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Conquering The North: The Battle For The Arctic

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Today, the Arctic attracts the special attention of the world’s strategists. Climate change is transforming the region, opening up new maritime routes and facilitating the use of underwater resources. It can be noted that in recent years, the confrontation in the Arctic has significantly increased. There are several reasons for this, the main one is the uncertain status of borders in this region, as well as its importance in the strategic plan:

Energy and resources

So far, no one knows exactly how much wealth the Arctic holds. According to calculations by the US Department of energy, up to 13% of undiscovered oil reserves and a large number of gas fields are located under icy waters. In addition to hydrocarbons, the Arctic has significant reserves of Nickel ores, rare earth metals, tin, tungsten, gold and diamonds.

According to some estimates, the Arctic contains 30 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves and strategically important deposits of rare earth metals worth more than a trillion US dollars.

Logistics

In the modern world, the value is not only raw resources, but also the communications and logistics through which they are delivered. There are two major transoceanic routes in the Arctic: the Northern sea route (Hereinafter NSR – Auth.) and the Northwest passage, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The richness of the Arctic latitudes is almost completely offset by the climatic conditions of this region. The nature of the Arctic is extremely hostile to man. Most of the year, the Northern sea route is covered with ice. The cost of mining is so high that the development of most fields is not profitable at the moment.

However, due to global warming, the situation in the Arctic is changing. The ice is gradually melting, which opens up access to resources and increases the attractiveness of Arctic transport routes. There are well-founded forecasts that by the end of this century there will be no ice in the Arctic ocean at all, and this will make the NSR free for navigation all year round.

Going along the Arctic coast of Russia The Northern sea route significantly reduces the passage time of ships between East Asian and European ports compared to existing routes passing through the Strait of Malacca.

These facts put the issue of “the registration of the Arctic`s residence” on the agenda of many leading countries of the world.

The Arctic is the most important strategic region and the North polar region of the globe, which covers the entire Arctic ocean, adjacent parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, as well as the edges of the continents of Eurasia and North America within the Arctic circle. This zone includes the territories of 6 Arctic states: Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. Two other states – Sweden and Finland – have territories beyond the Arctic circle, but do not have access to the coastline of the Arctic ocean.

It is worth noting that significant interest in the Arctic is also shown by those states which territories are very remote from it, namely China, India, Japan, and South Korea. In particular, South Korea and China maintains its leadership in scientific programs to study the Arctic and builds gas carriers for Russian Arctic projects. Asian shipping companies are actively showing themselves in using the Northern sea route. In addition, Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabia) closed a deal to join the Russian Arctic LNG – 2 project in 2019. China, in turn, is actively engaged in investment activities in the region and the implementation of the Arctic Silk Road.

Thus, illustrative examples clearly demonstrate the fact that many countries of the world are attracted by the prospects for developing the oil and gas potential of the Arctic continental shelf, fresh water reserves and the possibility of reducing transcontinental transport routes that may serve their national interests.

It should be understood that according to international law, each country has the right to use underwater resources at a distance of 200 miles from its coast. However, there is a UN Convention that states that if a country can prove that the ocean shelf is an extension of its continental platform, it will be considered its property. In this regard, the territorial Arctic issue is becoming quite relevant. Thus, Russia believes that the Lomonosov underwater ridge is a continuation of the Siberian platform. In this case, 1.2 million square km of shelf with huge reserves of hydrocarbons fall under Russian jurisdiction. Such statement in redistricting borders is not supported by other Arctic States (Iceland; Denmark; Sweden; Canada; Norway; USA; Finland). This position of the Russian side also raises concerns in China, India and the UK. These countries interpret international legislation in a completely different way, claiming vast areas of the Arctic shelf:

  • Canada believes that the Lomonosov ridge is an extension of its territory and promises to prove this fact in the UN;
  • The Lomonosov ridge is also claimed by Norway, which has already achieved the transfer of part of the shelf under its jurisdiction;
  • The United States considers its own section of the shelf near Alaska and is also collecting evidence;
  • China supports the collective use of the region’s resources, which will open up access to the region for Chinese TNCs and activate the Arctic Silk Road.

It is believed that the requirement that unites almost all members of the Arctic Council is international control over the Northern sea route. Currently, Canada, the United States, Norway and Russia have adopted state programs for the development of the Arctic. However, the approaches to the division and development of the region among the member countries of the Arctic Council are largely contradictory.

China also began to show increased attention to the Arctic. This country is an observer in the Arctic Council, and in 2013, China adopted a state program for the development of the region. It provides for the construction of its own significant ice-breaking fleet. Since 1994, North sea sails, the Chinese icebreaker “Snow dragon” made already several passages on NSR.

Analyzing the confrontation of geopolitical interests in the Arctic region, we should note the main Arctic powers and their military capabilities:

1) Russia is the owner of the largest Arctic coast, the Arctic water sector, and the largest continental shelf;

2) NATO, this organization includes five countries (USA, Canada, Norway, Iceland and Denmark) with coasts and territorial waters in the Arctic;

3) China does not have a coast and territorial waters in the Arctic, but by increasing its economic and, as a result, military power (including, first of all, a large military fleet under construction) may try to join the division of the international Arctic shelf – most likely by joining one of the two sides (Russia or NATO).

Today, many experts point to Russia’s superiority over the West in the number of icebreakers and Russia’s military advantage in the Arctic. But icebreakers are not warships, the main military importance in the Arctic are: 1) a military fleet that can be quickly transferred to the Arctic ocean from the Pacific or Atlantic; 2) aviation, including strategic; 3) air defense systems. It is noted that today Russia is strengthening its military grouping and tools of transferring troops in the region, as well as taking under joint Russian – Chinese control key sea routes.

China’s military capabilities in the Arctic region are generally more modest and are limited to a fleet that is also potentially armed with naval missile weapons capable of carrying tactical nuclear charges. China’s aviation today is limited by its attachment to aircraft carriers, the number of which China intends to significantly increase in the future.

Without leveling cooperation with Russia in the military sphere in the region, China actively involves economic tools of influence in the Arctic. Thus,in June 2017, the state Committee for development and reform and the State Oceanographic administration of China named the Arctic as one of the directions of the “One belt, One road” project. The “Concept of cooperation at sea within the framework of the BRI” refers to the need to involve Chinese companies in the commercial use of Arctic transport routes.

In January 2018, the state Council of China published the first “White paper on China’s Arctic policy”, which states that Beijing is interested party in Arctic Affairs. It was noted that China intends to create, jointly with other States, the sea trade routes in the Arctic region within the framework of the “Polar Silk Road initiative”. Thus, it was decided that the Polar Silk Road will be part of the broader Chinese “Belt and Road” program, creating sea trade routes and strengthening trade relations with different countries in the region.

It should be noted that in the Arctic strategy of NATO, in contrast to the strategies of other countries, the power component is most clearly traced, and the desire for sole leadership in the Arctic is demonstrated. The combined expenditures of the United States and Canada to expand their military presence in the Arctic over the past 6 years have increased dramatically, while Denmark and Norway have increased by at least 20 percent. In the American and Canadian Arctic sectors new military installations, points of the body and signals intelligence continue to be created.

The head of the US Commission on Arctic research, M. Treadwell, once pointed out that the accessible Arctic means new and expanded routes for American naval transport, and the emergence of aircraft, missiles and missile defense has made the Arctic region an important point for demonstrating power and an advanced area for ensuring the security of North America, Asia and Europe.

According to a report of the US Congressional Research Center, by 2022, the Pentagon intends to replace the F-16 fighters, which belong to the 11th air force stationed in Alaska, with new F – 35S. NATO allies will also be obliged to rearm. Thus, Norway is going to put into service American fifth-generation fighters in the number of 52 aircraft. Norway, in addition to the military confrontation with Russia, continues to develop transport infrastructure and, perhaps, in 2021, the railway connecting the mining areas of Finland with the Norwegian coast will be finally approved.

In November 2018, the largest NATO training in the post – Soviet era in the Arctic region, Trident Juncture 2018 (with the participation of more than 50,000 military personnel and large air and naval forces), took place near the Russian border. It also involved an aircraft carrier strike group led by the aircraft carrier Harry Truman, which interrupted its preparations for a mission in the Persian Gulf. In addition, U.S. Secretary of the Navy R. Spencer also underlined that the issue of creating a strategic port in the Bering sea is being studied. He stressed that this would be a nationwide project that would involve the US Navy, the US Coast guard and private companies.

At the time, British defense Minister G. Williamson emphasized that the UK should increase its military power in the Arctic and called this region “London’s own backyard”. It was immediately supported by the UK Parliament’s defense Committee, which reacted as follows: “NATO’s renewed focus on the North Atlantic is welcome, and the government should be congratulated for the leadership that the UK has shown on this issue”. 

Thus, based on the above, we can predict that the relations within the China – Russia – US triangle on “the Arctic issues” are likely to be more complex and confrontational, since they are associated with countries’ desire to achieve “freedom of hands” and a leader’s position in solving many political problems, bypassing international organizations, and sometimes international law.

Analyzing the international situation on “the Arctic issue”, it should be emphasized that the Arctic can become the largest storehouse of energy resources and a key transport hub of the globe – this is the prospect of the near future, this is the prospect of the XXI century. The maritime route from Europe to Asia via the Arctic is much shorter than the Suez canal. From London to Shanghai, the South sea is 11,865 nautical miles, and the North sea is 8814nm.

Due to its special geographical location, large reserves of natural resources, defense, scientific, and environmental significance, the Arctic is a place where many countries’ interests intersect. Thus, tensions between the leading countries are increasing all over the world and will inevitably flow to the Arctic. Issues of sovereignty and freedom of navigation in the Arctic are becoming more relevant as sea traffic volumes increase and economic rates increase. Little-known in the past maritime routes such as the Bering Strait can become extremely important passages  – a kind of Persian Gulf of the future. In this regard, it can also seen that whoever controls the Arctic will largely control the world economy and the new international strategic corridor.

PhD in International Politics, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, the P.R.of China Research Associate , Ukrainian Association of Sinologists

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The New World Order: The conspiracy theory and the power of the Internet

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“The Illuminati, a mysterious international organisation made up of the world’s top political and social elites, controls the workings of the entire world behind the scenes”. This is the world’s most famous conspiracy theory about the New World Order.

For hundreds of years, legends about the Illuminati have been spread and many people currently believe that the Illuminati still exist. It is believed that the Illuminati operate in various fields such as global politics, military affairs, finance and mass media and control the historical process of the entire world.

The ultimate goal is to establish a New World Order. Nobody can prove it, but many people believe it. This is the greatest paradox about conspiracy theories.

In the 2009 film, Angels and Demons – based on Dan Brown’s best seller of the same name about Professor Langdon, played by Tom Hanks – the story of the Illuminati, who supposedly originated in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment, was recalled. There were physicists, mathematicians and astronomers who questioned the “erroneous teachings” of the authority of the Holy See and dedicated themselves to the scientific field of the search for truth.

Eventually, the Illuminati were forced to become a clandestine organisation and have continued to recruit members for hundreds of years to this day. In Angels and Demons, the historical facts are clearly questionable, and the movie appeared after the great economic crisis of 2007-2008.

The New World Order conspiracy theory has been circulating for a long time and is full of mysterious theories that, however, convince many people who are powerless and dissatisfied with the current state of the world.

The Illuminati, who advocate the establishment of a New World Order through the planning of a series of political and financial events (the financial tsunami of 2007-2008 is said to have been planned by the Illuminati), attempt to influence the course of world history, and ultimately establish an authoritarian world government.

Supporters of the New World Order theory believe that even the powerful US government is now just a puppet government. While another “shadow government” made up of a few people makes decisions that will change the fate of the planet.

You might think that all of the above is just crackpot theories. Many people, however, believe this is true. According to a 2013 poll conducted by the Public Policy Polling Foundation, 28% of US voters believe that the New World Order is actually taking hold.

Brian L. Keeley, a professor of philosophy at Pitts College who devotes himself to the study of modern conspiracy theories, believes that an important feature of conspiracy theorists is that they cite some trivial and overlooked incidents and then propose a perfect explanation compared to an embarrassed official response. The reason why the conspiracy theory explanation can be widely disseminated is that it has no argumentation process to deny. It is just a judgement that jumps directly from hypothesis to conclusion. In the argumentation process, it is only a subjective interpretation of the event.

Nevertheless, for the public that does not fully understand the incident, the conspiracy theory provides an “explanation” for the unknown part of the said incident, and this “explanation” cannot be denied (because its very existence is not corroborated by real arguments and facts). It is therefore recognised as a valid argument by many people.

For example, no one has substantial evidence to prove that the Illuminati actually exist, but no one can prove that the Illuminati are purely fictitious. Therefore, you cannot deny their existence because their existence is “perfection without evidence”.

Columnist Martha Gill wrote in The Guardian on the subject, describing the Illuminati as the most enduring conspiracy theory organisation in world history.

“Conspiracy theories relating to the 1969 moon landing mission, the Kennedy assassination, the 9/11 attacks, etc., are all limited to a specific time and place. But conspiracy theories supporting the existence of the Illuminati can connect them. Anything about these connections, however, is difficult to prove”. In other words, the supporters of conspiracy theories may have common imagination and attribute everything to this organisation, so that every irrational phenomenon in the world can be explained.

Although no one can prove the real existence of the Illuminati, there is actually an alleged “global shadow government” in the world whose name is the Bilderberg Group. The Bilderberg Group holds an annual world-class private meeting and participants include elites from all walks of society such as government, business, media, science and technology.

Known as the “World’s Most Mysterious Conference”, the Bilderberg Group invites various famous political and economic figures to participate in its meetings every year.

Prince Bernhard van Lippe-Biesterfeld (1911-2004) held the first meeting in 1954. As the venue for the meeting was the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek, that name was used as the name of the group.

The existence of the Bilderberg Group is not a secret, but the content of the topics discussed at the Conferences is absolutely confidential and mainstream media cannot report on the content of the meetings.

The Bilderberg Group issues a press release every year to introduce the Conference participants and the outline of the topics discussed. Over the years, participants have come from many places, including Prince Philip of Edinburgh (1921-2021) of the British Royal Family, Crown Prince Charles, former British Prime Ministers, French President Macron, German Chancellor Merkel, former US Presidents Bush and Clinton, and even Bill Gates and other Internet giants. There were also Italians, as reported years ago in a newspaper of our country.

The 2018 Conference was held in Turin, Italy, in June. According to the description on the Bilderberg Group’s official website, the main topics included European populism, the development of artificial intelligence, quantum computer technology and the “post-truth” era. Obviously the actual content and results of the meeting’s discussion have never been reported.

Therefore, the Bilderberg Group has naturally become a locus where conspiracy theorists want to draw material. They describe the Bilderberg Group as true evidence of the theory that a very small number of elites controls the world, and the participants are planning a New World Order.

On the subject of strange things, let us give some examples. In June 2018, the British Royal Family was also caught up in conspiracy theories. When Prince Harry and his wife Meghan attended a show, they were caught on camera motionless, like two stiff and dull robots. Later related clips went viral on the Internet and netizens were in an uproar: many people believed that the distinguished members of the Royal Family were actually robots developed by high technology.

However, the management of the London museum, Madame Tussauds, later explained the mystery by stating that Harry and Meghan were only played by two actors who wore extremely high-realism wax masks on their faces – all to promote an exhibition of wax statues – and inadvertently caused an uproar.

In that short video, Harry and Meghan did not change their facial appearance and their expressions were stiff just like robots. Consequently, conspiracy theorists used this as evidence that they were robots secretly built by the British Royal Family.

This argument is an extension of the ‘trivial evidence’ mentioned above. The argument proponents ignore any argumentation process and directly draw the final conclusion through the above stated “trivial evidence”. This conclusion is highly topical and quite appealing. With the fast spread of the Internet, the “quick truth” will naturally be recognised and sought after by many people.

I think many people still remember the “Mandela effect” that spread wildly across the Internet in the early years as a false memory. The name “Mandela effect” is believed to have come from Fiona Broome, a self-described “paranormal consultant”, who created a website called the “Mandela effect”. Supporters of the ‘Mandela effect’ claim to “remember” that former South African President Mandela died in prison in the 1980s. But in reality, after being released from prison, Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and died in December 2013.

So why should anyone believe this seemingly absurd statement? The Internet has become a support platform for a lot of false content, fake news, as well as unreasonableness and lack of justification. When someone shared that ‘false memory’ with others on the Internet, many people believed it to be true, and even suddenly recalled having that memory: “Mandela died in prison that year”.

As a result, lies inconsistent with facts continue to spread. The lie is repeated thousands of times and many people consider it to be the truth: this learning phase is the first misleading rule on the Internet.

In the Internet era, multidimensional and multiplatform features have generated a number of online “malignancies” of conspiracy theories. Moreover, their dissemination ability is not limited to “believers” only. Since online social media provide a widespread and wide dissemination platform, one passes it onto ten people, ten spread it to a hundred, a hundred to a thousand, and so it goes on in geometric fashion, thus turning a ‘hot’ topic on the Internet into an absolute truth. Those who want to believe are naturally prepared and willing to do so. Moreover, these false opinions on the Internet may even have an impact on the real world.

For example, at the political level, everyone can now comment and participate in the online arena. For politicians to get the right to speak and set the agenda, the key is to rely on the public’s direction on the Internet. The Internet discourse has become the dominant factor of the political storytelling, and not vice versa. The characteristics of social networks are precisely the breeding ground for conspiracy theories.

The Internet is easy to spread among the public and it is exactly the breeding ground for conspiracy theories.

Nowadays, conspiracy theories are enough to influence politics and even political developments. A specific conspiracy theory gains a number of supporters through the Internet that promotes it to become a highly debated topic among the public. Consequently, it enters the real political arena coming from the virtual community and its influence can change the direction of governmental decisions.

Looking at it from another perspective, when conspiracy theories are put on the Internet and continue to proliferate – regardless of whether the Illuminati exist or not – they are enough to establish a New World Order. The real-world public opinions, as well as the composition of opinions and the basis of social discussions are changed, and thus world’s countries, politics and rulers are affected.

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USA and Australia Worry About Cyber Attacks from China Amidst Pegasus Spyware

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Pegasus Spyware Scandal has shaken whole India and several other countries. What will be its fallout no one knows as we know only tip of iceberg. Amidst Pegasus Spyware Scandal USA and Australia both have shown serious concerns about Cyber Attacks on US and Australian interests. Both say that China is hub of malware software and both face millions of such attacks daily.

I am trying to understand why a software is needed to spy on a particular individual when all calls, messages, data, emails are easily accessible from server. In most of cases these servers are located in USA and some cases these are located in host country. In certain sensitive cases Government Agencies have their own server like Central Intelligence Agency and hundreds of other agencies and military establishment world over including India. Now point is who installs those servers.

A couple of years back I had talked to Mr Mike Molloy who is Chief Executive Officer of Orion Global Technologies previously known as Orion SAS. He had explained me how his company installs servers in host countries on request of private or gov bodies. He talks about contract and trust. That means even when a company or Gov buys a server or software for designated uses the “Secrecy” Factor remain on discretion of company which has supplied server or software.

Now  if all data, e-mail, chat, messages, calls are accessible to Gov as per law and technology (Through Server all components of Communication are accessible and thats why  me and you see start seeing call recording of a person even after many years later), I am unable to understand why a Gov will be needing a software to Spy on any one.

Now coming to where Australia and USA wants to carry the whole debate.

Australian Foreign Minister Sen Marise Payne said, “Australian Government joins international partners in expressing serious concerns about malicious cyber activities by China’s Ministry of State Security.

“In consultation with our partners, the Australian Government has determined that China’s Ministry of State Security exploited vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Exchange software to affect thousands of computers and networks worldwide, including in Australia. These actions have undermined international stability and security by opening the door to a range of other actors, including cybercriminals, who continue to exploit this vulnerability for illicit gain”, She further added.

She opined, ”The Australian Government is also seriously concerned about reports from our international partners that China’s Ministry of State Security is engaging contract hackers who have carried out cyber-enabled intellectual property theft for personal gain and to provide commercial advantage to the Chinese Government”.

She warned China by saying, “Australia calls on all countries – including China – to act responsibly in cyberspace.  China must adhere to the commitments it has made in the G20, and bilaterally, to refrain from cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets and confidential business information with the intent of obtaining competitive advantage”.

On other hand USA’s The National Security Agency (NSA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a Cybersecurity Advisory on Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Operations. National Security Advisor said, ”Chinese state-sponsored cyber activity poses a major threat to U.S. and allied systems. These actors aggressively target political, economic, military, educational, and critical infrastructure personnel and organizations to access valuable, sensitive data. These cyber operations support China’s long-term economic and military objectives”.

The information in this advisory builds on NSA’s previous release “Chinese State-Sponsored Actors Exploit Publicly Known Vulnerabilities.” The NSA, CISA, and FBI recommended mitigations empower our customers to reduce the risk of Chinese malicious cyber activity, and increase the defensive posture of their critical networks. 

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Afghan issue can not be understood from the simplistic lens of geopolitical blocs

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Authors: Tridivesh Singh Maini  and Varundeep Singh*

On July 14, 2021 a terror attack was carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province in which a number of Chinese engineers, working on the Dasu hydropower project (a project which is part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor) were killed. The attack predictably evinced a strong response from China. The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi speaking before a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Minister’s meeting asked the Taliban to disassociate itself from ‘terrorist elements’ and in a meeting with Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, asked Pakistan to bring the perpetrators to book. Earlier in April 2021, a car bomb attack took place at Serena hotel in Quetta which was hosting China’s Ambassador to Pakistan (four people were killed and twelve were injured)

Wang Yi significantly praised the Ashraf Ghani government, for its attempts towards building national unity and providing effective governance. Beijing clearly realizes that its economic investments in the country as well as big ticket infrastructural projects can not remain safe if there is no security. Afghanistan also criticized Pakistan for its role in sending 10000 Jihadis to Taliban, this is important in the context of the region’s geopolitics.

 Like all other countries, Beijing and Islamabad, would have expected uncertainty after the US withdrawal of troops but perhaps over estimated their capabilities in dealing with the turbulence which had been predicted by many.

Importance of Chinese Foreign Minister’s statements

Wang Yi’s statements are important because days earlier a Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen had praised China and welcomed its role in the country’s reconstruction. He had also assured China that those involved in the insurgency in Xinjiang would not be given refuge in Afghanistan (one of China’s major concerns has been the support provided by Taliban to the East Turkmenistan movement)

While Beijing may have opened back channels with the Taliban and realized that it needs to adapt to the changing geopolitics, recent developments would have increased its skepticism vis-à-vis the Taliban. On the other hand, Russia has been more favorable towards the Taliban. Russia’s Deputy Chief of Mission in India, Roman Babushkin argued that the Taliban are a reality which needs to be accepted, and also that any military activities without a political process are insufficient.

Babushkin did make the point that for successful negotiations, Taliban needed to end violence.

‘that Taliban should deal with the problem of terrorism and other related issues in order to become legitimate, in order to [get] delisted [at the UN Security Council], in order to go ahead with the future Afghanistan and creation of the inclusive government

It would be pertinent to point out, that Zamir Kabulov, Russian President’s Afghanistan envoy went a step further and said that the Afghan government was not doing enough to make talks with Taliban a success.

China’s statements subtle warning to the Taliban, indicating its reservations, and praise of Ghani indicate a possibility of greater understanding between Washington and Beijing (even though Beijing has repeatedly attributed the current troubles in Afghanistan to Washington’s decision to withdraw troops).

Can US and China find common ground

 It remains to be seen if Biden who has exhibited dexterity on a number of complex issues reaches out to Xi Jinping to find common ground with regard to Afghanistan. Significantly, while US-Turkey relations had witnessed a downward trajectory and Biden has been critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies and Human rights record, both leaders met on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in June 2021. During the meeting Turkey agreed to secure Kabul Airport. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan while commenting on Turkey’s assurance said

‘The clear commitment from the leaders was established that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport, and we are now working through how to execute to get to that,’

Taliban earlier this week warned Turkey of ‘consequences’ if the Middle Eastern nation increased its troop presence in Afghanistan.

Conclusion

Russia’s statements with regard to the Taliban indicate that it is not totally on the same page as China (its prior experience in Afghanistan has made it more cautious and circumspect), and that the Afghan issue can not be understood from the simplistic lens of geo-political blocs and traditional lenses. All major stakeholders in Afghanistan, both within the region and outside, seem to be understandably befuddled by the turn of events. It is not just the US, but even China which would be worried not just from an economic stand point but the overall security implications of the turmoil in Afghanistan. The terror attack in KPK indicates that other CPEC related projects could also face threats from militant groups. Beijing would thus need to be quick to react to the overtures from the Taliban in order to secure its economic assets and lives of Chinese workers in neighbouring Pakistan.

 It is especially important for Washington, Beijing and other important stakeholders in the region to work together for dealing with the near term turbulence as well as long term challenges Afghanistan is likely to face.

*Varundeep Singh is an Independent Policy Analyst.

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