Russia is auxiliary to US-India partnership, not balancer

The Chinese Communist Party tabloid Global Times has featured a stimulating commentary entitled Modi does balancing act between US and Russia. It discusses the ‘Chanakyan’ moorings of India’s diplomacy vis-a-vis Russia.  The hypothesis is uncomplicated — namely, that India ‘balances’ its relations with the US and Russia with a view to get a good deal … Continue reading “Russia is auxiliary to US-India partnership, not balancer”

‘Howdy Modi’ is a win-win. But does it matter?

The Houston Texans football stadium where Prime Minister Modi will address a rally on September 22, 2019 PM Modi takes to the stage Sunday at the NRG Stadium at Houston, Texas, in an event billed Howdy Modi, sponsored by “hundreds of Indian-American groups”. The event was choreographed to celebrate Modi’s return to America after what … Continue reading “‘Howdy Modi’ is a win-win. But does it matter?”

Trump is in no rush to jump into Saudi defence

Iran’s Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei addressed a group of seminary students in Tehran, Sept 17, 2019. The geopolitical faultlines of the drone attack on the Saudi Aramco plants on Saturday are surfacing. These are early days but three broad trends have appeared. One, Saudi investigators have begun pointing finger at Iran, which is certain … Continue reading “Trump is in no rush to jump into Saudi defence”

Winners and losers from Saudi Aramco’s travails

Benchmark oil futures jumped as much as US$11.73 a barrel to US$71.95 as market opened in Asia on Sept 16, 2019.  The US President Donald Trump’s tweet Sunday regarding the attack on two Saudi Aramco plants says as follows:  “Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, … Continue reading “Winners and losers from Saudi Aramco’s travails”

Houthis strike at Saudi Arabia’s throbbing heart

Drone attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels caused major fires at two of Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities, Sept 14, 2019. A terrible beauty is born on the Middle East’s strategic landscape with the massive drone attacks Saturday on two Saudi Aramco refineries. Saudi Arabia, which has a record of sponsoring terrorist groups to destabilise foreign lands … Continue reading “Houthis strike at Saudi Arabia’s throbbing heart”

India prepares to shed legacy of protectionism

India has invited officials of the member countries of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to a meeting in New Delhi on September 14-15 for “discussing ideas.”  This is happening only a week after the 7th RCEP Ministerial Meeting at Bangkok on September 8 in Bangkok and a week before the next negotiating round scheduled to be … Continue reading “India prepares to shed legacy of protectionism”

Iran laments Indian apathy to cooperation

Gen. Xu Qiliang, Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, met with visiting Major Gen. Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, Chief of Staff of Iranian Armed Forces in Beijing on Sept. 11,2019. The frank remarks to the media this week by Iran’s ambassador to India Ali Chegeni on the dismal state of his country’s relations with India … Continue reading “Iran laments Indian apathy to cooperation”

Bolton’s exit impacts US foreign policy. This is how

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) received US National Security Advisor John Bolton (R), Moscow, Oct. 23, 2018 At a press briefing Tuesday afternoon in Washington, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned against any rushed estimation that the exit of National Security Advisor John Bolton signalled a seismic shift in the Trump administration’s foreign policy.  … Continue reading “Bolton’s exit impacts US foreign policy. This is how”

Eurasian politics on the cusp of change

Relatives of Ukrainian prisoners arriving from Russia at Borispil Airport, outside Kiev, September 7, 2019 The meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of Russia and France in the 2+2 format in Moscow on September 9 signified not only a warming up of relations between the two countries but a reset in Russia’s ties with the … Continue reading “Eurasian politics on the cusp of change”

Saudi-Indian bromance gets complicated

(Khalid Al-Falih replaced as Saudi oil minister and chairman of Saudi Aramco. File photo.)   The India-Saudi relationship was historically a finely poised balance of mutual interests despite all contradictions. Its glacial pace had an inner logic — don’t push too hard, as life is real. But the Modi government quickened the pace — probably … Continue reading “Saudi-Indian bromance gets complicated”

Saudis and Emiratis visit Pakistan to atone for sins

UAE Foreign minister  Sheikh bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (L) and Saudi Minister of State Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir (R) met Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (C), Islamabad, Sept 4, 2019 The unscheduled joint visit by the foreign minister the UAE and the junior foreign minister of Saudi Arabia — Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Adel … Continue reading “Saudis and Emiratis visit Pakistan to atone for sins”

Kashmir casts shadows on India-Russia ties

President Vladimir Putin (L) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R)  met in Vladivostok for the jubilee 20th Annual Russian-Indian Summit, Vladivostok, September 4, 2019.   PM Modi’s visit to Vladivostok on Sept. 3-5 has turned out to be anti-climatic. The main outcome of the event could be, arguably, that Modi can now add Vladivostok to … Continue reading “Kashmir casts shadows on India-Russia ties”

Modi needs congenial team to advance Russia ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian PM Narendra Modi at the informal summit in Sochi in May 2019. File photo. The expected signing of a logistics agreement between India and Russia is a notable happening during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Vladivostok on September 4-6. When such an agreement was concluded with the US … Continue reading “Modi needs congenial team to advance Russia ties”

Moratorium on US oil sanctions to open talks with Iran

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani telephoned French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday to resume decisions on JCPOA The diplomatic manoeuvrings over the situation around Iran are entering a crucial phase with an Iranian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi leaving from Tehran for Paris today to pick up the threads of the 3-way discussions … Continue reading “Moratorium on US oil sanctions to open talks with Iran”

Asian Century bypasses Modi’s India

European Parliament to take up Kashmir on Sept. 2, 2019. The stunning news that India’s GDP growth rate is hitting a six-year low figure of 5 percent in the past six-year period comes as reality check. Many economists even hold the view that in actuality, take away the statistical jugglery, India’s actual GDP growth figure … Continue reading “Asian Century bypasses Modi’s India”

Offer from Biarritz not good enough for Iran

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (L) held talks in Biarritz on Sunday Aug. 25, 2019 with France’s President Macron (R) and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. From all accounts, Tehran is struggling to cope with the startling news in the weekend from the G7 summit at Biarritz that a meeting between the presidents of the … Continue reading “Offer from Biarritz not good enough for Iran”

Macron’s Carolingian Renaissance of the G7

India draws satisfaction that the Kashmir issue did not figure in the G7 Leaders’ Declaration issued at Biarritz, France, on August 26. Prime Minister Narendra Mod’s hectic effort canvass with French President Emmanuel Macron at Chateau de Chantilly, north of Paris, on August 22, has had the desired outcome.  Macron reportedly told Modi that Paris … Continue reading “Macron’s Carolingian Renaissance of the G7”

With eye on Trump, India scrambles for Russian support

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) at informal meeting in Sochi in May 2018  Within a week of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s consultations in Moscow on August 21, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is travelling to the Russian capital for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.  Prima … Continue reading “With eye on Trump, India scrambles for Russian support”

Trump’s Kashmir mediation takes wing

 The Kashmir Triangle: US President Donald Trump (L), Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) & Indian Prime Minister Modi (R)  The US President Donald Trump’s extraordinary remarks to the media to the media at the Oval Office in the White House on August 20 regarding the Kashmir issue come just a day after his telephone conversations … Continue reading “Trump’s Kashmir mediation takes wing”

Turkey faces quagmire in Syria

Militants from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham fire anti-aircraft gun mounted on pickup truck in Syria’s Idlib province last week The three-year old Russian-Turkish tango in Syria has been incisive, exciting and provocative, but the inability of the two partners to trust each other or surrender to the care and needs of the other has deprived the … Continue reading “Turkey faces quagmire in Syria”

Modi breaks the ice with Trump — and stands to gain

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up US President Donald Trump on August 19, 2019 to discuss regional tensions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision on August 19 to telephone US President Donald Trump has been a smart diplomatic move. Trump had told Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 17 that he’d speak to Modi … Continue reading “Modi breaks the ice with Trump — and stands to gain”

India learnt nothing, forgot nothing in the Gulf

Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the UAE on Aug 23-24, 2019 Media reports began appearing lately that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to visit the Persian Gulf region once again— this time around, to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Hopefully, a the tour has a raison d’être despite its atrocious timing — … Continue reading “India learnt nothing, forgot nothing in the Gulf”

Central Asian steppes mutely watch Taliban’s surge

Pamir Highway between Osh and Khorog near Tajik-Afghan border Compared to the events two decades ago when the Afghan Taliban appeared in the Amu Darya region in northern Afghanistan and Central Asian states and Russia went into feverish tantrums, there is an eerie calm palpable in the steppes today.  The contrast couldn’t be sharper. In … Continue reading “Central Asian steppes mutely watch Taliban’s surge”

Vajpayee’s Kashmir necklace becomes Modi’s Albatross

Meeting room of the United Nations Security Council. Pakistan has called for an emergency meeting of the UNSC to discuss Kashmir The Russian news agency Tass reported that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a telephonic conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday to convey that Islamabad should defuse its tensions with New Delhi … Continue reading “Vajpayee’s Kashmir necklace becomes Modi’s Albatross”

India’s narrative on J&K is hyperbolic

China’s State Councilor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi in talks with India’s Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar, Beijing, Aug. 12, 2019. Editorials have appeared in two leading Delhi newspapers today (here and here) urging the government to present a credible, appealing diplomatic narrative on the J&K developments.  The Indian narrative so far is largely … Continue reading “India’s narrative on J&K is hyperbolic”

The return of the strongman in Sri Lanka

Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa (L) and SLPP Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa (R) wave at supporters during the party’s National Convention, Colombo, Aug 11, 2019 The announcement in Colombo on Sunday by former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa that his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be his party SLPP’s presidential candidate in the election due … Continue reading “The return of the strongman in Sri Lanka”

A Sino-Russian firewall against US interference

A sit-in at Hong Kong international airport, Aug 9, 2019 China has explicitly accused the United States and Britain for fomenting the “pro-democracy” protests in Hong Kong. Beijing has taken up the matter via the diplomatic channel demanding that the US intelligence should stop inciting and abetting the Hong Kong protestors. Last week photographic evidence … Continue reading “A Sino-Russian firewall against US interference”

China backs the opening of Kashmir file in UNSC

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Beijing, Aug. 9, 2019. The “special and emergency visit” by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Beijing on Friday August 9 has been highly successful in getting China to voice open support for Islamabad’s proposed move … Continue reading “China backs the opening of Kashmir file in UNSC”

A safe zone for Syrian refugees — so near, yet so very far

People wave as a US military vehicle travels through Kurdish-dominated Amuda province in northern Syria, bordering Turkey  Six years after Turkish President Recep Erdogan floated the idea of creating a safe zone in northern Syria, it still remains a chimera. When the Turks lobbied for the zone, notably in 2013 and 2015, the Obama administration … Continue reading “A safe zone for Syrian refugees — so near, yet so very far”

India’s move on Article 370 came six months late

The site where a Taliban car bomb detonated in Kabul on Aug 7, 2019, killing 14 people and wounding 145. The statement issued by the Taliban on Thursday regarding the situation surrounding the state of Jammu & Kashmir merits serious attention.   The statement recalls media reports on the abrogation of the special status of J&K … Continue reading “India’s move on Article 370 came six months late”

China reacts to J&K, India demands reciprocity

Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, on lockdown. File photo. In the aftermath of the Modi government’s decision to remove ‘special status’ for J&K and bifurcate the state into two union territories, the most keenly awaited regional and international reaction — and a hugely consequential one — would be that of China’s, not the US’ or even … Continue reading “China reacts to J&K, India demands reciprocity”

What if North Korea and Iran move in tandem

An undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on July 26, 2019 showed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watching a missile launch. The sensational  New Yorker story on August 2 by Robin Wright on the unpublicised meeting between Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the American senator Rand Paul (who is a … Continue reading “What if North Korea and Iran move in tandem”

Another ‘Arab Revolt’? History never repeats.

The Arab Revolt (1916-1918). File photo. The Arab sheikhs who instigated the US-Iran standoff have heard the African proverb, ‘When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’. But they chose to ignore it. The assumption in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi was that President Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ strategy would frighten Tehran and life would be … Continue reading “Another ‘Arab Revolt’? History never repeats.”

Iran’s Zarif drives Trump to insanity

Secretary of State John Kerry in a tightly scripted exchange with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif specifically timed to the release of several American prisoners held in Iran, Vienna, Jan. 16, 2016 At a time when the Trump administration has no problem negotiating with the secretary of the Russian national security council Nikolai Patrushev, who is … Continue reading “Iran’s Zarif drives Trump to insanity”

Ruminations on the ‘Vimochana Samaram’

Kerala Chief Minister EMS Nambooripad (L) received Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (C) at Thiruvananthapuram Airport, Circa 1958.  Today marks the 60th anniversary of the dismissal of the communist government in Kerala. It is a poignant occasion to do some reality check on the democratic foundations of the Indian state. Clearly, it is apparent to the … Continue reading “Ruminations on the ‘Vimochana Samaram’”

Russia wades into oily waters of East Mediterranean

Turkish naval fleet accompanying drill ship, July 2019 in East Mediterranean. The cold war brewing in the East Mediterranean over the vast hydrocarbon reserves in the region is already ‘multipolar’. Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, the United States and Turkey figure as the main protagonists. Then, in mid-July, the European Union grew out of its observer … Continue reading “Russia wades into oily waters of East Mediterranean”

US, Pakistan move in tandem to end Afghan war

President Donald Trump (R) speaks during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Washington, July 22, 2019 The US State Department chose Friday to announce the decision to approve a $125 million aid package providing technical support to Pakistan’s fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft. Ironically, the news reached Delhi on the 20th anniversary of … Continue reading “US, Pakistan move in tandem to end Afghan war”

Russia and China display strategic coordination in Asia-Pacific

Russian Tu-95 MS (above) & Chinese Xian H-6 strategic bombers. File photo An exciting new template has appeared in the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific last week when Russia’s Aerospace Force and China’s Air Force carried out their first-ever joint air patrol in the region. Steadily and imperceptibly but profoundly, the regional alignments are transforming. Russia … Continue reading “Russia and China display strategic coordination in Asia-Pacific”

Ukraine on the cusp of change

Ukraine President Vladimir Zelensky celebrated his party’s big victory in the parliamentary election, Kiev, July 21, 2019 The thumping victory by the Ukraine President Vladimir Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, securing an absolute majority of 253 seats in the 450 member parliament, can be viewed as a tectonic shift in the geopolitical landscape of … Continue reading “Ukraine on the cusp of change”

Belt and Road takes a leap forward to the Gulf

Red carpet welcome: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, accompanied by Chinese President Xi Jinping, reviews an honour guard at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, July 22, 2019 The entire myth that India is engaged in some sort of “competition” with China for regional influence gets exposed badly this week … Continue reading “Belt and Road takes a leap forward to the Gulf”

Iran 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 seizes UK tanker in counter-escalation”

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”