Independent Strategic Analysis of Australia’s Global Interests


What’s Next for Jakarta Governor-Elect Anies Baswedan?

Anies will look towards fulfilling his policy promises to prove his worth as a presidential candidate. The success of religious tensions in propelling him into power could also be utilised again.

Indonesia: Economic Developments and Future Prospects

Although the Indonesian economy continues to enjoy strong growth, and may even become the world’s fourth-largest by 2050, investment is desperately needed to improve infrastructure, which is necessary for future growth. Good progress has been made in introducing reforms to help small businesses and the country’s growing middle class has the potential to be a significant future driver of the economy.

How Politics and Electricity in Punjab Combine to Prevent Groundwater Reform

Though Punjab’s groundwater levels continue to decline, the new Congress Government appears unwilling to initiate long-term reform that may risk its political success.

Policy Uncertainty Ahead for South Africa as ANC Looks Towards December

In the shadow cast by the December leadership conference at which the African National Congress will choose a new party leader, policymaking is likely to take a back seat to the efforts of President Jacob Zuma to ensure a loyal successor in the face of controversy and accusations of state capture.

Iranian Presidential Election: Keeping Up Appearances Amid Nuclear Accusations

Iran’s presidential election, hardly an exercise in democracy, will take place in an atmosphere charged by accusations that the country is violating the terms of the JCPOA.

Rangelands: Critical to the Environment and Under Constant Threat

Rangelands constitute a significant proportion of the Earth’s total landmass and they sustain important ecosystems that are under an increasing environmental threat from climate change, habitat loss and soil degradation.

Mauritius Courting China in New African Strategic Partnership

If the proposed partnership goes ahead, Mauritius will benefit from increased foreign investment while Chinese companies could use Mauritian ports, banks and membership of key regional organisations as gateways to southern and eastern Africa.

Redefining Modi’s India?

20 April 2017 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

What level of Hinduisation is emerging in India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in what direction might his 2019 Election Manifesto attempt to steer the country? Conflicting ideologies may see paradoxes emerge between the government – in particular Modi’s “Idea” of India – and the Constitution, that lead to difficult questions about the Constitutional commitment to secularism and the practice of Hinduisation.

A New Hope? Moisture Farming as a Long-Term Alternative Water Source

The depletion of traditional water sources, such as groundwater, in many hot and humid countries is providing moisture farming with the opportunity to become a potential alternative source of water.

Nationalism versus Islamisation: A Power Struggle in Indonesia

With the military and Islamic groups fighting for influence, traditional values of the Indonesian people could be under threat.

ChemChina Inches Closer to Acquiring Syngenta

The acquisition of Syngenta, a global supplier of seeds and pesticide, by ChemChina is likely to have implications for global food security.

Donald Trump’s Warning to Iran

Trump’s cruise missile attack on Syria was, among other things, a signal to Iran that his Administration will not be as compliant or as forgiving of their actions as that of Obama’s.

The Drone Revolution and Australian Agriculture – Part Two: Case Studies and Practical Benefits

Detailed industry analysis has identified agriculture as one of the most promising fields for drone based applications. The ability for farmers to make sound business decisions based upon real-time high quality data that is available at a reasonable cost is essential to a successful modern agricultural enterprise. In Part Two of this FDI Associate Paper, Mr Geoff Trowbridge discusses in specific detail the benefits drones can provide to agriculture.

The Drone Revolution and Australian Agriculture – Part One

High technology, unmanned aerial systems or drones are increasingly moving from military to commercial applications and bringing with them changes that are revolutionising a broad range of industry sectors. In this two-part FDI Associate Paper, Mr Geoff Trowbridge of ScientificAerospace firstly discusses the general, high technology innovations drones are bringing to a wide range of applications and secondly the specific benefits drones can bring to agricultural production.

China Ostensibly Cancels Myitsone Dam Project in Myanmar in Favour of Access to Kyaukpyu Port

Beijing gains preferential access to Kyaukpyu port, but until the future of the Myitsone Dam project is clearly articulated it is likely to remain a potentially troublesome issue for the bilateral relationship.

Indonesia: Comprehensive Tax Reform on the way

Legislation for tax reforms will likely be finalised by July to pave the way for an information exchange programme targeted at tax evasion from multinational corporations.

Tourism in the Gulf: Oman Implements First Stage of Renewed Diversification Strategy

If successful, Oman’s tourism-centric economic diversification strategy could be adopted by some of its hydrocarbon-reliant neighbours as the region faces dwindling oil reserves.

Conflict, Climate Change and Record High Food Prices Contribute to Rising Global Food Insecurity

An immediate global response is required to help stabilise large regions of the world as the number of food insecure populations increases as a result of conflict, extreme weather events and localised high food prices.

Hot Rock Opportunities for Northern Australia

Geothermal energy continues to be a viable source of clean energy.

The Rising Refugee Intake in Uganda: A Food Crisis Reaching Tipping Point?

Increasingly weak food security in Uganda undermines its ability to sustain an increasing number of refugees.

What will be the Shape of US Indo-Pacific Policy under President Trump?

Addressing the increased assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific theatre is of primary importance but, despite the talk of greater burden sharing, the US alliances in the region, which continue to serve US commercial and security interests well, will not be ended. The Pivot to Asia of the Obama Administration – largely inherited from the George W. Bush presidency – is likely to continue under President Trump.

Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Are we seeing the Normalisation of Food and Water Insecurity?

Three countries in or near the Horn of Africa (Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen) are, or are close to, experiencing famine. This extreme level of food insecurity is exacerbated by conflict, ineffective governance and poor weather conditions. Until these issues are addressed, it is probable that the region will continue to experience heightened levels of food insecurity.

South Africa Credit Rating Downgraded to Junk Status in Wake of Finance Minister Sacking

As the rand falls against foreign currencies and with another ratings downgrade still a possibility, the sacking of Pravin Gordhan may yet become a catalyst for revolt within the African National Congress-led government against President Jacob Zuma.

Extreme Weather Events: Is this our Agricultural Market Future?

The devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Debbie is likely to significantly influence the domestic, market price of agricultural, aquaculture and fishery produce for the following year. If the predictions of a higher frequency of extreme weather events occurring because of climate change are correct, supply based, price fluctuations may become a more regular feature of our primary produce industry.

The US Global Water Strategy 2017 Under President Trump

A US Global Water Strategy could be a continuation of Trump-styled ‘America First’ politics. A genuinely global water strategy is possible, but only if Trump is willing to accept the impact climate change has on water security and the leadership role the US has in the securitisation of climate change and water.

Vanuatu: Junk Food Ban Addresses Health Problems but Leaves the Islands at Risk

Promoting local organic foods is an important way to lower the country’s severe obesity and diabetes rates, but erodes the food security of a region highly vulnerable to the shocks of climate change.

Timor-Leste Joins Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

This is a welcome move at a time where developing supporting infrastructure for the non-oil sector is crucial to the long-term survival of the Timor-Leste economy.

India’s Security Concerns in the Indian Ocean Region: A Critical Analysis

4 April 2017 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

India needs to adopt a more structured and holistic approach if it is to successfully address the diverse range of security challenges confronting it in the Indian Ocean Region. A long-term maritime policy of working in close strategic co-operation with the likes of the United States, Japan and Australia, together with the states in its maritime neighbourhood, will be required.

The Role of Water in Ensuring Healthy Soils

Water is an essential constituent of healthy, productive soils. Maintaining the availability of water to plants while ensuring healthy, sustainably productive soils, relies on understanding the natural processes of climate and weather and managing complex and often conflicting physical and environmental factors.

Australian Aquaculture and Fisheries Threatened by Marine Plastic Waste

Plans to expand the northern Australia aquaculture industry must include investigation and analysis into potential affects resulting from increasing pollution of the marine environment in the form of marine debris.

Maritime Security Governance and Somali Piracy

Two recent hijackings by Somali pirates have prompted calls for NATO to act on illegal fishing that allegedly pushed these fishermen to piracy. Addressing this as a root cause of a possible new outbreak of piracy, as opposed to the act of piracy itself, is the prudent path to take.

French Presidential Candidate Takes Campaign to Indian Ocean Territories

The visit by Emmanuel Macron to La Réunion and Mayotte – both home to small numbers of voters – has great symbolic value in demonstrating his commitment to a diverse and outwards-looking France.

Pakistan and the CPEC: Choosing Between Riyadh and Beijing

The potential benefits of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor could force Pakistan to choose between its traditional ally, Saudi Arabia, and its major investor, Beijing.

Risk of Damage to Syria’s Tabqa Dam

The “Islamic State” is potentially weeks away from losing control of the Tabqa Dam, a key asset that could see the US-led coalition inch closer to regaining Syria. Any significant damage to the dam’s structure, however, could threaten hundreds of thousands of lives, a worry that IS appears keen to exploit.

Soothing Troubled Waters Essential for India and Pakistan

Further diplomacy between India and Pakistan on Indus River issues will be critical for bilateral relations and regional stability.

Pakistan-Iran Bilateral Relations: More Growth, But Not Close – Part Two: Saudi Arabia and Balochistan

28 March 2017 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

There is potential for further deepening of Pakistan-Iran defence ties now that the economic and financial sanctions against Iran have been removed. Islamabad will have to be very careful in how it handles this matter, however, and will need to keep in mind how it would be seen by Saudi Arabia. Domestic factors, notably sectarian differences and the continuing unrest in Balochistan, will also affect the deepening of the relationship with Tehran.

Pakistan-Iran Bilateral Relations: More Growth, But Not Close – Part One: Afghanistan, India and China

23 March 2017 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Pakistan and Iran have worked together to bring stability to Afghanistan, although they do not see eye-to-eye on a future role for the Taliban. There is much potential in their relationship, especially with regard to the export of energy and Pakistan will progressively deepen its relationship with Iran. That relationship will also be informed by Pakistan’s relationship with China, its interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia, and its ongoing enmity with India.

Malaysia: Will an Early Election Benefit Najib?

A fragmented opposition means that Prime Minister Najib Razak is in a strong position to win if he calls an early general election.

The Nile Delta and the Future of Food and Water Security in Egypt

A study showing increased levels of salt in the waters of the Nile Delta and reduced river flows significantly threatens the future liveability of the region.

Wastewater: Part of the Solution to Rising Water Stress?

Recycling wastewater will help relieve some of the pressure associated with rising water demand, but care will need to be taken to ensure that it is safely used.

The Continuing “Modi-fication” of Indian Politics and Foreign Policy

The overwhelming electoral victory of Modi’s BJP in India’s most populous state demonstrates his continuing political strength and will have an immediate effect on the country’s politics and foreign policy.

Changes to International Defence Partnership Master Plan: Less Land and Smarter Use

Restricting the expansion of land for military exercises will enable and promote opportunities to enhance existing training areas and advances in virtual simulation technology in regional Queensland.

Strategic Competition in Afghanistan: Why Leveraging Kabul’s Food and Water Security Situation Must be Earned, not Expected

Afghanistan’s food and water security future out to 2030 is looking increasingly hard to manage because of the institutional and security challenges, on top of newer tasks like climate change, that must be addressed before food and water can be properly securitised. India and Pakistan can better tap into Afghanistan’s food and water future if they can firstly service Kabul’s older needs, like military security and infrastructural/institutional development.

Carbon Sequestration – Why and How?

To meet the targets set by the Paris climate change conference, greenhouse gas may have to be actively removed from the atmosphere and stored indefinitely. Carbon capture and storage technology will also have a key role in reducing future greenhouse gas emissions. Storage deep underground, in the oceans and in the soil, are some of the possible options but there are technological, financial, environmental and time considerations.

New Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils – Closing the Gap between Soil Science and Farm Management

Recently the Federal Government announced that a new Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils will receive nearly $40 million over 10 years to help the agricultural community bridge the knowledge gap between soil science and farm management. The aim is to provide the tools and knowledge needed to make the right decisions on complex soil management issues.

Timor-Leste Prepares for Presidential Election

The first round of polling will be held on 20 March and the actions taken by the eventual victor will have a significant long-term effect on the direction of the Timor-Leste economy at a time of falling oil and gas revenues.

Corruption, Sand Mafias and Water Security in India

India’s groundwater levels are indicative of the country’s worsening water crisis. Sand is a vital component of a plentiful groundwater supply, but due to weak institutions and corrupt officials, this valuable resource is being illegally mined by “sand mafias” unconcerned by the country’s growing water insecurity.

The Re-energised US Oil Sector: More Woes for Saudi Arabia and OPEC?

In the United States, the steady return to profitability of the resurgent oil industry could increase the troubles of an already-fractured OPEC led by Saudi Arabia.

China Proposes Water Pipeline from Russia to Gansu Province

At a time when Russia fears increased Chinese influence in the Far East, China has released plans detailing a potential pipeline from Siberia.

Food and Water Security in the Middle East

Food and water demand is likely to increase in the Middle East as a result of demographic, dietary and government-sponsored subsidy trends. While demand is expected to rise, innovative water supply solutions and an emerging trend that encourages conservation and waste minimisation could ensure that the region avoids extreme food and water insecurity.

Is There Light at the End of the Baloch Tunnel? Part Two: The View from India

9 March 2017 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

India’s Balochistan policy should be based on a clear-headed assessment of its stakes and its capability to intervene meaningfully. The Baloch issue should not be used by New Delhi as a bargaining chip or a quick-fix to any of the problems that it may have with Pakistan because such short-termism will harm both the Baloch cause and India’s overall interests.

Bird Flu Strikes Back: Bad News for Birds, Less So For People

The avian influenza A (H7N9) virus, which emerged in south-east China last month, is a new strain of the old H5N1 that is showing signs of some resistance to anti-viral drugs and increased lethality. Birds draw the short straw ahead of humans, however, and medicinal treatment, not viral mutation, seems the cause of resistance.

Canada Leading the World in Carbon Capture and Storage for Coal-Fired Power Stations

The Boundary Dam Power Station in Canada is claimed to be the first coal-fired power station in the world to successfully use carbon capture and storage technology on a commercial scale. Is this an example that Australia should be following?

Laos: Pak Beng Dam Project Approved, but at What Cost?

The construction of a new dam has been approved by the government in Vientiane, but there are many interests that may suffer under the project.

New Zealand Seeks De-Radicalisation Advice from Malaysia

Malaysia’s widely praised de-radicalisation programme could be a valuable tool in New Zealand and may be utilised in Indonesia.

China’s Response to India: A Line in the Sand?

China may have decided to retaliate against India’s hardened stance against Beijing by calling New Delhi’s bluff yet offering it a way out of a potential dilemma.

Is There Light at the End of the Baloch Tunnel? Part One: Balochistan and Pakistan

7 March 2017 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

The Baloch people live in a resource rich, strategic territory next to Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf and in the middle of Iran, Central Asia and the Indian Sub-continent. Of the countries with large Baloch populations, Pakistan is the most reliant upon the ports and resources of its insurgent Baloch province. Given the structure of the Pakistani state and the division of the Baloch people across three countries, a standalone secession of Balochistan in the manner of Bangladesh seems infeasible.

Food and Water Security in the Middle East to 2030: An Overview of FDI’s Landmark Study

Next week, FDI will publish a Landmark Study that examines the food and water security situation of the Middle East to 2030. This paper is a summary of the major conclusions reached in the study.

Saudi King Salman on Landmark Visit to Indonesia

The visit will likely see billions of dollars poured into improving Indonesia’s oil refining capacity but it also raises the issue of the influence of Wahhabism and the “Arabisation” of Islam in Indonesia.

Sri Lankan Drought Worsening, a More Grassroots Strategy Urgently Needed

Despite recent efforts to mitigate drought stresses, farmers still report feeling unprepared, alone and unable to adapt in their struggle to manage existing food and water systems. The Sri Lankan Government must make a more grassroots strategy a main priority.

France Seeking to Boost Economy via Closer Links with Indonesia

The just-concluded visit by Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and that of President François Hollande, scheduled for 29 March, are designed to produce some much-needed growth in the French economy.

Governance Failure Leads to Famine in South Sudan

Removing impediments to food aid distribution will assist in ensuring that the country avoids rising levels of food insecurity. Overcoming these impediments, however, will be difficult in the absence of a more receptive political community in South Sudan.

China, India, a Restructured Strategic Dialogue and Taiwan

India’s hardened stance and its apparent willingness to stand up to China reflects its growing self-confidence, its perceptions of China’s increasing difficulties and the effects of growing nationalism.

Pakistan: Political and Foreign Relations Outlook

Pakistani politics have been influenced by the government, the military and the judiciary. In the political and foreign policy spheres, just as with the economy, there are problems aplenty but there is also reason for optimism as Pakistan matures politically.

Timor-Leste: An Uncertain Future and an Unsettled Boundary

The termination of the Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea agreement means that Timor-Leste and Australia will have to settle their maritime boundary and, possibly, negotiate a new revenue split for the Greater Sunrise area. From a purely realist perspective, it is in Australia’s economic interests to secure as much of the Greater Sunrise area as possible in future negotiations, but there are other important strategic factors that should also be taken into consideration.

Israeli PM in Australia: Historic Visit a Chance to Deepen Relationship

Though the Israeli settlements issue will no doubt be on the agenda, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull should use the visit to take advantage of the water management expertise of the Israelis.

Jokowi to Visit Australia

The developing bilateral free trade agreement will likely be discussed during the President’s quick visit to Sydney. Indonesia will also be looking to secure more investment and tourism from Australia.

Australian Wheat Yield Data Invokes Mixed Responses from Scientists and Farmers

The CSIRO claims that Australian wheat yields have stalled while farmers suggest that statistics do not present an accurate state of the industry.

South African Budget: Financial and Political Woes for Gordhan, Again

As he hands down this year’s national Budget, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan finds himself challenged – once more – by both the poor state of the country’s finances and by political manoeuvrings from within the government.

Vegetation Patterns Changing in Australia’s North

The vegetation patterns in Australia’s north are changing as higher rainfall and improved growing conditions promote the growth of native woody species and introduced noxious weeds.

Pakistan: Economic and Demographic Prospects

Initially economically and socially successful, Pakistan subsequently became less so because of political decisions. While problems abound, there is much to celebrate as Pakistan’s economy is again on the upswing.

The Impact of Foreign Military Involvement on the Development of Northern Australia

Allowing foreign defence forces to access Australian military establishments and field training ranges is fundamental to maintaining regional security and long-standing strategic alliances. Military facilities can, however, be environmentally and culturally disruptive and can prevent land use for other purposes. The negative aspects of permanent, foreign military bases in Australia notwithstanding, they can be used strategically as a development tool for northern Australia.

Ahok Wins First Round of Jakarta Elections

While Ahok has a number of obstacles he must overcome to win the second round, success would humiliate hardline Islamist groups and empower the Indonesian President.

The United States and the Threat of Military Action against Iran

It is more the fact that neither Washington nor Tehran can be seen to be backing down from their stated agenda rather than any missile test that could lead both states into conflict with each other.

Indonesia: Outcome of Governorship Election will have Impact beyond Jakarta

The outcome of the election could mean either a humiliating defeat for hardline Islamic groups or a boost to their legitimacy within the political sphere.

Is Quinoa an Under-Utilised Grain in the Fight Against Food Insecurity?

A recent scientific report has identified potential genetic improvements that could be made to quinoa crops that may enable scientists and agriculturalists to yield abundant supplies.

Mining Companies adopt Water Stewardship Standards

As mining companies operate in many regions that are likely to experience rising water stress, investing in water efficiency measures will be necessary to maintain community and investor confidence.

Quality over Quantity? Live Cattle Exports a Positive Move amid Growing Brazilian Competition

Despite renewed competition posed by Brazilian beef suppliers, Australia’s beef industry is likely to shine brightly as premium Australian cuts will continue to outpace industry competitors.

Sino-Indian Relations in the Modi-Xi Era

14 February 2017 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

The current Chinese administration has set developing and improving Sino-Indian relations as one of its top foreign policy priorities. Continuing to build upon a decade-long pragmatism in managing territorial disputes, the Chinese and Indian leaders set their sights on expanding bilateral co-operation ranging from trade and investment, to broader issues such as climate change. Recent developments, however, have again highlighted the deep distrust between the two countries.

Genetically Modified Food and the Second Green Revolution

Genetically modified foods are likely to play a role in the Second Green Revolution. While some could have the potential to increase global food security, others are likely to be self-defeating.

Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia

The Federal Government recently established a Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia. This move will ensure a better-informed policy making and legislative process on matters relating to the development of northern Australia.

Desalination is not the Solution to Southern India’s Water Stress

While desalination plants will help alleviate municipal water stress in urban areas, they will do little to support agriculture and industry.

Najib Razak’s Obsession with Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis

It appears that Najib is using the Rohingya crisis to shore up credibility from Malaysia’s Muslim population following corruption allegations last year.

Yemen: Famine a Strong Possibility in 2017

A financial crisis has further reduced Yemen’s wheat supply, plunging millions of Yemenis further into starvation.

India: Political and Foreign Relations Outlook

The world’s largest democracy will continue to grow in strategic and economic importance. India’s foreign relations are, in general, predicated upon its growing economy and strategic reach, the latter being an outcome of its economic growth, which makes it a valuable market, strategic ally or both.

India: Economic and Demographic Prospects

India has seen major ups and downs since independence in 1947, most notably in its economic development, which saw it overtake the UK in December 2016 to become the world’s sixth-largest economy. Literacy and educational rates have also improved and Indian women are now having fewer children than before.

Southern Africa: Introduced Pests Threaten Crops after Severe Drought

After its most severe drought in 35 years, Southern Africa faces a new threat from introduced pests.

Lesotho Must Re-Evaluate Water Arrangements with South Africa in Wake of Record Drought

The two neighbours must find a solution to the water crisis if they are to prevent the possibility of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in the region.

Potential for a Pakistan-Afghanistan Water Treaty

Pakistan is due to commence much-needed talks with Afghanistan over a bilateral agreement for water sharing on the Kabul River, but any new treaty will require close co-operation between the traditionally hostile riparian states.

Developments in Desalination

The shortage of fresh water in the face of an increasing global population is becoming a serious issue but technological advancements in desalination could provide a significant boost to future supplies.

Indonesia: Ahok Leading Governorship Polls despite Blasphemy Allegations

While support for the embattled Ahok is rising, his opponents are likely to remain vocal against his candidacy. It could also indicate, though, that the public may be taking some of those groups less seriously than before.

The Marrakech Climate Change Conference – What did it achieve?

This Strategic Analysis Paper discusses the aimed and actual achievements of the Marrakech Climate Change Conference held in November 2016. It highlights its role as the initial implementing forum for the Paris Climate Change Agreement of 2015. It also discusses the possible consequence of a draw-back from the Paris Agreement by United States President Donald Trump.

Syria: Uncertainty Following the Damascus Water Crisis

Water supply has been restored in Damascus following weeks of shortages, but given the continued struggle for control of the resource, there could be further disruption.

India: Caught Between a Cruise Missile and a Hard Place

The failure of India’s indigenously-developed, submarine-launched cruise missile could place the country in a strategic dilemma.

ANC Succession Battle Begins in South Africa

The battle to succeed Jacob Zuma as leader of the ruling African National Congress in December has begun in earnest but there is, as yet, no clear frontrunner. With the winner almost certain to become President of South Africa in 2019, the contest between rival candidates and factions will be bitter.

Somalia: Drought and Kenyan Repatriations Threaten to Undermine Food Security

If Somalian food security weakens, the potential for destabilising migrations to the Middle East and southern Africa is likely to increase.

Saudi Arabia to Assist Indonesia in de-Radicalisation Efforts

As both countries’ de-radicalisation programmes are similar, exactly how Indonesia might benefit is unclear. It could, however, serve to further Saudi influence within Indonesia.

FDI Research for 2017

24 January 2017 | From the CEO, Other FDI Reports

FDI’s research continues to evolve but remains focused on three general topics: the Indian Ocean Region and the opportunities for Australia over the next 20 years; the possibility of a global food and water crisis and its impact on Australia between now and 2050; and the development of northern Australia, especially in relation to what needs to be done to improve the quality of its soils.

The Strategic Importance of Soil, Water and Food in the Early to Mid-21st Century

Julian Cribb, author of Surviving the 21st Century, The Coming Famine and seven other books, discusses how scarcities of fresh water and topsoil, combined with the impact of climate change on regional food production, highlight the growing strategic significance of these primary resources for human survival, health and wellbeing as potential drivers of conflict and mass migration to 2050 and beyond.

World Soil Day 2016 – “Soils and pulses, a symbiosis for life”

The importance to the global community of healthy soils is recognised each year through communication, events and activities to focus attention towards the restoration of degraded soils by increasing biodiversity, improving soil structure and enhancing fertility.

Privatisation and Renewable Energy in the Saudi Arabian Water Sector

The privatisation of the Saudi desalination industry could help ensure future water security, but adopting alternative energy sources to power desalination plants will also be necessary.

What Fate for the EU-East African Free Trade Agreement?

With Tanzania unlikely to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiated between the European Union and the East African Community, the future of the agreement looks uncertain as the January 2017 ratification deadline approaches.

India’s Complicated Military Platforms: A Recipe for Disaster?

New Delhi needs to attract and retain world-class research and development skills if it is to ensure its military can actually perform their intended functions.

The Global Implications of Increased Biofuel Production

Crop-based biofuels are an alternative energy source to fossil fuels, but concerns are rising over just how beneficial this alternative is.

Jokowi Concludes State Visit to India

Defence relations and maritime security were the focus of the visit with a goal to reduce dependence of both countries on defence imports and to secure their regional waters.

India’s External and Internal Security: Interrelated Issues

India’s external and internal security overlap in a number of ways, meaning that case-by-case policy making may not be advisable. Likewise, several key issues will require a fundamental shift in thinking if they are to be resolved.

Nepal: Negotiating Hydro-Power with India and China

8 December 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Nepal has a complicated political geometry and an ongoing shortage of energy, the implications of which are reflected in the relationships with its giant neighbours. Its hydro-power resources, and Sino-Indian negotiations for access to those resources, will continue to be Nepal’s primary saleable asset.

Saudi Arabia’s Economic Changes: Are They Feasible?

Riyadh’s planned economic changes are needed to keep the country’s social order cohesive but they have a major weakness: they are predicated upon the price of oil.

Indonesia: Increasing Tensions amid Political Jockeying

The protests, counter protest and arrest of individuals suspected of treason are a result of increasing political manoeuvring in the country.

Altering Photosynthesis to Increase Crop Yield: A Double-Edged Sword for Food Security?

Genetic manipulation techniques that increase the efficiency of photosynthesis show potential to increase crop yields, but they will also need to retain or increase the nutritional content of food.

The Degradation of the World’s Reefs and Food Security

The degradation of coral reefs and increased fish migration will threaten economic livelihoods and food security for millions of people within the Indo-Pacific region.

Mosul: The “Mother of All Battles”, or a Mother of More Battles to Come?

Despite the media attention, the battle of Mosul is just a part of a far greater, multifaceted conflict, and is unlikely to bring an end to war in Iraq.

India: A World of Uncertainty

India faces a number of social, political and security challenges over the next two decades, not all of which are within its control. Whether it successfully addresses them could depend upon several contingent factors.

Djibouti: A Tiny Haven with Strategic Importance in a Troubled Neighbourhood

The North African nation of Djibouti is situated on one of the most important trade routes in the world. Its small physical size and small economy bely its strategic geographic significance to global trade and security. Increasingly, superpowers are looking to Djibouti as a politically stable base from which to enhance their global influence but motivations and consequences have yet to be revealed.

Japan and China Vying for Influence in South-East Asia

Both Japan and China have recently courted Malaysia and the Philippines in what appears to be an attempt to secure influence in the region and thereby the South China Sea.

Warming Relations for Indonesia and Singapore

Bilateral relations between Indonesia and Singapore have the potential to strengthen over the coming years as trade and investment grows. This may facilitate resolutions to a number of disagreements that have placed a strain on the relationship.

Qatar to Continue Assisting Syrian Rebels – They Can Do No Less

Qatar will continue to work with the Syrian Rebels against Bashar al-Assad, likely with an eye on future gains.

Pakistan: 2017 shows Little Sign of an end to Karachi’s Water Crisis

After years of drought, rapid urbanisation, mismanagement of water resources and scarce rainfall still threaten any hope of water security in Karachi.

Chinese Ingress in South Asia: What Should be India’s Strategy?

29 November 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

FDI Associate Anand Kumar contrasts the approaches taken by China and India in South Asia. Mr Kumar observes that South Asia is not the only region in which China is very active and that its activities there are part of a larger, well-crafted strategy to achieve the status of a global power.
India, on the other hand, Mr Kumar finds, simply seems to be reacting and cannot hope to match or contain Chinese influence in the region unless its own economic development becomes a model to be followed by other countries.

Demographic Changes in China to 2030

Urbanisation, an ageing population, a skewed gender ratio and rising middle class will weaken Chinese food and water security unless economic reforms are made.

Agricultural Development of sub-Saharan Africa: Who Carries the Burden?

The application of modern land management practices in the sub-Sahara will present African countries with opportunities to make a positive contribution to local and global food security and to combat climate change. Smallholder farmers, however, need to be protected for the risks and financial burden of associated change.

The Consequences of Agricultural Destruction and Severe Drought in Zimbabwe

After two years of severe drought as a result of the El Niño phenomenon, Zimbabwe’s future food and water security is looking increasingly fragile.

The Blue Future: The Sustainability of Aquaculture and Aquaponics

The sustainability challenges of aquaculture and aquaponics must be addressed to strengthen long-term global food security.

OPEC Debates Oil Production Cut

Speculation continues to mount that a deal to cut oil production can be reached when OPEC producers meet in Vienna on 30 November, but any agreement still faces major hurdles, with Iran and Iraq showing signs of resistance and the Saudi-Iranian rivalry may also come into play.

Kuwait: Will the Upcoming Election Change Anything?

While this week’s parliamentary election may occupy the spotlight in the local press, its possible consequences are constrained by broader social, political and economic realities.

The South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation: Part Two – Where to Next?

22 November 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Given the problems confronting SAARC, the best course of action will be for India to allow the organisation to die a natural death while continuing to engage like-minded neighbours on issues of mutual interest through initiatives that will hopefully coalesce into a more effective successor to SAARC.

The South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation: Part One – The Problems of SAARC

17 November 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

As an intergovernmental organisation, SAARC has been gridlocked by a combination of historical, geographical, ethno-religious and political factors, including a sense of insecurity towards India, and the absence of tangible and achievable shared regional goals.

Taking back Mosul: Long-term Food and Water Concerns amid a Humanitarian Crisis

The long-term impact of conflict in Mosul must be considered to ensure progress toward greater food and water security in Iraq.

China and India’s Nuclear Deal with Japan: Little Morality, Plenty Realpolitik

Despite Beijing’s obvious irritation at New Delhi’s progress in striking a civilian nuclear deal with Tokyo, India should continue with its overture to Japan; anything less will be perceived by the Chinese as a weakness to be exploited.

Australia-Indonesia Trade Relationship: Good, but could (and can) be Better

The Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is the key to improving the depth of the trade relationship. Addressing incorrect perceptions of each other will also be crucial.

The Politics of Afghan Refugees: Future Food and Water Crisis in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s migration crisis will likely contribute to a humanitarian food and water crisis in the foreseeable future.

High-Speed Rail Line Bids to be Discussion Topic in Malaysian PM’s Japan Visit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will likely use Najib Razak’s visit to focus on Japan’s bid for the Malaysia-Singapore high-speed rail line, which appears to be falling behind its Chinese counterpart.

Precision Agronomics Australia: Frank D’Emden

FDI interviews Mr Frank D’Emden from Precision Agronomics Australia, a company providing technology-based solutions to farmers, consultants and industry groups across Western Australia.

Melanesia: Climate Change, and Food and Water Security

Melanesia faces demographic, environmental and nutritional challenges that could threaten food and water security. Given the strategic significance of the region, it is in Australia’s national interest to continue assisting the region in overcoming these challenges.

What is Behind the Protests Which Postponed Jokowi’s Australia Visit?

It is unlikely that Busiki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, the incumbent governor of Jakarta, will be charged over the alleged blasphemy that spawned the protests, but the racist undertones seen in the rally and election campaign are concerning.

Indonesia’s Tropical Landscape Finance Facility: A Catalyst for Environmental Sustainability and Long-Term Food Security?

Indonesia must promote green growth, investment and sustainable ecological management to meet its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement and safeguard long-term food security.

India and Sri Lanka Moving Towards a More Robust Relationship

Joint efforts by India and Sri Lanka to strengthen their economic and strategic relationship are bearing fruit, but there is still scope for Indian state governments to play a bigger role. The Economic and Technology Co-operation Agreement will give Sri Lankan businesses greater access to the Indian market.

No Respite for Madagascar: Crushing Drought after Successful Anti-Locust Campaign

With the conclusion of the anti-locust campaign, drought poses the next great threat to food security in Madagascar.

Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Food Chains, Water-Borne Pollution and the Threat to Food and Water Security

The need for collective international action is urgent as antimicrobial resistance poses a significant threat to humans, particularly through agricultural contamination and environmental pollution.

Somalia Facing Consequences of Renewed Conflict, Drought and Ethiopian Internal Crisis

A mere month ago, the international community remained hopeful for Somalia’s continuing democratic transition but instead of a new period of peace, the situation appears to be deteriorating rapidly.

Governance and Political Challenges in Indonesia

The Indonesian parliament continues to be dominated by secular-nationalist parties but the emphasis on nationalism could undermine the prospect of greater ethnic Chinese representation in the parliament. Other challenges include elevated levels of government corruption (either real or perceived) and a flawed taxation system. At the same time, matters are complicated by the efforts of the Indonesian National Armed Forces to increase their influence in domestic politics through greater involvement in internal security matters.

Marrakech: The Next Step in an Increasingly Active Process to Combat Climate Change

It remains to be seen if COP22 will achieve the necessary actions, the outcome of which may take many years to confirm.

Time to Reassess American Strategic View of the Middle East

3 November 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Developments in the Middle East mean that next US President should review Washington’s policy towards the region, place it squarely within the vital national interests of the United States and appoint a presidential taskforce to make specific regional policy recommendations.

A Chinese Port in Sri Lanka: Hambantota Phase Two Progresses

The Sri Lankan decision to avail of Chinese funding to construct Phase Two of the port at Hambantota is based on financial reality even as it marks another lost opportunity for India.

Najib in China to Strengthen Malaysian Economic and Defence Ties

China is set to loan Malaysia over $17 billion for a rail line. A major new defence agreement has also been signed, but the visit does not indicate any major pivot towards China at the expense of the relationship with the United States.

Bio-energy Carbon Capture and Storage: One Strategy to Help to Ameliorate Global Warming

Scientists are investigating and looking at different and innovative ways to lower levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a major contributor to rising temperatures leading to global warming.

Respite for India: The Result of the 2016 Monsoon

India needs to maintain its focus on water even with this year’s “normal” monsoon.

COP22: Continuing Progress on Food and Water Security

Food and water security proved to be a key point of concern at COP21, and looks to remain so at COP22, where further discussion among parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change may yield significant results.

Global Food Crises: Harnessing the Transformative Forces of Urbanisation

The world’s cities are gaining momentum in harnessing the transformative force of urbanisation to address a shared vision of a sustainable urbanised future.

South Asia’s Energy Crisis: Water Scarcity and its Implications for Hydroelectricity

Without concerted efforts to overcome poor water management, interstate tensions, and poor governance, South Asia’s hydropower potential will not be fully realised.

India-Pakistan Relations – Part Three: Economic and Cultural Aspects

While commercial and cultural ties are often influenced by political events, they could be used to mitigate adversarial connotations between the two countries.

Jokowi to Visit Australia: What to Expect?

President Joko Widodo will be looking to expand investment and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be keen to see Indonesia ease the restrictions on cattle imports. While the focus will be on economic relations, both countries will stand to benefit from closer co-operation in counter-terrorism.

South Africa: ANC Tumult as Party Whip Calls for Entire Leadership to Step Down

Further political instability is in store for South Africa as infighting within the African National Congress is escalated to a new level.

Singapore Water Tensions: Vulnerable to a Distressed Malaysia

Ensuring the security of Singapore’s water supply relies on the improved governance of Malaysia’s distressed supplies in a volatile climate.

The Future Resilience of the Philippines and South-East Asia’s Tropical Cyclones

The Philippines has made significant efforts to build climate change and natural disaster resilience, but new research suggests that tropical cyclones will continue to increase and intensify.

India: Beyond the Global Investors’ Summit

The latest Investors’ Summit has been hailed as a success but it is important to recognise that, while such showcase events are extremely useful and valuable, they are just a starting point and that Madhya Pradesh and other Indian states will still need to find innovative new approaches to continue to attract investors.

India-Pakistan Relations – Part Two: The Security Vector

While the security relationship between India and Pakistan is viewed primarily in military terms, the adversarial nature of that relationship could be mitigated over time if the Prime Ministers of the two countries are able to use their genuine personal relationship to challenge the status quo.

India-Pakistan Relations – Part One: The Legacy of Partition

The trauma of their partition has played a large role in moulding the adversarial relationship between India and Pakistan, but New Delhi could change that paradigm by re-calibrating its approach of isolating Pakistan by targeting the true instigators of the violent strikes on its sovereignty. An economically energised Pakistan could bring about a regional resurgence that sees both India and Pakistan move closer to reaching their potential.

Global Hunger Index 2016: The Positives and Negatives

The 2016 Global Hunger Index indicates positive progress, but highlights the need for increased efforts if the UN Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030 is to be achieved.

India’s Decision to Purchase Rafale Fighter Aircraft: A Nuclear Requirement?

The decision to purchase French Rafale fighter aircraft modernises the air element of India’s nuclear triad.

Big Plans for Tourism Expansion in Indonesia

The Indonesian Government has ambitious plans to expand the tourism sector by developing ten new tourist destinations by 2019, but it is not certain that it will actually have the funds needed to achieve those plans.

India-Pakistan Relations and Cross-Border “Surgical Strikes”

The decision to send military personnel over the Line of Control signals the willingness of the Modi Government to use force but it may also complicate the delicate politico-diplomatic balance in the bilateral relationship.

A Convenient Security Concern? Al-Shabaab in Somalia

The Islamic fundamentalist group has become a buffer between a Somali Government struggling for credibility during its delayed democratic transition and regional heavyweight, Kenya.

Biochar Production, Application and Benefits – Part Two: Karry Fisher-Watts

Biochar, when applied to soil as an amendment, is not a fix-all for Western Australian soils that are salt, sodium affected or which are otherwise de-graded. The key strategy is to use natural and organic materials that, functioning in combination with activated biochar will serve to nurture and improve the health of the soil, as described in Part Two of our interview with Karry Fisher-Watts.

Biochar Production, Application and Benefits – Part One: Karry Fisher-Watts

The potential of charcoal, in the form of biochar, to enhance soil fertility, while restoring carbon to the soil, has recently gained considerable attention. Research suggests that biological carbon converted to biochar can sequester about 50 per cent of its initial carbon in the soil for long periods, leading to a more stable and long-lasting soil carbon. FDI discusses with Karry Fisher-Watts her use of biochar as a way of enhancing the fertility of her property.

South Africa and the Dire Need for La Niña

The plight of South Africa is unlikely to be relieved by waiting for good weather.

More Instability may be in Store for South African Economy as Finance Minister Summonsed

Pravin Gordhan has dismissed the allegations brought against him as politically motivated mischief, but the loss of the capable finance minister would expose an already weak economy to a new round of top-down instability.

Sundrop Farms: Harnessing Renewable Energy and the Future of Agriculture

Sundrop Farms set the precedent in commercialising sustainable agriculture and safeguarding long-term food and water security.

Increased CO2 Beneficial to Plants – A Climate Change Mythical Fact

Exposing plants to higher levels of carbon dioxide may enhance plant growth in the short term but, in the medium to long term, climate change threatens crop production and food security on a global scale.

Bangladesh Invites Indian Investment in Ganges Barrage Project

Indian investment in Bangladeshi water infrastructure could reduce the bitterness that stems from the operation of the Farakka Barrage.

The Evolving Geopolitics of the Middle East – Part Two: Simon Henderson

11 October 2016 | Feature Interviews, Indian Ocean

After discussing the emerging Middle Eastern geopolitical realities in Part One of this interview, Baker Fellow and Director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Programme at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Mr Henderson gives his thoughts on the Saudi Government’s Vision 2030 plan and the Kingdom’s ability to weather the low price of oil before discussing US Middle Eastern policy and looking towards the November presidential election and some of the possible implications that it may have for the region.

The Evolving Geopolitics of the Middle East – Part One: Simon Henderson

6 October 2016 | Feature Interviews, Indian Ocean

Mr Simon Henderson,the Baker Fellow and Director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Programme at The Washington Institute for Near East Studies, discusses with FDI the implications of developments in the Middle East and explores some of the new geopolitical realities facing the region’s states, particularly as they affect Saudi Arabia and its relationships with Iran, Russia, Turkey and Israel.

Australia on the Back Foot in Boundary Dispute with Timor-Leste

The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision to go ahead with the conciliation process could see Australia lose billions in potential revenue from oil and natural gas reserves.

“Peak Carbon” Occurred a Decade Ago

Soil carbon plays an essential role in global food security. The ability for plants to grow is being challenged, however, with the term “peak carbon” being used.

In a Possible Signal to India, China Diverts a Tributary of the Brahmaputra River

The diversion of the Xiabuqu River, a minor tributary of the Brahmaputra River, could test the effectiveness of diplomacy between Beijing and New Delhi on one hand and India and Pakistan on the other.

Delaying Democracy: Somali Elections Fail to Start as Planned

Delays to Somalia’s first general elections in decades have raised concerns over the integrity of the upcoming electoral process and will likely impede the democratic transformation of the Horn of Africa state.

Revolutionising the Global Food System and Fighting Global Malnutrition

The international community must revolutionise the global food system in order to achieve the eradication of global malnutrition in the “decade of action on nutrition”.

India’s Naval Strategy

In this paper, FDI Research Analyst, Lindsay Hughes, finds that the rapid modernisation of the Indian Navy is predicated upon the requirement to keep the country’s economy growing and also to counter a perceived increase in Chinese naval activity in the Indian Ocean.

Soil Carbon and Soil Organic Matter: Dr Peter Keating

FDI has again taken the opportunity to interview Dr Keating of the integrated resource management company, Bioscience, on the topic of soil carbon; its types, importance, measurement and why Australian agriculture needs to be mindful of its conservation and promotion for general soil health and to enhance crop vigour and yield.

Indonesia’s Bid for a UN Security Council Seat

It appears likely that Indonesia will win its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council despite growing opposition to human rights abuses in West Papua.

India’s Diplomatic Push to Isolate Pakistan: A Means to Enabling Balochi Secession?

India has begun a diplomatic initiative to isolate Pakistan internationally but the real emphasis could be on backing Balochistan to break away from it.

Encouraging Signs of Diplomacy: Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia Sign GERD Assessment Studies

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have signed contracts to begin assessment studies on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, indicating willingness for diplomacy by the riparian states.

Middle-Income Countries Take the Lead in Agricultural Research and Development, but Gaps Remain

The shift in the composition of agricultural R&D funding could further widen the gap between agricultural development in high- and low-income countries.

Water Governance in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin

Turkey, Syria and Iraq depend on the Tigris-Euphrates river system for their food and water security. Both rivers have contributed to interstate tension and hostility in the past and an agreement would help reduce interstate tensions. As the region is currently undergoing a period of political turmoil, however, it is unlikely that an agreement will be forthcoming in the near future.

Antimicrobial Resistance Hastened by Misuse of Antibiotics in Feedlots

A universal agreement to prevent the misuse of antibiotics in feedlots will slow the rate of antibiotic resistance, but alternative methods to combat harmful bacteria will ultimately need to be developed.

Exporting Philippine’s War on Drugs into Indonesia

Ramping up Indonesia’s “war on drugs” could be seen as an opportunity for the military to become further involved in domestic issues.

Negotiating Water Sharing in Southern India

A reliance on state administrations to resolve political tensions over water resources in southern India is unlikely to bear fruit.

From Cold War Rivals to Strategic Partners: Pakistan and Russia Announce Military Co-operation

Pakistan and Russia’s announcement of fresh military drills is an indication of their strategic priorities. This development, however, could intensify regional rivalry and arms race.

Afghanistan: A Nation of Refugees

An in-depth survey conducted by the Afghanistan Analysts Network reveals that while educational and economic opportunity are important issues for Afghanis seeking refuge in European countries, it is the ongoing deterioration of security in Afghanistan that is the prime motivation. This situation is unlikely to change in the near future.

Russia and Iran – Emerging Military Axis or Marriage of Convenience?

20 September 2016 | Indian Ocean, Strategic Analysis Paper

In this paper, FDI Research Analyst Lindsay Hughes finds that the relationship between Russia and Iran is currently predicated upon the situation in Syria, where both have relatively common aspirations. It is a marriage of convenience and displays no real signs of a long-lasting, strategic relationship.

India, China, the United States and the NSG Impasse: Competing Objectives or Just a Distraction?

15 September 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

India’s attempt to secure membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) failed at the plenary meeting in Seoul on 24 June 2016, when China led to deny it membership on “procedural” grounds. In this Associate Paper, Dr Auriol Weigold raises questions: was China’s blocking of India’s NGS bid a bilateral move? Does the NSG’s decision affect Indian and Chinese regional objectives? Is India affected by remaining outside the NSG?

India Increases its Strategic Reach with Modi’s Visit to Vietnam

While Modi’s visit to Hanoi may be an outcome of India’s “Act East” policy, there is little doubt that Beijing’s rapidly growing assertiveness was a major factor behind the visit.

African Green Revolution Forum 2016: Prospects for Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

Food security in Sub-Saharan Africa is in doubt, despite the progress made in the agricultural industry, due to the threat of an increasingly volatile climate.

Japanese Development in Africa: Compassion or Competition?

Japan’s three-year, US$30 billion ($39.34 billion) aid package to Africa is a thinly-veiled attempt at competing with China for influence in the region.

Fishing in the South China Sea: Prospects for Peace in the Aftermath of the Landmark Ruling

After the international ruling against Chinese claims in the South China Sea, the strategic importance of fisheries may reduce tensions with the Philippines and provide an opening for regional co-operation.

Reforestation Projects Need to Consider Multiple Factors

Tree-planting projecsts to repair environmental damage and reforest denuded landscapes must consider multiple factors, not just the number and location of the trees .

Thai-Malaysian Wall to Combat Separatist Movements

A wall could serve to stop the current movement between countries by separatist militants but will do little to prevent militant activity within Thailand. Those who remain in southern Thailand may also become vulnerable to a military crackdown.

Feral Animals in Northern Australia

Introduced feral animals such as pigs, cattle and cats are having a significant, detrimental effect on the Australian environment through loss of habitat, competition with native species and general damage to land ecosystems and waterways. The cost of control and management measures, combined with reduced agricultural productivity are increasing annually. Resources allocated under current funding arrangements, however, do not provide the appropriate population controls or levels of research into permanent solutions to the problem.

The Elephant and the (Little) Dragon: India-Bhutan Relations

In this study, FDI Research Analyst Lindsay Hughes find that the Bhutan-India relationship has evolved to better reflect changing circumstances but retains its traditional strength.

No Trees, No Rain: Land Clearing Laws and the Future of Australia’s Climate

The body of research evidence linking land clearance with increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions continues to grow. Some Australian jurisdictions nevertheless, continue to promote land clearance over conservation, damaging Australia’s international climate management reputation.

Carbon Dioxide Plant Outcomes Study Needs More Consideration

Recent scientific research reporting has suggested increases in atmospheric CO2 could enhance moisture retention in soil. Closer examination, however, of experimental parameters suggests that these predictions may be premature.

Agricultural Productivity and the Lack of Young Farmers

The global lack of youth in the agricultural sector may just be the signs of an industry in transition rather than the cause of productivity stagnation that many fear.

Australia: Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land and Food Security

Foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land does not seriously affect Australia’s long-term food security, however, a growing and ageing population could pose future challenges.

Seychelles Parliamentary Elections: Political Alternative Emerges for September Vote

If it is able to capitalise on growing voter dissatisfaction with the dominance of the country’s two major political parties, the recently-formed Seychelles Patriotic Movement may play a king-maker role in the next parliament.

Returning to the Top of the Pile: Thailand’s Outlook for Rice Exports

Past attempts to manipulate the rice export market demonstrated the fragility of Thailand’s dependence on rice exports and demands a diverse economic plan to remain competitive in the region.

The Future Beyond Conflict: Food and Water Security in Syria

After five years of civil war, Syrian food and water security is extremely poor. Due to widespread destruction and severely weakened political governance, food and water insecurity is likely to persist long after the conflict has ceased.

Economic and Political Challenges Could End South Africa’s Role as Regional Leader

South Africa’s difficult economic circumstances, coupled with inconsistent and contradictory government decisions, are undermining its position as a regional leader by reducing its economic weight and soft power projection. A sustained period of decisive political leadership will be needed to arrest the decline and return South Africa to the position of pre-eminence that it enjoyed in the early post-apartheid era.

Malaysian Prime Minister Faces Mounting Public Pressure

While public pressure against him slowly grows, the PM will use his party’s strong rural support base and new security legislation to retain control.

Chinese Interests in Myanmar’s Dams: Balancing Internal Stability and Development

At the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, Myanmar must consider internal and external interest groups to balance development and stability for its own food and water security

Indian Parliament Passes the Goods and Services Tax Bill

The introduction of a GST and a more streamlined taxation system could be a major boon to the Indian economy, but the government still needs to overcome a number of hurdles.

Indus Basin Groundwater Depletion: Unsteady Footings for India-Pakistan Relations

Negotiating the increased demand for groundwater between India and Pakistan requires a joint policy of sustaining groundwater supplies to avoid tension, but it will require overcoming major domestic obstacles

Nepal: Former Maoist Rebel Leader Turned Prime Minister Plans Visit to India

The new Nepalese Prime Minister’s first state visit brings with it an opportunity to restore his country’s relationship with India but their frosty recent past means that there are likely to be testing times ahead.

Electronic Prepaid Irrigation in Bangladesh: Prospects for Improving Food and Water Security

Bangladesh’s Irrigation Management Improvement Programme is predicted to create improved governance and efficiency of the agricultural water supply, potentially resulting in increased agricultural output

Modi and India’s Security in the Indian Ocean

In following the example set by the United States of creating alliances to retain influence, India is courting the Indian Ocean island states of the Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka in order to remain secure and influential in the region.

Modi’s Independence Day Speech: Opening New Fronts

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address not only targeted Pakistan by equating Balochistan with Kashmir, but was also, indirectly, a warning to China not to underestimate India. That Modi felt confident enough to stand up to China is a startling new development. That he was willing to make it obvious is a new strategy for India.

Drought Risk Reduction Strategies Outlined at First African Drought Conference

Provided that the requisite political and institutional will is forthcoming, African drought resilience is likely to improve.

Indonesia: Widodo Gives Annual State of the Nation Address

Although it revealed little that was new in the government’s outlook for the short term, the Address confirmed that the acceleration of development and economic reforms will continue to be the Jokowi Administration’s primary domestic focus.

Purifying a Solution for Water Supply in the United Arab Emirates

The solution for the UAE, and the other GCC states, lies in matching their energy and water supply demands with innovative and efficient systems that mitigate environmental damage while improving the development of a private energy sector.

First Indian-Chinese Rail Joint Venture Begins Operations

The first Indian-Chinese joint venture and its promise of long-term co-operation seemingly contradict the rivalry between the two powers, but could be a component of a multi-layered strategy on the part of China to extend its sphere of influence.

Food and Social Volatility in Egypt: IMF Extends $12 Billion Lifeline

Egypt’s chronic economic symptoms are likely to continue to ail its economy, food affordability and social stability.

Facing an Elongated Ratification Process, is COP21 being Hurried Across the Line before Signatories Hesitate?

Ban Ki-Moon has called on signatories of the Paris Agreement (COP21) to attend a special event on 21 September to quicken the ratification process of the Agreement. This, however, is more than just a diplomatic measure; it is an attempt to take advantage of the remnant diplomatic fanfare of the Agreement before national interest takes over.

Kuwait-Pakistan Jet Fighter Deal: Whispers in the Wind?

An offer to Kuwait from the Pakistani Air Force of the JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter has raised speculation of an arms deal between the two states but any possible sale would need to satisfy deeper questions regarding Kuwaiti defence requirements and the lacklustre sales success of the aircraft.

Domesticated Ruminants: Climate Change Hero or Villain?

Domesticated ruminants are not just an important food source, they hold great social, cultural and economic significance globally. Some, however, view them as a significant emitter of greenhouse gas. This FDI Strategic Analysis Paper discusses the pros and cons of ruminants in relation to atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions and climate change

India-Nepal Relations: From Dominance to Equality

If Nepal is to continue to play the role that India envisages for it – acting as a buffer between China and itself – New Delhi will need to treat Kathmandu as an equal partner in the bilateral relationship and not use the latter’s economic dependence on India as an instrument to influence Nepali politics.

White House Call to Action to Save One of America’s Most Important Natural Resources – Soil

The President of the United States has issued a national Call to Action and is forming an interagency group to protect America’s soil. This action sends a clear message to Australian policy makers that a nationally co-ordinated approach is essential for the preservation of this critical resource.

Indonesia to Introduce Tax Havens

The Widodo Government is trying to encourage Indonesian businesses to move their overseas assets back to, and keep them within, Indonesia, but the optimistic targets and hoped-for revenues will probably not be achieved.

Low Oil Prices Continue to Hamper Saudi Economy

The current economic crisis in Saudi Arabia is symptomatic of internal weaknesses within the Kingdom and, if current trends continue, could be a harbinger of things to come.

New Investment Flows into China’s Water Industry

China puts its money where its mouth is as new investment creates the means to address water insecurity.

Wang’s Meeting With Indian Leaders: Not Necessarily a Meeting of Minds

Despite the implied overtures of goodwill emanating from Beijing, New Delhi is hardly likely to change its trajectory vis-à-vis the South China Sea.

Ethiopia on the Brink? Clashes between Protestors and Government Threaten Domestic and Regional Stability

Violence between Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups and the central government could foreshadow greater instability in this part of north-eastern Africa.

India’s Summer Monsoon: Implications for Agricultural Economy and Food Security

India’s summer monsoon is expected to break the two-year drought and revitalise India’s national agricultural economy.

Seychelles to Reform Taxation System

Reform of the tax system may benefit workers, but a subsequent reduction in government tax revenue coupled with probable future fluctuations in tourist arrivals and fuel and food prices might pose future economic tests for the archipelago state.

Spike in Violence Causes Concern for Food and Water Security in South Sudan

Political instability, increasing food prices and disease outbreaks, all contribute to the worsening food and water crisis currently gripping South Sudan.

Vision Infinity for Food Security: Dr Shashi B. Sharma

Dr Shashi B Sharma is the current Director of Plant Biosecurity at the Western Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Food. He was recently seconded to Murdoch University as Professor and Chair in Biosecurity and Food Security. In this FDI Feature Interview, Dr Sharma discusses key aspects of his recently published and co-authored book, “Vision Infinity for Food Security”, calling for a fundamental and philosophical re-thinking and re-structuring of our food production, distribution and consumption.

The Land Between Two Threatened Rivers: Food and Water Security in Iraq

Pressure from population growth, a continued lack of sufficient infrastructure, riverine development projects in upper riparian states and climate change is likely to reduce the level of Iraqi food and water security by 2030.

Indonesia: Human Rights Activist Faces Prosecution

The defamation charges against Haris Azhar are a move to protect officials allegedly involved with drug trafficking. Whether they succeed will depend on the willingness of President Widodo to tackle the suspected corruption within the National Police, the National Narcotics Agency and the military.

The World Stage is Set: Brazil’s Olympic Games, Climate Change and Water Security

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the controversies surrounding Brazil’s political, economic and environmental challenges capture the reality that Brazil is struggling with the implications of climate change and long-term water security.

Indonesian Police Arrest Suspected Militants Planning Singapore Attack

The arrest of the six suspected militants fits a broader pattern of Islamist radicalisation and offers sobering lessons that any successful anti-radicalisation policy should incorporate.

Pakistan’s Elected Government Must Regain Control of its Foreign Policy

The ongoing political and security risks that Pakistan faces stem in large measure from the inability of the democratically-elected federal government to take charge of its foreign policy.

The Development of Northern Australia: Reports of Demise May be Exaggerated

The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory appears increasingly pessimistic about the progress of initiatives to promote the development of Northern Australia. At this time, however, his lack of confidence may be premature.

Food and Water Security in a Hotter Middle East

The governments of the Middle East must find a regional solution to secure food and water resources against an increasingly hostile climate, a course of action that will require overcoming historical tensions.

In Southern Africa, the Effects of El Niño Endanger Millions of Lives

The El Niño-induced drought has endangered the upcoming harvest season. A combination of short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term development in climate resilient agricultural techniques and technology will better support food and water security.

Photosynthesis and its Role in Climate Change and Soil Regeneration

This Strategic Analysis Paper firstly, provides a brief description of the photosynthesis process highlighting its fundamental importance to all life on the planet. Secondly, it describes how photosynthesis can provide a pathway to enable the extraction of climate change inducing, greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere and to promote the regeneration of degraded agricultural soil, enhancing global food security.

The Agriculture-Forestry Nexus: A Response to Emerging Food Production Challenges

Long-term food security is likely to benefit from the integration of trees into agricultural systems.

US Lawsuit A Threat to Malaysian Prime Minister

A lawsuit filed in the United States provides evidence that funds were siphoned into Prime Minister Najib’s personal account but it is unlikely to have any severe repercussions for his leadership before the 2018 general election.

Philippines: President Duterte Threatens to Backtrack on Paris Climate Change Agreement

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has attracted controversy by claiming that he will ‘not honour’ his country’s commitment to the Paris Climate Change Agreement raising questions about the future trajectory of Philippine climate change policy.

What Marrakesh Can Learn from Paris: COP22 and the Need for a Realistic Climate Policy

The next meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP22, is scheduled for November 2016 in Marrakesh. After the optimism of Paris, COP22 will be forced to face the challenge of converting the aspiration of COP 21 into reality.

African National Congress could face Significant Losses in Local Government Elections

If pre-election opinion polls are confirmed on 3 August, the municipal elections now underway in South Africa may mark the beginning of the end of the political supremacy African National Congress.

The Qatari Economy: A Difficult Road Ahead?

The economy of Qatar is currently in a strong position and short-term indicators suggest it will continue to post impressive economic figures, but longer term projections indicate an over reliance on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), coupled with an expected decline in LNG prices will likely test Qatar’s resilience in the future.

Final Investment Decision Looms as Mozambique Economic Crisis Grows

Encumbered by high sovereign debt and rising inflation, the government of Mozambique eagerly awaits Eni’s decision on whether it will move forward with the Rovuma Basin Area IV liquefied natural gas project. If it does, the country stands to reap huge economic benefits and avoid potential financial disaster.

Modi’s Africa Visit Confirms New Delhi’s Expanding Maritime Horizon

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s four-country state visit to Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya underscores India’s expanding maritime and trade reach in the western Indian Ocean. For India, an expanded strategic presence in southern and eastern Africa would help it to counter China, dovetail with initiatives such as the proposed infrastructure and military developments on the Agaléga Islands and give a hard power aspect to Project Mausam.

Assessing the Jokowi Administration: A Narrative of Reform versus Élites

Jokowi is constrained by the limits imposed on him by the élites, so his political capital is largely dependent on realising his vision for economic reform and growth. His vision of Indonesia as a Global Maritime Fulcrum has been hampered by his inexperience in security and foreign policy matters. In simply being an outsider elected to the highest office in the land, he has, however, broken new ground.

China Expected to Sail Through Floods with Minimal Difficulty

The worst flooding since 1998 is unlikely to have any significant impact on Chinese political stability, food security or the economy.

Tanks, Visas and Chinese Justness: India’s Correct Stance

India’s stance against China is one against Chinese perceptions of self-righteousness and is indicative of the growing international trend to stand up to bullying.

Combatting Islamic State in Malaysia

The “Arabisation” and politicisation of Islam could further the cause of Islamic State recruiters in Malaysia. Arresting such recruiters is a start, but a stronger counter-narrative is also needed.

Pakistan to Take Dam Construction Dispute with India to International Arbitration

Pakistan’s decision to refer to The Hague a dispute with India regarding water sharing and dam construction on the Kishanganga and Ratle rivers is an indication of Pakistan’s desire to enhance and strengthen its diplomatic position in regard to Indus River water sharing.

Bangladesh: Four Women Arrested in post-7/16 Anti-Militant Sweep

The 1 July 2016 attack in Dhaka and the subsequent arrest of four female militants, if representative of broader trends, demolish an enduring myth concerning Islamic radicalisation. As such, an urgent investigation free from preconceptions and political correctness is required to comprehend the drivers of radicalisation and prevent future attacks.

The Role of Old-Growth Forests in Carbon Sequestration

This article defines and discusses old-growth forests. It explains the important contribution old-growth forest can make to halting and reversing the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases by capturing and storing carbon dioxide. It argues the case for protecting, rather than exploiting old growth forest.

The Islamic State and Arab Muslim Regimes: Time for New Thinking in the Fight against Terrorism

22 July 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Countering the violent radical ideology and policies that drive jihadist killers over the long term requires a strategic focus on three key approaches: delegitimising the religious narrative that killers use to justify their actions in the name of their religion; identifying credible moderate voices within Islam and empowering them to speak up against the violent hijackers of their faith; and encouraging friendly Arab and Muslim regimes to condemn the radical ideology in their societies and adopt domestic policies that would include their peoples in governance.

Anti-Government Protests Grow as Zimbabwe Faces New Crash

The wave of popular and social media protests will not be sufficient to unseat the Mugabe Government but they are an unprecedented manifestation of public discontent as the country heads into its worst economic crisis since the hyperinflation of 2005-09.

New Zealand and Indonesia Talk Trade and Security

In reaching an agreement on the export of breeding cattle, fisheries management and potentially greater participation in the dairy industry, the two countries’ leaders may have set the stage for closer trade, investment and security co-operation between Indonesia and New Zealand.

The Party Before the Country: India’s Congress Party and the GST Bill

If the Congress Party does not support the GST Bill in the Upper House, it could be a major impediment to India’s economic growth and detrimental to its own good.

Opportunities and Challenges for Food and Water Security in South-east Turkey

This paper examines the potential for food and water insecurity in Turkey out to 2030. It finds that Turkey is unlikely to experience widespread food or water insecurity, however, political instability, both domestic and regional, pose some risk to Turkish food and water security.

India-Iran Relations: Part Two – After A “Belated” Re-Start

14 July 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Given the two countries’ penchant for dogged negotiations, their relationship is unlikely to progress at a galloping pace, but slow progress should not be interpreted as a lack of interest. At the moment, neither country seems to have more attractive alternatives. The success of India’s economic diplomacy in Iran will depend upon both the speedy completion of infrastructure and energy projects and the forging of a partnership in the new economy.

Action on Global Food Security set to become Major Part of President Obama’s Legacy

With the passing of the Global Food Security Act, US engagement in global efforts to further agricultural development has been strengthened.

Pakistan’s Latest Challenge: The Test of Its Friendship with the US

Washington’s decision to determine if Pakistan is really a friend of the US calls into question its own motivations.

Modi to Boost Defence and Security Co-operation with South Africa

The undertaking, given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the South African sector of his strategic African tour, could benefit defence exporters in both countries.

Indonesia Hostage Crisis: How A Three-Way Security Challenge Could Help ASEAN

In light of the recent hostage crisis in the Sulu/Sulawesi Seas, the framework for trilateral maritime policing is an important step in response, but as the agreements come to fruition the potential for overall deepening in future ASEAN and regional maritime co-operation can realised.

India-Iran Relations: Part One – Understanding the “Delay” Factor

12 July 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

The commentary and news on the Indo-Iranian relationship, in both countries, are flawed insofar as an explanation of exactly what constitutes a delay is never put forward. A more nuanced understanding of “delay” as an empirically verifiable fact, rather than an allegation or complaint, and as a strategically important component of diplomacy is needed.

China’s One Belt One Road Policy: Can History Repeat Itself?

This paper describes and discusses the Chinese One Belt One Road scheme. This international treaty arrangement aims to recreate a modern version of the historical Silk Road trading route from China to Europe. It also raises the prospect of benefits to Australia particularly the development of northern Australia.

Environmental Impact of the 2015 Forest Fires: A Wakeup Call for Indonesia

Jakarta remains slow to act on its promises to protect the forests of Indonesia that were given in the wake of last year’s forest fire season.

Beijing and the Natuna Islands: Some Cautious Sabre-Rattling from Jokowi

Jakarta’s increased defence expenditure has projected a hard power response to China’s ongoing maritime incursions in the seas around the Natuna Islands, but it also masks underlying problems at the heart of its naval and coast guard assets and which threaten a truly effective response.

Iran Threatens to Invade Iraqi Kurdistan

Iran’s threat to invade Iraqi Kurdistan demonstrates its anxiety about losing political influence and even relevance in Iraq, in particular, and the region in general at a time when arch-rival Saudi Arabia appears to have made progress in Yemen.

Mauritius: Foreign Direct Investment to Surge

The economic credentials of Mauritius continue to be in good standing, with predictions that foreign direct investment will grow by as much as 46 per cent this year, even allowing for the amended taxation treaty with India and the British exit from the European Union.

Balancing Trade and Stockpiles Crucial for Maintaining Food Security

As the potential for food price volatility remains, maintaining a balance between global trade and domestic stockpiles is likely to be the best course of action to reduce the impact of food insecurity caused by tightening supply.

Social and Demographic Issues in South Africa

South Africa is experiencing significant social and demographic challenges, including internal migration, unemployment, and poor health and educational outcomes. The legacy of apartheid means that, in South Africa, the severity and scale of those challenges are frequently amplified. While certain factors, such as commodity prices and the rate of global economic recovery are simply outside Pretoria’s control, many others can be managed and the South African Government is both well aware of them and committed to making improvements, albeit with sometimes varying degrees of success.

Water Scarcity, Migration and Regional Security in South Asia

Large parts of South Asia exhibit a near-permanent state of water stress and this is expected to be further exacerbated by climate change. Water scarcity will exacerbate existing problems such as poverty and food insecurity, while creating instability and potentially driving mass migration. Closer regional co-operation and management of shared water resources could lessen the potential for people to migrate.

The Natuna Islands, China and the Jokowi Pushback

A cohesive response from Jakarta has created a rare pushback in its maritime dispute with Beijing over the waters surrounding the Natuna Islands and potentially signalling a new heading in Jokowi’s regional foreign policy.

India, the MTCR and China: A Case of Quid Pro Quo?

The veto by China of India’s application for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group could be an indication of its own inability to gain membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

South African Rand Takes Early Hit in Wake of Brexit Vote

Despite gaining value against the British pound, the rand suffered heavy losses against the US dollar as investors fled emerging market currencies. Economic and political circumstances in South Africa mean that the rand will remain a volatile currency.

Balancing Food and Biofuel Likely to be Challenging

If the global food system comes under increased pressure in the decades ahead, biofuels could still harm food security.

Carbon Sequestration in Soils for Food Security and the Climate – The 4 per 1000 Initiative

The 4 per 1000 Initiative aims to demonstrate that agriculture, and agricultural soils in particular, can play a crucial role where food security and climate change are concerned. This Initiative acknowledges and aims to address the issue that our capacity to feed 9.5 billion people in 2050 in a context of climate change will depend in particular on our ability to keep our soils alive.

The United States and the Indian Ocean Region: The Security Vector

While economic circumstances may have forced the US to divest itself of some of the security responsibilities that it has carried since the end of the Second World War, it has adapted by seeking coalitions and alliances with regional states to ensure that its strategic interests and goals are not negatively affected. With its strong and still developing navy, India is a major potential partner for the US in the Indian Ocean Region.

Bleak Opinion Polls for ANC as Local Govt Elections Approach

The poor showing of the African National Congress in these latest polls is effectively an indictment of the ruling party under the government of scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma.

New Laws in Tanzania a Positive First Step towards Reducing Land-Related Conflict

New laws will redistribute much-needed land to peasant farmers in Tanzania, but they will not entirely stop land-related conflicts from arising.

Looming Floods in India and Bangladesh Turn the Spotlight on Teesta Water-Sharing Agreement

Recent heavy rains and impending floods in West Bengal and Bangladesh have underscored the need for a Teesta River water-sharing agreement, which is likely to receive renewed attention in the aftermath of the West Bengal elections.

Why the NSG Should Say “Yes” to Indian Membership

A decision by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to deny India membership would only highlight its own shortcomings and double standards.

Sub-Saharan Dryland Fisheries and African Food Security

Supporting the development of fisheries in dryland areas of Sub-Saharan Africa could increase food security in the region, but a better understanding of environmental constraints is necessary.

Drought and Water Security in India

Two consecutive years of drought have exacerbated Indian water insecurity, however, decades of mismanagement appears to be the bigger factor in the current water crisis. The upcoming Indian monsoon could relieve short-term pressures, but is unlikely to resolve the underlying issues contributing to water insecurity.

The United States and the Indian Ocean Region: A Case of Growing Interests

The United States has a definite strategic approach to the Indian Ocean Region with objectives that, to a large degree, drive its relationships with key regional actors.

Modi’s Visit to Washington: Putting Pressure on China?

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Washington has aligned India more closely with the United States, putting strategic pressure on China and, by extension, Pakistan.

Reducing Global Food Loss and Wastage is now Achievable

The introduction of a global reporting standard for the issue will finally allow for a functional approach between governments, businesses and organisations towards achieving a sustainable future.

High Price of Beef Driving Indonesian Shift on Imports

Indonesia’s shift in attitude to its beef imports shows an increased willingness to take economic and biosecurity risks to service its domestic price pressures.

Wheat Blast Outbreak Threatens Food Security in Bangladesh and Beyond

With Bangladesh experiencing the first recorded outbreak of wheat blast in Asia, concern is mounting that the disease may spread further, particularly to India and Pakistan, with negative impacts for regional food security.

Cape Town Economy to Receive Roads Boost in Mayor’s Five-Year Vision

While Mayor Patricia de Lille will certainly have the August local government elections in mind, the infrastructure improvements should also aid doing business in South Africa’s second city.

Malaysia: Many Challenges to Wawasan 2020 Development Vision

The prognosis for Wawasan 2020 – the vision unveiled in 1991 by former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad under which Malaysia was to become a fully developed society across all spheres by 2020 – is looking increasingly less achievable.

Managing Water Pollution in China with Social Media

Despite a restrictive and controlled social media environment, there are signs that the Chinese Government is increasingly willing to engage with its citizens. The character of these interactions is distinctly Chinese in that the government first organises the pathways through which its citizens can provide feedback rather than allowing independent and unrestricted social movements to emerge. This approach contributes to the enforcement of state policies at a citizen level, while maintaining the central and hierarchical character of Chinese political power.

Food Insecurity in Australia: A Hidden Problem

The recent resources boom has done little to improve levels of food insecurity in Australia, as more and more Australians seek assistance from not-for-profit food assistance programmes like FoodBank.

Ethiopia Announces New Dam Project: The Koysha Dam

With two dams already under construction, Ethiopia has confirmed plans to build a third that may generate further tension and water insecurity for the region.

Global Research Increasing to Reduce Domestic Livestock Emissions

The environmental threat posed by increasing levels of methane gas is the subject of investigation and research around the world in order to reduce the amounts of gas produced and emitted by domesticated livestock.

Completion of Salma Dam Sparks Pro-India Sentiment in Afghanistan

The Salma Dam will provide much-needed water to drought-ridden Herat, but its construction represents far more than a charitable gesture to a war-torn nation.

The Winner of China’s Attempt to Block India’s Bid for NSG Membership: The US?

Any attempt by China to block India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group will only drive the latter closer to the United States.

Mozambique Moves Closer to Default

A credit downgrade underlines the debt crisis that Mozambique has borrowed itself into and indicates a growing likelihood that the country will default on its loan repayments.

Social Media: A Tool to Tackle Water Pollution in China?

The large majority of Chinese environmental protests go unreported in the mainstream media and are censored on social media. As the legal, regulatory and policy measures regarding social media become increasingly restrictive, the prospects of successful social media campaigns around environmental issues diminish.

Toxin Accumulation: A Threat to the Global Food Supply?

Warmer climates could increase the risk of toxin accumulation in the global food supply, potentially decreasing the amount of food available for an expanding global population.

The Port State Measures Agreement: A New Hope for Marine Ecosystems?

International illegal fishing is a major problem in commercial fisheries. It poses a serious threat to the effective conservation and management of many fish stocks. The Port State Measures Agreement seeks to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Its effective implementation, however, particularly for developing countries, may only be an aspiration for the immediate future.

Myanmar Hosts High-Level Roundtable on Water Security and Sustainable Development Goals

The roundtable, while limited in outcomes, was a positive step for the Government of Myanmar, signalling the new democracy’s dedication to water reform and management.

Malaysia: Islamic Law Bill Provides Cover for PM

It is unlikely that the Bill will be passed, but for Prime Minister Najib Razak it provides a welcome distraction from corruption allegations.

China: Water Scarcity and the Development of Xinjiang Province

The high risk of water scarcity in China’s north-western province of Xinjiang could have future implications for the country if Beijing decides to build industry in the region.

Climate Change Threatens Agriculture in Sri Lanka

Despite increasing temperatures and sporadic monsoon seasons, Sri Lanka has been slow to respond to the impacts of climate change. If no action is taken, both the agricultural industry and national economy face significant losses in the future.

Soil Nutrient Management

The importance of appropriate plant nutrient management in agricultural soil cannot be overstated. If agricultural and pastoral activity is to be maximised in a sustainable fashion, it is imperative that plants are supplied by proper nutrition. The available quantity of many of these essential plant nutrients is finite and, once depleted or degraded, cannot be easily restored.

Livelihoods and Food Security on the Mekong River

A large part of mainland South-East Asia depends on the Mekong River for food and water security. Food security and livelihoods are threatened by the construction of hydropower facilities in China, Laos and Cambodia. While these facilities are likely to further the economic development of the region this will come at the expense of traditional farming and cultural practices.

Economic Ties that Bind: The China-South Africa Relationship

South Africa has more to gain from the relationship than China, with the former seeking continued investment and the favour of an economic power, while the latter gains a receptive gateway in its continued expansion into the African continent.

South Africa and Iran Announce Joint Agreement on Desalination Technologies

South Africa’s announcement of a “binational agreement” with Iran to develop desalination plants seems unnecessary considering South Africa’s own domestic desalination capabilities. It is likely that the agreement forms part of a broader plan to reinvigorate South Africa-Iran relations.

US to Place India on Par with NATO Allies, but can New Delhi Accept?

While the United States may endeavour to bring its ties with India to a level comparable with those of its NATO allies, acceding to such a relationship would require a paradigm shift in India’s foreign policy.

Extreme Food Crises Left Unaddressed at World Humanitarian Summit

A poor food security outlook for most of Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to put the international aid system under further strain, a situation that has not been rectified by the World Humanitarian Summit.

Mayotte: Foreign Legion Deployment to Tackle Illegal Immigration

The military deployment may temporarily slow the number of illegal arrivals to Mayotte but, given the disparities between it and the Comoros, it will not be a solution in itself.

India-US Relations – Part Two: Growing Military and Strategic Co-operation

The military aspect of the India-US relationship has progressed in the space of a few years from virtual non-existence to one that has the potential to truly being the ‘defining relationship of the Twenty-First Century’, as President Obama termed it.

India-US Relations – Part One: A Game of Snakes and Ladders

While the US-India relationship has gone through a series of ups and downs, both countries realise that their common aspirations and strategic interests move them more closely together than their differences draw them apart. Given the present state of geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific region, the two countries will grow closer than ever.

Biodiversity: An Integral Part of Food Security

A failure to preserve biodiversity will weaken efforts to protect the global food supply from pestilence, disease and other environmental threats.

Iran’s Missile Tests: The Challenge for the Next US President

The most recent Iranian missile test demonstrates the failure of the Obama Administration’s to enforce the terms of the UN Security Council’s Resolutions and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Agreement.

The East African Drought and the Importance of Land Restoration

Following severe droughts in East Africa, land restoration may play an important role in mitigating some of the adverse environmental effects that threaten food and water security, particularly in Ethiopia.

Uganda Chooses Tanzania over Kenya for Oil Pipeline Route

Uganda has chosen Tanzania over Kenya as the route for its crude oil production, expected to come online in 2020. It is only the most recent in a series of snubs that Kenya has experienced, losing out to its neighbours as a trade corridor.

The Paris Climate Change Agreement and New York Ratification: A Loose Guideline or Urgent Climate Action?

The Paris Climate Change Agreement has brought about excitement bordering on euphoria, but closer analysis reveals a less certain reality. The sense of global unity is indeed progress but, without immediate action, the agreement may become a comforting, though short-term illusion.

Growth Slows to New Low in Malaysia

Economic growth has hit a six-year low in Malaysia, further delaying the goal of becoming a fully developed economy by 2020. As most of the factors hindering the economy are external, there is little that the Malaysian Government can do to reverse the trend.

World Bank Report: The Effect of Water Scarcity on Economic Growth

The implementation of the policies outlined in the report will require regional and local-level approaches to ensure that they are suited to the complexities of each region and can successfully reduce the impact of water scarcity on economic growth.

Myanmar-Russia Military Co-operation to Increase

The possible use of Russian military hardware and training in quelling long-running civil conflicts could be an indication of unified political support for the swift pacification of the country and a previously unseen level of co-operation between democrats and the military.

The Water-Energy Nexus in the Indian Ocean Region

Population growth and economic development will see increasing demands for both water and energy, which will simultaneously exert pressure on one another. Reducing the link between water and energy will be necessary to ensure the future security of both resources.

Paris Agreement – Genuine Triumph or Total Fantasy: David Hodgkinson

The 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015. It provided for the first time a universal agreement that aims to keep global warming well below 2 degrees. In this, the second part of a two-part interview, University of Western Australia Associate Professor David Hodgkinson discusses negative emissions, adaptation and legal aspects of the Agreement.

Mr Modi Goes to Washington: To Up the Ante or for More of the Same?

Modi’s state visit to Washington in June could herald the breakthrough sought by both sides in their growing relationship.

WA Biodiversity Conservation Bill – Balancing Environmental Protection and Economic Development

The WA Biodiversity Conservation Bill is currently before State Parliament and aims to provide much-needed improvements and modernisation to existing legislation. It may, however, fail to strike the appropriate balance between protecting the environment and promoting a growing and sustainable economy.

Malaysian Government Strengthens Hold on Power in Sarawak

While the election strengthens the ruling party’s hold on power for now, it does not indicate increasing support for Prime Minister Najib Razak throughout the rest of Malaysia.

Saudi Arabia Faces Possible Backlash over Cuts to Water Subsidies

Consistently low oil prices have taken their toll on Saudi Arabia and, while economic restructuring is necessary, the kingdom must balance out the risk of social instability in an already troubled region.

South Africa Avoids Credit Rating Downgrade … For Now

The strength and independence of the South African judicial system helped to stave off a credit rating downgrade but without reforms to restore confidence, boost growth and address corruption, Pretoria may still face a downgrade before the end of this year.

Two-Billion Dollar Scandal Carries Risk of Future Instability in Mozambique

Delayed repayments for loans secretly acquired by the previous government need to be resolved, and stricter monitoring programmes to suppress corruption implemented, to prevent instability and encourage overseas donors to resume their financial assistance.

India, Bangladesh and the Farakka Barrage

India’s construction of the Farakka Barrage has, in part, soured the bilateral relationship it has with Bangladesh. Both countries face increased pressure to meet rising water demands, however, there is little effective water agreement to sustain a co-operative bilateral relationship while meeting these demands.

Paris Climate Change Talks, ‘A Genuine Triumph or Total Fantasy’: David Hodgkinson

The 21st UN Climate Change Conference was held in Paris in December 2015. It provided for the first time a universal agreement that aims to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius. Associate Professor David Hodgkinson discusses the background and the events leading to COP 21 and the global warming mitigation arrangements contained in the Agreement.

Grain Production at Risk as Drought Continues in the Indo-Pacific

Predictions of a repeat of the 2007/08 food shortage may come to pass if co-ordinated international action does not take place.

Indonesia’s Calm Strategy against Terrorism

Indonesia continues to rely on its de-radicalisation programme as a means of counter-propaganda while focussing on security through closer co-operation with regional neighbours.

Emerging Middle Eastern Locust Plague Could Heighten Dependence on Trade-based Food Security

Abnormally high levels of rain and civil war combine to make Yemen a perfect breeding ground for locusts, potentially unleashing a plague upon parts of the Middle East.

South Africa-Iran Agreements Signify Co-operation in More than Energy

Eight new agreements covering trade, tourism, water management and energy have the potential for Iran to demonstrate that it can successfully reintegrate into world markets without conflicting with those sanctions that remain in place.

Shifting Sands: Saudi Arabia and the Turn from Oil

While the proposed decrease in reliance upon revenues obtained from oil exports is commendable, the implementation of the project will need to be carefully monitored to ensure its success.

Seychelles to Assist Investigations into Malaysia 1MDB Scandal

The announcement by Seychelles president of co-operation with 1MDB investigation relates more to projecting transparency rather than fixing wrongdoing in Malaysia as the Seychelles focusses on growing its financial services sector.

South Africa: May Day Birth of New Trade Union Opens Further Fractures

South Africa’s divided trade unions represent a key political battleground heading into local government elections in August that will act as an important gauge on the performance of the central government.

Counter-Terrorism Challenges in Indonesia and Beyond: Sidney Jones

Relative to its size, Indonesia has a jihadist movement that is very small and, for the most part, quite unsuccessful. Renowned counter-terrorism expert and director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Sidney Jones, discusses with FDI some of the potential security challenges confronting Indonesia, both from existing local groups and fighters returning from Syria, and the status of Jemaah Islamiyah, before looking further ahead and highlighting a possible longer-term problem that could evolve on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

Singapore: Non-Oil Exports Drop to Lowest Level in Three Years

Falling non-oil domestic exports are indicative of the effect of sluggish global economic growth on the Singaporean economy, but its diversity and status as a major regional trading hub will aid it in overcoming a coming period of low growth.

India’s Growing Assertiveness vis-à-vis China

The granting by India of a visa to a rebel Uighur leader is yet another instance of its assertive stance in matters relating to China since Prime Minister Modi took office.

Delayed Arms Sale to Qatar: “Jet Fighter Diplomacy”?

The delay of a multi-billion dollar sale of fighter jets to Qatar and Kuwait by the United States highlights the complexities of geopolitics in the Persian Gulf, particularly Qatar’s relationships with its neighbours and its suspected ties to Islamist militants, as it seeks greater regional influence.

Iran Attempts to Reverse the Decline of the Region’s Largest Saltwater Lake

Iran faces a potential water crisis, as well as significant damage to the nation’s agricultural and tourism industries if it cannot quickly counteract the rapid decline of Lake Urmia.

Bypassing Pakistan: Afghanistan, India, Iran and Chabahar

In allowing India to enhance its energy security and Iran to expand its share of the energy market while giving Afghanistan alternative maritime access, the trilateral Chabahar Agreement has the potential to change the regional dynamic to a significant extent.

Earthquakes, Dams and Water in South Asia

The construction of dams could bring both benefits and risks to South Asia. If they are constructed they will fuel development, but could also heighten the risk from earthquakes and increase interstate tension. Their long-term utility is also likely to come under pressure from increased climatic variability.

Indonesia: Groundwater Decline is Causing Jakarta to Sink

Land subsidence is increasing at a rapid rate and parts of Jakarta could sink below sea level unless action is taken.

Jokowi Announces Indonesian Palm Oil and Mining Moratorium

The temporary ban has been welcomed by environmental activists, though it remains to be seen if it will be enforced.

China Prepares for Severe Flooding and Crop Damage

After the severe 2015-16 El Niño, there are rising concerns about China’s agricultural sector and its capacity to deal with a natural disaster as well as the impact that it could have on international markets.

Democratic Government Spreading its Wings in the New Myanmar

The mass release of political prisoners and activists is an expected post-election move by the NLD government but, despite remarkable progress and the high regard held for Aung San Suu Kyi, the benefits of democracy are yet to reach all of the country’s peoples.

The India-US LEMOA: Turning From Non-Alignment?

India’s bilateral Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the United States could herald a strategic shift in its non-aligned stance.

First Steps towards a Pakistan-Mauritius Free Trade Agreement?

The visit to Pakistan of Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim could help to pave the way towards a Pakistan-Mauritius Free Trade Agreement, potentially enabling Pakistani businesses to tap into the successful Mauritian economy.

Understanding the Role of Soil Microbiological Ecosystems: Dr Peter Keating

FDI has taken the opportunity to interview Dr Keating of Bioscience Pty Ltd, on the topic of soil microbiology, soil microbiological ecosystems and his research into the analysis and maintenance of healthy soils and soil biological fertility.

China Seeks to Build Rapport Downstream

The release of water from a Chinese dam into the Mekong River is less an act of benevolence and more one of self-interested hydro-diplomacy.

Can Malaysia Learn from Singapore’s Success against Corruption?

While some lessons can be learned from Singapore, greater political will is needed if Malaysia is to stamp out corruption.

Myanmar: Recovering from Last Year’s Floods, Rakhine State Struggles with its Food Supply

The already disadvantaged Rakhine Rohingya face increased poverty and malnourishment if the food supply does not improve, potentially contributing to another refugee crisis in the near future.

Modi’s Visit to Saudi Arabia: Oil and Geopolitics

Modi’s visit to Riyadh may be viewed as an effort to come between the Saudis and Pakistan, but his primary motivation is likely to be to maximise access to Saudi oil to enhance India’s energy security.

Lower Oil Prices to Flow from Doha Meeting?

Low oil prices have driven a number of states dependent on oil revenues to seek a co-operative deal to stabilise, or even cut, production in an effort to increase prices.

Madagascar: Resignation of PM Points to New Political Instability

Although support for democratically elected President Hery Rajaonarimampianina is strong within the international community, the recent resignation of Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo may be viewed as another disruptive episode within a long history of political volatility that shows no sign of abating.

South Africa – Economic Challenges

The South African economy is facing a perfect storm of structural and cyclical factors, including high unemployment, little job creation, an often poorly skilled workforce, a weak currency that is prone to external shocks, the possibility of credit rating downgrades, the lingering effects of electricity shortages, a costly public service and the continuing spectre of political interference.

India and Indonesia: Relations with the US, China and Each Other

8 April 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Despite the election of two “common men” to the leaderships of both countries and a number of high-level visits, the India-Indonesia bilateral relationship remains little changed. Arguably lacklustre, the relationship gains validity from shared aspects of the two countries’ wider relationships with the United States and China, illustrating different but compatible aspects of regional security.

The Singapore-United States Relationship: Fifty Years On

The US-Singapore relationship is in good standing and will continue to progress while their strategic interests remain closely aligned.

UAE: Facility to Produce Food and Fuel Launched in Abu Dhabi

A new research facility in Abu Dhabi will assist with plans to achieve food self-sufficiency.

Bhutan: Economic Reliance on Hydropower places it at India’s Mercy

Bhutan relies heavily on hydropower to meet its energy agreement with India, but there is increasing evidence that this reliance is at the expense of its conservation policy.

India’s Unnecessary Unease with US Perceptions of its Nuclear Security

President Obama’s off-the-cuff remark about India, like Pakistan, being an area of concern vis-à-vis its nuclear arsenal should not cause New Delhi undue anxiety.

UK Looking to Increase Military and Economic Involvement in Oman

Greater military and economic co-operation between Oman and the United Kingdom, including the establishment of military bases, could hold significant strategic importance to the regional power balance and represents a strengthened British presence as Iran returns to the international fold.

Zuma Still under Pressure after Surviving Impeachment Vote

South African President Jacob Zuma is facing a growing momentum against him that may end his leadership of both the country and the African National Congress.

The Indo-Japanese Relationship: Predicated on External Factors?

Born out of mutual strategic necessity, the India-Japan relationship really accelerated when highly nationalistic leaders took office in both countries almost simultaneously. Both Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe perceived China as a threat, hastening the development of the alliance.

South Africa: Drought Threatens Food, Energy and Water Security

South Africa, Southern Africa’s largest food producer, has experienced its driest year since records began in 1904. It typically exports surplus food to neighbouring countries but, due to decreased production, it is not able to do so this year. If South Africa is transitioning to a new climate paradigm, it will need to explore the feasibility of producing alternative food crops, developing new sources of water and constructing alternative methods of generating electricity.

The Non-Resolution of Indo-Nepali Relations After L ’Affair Madhesi

In attempting to play the China card in order to influence New Delhi, Nepali Prime Minister Oli has probably shot himself in the foot.

Water Insecurity in India Paints an Uncertain Future for Agriculture

Centuries of unregulated groundwater use, as well as deficient and late monsoonal periods, have caused alarm in India’s agricultural sector, where water-stressed farmers may be forced to abandon their livelihoods.

Seychelles: IMF Praises Economy but Calls for Offsets to Spending and Tax Cuts

If the Seychelles Government can successfully manage the potentially adverse macroeconomic effects of its proposed anti-poverty initiatives, the country should be well-placed to enjoy the benefits of its economic growth.

Uganda-Tanzania Oil Pipeline Decision will Affect Kenyan LAPSSET Project

The agreement between Uganda and Tanzania to construct a crude oil pipeline from Uganda to Tanzania’s Indian Ocean port of Tanga could have negative implications for Kenya’s ambitions to become the regional transportation and logistical hub and limit its flagship LAPSSET project.

Water: An Underappreciated Economic Resource

The 2016 UN World Water Development Report focuses on the relationship between water and jobs, an underappreciated aspect of water security that highlights the vital role it plays in the global economy.

Climate Change, Food and Water Security in Bangladesh

Bangladesh faces significant challenges in adapting to the impacts of climate change. Its topography and geographical location make it particularly susceptible to extreme weather events including cyclones, floods and storm surges. Food and water security are likely to be particularly affected by the changing climate, forcing Bangladeshis to adapt.

Myanmar Foreign Policy under Aung San Suu Kyi

The newly-installed National League for Democracy government will not substantially change the country’s longstanding foreign policy approach of maintaining friendly, balanced and independent relations with regional neighbours and great powers alike.

A Debate Worth Having: An Australian Sugar Tax

Given Australia’s increasing and alarming obesity rate, the debate of a tax to discourage consumption of sugary drinks is warranted.

Indonesian Sovereignty Challenged by China?

An incident involving a Chinese fishing boat in Indonesian waters has raised concerns over the security of its Exclusive Economic Zone, but it is unlikely that the incident will provoke a rash response from Jakarta.

New Credit Downgrade Threat Hanging Over South Africa

Given the current parlous state of the economy and its generally bleak future prospects, together with the possibility of turmoil within the government, another credit downgrade cannot be ruled out, further reducing both the government’s borrowing power and investor confidence.

Economic Recovery for Indian Farmers

Attempting to mitigate rising criticism and falling popularity, the Modi Administration promises a better future for struggling farmers in its 2016/17 Union Budget.

The Indo-Russian Relationship: Old Imperatives, New Beginnings

Born of mutual necessity, the Indo-Russian relationship thrived as India sought to gain from the political, economic and security advantages that it offered. It deteriorated over time as the result of a changing international setting. Since then, the leaders of both countries have recognised the need for a closer relationship and are seeking to renew it.

Israel or Iranian Liberals: Who are the Real Targets of Iran’s Missile Tests?

Conservative forces in Iran see their more moderate counterparts, headed by President Hassan Rouhani, as a danger to the status quo and their hold on power. The conservatives have used the recent missile tests to undermine Rouhani’s standing with the West.

Iraq: Mosul Dam Breach a Disaster in Waiting

Alarming concern has been expressed by the Iraqi Government, the United States Embassy in Iraq and the UN over the inevitable risk of disaster if the Mosul Dam were to fail.

Indonesia Seeking to Boost Investment from South Korea

Early signs of greater South Korean investment in Indonesia look promising, although investors could face an uphill battle in the long term unless President Widodo manages to implement economic reforms.

Global Food Security at Risk as Pollinator Populations Decline

It is hoped that a new UN-sponsored report will push governments to take action to protect pollinators.

China: The Impact of New Agricultural Reforms on Food Security

The Chinese Government’s first policy statement of the year highlights the need for supply-side reforms in the agricultural sector to improve quality and efficiency while continuing to guarantee food security.

Modi’s Visit to Saudi Arabia Could Herald New Beginning for Indo-Pakistani Relations

Modi could use Riyadh’s standing in Islamabad to overcome a history of antagonism and engineer a new beginning with Pakistan.

Jordan: Resource Scarcity and an Increasing Population

Jordan is struggling to maintain water security amid the impacts of climate change, the Syrian refugee crisis and less aid from the United Nations.

Co-operation and the Brahmaputra: China and India Water Sharing

While the potential for conflict between India and China is low, a combination of regional competition and water-sharing tension could still threaten regional stability. Improved communication and co-operation would reduce the potential for conflict.

Indonesia and Malaysia: Prospects for Closer Co-operation

Indonesia and Malaysia are becoming increasingly important to political developments in South-East Asia. Both countries can play an important role in delegitimising, and offering a counter-narrative to, extremist groups in the region.

Pastoral Lease Reform in Western Australia Offers Agricultural Diversification

The West Australian Government has plans to introduce legislation in June 2016 that would see traditional pastoral leases expand to allow new business ventures.

Political Machinations in Malaysia: Mahathir Unites with Foes to Oust Najib

An improbable coalition of former enemies is probably more likely to cost Dr Mahathir Mohamad his reputation rather than force current Prime Minister Najib Razak from office.

India: Change Beckons, but can Modi Seize the Opportunity?

There are growing signs that India is on the verge of breaking through its demographic and economic shackles – provided that the Modi Administration can demonstrate true statesmanship.

South Sudan’s Admittance to the East African Community Could Affect Food Security

South Sudan’s admittance to the East African Community is a positive step for the developing nation, but must be accompanied by wide-ranging domestic reforms in order to strengthen the economy and improve the lives of its people.

Southern Africa: Leaders Meet to Address Issues Facing Agriculture and Food Security

A meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a crucial first step towards mitigating the impacts of the El Niño weather pattern, considered the worst in the region’s history.

Indonesian Water Security: Improving but Still Subject to Shocks

Indonesia is not water scarce as it has enough water to satisfy the needs of its population and economy. Uneven distribution, poor management and a lack of infrastructure, however, have left parts of the country with insufficient access to water. Without considerable investment, water security in Indonesia will remain tenuous and subject to rapid deterioration.

India’s Evolving Maritime Security Strategy and Force Posture

The Indian Navy’s Maritime Security Strategy document 2015 (titled ‘Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime Security Strategy’) is a precursor of India’s evolving maritime strategic thought and its proposed force posture. Together, they form important spokes in the wheel of New Delhi’s politico-military strategy.

Indonesia: Struggling with Palm Oil Revenue and Defence Cuts

The announcement of spending cuts by the Indonesian Government highlights concerns over the slowing economy, reduced earnings from an important export and the implications that the cuts may hold for the defence force.

Myanmar: Stalled Chinese Hydropower Project an Issue for Incoming Government

The new administration in Naypyidaw will need to address stalled Chinese hydropower projects, with potential ramifications for the future bilateral relationship.

Iran in Syria: The Danger of Enhanced Sectarianism

Iran may wish to ensure that the Assad regime continues in Syria but it needs to be careful that its actions do not exacerbate the danger that the civil war and other rivalries there might descend into an overtly-sectarian conflict.

Water-borne Cholera Outbreak in East Africa and the Middle East

Doctors are concerned that an outbreak of cholera, which began in 2015 and spread throughout east Africa and the Middle East, threatens to worsen with the upcoming rainy season.

South African Budget: Will It Be Enough?

The social spending in this year’s Budget will please the government’s less well-off supporters, but its trade union partners will be concerned by the possibility of future public service cuts and privatisations, even though the measures may not be enough to revive the weak economy.

Food Security in Indonesia: A Continued Reliance on Foreign Markets

Indonesia has long sought to restore its self-sufficiency in key agricultural commodities and has embarked on an infrastructure development programme that could go some way to boosting market access for domestic producers. This is unlikely to be enough to guarantee future food security and it will continue to depend on foreign markets.

Grazing and Controlled Burning in Kimberley Pastoral Land Management: Mr John Henwood

FDI recently took the opportunity to speak with and interview pastoralist, Mr John Henwood, the former co-owner and manager of Fossil Downs Station. Mr Henwood oversaw the introduction, over a long period of time, of pastoral and land care practices that establish Fossil Downs as one of the show-piece pastoral properties of the Kimberley.

South-East Asia: La Niña Predicted to Bring Relief and Hardship to the Region

Heavier than normal rains due to the La Niña weather phenomenon are expected to ease two years of drought for India, while Indonesia and Bangladesh prepare for its negative effects.

Indonesia: More Economic Plans Announced

Despite the President’s announcement to reform the Indonesian economy it will take a long time before any substantial changes can be effected.

India: With a Rising Economy, the Rise of Saffron Power

While the Modi Government has overseen the growth of the country’s economy, India is witnessing a similar growth in fundamentalist nationalism.

Indian Protesters Cut Off New Delhi’s Water Supply

Protesters in the northern Indian state of Haryana have caused major damage to public infrastructure and precious water supplies, demonstrating the precariousness of New Delhi’s water supply.

State of the Nation: Seychelles President Charts Course for Year Ahead

A combination of tax cuts and increased social spending while restricting the pensions paid to MPs and government ministers should go down well with the public and facilitate further economic growth and rises in living standards.

Egypt: Economic Woes Weaken Food Security but Pose Little Threat of Unrest

Weakening economic conditions endanger food imports vital for sustaining the government’s politically-sensitive food subsidy scheme, but a popular uprising in the near future remains unlikely.

Saudi Arabia: Should Troops Be Deployed To Syria?

If Saudi troops are to be deployed to Syria, Riyadh will need to take into careful consideration the possible outcomes of that deployment.

Timor-Leste: Water Governance Thwarts Peace-Building and Development

18 February 2016 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Poor water governance has been a significant contributing factor in the spread of water-borne diseases and malnutrition in Timor-Leste. While the country’s immediate post-independence circumstances demanded that the government attend to many other pressing issues, the time has now come to prioritise the provision of well-managed, clean and accessible water services.

The Importance of Food and Nutrition in Aboriginal Communities

Following the release of the eighth annual ‘Closing the Gap’ report, data demonstrates that Indigenous communities in Australia still lack access to basic nutritional foods – a key requirement if social disadvantage is to be eliminated.

Indonesia’s Role in the US-ASEAN Summit

Indonesia will likely take a leading role in the US-ASEAN summit especially in regard to counter-terrorism, but may struggle to procure any unified ASEAN response to the South China Sea Dispute.

Mekong River Commission Faces Challenging Future

At a time when the Mekong River Basin faces immense challenges, it could be up to external actors to foster a collaborative environment for sustainable economic development.

Bangladesh and Free Speech: Giving in to the Extremists?

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheik Hasina must take – and be seen to take – immediate action against extremists who threaten bloggers and others to prevent her country from descending into an abyss of intolerance.

South Africa: Zuma Calls for End to Multiple Capital Cities Structure

The President’s call to move Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria as a cost-saving measure may simply have been intended as a diversion because the savings, if any, are likely to be few.

Indonesia: A Security and Stability Analysis – Part Two

16 February 2016 | Indian Ocean, Indonesia

The security implications of economic inequalities, food insecurity, natural disasters and the circumstances of Papua and Aceh provinces, along with any future external security threats that may develop, all have the potential to negatively affect the continuing stability and prosperity of Indonesia.

Indonesia: A Security and Stability Analysis – Part One

11 February 2016 | Indian Ocean, Indonesia

Over the last 15 years, Indonesia has experienced rapid economic growth and grown to be one of the more vibrant economies in South-East Asia. Its ongoing prosperity and stability could, however, be challenged by a number of factors in the coming years.

Headwinds and Some Good News for the Indonesian Economy in 2016

While the Widodo Government continues to focus on reforms, external factors that act against the Indonesian economy continue to discourage investors.

Thailand: Drought, Water-Sourcing and the Potential Implications

Thailand, which is experiencing drought conditions, is rushing to secure new water sources to meet demand over the dry season.

Narendra Modi: Unshackling Indian Business

Critics who complain that Modi has not met the expectations of Big Business may need to change their opinion as he lays the groundwork for major changes to the way India does business.

Pakistan: New National Water Policy Faces Scrutiny

Ambiguity over treaties and water-sharing between provinces may impede the implementation of Pakistan’s new National Water Policy.

South Africa: Difficulties for Zuma Ahead of State of the Nation Address

After a difficult 2015, President Jacob Zuma will use this year’s address to inform South Africans that he still has the ability to restore confidence and turn the country around.

The Forgotten Resource: Groundwater in Australia

Groundwater usage is increasing and it is the main source of water for much of Australia’s dry interior, even as recent research suggests that replenishment rates may be slower than previously thought.

Tibet: A Major Source of Asia’s Rivers

The headwaters of six of Asia’s major rivers begin on the Tibetan Plateau. It is crucial that China and the countries downstream co-operate to ensure freshwater supplies for all. Dwindling water sources in the transboundary rivers of the Tibetan Plateau threaten water security and create a high potential for geopolitical conflict in the region.

Food Commodity Prices Fall in 2015

Food prices fell in 2015 for a fourth consecutive year but increasing pressures on the global food system suggest this is likely to be a short-term trend.

The UAE, Pakistan and the Proposal for a Water Pipeline

A 500-kilometre underground pipeline from Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates has been proposed as a solution to solving water scarcity in the UAE.

Mauritius: A Big Year Ahead for the Tourism Industry?

The Mauritian Government has high hopes for the country’s tourism industry in the year ahead and is counting on it being a significant component of a “second economic miracle”.

The Water Tower of Africa Faces its Worst Drought in Decades

Four hundred thousand children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition, with up to ten million in critical need of food aid.

India’s Satellite Tracking Station in Vietnam: An Eye on China?

India’s planned satellite tracking station in Vietnam demonstrates their converging threat perceptions and underlines their growing ties.

Saudi Arabia, a Diminishing OPEC and an Ascending Iran

Saudi Arabia faces a raft of internal and external challenges that could collectively bring down the House of Saud.

Global Implications of New Groundwater Research

30 December 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

A better understanding of groundwater use and renewal is necessary to implement effective and sustainable water management policies.

South Africa – Political Challenges

The ANC will need to redouble its nation-building and governance efforts in the face of growing criticism if it is not lose further support.

Soil Structure and the Physical Fertility of Soil

17 December 2015 | Northern Australia & Land Care

The physical properties of soil are at least as important as the chemical properties in determining fertility.

India Pushes to Save the Doha Development Round at WTO Meetings

India receives backing from 47 countries to push for the WTO to focus on outstanding agricultural issues in the Doha Development Round. Background The tenth World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference commenced on  15 December in Nairobi, with trade ministers from 47 countries urging WTO members to redouble efforts to conclude unresolved matters of the...

Iran: Water Crisis Worsens but Foreign Investment Could be Key to Solution

Over 500 Iranian municipalities face water scarcity due to inefficient water infrastructure and unregulated domestic use. After years of self-regulating policies, foreign investment could help alleviate this crisis. Background The Iranian water crisis has little improved since FDI previously reported on it in 2013. A drying climate and inefficient water infrastructure have continued to be...

Australia: Rising Obesity Rates and Talk of a GST on Fresh Food

At a time when tax reform is high on the political agenda, data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicates Australians are becoming more obese. Background Statistics released from the ABS in December 2015 show that in 2014-15, 63.4 per cent of Australian adults – or 11.2 million people – were overweight or...

Indonesia: Chinese-Japanese Competition Heats Up in Asia

16 December 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Following its lost bid to build a high-speed rail link in Indonesia, Japan has won another to build a similar link in India. At the same time, Indonesia has offered it a conciliatory US$13 billion worth of investment in 2016. Background China recently won a bid over Japan and France to build a railway link...

Embrace and Encircle? China’s Approaches to India and their Effect

14 December 2015 | Associate Papers, Indian Ocean

Download PDF Dr Auriol Weigold Senior Visiting Fellow Key Points   China’s trade routes, sea- and land-based encircle India with hard-power undertones and soft power attraction. Soft power diplomacy, brought out at Xi’s and Modi’s meetings, cloaks a long-term mistrust in India towards China and exposes vulnerabilities in India’s relations with its South Asian neighbours....

Failure to Address Australia’s Urban Expansion Could Impact Its Future Food Security

Ineffective state government strategies to prevent urban sprawl need to be reviewed to protect land for food production. Background The resilience of Australia’s food system to climate change is being compromised by the loss of productive agricultural land on the fringe of its cities. State Government plans to prevent urban sprawl through increased urban infill,...

Dam Divides Ethiopia from Its Neighbours

The Gibe III Dam on the Omo River has already begun providing much needed hydroelectricity to Ethiopia, but tensions continue to rise among local tribes and neighbouring countries. Background The initial support of the Kenyan Government quickly changed when the environmental and social impacts of the dam project became apparent. The controversy surrounding the Gibe...

Africa Seeks Fairer Deal at Paris Climate Summit

9 December 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite contributing only a fraction of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, Africa is being hit hardest by the effects of climate change. Now, however, its leaders are pushing for a more equitable deal in Paris. Background With the UN Climate Summit in Paris ending on 11 December, negotiations will be ramped up and leaders from...

China-Africa Co-operation and Food Security

On 5 December 2015, the sixth Forum on China-Africa Co-operation, held in Johannesburg, concluded with a consensus between African leaders and Chinese President Xi Jinping for the countries to continue to deepen a strategic co-operative partnership. Background Since 2000, Chinese and African leaders have engaged in a series of conferences on how to best foster...

Indonesia: Will anything come of the Paris conference?

9 December 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

It is likely that the Indonesian government will prioritise economic development over any major commitment to tackle climate change.   Background Indonesian President Joko Widodo is in Paris attending the United Nations climate talks with more than 150 world leaders. Anticipating the conference, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi emphasised Indonesia’s support for reducing emissions but...

The Indus River and Agriculture in Pakistan

8 December 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Mervyn Piesse Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points   Agriculture is the second-largest sector of the Pakistani economy, accounting for approximately 21 per cent of GDP. It is highly dependent upon the Indus River system as farmland is mainly irrigated by water from the Indus...

Indian Ocean Conditions Affect Climate on Other Side of the World

2 December 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The atmospheric-oceanic phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole is a significant contributor to weather patterns around the globe, including El Niño. Background Far from being largely passive in a climatic sense, as was previously thought, sea surface temperature and atmospheric variations in the Indian Ocean have far-reaching effects. The Indian Ocean Dipole temperature fluctuation,...

Experts Call For Reduction in Meat Consumption Ahead of Paris Climate Change Talks

With livestock accounting for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, curtailing global meat consumption has been suggested as a practical and immediate solution to climate change, but experts still disagree on how to achieve this. Background The United Nations Paris Climate Summit (COP21) is underway, with Australia expected to pledge at least one billion dollars...

Nepalese Agricultural Policy and the Implications of Emigration

The effects of climate change and poor policy in Nepal has seen significantly slow growth in the agricultural industry, with increasing numbers of Nepalese farmers forced to seek work abroad.   Background The Nepalese agricultural sector is in crisis due to a combination of poor government policy and a series of natural disasters. Combined with...

Indonesia: Dealing with Extremism

2 December 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While there is a need for effective counter-propaganda, it is likely that the Indonesian government will focus on a tougher stance. Background Jakarta has recently increased security across Indonesia after a video was posted on social media by a group affiliated to the Islamic State (IS). The nine-minute video titled ‘The Call of Commander Abu...

The Afghan Re-Turn to India and China-Pakistan Ties

25 November 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Afghanistan’s re-turn to strengthen its ties with India could make Pakistan believe that it made the right decision in throwing its lot in with China.   Background Afghan President Abdul Ghani cast aside his predecessor, Hamid Karzai’s, overtures to India and decided to cultivate closer ties with Pakistan. Islamabad took the opportunity Ghani provided it...

Tensions Rise between Turkey, Northern Cyprus and Greek-Cypriots as Water Pipeline Temporarily Shuts

The management of the pipeline has the potential to undermine future relations but with water security a top priority, the three parties concerned could find room for greater co-operation.   Background In August, the Northern Cyprus Water Supply Project began transferring water from Turkey to Northern Cyprus. In a bid to increase water security to...

China: The Implications of Bottling Tibet’s Water

The growth of the bottled water industry in Tibet is creating concern about the sustainability and political prudency of draining Asia’s water tower.   Background The government of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) released a ten year plan in October 2015 to expand the bottled water industry. China’s high pollution rates and desire for convenience...

Is a Major Corruption Crackdown on the Way in Indonesia?

25 November 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

While the released tapes will likely see Setya step down from his office as well as increased pressure to eradicate corruption in the country, any large-scale reforms remain a while off. Background Corruption in Indonesia’s political power structure has been pulled into the spotlight after a video recording that purported to show Setya Novanto, the...

Madagascar Locust Population Declines but Long-Term Food Security Challenges Remain

The successful implementation of the third and final anti-locust campaign in Madagascar will see a decline in the locust population in 2016, but the long-term viability of the campaign and food security remain in question. Background The locust infestation was declared a national disaster by the Madagascan Government in 2012 and a multi-year anti-locust campaign...

India: Flooding in Tamil Nadu Highlights Water Management Problems

Recent flooding in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu has left its capital, Chennai, in a state of crisis, highlighting the limited effectiveness of the state’s water policies and infrastructure. Background A low-pressure trough in the Bay of Bengal has caused week-long heavy rainfall and flooding to occur in Tamil Nadu. As a result, many...

Obama and Putin Agree on Islamic State but whither Syria?

18 November 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While Presidents Obama and Putin agree to work together to eliminate Islamic State, they do not agree on what a post-Assad Syria will look like. Background US President Barack Obama met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on the side-lines of the G20 Summit in Turkey’s Mediterranean resort of Antalaya. The two leaders were seen engaged...

Will Indonesia Take China to the International Criminal Court?

18 November 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

While unlikely, the challenge could go ahead if China refuses to clarify its stance on Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Background Indonesian Chief of Staff Luhut Panjaitan announced on 11 November that Indonesia could take China to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if territorial claims in the South China Sea are not resolved through dialogue. In...

The Energy and Strategy of China–Iran Relations

17 November 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Lindsay Hughes Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points Iran possesses the world’s fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves. Iran has had an antagonistic dispensation towards the US since 1979. These two factors combine to make the country an attractive one for China to seek to...

December in Paris – Determining the Future of the Planet: Associate Professor David Hodgkinson

Download PDF Key Points The Paris climate change conference aims at a global agreement to keep global warming to 2°C. The Paris conference is to draft a legal instrument applicable to all countries, both developed and developing. To restrict warming to less than 2°C, total emissions will have to be kept under a trillion tonnes...

Indonesia: Obstacles Ahead for the Trans-Pacific Partnership

11 November 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Rushing through the reforms needed to implement the TPP before the next presidential election will prove difficult for the Jokowi Government but failing to do so could see Indonesia sidelined in a future regional TPP grouping. Background As noted and analysed in a recent Strategic Weekly Analysis, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced that his...

Iranian Troops Mutiny As Losses Mount In Syria

11 November 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The mutiny by the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corp is only one sign that the country’s political leaders do not reflect the war-weariness of the people. Background A recent report from Tehran alleges that some senior commanders of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have disobeyed orders to deploy to Syria with their troops. They are...

South African Opposition Capitalises on Water Shortages

The drought has drawn attention to the parlous state of water infrastructure in South Africa, a development that the political opposition has utilised to attack the ruling African National Congress. Background The drought in South Africa has continued to spread throughout the country, worsening to a level not seen since 1982. Some areas, according to...

South Africa: New ANC Kingmaker Could Lead to First Female President

11 November 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

In KwaZulu-Natal, the influential provincial machinery of the African National Congress has elected as party chairperson a “kingmaker” whose support may be instrumental to South Africa having its first female president. Background Sihle Zikalala was elected to the position of provincial chairperson early on 8 November at the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provincial conference held in...

National Characteristics of South Africa: A Fractious and Frustrated Mood

5 November 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Leighton G. Luke Research Manager Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points The national mood in South Africa is increasingly one of frustration. Many of those born after the end of the apartheid era are angry at the continuing socio-economic disparities from that time and are now turning their backs on the legacy...

Indonesia Looks to Join the Trans-Pacific Partnership

4 November 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

The benefits to Indonesia of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership remain unclear although it may help to push through much-needed economic reforms. Background During his recent visit to Washington, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced that his country will join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal. Following his meeting with US President Barack Obama, Jokowi...

Mayotte Continues Illegal Immigration Battle

4 November 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As the disparity between Mayotte and the Comoros widens, the flow of migrants will continue. Background Mayotte MP Ibrahim Aboubacarhas called upon Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during debate in the French Parliament for assistance in tackling the problem of clandestine immigration that continues to confront France’s 101st départment. Resources such as the 16 additional gendarmes,...

Endgame in Syria or the Beginning of a Regional Re-Ordering?

4 November 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The use of US Special Forces to assist Syrian rebel groups in combatting Islamic State fighters could herald the break-up of Syria, leading to longer-term problems in the region and elsewhere. Background US President Barack Obama has announced that an initial batch of ‘fewer than fifty’ Special Forces troops will be deployed to Northern Syria...

Floods in Middle East Unlikely to Alleviate Water Stress

The arid region has experienced unusually high levels of rainfall in recent days leading to flooding and potential threats to human health with potentially dire political consequences. Background Flooding occurred in the Iraqi capital Baghdad after several days of heavy rainfall. An outbreak of cholera could grow worse as a result. Days later, a rare...

The Indus Treaty Revisited: India-Pakistan Water Sharing

29 October 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Mervyn Piesse Research Manager Global Food and Water Crisis Research Programme   Key Points The Indus Water Treaty has withstood periods of tension and conflict between India and Pakistan and has provided a pathway for the two neighbours to amicably resolve issues relating to transboundary water supply. Both countries clearly have faith in...

Jokowi’s Washington Visit: Long Term Aspirations for a US-Indonesia Partnership?

28 October 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

The trip to Washington may be a step towards a longer term prioritisation by Indonesia of investment and defence ties in its relationship with the United States. Background Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo arrived in Washington on 25 October and held bilateral talks with US President Barack Obama the following day. The three-day visit, which...

The Sino-Indian Competition Continues – In Africa

28 October 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India’s hosting of the third India-Africa Summit in New Delhi has led to speculation of a renewed competition with China – this time in Africa. If this is correct, New Delhi has some way to go to catch up with Beijing’s economic influence there. Background India is currently hosting the third India-Africa Forum Summit, the...

Potential “Super” El Niño Presents a Threat to Global Food and Water Security

A strong El Niño, if it is as extreme as that of 1997, will exacerbate food and water supply challenges, particularly in developing countries. Background The El Niño climate phenomenon, caused by warming in the Pacific Ocean, is a natural event that occurs roughly every seven to eight years. Occasionally it becomes stronger than usual...

Students’ Fee Protests Shake South Africa

28 October 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

More than just price increases, the student protests reflect the sense of injustice and of frustration with the ANC felt by large numbers of young, often middle class, South Africans over the continuing deep inequalities and lack of societal transformation twenty-one years after the end of apartheid. Background From their beginnings at the University of...

The Forest for the Trees: Obama and the Iran Nuclear Deal

21 October 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran might create business opportunities for the US, there is a major risk of losing the goodwill of the Arab world. Background It is reported that President Obama has instructed the US Government to initiate steps to lift the sanctions imposed upon Iran. This development comes ninety days after...

Indonesia Calls for Greater Beijing-ASEAN Co-operation

21 October 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Joint peace patrols between the China and ASEAN navies will give weight to Indonesia’s pursuit of a mediatory role in the South China Sea dispute. Background In a three-day meeting that began on 16 October, Chinese and ASEAN defence officials gathered in Beijing to discuss closer co-operation on security and defence matters. Announcing the visit...

Exercise Malabar 2015: Impact on the Indo-Pacific

21 October 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Malabar 2015 exercise poses operational problems for its participants but strategic ones for other regional and extra-regional countries. Background As the three navies of India, the United States and Japan were involved in the annual tri-lateral naval exercise codenamed Malabar in the Bay of Bengal, it signalled a strategic and operational shift in how...

An Appetite for Change? Tanzania Goes to the Polls

21 October 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The victor of what may be the closest election in Tanzanian history will need to address corruption and boost employment to ensure that more people – particularly the large youth population – are able to enjoy the full benefits of the country’s political stability and economic achievements. Background As Tanzanians prepare to head to the...

Rising Salinity in Bangladeshi Sundarbans

Rising salinity levels in the Sundarbans are partly responsible for growing rural-urban migration which is putting greater pressure on urban infrastructure. Background Rising sea levels and more frequent storm surges are increasing both water and soil salinity in the Sundarbans, a dense mangrove forest that straddles the India-Bangladesh border. Rising salinity is attributed to multiple...

Malaysia to Help Fight Indonesian Fires

14 October 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Malaysia has pledged assistance to Indonesia in fighting the fires raging in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Although useful from an environmental perspective, it will do little to prevent more haze next year. Background Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has had a two-day visit with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, on 11-12 October. According to a press release...

South Africa: ANC Vows to Tackle its Problems

14 October 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The ruling party has used its policy review session to try to address some of the problems facing it and the country, while the scene has been set for choosing a successor to President Jacob Zuma. Background At its fourth National General Council (NGC) meeting, the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) faced the...

Moscow and Riyadh: The Saga Continues

14 October 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Russia’s motivation to enter into the Syrian conflict could be to support Bashir al Assad and retain its presence in the Middle East – and to force Saudi Arabia to reduce its oil production in order to increase the price of the commodity. Background Russia’s entry into the Syrian quagmire, as President Obama termed the...

Low Water Levels Force Tanzania to Switch off Hydropower Plants

Faced with increased pressure on water sources and climatic variability, the country is beginning to turn to gas-fuelled electricity plants. Background Low water levels have forced Tanzania to turn off all its hydropower plants. Even prior to the shutdown many residents and businesses complained about a shortage of electricity supply, with many consistently experiencing several...

China and Japan Compete for Investment Opportunities in Indonesia

7 October 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

While China may have won the bid to build a high-speed railway link in Indonesia, it will have to continue to compete with Japan to secure future investment opportunities. Background China recently won a bid over Japan and France to build a railway link between Jakarta and the city of Bandung. The winner for the...

Germany’s Deals With India: Will This Include Major Arms Sales?

7 October 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Indo-German trade and military agreements will probably be beneficial to both countries but India should take care with defence purchases from Germany. Background German Chancellor Angela Merkel began her much-anticipated visit to India on 4 October, a day after initiating celebrations of the twenty-fifth anniversary of German re-unification. She was accompanied by senior cabinet...

Egypt Receives World Bank Loan for Rural Sanitation Project

The project promises better water quality, improved food security and a reduction in the incidence of health threats. Background The World Bank has contributed US$550 million ($766.82 million) towards a US$2.8 billion ($3.9 billion) project to improve sanitation and sewerage services in rural Egypt. The project is part of the government’s long-term decentralisation plan and...

The Trans-Pacific Partnership – The Winners and Losers in Australian Agriculture

Beef, rice and other grain growers see big gains to be had from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while sugar farmers are left disappointed by a missed opportunity. Background The twelve countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), including Australia, signed a historic trade agreement on Monday designed to liberalise trade and investments. The TPP trade deal will...

Minister’s Visit to Boost South Africa-Madagascar Relationship

7 October 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The visit to Madagascar of South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Luwellyn Landers, is intended to reiterate South Africa’s commitment to Madagascar by increasing two-way trade, which doubled between 2010 and 2014, and via the blue economy. Background Undertaking the first South African ministerial visit to Madagascar since the restoration of constitutional...

A Proposal for the Improved Provision of Emergency Food Aid through Industry Engagement: Mario Casotti

Download PDF   Key Points Australia is committed to being a disaster relief provider for theregion. The impact of regional disasters is becoming more acute as climate-related events become more severe and frequent. The capacity may exist for improved government and private sector collaboration to more efficiently maintain and deliver food aid stock for regional...

Haze Frays Singapore-Indonesia Relations

30 September 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Singapore’s plan to take legal action against five Indonesian firms that it believes are responsible for some of the dense smoke haze covering the region has received a strong rebuke from Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla. Background Frustrated by the record levels of smoke from Indonesian forest fires that are blanketing the city-state, Malaysia and southern...

The Afghan Taliban Take Kunduz: Could India Use the Situation?

30 September 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India could make use of the Taliban’s defeat of Afghan forces and the loss of the city of Kunduz to enhance its position in Afghanistan. Background For the first time since being ousted from power by US-led coalition troops in 2001, Afghan Taliban fighters have taken a major city. The Taliban mounted a three-pronged attack...

Food and Water Security Addressed in Sustainable Development Goals

The ambitious goals are likely to raise international awareness of food and water issues, but guaranteeing universal access by 2030 will prove difficult. Background The United Nations adopted 17 goals with an associated 169 targets, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on 25 September. The goals build upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and...

Indonesia as a Contributor to Regional Security

29 September 2015 | Indonesia

Download PDF Jarryd De Haan Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points Indonesia is looking to expand the capabilities of its navy in coming years through the Minimal Essential Force goal. Jakarta will likely focus on defence diplomacy through bilateral relations and seek to maintain a mediatory role in the South China Sea...

Indonesian Government to Address Haze Problem

23 September 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

There are hopes that recent talk from Jakarta of a toughening stance against the companies that engage in forest burn-offs will translate into action, but an ineffective judicial system will be a significant hurdle. Background Thick haze has set in over Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and southern Thailand due to the annual burning of land for...

South Africa: Development Indicators Report Gives Some Good News

23 September 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Increased life expectancy and literacy, reduced infant mortality rates and better access to electricity, water and sanitation services offer some good news for the Zuma Administration. Background The 2014 iteration of the Development Indicators Report – the seventh edition of the annual report – was unveiled in Pretoria on 20 September by Minister in the...

US Support for India’s Bid for a UNSC Seat: A Bargaining Chip?

23 September 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Washington’s statement that it supports India’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council while it voices its opposition to the reformation of the Council could be an instrument it uses to encourage New Delhi to enhance their relationship. Background India has long expressed a desire to have a seat on the United...

India: Inter-linking of the Godavari and Krishna Rivers

Joining the two rivers in the state of Andhra Pradesh will relieve pressure on groundwater aquifers but possibly at the cost of the region’s environment. Background The linking of the Godavari and Krishna Rivers is part of the Indian Government’s National River Inter-linking Project under which thirty rivers will be connected throughout the country. The...

Sri Lanka: River Diversion Plan Neglects More Urgent Water Management Issues

Better management of existing water resources in the northern dry zone needs to take priority to enhance water and food security and reduce the high prevalence of environmentally acquired disease Background The Sri Lankan Government signed a loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on September 18 to fund a plan to divert water...

Water Security in Urban India: Water Supply and Human Health

22 September 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Mervyn Piesse Research Manager  Global Food and Water Crisis Research Programme   Key Points Increasing urbanisation to 2030 will put further pressure on strained water infrastructure. Recognising that current practices are unsustainable, and implementing water conservation measures in urban areas, will take some of the pressure off declining groundwater supplies. Like their rural...

The Chemical Fertility of Soils: Soil Nutrients and Plant Nutrition

17 September 2015 | Northern Australia & Land Care

Download PDF Christopher Johns Research Manager Northern Australia Research Programme   Key Points There are a number of element nutrients that are essential for plant growth. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, three of the essential plant nutrients, are taken up from the atmosphere and from water. The other essential nutrients come from the soil. The major...

Indonesia: Widodo Drums up Business in the Gulf Region

16 September 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

President Joko Widodo’s discussions with officials in the Gulf States during his visit there probably included a push for further investment in Indonesia. Promising reforms may help encourage investors, but reforms need to be effective for any longer term results to ensue. Background Indonesian President Joko Widodo began his Middle Eastern tour on 11 September....

Ambitious Port Expansion Planned in Djibouti

16 September 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Plans for port expansions to further tap into the booming Ethiopian economy could hit a snag as the land-locked country – the main user of Djiboutian ports – looks to reduce its near-total dependence on Djibouti. Background Announcing the latest plans for the expansion of a number of port facilities around Djibouti, the Director-General of...

India Reaches Out to North Korea: Economic Motivations or Geostrategic?

16 September 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India’s move to renew its ties with North Korea is probably economically motivated but will, nevertheless, also have a geostrategic element to it. Background The Modi Administration has signalled its intention to upgrade ties with North Korea by having a senior minister attend the North Korean Independence Day celebrations at the North Korean embassy in...

Yemen Faces Worsening Food Crisis

Food insecurity continues to deteriorate after nearly six months of conflict and is unlikely to significantly improve until hostilities cease. Background Since March 2015, Yemen has experienced unrelenting conflict and past efforts to find a peaceful solution have failed. The conflict has had a dramatic impact upon the food and water security of Yemeni citizens....

Nepal Crisis: Civil Unrest Could See Further Delays to Disaster Relief

The fragile political situation poses risks to food security in post-earthquake Nepal. Background Two major earthquakes struck Nepal earlier this year, on 25 April and 12 May, killing thousands of people and affecting millions more. Hundreds of thousands of people now live in overcrowded shelter camps with little access to safe drinking water after 130,000...

Beijing, Moscow and Tehran: New Partnerships, New Alignments, New Considerations?

15 September 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF   Lindsay Hughes Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme Key Points Russian and Iranian troops are reportedly joining up in Syria to combat Islamic State (IS) fighters. This could signify their mutual desire to keep Bashar al Assad in power. It could suit Russia’s wish to be still perceived as a major power...

The Afghanistan-India Relationship: The Dangers for Three States

2 September 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The turn by the Ghani Government to Islamabad has soured relations with New Delhi and could prove detrimental to all three countries. Background India has disregarded the latest invitation from Afghan President Abdul Ghani to hold a Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) meeting between the two countries in accordance with the terms of the Strategic Partnership...

South Africa Forced to Import Corn as Dry Conditions Persist

Amid a regional dry-spell, the largest corn producer in Africa has begun to import the grain; however, the situation is not unprecedented. Background South Africa, the country that produces the most corn in Africa, is suffering from its most severe drought in more than two decades. The country usually produces enough corn to export a...

South African Economic Diplomacy Active in Iran

2 September 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

If successful, South African overtures to Iran could lead to benefits for both economies.  Background Deputy Foreign Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo led a Working Visit to Iran from 29 to 30 August. A follow-up to the regular Joint Commissions that cover topics across the full spectrum of the bilateral relationship, the underlying theme of this visit...

Malaysia and Indonesia to Increase Anti-Piracy Patrols

2 September 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While this may help to reduce incidents of armed robbery and petty theft against ships sitting in the region, a different focus will be needed to tackle the siphoning of oil and gas from tankers passing through the Malacca Strait. Background Malaysia and Indonesia are stepping up their joint efforts to combat increasing piracy in...

Kuwait: Food and Water Security

1 September 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

  Download PDF   Haweya Ismail Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Kuwait is currently food secure, having the ability to import its food requirements using wealth from oil revenues. Spending is expected to exceed oil revenue by 2017; economic diversification will be essential to maintain a system of...

Social and Demographic Issues in Indonesia

27 August 2015 | Indonesia

Download PDF   Mervyn Piesse Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points The majority of the Indonesian population will continue to live in the west of the country. This region will continue to experience slower population growth than the more sparsely populated east. As the fertility rate remains above replacement level, the population...

Indian River Link Project: Bangladesh Concerned Over Ignored Agreement

India’s decision to commence the first stages of the National River Linking Project (NRLP) without consulting Bangladesh could create tensions. Background The Indian Government is pushing ahead with the first stage of its river link project, linking the Ken River in Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa River in Uttar Pradesh, after gaining clearances from both...

Countries Drawing Closer as Seychellois President Makes Fifth India Visit

26 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

By further cementing the relationship between the two countries, President James Michel’s latest visit to India has the capacity to benefit the Indian Ocean archipelagic state in the key areas of the blue economy, maritime security and enhanced business and tourism links. Background Seychellois President James Michel is making his fifth visit to India, confirming...

Indonesia: Unlocking Geothermal Energy Potential

26 August 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

President Joko Widodo has advocated the development of geothermal energy but several obstacles continue to block efforts to fully develop the sector. Indonesia will need to harness both its geothermal potential and to expand its non-renewable energy sector. Background During his keynote speech at the 2015 Indonesia International Geothermal Convention and Exhibition (IIGCE) held 19-21...

The US and India; Pakistan and Russia: A Re-alignment of South Asian Alliances?

26 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While it is too early to tell if a permanent re-alignment of the historic ties between India and Russia on the one hand, and Pakistan and the US on the other, is taking place, there has been a definite shift in their strategic alignments. Background There have been increased calls for the US to cease...

Iran’s Nuclear Deal: A Fait Accompli or Not Quite Yet?

20 August 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Lindsay Hughes Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points It is not certain that the Iranian nuclear deal will pass the US Congress in its current form. The Republican-dominated Congress could be encouraged by opinion polls that show voter distrust of the terms of the deal and of Iran itself. At...

The Iranian Nuclear Agreement: Advantage Russia?

19 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Russia could use the Iranian nuclear deal as a potential stimulus to its long-term Middle East strategy, which may explain its renewed efforts to increase its influence in the region. Background Russia was part of the P5+1 team that negotiated with Iran in Vienna on the latter’s nuclear programme. The parties during this process came...

Saudi Arabia: Oil Economy Needs Reforms

19 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Although a recent IMF statement has played down the effect of declining oil prices on the Saudi economy, excessive government spending used to counter Iranian influence will need to be supported by economic reforms. Background With oil prices experiencing another decline, questions have been raised surrounding Saudi Arabia’s economic future. After prices stabilised at around...

South Sudan: President Suspends Peace Process as World’s Newest Country Faces Uncertain Future

19 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The inability to end the civil war will not only affect the country’s political stability, it would also hinder any efforts to respond to a possible looming famine. Background The prospects for peace in South Sudan received a setback on 17 August, when president, Salva Kiir, refused to sign an agreement that could have put...

Mozambique Looking for Tourism Boost to Economy

19 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

With no shortage of attractions for visitors, the Mozambican tourism industry holds great potential but if the country is to attract the investment that the industry will need, greater progress will have to be made in such issues as tackling corruption. Background Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário has called for increased investment in...

Indonesia: President Appoints New Economic Ministers and Outlines 2016 Budget

19 August 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Replacing key economic ministers with trusted and experienced officials could enhance Joko Widodo’s political standing but it will not overcome the external economic pressures that are hurting the Indonesian economy. Background President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, unimpressed by a lack of co-ordination among his government’s economic ministries and under pressure from the Indonesian Democratic Party of...

Will the Lion Roar? Kenya Attracts Investment, but Challenges Remain for Africa’s Fastest-Growing Economy

12 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A new study suggests that Kenya will receive improved infrastructure and telecommunications investment this year. While Nairobi is hoping that such investment will help it to attract more foreign companies and transform the country into a hub for intra-regional trade, challenges are looming. Background A recent study by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan reveals that...

Bahrain: Saudi-Iran Rivalry May Stoke Sectarian Tensions

12 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As Saudi concerns regarding Iranian influence increase, political rivalry may devolve into sectarian violence within the Bahraini population. Background In the lead up to an Iranian nuclear agreement, there has been an increasing push back against Tehran’s influence by Bahraini officials. On 25 July, Bahrain recalled its ambassador to Iran, citing ‘hostile statements’. It was...

Indonesian Navy to Take Greater Role in Protecting Coral Reefs

12 August 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Protecting reefs that are recognised internationally for their ecological significance could provide a boost to the Indonesian President’s maritime doctrine and assist in securing marine food security. Background The Indonesian Minister for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti, has called upon the Navy (TNI-AL) to increase its assistance in protecting the country’s 5.1 million hectares...

Iraq Faces Escalating Water Crisis amid Heatwave Protests

As temperatures soared above 50˚C in Iraq last week thousands took to the streets in protest of the lack of services and government corruption. Background Widespread power and water shortages in Iraq have triggered protests across Iraq, causing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to warn of growing revolutionary sentiments if the government fails to find quick...

Mozambique President Seeking Closer Ties with India

12 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The maritime security agreement secured by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on his state visit to India – his first to Asia as president – is the latest stage of a deepening relationship between the two countries and may help to put India ahead of China in the resource-rich country. Background Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi completed...

Bahrain Food and Water Security

11 August 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Bahrain currently experiences a comfortable level of trade-based food security; however, it is vulnerable to supply disruptions and price risk. A section of the population is vulnerable to food price rises due in part to widespread income and social...

Indonesia’s National Characteristics: Challenges and Opportunities

6 August 2015 | Indonesia

Download PDF Mervyn Piesse Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points The population of Indonesia is expected to exceed 300 million by mid-century. This population will likely be wealthier and more urbanised than it is currently. Such growth could place additional strain on food and water security. To ensure unemployment levels remain manageable,...

Saudi Arabia after the Iranian Nuclear Agreement: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

5 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Saudi Arabia may have every reason to feel abandoned by the US in the aftermath of the latter’s nuclear agreement with Iran but its options to redress that remain very limited. Background The recent agreement reached between the Washington-led P5+1 and Iran to curb the latter’s nuclear programme has upset the rulers of Saudi Arabia....

Iran Seeks to Bolster Air Force Following Nuclear Agreement

5 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While there is a need to modernise the outdated Iranian air force, this should not come at the expense of efforts to revive the battered national economy. Background It appears that Iran is looking to bolster its armed forces with the prospect of sanctions being lifted under the nuclear agreement and an estimated US$150 billion...

Turkey Seeks an Indonesian Foothold in South-East Asia

5 August 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Joint efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters to Islamic State could further co-operation between the two countries but suspicions of Turkish assistance to suspected Uighur militants could stall the relationship. Background After visiting China, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid a three day visit to Indonesia from 30 July in an effort to...

Burma Appeals for International Assistance as Cyclone Komen and Heavy Monsoon Rains Cause Flooding Across South Asia

Persistent rainfall and the landfall of Cyclone Komen have caused severe flooding and landslides across South Asia, killing hundreds and displacing over one million people. Background A slow-moving monsoon depression developed over Bangladesh last week and formed into a tropical cyclone over the Bay of Bengal on 29 July. Moving inland the next day, some...

South Africa: Threat of Gold Mining Strike Not Yet Over

5 August 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The spectre of industrial disruption that is once again hanging over the troubled South African gold mining industry may yet see mining companies and the National Union of Mineworkers find some common ground against radical newcomer, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. Background The threat of another strike continues to hang over the South...

The Nuclear Agreement with Iran: Advantage India – If the Government Moves Fast

29 July 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recently-arrived at nuclear agreement with Iran could hold major advantages for India provided New Delhi moves quickly to grab the opportunity. Background The Permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany recently reached a tentative agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear programme. Doubts remain as to whether the US Congress will permit the...

Developing Agriculture in Pakistan’s FATA: Japan and FAO to Fund Agriculture Project

The Japanese government has signed an agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to support the recovery and development of agriculture in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Background According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre there are approximately 1.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Pakistan. Up to 1.5 million of these are from...

Maldives: Constitutional Amendment Makes a Chinese Port Possible

29 July 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A constitutional amendment will make it easier for Beijing to pursue its ambitions in the Indian Ocean by constructing a naval base in Malé. Background The Maldivian parliament passed a constitutional amendment on 23 July allowing foreign nationals to buy land on any of the 1,200 islands that comprise the Maldives. The constitution previously prohibited...

El Niño Brings Prolonged Dry Conditions to Indonesia

29 July 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

  Meteorologists expect El Niño weather conditions to delay the rainy season in Indonesia, potentially leading to food, water, economic and environmental problems. Background The Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Management (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana, or BNPB) has declared that most of the country’s 34 provinces are experiencing drought and warns of an increased risk...

Food and Water Security in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Download PDF   Madeleine Lovelle Research Assistant Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Despite its harsh climatic environment Saudi Arabia is currently food and water secure. Saudi Arabia relies on its oil-based economy for food imports and desalinated water production. Groundwater depletion, a high reliance on food imports and a growing...

Food and Water Security in Qatar: Part 2 – Water Resources

Download PDF Haweya Ismail Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Scarce natural water resources, variable and low rates of evaporation, and high rates of water consumption have led to the over-extraction of groundwater. Desalinated water supplies at least 50 per cent of the country’s water demand; groundwater (36%) and...

Iran’s Nuclear Deal: Can Iran and the US Lose Their Historical Baggage?

22 July 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While the US-led P5+1 and Iran have reached a tentative agreement regarding Tehran’s nuclear programme, continuing anti-US rhetoric in Tehran and a deep suspicion of Iranian motives in Washington could still cause the agreement to collapse. Background Iran and the US-led P5+1 states (essentially, the permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council and...

Thailand’s Economy, Food Production Suffer as Drought Continues

The Thai Government has rationed water in approximately one-third of the country and asked farmers to delay planting their crops until August as ongoing drought severely constrains water resources. Background A reduction in rainfall caused by El Niño is severely limiting the water available to farmers in Thailand and is expected to significantly reduce the...

Mozambique President Wants More French Investment; Paris Cancels €17.5 Million Debt

22 July 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The decision by Paris to write off the debt owed to it by Mozambique and use the money to aid development in the country is an enlightened move that, if successful, could offer a new template for debt reduction and development assistance in one of Africa’s poorest countries and help to increase its attractiveness to...

Indonesia Seeks to Increase Exposure to Islamic Finance

22 July 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Boosting its Islamic finance sector will open Indonesia to new avenues of international investment and better protect it from international financial volatility. Background Indonesia is competing with Turkey to host the World Islamic Infrastructure Bank (WIIB), an initiative of the Saudi Arabian-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB). The WIIB, which is on track to be established...

Food and Water Security in Qatar: Part 1 – Food Production

Download PDF Haweya Ismail Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Qatar’s agricultural production is constrained by scarce water resources, infertile soil, harsh climatic conditions and poor water management. The financial and environmental costs associated with implementing Qatar’s National Food Security Program (QNFSP) may outweigh the cost of importing food...

India and Pakistan Dialogue: A Quick Return to a Stand-off?

15 July 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The international hopes of a resumption of dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad that were raised late last week when the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers met on the sidelines of the SCO Conference in Russia appear to have been dashed, with Pakistan now demanding that the issue of Kashmir be placed on the table....

Why Did Saudi Arabia Violate The Yemen Ceasefire Agreement?

15 July 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While it remains unclear exactly why Saudi Arabia violated the ceasefire agreement, Riyadh’s continuing concern over Iranian influence in Yemen was certainly a motivating factor. Background On 9 July, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed a decision by Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels to implement a humanitarian pause in the ongoing conflict in Yemen....

Tanzania: Ruling Party Elects New Leadership

15 July 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Having being chosen to succeed President Jakaya Kikwete, John Magufuli and Samia Suluhu will probably lead the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party to victory at the next presidential and general elections, scheduled for October 2015. Dr Suluhu will then become Tanzania’s first female Vice-President. Background Delegates from the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which has governed...

Australian Health Star Rating Not Yet a Transparent or Reliable System

One year after the launch of the Australian Government’s Health Star Rating System, the system is far from being a reliable source of nutritional information for consumers. Background In 2011-12, two-thirds of Australian adults and one quarter of Australian children were overweight or obese. In response to the growing obesity epidemic, the Health Star Rating...

Modi Tours Central Asia

While economic co-operation was announced as the focus of the tour, it is likely that securing India’s energy market and security co-operation to tackle the rising threat of extremism in Central Asia will be high on the agenda. Background Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently undertaking a tour of the Central Asian region. His...

India Prepares for Membership in SCO But Is It Prepared To Confront Multi-Alignment Reality?

As India prepares to become a full member of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation it must recognise that the Modi mantra of “multi-alignment” may cause it to walk a diplomatic tightrope. Background India and Pakistan have initiated the process to become full members of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO). If they are given full membership, SCO...

Religious Intolerance Remains High in Indonesia

8 July 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Recent reports suggest that Indonesia still has a long way to go in improving levels of religious tolerance. Draft legislation, if passed and enforced, might provide an opportunity for such an improvement. Background The latest quarterly report by the Indonesian Komisi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia (National Commission on Human Rights, or Komnas HAM) indicates that...

Seychelles Graduates to High Income Country Status

Reforms enacted following an economic crisis in 2008 are paying off and should guarantee the re-election of President James Michel at the next elections, due to be held in 2016. Background The World Bank has promoted the Seychelles to the status of High Income Country, confirming the successful economic policies pursued by the government of...

Under Our Feet: Soil Microorganisms as Primary Drivers of Essential Ecological Processes

Download PDF Christopher Johns Research Analyst Northern Australia Research Programme     Key Points Fertile soils teem with microorganisms, which directly contribute to the biological fertility of that soil. Biological fertility is under-studied and our scientific knowledge of it is incomplete. In addition to fertility, soil microorganisms also play essential roles in the nutrient cycles...

Capitalising on China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Should be a Priority for Agribusiness

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), signed on 17 June, has removed barriers for some of Australia’s key agricultural exports and will open the door for significant market growth in China. Background After years of consultations the successful conclusion of free trade negotiations between Australia and China were concluded in November 2014. Now that the...

Indonesia Formalises Involvement in Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

1 July 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Indonesia hopes to secure funding for its infrastructure development programme but, in the absence of greater bureaucratic reform, it is unlikely to fully benefit from the promises of the China-led institution. Background At a ceremony in Beijing on 29 June, officials representing the 57 founding members of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) gathered to...

India and China: A Case of Tit-for-Tat or a Signal of a Tougher Line?

India’s decision to block China’s bid to remove Pakistan from UN screening on the financing of terrorism can be seen on one level as payback, but is more likely a message to Beijing that New Delhi will not hesitate to take a tough line against it. Background On 23 June, China blocked an Indian attempt...

Bangladesh Hunger Rate Halved: A Model for Hunger Eradication

The State of Food Insecurity in the World report, released by the United Nations on 27 May, indicates that Bangladesh has reduced hunger rates by more than fifty per cent over the past 15 years. Background Countries in South Asia have made slow progress in reducing hunger levels and meeting the associated Millennium Development Goals...

Yemen: Saudi Bombs Fall after Talks Collapse

While the situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate with an increasing risk of escalating sectarian tensions, Islamic State attacks aimed at stoking these tensions are creating concerns over Yemen’s long-term stability. Background Talks in Geneva in June failed dramatically when a fight broke out between Houthi supporters and pro-government protesters. No agreement was reached at...

The Sultanate of Oman: Food and Water Security to 2025

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Food security in Oman is currently maintained through a combination of domestic production, food imports and substantial government support. Despite comprehensive water management, Oman faces a high risk of water shortages and is one of the most water-stressed countries...

With Japan’s Nuclear Change of Heart Could India Change Its Non-Alignment?

24 June 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Japan’s decision to export nuclear power technology to India will be welcomed by New Delhi, which is desperate to expand its energy mix, but it could see India begin to shed its non-alignment stance, even if in all but name. Background In a major policy reversal, the Shinzo Abe Administration in Tokyo has agreed to...

Mozambique Seeks Increased Chinese Economic Presence

24 June 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While it is by no means confining itself solely to China, the latest meeting of the Mozambique-China Joint Co-operation Commission has given a green light to increased Chinese investment in the economy of the resource-rich African country. Background China’s interest in resource-rich Mozambique was reiterated at the fifth Mozambique-China Joint Commission for Economic, Technical and...

Malaysia Enters Period of Political Re-alignment

24 June 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As the Malaysian opposition fractures, it leaves a void for new and more effective political movements to challenge the long rule of Barisan Nasional. Background Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Pact, or PR), a broad-based political coalition, was disbanded on 16 June 2015. It had long faced internal challenges that threatened to tear it apart. These challenges...

Russia and Saudi Arabia Sign Oil Co-Operation Agreement

24 June 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recently-signed agreement holds potential for greater co-operation in a number of areas, but differing objectives in Syria and Yemen could yet hinder the development of closer Russo-Saudi ties. Background Russian and Saudi delegations met on 18 June to discuss greater bilateral co-operation at the nineteenth St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. During the talks, six...

GRACE Satellite Mission Indicates Global Groundwater Diminishing

A study released by the University of California, Irvine (UCI), using data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission, has found the world is facing a serious threat to global groundwater sources. Background Over 700 million people in 43 countries suffer from water scarcity today. The United Nations predicts that by 2025, 1.8...

Is Sino-Indian Competition Looming in East Africa?

23 June 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Mervyn Piesse Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points While Africa has long been an important component of Chinese foreign policy, the Sino-Africa relationship is now influenced more by economic concerns than political ones. India has a long history of engagement with East Africa and many regional countries are home to...

India and Mongolia: Uranium and Beyond

19 June 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Balaji Chandramohan FDI Visiting Fellow   Key Points India sees excellent potential for co-operation with Mongolia in the resources sector, as the country is rich in such minerals as coal, copper, gold, rare earths and uranium. India has a civil nuclear agreement with Mongolia that was signed in September 2009 and which, following...

Communist Party of China Invites Aung San Suu Kyi to Beijing

17 June 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Beijing visit can be seen as an attempt by China to counter its loss of influence in Burma since 2010 and an astute positioning of itself ahead of the general election scheduled for later this year.  Background Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was invited by the Communist Party of China (CPC) to...

Djibouti: Construction Completed on Latest Link in East African Rail Network

17 June 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As it provides a link to the growing Ethiopian economy with the potential for expansion into other East African countries, the completion of the Chinese-funded Djibouti-Ethiopia rail line could prove very useful to Beijing’s regional interests. Background The leaders of Djibouti and Ethiopia met on 11 June to oversee the completion of a railway linking...

GCC Agricultural Committee Approves Key Food and Water Security Projects

In approving plans for a food and water security research centre, the Gulf Co-operation Council has taken a crucial step towards increasing food and water security among the member states. Background Joint action within the agriculture and water sectors is a key objective in achieving food security for the GCC member states. This year’s GCC...

Land Boundary Agreement Renews Hope for Bangla-Indian Teesta Water Sharing Pact

Bangladesh is hopeful that a positive conclusion to the Teesta water-sharing negotiations will soon be reached, following the successful Land Boundary Agreement between Indian Prime Minister Modi and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that was reached on 7 June.  Background In 2011, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee failed to agree to former Indian Prime...

Unemployment and Illegal Immigration Headline French PM’s Visit to Mayotte

17 June 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has unveiled measures intended to combat the twin problems of high of unemployment and the continuing flow of illegal immigrants but little will be achieved in the absence of an undertaking from the Comorian Government to co-operate on the issue.     Background French Prime Minister Manuel Valls headed a delegation of senior...

Turkey-Saudi Relations in the Modern Middle East

16 June 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Jarryd de Haan Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme     Key Points Turkey and Saudi Arabia will likely continue their co-operation in Syria but it is unlikely that the Turkish contribution to Saudi efforts in Yemen will extend beyond logistical support. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will continue to balance relations with Saudi...

Water Management in the Yellow River Basin

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   The administration of the Yellow River Basin (YRB) needs to move away from solely engineering-focused water management, which emphasises flood control and resource development, toward comprehensive, integrative basin management strategies. The YRB currently provides the domestic water supply for more than...

Tehran’s Nuclear Programme Draws Riyadh and Tel Aviv Closer

10 June 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite their historical enmity, Israel and Saudi Arabia will likely combine to fight Iran’s growing influence in the region and beyond. Background A retired Saudi Arabian General, Anwar Eshki, who once served as an advisor to Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi Ambassador to the US, and Israel’s former Ambassador to the United Nations,...

What Can Saudi Arabia Do About Islamic State?

10 June 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Saudi Government needs to ease sectarian tensions while maintaining legitimacy in the eyes of both its Sunni and Shi’a populations and may wish to expand its fight against IS independent of the US-led coalition. Background Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for two attacks on Shi’ite mosques on 22 and 29 May in the Shi’a...

India: Second Consecutive Drought Year Expected To Worsen Water Crisis

The Indian Meteorological Department has revised its monsoon rains forecast from “below normal” to “deficient” after reports of a strengthening El Niño pattern, signifying a second consecutive drought year for the country. Background India’s current heatwave – which has claimed as many as 2,500 lives – is the second deadliest that the country has experienced...

Indonesia: Muhammadiyah’s “Constitutional Jihad” Threatens to Undo Key Legislation

10 June 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The influential socio-religious movement’s legal challenge could reverse some of the economic liberalisation undertaken in Indonesia and make Joko Widodo’s political agenda even more difficult to achieve. Background Joko “Jokowi” Widodo faces a considerable challenge from a broad coalition of social and religious movements. Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organisation, with close to 30 million members,...

Singapore Signs MOU with UN Food and Agriculture Organization

Singapore and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have prioritised food safety and illegal fishing as part of an agreement, signed in Rome on 9 June, to improve food security and nutrition in South-East Asia.  Background Since joining in 2013, Singapore has prioritised its engagement with the FAO to contribute to food security...

Energy and Trade: Examining the Future of Indo-Canadian Relations

9 June 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Joash Pleiter Research Assistant Indian Ocean Research Programme Key Points The demands of India’s rapidly growing economy, particularly for energy, and Canada’s need to establish new markets for its vast energy supplies could prove to be a basis for a much closer, energy-based, buyer/seller relationship. An increased energy relationship could provide the foundation...

Pakistan Needs More from China

While the Pakistani Government works on developing economic ties with China, more needs to be done to remedy the domestic issues that mar the South Asian state’s economic growth. Background During a visit to Pakistan in April this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced energy and infrastructure projects worth US$46 billion that would be developed...

India’s New Defence Framework with the US Will Not Ease Existing Problems

While India may renew its defence co-operation agreement with the US and acquire advanced technology, there are many fundamental issues that it needs to solve first. Background US Defence Secretary Ashton carter, currently in India, will renew the ten-year-old defence framework between the two countries and probably enhance co-operation in maritime security, intelligence-sharing and joint...

The US-Indonesia Relationship Ahead of Widodo’s Washington Visit

Regional security challenges could push Joko Widodo to further develop his foreign policy position before his visit to Washington, but narrow economic interests will also be at the forefront of Jokowi’s mind. Background It was announced in March 2015 that Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo would visit the United States at some point in June...

The US-Indonesia Relationship Ahead of Widodo’s Washington Visit

3 June 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Regional security challenges could push Joko Widodo to further develop his foreign policy position before his visit to Washington, but narrow economic interests will also be at the forefront of Jokowi’s mind. Background It was announced in March 2015 that Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo would visit the United States at some point in June...

Sindh Government Announces Rental of Desalination Plant as Water Shortage Protests Continue in Karachi

The Sindh Provincial Government has signed a deal with foreign companies to supply desalinated water to Karachi by mid-June in a bid to meet rising water demand in the city. Background Karachi’s ongoing water crisis has led to the mounting incidence of protests and unrest in the city. Rapid urbanisation and industry expansion has exacerbated...

Localising Food Production: Urban Agriculture in Australia

Download PDF Haweya Ismail Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points An increasing number of urban Australians are struggling to access healthy, affordable food. The high cost of living and volatile food prices are leaving an increasing number of households requiring support from organisations like Foodbank. The re-localisation of food...

Indonesia Sinks Chinese Ship but Keeps Relationship on Even Keel

Even after sinking a Chinese fishing vessel, Jakarta has avoided souring the bilateral relationship by maintaining its lenient stance towards Beijing. Background Indonesia marked National Awakening Day, 20 May, by sinking 41 foreign ships accused of illegally fishing in its territorial waters. Among the destroyed vessels was the 300 gross tonne Gui Xei Yu 12661,...

Indonesia Sinks Chinese Ship but Keeps Relationship on Even Keel

27 May 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Even after sinking a Chinese fishing vessel, Jakarta has avoided souring the bilateral relationship by maintaining its lenient stance towards Beijing. Background Indonesia marked National Awakening Day, 20 May, by sinking 41 foreign ships accused of illegally fishing in its territorial waters. Among the destroyed vessels was the 300 gross tonne Gui Xei Yu 12661,...

India’s Pipeline Dilemma

A number of issues surround key pipeline proposals to transport natural gas through to India. To overcome this, India may need to focus on domestic production while continuing with alternative transportation of LNG. Background Various pipelines which will potentially involve India remain a key subject of discussion in both source and transit countries. Pakistani Prime...

Piping Water to Kinmen County: China-Taiwan Water Project Central to Improving Cross-Strait Relations

Chinese and Taiwanese officials have prioritised the finalisation of a water supply contract, and the commencement of associated project construction, between China’s Fujian Province and Taiwan’s Kinmen County following formal meetings on the Island of Kinmen last weekend. Background Kinmen County is at risk of a water shortage, due in part, to increasing tourism from...

French Navy to Base Next Generation Multi-Role Vessel at La Réunion

In stationing a new generation multi-role vessel at La Réunion when it enters into service in 2017, France has signalled its continuing commitment to the Indian Ocean Region with a vessel that will significantly aid the capabilities of the Marine Nationale in the south-western Indian Ocean.    Background Paris has confirmed that it will proceed with...

Modi One Year On: A Good, Bad or Indifferent Performance?

25 May 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Lindsay Hughes Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points Modi was elected with an anti-corruption and economic growth mandate. This was a direct outcome of the disgust felt at the corruption and coalition politics of the previous government. Figures indicate that the Modi Administration has fared fairly well in its first...

New Healthy Eating Pyramid Removes “Junk” Food and Prioritises Vegetables.

For the first time in 15 years a new food Pyramid was released on Monday by Nutrition Australia. The new Pyramid reflects the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines and has removed processed fats, sugar and junk food from the model. Background Australia and New Zealand are experiencing the fastest growth rates in overweight and obesity in...

Renewed Indonesian Forestry Moratorium Unlikely to Prevent Deforestation

While the moratorium on the clearing of Indonesian forests has been extended, increased subsidies for biodiesel and a push for food self-sufficiency could pose new threats to the protection of the country’s forests. Background Amid expectations that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo would tighten forestry regulations, he renewed the partial moratorium on forest clearing established by...

Japan Counters China’s AIIB, But Can India Take Advantage of That?

India will need to demonstrate increased determination, political will and efficiencies to take advantage of Japan’s decision to invest US$100 billion in Asia’s infrastructural development. Background The Japan Times reported yesterday that the Abe Administration plans to make US$100 billion available over the next five years for infrastructural development in Asia. This is the same...

China Rumoured to Open Naval Base in Djibouti

Although it remains unconfirmed, it must be no coincidence that China’s choice of location for its rumoured naval base in Djibouti is located on the other side of the country from the existing United States, French and Japanese facilities.      Background According to media reports following an interview given by Djiboutian president Ismaïl Omar Guelleh...

US-Gulf Co-operation Discussed at Camp David Meeting

Further US-GCC security co-operation could shape their common approach towards regional instability, including efforts at finalising a nuclear deal. Background A summit between the US and member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council was held on 14-15 May at Camp David. The leaders of Qatar and Kuwait attended while delegates were sent from the United...

Obama’s Nuclear Deal with Iran: Will Saudi Arabia Seek New Friends?

19 May 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Lindsay Hughes Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points Saudi Arabia has threatened to match Iran’s nuclear programme. It demonstrates a marked decrease in Saudi confidence in the ability of the United States to continue to act as a security guarantor in the region. This has major implications for the region...

Saudi King Cancels US Visit

Although it is unlikely that King Salman’s non-attendance at the upcoming Camp David summit is a deliberate slight against the United States, it does highlight the fractures that are appearing in the Saudi-US relationship. Background Leaders from Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will not be attending meetings scheduled for 14-15 May...

Yemen: Import Restrictions Hamper Food Relief Operations during Ceasefire

Import restrictions are reducing the flow of fuel and food supplies to Yemen, despite a five-day ceasefire between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels. Background The latest conflict in Yemen has exacerbated the country’s dire humanitarian situation. Poverty levels in Yemen, already considered the poorest country in the Middle East, have increased  from 42 to...

Indonesian President Turns Attention to Papuan Provinces

Recent actions by President Joko Widodo suggest that he understands the strategic importance of Papua and wishes to reduce the potential for instability in the region’s two resource-rich, but under-developed, provinces. Background Between 8 and 12 May, President Joko Widodo undertook a four-day visit to the eastern Indonesian provinces of North Maluku, West Papua and...

The Indo-Bangla Border Agreement: Modi’s Charm Offensive?

By forcing outstanding issues such as land swaps with Bangladesh through Parliament, Indian Prime Minister Modi is casting aside the distractions to his push towards engendering regional goodwill and enhancing India’s economic development. Background The Lower House of India’s Parliament, the Lok Sabha, passed The Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill on 7 May. This Bill permits...

South Africa: New Democratic Alliance Leader Ready to Take on Opponents

The new leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance has signalled his readiness to go after President Jacob Zuma, but his first real test will be the 2016 local government elections.  Background Mmusi Maimane has been elected as the new federal leader of South Africa’s official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA). The thirty-four year old...

The Strategic Rationale for Xi’s Visit to Pakistan

7 May 2015 | Indian Ocean

  Download PDF Lindsay Hughes Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme     Key Points Chinese President Xi’s visit to Pakistan was the result of economic and geo-political imperatives The visit was intended to further strengthen Sino-Pakistani ties It aimed to give China access to Iranian energy products that could be piped to China via...

Oil and Gas Contractors Expected to Cut Investment in Indonesia

Indonesia will need to make its foreign investment laws more attractive if it is to benefit from the technical knowledge and experience of international operators. Background The Indonesian Petroleum Association has estimated that oil and gas contractors will cut their planned capital expenditures by an average of about 20 per cent due to the decline...

Oil and Gas Contractors Expected to Cut Investment in Indonesia

6 May 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Indonesia will need to make its foreign investment laws more attractive if it is to benefit from the technical knowledge and experience of international operators. Background The Indonesian Petroleum Association has estimated that oil and gas contractors will cut their planned capital expenditures by an average of about 20 per cent due to the decline...

Mauritius: Former Foreign Minister Wants to Take Reins of Opposition

    If his bid to become leader of the Labour Party is successful, Arvin Boolell may find that rebuilding public confidence in the party after its record electoral defeat and the arrest of former Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam may prove to be his greatest challenge.       Background Former Foreign Minister Arvin Boolell has called on the...

Land Acquisition: Another Hurdle for India’s Nuclear Dream

India’s dearth of effective policy is hampering its goal of increasing its nuclear-generated power. Background A major election plank of the Modi Government was the production of electricity to power India’s economy and renew its deteriorating infrastructure. The creation of nuclear reactors was a major part of this goal. The Modi Government, consequently, agreed to...

Franco-Saudi Discussions May Boost Regional Co-operation

The Joint Statement by France and Saudi Arabia expressing their reservations about the Iranian nuclear deal and regional conflicts could be a precursor to closer co-operation in resolving future conflicts in the Middle East. Background French President François Hollande visited Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud on 4 May to discuss Iranian influence in...

Water and Sanitation Prioritised in Nepal as Monsoon Season Looms

Addressing the limited availability of fresh water and poor sanitation have been prioritised in Nepal, as overcrowded camps and the imminent arrival of the  monsoon season increase the risk of a disease outbreak following last month’s earthquake.  Background On 25 April, Nepal was struck by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed over 7,500 people and injured...

The State of Australia’s Soils

Download PDF   Christopher Johns Research Assistant Northern Australia Research Programme   Key Points Australian soils differ from those of northern America or Europe, where much scientific study on soil regeneration is taking place. Australian soils are generally older and have been exposed to constant weathering. Knowledge of the importance of soils and soil science...

Sudan Election Consolidates Bashir’s Hold on Power

29 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Sudan’s recent elections will have little effect on its current trajectory, although there appears to be a shift in Bashir’s relations in the Middle East. Background Sudan’s recent elections resulted in President Omar Hassan al-Bashir being re-elected, continuing his 26-year rule. Over the course of his rule, hundreds of thousands – mainly from the Fur,...

US LNG Supplies Could Change the Geopolitics of Asia

29 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

If the US’s liquefied natural gas goals come about, they could change the Indo-US relationship and create two distinct camps in Asia Background US Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, recently reported that the US is preparing to export huge amounts of liquefied natural gas (LNG). To this end, it is constructing four export terminals and...

Water Privatisation: Jakarta Latest City to Rule for Remunicipalisation

29 April 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

The annulment of a contract between Jakarta’s public water operator PAM Jaya and two private water operators earlier this year has left the management of the city’s water supply and sanitation networks in limbo. Background The Coalition of Jakarta Residents Opposing Water Privatisation (KMMSAJ) filed a lawsuit against Jakarta’s administrators in 2013 regarding the privatisation...

Kokang Conflict Strains Sino-Burmese Relations but Benefits the Military

29 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Burmese military benefits after the government blames China for the continuing Kokang conflict. Background Sino-Burmese relations have, generally, been close since the repression of Burmese pro-democracy riots in 1988. Throughout the next two decades, Western sanctions were instituted against the country leaving it dependent upon Chinese investment and trade. With Burma’s gradual transition towards...

Kokang Conflict Strains Sino-Burmese Relations but Benefits the Military

29 April 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

The Burmese military benefits after the government blames China for the continuing Kokang conflict. Background Sino-Burmese relations have, generally, been close since the repression of Burmese pro-democracy riots in 1988. Throughout the next two decades, Western sanctions were instituted against the country leaving it dependent upon Chinese investment and trade. With Burma’s gradual transition towards...

Water Privatisation: Jakarta Latest City to Rule for Remunicipalisation

The annulment of a contract between Jakarta’s public water operator PAM Jaya and two private water operators earlier this year has left the management of the city’s water supply and sanitation networks in limbo. Background The Coalition of Jakarta Residents Opposing Water Privatisation (KMMSAJ) filed a lawsuit against Jakarta’s administrators in 2013 regarding the privatisation...

India’s Rudderless Maldives Policy

28 April 2015 | Indian Ocean

Vikas Kumar FDI Associate Download PDF Narendra Modi’s recent tour of Indian Ocean island states may herald the revival of India’s ocean diplomacy. The exclusion of the Maldives from the tour, however, seems to be based on a misunderstanding of both the Maldivian Government’s choice of the timing of the arrest of former President Mohamed...

Tackling India’s Trade Deficit with China

23 April 2015 | Indian Ocean

  Download PDF Richa Sekhani FDI Associate     Key Points India’s rising trade deficit with China is now close to US$40 billion and is likely to double to $60 billion in the next two years, leading to serious concerns over India’s ability to sustain it. The deficit is the result of China’s structural shift...

Canada to Supply Uranium for India’s Nuclear Energy Programme

22 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Importing uranium from Canada will help India realise its nuclear energy objectives and could signify the beginning of a renewed long-term nuclear energy relationship between the two countries. Background Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, returned to Delhi on 18 April after visiting France, Germany and Canada. During his nine-day tour, Modi continued to push his...

China to Build Iranian Nuclear Power Plants

22 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

China’s deal to build nuclear reactors in Iran could strengthen bilateral relations with Tehran, strengthen Iran’s economy and assist Beijing in its bid to increase its influence in the region. Background China has agreed to help Iran build five new nuclear power plants, according to a statement by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI). The new...

China’s Aid to Pakistan: A Strategic Imperative?

22 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  China’s US$46 billion developmental aid to Pakistan may not look as enticing in the cold light of day and is probably an attempt to meet several Chinese goals at once. Background President Xi Jinping of China is about to wrap up his visit to Pakistan. Several agreements were signed in the two days that...

Will the Asia-Africa Conference Lead to Closer Co-operation?

22 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Past experience suggests that despite growing links, the establishment of a formal co-operative framework between Asia and Africa is unlikely to materialise. Background Representatives from 77 countries, including 33 heads of state, are converging on Indonesia to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the first Asia Africa Conference (AAC). The inaugural Conference was initiated by Indonesia...

China Releases Water Pollution Action Plan, Key Industries Targeted for Pollution Control.

Ten ‘dirty industries’ have been identified in China’s ‘Action Plan for Water Pollution Prevention and Control’ released by the State Council last week. The government is targeting key polluters as it attempts to improve China’s water quality by 2020. Background Water pollution continues to present a serious threat to both environmental and population health in...

Pakistan’s Controversial Yemen Decision

21 April 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Claude Rakisits FDI Associate     Summary The Pakistani Parliamentarians’ decision not to respond positively to Saudi Arabia’s request for military support for its military operations against the rebel Houthis in Yemen would have come as a shock to the Saudi leaders. They had great expectations that they would be able to count...

South Africa: Anti-Statues Movement Symptomatic of Growing Frustration

16 April 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF   Leighton G. Luke Manager Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points The movement to take down colonial- and apartheid-era statues from public areas across South Africa is heavy on symbolism,but is merely symptomatic of a wider disenchantment with the rate of transformation in South African society. It also reflects the uncertainty over...

Pakistan Hesitates to Join Saudi-led Coalition

15 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Pakistan and Turkey have launched a consultative process to find a diplomatic solution to the Yemeni conflict. While it will likely join the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in a supporting role, Pakistan’s hesitation could potentially strain its strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia. Background Together with Turkey, Pakistan has launched a diplomatic initiative to find a solution...

Post-Sanctions Iran: India in Danger of Being Marginalised

15 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A lack of geostrategic foresight has placed New Delhi in danger of being marginalised by China in Iran, no matter its on-going project in Chabahar Port. Background It is becoming increasingly apparent that in the wake of the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme between the P5+1 and Tehran and assuming the US Senate Foreign Relations...

Cabinet Reshuffle Likely to do Little for Indonesian President’s Popularity

15 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Elitist interests take precedence over concerns about popularity, limiting the impact that a future cabinet reshuffle could have on Joko Widodo’s political standing. Background Recent public opinion surveys indicate that Indonesians want President Joko Widodo to reshuffle his cabinet and fire some under-performing ministers. Widodo became president with an approval rating of 75 per cent,...

Cabinet Reshuffle Likely to do Little for Indonesian President’s Popularity

15 April 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Elitist interests take precedence over concerns about popularity, limiting the impact that a future cabinet reshuffle could have on Joko Widodo’s political standing. Background Recent public opinion surveys indicate that Indonesians want President Joko Widodo to reshuffle his cabinet and fire some under-performing ministers. Widodo became president with an approval rating of 75 per cent,...

South African Politics: A New Contender as Zille Steps Down as DA Leader?

15 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Although the sudden announcement of her retirement as national leader by Helen Zille looks likely to open the door to a star performer from the younger generation, it is by no means certain that Mmusi Maimane will have what it takes to further expand support for the DA in an increasingly loud and contested political...

South Korea, China and Japan Announce Trilateral Agreement to Co-operate Over Water

China, South Korea and Japan have signed a joint statement agreeing to strengthen co-operation on water-related matters during the 7th World Water Forum held in South Korea this week. Background The World Water Council hosts the World Water Forum every three years, bringing together over 3,500 world leaders, experts and business people for a six...

Water Security in an Urbanising Pakistan

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Pakistan faces an acute water crisis which requires immediate action. Urbanisation will exacerbate water insecurity and present Pakistan with significant economic, social and political challenges. Water insecurity and climate change are contributing to the rapid increase in rural-urban migration....

Iran Nuclear Deal: Success or Disaster?

8 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Although the nascent agreement will not definitively prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons after it expires, it remains the best option at this point as viable alternatives are scarce. Background After years of negotiations surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme, a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was reached in Lausanne, Switzerland between the P5+1, the European...

Australian Bank to Fund Mauritius Port Expansion

8 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A preliminary agreement between Australian investment bank, Macquarie, and the Mauritian Government to expand oil bunkering facilities in Port Louis could provide a welcome boost to Australian-Mauritian economic ties while aiding the efforts of Mauritius to strengthen its economy. Background The Mauritian Government, through the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, Mr Ashit Gungah,...

India-Japan Ties Forging Ahead

8 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The mutual admiration shared by Prime Ministers Abe of Japan and Modi of India appears to be rapidly translating into economic and defence agreements. Background Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe have long shared a mutual admiration for each other’s political abilities. It was no surprise, therefore, that Modi was given a warm welcome when he...

Renewed Anti-Terrorism Laws in Indonesia and Malaysia

8 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Recent attempts to confront religious radicalisation in these countries have proved problematic and could, moreover, be open to misuse. Background The Indonesian Government has controversially clamped down on Islamic websites that allegedly promoted radicalism. Malaysia, meanwhile, has passed new anti-terror legislation that allows for indefinite detention without trial. The responses of both countries have come...

Renewed Anti-Terrorism Laws in Indonesia and Malaysia

8 April 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Recent attempts to confront religious radicalisation in these countries have proved problematic and could, moreover, be open to misuse. Background The Indonesian Government has controversially clamped down on Islamic websites that allegedly promoted radicalism. Malaysia, meanwhile, has passed new anti-terror legislation that allows for indefinite detention without trial. The responses of both countries have come...

Karachi in Crisis: Water Shortages Spark Protests in Pakistan’s Largest City.

Continuing water shortages in Karachi have sparked protests and demands that the provincial government do more to address the city’s growing crisis. Background Water scarcity is an ongoing challenge in the city of Karachi. Home to approximately 22 million people and rapidly expanding, the city’s neglected infrastructure cannot meet the demands of its residents. The...

Challenges Confronting South Africa: Land Reform

7 April 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF   Leighton G. Luke Manager Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points The pace of land redistribution under the principle of “Willing Buyer, Willing Seller” has been so slow and so heavily criticised that the ruling ANC has signalled its intention to abandon the policy. The failings of “Willing Buyer, Willing Seller” have...

Indonesia and Regional Bilateral Relations: The Alternative to Multilateralism

2 April 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Mervyn Piesse Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme Key Points   President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, judged by his actions in the first five months of his presidency, appears to place greater emphasis on bilateral relationships rather than the construction of a multilateral economic and security framework. Key bilateral relationships with Malaysia, Singapore, the...

Indonesia: Joko Widodo Seeks Security and Investment from East Asia

1 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Staying true to the well-established Indonesian “free and active” foreign policy, President Widodo is courting both Japan and China for security and investment. Background A Memorandum of Understanding signed by President Joko Widodo and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outlined a commitment by the two countries to increase co-operation in peacekeeping, disaster relief and the...

Indonesia: Joko Widodo Seeks Security and Investment from East Asia

1 April 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Staying true to the well-established Indonesian “free and active” foreign policy, President Widodo is courting both Japan and China for security and investment. Background A Memorandum of Understanding signed by President Joko Widodo and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outlined a commitment by the two countries to increase co-operation in peacekeeping, disaster relief and the...

Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Policy: The Danger to India, the Middle East and Pakistan

1 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Pakistan’s decision to pursue nuclear technology to balance India’s overwhelming conventional military capacity will likely harm not only India but also the Middle East and Pakistan itself. Background Pakistan conducted a test launch of a new nuclear capable missile, the Shaheen III, on 2 March. Its military leaders claimed the missile has a range of...

Will Pakistan Join Operation Decisive Storm?

1 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Any decision by Pakistan to join the Saudi-led Sunni coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen could create social tensions at home even while it guarantees Saudi goodwill and largesse Background It now seems likely that Pakistan will join a Saudi-led coalition, known as Operation Decisive Storm, against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Arab...

China to Expand Strategic Djibouti Free Trade Zone

1 April 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Risks aside, the agreement to expand Djibouti’s free trade zone as part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” policy, has the potential for both countries to strengthen their respective economies by benefiting from emerging African markets. Background The presidents of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (DPFZA) and the Chinese state-owned group, China Merchants...

Drought and Salinity Threaten Vietnamese Mekong Delta while Intensive Rice Production Continues

Intensive rice cultivation is threatening long-term agricultural sustainability in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region. An ongoing drought and increasing salt water intrusion are limiting water availability in the area, affecting both the environment and local farmers.    Background Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of rice in the world. Driven by a “rice first” agricultural policy, prioritised since...

Indonesia and ASEAN: Limited Prospects for Greater Multilateralism

31 March 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Mervyn Piesse Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points   ASEAN plans to reform itself into a closer economic, political, security and cultural identity, to be known as the ASEAN Community. Due to the organisation’s strong norms and values, which make it highly resistant to change, it will be difficult for...

Sino-Indian Relations and Modi’s Visit to Beijing

26 March 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF   Lindsay Hughes FDI Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme     Key Points   Modi’s forthcoming visit to China has the potential to set the tone of Sino-Indian relations for years to come. India requires Chinese investment to reconstruct its dilapidated infrastructure. It cannot, however, be seen to overly accede to Chinese...

Sharing Water: Israel and Jordan Finalise Agreement for Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline

Development of the US$900 million Red Sea-Dead Sea water sharing project is set to go ahead following the finalisation of the Jordan-Israel water supply agreement in February. The project will include the development of a desalination plant and pipeline linking the two water bodies. Background Accessing enough fresh water to cater to rising demand is...

Yemen: Challenges to Growing Houthi Influence

25 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Houthis will remain the fastest-growing political force in Yemen but they will face a growing array of domestic and international challenges, including antipathy from the Gulf States and the international community. Background Yemen is under the spotlight again with “Sana’a Province”, a group affiliated with the Islamic State, claiming responsibility for co-ordinated suicide attacks...

India’s 2015 Defence Budget Enables Flexibility in Strategic Calculus

25 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India’s defence budget seeks to expand the military’s strategic reach, address the country’s immediate security concerns, boost the military-industrial complex and emphasise a maritime-air defence combination over the current air-land orientation. Background The Indian defence budget for 2015-16 was recently announced in New Delhi. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s first budget is notable for several reasons,...

Indonesian Investment Climate Remains Tenuous

25 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Challenges to conducting business in Indonesia will make it difficult for foreign investors to remain in the country. Background The Indonesian Investment Co-ordinating Board (Badan Koordinasi Penamaman Modal: BKPM) recently revoked 6,541 business permits granted to foreign investors between 2007 and 2012. The permits were worth a total of 300.9 trillion rupiah ($29.5 billion), close...

Indonesian Investment Climate Remains Tenuous

25 March 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Challenges to conducting business in Indonesia will make it difficult for foreign investors to remain in the country. Background The Indonesian Investment Co-ordinating Board (Badan Koordinasi Penamaman Modal: BKPM) recently revoked 6,541 business permits granted to foreign investors between 2007 and 2012. The permits were worth a total of 300.9 trillion rupiah ($29.5 billion), close...

Mozambique at Economic Crossroads?

25 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite consistent economic growth in recent years, Mozambique will increasingly face the challenges of maximising its resources wealth, improving fiscal responsibility and increasing political and social stability without impeding economic growth.           Background The south-east African country of Mozambique has experienced rapid economic expansion over the past two decades. According to the proposed Economic and...

Egypt-Ethiopia: Dispute over Nile Dam Likely to Persist Despite New Trilateral Agreement

Although the signing of the Declaration of Principles between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia may ease tensions in the short term, there is still the potential for a renewed stalemate. Background A new pact on the management of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan has averted a potential conflict over...

Australia-India Relations: Why, How and When?

19 March 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF   Dr Auriol Weigold FDI Associate Key Points Despite the best intentions of their respective Prime Ministers, any enhancement of the Indo-Australian relationship depends for the most part on India’s domestic agenda and thus remains speculative. Modi’s perceived tilt towards the United States and its key democratic allies, including Australia, may lead to...

An Urbanising Region: Sustainable Water Management is Imperative for Future Stability

Faced with rapid population growth and urbanisation, how we manage our water will have a lasting impact on security and stability in the Indian Ocean Region. In focussing on this year’s World Water Day, 22 March, Future Directions International explores the link between water and sustainable development in our region. Background In every area of...

China-Burma Economic Relations Will Remain Unaffected By Border Incident

18 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Tensions between Burma and China over a border incident will not threaten their economic relationship. Instead, it may be the increasing diversity of foreign investors in Burma that eventually comes to challenge China’s hegemony. Background After unintentionally bombing a Chinese civilian building a few days earlier, the Burma Air Force again strayed into Chinese territory...

India: Food Subsidy Programme Will Remain Despite Recommendations to Downsize

The Indian Government has rejected a recommendation to scale down its food subsidy programme, and has opted instead to introduce a direct cash transfer scheme to ensure food subsidies are more efficiently utilised. Background India’s high-level Shanta Kumar Committee has released a report detailing recommendations to scale down the beneficiaries of the National Food Security...

Modi in Mauritius: A Successful Visit

18 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The economic and security agreements reached between India and Mauritius during Narendra Modi’s recent visit confirm India’s intention to strengthen its relationships with the island states of the Indian Ocean. Background Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mauritius on 11-12 March, the second leg of his three country tour, which also included the Seychelles and...

Turkey-Qatar Partnership in Middle East Politics

18 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The strengthening of a Turkish-Qatari partnership in the Middle East is in the interests of both countries and is unlikely to have any significant impact on other countries in the region, but care must be taken to ensure other regional states do not misperceive this relationship as a Qatari bid for increased influence in the...

Challenges Ahead for the Omani Economy

18 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Omani policymakers will need to implement major economic reforms and diversify the oil-dependent economy, which has suffered as the result of the fall of global oil prices. With a currently unsustainable public sector, authorities are challenged with introducing economic reform while avoiding possible social unrest.         Background The International Monetary Fund has warned that Oman...

Will Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan Form a Coalition Against Iran?

17 March 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Lindsay Hughes FDI Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points Iran has troops and allied militias fighting Islamic State forces in Iraq, north of Saudi Arabia, and supports the Shi’a Houthi rebels who have consolidated their hold on Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, immediately to the south of the Kingdom. This...

Regenerating our Landscapes

Download PDF Christopher Johns Research Analyst Northern Australia Research Programme   Key Points Much Australian soils are old and weathered.  This has partly resulted in depleted levels of biological activity, reduced carbon flow and lower than average rainfall retention. Regenerative practices are essential; without water, carbon, nutrients and critical microbes, and an effective relationship between...

Popular Support for Joko Widodo Declines

11 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Voters are beginning to question the Indonesian President’s commitment to reducing corruption, potentially worrying investors. Background President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was inaugurated in October 2014 with a clear mandate to tackle corruption in a country with a reputation for graft. He also promised to address past human rights abuses and reform the police. He was...

Popular Support for Joko Widodo Declines

11 March 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

Voters are beginning to question the Indonesian President’s commitment to reducing corruption, potentially worrying investors. Background President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was inaugurated in October 2014 with a clear mandate to tackle corruption in a country with a reputation for graft. He also promised to address past human rights abuses and reform the police. He was...

Singapore-Rajasthan Sign Joint Programme on Water Management

Plans for Rajasthan to achieve a sustainable water management system will receive a significant boost following the conclusion of a new management agreement with Singapore. Background New plans for India and Singapore to form a joint programme in water management reveal strengthening ties in a year that marks the fiftieth anniversary of bilateral relations etween...

Modi Visits Seek to Reclaim Influence in Indian Ocean Island States

11 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India will address the maritime needs of three island countries in the Indian Ocean in an effort to boost relations and simultaneously counter China’s influence in the region. Background Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to renew his government’s focus on security ties with a number of island countries in the Indian Ocean. Modi...

New Code of Conduct Aims to Create Greater Protections for Grocery Suppliers

Australia’s new Food and Grocery Code of Conduct came in to force on 3 March. It is hoped that the new voluntary code will clamp down on unfair conduct and market power imbalances. Background Skewed market power within Australia’s food chain is an ongoing challenge for small businesses and local farmers. The considerable power of...

Mozambique: Uncertainty Returns as Constitutional Lawyer Assassinated

4 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The assassination of a leading constitutional lawyer has the potential to derail the fragile rapprochement between the two leading Mozambican political parties. Background Political uncertainty has returned to Mozambique following the assassination of a leading constitutional lawyer who had backed calls for greater provincial autonomy from the opposition Renamo party. Gilles Cistac, a Franco-Mozambican, was...

Kenya and India to Boost Agriculture Co-operation

Kenya and India have restated their commitment to improving bilateral trade relations and enhancing co-operation in agriculture at the most recent Joint Trade Committee meeting in New Delhi. Background Co-operation between India and Kenya is set to expand following the conclusion of the seventh India-Kenya Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting, held in New Delhi on...

Iran Nuclear Negotiations Pit the Obama Administration against Congress

4 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Obama Administration will find it difficult to implement any meaningful legislation regarding a nuclear agreement with Iran if the domestic situation devolves into partisan politics. Background US Secretary of State John Kerry has flown to Switzerland for the 28th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, where he will...

Is Malaysian Democracy Under Threat?

4 March 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Democracy in Malaysia could face significant challenges as Najib Razak’s Prime Ministership comes under scrutiny and the opposition coalition remains at heightened risk of dissolution. Background Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak faces numerous challenges. The Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, known as 1-Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), has come under scrutiny after documents that allege corrupt practices...

Examining the Regional Effect of the Growing Relationship between the United States and India

3 March 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF Jarryd de Haan Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points It is unlikely that India’s relationship with the US will develop at the expense of its militarily-focused partnership with Russia. It may, however, further strain its relationship with Pakistan. The need to balance economic considerations with security and strategic interests may...

Crisis in Yemen: Food, Water and the ‘Slow Motion Coup’

26 February 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Tess Marslen        Sinéad Lehane Research Analyst    Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points Yemen is the most food insecure country in the Middle East and has the eighth-worst hunger rate globally. Currently, over 10 million Yemenis, or 42.5 per cent of the population, are food...

India: Prime Minister Lacks Support from Ministry of Defence

25 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

If India wants China to take it seriously, it has no alternative to upgrading its economic and military capacity quickly. Background The recent visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as South Tibet, to take part in its anniversary celebrations of attaining statehood, brought about...

Indonesia: A New Police Chief Candidate, a New Beginning for President Widodo

25 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

By withdrawing Budi Gunawan as a nominee for the position of police chief, Joko Widodo is in a better position to salvage his public image, but significant hurdles, largely beyond his control, remain. Background Following weeks of uncertainty that re-ignited the feud between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Indonesian National Police (Polri), Comr....

Tensions Persist in Saudi-Russian Relations

25 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent oil price drop, in conjunction with Russia’s struggling economy, may further strain Saudi-Russian relations. There is potential for co-operation in the oil market, although it is unlikely that Riyadh will cut oil production. Background Oil prices, which have dropped from US$92 to US$49 per barrel in the last six months, as well as...

South Africa: Provincial Premier Outlines Growth Plans

25 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

If the ambitious plans unveiled by Gauteng Premier David Makhura can be funded and implemented successfully, they have the potential to make a real difference to economic activity and living standards in the engine room of the South African economy.  Background The Premier of South Africa’s wealthiest province has used his annual State of the...

Addressing Food Insecurity in Africa: The Need for Greater Strategic Alignment and a More Robust Finance Tracking System for Aid

Although a vast amount of money is poured into investments in agriculture and food production in Africa, approximately 65 per cent of the continent’s arable land is too damaged to produce food. Transparent and traceable funding that prioritises soil and land management is required to ensure investment is being directed to where it is most...

Examining the Developing Bilateral Relationship between the United States and India

19 February 2015 | Indian Ocean

Download PDF   Jarryd de Haan Research Analyst Indian Ocean Research Programme   Key Points   Deeper bilateral ties may serve to bolster India’s export market, improve US investor confidence in India, and enable India to develop and manufacture the military technology it requires. The US also has the opportunity to enhance its military exports...

Foreign Purchases of Australian Land: Tighter Rules Won’t Necessarily Deter Foreign Investment

The Federal Government has announced that foreign purchases of agricultural land will undergo greater scrutiny and reporting from 1 March 2015. Background Foreign investment in agricultural land is a topic of great debate within Australia. Oscillating between two distinct for and against arguments, debate has depended on little supporting data on the state of investment...

South Africa to Limit Land Ownership

18 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The proposed changes to land ownership have the potential to address longstanding inequalities but, if not implemented correctly, could easily have the opposite effect. Background In his 2015 State of the Nation Address on 12 February, President Jacob Zuma announced his government’s intention to place formal limits on land ownership. Under the policy, the maximum...

Sirisena’s India Visit: Reaction to China’s Influence in Sri Lanka?

18 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

By making India his first overseas destination as president, Maithripala Sirisena is de-emphasising the pro-China leaning of his predecessor, thus giving New Delhi a major opportunity to regain its regional standing. Background The recently-elected Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, is currently on a state visit to New Delhi. The fact that he has chosen India...

Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates Look to Enhance Regional Co-operation

18 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are looking to expand co-operation within the Gulf region in the wake of deteriorating regional security. It is likely that any joint counter-terrorism initiative will take place within the context of the Gulf Co-operation Council. Background Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, visited King Salman...

Sumatran Ports the First to Undergo Modernisation

18 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The construction of ports in Sumatra could rectify some of the logistical problems that restrict Indonesia’s economic growth but is unlikely to significantly affect well-established international shipping routes. Background As part of President Joko Widodo’s maritime development programme, work has commenced on the construction and expansion of five ports in the west of the country....

Sumatran Ports the First to Undergo Modernisation

18 February 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

The construction of ports in Sumatra could rectify some of the logistical problems that restrict Indonesia’s economic growth but is unlikely to significantly affect well-established international shipping routes. Background As part of President Joko Widodo’s maritime development programme, work has commenced on the construction and expansion of five ports in the west of the country....

Policy Briefing Paper: Australian Food Systems

17 February 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Tess Marslen Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crisis Research Programme     Key Recommendations To meet rising food demand Australian food producers must improve their sustainability, productivity and efficiency. If Australia is to remain competitive in the global food market, farm export value and volume must increase. Rising debt and low domestic...

Sharing of Teesta Water Critical for India-Bangladesh Relations

Bangladesh is hopeful that an upcoming visit from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, scheduled for 19 February, will accelerate progress on the Teesta water-sharing negotiations. Background Bangladesh is a lower riparian state to the 53 rivers that it shares with India. As a result, the country is vulnerable to the interests of its upstream...

Modi in China: The Pros and Cons of the China-Pakistan Nuclear Energy Nexus

11 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

If the upcoming Modi-Xi discussions include India’s reservations regarding Pakistan, the Sino-Pak civil nuclear energy deals will undoubtedly be close to the top of the list of topics to be discussed. Background Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit China for discussions with President Xi Jinping before the end of May this year....

Malaysia-Indonesia Relationship Stronger After Presidential Visit

11 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Malaysia-Indonesia bilateral relationship is on a firmer footing after Indonesian President Widodo’s visit to Kuala Lumpur, although relations could still be damaged by a lingering trust deficit. Background In his first bilateral trip abroad since taking office in October 2014, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo arrived in Malaysia on 5 February for a two day...

Malaysia-Indonesia Relationship Stronger After Presidential Visit

11 February 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

The Malaysia-Indonesia bilateral relationship is on a firmer footing after Indonesian President Widodo’s visit to Kuala Lumpur, although relations could still be damaged by a lingering trust deficit. Background In his first bilateral trip abroad since taking office in October 2014, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo arrived in Malaysia on 5 February for a two day...

Progress Made as Mozambique’s Political Leaders Meet at Last

11 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The nascent rapprochement between the leaders of the two main Mozambican political parties is a positive development and a necessary step towards ending the threat of instability that has hung over the country since the October 2014 general election. Background In a landmark meeting in the capital Maputo on 7 February, Afonso Dhlakama, long-time leader...

Yemen: Higher Tensions but Lower Prospect of Sectarian Violence

11 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While it is unlikely that the situation in Yemen will escalate to widespread sectarian violence, it will also be difficult for the Houthis to maintain power as they become increasingly isolated in the face of escalating economic pressures. Background Since the latest FDI update on Yemen, Houthi rebels have taken control of the capital, Sana’a,...

Australia’s Water Security Part 3: Reform & Governance

5 February 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points   Water management and governance in Australia is complex and lacks uniformity across jurisdictions. Since the introduction of the National Water Initiative (NWI) in 2004, all states and territories have made significant progress on water reform. Water...

India Walks a Diplomatic Tightrope

4 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

By re-emphasising its ties with China and Russia, India will need to be very careful if it is to balance its new and growing ties with the West with its longstanding strategic links with Russia and its trade relationship with China. Background India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, is presently in Beijing to take part...

President Jokowi Seeks Opposition Support

4 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

By reaching out to his main political rival, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo could ensure that his anti-corruption credentials are preserved. Background President Widodo is facing increasing pressure from his political allies after postponing the inauguration of new police chief, Commissioner-General Budi Gunawan. Members of the President’s Great Indonesia Coalition, including some of his main...

President Jokowi Seeks Opposition Support

4 February 2015 | Indonesia SWA Articles

By reaching out to his main political rival, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi