Sunday 29 May 2022 | 12:34 | SYDNEY

West Asia

Reader riposte: Pakistan and long US memories

Peter Layton writes: Alicia Molaun has provided some keen insights into Pakistan and the view from Islamabad looking outwards, especially towards Washington. Certainly Alicia is correct that Washington needs a Pakistan that supports a positive end to the Western intervention in Afghanistan.

Pakistan-US relations: Annus horribilis

Alicia Mollaun is a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU and is based in Islamabad. I left Islamabad bound for Canberra hours before NATO strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Mohmand Agency in the early hours of 26 November. The strikes have left many wondering how US-Pakistan relations

Islam straining at the seams

Context is everything. So it is worth pausing for a moment to understand some of the elements that influence the minds of politicised Shi\'a in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and elsewhere. Just as many in the Sunni world harbour a deep dislike of the Shi\'a as dissenters from \'orthodox\' Islam

Who likes Damascus?

With the sanctions noose closing ever more tightly around the neck of the Assad regime, it is remarkable that Damascus can count on any support from its fellow Arab states. But even when the Arab League voted last week to impose sanctions on Syria, it was not unanimous. Two of Syria\'s three

Uranium to India: Decision time

On Sunday, the Australian Labor Party\'s national conference will take an important decision: whether to end its blanket prohibition on uranium exports to India\'s nuclear energy program. Wherever you stand, a robust debate on the issue can only improve the chances of a sensible policy outcome.

A strong case to drop India uranium ban

Dhruva Jaishankar is Program Officer for Asia at the German Marshall Fund, a Fellow at the Takshashila Institution and an occasional columnist for The Indian Express. It should be no surprise that New Delhi would welcome an Australian decision to export uranium to India. Isolating India on

US-Pakistan relations in deep trouble

I heard late on Saturday night about the NATO strike on a border post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, as I stepped off a plane having spent a week in Pakistan. A week of talks in Pakistan had left me in no doubt that Pakistani-American relations are in deep, deep trouble. One commentator

Egyptian uprising: Redux or reflux?

The violence of recent days in Cairo\'s Tahrir square and in other major Egyptian cities has raised the possibility of a repeat of January/February this year, when protests forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power. This time the protesters have Egypt\'s transitional rulers, Field Marshal

Reader riposte: Uranium and the India relationship

David Brewster responds to Richard Broinowski: I\'m not sure that Rory Medcalf suggested that the sale of Australian uranium to India is a panacea to the bilateral relationship — clearly it is not. However, the policy is a symbolic roadblock to improvements in the relationship,

India uranium: We're selling out our principles

Ron Walker is a former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the IAEA and author of the Lowy institute  Policy Brief \'Uranium for India\'.  Some oppose selling uranium to India because they are against uranium mining. My objection is quite different, as I support the policy

Uranium U-turn welcome, overdue

What a week in Australian foreign policy. Two days before President Obama\'s visit, which will likely mark a pivot to a truly Indo-Pacific strategic vision by Washington and Canberra, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has publicly declared her support for safeguarded uranium

The IAEA Iran report: China manoeuvres

Simone van Nieuwenhuizen is a Lowy Institute intern who recently completed a University of Sydney degree with majors in Chinese Studies and Arabic & Islamic Studies. All translations of Chinese-language articles referenced here are her own. For the US and Israel, this week\'s IAEA report

Reader riposte: Life is hard in Afghanistan

Dom writes: James,  I believe you are right in saying that it is too early to tell what these attacks mean. But, I have a few fundamental disagreements with your commentary. Firstly, the cited premise for your third argument (\'there is something in the particular relationship between

Three attacks, three explanations

There\'s been another incident overnight in Afghanistan involving Australian soldiers being attacked by an Afghan National Army colleague. This is the third time this year that Australian soldiers have been attacked in this manner, and comes only a week after seven soldiers were seriously wounded

Reader riposte: Drones and civilians

Nic Maclellan: The Interpreter\'s debate on the use of drones for targeted attacks comes during the week when two young Pakistanis were killed by a Hellfire missile after attending a meeting to highlight the civilian death toll from drone attacks! For details, see this New York Times Op Ed and

India, US, Australia: Stronger together

The term \'Indo-Pacific\' has crept into the international relations vocabulary of late. Lowy Institute scholars have started adopting this term, and it appeared in Hillary Clinton\'s recent Foreign Policy essay on \'America\'s Pacific Century\'. It\'s also a conceptual building-block for a

You won't see THIS on HMAS Collins

That\'s a Russian sailor in the foreground:  (Found at Key Aviation Forum, though happy to update this attribution if someone has a fair claim to the images

Women who resisted the Arab Spring

In looking at the role of women in the Arab Spring it would be remiss not to touch on the spouses of autocratic rulers. Are they silent witnesses to the rule of their husbands? Are they partners in it? Or just beneficiaries? Looking outside the Arab world, few wives have suffered

Women in the Arab Spring (part 3)

Co-authored by Grace Williams, an intern in the West Asia Programme Lowy Institute and student of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Sydney. Part 1 of this series; part 2. Egypt\'s women have been a focus of media attention in the Arab Spring, but women have a long history of activism in

After Libya, what now for R2P?

Tim Dunne is a professor in the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, where Jess Gifkins is a doctoral candidate. They have co-authored \'Libya and the State of Intervention\', lead article in the current Australian Journal of International Affairs. Seven months after the UN

Gilad Shalit is free, but there no escape for Israelis and Palestinians

The joy of most Israelis at the release of Gilad Shalit is giving way to anger about the condition in which he was released.  The images of a gaunt and weak Shalit (above), reportedly suffering from malnutrition and lack of exposure to natural light, contrast with images (below) of the

Hizbullah visits the Duma

The Arab Spring has presented even more dilemmas for Russia than it has for the West. Commercial considerations have to a large extent dictated its response to events, along with a desire to stymie advantages that may accrue to the West as a result of its interventions. Since acceding to the NATO-

Australia in Libya: Value for money?

Today marks seven months since NATO started bombing targets in Libya as part of the campaign to enforce a no-fly zone authorised by UN Security Council Resolution 1973. Australia is now the second largest state donor to the Libyan reconstruction effort, having committed $41.1 million from our

Afghanistan: A revealing army report

I\'ve just finished reading Colonel Peter Connolly\'s account of his time in command of the ADF\'s Second Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force in Uruzgan between May and December 2009. \'Counterinsurgency in Uruzgan 2009\' reads a lot like an edited post-operation report and its great to see

Taliban cracks Afghanistan fortress

The Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan, the PRT compound is located at the bottom left of the photo. All photos in this post by the author. The Taliban\'s attack on the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) compound in Panjshir province over the weekend shows that, for the first time, there

What did the Quds Force agent say to the Mexican drug baron?

If it wasn\'t so serious, it would almost be funny. This week\'s revelation that the US has uncovered an Iranian Quds Force plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US — by using an Iranian-American failed used-car salesman to sub-contract out the task to a Mexican drug cartel —&

Kazakh-China Diary: Two roads

Konrad Muller is a former Australian diplomat and journalist. He and Anthony Bubalo are undertaking fieldwork for a new project examining Kazakh-China relations. Earlier posts in this series: post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4, post 5, post 6. As the two sides of the border-crossing had

Women in the Arab Spring (part 2)

One of the imponderables this early in the life of the Arab Spring is the degree to which the political upheavals will result in substantive, rather than cosmetic, improvements to women\'s political roles in the Arab world. My first post on this subject argued that, while women have invested in

Kazakh-China Diary: Never stay at the Ili on a wedding night

Anthony Bubalo and Konrad Muller are undertaking fieldwork for a new project examining Kazakh-China relations. Earlier posts in this series here, here, here and here. Last Friday we left Almaty for Urumqi. The plan was to drive down to Zharkent, near the Chinese border, overnight

Kazakh-China Diary: How do you say 'oil' in Klingon?

Anthony Bubalo and Konrad Muller are undertaking fieldwork for a new project examining Kazakh-China relations. Earlier posts in this series here, here and here. Last week Kazakhstan held its two major annual energy conferences: Kazenergy in Astana and the Kazakhstan International Oil and Gas

Bad spelling, murder and blasphemy

Alicia Mollaun, a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU, is based in Islamabad. An accusation of blasphemy in Pakistan is the kiss of death. Anyone convicted of \'insulting Islam\' gets a mandatory death sentence. Even being seen to be sympathetic towards alleged blasphemers – say

Women and the Arab Spring (part 1)

I promised to write a series of posts on women and the Arab Spring and this is the first, dealing with the role of women in the protest movements themselves.  The greatest difficulty in writing about women and the Arab Spring is to understand the degree to which they have been moving

Learning Arabic: Is it worth it?

Vanessa Newby is PhD candidate at the University of Queensland. As a student of the Middle East, I recently delved into Edward Said\'s classic, Orientalism. What struck me was that for all his disdain for Orientalists, Said makes mention of the fact that in the late nineteenth and

Kazakh-China Diary: About in Almaty

Anthony Bubalo and Konrad Muller are undertaking fieldwork for a new project examining Kazakh-China relations. Earlier posts in this series here and here. When we first arrived in Almaty the city seemed strangely devoid of taxis. We were soon told by a local why: \'every car is a taxi\'.

Kazakh-China diary: Ablai Khan, train gauges and a piece of paper

Konrad Muller is a former Australian diplomat and journalist now working on the Lowy Institute West Asia Program\'s West Asia-China project. Part one of this series here. \'The Russian bridle is of leather,\' the academic tells us, \'the Chinese is of iron\', and then ascribes this aphorism to

Kazakh-China Diary: Hip-hop, punching bags, and a wooden cathedral

I am in Almaty with Konrad Muller, where we are beginning a three-week journey examining Kazakhstan\'s relations with China. This is part of a new project looking at how key states in West Asia perceive their rapidly expanding economic ties to China. Initially, we are focusing on Saudi Arabia and

China and India: What is rivalry?

It is becoming popular to use the word \'rivalry\' when describing relations between China and India. Recent spats between the two powers over Indian oil exploration and an alleged maritime encounter in the South China Sea certainly highlight the potential for dangerous clashes of interests

A democracy gulf in the Gulf

In a year of dramatic change in the Middle East, in which the desire for revolutionary political change is still being expressed in several Arab countries, it is educational to see that, away in the east of the Arab world, the Gulf states are addressing this phenomenon in the traditional Gulf way&

Yemen fear of collapse

Philip Eliason is a former diplomat who has worked on Libyan issues and is a member of the Advisory Board to the Macquarie University Centre for Middle East and North African Studies. Yemen is a state of dynamic stasis. It has now had about seven months of political turmoil, many deaths, economic

5-minute Lowy Lunch: Iran in spring

For a while there, the Arab Spring was looking like quite a good deal for Iran. Mubarak was knocked off, and Shi\'a populations in the Gulf started protesting against Sunni oppression. Now, with the Arab Spring moving to Iran\'s ally Syria, Tehran is watching on nervously and even suggesting

Pakistan reminds America of its sacrifices

Alicia Mollaun is a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU and is based in Islamabad. \'Which country can do more for your peace?\'. Pakistan! At least, that is the message Pakistan wants Americans to swallow. The Pakistani Government placed a half-page advertisement in the Wall Street

Talib or Taliban?

Today we are launching Talib or Taliban? Indonesian students in Pakistan and Yemen, which looks at whether Indonesian students studying at Islamic institutions in Pakistan and Yemen pose a risk in terms of future patterns of extremism in Indonesia. The report is based on fieldwork in

Libya mysterious new constitution (part II)

Minerva Nasser-Eddine is a Research Fellow in the School of International Studies, Flinders University. My earlier post summarised the main elements of what is an impressive draft constitution (although the origins and status of the document remain unclear). But two Articles do

Libya mysterious new constitution

Minerva Nasser-Eddine is a Research Fellow in the School of International Studies, Flinders University. As the world\'s attention focused on the historic footage from Tripoli of rebels entering Bab Al-Azizia, Gaddafi\'s stronghold, the BBC News website reported that the Libyan

What an Indian naval shipyard looks like

This photo, courtesy of Indian milblog Broadsword, shows three sleek and modern destroyers in various stages of completion. Perhaps this appearance is deceiving, but when you look at the wider scene, you do ask yourself how they ever build such advanced vessels among the

Omaid story

Susanne Schmeidl is co-founder of the Afghan NGO, The Liaison Office, and editor of the Lowy Institute\'s Afghan Voices series. Last week the Taliban carried out a complex attack on the government in Uruzgan province, leaving at least 22 people dead (including women and children) and 40 injured,

Syria: Responsibility to express outrage

The current round of deaths the Assad regime is inflicting upon the Syrian population should illustrate the hollowness of the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P).  While one could hardly disagree with the concept of R2P, the conditions necessary for its implementation exist so

Tarin Kowt and the battle for minds

The Taliban is fighting a full-spectrum war – in the media and on the ground. Yet the ADF, so quick to rush its leaders out for a media briefing when an Australian soldier gets killed, seems to have stepped back from the fight for perceptions. In the last 24 hours, Australia\'s main military