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| 4 Friday to 11 Friday August 2017|



 








EAST ASIA

1. NORTH KOREA (DPRK). Marking 72 years since the American Nuclear attack, Mayor TOMIHISA TAUE made a passionate call for denuclearization from the NAGASAKI Peace Park on 9 August, especially focusing on tensions between DPRK and the US. Mayor TAUE stated that NAGASAKI must be the last place to suffer an Atomic Bombing while a strong sense of anxiety is spreading across the world that Nuclear Weapons could actively be used again. Critics call the DPRK to understand that CHINA is in accord with the US and the rest of the UN Security Council that the DPRK should abandon its Nuclear programme. DPRK has threatened to attack the US Base in GUAM in defiance of the UN sanctions and may be trying to draw world attention to wrest material and financial concessions, but there is the danger of being totally isolated and becoming a failed state if it does not understand the current realities that “it is economics that drive politics” and that unlike in the 1950-53 Korean War, CHINA would not enter into a military confrontation on behalf of the DPRK. Critics say that not only the DPRK but the US under the TRUMP administration too is in the path of international isolation through its recent efforts to disengage from universal responsibilities. Observers agree that had the US-SOUTH KOREA (ROK) military alliance been wound up at the end of the Cold War, the DPRK may have focused more on socio-economic development rather than concentrating on military development for self-defence.

2. CHINA. Chinese President XI JINPING’s speech on 1 August at the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) seems to be a stern warning, especially to INDIA. He said CHINA would fiercely protect its sovereignty against “any people, organisation or political party” aimed at semi-autonomous HONG KONG with its political resistance, self-ruled TAIWAN and INDIA over territory on CHINA’s border with BHUTAN. Earlier CHINA had been following a strategy of “hide your strength” but recently it has begun to indulge in pointed demonstrations of its power and there have been massive military parades in HONG KONG and INNER MONGOLIA, sailing of CHINA’s first aircraft career near TAIWAN and the conduct of Naval Military exercises in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. Meanwhile, CHINA expressed its willingness to resolve the ongoing border issue with INDIA before the BRICS summit in the Chinese city of XIAMEN in early September. CHINA has been briefing foreign diplomats on the DOKLAM border issue with a warning that its patience would not last forever and the prospect for the border tensions are worsening and gradually becoming a wider Asian security issue dragging in other countries.

SOUTH ASIA

3. INDIA. Political observers warned the Central Government of INDIA and the West Bengal State Government that treating the demand of the Gorkhaland Jana Mukthi Marcha (GJM) for statehood for GORKHALAND within the Indian Union as an anti-Indian move would radicalise the entire Gorkha populace and metamorphose the anti-Bengali struggle into something wider in appeal. However, the Chief Minister of West Bengal MAMATA BANERJEE sees the GJM as an incipient terrorist movement which could be crushed by a show of force. It has even enforced an Internet ban especially affecting the student population and also an unofficial food and medicine embargo forcing people to go to hospitals in SIKKIM. The Nepalese speaking Gorkhas of Northern Bengal restarted their agitation when in May the West Bengal Government announced that Bengali language would be compulsory in the school system an order which has now been withdrawn. However, the demand for statehood (with no secession from the Indian Union) is in its second month and the DARJEELING District which is at the core of GORKHALAND and West Bengal’s only tourist destination has now come to a standstill. Critics say that if political indifference and police repression persist, the situation could slip into the hands of real terrorists with foreign collaboration. GORKHALAND is located in the SILIGURI Corridor which is the only link mainland INDIA has with its far Eastern States, namely ASSAM, MNIPUR, MEGHALAYA, NAGALAND, MIZORAM and TRIPURA. CHINA has already threatened to destabilise INDIA’s North East if Indian troops do not withdraw from the DOKLAM (150 km from DARJEELING) unilaterally. The Indian Government opposes the separation of GORKHALAND from West Bengal as BENGAL has been already divided, first in 1905 (later re-united) and permanently in 1947.

SOUTH EAST ASIA

4. ASEAN. The Joint communiqué issued by the ASEAN at the end of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting in MANILA, PHILIPPINES on 6 August resolves to settle the South China Sea standoff with CHINA Diplomatically and not Militarily. Observers view the watered- down statement as a case of ASEAN placing the collective interests of the region before the perceived individual interests of member states. This, especially applies to VIETNAM, the PHILIPPINES, MALAYSIA, BRUNEI and TAIWAN which are in disagreement with CHINA over respective territorial portions of the South China Sea. They identify it as a “Diplomatic Coup” by CHINA which has ultimately been able to manoeuvre the ASEAN bloc putting diplomacy before armed confrontation. ASEAN countries cannot ignore the fact that CHINA has been most vibrantly and far-sightedly penetrating the world economically and making the most of free market economics. According to “Global Game Change”, CHINA’s global overseas investments between 2005 and 2013 had been at US$ 688 billion of which East Asia had received US$ 157.2 billion and the reality is that no other Asian power could match the Chinese international presence at present.

NORTH AMERICA

5. US. At a time the US Ambassador to the UN in NEW YORK, NIKKI HALEY referred to Human Rights violations in MYANMAR stating that no one should face discrimination or violence because of their ethnic background or religious beliefs, an Africa - America civic group, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) issued its first ever travel warning against the State of MISSOURI. African - Americans have now been warned by the NAACP that they risk racial harassment and discrimination when they travel to the Mid-West State of MISSOURI. Political observers say that this warning is a sign of the people of America facing greater political burdens from the current policies of the Trump Administration. Further that the extreme right-wingers of the Republican Party are trying to recreate a white-centered nation and attempts are being made to roll back decades of progressive laws and practices that provided various supportive socio-economic programmes for the socially backward African - American community as well as other socially disadvantaged groups such as the lowest income groups, women and marginalised groups.

SOUTH AMERICA

6. VENEZUELA. The Venezuelan regime of President NICOLAS MADURO has been facing a heavy street protest campaign led by the opposition for the last 4 months. Four years of falling oil prices, economic mismanagement and growing corruption have made the economy go down to the lowest levels with inflation at 1600 percent, food and medicine becoming scarce and the murder rate among the highest in the world. Critics claim that the senior military men are richly rewarded by the regime and rank-and-file soldiers are paid meagre salaries. A rebel group launched an attack on Fuerte Parmacay Military barracks in CARABOBO State on 6 August, which was supported by the civilians living in the city. The attack came just one week after the election of a “Constituent Assembly” by the supporters of President MADURO’s Government. Meanwhile, a new 17-member bloc of Latin American countries together with CANADA condemned the deteriorating situation in VENEZUELA stating it was a ‘dictatorship’.


|28 Friday July to 4 Friday August 2017|



 








SOUTH ASIA

1. INDIA. Political observers are now certain that Indian Prime Minister’s bid to retain power in 2019 looks stronger than ever. The BJP and its allies overwhelmingly dominate 7 of the 10 largest states including UTTAR PRADESH, BIHAR, MAHARASHTRA, GUJARAT, ANDHRA PRADESH, MADHYA PRADESH and RAJASTHAN. KERALA and WEST BENGAL are the only major states where the BJP - led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is still to strengthen itself. The BJP alliance is having an unprecedented influence over 70 percent of the country’s population especially after forming an alliance with the JANATHA DAL (United) leader NITISH KUMAR in the State of BIHAR last month. The BJP-led alliance now rules 18 states across INDIA and sends 340 lawmakers to the 543-member Lok Sabha. In the 5 non-BJP-ruled states, regional parties such as AIADMK in TAMIL NADU and BJD in ODISHA maintain close ties with the NDA, the BJP-led alliance. BJP’s presence in South India has been further strengthened by its alliance with Telugu Desam Party in ANDRA Pradesh and Telangana Rashtra Samiti in the State of TELANGANA. Meanwhile, a report by New World Wealth published in August ranks INDIA as the seventh wealthiest country in the world while the US, CHINA and JAPAN occupy the 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.

2. PAKISTAN. The Supreme Court of PAKISTAN disqualified Pakistani Prime Minister from holding public office over corruption on 28 July, based on leaked Panama Papers along with his Finance Minister ISHAQ DAR. For NAWAZ SHARIF, this is not a new experience as he has been stripped of the Premiership twice previously. Opinion is divided in PAKISTAN on the Supreme Court judgment but the ruling is bound to have a deterrent effect on all Political leaders, present and future. According to documents leaked from Panamanian Law firm, Mosssack Fonseca by the International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ) in April 2016, 12 world leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates known to have been using offshore tax havens. It was reported that the Panama Papers having listed 3 Sri Lankan companies, 3 clients and 22 stakeholders as well. Protests led by IMRAN KHAN and his political party Pakistan-Tehreek-i-Insaf led to the Supreme Court investigation that included members of the Military Intelligence and the rest of the Joint Investigations Team (JIT). PAKISTAN is the only country to have officially investigated an accused and found him guilty over the Panama Papers.

SOUTH EAST ASIA

3. CHINA. Professor BRAHMA CHELLANEY of Strategic Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, referring to the recent heavy-handed economic sanctioning of SOUTH KOREA for its decision to deploy the American THADD Anti-Missile system says that it is one of the examples of the Chinese use of trade as a political weapon. CHINA’s reprisals were not launched against the US which deployed the THAAD system against NORTH KOREA’s Missile threat and has the power to hit back hard. CHINA’s economic sanctions range from restricting imports or informally boycotting goods from a targeted country to halting strategic exports. Other methods include suspending tourist travel and blocking fishing access. All these are employed discreetly to avoid disruption that could harm CHINA’s own business interests. Prof. CHALLANEY points out that MONGOLIA became a victim of such geo-economic coercion after it hosted the DALAI LAMA in November 2016. NORWAY too suffered heavily and lost Norwegian salmon exports to CHINA after the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Chinese dissident LIU XIAOBO. When CHINA’s sovereignty dispute with JAPAN over the SENKAKU Islands flared anew, CHINA used trade as a strategic weapon, costing JAPAN billions of dollars. For CHINA, no treaty seems to have binding force once it has served its immediate purposes which was amply demonstrated recently by totally ignoring the 1984 Chinese-British Joint Declaration that paved the way for Hong Kong’s handover in 1997.

4. NORTH KOREA. NORTH KOREA’s (DPRK) ballistic missile test on 28 July, has raised tensions in the region, pitting the US, JAPAN and SOUTH KOREA (ROK) against CHINA and ROK President MOON JAE-IN ordered discussions with the US on the deployment of additional THAAD batteries. This was after the US Missile Defense Agency announced that the THAAD system was successfully tested against a medium-range ballistic missile (MRM) target. The THAAD has no capability against the DPRK missiles tested on 4 July and 28 July both of which were Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles. In response, the United States Forces in Korea (USFK) and ROK forces fired a number of deep strike precision capable missiles in the sea east of the Korean peninsula. US Secretary of State REX TILLERSON said on 1 August the US would not see a regime change in DPRK and would like dialogue with DPRK but only on the understanding that it can never be a nuclear power.

5. SOUTH CHINA. VIETNAM, under pressure from CHINA was forced to reverse a decision allowing the Spanish company REPSOL to drill in waters around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. BBC reported that CHINA threatened an attack on VIETNAM, if the drilling did not stop. Similarly, when the PHILIPPINES was to drill in Reed Bank, with a foreign company within the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) CHINA informed it was open to joint exploration in the disputed waters. However, VIETNAM is going ahead on two other exploration projects in the VIETNAM EEZ, one of which is operated by INDIA’s ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and INDIA which elevated its relations with VIETNAM from ‘strategic partnership’ to ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ in September 2016, had discussed with VIETNAM of steps to protect their interests in the South China Sea. Observers say that a confrontation similar to on-going border stand-off in DOKLAM area in BHUTAN, could flare up in the South China Sea. The situation in the South China Sea could be critical in the coming months as some US news reports claim that President TRUMP has given the US Pacific Command sanction for elevated US Naval engagement in the South China Sea. In the aftermath of the biggest ever-Military exercises conducted by the US-INDIA-JAPAN in the Bay of Bengal there are signs that AUSTRALIA would also join the group putting up a forceful challenge to CHINA. In the 4th week of July a Canadian warship conducted a freedom of navigation sail, through the South China Sea in the company of US, Australian and Japanese ships while Chinese ships were shadowing them throughout the voyage.

NORTH AMERICA

6. US. The US Senate on 27 July, approved a bill to toughen sanctions on RUSSIA for allegedly meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election and for its annexation of CRIMEA in 2014 and is seen as a rebuke to President TRUMP’s openness toward RUSSIA. It had nearly unanimous votes in both the House and Senate and President TRUMP on 2 August signed the expansive bipartisan bill into law. The bill limits the President’s ability to lift sanctions and requires congressional review before the President could abolish the penalties. The bill also aims to punish RUSSIA for its actions in SYRIA and UKRAINE and has drawn concern in Europe on how it could impact stakeholders in Russian energy projects. The measure includes sanctions on IRAN and NORTH KOREA as well. In response, RUSSIA ordered the US to reduce its Embassy and Consulate staff in the country by 755 employees, while IRAN said new sanctions breaks the terms of its Nuclear deal with the US and vowed appropriate and proportional response.

7. UNITED NATIONS. UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNDOC) study released recently estimates that the Taliban raised US $ 150 million, some 50% of their total income from taxes and involvement in the illicit opiate trade while Boko Haram is involved in smuggling and heroin, as well as trafficking people and natural resources across West Africa and Al-Shabaab cooperates with Somali pirates, and earns millions off smuggling in East Africa. It is no coincidence that conflicts in IRAQ and SYRIA is helping to drive human trafficking, migrant smuggling and other crimes throughout the Middle East, North Africa and across the Mediterranean. The view that crime is primarily a national issue has given away to greater international cooperation and reliance on universal legal instruments such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the Convention against Corruption. The UN study of illicit flows shows that the combined proceeds of all crimes amounted to some US $ 2 trillion.


|21 Friday to 28 Friday July 2017 |



 








SOUTH ASIA

1. SOUTH ASIA. The recently concluded MALABAR Naval exercise from 07-17 July, strengthened US Military ties with INDIA and JAPAN. It is seen as central to checking a perceived expansion in CHINA’s Military presence in South Asia. US, JAPAN and INDIA share a common interest in sending a message to CHINA on account of its strong strategic presence in South Asian region and also in the South China Sea. Especially the improved defense and economic ties with JAPAN would serve INDIA’s interests immensely. The other most significant factor that emerged from the ‘MALABAR Exercise 2017’ is the notable shift in US-PAKISTAN relations which was featured in the joint statement by President TRUMP and Prime Minister MODI at the end of MODI’s visit to the USA last month. It called upon PAKISTAN to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries and that PAKISTAN should bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 MUMBAI, PATHANKOT and other cross-border terrorist attacks. The primary reason for strained relations between US and PAKSITAN is the “terror issue” which has been highlighted in the Indo-US joint communiqué. The US is clearly strengthening relations with those countries which are seen as having the motivation and military capability of containing ‘Islamist terror’.

2. INDIA. A volte-face in CHINA’s stand against INDIA was observed by International Observers on 19 July in the influential Chinese media, Global Times. After heightening anti-India protests on the recent SIKKIM Border stand-off, CHINA suddenly began acclaiming economic reforms initiated by the Indian Government. Analysts focusing into reasons which may have prompted CHINA to reverse its anti Indian campaign, count growing Chinese investments in INDIA and President TRUMP’S relook into Asia-Pacific policy among others. It may have also seriously considered the possibility of losing INDIA from the net of globalisation, when it takes over globalisation trends from the US in the future. NARENDRA MODI encouraging Chinese investments in INDIA demonstrates his strategy of reducing a wide trade deficit incurred by Chinese exports to INDIA. It will certainly be an economically viable measure without triggering a trade war and could make INDIA to be the next generation investment destination for CHINA. Another significant issue is that CHINA now has lost low cost manufacturing competitiveness in the wake of appreciation of the Yuan. This situation is going to be crucial for INDIA and the world, with the question, whether INDIA could replace CHINA as the next manufacturing hub of the world.

3. MALDIVES. The Maldivian Military’s taking over of the country’s Parliament on 24 July on the orders of President ABDULLA YAMEEN was condemned by the Opposition, Maldivian Democratic Party as desperate, illegal and unconstitutional. A no-confidence motion against Speaker ABDULLA MASEEH MOHAMED was scheduled to have been taken up on the day with the support from 45 lawmakers in the 85-member house. If the motion had succeeded, the President’s authority would have been challenged. The President lost his majority in Parliament on 4 July after 10 lawmakers from the President’s party joined the opposition in launching the impeachment against the Speaker over allegations of corruption, mismanagement and rights abuses.

SOUTH EAST ASIA

4. INDONESIA. Indonesian President JOKO WIDODO on 21 July urged law enforcement agencies to shoot drug traffickers who resist arrest in the latest effort to eradicate drug use in the country. The Indonesian Narcotics Agency recorded there are 6 million drug users in the Indonesian archipelago of its 255 million people. The President described the situation as “drug emergency” and called for the continuation of tough punishment for drug trafficking. INDONESIA already imposes the death penalty on smugglers who carry 5 or more gms in spite of heavy criticism from human rights groups. 18 drug traffickers have been executed in the last two years, including two Australian nationals which sparked Diplomatic outrage and a call to abolish the death penalty. Meanwhile, President RODRIGO DUTERTE of the PHILIPPINES on 24 July urged the Parliament to endorse death penalties enabling him to press on with his drug war which has so far killed over 4000 drug traffickers and addicts since his taking over on 30 June last year.

ASIA

5. CHINA. At the 37th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform (CLGDOR) on 19 July, President XI JINGPING unveiled his master plan for overhauling CHINA’s Military and economic structure and philosophy to meet the challenges of the emerging world order. The CLGDOR, emphasised the need for improving people-to-people communication with other countries, with confidence in the socialism. It urged to raise professional level of all civil servants and Military personnel by recruiting people with special characteristics. XI stressed the reshuffling of the Military is a vital decision made by the Central committee of the Communist Party of China and called the Central Military Commission to realise the Chinese Dream of having a Strong Army, emphasising the need for first class research in Military affairs to devise methods to combine theory with technological innovation. President XI announced a cut of one million men in the Armed forces with a view to make the People’s Liberation Army into a ‘leaner and meaner’ fighting force. The future emphasis will be upon the Naval, Strategic, Rocket and Air Forces in preparation to face threats from long distances and to fight in far-flung areas given its global OBOR project. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, CHINA is the 2nd largest spender on the Military after the US.

6. The Chinese Navy arrived in the Russian enclave of KALINGRAD on 21 July, for Baltic War Games Exercises with the Russian Baltic fleet. The week long exercise will run till 31 July and the manoeuvres in the Baltic Sea are being seen by ‘China experts’ as a show of force following the Malabar Joint Military drills by US, INDIA and JAPAN. CHINA’s most advanced guided-missile destroyers will take part in the war games underscoring CHINA’s aspirations to be a major blue sea power and a rival to US Naval might. The drills mark the first occasion that Chinese Warships have carried out manoeuvres in the strategically important Baltic Sea and come after recent exercises in the Mediterranean. Critics say that 30 years ago there was no way the world would have imagined of CHINA dispatching such advanced warships to the Baltic Region.

NORTH AMERICA

7. US. President DONALD TRUMP had a major legislative reversal on 24 July as Republicans were forced to pull the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obama care) from the House vote. After weeks of contentious negotiations and discussions generated across a vast ideological and political spectrum over the Health Care Act, Republicans could not gain sufficient support from their own party, for the plan to overhaul the US Health Insurance. A majority of Republicans seem to feel that ‘Obama care’ does not cut enough social services and provisions for the poor, children, elderly and other vulnerable groups. Health care is a big business in the US and the big business principles often override good medical practice. Liberal politicians who have stated that the bill is not only cruel and inhumane but it is essentially a tax reform bill that benefits insurance companies. The Senate’s bill was to lead to massive reductions in Medi Aid spending, covering 20 Percent of all Americans or 15 million people, along with 49 Percent of all births, 60 Percent of all children with disabilities and 64 Percent of all nursing home residents, many of whom may be left homeless without this support.


| 14 Friday to 21 Friday July 2017 |



 








SOUTH ASIA

1. INDIA. INDIA remain unmoved and maintained a deafening silence in the face of Chinese provocations at DOKLAM which is strategically critical for both INDIA and CHINA. INDIA tends to lose the only land connection with its troubled and strategically important North Eastern States once CHINA occupies the SILIGURI corridor, on the completion of the road being constructed in DOKLAM. CHINA openly questioned the legitimacy of SIKKIM’s integration with INDIA and its special relations with BHUTAN. This volatile situation also demonstrated the difference between INDIA’s prompt and hostile reactions to provocations from PAKISTAN and its forbearance vis-à-vis CHINA. INDIA is aware that CHINA is well entrenched in the Tibetan heights and in a position to fight a prolonged war. At a time INDIA is following a policy of a fast-track economic development with MODI’s “Make in India” project with massive FDIs, it does not want a Military confrontation with CHINA and will try to gain world appreciation on being a responsible nation and went out of the way to shake hands with President XI at the BRICS meeting in HAMBURG on 7 July. INDIA’s Foreign Secretary S. JAISHANKER said that MODI and XI had agreed at ASTANA in KASAKHASTAN on 8 June, not to allow differences to become disputes and even referred to SRI LANKA in his speech on 11 July at the Lee Kuwan Yew School of Public Policy. He said Indo - Lanka relations have acquired so many dimensions and so much substance that reducing them to black and white augmentation cannot be a serious proposition. He further said not only the border in DOKLAM but the entire stretch of the Indo - China border of more than 3,000 km is undefined. However, it is probable that CHINA might ease the pressure on INDIA if it agrees not to oppose the OBOR international roads and sea ports project.

2. Critics watching the transformation of INDIA’s strategic foreign policy and the economic policy under the American neoconservative influence claim that it will have immense repercussions on the smaller nations in the region. Meanwhile, the launch of INDIA’s biggest tax reform since independence, took place at the end of June ignoring the criticisms that it would unfairly target poor sections of society who spend higher proportions of their earnings on consumption, whilst many concessions are awarded to the super rich. The Good and Service Tax (GST) regime was implemented soon after MODI’s return from the US and will replace taxes on goods and services levied by the Central and State Governments. Therefore, in the aftermath of the GST, price of most goods and services are expected to increase adding to the burden of the poor. The impact of this economic hardship will affect not only the Indian economy, but neighbouring economies as well.

ASIA

3. CHINA. CHINA commenced setting up of its first overseas Military base, a logistic facility in DJIBOUTI in the Horn of AFRICA, which also has US, Japanese and French bases. The People’s Liberation Army commented that it would increases CHINA’s ability to ensure global peace with its involvement in ant-piracy patrols. CHINA’s aim is to resupply Navy ships taking part in Peace-Keeping and Humanitarian Missions off the coast of YEMEN and SOMALIA. However the DJIBOUTI base has generated worries in INDIA, that it would become another of CHINA’s “String of Pearls” of Military Alliances and assist building a ring around INDIA, including BANGLADESH, MYANMAR and SRI LANKA.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

4. MYANMAR. International observers claim that de facto leader of MYANMAR’s civilian Government, AUNG SAN SUU KYI’s stance on Rohingya Muslims in RAKHINE State is seemingly concordant with that of the Army. Her refusal to allow a UN fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of killings, rape and torture by Security Forces against Rohingya Muslims who remain ‘nowhere people’ on the border with BANGLADESH wandering from shore to shore in search of a home, has come under heavy criticism by the UNHRC. Such bans were common during the time MYANMAR was following a policy of international isolationism under Military rule, but now, that there is a degree of political liberation, the International Community wants the plural nature of the State to be strengthened. Under the Army drafted Constitution SUU KYI is barred from holding the position of President and her Government seems to be utterly helpless against the powerful Military. Meanwhile, the self-styled Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) claimed the raids on Police border posts last October which sparked the months long “clearance operation” by the Army has been blamed as causing crimes against humanity, by UNHCR and Amnesty International.

5. INDONESIA. The Muslim hard-line group HIZBUT TAHRIR INDONESIA (HTI) was disbanded by the Government on 19 July for conducting activities that contradict state ideology, Panchasila and the principle of a Unitary State of the Republic of INDONESIA. The HTI, issued a permit in 2014, had since been promoting the establishment of a Caliphate which necessitated its ban. INDONESIAN State’s fundamental founding principle of ‘Panchasila’ stands for pluralism, tolerance and peaceful existence among groups. INDONESIA is acting on this ideology firmly and those who promote ethnic hatred and conflict are promptly taken to task.

MIDDLE EAST

6. ISIS AND KURDISH CRISIS. Political analysts stress that the demise of the ISIS leader ABU BAKAR AL- BAGHDADI or the defeat of the ISIS at MOSUL can never be end of the terror organisation or the wars in the Middle East. It is said that people in Middle East have been the disposables in the political power games which have their origins in decisions made in LONDON, WASHINGTON, RIYADH and TEL AVIV and radicalised Muslim youth. This view was endorsed by a 2015 research report published by global aid agency Mercy Corp which points out that it is the experience of injustice, discrimination and marginalisation coupled with exposure to corruption, humiliation and violence that triggered Muslim youth to join radical groups rather than poverty and unemployment. Critics now predict the possibility of a Military confrontation between the Kurds and TURKEY, which could easily drag both IRAQ and IRAN into the conflict. Kurds who have played a leading role as a US ally in the battles against the ISIS in IRAQ are due to hold a referendum on 25 September in the autonomous area in KURDISTAN in IRAQ to decide on independence. The US is building a base in the Kurdish area in SYRIA, to be used as a backup facility, if TURKEY decides to close down the NATO base in INCIRLIK in TURKEY. A permanent NATO base in SYRIA is possible only if a Syrian Kurdish state emerges to which SYRIA and RUSSIA will never agree. TURKEY has been fighting a battle against Kurdish separatist insurrection and will oppose the emergence of an Independent Kurdish State on its border. Analysts state the new Kurdish states, possibly backed by US and ISRAEL will be a security threat to IRAN which has a minority Kurdish population and that the death of ABU BAKAR AL-BAGHDADI and the defeat of the ISIS will not be the end of fighting in the Middle East.

7. QATAR. The statement by UAE on 14 July confirms that the dispute between QATAR and the Saudi-Axis would continue indefinitely. US Secretary of State REX TILLERSON’s visit from 12 - 14 July to QATAR produced a US - Qatari accord on “Terrorism Financing”, in an effort to ease the crisis but fell short of allaying concerns of the Saudi-Axis. SAUDI ARABIA hailed the Iraqi Government’s recapture of MOSUL city from ISIS Jihadists, stressing solidarity with IRAQ despite strained relations since 2003. SAUDI ARABIA has long expressed concern about Shiite IRAN’s interference in the region and severed Diplomatic relations with IRAN in 2016 and demands QATAR to distance itself from the Iranian influence. The visit by the Saudi Foreign Minister to BAGHDAD in February for talks with the Shia dominated Iraqi Government seems to be a part of the grand strategy of SAUDI ARABIA to form a wider coalition against IRAN.

EUROPE

8. FRANCE. General PIERRE DE VILLIERS, the Chief of French Armed Forces who had throughout his career insisted that it was his duty to tell the national leaders of reservations without fear or favour, resigned on 19 July after a dispute with the President EMMANUEL MACRON. The dispute highlighted the strain on the French Military which has deployed over 30,000 troops in operational commitments, at home and abroad. General VILLIERS vehemently opposed € 850 million cut of Military Finances as the Macron Government seeks to slash public spending. The resignation has reopened the debate on whether the French Army is being asked to do too much with too few resources. Key voices in the French Military were highly critical about President MACRON’s handling of the dispute and blamed him for his general lack of understanding of the Military and is the first French President who has neither been in the Army nor served mandatory Military service.

9. TURKEY. The Turkish Government evaluating the progress of the past 12 months since the 15 July coup accepts that the Government was taken by surprise of the threat it was facing. The magnitude of the plot masterminded by FETULLAH GULEN who is based in the US for the past 40 years and the manner in which members of the Gulenist Terror Organization (FETO) had acted had been unprecedented and had created a heretical esoteric belief system in which schools and dorms of the organisation operated as brainwashing and recruitment centres. FETO were able to infiltrate the state apparatus and were promoted to key positions. Prime Minister BINALI YILDRIM said that such threats are not limited to TURKEY since the FETO has similar structures in many countries. These organisations are financed through charities and foundations and their media branches function as propaganda tools. They teach members techniques of counter intelligence and techniques to mask their affiliations.




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