Pakistani protesters burn an Indian flag to condemn Indian shelling of Pakistani villages, Peshawar, Pakistan, Aug. 28, 2015 (AP photo by Mohammad Sajjad).

Gunfire broke out on Friday near the disputed Kashmir border between India and Pakistan, leaving nine dead and 62 wounded. Both sides claim that the other started the unprovoked firing and shelling. The attack comes days after four Kashmiri rebels and one Indian army trooper were killed near the border in India-administered Kashmir. Pakistan also accused India of injuring a civilian Sunday after firing on aPakistan Rangers’ station. These are just the most recent incidents along the so-called Line of Control, the de facto border between India and Pakistan, in Kashmir, which has seen a significant uptick in violence in […]

Fiji's then-military ruler Frank Bainimarama arrives at a polling station to cast his vote in a national election, Suva, Fiji, Sept. 17, 2014 (AP photo by Pita Ligaiula).

Earlier this month, Fiji’s military chief, Mosese Tikoitoga, resigned, saying he wanted to start a career in the foreign service, raising questions about the state of civil-military relations in the Pacific island country, which has experienced four coups d’état since 1987, most recently in 2006. In an email interview, Vijay Naidu, professor at the University of the South Pacific, discussed Fiji’s domestic politics. WPR: How stable is Fiji’s government, and what is the state of democracy in Fiji? Vijay Naidu: The government is stable, with the ruling Fiji First Party maintaining an overwhelming majority in parliament with 32 members. There […]

Protesters against the law on associations and non-governmental organizations march towards the National Assembly, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 13, 2015 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

In a long anticipated move, late last month Cambodia’s Senate passed a controversial law that critics claim severely endangers the autonomy of foreign and local nongovernmental organizations in the country. The pushback from civil society and foreign governments has been strong, but hopes that it might be recalled were extinguished when Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni signed the draft legislation officially into law earlier this month. But the law is merely the latest in an alarming spate of efforts by authoritarian and nationalist governments to reduce the reach of NGOs working across Asia. In China, two proposed draft laws that would […]

French police officers patrol the Gare du Nord train station, Paris, France, Aug. 22, 2015 (AP photo by Binta).

Four men, including three Americans on vacation, tackled and disarmed a man who opened fire with an AK-47 on a high-speed train traveling between Amsterdam and Paris on Friday. On Monday French President Francois Hollande awarded the men the Legion of Honor at a ceremony in Paris. French authorities are treating the attack as the act of a radical Islamist. The suspect, Moroccan national Ayoub El-Khazzani, has denied that he intended to commit an act of terrorism and told French authorities he found the AK-47 and other weapons in a bag abandoned in a park in Brussels. His lawyer claims […]

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks during a ceremony to mark the 68th anniversary of Martyrs' Day at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy Party, Yangon, Myanmar, July 19, 2015 (AP photo by Khin Maung Win).

After months of deliberation and conflicting public statements, it’s finally official: Myanmar’s principal opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), will contest elections set for Nov. 8. Party leader and venerated pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi made the announcement last month, despite expressed reservations that the election will not be completely fair. Those sentiments have grown this month, after deadly floods in much of the country killed nearly 100 people and displaced more than 250,000. Suu Kyi and other opposition members worry that Myanmar’s generals may use the floods as an excuse to delay or interfere in the […]

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at a government event, Putrajaya, Malaysia, July 8, 2015 (AP photo by Vincent Thian).

Since early July, when The Wall Street Journal and the Sarawak Report, an investigative website, reported that companies linked to the embattled, indebted Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB had allegedly transferred up to $700 million into the personal accounts of Prime Minister Najib Razak, Malaysia’s normally placid politics have exploded. The allegations came amid an ongoing battle within the ruling coalition between Najib and supporters of longtime former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. On Monday, Mahathir declared in a statement that democracy in Malaysia was dead, “because an elected leader chooses to subvert the institutions of government and make them his […]

Indian Prime Minister meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Nov. 12, 2014 (Photo from the website of the Indian Prime Minister).

Last month, India and Thailand signed a series of agreements, including a tax avoidance deal and extradition treaty. In an email interview, Pongphisoot Busbarat, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asia Institute, discussed India-Thailand relations. WPR: How extensive are Thailand’s economic ties with India, and what are the main areas of cooperation? Pongphisoot Busbarat: Thailand’s economic ties with India are multilayered, based on bilateral, subregional and regional schemes. These arrangements were made possible by the complementarity of both countries’ foreign policy strategies since the early 1990s: India’s “Look East” policy and Thailand’s “Look West” policy. The Joint Commission […]

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III walks with new Philippine Navy Flag-Officer-in-Command, Rear Adm. Caesar Taccad as they view one of the newly acquired landing craft, Manila, Philippines, Aug. 10, 2015 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Last month, Australia gifted the Philippines navy two landing craft to help with the navy’s modernization and improve its ability to respond to natural disasters. In an email interview, Eric Wertheim, a defense consultant and author of “Combat Fleets of the World,” discussed the Philippines navy and its modernization plan. WPR: What are the current size, capabilities and preparedness of the Philippines navy? Eric Wertheim: Today, the navy of the Philippines includes approximately 24,000 personnel, including some 8,300 marines. The naval reserve forces are estimated to number an additional 15,000 people. The navy and marine corps have a strong tradition, […]

U.S. Navy ships in formation with Indian navy ships during Exercise Malabar 2012 (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans).

Last month, after years of hedging on the issue, India agreed to include Japan as a permanent participant in its annual Malabar naval exercises with the United States, set this year for October. Japan has participated in the Malabar exercises before, but only as an invited observer. The decision to expand the Malabar exercises is a significant turning point not just for India’s role in the region, but also for the development of the trilateral relationship among the U.S., Japan and India. This long-underperforming trilateral partnership brings together the U.S. and the two largest and most influential democracies in the […]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holds a wreath during a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nagasaki atomic bombing, Nagasaki, southern Japan Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

Almost 70 years to the day after the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and four and a half years after suspending its entire nuclear energy program, Japan restarted a nuclear reactor today, the first to operate under new safety requirements adopted in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. While the news is noteworthy in and of itself, Japan’s historical approach to its civil nuclear program, as well as to nuclear weapons in particular, is especially instructive in light of the Iran nuclear deal. Many observers have suggested over the years that Iran could well aspire to the so-called Japan […]

Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, June 9, 2015 (Wang Zhao/Pool Photo via AP).

During a session of the Angolan parliament late last month, members of the main opposition party, UNITA, boycotted a vote on a private investment law because of concerns over transparency. It was a rare display of dissent against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, with some UNITA lawmakers questioning the details surrounding recent loan deals with China, struck during dos Santos’ visit to Beijing in June. “How much did our president get from China? Nobody knows. How will we pay for it? Nobody knows,” Raul Danda, a UNITA legislator, told his fellow parliamentarians. “We asked our president to explain what he […]

Soldiers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army 1st Amphibious Mechanized Infantry Division prepare for a demonstration, Beijing, China, July 12, 2011 (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley).

One of the hottest reads among Washington national security experts this summer is not the latest White House policy document or a big report from an influential think tank, but a novel by two of the national security community’s own: Peter Singer and August Cole. Their book, “Ghost Fleet,” is a riveting thriller in the Tom Clancy tradition. Much of the attention it is getting is due to its explanation of cutting-edge military technology, but it is also captivating—and important—because its core scenario is one that every policymaker and policy expert fears: a major war between the United States and […]

Supporters of former Sri Lankan president and parliamentary candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa cheer for him during an election campaign rally, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, July 17, 2015 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—After gently glancing his fingers over a miniature statue of the Hindu goddess Parvati attached to the dashboard of his taxi, Ganesan sped past the tollbooth onto the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway connecting Bandaranaike International Airport to Colombo. “This is the work of Rajapaksa,” he muttered, referring to the multimillion-dollar, multilane highway. Partly funded by the Chinese, the road was built by former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who, after dominating the island country’s politics for a decade, was surprisingly defeated in January’s presidential election by Maithripala Sirisena. Now, with Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections scheduled for Aug. 17, Rajapaksa is […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is received by the Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov, Astana International Airport, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2015 (photo from the office of the Indian Prime Minister).

There has been no shortage of buzz about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s activist foreign policy since he took office in May 2014. He has visited a number of countries in India’s immediate neighborhood, expanding India’s “Look East” policy by looking north to Central Asia. He has boosted ties in Europe, traveling to France, Germany and Russia; and the Middle East, hosting Gulf leaders in New Delhi; in addition to visits for bilateral meetings and multilateral summits from Australia and Japan to Brazil and the United States. All in all, he has brought renewed vigor to India’s foreign policy concerns […]

Afghan security personnel inspect a damaged vehicle at the site of a suicide attack that targeted a NATO convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 7, 2015 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

The “Wizard of Kandahar” is no more: The Afghan Taliban and family of Mullah Muhammad Omar acknowledged the death of the elusive Taliban founder and leader in a statement late last week. Mullah Omar’s death will have serious ramifications not just for the future of Afghanistan, but also for regional stability and the global jihad. Immediately, the confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death has resulted in the indefinite postponement of the latest round of Pakistan-hosted peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and President Ashraf Ghani’s government in Kabul, which had been scheduled for last Friday. The one-eyed leader’s passing may not […]

Boys drink water being pumped out of the existing potable water system, which is to be improved by the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, Saut d'Eau, Haiti, June 28, 2012 (U.N. photo by Victoria Hazou).

It is turning into a summer of big diplomatic deals at the United Nations. Two weeks ago, the Security Council endorsed the Iranian nuclear deal. This weekend, diplomats signed off on an arguably even more complex bargain: the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is a sprawling set of 169 targets that the world is meant to achieve by 2030, ranging from eradicating poverty to fostering peaceful societies. Skeptical commentators worry that this amalgam of good intentions is too unwieldy to gain traction, in contrast to the crisper Millennium Development Goals articulated in 2000. But it is still impressive that […]