Sunday 18 Nov 2018 | 05:44 | SYDNEY
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West Asia

Syria: Is Assad the solution?

As Syria stumbles into its third year of conflict, President Assad continues to bank on his belief that the longer he remains in power, the more likely that the opposition will be seen as a combination of Islamists, carpetbaggers, proxies and miscreants, and that the West will somehow reluctantly

Australia-Indonesia relations: How bad is it?

At the beginning of last week it appeared that the row with Indonesia over intelligence issues had quietened down. Prime Minister Abbott had sent what was doubtless a carefully drafted letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The welcome indications, after a day or so, were that SBY felt the

India: Domestic influences handicap foreign policy

As in nearly any democratic country, India’s domestic politics has long been understood to play an important role in influencing foreign policy. This has been an especially pronounced dynamic in recent years. In 2008, the Singh Government was shaken by a close no-confidence vote over the US-

India's civil-military dysfunction

Various Indian newspapers have reported that Indian Defence Miniser AK Anthony has written to all the country's political parties requesting their opinions on the creation of a long-mooted Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post for the armed forces.  This might appear to be an arcane point of

Indian media's cautious optimism on General Sharif

The last time Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif successfully appointed a new chief of army, that chief — General Pervez Musharraf — started the Kargil war against India less than six months later. That's why Delhi was watching with interest as Pakistani General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani handed

India's stake in the Iran nuclear deal

India has been a helpless, hapless bystander to the Iranian nuclear dispute for the past ten years. Unlike, say, Turkey, India has played no part in the various rounds of negotiation with Iran. It has watched as its substantial oil imports from Iran have shrunk under pressure from sanctions, and

Riyadh's annus horribilis

As 2013 comes to a close, Saudi Arabia should be concerned that it is increasingly being seen as an observer of events that threaten to re-shape the region in ways that will weaken its standing. I am currently in Lebanon and the feeling of disappointment with Saudi Arabian leadership of the Arab

Time for Iran to reach out to Israel

Christopher Johnston is a fellow at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and a graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon. Officials are hailing an interim agreement to halt or reverse key aspects of the Iranian nuclear program. Negotiations have concluded with

What Q&A India tells us about Australia-India relations

Danielle Rajendram is a Lowy Institute research associate. Her work focuses on Indian foreign and domestic policy, India-China relations and Asian security. In case you missed it, this week’s episode of ABC’s Q&A was broadcast live from the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon, India.  The

Documentary trailer: The Square

This new documentary about the Eyptian uprising is getting plaudits from reviewers and attracting Oscar buzz. The Daily Beast calls The Square 'the definitive on-the-ground history of the popular uprising that is still remaking and redefining modern Egypt': ...American-born, Egyptian-bred

Syria: Vote 1 Bashar

Despite everyone telling him that he's got to go, Syria's President Bashar Assad has been steadfast in his refusal to do so, claiming that the only ones who can tell him it's time to leave are the Syrian people. They will get their chance in the presidential elections slated for mid-2014, which he

Reader riposte: India's resource scarcity

Wilson Chau, a former Lowy Institute intern, writes: Really interesting email exchange with the co-authors of In Line Behind a Billion People. It is a book that I must read. If scarcity will feature prominently in China's future, then surely scarcity will be an even greater dilemma for India.

Loaded language on Israel-Palestine

Marty Harris is an assistant digital editor at the Lowy Institute. The International Press Institute has just released a guide for journalists on 'loaded language in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict'.  Journalists in the region may be particularly invested in the conflict, because they live

Indo-Pacific security links

'Indo-Pacific' is an increasingly recognised term in the analysis of Asian strategic issues. Of course, there’s debate about what it means and the extent to which such a super-sized region can be a meaningful frame of reference for policymaking. And its subregions of North Asia, South Asia and

A lifetime observing India

Danielle Rajendram is a Lowy Institute research associate. Her work focuses on Indian foreign and domestic policy, India-China relations and Asian security. Lowy Institute Nonresident Fellow Ric Smith spoke last week at the Australia India Institute on his 50-year relationship with India.

China-India: Dr Singh goes to Beijing

Shashank Joshi is a doctoral student at Harvard University's Department of Government and a Research Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute, London. He tweets here. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is on a four-day tour to Russia and China, and he arrives in Beijing today. What's on

China's aid program: Why the numbers matter

Dr Philippa Brant is a Lowy Institute Research Associate. China’s aid policy, like almost everything China does on the world stage, attracts close scrutiny and often criticism. The forthcoming release of China’s second White Paper on Foreign Aid (likely within the next month) will

Israel has no need to worry about Obama

Dougal Robinson is a Lowy Institute Project Research Assistant. The US and Iran held a one-hour bilateral meeting in Geneva on Tuesday as part of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, but two-thirds of Jewish Israelis believe President Barack Obama will fail to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon.

US Jews support two-state solution; split on settlements

Marty Harris is an assistant digital editor at the Lowy Institute. Pew Research has released a major public opinion report on the attitudes of America's more than 5 million Jewish citizens. Much of the media reporting has focused on a supposed 'identity shift' among Jewish Americans, but the

Focus on the Palestinian economy

Marty Harris is an assistant digital editor at the Lowy Institute. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Middle East and Central Asian Studies from ANU. Two reports on the Palestinian economy were released recently. Late last month the Office of the Middle East Quartet released a summary of the '

Talking to Iran is good, right?

It is right to be cautious about Iran's post-Ahmadinejad willingness to negotiate on the nuclear issue. And while a combination of the sanctions regime and the election of Hassan Rouhani as president has enabled negotiations to occur, the West should be alert to where Iran sees itself positioned

US-Iran: Hints of hope in presidents' speeches

Dina Esfandiary is an Iran specialist and a research associate in the Non-proliferation and Disarmament programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The much-anticipated handshake between presidents Rouhani and Obama didn’t happen at the UN this week. Dubbed #handshakegate on

'So much for the Asia pivot'

That's how the BBC's New York correspondent Nick Bryant introduced a NY Times account of President Obama's UN General Assembly speech. Here's the relevant passage from the Times: Despite a war-weary public and its declining reliance on Middle Eastern oil, the United States would continue to be an

Reader riposte: Daily Show's Middle East map

Tzvi Fleischer from the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council writes: Noticed you posted that skit about Middle East borders from the US 'Daily Show' today. It's cute as a skit but, as you would expect on a comedy show, its pretty lousy history and political analysis. The whole trope about

Syria: How about a little love for the Russians?

Commentary from Washington on the US-Russia deal to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons is of two main varieties. The first argues that Obama got played by Putin. According to this version, the Russians exploited a mistake from Secretary of State John Kerry (who made an off-the-cuff

Australia gears up for UNSC Syria talks

Denis Fitzgerald is a freelance journalist covering the United Nations in New York. He blogs at UN Tribune. For the first two weeks of Australia’s presidency, the UN Security Council has not met formally to discuss the situation in Syria (though there’s been plenty of informal discussion

Revisiting the 'Asian arms race' debate

Chris Rahman is a Senior Research Fellow in Maritime Strategy and Security at the University of Wollongong. The hoary question of whether Asia is experiencing a naval arms race has been a persistent topic of strategic debate for the best part of two decades. This is perhaps understandable given the

Syria: Ready, aim...wait a minute

To say that Saturday's White House decision to delay a military strike on Syrian targets in order to seek Congressional approval was unexpected would be an understatement. But when you are the commander-in-chief of a very powerful military and the political leader of a democratic country that is

Chemical weapons use in Syria: Who, what, why?

Rod Barton was a senior UN weapons inspector in Iraq. He is the author of The Weapons Detective: The Inside Story of Australia's Top Weapons Inspector. It is difficult from media reporting to sort fact from fiction about allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. The chaos of war and the desire

Syria: Chemical weapons and Obama's 'red line'

Following claims of an Assad regime chemical weapons attack in Syria, calls are intensifying (particularly in France) for something to be done in response. Certainly US social media is intimating that moves are afoot to take some form of limited military action. There is of course the small

Should the US cut military aid to Egypt?

Bob Bowker is a former Australian ambassador to Jordan and Egypt. He is now an Adjunct Professor at the ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies. In the aftermath of the bloodbath of 14 August, the question of whether US military assistance (around US$1.3 billion per annum) should continue to be

Nagl: Drones precluded US invasion of Pakistan

Douglas Fry is a Fairfax Media writer. 'Were it not for drones, the United States would probably have had to have invade Pakistan.' So declared Dr John Nagl at a public lecture hosted by the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre in Canberra on Tuesday, 13 August. It's a bold – and alarming

Egypt links

For the latest, just follow the #Egypt hashtag on Twitter. 'Reconciliation now seems hopeless; Egypt is shattered'. The US is complicit, says Ali Gharib, so it's time to cut Egypt loose. Marc Lynch agrees. Tarek Radwan: 'Unfortunately, too many parties in the standoff had too much to gain in

Afghanistan and Iraq, both failures

Former US Army colonel and now visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Gian Gentile tells it like it is in the LA Times: Many years ago the British historian and strategist B.H. Liddell Hart pointed out that the object of war should be to produce a "better state of peace." If

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