Vinay Kaura

Implications of Afghan-Pakistani Clashes Along the Durand Line

| November 26, 2019

Frequent violent clashes between Afghan and Pakistani security forces along their disputed border, the colonial-era Durand Line drawn in 1893, have strained ties between Islamabad and Kabul. Afghanistan does not accept the legitimacy of the Durand Line, claiming it is a violation of its sovereignty, while Pakistan believes it is an accepted international border. These tensions will likely worsen following the pending departure of the Americans from Afghanistan.

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Is US Withdrawal Viable in Afghanistan?

| January 6, 2019

President Trump’s decision to withdraw half of all US troops in Afghanistan will likely be seen as a sign of weakness by the Taliban, who might subsequently feel less motivated to accept a ceasefire proposal. For Pakistan’s security establishment, Trump’s desperation to ensure a less ignominious exit from Afghanistan represents a chance to engage with Washington on its own terms.

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Rumors Notwithstanding, Prospects for Israel-Pakistan Relations Remain Dim

| November 21, 2018

Rumors flew recently that Israeli officials had secretly visited Islamabad at around the same time that PM Netanyahu visited Oman. True or not, no one should get too excited. Islamabad has no intention of establishing diplomatic relations with Jerusalem anytime soon.

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Russia’s Deadly Embrace of Pakistan

| August 31, 2018

In a far-reaching development for India’s strategic interests, on July 31 Russia signed an agreement with Pakistan for naval cooperation. The agreement comes on the heels of an accord between Moscow and Islamabad in April of this year to increase cooperation in the training of armed forces personnel in the naval field and the conduct of a wide range of joint military exercises.

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The Impact on India of the Collapse of the Iran Nuclear Deal

| July 18, 2018

The withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal is likely to deal a blow to India’s strategic investments in energy-rich Iran and land-locked Afghanistan as the Chinese strategic footprint there grows. Maintaining good relations with both Riyadh and Tehran will also become more challenging for New Delhi. The Iran dilemma materialized at the wrong time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as India is preparing for parliamentary elections in less than a year. The pressure being exerted by the Trump administration on the Modi government to stop all oil imports from Tehran is set to complicate India’s diplomatic ties with Iran. It remains to be seen how India will secure its interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia without Iranian support.

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India and China Are Converging on Afghanistan

| June 7, 2018

The “informal summit” between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan in China in late April generated worldwide interest. Aimed at sidestepping contentious issues and enhancing greater strategic communication at the leadership level, the summit witnessed the two leaders recognizing the “common threat” of terrorism and expressing commitment to cooperate on counter-terrorist measures. However, an issue that largely escaped attention is an agreement between them to work jointly on economic projects in Afghanistan. This has been interpreted as Beijing’s message to Islamabad that China “approves” India’s positive role in stabilizing Afghanistan, a fact already recognized by the Trump administration in its new Afghan policy.

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The Taliban’s Threat to Peace in Afghanistan

| March 4, 2018

Washington’s increased support notwithstanding, the Afghan government has thus far failed to contain the Taliban’s sustained terror campaign, while efforts to revive the moribund peace process have similarly run into a dead alley. It remains to be seen whether last week’s bold peace initiative by President Ashraf Ghani will strike a responsive chord with the Taliban.

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Narendra Modi’s Visit to Ramallah

| February 18, 2018

During Indian PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July 2017, India finally ended its long practice that dignitaries who visit Israel must also travel to the Palestinian-controlled territories. On February 10, 2018, he conducted a landmark visit to Ramallah, the first such visit by an Indian PM – and did not visit Israel. This “de-hyphenation” of Israel-Palestine reflects Modi’s pragmatic and sensible approach to relations with the two entities.

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The Dynamics of Saudi-Russian Relations

| October 22, 2017

The Saudi Arabia-US partnership is a defining pillar of Middle Eastern geopolitics. However, increasing Saudi-Iranian hostility, recent changes inside the Saudi regime, and lingering questions over the consistency of the Trump administration’s support have led Riyadh to diversify its bilateral relationships. King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s historic four-day visit to Moscow in early October must be seen in this context. The Saudi-Russian rapprochement will likely have huge strategic and economic consequences for Middle Eastern geopolitics.

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India-US Counterterrorism Cooperation: The Way Forward

| August 8, 2017

Narendra Modi’s visit to the Trump White House in June was his fifth visit to the US since becoming PM of India in 2014, but his first encounter with an American president who does not seem to share his immediate predecessors’ positive view of India. Since Trump’s election on an “America First” platform, there has been apprehension in New Delhi that it might fall off Washington’s radar.

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