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  • Author: James M Dorsey, Raffaello Pantucci, Bilveer Singh, Noor Huda Ismail
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The high-profile assassination of General Qassim Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force (QF), on January 3 in Baghdad marked the lowest point in US-Iran relations in recent times. It triggered a new spell of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East with far-reaching consequences for South and Southeast Asia. Soleimani’s killing has also coincided with the potential rejuvenation of the Islamic State (IS), and ongoing anti-government protests in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon. Soleimani’s killing was bound to have reverberations beyond the Middle East. Muslim-majority states in South and Southeast Asia, where both Saudi Arabia and Iran have engaged in sectarian proxy wars by funding and influencing the Sunni and Shia segments of the population. While states in both regions have condemned Soleimani’s killing, they have stayed largely neutral to avoid getting sucked into rising geopolitical tensions. Against this backdrop, the March issue of the Counter Terrorists Trends and Analyses (CTTA) features three articles that explore different dimensions of Soleimani’s death and their geopolitical implications. In the first article, James M. Dorsey argues that as US-Iran tensions have eased in recent months, Iranian hardliners, emboldened by a sweeping mandate earned in recent domestic elections, remain committed to a well-honed strategy of escalating asymmetric warfare. According to the author, this raises the prospects for a full-scale war, with the United States also still pursuing a maximum pressure campaign on Iran that has to date, yet to produce tangible results. In the second article, Raffaello Pantucci reasons that despite a general consensus that the US-Iran rupture will ease pressure on transnational jihadist groups in the Middle East theatre, it remains unclear how Soleimani’s killing will shape their future behaviour. On the one hand, Iran-backed Shia militias are likely to step up their operations, which will exacerbate sectarian fault-lines in the region and feed into IS’ self-portrayal as the saviours of Sunnis. Conversely, pragmatism continues to define interactions between Tehran and Sunni jihadist groups such as the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, who appear happy to cooperate to ensure broader strategic goals. Next, Bilveer Singh examines the implications of Soleimani’s assassination for South and Southeast Asia. regions where both Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy ideological influence among the Muslim-majority states. Sunni Malaysia and Indonesia have reservations about Tehran, but domestic political pressures are likely to endear Iran to them more than the US. The impact in South Asia could be more varied, mostly affecting Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran through its Shia militant proxies can undermine US interests in Afghanistan. The QF has also recruited significant Shia militias in Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively for operations in Syria. Moreover, Pakistan has to walk a tight rope given Iran has an inside track to its significant Shia population. Besides cross and intra-regional assessments of Soleimani’s assassination within the broader US-Iran fissures, the threat landscapes in Indonesia and West Africa, both long-time hotbeds for terrorist activity in their respective regions, are also examined in this issue. Firstly, Noor Huda Ismail takes a closer look at pro-IS terrorist networks in Indonesia, a country that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. By examining the background, tactics and modus operandi of local terrorist groups, both online and offline, and comparing their legacy with those of previous militant Islamist movements, the author believes important learning lessons can be drawn to help mitigate future security threats. Finally, Atta Barkindo analyses the jihadist threat in the Sahel region, where a landscape conducive to terrorist activities provides the fertile ground for IS and Al-Qaeda to grow by linking up with local militant networks. The tactical sophistication exhibited in terrorist attacks by Sahelian jihadist groups, particularly in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, testifies to a growing footprint of global jihadism. Sahel provides an arterial life-line through the region, by facilitating the movement of goods and people between the Mediterranean and West Africa, which has been enormously beneficial to terrorist groups involved in organised criminal enterprises. Moreover, desertification and environmental degradation have also created a conducive environment for criminal activities and terrorism.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Maria Antonella Cabral Lopez
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: AUSTRAL: Brazilian Journal of Strategy International Relations
  • Institution: Postgraduate Program in International Strategic Studies, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
  • Abstract: Taiwan's situation in the international system is particular and the recognition of other states is key to its survival. Paraguay has maintained diplomatic relations with this Asian country continuously since 1957. This research aims to describe the south - south cooperation of Taiwan with Paraguay during the period 2009 - 2019, a very important facet of the bilateral relationship between both parties. For this, a bibliographic-documentary research was used. In addition is important to mention the level of this was descriptive and primary and secondary sources were employed. Among the main results obtained, it can be seen that non-reimbursable cooperation projects are being adjusted according to five-year negotiations, that there is some continuity regarding the issues addressed by technical cooperation and the existence of other less known initiatives such as conferences and participation in fairs.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, South America, Paraguay
  • Author: Sumeera Imran, Lubna Abid Ali
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Political Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: Sino-Indian stand-off in Galwan has revived world attention to the dispute in Kashmir. Indian revocation of Article 370 and Article 35-A propped up diverse responses from the international community. China condemned Indian abrogation and the US offered to mediate on Kashmir. Trump’s offer of mediation opened up a pandora box of strong opposition in Indian Lok Sabha. Resolute criticism unleashed on Modi for compromising on Indian national security objectives and territorial integrity. Reflecting the urgency and complications involved in conflict resolution, the propensity of nuclear confrontation in South Asia remains high in Kashmir. US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has declared Human Rights in Kashmir as integral part of his electoral agenda. The US State Department has declared no change in its historic Kashmir policy, while China has resented Indian unilateral change in the region’s status. Great powers’ involvement in regional conflicts has been fluid, fluctuating with the change in their national security interests. Broad contours of national security objectives have shaped Sino-US Kashmir policy in the past. Employing qualitative research methodology and theoretical perspective of complex interdependence, the article reviews Sino-US traditional policy roles in conflict resolution on Kashmir. How has the US and Chinese Kashmir policy evolved over the years? What impact does the US and Chinese Kashmir policy has on regional stability? The article argues that great powers’ involvement has inflicted more injury than cure, exacerbating regional tensions. Great powers’ alignment along opposite poles has increased India-Pakistan bilateral hostilities on Kashmir. Sino-US insistence on Indo-Pakistan bilateral approach for conflict resolution rather than the UN framework has created the impasse on Kashmir.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: China, Kashmir, United States of America
  • Author: Aram Terzyan
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Liberty and International Affairs
  • Institution: Institute for Research and European Studies (IRES)
  • Abstract: Despite the growing body of research on authoritarian regimes, few studies address the issues of their legitimization through exaggerating external threats and constructing enemy images. Targeting the gap in the literature, this article explores the discursive strategies of ‘evilization’ and demonization of the ‘other’, with a focus on their implications for legitimating and sustaining the authoritarian regimes in post-Soviet space. Examining the cases of Russia and Azerbaijan, the qualitative, comparative analysis presented in this article uncovers a series of essential similarities between the regimes’ legitimization strategies. Findings suggest that there has been a strong tendency in both Russian and Azerbaijani discourses to ‘externalize’ major problems facing the countries and scapegoat ‘evil forces’ as their main causes. Frequent appeals to the external threats have been accompanied by a heightened emphasis on the necessity of strong presidential power, with ‘strongmen’ that are capable of withstanding the enemies’ conspiracies. Remarkably, one of the core similarities between the two regimes is their unstoppable drive towards monarchical presidencies.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Bilateral Relations, Authoritarianism, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Azerbaijan
  • Author: Ekaterine Lomia
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Liberty and International Affairs
  • Institution: Institute for Research and European Studies (IRES)
  • Abstract: For more than twenty-eight years, following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russian-Georgian relations have been a substantial ground for mutual confrontation, sharp dispute, and a lack of trust. Continuous tensions and disagreements have adversely affected efforts to achieve a proper balance in bilateral relations between the neighboring countries and resulted in a number of direct and indirect confrontations. Whilst the Russian president seeks to restore Russia’s great power status, regain its past glory and control strategically important regions of the former Soviet space, Georgia, from the very first day of independence, tries to maintain its sovereignty and territorial integrity, develop modern state institutions, strengthen democratic values and integrate into the Euro-Atlantic structures. The paper aims to study Moscow’s current foreign policy strategy towards Georgia following the ‘Rose revolution’ and argues that Russia’s military intervention in Georgia, in August 2008, was a clear illustration of classical realism used by a great power in the XXI century. Russia actively uses hybrid warfare and regularly employs economic leverage on Georgia to eventually achieve its political ends in the Caucasus region.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics, Economy, Annexation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Georgia
  • Author: Jaesoo Park
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Liberty and International Affairs
  • Institution: Institute for Research and European Studies (IRES)
  • Abstract: Myanmar has crafted a neutral foreign policy since its colonial years to avoid leaning too much on any foreign power, but a spiraling political crisis at home is pushing it toward China as a buffer against international outrage. Myanmar faces charges of genocide against the Rohingya. China has backed Myanmar in the UN. In fact, China is in a similar situation. China is grappling with international criticism over the perceived repression of ethnic Uighur people. Myanmar is exposed to various words and loud in the international community. So Myanmar wants to improve relations with China and is turning into an active cooperative attitude as a strategy to secure a friendly army. This paper shows how the diplomatic relations between Myanmar and China are changing, and how Myanmar’s foreign strategy toward China is approaching. Also, this article analyzes the outlook of diplomatic relations and the implications of the current situation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Rohingya
  • Political Geography: China, Myanmar, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Bi Wei
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Nowa Polityka Wschodnia
  • Institution: Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń
  • Abstract: Poland is one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with People’s Republic of China. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 70 years ago, both countries have conducted close cooperation in all areas and the bilateral relations have witnessed steady development. In particular, the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, launched in 2013, got the positive responses and support from many countries, including Poland, which became an important partner for China to promote the construction of the initiative. This paper, from a historical perspective, reviews the first interaction between China and Poland in the period of Yuan Dynasty which is arranged in chronological order. The narrations mainly concentrate on accounts of the western expeditions by Genghis Khan and his descendants as well as the Battle of Legnica, during the period of which the Mongolia Empire was successively set up. Each entry will include a concrete description, highlighting where possible issues such as where the Mongolia went, why the expedition and its record are important. The paper also expounds the first record about Poland and the change of the name of Poland in Chinese literature so as to deepen the mutual understanding between two countries.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, History, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, Poland
  • Author: Aleksandra Bartosiewicz, Paulina Szterlik
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Nowa Polityka Wschodnia
  • Institution: Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń
  • Abstract: Poland, due to its location in the center of Europe, is a key element of the New Silk Road (NSR), an initiative that attempts to create the shortest land connection between China and Western Europe. This article analyzes various industry reports, national development strategies up to 2030, and EU and local projects to see is the further development of NSR an opportunity for container rail transport in Poland. As it turns out, the issue discussed in the article has hitherto been outside the circle of researchers’ interest, thus the analysis is an important supplement to the existing research gap. It indicates that the further participation of Poland in the Chinese One Belt One Road initiative is a great opportunity for the economic growth of the Republic of Poland (RP).
  • Topic: Development, Bilateral Relations, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Trade, Transportation, Railways
  • Political Geography: China, Eastern Europe, Asia, Poland
  • Author: P. H. Yu
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As confrontation looms over Washington and Beijing, it is critical to identify the true nature of this challenge from an international relations perspective before any attempt to devise a counter measure. Wrong presumptions or prejudicial interpretations may lead to dire consequences of unforeseeable magnitude. One past example would be the U.S. government’s belief that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) before the American invasion in 2003. A more current example would be the American nuclear anxiety on North Korea and how President Trump bypassed conventional American strategic thinking and circumvented hawkish threats of preemptive nuclear annihilation to resolve a “draconian crisis” via “smart diplomacy.” These examples may shed light on a pathway to resolution for the current U.S.-China trade conflict. The United States and China have ample experience of weathering a crisis on the brink of war, whether it was on the Korean Peninsula or in Indochina. China today remains on the U.S. sanctions list for certain high-tech products and military equipment. Both the Trump administration and Congress continue to criticize China regularly, ranging from human rights to religious rights, from the rule of law to the autocratic political system, from the state-owned banks to restrictive market access to foreign corporations, and from currency manipulation to unfair trade practices.
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Prakash Menon
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Technology often seduces potential adversaries through a promise of relief from security threats only to deceive through the inevitable action-reaction cycle. In the universe of security, technology is contestable both by technology itself and by doctrinal prescriptions and operational countermeasures. The advantage provided by new technology is mostly ephemeral in that provides the momentum for an endless cycle that is best described as chasing one’s own tail. Only political intervention through mutual understanding, doctrinal prudence, and regulating the search for operational supremacy holds potential to escape the stranglehold of the action-reaction cycle. The elusive search for Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) is a prime example. This paper seeks to interrogate the role of the technology-security dynamics in the context of the Sino-Indian nuclear weapon relationship. ​ The context of the Sino-Indian nuclear weapon relationship is clouded by the enhancing reach of India’s missiles[1], the evolving Chinese reaction to U.S. nuclear modernization accompanied by a shift in nuclear posture, and a shared belief in the role of nuclear weapons that is signified by No First Use (NFU) doctrine. The latter point represents political intervention while the two former signify the action-reaction cycle which is primarily a product of technology. However, both China and India must contend with nuclear powers that espouse First Use. China in dealing with the United States and Russia who are quantitatively superior nuclear powers, while India deals with Pakistan whose claims of quantitative superiority are contested. ​ In technological terms, the rise of China and the U.S. reaction resulting in contemporary geopolitical flux at the global level has impacted the evolution of China’s nuclear arsenal. The most prominent illustration of this is China’s reaction to the United States’ withdrawal from the Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty. Earlier China had eschewed development of BMD, but the United States’ quest to create BMD has caused China to attempt to develop its own BMD system as well as systems that can overcome BMD like multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) and Hyper Glide Vehicles (HGVs). Similarly, India has reacted to developments in China and Pakistan by launching an indigenous BMD development program...
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, India, Asia