South Asia is the least integrated region in the world, and that is not in line with global trends. This is a major reason constraining India’s economic potential and its re-emergence as a global power. With China now a USD 10 trillion economy, compared to India’s economy of USD two trillion, India is at a defining movement on how the Asian Century will be shaped. The strategic question is whether Asia will have two poles, as it has had throughout history, or will India remain at Asia’s periphery as a regional power? Does connectivity, rather than institutions and rules, now enable integration and economic growth? The related question is whether economic development is the best way of reducing the role of the military in polity.
India’s announcement that it will not participate in the forthcoming 19th SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad did not come as a surprise. There was already a rethink afoot on India’s participation after the shabby treatment meted out to Home Minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to Islamabad to attend the SAARC Home Ministers’ meeting. Unlike during past conventions, the Pakistan media blacked out the speech that Singh delivered at the meeting. India contemplating the decision of not participating was reinforced when Vikas Swarup, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, countered Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale’s remarks in Karachi that “as of today Prime Minister Modi is looking forward to visiting Islamabad for the SAARC summit.”
President Ghani inks deal with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in first peace treaty since the war with the Taliban began in 2001.
Moscow calls US threat to end talks over Aleppo push “emotional breakdown”, rejects Washington-backed seven-day truce.
As America’s presidential campaign heats up on the heels of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s first debate, US lawmakers opened up a Pandora’s Box surrounding the Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). The House and Senate buried their partisan politics and overrode US President Barack Obama’s veto of JASTA, which allows families killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia’s government for the kingdom’s alleged involvement. The implications for the MENA region and the GCC in particular are paramount.
Regarding the comparison between the Saudi presence in all aspects of American life and that of Iran, two news stories should be considered. The first is the US Senate paving the way for a $1.15 billion deal to sell tanks and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia. The Senate voted 71 to 27 to oppose legislation aimed at obstructing the deal.
The Syrian conflict has taken another turn for the worse with major belligerent parties indicating a military solution in the only way to end the fighting. For its part, the Syrian opposition has lost faith in the political process and in the promises of international negotiators.