A formal alliance between the world’s largest and most powerful democracies would constitute an unstoppable force. It could prove a very potent deterrent to China’s misbehaviour along the Line of Actual Control border with India, and, when further considered in light of the AUKUS alliance and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue alignment, in the South China Sea.
In the midst of Pakistan’s serious economic challenges, Saudi Arabia’s offer of US$4.2 billion in financial assistance will help to bring Saudi-Pakistan relations back on track. The Saudi move is also intended to signal that, while improving ties with India, it also wants to check any further deterioration of links with Pakistan and that, in spite of the recent rising clout of the UAE and Qatar, Riyadh is still the dominant strategic player in the Gulf.
Foreign aid for Rohingya refugees has declined since the economic fallout triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the world must not turn its back and should aid Bangladesh, which hosts the vast bulk of the refugees, by providing comprehensive financial assistance. The failure of repatriation, together with funding shortages, could risk untoward future developments, the toll of which the international community will not be able to avoid.
China’s goods trade with the Portuguese-speaking countries, many of which supply the raw materials that have powered China’s own economic transformation, continues to grow, aided by the status of Macao as a Portuguese-speaking Special Administrative Region.
While Pakistan has hinted on multiple occasions that it wants a multi-dimensional relationship, not just one driven by security, the US has made it clear that, in the short term, ties with Pakistan would be centred on Afghanistan. While it was believed that the Biden Administration may tweak its predecessor’s policy, it has essentially followed a similar approach. Given the state of Pakistan’s economy, it cannot depend solely on Beijing and more acrimony with the US is not good news.
Megaprojects are not the panacea for all infrastructural deficiencies, but they are one of the best available options for addressing Bangladesh’s particular infrastructure deficiencies, transport crises and power shortages in a sustainable manner.
The holiest city in Iran, life in Mashhad is shaped by two competing discourses: the “shrine discourse” and the “secular discourse”. Political support for the former since 1979 has allowed the shrine discourse to overshadow every other aspect of the city, placing the two discourses at loggerheads and making their co-existence very difficult. Ebrahim Raisi, an ultra-conservative hardliner who has previously been the custodian of the Shrine of Imam Reza, in Mashhad, is now the President of Iran. The increasing dominance of a discourse with totalitarian characteristics could expand from Mashhad to the whole country under Raisi’s administration.
In spite of serious differences and Moscow’s proximity with Beijing, there is a growing realisation in Washington that a working relationship with Moscow is essential on a number of issues, including Afghanistan and the Iran nuclear deal. The Russia-US relationship is important, not just from a bilateral dimension, but will also be watched by countries which have close economic and security relations with Moscow, and which would not like to make tough choices.
Instead of promoting peace, security and stability in the Indo-Pacific, the New Atlantic Charter could see China and Russia forge a united front against the US-led security partnership in the region.
While the preservation of American democracy should be a lodestar of any US foreign policy, having employed hard power over 200 times since the end of the Cold War, such events as Washington’s exit from Afghanistan and departures from Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, with their human, economic and political costs, have demonstrated the limitations of using excessive military force as a leading component of foreign policy.