IDSA COMMENT

Resurgence of Russian Economy

With its economy in a resurgent mode, Russia seems set to regain its traditional influence and power. But in tune with the popular Russian saying that "the bear is still licking its wounds," Russia has to overcome a number of obstacles to sustain its economic growth. Russia's economic resurgence has been made possible by a combination of factors: strong leadership and firm handling of the transition to a free market economy, integration into the world economy, the growth in oil and gas production and increasing oil revenues due to rising prices.

July 10, 2006

Hurdles Cleared in the US Congress for Nuclear Deal

After months of excruciating negotiations, testimonies and debates, the two crucial committees of the US Congress voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Indo-US nuclear agreement, setting the stage for a formal Congressional vote. The International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives approved a legislation favouring the agreement with a near three-fourths majority (37 to 5) on June 27. This was followed by a bigger mandate (16 to 2) in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 29, thus ensuring a definite "yes" vote at the joint session of the Congress.

July 10, 2006

Israel ups the ante in Gaza

Israel has stepped up its military offensive against Palestine. Codenamed Operation Summer Rain, it began on June 28 in response to the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Palestinian militant groups kidnapped Shalit on June 25 when they raided a military post near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom in Israeli territory just outside the Gaza Strip. The militants had infiltrated into Israel through a 300-metre tunnel dug under the Gaza border fence near the military post. Two Israeli soldiers, Lt. Hanan Barak and Sgt. Pavel Slutsker were killed in the attack.

July 10, 2006

7/7: One Year On

July 7 marks the first anniversary of the 2005 terrorist attacks on London. These attacks and the thwarted ones on July 21 not only claimed the lives of more than fifty people of different nationalities, but once again brought to the fore a serious threat to global security, i.e., suicide bombing. The four suicide bombers, drawn from the Muslim community in Britain with South Asian and Caribbean origins, have left a permanent scar on the collective British psyche.

July 07, 2006

Strategic Implications of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway

On July 1, 2006 China inaugurated the world's highest railway - a 710-mile (1,956 kms) line connecting Golmud with Lhasa. It traverses 550 kms of unstable permafrost, reaching the heights of 16,400 feet above sea level, and completes the journey in forty-eight hours. The inauguration coincided with two other big anniversaries: the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party and the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from British rule.

July 07, 2006

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: A Critical Evaluation

Over the last three years, the Central Asian Republics (CARs) have witnessed significant geopolitical shifts in the region - the resurgence of Russia, China's increasing influence, a colour revolution in Kyrgyzstan, unrest and shift in Uzbekistan's foreign policy, and the growing prominence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Since 2004, the SCO's influence and role has been growing in the Central Asian region and the last two summits of the SCO are significant in terms of making the international community take notice of this regional grouping.

July 04, 2006

Nathu La: Pass To Prosperity But Also A Challenge

Nathu La, identified as the third mountain pass for border trade between India and China, is officially slated to open on July 6, 2006 after a gap of 44 years. Previous attempts to open the border pass had to be postponed due to lack of proper infrastructure. This time around, the infrastructure from the Indian side is complete. A field visit to Nathu La on June 25, 2006 revealed that the approach road has been constructed. And the warehouses, customs and administrative offices, banks etc. at Sherathang, the designated trade mart situated 5 km from Nathu La, have been completed.

July 04, 2006

IAEA's Continuing Uncertainty on Iran

The Board of Governors of IAEA is scheduled to meet on March 6, 2006 to decide the next step after the passage of the February 2006 resolution against Iran. The crisis is deepening fast. The controversies related to Iran's past procurements and associated deeds seem to be far from coming to a close soon.

March 03, 2006

Million Mutinies in Pakistan's Tribal Areas

The tribal terrain in Pakistan is in a state of turmoil. As the Pakistani Taliban gradually emerge, many analysts have pointed out that the terrain has traditionally been home to orthodoxy over the centuries and nourished rebels like Sayiid Ahmad, Faqir of Ippi, Nek Muhammad, Abdul Mehsud and now Mullah Dadullah.

June 27, 2006

ULFA's Pressure Tactics

In the third round of talks held in New Delhi on June 22 with the 11-member People's Consultative Group (PCG), the Centre gave an assurance that it would engage with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) directly within a fixed time frame. Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, who represented the Centre, also told the PCG that their demand to release ULFA Vice Chairman Pradip Gogoi, Cultural Secretary Pranati Deka, Publicity Secretary Mithinga Daimary, Executive Committee Member Ramu Mech and Ideologue Bhimakanta Buragohain would be considered in consultation with the Assam Government.

June 27, 2006

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