What Were China’s Objectives in the Doklam Dispute?


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A third party perspective on the Doklam dispute between India and China.

If China regards Doklam as a success, it may be tempted to reuse the same template elsewhere, whether at an atoll in the Pacific or at a copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That is why Washington mustn’t relax now. It should pay close attention to the aftermath of the dispute, which is the most serious Sino–Indian confrontation in a generation. Although troops are backing off their mountain-top positions, only time will tell whether their rumblings have actually subsided or rather, created the conditions for an avalanche.

The complete article

Jonah Blank — RAND

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PARALLEL CRISES


A good run-down on all the parallel crises playing out currently.

All of the trend lines between India and Pakistan point toward another crisis. Public diplomacy is absent. Extremist groups that focus on Kashmir are unlikely to sit idly by as Kashmiris resist Indian rule. They can expect help from Pakistan’s military and intelligence services that view Modi as unalterably hostile, despite his attempts to improve relations. There is deep resentment directed at Washington’s embrace of India, topped off by Trump’s public invitation to New Delhi to play a more prominent role in Afghanistan. The Trump administration’s strong warnings directed at Rawalpindi might induce caution – but I wouldn’t bet on it.

The complete article

Michael Krepon — Arms Control Wonk

The Sunni-Shia Divide


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With what is going on in the Middle East, it is important to understand the conflict better. Today’s needull explains the Qatar issue in detail starting from origin of Islam to the present socio-political and religious factors.

Islam’s schism, simmering for fourteen centuries, doesn’t explain all the political, economic, and geostrategic factors involved in these conflicts, but it has become one prism through which to understand the underlying tensions. Two countries that compete for the leadership of Islam, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, have used the sectarian divide to further their ambitions. How their rivalry is settled will likely shape the political balance between Sunnis and Shias and the future of the region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen.

The complete article

Council on Foreign Relations

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The Last Diplomat


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Dear Readers, today, I present to you the story of Robin Raphael who worked for state department as diplomat. In a career spreading over four decades and 5 countries, Robin distinguished her self in a profession dominated by male. She was from generation where information was gathered not by electronic surveillance but by rubbing shoulders with Politicians, Journalists, Military Officers over tea, dinner and cocktail parties. This also included working through informal channels to bypass government bureaucracy. Lest she knew that her traditional diplomacy will result in her being branded as mole by FBI

“Pakistan is a country of 200 million people. But its leadership is like a deck of cards,” said Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to Washington. “However you shuffle them, the same 52 people will show up in one hand or another. Robin understood that.”

The FBI is very structured about communications. Agents see things as binary—on or off, authorized or unauthorized, black and white. State has a bunch of informal communications channels. Things are gray. It’s just the way State is.

The agents investigating Raphel didn’t have extensive experience dealing with State Department diplomats. They had even less exposure to diplomats of Raphel’s generation. By the way she spoke, Raphel sometimes made it sound as if she was giving Lodhi and other Pakistani contacts extremely valuable information.

Full article here

Image Source – Wall Street Journal