Independent Strategic Analysis of Australia’s Global Interests

Indian Ocean SWA Articles

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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’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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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....

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...

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,...

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...

South Africa: No End in Sight to Strained Electricity Grid

4 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The South African economy will continue to suffer as a result of unplanned power outages and the need for continued rolling stoppages. The crisis will deter foreign investors and may also render President Zuma’s ambitious plan for economic growth of five per cent by 2019 unachievable.   Background South African electricity supplier Eskom is struggling more...

Iran Challenged by Low Population Growth Rate

4 February 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Iran’s negative population growth needs to be addressed to meet the challenge of an ageing population. Increasing the fertility rate will be difficult, however, and the government may also need to address the country’s negative migration rate. Background After successfully curbing high birth rates after the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, the Iranian Government has reversed its...

Indonesia: Efforts to Improve Investor Sentiment Overshadowed by Corruption

28 January 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Attracting investment by simplifying the business licence application process could be jeopardised by conflict between the Corruption Eradication Commission and the police. Background In a bid to rectify the bureaucratic inefficiencies that negatively affect investor sentiment, the Indonesian Investment Co-ordinating Board (BKPM) opened the first branch of its one-stop integrated service (PTSP) on 26 January...

Saudi Arabia: What can be Expected from the New King?

28 January 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

King Salman’s commitment to continuing the “true approach” means that any significant change in policy is unlikely. The upcoming generational shift, however, may test the unity of the royal family and loosen its grip on power. Background Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud was crowned King of Saudi Arabia following the death of his half-brother Abdullah...

Obama in India: A Deeper Strategic Relationship?

28 January 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

US President Barack Obama’s participation in India’s Republic Day celebrations could herald the beginning of a new and stronger strategic relationship between the two countries. Background President Obama arrived in India on 25 January, to be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations the following day. He was invited to do so by Prime Minister...

Can a Possible Iran-Saudi Partnership Combat the Islamic State?

21 January 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A recent attack at a Saudi border post has brought the Islamic State to the Kingdom’s doorstep. Even though the Islamic State poses a security threat to both Saudi Arabia and Iran, it is unlikely that the two countries will co-operate in tackling this issue. Background Four Islamic State (IS) militants attacked a Saudi border...

Coal Will Continue to Power Indonesia

21 January 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Given the cost of alternative sources of electricity generation, and a high dependency upon the resource, coal is likely to remain a major energy source in Indonesia for the foreseeable future. Background As part of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s modernisation programme, the Indonesian Government is aiming to make electricity available to 90 per cent of...

Indonesia: Cheaper Oil May Not Result in Reduced Current Account Deficit

21 January 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Cheaper oil is unlikely to significantly reduce the Indonesian current account deficit as commodity export prices remain weak and imported foreign materials will be required for infrastructure projects. As the infrastructure will ultimately be used for productive ends, an increase in the deficit could, in the long term, actually be beneficial. Background After the Indonesian...

Nascent China-US Thaw Could Be Advantageous For Australia

21 January 2015 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  If recent comments made in Beijing are to be taken at face value, Australia may not have to choose between its largest trading partner, China, and its security guarantor, the US. Background Chinese Vice Premier, Wang Yang, is reported to have said in a speech he gave on 27 December 2014 that China is...

India-Russia Summit to Boost Bilateral Relations

10 December 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

It is likely that the forthcoming summit between India and Russia to be held in New Delhi will focus on co-operation in a number of non-military areas including trade, production of aircraft and energy. Background Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi later this month for...

Sonadia Port: China May Lose Bid for a Strategic Naval Outpost

10 December 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

If Beijing withdraws its bid to develop Bangladesh’s Sonadia port, India will quickly look to seize a strategic opportunity. Bangladesh, however, is looking towards neutral partners, such as the United Arab Emirates to avoid being a pawn in Sino-Indian tensions. Background The development of Sonadia Port has faced a setback, with Bangladesh hesitating to sign...

Indonesia Targets Illegal Fishing

10 December 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Sending a strong message to illegal foreign fishermen by sinking their boats will likely be well received in Indonesia. From an international perspective, however, it could add fuel to an already delicate situation. Background As part of his maritime doctrine, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo promised to maintain and manage his country’s marine resources. The...

Forestry Sector Reform is Necessary to Improve Environmental Governance in Indonesia

10 December 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Curbing corruption and strengthening law enforcement in the forestry sector will be a vital step in improving environmental governance in Indonesia. Background Indonesia faces considerable environmental problems that are exacerbated by the level of corruption within the forestry sector, which makes addressing these issues challenging. The lack of strong governance in the forestry sector contributes...

Reduced OPEC Power Confirmed by Vienna Decision

10 December 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent meeting in Vienna has proven that the influence of OPEC has diminished despite predictions that the US oil industry’s hurtling growth is likely to slow next year, and the price will likely eventually stabilise. Background The price of oil was around US$69 per barrel in early December and predicted to fall further before...

Tanzania in Battle to Tackle Corruption that Hinders Energy Plans

3 December 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), formed to plug the haemorrhaging of public monies, has presented a report accusing key energy companies of malpractice. In response, the international community is threatening aid withdrawals if action is not taken, vindicating the warnings of PAC Chairman and opposition spokesman, Zitto Kabwe. Background Since independence, Tanzania has been dogged...

India-Pakistan Relations Headline SAARC Summit

3 December 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Tensions underpinning India-Pakistan relations have hindered progress within the latest summit and need to be addressed if the goals of SAARC are to be realised. Background India-Pakistan relations have dominated the headlines surrounding a recent summit held by the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC). Pakistan initially refused to sign any agreements proposed by...

Mauritius Election Heralds Constitutional Change

3 December 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The imminent move towards an executive presidency with expanded powers is unlikely to cause any major disruptions in the short term, but it does leave the door open for potentially greater political uncertainty in the future. Background Voters in Mauritius will go to the polls on 10 December in an election that is expected to...

China-Nepal Railway Project Could Pose Strategic Challenge for India

3 December 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As China plans to expand its railway network through Nepal, India is falling behind on its development commitments. India will face new strategic challenges if China continues to advance strategically in Nepal. Background China is expected to progress with the extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, set for completion by 2020. The recent extension in Tibet,...

Fighting Corruption in the Indonesian Energy Sector

26 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

By promising to weaken the “migas mafia”, Indonesian Energy Minister Sudirman Said has demonstrated that he is committed to fixing the graft-ridden oil and gas sector. Background Indonesia needs to boost its level of oil and gas exploration if it is to avoid a looming energy crisis over the coming decade. Relying upon energy imports...

India Taking Steps to Transform its Coal Industry

26 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India plans to transform its coal industry with denationalisation and by confronting the corruption within the sector. The transformation is not complete, however, as the state continues to protect its virtual monopoly on this critically important, yet stagnant, sector. Background The Indian Supreme Court ruled on 24 September that 214 of the 218 coal blocks...

Modi’s Nepalese Mission Could Boost Bilateral Relations

26 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The latest SAARC summit, underway in Nepal, provides India with a major opportunity to strengthen its regional ambitions. Investment in Nepal comes after a period of neglect, but New Delhi can renew its efforts by emphasising the cultural similarities and shared interests that it has in common with Kathmandu. Background After a fruitful encounter in...

Leaked Documents Could Reveal a Shift in Sudan-Iran Relations

26 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Minutes leaked from a Joint Military and Security Committee meeting in Sudan have shed light on recent developments in the relationship with Iran. They also reveal Sudanese interest in improving relations with Saudi Arabia, but Khartoum’s unwillingness to censure Islamist groups as part of its efforts to combat a growing rebel movement in the country’s...

Submarine Purchases Could Indicate Bangladesh’s Changing Strategic Direction

19 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Dhaka is keen to initiate off-shore resource extraction investment by policing its off-shore territory with an upgraded Navy. Its decision to purchase Russian submarines, if true, could be seen as an attempt to remove perceptions of a tilt towards China. Background After last September’s ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the India-Bangladeshi...

Iran-Russia Nuclear Deal Hopeful for P5+1

19 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A nuclear energy and technology agreement between Iran and Russia could possibly allow the US-led P5+1 to lift some of the current sanctions on Iran while boosting Russia’s economy and its strategic presence in the Middle East. Background The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran recently announced that Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the organisation,...

Jokowi Outlines his Maritime Doctrine

19 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s vision of Indonesia as the “World Maritime Axis” has been further developed with both economic and security elements outlined. Background Joko “Jokowi” Widodo utilised his speeches at recent international forums to indicate his position on a number of domestic and regional issues. At the East Asia Summit he elaborated on his vision...

Republican Mid-Term Victory will have Major Implications for Iran Negotiations

19 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The US Republican Party’s traditionally hard-line stance on Iran will change the tenor of the P5+1 negotiations. Although John Kerry will continue to lead the talks, the US Congress will have increased leverage over any US propositions.  Background Iran is becoming anxious about making ground at the P5+1 negotiations, likely as a consequence of the...

A Bleak Future Awaits Burma’s Rohingya without International Intervention

12 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Communal violence against Rohingya Muslims is reaching devastating levels and prompting an exodus. Migrating, however, brings its own problems, and regional countries, Australia included, are not responding to the refugee issue adequately. International pressure is needed to stop the violence. Background A religious minority, the Rohingya are facing increasingly desperate times. Over 100 thousand people...

India Restores Hope in WTO Talks

12 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India agreed to sign an important trade agreement after initially refusing to do so earlier this year. This marks an important step in the Doha Round of negotiations and could have a positive impact on the global economy. Background The Doha Round of the World Trade Organisation Talks are set to be revived after India...

Xi Strengthens the China-Pakistan “Iron Friendship”

12 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

In a sign of its growing regional ambitions, China invests in Pakistan in return for Islamabad’s support in tackling militancy. Background Ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted a neighbourhood leaders summit. Pakistan benefited greatly from the meeting, with Beijing pledging investment funding totalling US$46 billion ($53.17 billion)....

India to Strengthen Defence Ties with Sri Lanka and the Maldives

12 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India’s move to strengthen bilateral military cooperation in the Indian Ocean is a response to China’s growing inroads into India’s region of influence. Comment India reportedly seeks to enhance defence ties with Sri Lanka and the Maldives. With a focus on increasing military capacity, assisting neighbouring states with training and supplying them with equipment, India...

Saudi Sentencing of Prominent Shia Cleric Risks Retaliatory Actions

5 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The death sentence imposed by a Saudi criminal court on a Shia cleric could inflame relations between the 2 million strong Shia minorities in the dominantly Sunni autocracy. The parallels, though inverted, with Saudi involvement in Assad’s Syria, should serve as a warning for what may ensue. Background On 19 October, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr,...

Falling Oil Prices Threaten Iran’s Nuclear Programme

5 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Falling oil prices and the threat of sanctions have given the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) greater negotiating power in their talks with Iran. Iran needs to reach an agreement by 24 November to avoid further sanctions on its economy, which is already suffering from a combination of...

Jokowi Pledges Support for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

5 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia’s absence at the launch of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank is probably due to its political transition and is not indicative of US pressure on the new administration. Background Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, met with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, on 3 November ahead of the Asia Pacific...

The Economic and Strategic Goals of Modi’s Energy Reforms

5 November 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The removal of India’s diesel subsidies caused a price drop, bringing it in line with global prices. On the other hand, increased gas prices will drive new capital investment and could be used to subsidise state-owned oil and gas projects, some of which are in the South China Sea. Background The global price of crude...

Tension on the Pakistan-Iran Border: A Breakdown in Bilateral Relations?

29 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Recent border clashes between Iran and Pakistan have strained relations between the two states. Sectarian violence, furthermore, continues to present major problems and needs to be addressed to stabilise the region. Background Iran-Pakistan relations have been strained recently, following clashes between Pakistani and Iranian forces. It is alleged, for instance, that a vehicle carrying Pakistani...

Houthi Forces Seize Hodeida: Implications for Red Sea Traffic

29 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The capture of the port city of Hodeida by Houthi insurgents is a strategic move as the group looks to gain influence in the Red Sea region. Yemeni Government forces will require regional support to slow or stop the growth of the insurgency.   Background Following the seizure of key areas of the capital, Sana’a,...

India Takes Steps to Transform its Coal Industry

29 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India plans to transform its coal industry by denationalising and eliminating the corruption within it. The transformation is not complete, however, with the state still protecting its virtual monopoly on this critically important yet stagnant sector. Background On 24 September the Indian Supreme Court ruled that 214 of the 218 coal blocks allocated to private...

Indonesian President Introduces His “Work Cabinet”

29 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The composition of Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s new cabinet suggests that political patronage had a role in the selection of government ministers. Background After several days of speculation and delay, Jokowi announced the members of his cabinet (named Kabinet Kerja or “Cabinet Work”) on 26 October 2014. A week earlier, on the day of his inauguration,...

Iran Threatens To Attack Israel Should US Strike Assad

22 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Washington’s resolve to oppose Assad while attacking Islamic State (IS) has prompted Iran to threaten to attack Israel if the US attacks Syria. With US intentions uncertain, Iran’s threat cannot be ignored. Background On 11 October, Iran’s deputy foreign minister made clear the government’s decision on a US-led attack on the Assad regime in Syria:...

The US Shale Revolution may be Reaching its Peak

22 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Conjecture that the US should become a major oil producer for geostrategic purposes is questionable because of the nature of shale production costs. Saudi Arabia is right not to react too quickly to the shale revolution as it is unclear how sustainable the shale industry really is. Background Technically recoverable shale reserves in the US...

Nuclear Fusion: Will it affect Australian Coal Exports?

22 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Nuclear fusion will likely prove a boon for an increasingly energy-hungry world. It could, however, have a severe impact on Australia’s coal exports. Background Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company engaged in the research, development, and manufacture of advanced technologies, stated in a news release on Wednesday, 15 October that ‘The Lockheed Martin...

Conflict in Kashmir: A further down-grade in India-Pakistan Relations?

22 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India’s hard-line stance and Pakistan’s military-dominated leadership could make recent escalations in the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir even more difficult to resolve. Background Clashes between the Indian and Pakistani militaries along the Jammu border and in the lowlands of Kashmir have resulted in over twenty civilian deaths. The highly-populated area has been subject to...

Houthi Insurgency in Yemen Expected to Cause Further Regional Strategic Challenges

15 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

If the Houthis gain political control in Yemen, Iran will have a proxy foothold In the Sunni-dominated Gulf. Furthermore, if the Yemeni government dissolves, US counter-terrorism efforts in the Arabian Peninsula will fail. Background The Shi’a insurgency group, the Houthis, have captured parts of the Yemeni capital Sana’a, seizing control of key public assets. The...

Prabowo Wields Considerable Power in Indonesia

15 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A revised law in the Indonesian parliament has allowed the opposition coalition to install their favoured candidates into key political positions. Meanwhile, ahead of its national congress, the United Development Party reconsiders which political coalition to support. Background Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s coalition (known as the Great Indonesia Coalition, KIH) is made up of four political...

Oil Oversupply Highlights Discord within OPEC

15 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Oversupply, slowing demand, a strong US dollar, and OPEC discord as to what to do about these factors are culminating in sliding oil prices. Wealthy Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, will likely push to maintain current output and oil prices will continue to slide. Background The price of oil is at a multi-year low. A...

Somali Military Success against al Shabaab is overshadowed by Corruption and Ethnic Strife

15 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

On Sunday, after 23 years of no legally-mandated rule and six years of occupation by al Shabaab, Bararwe, south west of Mogadishu, was finally brought back under government control with help from the African Union (AU). Background The capture of Barawe, a port from which pirates menaced international shipping around the Horn of Africa, comes...

India’s Nuclear Co-operation with Global Institutions could Presage a New Nuclear Alignment with the West

8 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

On 1 October Indian delegates met their American counterparts in Washington to restart the stalled nuclear co-operation between the two countries. The development comes as part of a positive global response to India’s growing nuclear transparency. Background The United States and India have convened a new Contact Group charged with navigating the technical and legal...

US Pressures India to Review its Patent Laws

8 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The US pressured India to review its patent laws during recent talks. This will force the Indian pharmaceutical industry to move away from generic production and towards innovation. Background The US and India have agreed to set up a high-level working group on Intellectual Property as part of the Trade Policy Forum. This announcement was...

US and India Willing to Strengthen Ties

8 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Modi’s visit to the US shows that while both countries are willing to begin developing closer relations, the ultimate success of the renewed bilateralism depends upon maintaining political willpower. Background Based upon a survey of only 20 per cent of its membership, the US-India Business Council (USIBC) has announced that its members are planning on...

Summons Issued Against Modi during US Visit

1 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A lawsuit has been filed in the US against Indian Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, just one day after he left for his five-day US visit. This comes at a critical time in US-India relations and may hinder progress towards strengthening ties. Background Modi’s visit to the US has been marred by a lawsuit filed by...

India’s Modi Must Align Skills with Industry Requirements

1 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Uncertain employment opportunities, poor labour standards and high youth unemployment, characterise India’s employment situation. Modi should seek more targeted investment opportunities, to accommodate the young, skilled work force. Background India faces constant unemployment challenges. With informal and ad hoc work comprising the majority of employment opportunities, creating public policy to match skills and job opportunities...

Afghan Security Depends Upon the new Government

1 October 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Following three months of uncertainty, a tenuous unity government has been forged between the Afghan election’s two leading candidates. Background After months of political uncertainty and allegations of electoral fraud, Ashraf Ghani has been inaugurated as the President of Afghanistan. This is the last step in the country’s first democratic transfer of power in its...

Iran-Saudi Relations: IS Provides an Opportunity for Dialogue, but Relations Remain Strained

24 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Dialogue between Tehran and Riyadh, addressing the problem of the Islamic State (IS) has showed promise of a détente. Despite diplomatic progress, however, ongoing proxy conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen will re-affirm the regional power play between these two petro-powers. Summary Iran-Saudi relations have, for many years, been constrained by ideological differences, proxy conflicts...

Malaysia offers US air base facilities for detachment of P-8A aircrafts

24 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Malaysia’s offer to the US of an air base, likely to beon the island of Labuan, off the coast of Borneo, could prove to be an important stratagem. Apart from watching China’s movements in the South China Sea (SCS), the US could use it to demonstrate its determination to increase military co-operation and emphasise its...

China Increases Investment in India, but Issues of Trust Remain

24 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

China has promised to invest US$20 billion in India for economic development, but issues remain that could continue to fuel a high degree of mistrust between the two powers. Background Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India last week and signed 12 agreements, with a combined value of US$20 billion ($22.4 billion) over the next five...

Bangladeshi Parliament Granted Powers to Impeach Judiciary

24 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Bangladeshi Parliament has approved the 16th Constitutional Amendment, which will grant further powers to the ruling Awami League. These developments may, however, undermine public confidence in the judiciary, which is needed to ease current political tensions. Background The 16th Constitutional Amendment was passed unanimously late on Wednesday, 16 September. Support for this measure came...

Mutual Benefits in the Bay of Bengal

24 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Bangladesh is in a position to benefit greatly from generous Japanese loans and expertise, as Japan exercises its BIG-B initiative in the Bay of Bengal. This plan is the gateway to a proactive foreign policy for south and south-east Asia, focused on trade and development. Background The common energy trend in developing countries shows demand...

Iran Gains Fresh Bargaining Clout With the West Through a New Common Enemy

24 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The prospect that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, now the self-dubbed “Islamic State” or Caliphate) includes the Shia dominated Islamic State of Iran in its trajectory of conquest, is alarming for Tehran. Background Over the past year the evolution of ISIL from various anti-Assad militias into a single organisation, has taken...

Qatar Expels Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood

17 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The protracted diplomatic rift among members of the Gulf Co-operation Council may be entering a healing period, but challenges still remain. The destination of the expelled leaders is also likely to have repercussions for the new host state. Background Since the July 2013 coup against Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and the subsequent banning of his...

India and Japan Look to Bhutan as a Step in Countering China

17 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Bhutan is the latest focus of Indian and Japanese foreign policy. Perceptions of growing Chinese influence elsewhere in South Asia play a significant role in the attempts by both countries to strengthen their relations with Bhutan. Background The third round of Bhutan-India Development Co-operation Talks was held in the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu, on 11 September....

West Papua: Hopes of Change with Jokowi Win?

17 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent election victory of Joko Widodo has spurred hopes that Indonesia may be about to address the issues facing West Papua. But a number of factors could put a long-term solution out of reach for the incoming president.  Background With Joko Widodo claiming victory in the recent presidential election, observers are hoping that the...

Risk and Opportunity in Mozambique Natural Gas Sector

17 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Mozambique must prioritise legislative reforms, including transparency, to balance domestic needs and the interests of foreign businesses. Its ambitious LNG export development has a market, but should be insulated from potential domestic issues, such as corruption and civil conflict. Background Proven gas deposits in Mozambique have skyrocketed in recent years, up from 4.5 trillion cubic...

Australia set for Uranium Exports to India after Talks between Prime Ministers

10 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Australia’s agreement to export uranium to India will be a major boost for both Australian exports and Indian civil nuclear development. India is seeking to move away from costly fossil fuels, especially highly-polluting coal-based imports, towards a more balanced and robust energy mix, including a civil nuclear programme. Summary Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and...

Indonesia’s New Government: Fears Megawati Could Dominate as Transition Team Formed

10 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The composition of a transitional governance team has sparked fresh fears that PDI-P leader Megawati Soekarnoputri may dominate the incoming government once it is sworn in next month. Background  As Indonesia prepares to swear in a new government, speculation continues to mount that former president and Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman, Megawati Soekarnoputri,...

Yemen: Escalating Political Unrest and Looming Economic Difficulties

10 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Yemeni Government is not in a position to tackle the recent political unrest along with economic difficulties and a looming water crisis, without assistance from the international community. Background Political stability continues to decline in Yemen, as Shi’a rebels near Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, threaten to draw the country into further conflict. Yemen has...

Oman-Iran Pipeline Deal Complicates Gulf Relations

10 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Oman-Iran natural gas pipeline deal is a complication for Saudi hegemony in the Gulf, but it is helping to satisfying Omani energy needs. The cautious political manoeuvring aids Oman’s economic and security interests, without hugely violating the interests of Saudi Arabia and the United States, but it will not help to ease the regional...

Seychelles Seeks New Zealand’s Help for Blue Economy and Renewable Energy

10 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The visit of Seychellois President, James Michel, to New Zealand, highlighted the need for small island states to focus on the sustainable exploitation of marine resources. This will require international co-operation and a shift from a purely extractive approach to a developmental approach. Background President Michel met with the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry...

Widodo Urges Indonesian Clerics to Stand up to Islamic State

3 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

With the IS seeking to expand its influence in Indonesia, incoming President Joko Widodo has urged local Muslim leaders to do more to halt the spread of radical Islamist teachings. His comments underline the precarious security situation facing Indonesia, although the country’s moderate Islamic democracy should make containing the threat far easier than in other...

Sino-Burmese Railway Still Possible Despite Treaty Lapse and Regional Opposition

3 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The China-Myanmar/Burma 2011 ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MOU) on the trans-Burma railway has expired, without the materialisation of the project. Burma is still open to the project if a new agreement is signed, but calls for regional devolution and anti-Chinese public sentiment mean it is not a priority. Meanwhile, an expectant Beijing has already started...

India-Burma: A Growing Strategic Partnership?

3 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent visit to Burma by Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, indicates India’s growing focus on strengthening its role in the region. Continued engagement with Burma will be of great strategic significance to India in the coming years, as it aims to hedge against the growth of China and to cement a place for...

Peaceful Resolution of Bangladesh-India Maritime Boundary Dispute Sets Global Example

3 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India and Bangladesh have accepted the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on their maritime boundary. While some further legal clarification may be needed, both countries are satisfied with the resolution, commending the PCA and each other. As a result, the agreement provides a credible template for solving the ongoing South China Sea...

Jordan Attempts to Address Energy Insecurity

3 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Jordanian Government is showing initiative in seeking to reduce the country’s energy dependency. With energy demand expected to double by 2030, a national strategy to develop a domestic energy supply has been implemented and appears to be on-track. Background Unlike some of its neighbours, Jordan enjoys no significant hydrocarbon reserves. Estimates put proven oil...

Ongoing Rift in GCC Unlikely to Lead to Disintegration

3 September 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While the Gulf Co-operation Council faces unprecedented challenges, these are not, as yet, significant enough to threaten the existence of the organisation. Background The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) is the only institution that brings together the six oil-rich states of the Arabian Peninsula. It has helped to ensure the stability of the region, since its...

Can the Islamic State Expand into Indonesia?

27 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

With the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIL, attracting extremists across Indonesia, there are growing fears that the group could revitalise the militant Islamist movement there. Consequently, Jakarta has appealed for increased international support and co-operation to help combat the terrorist organisation. Background Indonesia needs international support and co-operation to help combat the Islamic State...

Mozambique: Renamo Forces to be Disarmed and Integrated into the Military

27 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

An agreement that will see forces belonging to the opposition Renamo party disarmed and integrated into the army and the police force, will help to ensure that all political parties move beyond their military roots and engage with Mozambique’s political system in a more democratic manner. Background The military wing of the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana,...

Continuing Corruption Allegations Threaten Zuma’s Standing with South Africans

27 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The unwavering pressure and independence that are required in dealing with the corruption allegations against South African President Jacob Zuma, will test the mettle of anti-corruption authorities. Background A report issued in March 2014 by the South African Public Protector (a role similar to that of an ombudsman), Thuli Madonsela, suggested that President Jacob Zuma...

Could the Islamic State Expand into China via Pakistan?

20 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Abdul Maulana Aziz, the leader of a radical mosque in Islamabad, has allegedly voiced his support for the Islamic State (IS). If his support becomes active, it could further the militant organisation’s plans to expand further abroad, particularly since Aziz holds something of a personal vendetta against China. Background Terrorist activity is rising in China,...

Oil in the Seychelles: A Delicate Economic and Environmental Balancing Act

20 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Anticipating the discovery of commercial quantities of oil, the Seychelles has introduced legislation that aims to ensure that wealth flows back to its Government, while it is also managing the challenges of balancing the needs of the resources and tourism sectors. If successful, it is an approach that will help it to avoid the “resource...

Qatari Foreign Policy: A Return to International Mediator Role?

20 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Qatari involvement in the Israel-Gaza peace process may be indicative of a return to the role of international mediator, but the pragmatism underpinning Qatari foreign policy means that Doha may choose to end its support for such groups as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, if it is deemed to be in the national interest.  Background...

India and Japan Likely to Complete Civil Nuclear Negotiations

13 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  India is very keen to conclude its negotiations on a civilian nuclear deal with Japan; the indications are that a deal is likely to be finalised soon. Background Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Japan, the Indian Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, met with her Japanese counterpart on the sidelines...

Renewed Military Pact Confirms Increased US Interest in India

13 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The affirmation of continued joint India-USA military co-operation by US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel in New Delhi is good news for the US military-industrial complex. It also confirms that military modernisation is a priority for New Delhi. Background Hagel’s trip to New Delhi resulted in the renewal of the ten-year defence co-operation agreement between...

Sino-Indian Border Dispute: Is a Resolution Essential?

13 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The reluctance of both sides to make even minor territorial concessions means that the Sino-Indian border dispute is likely to remain unresolved in the near future. Circumstances, however, indicate that both countries should look beyond that issue. Background Beijing has re-ignited the decades old Sino-Indian border dispute by recently publishing a map depicting India’s Arunachal...

Bangladesh’s Rampal Power Project: Energy and the Environment

13 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Responding to criticism, the Bangladeshi Government has denied that the construction of the Rampal power project will result in the ecological degradation of a nearby World Heritage-listed mangrove forest. The project, however, follows a pattern of development policy in South Asia in which economic development is frequently placed ahead of environmental sustainability. Background The 1,320...

Mozambique: Natural Resources to Provide Catalyst for Further Development

13 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Large reserves of natural resources in Mozambique are attracting foreign investment, which is expected to boost the already-growing economy. Upcoming elections and equitable development will play key roles in maintaining the political stability that is needed for investor confidence. Background After a decade-long civil war, Mozambique was one of the world’s poorest countries. Now,...

United Arab Emirates Proposes Tough New Counter-Terrorism Laws

6 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Proposed new counter-terrorism legislation in the United Arab Emirates widens the definition of terrorism and terrorists. The lack of significant terrorism and security concerns within the UAE, however, has raised concerns that the Bill may also be used to counter genuine domestic discontent. Background A draft of the 70-article Bill was circulated to various media...

Qatar: Short-Term Political Decisions and Long-Term Economic Prosperity

6 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Qatari economy is currently on solid ground, but its foreign policy, especially in light of its differences with Saudi and US foreign policy, could have a negative bearing on its economy. Background A recent report in the Gulf Times of 3 August suggests that Qatar’s ratio of external debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP)...

Modi Pledges US$1 Billion To Nepal: A Foretaste Of Renewed Indo-Nepalese Ties?

6 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Modi’s offer of a soft loan to Kathmandu, made during his visit to Nepal, was an attempt to improve trust in India’s commitment to Nepal’s development goals. It may also provide an opportunity for India to secure its place as Nepal’s favoured Asian partner. Background Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced a US$1 billion line...

Pakistan: Operation Zarb-e-Azb May Further Destabilise Afghanistan

6 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The continued destabilisation of neighbouring Afghanistan is the most likely outcome of the Zarb-e-Azbmilitary operation launched by Pakistan against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, in retaliation for its attack on Karachi Airport. Background Both the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TPP) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) claimed responsibility for the attack on Jinnah International...

Prabowo’s Latest Challenge Signals Difficult Times Ahead for Indonesian Parliament

6 August 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The latest challenge by defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto could signal difficult times ahead for Indonesia’s parliament, especially if opposition members try to undermine president-elect Joko Widodo. Background Having earlier lodged a challenge in the Constitutional Court, defeated presidential hopeful, Prabowo Subianto, now looks set to contest the result in parliament, too. Members of...

Back in Business: Indonesian Mines to Resume Production after Deal is Struck

30 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  A deal between the Indonesian Government and mining company Freeport will see many of Indonesia’s largest mines resume production. While the news is a win for the government, the outlook for mining companies once president-elect Joko Widodo takes office in October is not yet assured. Background Indonesia has reached a deal with PT Freeport...

National Security Reform in Kenya: An Opportunity to Strengthen US Ties

30 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

President Uhuru Kenyatta is seeking to centralise the operations of some government departments under the Police. This could be a bid to reassure voters of his commitment to fighting departmental corruption and domestic terrorism, or part of a larger plan to strengthen Kenya-US relations in security and investment. Background Kenyatta recently issued an executive order...

Mauritius to Become a Centre for Islamic Finance?

30 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As part of its plans for greater economic diversification, this budding financial hub has the potential to benefit considerably from offering Sharia-compliant financial instruments to international investors from the Gulf states. Background Mauritius is seeking to broaden its economy by offering more investment options; beyond agriculture and tourism. Building upon its success as a financial...

Nepal-India Joint Commission Talks Part of Larger Geo-Strategic Imperatives

30 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India hopes to use the Nepal-India Joint Commission talks to re-invigorate its ties with Nepal. But will growing economic support from Beijing lead Kathmandu to enhance its China ties instead? Background Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Kathmandu ahead of the third Nepal-India Joint Commission talks, set for 26July. Modi’s visit takes place against...

India Attempts to Renew Ties with Nepal

30 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Narendra Modi’s visit to Kathmandu provides India with various economic and political opportunities to strengthen its ties with Nepal. More than diplomatic visits will be needed, however, and there are doubts as to whether those opportunities will be followed through. Background Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Kathmandu during early August, in...

Indo-Saudi Ties: Is Riyadh Trying to Outflank Tehran?

23 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Riyadh appears to have reappraised its relationship with New Delhi, evidenced by high-level visits and meetings. Why is this happening now? Is it a necessary move to enable Saudi Arabia to regain its regional influence and shore up its flagging export markets; or is it aimed at reducing Iran’s regional influence? Background Saudi Arabia has...

Iran Nuclear Negotiations Extended: Short-Term Compromises for Long-Term Ambitions

23 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A conditional four-month extension to the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran was reached just one day before the 20 July deadline, entailing a temporary relief on current sanctions in exchange for Iran’s continued compliance with its Geneva agreements. Background A long-term deal has not been reached between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia,...

Indonesian Democracy Takes Major Step Forward as Jokowi Declared Winner

23 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

With the announcement that Joko Widodo has won the recent presidential election, Indonesia’s young democracy has taken a major step forward. Despite the prospect of some unrest, the election marks the first transfer of power between two directly-elected presidents and bodes well for the future.  Background Indonesia’s democracy has taken a major step forward after...

Measures to Reduce Government Spending in Yemen Fail to Address Larger Challenges

16 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As oil revenue continues to decline, austerity measures designed to curb the spending of government officials have been announced in Yemen. The measures, however, highlight the fact that solutions for the bigger challenges of falling revenues, official corruption and ethno-political disunity remain elusive. Background Austerity measures, including a review of the viability of state-owned companies...

The Winners of the Afghan Presidential Run-Off Election: The Taliban?

16 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent run-off Presidential election has the potential to further divide Afghan politics along ethnic lines, exacerbating current tensions and bringing the Taliban back into the reckoning. Background On 7 July, the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan announced the preliminary results of the 14 June presidential run-off election. According to those results, Ahsraf Ghani won,...

Indonesia Faces Period of Economic Uncertainty as Election Results may be Challenged

16 July 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  South-East Asia’s largest economy faces a period of uncertainty after both candidates, Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, claimed victory in last week’s election. Official results will be announced on 22 July but a protracted dispute, including a possible constitutional challenge, now appears likely. Such a situation would further erode confidence in Indonesia’s already shaky...

Economic Growth in Pakistan: Strides towards Stability?

Recent growth in Pakistan’s textile sector shows promise for further economic development. Such development, coupled with increased investment from the United States and China, has the potential to be a valuable stabilising influence. Background Since independence in 1947, Pakistan has been plagued by political instability and economic uncertainty. Recent economic developments, including growth of 5.96%...

A New Round of Political Protests in Kuwait

  The detention of a popular Kuwaiti opposition leader may give the opposition movement the impetus it needs to overcome disunity and renew its push for political reform. Meanwhile, in an effort possibly designed to alleviate public grievances, the government has announced a record level of public expenditure. Background Thousands of opposition supporters marched in...

Indonesian Presidential Candidates Vow to Improve Struggling Education System

With Indonesia's education system ranked as one of the worst in the world, both presidential candidates, Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, have promised to extend the compulsory length of education to 12 years of schooling. While the initiative is an important first step, addressing the country’s education system will prove a major challenge for Indonesia’s next...

China’s New Map: Should India Retaliate?

  China’s new official map of the country can only increase India’s suspicions about its intentions. While strategists ponder whether India will react to this provocation, it may be more realistic to examine India’s options if the Modi Government does decide to retaliateand how it can still hope to obtain financial investment from China. Background...

Indonesia: Jokowi Faces Fierce Battle as Presidential Election Looms

  With the gap closing between Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, the presidential election scheduled for 9 July will be fiercely contested. While Widodo is still expected to claim victory, it will not be by much, especially with outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono now throwing his support behind Prabowo. Background Indonesia’s presidential election will be...

Can Seychelles Anti-Illegal Fishing Initiatives be Replicated Elsewhere?

The multinational FISH-i Africa project is an exemplary initiative for the prevention of illegal fishing. Ongoing territorial disputes, however, mean that it is unlikely that this initiative could be successfully replicated elsewhere in the wider in Indo-Pacific region. Background The Seychelles, an archipelago state dependent on its fishing industry for upwards of 85% of its...

South Africa: One Strike Ends, Another Begins

  The five-month long platinum miners’ strike, the longest and costliest in South African history, has ended. A new strike, however, that began on 1 July, is likely to further weaken the beleaguered economy. Background The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) agreed to a wages deal with Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American...

Japanese Financing to Drive New Development in Bangladesh

Large loans and investment by Japan’s international development body will promote Bangladeshi industrial and infrastructural growth. By focussing on Bangladesh’s weak energy sector, Japan’s strategic assistance will be beneficial for both countries. Background The Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) detailed in mid-June that it would provide a 120 billion yen ($1.25 billion) loan package to...

India Ratifies the IAEA’s India-Specific Additional Protocol – But Could It Start a Nuclear Arms Race?

25 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India’s decision to ratify the India-specific Additional Protocol was slated to be done by this year as part of the Indo-US nuclear deal and approved by the IAEA. This is a welcome move and is to be applauded, but reports that India is expanding a uranium enrichment facility have raised concerns. Background India has taken...

Sectarian Violence in Sri Lanka: The Rise of Buddhist Extremism?

25 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in southern Sri Lanka exhibits a disturbing trend of Buddhist extremism, exemplified by hard line Buddhist Singhalesegroups, such as Bodu Bala Sena (The Buddhist Power Force, or BBS). But is this part of a trend developing internationally, or is it unique to Sri Lanka, due to unresolved historical ethnic...

South Africa Concerned that Lesotho Instability May Compromise Water Supplies

25 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

South Africa will be monitoring developments in Lesotho with some concern, but another military intervention is unlikely while the kingdom’s water exports continue unhindered. Background The renewed political instability in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho is unlikely to significantly affect regional dynamics, but as it is the source of much of the water supplied...

Indonesia May Acquire Drones and Modernise Military to Protect Natural Resources

25 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Presidential frontrunner Joko Widodo has said that he intends to employ drones as a means of protecting the country’s territory and safeguarding its natural resources. Regardless of the success of its indigenous drone programme, challenges such as illegal logging and fishing, piracy and counterterrorism mean that drones will be a favoured option.   Background...

India’s New Stand Vis-À-Vis China: Hard-Line or Merely Assertive?

18 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The new Indian Minister for External Affairs recently implied that India seeks a quid pro quorelationship with China. This, however, is more likely to be a signal that India is asserting its desire to be seen as an equal, rather than signalling a hard-line against China. Background Recent events in India have raised questions...

India-Bhutan Relations: Modi Re-Energises Ties on First Foreign Trip

18 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Bhutan this week, his first foreign visit. While the bilateral focus was on sustained energy co-operation and mutual economic development, it is likely that geopolitical dynamics involving China’s growing influence were also in play. Background Prime Minister Modi’s trip to Bhutan sought to re-energise the historically strong...

India’s Super Port: Karwar to Revolutionise the Indian Navy

18 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Indian Government has finally approved Phase II of Project Seabird, strengthening the Indian Navy’s presence along the western coast. The environmental damage caused by the huge port and the displacement of the local populace, however, are causing concern. Background The Indian Government has moved ahead with Project Seabird, enacting Phase II and beginning construction...

Zimbabwe May Be Able To Capitalise As South African Economy Slows and Mining Strike Continues

18 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The ongoing mining strike is weakening the South African economy and reducing the ability of the government to implement measures designed to address continuing social and economic disadvantages. In addition, it increasingly has the potential to turn investors away from South Africa.  Background If the platinum miners’ strike in South Africa continues, it may...

Freedom of Expression in Malaysia at a Turning Point?

18 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A high-profile defamation case against a popular online media publication suggests that journalistic freedoms are coming under increased government pressure, but the proceedings could yet result in a freer, more diverse media landscape. Background The Kuala Lumpur-based online publication Malaysiakini is facing a defamation lawsuit, after years of publishing comments critical of the Malaysian Prime...

Indonesia: Presidential Debate Dominated by Protectionist Promises as Investor Uncertainty Continues

18 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

With the latest presidential debate between Prabowo Subianto and Joko Widodo dominated by nationalist rhetoric, Indonesia’s foreign investment climate will remain shaky. Electoral jockeying aside, the danger is that such sentiment could significantly hamper South-East Asia’s largest economy in the longer term.   Background Indonesian presidential hopefuls Prabawo Subianto and Joko Widodo traded nationalist rhetoric and...

Calls in Sri Lanka to Abolish the Office of President

11 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Concerns over unchecked presidential power have led to support for the abolition of the office of the president, but the probable re-election of President Mahinda Rajapakse in 2015 is more likely to result in strengthened presidential powers. Background Sri Lanka is currently ruled by the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), a coalition of several...

Unemployment Looms as Pakistan Targets the Wrong Sectors of the Economy

11 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Pakistan is investing in ineffective measures to combat a looming unemployment crisis, targeting small business ventures and higher education, rather than marrying practical training with large-scale public works. Background Pakistan has a large working population and, with over fifty seven million people, is the ninth-largest labour force in the world. But there is a looming...

Dalit Mukti Force: A Ticking Time Bomb in Nepal?

11 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The emergence of a previously unknown activist organisation may herald a new outbreak of violence in Nepal, most likely using small improvised devices in isolated attacks. Background A pressure cooker left at the Constituent Assembly building in the capital, Kathmandu, on 4 June, has generated renewed questions over the state of Nepalese politics. At first,...

India’s Solar Power: Renewable Expansion to Drive Energy Security, Diversification and Supply

11 June 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A pillar of new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s energy policy involves an expansion of solar energy infrastructure. Planned developments should assist India to diversify its energy sources and overcome its energy deficit. A targeted renewable energy sector will also contribute to improved living standards, environmental sustainability and economic growth. Background The new Modi-led Bharatiya...

The War on the Pakistani Taliban: Some Good News of Sorts

  The Pakistani Taliban (TTP) is fracturing and the military appears to have decided to turn on some of its former militant allies. On the whole, this is good news in the government’s attempts – by force or negotiations – to end the terrorist scourge weakening the Pakistani state.  Background Two important developments took place...

Oman: India’s Answer to an Energy Supply Crisis?

India’s recent interest in establishing an underwater energy pipeline with Oman comes out of the blue, considering that the initiative failed some 21 years ago. There are, however, new motives behind the renewed interest. Background The history of the Oman-India underwater pipeline project dates back to 1985, when the two states signed an agreement to...

Iran and Russia Increase Nuclear Co-operation despite Regional Protests

  Russia has committed itself to assisting Iran in building eight nuclear reactors. The deal has sparked concern, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Israel, over growing Iranian power in the region. Background Iran continues to develop its nuclear programme, angering both Saudi Arabia and Israel, which believe that it is intended for military application. The...

South Asian Arms Negotiations Indicate Evolving Security Relationships

  Recent public announcements regarding South Asian arms purchases, where the negotiating state suppliers are always not the usual vendors, underline the strategic security shifts that are accompanying wider Asia’s rapid geopolitical developments. Background On 2 June, Sergei Chemezov, the head of Russia’s state-owned military supplier, Rostec, announced that Moscow had lifted its Soviet-era arms...

EU Fisheries Agreement Benefits Mayotte and Seychelles

  The EU has strengthened the Seychellois fishing industry, granting it access to fish stocks in Mayotte waters and further developing conservation policies in the region. Background The Seychellois fisheries have developed into an integral supply source for states around the world. Specialising in tuna fishing, it utilises its key strategic position to net migratory...

Pirates Release Ship, but Indonesia still Worst for Piracy

  The recent hijacking of an Indonesian-bound ship has once again highlighted the growing problem of piracy in Indonesia. As the world’s leading hotspot for attacks, Indonesia will need to step up its efforts to tackle piracy if it is to show the rest of South-East Asia that it has the capacity to defend its...

Indian Foreign Policy Priorities: Foreign Investment Likely to Take Centre Stage under Modi

Foreign trade and invigorated economic relationships are likely to form the basis of Modi’s foreign policy. India will seek security guarantees amongst its South Asian neighbours and increased trade and investment with regional actors further afield. Background Prime Minister Modi has backed a domestic growth-and-governance agenda. This could benefit from a foreign policy that encourages...

Ineffective Kenyan Anti-Terror Policy Causing Economic Damage

  Kenya’s Operation Usulama Watchappears to be the product of misdirected policy, targeting Somalian immigrants in Kenya, rather than truly combating terrorism. Co-operation with Somalia and more effective intelligence could be a much stronger solution to the violence in Kenya. Background Following a string of violent attacks in Kenya, the authorities have begun OperationUsulama Watch,...

ASEAN, Indonesia Aiming to Establish Historic Economic Community by 2015

Further integration as part of the proposed ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), set to be launched in 2015, will mean that the grouping, already home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, mayexperience stronger economic growth in the future if the AEC is successfully implemented. Background At the recent World Economic Forum in Manila, Indonesia’s new...

Not For Shale? India Wary Of New Energy Source

India faces the prospect of energy scarcity. While the advent of shale energy could provide a solution, the development of shale gas can bring complications, especially for water resources. Background Energy scarcity is among the many challenges confronting India and there is the prospect of it getting worse in the future. The phenomenon of shale...

Indo-Pak Relations: Sharif’s Right Move at the Right Time

The decision by Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, to attend the swearing-in of Indian Prime Minister-elect, Narendra Modi, despite opposition from the Pakistani military, sends the right messages to India and the Pakistani generals. Background After winning the recent election in India, Narendra Modi sent invitations to the heads of India’s neighbours to attend his...

Modi-US Relations: On-Track but Frosty

Given the degree of antipathy that the current US administration has demonstrated towards Narendra Modi and the frostiness of the Modi-Powell meeting earlier this year, it will take more than a congratulatory phone call from President Obama and an oral invitation to visit the US, to bring about a thaw in the personal relationship. Background...

Changing Regional Dynamics may Result in Renewed Saudi-Iranian Diplomacy

  A Saudi invitation to the Iranian Foreign Minister may facilitate a shift in relations, but it is more likely that it has been offered as a means to address regional realities, rather than to resolve longstanding differences. Background In his response to a media question, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi Foreign Minister, claims to...

Oman Ban on Expatriate Labour: The Wrong Strategy for the Right Reasons?

  Oman’s economic growth could be weakened by the introduction of a two-year ban on expatriate labour. While promising to increase “Omanisation”, the ban could have a detrimental effect on the overall economy. Background Oman has had an “Omanisation” policy in place since 1988. This programme is geared towards replacing expatriate labour with trained Omani...

Yemen’s Youth Unemployment: Job Shortages Hinder Growth, Fuel Grievances and Instability

The high rate of youth unemployment in Yemen is hindering the economic development that the country needs to help it overcome its insecurity and internal divisions, and to achieve an effective political transition. Background Yemen’s high rate of youth unemployment can be attributed to weak civil institutions and economic deterioration that stifles opportunity. A lack...

Renewable Energy: Renewed Economic Hope for Bangladesh?

  Bangladesh’s recent advancement in solar panel installations has led to it becoming one of the world’s leading countries in renewable energy jobs; however, there are some questions about its motives. Background Globally, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is best known in two distinct areas: as devoted cricket contenders and a global hub for manufacturing...

Indonesian Presidential Race Down to Two Contenders; Jokowi Firms as Favourite

  With the Golkar party unable to form a coalition to nominate its own candidate, the presidential race will be a two-way battle between Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto. Joko is still the favourite, but the country’s fragmented parliament and his party’s large coalition will make it difficult for him to govern once elected. Background...

South African Elections: ANC Secures Fifth Term; Provincial Elections Hint at Future Change

  Surprising no one, the African National Congress has secured a fifth consecutive term in power, but the rise in support for its rivals suggests that its dominance over post-apartheid South Africa may be slowly coming to an end. Background The African National Congress (ANC) was expected to win more than 60 per cent of...

Djibouti Base Deal Guarantees US Military Presence in Horn of Africa for the Next Decade

  The signing of a ten-year lease for the Camp Lemonnier base in Djibouti ensures a long-term US military presence in the Horn of Africa. While Djibouti provides a geographically important hub for US counterterrorism operations, the US presence must also boost domestic development. Background At the White House on 5 May 2014, Djiboutian President...

Drain and Gain: Pakistan and the Afghan Refugee Crisis

  Pakistan must investigate how to properly utilise its burgeoning Afghan refugee population and increase the capability of its own regional police force, rather than just looking to Afghanistan to resolve its emigration outflows. Background Refugees from Afghanistan into Pakistan have been a constant problem for the Pakistani government, as the two countries share a...

Nepalese Maoist Party Faces an Ideological Crisis

The Maoist Party of Nepal has lost its once dominating position in Nepalese politics, which it gained with an overwhelming win in the 2008 elections. Today it struggles to even define a consistent ideology for the party, which imperils the future of Nepalese politics as a whole. Background The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist),...

Indonesia to Upgrade Naval Presence amid Growing Tensions in South China Sea

  With tensions in the South China Sea growing, Indonesia has announced plans to increase its naval influence in the region. Background Indonesia will upgrade its naval presence in Southeast Asia, as territorial disputes over a number of islands in the South China Sea continue to escalate. On 8 May, the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) confirmed...

Indonesia Eases Foreign Investment Restrictions but Investor Sentiment Will Remain Shaky

Amid weaker foreign investment growth, Jakarta has announced it will ease some important investment restrictions. But investor confidence will likely remain shaky, especially with nationalist sentiment increasing ahead of the presidential election scheduled for July.  Background Indonesia has eased a number of investment regulations in a bid to attract much-needed foreign capital. The overhaul, announced...

Energy Issues in Pakistan – A Possible Looming Catastrophe?

  Pakistan today faces a dire situation in its energy sector, as the demand for energy outpaces supply. With an increasing national debt and no fix in sight, policy changes are critical to avoid catastrophic consequences. Background The State Minister for Water and Power of Pakistan, Abid Sher Ali, last week issued immediate orders to...

Energy Issues in Pakistan – A Possible Looming Catastrophe? (2)

  Pakistan today faces a dire situation in its energy sector, as the demand for energy outpaces supply. With an increasing national debt and no fix in sight, policy changes are critical to avoid catastrophic consequences. Background The State Minister for Water and Power of Pakistan, Abid Sher Ali, last week issued immediate orders to...

Oman’s Duqm Port: Strategic Hub to Drive Economic Diversification and Indian Ocean Integration

Robust development and signed investment contracts are driving Oman’s Duqm Port project towards completion.  A new Gulf transit hub for trade, commercial activity and naval assets, it will have significant economic and geostrategic implications. Background A recently expanded mandate for the Duqm Port Company (DPC), to further integrate with the emerging Duqm Special Economic Zone,...

South Sudan: Stronger Intervention May Avoid Another Genocide

Another African genocide could well be on the cards in South Sudan, but this time there may be stronger and speedier action from world powers. Background The world’s youngest country, South Sudan, marked its birth in 2011. The country’s early years are proving to be just as volatile as the years during the fight for...

Trouble in Paradise: Taxing Times for Indo-Mauritian Finances

India is likely to follow the model of its treaty with Singapore to fight tax evaders taking advantage of an existing agreement with Mauritius, but the stricter new laws may result in decreased Foreign Direct Investment. Background India is currently developing new tax laws, to target investors using existing international treaties to provide them with...

Last Minute Jitters: The BJP and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

30 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The BJP appears to be on track to win the general election in India, making it difficult to fathom why it has launched an attack on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at this late stage of the polling process. Background Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is the grand-daughter of the late Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. She is...

Voter Disenchantment with ANC May Give Malema Leverage

30 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A strong showing by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters party in the 7 May elections may result in a returned ANC Government adopting more left-leaning policies. Background The ruling African National Congress will retain government in the 7 May elections, albeit with a reduced majority. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by expelled former ANC...

US-Burma Relations: Continued US Engagement Pivotal for Burmese Transition

30 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Burma/Myanmar must overcome significant political challenges and ethnic divisions if it is to achieve the transition to a civilian democracy.  The United States has a meaningful role to play in promoting the constitutional and social reforms that are required for the country’s continued transformation. Background Speaking from Malaysia on 27 April, US President Barack...

Australia Eyes Record Cattle Exports to Indonesia as Partnership Moves Forward

30 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Rising demand and improving agricultural ties could see Australian live cattle exports to Indonesia reach record levels in 2014, as the future finally starts to brighten. Background Rising demand and a relaxation of import quotas could see live cattle exports to Indonesia reach record levels this year. More than 270,000 head of cattle are set...

Narendra Modi as PM: Pakistan’s Perspective on Prospects for Indo-Pak Relations

23 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Leading Indian Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is a polarising figure. In Pakistan he is perceived as anti-Muslim, which could cause Indo-Pak relations to deteriorate. Background As India goes to the polls in April and May 2014, it is perhaps timely to review Narendra Modi’s likely policies, viewed from the perspective of Pakistan. Modi,...

Voting for the Criminal Element in the World’s Largest Exercise in Democracy

23 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While there is little doubt as to the fairness of the Indian electoral process, it is difficult to ignore the fact that alleged criminals are being voted into positions of power. Background India is currently in the process of conducting the world’s largest election. An estimated (and staggering) 814 million voters, including approximately 100 million...

Kenya to Become a Middle-Income Country

23 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Kenya is expected to achieve lower middle-income status next month, after Nairobi revised its GDP estimate to US$50 billion, putting it in a better position to attract foreign investment. Background After recently revising its economic figures with the assistance of international donors, Kenya is expected to achieve the status of a lower middle-income country. The...

Wait and See: Uncertainty to Continue Ahead of Indonesia’s Political Transition

23 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The results of Indonesia’s recent parliamentary elections, which indicate that a weak coalition government and further political dysfunction are likely, will do little to boost investor confidence. Background As Indonesia heads towards its biggest leadership transition in nearly a decade, political and economic uncertainty is likely to continue following the recent parliamentary election. While...

Indonesian Election: Hopes Boosted with Likely Jokowi Win, but Won’t Be All Smooth Sailing for Australia-Indonesia Relations

16 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent victory of the PDI-P suggests that little now stands in the way of Joko Widodo becoming the next president of Indonesia. While commentators have suggested his election will be a boon for Australia, it will not be all smooth sailing for Canberra as it seeks to boost relations with Jakarta.    Background Hopes have...

A New Landlord for the Diego Garcia Military Base?

16 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

If the United Kingdom loses control of the Chagos Archipelago and with it Diego Garcia, Washington may find itself negotiating with a new landlord: Mauritius. Background In 1960, the United Nations declared that all peoples may freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, cultural and social development free from colonialism. Importantly, the boundaries...

Kenyan Security Crackdown: Concerns Valid but Disproportionate Measures Must be Avoided

16 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Kenya has ramped up security measures recently, in a bid to prevent further terrorist attacks on its soil – such as the strike by al-Shabaab on Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall. While counter-terrorism measures are necessary, there is a risk that disproportionate action will further marginalise Kenya’s large Somali community. Background Recent weeks have seen large-scale...

Somaliland: Reaping Recognition from Resources?

16 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Somaliland has yet to be officially recognised as an independent country, but its new friend China has shown interest in mineral exploration there. Its resources sector could be what puts Somaliland on the map. Background On 8 April, the Somaliland Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Hussein Abdi Dualeh, welcomed a visiting delegation of Chinese...

Former Bangladesh PM Faces “Politically Motivated” Corruption Charges

9 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

In the future, Bangladesh may need to request international assistance to help prevent the political tensions and violence that occurred during the last elections. Background Khaleda Zia is due to face court on 21 April as a result of a failed plea for more time from her lawyers. The case will investigate whether she, her...

Burma and Bangladesh: More Maritime Boundary Battles?

9 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The addition of two more frigates has significantly strengthened the Burmese Navy. As well as aiding maritime defence, it could also be making a statement to neighbouring Bangladesh. Background During a national naval parade on 31 March 2014 near Yangon (Rangoon), the Burmese Navy commissioned its first guided-missile frigate with “stealth” radar characteristics. The UMS...

Indonesia Pays “Blood Money” to Save Maid in Saudi Arabia; Pressure Mounts to Reform Kafala Employment System

9 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The recent case of an Indonesian maid saved from death row in Saudi Arabia has once again highlighted the plight of domestic workers in the Gulf, as pressure mounts to reform the controversial kafala system.  Background Jakarta has stepped in at the eleventh hour to help save the life an Indonesian maid on death...

Government Acts to Ensure Investor Confidence in Mozambique

9 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The nomination of Filipe Nyussi as the FRELIMO candidate for the October 2014 presidential election, suggests that the ruling party wishes to maintain current taxation settings, thereby ensuring investor confidence in the country. Background Mozambique is expected to more than double the amount of revenue collected from capital gains tax since 2012. This is...

Russia to Benefit Most From South African Mine Strike

9 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Continuing strikes in the South African platinum and palladium mines are affecting the local economy and may create an international shortage of these metals, producing a windfall for the other main supplier, Russia. Background The South African economy is under increasing pressure due to the continuing strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction...

Social Progress in the Indian Ocean Region: Increasing Personal Opportunity

9 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

With the exception of South Africa, levels of personal opportunity within FDI’s six priority Indian Ocean countries (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, and South Africa) remain low; further efforts must be made to strengthen political rights and civil liberties. Background In recent years there has been an effort to “move beyond GDP” as an...

Military Clashes in Yemen Symptomatic of Deteriorating Security Situation and Southern Disaffection

9 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Greater Southern representation in the government could help to stabilise the security situation in southern Yemen. This, in turn, would aid economic development by returning trade to the port of Aden. Background Armed militants attacked Army complexes in southern and western Yemen at the end of March 2014 and again at the beginning of April,...

Afghanistan Presidential Election: High Turnout and Low Violence a Success

9 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  In Afghanistan’s presidential and provincial elections, seven million Afghans cast a ballot. Crucially, no major election-day violence deterred or disrupted the high turnout. While the polling day was a success, the country’s first democratic transition of power still faces further tests. Background On 5 April, Afghanistan’s long-awaited polling day was held without major disruption...

Indonesia Facing Population Crisis as Calls for Better Planning Initiatives Intensify

2 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia is facing a population crisis and will struggle to provide for its people unless better family planning policies are implemented. Background Indonesia is headed towards a population crisis and will struggle to feed, educate and provide sufficient jobs for its people unless better planning measures are implemented. That is the consensus after new data...

Iran and Pakistan: Unravelling Relations

2 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The downwards spiral in relations between Iran and Pakistan appears to be more the result of foreign influences, rather than domestic issues. Even so, it is likely to instigate a direct confrontation between the two neighbours sooner rather than later. Background Five Iranian border guards from Iran’s eastern Sistan Baluchistan region were taken prisoner, allegedly...

A New Era for Nepal: Increased Interest from China and India and the Future of Trilateral Relations

2 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent meeting between Indian Army Chief, Gen. Bikram Singh, and his Nepalese counterpart, Gen. Gaurav Shumsher Rana, is an attempt by India to further strengthen relations between the two countries. It is a timely move, given China’s recent increased interest in Nepal, but the latter may yet be forced to prioritise one allegiance over...

India Increases Arms Imports Due to Inadequate Domestic Production Capability

2 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India has increased its arms imports because of the inability of its domestic infrastructure to meet the military’s demands. While it opens up further opportunities for exporters such as the United States, France and Israel, India will continue to rely on long-time supplier, Russia.   Background India is currently the world’s largest importer of armaments, importing...

Qatar Budget 2014-15: Increased Outlays to Drive Development and Diversification

2 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Qatar’s largest-ever budget has prescribed increases in infrastructure, health, education and transport expenditure. While the increased outlays will drive projects and economic growth, Qatar still faces long-term diversification challenges. Background In preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar is undertaking large stadium construction and transport projects. To drive these works, Qatar’s new emir,...

Maldives Parliamentary Election: A Snapshot

2 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The Supreme Court ruling that led to the removal of key figures from the Maldivian Election Commission was no obstacle to running the election on schedule. The new government seems likely to promote Islamic conservatism and to move closer to China. Background The much-anticipated Maldivian parliamentary election took place on 22 March. The election...

Burma/Myanmar: Muslims to Face Discriminatory New Laws

2 April 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The possibility of discriminatory new laws, ostensibly aimed at the Muslim Rohingya ethnic group, highlights the need for greater action by the international community and the Burma/Myanmar Government itself, to protect the group. Background Burma, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is on the verge of further institutionalising discrimination against certain ethnic groups....

To the Bitter End: Indonesia Pushes Ahead with Mining Laws as Investor Climate Weakens

26 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A recent deal may pave the way for mining operations to resume in Indonesia following months of disruption. But, as Indonesia pushes ahead with its controversial ban on raw mineral exports, critics continue to question its long-term value. Background As Indonesia’s mining sector continues to falter following a controversial ban on raw mineral exports, a...

Ladakh Hot Flash Might Fry India-China Trade Relationship

26 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Chinese incursions into Ladakh and an increasing trade deficit might derail current Indian trade negotiations and push India towards trade agreements with Russia. Background The People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) made a recent incursion into the Indian territory of Ladakh. On 16 March, nine soldiers from the PLA made a bid to cross...

Growing India-Iran Ties: A Possible Long-term Relationship?

26 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  India and Iran are ideally positioned to initiate long-term ties as India enhances mutual trade and infrastructure development with Iran, reversing previous geo-political difficulties. Background India and Iran, separated geographically by Pakistan, have previously had a difficult relationship, due to geographical issues and political pressures. India, however, imported US$11.6 billion of Iranian oil in...

Pakistan and Bahrain: A Chance to Bring the Middle East Together?

26 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The first official visit to Pakistan by the King of Bahrain in four decades has opened up the chance of improved ties between those two countries. With Pakistan in the role of mediator, it could also be a first step on the long path of reconciliation between Iran and the Gulf countries. Background During...

Afghanistan: Karzai’s Reluctance to Sign Bilateral Security Agreement Hampers Post-2014 International Planning

26 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The refusal of President Karzai to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the US makes future strategic planning for post-2014 missions difficult. Background The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, used his final address to parliament on 15 March to restate his unwillingness to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States....

Somalia and Al-Shabaab: Reclaiming Territory is the First Step in Remaking the State

26 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  During a joint March offensive, the Somali National Army (SNA) and the African Union Mission (AMISOM) regained eight Somali towns from the Islamist group, al-Shabaab. Regaining territory, however, is only the first step in Somalia’s re-development. Background The 22 March liberation of the Lower Shebelle town of Qoryooley, followed the recent recovery of Buulobarde...

The Man Who Would Be King: Jokowi the Man to Beat as Megawati Makes Long-Awaited Nomination

19 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Soekarnoputri has finally announced that she will nominate Jakarta’s popular mayor, Joko Widodo, as her party’s candidate for the July presidential election. The PDI-P and Joko, however, must overcome a number of challenges before they can lead the country.  Background Former president and leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of...

A New Era of India-Japan Co-operation in Burma/Myanmar?

19 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Contrasting perceptions of China could provide scope for India and Japan to work more closely together. Tapping into positive local perceptions and pooling their synergies would allow the two countries to benefit Burma/Myanmar and to boost their influence there. Background The author recently had the opportunity to attend a media conference in Yangon, where the...

Souring Qatar-Saudi Relations Worry United States

19 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia have turned into a public spat over the Muslim Brotherhood and could have an impact uponrelations with other Gulf Co-operation Council countries. Background Saudi Arabia has been at odds with Qatar over Qatari support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Saudis regard as a terrorist network. These feelings were...

Saudi Arabia: New Counter-Terrorism Laws Create Tension Internationally

19 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

New counter-terrorism laws introduced in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have come under international scrutiny. They have created debate on whether the laws are indeed an advancement of Saudi Arabia’s war on terror or, as many human rights groups are suggesting, are instead intended to prevent democratic reform within the Kingdom. Background On 2 February,...

Oil Pipeline Project May Be Next Casualty of South Sudan Civil War

19 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

By stalling the LAPSSET pipeline project, the South Sudan civil war is likely to have negative economic consequences for neighbouring East African countries. Background The South Sudan civil war has resulted in the delay, and possible termination, of the largest investment opportunity in Africa to date. Prior to hostilities, South Sudan was seeking alternative routes...

Indo-Russian Ties: As Strong As Ever

12 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Going by recent statements made by the Indian National Security Advisor, it appears that despite the in-roads made by the United States in enhancing its relationship with India, Russia remains India’s primary ally. Background It was recently reported that the Indian National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon, had remarked that Russia has legitimate interests in...

Mauritius and Seychelles to Join Indian Ocean Maritime Security Trilateral

12 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The Trilateral Meeting on Maritime Security Co-operation has the potential to become a region-wide co-operative mechanism, ideally under the aegis of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).  Background Mauritius and the Seychelles are seeking to join India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka as active participants in the three founding countries’ maritime security co-operation mechanism....

Indonesia Presidential Election: Uncertainty Likely to Linger as Megawati Stays Silent

12 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Though opposition leader Megawati Soekarnoputri has yet to choose her party’s presidential candidate, fuelling uncertainty ahead of the election in July, she is still expected to eventually nominate Jakarta’s popular mayor, Joko Widodo. Background The outlook for the 2014 Indonesian presidential election is still unclear, with Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) leader and former president, Megawati Soekarnoputri,...

Inter-Gulf Relations: Ambassadorial Withdrawals Highlight Wider GCC Tensions

12 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Divergence in regional interests and foreign policies between the Sunni Arab monarchies and the active peninsular emirate lies behind the withdrawal of the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain from Qatar. Background The meeting of Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) Foreign Ministers in Riyadh on 4 March preceded the next day’s...

Peace Talks Begin between Pakistani Government and Taliban

12 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While only time will reveal the real outcome of peace talks between the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Pakistani Government, the conflict is more multi-faceted than it at first appears. Background After years of killing Pakistani government officials and civilians, the Pakistan-based arm of the Taliban, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has become an organised force. The...

Indonesia to Ratify ASEAN Transnational Haze Pollution Treaty

5 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Though Indonesia seems ready to finally ratify a regional haze agreement, first introduced in 2002, other measures will be needed to effectively fight the problem.  Background As the annual haze from forest fires again heaps misery on millions living in South-East Asia, hopes are high that Indonesia may finally ratify the ASEAN Agreement on...

The Cost of Safety: India and the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act

5 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  After insisting for some time now that its nuclear technology transfer partners agree to undertake responsibility for any nuclear mishaps in India arising from the use of their technology, India appears to realise that obtaining technology under this regime could have ramifications for suppliers of nuclear and other technologies, for future administrations, and for...

Afghanistan’s Future Security: Delays in Signing Accord Add to Uncertainty

5 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

If the Bilateral Security Agreement cannot be successfully implemented, maximising the gains made will be much harder in the absence of an important component of the post-drawdown framework.  Background Even though a post-2014 counterterrorism force is still sought by the United States and the international coalition, President Karzai continues his stoic refusal to sign the...

Indonesia, Jordan to Boost Ties as Jakarta Continues Diplomatic Push

5 March 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The agreement between Indonesia and Jordan to boost ties, while relatively inconspicuous, indicates that Jakarta will continue to pursue its growing foreign policy ambitions, especially as it aims to extend its influence beyond South-East Asia. Background Indonesia and Jordan have agreed to boost ties, after King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein visited the South-East Asian...

Middle East: Saudi Nuclear Ambitions Could Add Fuel to the Fire

26 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Any change to the Middle East’s nuclear status quo, during a time of protracted conflict and delicate negotiations, could prevent future positive developments. Background Saudi Arabian officials will monitor closely the continuation of the P5+1 talks with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which are pursuing a comprehensive limitation on Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme, in exchange...

Saudi Arabia Moves to Protect Indonesian Workers, But Wider Reforms Still Needed

26 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Although the kafala labour system is not without some merit, it still grants employers substantial power over their employees. It will require further reform if human rights abuses are to be prevented. Background Saudi Arabia has agreed to upgrade and guarantee the rights of nearly one million Indonesian maids working in the Kingdom. The...

Malaysia: Barisan Nasional Coming Apart at the Seams?

26 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Unless Prime Minister Najib Razak promotes a more inclusive vision of the country, it seems increasingly likely that the more progressive People’s Justice Party will defeat his National Front at the next election. Background Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is attempting to steer his country through a difficult period of economic reform, while keeping...

Narendra Modi on China and Pakistan: Foreign Policy Stance or Electioneering Rhetoric?

26 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Modi’s comments on China and Pakistan could be hints about the BJP’s future stance on China and Pakistan. Background In a well-orchestrated move, Narendra Modi, the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate, stated that the state of Arunachal Pradesh was Indian, that its people were Indian and that no power on earth could...

Qatar and the 2022 World Cup: Protect the Hands that Work for the Feet

19 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A new welfare charter, released by Qatar’s World Cup Supreme Committee, outlines an intention to better safeguard the rights of migrant workers’ and their working conditions on building stadiums and other infrastructure projects. But, human rights groups and international trade unions continue to criticise Qatar’s wider labour systems and seemingly lax worker protections. Background External...

India Seeks to Broaden Its Strategic Horizons

19 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Regional circumstances have prompted India to develop stronger military ties with other Asian states, but its defence capabilities remain limited by inefficiencies in production and management. Background The current geopolitical circumstances of Asia and the Middle East are not necessarily shifting in India’s favour. Facing an unstable Afghanistan in the west and an increasingly powerful...

Australia’s Proposed Nuclear Treaty with India: Altruistic or Self-serving?

19 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  As the fourth round of talks between Australia and India on developing a civilian nuclear co-operation pact takes place, Canberra says it has the political will to ensure the agreement goes through. We feel compelled to ask, however, why Australia is so determined to effect this agreement at this time. Background Foreign Minister Julie...

Jakarta: Luxury Property Booming, but Challenges Ahead

19 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Luxury property sales continue to boom in Jakarta, with the city experiencing the highest price increases in the world in 2013. Despite this, however, Indonesia’s housing market faces a number of challenges, including the possibility of a future housing bubble and ongoing property insecurity.  Background Jakarta was ranked as the hottest high-end real estate...

Challenge for ANC as South Africa to Go to the Polls on 7 May

12 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  In this election, the ruling African National Congress is likely to face its biggest challenge yet; but that will not necessarily translate into votes for the opposition Democratic Alliance. The Economic Freedom Fighters, led by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, can be expected to attract younger voters as the ANC’s liberation cachet weakens....

Indonesia Starts Importing Beef from Japan: Implications for Australia?

12 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Indonesia has begun importing beef from Japan as a means of overcoming its heavy reliance on Australian livestock. But the move is unlikely to change much, especially given Japan’s small output and the continued unsuitability of other markets.  Background Indonesia has started buying beef from Japan in a bid to diversify its imports, ABC...

Pakistan Peace Talks: Give Negotiations a Chance

12 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The “yes-no-yes” peace talks culminated on 6 February in a round of dialogue between representatives of the Pakistani Government and its nemesis, the insurgent network the Tehreek-e-Taliban (Pakistani Taliban or TTP). As it seems unlikely that diplomatic efforts will yield a negotiated settlement, a Pakistani military offensive into North Waziristan may follow any breakdown...

Saudi Arabia’s Syrian Tightrope

12 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Riyadh’s actions in Syria betray a conflict of interests: support for the opposition may help topple President Bashar al-Assad, but it could produce a new generation of Saudi jihadists in the process. Is the new anti-terror decree enough to alleviate this tension? Background Saudi Arabia is walking a tightrope in Syria. Its motivation for delivering...

Egypt: Revolution Flounders as Sisi Eyes Presidency

12 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has decided to run for president and is expected to win handily. But, a Sisi presidency will still have to address the many economic and social problems facing Egypt. If he fails to make progress on these issues in his first year in office, Egyptians may take to the streets to demand...

India-Canada Energy Ties Growing

12 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

It appears that Indo-Canadian ties in the energy sector are growing rapidly. While a prime reason is that India wishes to diversify its energy sources, the lower cost of Canadian energy will give its traditional suppliers pause for thought. Background Canada’s energy relationship with India began in the 1950s, when it supplied nuclear technology. That...

India: The AAP’s First Mis-Step

5 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recently-elected Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, which came to government promising better governance, has, ironically, taken the law into its own hands; not only breaking its promise, but also acting outside the law. Background The Aam Aadmi Party was elected to govern in the state of Delhi partly because of its claims that it...

Yemen: Political Transition Requires Further Executive Efforts

5 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Yemen has concluded its National Dialogue Conference (NDC). It is a significant step in the country’s tough political transition and social reconciliation, but substantial difficulties remain. Background With the country still plagued by sectarian disputes, political disunity and humanitarian woes, substantial steps still need to be taken by the Yemeni Government to alleviate these problems....

Iran and Saudi Arabia: The Quest for Hegemony in the Middle East

5 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Increasing tension between the two potential hegemons has sparked concern over a twenty-first century Cold War in the Middle East. Background Although hostility between Iran and Saudi Arabia has intensified in the last decade, tension between the two Middle Eastern states is an entrenched feature of the region’s geopolitical landscape. First, the relationship is premised...

Going Nowhere: Indonesian Mining Exports at a Standstill as Investment Climate Worsens

5 February 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia’s controversial ban on exports of unprocessed minerals and the introduction of a new export tax have brought its mining industry to a standstill. Although Jakarta claims that the changes will eventually add long-term value, it is by no means a certainty. Background Indonesian mining exports have come to a standstill following a controversial ban...

Indonesia Enjoys Record Investment, but Slower Year Predicted for 2014

29 January 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Although Indonesia enjoyed record investment in 2013, uncertainty ahead of the elections combined with tighter monetary policies, mean that Indonesia’s economic growth is likely to slow somewhat in 2014. Background Despite investments reaching a record high in 2013, tighter monetary policy and investor uncertainty ahead of elections in July should see Indonesia’s economy slow somewhat...

Nepal: After a Disputed Election, the Power-Sharing Imbroglio

29 January 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Nepal’s most recent general elections led to claims of fraud and subsequent arguments between the various political parties on the degree of power they would share. The disputes include issues as basic as who would call the initial Constituent Assembly meeting. Background Nepal’s general election, held in November 2013, saw a strong swing towards...

India and the Kejriwal Effect

29 January 2014 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The recent Legislative Assembly election in Delhi produced the expected BJP win.What nobody could have foreseen, however, was the magnitude of the victory achieved by the year-old Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party. Its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, now wants to extend that win across India, in the general election to be held before May this...

Some Progress, but Corruption Remains Endemic in Indonesia

18 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A recent report by Transparency International reveals that corruption remains an endemic problem in Indonesia. Though encouraging signs are beginning to emerge, corruption will remain a major issue for investors in Indonesia in the future. Background                                                                    Corruption remains endemic in Indonesia, with a recent survey by Transparency International ranking the South-East Asian country at 114 out...

Madagascar Presidential Election, Round 2: Many Challenges Ahead for the Winner

18 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A clear outcome in a free, fair and peaceful election is a prerequisite if Madagascar is to address the many challenges it faces. Background The run-off election between the two highest-polling candidates in the 25 October first round poll, Jean Louis Robinson and Hery Rajaonarimampianina, remains on track for 20 December. While the two candidates...

The Imperatives of India’s Central Asia Policy

18 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India’s on-going strategic competition with China has ensured its “Look East Policy” has been in the spotlight. There is, however, another policy that is just as important to its national strategy – the “Connect Central Asia Policy”, which could secure it energy supplies, extend its influence, support its long-time ally, Russia and, possibly, rein in...

Tension in the Middle East Set to Grow

18 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut has increased tension in the Middle East. With alliances being formed along sectarian and strategic lines, the oil-rich region faces increasing uncertainty. Background With a history of conflict, the Middle East continues to be the centre of tension. Given its various sectarian followings, huge natural resources...

Iran’s Second Nuclear Reactor a Concern for the Region

11 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As Iran announces plans for a second nuclear reactor, some believe that it will produce further regional instability. Regardless of agreements negotiated by the Iranians in Geneva last month, there is still concern surrounding its potential to produce nuclear weapons. Background Last month Iran agreed to certain restrictions on its nuclear programme, with various conditions...

After Nuclear Deal, Iran Reinforces Relations with India

11 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The historic interim nuclear deal between Iran and the United States will have a major impact on strategic relations within the Middle East. It will also have an impact on South and Central Asia – particularly as Iran and India seek to strengthen economic and political relations. Background The interim nuclear deal agreed between Iran...

Are Latest Indian State Elections a Precursor to 2014 General Elections?

11 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Assembly elections held in the Indian states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and the New Delhi National Capital Territory saw the BJP sweep Congress candidates out of the race altogether. This, however, is not necessarily an indication of what next year’s general elections hold in store for the BJP. The real winner in the election...

Saudi Expulsions Likely to Cause More Problems than They Solve

11 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The expulsion of many illegal workers from Saudi Arabia may bring about a reduction in unemployment for Saudi citizens, but it will also cause labour shortages and increased costs, at least for the short term. It will also refocus international attention on the poor working conditions that many foreign workers endure. Background In a bid...

“Iranian Threat” Could Prompt Intelligence Sharing Between Saudi Arabia and Israel

11 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Mutual fears regarding the “Iranian threat” could explain why Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief is reported to have met with his Israeli counterpart in November. Background Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, met with his Israeli counterpart in Geneva on 27 November, according to a whistle-blower with access to Saudi intelligence. It has also...

Somali PM Ousted By Parliament amid Factional Power Struggles

4 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The removal from office of Somalia’s Prime Minister through a vote of no confidence signifies that progress is being made towards the establishment of a federal state. It is, however, also indicative of the impact of corruption and factional power struggles over the political process. Background On 2 December, Somalia’s parliament ousted the Prime...

Indonesia Looks to Attract Much-Needed Foreign Investment, but Nationalist Sentiment Remains

4 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Indonesia may revise foreign investment rules as a means of attracting foreign capital, especially in vital infrastructure projects such as airports. But, with nationalism on the rise ahead of the 2014 elections, the move could be delayed for some time yet. Background Indonesia is looking to revise its foreign investment rules and regulations as...

Imperial Visit Set to Bring India and Japan Closer Together

4 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Although Japan has denied claims that the visit to India of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko has anything to do with China, comparisons with previous visits by the imperial couple to other countries indicate that it signals a change in Japan’s foreign policy towards India. Background Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan will...

The LoC Wall is a Justified Move by India

4 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Despite a good deal of opposition to the concrete wall being built by India along the ‘Line of Control’ (LoC), the fact remains that intrusions into Indian territory have dramatically decreased. If it reduces the loss of life in the state of Jammu and Kashmir it will be worth the cost and effort of...

Iran Interim Nuclear Deal Generates Concern

4 December 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The interim nuclear deal between Iran and the US is an historic breakthrough towards ending the decade-long nuclear discord – but it has its sceptics. Background A series of private bilateral meetings between US and Iranian officials has led to an historic interim deal between the two countries. Iran has agreed to strict constraints...

The Tail Wagging the Dog: India at the Colombo CHOGM

27 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The main lesson India needs to take away from the most recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is that it needs to present a unified front aimed at pursuing India’s national interests. To achieve this, all coalition parties must put aside their individual interests, no matter how important. Background As a result of the...

Indian Gold Import Tax Leading to Job Losses and Smuggling

27 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

By continually raising the import tax on gold, the Indian Government is attempting to slow the amount of gold entering the country and fight its high trade deficit. But, even though this goal may be achieved, it has been responsible for both job losses and an increase in the quantity of illegal gold crossing its...

Iran Nuclear Deal Has Positive and Negative Implications for India

27 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Iranian nuclear deal is likely to have a significant impact on India. On one hand, it could improve India’s economic situation by driving down the cost of oil. On the other, it could derail India’s rupee trade deal with Iran, which is highly beneficial for the Indian economy. Background On 24 November 2013, Iran,...

Yemen National Dialogue Makes Slow but Sure Progress

27 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite its slow progress, the National Dialogue Conference offers the best path forward for Yemen to achieve any form of political reconciliation. It is not a silver bullet for all of Yemen’s problems, however, and people are likely to be disappointed after having their hopes raised. Background Abdul Karim Jedban, a member of Yemen’s parliament...

Third Arab-African Summit Has Chance to Make a Difference

27 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The low-interest loans for Africa announced by the Amir of Kuwait at the third Arab-African Summit, have the potential, if suitably allocated, to improve economic growth and living standards, thus elevating the summit beyond a mere talkfest.      Background The latest iteration of the third Arab-African Summit, held in Kuwait under the theme “Partners in Development...

Burma/Myanmar: Poor Health Care System Contributing to High Infant Mortality Rate

20 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The high infant mortality rate in Burma/Myanmar is the result of poverty and a poorly funded health care system that forces patients to travel long distances and pay high prices for medical care. A significant overhaul of government spending priorities, together with continued overseas assistance, will be needed if the statistics are to be...

Indonesian Natural Gas Could Boost Stuttering Economy, but Challenges Remain

20 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia has continued to push ahead with its plans to begin extracting shale gas. But, although the country has significant potential, a number of challenges, including high costs, corruption and a nationalist regulatory framework, may deter investors.     Background As Indonesia’s markets continue to stutter amid falling commodity prices and a widening current account deficit,...

Indian Politicians Hindering India’s Growth

20 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Indian scientists have struggled against the country’s various governments, just as its armed forces and its private sector have done. India’s struggles, it appears, are against the apathy, abuse of power and the ineptitude of its politicians, not with prevailing circumstances, lack of expertise, or foreign competition. Background Within the last fortnight Indian scientists...

Chinese Financing of Yemeni Infrastructure Part of Quiet Engagement with Middle East

20 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  China’s investment in Yemen is a win for both countries. Yemen stands to acquire sorely-needed infrastructure and to step out of Saudi Arabia’s shadow. China, echoing its experience in Africa, is expanding its influence in the Middle East as part of its broader efforts to engage with the region. Background In a recent visit...

China to Ease One Child Policy

20 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The relaxation of China’s one child policy promises economic renewal and social improvement, but may not be enough to solve China’s generational challenges.  Background The controversial one-child policy, introduced in the late 1970s to curb China’s population growth, has long been criticised for its cruel and archaic nature. Critics say it has led to...

Pressure on ICC to Conduct Fair and Legitimate Trials of Kenyan Leaders

13 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite the fact that the ICC trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, are to go ahead, questions are being raised as to how successful the prosecutions can be and their effect on the standing of the ICC in Africa. After repeated delays and support for both men from the African Union,...

Malaysian By-election Reveals Extent of Mahathir’s Waning Influence

13 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The by-election in the state of Kedah saw significant but futile efforts by UMNO to win a seat from the opposition. The main driver behind the campaign was former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, whose waning influence will cement the ability of current Prime Minister Najib Razak to implement his own agenda. Background The recent...

Bali Democracy Forum a Success, but Reforms Needed in Indonesian Democracy

13 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While the sixth annual Bali Democracy Forum was hailed a success and continues to grow, Indonesia may soon need to reform its own democratic system, especially if it is to remain a leading example for the region. Background Indonesia last week hosted the sixth annual Bali Democracy Forum, an international meeting aimed at developing democracy...

Iran Tries to Lessen Impact of Economic Sanctions

13 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Iran’s recent bid to attract former oil clients could ease the pressure of the Western economic sanctions and renew the country’s essential economic lifeline. Background Western sanctions, in particular the embargo on Iran’s oil and gas exports, have pressured buyers to reduce purchases from Tehran, crippling its economy. The United States has yet to...

Indonesian Wage Protests Continue Ahead of Government Income Announcements

6 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Wage protests have continued in Indonesia, with tens of thousands of workers striking across the country. But, with the economy looking more uncertain, local governments are unlikely to heed protesters’ demands when they announce income levels in the coming weeks.  Background Indonesia’s wage wars have continued, with tens of thousands of workers going on strike...

Attacks Drop, but Cost of Somali Piracy Continues to Climb

6 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite the progress made so far in resolving Somalia’s piracy problem, it may be too early to declare a victory – the economic cost of piracy, and its unlawful economic influence, remains an obstacle. Background Last January, the public retirement of notorious Somali pirate king-pin, Mohamed Abdi Hassan, known as Afweyne, or “Big Mouth”, seemed...

Madagascar Presidential Elections: A Move Towards Stability?

6 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  The current presidential elections have the potential to restore investor confidence and provide stability. While neither the current nor former leaders – bitter rivals – are standing, both are seeking to maintain their influence, potentially prolonging the uncertainty. Background Since the coup in 2009, Madagascar has struggled to maintain any real social or economic...

Running with the Hare and Hunting with the Hounds: Drone Strikes and Pakistan’s Double-Game

6 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Despite its many protestations over the US drone strikes on its territory, it appears that the Pakistani Government has not only been aware of the strikes, but tacitly approved and even requested them at times. Background The Pakistani Taliban leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed in a US drone strike on 1 November, leading the...

From IOR-ARC to IORA: A New Name for Indian Ocean Regional Body

6 November 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The change of name to Indian Ocean Rim Association is important, but it must be just the first step towards raising awareness of the organisation and the work it is doing, along with cultivating a sense of the Indian Ocean rim as a true region, rather than just a series of sub-regions.  Background The Indian...

End of Peace Agreement Could Harm Mozambique Economy

30 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Mozambique’s opposition party has abandoned the 1992 peace accord with the government. This could have severe economic consequences for Mozambique, but is unlikely to result in a return to civil war. Background Mozambique’s opposition party and ex-rebel movement, Renamo (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana), has announced it will abandon the 1992 peace accord with the governing Frelimo...

FRANZ Disaster Relief Co-ordination a Model for the Indian Ocean Region

30 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As two of the leading states in the Indian Ocean Region, Australia and India should take the lead in establishing a co-ordinated regional framework to prepare for, and respond to, natural disasters. Such a framework could ideally be based upon the humanitarian and disaster response arrangements employed by France, Australia and New Zealand in the...

Indonesia’s Wage Wars: Protests Continue but Government, Employers Unlikely to Budge

30 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Thousands of workers have protested in Jakarta, demanding a major raise in the minimum wage and an improvement in social welfare. But, with Indonesia’s economy slowing and its productivity remaining low, the government and employers are unlikely to grant such concessions. Background Thousands of Indonesian workers took to the streets of Jakarta on 24 October,...

Burma/Myanmar Seeks Indian Military Technology

30 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The purchase of Indian defence technology by Burma/Myanmar is not so much a vote of confidence in India’s domestic arms industry, as an attempt to diversify military suppliers and reduce China’s influence. Background Recent reports indicate that Burma/Myanmar has recently concluded a deal to purchase an Indian-built submarine sonar system. This technology will be integrated...

Iran: Rouhani Vows to Reach Agreement with US over Nuclear Programme

30 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A charm offensive is emanating from Tehran as the Iranian president begins efforts at improving relations with the West. Comment Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has embarked on a mission, apparently endorsed by Supreme Leader Khamenei, to improve relations with the United States and the Western world at large. The sanctions slapped on Tehran in recent...

Art and Liberalisation in the Middle East

23 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite their reputation for strong conservatism, a degree of liberalisation has been occurring in many Gulf countries in the past few years, with several countries encouraging the development of arts and education as well as furthering women’s rights. Background In the latest example of the Qatari Government’s support for the arts, Damian Hirst has opened...

Can Pakistan Find a Solution to its Power Crisis?

23 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Over the last twenty years, Pakistan has found it increasingly difficult to meet the growing demand for energy. Now, in the midst of an energy crisis, it must find sustainable solutions to end social and economic hardship. Background Pakistan currently faces a major energy crisis. It is struggling to provide a reliable power supply to...

Indian Prime Minister Visits Moscow: More of the Same?

23 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow is expected to address energy, defence, investment and trade issues with President Vladimir Putin. It might be well, however, for the Prime Minister to address some underlying issues in New Delhi before he does so in Moscow. Background Energy, investment and trade will be high on Prime Minister...

Playing the Long Game? Indonesia May Relax Mineral Export Ban but Investment Concerns Remain

23 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia may relax a controversial 2014 ban on raw mineral exports. Any relaxation, however, is likely to have a limited impact on the Indonesian mining sector as investment concerns remain. Background Indonesia may relax a controversial ban on raw mineral exports that was due to come into force in 2014. According to theJakarta Globe, a...

A Breath of Fresh Air? Indonesia, ASEAN Agree to Adopt Haze Monitoring System

16 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia and ASEAN have agreed to adopt a new haze monitoring system aimed preventing smog and prosecuting those responsible for forest burning. The move indicates that Indonesia, the region’s worst air polluter, is finally starting to take the issue seriously. Background Indonesia and ASEAN have agreed to adopt a new haze monitoring system in an...

A Tentative Peace Agreement in Burma/Myanmar

16 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Although there are still substantial obstacles before a lasting peace agreement can be reached, the recent signing of a preliminary deal between the Burmese government and Kachin rebels is likely to bring about an uneasy ceasefire. Background Three days of negotiation between the Burma/Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) in the government-controlled town...

Election Boycott in Nepal has the Potential to Cause Unrest

16 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

After many years of political unrest, Nepal is just days away from an election. But with thirty-three fringe parties threatening to boycott the election, a move that could incite violence, there is no guarantee of a peaceful day at the polls. Background Nepal is on the verge of institutionalising their new democratic system, with elections...

Pakistan Army Chief’s Resignation Poses a Challenge for Prime Minister Sharif

16 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The resignation of General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Chief of Pakistan’s army, could have significant ramifications, not only for security, but also for the future of democracy in Pakistan. Background The Chief of Pakistan’s army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has announced that he will retire from the post of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS)...

Pakistan Minister says Tough Decisions Need to Be Made to Avert a Looming Economic Crisis

16 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Pervez Rashid lists regional confrontation and terrorism as the primary causes of the economic slowdown and the power crisis Background Pakistan’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Pervez Rashid has invited inancial experts from the business community to provide suggestions to ameliorate the current power shortage and the economic slowdown in Pakistan. Rashid has said that...

Bahrain: Repression, Sham Trials and Imprisonment

16 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

To re-establish stability in Bahrain and end the uprising, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa could take specific steps that would create a new political atmosphere, conducive to a genuine national reconciliation dialogue with the opposition. Background The lengthy prison sentences given last week to 50 Shia activists and the refusal of Bahraini courts to hear...

China Strengthens Ties with Indonesia, ASEAN as Obama Stays Grounded

9 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

China has strengthened its ties with Indonesia and ASEAN following a visit to the region by President Xi Jinping. While Xi’s trip was hailed a success, US President Barack Obama was forced to cancel his Asian trip, prompting observers to question Washington’s so-called “Asian Pivot”. Background China has strengthened its ties with Indonesia and ASEAN...

Electricity Crisis in Bangladesh Could Lead to a Better Relationship with India

9 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A shortfall in electric power supplies in Bangladesh has caused problems for households and affected the national economy. The Bangladeshi Government has worked hard to find solutions to this problem, including the purchase of electricity from India. Background With over 154 million people, a rapidly developing economy and increased urbanisation, Bangladesh has never been in...

Trouble in Paradise: Political Unrest Continues in Maldives

9 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The ongoing political unrest in the Maldives has polarised not just society, but also the security forces. Both the vital tourism industry and relations with India have also been damaged. Background In the latest round of political unrest within the Maldives, three major protests calling for immediate elections were organised by the Maldivian Democratic Party...

India and the US: Close Partners in All But Name, but Stumbling Blocks Remain

2 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The joint declaration on 27 September by the United States and India that they share common security interests, removes the last vestiges of doubt that the two states are close partners in all but name. Nevertheless, some challenges remain in making it a fully-fledged partnership, such as the US-UK link. Background While on his trip...

India-Pakistan Peace Talks Overshadowed By Cross-Border Violence

2 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers holding their first official meeting on 29 September, bilateral relations are unlikely to improve to a significant extent until after the next Indian election. Background At a meeting on 29 September, on the sidelines of the United Nations Assembly in New York, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and...

Qatar and India Continue To Strengthen Military Ties

2 October 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

In a move intended to strengthen military ties with Qatar, India has dispatched four warships to the Persian Gulf to underpin a recent defence co-operation meeting. Background India has reinforced its long standing commitment to strengthening defence ties with Qatar, after four Indian naval vessels recently sailed to the Persian Gulf state on a goodwill...

Indonesia’s Economy Steadies, but Reforms Still Needed for the Future

25 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia’s economy has steadied somewhat following news that the US Federal Reserve would not start cutting its stimulus package, which has helped buoy emerging markets. But, with cuts still expected in the future, Jakarta must continue with its economic reforms. Background Indonesia’s economy has steadied somewhat, with its stock market climbing five per cent and...

The Potential for Change in Iran-US Relations

25 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Recently elected Iranian President Hassan Rowhani appears willing to talk openly with the US and the West. But with the continuing uncertainty surrounding Syria and Israeli scepticism of the new leader, it remains to be seen what long-term effects the Rowhani government will achieve. Background Iran’s relationship with the West, particularly with the US, is...

Amateur Bombings in Madagascar Add New Dimension to Elections

25 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

While the recent amateur bombing campaign in the Madagascan capital is unlikely to disrupt the upcoming elections, it does highlight the degree of resentment of foreign influence over the country. Background There has been a spate of attempted bombings in the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo, in the lead up to the country’s Presidential elections, scheduled for...

Mozambique Secures a Deal with a French Naval Manufacturer, Significantly Increasing its Naval Capacity.

25 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Mozambican government has signed a €200 million deal with Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie (CMN). The deal is viewed as part of a French initiative aimed at consolidating its influence with African nations. Background The tiny Mozambican Navy, whose ships were all donated by other countries, will receive a major boost of 30 vessels, following...

The Impact of China’s growing Russian Energy Trade on the Middle East

25 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As China’s energy trade with Russia continues to grow, its impact is being felt in the Middle East. Background China’s President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit this month to discuss the growing Sino-Russian energy relationship. Oil deals have dominated the Russian-China energy relationship to...

Striking South African Miners Return to Work

18 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Following a week of strikes and disagreements over wages, employees are back at work after arriving at a compromise with their employers. In the future, however, things may look different. Background On 4 September, 80,000 gold miners walked out, demanding an increase in wages, a move estimated to have cost the country roughly $US35 million...

Narendra Modi and the Start of the BJP’s Electoral Campaign

18 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The BJP’s Prime Ministerial nominee, Narendra Modi, has started his electoral campaign by giving a Prime Ministerial view of security, the military and Pakistan, while decrying the current government’s inability to effect positive change. It is one thing to decry corruption, however, but quite something else to bring about meaningful change. Background Narendra Modi, who...

Greater Security for the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar?

18 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The current conflict between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist groups in Myanmar has continued for more than a year, so it appears timely for the government-appointed body that regulates the Buddhist clergy to intervene. Background In 1982, the Burmese (now Myanmar) government passed laws that prohibited Rohingya Muslims (a group mostly living in western Myanmar, bordering...

Indonesia to Buy Australian Farmland, but Doubts Linger over Food Self-Sufficiency

18 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia plans to buy one million hectares of Australian farmland as it aims to solve its beef supply problems and become food self-sufficient by 2014. But doubts linger over whether it can meet this ambitious goal. Background Indonesia says it plans to buy one million hectares of Australian farmland in a bid to solve its...

Indonesia Relaxes Mining Restrictions in Bid to Ease Investor Concerns

11 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia has said it plans to relax a number of mining restrictions that have scared off foreign investors and hampered the mining industry. Though details so far are vague, a relaxation of these rules could ease investor concerns and boost the country’s mining sector.  Background Indonesia says that it plans to relax a number of...

Kenya Plans to Withdraw from ICC

11 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Kenya’s proposed legislation to withdraw from the International Criminal Court sends a signal that the Court’s authority may be about to weaken across Africa. Background On 5 September, the Kenyan Parliament passed a motion urging Kenya to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). The motion was passed less than a week before the country’s...

President Wants More Foreign Investment but Many Challenges in Mozambique Resources Boom

11 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The resources boom in Mozambique has the potential to provide mutually beneficial outcomes for both foreign investors and the people of Mozambique. Although President Armando Guebuza has called for greater foreign investment in the country’s resources sector, there are immense challenges that must be met if living standards are to be raised across the board....

Arrest of Indian Mujahedeen Leader a Crushing Blow to Terror Organisation

11 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The arrest of Yasin Bhatkal, chief and co-founder of the notorious Indian Mujahedeen (IM), is a significant blow to Indian domestic terrorism, but it may lead to such groups basing themselves in neighbouring countries, where the Indian authorities have no jurisdiction. Background The mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai bombings, Yasin Bhatkal, was arrested at the...

The Benefits of an India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement

11 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The proposed India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement has the potential to not only improve India’s image regionally, but to increase its economic power there and improve the living standards of close to 150,000 stateless people in the disputed areas. Background Ever since Bangladesh came into being in 1971, there has been a struggle over the land...

The Strange Case of India’s Depleted Anti-Missile Munitions

11 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India needs to find a way for its Defence Ministry to eliminate corruption, to ensure the continuation of its supply of vital munitions that are required to make its military a credible fighting force. Background It was revealed on 9 September, that the stock of missiles for Indian Navy’s shipborne anti-missile system, the Israeli Barak-I,...

Restarting Construction of Myitsone Dam Not an Easy Proposition

11 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Recent activity in the vicinity of the Myitsone dam has led to speculation that work on it will soon re-start, but it is difficult to see this happening anytime soon. Background The construction of the controversial Myitsone dam in Burma/Myanmar was halted last year by President Thein Sein, giving rise to speculation that the government...

Indonesia to get Apache Helicopters from the United States

4 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent US agreement to sell Apachehelicopters should help Indonesia to fight piracy, which has been increasing in the archipelago. But analysts have also suggested that the move is part of Washington’s so-called “Asian Pivot” and underlines the US goal of deeper engagement with South-East Asia.  Background The US has agreed to sell eight Apache...

Mombasa Port Expansion to Boost East Africa’s Economic Future

4 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

With the expansion of Mombasa port and the moves to establish open borders between three-fifths of the East African Community, the foundations have been laid for greater trade and development in this rapidly-growing area. Background The Kenyan port of Mombasa recently completed the expansion of its capacity. President Uhuru Kenyatta officially commissioned the newly-constructed Berth...

Qatar’s Energy Needs a Boon for Japan and Vice-Versa

4 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The bilateral relationship that exists between Qatar and Japan is likely to continue to increase in view of their mutual concerns about energy security. Background Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has used his recent tour of Middle Eastern states to secure continued oil and gas imports, while also exporting nuclear knowledge and consolidating bilateral relations....

Politics Does Strange Bedfellows Make

4 September 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India’s current account deficit crisis has forced it to return to Iran for a large proportion of its energy requirements, because Iran accepts payment partly in rupees. Iran, however, appears to be allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan. If this is the same Taliban that works with the ISI to bomb Indian interests in Afghanistan,...

The Promises and Problems of Gwadar Port

28 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Though plagued with problems, Gwadar Port is likely to succeed in becoming an economic hub. Indian fears that it could be used as a Chinese military base, seem to be overblown. Background Gwadar Port is a deep water port being constructed, primarily with Chinese capital, in the south of the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Operational...

Russia Remains India’s Largest Arms Supplier – For Now

28 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Russia continues to be India’s largest source of arms, but this situation is changing fast as quality and availability issues, to mix metaphors, persist in muddying a good relationship. Background Russia became India’s source of choice for its weapons procurement after the Indo-China War of 1962. After the United States refused to give it the...

Indonesia Unveils Measures to Revive Struggling Economy

28 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia has unveiled new measures to revive its struggling economy and reduce its current account deficit. But it remains to be seen whether such policies will be enough, especially amid the current global economic turbulence. Background Indonesia has unveiled measures aimed at boosting investor confidence and reviving its struggling economy. The move includes new import...

Challenges to the Democratic Transition in Burma/Myanmar

28 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite optimistic economic and political reforms, the democratic transition in Burma/Myanmar remains challenged by ethnic violence and wavering political reform, particularly while the power of the military remains essentially undiminished. Background This August marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the uprisings that launched Burma’s pro-democracy movement. The uprising on 8 August 1988, which nearly toppled the...

Mozambique Continues to Attract Australian Miners

28 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Mozambique minerals and resources sector continues to offer potentially big rewards to overseas miners. It is constrained, however, by an unskilled labour force, poor infrastructure and high levels of poverty. If these constraints are to be addressed to the benefit of all, it may require an even greater input from foreign companies.   Background The...

Jakarta Aims to Cut Waste Dumping

21 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Jakarta has announced that it will launch a river patrol in an effort to stop waste dumping that pollutes waterways and causes flooding. Observers, however, say the move does not go far enough and more should be done to educate those living in Jakarta about the detrimental effects of dumping rubbish. Background Jakarta will soon...

The Military Diplomacy of India’s ‘Look East’ Policy

21 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India’s Look East Policy has taken on an increasingly military focus in recent years and has developed significant momentum. It has now become a significant framework, through which India engages with, and advances its interests within, the Asia-Pacific region. Background India has recently increased its military forces along its disputed border with China and is...

The Politics of the India-Pakistan Peace Talks

21 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite the best will of the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, their attempts at creating a relatively stable relationship have been hijacked by various factions on both sides. Background Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has repeatedly stated, even before he won the last general election, that he wishes to create a better relationship with...

Time to Move?

21 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent explosions on the INS Sindhurakshak emphasises the need to move naval operations from the commercial port of Mumbai to the more remote base at Karwar. Background The Indian submarine, INS Sindhurakshak, exploded and sank in Mumbai early on Wednesday, 14 August, with 18 crew members aboard. The crew members of the 16-year-old submarine...

Iran’s Women: Do They Still Live in the Shadows?

21 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s policy platform on bridging gender inequality is under the spotlight, as Nina Moradi is barred from being a city councillor for being sexy.  Background Nina Siakhali Moradi, 27, has recently been overlooked as a potential city councillor in the north-western city of Qazvin, although she received 10,000 votes and finishing fourteenth...

Tanks, Jets and Satellites: Why Qatar, UAE and Bahrain are Purchasing High-Tech Weaponry

14 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The surge in military acquisitions so far this year in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain may be a response to the reduced presence of the United States Navy in the Persian Gulf. Background A recent announcement by the German Ministry of Economics has revealed arms exports in the first six months of 2013...

Diplomatic Damage from Latest India-Pakistan Border Clashes

14 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops has put the Indian Government under pressure. The incident is likely to cause the suspension of the scheduled dialogue between the two countries. Background On 6 August 2013, five Indian soldiers were shot dead in an ambush in Indian-controlled Kashmir, near the India-Pakistan Line of...

Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Tensions Continue

14 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Sri Lanka continues to experience ethnic tensions, as Sinhalese Buddhists attack Muslims during evening prayers, giving the government an opportunity to respond and to prevent further escalation. Background Four years after the end of a long and bitter civil war between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil minority, ethnic tensions continue to grow. The target...

Gas Deliveries from Burma to China Have Begun, but Security Issues Remain

14 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Even though gas has begun to flow from Burma to Kunming in China’s southern Yunnan Province, the security of the gas pipeline is not assured. Background A multi-billion US dollar gas pipeline, between Kyaukpyu in Burma and Kunming in China, was inaugurated recently and the delivery of gas to energy-hungry China has begun. The South-East...

France Looks to Boost Relations with Indonesia, ASEAN

14 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has visited Indonesia in an effort to boost relations with Indonesia and ASEAN. The first visit by a French foreign minister to Indonesia in 17 years, the trip underscores France’s ambition to more actively engage the region in the future. Background French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius visited Indonesia on 1...

Inflation Rising as Economic Growth Slows

7 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia’s inflation rate has risen to 8.18 per cent, its highest level in nearly four-and-a-half years. While the increase was largely expected, given the recent cut in fuel subsidies, there are signs that South-East Asia’s largest economy may be beginning to slow. Background The inflation rate in Indonesia has risen to its highest rate in...

French Military Exports Given a Jump-Start in a US$1 Billion Deal with United Arab Emirates for Spy Satellites

7 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A US$1 billion deal involving military spy satellites, will make the United Arab Emirates the only country in the Persian Gulf region to have that capability. It will also boost Franco-Emirati defence ties and provide a catalyst to French military exports, which dropped by 26 per cent in 2012. Background The United Arab Emirates (UAE)...

Religion and Rule in Saudi Arabia: Can the Relationship Last?

7 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent sentencing of a Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi, has once again sparked concerns about human rights in Saudi Arabia. On a political level, it has highlighted the shifting attitudes of young people in Saudi Arabia in questioning religion and theocracy. Background On 29 July, a sentence of 600 lashes and seven years imprisonment was...

What Role Will Pakistan’s New President Play?

7 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Apart from potentially acting as an icebreaker for India-Pakistan talks, Pakistan’s President-elect, Mamnoon Hussain, is unlikely to contribute significantly to Pakistani politics. The presidency has become largely ceremonial and he effectively achieved his office as a reward for his loyalty to Nawaz Sharif. Background On 30 July 2013 Mamnoon Hussain, a textile businessman turned politician...

Explosions at Indian Consulate in Afghanistan Cause Problems for Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan

7 August 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The explosions at the Indian consulate in Jalalabad are causing Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif unwanted concern, as he attempts to renew relations with India. Background On 3 August, three suicide bombers blew themselves up near the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. While no Indians were hurt or killed in the blasts, the bombers killed...

Saudi Arabia Aiming to Be World’s Largest Renewable Energy Market by 2032

31 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Although the world’s largest exporter of petroleum is aiming to be a leader in renewable energy by 2032, it will be a slow process. In the short-term, developments could be hindered by institutional and structural constraints. Background Saudi Arabia’s solar power plants currently produce only three megawatts of power at full capacity. Despite this, and...

India’s Military Procurement: The Need for Diversification

31 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India cannot afford to rely upon the one arms and armaments supplier. It must diversify its military procurement. Background A recent report titled ‘Why Russia is Still India’s Best Bet for Defence Procurement Despite Problems’, argues that Russia remains India’s best supplier of its defence requirements, despite the several issues India faces in ensuring their...

The Impact of India’s New Aircraft Carrier

31 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India’s second aircraft carrier will have an impact upon its naval capacity and regionally; the magnitude of its impact without the necessary ancillary reforms, however, is open to question. Background In the latest development in India’s naval expansion, its second aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, has recently successfully completed sea trials at the Russian shipyard, where...

South Sudan: Implications of Political Purge for the Juba-Khartoum Relationship

31 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

South Sudanese President Kiir’s decision on 24 July to sack his entire Cabinet raises questions about the South’s internal stability, as well its highly fractious relationship with Khartoum. With oil exports to Sudan set to halt on 7 August, Kiir’s decision may significantly compromise the world’s newest state. Background South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s recent...

A Democratic Zimbabwe?

31 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The probable victory of Robert Mugabe in this week’s presidential election is likely to guarantee that Zimbabwe remains a regional pariah, politically isolated and economically stagnant.  Background On 31 July, 6.4 million Zimbabweans go to the polls to elect a president and parliament, ending an uneasy coalition government between current president Robert Mugabe and Prime...

Indonesia Vows to Tackle Haze from Forest Burn-offs

24 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia plans to ratify a regional treaty in an effort to stop haze from forest burn-offs. Critics have said that the treaty does not go far enough and, as Indonesia aims to become a global economic power, it may be forced to get tougher on the burn-offs. Background Indonesia plans to ratify a regional treaty...

New Developments along the Line of Actual Control

24 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Controversy over repeated incursions by Chinese soldiers into disputed territories has provoked an Indian reaction. India’s government has given approval for a new mountain corps for offensive warfare to be based near the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Background Chinese “transgressions” and “insensitivities” in recent months have helped prompt the creation of a so-called China...

Iran: President Hassan Rouhani, the Nuclear Negotiator?

24 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s recent consolidation of power has prompted questions as to whether he will be directly involved in Iran’s nuclear negotiations and what potential there is for a restart to the US-Iranian dialogue. Background Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced on 17 July, that the Iranian government intends to resume talks with...

Enhanced Indo-Iranian Ties and the Three Elephants in the Room

24 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India stands to gain from enhanced ties with Iran. This, though, depends on Iran’s interaction with China, Pakistan and the US. Background Iran’s envoy Gholamreza Ansari reportedly met with India’s Defence Minister, A.K. Antony, on Saturday. Mr Ansari is said to have sought closer defence ties with India, an idea welcomed by Mr Antony. A...

Pakistan to Aid Afghanistan Peace Process

24 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Pakistan’s announcement that it can assist Afghanistan achieve peace has drawn scepticism from Afghan authorities, who cite its close relationship with the Taliban as a major impediment to the peace process. Background In June, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary-General of NATO, announced that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were leading the fight against the Taliban....

India’s New Nuclear Power Plants

17 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

India is at the start of a new phase of constructing nuclear power stations. They will be a welcome addition to its energy infrastructure and will help alleviate the crippling energy shortfall burdening Indian businesses. There is, however, opposition to these reactors from grass roots movements. Background Energy shortfalls have caused much hardship in India....

Chinese Investment Difficulties in Indonesia

17 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite great progress in Indonesian-Chinese investment ties since the 1990s, difficulties remain in the direction and security of investments, impeding an otherwise prosperous trade relationship. Background Indonesia’s successful transition from authoritarian to democratic rule, accompanied by the waning of the New Order ideology, has modernised Chinese-Indonesian relations. This can be seen most clearly in China’s...

Ethiopia: Next Round of Anti-Government Protests

17 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Momentum is building in Ethiopia, as concerns grow over the government’s alleged use of anti-terror legislation to detain opponents. Although it is early days yet, the scene could be set for clashes between protestors and the authorities. Background Anti-government protests in two northern provincial cities on 14 July, offer further evidence of mounting public dissatisfaction...

Egypt Coup Challenges US Credibility in Middle East

10 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The military’s removal of democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi poses a serious challenge to Washington’s pro-democracy agenda and its ability to influence events in Egypt and the rest of the region. Background The removal of President Mohamed Morsi challenges Washington’s pro-democracy agenda and its ability to influence events in Egypt and beyond. The Obama Administration should...

Indonesia Fuel Subsidy Cut Faces Problems, Should Strengthen Economy Long-Term

10 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Indonesia’s plan to cut fuel subsidies is already running into problems, with concerns growing about compensation and corruption. In the long-term, however, the politically unpopular reforms should strengthen Indonesia’s economy.  Background Indonesia’s cut in fuel subsidies has already run into problems, with government authorities scrambling to compensate those most affected by the controversial move. Home...

The Prospects of a Malaysian Spring

10 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Dissatisfaction with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) after its long period of continuous rule has been met with resolute enforcement of the country’s Sedition Act. Moves to strengthen repressive laws and imprison dissidents, along with continuing anxiety over opposition movements, may generate a self-fulfilling prophecy and thus a fully realised “Malaysian Spring”. Background The...

Myanmar Ethnic Violence Comes to India

10 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The explosions at Bodh Gaya in Bihar have exposed the shortcomings of the counter-terrorism constructs, both at the state level and in New Delhi. Simultaneously, they announced the arrival of the Rohingya issue in India. Background The Indian media reported that nine bombs exploded at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, which, according to legend, is the...

Doha’s Foreign Policy in the Arab World, and the Egyptian Coup

10 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The recent events in Egypt have raised questions about Doha’s activist foreign policy, which may result in a change in tactics by Doha and the Emirs of Qatar. Background The new Emir of Qatar may have already experienced his first difficulty on the throne; the domestic implications from the events in Egypt. Doha has been...

IOR-ARC Economic Meeting Sets Agenda, Challenge is to put it into Action

10 July 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The First IOR-ARC Economic and Business Conference is a step in the right direction, but the challenge now is to maintain commitment so as to translate the good intentions into tangible outcomes. Background Ministers and business representatives from the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC) Member States and Dialogue Partner States attended the...

Egypt Locked in Tense Political Standoff as Morsi Clings to Power

The army’s ultimatum should bring matters to a head in Egypt. With President Morsi facing widespread demonstrations and the army now getting involved, the Muslim Brotherhood may be forced to negotiate and call new presidential elections. Background Egypt is locked in a tense political standoff, with President Mohammed Morsi rejecting the Egyptian army’s ultimatum to...

China’s Need to Build Confidence in the Indian Ocean Region

If China wishes to earn the trust of states in the Indian Ocean Region, it must initiate clear and unambiguous confidence-building measures. A failure to do so would be detrimental to regional – and China’s – security. Background A recent report states that trust can break the military arms build-up in the Indian Ocean; the...

The Pros and Cons of a Trial for Treason in Pakistan

Despite Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s plans to place him on trial for treason, ex-President Pervez Musharraf may go free to live in exile in London, Dubai or Saudi Arabia. Background Ex-President Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March from self-imposed exile in London and Dubai, only to be brought to court after a judge...

Indian Floods Highlight Development Challenges

Recent severe floods in India demonstrate the natural challenges to developing the country’s Northern provinces. The floods also indicate a political culture that prefers speedy, not sustainable, development. Background Monsoon flooding in the Northern Indian state of Uttarakhand has cost 1,000 lives, and stranded many more. The floods also disrupted communication links, as roads were...

Bahrain’s Al-Khalifa Family Losing the Right to Rule

The legitimacy of the Al-Khalifa family is ebbing in the wake of continuing civil unrest and the absence of dialogue and political reform. King Hamad will need to act quickly and decisively if the dynasty is to be preserved. Background By continuing its repressive policies and refusing to engage civil society and moderate political groups...

Does Yemen Have the Resources to Take Care of its Refugee Population?

With an increasingly negative outlook, Yemen must act to avoid the possibility of state failure as early as 2017, given the numerous security challenges and the impending water crisis that it faces. Background A recent announcement by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, recorded the arrival of 30,000 refugees and migrants in Yemen this...

South Sudan Eyes Alternate Oil Pipeline to Kenya

A proposed pipeline from South Sudan to Kenya, would enable Juba to bypass Sudan, but it may lead to further violence between the two Sudans. Background South Sudan is seeking to build a new pipeline that would see its oil exports go through Kenya, rather than north through Sudan. The pipeline, though requiring much diplomatic...

Indonesia’s Fuel Problems the Tip of the Iceberg

26 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Though not enough to improve Indonesia’s long-term economic outlook on its own, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s decision to reduce fuel subsidies is a necessary step in boosting the country’s future economic prospects. Background On 17 June, the Indonesian parliament approved a cut to long-standing fuel subsidies in a change that will raise the cost of...

Afghanistan’s Wish-List Places New Delhi in a Quandary

26 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s request to India to supply his country with arms requires New Delhi to focus on whether its response will hand China a possible advantage. Background Hamid Karzai’s recent visit to New Delhi, his second in six months and fourth in two years, indicates the importance he places upon developing a good...

Afghan Security Transfer Marks Beginning of the End

26 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  As of 18 June, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are responsible for the planning and execution of all national military operations. While the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) remains as support, it will primarily focus upon withdrawing troops and equipment over the next 18 months. Background It has been nearly twelve years since...

Karzai Suspends Negotiations as Afghan Peace Talks Falter

26 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

President Karzai’s decision to suspend negotiations with the Taliban may actually strengthen that group’s position against his government, leading to Kabul being sidestepped in future discussions between the Taliban and the United States.  Background Less than a day after a new peace process was launched, in the hope of ending the war in Afghanistan, President...

New Emir, Same Policies: A Leadership Change in Qatar

26 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The decision of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to abdicate in favour of his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is unlikely to result in significant change as the new Emir is expected to continue the policies that have transformed Qatar. Comment On 25 June, Sheikh Hamad announced in a televised speech that ‘the time...

Political Turmoil in BJP, NDA as Modi is Promoted

19 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

When Gujarat State Chief Minister (CM) Narendra Modi was appointed as head of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Election Campaign Committee, a rift was opened within the, BJP-led, National Democratic Alliance, which now threatens to split the coalition. Opposition to the move was further emphasised by senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani, who resigned in protest....

Sri Lanka’s Renewed Ethnic Tension

19 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Sri Lanka appears to be moving towards renewed ethnic strife – this time between Buddhists and Muslims. Background The Muslim community makes up approximately ten per cent of Sri Lanka’s population of twenty million. Relegated to a back seat during the Civil War between ethnic Sri Lankans and Tamilians, who fought for a homeland, Sri...

A Surprise Victory: Hassan Rouhani, the New President of Iran

19 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The 14 June Iranian presidential election produced a shock victory for Hassan Rouhani. A moderate, elected on a campaign of change, Rouhani is likely to clash with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Background In the days leading up to the 14 June election, Hassan Rouhani, a cleric, was an unlikely candidate to become the Iranian...

National Dialogue Resumes in Yemen, but Divisions Remain

19 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  As Yemen resumes its national dialogue, how it addresses the grievances of its different ethnic and religious groups will be crucial in determining whether a peaceful transition can be reached. Background The second round of national dialogue is under way in Yemen, with President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi claiming progress is being made. The UN-backed...

Aung San Suu Kyi Wants to be Burma’s Next President

12 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

If Aung Suu Kyi succeeds in becoming president at the next elections in 2015, it would signal the completion of Burma’s transition from military-ruled state to democratic, civilian-led government. Background Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has reiterated her desire to become the next president of Burma (Myanmar), when elections are held in 2015. Speaking...

Indo-Pakistani Relations Under Sharif – Room For Optimism?

12 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The election of Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan will provide an opportunity for the improvement in Indo-Pakistan relations to continue. But don’t expect dramatic results too soon; there will be a few obstacles on the road. Background Nawaz Sharif was inaugurated as Prime Minister of Pakistan for the third time last week, after his party, the...

Strengthening Defence Ties between Australia and India

12 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

On 5 June 2013, a bilateral meeting was held between Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith and his Indian counterpart, Arackaparambil Kurien Antony. It is the first visit to Australia by an Indian Defence Minister, prompting some to speculate on the possibility of a growing anti-China front. Background Recently, strategic and defence co-operation between India and...

Iran’s Children of the Revolution Clamouring for Social Change

12 June 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Iran’s educated youth may be far from being politically empowered, but with their willingness to confront an ageing and seemingly out-of-touch clerical regime, change increasingly seems to be just over the horizon. Background “Death to the Dictator” has been the catch-call of the day, following the death of Iranian dissident Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri on 2...

Drone Strike May Weaken Pakistani Taliban, but Islamabad and Washington Face Dilemma

While a recent drone strike against the Pakistan Taliban’s second-in-command may weaken the group, it may also hinder the ongoing peace process in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Islamabad and Washington must now decide the future limits and use of the controversial drone campaign. Background Less than a week after President Obama outlined a new direction for his...

Naxalite Attack Sows Discord

  Naxalite-Maoist insurgents have ambushed an Indian National Congress party convoy, killing some senior party leaders and leaving others injured. The aftermath has been marked by politicisation of the attack, as parties and government authorities seek to apportion blame. Background Around half of the 28 states of India have some Naxalite (formally the Communist Party...

India and China Pushed Together Over Afghanistan

Growing two-way investment between China and India and co-operation on economic and security issues in Afghanistan, are helping to bring the two Asian giants closer together. It is, however, leaving Pakistan increasingly sidelined, potentially jeopardising incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s plans for enhanced ties with India. Background In late May, Hamid Karzai visited India, where...

Southern Africa to Benefit from Mozambique Transport Corridor Phase III

When completed, the Nacala Development Corridor will have a potentially transformative effect on the economic development of the northern region of Southern Africa.  Background In a move intended to have significant benefits for the Mozambican economy, foreign investors and its neighbours Malawi and Zambia, the African Development Bank announced funding of US$50 million for the...

Indo-Japanese Ties Move Forward

The visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Tokyo has engendered much empathy with the Abe government and, simultaneously, drawn attention in Beijing. Whether India can make full use of the generated bonhomie, though, is another issue. Background Prime Minister Singh recently concluded an official visit to Tokyo, where he was accorded full state honours....

Australia Seeks to Boost Ties with Wealthy Qatar

    The recent visit to Qatar by Foreign Minister Bob Carr was a useful step in Australia’s efforts to broaden Middle Eastern trade relations beyond the traditional regional markets ofSaudi Arabia and the UAE. Livestock, meat, wheat and motor vehicle exports seem to be the most promising sectors.  Background Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr...

Sudan-South Sudan Oil Conflict Brings New Role for Beijing

  Its growing engagement in Africa has led China to play an unprecedented mediation role in the dispute between Sudan and South Sudan over oil exports. It is contrary to China’s long-standing hands-off approach and potentially heralds a new and more complicated aspect to its relations with resource-rich countries. Background When South Sudan seceded from...

EU, Australia, New Zealand Continue Anti-Piracy Efforts as Number of Incidents Falls

Continued efforts, both at sea and on land, are necessary to consolidate the gains made over the last year and prevent a resurgence of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Background Anti-piracy efforts in the western Indian Ocean have received another boost, with the European Union announcing that it will contribute over €37 million ($49.7...

Iran’s Supreme Leader Playing it Safe

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s decision last week to ban Hashemi Rafsanjani and Rahim Mashaei from the election has prompted criticism. How the remarks will impact upon the Supreme Leader’s objective of stacking the government with loyalists, remains to be seen.  Background Rafsanjani has accused Iran’s leaders of ‘incompetence and ignorance’ in response to being...

Rohingya Dilemma Complicates ASEAN Affairs

  The leadership of the Association of South-East Asian States (ASEAN) must reconsider the predicament of the Rohingya in Burma (Myanmar), as it is rapidly becoming a regional issue. ASEAN is aware that the issue endangers the group’s stability, but has not developed a joint position. Background The violence in Burma between Buddhists, particularly the...

Sharif’s Win May Bring Better Pakistan-US Relations

Nawaz Sharif’s landslide victory in Pakistan’s general elections may bring better Pakistan-US relations, but how he tackles issues such as US drone strikes and the negotiation process in Afghanistan, remains to be seen. Background Pakistan has achieved its first ever democratic transition, with Nawaz Sharif claiming victory in the general elections held on 11 May...

Chinese “Blue Book” Optimistic On Indian Future

The first Chinese “blue book” on the state of India has expressed concern over a government in ‘serious crisis’, but also believes India will emerge stronger after conquering its current obstacles. Background Chinese think tanks release “blue books” every year on numerous issues; the books have tacit backing by the Chinese government, even if they...

Iran’s New Election Faced with Old Problems

The decision by the Supreme Guardian Council to bar Rahim Mashaei and Hashemi Rafsanjani from standing in the upcoming 14 June elections is likely to engender public  dissatisgfaction and boost the Green Movement. How this will impact on Saeed Jalili’s campaign against Supreme Leader Khamenei’s close advisor Ali Akbar Velayati remains to be seen. Background...

No Homes for India’s New Mig-29Ks

India’s latest acquisition, the advanced aircraft carrier-capable Mig-29K, could be another difficult security development in Sino-Indian relations. With the supplier Russia in the middle, it remains to be seen how Beijing will respond to this potential threat. Background The Indian Naval Air Arm has this month received 16 carrier version Mig-29Ks and their first Long...

India: Karnataka Elections Reflect Federal Challenges for Modi

The defeat of India’s main opposition party in the southern state of Karnataka is a rejection not only of the party’s poor governance record, but of the nationalistic Hindu ideology that some members adopt. One such member is a potential candidate for Prime Minister. Background India’s main federal opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),...

A New Approach or More of the Same? China’s Premier Visits India

The visit may result in a new relationship that will see China and India assume closer ties that reflect more than economic issues. Background Premier Li Keqiang’s four-day visit to India is the first time a Chinese leader has gone to New Delhi before visiting another country. The visit follows recent border tensions and a...

Bloodshed in Bangladesh as Islamist Hardliners Clash with Security Forces

With the war crimes tribunal handing down further verdicts and hardliners proposing controversial Islamic laws, further unrest and violence is likely in Bangladesh. Background Violence erupted in Bangladesh last week as Islamist hardliners clashed with security forces, killing at least 37 people. The clash on 6 May was the latest act in the violence that...

Pakistan’s New Government: A Harbinger of Hope?

While Pakistan’s economy and its relations with India and the US may improve under incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it remains unclear whether he will able to exert sufficient control over the military and extremist groups. Background Pakistan has just experienced the first democratic change of government in its history. It did so despite a...

China’s Renewed Engagement With Nepal

Chinese cultural and political engagement with Nepal has implications for the subcontinent’s on-going stability, especially in light of the recent border stand-off in Ladakh. Background China’s engagement with Nepal is focused on investment, cultural exchange and heightened political contact at all levels. As a result, India is faced with the uncomfortable reality of growing Chinese...

Decision Time for India Regarding a Security Alliance

The on-going border spat with China will force India to determine whether it can stand up to an aggressive China by itself or if it needs to join a security alliance. Background The current border issue between China and India (discussed here and here) took on serious overtones, despite the Indian government’s efforts to downplay the...

Kenya’s Continuing Ethnic Tension

In recent years, Kenya’s history of ethnic division and tension has diminished; but President Uhuru Kenyatta may be in the process of institutionalising ethnic violence – even though the election on 4 March proceeded peacefully. Background    The aftermath of the 2007 Kenyan Presidential Election illustrated that Kenyan society is highly fragmented, both ethnically and regionally....

Djibouti Looks to UK to Boost Investment

Djibouti and the United Kingdom have begun to explore ways to deepen their relationship. While it is early days, the choice of the UK highlights the continuing pro-Western outlook as the strategically located country seeks to address significant social and economic challenges. Background The Republic of Djibouti, strategically located at the Bab el-Mandeb chokepoint linking...

The US Alliance and Australian Policy Towards The Subcontinent

As India-Australia bilateral relations warm, a more independent policy stance on Australia’s relations with the Subcontinent should be clarified. India must be convinced that Australia’s policies are not unduly impacted by fears of offending Pakistan, or falling out of step with the United States.  Background India has long considered Australia’s policy towards the subcontinent as...

Election Result Fails to Quell Political Discord in Malaysia

   Traditional ethnic divisions are combining with newer ideological and geographical ones in the wake of Malaysia’s latest general election. Background Despite having had several incarnations and minor compositional and name changes, Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional(BN) coalition has been in continuous power nationally since 1957. However the recent general election, on 5 May 2013, was...

India-China Border Tension and Nuclear Posturing

  The recent standoff between India and China has wider implications than just a run-of-the-mill incident between the two countries.  Background The standoff between China and India in Ladakh has been resolved, at least for now. After China set up five tents for 40 personnel 19 km inside what India regards as the line of...

Banning Musharraf Highlights Continuing Challenges in Pakistan

The Peshawar High Court’s decision to bar Musharraf from contesting elections, represents attempts to bring others to account. Although the Court will face substantial challenges, this is a positive development ahead of Pakistan’s upcoming election.    Background In the latest development in the former President’s disastrous return to Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has been barred for...

Why Now? Upcoming Nuclear Talks with Iran

  Though nothing of significance may occur during a meeting of the European Union and Iranian chief negotiators on 15 May, it does set the stage for future progress.    Background Catherine Ashton, chief European Union nuclear negotiator with Iran, announced on 2 May, that new talks will be held with Iran on 15 May.The...

A Tale of Two States: Ethiopia and Kenya Continue to Rise, but Reforms are needed to Sustain Growth

A recent study has revealed that overall well-being in sub-Saharan Africa is finally starting to rise, as a result of economic growth. While the recent findings are promising, reforms will be needed if such growth is to be sustained in the long-term.  Background A new study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has revealed that impressive...

Beijing May Need New Template for African Relations after President’s China Critique

  Criticism from the leader of a successful African country may result in a more nuanced approach in China’s African relationship. If Beijing is better able to demonstrate the benefits of its presence in Africa that would go a long way towards countering perceptions among locals of being disadvantaged. Background After the President of Botswana,...

South Africa: New Political Party Challenges African National Congress

Disgruntled former members of the African National Congress have formed a new political party. Although there is much dissatisfaction with the ANC, it is unlikely that the new party will be able to compete with it.  Background South Africa First, a new political party, has been formed by expelled members of the ANC. Eddie Mokhoanatse,...

Patrol Boats and Surveillance Systems for Djibouti, the Latest Move in US Consolidation in the Horn of Africa

  The United States continues to deepen its strategic relationship with Djibouti. The gift of advanced surveillance and detection equipment and two new patrol boats, confirms the strategic importance of Djibouti to Washington, as it attempts to address the threats posed by piracy and armed extremists in the Horn of Africa.   Background After the 11...

Different Aims, Same Medium: Iranian and Pakistani Objectives for the Transnational Gas Pipeline

A high-level meeting on 17 April between Iran and Pakistan has reaffirmed the importance of the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline for both countries’ energy crises. It also  confirms Islamabad’s shift away from Washington and towards Tehran and Beijing. Background The completion of the IP Pipeline – scheduled for late 2014 – provides Tehran and Islamabad...

India’s Infrastructure Boost: Are Political Jitters Spurring the UPA Government into Action?

The UPA government’s sudden approval of delayed projects could indicate a severe case of pre-election nerves. Background Indian media sources recently reported that the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has given several long-delayed infrastructure projects the go ahead. The timing of this sudden spurt of activity prompts some questions. Why now? Why the sudden...

China and India Continue Border Row as Tensions Mount

China and India are once again facing off over their disputed Himalayan border. While such incidents have occurred in the past, China’s refusal to withdraw its forces may signify an increasingly assertive Chinese foreign policy.   Background China and India are again contesting their disputed Himalayan border, as tensions between the two Asian giants mount. The...

As EU Eases Sanctions on Burma, China is forced to Reassess Its Approach

  China no longer has exclusive access to Burma. As a result of Burma’s political reforms, the country is opening up to Western investment. The increased foreign investment is good for Burma, but is forcing China to review its business approach there. Background The European Union has announced that it will lift its economic, trade...

Reducing Disaster Risks In Indonesia Now a Major Issue for Australia

The risks of substantial natural disasters are rising in Jakarta. Although the risk of loss of life has been reduced, the economic costs of lowering it are increasing. Investment from the Australian aid programme aimed at reducing the risks from disasters should be a priority.  Background Natural disasters in Indonesia are following a global trend:...

Promising Trends Ahead of Elections in Pakistan

24 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The historic transition of one democratically-elected government to another in Pakistan has brought about some unexpected changes. Potential leaders are now being examined more closely than ever before by the electorate. Background The upcoming elections are already being hailed as historic. It will be the first time in Pakistan’s history that one democratically-elected government replaces...

Madagascar: Wife of Exiled President to Stand for Presidency

24 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Lalao Ravalomanana, wife of exiled President Marc Ravalomanana, has announced that she is a presidential candidate in the July 2013 election. With no political experience, she would essentially be her husband’s proxy. This will continue the bitter rivalry between the current President Andry Rajoelina and Mr Ravalomanana. Background Madagascar experienced a change of power in...

Musharraf Arrested as Return Turns to Farce

24 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Former Pakistani President Pervez Mushrraf has been arrested on charges of terrorism-related offences in 2007. His arrest puts the powerful Pakistani military in an awkward situation and may well divert attention from the upcoming elections in May. Background Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been arrested on charges of terrorism, related to the sacking of...

South Africa: 2014 Elections and the Slow Pace of Change

24 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Prosperity has not arrived alongside democracy for a majority of South Africa’s black population, who are increasingly impatient after nearly 20 years of ANC rule. Background When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) came to power in 1994, South Africa’s economy was spectacularly dualistic, being heavily skewed in favour of...

Nationalism and Islamism in Bangladesh

24 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Bangladesh faces severe challenges over the next century as ideological, governmental and environmental problems escalate. In the short-term, the tension between secular political forces and a strengthening Islamist movement will become acute as the 2014 general election approaches. Background The current political environment in Bangladesh could be defined by the conflict between secular nationalists and...

Burma – The New Strategic Battleground

24 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Burma is fast becoming the new battleground in the struggle for regional influence between China on the one hand and Japan and the United States on the other. Background Burma’s turn to democracy appears to have created both winners and losers. While, at first glance, this appears to be an internal issue, closer examination shows...

Foreign Minister’s Trip Continues New Zealand Interest in Indian Ocean Region

24 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

New Zealand is taking greater notice of the Indian Ocean Region’s potential as Wellington increasingly looks beyond traditional markets, but diplomatic representation would need to be expanded if trade relations with Africa are to reach anything like their full potential. Background New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully is in the middle of a two-week long...

Qatar, Libya Give Egypt Loan but Economic Woes, Unrest Continue

17 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

  Arab allies Qatar and Libya have granted Egypt a US$5 billion loan which will help ease pressure on President Mohamed Morsi amid growing economic concerns. In the long term, however, the loan is unlikely to solve Egypt’s economic woes and further unrest is likely.  Background Qatar and Libya have pledged US$5 billion in aid...

Survey of Pakistani Youth Reveals Alarming Trends

17 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Pakistan’s large youth population is expected to play an important role in the upcoming 11 May general election. Their increasingly conservative views may shed some light on Pakistan’s uncertain future.   Background This year is a crucial time for Pakistan. For the first time in its history, Pakistan will start its first democratic transfer of power...

Peaceful Transitions in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

17 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

With elections soon to be held in Pakistan and Afghanistan, regional political stability is at a crossroads. These elections, combined with the ISAF drawdown in Afghanistan, will help reshape regional relations  Background Pakistan made history on 16 March 2013, as the civilian government successfully completed its five-year term in office. Unless there is a military...

India’s UN Peacekeeping Presence: Responsible Global Citizen or Aspiring Security Council Member?

17 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

An attack on 9 April by 200 armed rebels in Jonglei, South Sudan, against a United Nations escort has left 12 dead including five Indian peacekeepers, placing pressure on India’s contributions to UN operations.  Background The recent attack by rebels in South Sudan against a UN escort for a civilian convoy has reached the highest...

The Modi Factor in India’s 2014 Elections

17 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Narendra Modi, Gujarat’s Chief Minister, has the populist vote in his home state. Allegations he knowingly permitted violence against the Muslim minority there in 2002, however, has polarised public opinion in the rest of India about his suitability for the role of Prime Minister.  Background India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not yet announced...

Increasingly Cosmopolitan Malaysia Heading for Close Elections?

17 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Malaysian electorate for the upcoming national election is very different, in geographical location and age, even from that which voted in the 2008 election. These changes have made the result the most difficult to predict in years.  Background Malaysia’s unique historical circumstances have seen its ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition effectively maintain an uninterrupted...

North Korea, the Current Crisis and India

10 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The current crisis on the Korean Peninsula seemingly demonstrates Beijing’s growing exasperation with Pyongyang. But does this give India strategic room to manoeuvre? Background The current Korean crisis has left many analysts believing that China has lost control of its one-time protégé or, worse, that Kim Jong-un has lost control of his military and possibly...

Off and Rocketing: The Brewing India-China Space Race

10 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite denials from both sides, a nascent space race between China and India is in the offing. Background A space race is brewing between India and China. The goals, apart from the likely military benefits, are, for India, prestige and meeting its need to keep up with China’s space programme and, for China,prestige and the...

Pakistan’s Nuclear Agenda: Weapons or Energy?

10 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

In late-March, information was leaked about a Chinese Pakistani nuclear deal, reached between 15 and 18 February this year; the deal signals a consolidation of China’s growing relationship with Pakistan. The deal may alienate its relationship with India and fuel competition.  Background A Sino-Pakistani nuclear deal is likely to ring alarm bells among those governments...

Progress as Usual: Six Party Talks with Iran Stall Once Again

10 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The 5-6 April Six Party talks with Iran have once again failed to live up to expectations. The conference on nuclear proliferation held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, did, however, indicate that progress, albeit limited, was made. Background Catherine Ashton, the European Union and P5+1 chief negotiator, has announced that the talks have resulted in deadlock. With...

Taliban Office Established in Qatar as Negotiations Inch Forward

10 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Afghanistan and Qatar have finally agreed to establish a political office for the Taliban in Doha. The establishment of a Taliban office was seen as a vital prelude to the negotiation process and should facilitate peace talks, though a number of obstacles remain.   Background Afghanistan and Qatar have agreed to establish a political office for...

Sultan of Oman Pardons Activists and Bloggers

10 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

On 21 March, the Omani Sultan Qaboos issued a decree pardoning the activists arrested in an earlier government crackdown on civic dissent. This decision has been met by praise from Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders. Background On 13 March 2013, Sultan Qaboos announced bold reforms to Oman’s legislative system. According to Al-Jazeera, the Sultan’s...

China’s Great Game in Africa and the Need for Policy Refinement

3 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Background Under Mao’s leadership, Chinese investment in Africa largely came under the auspices of the PRC’s “Solidarity” project schemes. These sought to encourage socialistic development in ideologically like-minded countries through large-scale national projects. China’s investment in Africa is now geared primarily toward access to resources, diplomatic and political influence, and access to African markets for...

Pervez Musharraf: the Man Who Won’t be King

3 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

 Background Former President Pervez Musharraf has returned to Pakistan, in the hope of contesting the elections scheduled for 11 May 2013. Speaking on his arrival on 24 March, Musharraf said that he planned ‘to save Pakistan’, despite death threats from the Pakistan Taliban and a series of criminal charges that have clouded his return. In...

India Correct Stand in Opposing the Proposed Global Arms Trade Treaty

3 April 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Background India’s plans to reject a proposed global arms treaty, which is expected to be passed by the UN General Assembly, are to be commended. The proposed treaty closely echoes the hypocrisy displayed by the UN when it (read “The West’) tried to force India to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1995....

Pakistan in the Middle, China’s Balancing Act and India’s Dilemma

27 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has published its latest quadrennial report on the trends in International Arms Transfers. The report indicates that China may be using its position as a major arms exporter to prop up Pakistan and so counterbalance India’s influence. Background Pakistan and India are currently enjoying a highpoint in bilateral...

Growing Sino-Lankan Co-operation Stems from India’s Failed Approach

27 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The growing relationship between Sri Lanka and China can, in large part, be attributed to the lack of an integrated approach to political decision-making in New Delhi. Background According to media reports, India is becoming increasingly concerned about the growing rapprochement between Sri Lanka and China. The relationship extends from political co-operation to economic, military...

India: Withdrawal of Key Coalition Ally Reflects Greater Regional Challenges

27 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A vital party has withdrawn from India’s national ruling coalition, following the government’s reluctance to support a United States-sponsored resolution against war crimes allegedly committed in the final days of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Background Both sides have been accused of war crimes during the final days of the Sri Lankan government’s civil war against...

Egyptian President Sets Sights on Joining BRICS, But Economy Too Shaky

27 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi wants his country to join the BRICS grouping of large emerging economies. But, with ongoing instability and a shaky economy, Egypt has a long way to go before it becomes a serious BRICS candidate.  Background Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has said he hopes his country will soon join BRICS, the grouping...

A New Pax Oleum, or a False Dawn? The Future of South Sudanese Oil Exports

27 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Despite the resumption of South Sudanese oil exports via Sudan on 12 March 2013, a stable economic partnership between Sudan and South Sudan requires an enduring “Oil Peace” based on a sound economic relationship. Background Although South Sudan achieved independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011, the process of separating the two Sudans remains far...

India’s Slow Race to Military Space

20 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Regardless of India’s denial that there is a space race with China, that country’s militarisation of space is forcing India to review its space technology options. Political indecisiveness, though, is holding it back. Background Recent reports have highlighted India’s enhanced budget spending on space technology; emphasising its achievements and drawing comparisons with China’s space programme....

Pakistan Hosts International Naval Exercise but Suspicions Remain in Indian Ocean

20 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Pakistan has hosted a joint naval exercise with over 30 countries, including the United States, China, Australia and Britain. While the exercise was intended to promote peace and stability in the region, recent developments have caused suspicions to linger in the Indian Ocean region.  Background Pakistan conducted a joint international naval exercise in the north...

Trade in your Washing Machine: Tehran’s Method for Evading International Sanctions

20 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

An International Energy Agency report recently indicated that Iran’s oil and gas exports have increased 13 per cent between January and February this year. As international sanctions become more intense, countries are finding creative ways to evade the US-led sanctions campaign. Background A fresh wave of US-led energy and financial sanctions has been applied against...

Yemen Begins National Reconciliation Talks amid Protests

20 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Yemen has launched a national dialogue aimed at drawing the fractured state’s many players into a negotiated settlement. But, while the talks are a step in the right direction, several key groups have rejected them. Background Yemen has launched a United Nations-backed national dialogue, aimed at paving the way for a new constitution and general...

Burmese President’s Visit Cements Closer Ties with Australia and New Zealand

20 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Burmese President Thein Sein’s landmark visit to New Zealand and Australia has secured increased aid and trade ties, together with the easing of defence sanctions. Background As the first Burmese head of state to visit the two countries since the 1970s, President U Thein Sein’s Antipodean trip has secured greater amounts of foreign aid and...

Challenges Ahead For Kenya Election Victor

13 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

After a close election, Kenya faces continuing uncertainty with a planned legal challenge to the election result and its incoming leaders under investigation by the International Criminal Court. Background Even as the dust settles on the Kenyan elections, President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta is confronted by a number of challenges. The new leader faces a legal challenge...

A Liaison Française for Qatar?

13 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Qatar and France have recently wrapped up the Gulf Falcon 2013 military exercise, which ran from 16 February to 7 March. The exercise provided a lucrative opportunity for France to showcase the high-tech weaponry that Qatar and other Gulf states are considering purchasing. Background The French air force, L’Armee de l’Air, recently participated in a...

India Reinforces its Eastern Border with China

13 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

For practically the first time since it lost the 1962 war with China, India is reinforcing its Arunachal Pradesh border with that country, demonstrating a self-assurance it previously lacked. Background India’s Minister of Defence, A. K. Antony, recently informed the Upper House of Parliament that the Indian Army would raise thirty infantry battalions (approximately thirty...

Australia Seeking to Deepen Relations with Indonesia

13 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

At the recent Indonesia-Australia dialogue, Foreign Minister Bob Carr stressed the importance of deepening relations with Indonesia and building stronger cultural and people-to-people ties. Background At the Indonesia-Australia dialogue, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said relations between Australia and Indonesia are at a ‘near historic high’ but stressed more needed to be done to deepen the relationship. The annual conference,...

Kenya in Limbo after Massive Election Turnout

6 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

With no clear winner yet, Kenya appears to be heading for a run-off poll between the two main presidential contenders. After a largely peaceful and successful election on 4 March, in which voters were determined to avoid a repeat of the 2007 violence, the possibility of renewed violent outbreaks cannot be ruled out. Background                                                                                                                 Kenya...

UN To Lift Arms Sanctions Against Somalia, But Will It Make A Difference?

6 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

After 21 years the United Nations is planning to lift its arms sanctions programme against Somalia, but debate continues in the UN Security Council over the advisability of such a decision. Background A proposal put to the UN Security Council on 25 February, to lift arms sanctions against Somalia has split the 15 member Security...

Bangladesh: The Shahbagh Movement – An Arab Spring in South Asia?

6 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The Shahbagh Movement has opened a veritable can of worms as large numbers of Bangladeshis protest against fundamentalism. Background Bangladesh is currently experiencing much violence, with sixty-five people killed since the end of February. The main opposition party, the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, is protesting the death sentence handed down to one of its leaders by a...

Corruption in the Indian Armed Forces’ Procurement Process

6 March 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Bribes paid to some serving Indian military officers during the procurement process are not just tarnishing the military’s image; they could delay important procurements and compromise national security. Background Recent headlines in India’s major newspapers have once again highlighted alleged bribe-taking by senior military officers. A contract for the supply of twelve helicopters, which were...

British PM and Business Delegation Visit India; Relations Warm but not “Special”

27 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Prime Minister David Cameron and a delegation representing 100 companies visited India hoping to boost trade and forge a “special relationship”. While the talks bore a few diplomatic windfalls, the task for London will now be in building stronger private enterprise ties with India. Background British Prime Minister David Cameron has visited India in an...

Conflict and the Threat of Democracy to Burma

27 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Wracked by ethnic war, Burma also faces a possible threat from the democracy it seeks. Background Burma’s ethnic communities have long sought equality with the majority Burman community. Now they want autonomy, with one community demanding complete independence. This could lead to a dangerous outcome. Comment Late December and January saw vicious fighting between Burmese...

China: Implications of Alleged State-Sponsored Hacking

27 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

A recently released report documents the methods and scope of activities of a hacking group known as APT1. The theft of commercial information in China is facilitated by weak enforcement of intellectual property rights, which is unlikely to see meaningful reform in the foreseeable future. These developments further undermine foreign confidence in China and could...

Instability a Possibility in Post-Election Djibouti

27 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

This tiny country, strategically located in the Horn of Africa, is facing potential unrest after parliamentary elections. Background After contesting landmark legislative elections on 22 February 2013, the Djiboutian opposition alliance has denounced the polls as flawed. It claims that the polls – in which the ruling party won almost 80 per cent of the...

Violence, Fear and Tribalism: Kenya’s 2013 Presidential Election

27 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

As Kenyans head to the polls on 4 March, there are fears of a repeat of the violence that followed the 2007 presidential election and which left over 1,100 people dead and some 600,000 displaced. Background The violence that resulted from the 27 December 2007 presidential election continues to cast a shadow over Kenyan politics,...

UN-Iran Nuclear Talks Fail as Clock Ticks on Negotiations

20 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Talks between the UN’s atomic watchdog and Tehran have failed, quashing hopes that a negotiated settlement may soon be reached and raising fears that conflict may be inevitable.  Background The latest round of talks ended in Vienna with no deal for further nuclear inspections and no date set for a new meeting. The 13 February...

Tension in the Caucasus: Azerbaijan’s Shifting Relationship with Iran and the West

20 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Baku’s negotiations with Israel over the possible purchase of the short-range Spyder anti-aircraft missile system are set to further alienate Tehran. Background On 3 February 2013, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov met with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak at the Munich Security Conference to discuss the bilateral relationship. The two countries have shared a growing...

Sri Lanka: Still Difficult To “Bell the Cat”

20 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Sri Lanka’s trajectory remains hard to gauge as human rights issues appear to have surfaced again and the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse continues to consolidate its authority.  Background Sri Lanka is a small country with about the population of Australia. But its location astride the major energy sea lines of communication (SLOCS) of the...

India’s Diplomatic Skills Tested in the Maldives

20 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The political impasse in the Maldives is forcing India to re-examine its policy of non-interference in foreign domestic politics. Background Ex-President Mohamed Nasheed recently sought protection in the Indian High Commission in the Maldivian capital, Malé. In so doing, he has given India a test of its diplomatic skills and forced it to reconsider its...

South Africa: Zuma Flags Mining Royalties and Land Reform in State of the Nation Address

20 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

The prospect of changes to mining royalties and land redistribution arrangements may heighten uncertainty in two key areas of the economy. Background In this year’s State of the Nation address, South African President Jacob Zuma highlighted land reform and a review of mining royalties as government priorities. Although the nationalisation of mines was rejected at...

Australia’s Vessel for Change in Burma

13 February 2013 | Indian Ocean SWA Articles

Foreign Minister Bob Carr is prioritising a shift in Australian foreign policy towards Burma, focussing on its development and bringing the country back into the international community, while also demonstrating Australia’s regional soft power credentials. Background Since April 2012, Minister Carr has made it a departmental objective to secure the lifting of international sanctions against...