause” button later would need consensus, which … Continue reading “Ukraine: Frozen conflict is hotting up”