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Pakistan recently moved to purchase six advanced submarines, with air independent propulsion technology, from China. In an email interview, Vijay Sakhuja, research director at the Indian Council of World Affairs, discussed Pakistan’s naval capabilities. WPR: What is the current state of Pakistan’s navy? Vijay Sakhuja: Pakistan’s naval planners have been proactive in attempting to achieve parity and at times superiority over the Indian navy. They have consistently endeavored to introduce newer and more-advanced platforms to the subcontinent, including submarines capable of launching missiles, long-range maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters fitted with anti-ship missiles and more recently the air independent propulsion system […]

So far, the wave of protests jolting the Middle East has targeted mostly regimes friendly to the United States. With the prominent exception of Libya, a country that is rather peripheral to the region’s political life, the uprisings of the Arab Spring have weakened Washington’s friends and, consequently, brought satisfaction to its foes. All of that could change with the events unfolding in the latest country engulfed by reformist protests, Syria. Much like Egypt, Syria stands at the heart of the Middle East. But unlike Cairo, Damascus has remained a very large thorn in America’s side for decades. Run by […]

After weeks of debate followed by days of confusion, the international coalition enforcing a no-fly zone in Libya has finally taken shape. Spearheaded by the U.S., the U.K. and France, Operation Odyssey Dawn now also includes Canada, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, all of whom have intervened to stop Col. Moammar Gadhafi from carrying out a threatened massacre against his own citizens. Although the ultimate outcome of the intervention remains uncertain, the Libyan episode has already revealed three important features of contemporary global politics. First is the issue of U.S. leadership and its global responsibilities. After […]

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Europe’s leaders are voicing increasing concern that unrest in North Africa and the Middle East will cause a surge of illegal immigration to the continent. And with current European Union laws placing the onus of dealing with immigrants on the country where they land, the possibility of a surge has some more on edge than others. Italy, for instance, says it shouldn’t be left to “bear the brunt of the new arrivals just because it is so close to North Africa,” according to this New York Times story about the country’s present scramble to house people evacuated from Lampedusa, a […]

KIGALI, Rwanda — On a Thursday afternoon in February, a plot worthy of a Hollywood script unfolded in Goma, the freewheeling provincial capital that clings to the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Starring a high-profile Congolese fugitive, a cadre of foreign businessmen and a U.S.-registered Gulfstream jet, the tale featured a car chase that resulted in the seizure of $6.8 million in cash and a dramatic runway arrest that netted a half-ton of gold. Four foreign nationals — including a Frenchman, two Nigerians and a Houston-based diamond dealer — are now awaiting trial in the Congolese capital, […]

President Barack Obama’s address explaining the reasons for the U.S. intervention in Libya has already generated a flurry of responses. Some have lauded the speech as setting forth a set of grand strategic principles that will guide the U.S. response to the “Arab Spring.” Others have decried it as lacking sufficient grand strategic vision. In reality, grand strategic principles rarely dictate specific courses of action in complicated situations, and a coherent grand strategy absolves no one from the responsibility of “muddling through.” Even if there is an “Obama doctrine,” it is unclear how that doctrine matters for Libya, or how […]

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Russia and India recently announced that they are cooperating on developing joint liquefied natural gas projects. In an email interview, Jörg Himmelreich, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, discussed energy relations between Russia and India. WPR: Historically, what has been the energy relationship between Russia and India? Jörg Himmelreich: India and Russia have a formal strategic partnership dating back to the Cold War, when they were each other’s single most important partner. Even after the demise of the Soviet Union, they enjoyed traditionally good relations, although the resulting fundamental shift in the global order […]

KAMPALA, Uganda — With an estimated 2 billion barrels of oil sitting beneath its Lake Albert, Uganda boasts the largest reserves among a number of African countries whose recent discoveries of petroleum have swelled the ranks of the continent’s oil-possessing states. But it took a recently signed agreement resolving a tax dispute between the government of President Yoweri Museveni on one side and two companies — Tullow Oil and its former partner, Heritage Oil — on the other to open the door for an estimated $10 billion of investment in the country. By the terms of the agreement, announced Feb. […]

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Clashes are spreading between opposing forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara in Côte d’Ivoire, where tensions have been on the rise since November’s contested election between the two. With the country teetering on the edge of civil war, Ouattara’s party issued a statement this week asserting that all peaceful means to get Gbagbo to recognize defeat have been exhausted. Gbagbo has since offered a ceasefire, which according to the New York Times, “appeared to be a delaying tactic and was ignored by Mr. Ouattara’s forces as they continued their advance from two sides of the country.” Lauren Gelfand, […]

The U.S.-led military intervention in Libya is decidedly different than the ongoing military operations underway in Iraq and Afghanistan in at least one sense: Unlike those wars, which President Barack Obama inherited from his predecessor, Libya is Obama’s war from start to finish. As such, it offers us the first true picture of how this commander-in-chief commands — and how he believes U.S. force should be employed. One thing we have learned is that the president is very much a reluctant warrior, as was evident even before he launched what his press secretary calls a “time-limited, scope-limited” operation. Consider the […]

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India and the European Union have reportedly hit a snag in their long-running negotiations over a free trade agreement, hoped to boost bilateral trade by nearly $30 billion. Initially slated for signature in early April, the agreement now appears to have been postponed until 2012. One of the key sticking points in the negotiations is a proposal to enhance intellectual property protections for medicine. India has a thriving generic drug industry. It did not allow patents on pharmaceutical products until 2005, when it adapted its laws to conform with the World Trade Organization’s intellectual property rules. Products produced prior to […]

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Turkish Cypriots held protests in Nicosia recently in opposition to austerity measures being imposed by Ankara on the Turkey-supported territory. In an email interview, Mehmet Hasgüler, an expert on Turkish international relations at the International Strategic Research Organization and Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, discussed relations between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus. WPR: Why have tensions risen between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus in recent months? Mehmet Hasgüler: As a matter of fact, tension has always been a part of the relations between Turkey and Turkish Cyprus. A decade ago, Turkish Cypriot grievances toward the Turkish government erupted into a series of demonstrations […]

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Like the military intervention in Libya itself, President Barack Obama’s speech last night was probably too little, too late to have a decisive impact on the debate. It offered nothing in the way of a neat doctrine or clear-cut objectives to justify the use of force, meaning that critics are unlikely to be swayed. But in some ways, it was probably more honest than most people were expecting: The decision to intervene was essentially a gut call, long on tactics and short on strategy, whose wisdom will be determined by the outcome on the ground. What the speech did accomplish, […]

Observers around the world are glued to their TV and computer screens, barely able to keep pace with popular protests seizing one Middle Eastern country after another and changing the Arab world for good. Yet, largely ignored by Western media, the revolutionary wave of the “Arab Spring” has also reached the autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq, where it could have the dangerous side effect of plunging the whole of Iraq back into sectarian violence at the very moment the last American troops are scheduled to leave. Unsurprisingly, the popular protests originated in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan’s most secular and liberal city, where […]

Kazakhstan’s oil and gas reserves, as well as its pivotal location, make it of strategic importance to the United States and its allies. But in the run-up to Kazakhstan’s presidential election later this week, the country’s contested democratic practices and uncertain transition to the next generation of political leaders leaves its future unclear. Unfortunately, due to Washington’s preoccupation with the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan, both Kazakhstan and its upcoming election run the risk of being largely overlooked. Last month, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev rejected the idea of using a national referendum to extend his term until 2020, despite […]

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Coverage of the Western intervention in Libya has overshadowed the somewhat unprecedented regional intervention that has been going on for the past two weeks in Bahrain. Troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Peninsula Shield Force (PSF) entered Bahrain after a “request by Bahrain for support,” Asharq Alawsat reported on March 15. According to Brian Katulis, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, the development marks “a watershed moment: to see this force being used visibly to deal with internal unrest and to see the GCC states openly declare that these forces are being used in this way.” Katulis tells […]

The U.S.-led intervention in Libya is now in full swing, thanks to a 10-0 vote by the U.N. Security Council in favor of authorizing military force. But the seeming unanimity of the vote belies key abstentions from a wary Germany as well as Brazil, Russia, India and China — the four emerging economic powers known as the BRICs. The BRICs’ abstentions raise difficult questions about the future of a rules-based international order at a time of relative U.S. decline. The BRICs’ move seemed to be grounded in their longtime allergy to Western-led military operations. Couched in language of humanitarian concern, […]

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