MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 12 APRIL
PICTURE OF THE DAY
KHAN YUNIS, PALESTINE
A shopkeeper displays lanterns and other decorative items before the holy month of Ramadan. The crescent moon is a highly important symbol in Islam and is often seen displayed during Ramadan. Traditional decorations are inspired by Islamic motifs and are hung inside and outside of people's homes and shops. Decorations aim to provide a joyful environment and reflect the values of the holy month.
Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images
Indian Ocean is not India’s ocean
The guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones sailing past Lakshadweep Islands April 7 has thrown India’s Sinophobes into confusion. One leading daily noted it as a “rare falling out between the two partners in the Quad grouping.” An anti-China analyst tweeted that it’s just a “botched PR exercise” on the part of Americans. The Ministry of External Affairs took a legalistic perspective as if it is answering a writ petition in the Delhi High Court. But, reflect seriously. Yes, this is a rare fracas within the cosy Quad family. Yet, Quad is a toddler. What all can happen when President Biden grooms it into a boisterous adolescent? Make no mistake, what happened is the military equivalent of what the great American diplomat-scholar George Kennan once wrote about the oil reserves in Persian Gulf — they are “our resources”, he wrote, integral to America’s prosperity and, therefore, the US should take control of them. (Which it did, of course.)
Pandemic has sharpened geo-political conflicts
The Corona pandemic that the world is struggling with for the second year now has brought home to us some truths about ourselves. The first thing is that in a thoroughly interconnected world not only people, goods and ideas travel across the world, but viruses too hitch hike around the globe. In the beginning, many of us thought that this new challenge will change our world and our behaviour for the better, make us more companionable, more conscious of health and environmental issues and make us understand that we are depending on each other for survival. But over a year later, we realize that this is really a pipedream. The pandemic has made countries think of themselves and not others. Selfishness and nationalism that had been visible before corona hit, strengthened instead of weakening. US President Trump for example declared ‘America First’ and acted accordingly.
More bloodshed in Myanmar as crackdown on coup protests continues
The Myanmar military’s bloody crackdown on the nationwide resistance to its rule showed no sign of easing on Sunday, with a human rights group reporting that the death toll across the country had passed 700. The security forces killed 82 people in a single city on Friday, according to the group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been documenting the bloodshed since the military’s Feb. 1 coup. Soldiers used machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to attack an organized group of protesters who had set up barricades to defend part of that city, Bago. The military appears to be targeting centers of resistance around the country, using overwhelming power against largely untrained, poorly armed protesters.
Putin offers ‘blank cheque’ to Pakistan
When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Islamabad last week after a gap of nine years, he had delivered an "important" message to the Pakistani leadership. The message was from President Vladimir Putin. "I came with a message from my president that tell Pakistan we are open for any cooperation, whatever Pakistan needs Russia is ready for it," Lavrov was quoted by a senior Pakistani official, who attended the closed door meeting between the Russian foreign minister and Pakistani authorities, as saying. "In other words, the Russian president offered us a blank cheque," said the official, who requested not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. The official revealed that Putin had conveyed to Pakistan through his top diplomat that Moscow would help Islamabad in any manner.
Istanbul conference and the Afghan peace plan
Following the Moscow conference and the Heart of Asia conference held in Dushanbe, the Istanbul peace initiative is scheduled to be held this month which will exclusively focus on the Afghan peace process. In the meantime, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is expected to reiterate his three-phase peace plan on Afghanistan which he presented at the Dushanbe conference and will try his utmost to seek support from the participants of Istanbul conference.
‘It’s not about charity, it’s all about business and geopolitics’: Md Shahidul Haque
The IPS process is undoubtedly strategic. And the objective of China’s BRI is to fund the mega projects of various countries and draw them into its orbit. It aims to fund mega projects in various countries and involve these in the BRI plan. In other words, a country will join up with China through its development initiatives. So these two parties have very different methods. The IPS concept is for a strategic alliance. It will also include mega projects as far as possible. But the money being provided through BRI to various countries is credit, not grants. At the same, it is also true that till now there have been no funds in IPS.
Whichever side heals itself first will win the US-China Cold War
The dust from the U.S.-China high-level dialogue in Alaska seems to be settling down. The idea left in most people's minds, however, is not what the dialogue actually achieved, but the drama of the bickering and recriminations between Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Yang Jiechi and his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken. This was not what people had expected -- or wished for. After all, both sides went to the dialogue with a three-point plan of common understanding. First, the dialogue was to follow up on the over two-hour phone conversation between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Feb. 10. Given that the U.S. invited the Chinese to Anchorage for the dialogue, there is little doubt that it was the two topmost leaders themselves who made the decision to hold this dialogue after that initial phone conversation.