Sunday 29 May 2022 | 11:40 | SYDNEY

West Asia

Australia Afghan commitment not laughable

Whit Mason is a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute. In a speech to the Lowy Institute last Friday, Defence Minister John Faulkner criticised Whit's recent opinion piece in The Australian. There was then an exchange between Whit and the Minister in the Q&A portion of the speech; listen here

Reader riposte: What hubris?

Will Clegg is a research analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the Defense and Foreign Affairs correspondent for Government magazine. The views expressed here are his alone: I'm very interested to see Sam Roggeveen concurring with Jason Thomas' assessment that 'defeating an

Defence Minister Lowy speech

Defence Minister John Faulkner has just left the Lowy Institute, having delivered a speech about Afghanistan. A transcript will be posted as soon as possible, and there will be audio and video available next week. Afghanistan has hotted up as a debate topic on The Interpreter just lately (and

Reader riposte: Our Afghan war

John Hardy is a PhD student in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU: Ashley Townshend offers three reasons for Australia's continued involvement in Afghanistan: alliance management, the preservation of a global rules-based order and the negative regional and global consequences of a

Kandahar blog round-up

Prakash Mirchandani is the founder of Media Gurus and a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. This is part two of a series on new media and the 'battle for Kandahar'. Is GEN David Petraeus launching a new form of exit strategy from Kandahar and Afghanistan? Certainly

Death of an Ayatollah

The death of Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah last week brought out tens of thousands of people to his funeral in Beirut, giving an indication of his following in the country. Those who have since spoken well of him, such as the British ambassador to Lebanon and the CNN editor Octavia

Australia Afghan war

Following the death of Private Nathan Bewes, the sixth Australian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan in little over a month, the public is again asking what the war is all about. Reacting to these concerns, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has trundled out a familiar policy one-liner, declaring

When (Middle) East meets (south) west

Little noticed in Australia was the inaugural Arab League Pacific Islands summit held in Abu Dhabi in late June. This earlier post highlighted the UAE's interest in the South Pacific in trying to secure votes for its candidacy to house the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy

Afghanistan: Obama must step up

Dr Stephan Frühling is a lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. President Obama's Afghanistan surge is now halfway between its announcement in December 2009 and the next major review planned for December 2010. With growing unease about the war in the US and allied countries

The Australia-India Strategic Lecture

It is striking to hear an Indian analyst identify why India should take a leading role in cooperating with China in the Indian Ocean, a line contrary to some of the more defensive and fearful arguments coming out of New Delhi's security commentariat.  'The Indian Ocean: Navigating Beyond Rivalry

Spotted in Lebanon

James Brown is a former Australian Army officer and former Lowy Institute intern. He is holidaying in the Middle East. Hezbollah put this billboard up yesterday at the Baalbek historical site in the Bekaa Valley. The guy in the photo is their dear leader Nasrullah

Reader riposte: Soldier Z

Warren Reed writes: I don't know whether this reply will get through in your system but I want to tell you (as a former National Serviceman in the Australian Army) that I think Soldier Z's letter is brilliant. It's exquisitely articulated, is succinct in the extreme and expresses the sentiments

Token: Australian debate about Afghanistan

Soldier Z is a serving member of the ADF with operational experience in Afghanistan. This June, Australians were confronted with the return of five of its young treasures, killed in action fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Again, and in increasing numbers, Australians are asking why their sons

Lebanon-Israel: Drill seekers

One doesn't normally associate resource wars with the Levant (apart from concerns about water supplies). But tensions are emerging over something normally associated with the Persian Gulf: several large offshore gas fields have been discovered that promise significant economic advantage for

The decline and fall of GEN McChrystal

Before his public downfall, General Stanley McChrystal had a reputation for being a consummate professional. In Iraq, he became known as a savvy operator, a thinking-man's general with an every-man personality. Respected in Washington and venerated by his subordinates in the field, McChrystal

Around the Shanghai Expo: Pakistan pavilion

The Pakistan pavilion drew something of a crowd (I waited roughly five minutes, in contrast to what I understand were hours for the British pavilion, and absolutely no wait for the DPRK one), though inside it is mostly a selection of scenic pictures from around Pakistan and some interesting

Reader riposte: Western Sahara

A response to Danielle Cave's recent post on the Western Sahara from Kamal Fadel, the representative to Australia of Polisario, the Western Sahara independence movement: I was surprised to read Danielle Cave's recent article on Western Sahara. It was nice to see a fresh perspective on the

Israel Defence Forces all at sea

I have written elsewhere that Israel's inability to see challenges to its authority in anything but purely existential terms has led to a rigidity of thinking that erodes its ability to deter opponents. The latest incident on the high seas involving the Israeli military again highlights some

Israel and the Gaza flotilla

No doubt the Gaza flotilla fracas will get a good chewing over in the weeks and months ahead. Here are five initial observations: The aim of the flotilla was to draw attention to Israel's long-running blockade of the Gaza Strip. In this regard, the goal of the organisers was to provoke an

Western Sahara: The forgotten non-state

The UN list of 'non-self governing territories' is a Who's Who of small and obscure tropical islands scattered predominantly across the Caribbean and Pacific. Among the 16 non-states, one can find idyllic holiday destinations such as the Cayman Islands, New Caledonia and Bermuda; a handful of tiny

Israel expulsion: What the Arab press is saying

Monty Pounder is graduate student at the University of Sydney and an intern in the Lowy Institute's West Asia Program. Among the criticisms leveled at the Government's decision to expel an Israeli diplomat yesterday in response to the use of forged Australian passports in the February

Labor asylum policy continues to sink

Gobie Rajalingam is co-convenor for the University of Sydney’s Sri Lanka Human Rights Project and a researcher at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Last month, Immigration Minister Chris Evans and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith justified the suspension of Sri Lankan asylum seeker

Interview: Editor, WSJ India

My thanks to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the opportunity to meet Suman Dubey, editor and publisher of the Wall Street Journal India, who is visiting Sydney. That this newspaper exists at all says something quite profound about the way India has changed in recent years, and that

Big trouble in little Mesopotamia

While the post-election world of Iraqi politics is still mired in confusion, as the prime minister Maliki’s State of Law coalition and former prime minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiyya coalition seek coalition partners, one thing is for certain: Iran seeks to be the winner in the long run. 

New perspective on drone warfare

Here's a bracing contribution to our drone warfare debate. In the margin's of yesterday's ICG Asia Briefing conference in Singapore I talked with Samina Ahmed, ICG's Project Director for South Asia. She argues that much of what we hear about the effects of US drone strikes in the FATA areas of

5-minute Lowy Lunch: New Middle East

Our own Anthony Bubalo has a provocative two-part thesis about the future of the Middle East: (1) the period of US hegemony in the region is over, and (2) the region is re-establishing some old economic links with Asia. You can listen to Anthony's presentation on this subject here, and here's a

The new space race

The clip Sam posted last week on India's space program brings to mind two pieces by Bruce Sterling for Wired a few years back. The first looked at the possibility of India and China re-running the US-Russia space race. The closing para suggested one kind of answer to the 'value for money'

Reader riposte: Road from Damascus

Nick Chapman writes: I had read with interest Aaron David Miller's article and was considering drawing it to your attention, only to find the piece referenced by The Interpreter the next day!  What I did find interesting was that, despite professing to have undergone something of a reverse '

Iraq: Return of the hanging chad?

It is something of an understatement to say that Arab voting patterns have tended to favour the incumbent in recent years. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak gained 94% of the vote in 1999 (as the only candidate) but a constitutional amendment allowing for multi-candidate presidential elections saw

Iran new 'missile'

There's a question that surely crosses everyone's mind when they see a middle-aged man wearing a hair piece: 'what on earth makes him think we don't notice?' Iran held its annual Army Day Parade in Tehran on Sunday, and revealed the military equivalent of an ill-fitting toupé. For several years

Confusion on Kashmir

Some surprises in Indian media coverage of Australia this week, one welcome, one anything but – and both by the same journalist.  Dileep Padgaonkar, a veteran writer with the Times of India, seems to have been on a visit down under recently. He produced this extraordinary piece offering a

India and China: Two tigers

Last Friday the Lowy Institute hosted distinguished Canadian scholar and former diplomat Dr David Malone. You can listen here to his full presentation on 'China and India: Can two tigers share a mountain?'. Below is a short interview I conducted with Dr Malone after the event. I don't

Reader riposte: India-Pakistan water

An Indian Interpreter reader writes: Since you seemed highly impressed by Professor Briscoe's article on India-Pakistan water 'dispute', please do read these two blogs from the Indian side which strongly dispute everything that the good professor has written. Also, the Indian ambassador

More on Indo-Pak water dispute

It's only April, yet 3 Quarks Daily is already at short odds to be my blog of the year (which isn't to say it's a new blog; just that I've only recently discovered it). They find the most fascinating material, which regular readers will know I link to often. The latest is a piece from this very

Pakistan turns to water

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, Special Correspondent for India's Mail Today, is the author of books on India's Northeast and Kazakhstan. It was little noticed at the time, but Pakistan handed over over a 'non-paper' (an off-the-record or unofficial presentation of government policy circulated

Thoughts on Green Zone

Having watched the new Matt Damon Iraq war-themed thriller over the weekend, I turned to the New Yorker's genius film reviewer, Anthony Lane, to tell me what I ought to think about it. Lane is in brilliant form right from the beginning: The fact that “Green Zone” begins with a bombing

America loses patience with Israel

Greg Sheridan's article on the weekend argued that a decision to adopt a policy of containment of a nuclear-capable Iran was the only 'semi-intelligible explanation for Obama's bizarre overreaction against the Israelis', manifest in the reports of President Obama's less than warm reception of

Afghanistan: China offers copper-ation

James Brown has worked as an Australian Defence Force officer and completed his Masters in Strategic Studies in 2009. These are his personal views. The Presidents of China and Afghanistan met last week when Hamid Karzai visited Beijing to discuss deepening political and economic ties between the

Gulf tensions (without Iran)

This report regarding a skirmish between Saudi and Emirati naval (or more likely coast guard) forces is interesting not just because of its rarity but because it sheds light on the potential flashpoints that the ill-defined maritime borders within the Persian Gulf present. The two countries

Empty threats in Afghanistan

Here's part of what Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell thinks Barack Obama should have said to Hamid Karzai during Obama's flying visit: Look, I'm a patient man. But sooner or later you're going to have to wake up to the fact that I can't be propping you up forever. The American people's memories

US applauds Saudi al Qaeda raids

Carla Liuzzo is a freelance consultant living in Doha, Qatar. Saudi Arabia claims it thwarted a significant terrorist attack this week. Authorities in the Kingdom arrested what it says are 113 al Qaeda militants who were planning to attack its oil facilities. The Saudis are saying that

Karzai and McChrystal visit Uruzgan

James Brown has worked as an Australian Defence Force officer and completed his Masters in Strategic Studies in 2009. These are his personal views. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and ISAF Commander General Stanley McChrystal visited Uruzgan province in Afghanistan and met with Australian troops over

Reader riposte: Iran as regional power

Vanessa Newby, a PhD candidate at the Griffith Asia Institute (that makes two of those today) writes: Raoul Heinrichs makes a good point about the potential for Iran to extend its power in the region after a US troop withdrawal. But at this stage it should only be seen as potential and

South Pacific: Votes in them thar atolls

If it's not the Iranians seeking friends in the Pacific then it's the Israelis, and if it's not the Israelis it's the...Emiratis. The UAE's recently announced 'Partnership in the Pacific' is a US$50 million aid program administered by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, for use solely in the

Between Iraq and a hard place

In dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, President Obama is in a tight spot. His preferred strategy of engagement, with all carrot and no stick, has predictably failed to deliver. The military option is off the table. And even if the US is able to secure the acquiescence of Russia and

Israel: Elbows off the table please!

As a UN observer working in Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon in the mid 1990s I was often told by Israelis that their sometimes abrupt attitude towards people working for the UN was because they were similar to spiky fruit — rough on the outside but sweet on the inside. At the time I

Qatar: Hitting hard with soft power

Carla Liuzzo is a freelance consultant living in Doha, Qatar. For a tiny desert state, Qatar punches well above its weight diplomatically. In February alone, Qatar welcomed alleged war criminal Omar al Bashir to Doha to broker a ceasefire agreement between Sudan, Chad and rival factions in

Iraq election gives us hope

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. On Sunday, 7 February, Iraqis voted again. The national election was far from perfect, but there was no widespread violence. The parliament that I am proud to say I had a hand in creating in 2005 has, for all its faults,

Unlocking India northeast

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, Special Correspondent for India's Mail Today, is the author of two books on India's Northeast and Kazakhstan. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. Sixty-two years ago the partition of British India into India and