Quad is turning & turning in widening gyre

US President Joe Biden at Quad Summit, White House, Sept. 24, 2021. Seated clockwise Australian PM Scott Morrison, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga & Indian PM Narendra Modi By coincidence, perhaps, on the same day that President Biden hosted the first Quad summit, he also cleared the way for a senior … Continue reading “Quad is turning & turning in widening gyre”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-21

Acting Prime Minister of Taliban Interim Government Mohammad Hasan Akhund and senior ministers met the special envoys of Russia, China and Pakistan in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 21, 2021  21. Pakistani diplomacy is on a roll  An Indian news website that is wired into Panjshir Valley reported this morning that Amrullah Saleh, former Afghan vice president and security tsar … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-21”

Iran’s SCO membership is a big deal

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi (R) participated in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Dushanbe on Sept 16-17, 2021 Like in a Wagnerian music drama, there is an associated melodic theme that accompanies the situations behind the two big regional developments last week — the announcement of the AUKUS, security alliance of three “maritime democracies” on … Continue reading “Iran’s SCO membership is a big deal”

Ruckus over AUKUS isn’t an edifying sight

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and US President Joe Biden enjoy a light moment at the G7, Cornwall, UK, June 12, 2021 The diplomatic fallout from the new security agreement between the Australia, United Kingdom and the United States [AUKUS] is just about beginning. The debris will take time to clean up. Might there be … Continue reading “Ruckus over AUKUS isn’t an edifying sight”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-20

Iran’s then-Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) welcoming Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (C), Tehran, Jan. 31, 2021 20. Iran takes good look at Taliban rulers  Some strongly worded statements from Iran deploring the clashes in Panjshir Valley created a perception that Tehran might be distancing itself from the Taliban government. Of course, Tehran is … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-20”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-19

Family photo of the 20th summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Dushanbe, September 17, 2021  19. SCO won’t be subaltern to QUAD  As expected, the situation in Afghanistan was the focal point of the discussions at the 20th summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Dushanbe on Friday. Yet, the SCO’s Dushanbe … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-19”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-18

Pentagon claimed its “righteous strike” by a Reaper drone on Aug. 28 in Kabul killed an ISIS terrorist who turned out to be an aid worker. Attack killed 10, including 7 children, in a residential block. 18. India’s ‘over-the-horizon’ dilemma  In England, they’d plan a park, build it but wouldn’t complete it until they could observe  … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-18”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-17

Trade caravan on the Silk Road, Central Asia 17. Foreign Devils on the Silk Road   The title of an unputdownable 1980 classic by Peter Hopkirk comes to mind even as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation are preparing to hold back-to-back summit meetings at Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on September 17.  Foreign … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-17”

Biden Doctrine appears in Persian Gulf

Iran’s Vice-President & head of the Atomic Energy Organization Mohammad Eslami (second from right) met International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Grossi, Tehran, Sept 12, 2021 The incipient signs of a US retrenchment from Saudi Arabia have appeared in a series of moves in the past 2-3 weeks. On a parallel track, the Biden Administration … Continue reading “Biden Doctrine appears in Persian Gulf”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan -16

An Afghan girl… 16. Biden’s Taliban blues  The best part of the visit by the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolay Patrushev to New Delhi (September 7-8) was that the two countries have embarked upon a voyage of (re)discovery of each other at a phase in their relationship when the US-led … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan -16”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-15

Afghan tribal leaders and religious scholars and youth leaders from the central provinces (Hazarajat) met former president Hamid Karzai regarding formation of inclusive government, Kabul, September 11, 2021 15. Enter regional states  The Taliban hoisted their black and white flag on the presidential palace in Kabul on September 11, which happens to be the twentieth … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-15”

Biden Doctrine abates China tensions

US President Joe Biden speaking about the end of the war in Afghanistan, White House, Washington, August 31, 2021 A 90-minute phone conversation between the presidents of the United States and China surely makes world news, but President Joe Biden’s call to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday draws special attention on its timing, … Continue reading “Biden Doctrine abates China tensions”

Taliban get a government!

The regional states will be shell-shocked by the brazen way Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), coerced the Taliban to announce an interim government that is guaranteed to preserve Rawalpindi’s control over the levers of power in Kabul. There are several things to be noted about the so-called interim government announced … Continue reading “Taliban get a government!”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-14

14. The fall of Panjshir  Panjshir has fallen to the Taliban with a bang — and a whimper. The bang is because a 40-year old legend lies shattered, the legend of the invincibility of Panjshir Valley. And the whimper is because the short-lived ‘resistance’ had a tame ending.  A BBC report said the revolt’s two … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-14”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-13

13. Panjshir revolt becomes footnote  At the daily foreign ministry briefing in Beijing on Friday, Russian correspondent of Sputnik asked spokesperson Ambassador Wang Wenbin how China viewed the Taliban decision to attack Panjshir and how this will affect the Afghan situation.  Ambassador Wang replied that “it is China’s sincere hope that all parties in Afghanistan … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-13”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-12

Taliban takes control of Kabul Airport, August 31, 2021 12. To recognise, or not to recognise, that’s the question  At the weekly briefing in Moscow on Thursday by the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated that Russia will consider recognising Afghanistan’s new authorities once an inclusive government is formed in the country.  To quote Zakharova, … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-12”

Biden gives green signal to US-China thaw

US climate envoy & former secretary of state John Kerry (L) and Chinese Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (File photo) The visit to Tianjin by President Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry on September 1-3 is assuming a huge dimension holding promise as a defining moment in the tense bilateral relationship between China and the … Continue reading “Biden gives green signal to US-China thaw”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-11

Taliban’s elite Badri 313 military unit takes position after US troop withdrawal from Kabul airport on August 31, 2021. 11. US slips out of Kabul but is vengeful  The back-to-back press briefings on August 30 by General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr, commander, US Central Command and Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, on Afghanistan conveys the … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-11”

Rise and rise of Qatar in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R) receiving Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar (2nd-R), Doha, Sept. 2020 When the US State Department announced that it would host a virtual ministerial meeting on August  30 with “key partners on Afghanistan,” there was an element of surprise in the list of participants. Apart from the US’ NATO and EU allies, … Continue reading “Rise and rise of Qatar in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan”

US-China relations at crossroads

In two phone calls past fortnight, Chinese Councilor & FM Wang Yi (L) told US counterpart Antony Blinken (R) that coordination over Afghanistan would depend on US policies towards Beijing The Biden Administration, in dire straits over Afghanistan, is pursuing China for help. There have been two phone calls to Chinese State Councilor and FM … Continue reading “US-China relations at crossroads”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-10

Sirajuddin Haqqani, specially designated global terrorist under US law, carrying a reward of $5 million for information leading to his arrest, tipped as as Afghanistan’s prime minister (File photo) 10. Taliban has a package deal with US. Coast is clear for new government in Kabul.  The US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan discussed today in … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-10”

India reaches out to Russia to break out of regional isolation over Afghanistan

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov flanked by Taliban officials attending a conference on Afghanistan, Moscow, November 2018 The Indian establishment media hyped up Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 24 in a desperate attempt to distract attention from Delhi’s abject isolation over the Afghanistan situation. The desperation to clutch … Continue reading “India reaches out to Russia to break out of regional isolation over Afghanistan”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-9

US President Biden enters Roosevelt Room in the White House to give a statement on US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Aug 24, 2021 9. A political windfall for Taliban The horrific terrorist strikes in Kabul on Thursday which killed at least 12 US servicemen and dozens of civilians will lead to a higher level of cooperation … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-9”

Quad meets the “Saigon moment”

US Vice-President Kamala Harris (L) being presented with a spray of orchids named after her, as Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R) looks on, Singapore, August 23, 2021  The regional tour of Southeast Asia by the US Vice-President Kamala Harris got inundated with the tsunami of criticism over the United States’ frantic efforts to complete … Continue reading “Quad meets the “Saigon moment””

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan -8

Taliban fighters patrol Kabul, Afghanistan, August 24, 2021 8. US senses that Taliban is reality – Implications    This week will stand out as a pivotal moment in President Joe Biden’s presidency. It has been a humble moment yet bold and decisive, far-sighted but tactical, and focused on America’s self-interests. It underscores that the US’ … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan -8”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-7

A panoramic view of Mes Ayna on the gentle hills and craggy mountains in Logar province 40 kilometres south-east of Kabul, Afghanistan, where Chinese firms signed contracts to mine one of the world’s largest untouched copper deposits estimated to contain 450 million metric tonnes of ore worth at least US$50 billion 7. US-Taliban ties on … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-7”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-6

Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan, is a natural fortress, a long verdant valley surrounded by towering mountain ridges leading to the Pamir. 6. The untold secrets of Panjshir Valley  Many Indian analysts are ecstatic that the Taliban’s goose is cooked, as Amrullah Saleh, deposed president Ashraf Ghani’s former deputy, is on the march to marshal an anti-Taliban … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan-6”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan – 5

The interior of a US Air Force C-27 Globemaster III transport aircraft carrying Afghans from Kabul to Qatar (File photo)  5. Putin: Taliban is the reality   The German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Moscow visits invariably draw great attention as she has performed a unique role as intermediary between the West and Russia during her 16 … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan – 5”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan — 4

The Taliban officially declared the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in a tweet with a photo of the country’s logo, August 19, 2021 4. The ‘X’ Factor in Kabul  The Chinese commentaries vehemently reject the western claims of democratic transformation in Afghanistan. A conversation on Tuesday between the Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan — 4”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan — 3

Top Taliban leader from the Haqqani Network called on former Afghan President Hamid Karzai with a delegation to discuss the formation of an inclusive government, Kabul, August 18, 2021  3. The Return of the Native  There is immense curiosity about the Taliban’s first moves following the dramatic return to Kabul after two decades. The big question … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan — 3”

Reflections on the Events in Afghanistan – 2

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (second from Left) in talks with the visiting composite delegation of senior Afghan politicians of erstwhile Northern Alliance, Islamabad, Aug 16, 2021 2. The green shoots of politics are reappearing  The explosion of life is unstoppable. The first buds are edging their roots from the dirt no sooner than Ashraf … Continue reading “Reflections on the Events in Afghanistan – 2”

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan

The Taliban fighters posing for family photo and relaxing in the Presidential Palace, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug 15, 2021 1. Collapse of the Afghan Army  Social media reported that at the Kabul residence of the Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib who post-haste fled to Tajikistan on Saturday with President Ashraf Ghani, three Toyota Landcruiser SUVs … Continue reading “Reflections on Events in Afghanistan”

Russia, China circle the wagons. Iran is in it.

10000 troops from PLA’s Western Theatre Command and Russia’s Eastern Military District wrapped up Zapad/Interaction-2021 exercises in Ningxia region, east of Xinjiang, August 13, 2021 The Tehran Times reported on Wednesday that Moscow has conveyed to Tehran that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has reached a consensus on Iran’s admission as a full member of the … Continue reading “Russia, China circle the wagons. Iran is in it.”

Taliban neutralises the Afghan warlords

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-i-Sharif besieged by the Taliban, August 11, 2021 The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Wednesday had an air of high drama — the C-in-C visiting the frontline — even as the Taliban’s relentless onslaught is bringing it close … Continue reading “Taliban neutralises the Afghan warlords”

Russia-Israel ties are like matryoshka dolls

Traditional Matryoshka nesting dolls in a Moscow store It does not take much effort to plant a rumour in West Asia. There is no other region where, perhaps, rumours are the lifeblood of politics and politics is the stuff of rumours. A rumoured crisis in the Russia-Israel relationship is making waves lately.  It all began … Continue reading “Russia-Israel ties are like matryoshka dolls”

Don’t waste the opportunity at UN SC

India’s thirty-day tenure through August as the president of the UN Security Council has got mired in needless controversy. The issue is about the “emergency meeting” regarding Afghanistan that India convened on Friday. According to Pakistan, it had made a “a formal request” for participation in the meeting but India turned it down.  Prima facie, … Continue reading “Don’t waste the opportunity at UN SC”

Spectre of Syria haunts Afghanistan

Fencing of Durand Line is almost complete. Pakistani troops guarding the border with Afghanistan in Khyber The Moscow daily Vedomosti with links to the establishment has reported that Russia will give “limited military support” to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the event of attacks from Afghanistan, including weapons supplies, air support and deployment of special forces, but … Continue reading “Spectre of Syria haunts Afghanistan”

A new dawn breaks in Tehran

On Thursday, Iran’s new president Ebrahim Raisi takes the oath of office in a ceremony in Tehran. Raisi happens to be a popular figure, given his forceful record as the chief justice to crack down on corruption.  The participation in Iran’s national elections is restricted to candidates who are loyal to Velayat-e faqih — or, guardianship … Continue reading “A new dawn breaks in Tehran”

Blinken’s single-point agenda in Delhi – China

The overnight visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to New Delhi has been an eye-opener in many ways. It highlighted how much India has changed through the searing pain and suffering it underwent in the past one-year period and how that tumultuous period also led to a reset in the government’s calculus.  A … Continue reading “Blinken’s single-point agenda in Delhi – China”

Biden prepares the ground for QUAD-3

The US President Joe Biden (R) welcomes visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Washington, July 27, 2021 The US President Joe Biden’s foreign-policy team seems increasingly unsure of the ground beneath their feet. They can see that the edifice that their 78-year old chief is erecting stands on shaky ground. But they lack the presence of … Continue reading “Biden prepares the ground for QUAD-3”

Blinken comes riding the Pegasus

Pegasus: the spyware technology that threatens democracy Pegasus, the winged divine horse from Greek mythology, symbolises a range of things. The mythological salad can include many symbolic narratives — ranging from soul’s immortality to poetic inspiration — even the Marxist eschatological myth of the withering away of the state.  The Pegasus Project is a raging … Continue reading “Blinken comes riding the Pegasus”

Biden approves algorithm war in Afghanistan

US President Joe Biden (R) called Afghanistan President Ghani to assure US will defend his government, July 23, 2021 If only America’s presidents exercised the option to do muscle-flexing in the White House gym, the world would have been a calmer place.  This is the second time that a US president uses Afghanistan as punch … Continue reading “Biden approves algorithm war in Afghanistan”

UK scripts new Afghan plot for US

Foreign Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation at Dushanbe with Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon, July 14, 2021 The ministerial meeting at Dushanbe last week of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the SCO contact group with Afghanistan left a trail of disappointment. The SCO statement on Afghanistan was a baby step — significant, nonetheless, considering the … Continue reading “UK scripts new Afghan plot for US”

US-German Nord Stream 2 deal has a third partner

The undersea Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is nearly complete The joint statement issued in Washington and Berlin on Wednesday signifies that the two countries have struck a compromise deal over the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.  Both the US and Germany were eager to simmer down the controversy. For President Joe Biden, the … Continue reading “US-German Nord Stream 2 deal has a third partner”

Pegasus Project: Why I am hesitant to defend the government but must

Pegasus Project: Activists, journalists, politicians have been spied on allegedly using mobile phone malware developed by Israel. The so-called Pegasus Project, which hit media headlines, has highlighted India in a clutch of countries where snooping of the telephones of citizens is widely practised as state policy.  The Washington Post, which spearheaded the Pegasus Project,  proposes … Continue reading “Pegasus Project: Why I am hesitant to defend the government but must”

Pakistan’s geo-economics is working well

When the whole world is lamenting that the US is quitting Afghanistan in ignominy, the Biden Administration is snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. What an audacity of hope! The agreement reached in principle in Tashkent on Friday between the representatives of the United States, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan “to establish a new quadrilateral … Continue reading “Pakistan’s geo-economics is working well”

Transitional period ahead in US-China relations

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) paid an ‘official working visit to White House and held talks with President Joe Biden (R), July 15, 2021 The ‘official working visit’ by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House on July 15 has been most conspicuous for its subdued tone regarding the most fateful topic of … Continue reading “Transitional period ahead in US-China relations”

China explains its Afghan motivations

The ministerial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the meeting of the SCO-Afghanistan working group at Dushanbe on July 13-14 have thrown light on the templates of China’s approach to the evolving situation in Afghanistan.  The elucidation of China’s intentions and motivations by China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi is timely … Continue reading “China explains its Afghan motivations”

US-Russia ties warming up. Is it for real?

In many ways in their mindset, the US and Russia are similar. A “thaw” has appeared in the US-Russian relations. The unanimous vote by the United Nations Security Council last Friday extending a cross-border aid operation into Syria from Turkey must be regarded as an important moment.  It stemmed out of a compromise in last … Continue reading “US-Russia ties warming up. Is it for real?”