Forced to acknowledge that Iran is complying with the nuclear agreement it concluded two years ago with the world’s major powers, US President Donald J. Trump appears to be groping for ways to provoke Iran to back out of the deal. If successful, Mr. Trump could spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East at a time that a Chinese agreement to build a drone manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia could initiate a similar drone race that threatens to take hostilities in the region to a whole new, more dangerous level.
Author Archive: James M. Dorsey
Remarks at conference on Regional Cooperation Initiatives in the Asia-Pacific and the Emergence of New Eurasian Geopolitics, Centre on Asia and Globalisation, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. One thing last week’s US air strikes in Syria highlight is the fact that the sands are continuously shifting as regional and world powers jockey for position in a future Eurasian world order. The strikes raise questions that go far beyond potential greater US involvement in the Syrian conflict. The answer to those questions will likely impact the role America may play in Eurasia and the Asia Pacific.
With no troops to command and a Riyadh-based skeleton staff, General Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s recently retired top commander, appeared to slide into a cushy job as commander of a 41-nation, Saudi-led military alliance created to fight terrorism.
The pitfalls are complex and multiple. They range from differences within the 68-member, anti-Islamic State (IS) alliance over what constitutes terrorism to diverging political priorities to varying degrees of willingness to tacitly employ jihadists to pursue geopolitical goals. The pitfalls are most evident in Yemen and Syria and involve two long-standing US allies, NATO ally Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Critics in the Maldives likely sighed relief when Saudi King Salman this week postponed his visit because of an outbreak of flu. The flu is however unlikely to halt a planned massive Saudi investment or the impact on Maldives society of the kingdom’s religion-driven public diplomacy. Big ticket investments and countering political violence dominated the headlines of the king’s tour of Asia together with the extravagance of his travel – an entourage of at least 1,000, 459 tonnes of luggage, a golden electric elevator for the monarch to descend from his private plane, and a specially built toilet for his visit to a Jakarta…
Pakistan is emerging as an important military player in the Gulf as its struggles to balance complex relations with regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran and diverging approaches by different branches of its government. Pakistan’s military engagement with the Gulf goes far beyond increased involvement in a Saudi-led, 41-nation military alliance that officially was established to counter terrorism, but is widely suspected to also be a bid to garner support for the kingdom’s troubled intervention in Yemen and create an anti-Iranian Sunni Muslim grouping.
This week’s sanctioning of one of China’s largest telecom equipment manufacturers, ZTE, by the US Commerce Department, and an investigation of Huawei, ZTE’s foremost Chinese competitor, could not have come at a more auspicious moment for Saudi King Salman as he visits China on the third leg of his month-long Asian tour. King Salman’s visit aims to strengthen economic and military ties and persuade China that Saudi Arabia rather than Iran is its most useful regional ally. The penalties and investigation of the two Chinese companies related to violations of US sanctions on Iran as well as North Korea signal the Trump…
Two recent high profile events, Pakistan’s Super Cricket League (PSL) final and the Lahore Literary Festival, reflect the country’s struggle with the rise of militant Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism. They also illustrate how militancy often serves illiberal Pakistani leaders as a tool to curtail critical expression much like Western populists such as US President Donald J. Trump seek to redefine truth and refocus public debate.
There is much debate about what spurs political violence. The explanations are multi-fold. There is one aspect that I’d like to discuss here as it relates to Africa and that is the role of Saudi Arabia. Let me be clear: With the exception of a handful of countries, none of which are in Africa, Saudi Arabia, that is to say the government, the religious establishment and members of the ruling family and business community, does not fund violence.
Muhammad Hafez Saeed, the recently detained UN and US-designated global terrorist and one of the world’s most wanted men, plans to register his group, Jama’at-ud-Dawa (JuD), widely seen as a front for another proscribed organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), as a political party in Pakistan, according to sources close to the militant.