MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 20 MARCH
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Hindu priests perform 'Narmada Aarti' or the worshipping of Narmada river which is considered sacred, at Jabalpur, some 300km from the state capital Bhopal, India, March 18, 2021. Everyday, thousands of devotees attend the Narmada Aarti at the banks of river Narmada as a ritual.
Why US senators are upset with Modi govt
Earlier, on Wednesday, the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee addressed a communication to the Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in the context of his current visit to India to “raise the administration’s opposition to India’s reportedly planned purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system, which threatens future US-India defence cooperation and puts India at risk of sanctions under Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.” Prima facie, in neither case US national security interests are directly affected. Washington is threatening to impose so-called “secondary” or “extraterritorial” sanctions, which affect not only the country that have done things that are wrong in the US perceptions (Russia, in this case) but also two countries (Germany and India) that have done things entirely within their rights as sovereign states (doing business with Russia).
Pulling Myanmar from the brink will be a fraught effort
Molotov cocktails have been spotted on Myanmar streets as the military regime adopts battlefield tactics for use in urban Yangon. With some 200 of their compatriots gunned down over the past month, people resisting the Feb 1 military coup are searching for and sharing information on incendiary devices like pressure cooker bombs and other weapons like slingshots. In this fog of grief, anger and confusion fuelled by junta-mandated Internet blackouts, "negotiation" has become a dirty word. Protesters are bracing themselves for a lopsided showdown against an institution armed to its teeth. Many people no longer entertain the idea of reinstating the tenuous power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilian politicians before Feb 1. They want the military out.
Defence Secretary Austin on mission to deepen India-US ties, urged to raise Russia deal
During Mr Austin's visit, the two sides will be discussing India's plan to purchase armed drones from the United States as well as a large order for over 150 combat jets for the air force and the navy to help narrow the gap with China, people with knowledge of the matter said. One thorny issue expected to come up is India's planned purchase of Russian S-400 air defence systems, which under US law can attract sanctions. Washington has imposed sanctions on Turkey for buying that equipment. The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr Bob Menendez, urged Mr Austin to make clear to Indian officials the Biden administration's opposition to deal.
Afghan government, Taliban agree to accelerate peace talks after Moscow summit: RIA
The Afghan government and the Taliban have agreed to accelerate peace talks after Russia hosted an international conference aimed at reviving a stalled peace process, the RIA news agency reported on Friday, citing a senior Afghan official. The move comes after Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan called on Afghanistan’s warring sides to reach an immediate ceasefire. On Thursday, Head of the Afghan peace council Dr Abdullah Abdullah said that the Afghan government is ready to discuss "any topics" with the Taliban in order to bring peace and prosperity to the country.
Fears of escalating violence as online ‘hate factories’ sow division within Australia’s Indian community
Concerns are growing that online “hate factories” spreading misinformation and propaganda about minority groups in India are influencing and radicalising people in Australia. In late February, men armed with bats and hammers attacked four Sikh students in a car in Harris Park in western Sydney. The occupants escaped unharmed, but their car was severely damaged. Police are investigating the attack, but have stopped short of calling the attack a hate crime. Community leaders say divisions within the Indian-Australian community have grown, as Hindu nationalists use Facebook and Whatsapp groups to spread divisive rhetoric targeting minority groups including Sikhs and Muslims.
US must grasp China's different set of values Biden administration needs to develop a comprehensive strategy
From climate change to pandemic response to Middle East relations, U.S. President Joe Biden has fundamentally different policy priorities than his predecessor. But there is one policy point Biden and Donald Trump strongly agree on -- China today is the only true geopolitical rival that can threaten the U.S.'s perch atop the global order. This is a view shared throughout all levels of the Biden administration. To that end, the White House has commenced a strategic review of U.S.-China relations, asking key administration officials to review U.S. policies toward China and put forth proposals on where they need to go from here. Three distinct approaches have begun taking shape. The first approach is containment, championed by more hawkish elements within the White House and the national security establishment.