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Geopolitics & Worlds In-Defense

Daily news – February 7, 2022 a.m.

AFGHANISTAN

Bamiyan Buddhas and Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage. Rishika Dhumal, Vivekananda International Foundation: In Afghanistan, Buddhist cave temples are concentrated in three regions: Jalalabad (180 caves), Haibak (200 caves) and Bamiyan (1000 caves). The Bamiyan Buddhas are part of a Buddhist site in Bamiyan Valley of Bamiyan River, 230km northwest of Kabul and 2500m above sea level, it separates the Hindu Kush from the Koh-i-Baba Mountains, and is part of the present-day Afghanistan. Bamiyan Buddhas and Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage | Vivekananda International Foundation (vifindia.org)

AUSTRALIA

Getting Australia’s defence capability right in time to deter a future enemy. Malcolm Davis, The Strategist: The 2020s have begun a period of rapid change for Australian defence planners. The government’s 2020 defence strategic update and accompanying force structure plan refocused strategic and operational priorities to the Indo-Pacific. They highlighted the growing risk of major-power war and the outdated assumption that we would have 10 years of strategic warning time for a major power conflict. The AUKUS agreement followed and further upended our traditional policy settings. Suddenly Australia was getting nuclear-powered submarines. These changes have come fast and the defence organisation must keep up. Getting Australia’s defence capability right in time to deter a future enemy | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

CHINA 

China reveals concept art for armed, aerial refueling-capable variant of Z-20 chopper. Liu Xuanzun, Global Times: An armed, aerial refueling-capable variant of China’s Z-20 medium-lift utility helicopter is believed to be currently under development after the aircraft’s maker recently revealed concept art for such a chopper, observers said on Sunday. China reveals concept art for armed, aerial refueling-capable variant of Z-20 chopper – Global Times

Will China’s Tall Space Goals Spur Further Competition? Rajeswari (Raji) Pillai Rajagopalan, Observer Research Foundation: China has set out ambitious goals for its space program for the next five years, detailed in its latest space white paper released a few days ago. Beijing is already an established space player that has undertaken many bold missions to space, including landing a rover on the far side of the Moon (2019), bringing back lunar samples to Earth (2020), completing the home-grown Beidou global navigation system (2020), and sending an uncrewed mission to Mars (2021), which made it only the second nation to land a craft on the red planet. This is only the beginning, and China has much bigger plans. Will China’s Tall Space Goals Spur Further Competition? | ORF (orfonline.org)

INDIA

India’s rise reversed in 2021. Deepa Ollapally, East Asia Forum: Last year political and economic low points plagued Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government at home and abroad. The catastrophic second wave of COVID-19 that swept across India and the shocking and very public breakdown of the healthcare system was undoubtedly the country’s lowest point of the year. India’s rise reversed in 2021 (eastasiaforum.org)

INDIA – AFRICA

The African Continental Free Trade Area: Opportunities for India. Tanu M. Goyal, Observer Research Foundation: Unlike in other regions of the world, the value of intra-Africa trade has remained low over the years. Moreover, Africa accounts for just 2 percent of global trade. In 2021, African countries launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to create a single African market for the free movement of goods, services, labour, and capital, and increase intra-African trade. AfCFTA may be able to provide Indian firms and investors certain opportunities to tap into a larger, unified, and robust African market. This paper outlines those opportunities, and the concomitant challenges that need to be addressed in order for India to integrate with the African economy. The African Continental Free Trade Area: Opportunities for India | ORF (orfonline.org)

ISLAMIC STATE

Even with its head severed, Islamic State may continue to bite. Katja Theodorakis, The Strategist‘Last night’s operation took a major terrorist leader off the battlefield, and it sent a strong message to terrorists around the world: We will come after you and find you.’. With these words, President Biden announced a US special forces counterterrorism operation that resulted in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi in Syria’s Idlib province on 3 February. Also known as Haji Abdullah, al-Qurayshi killed himself and his family with an explosive device as US forces, supported by the Kurdish Syrian Defence Forces, raided the multi-storey house where he was hiding in the village of Atme, near the Turkish border. The Pentagon described al-Qurayshi as a very hands-on leader keen to restore the lethality and higher operational tempo IS once enjoyed, and said his death was a significant blow to the terror group. Even with its head severed, Islamic State may continue to bite | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

JAPAN

Japan’s COVID border ban alienates friends and allies. East Asia Forum: Japan’s borders are closed but unlike zero-COVID China or Western Australia, it’s in the middle of an Omicron wave of infections with 100,000 daily cases and rising — though still with far fewer cases than Australia on a per capita basis. The closed-border policy is popular in Japan but it’s hurting its international reputation and engagement. Domestic politics means that Japan looks unlikely to make significant changes to ease its border policies soon. Japan’s COVID border ban alienates friends and allies | East Asia Forum

Japan slams the borders shut on Omicron. Saya Soma, Yves Tiberghien, East Asia Forum: As COVID-19’s Omicron variant surges around the world, advanced democracies are generally responding vigorously but with lower levels of restrictions on social life and travel than in 2020 and 2021. Japan has chosen a different course. Japan slams the borders shut on Omicron | East Asia Forum

MICRONESIA – PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM 

Micronesia’s exit from the Pacific Islands Forum. Graeme Dobell, The StrategistThe slow-motion crash of Micronesia’s break with the Pacific Islands Forum has reached the one-year mark. Back on 8 February 2021, the Micronesia five—the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau—announced they would withdraw from the Pacific Islands Forum. Having lost the vote to elect a new PIF secretary-general, Micronesia expressed ‘great disappointment’ and declared there was ‘no value’ staying in the forum. Micronesia’s exit from the Pacific Islands Forum | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

PHILIPPINES

Philippine elections and the politics behind it. Andrea Chloe Wong, The Interpreter: While broadly similar to other presidential forms of government, the Philippines’ system of choosing its leaders does hold some nuisances which reveal deeply-rooted problems in Philippine democracy. Philippine elections and the politics behind it | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

RUSSIA

Russia’s revenge. Shlomo Ben-Ami, Project-Syndicate, The Strategist: Empires never fall quietly, and defeated great powers always develop revanchist aspirations. That was the case for Germany after World War I: a humiliating peace agreement and the offer of former German territories to the country’s weaker neighbours helped to lay the groundwork for the awful revisionist adventures of World War II. And it’s the case for Russia today. Russia’s revenge | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

USA

Defining Biden. Erin Hurley, The Interpreter: US President Joe Biden’s regrettable and somewhat rambling comments on the tense situation in Ukraine during a 19 January press conference understandably drew the attention of America’s allies and foreign policy analysts. But for those of us with the patience to listen to two hours of “pure, unplugged Joe Biden”, that press conference was also a great opportunity to gain some insight into how Biden views his first year, and what to expect from him moving forward in domestic and foreign policy. Defining Biden | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

USA – ASIA

‘Huge uncertainties’ exist on Blinken’s Asia tour; US to make Quad more integrated ‘impossible’. Global Times: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday will embark on his tour to the Asia-Pacific region for the Quad meeting in an attempt to push back against China’s expanding influence. However, experts on Sunday said huge uncertainties linger for reaching any consensus with real meaning among Asian countries, and that forming the Quad into a more integrated or stronger alliance is impossible. ‘Huge uncertainties’ exist on Blinken’s Asia tour; US to make Quad more integrated ‘impossible’ – Global Times

The Global Eye is in cooperation with The Science of Where Magazine