IDSA STRATEGIC COMMENTS

Upcoming Elections in Israel and Palestine

Two very important elections are set to take place in Israel and in the Palestinian territories - the Israeli Legislative Elections on March 28 and the Palestinian Parliamentary elections for the Legislative Council on January 25. Both events are beset with equal amounts of tension, confusion and turmoil, resulting in extremely strained run up to the elections.

January 23, 2006

Simmering South China Sea Dispute

On December 29, 2005, the Vietnamese foreign ministry accused Taiwan of being involved in the construction of a runway in the biggest of all of the islands, Itu Aba, in the disputed South China Sea. Also known as Taipingdao in Chinese, Ba Binh in Vietnamese and Ligaw in Filipino, it is strategically located in the region. Cumulatively, the South China Sea islands, covering about 200 islands and 800,000 square kilometres, are a bone of contention between Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.

January 18, 2006

Balochistan Flares up Again

Balochistan has once again flared up, as troops moved in on December 18, 2005 to discipline the recalcitrant Marri tribes in Kohlu district. By commencing its much-awaited operations in Balochistan, the Pakistan military broke a tenuous peace that had lasted for nine months since clashes in Dera Bugti had claimed over 60 lives. The present operations in Balochistan ostensibly started in response to the December 14 rocket attacks on Kohlu town during President Pervez Musharraf's visit to lay the foundation stone of one of the three new cantonments to be set up in the province.

January 18, 2006

China 's Economy: Statistics versus Reality

At the end of 2005, China became the world's sixth largest economy if one were to look at the size of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) alone. China 's GDP was estimated to be 15.99 trillion renminbi (RMB) i.e., around USD 1.98 trillion. It now follows the United States , Japan , Germany , Britain and France in GDP terms and is expected to emerge the fourth largest economy before the end of 2006.

January 18, 2006

The Russia-Ukraine Gas Dispute

The dispute over the price hike for Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine was settled on January 4, 2006 , when Russian energy giant Gazprom and Ukraine 's state oil and gas company Naftogaz reached an agreement on the supply of Russian natural gas to Ukraine through a joint-venture company Rosukrenergo. It focused international attention on Russia 's current policy shift and the mechanisms of its implementation.

January 13, 2006

Indian-led UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea may be Forced to Withdraw

The Indian-led United Nations Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE), which is monitoring the five-year-old ceasefire between the two countries, is in danger of being withdrawn due to escalation in tensions. Eritrea has imposed restrictions on the movement of UNMEE personnel and has made its functioning almost impossible. The fragile peace maintained by Ethiopia and Eritrea since signing a comprehensive agreement at Algiers in December 2000 seems set to end.

January 13, 2006

China's GDP & Asian strategic matrix

The dramatic revision of China's GDP (Dec 20) by the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing reveals that the dragon's economic vitality is far more robust than earlier estimated.

January 09, 2006

Prospects for Indo-US cooperation in civilian nuclear energy

When the Prime Minister of India and the President of the United States signed a joint Statement on July 18 last year, which included, inter alia, a move towards lifting the three decades old regime of technology denials on India and an implicit recognition of India's nuclear weapons programme, negative reactions were expected: disbelief and distrust in India, and outrage from the non-proliferation lobby in the US, still deeply convinced of the need, even after thirty years, to "cap, roll back and eliminate" India's nuclear weapons ambitions.

January 06, 2006

Civilian and Strategic Nuclear Facilities of India

One of the major objectives of the United States in entering into the Indo-US nuclear co-operation agreement is to bring about an early freezing of the Indian weapon-usable nuclear materials stock at the minimum possible level. India, in turn, obviously wants to retain all the accumulated inventory of such materials, as well as the facilities to produce the additional material we consider essential for a minimum deterrence, out of IAEA safeguards. Obviously, each country wants to manoeuvre the separation plan to suit its specific objective.

January 05, 2006

Implementing the Indo-US. Nuclear Deal: A Pyrrhic Struggle

Two rounds of negotiations have been held between Indian and US officials to negotiate implementing the Indo-US nuclear agreement, embedded in the Joint Statement issued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush on July 18, 2005. Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran's talks with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas D Burns in Washington last week was the second round.

January 05, 2006

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