The rapidly evolving geo-strategic environment of the Central Asia-South Asia and Indo-Pacific regions, global economic and military re-alignments and pressing domestic political-economic compulsions of both Pakistan and India have all contributed towards a projected Indo-Pakistani thaw. A factual appraisal of core national issues and the global, regional and domestic environments, and the selection of a favourable time and place to undertake such a resolution through far-sighted dialogue, remain undeniable imperatives.
The three countries must contend with a number of common threats in regard to their bilateral and trilateral relationships as well as finding ways to enhance those relationships. Sitting astride busy sea lines of communication, the Maldives and Sri Lanka are vulnerable to oil pollution. Through capacity building, India should equip them in managing such emergencies, while officers who have undergone military training in India and now hold senior positions in the Maldivian military and the Sri Lankan Government can further facilitate useful links with India.
India perceives the Maldives and Sri Lanka as being in its sphere of interest, which makes China’s increasing footprint in those countries a cause for concern in New Delhi. While India cannot keep China out of the Maldives and Sri Lanka, it should capitalise on its proximity, first-responder image and historical and cultural ties to safeguard its security concerns by remaining continually engaged with Malé and Colombo through high-level visits and the India-Sri Lanka-Maldives Trilateral.
The immediate challenge before the Biden Administration is how to get past the 1 May withdrawal deadline peacefully and establish a new one. Its long-term challenge is to bring the Taliban around to the understanding that elections, democracy and an intra-Afghan concord are to Afghanistan’s advantage.
The UK’s latest defence review re-commits Westminster to the Indo-Pacific with a “tilt” to the region that is intended to enhance diplomatic and trade relations between London and its Indo-Pacific partners. While a renewed British presence will be welcomed by many, for China and its partners, it is more likely to be seen as an expansion of the informal US-led “anti-China” alliance.
Since Brexit, the British Government has called for a strategic reorientation of British foreign and security policy towards the Indian Ocean region. That reorientation will witness an expanded British presence in the Indian Ocean, with the Royal Navy in particular adopting a proactive role. If the UK is to step up successfully in the Indian Ocean, building closer co-operation and deeper ties with allies in the region will prove essential.
The call by the leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue countries at their recent virtual summit for a free, open, inclusive and healthy Indo-Pacific region has rattled China. The Quad is an instrument to ensure a rules-based Indo-Pacific, but it will need teeth to be effective in that role. While the Quad in its present form may not be structured to check adventurism, it certainly has the potential to become a most effective instrument for doing so. The reaction from Beijing indicates that it has put China on notice.
China targeted Australian wine as part of an economic coercion programme in 2020. Australian wine imports were also seen as a threat to the Chinese wine industry, which was a domestic driver of the trade barriers that Beijing erected. As those barriers are unlikely to be removed in the near term, the Australian wine industry will need to adapt to them.
Successive Myanmar governments have exploited the inability of the international community to exert any real pressure on the country’s military leaders, who are increasingly supported by China. Whatever policies are adopted by the international community over the short term, there are no quick or easy answers to the complex questions surrounding modern Myanmar.
Djibouti at a Crossroads: China’s African Engagement and an Adversarial Beijing-Washington Relationship
Djibouti’s geostrategic position and willingness to host the military forces of external powers, including of the United States and China, continues to draw the country to the centre of great power politics. Beyond the wider strategic concerns emanating from US-China rivalry, the confined space of Djibouti presents a potential opportunity for the two powers to improve their co-operation at close range because instability and insecurity in the Red Sea and western Indian Ocean Region are equally disadvantageous for both Washington and Beijing.