“Navigating Gulf Waters After the Iran Nuclear Deal” (Melissa Dalton, Center for Strategic and International Studies)
“The dialogue that fostered the JCPOA now provides potential for U.S.-Iranian communication on other U.S. policy priorities. High-level U.S. officials may now pick up the phone and make routine calls to their Iranian counterparts -- an option unavailable only a few years ago. This new phase of dialogue brings new opportunities, but it also poses risks that the United States must manage carefully. For more than three decades, Iran has relied on its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to secure its interests in the Gulf by using a combination of proxies and asymmetric capabilities in neighboring states and regions with majority Shi’ite populations to promote its interests and marginalize political forces that could undermine its foreign policy agenda. This agenda -- an amalgam of geopolitical and sectarian interests -- has become more significant in light of the intensifying rivalry with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Iranian-Saudi friction across the region, particularly in the Gulf, will not only continue to shape Gulf security, but will pose new challenges for U.S. policy in the region in the post-JCPOA period.”
“Yemen: Stemming the Rise of a Chaos State” (Peter Salisbury, Chatham House)
“In the case of Yemen, the groups taking part in the civil war are routinely oversimplified into ‘pro-Hadi’ and ‘pro-Houthi’ camps. The reality is that most Yemenis do not support either the president or the northern rebels; rather, they are part of much smaller groups with their own identity, ideology, grievances and political goals, from secessionists in the south to Salafists in Taiz and Aden and tribal leaders in the north. Maintaining the illusion that either Hadi or the Houthi–Saleh alliance is representative of, or has control over these groups would be a dangerous folly. There is a growing consensus among Yemen analysts and researchers that the transitional process of 2012–14 failed because of exactly such a gap in policy-makers’ understanding of Yemen, and because of the mismatch between the needs of the Yemeni people and the priorities of the transition’s foreign sponsors. Along with the Yemeni elites, the UN and the member states of the UN Security Council focused on political power-balancing at the elite level, reinforcing the power of these elites while ignoring local dynamics and historically marginalized groups such as the Houthis and southern separatists, and paying little more than lip service to addressing the collapse in services and standards of living.”
The People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s main newspaper, published a commentary in its Tuesday edition urging Chinese people to accept the party’s verdict on the Cultural Revolution, as the country approaches the fiftieth anniversary of the start of Mao Zedong’s brutal campaign to maintain the communist revolution. “The Cultural Revolution was wrongly launched by the leaders and exploited by a counterrevolutionary clique. It brought the grave disaster of internal turmoil to the party, country and people of every ethnicity....In no sense was it, or could it have been, revolutionary or socially progressive,” the newspaper writes. It also added that China “will not take the old path that is closed and stultified, nor will [it] take the errant path of changing our banner.” The piece’s publication breaks the Party’s policy of silence on the Cultural Revolution.
Michael Mandelbaum writes: In order to cope with the conditions of the new world in which the United States finds itself—in order, that is, successfully to deter China, Russia, and Iran—the next American President must first forge a consensus in the United States in favor of such policies, including a consensus on the role of the nation’s allies. In conducting American foreign policy in this new-old world of power politics, that may prove to be the hardest task of all. – The American Interest
Jackson Diehl writes: Outside the administration, not many people believe Iraq and Syria can survive in their present form. At a minimum, they will have to become loose federations, like Bosnia after the Yugoslav wars. Who will devise those solutions, and how will they be brought into being? On that, this U.S. president is punting — which means the would-be successors to Sykes and Picot must wait for another year. – Washington Post
Anne Applebaum writes: The world would be safer and richer if we stopped laundering the money that helped create those kleptocracies in the first place. But like addicts or alcoholics, we’ll first need to admit that we have a problem before we can really begin to solve it. – Washington Post’s PostPartisan
Editorial: [N]o matter who takes the Oval Office, it will demand courage and difficult decisions to save the liberal international order. As a new report from the Center for a New American Security points out, this order is worth saving, and it is worth reminding ourselves why – Washington Post
Fred Hiatt writes: [I]t would be healthy for the country, and the next president, to move beyond make-believe. There is no “quickly, quickly” defeating Islamist terrorism — and there is no safe way to retreat from the challenge of combating it for the long term. – Washington Post
RBI governor Rajan says inflation higher than desired
Speaking at a university in London, the Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan said on Friday that inflation in India remains higher than policymakers would like to see (Reuters). He said, "Broadly core inflation has been fairly sticky, a bit higher than we would want. It hasn't moved up and down. We will continue on the task of anchoring expectations." Highlighting the possibility of a good monsoon season, Rajan said India was in the midst of a slow recovery though there were signs of faster growth. He expressed optimism about the banking sector in India after a bankruptcy law passed by parliament last week helping the country's banks reduce risk on their lending instruments.
“"Unmasking Modi," by Siddhartha Deb (The New Republic)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday released Modi’s university degree certificates in an attempt to rebuke allegations from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal that the prime minister had fabricated his qualifications (Reuters). Addressing a news conference in New Delhi, BJP president Amit Shah stated that Modi has a Bachelor of Arts from Delhi University and a Master of Arts in Political Science from Gujarat University. Spokesmen for the two universities declined to comment on whether Modi's degree certificates were genuine. On many occasions, Modi has referenced his humble beginnings as a tea vendor's son and the journey that made him a national leader as a story of success and determination.
Congress claims victory in Uttarkhand
Congress leader and former Chief Minister of Uttarkhand Harish Rawat won a vote of confidence from the state legislature on Tuesday, according to party leadership (NDTV, Hindu, LiveMint). The vote was administered under the authority of the Supreme Court of India and the results are to be presented to the court on Wednesday for official declaration. Previously, the Supreme Court overturned a decision by the Uttarkhand High Court to dismiss President's Rule – direct rule of the state by the federal government – in the state, ordering a floor test in the legislature. Uttarkhand High Court had said that the federal government acted in “blatant falsehood” and the speaker of the state assembly had “double standards” with regards to dismissing nine Congress members on disciplinary grounds.
Inflation expected to be up to 5 percent in April
According to a poll by Reuters, India's annual inflation rose to 5.0 percent in April from 4.83 percent in March due to higher food and fuel prices (Reuters). The official inflation data for April is expected to be released on Thursday. A rise in inflation will mean that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will find it difficult to decrease interest rates quickly. Last month, Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan cut the policy repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.50 percent, the lowest since 2011. The latest poll also showed industrial output grew 2.5 percent in March, faster than 2.0 percent the month before.
Jammat-i-Islami leader hanged for “rape and genocide” in 1971
On Wednesday, Bangladesh hanged Motiur Rahman Nizami, the former chief of the country's largest Islamist political party Bangladesh Jammat-i-Islami for war crimes committed during the 1971 War of Independance, including rape and genocide (NDTV, Reuters). The 72-year-old Nizami was sentenced in October 2014 by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) of Bangladesh.
Nizami, a former minister who served in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government from 2001-2006, is one of the most high profile convictions by the ICT. The current government has been criticized for lack of transparency in the ICT trials and using these trials to target opposition parties.
Islamist leader Motiur Rahman Nizami loses death sentence final appeal
Bangladesh's Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a final appeal by the head of country's largest Islamist party, Motiur Rahman Nizami, against his death sentence for atrocities committed during the war of independence from Pakistan in 1971 (BBC, Reuters). Nizami, 72, was seeking a review of the Supreme Court decision to uphold a war crimes tribunal verdict that convicted him of genocide, rape, and torture. His party, Jammat-i-Islami, has called for countrywide strikes and will hold street protests on Sunday. Nizami's only recourse now is to seek clemency from the President of Bangladesh, but many believe it is unlikely to be granted.
The National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency searched an intelligence community database designed to target foreigners more than 4,000 times last year without warrants using queries explicitly linked to U.S. people, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged in a transparency report released Monday. – Washington Times
Stephen Slick writes: Change is overdue at the CIA. Director Brennan’s modernization initiative is ambitious, but also highly disruptive to a fundamentally conservative institution. The cultural shifts being pursued, in part through bureaucratic restructuring, will not come to full fruition before the leadership turns over at Langley. The next CIA director, and the agency’s congressional overseers, should resist advice to abandon and reverse the reforms, and instead use the opportunity to conduct a disciplined, objective, and outcome-based assessment of the impacts on the agency’s core missions. – Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government
U.S. Report: Religious tolerance deteriorating in India
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) warned on Monday that India is on a negative trajectory in terms of religious freedom (Forbes, TOI). USCIRF is U.S. government body that monitors religious freedoms in different countries. USCIRF's annual report finds that “In 2015, religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India. Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups. Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tacitly supported these groups.”
The commission said it would closely monitor the situation in the year ahead to determine if India should be recommended to the U.S. State Department for designation as a “country of particular concern,” under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom. The Indian government rejected the findings of the report, saying it “fails to show proper understanding of India, its constitution and its society.”
EXAMPLE OF SUCCESS IN U.S. FOREIGN POLICY ACE VENTURA
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