What we must worry about in 2018

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Geo Politics -

The poly­cen­tric new world or­der, which was grad­u­ally emerg­ing since the end of the Cold War, has be­gun to fray at the edges. The primary causes for this sit­u­a­tion are the grow­ing fric­tion among the ma­jor pow­ers, the tri­umphant rise of ul­tra-right wing po­lit­i­cal par­ties, di­lu­tion in the forces of glob­al­i­sa­tion and free mar­ket economies and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s in­abil­ity to com­pre­hen­sively de­feat the forces of rad­i­cal ex­trem­ism.

North Korea’s con­tin­u­ing nu­clear war­head and bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests in 2017 – in fla­grant vi­o­la­tion of United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions – and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald J Trump’s threat to un­leash “fire and fury’ like the world has never seen,” have brought the Korean penin­sula to the brink of war.

Al­though the prob­a­bil­ity of nu­clear ex­changes is low, the pos­si­bil­ity of con­ven­tional con­flict can­not be wished away.

In West Asia, while the progress made in lib­er­at­ing ISIS-con­trolled ar­eas in Iraq and Syria has forced the Is­lamic caliphate to re­treat ge­o­graph­i­cally, its vir­u­lent ide­ol­ogy con­tin­ues to flour­ish un­abated.

In fact, a cy­ber caliphate is emerg­ing grad­u­ally. It is po­ten­tially more dan­ger­ous than its ge­o­graph­i­cal coun­ter­part ow­ing to the abil­ity of a hand­ful of the ‘faith­ful’ to rad­i­calise large sec­tions of vul­ner­a­ble youth us­ing the In­ter­net.

In South­ern Asia, the ten­u­ous se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment in Afghanistan and along the Af-Pak border is the great­est cause of in­sta­bil­ity. The strate­gic stale­mate be­tween the Afghan govern­ment and the rem­nants of NATO forces on one side and the Tal­iban and Pak­istan-spon­sored ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Haqqani net­work on the other, is likely to en­dure. The Tal­iban now con­trol 50 per cent of ru­ral ar­eas in Afghanistan.

Pres­i­dent Trump has re­versed his pre­de­ces­sor’s de­ci­sion to draw down the num­ber of US forces and even­tu­ally pull out of Afghanistan. He has de­cided to con­tinue op­er­a­tions till al Qaeda is fi­nally de­feated. He has also called on Pak­istan to stop play­ing dou­ble games and to elim­i­nate the anti-Afghan Tal­iban from its soil.

2018 is likely to wit­ness more US drone strikes in­side Pak­istan and per­haps even Spe­cial Forces raids and air-to-ground strikes to de­stroy ter­ror­ist hide­outs.

China’s grow­ing nexus with Pak­istan and the two coun­tries’ un­re­solved ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes with In­dia con­tinue to pose a for­mi­da­ble na­tional se­cu­rity threat to In­dia. In the year gone by, the in­ten­sity of this threat did not di­min­ish as has been the case since the Kargil con­flict of 1999.

In fact, the Dok­lam stand­off near the In­dia ( Sikkim)- Ti­bet ( China)- Bhutan

North Korea con­tin­ues bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests

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