The influence of Jawaharlal Nehru, as the first prime minister of India, remains relevant seventy years after independence. The dealings of current PM Narendra Modi with regional and global leaders demonstrate his personal charisma and political agility and speak of progression, rather than change. India’s past conflict and present competition with China conform to that pattern.
In a recent visit to the Sultanate by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Oman granted India the use of a strategic port and the two states signed several Memoranda of Understanding. As China’s presence in the Indian Ocean Region grows, India will continue to look to Oman, a longstanding partner, to help it to achieve its economic and maritime security interests in the Persian Gulf.
The purchase of eleven Sukhoi fighter jets is a small, but welcome upgrade. The larger process of expanding the Indonesian Air Force, of which it has been part, is extremely slow-moving and achieving the Minimum Essential Force goals by 2024 appears unlikely.
The resignation of Jacob Zuma offers a chance to move past his controversial presidency but the governing party is far from united. If the ANC can come together to govern equitably and in the best interests of all South Africans, while repudiating the corruption, incompetence and cronyism of the Zuma era, the Cyril Ramaphosa presidency may offer a welcome return to the optimism and vitality that initially characterised post-apartheid South Africa.
Politicians have used the review to shore up conservative votes at the expense of Indonesia’s LGBT community. At this stage, it is likely that the revision will be endorsed by parliament but it remains unclear whether it will be approved by President Jokowi.
With an economy that is vulnerable to external factors and dependent on tourism and industrial fishing, the return of an aquaculture industry could help ensure economic diversity and a sustainable food source for an increasingly challenged fisheries sector.
China has several reasons for wanting to enhance its ties with Afghanistan, including the need to tackle Islamic radicalism that threatens its Xinjiang province. Afghanistan also acts as a buffer state and provides a rich source of minerals, including lithium. If brought fully under Chinese influence, it would enable Beijing to replace the United States in the country and provide China with another route for its Belt and Road Initiative.
As Sri Lanka moves to modernise its economy, Singapore is delicately balancing its economic interests with China against its regional security interests. For both Singapore and Sri Lanka, the signing of a free trade agreement is a means of furthering their respective goals through a closer bilateral relationship.
A new platform for counter-terrorism dialogue may not yield tangible results for South-East Asia but could act as a useful diplomatic vehicle for Australia to deepen its strategic bilateral arrangements with key partners.
There are a number of reasons for the recent anti-establishment demonstrations in Iran, but one common thread that runs through those various causes is the economic hardship faced by ordinary Iranians on a daily basis. If the economy continues to languish, the demonstrations could herald a precarious period in the immediate future for the country’s theocratic rulers.