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Strategic Predominance and Open Market Access: The Twin Pillars of Russia's Policy in the Central Asia-Caspian Sea Region

As the Russian thinking on its near abroad is crystallizing in the wake of the US withdrawal from Uzbekistan's Karshi-Khanabad airbase in late 2005, it appears that Moscow is aiming at strategic predominance in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region, though it seems ready to accept the reality of free market dynamics. But the fact of the matter is that Moscow has neither the will nor the resources to single-handedly resolve all the problems of the impoverished former Soviet republics of the region.

April 10, 2006

Charles Taylor's Arrest: A Message to the Continent

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, wanted for war crimes by the international tribunal in Sierra Leone, was arrested on Wednesday in northern Nigeria on the Cameroon border. He was deported to Monrovia and from there transferred to UN custody in Sierra Leone. Just a day before his arrest he had disappeared from the villa in south-eastern Nigeria, where he had been living in exile since stepping down from power in 2003 as part of an arrangement brokered by AU, ECOWAS and other key international actors including the US to end 14 years of civil war in Liberia.

April 04, 2006

The Indian Navy's Amphibious Leap: 'With A Little Help From America'

It remains to be seen how the USA would "help India become a major world power" as the US Secretary of State stated a year ago, but Washington is certainly contributing to augment India's trans-national military reach in terms of its amphibious sealift and airlift capabilities. Last year, the US agreed in principle to sell India its Austin-class LPD (Landing Platform Dock) USS Trenton at a cost of US$ 42 million. The 17,000-ton Trenton is still in commission with the US Navy and is presently being refitted at Norfolk, Virginia.

April 03, 2006

British Strategic Vision of 2015: Focus on India and China

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the United Kingdom has come out with a White Paper on British international strategic priorities for the next ten years. British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, while launching the sixty-page vision statement titled "Active Diplomacy for a Changing World: The UK's International Priorities" also delivered a lecture on this occasion at a conference of senior British diplomats in London on March 28, 2006.

March 31, 2006

Waziristan Quagmire

The actions of the Pakistani government in North Waziristan during the last one month are indicative of adhocism and adventurism. It was only on February 23 that the Governor of NWFP, Khalil-ur-Rehman, announced that the government had suspended operations in North Waziristan Agency because it believed that tribesmen were capable of restoring peace and normalcy through their own customs and traditions. However just six days later, 41 militants including their Chechen commander were reportedly killed in a raid carried out using helicopter gunships on their hideout in North Waziristan.

March 28, 2006

Indo-US Strategic Partnership: Views from Germany

The visit of US President George Bush to India in the first week of March and the signing of the Indo-US nuclear deal have evoked reactions in Western media as expected. Viewpoints expressed in the vast English media, professional websites as well as other discussion fora present a spectrum of analyses. However, it is pertinent to have a look at the vernacular German media which have been closely observing the Indo-US strategic partnership not episodically but with thorough interest.

March 18, 2006

George Bush Puts Pakistan and Pervez Musharraf Out in the Cold

US President George Bush's 26-hour visit to Pakistan was foredoomed to failure as the two leaders had two different sets of issues on their agenda for talks, which shows their divergent perceptions of mutual roles and concerns in the region. While terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation and democracy held salience for George Bush, General Musharraf seemed inclined to forging strategic cooperation and securing civil nuclear technology and US mediation in Kashmir.

March 11, 2006

Indian President's Visit to Myanmar

President APJ Abdul Kalam began his three day (March 8-10, 2006) state visit to Myanmar on March 8 at the invitation of Sr General Than Shwe who himself had visited India in October 2004. The visit began on International Women's Day: whether this was a mere coincidence or carried any hidden symbolism (to draw attention to the continued house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi) is open to interpretation. However, one thing is certain.

March 09, 2006

The Bush Offering: Uninterrupted Power Supply

With President Bush having concluded, in the eyes of both governments, a highly successful visit to India, the time has come to take stock of developments and to assess whether, as has been asserted over and over again, the outcome has been a win-win for both countries.

In the course of his visit to the United States last July, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Bush signed a landmark agreement whose intent was to "transform" the relationship between the two countries.

March 08, 2006

The Bomb and the Bird

In the backdrop of President Bush's successful visit to India and the finalizing of the 'nuclear energy' deal minus the US Congress approval, many opinion-makers are coming out with bizarre theories about this deal either in its favour or against it and appear to be making a few mistakes knowingly.

In contrast, intellectual debate is entirely missing on bird flu and its future, particularly when the spread of bird flu has already started in the country. This clearly indicates the triviality of intellectual thinking, be it among academics, scientists or the media.

March 08, 2006

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