IDSA COMMENT

Renewed Conflagration in West Asia

The conflict involving the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on two of its borders shows all signs of drawing the entire region into a new round of crisis. Though the current conflict may have been set off by years of hostilities between Israel and its regional adversaries, it is not a simple replay of the previous clashes.

July 26, 2006

Aceh's Future Challenges

The Indonesian Parliament passed the Aceh Governance Bill on July 11, 2006. Dissemination of information about the bill started two days later to ensure that the peace building process, which came into force after the peace accord was signed with Free Aceh Movement (GAM, Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) in Helsinki in August 2005, stays on track. One clause of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) related to laying down of arms by GAM rebels and the passing of the Aceh Governance bill.

July 26, 2006

Mumbai Serial Blasts Portend Dangerous Trends

As expected, a lesser-known terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the July 11 Mumbai blasts. After four days, the Lashkar-e-Qahhar claimed responsibility for the seven serial blasts that ripped through Mumbai commuter trains killing at least 228 and wounding approximately 900 people. It is believed that this is a sub-set of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). According to an email received by a TV channel, Lashkar-e-Qahhar has links with the LeT, which is an armed outfit of Markaz-Dawa Wal-Irshad, an Islamic fundamentalist organisation in Pakistan.

July 19, 2006

Prospects for Democracy in Pakistan Appear Dim

The pro-democracy, anti-Musharraf movement launched by the combined opposition in May 2006 will once again put on trial the strength and determination of the people of Pakistan to snatch power from the clutches of the military. The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD), a conglomerate of 15 parties, has demanded the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz by July 31, 2006, failing which a vote of no-confidence would be moved against the Musharraf regime. The demand was made in a resolution adopted by the Alliance on July 2.

July 19, 2006

Border Management and India's North East

The management of India's international border along its North Eastern States has remained a crucial and complex issue. In an age of increasing interdependence, threats from unconventional sources pose a greater challenge to the country's security. An unmanaged border accentuates such threats by providing easy points of ingress and egress. Travel along India's borders with Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan highlights the porous nature of these borders, which pass through difficult terrain of forest, rivers and mountains and make the task of guarding all the more challenging.

July 18, 2006

Mumbai Bombing: Men Behind the Massacre

The July 11 bombing in Mumbai, which left 200 dead and 700 injured, is the deadliest terrorist attack in India this year. It was a systematic and well planned attack engineered between 6.24 pm and 6.35 pm on the Western Railway line during peak-hour when office-goers were returning home.

July 18, 2006

Taliban Successes: A Matter of Concern

Condoleeza Rice's visit to Pakistan on June 27-28, 2006 before she proceeded to Kabul indicated abundant concern on the part of the US government about the increasing strength of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the expectation that Pakistan would pull its weight to ensure better results in combating terrorism. This was made apparent in her clearly enunciated statement which emphasised the need for increased cooperation between Pakistan and the Afghan government on the one hand, and among the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan on the other.

July 10, 2006

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

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