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Instability in Nigeria's Delta Region

In the last month tensions had mounted in Nigeria's oil rich Delta region due to the kidnapping of four expatriate oil workers and attacks by militant youths at two oil flow stations at Bayelsa state, owned by the energy giant Shell. The violence caused a shock in the Delta. Shell had to evacuate 326 staff and contract workers from four remote oil facilities and shut down production of 211, 000 barrels per day in the western Delta region. This move had led to price increase in the already jumpy oil market.

February 13, 2006

Russia-Iran Nuclear Connections

Russia's concern over Iran's nuclear programme is increasing with every passing day. Iranian authorities are showing un-willingness to accept Russia's proposal to enrich uranium in Russian territory. Russia is trying to resolve an international crisis over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons programme, though its position on Iran has rhetorically moved closer to the European "Troika" (France, Germany, UK). Russia agreed to Iran's referral to the UN Security Council on the condition that the council would take action only after the March 6 IAEA meeting.

February 10, 2006

Hamas victory: From Non-State to State Actor

In the post Yasser Arafat era, politics in the Gaza Strip is taking a completely different turn. For the last few years Ariel Sharon had taken a very tough stand against the militant group Hamas. However, now, particularly when Sharon is fighting for his life in the hospital, the Hamas's overwhelming victory in the Palestinian elections is likely to change the political dynamics of the region incalculably.

January 29, 2006

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

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