What we must worry about in 2018
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