Will There Be a Central Asian Spring?- By Joanna Lillis. Imagine the strongman leader of a strategic, Western-friendly, Muslim-majority nation blatantly rigging an election to exclude dissident voices from his puppet parliament.
Ring any bells? A year after two Arab presidents, Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, were chased from office, launching the Arab Spring, it should sound familiar. Nursultan Nazarbayev, leader of the oil-rich Central Asian state of Kazakhstan, just did precisely that, while the West -- mindful of Kazakhstan's oil and gas wealth and position astride a supply route to Afghanistan -- barely batted an eyelid. To add insult to injury for Kazakhstan's beleaguered opposition, Nazarbayev's ruling Nur Otan (Light Fatherland) party's landslide in a micromanaged election came a month after security forces fired on protesters in the energy hub of Zhanaozen in western Kazakhstan, killing 17.
Toward a Peaceful Pacific - Malcolm Fraser. Exit from comment view mode.
Click to hide this space MELBOURNE – The Western Pacific is currently facing a difficult problem – how to accommodate China’s rising aspirations in a region where the United States has held primacy since the Cold War’s end. Is the US determined to maintain dominance in the Asia-Pacific region? Asia’s New Tripartite Entente - Brahma Chellaney. Exit from comment view mode.
Click to hide this space NEW DELHI – The launch of trilateral strategic consultations among the United States, India, and Japan, and their decision to hold joint naval exercises this year, signals efforts to form an entente among the Asia-Pacific region’s three leading democracies. Fish Story - By Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt. BEIJING – Bad weather was good news in Scarborough Shoal, a contested chain of rocks and reefs in the South China Sea.
Earlier this month, Typhoon Butchoy forced a break in the two-month standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels as diplomatic efforts faltered. For all it seemed the showdown was about naval power, oil resources, and China's inexorable rise, the Scarborough incident was really about one thing: the fish. Consider it a lesson in how a common fishing run-in can turn into a crisis that can bring an entire region to its knees. Despite the overwhelming preoccupation with the potentially abundant energy reserves in the South China Sea, fishing has emerged as a larger potential driver of conflict. "Power to Asia’s Women" by Vishakha N. Desai , Astrid S. Tuminez and Gerald Rolfe.
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Click to hide this space SHANGHAI – Everyone’s eyes on are Asia’s rise. China, once dismissed as poor and backward, is now the world’s second-largest economy. "South Asia’s False Spring" by Brahma Chellaney. Exit from comment view mode.
Click to hide this space NEW DELHI – From the armed coup that recently ousted the Maldives’ first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, to the Pakistani Supreme Court’s current effort to undermine a toothless but elected government by indicting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on contempt charges, South Asia’s democratic advances appear to be shifting into reverse. "Return to the Arc of Crisis" by Jaswant Singh. Exit from comment view mode.
Click to hide this space NEW DELHI – Thirty-three years ago, then-US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski spoke of an “arc of crisis” coursing through the Middle East and into Central Asia. Today, events in Syria and Pakistan, as well as the recent bombings in Bangkok and New Delhi, which some are linking to Iran, suggest that Brzezinski’s arc is more salient than ever. Among the many dangers lurking along it today, the most ominous concerns the response of Israel and the United States to the question of when Iran’s nuclear facilities will become impregnable, creating, in Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s phrase, a “zone of immunity.” Waiting for Spring - By Scott Radnitz. On the surface, Central Asia would appear to be ripe for a popular uprising modeled on the Arab Spring. The "stans" are home to repressive governments, high unemployment, inequality, and widespread corruption. Over a year has passed since the wave of protests began to spread across the Arab world.
Yet there's been no comparable sign of popular discontent in this other Muslim-majority region. On the contrary, Central Asia's regimes appear to be thriving. Present at the Asian Creation - Jaswant Singh. Exit from comment view mode.
Click to hide this space NEW DELHI – Asia’s economic dynamism is beginning to find a parallel in the region’s diplomacy, particularly where security is concerned. Indeed, we may now be “present at the creation,” as former US Secretary of State Dean Acheson called his memoir, which described the construction of the post-World War II global security order. This time, what is being created is a security order for Asia that reflects its newfound primacy in world affairs, though what that order will ultimately look like remains to be determined. Asia’s Energy, Asia’s Security - Sanjaya Baru. Exit from comment view mode.
Click to hide this space NEW DELHI – As Asia’s rising powers seek to sustain growth and ensure stability, energy security has moved to the forefront of Asian geopolitics. The recent visit by China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar was as much about ensuring energy security for China as it was about China playing a role in maintaining political stability in the Middle East. The visit came against the backdrop of the growing threat of United States-led oil-export sanctions against Iran and China’s need to secure alternative sources of oil and gas. U.S.-Europe-Asia: The new strategic triangle. Trilateral dialogues come in many forms.
Those that mix allies with competitors can have the deleterious consequences of diminishing like-mindedness for the sake of inclusivity. More successful trialogues combine like-minded countries that can bring capabilities to bear in ways that cut across national and regional divides, creating an effect that is greater than the sum of its parts. One of the unfortunate consequences of the rhetoric surrounding the U.S. "pivot" to Asia was the perception that Washington, even as it intensified its commitment to trans-Pacific leadership, was pivoting away from Europe, home to its historic allies.
Taiwan. China. Ukraine. Belarus. Afghanistan. Russia. Japan. Cambodia: beyond the Killing Fields. Back then in 1983, when I began writing about it, I knew only as much as the average Westerner about the Cambodian tragedy. But as I immersed myself in Dith Pran’s story – from thousands of miles away in a flat in Notting Hill, London – it took me under its spell.
Years passed – other stories, other memories. It wasn’t until friends began returning from Cambodia with pirated copies of The Killing Fields that I woke up to my neglect. For 10 years after their defeat of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, the Vietnamese called the shots. In Phnom Penh electricity remained sporadic and only one per cent of the population had access to clean water. News Desk: Why Is Nepal Cracking Down on Tibetan Refugees? Friction between Chinese authorities and the five million Tibetans who live within the borders of China is on the rise, and nowhere is the strife more apparent than in the neighboring nation of Nepal. Last month in Kathmandu, I spoke with five young Tibetans who had just journeyed across the Himalayas to escape draconian policies imposed by the Beijing government in their homeland. More than six hundred Tibetans have fled to Nepal this year, even though it’s a dangerous undertaking.
Asylum seekers have lost limbs to frostbite, perished in blizzards, and been arrested by Chinese border patrols. Some have been shot. Mustang: Nepal's former Kingdom of Lo. Overturning Lee Kuan Yew's Legacy in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's storied first prime minister, gave his countrymen two things that elude most developing nations: stability and prosperity. Now, a new generation of Singaporeans with little recollection of Lee's crusade against poverty and violence wants democracy as well.
In pursuing greater political openness in two elections this year, they are challenging one of Lee's most deeply ingrained beliefs: that development and stability do not necessarily go hand in hand with democracy. Although Singaporeans voted in May's parliamentary elections to keep the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in power, the party had its poorest showing since Singapore became an independent nation in 1965. New Humanist (Rationalist Association) - discussing humanism, rationalism, atheism and free thought.
The Guardian has a disturbing report on the plight of Alexander Aan, an Indonesian civil servant who is currently in custody and facing an 11-year prison sentence for expressing his atheism on Facebook. In Indonesia, the law guarantees citizens freedom of religion, but only as long as they adhere to Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Confucianism or Hinduism. By expressing his atheism Aan - who posted the phrase "God doesn't exist" on a Facebook page – is held to have breached Indonesia's official state philosophy (known as the Pancasila), which requires citizens to have "Belief in the one and only God". Banana Pancake Eaters in Vang Vieng, Laos » Old World Wandering.
Vang Vieng, Laos: the world's most unlikely party town.
North Korea. Star-Spangled Canberra. Magazine - The Vietnam Solution. Bangkok Blues - By Joshua Kurlantzick. Thailand: Internet Trial a Major Setback for Free Speech. "Australia’s Carbon-Pricing Payoff" by Frank Jotzo. India. Pakistan. Uzbekistan's policy of secretly sterilising women. Karabakh: 'frozen' conflict nears melting point. A Heroic Narrative in Violation of Good Conscience. "Stability on the Steppes" by Erlan Idrissov. Azerbaijan facing the music thanks to Eurovision. Azerbaijan: Authorities Violently Disperse Peaceful Rallies. What Lies Beneath - By William Tobey.
The Caspian's New Sea Monsters - An FP Slide Show. Young women in Chechnya - The Big Picture.