By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepthNewsFeature
SIEM REAP (IDN) - Somnieng Hoeurn, deputy abbot of Wat Damnak, one of the largest Buddhist temples in this capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia, and a popular resort town as the gateway to Angkor region, laments that the Khmer Rouge completely destroyed Buddhism in Cambodia. He adds with a grin, “We not only have to build temples but also do a lot of mind building.”
He believes that both the government and the monastic system need each other to help Cambodia – one of the world’s poorest countries – progress. “A Buddhist temple must respond to 21st century demands,” he says.
His life story is as unique as his attempts to rebuild Cambodian Buddhism in which the temple is an integral part of community development.
By Jaya Ramachandran
NEW YORK (IDN | UN News) - A group of eight United Nations human rights independent experts have urged the Egyptian authorities to quash the 529 death sentences announced in Egypt and give the defendants new and fair trials, in line with international human rights law.
“The right to life is a fundamental right, not a toy to be played with. If the death penalty is to be used at all in countries which have not abolished it, international law requires the most stringent respect of a number of fundamental standards,” the experts said in a news statement.
By Frederick N. Matti* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay
ANNAPOLIS, USA (IDN) - Nuclear weapons are the most devastating of instruments, with their quadruple means of dealing mass death and destruction: blast, heat, radiation, firestorm. Surely, the last thing even the nuclear-armed states want is a nuclear “exchange,” anywhere on earth. But those states in general have not fully considered the security advantages of worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons, and a likely reason is that they have not been presented “satisfactory” answers to fundamental issues for abolishing nuclear weapons.
By Joergen Oerstroem Moeller*
SINGAPORE (IDN | YaleGlobal) - Shale oil and gas has been labeled a game changer. Statistics would suggest that, yes, the new technologies and discoveries associated with hydraulic fracking change the energy picture and economic outlook, in particular for the United States, but less so than predictions would have it a year or two go.
The greater impact won’t be on the US economy, but rather US-Saudi relations and stability for the Middle East. President Barack Obama met King Abdullah March 28, and both leaders recognize that the geopolitical ground shaped by their common interest in stable oil prices has shifted, creating a new imbalance that could spill over into Mideast security policy.
TEHRAN (IDN | Iran Review) - During the Iranian calendar year, 1392 (March 21, 2013 to March 21, 2014), the world of science and technology witnessed major breakthroughs made possible through the endeavors of Iranian scientists. These researchers made great progress in different scientific fields in various parts of the world, which made them a cause of honor for every Iranian anywhere in the world.
Scientific achievements of a group of researchers of Iranian origin in the United States, Australia and the UK in such scientific fields as medicine, energy, electricity and computer, helped these human sciences to move a step forward. Among their achievements one can point out the production of hepatic cells from skin cells, production of metamaterials, as well as the discovery of a whole new category of antibiotics.
An Analysis by Gary Sick*
WASHINGTON D.C. (IDN | POMEPS) - Over the past quarter century, the most accurate single factor to explain security developments in the Gulf, as well as the best predictor of the future, has been and is U.S. policy in the region. Since it began to be a significant force, U.S. policy has undergone at least five major shifts. The current policy, which I will call the Obama Doctrine, represents the latest, and possibly one of the most important, iterations.
The United States has become the dominant military, diplomatic, and economic presence in the Gulf. It is, in effect, a leading Gulf power. This has become such an accepted condition that it is easy to forget just how recent and exceptional it is.
News Analysis by Shireen T. Hunter*
WASHINGTON D.C. (IDN | Lobe Log) - Not long after the outbreak of the crisis over Ukraine and Crimea, many observers began asking the following question: what impact could renewed Russo-Western tensions have on the fate of the ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program? Will the Russians encourage Iran to become more obdurate and change its current and more flexible approach to negotiations with the P5+1 countries (the US, Britain, France, China, and Russia plus Germany), stop complying with sanctions on Iran, or even help it financially and militarily, for example by delivering the promised-but-withheld S-300 air defense system or even shipping the more advanced S-400?
By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
NEW DELHI (IDN) - In the politically charged climate ahead of the countrywide general election from April 7 to May 12, the Congress Party led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has offered itself as a target for criticism by its policy paralysis, non-performance and failure to govern.
But there are areas – such as external affairs, national security, space and defence – where its record should be assessed without political prejudice; because, by and large, there is a bipartisan consensus on policies in regard to these. In foreign policy, as in national security policy, there is no great divergence of outlook or approach between the leading political parties.
By R. S. Kalha* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
NEW DELHI (IDN | IDSA) - When China decided to abstain in the vote taken in the UN Security Council on March 15 on the issue of the referendum to decide on Crimea’s future; it handed the Western powers a pyrrhic victory for they could then proclaim that Russia was completely isolated as all the other UNSC members had voted in favour of the western sponsored resolution.
Despite their rather close relations with Russia, President Xi Jinping chose Russia as the first country that he visited on taking office and was in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, the Chinese were aware of the ramifications of their abstention. The reasons for abstention go far beyond the immediate issue at hand and are enveloped in deep Chinese strategic interests. The abstention in no way lessens their intention in firmly maintaining close and mutually beneficial strategic ties with Russia.
By Lucio Blanco Pitlo III* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
MANILA (IDN | SGV) - Increasing ASEAN-China economic relations illustrate the dangers of possibly becoming too economically beholden to one major power. Greater economic integration may reduce the chances of conflict or tensions between countries. Among capitalist peace theorists who held this view include Immanuel Kant who maintained that “the spirit of commerce… sooner or later takes hold of every nation, and is incompatible with war.”
Historically good trade ties decrease uncertainty and establish mutual trust and confidence. To this extent, it can be said that trade is beneficial to concerned parties.
By Halimullah Kousary* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
SINGAPORE (IDN | RSIS) - Afghanistan has come a long way politically since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. It held two presidential elections in 2004 and 2009, and is slated to hold the third on April 5, 2014, which will transfer power to a new president.
Hamid Karzai, after serving his two constitutional terms, is the first elected president to hand over leadership of the state to his successor without being ousted and/or pushed into exile. This shift signifies the growing liberalisation and maturity of the Afghan political elite.