With the global spotlight unwaveringly focused on the momentous changes in the Arab world, subtle shifts taking place in another strife-torn Muslim-majority region in Asia have escaped the world’s attention. Jammu and Kashmir, the object of a longstanding territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, has been ravaged for the past two decades by a violent, Pakistan-backed Islamist insurgency that has exploited popular grievances among Kashmiris. But almost a year after turmoil in urban Kashmir led to the deaths of 112 unarmed civilians in police actions last summer, the situation has been completely peaceful this year. But there is more to […]

The second India-Africa Forum summit, held in Ethiopia last week and attended by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with the leaders of 16 African states, set out a fresh roadmap for further consolidation of the strategic partnership between India and the African Union (AU). Addressing the summit, Singh emphasized clearly, “Africa possesses all the prerequisites to become a major growth pole in the world. India-Africa partnership is unique and owes its origins to history and our common struggles against colonialism, apartheid, poverty [and] disease.” With globalization increasingly shifting the international distribution of economic power in Asia’s favor, India has […]

For all the ways that Kosovo’s declaration of independence on Feb. 17, 2008, was a seminal moment, it changed little. To be sure, it marked the beginning of a fundamentally new phase in Kosovo’s political life and led to material as well as symbolic changes in its international status. Many powerful states recognized Kosovo as independent, and its altered international standing quickly allowed it to reach new heights of political autonomy. Yet many of the underlying political challenges and divisions that made Kosovo such a political flashpoint in Europe in the first place remained in place. Its early post-independence years […]

The Valdai International Discussion Club held the first meeting of its Defense and Security section in Moscow from May 25-27. The discussions, which focused on Russia’s military modernization program as well as on Russian cooperation in international security, brought together about two-dozen Russian and Western international security analysts. The meeting was co-organized by the Russian RIA Novosti state news agency, the independent Council on Foreign and Defense Policy think tank and the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technology (CAST) research institute, and included visits to several important Russian military facilities. Participants were also able to meet with some of […]

The U.S.-led economic reconstruction projects in both Afghanistan and Haiti, as well as similar United Nations efforts in Africa, the Balkans and Timor Leste, highlight the dismal track record of post-Cold War efforts to help countries transition from war or other forms of chaos to peace. Despite a few success stories, roughly half of the countries facing such transitions, according to the U.N., relapsed into conflict or chaos, leading to further human tragedy, large number of refugees and internally displaced populations (IDPs), and huge costs in new military interventions and peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, failed states have become incubators for terrorism, […]

JUBA, Sudan — It’s not every day that a new nation is born, even if the prospect is not unheard of in sub-Saharan Africa’s recent history. For south Sudan, the long and bitter struggle for autonomy and freedom from a series of oppressive Khartoum governments has made the looming reality of the Republic of South Sudan — as the state will be known after it becomes independent on July 9 — all the more meaningful for its diverse population. As was evident in the immediate, jubilant aftermath of the January referendum that decided south Sudan’s fate, this historic moment is […]

Nuclear Pakistan, we are often told, is the Islamic-state equivalent of a Wall Street firm: In geostrategic terms, it is too big to fail. That explains why, even as the Obama administration begins preparing for modest troop withdrawals from Afghanistan this July, it dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Islamabad last week to smooth over bilateral relations with Pakistan’s paranoid regime, which were strained even before the killing of Osama bin Laden. But Clinton’s trip and the Obama administration’s instinctive embrace of Islamabad is a fool’s errand, doomed by history, geography and globalization itself. In fact, the U.S. should […]

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With the United States and Europe behind the curve on so many fronts — from the economic meltdown to the Arab Spring — observers have noted that U.S. President Barack Obama hoped his trip to Europe this week would inspire a new era of U.S.-European cohesion toward solving the world’s problems. “There are a whole variety of issues that he’s probably not going to solve on this trip, but he’s got to lay the groundwork that we need a united front,” says James Joyner, managing editor of the Atlantic Council in Washington. “At a minimum, he needs to overcome a […]

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Egypt’s foreign minister recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, amid signs of tensions between the two countries following the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. In an e-mail interview, Michael Wahid Hanna, a fellow and program officer at the Century Foundation, discussed Egyptian-Saudi relations. WPR: What has the relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia been historically? Michael Wahid Hanna: Following the Egyptian Free Officer’s Revolution in 1952 and the subsequent emergence of President Gamal Abdel Nasser as a champion of Arab nationalism, Egyptian-Saudi relations were marked by considerable strife. Indeed, for the most part, Egypt and Saudi Arabia remained rivals and […]

BELGRADE, Serbia — The arrest of Ratko Mladic offers Europe some closure on a horrific period of its recent history, and is a substantial boost for Serbia and its president, Boris Tadic. But obstacles remain ahead for Serbia on its long journey back to the European family. After 16 years of evading near misses and false leads, Mladic came quietly. The former head of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) was found not in a mountain redoubt in Bosnia, but in an innocuous town on the northern Serbian plains. Mladic has been indicted on 15 counts, including genocide and crimes against […]

When President Barack Obama laid out his vision for moving forward on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process last week, he — like the Clinton and Bush administrations before him — emphasized trying to settle the question of borders first, while deferring negotiations on more contentious issues, like the status of Jerusalem, for later. Indeed, at first glance, the question of Jerusalem appears to be insolvable, given both sides’ starting points for negotiation. Speaking before the U.S. Congress this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu declared, “Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel. I know […]

DENPASAR, Indonesia — Assessing the Association of South East Asian Nations is always a tricky matter. The organization, which brings together 10 Southeast Asian countries, has been criticized lately for its inability to mediate the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia as well as for failing to put enough pressure on the Myanmar junta. These deserved criticisms also call into question a pillar of the association, namely the noninterference policy that prohibits intervention in members’ internal affairs. But “the ASEAN way” is unlikely to change anytime soon, and expecting the group to become the new European Union is unrealistic. Nevertheless, […]

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News coverage of the fighting that erupted this week in Abyei, capital city of the province of the same name that lies on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, has largely blamed the violence on North-South friction over oil fields and undying tensions between ethnic tribes in the area. But Eric Reeves, a leading Sudan researcher at Smith College in Massachusetts, called the Sudanese army’s seizure of Abyei “extortion,” and says it is part of a growing strategy by the government in Khartoum to wring financial concessions out of South Sudan ahead of its official independence slated for July […]

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The members of the East African Community recently agreed to fast-track the economic measures necessary to meet their goal of creating a monetary union in 2012. In an email interview Steven Buigut, an expert in African monetary unions at the American University in Dubai, discussed the proposed EAC monetary union. WPR: What are the driving forces behind the creation of the East African Community Monetary Union? Steven Buigut: The East African Community (EAC) is a regional organization comprised of five countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The first three countries previously operated a currency board arrangement backed by the […]

When President Barack Obama addressed the world’s Muslims from Cairo in 2009, his message, to put it bluntly, added up to, “Please love America — or at least stop hating it.” Two years later, when Obama took the podium once again to address the restive Middle East, his message was much different, but just as stark. This time he seemed to be saying, “Please believe that America still matters.” Obama’s May 19 speech from the State Department in Washington represented a desperate attempt at relevance. The president was essentially trying to demonstrate that during this transformative phase in the region, […]

VIENNA — Last week was an eventful one for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. With popular uprisings across Syria showing no sign of abating, international condemnation of the Syrian government’s violent repression of the demonstrations intensified. On the eve of his highly anticipated speech on the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama announced sanctions against Damascus. And in an unprecedented move, the U.S. Treasury Department added Assad himself to its list of individuals under targeted financial sanctions. On Monday, the European Union, too, imposed its own set of sanctions. Yet amid the domestic political earthquake that is shaking Assad’s rule, another […]

Soon after U.S. special operation forces killed Osama bin Laden in a raid deep into Pakistani territory, a journalist asked India’s army chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, whether his nation’s armed forces had the capability to carry out a similar operation. The military man gave a straightforward answer. “If such a chance comes,” he said, “then all the three arms [of the armed forces] are competent to do this.” The domestic and international reactions to his statement exemplify the paradox of proximity: Having a fragile state in the neighborhood makes the capability to intervene important, but puts structural constraints on a […]

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