Sunday 29 May 2022 | 11:15 | SYDNEY

West Asia

Lebanon: There goes another one

Nearly six years after his father was assassinated by a car bomb in Beirut, Sa'ad Hariri has now seen his government fall at the hands of the very group whose members are likely to be accused of complicity in his father's death. The timing of the resignation of the Hizbullah ministers and their

Iran: Are sanctions working?

Reliable intelligence on Iranian capabilities and policies is notoriously difficult to gather. But, fueled by a combination of Iranian intransigence, a permeable sanctions regime, Gulf Arab fears and selective hyping for political and security purposes, popular wisdom has it that 

Middle East: Just as I predicted

At the start of 2010 I made some predictions about the year ahead for the Middle East, so in the spirit of retrospection, I'll review my crystal ball. My 2010 predictions are in italics. Iran: Iran will continue to concentrate minds in the US in particular, but I can't see much policy

China-India: Optimism and mistrust

As Chinese premier Wen Jiabao prepares to accompany over 100 senior business leaders on an official trip to India, it is timely to reflect on the state of relations between Asia's two greatest powers. Relatively unharmed by the GFC, rapidly growing India and China continue to forge an ever-

Iraq: Bagdhad\ 1001 nights (well, almost)

It appears that the eight–month wait for a new government to be formed in Iraq — the new beacon of Arab democracy — may at last be over. By gaining the premiership, the incumbent prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has managed to do what all right–minded Arab leaders do once

Yemen: Al Qaeda affiliate rising

Last weekend's foiled bombing attempt emanating from Yemen highlights again both the resilience and persistence of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the difficulties both the Yemeni and US governments face in addressing the threat. In many ways, AQAP is a more serious threat

Bahrain and the ballot box

The results of last Saturday's parliamentary elections in Bahrain will confirm the worst fears of many in the Sunni world — democratic elections can only strengthen the hand of the Shi'a and, by association, Iran. One need look no further than Iraq to see what transpires when Sunni

Africa, according to the world

Via Bill Easterly, a nice graphical representation of Africa clichés. What would an equivalent map of Australia look like' 

Gillard now owns Afghanistan

President Obama wants to focus on the start of the withdrawal from Afghanistan next year. Prime Minister Gillard points to 2014 to complete the present phase in Afghanistan, then lifts the focus to 2020 and beyond. Two leaders talking about the same strategy in the same war, but seeking to shine the

Another decade in Afghanistan

Australia is to have a role in Afghanistan for another ten years. That promise from the Prime Minister means the hung parliament has delivered what the election campaign could not: a debate on Afghanistan and a timeline well beyond 2014. The rebalanced Afghanistan promise from Labor is for the

India wins gold in security

Whatever the mixed reviews of the management side of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India's security forces deserve praise for their exceptional success in preventing terrorism there. At the start of the Games, I published a Lowy Institute Perspective explaining the risks and the

Three things you may not hear in the parliamentary debate on Afghanistan

The Government has announced that the promised parliamentary debate on Afghanistan will start next Tuesday with a statement by the Prime Minister. Over the next few days, I would like to discuss three things you may not hear in the debate. Here is the first. 1. It' s about leaving (it

Delhi defies the doubters

The Commonwealth Games in New Delhi have ended, and the critics and doubters need to do a bit of soul-searching. It was not a triumph for the organising committee — after the chaos and scandals leading up to the event, chairman Suresh Kalmadi and his crew do not deserve glory. The Delhi

Terrorism: The urge to \'do something\'

Michael Wesley says that, rather than debate Afghanistan, we should be thinking about the next war: 'What are the likely reactions of our allies to a massive attack in Times Square or Trafalgar Square, planned and financed from Yemen or Somalia'' That's just the right question, and

Lebanon\ VIP visit

In this case, VIP stands for Very Iranian Person, as President Mahmoud Ahmedenijad commences his two-day official visit to Lebanon.  The Lebanon visit fits perfectly with Ahmedenijad's vision of Iran as a leader of the Muslim world, and his view that Iranian political (as opposed to

Are we debating the wrong war?

As Sam and Rodger have already noted, we're nearing a parliamentary debate on our military presence in Afghanistan. Notwithstanding Peter Leahy's thought-provoking analysis on the need for full parliamentary discussion of military commitments, I have two reservations about the

Afghanistan parliamentary debate

My thanks to John Birmingham for recommending our Afghanistan debate to his blog readers. That specific Interpreter debate is a few months old now, though we should see the subject revived very soon, with the announcement from the Greens today that a parliamentary debate on

More Afghanistan reading

I agree with Milton about the lack of decent and detailed coverage of Afghan issues in the Australian media. I would add a further piece of reading to his list, and one very relevant to the Australian military effort in Afghanistan's Uruzgan province. An Afghan NGO called The

Afghanistan: Recommended reading

The concern of the Australian media to analyse in depth Tony Abbott's less-than thoughtful remarks justifying his decision not to travel to Afghanistan with the Prime Minister — the ABC devoted nearly ten minutes to the issue on AM alone this morning — contrasts with the

New Delhi Games: All quiet?

India desperately needed some good news. Thankfully, the initial public response to a court verdict yesterday that had vast potential to inflame inter-religious tensions has been calm. It is to be hoped that the birthday tomorrow of Mahatma Gandhi will give further heart to India's

Iran\ nuclear program: CTRL+ALT+DEL

The latest round of Iran sanctions yet again appear not to have had the desired effect on Iran's nuclear conduct, with the latest IAEA Country Report criticising Iran for its persistent lack of cooperation with safeguards inspections. Iran lashed out at the IAEA after the report, made

Delhi Games: Gillard\ tightrope

Cassandra or Pollyanna' Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is caught in a cursedly difficult position over security at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. The Indian press calls her a doomsayer, while some Australian papers think she's hedging her warnings too much. It all began&

Israel: Learning from the Byzantines

Ben Coleridge is a student at the University of Melbourne with an interest in Byzantine history. His articles have appeared in Eureka Street. When we think of key historical voices in the realm of strategy and statecraft, many of us might think of Thucydides and then make the leap through

The new Woodward book

Some argue that there is little new in Bob Woodward's just-released book (the Washington Post has a summary here) about the Obama Administration's Afghanistan decision-making. But the force with which Obama puts his opposition to long-term nation-building and his strong commitment to

Afghanistan linkage

The US might have been more successful in exporting democracy to Afghanistan than it thinks. In a Tammany Hall-style incident, hundreds of Hazara Afghans seized a polling booth in Uruzgan and cast 4200 votes for their preferred candidate. has this insight into local

Commonwealth games linkage

The Commonwealth Games are due to begin in New Delhi in just 18 days. But from infrastructure to terrorism, from corruption to health, the headlines surrounding the preparations are negative more often than not. Here are a few pieces worth a look for those trying to make sense of it all. On

Tourism in Yemen: Put another magazine in the AK-47

Tourism Australia has certainly done a good job in securing Oprah Winfrey's Ultimate Australian Adventure in December; the return on government investment in the project is very likely to be substantial. But when you're selling iconic destinations such as the 'Oprah House', Great Barrier Reef and

Real deal: China\ anti-piracy patrols

Justin Jones is Navy Fellow at the Lowy Institute and is the maritime adviser to the MacArthur Foundation Lowy Institute Asia Security Project. The recent flurry of commentary regarding China's rise and shifting power relativities in the Asia Pacific, led by the Lowy Institute's Power and

Could an international crisis sink the new government?

Yesterday's post on the foreign policy implications of the Labor-led minority Government was pretty relaxed in tone, and I would maintain that, in the normal day-to-day running of the nation's foreign policy, the independents and Greens will have marginal influence, except to perhaps make the

The White House-Pentagon showdown

A footnote to the post I wrote last week arguing that President Obama sees the economy as his main challenge, and is trying slowly to extricate the US from its costly war in Afghanistan. The US military has a different view, and TIME's Joe Klein argues that a clash is looming: Here's

India on front foot in East Asia

Does art imitate life or does life imitate journalism' Two weeks ago, The Economist trumpeted a looming China-India rivalry as its cover story. One week ago, a series of fresh tensions arose in the China-India relationship. Today I have tried to make sense of some of this in an opinion piece 

Peace with illusions

It would be dull to join the already large chorus of commentators predicting failure for the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, launched this week in Washington. Assuming that readers of The Interpreter are smart enough to work out for themselves why the talks probably won't

Obama: One war down, one to go

It's interesting to read President Obama's remarks about the end of combat operations in Iraq in light of Peter Beinart's speech to the Lowy Institute last week. Beinart argued that the central mission of Obama's presidency is economic — to make America 'solvent' again. To do that,

'All interviews should be like this'

That's The Browser's comment on this Spiegel interview with the foreign minister of Iran.  Although you'd be hard pressed to say that the interview actually gets better than this explosive opening exchange, the whole thing is worth a read: SPIEGEL: Mr. Foreign Minister

Iraq: Smells like victory

The recent withdrawal of the last US combat forces from Iraq and the equally recent reminder from the Al Qaeda affiliates across the country that they remain operationally active has elicited little in the way of introspection from commentators in this country.  Australia left what

Some alternative Afghanistan questions

Jim Molan's list of Afghanistan questions begins with, 'Is the war winnable'' But this strategic question ought to be preceded by a grand-strategic one: Is the war worth winning' Here are some other questions that flow from those five words: What are the most important issues facing

Campaigners fight, but not over the war

Australia is having a war-time election without mentioning the war. The political leaders don't talk willingly about Afghanistan. But they do stop campaigning to go to the funerals of soldiers who have been fighting. Perhaps this election demonstrates an Australian political reality of The Long

Gulf tanker attack — take two

My previous post concerning claims of an attack against a Japanese tanker in the Straits of Hormuz at the end of July stated that an attack appeared to be a less likely cause of damage to the tanker. It looks like this may have been wide of the mark. Not only has a group (the Abdullah

Russia announces huge Iran arms sale

Here are the details, via the Wall Street Journal: MOSCOW—The Medvedev administration plans to include attack helicopters in an expanded arms package for Iran, swelling the size of the proposed deal to as much as US$60 billion over 10 years, according to officials familiar with the

Afghanistan and the primacy of politics

Dr Stephan Frühling and Dr Benjamin Schreer are Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. Jim Molan makes good observations about our earlier post, and we welcome the opportunity to discuss the course of the Afghan war, and Australia's engagement

You want to deploy WHAT to WHERE?

In case you missed it, here's the policy recommendation that comes right at the end of Stephan Frühling and Benjamin Schreer's post on 'Australia and the next phase in Afghanistan': ...the Australian military presence in the Middle East should be shaped to support wider US interests than

US-India nuclear deal: Too early to tell?

Last week The Guardian reported that the UK Government has changed its policy on nuclear commerce with India, and will now supply civil nuclear technology and expertise to India. Since the US agreed to do the same in 2005 (obtaining a waiver from Nuclear Suppliers' Group guidelines prohibiting

Afghanistan: If we leave

Congratulations to TIME magazine for its cover photo of an Afghan girl who, last year, had her nose and ears cut off by her husband. A Taliban judge ordered the punishment after the 18-year old ran away from her husband's home (here's the accompanying TIME story). Critics of the

Hizbullah/Lebanon: Tribunal minefield

Hizbullah, always keen to maintain its reputation as first and foremost a Lebanese nationalist resistance movement, is facing increasing difficulty in maintaining this fig leaf of respectability in the complex sectarian political terrain of Lebanon. The latest, and most serious challenge to this

Afghanistan — and the winner is ... 2014

Yes, it's now official. Afghan security primacy in four years' time and the west can turn off the lights (or at least dim them) and leave. For all the talk of 'conditions-based' withdrawal, a timeline had to be set at some stage for everybody's sake. And it's not as if the West hadn't been

Counter-insurgency and its limits

Will Clegg is defence and foreign affairs correspondent for Government magazine. In answer to Olivia Kember's question, I have indeed read the books I referred to in my original riposte. And although I didn't refer to Kilcullen's guide for tactical-level commanders, 28 Articles: Fundamentals of

Spread too thin: Why Faulkner is wrong

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. John Faulkner is considered to be a good man, but does that make him a good Minister for Defence? His speech at Lowy Institute last week could have been an opportunity to make a detailed explanation of the major part of his