Ulrike Franke writes: The European Union has been busy. It has just unveiled the world’s first plans to regulate artificial intelligence, an effort that has received a lot of attention at home and abroad. There is also the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, the Digital Decade, the Cybersecurity Strategy, and more. Clearly, the EU is doubling down on its self-declared role as regulatory superpower, first established with the GDPR data privacy regulation. Technology regulation is important – and probably more so than many Europeans realise. But the EU, for all its pathbreaking work on regulation, does not appear to have fully registered how geopolitical technology has become. Even more striking, while there has been some movement on this in Brussels, most EU member states have barely begun thinking about the issue.
Harsh V. Pant writes: United States (US) Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s visit to India ended on a high note, despite initial suggestions in some quarters that the Joe Biden administration was keen to take on the Narendra Modi government on what is seen by some as India’s growing “democracy deficit”.
ROUHIN DEB writes: The largest state in the Northeast with an area of 78,438 square kilometre and a sizeable population of 3.2 crores, Assam has been one of the states that has witnessed significant development over the past decade since it came out of the grapples of decades-long insurgency.
Saaransh Mishra writes: Most American combat troops have now left Afghanistan, with the remaining scheduled to depart by the end of August. Amongst a plethora of other concerns, withdrawal has caused serious apprehensions about the security of the diplomats that will stay back in Afghanistan post the withdrawal. Considering the lack of a foolproof strategy to protect these diplomats, combined with the necessity of their presence in the country — given that America wants to continue its engagements with Afghanistan — the United States (US) faces multiple conundrums with regards to their safety that do not have any uncomplicated solutions. The US has to devise a way to balance the security of its own diplomats along with the overall well-being of a future Afghanistan, which seems herculean and almost impossible at this point.
KABIR TANEJA writes for ORF: China’s foreign minister Wang Yi recently hosted a delegation of the Taliban, led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Tianjin. The meeting highlighted Beijing’s balancing act — of seeing both an opportunity and a threat in Afghanistan in the backdrop of the withdrawal of United States (US) troops, now in its final stages.
Aslan Doukaev writes: In two battlegrounds 1,500 kilometers apart, veteran Chechen freelance fighters are being rebuked by those with whom they aligned against a common foe. In June, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the main rebel group in the Idlib Governorate of Syria, issued a demand that the hundreds of foreign fighters operating in the area acknowledge its leadership or disband. The HTS, which evolved out of the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, has been steadily consolidating its control over the province since 2017, sidelining rival factions and cracking down on groups that did not recognize its authority and sought to preserve their autonomy (see Terrorism Monitor, October 13, 2020). On June 27, a Syria-based journalist close to the rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime reported that the HTS had asked the leader of one such group, the Chechen-led Junud al-Sham, to leave the province of Idlib, the last major stronghold for anti-government forces. “It appears that Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham gave Muslim [al-]Shishani an ultimatum to either join their organization or to leave Idlib province. Muslim [al-]Shishani has refused to join Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and, therefore, they have asked him to leave Idlib altogether,” the journalist said, citing his sources (Facebook.com/ognofficial, June 27).
go to The Jamestown Foundation: Chechnya’s Veteran Fighters Have Their Backs to the Wall – Jamestown
Kseniya Kirillova writes: In the run-up to September’s legislative elections to the State Duma (lower chamber of the Russian parliament), the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) has been notably active. Traditionally, the communists are seen by Russians as a “surrogate” opposition—that is, one completely loyal to the current government. The behavior of fractions of the CPRF in the Duma has often confirmed this hypothesis: the party’s deputies, as well as its leader, Gennadiy Zyuganov, have supported the majority of legislation proposed by the ruling United Russia party, including laws that are openly repressive (Deutsche Welle—Russian service, May 26).
go to The Jamestown Foundation: Russian Communists Try to Control Popular Discontent – Jamestown
Pavel K. Baev writes: The remarks by United States President Joseph Biden at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last week (July 27) made a strong but ambivalent impression in Moscow. His warning regarding Russian misinformation and interference in the 2022 mid-term elections in the US was countered with the usual denials (RIA Novosti, July 28). Instead, the most emotional protests came in response to Biden’s assertion that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, was dangerous because he presides over a weak economy. Russia boasts “nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else,” he argued (Izvestia, July 28). This was certainly a deliberate oversimplification: the US president was addressing an expert audience that surely knew better, and so the offense to Moscow was most probably intended. Indeed, Putin’s troubles are far more complicated than overseeing shrinking petro-revenues and an aging nuclear arsenal. And that complexity of challenges to his autocratic regime is key to understanding what actually makes the Kremlin leader dangerous (Ezednevny Zhurnal, July 29).
go to The Jamestown Foundation: Putin’s Paranoia, More Than Nuclear Weapons and Oil, Make Russia Dangerous – Jamestown
Al Jazeera writes: A Russian court has sentenced a key ally of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny to 18 months of restricted movement after finding her guilty of inciting people to break COVID-19 safety regulations. Lyubov Sobol was charged on Tuesday over her allegedly calling for Russians to attend an unsanctioned street protest in January in support of Navalny. She had initially been placed under house arrest.