WPR Articles 10 Dec 2011 - 16 Dec 2011
Last Tuesday’s deadly attacks on Shiites in Afghanistan are further evidence of dangerous instability in Pakistan and Islamabad’s failure to act coherently to counteract it. The increasingly messy jihadist landscape in Pakistan’s FATA is the result of the ISI's strategy of divide and rule, whose outcome tends to be more deadly violence and the emergence of increasingly nihilistic groups.
India’s engagement with Central Asia on strategic military concerns is gathering pace, with high-level visits and cooperation deals underscoring the immense value New Delhi attaches to the region. The strengthened Indian presence in the area is driven by New Delhi’s desire not only to protect its investments in Central Asia, but also its interests in Afghanistan after NATO withdraws in 2014.
The National Transitional Council of Libya has much on its plate, including most notably rebuilding the country in the wake of civil war while also preparing it for constitutional democracy. However, military challenges still beckon. In addition to residual fighting and managing the demands of competing militias, the council must centralize authority over violence and build a professional Libyan military.
This week in Western Saharan, delegations are arriving for the 13th Conference of the Polisario Front, the U. N.-recognized group that has fought since the 1970s for Western Sahara's independence from Morocco. The gathering will draw some 1,500 people to discuss a topic that has otherwise gone largely overlooked in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings: Western Sahara's sovereignty and autonomous status.
With Russia embroiled in demonstrations following surprisingly competitive Duma elections and South Ossetia gripped by political confusion over its own surprising presidential poll, it may be time to re-evaluate a few political tropes in Eurasia. The developments are all the more noteworthy for coming as Georgia faces a political showdown that is casting the republic’s autocratic contours into sharp relief.
The recent controversy in India over a plan to allow multinational retail chains mount joint ventures with local firms highlights the country’s reification of agricultural village life -- a primary reason why India lags behind fellow economic risers Brazil and China. If India is going to capitalize on its demographic dividend, it will have to embrace urbanization and industrialization with far more gusto.
Last week’s Duma elections have identified several weaknesses in Russia’s political system that cannot easily be solved. To truly modernize, Russia must engage in more than the modest reforms that the Putin regime can tolerate. As a result, the current political order will probably survive, but the Putin system that has defined Russian politics since 2000 is unlikely to last beyond the next decade.
Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh’s recent visit to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan is less indicative of a new initiative than of existing relationships being taken to the next level. The deeper strategic cooperation with the two largest Central Asian republics will not only help New Delhi secure its economic engagement with both countries, but also increase its own geopolitical space more broadly.
The sight of Russians speaking out for democracy via social media last weekend brings to mind the political protests that have defined 2011 -- from the Arab uprisings in the Middle East, to the Occupy movement, and now in Russia. It raises the question of just how vital a role the Internet and social media played in this year's protests. Could the historic turmoil of 2011 have happened without the Internet?
The Obama administration entered office three years ago with high hopes that it could repair America’s relationships with other key powers in the world. While some successes were achieved, Washington closes out 2011 facing deteriorating relationships with China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Russia, and can expect only limited support from its major Western allies in managing a host of global hotspots.