MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 25 JANUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Snow falls on a mounted trooper of the Household Cavalry on guard in Horse Guards Parade
Grim prospects for Sri Lanka at the UNHRC in Geneva
In all likelihood, Sri Lanka will face a tough resolution at the March session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, as the draft sent to the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for comments, shows. Admittedly, what Colombo has received is only a draft of the OHCHR’s case against Sri Lanka. It is to be modified with the comments of the Lankan government. And what will emerge eventually might be milder, having taken into account the rebuttals of the Lankan government based on its case that the allegations of war crimes are essentially unsubstantiated and one-sided. Nevertheless, the final document is expected to be against Colombo.
Pakistan promotes connectivity with Afghanistan and Iran
On January 18, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the Pakistani authorities to fast-track the establishment of markets in the country’s border areas with Afghanistan and Iran and formulate a comprehensive border economic development strategy. The better the security situation is, the more open the border will be and the more active the economy will be. I believe that the decision of the Pakistani government to establish markets along the western border is an important measure to fully open trade with Afghanistan and Iran.
Pompeo is right, India’s ties with China and Russia have worsened
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo published a provocative tweet during his final full day in office. Alongside pictures of himself with the Brazilian and Indian leaders, he wrote: “Remember BRICS? Well, thanks to Jair Bolsonaro and Narendra Modi the B and the I both get that the C and the R are threats to their people.” Although this is coming from the same man who infamously said that “we lied, we cheated, we stole” while talking about his time serving as the CIA Director, he’s actually telling the truth this time. There’s no longer any question that India doesn’t trust China anymore, especially after last summer’s deadly clashes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), while it’s clear that unprecedented distrust has recently infected its relations with Russia.
Eye on China, India to host Indian Ocean Region defence ministers’ conclave next month
Amid the ongoing stand-off with China, India will host the defence ministers of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for a conclave on 4 February, focusing on security concerns and collaborative efforts. India also hopes to sell some indigenously developed defence equipment to the countries of the IOR. Sources in the defence and security establishment said the conclave will be part of the Aero India event scheduled next month in Bengaluru, and its theme will be ‘Enhanced peace, security and cooperation in the Indian Ocean’. Invites have been sent out to 28 countries with the option of attending physically or virtually, with sources labelling the conclave a ‘hybrid’ event.
US-Pak reset to advance Biden’s Afghan settlement
The highlight of the White House readout following a phone call by the new National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan to his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib on January 22 is Washington’s intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement. The White House sidestepped Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to convey this important message and the readout avoided any expression of support for the Ghani government.
The mass radicalisation that India does not acknowledge
It is now clear that if you are Muslim in Narendra Modi’s new India you can be arrested for selling shoes, taking part in a protest, talking to or walking with a Hindu girl, driving a cattle truck, cracking a joke – or not. If you are a Muslim in the wrong place at the wrong time, the Constitution means little and the law can be twisted in any manner to imprison you. Criminality is irrelevant. It does even not matter that you may be a victim, not the perpetrator. Such is the ever-growing reality for Indian Muslims.
Putin, poison, and self-inflicted wounds: Navalny’s return to Russia
The dramatic arrest of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny at a Moscow airport on Sunday is the latest in a series of self-inflicted wounds by the Kremlin. The most egregious was the state-backed assassination attempt against Navalny using a military-grade nerve agent. Taken together, the Kremlin has indisputably propelled him to the leadership of Russia’s beleaguered opposition, and in the process undercut one of its long-running political strategies over the past two decades: strengthening President Vladimir Putin’s standing by ensuring that the political landscape remains free of any meaningful political challengers.