MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 27 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Penguins of the Lasta-Rica circus are given a tour of the Bryansk Regional Art Museum. The penguins came to the circus in March 2020, but all the events were cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bryansk circus is opening after 10 months of down time.
India’s sudden peace push with nuclear rivals shows Biden impact
After a year of some of the worst fighting on India’s frontiers with Pakistan and China, all three countries are suddenly talking peace as they wait to see how President Joe Biden will shift policy in the region. India and China’s top diplomats on Thursday discussed plans to disengage troops from their Himalayan border, which last year saw the deadliest clashes since the 1970s. The phone call between Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, which stretched for more than an hour, came shortly after India and Pakistan released a rare joint statement by senior army officials announcing a halt in operations along their border.
Myanmar's crisis is ASEAN's crisis
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has made it clear in the wake of the Feb. 1 military coup in Myanmar that it will no longer defend the country's behaviour. But rather than isolate the junta, regional leaders have indicated they would prefer to work toward restoring the democratic process. If they fail, it will greatly damage ASEAN's credibility -- and centrality -- in the eyes of the international community. More than that, it will dash international hopes for any kind of mediation process to resolve the crisis. While ASEAN's charter lacks any provision for expelling a member country, the 10-nation grouping has some leverage. It could pressure Myanmar to leave ASEAN temporarily.
At pivotal moment in Afghanistan war, Biden weighs a dilemma
America’s longest war is approaching a crossroads. President Joe Biden’s choices in Afghanistan boil down to this: withdraw all troops by May, as promised by his predecessor, and risk a resurgence of extremist dangers, or stay and possibly prolong the war in hopes of compelling the Taliban to make peace with a weak and fractured government. The second option may be the most likely, but officials say no decision has been made.
AMAN Exercises 2021: Pakistan Navy investing in peace
The Indian Ocean is the new arena for geopolitical contestation between major powers. The US in its geopolitical contest with China has expanded the scope of its Indo-Pacific strategy to include the Western Indian Ocean and is investing heavily in India’s maritime defence and security to make it assume the role of a ‘net security provider’ in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). China relies heavily on trade through the Indian Ocean and its strong commitment to the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative’s flagship project China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a manifestation of it. This Chinese goal aligns well with Pakistan’s vision to become the hub of regional trade and connectivity, in an era of the increasing dependence of growing economies on energy resources of the western Indian Ocean.
Tiny Himalayan nation Bhutan shows how to fight Covid-19 pandemic
Bhutan was the first country to receive a goodwill consignment of 150,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine from India in January. However, the tiny Himalayan country has yet to use them, preferring a wait-and-watch policy on vaccination. Authorities in the country of around 750,000 people said it will start vaccinating its citizens in March, once it has enough doses for all those eligible. Meanwhile, it wants to look out for potential adverse effects of Covid-19 vaccines from rollouts in other countries. But there is another reason for delaying its own inoculation programme. The authorities in Bhutan also want to avoid launching it during Dana, an "inauspicious month" that lasts between Feb 14 and March 13.
Shamima Begum loses fight to restore UK citizenship after supreme court ruling
Shamima Begum, who fled Britain as a schoolgirl to join Islamic State in Syria, has failed to restore her British citizenship after the supreme court ruled she had lost her case. The judgment on Friday from the UK’s highest court is a critical – and controversial – test case of the UK’s policy to strip the citizenship of Britons who went to join Isis and are being detained by Syrian Kurdish groups without trial. Lord Reed, the president of the court, said its judges had decided unanimously to rule in favour of the home secretary and against Begum on all counts before it. That means the 21-year-old will not be able to re-enter the UK to fight her case in person and will not be able to have her citizenship restored while she is being detained in Syria.