Karzai seeks India as a bulwark against Pakistani and Talibani pressure in Afghanistan. He an Manmohan recently signed an agreement whereby India would provide “support” to the Afghan security forces.
They are also attempting to resuscitate dialogue with Iran. They aim to create a trade route between the two countries over Iranian soil, given that a much shorter route over Pakistani territory will never see the light of day.
The Pakistanis are incensed at the notion of an Indian military presence in Afghanistan, which they view as their backyard. The Karzai trip will probably end another tentative rapprochement between India and Pakistan. India can expect Pakistan to respond asymmetrically, through more terror strikes.
The US, too, will be unhappy, because these actions will work against the diplomatic and economic isolation of Iran, which is a critical part of US (and Israeli) foreign policy.
China will be watching with interest.
M. K. Bhadrakumar’s full analysis is here.
The latest from Christopher Hitchens at Slate. Nothing new, but acerbic and well-written as always. The Indian intelligence agencies are probably dealing in smug “I told you so”s right now.
I used to look forward to reading Syed Saleem Shahzad’s articles at Asia Times Online. He had impeccable connections with the jihadis and the Pakistani establishment and used them to deliver nuggets of information weeks and months before other journalists and organizations.
He was always in trouble for his integrity and his refusal to shy away from reporting the truth. Eventually, it all caught up with him and he was tortured and killed and left by the roadside a few months ago. It was a tragedy and a setback for journalism, as once again one telling truth to power is destroyed by that power. The New Yorker has a great piece about him and the circumstances surrounding his death. Essential reading.
In the midst of the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in six decades, the Somali militant group al-Shabab has kicked out all western aid agencies and embargoed all food shipments into southern Somalia. In addition to blockading all food aid, they are also preventing civilians from seeking succour in neighboring Kenya or Ethiopia.
There must be some method in this madness, but the method has to be divorced from any ethical system. There is no ethical system that justifies willful starvation and eventual genocide of an entire population. At the same time, it’s a cop-out to call the perpetrators ‘monsters’ or ‘inhuman.’ As is ever the case, the situation can explained by sordid power politics, callousness and a complete abdication of responsibility by the al-Shabab leadership.
Al-Shabab’s purported aim is to create an Islamic Caliphate on the Horn of Africa. To do so, they need to get rid of the Transitional Federal Government, the nominal, but toothless government cowering behind African Union-funded bunkers in Mogadishu. Since the TFG is nominally supported by the West, al-Shabab prevent Western activities in areas under its remit. Food aid, in their eyes, would legitimize their enemies, the TFG and the West. Migration, or escape, would delegitimize their rule and so, must also be stopped.
Details on the famine at the NYT.