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.
By Donald Camp* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
WASHINGTON (IDN) - There was a time, not so long ago, when Sri Lanka was known for the quality of its democracy. In 1975, when I was a foreign service officer at the US Embassy there, the country was in economic straits but proud of its international reputation for an independent political culture, a feisty press, and a remarkably high standard of education and social services.
There were tensions between the Sinhalese and Tamils, but there was also a history of cooperation and respect amidst Sri Lanka’s ethnic and religious diversity. Hindu shrines thrived within the country’s most sacred Buddhist temples. Christians and Muslims played a prominent political role. And at least among the urban elite, Tamils and Sinhalese studied together, played together, and often married each other.
By Kayhan Barzegar* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
TEHRAN (IDN | Al-Monitor) - As a consequence of the crisis in Ukraine, dubbed rightly as a geostrategic rivalry between Russia (East) and the West (America) for defining their regional and global role and influence, the traditional debate of looking to the East or the West has once again become an issue in Iran’s intellectual and policy circle, and this has provoked the question of what actually should be Iran’s policy in dealing with such a crisis.
By Ramesh Jaura | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BERLIN (IDN) - The Cuba missile crisis was moving towards a peak when President John F. Kennedy proposed in May 1961 the creation of a Development Centre at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to bridge the industrialised nations and the developing world. The Centre has meanwhile developed into a forum not only for South-South but also South-North and North-South cooperation, enabling the industrialised countries “to learn from, and maybe import, some of the policy experiences of the South”, says its director Mario Pezzini.
By Jamshed Baruah | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
GENEVA (IDN) - More than 163 parliaments from around the world, constituting the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), have adopted a landmark resolution urging parliaments to “work with their governments on eliminating the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines” and to “urge their governments to start negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or package of agreements to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world”.
By Andrew Maddocks and Paul Reig*
WASHINGTON, DC (IDN | WRI) - The world’s 100 most-populated river basins are indispensable resources for billions of people, companies, farms, and ecosystems. But many of these river basins are also increasingly at risk.
As water demand from irrigated agriculture, industrialization, and domestic users explodes, major rivers on several continents are becoming so depleted that they sometimes fail to reach their ocean destinations. Add climate change, nutrient and chemical pollution, and physical alterations like dams and other infrastructure development to the mix and it’s clear that many communities rely on water resources that face an increasingly risky future.
By Ashok Bardhan* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BERKELEY (IDN | Yale Global) - The US economy seems to suffer from a bout of schizophrenia, as it cannot decide whether it’s doing well or not. There has been stable, albeit not spectacular, growth in the post-crisis phase, but analysts point to many headwinds. The bubble word is back, this time in the stock markets, and above all else increasing employment seems stubbornly resilient to macro-management.