The standoff at Doklam appears to be the most recent iteration of the strategy of incremental encroachment that China has employed for some time in the South China Sea. As at sea, conflict will benefit neither party, so diplomatic efforts to find a resolution must continue.
China’s first overseas military base, located astride a crucial maritime choke point, is symbolic of its growing confidence as an emerging global power, capable of projecting military force and directly protecting its interests in Africa and the western Indian Ocean.
Aerial patrols will provide a significant boost to maritime patrols in the Sulu Sea through tracking militant movements. Further assistance from Singapore and Brunei is also likely.
The Malaysian application for a revision of the International Court of Justice judgement regarding Pedra Branca is a shrewd move by Kuala Lumpur to stir up nationalistic fervour ahead of a difficult election in 2018.
The removal from office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could be the catalyst for a change of approach to the civil-military relationship on the part of the influential province of Punjab. If Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), decides to continue his attempts at better relations with India, it will again place the government at odds with the army.
Since intervening in Yemen in 2015, the Saudi Arabian-led coalition against the Houthi rebels has become embedded in a protracted counterinsurgency. Not equipped or prepared to cope with such a scenario, progress has been limited, resulting in a dire humanitarian crisis. The resulting breakdown in human security has fuelled sectarian violence and further complicates the Saudi mission.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to South-East Asia does little to reassure the region about the US protectionist stance on economic relations. Tillerson’s agenda for the visit also suggests a deeper focus on the strategic aspect of the relationship.
If the measures discussed at the Sub-Regional Meeting on Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Cross Border Terrorism are correctly implemented, the region will likely benefit from enhanced security to better face the growing terrorist threat.
The multi-billion dollar investment in a high-speed rail line connecting the cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad, if the project comes to fruition, should strengthen the Indo-Japanese relationship.
The toppling of Mr Sharif by Pakistan’s Supreme Court is very likely to have a negative effect on the country’s relationship with India.