Subscribe to an email

If you want to subscribe to World & New World Newsletter, please enter
your e-mail

Defense & Security
Main img

How Hezbollah Sees the War in Gaza

by Ray Takeyh

A much-anticipated speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on November 3 largely echoed Iran’s pronouncements of support for Hamas and its threats of intervention in the group’s war against Israel. In a November 3 address, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that skirmishing between Israel and Hezbollah could escalate into full-scale war. How likely is that? In his speech, Nasrallah warned that there is a possibility of Hezbollah’s intervention should Israel persist with its invasion of the Gaza Strip. Emulating his patrons in Iran, Nasrallah was at pains to suggest that Hamas’s October 7 assault in Israel was a wholly Palestinian operation, and that his preference is for the resulting war not to expand. However, to pressure Israel into a cease-fire, Hezbollah is likely to continue to inflame Israel’s northern border by launching limited attacks at Israeli targets from the group’s base in Lebanon. For now, the skirmishes are manageable, but as the conflict persists, Israel-Hezbollah clashes could escalate into a much bigger conflict. Hezbollah is one of the most lethal militant groups in the Middle East. Its fighters are battle hardened, having fought in Iraq and, most recently, Syria. Hezbollah also has approximately 150,000 missiles of various ranges that can inflict substantial damage on Israeli cities. In his speech, Nasrallah also stressed that his group was unaware of planning for the Hamas attacks on October 7, although he embraced them. Is there any sign that Iran and its proxies coordinated on the attacks? For years, Iran has been trying to bring together its various militias and proxies into what it calls the “Axis of Resistance.” Hezbollah is the central actor in this equation; its forces have been deployed in multiple battlefronts and have trained other militias in terrorist acts. Before the October 7 attacks, there were indications of coordination involving Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. During the summer, Hamas officials visited Iran and acknowledged receiving assistance from Tehran. Just prior to the attack, there were reports of Iranian military personnel meeting with both Hamas and Hezbollah operatives in Beirut, Lebanon. And this past weekend, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, attended a meeting with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh during which the ayatollah “emphasized Iran’s permanent policy of supporting Palestinian resistance forces against Zionist occupiers,” Iranian media reported. It is entirely possible that Iran and Hezbollah were aware of Hamas’s planning and that they provided advice and assistance without knowing the exact date of Hamas’s invasion. This provides both with a measure of deniability despite their deep complicity. How has Iran reacted to the fighting in Gaza and the possible defeat of Hamas? Nasrallah’s speech was remarkably similar to the public pronouncements of Iranian officials, indicating that it could have been crafted in coordination with Iran. Both Hezbollah and Tehran have praised the October 7 attacks and celebrated the achievements of Hamas. They have both indicated that they had no prior knowledge of the assault but wholeheartedly approved of it. And they both have stressed that they do not wish to expand the war but could do so if Israel persists with its military campaign to wipe out Hamas and if civilian casualties mount. Nasrallah even went out of his way to absolve Tehran in his speech. “The events of [Hamas’s] Al-Asqa Flood operation unequivocally demonstrate that Iran exerts no control over the resistance factions, with the true decision-makers being the leaders of the resistance and their dedicated fighters.” It is curious that a leader of a Lebanese organization would comment on Iran’s role in this way. What’s at stake for Iran in the Israel-Hamas conflict? The credibility of the Axis of Resistance rests partly on Hamas surviving Israel’s retaliation. Hamas has become a core member of that resistance front, and its recent invasion has captured the imaginations of many Arabs. Moreover, Hamas gives Iran a degree of stature in the Sunni Muslim world that it needs given its complicity in the Syrian Civil War, which saw the killing of tens of thousands of Sunnis, at the least. Thus, the destruction of Hamas ill-serves Iran’s interests on many fronts. Still, on the domestic side, the regime stands to gain little with the Iranian public, which largely does not share its interest in supporting the Palestinian struggle against Israel.

Defense & Security
Main img

Russia-Hamas Relations and the Israel-Hamas War

by Arkady Mil-Man , Bat Chen Druyan Feldman

Researchers in the INSS Russia program argue: Now is the time for Israel to change it approach toward Moscow Since October 7, Russia has sided with Hamas, refuses to condemn the murderous terror attack that the organization perpetrated in the western Negev, and has questioned Israel’s right to defend itself. Russia’s behavior should underscore to Israel the need to change its policy toward the Kremlin and to stand firmly with Western nations, under the leadership of the United States. Moscow’s firm support for Hamas in the aftermath of the October 7, 2023 massacre represents a turning point in relations between Israel and Russia. While many world leaders have condemned the murderous attack on October 7, Russia has adopted an anti-Israel line and refrained from condemning Hamas. Only a week later after the attack, in a speech to leaders of former Soviet states in Kyrgyzstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Hamas massacre was unprecedented, but in the same breath he accused Israel of a cruel response. He went on to compare the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip to the Nazi siege of Leningrad, which led to a high number of civilian causalities, estimated in the hundreds of thousands. Although Putin said that Israel has the right to self-defense, he added that the attack on innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip was unacceptable. It was only on October 16 that Putin, in a phone conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed condolences to the families of the murdered Israelis, but without condemning Hamas. Russia’s strategy of maintaining good relations with both sides in any given conflict is reflected in its policy of nurturing ties with Hamas. For Hamas too, ties with Russia are highly important, since it positions it as an organization that is welcome in one of the most important countries in the world. In principle, Moscow has clung to its position that Hamas – defined as a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other members of the European Union – is a legitimate political organization. The relationship between Russia and Hamas has not always been as close as it is today. Throughout the 1990s and until Hamas’s victory in the 2006 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, Russia condemned the organization’s terrorist activities and referred to its members as Islamic militants, fanatics, and extremists. The relationship changed dramatically after the election, when Putin declared that the organization was elected through a democratic and legitimate process. Russian Foreign Ministry officials began meeting regularly with Hamas representatives in 2006. In 2011, there was a temporary decline in relations after Hamas backed the opposition forces in the Syrian civil war. Hamas figures who were in Syria when the war broke out played an active role fighting alongside the opposition, while Russia supported President Bashar Assad. Nonetheless, ties were not severed, and over the years began to warm. Delegations of Hamas leaders visited Moscow, where they met with the Russian Foreign Minister and other senior officials, and meetings took place between Hamas officials and Russian diplomats in other countries. Russia did not adopt a consistent position during previous rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas and was influenced by its particular interests at the time. In 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, there was a change in Russian policy as it sought to maintain an image of objectivity and deliberately scaled back its criticism of Israel – in contrast to previous conflicts, such as Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. This was probably in response to Israel refraining from criticizing Russia over its invasion of Crimea. Russia’s current interests are not to Israel’s benefit. Moscow’s main goal at this time is to divert the attention of the West, under the leadership of the United States, away from Ukraine. An increase in US involvement in events in the Middle East serves this goal. At the same time, Russia blames the United States for the outbreak of the current conflict. Second, Russia aspires to restore its standing as an influential actor on the international stage, and thus is attempting to promote a ceasefire in Gaza. In addition, Russia’s relations with Iran have become a strategic alliance as a result of the war in Ukraine, and in order to safeguard it, Moscow has adopted a policy that is sympathetic to Iran’s allies, including Hamas. Moreover, it is very convenient for Moscow that the US is the focus of attention in the Middle East. Russia’s support for Hamas can be seen in the measures it has taken in the international arena. On October 16, Russia submitted a resolution to the United Nations Security Council on a ceasefire, but it failed to include any condemnation of Hamas and its attack on Israel. Rather, it condemned violence and terrorist acts against civilians, which could be interpreted as a condemnation of Hamas’s actions or of Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, the Russian resolution suggested that Israel was responsible for the explosion at the al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, despite clear evidence that the rocket that hit the hospital was fired from within Gaza. On October 25, Russia used its veto power in the Security Council to block a US resolution calling for the condemnation of Hamas and supporting Israel’s right to defend itself. Later, Russian anti-Israel rhetoric became even harsher, returning to the terminology used by the Soviets, when on November 2, the Russian ambassador to the UN rejected Israel’s right to self-defense since it is an “occupying power.” Comments from senior Hamas officials also shed much light on how close the organization is to Russia. For example, in an October 8 interview with Russia Today, a state-run media outlet, senior Hamas official Ali Baraka said that Hamas had updated Moscow about the attack shortly after it began. During the war itself, when a delegation of senior Hamas officials visited Moscow, Mousa Abu Marzook said that “we look at Russia as our closest friend.” After the visit, Hamas thanked Putin and the Russian Foreign Ministry for their efforts to halt “the Israeli violence against the Palestinian people.” Hamas leader Khaled Mashal also said in an interview with an Egyptian television station that the Russians were impressed with the Hamas attack and that they would teach it in their military academies. Russia’s support for Hamas is not limited to the international diplomatic sphere. There is evidence that Russian weapons have been found in Hamas’s possession, including anti-tank missiles and surface-to-air missiles that apparently were transported via Iran – while Russia turned a blind eye. In addition, in the same interview with Russia Today, Baraka claimed that Russia had given Hamas a license to manufacture its own modified version of the AK-47 (Kalashnikov) assault rifle and ammunition. Hamas’s armed wing uses Russian servers. On the economic front too, it is evident that Hamas relies heavily on the Russian crypto market, sending tens of millions of dollars into digital wallets controlled by Hamas (and Islamic Jihad), while bypassing US sanctions. According to Ukrainian reports, the Wagner Group helped to train Hamas terrorists. State-run Russian media has also adopted a clearly pro-Palestinian line. Russian propaganda seeks to justify the actions of the Russian military in Ukraine by highlighting the IDF’s killing of civilians and exaggerating the number of Palestinian causalities. After the blast at the al-Ahli hospital, the Russian media claimed that thousands of people had been killed – a figure higher even than the death toll reported by Gazans. Israeli soldiers are depicted as “immoral” because of the massive causalities they inflict on a civilian population, unlike the Russian soldiers who, according to state-run media, “would never be able to attack civilians, women, and children.” Russian social media channels, such as Telegram, are also awash with anti-Israel rhetoric and blatantly antisemitic comments. In the aftermath of the attempted pogrom against Israeli and Jewish passengers in Dagestan on October 29, Putin convened a meeting with the government and heads of the security establishment and drew a direct line between the war in Ukraine and the war between Israel and Hamas, accusing the United States and the West of undermining stability in Russia, the Middle East, and the entire world. He declared that “the fate of Russia and, indeed, of the whole world, including the future of the Palestinian people, is being decided” on the Ukrainian front. By connecting the two conflicts, Putin is clearly putting Russia on the side of Hamas and Israel on the opposing side, alongside the United States and the West. In effect, Putin has validated US President Joe Biden’s statement that Russia and Hamas are waging a war against democracy. Putin’s comments and Russia’s behavior in the aftermath of October 7 highlight the misconception that Russia would not oppose Israel at critical moments. The change that Israel must make in its policy vis-à-vis Russia is to stand unequivocally beside the United States – which includes supporting Ukraine. The quicker Israel adapts its policy to meet the challenge, the better its strategic balance in the Middle East and beyond will be.

Diplomacy
Main img

Speech by Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg at the 241st session of the National Council on Hamas' terrorist attack on Israel

by Alexander Schallenberg

Dear Madam President Ladies and gentlemen of the House, Dear visitors in the gallery! I just want to say that I am grateful. Grateful for this unanimous decision in this House. This is a really important signal that also strengthens my position. We must never forget: October 7 really was a breach of civilization. In terms of its cruelty, it was a day that actually eclipsed everything. In a region that is not short of atrocities as it is. I will never forget when I received a phone call on that Saturday with the question: Mr. Federal Minister, how good are your stomach nerves? And I said yes, they are good. And then I was sent videos and photos that I knew were authentic. These pictures will never leave me again. The last time I saw something similar was in connection with the Daesh videos. The cruelty, the bloodlust, the dehumanization. And I am therefore very grateful that we have such a clear position here in Austria. I believe that each and every one of us is called upon to take a clear stance on terrorism - no matter where, no matter how. Murder is murder! You must not put something into context, because that means relativizing it. Never in the history of mankind has a conflict come out of the blue. There is always a prehistory for everything. Also for the Russian attack on Ukraine, which we have not put into context either. And of course international humanitarian law applies. But that is precisely the difference - and several MEPs have emphasized this - that Israel is a constitutional state, a pluralistic democracy. It is struggling, it is trying to find the right path. And MP Matznetter also said that we don't want to be in the IDF's shoes. Because it's almost an inhuman task to keep a cool head in such an emotionally charged situation. Yes, they drop leaflets. Yes, they warn. They call for evacuation. They try to keep civilian casualties to a minimum. And yes, we see what we have actually always known, that Hamas deliberately uses civilian facilities such as schools, refugee camps, hospitals and others for their command centers, tunnel entrances, to hide their weapons there. In other words, as a democracy, as a constitutional state in the fight against terrorism, one hand is always tied behind its back. But that is the right thing to do, it has to be that way. You can see from Israel that they are trying. Three points now have priority: The first point is to prevent a wildfire. This is still not averted. It could end up being a three-front war. We are of course keeping a very close eye on developments in northern Israel and in southern Lebanon with Hezbollah. But, and I would like to emphasize this in particular: Austria is not blind with one eye, we see with both eyes. This applies to the West Bank. And I have to say quite frankly: I consider the settler violence that we see in the West Bank to be intolerable. It is also a lack of solidarity. We are currently dealing with a situation in which the Israeli army is stretched to the limit. And then I think it's a lack of solidarity within Israeli society if some people think they can vent their anger, their emotions and set fire to the West Bank. That could lead to a third front. We have to be very clear about this. The second point is of course - as has already been mentioned several times - the unconditional release of the hostages. I had the opportunity to meet some of the survivors of October 7 here in Vienna last week. It really got under your skin. When you meet a father who tells you that he is actually almost relieved because his child is among the dead and not among the hostages, it's hard to imagine what that must mean for these people. We have to stay on it. This is a terrorist organization, there can be no ifs and buts. There can be no negotiations. They must release the hostages unconditionally. The third point - this is also important to me: I myself was one of the first ministers to put development cooperation with Palestine on hold and ordered an evaluation. We do not want to support Hamas. At the same time, however, we do not want the civilian population to suffer. That would again be fertile ground for the next extremism. We have therefore made EUR 2 million available for humanitarian aid via the Austrian Development Agency. A further EUR 6 million for the region - for Syria, Lebanon and Jordan - which of course run the risk of being destabilized. I think it is good that the European Union has quadrupled humanitarian aid. But, and we saw the European Commission's report on development cooperation a few days ago, I believe we must not be naive. In future, we in Austria will take a very close look at which partner organizations - whether in Gaza or Israel, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mozambique - we work with. What does it say on their websites? What does the umbrella organization in which they are affiliated say? Is there racism, is there anti-Semitism? Are there lines that we cannot support because of our values? This is also a lesson for me from the horrific incident on October 7. In future, we need to take a much closer look at exactly who we are helping and how. Thank you very much!

Diplomacy
Main img

Japan-China Tensions Escalate

by Purnendra Jain

Long-standing unresolved colonial history and territorial issues between China and Japan, as well as the two countries’ opposing world views, have increasingly manifested in the escalation of tensions. With high-level political/diplomatic communication at a standstill, the relationship has become adrift. In August 2023, the latest spate erupted when Japan decided to release treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. Although approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and considered safe by scientists, the discharge sparked vehement criticism from China which rejected the IAEA assessment. Yet it is common knowledge that China, South Korea, and Taiwan as well as many countries with nuclear facilities release radioactive tritium into the sea. Nevertheless, in China’s words, the Pacific Ocean is being used as “Japan’s private sewer.” Stating concerns with “food safety,” the Chinese government has suspended all Japanese seafood imports with an immediate economic impact and price falls in Japanese domestic seafood markets. Beyond the diplomatic row, trolling on Chinese social media and nuisance calls in their thousands have hit Japanese government agencies and businesses. China’s Global Times has characterised Japan as a “rogue state.” With the further planned releases of water, this issue will continue to simmer. Violent attacks in words and actions through Chinese social media and street demonstrations against Japan are not new. Attacks on Japanese establishments in China and anti-Japanese demonstrations have happened before. In 2005, when a new set of history textbooks was released in Japan, many Japanese establishments including the Japanese Embassy in Beijing became targets of attacks from protestors opposing what they called Japan’s attempt to whitewash history. Attacks on Japanese-brand cars and smashing windows of Japanese-owned businesses occurred again in the 2010s following Japan’s decision to nationalise the Senkaku islands which Japan administers but China claims and calls the Diaoyu islands. Tensions had begun to build in 2010 when a Chinese fishing boat rammed two Japanese Coast Guard vessels in the waters near disputed Islands and Japan detained the captain. It was not always like this. Japan and China enjoyed a long honeymoon period and close economic and diplomatic relations after they “normalised” ties and signed a peace treaty in the 1970s. Private investment and government aid poured enormous capital, technology, and human resources into the country, setting China on the path of modernisation. Exchanges at all levels intensified, shelving historical and territorial issues, ushering in an apparent golden era of bilateral ties. The cracks began to open as China started to overtake Japan when the latter was only slowly emerging from years of economic malaise. China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy in 2010, a status Japan had enjoyed for four decades. With China’s prosperity came its economic dominance and military muscle flexing. Since the 2010s, old wounds once papered over, have reopened. China maintains and often claims that Japan has not properly apologised for its colonial and wartime atrocities and that their territorial disputes must be settled (in its favour). Tokyo though, believes it has done all it can and that Japan’s ownership of the Senkaku islands is indisputable. Given China’s now highly confrontational views, the once-strong pro-China constituency in Japan is thinning fast. Public opinion on both sides is now overwhelmingly negative towards the other. Japan considers its neighbourhood strategically far more challenging and dangerous today than at any time in the recent past. Besides North Korea’s sabre rattling and its deteriorating ties with Russia, China’s designs on Taiwan are of special concern as any forceful change in the status quo will have major implications for Japan’s security. Partially reflecting this belief, high-ranking Japanese politicians’ visits to Taiwan in recent months, including that of the Vice President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and former Prime Minister Taro Aso’s in August, are very significant. Aso’s call to deter China sends strong signals that Japan takes the China threat very seriously. As a result, Japan is substantially increasing its defence budget and has committed to a significant military build-up. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has often referred to the war in Ukraine as akin to what possibly might happen in East Asia, that is, a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan. These developments have enraged China, causing further deterioration in the relationship. China even cancelled a planned August visit by Natsuo Yamaguchi, the leader of the ruling party’s coalition ally, Komeito. This leaves no room for summitry at the leader level in the near future. Notably, Komeito, the political arm of the Buddhist Soka Gakkai, has been a key interlocutor between Tokyo and Beijing, since the 1970s. Japan-China tensions are not just limited to bilateral matters. Irreconcilable differences stem from their broader perspectives on world politics. Japan is deeply embedded in Western systems and advances the free-and-open Indo-Pacific, and has strengthenied military ties with the United States and its allies and partners. Japan offers alternative models of development to the Global South, such as quality infrastructure initiatives as opposed to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Japan’s Quad initiatives, leadership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership and its support for AUKUS stand in contrast to China’s leadership in the BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, its “no limits” ties with Russia, and support for North Korea. Japan long separated politics and economics (seikei bunri) in its ties with China, but the boundaries which once kept economic ties strong despite political differences have weakened with what Japan calls China’s increasing economic coercion. The earlier narrative of “hot economics and cold politics” has given way to a new reality with all matters including an increasingly securitised economic relationship. With China’s “coercive and intimidating” behaviour such as its 2010 export ban on rare earth elements and the latest ban on seafood, Japan is cautiously but constantly trying to de-couple and de-risk as well as carry out onshoring and “friendshoring.” China remains Japan’s number one trading partner and a major destination for private capital, but this may well change, albeit gradually as Japanese businesses consider other options. Signs of some improvement through then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Beijing in 2018, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Xi Jinping’s meeting on the sidelines of a multilateral forum in 2022, may give a false impression of thawing, because the relationship has become so fractious and adversarial that progress remains elusive. As long as China continues flexing its military muscle and deploys economic coercion while building spheres of influence countering Japan; and Japan in turn strengthens its military ties with the US and establishes strategic partnerships to balance China, the relationship is unlikely to improve.

Diplomacy
Main img

Pakistan’s Political Crisis - A country in transformation

by Joel Moffat

An unpredictable political establishment and a swiftly deteriorating economic situation; recent developments in Pakistan expose the instability at the core of the state, threatening its intricate, yet delicate, domestic power balance. The political chronicles of Imran Khan’s and his treacherous challenge to the political establishment retain a prominent shadow over the countries upcoming elections. The ex-cricketer’s ousting last year and his subsequent extensive legal ordeals are indicative of the entrenched political dynasticism of Pakistan. The transitional governments that have overtaken Khan have experienced persistent shock and tragedy in their first year of power. With the turbulent context surrounding Khan, the build-up to the upcoming general elections early next year could prove to be some of the most consequential periods of the country’s recent history. With the recent return of three-time PM Nawaz Sharif to the political sphere, the situation remains dynamic. By: Joel Moffat Keywords: South Asian Politics, Military leadership, Internal Rivalry A Background on Pakistani Politics Following the violent cessation of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistan has shifted between intermittent eras of military dictatorship and civilian governance. The latter periods have been characterised by the intertwining dynasties of the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. Through their associated political parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the various incarnations of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), respectively, the two families have long dominated civilian governance. However, even during these intervening periods of civilian control, the military has retained its domineering influence over domestic politics in a clandestine manner. Indeed, it is often seen as the country’s ‘kingmaker’. Pakistan is territorially divided into four provinces (Baluchistan, Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh) and two administrative units (Azad and Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan). The capital Islamabad operates as a distinct federal territory. These divisions are generally distinguished by their linguistic and ethnic characteristics but are also indicative of distinctive voting patterns. Indeed, Pakistan’s predominant parties have often defined themselves along these regional cleavages. For instance, Sindh has been the historic centre of PPP support, whereas the PMLN has generally been favoured in Punjab [1]. With the latter province being by far the most populous of the country, it holds a fundamental role in the political process. Indeed, governments are often made through winning a majority vote in Punjab. The creation of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice, PTI) party by Imran Khan in the late 1990s significantly upset a political status quo defined by entrenched dynasticism. At the creation of the PTI party, Khan had already cemented his position as arguably Pakistan’s most recognisable face, enjoying a notorious playboy lifestyle during his Oxford education and then gaining international stardom by bringing Pakistan to it’s one and only Cricket World Cup victory in 1992. Despite the publicity of its figurehead, the party initially achieving little success for the first few decades of its existence. In one election the only Parliamentary seat the party won was for Khan himself [2]. However, its victory in the 2018 General Elections proved a historically unprecedented moment, becoming the most voted party in Punjab in the 2018 General Elections. This robbed the PMLN of its regional stronghold. The Ousting of Imran Khan and the Pakistani Judicial System Despite riding a seemingly perfect storm of political ascension, Khan’s Prime Ministership was cut short by the no-confidence vote placed against him in April 2022. Khan attempted to block this vote by dissolving parliament, an action the Supreme Court quickly ruled unconstitutional [3]. Khan persistently stressed a US-backed conspiracy against him during his tenure, founded on a continued unwillingness to reduce support for Russia and China [4]. For example, Khan travelled to Russia to meet with Putin just prior to the Ukrainian invasion. It was this move away from dogmatic adherence to US interests that he claims prompted the military elite to facilitate his downfall. Following his removal, Shehbaz Sharif (brother of three-time PM and recent returnee Nawaz Sharif) took the position of interim Prime Minister. The aftermath triggered a period of heightened internal political tension. The subsequent year has witnessed Khan’s fight for his political future. This has been met with widespread protest across Pakistan. Khan’s fate has been tested through an extensive legal battle and a seemingly infinite set of allegations. The first arrest of Khan was based on multiple corruption accusations that he has consistently rejected as “biased” [5]. These attacks have allowed the ex-PM to depict himself in a classically populist fashion. The continuous strain of legal charges against Khan only serve to facilitate the image of an individual struggle against the corrupt establishment, as a true representative of the people’s will. The first arrest of Khan in April allowed for the mobilisation of the populace, actualising grievances that had simmered for the preceding months. Following the claims of Khan, pro-PTI protesters targeted their indignation at the military. The official residence of an army commander in Lahore and the army headquarters in Rawalpindi were both targeted [6]. This extensive legal battle has exposed a previously unseen rift between the courts and the military. The military has long acted as the domineering influence on the judicial system, in many cases covertly dictating its rulings [7]. Where it was in the interest of the military for dissidents to be removed or journalists pushed away, the courts provided legal recourse. Indeed, they even granted three military coups the legal stamp of approval [8]. Shortly following Khan’s arrest, the Supreme Court issued a declaration that the act was unlawful and ordered his immediate release [9]. Furthermore, the Islamabad High Court granted Khan pre-emptive bail on several corruption cases [10]. The emergence of the judicial system as an independent power broker within the Pakistani political domain is historically unprecedented. The conflation of interest between the courts and the military regarding Khan’s political campaign against corruption facilitated his successful rise to power in 2018. It is ultimately the break of this coercive alliance that is facilitating Khan’s survival, with the Supreme Court issuing several rulings that have undermined the military’s attempts to permanently remove Khan from the Pakistani political realm. However, more recent legal proceedings appear to expose this as a temporary phenomenon, as the courts are seemingly once again swept under the wing of the military. The 5th of August saw a further arrest of Khan, representing the culmination for months of turmoil. This has proved a significant upset to the ongoing political drama of the preceding year. The final verdict found Khan guilty of financial corruption, forcing him to serve a 3-year term [11]. During this time he will be unable to run for office. Following the arrest, Khan posted a video to his personal twitter page demanding the immediate mobilisation of his supporters. As the battle against the state appears increasingly futile, Khan’s political future appears increasingly dim. These allegations have been reinforced by an additional legal case. Mr. Khan is alleged to have leaked a clandestine cable that proved the US had pressed the Pakistani military to orchestrate the fall of his government in 2022 [12]. Despite proving to be evidence to legitimate Khan’s narrative, the evidence has yet to be released publicly. The chances of this happening are now very slim. The Transition Government and The Upcoming Election The arrest of Khan saw a subsequent transitionary government come to power. The first incarnation of this was headed by Shebhaz Sharif, younger brother to three-time PM Nawaz Sharif. Last month saw the former step down following the completion of the Parliamentary term [13]. Though currently holding an interim government, Pakistan looks to be pre-emptively establishing its post-election government. Despite initial plans to hold elections in November, these have been pushed back. This is to allow the interim government to allow completion of a census to redraw electorates [14]. As has been illustrated throughout the political history of Pakistan, much of the political movement of the state appears to concern elite military manoeuvring and not the democratic will of the people. In late October, Nawaz Sharif stood in front of thousands of PLM-N supporters in Lahore, a grand gesture to mark his return from exile in the UK [15]. The older brother of until-recent PM Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz is a storied figure of Pakistani politics. This is his fourth bid for power, with three preceding terms marking him as the countries longest serving PM. Despite only escaping his seven-year prison sentence due to an artificially extended medical leave in the UK, Sharif appeared to face no fears of arrest when re-entering the country [16]. Just prior to Mr. Sharif’s arrival he was granted protective bail by the Islamabad High Court [17]. The appointment of his younger brother as PM certaintly facilitated this environment of re-acceptance into the Pakistani political establishment. As with Khan, the military have rewarded or punished Sharif relative to their interests. The same elite-military establishment that ensured his arrest in 2017 is the very same establishment that is now facilitating his return. With the PLM-N losing Punjab to the PTI in 2018, it is notable that the signal of Nawaz Sharif’s return was held in Lahore. It is clear that the winds of changing favour in Pakistan are reserved to the realm of its dynastic political parties. Their success or failure is ultimately at the will of the entrenched elite military establishment. The domestic political strife of Pakistan is not beholden to the realm of elite political manoeuvring. The Pakistani people are victims of severe national financial insolvency. Indeed, the country is surviving month to month. It is predicted that a failure of IMF support will ensure a near 100% chance of government default within 6 months [18]. Sharif’s government worked to unlock at least a portion of the $2.5 billion left out of a $6.5 billion programme Pakistan entered in 2019, which was set to expire by the end of July [19]. The government was able to secure this money by the middle of that month [20]. The recently proposed budget must satisfy the demands of the IMF lest Pakistan be plunged further into a fiscal crisis. Furthermore, the interim government is still dealing with the previous year’s traumatic floods that submerged much of the country early in its tenure. The financial resources needed for reconstruction and safeguarding the vulnerable are simply not available domestically, with foreign aid and investment also being dreadfully insufficient [21]. With Pakistan under significant risk from climate-induced threats, securing financial resources to ensure future climate security is an existential threat. Yet, the internal power politics and kingmaking of Islamabad have left little time for politics to leave the confines of the capital’s courts and ministries. Despite retaining significant historic support across Punjab, the PLM-N party will need to modernise and adapt its public appearance. The PTI have long retained their effective use of social media [20]. This use of social media is particularly attractive to the significant Pakistani diaspora, who’s engagement with their home country may remain online. With the expulsion of several PTI politicians, the party is in dire circumstances. Indeed, the witch-hunt of PTI members, with disappearances lasting weeks. The preceding year has witnessed a domestic crisis engulf Pakistan. Since the ousting of Khan, the provisional government has fought a political battle for the future of the state. The continued contention of Khan against this transitory government has exposed the dissolution of the delicate power balance between Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the military that has historically been a tenet of the state. The transitional government’s management of this situation is beset by several domestic challenges that have disputed their tenure since its initiation. Politics work fast and unpredictably in Pakistan. With the return of Nawaz Sharif and protest to the arrest of Khan, anything is possible in these months leading up to the election. The stakes of control have never been higher. References [1] - “Explainer: Pakistan’s Main Political Parties”, Al Jazeera, 6 May 2013 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2013/5/6/explainer-pakistans-main-political-parties [2] - “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf: Pakistan’s Iconic Populist Movements”, Populism Studies, February 3 2021 https://www.populismstudies.org/pakistan-tehreek-e-insaf-pakistans-iconic-populist-movement/ [3] - “Pakistan court rules presidents move to dissolve parliament is unconstitutional”, NPR News, April 7 2022 https://www.npr.org/2022/04/07/1091487882/pakistan-court-rules-presidents-move-to-dissolve-parliament-is-unconstitutional [4] - “Imran Khan ousted as Pakistan’s PM after vote”, BBC News, 10 April 2022 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-61055210 [5] - “Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrested by paramilitary police”, CNN News, May 9 2022 https://edition.cnn.com/2023/05/09/asia/imran-khan-arrest-intl/index.html [6] - “Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Ex-Leader, is Arrested”, The New York Times, May 9 2023 https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/09/world/asia/imran-khan-arrest-pakistan.html [7] - “Pakistan’s Powerful Military Faces New Resistance From Courts”, The New York Times, May 31 2023 https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/31/world/asia/pakistan-courts-challenge-military.html [8] - “Pakistan’s Powerful Military Faces New Resistance From Courts”, The New York Times, May 31 2023 https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/31/world/asia/pakistan-courts-challenge-military.html [9] - “Pakistan’s Powerful Military Faces New Resistance From Courts”, The New York Times, May 31 2022 https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/31/world/asia/pakistan-courts-challenge-military.html [10] - “Islamabad Court Grants Imran Khan Bail”, The Diplomat, May 12 2023 https://thediplomat.com/2023/05/islamabad-court-grants-imran-khan-bail/#:~:text=Friday%E2%80%99s%20ruling%20by%20the%20Islamabad%20High%20Court%20gave,usually%20is%20renewed%20in%20the%20Pakistan%20judicial%20system [11] - “Imran Khan: former Pakistan prime minister sentenced to three years in jail”, The Guardian, 5 Aug 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/05/former-pakistan-prime-minister-imran-khan-jailed-for-three-years [12] – “Pakistan court extends ex-PM Imran Khan’s custody in ‘cipher’ case” Pakistan court extends ex-PM Imran Khan’s custody in ‘cipher’ case | Imran Khan News | Al Jazeera [13] – “Pakistan Imran Khan Custody Extended” https://apnews.com/article/pakistan-imran-khan-custody-extended-3da6e3a8ae98378f13ab94bce9f3802c [14] – “Imran Khan family fear former Pakistani PM may be killed in jail” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-22/imran-khan-family-fear-former-pakistan-pm-may-be-killed-in-jail/102870032 [15] – “Pakistan looks back to the future as Nawaz Sharif eyes fourth stint as pm” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/27/pakistan-looks-back-to-the-future-as-nawaz-sharif-eyes-fourth-stint-as-pm [16] – “Pakistan looks back to the future as Nawaz Sharif eyes fourth stint as pm” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/27/pakistan-looks-back-to-the-future-as-nawaz-sharif-eyes-fourth-stint-as-pm [17] – “Pakistan’s ex-PM Nawaz Sharif to return from exile for political comeback” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/21/pakistans-ex-pm-nawaz-sharif-to-return-from-exile-for-political-comeback [18] - “Pakistan lays out budget but may not satisfy IMF”, Al Jazeera, 9 June 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2023/6/9/pakistan-lays-out-budget-but-may-not-satisfy-imf [19] - “Pakistan lays out budget but may not satisfy IMF”, Al Jazeera, 9 June 2023,https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2023/6/9/pakistan-lays-out-budget-but-may-not-satisfy-imf [20] - “Will Pakistan’s IMF agreement save its economy”, Al Jazeera, 14 July 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/7/14/will-pakistans-imf-agreement-save-its-economy#:~:text=The%20International%20Monetary%20Fund's%20board,the%20South%20Asian%20country's%20economy [21] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrYYsWXG2Z8 – (Pakistan’s FM: ‘We’re at the fork in the road towards democracy’: Talk to Al Jazeera) [22] - “Pakistan’s ex-PM Nawaz Sharif to return from exile for political comeback” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/21/pakistans-ex-pm-nawaz-sharif-to-return-from-exile-for-political-comeback

Diplomacy
Main img

Israel-Hamas war puts China’s strategy of ‘balanced diplomacy’ in the Middle East at risk

by Andrew Latham

On Oct. 30, 2023, reports began to circulate that Israel was missing from the mapping services provided by Chinese tech companies Baidu and Alibaba, effectively signalling – or so some believed – that Beijing was siding with Hamas over Israel in the ongoing war. Within hours, Chinese officials began to push back on that narrative, pointing out that the names do appear on the country’s official maps and that the maps offered by China’s tech companies had not changed at all since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas. Indeed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry took the opportunity to go further, emphasizing that China was not taking sides in the conflict. Rather, Beijing said it respected both Israel’s right to self defense and the rights of the Palestinian people under international humanitarian law. This assertion of balance and even-handedness should have come as a surprise to no one. It has been the bedrock of China’s strategic approach to the Middle East for more than a decade, during which time Beijing has sought to portray itself as a friend to all in the region and the enemy of none. But the map episode underscores a problem Beijing faces over the current crisis. The polarization that has set in over this conflict – in both the Middle East itself and around the world – is making Beijing’s strategic approach to the Middle East increasingly difficult to sustain. As a scholar who teaches classes on China’s foreign policy, I believe that the Israel-Hamas war is posing the sternest test yet of President Xi Jinping’s Middle East strategy – that to date has been centred around the concept of “balanced diplomacy.” Growing pro-Palestinian sentiment in China – and the country’s historic sympathies in the region – suggest that if Xi is forced off the impartiality road, he will side with the Palestinians over the Israelis. But it is a choice Beijing would rather not make – and for wise economic and foreign policy reasons. Making such a choice would, I believe, effectively mark the end of China’s decade-long effort to positioning itself as an influential “helpful fixer” in the region – an outside power that seeks to broker peace deals and create a truly inclusive regional economic and security order. Beijing’s objectives and strategies Whereas in decades past the conventional wisdom in diplomatic circles was that China was not that invested in the Middle East, this has not been true since about 2012. From that time onward, China has invested considerable diplomatic energy building its influence in the region. Beijing’s overall strategic vision for the Middle East is one in which U.S. influence is significantly reduced while China’s is significantly enhanced. On the one hand, this is merely a regional manifestation of a global vision – as set out in a series of Chinese foreign policy initiatives such as the Community of Common Destiny, Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative – all of which are designed, in part at least, to appeal to countries in the Global South that feel increasingly alienated from the U.S.-led rules-based international order. It is a vision grounded in fears that a continuation of United States dominance in the Middle East would threaten China’s access to the region’s oil and gas exports. That isn’t to say that Beijing is seeking to displace the United States as the dominant power in the region. That is infeasible given the power of the dollar and the U.S. longstanding relations with some of the region’s biggest economies. Rather, China’s stated plan is to promote multi-alignment among countries in the region – that is to encourage individual nations to engage with China in areas such as infrastructure and trade. Doing so not only creates relationships between China and players in the region, but it also weakens any incentives to join exclusive U.S.-led blocs. Beijing seeks to promote multi-alignment through what is described in Chinese government documents as “balanced diplomacy” and “positive balancing.” Balanced diplomacy entails not taking sides in various conflicts – including the Israeli-Palestinian one – and not making any enemies. Positive balancing centers on pursuing closer cooperation with one regional power, say Iran in the belief that this will incentivize others – for example, Arab Gulf countries – to follow suit. China’s Middle East success Prior to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Beijing’s strategy was beginning to pay considerable dividends. In 2016, China entered a comprehensive strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia and in 2020 signed a 25-year cooperation agreement with Iran. Over that same timespan, Beijing has expanded economic ties with a host of other Gulf countries including Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Oman. Beyond the Gulf, China has also deepened its economic ties with Egypt, to the point where it is now the largest investor in the Suez Canal Area Development Project. It has also invested in reconstruction projects in Iraq and Syria. Earlier this year, China brokered a deal to re-establish diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran – a major breakthrough and one that set China up as a major mediator in the region. In fact, following that success, Beijing began to position itself as a potential broker of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The impact of the Israel-Hamas War The Israel-Hamas war, however, has complicated China’s approach to the Middle East. Beijing’s initial response to the conflict was to continue with its balanced diplomacy. In the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack, China’s leaders did not condemn Hamas, instead they urged both sides to “exercise restraint” and to embrace a “two-state solution.” This is consistent with Beijing’s long-standing policy of “non-interference” in other countries’ internal affairs and its fundamental strategic approach to the region. But the neutral stance jarred with the approach adopted by the United States and some European nations – which pushed China for a firmer line. Under pressure from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, among others, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated China’s view that every country has the right to self-defence. But he qualified this by stating that Israel “should abide by international humanitarian law and protect the safety of civilians.” And that qualification reflects a shift in the tone from Beijing, which has moved progressively toward making statements that are sympathetic to the Palestinians and critical of Israel. On Oct. 25, China used it veto power at the United Nations to block a U.S. resolution calling for a humanitarian pause on the grounds that it failed to call on Israel to lift is siege on Gaza. China’s U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun, explained the decision was based on the “strong appeals of the entire world, in particular the Arab countries.” Championing the Global South Such a shift is unsurprising given Beijing’s economic concerns and its geopolitical ambitions. China is much more heavily dependent on trade with the numerous states across the Middle East and North Africa it has established economic ties than it is with Israel. Should geopolitical pressures push China to the point where it must decide between Israel and the Arab world, Beijing has powerful economic incentives to side with the latter. But China has another powerful incentive to side with the Palestinians. Beijing harbours a desire to be seen as a champion of the Global South. And siding with Israel risks alienating that increasingly important constituency. In countries across Africa, Latin America and beyond, the Palestinians’ struggle against Israel is seen as akin to fighting colonization or resisting “apartheid.” Siding with Israel would, under that lens, put China on the side of the colonial oppressor. And that, in turn, risks undermining the diplomatic and economic work China has undertaken through its infrastructure development program, the Belt and Road Initiative, and effort to encourage more Global South countries to join what is now the BRICS economic bloc. And while China may not have altered its maps of the Middle East, its diplomats may well be looking at them and wondering if there is still room for balanced diplomacy.

Energy & Economics
Main img

Keynote address the Closing Ceremony of the World Food Forum

by Michael D. Higgins

Director-General, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Dear Friends, Young and Old, This week, as we have gathered here at the World Food Forum in the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in Rome to discuss the necessary transformation of our agri-food systems, we must not only be conscious of targets missed or imperfectly achieved, but of the need for courage, and to generate new capacity to move to new models of better connection between economy, social protection, social justice and ecology. We are confronted with a climate and biodiversity emergency that cannot be handled by the tools that produced it or by the architecture of how we made decisions before. We are called upon to, once and for all, tackle with alternatives and sustained effort and innovation, the vicious circle of global poverty and inequality, global hunger, debt and climate change, our interacting crises. That is the context in which sustainable food systems must be achieved. I ask you all gathered today to respond in the most meaningful way within your capacity, within your generation, in a way that includes all generations, to the challenge set out by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his recent statements: This is how the Secretary-General put it: “The Sustainable Development Goals aren’t just a list of goals. They carry the hopes, dreams, rights and expectations of people everywhere. In our world of plenty, hunger is a shocking stain on humanity and an epic human rights violation. It is an indictment of every one of us that millions of people are starving in this day and age.” It can be put right but we must change and there is work involved in upskilling in such a way that we can not only identify and critique assumptions of failing models but be able to put the alternative models in place. We have had so many broken promises. Only 15 percent of some 140 specific targets to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals are on track to be achieved. Many targets are going in the wrong direction at the present rate, and not a single one is expected to be achieved in the next seven years. However, we have some reasons to be hopeful. When I look around this room today, I see so many engaged and committed people, including young people who have the enthusiasm, energy and creativity needed to tackle the serious structural causes of food insecurity and global hunger. But it is important to acknowledge that young people are not alone in seeking authenticity of words delivered into actions that have an ethical outcome. There are those who have spent their lives seeking a fairer world, one in which hunger would be eliminated – as it can be. We must recognise their efforts. We must work together to harness this collective energy and creativity into strong movements that will deliver, finally, a food-secure world for all. This will require, I suggest, moving to a new culture of sharing information, experiences, insights. As the cuts have taken effect, we must take the opportunity of developing a view, post-silo culture, of sharing insights, and I see FAO as uniquely positioned for this. As Glenn Denning, Peter Timmer and other food experts have stated, achieving food security is not an easy task given how food hunger is “deeply entwined with the organisation of economic activities and their regulation through public policies”, given, too, how governments and markets must work together, how the private, public and third sectors must work together. All of our efforts must have the character of inclusivity. Each of us as global citizens has a responsibility to respond. To ignore it would be a dereliction of our duty of care to our shared planet and its life-forms including our fellow humans and future generations. The Secretary-General’s pleas in relation to the consequences of climate change are given a further terrible reality in the increased and spreading threat of hunger, a food insecurity which is directly affected by the impact of climate change. For example, figures published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations show that 26.2 percent of Africa’s population experienced severe food insecurity in 2021, with 9.8 percent of the total global population suffering from undernourishment the same year. It is time for us all, as leaders and global citizens, to take stock of how words are leading to actions, to increase the urgency of our response to what is a grave existential threat and to achieve change. It is clear, as the Secretary-General’s powerful statement shows, that we need to begin the work of reform in our international institutional architecture, such as UN reform at the highest level, including the Security Council and the Bretton Woods institutions, if we are to achieve what the Secretary-General has suggested is the challenge to “turn a year of burning heat into a year of burning ambition”. Let us commit then to sharing purposes, projects, resources, seeking a new culture for sustenance solutions. Those of us who have spent much of our lives advocating UN reform believe that its best prospects are in the growing acknowledgement of the importance of the vulnerabilities and frustrated capacity of the largest and growing populations of the world being represented, not only nominally but effectively, through a reform that includes reform of the Bretton-Woods Institutions. As Secretary-General Guterres has said on a number of occasions, it is time to reform what are 1945 institutions, including the Security Council and Bretton Woods, in order to align with the “realities of today’s world”. We have to acknowledge too that the development models of the 1950s and 1960s were part of the assumptions that brought us to the crises through which we are living. New models are needed and the good news is that a new epistemology, our way of looking at the world, of sufficiency and sustainability, is emerging. We are seeing good work already occurring. Good development scholarship is available to us. I reference, for example Pádraig Carmody’s recent book, Development Theory and Practice in a Changing World. Such work builds important bridges from the intellectual work that is so badly needed and is welcome at the centre of our discourse on all aspects of interacting crises, including global hunger, and the need to link economy, ecology and a global ethics. What we must launch now is a globalisation from below. Replacing the globalisation from above that has given us a burning planet and threatened democracy itself, with a globalisation from below of the fullest participation, we can establish and indeed extend democracy, offering accountability and transparency of our work together. Writers such as Pádraig Carmody are not alone in suggesting that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals provides the opportunity for moving past the worst contradictions of failed models and dangerous undeclared assumptions. The demise of hegemonic development theory and practice may be a result of several factors, such as the rise of ultra-nationalism around the world, the increasing importance of securitisation where the most powerful insulate their lives from the actions of the excluded, and the existential threat posed by the climate crisis. Such research adds to the growing body of development literature that argues for a pro-active, structural-focused, tailored approach to development. The Hand-in-Hand Initiative of the FAO, details of which were discussed at this week’s parallel session, is a most welcome initiative, one that aims to raise incomes, improve the nutritional status and well-being of poor and vulnerable populations, and strengthen resilience to climate change. It heralds a belated recognition too of the insufficiency of a reactive emergency response to famine and hunger crises. It suggests a move towards one that tackles the underlying structural causes of hunger. Young people will need patience and to dig sufficiently deep to achieve these necessary changes. They are right in seeking to be partners, so much more than being allowed as attendees. Hand-in-Hand recognises the importance of tailor-made interventions to food security, using the best available evidence in the form of spatial data, validated on the ground through local diagnostics and policy processes, to target the most food insecure, the most hungry, the poorest. It recognises that context-specific employment and labour market policies are part of the sustainability challenge. I believe that evidence from below is crucial to achieving globalisation from below and that it can be achieved by a reintroduction of new re-casted anthropology guided by, among others, the new African scholars now available, whose work is empirical and peer-tested, can be invaluable in giving transparency on projects and investments – a strategy for fact-gathering for empowerment of rural people so like the 1955 fact-gathering with rural people of the FAO – first published in 1955 and used by me in 1969! Young people must be about upskilling to be able to critique all of the assumptions guiding the policies on to their lives. A key objective for us now must be to strengthen institutional capacity on the ground, not only at the strategic level, but also fundamentally, so that the public, farmers, and other stakeholders’ institutions are enabled to participate in territories-based agri-food systems. Such a move is fundamental to a successful food security strategy. Our institutional architecture and the multilateral bodies within it, must be made fit for purpose if we are to tackle effectively and meaningfully our contemporary food insecurity crisis which is worsening according to the 2023 Global Report on Food Crises, with 258 million people across 58 countries suffering acute food insecurity. Perhaps most crucially, we must acknowledge, as United Nations Programmes such as the Hand-in-Hand Initiative does, the critical importance of partnership and collaboration in addressing global hunger. We must do everything we can to ensure cross-sectoral co-ordination, foster coherent development actions, under a common, shared vision. We must end all wasteful competitive silo behaviours, create a culture of openness and co-operation. The FAO is well positioned to lead on this with its new invigorated partnerships with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Co-operation in the development and implementation of new models will be key to the achieving of any targets that seek to be sustainable and inclusive. For example, I suggest it will achieve best results if funders, such as the African Development Bank, are enabled and funded to work closely with research institutes, both at the national and international level, but particularly take account of field studies conducted over time at local level in the new anthropology so as to ensure that findings from the latest research feed into the design and implementation of any financial supports and investments. By providing a platform, a shared interactive transparent space for national authorities and producers, national and global businesses, multilateral development banks and donors to discuss and advance ways and means to finance the supported national food programmes, initiatives such as Hand-in-Hand are proving to be an effective flagship programme of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Co-operation must work both ways. For example, the parts of the so-called ‘developed’ world suffering from problems of high levels of obesity and food wastage must learn from the deep knowledge and wisdom existing in the most populated continents, as well as the science, which points to a new ecological revolution, one in which agroecology – the bringing of ecological principles to develop new management approaches in agroecosystems – can play a fundamental role, especially for the poorest of our global citizens. We have seen the destructive impact of colonial models of agronomy promoting an over-reliance on a small number of commodity crops, herders incentivised to become less mobile and store less grain in order to maximise commodity crop production, and increasing imports in conditions of near monopoly of seeds, pesticides and fertilisers. This had the deadly effect of opening up farmers not only to the full force of extended droughts, the ravages of variable climate conditions, and a reliance on non-indigenous inputs, but also to global spaces where they have insufficient influence. We must retreat from these dysfunctional food systems model, with their related dependencies, with urgency and embrace models of sufficiency and effective local markets and see the value of making our way too that includes agro-ecological models that promote food security and development opportunities for the poorest people on our fragile planet. Adaptation and responding to the already changing climate is crucial for all of us, and especially in the most food-insecure nations. We must restore degraded ecosystems, introduce drought-resistant crops, ensure accessible digital services for smallholder farms, while creating new, sustainable green jobs for young people so that we may forge a smart, sustainable, climate-resilient development path for the continent. This week we have to acknowledge the many challenges we face including, inter alia, the energy, climate and biodiversity crises, war and conflict which exacerbate food insecurity, ensuring enabling policy environments, and reaching the long-term goal of sustainable food system transformation. Any agri-food initiative, be it for Africa, the Middle-East, Central or South America, or other food-insecure regions, must place inclusivity at its core. Specifically, more vulnerable, smallholder farmers must be targeted for inclusion as programme beneficiaries, not just large-scale, industrial level farmers and ever-expanding commercial plantations. Research has shown that irresponsible agri-business deals are sometimes falsely legitimated by the promotion of alleged achievement of Sustainable Development Goal Number 2 at any cost, without care as to consequence, ignoring the reality that smallholders need enabling policies to enhance their role in food production; that food insecurity is linked to rights, processes, and unequal access to land resources; and that dispossession disproportionately affects women farmers. On this latter issue of gender, achieving zero hunger requires gender-inclusive land and labour policies. Actions must prioritise the inclusion of women and girls who are more food insecure than men in every region of the world. Women must have a right to land recognised and enshrined. The gender gap in food security has grown exponentially in recent years, and will only deteriorate further in the absence of targeted intervention. Women are obviously the most impacted victims of the food crisis, thus they must be a part of the solution. Women produce up to 80 percent of foodstuffs. Empowering women farmers can thus serve as a transformative tool for food security. However, female farmers have, research tell us, limited access to physical inputs, such as seeds and fertiliser, to markets, to storage facilities and this must be addressed. Climate change, and our response to it, addressing global hunger and global poverty, exposing and breaking dependency is a core theme of my Presidency. It is the most pressing existential crisis that our vulnerable planet and its global citizens face. Throughout the world, young people and the youth sector have been at the vanguard of efforts to tackle climate change. Young people have demonstrated, time and again, how well-informed and acutely aware they are of the threat that climate change poses, as well as its uneven and unequal impacts. May I suggest to all of you that, as young innovators and future leaders in your respective fields, you will be at your best, achieve the greatest fulfilment for yourself and others, when you locate your contribution within a commitment to be concerned and contributing global citizens. Take time to ask how is my energy in the tasks of hand and brain being delivered and for whose benefit. May I suggest, too, that you will be remembered and appreciated all the more if you work to ensure that the results of science, technology are shared and that all human endeavours are allowed to flow across borders for the human benefit of all and with a commitment to ecological responsibility and inclusivity. Offer your efforts where they can have the best effect for all. Locate yourselves in the heart of the populated world, as Nobel Laureate William Campbell did with his research on river blindness. Changing our food systems is, however, let us not forget, an intergenerational challenge that requires an inter-generational approach. We must now empower youth to be in the driver’s seat to build a new, better, transparent model of food security in a variety of different settings. Let us endeavour, together, in our diverse world, to seek to build a co-operative, caring and non-exploitative global civilisation free from hunger, a shared planet, a global family at peace with nature and neighbours, resilient to the climate change that is already occurring, one based on foundations of respect for each nation’s own institutions, traditions, experiences and wisdoms, founded on a recognition of the transcendent solidarity that might bind us together as humans, and reveal a recognition of the responsibility we share for our vulnerable planet and the fundamental dignity of all those who dwell on it. Thank you. Beir beannacht.

Diplomacy
Main img

Speech at support event at the Jewish community

by Lars Løkke Rasmussen

Held in Copenhagen Synagogue 14.10.2023 By Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Minister for Foreign Affairs Your Majesty, Ambassador, Dear all. Thank you for letting me share this evening with you. I have no idea how each of you has been doing this past week. With friends and family caught in the center of the crisis. With people you care about, who live their everyday lives in an Israel under attack. With all the worries that come with it. Are they affected? Have they made it? What happens next? Terrible stories that make an impression around the world. One of them, which is still in my body, is about an ordinary family who lived in a kibbutz close to the Gaza border. A dad. A mother. And three little girls. When the attacks began on Saturday morning, all five of them ran towards the nearest shelter. They arrived safely. The wife wrote a message to their friends in Australia: "Everything is okay." An hour later she stopped responding. The friends called and called, but the mobile was silent. On Sunday morning, the Israeli authorities shared a photo of the family. With big smiles and green trees in the background. The mother keeps a loving arm around the eldest daughter. Like hundreds of other innocent Israelis, they were liquidated by barbaric terrorists. Hamas had reportedly broken into their shelter. It is not to be worn. *** The attack on Israel stirs many emotions. Fear. Anger. Impotence. Hope. Vengeance. Love. We must make room for it all, but what is lost cannot be returned. But you are not alone. An entire nation shares your tears and supports you. Denmark stands, as the Prime Minister also emphasized, side by side with Israel. *** We are gathered here tonight to remember. To collect our thoughts and pick each other up. I had the honor of speaking here in the synagogue five years ago. At that time we marked the 75th anniversary of the Jews' flight from Denmark. It was a touching evening. October 1943 is one of the most important events in recent Danish history. And a cornerstone in the relationship between Denmark and Israel. Today, 80 years later, it is hard to imagine that Danish families had to flee for their lives because of their origins and their faith. That innocent citizens should be sent to concentration camps to die. But it happened. *** Earlier this week we marked the 80th anniversary. A selection that had a certain duality in it. For October 1943 is both a story of light and darkness. Mourning those who were murdered. Joy to those who got to safety. Shame on the few who tried to sabotage the escape. Pride in the many who risked their lives to save their fellow citizens. Those who took responsibility and reached out. To a Jewish people who displayed heroic courage. It is hard to find the same duplicity in what befell the Israeli people last Saturday. Because right now the darkness is clearest, the pain seems endless. A sad glimpse from the past. But even if the light has difficulty finding its way, it exists somewhere out there. We have to insist on that. Even in the darkest of times, hope will peek out. I think you can feel that on a night like tonight. We must not let the hatred of the terrorists win. We must insist on preserving our humanity. *** The attack on Saturday is being called by many Israel's 9/11. It is difficult to write history as it unfolds before our eyes. But I still think it's an apt description. A decisive historical turning point. This is a wake-up call for all of us. We made a promise to the Jewish people after the end of World War II. A promise of a homeland where Jews could gather and live in peace. Denmark was a warm supporter of the establishment of the state of Israel. The Jewish people have been through enough. And you are a strong people. But what is happening right now calls for reflection. And on crystal clear commitments from the entire world community. You must hold us up to them. As Ben Gurion said so wisely: “History is not something you write. It is something you create.” *** I know that Jews also feel the insecurity at home. Do you have to keep the kippa on? Or replace it with a cap that you - Jair [Melchior] - have suggested to your own son. I understand, you end up there. Better to be on the safe side, one might say. But that is completely unacceptable. It is completely unacceptable that Danish Jews have to beat themselves up like that in order to be here in Denmark. Hide away and look over your shoulder. It shouldn't be like that. It must not be like that. And I would like to help give the promise tonight that the government will do everything in our power to protect the Danish Jews. Protect your freedom. Your safety. Your right to live an ordinary Jewish life in Denmark. In the Denmark that reached out to the Jewish people 80 years ago. Because Denmark is still here. Thank you.

Energy & Economics
Main img

How might China hit back over the EU’s electric vehicle anti-subsidy investigation?

by Alicia García Herrero

China’s silence towards the European Union’s electric vehicle probe could mean that a more harmful retaliation is on its way During her State of the Union address on 13 September, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the European Union would undertake an anti-subsidy probe against the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) sector. This signalled a major step in the EU’s shift to a more aggressive trade defence against China and raises the question of how China will react, given the importance of the Chinese market to key sectors of the European economy (including the auto and luxury sectors), and also given China’s crucial role in providing goods to the EU for the green transition? An EU-China High Economic and Trade dialogue on 25 September in Beijing, between EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and his Chinese counterparts, may have given a glimpse into China’s mindset. There were fears Chinese officials would respond aggressively to von der Leyen’s announcement during Dombrovskis’s visit but this was not the case. Nevertheless, the silence may be deceptive. Three main factors should be taken into account when considering potential Chinese retaliation. Subtle but harmful retaliation First, China might file its own anti-subsidy investigation at the World Trade Organisation against key European sectors. This would not be difficult since Europe has ramped up its subsidies massively since the pandemic, and more recently has attempted to gain more ‘strategic autonomy’ in sectors including semiconductors. There is very little the EU can do about this potential retaliation, which would be costly for the sectors targeted and for the EU’s image as a free-trade and WTO champion. Second, China could try to persuade EU governments that the Commission-led investigation should be withdrawn. A similar probe happened in early 2014, when the EU launched an anti-subsidy investigation into solar panels produced in China. President Xi Jinping visited then Chancellor Angela Merkel right after the anti-subsidy investigation was announced. Subsequently, the issue was settled quickly, with the Commission withdrawing the case from the WTO. Based on this previous experience, China might prefer to take up the issue bilaterally, possibly with Germany again, rather than enter discussions with the Commission. But a major difference this time is the relative importance of the auto sector in the EU compared to solar power. The auto sector accounts for 14 million jobs in Europe and a good part of the EU’s exports. Exports of cars and components are heavily concentrated in a few EU countries, especially Germany. These exports to China have plummeted in 2023, with a close to 30% drop, and Chinese competition in third markets and even the EU market, has become much more intense. Third, also unlike the solar-panel probe, it is the Commission and not the sector being harmed that has filed the case. It will be harder for the Commission to withdraw the investigation because it would lose credibility. Merkel decided to accommodate Xi Jinping’s request in 2014 because she wanted to save the auto sector, even at the cost of hurting a smaller part of the German economy – the solar panel companies. The new investigation aims to protect the automotive sector. There could be consequences for major European auto companies producing electric vehicles in China, but jobs in Europe are now more important than the future of those companies in China. In any case, the future of European manufacturers is bleak; they seem to have already lost the EV race to their Chinese competitors. China will find it much harder to move the EU away from its decision to pursue an anti-subsidy investigation, differently to what happened in 2014. Lessons to learn There might be a lesson for Europe in what happened to Apple in China in September. Days before Apple’s launch of its new iPhone 15, Huawei launched its Mate 60 with upgraded functionalities which require high-end semiconductors. Beyond raising doubts about the effectiveness of US-led export controls on advanced semiconductors, this announcement constituted a direct challenge to Apple’s phone sales in China. Chinese officials were also prohibited from using iPhones and rumours spread in Chinese media in advance of the Apple launch about the underwhelming quality of the iPhone 15. Investors dumped Apple stock globally and the company lost about 6% of its value in a few days. China’s retaliation against the Commission’s anti-subsidy investigation might not be as direct and transparent, but it will still be harmful and might offer less room for the EU to respond. Europe’s strategic dependence on China is greater than in 2014 and this probe has the potential to cause a bigger fall-out for the EU. China has strengthened its position as a global power and uncompetitive behaviour could hit European core sectors harder because China has more power to retaliate. On the flip side, the stakes are higher for the EU given the importance of the auto sector in terms of jobs and exports. For that reason, China may not manage to deter the EU’s investigation as easily as it did in the past. But this may prompt China to threaten even larger retaliation.

Diplomacy
Main img

Beijing’s Aggression Behind Emerging India-Philippines Defense Relationship

by Peter Chalk

The People’s Republic of China’s increasingly assertive stance on affirming its territorial claims in the Indo-Pacific is informing the evolution of a closer defense relationship between New Delhi and Manila. On September 25, the Philippine Coast Guard removed a floating barrier that China had installed at Huangyan Dao (黄岩岛, an island in the Scarborough Shoal) in the South China Sea (SCS) the previous day. Responding to questions about the incident, PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin (王文斌) maintained that “China Coast Guard did what was necessary to block and drive away the Philippine vessel,” and that “Huangyan Dao has always been China’s territory. What the Philippines did looks like nothing more than self-amusement” (FMPRC, September 26; FMPRC, September 27). Earlier in September, New Delhi’s Ambassador to the Philippines Shambu Kumaran expressed solidarity with Manila by pointedly rejecting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s new extended ten-dash map of its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea (SCS) and Line of Actual Control (LAC). He criticized the move from Beijing as unhelpful “cartographic expansionism” (Manila Times, September 3). These two incidents, occurring in the space of less than a month, are only the most recent in a string of aggressive acts in recent years. The reactions of both India and the Philippines are indicative of growing unity among some of China’s neighboring countries as a direct response to the security threat that China poses. In recent years, these two partners have increased the areas of engagement for security collaboration and expressed an intent to further such initiatives. The PRC lambasts the Philippines for choosing “to ignore China’s goodwill and sincerity” (MOFA, August 8), but this rhetoric only reaffirms Manila’s shifting calculus. There are limits to how close the Indo-Philippines defense relationship will get, but there is still ample room to explore various forms of cooperation short of a mutual defense treaty. The coming years will see much more of that exploration start to materialize. The PRC has several options in terms of responding to this emerging dynamic. These range from economic coercion, influence operations, and leveraging its relationship with Russia to put pressure on India. It is unclear which combination of these the PRC will ultimately pursue, though the PRC has made it abundantly clear that backing down in the South China Sea is not an option it is willing to entertain. India’s Reorientation over the SCS and Growing Defense Cooperation with the Philippines In June, the fifth session of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) took place at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. At the meeting, the Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Enrique Manalo, and Indian External Affairs Minister (EAM), Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, issued a joint communiqué calling for full adherence to the 2016 Arbitral Award on the SCS. This was the first time that the Narendra Modi government explicitly endorsed the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)’s ruling in favor of Manila. Until then, the administration had adopted a neutral stance on the issue, merely stressing that it supports freedom of navigation, overflight, and unimpeded commerce in the region, based on the principles of international law. Even after the 2016 judgment, India only acknowledged the outcome of the award, and did not take sides on the legitimacy of the decision (Observer Research Foundation, July 12; South China Morning Post, July 9). The June 2023 statement is therefore a highly symbolic diplomatic gesture, indicating a burgeoning bilateral relationship between New Delhi and Manila to promote an open, rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. India’s tensions with China have long revolved around managing disputed territory along their 2,100-mile-long northern border in the Himalayas, known as the Line of Actual Control. For a long time, the Modi administration maintained a neutral stance on the SCS disputes. This is not just to avoid unwanted provocation: The Modi government has also been sensitive to the possibility that blanket opposition to the PRC’s stance in the SCS could provoke Beijing to expand naval deployments in the Indo-Pacific, potentially undermining the regional balance of power—and concomitant stability—that is critical to India’s own economic development. New Delhi has also generally been unwilling to comment on the domestic policies of its neighbors in Southeast Asia, lest this be construed as violating the two cardinal principles of the so-called “ASEAN way”: non-interference in internal affairs and mutual respect for national sovereignty. Although these considerations are still germane, the Modi administration has recently exhibited a more outspoken and proactive position on the SCS. Not only is preserving peace and stability in this body of water now a central tenet in the prime minister’s reinvigorated Act East Policy (EAP), in August 2021 his government sent naval ships to the region to take part in a series of coordinated sailings and exercises with Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam (The Tribune, August 3, 2021; South China Morning Post, August 13, 2021). New Delhi is also a member of the Quad, a grouping of like-minded states that in 2022 declared their joint opposition to any unilateral or coercive actions that seek to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas. While the wording of the declaration does not mention the PRC by name, its message clearly aims to denounce Beijing’s activities as a threat to stability, transparency, and the rules-based order in the region. Indeed, during a state visit to Washington, DC in June 2023, Modi and President Biden declared themselves “among the closest partners in the world” and committed to forging a more robust relationship—within the parameters of the Quad—to countering a clear and upward trend of Chinese aggression in the SCS (Asia Financial, June 29). India has also been more direct in articulating its concerns over the harmful effects the PRC is having on diplomatic efforts to resolve territorial disputes in the SCS. For instance, at the 15th East Asia Summit in November 2020, EAM Jaishankar expressed concern about actions and incidents in the SCS that “erode trust” and said ongoing negotiations on the proposed code of conduct “should not be prejudicial to legitimate interests of third parties and should be fully consistent” with the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (The Hindustan Times, November 14, 2020). It is in this context that India has steadily moved to ramp up its defense cooperation with the Philippines. Security Collaborations In recent months, New Delhi and Manila have closely collaborated on a range of security matters beyond the explicit recognition of the 2016 PCA’s ruling against Beijing in the SCS. In January 2022, the government of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed a deal worth $374.96 million to obtain a shore-based variant of the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile system. This makes Manila the first foreign customer for the weapons platform jointly developed by India and Russia (The Hindu, January 28, 2022). The Philippine Marine Corps’ newly developed Coastal Defense Regiment (CDR) will receive three batteries, the first of which will arrive before the end of 2023 (Indian Aerospace & Defence Bulletin, August 3). Notably, during Balikatan 23 (April 11–28), the most recent iteration of the annual military exercises between Manila and Washington, the CDR played a leading role in helping to retake the Filipino island of Bosco from a fictitious foreign aggressor, i.e. China. During the 13th India-Philippines Foreign Office Consultations in August 2022, both sides expressed their desire to deepen security cooperation, which they again reiterated at the conclusion of their 4th Joint Defense Cooperation Committee and 2nd Service-to-Service meeting in March 2023 (Manila Times, August 23, 2022; The Economic Times, June 30). To give substance to this commitment, the two countries agreed to work together on projects related to cyber and space security, military medicine, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. They also pledged to look into the possibility of deploying a permanent Indian Defense Attaché (DA) to Manila (Philstar, April 4). This latter possibility was again highlighted as a shared desire by both parties at the fifth JCBC meeting in June 2023, as was enhancing security ties through regular or upgraded interactions between defense agencies and combined maritime drills. India also offered the Philippines a concessional line of credit to buy indigenously manufactured military equipment, including naval and aviation assets (The Hindu, June 29; South China Morning Post, June 30; Mint, August 15). In August 2023, the Philippine and Indian coast guards signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance professional maritime linkages in the areas of law enforcement, search and rescue, and pollution response. The MoU additionally mentioned exploring future avenues for joint exercises and training collaboration, while the two services also inked a Standard Operating Procedure for exchanging “white” (aka, licit) shipping information (The Economic Times, August 23). Rationalizing India’s Recalibrated Policy to the SCS and the Philippines Accounting for India’s recalibrated approach to the SCS issue and its defense relations with the Philippines relies on several interrelated factors. First, the Modi government has clearly balked at the CCP’s growing assertiveness in the region. New Delhi views it as a direct threat to freedom of navigation in a strategic sealine of communication that plays a crucial role in fostering the Act East Policy’s long-term goal of deepening engagement with Southeast Asia. Beijing’s extensive territorial claims in the SCS also undermine political and economic stability in the broader Indo-Pacific region and challenge the legitimate sovereign rights of littoral states. All of this runs counter to New Delhi’s prioritization of a peaceful, transparent, and inclusive maritime order. Second, India’s membership of the Quad has further reinforced and entrenched the country’s commitment to offsetting the PRC’s rapidly rising influence by supporting an open and rules-based Indo-Pacific and opposing unilateral actions that unduly raise tensions in the South and East China Seas. This was precisely the message that emanated from the Quad’s most recent Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi on March 3, 2023, where the grouping expressly presented itself as a force for regional and global good (The Hindu, March 3). Third, the June 2020 border clash with China in the Galwan Valley on the LAC (and subsequent periodic flareups) have encouraged New Delhi to assume a much more forceful stance against Beijing. Modi’s government now sees the PRC as the only major power in the region that poses a direct threat to its core national security interests (China Daily, July 27). Moreover, the border clash, which left 15 Indian soldiers dead, has encouraged India to be more supportive of countries in the Indo-Pacific that have similarly suffered from China’s belligerence. The Philippines is one such country, having borne the brunt of the PRC’s incursions in the SCS (especially in and around the Manila-controlled Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Island chain). Fourth, forging a closer defense relationship could open the door for India to ink more high-tech arms agreements with the Philippines. In this way, the sale of the BraMos cruise missile system in 2022 could be the first of many. As noted above, in June 2023 the Modi administration offered Manila a concessional line of credit to buy indigenously produced military hardware, so a suitable funding mechanism for orchestrating munition transfers is in place. Any future agreement to send advanced weapon platforms to the Philippines would represent a significant export revenue stream for New Delhi. The country’s coast guard has already expressed interest in buying a batch of MK III multi-role light helicopters from India (The Print, July 17; The Eurasian Times, August 24). Just as importantly, such deals would send a strong signal to the PRC of the type of security and diplomatic headaches India is willing to instigate for Beijing if it pushes its territorial claims along the LAC too aggressively. Fifth, since assuming office on June 30, 2022, President Marcos has reversed the previous administration’s foreign policy agenda to one that is now largely congruent with India’s: emphasizing adherence to democratic principles, ensuring the country’s sovereign border rights, reconsolidating the military alliance with the United States, and shoring up links with regional allies to counter Chinese intimidation. With similar outlooks on regional affairs and no immediate conflict of interests, it should come as no major surprise that the two nations have found common ground in strengthening and enhancing their bilateral defense cooperation. Deepening Collaboration Short of Alliance The PRC’s aggressive advances in the Indo-Pacific provide a mutual motivation for New Delhi and Manila to cooperate militarily. A serious escalation of tensions along the LAC or an act of overt aggression in areas of the SCS that fall within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone could well precipitate a renewed push to further intensify bilateral ties based on a common commitment to deter and blunt Chinese adventurism. The likelihood of a codifying bilateral defense commitments, however, is low. India has always been wary of such formalized arrangements, especially in the conflict-prone Indo-Pacific theater, as they could ultimately force the country into a costly confrontation with China. The statutory strategic partnership agreement that Australia concluded with Manila in September is therefore something that the Modi administration would likely eschew. Rather, future defense relations can be expected to take the form of more flexible MoUs and protocols calling for greater information sharing, additional port calls, a higher tempo of exercises and training, and increased support for international rulings on the law of the sea. None of these will transform the Indian-Philippine partnership into a “mini alliance.” Nevertheless, opportunities for deepening the strategic coordination of two nations that already engage in a range of security collaborations represent a enhancement of India’s positioning in the region, to the exclusion of China. The PRC will doubtless interpret closer ties between New Delhi and Manila as part of a wider U.S.-led containment policy aimed at shutting China out of its own geostrategic “backyard.” As it routinely does when outside nations dispatch forces to the SCS, Beijing will almost certainly reject any Indian naval presence in the area as an unjustified—if not illegitimate—intrusion in its sovereign sphere of influence. For instance, an August article from Baijiahao, one of China’s largest blog platforms for independent writers, argues that New Delhi’s approach to the Philippines in part of a broader plan to wrest control of the entire SCS (Baijiahao, August 27). This echoes a line that CCP propaganda has often deployed in recent years (Remin Zixun, March 3, 2021). Despite these rhetorical protestations, the PRC would probably not move to actively counter any such deployment for fear that this could spark a direct clash both with New Delhi and its partners in the Quad. The preferred strategy would likely default to economic coercion—wielding the country’s considerable financial leverage to pressure pliable Southeast Asian actors into distancing themselves from the Indo-Philippine partnership. As has been evident with past “lobbying” efforts directed at Cambodia, a precedent exists for this type of economic offensive. The PRC may also look to subversive foreign influence operations (FIOs) as a means for decoupling Indian-Filipino maritime defense cooperation. The CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), which has a remit for exercising political influence inside and outside China, enjoys an active presence in the Philippines. Local intelligence sources have already linked the Department to FIO campaigns aimed at manipulating public and elite opinion in favor of Beijing’s claims in the SCS (China Brief, May 19). As it has done with regards to negatively shaping popular attitudes on Manila’s alliance with Washington, the PRC could easily use the UFWD as a conduit for generating opposition—if not outright hostility—to Marcos’ closer security collaboration with Modi. Finally, the CCP may move to capitalize on Russia’s growing reliance on Chinese support—which has become more pronounced in the wake of the Kremlin’s international isolation over its war in Ukraine—to pressure President Vladimir Putin into towing an anti-India agenda in the Indo-Pacific. While Moscow and New Delhi have historically enjoyed warm ties, bilateral relations have cooled somewhat in recent years due to the latter’s closer alignment with the United States. This, combined with the fact that Russia continues to have strategic relevance for India, accounting for around 45 percent of the country’s arms imports (The Hindu, March 13), could make Putin a useful ally in backing a PRC drive to counter Modi’s evolving defense outreach to the Philippines.