Analysis

A resolution to the diplomatic fallout between Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will only come from the nations themselves, until which time the United States must avoid being dragged into the fray, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

Solutions “lie in the region,” and will only come about “when all… sides are tired of fighting” each other, said Amir Handjani, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. Meanwhile, the United States, navigating between allies on both sides of the conflict, must avoid being “caught in the firefight.”

Handjani joined Rachel Ansley, editorial assistant at the Atlantic Council, for a Facebook Live interview on June 14 to explain the implications of the rising tensions between Qatar and other GCC countries.
US President Donald J. Trump’s America First approach will have to take a back seat when it comes to Afghanistan.

As the Trump administration wrestles with a decision on whether to send several thousand additional US troops to Afghanistan in an effort to end a fifteen-year-old war and make peace with the Taliban, there is a firm belief in policy circles that there is a critical need for the United States to deepen its engagement in that country.

Yet, with Trump there is a “real possibility that the United States, if it is not successful within some acceptable period of time, could choose to reduce its commitment to Afghanistan and ultimately withdraw,” said Ashley Tellis, Tata chair for strategic affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “If that outcome occurs the door will be open to internecine regional competition in Afghanistan, which will only make circumstances in Afghanistan worse,” he added.
The outcome of its presidential election on May 19 will determine whether Iran is the next nation to succumb to a populist candidate seeking to upend the normative world order, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.   

“This is going to be the next test in that wave,” following the election of US President Donald J. Trump and the defeat of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, said Amir Handjani, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

Iran’s upcoming election will have tremendous implications for both the future of Iran and the US-Iranian relationship. Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, widely recognized as a moderate proponent of a rules-based world order, will face off against conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, generally considered the preferred candidate of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

By dropping the ‘mother of all bombs’ on an Islamic State target, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to fighting terrorism, said the Atlantic Council’s James B. Cunningham

The United States sent a clear message of its commitment to fighting terrorism when it dropped the so-called mother of all bombs on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan on April 13, said James B. Cunningham, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

“It really is a military instrument used to accomplish a military task,” said Cunningham, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan, adding, “there is a political element to it as well in terms of showing our commitment and determination in this particular fight.”

The US military dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on an Islamic State cave and tunnel complex in Achin district in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), dubbed the “mother of all bombs,” is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition. While dozens of people are believed to have been killed in the explosion, the Afghan defense ministry said civilians were not among the casualties.

Afghan foreign minister sees threat to peace process

Russia’s support for the Taliban—a terrorist group with which the United States has been at war for more than fifteen years and that is dedicated to overthrowing Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government—is causing considerable unease in Afghanistan where officials worry it will undermine efforts to make peace in their war-torn country.

“[E]stablishing contacts with these terrorist groups will give them a wrong message and they will think that the international community is recognizing them,” said Salahuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan’s foreign minister and a former head of the country’s High Peace Council. This, in turn, would undercut a peace and reconciliation process because the Taliban “will not be encouraged to come to the negotiating table,” he added.

The peace process has had scant success in part because, as Rabbani noted, Afghanistan’s eastern neighbor, Pakistan, continues to provide material support and sanctuary for the terrorists.
US President Donald Trump’s likely hands-off policy toward South Asia may provide an opportunity for Pakistan and India to address longstanding disputes and reap the long-awaited benefits of cooperation.

While there is significant uncertainty about the next four years of US diplomacy, it is unlikely that Trump will succeed where so many before him failed. As he may not solve the serious security, economic, and environmental problems confronting South Asia, it is time for the region to solve these problems on its own.   
Since his election, US President Donald Trump has taken steps that harm the Iranian people by suspending visas to the United States. Trump has also adopted harsh rhetoric toward the Iranian government over missile tests and attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels. So far, however, he has not carried out a threat to dismantle the landmark nuclear deal that went into full implementation a year ago. This suggests that he will not attempt a “repeal and replace” strategy for an agreement that took several years and the strenuous efforts of diplomats and technocrats from seven nations to achieve.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement is known, verifiably prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons for at least another fourteen years. Iran is not allowed to possess sufficient quantities of enriched uranium to make a single nuclear device, and it cannot build the infrastructure needed for a plutonium path to a bomb. Round-the-clock monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including mine-to-centrifuge scrutiny of nuclear fuel, impedes any covert dash to nuclear weapons.
Tighten your seat belts! South Asia, along with much of the rest of the world, should get ready for a more muscular, business-like, and unorthodox foreign policy under US President Donald Trump. His team of security and foreign policy experts, many of whom have unorthodox backgrounds and credentials, will help him implement a more personalized and business-like foreign relations regime. Trump has wasted no time in seizing the opportunity to reshape US foreign policy to better define and align it with US interests as he sees them.

Other than his self-created crisis in dealing with refugees and immigrants from the Musllim World, two areas will demand Trump’s immediate attention: the war in Afghanistan and foreign aid.
Americans may still be coming to terms with Donald Trump’s election victory, but more than 7,000 miles away, the wheels of India’s diplomatic machinery began turning soon after the November results.

Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval both visited the United States within a month of the elections with the intention of getting to know the incoming administration, but their meetings haven’t led to any clear indication of just what shape the India-US relationship will take over the next four years.
Donald Trump’s election as the next president of the United States not only poses a threat to the American liberal-constitutional democratic order at home, but it also threatens to end the international liberal economic and democratic order that successive US administrations have built and promoted during and in the aftermath of the Cold War.

The three pillars of US foreign policy until now have been: (1) the building of a liberal economic order institutionalized through global rule-based regimes; (2) the provisioning of public security goods through a combination of lone defense of the global commons and military alliances with regional powers; and (3) the promotion of a liberal democratic-constitutional order globally. Trump’s tweets and utterances suggest that his administration is likely to upend all three of them.

If Trump goes through with the radical modifications that he has proposed, India will have to make significant adjustments in its foreign policy. Most will likely induce significant domestic pain for New Delhi.


    

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