MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 28 APRIL
PICTURE OF THE DAY
NEW DELHI, INDIA
A family member gathers wood for a funeral pyre for a relative at Ghazipur cremation ground. Menwhile, Vital medical supplies began to reach India on Tuesday as hospitals starved of life-saving oxygen and beds turned away coronavirus patients, and a surge in infections pushed the death toll close to 200,000. A shipment from Britain, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, arrived in the capital New Delhi.
Leaving Afghanistan will be more expensive than anyone expects
US President Joe Biden has announced the full withdrawal of US and coalition forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 this year. This policy has some in Washington banking on a windfall of freed-up money for other defense priorities. Don’t count on it. Leaving costs more than staying. The Department of Defense is seeking some new and plenty of ongoing investments in counterterrorism infrastructure in the region as a result of the pullout. Salaries and other expenses for roughly 300,000 members of the Afghan National Security Forces will endure. Departing a country where US forces, contractors, and government employees have been operating for 20 years is expensive. That’s to say nothing of the 8,000 other allied military troops in Afghanistan alongside the Americans. Not only is there a lot of property, buildings, and equipment, but there’s also a network of private entities that have been doing a large portion of the work there.
Chinese Defense Minister’s visit could give a military dimension to Sino-Lankan relations
The visit of the Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe to Sri Lanka which begins on Tuesday is significant as it indicates that Sino-Lankan relations may go beyond economic engagement to acquiring a military dimension. It is reported in a local Sunday paper that Wei’s visit will result in China’s giving Sri Lanka equipment to modernize the army, navy, and air force and enhancing the training component. Though independent confirmation of this has not been possible, what is clear is that China is looking beyond infrastructure development projects in Sri Lanka. It views the island nation as a strategic asset in the military sense also.
China to help set up South Asia Covid-19 emergency supplies reserve
China pledged to set up a reserve of “emergency supplies” with South Asian nations on Tuesday during talks with five countries in the region on combating Covid-19 – discussions from which India was notably absent. In an online conference call, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his counterparts from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh discussed ways to “strengthen consensus on solidarity against Covid-19”. “China and South Asia will set up an emergency material reserve,” the Chinese foreign ministry quoted Wang as saying, without giving details.
What is behind Pakistan-UAE detente?
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently concluded a three-day visit to the UAE, just as the two countries mark 50 years of bilateral relations. At the same time, the Emirati envoy to Washington recently confirmed that the UAE has been mediating between India and Pakistan towards a more “functional” relationship. On 25 February, the two states issued a sudden reaffirmation of their ceasefire agreement on the Kashmir border. The foreign minister’s visit this month ties in with Pakistan’s new economic vision, under which reaching out to the Gulf states appears to be a high priority. Following his UAE trip, Qureshi went on to Iran and Turkey, and he is planning to visit Qatar soon.
Was India’s pull-out from lake on disputed China border a mistake?
Two months after New Delhi and Beijing completed the disengagement of troops from the hotly-contested Pangong Tso lake on their disputed border, there is a growing belief in India that its troops withdrew too early and what was meant to set the stage for a fuller pull-out by both sides at other friction points is unlikely to happen any time soon. The Indian government has made no official comment, but local media reports have quoted military and government sources as saying that Chinese forces were “reluctant” to restore the status quo that existed in at least two other areas before the stand-off that began last May, and that Beijing had indicated New Delhi “should be happy” with what has been achieved so far.
Israel uses ‘apartheid’ to subjugate Palestinians: HRW
Israel is committing “crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution” against Palestinians and the international community must reevaluate diplomatic relations with the state, a leading human rights group said in a report on Tuesday. The 213-page report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) details how Israel has sought to maintain Jewish-Israeli hegemony over the Palestinian people from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. “While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of HRW, said.