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Weekend catch-up: the cost of bases, Indonesia crime, and a fond farwell

The week that was on The Interpreter.

Sunrise in Canberra (Photo: MomentsForZen/Flickr)
Sunrise in Canberra (Photo: MomentsForZen/Flickr)
Published 10 Feb 2018 

The week that was on The Interpreter.

Exposed! Australia’s secret war plans to attack Iran! (Maybe) Rodger Shanahan got the scoop:

Nothing is for nothing in the Middle East. The Emiratis always held the view that implicit in the arrangement [for Australia] to access to a base in the country was an understanding that Australia would assist should hostilities ever break out with its arch nemesis Iran. Australia, for obvious reasons, has always tried to avoid committing itself to anything.

(Some in Iran took the story seriously, or at least selectively.)

Bec Strating examined the Australia’s values in foreign policy – and places where pragmatism takes hold.

Little attention is paid to the ways that Australia’s immigration policies affect Nauruan politics and society, and the mutual dependence that now exists in the relationship between the two countries. One implication of Australia’s offshore detention policies has been a decline in the quality of democracy in Nauru.

The base race is heating up around the Horn of Africa. David Brewster:

Saudi Arabia has recently finalised a deal to establish a naval base in Djibouti. Its UAE ally has just built major naval and air facilities at Assab in nearby Eritrea. The UAE also runs a military training centre in Mogadishu in Somalia

Aisyah Llewellyn delved into controversial plans in Indonesia to outlaw homosexuality and impose prison sentences for adultery.

Indonesia often sees this kind of political chest-thumping in the lead-up to flashpoint elections.

South-North rivalries have reared again to raise the spectre of a divided Yemen. Alexander Harper:

Over the past two years, tensions between these groups has escalated … it is unclear what the full ramifications of events in Aden will be, they will mark a major setback for the Saudi-led coalition campaign against the Houthis.

Meanwhile, another long-running conflict in Syria stole headlines. A Russian fighter was shot down and Rodger Shanahan discussed the grisly fate of the pilot …

Roman Filipov, who appears to have survived the ejection, fought against the jihadis with his pistol before detonating a grenade in preference to being captured. 

… while John Hart examined a French attempt, supporting by Australia among some two dozen nations, to name and shame chemical weapons suspects.

The information gathered by this initiative will also seek to compile evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Huong Le Thu had the last word in a debate on ASEAN centrality ahead of the Australia-ASEAN summit in Sydney, started after John Blaxland responded to an article Euan Graham asking Is ASEAN still central to Australia?

Currents of strategic competition have also rudely exposed ASEAN’s limitations as a supranational organisation, as less than the sum of its constituent South East Asian parts.

Beijing clamped down on the internet. Isaac Stone Fish:

The era of easily exploitable internet loopholes in China appears to be ending.

Silvio Berlusconi hasn’t given up, his persistence leading Daniel Woker to wonder what the Italian soap opera could mean for the continent.

Should Italy turn a shade of populist or nationalist, will we see yet another crisis in Europe?

Speaking of soap operas, Sam Roggeveen on Donald Trump and two America's doctrines.

The cost of maintaining America’s presence may be much higher than Washington, and America’s voters, are prepared to pay.

Finally, John Gooding signed-off this week as deputy editor for The Interpreter to take the next step in what’s bound to be a stellar career. Hopefully he can stop tweeting about it, after he wrote on tech troubles and social media addiction.

Better the fake news you know than the fake news you don’t.

Best of luck, John!

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