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Balance of Power

Nepal’s politico-diplomatic tightrope walk: Balancing between India & China

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi being received by the Prime Minister of Nepal, Shri Sushil Koirala on his arrival, at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, in Nepal on August 3, 2014. Image Credit: Narendra Modi via Flickr

Nepal’s geographical location puts it in the midst of a serious politico-diplomatic quandary. Sandwiched between the two populous and fast rising economic and military powers, China and India, the country has a difficult task of managing its vital neighbourhood diplomacy, economy and political stability. This Oped piece analyses Nepal’s tightrope walk between India and China, balancing its politico-diplomatic need to keep both its neighbours in good humour. The article argues, that “in the absence of consensus based foreign policy, political leaders, political parties and governments have either invited external interference to suit their personal or party interests, or meekly accepted undue interference instead of acting with the national interest in mind.”

Nepal’s political stability, trade, security and development hinges on its ability to delicately and pragmatically balance its relations with the two Asian giants, so our politicians must manage Nepal’s multifaceted relations with them prudently.

Read the full article in The Kathmandu Post.

 

Balance of Power

Trump-Kim Summit: Optimism and the Need for Cautious Realism

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An opportunity that is difficult ot seize and easy to squander is how Ramesh Thakur explains the upcoming Kim-Trump summit. However, he warns that if President Trump decertifies the Iran nuclear deal on May 12 as he has threatened to do, the move would almost certainly call into question America’s good faith and ability to honor negotiated international agreements.

Deliberating about the opportunity that the Kim-Trump talks presents, Thakur argues that that optimism must be tempered with cautious realism.

North Korea is the nuclear problem from hell. Neither South Korea nor the United States can control the narrative; definitions of success or failure are highly relative; and Trump must enter the talks with no exit strategy. The six decades since the Korean War ended in 1953 – with a ceasefire but no peace agreement – have hardened an increasingly dangerous stalemate. Although neither side is likely to launch a premeditated nuclear attack, the risk of war from miscommunication, misperception, or miscalculation is real.

Read the full article in Project Syndicate.

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Balance of Power

‘Act East’: Revisiting Indo-ASEAN Relations

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The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu and the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi meeting the State Counsellor of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on January 25, 2018.

Even in areas where there is a degree of consensus on India’s role, ie: economic integration, there are few reasons to celebrate. So far, there has been inadequate integration of India-ASEAN supply chains despite greater expectations from ASEAN in the economic sphere.

Some have pinned their hopes on the finalisation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement comprising 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the ongoing negotiations, New Delhi is facing a number of problems. It has been reluctant to liberalise the tariff barriers in goods but has pushed for greater liberalisation in the service sector.

Read the full article here

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Balance of Power

Brewing Confrontation: Iranian-Israeli Balance of Power

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Why has the plan to establish a “de-escalation zone” in southwestern Syria, has sounded alarm bells in Israel?

  • Israeli leaders are concerned that the scheme will afford Iran, its regional archfoe, an unprecedented opportunity to carve out a foothold in Israel’s backyard in the wider Golan region.
  • In all these years, Iran has only confronted Israel by proxy, through Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
  • But now, thanks to the Syrian civil war, Iran has found itself, for the first time over the past four decades, only a few kilometers from Israeli territory.
  • Once consolidated, such a position would be decisive for possible conflicts in the future between Israel and Iran or its allies.

As Israeli intelligence minister Yisrael Katz indicated during a security conference in Tel Aviv on September 11, in the event of military confrontation, Iran will be able to deploy “tens of thousands of Shia militiamen…from various countries” on Israel’s northeastern borders.

To prevent this from happening, Israel has adopted a multi-pronged strategy that consists of efforts to target Iranian Revolutionary Guards and allied militias at the Quneitra and Golan regions, and to intercept the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, including mid-range missiles. The Israeli strategy to counter Iran has been pursued systematically since the tide of Syrian civil war turned in favor of the Assad regime following the recapture of Aleppo in late December 2016, though it has been in place for a longer time.

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