Thursday Headlines

Syria Creating Rift Between Iran And Pakistan
Zachary Keck asserts that in recent weeks, relations between Iran and Pakistan have deteriorated as the nations pick sides in the Syrian war with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have held meetings to seal a deal that would have Riyadh purchasing military arms from Islamabad for Syrian opposition forces. But, he adds, there is another potential flashpoint in the relationship – Afghanistan.

“Pakistan and Iran have nearly diametrically opposed interests in Afghanistan, which will make it a prime contender for the biggest flashpoint in the bilateral relationship in the coming years. And Saudi Arabia and India will also be right in the middle of this flashpoint. China might also find itself getting pulled in as well,” he writes.

What Next For Crimea
Steven Pifer of the Brookings Institution says Vladimir Putin faces two choices once the simply annex Crimea, or he could allow Crimea to remain in “a kind of limbo of undefined status, much like Transnistria, which broke away from Moldova in the early 1990s.”

While the first option would cause his neighbors to worry, while the second would leave open the slim chance that Crimea one day might return to Ukraine.

The West, he notes, also faces choices post-referendum.

They could accept that Crimea is now part of Russia, a more likely option because neither the US, nor its European partners are willing to take military action to remove Russian troops. However, that choice has real consequences. new status.

“But Western acceptance of Russia’s aggression and the Crimean referendum’s results would prove a mistake. It would weaken key rules—such as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity—that have governed post-Cold War Europe. It would fuel worries in countries with sizable ethnic Russian populations, including NATO allies such as Latvia and Estonia. And it would not resolve the longer-term tensions between Moscow and a Ukrainian state that sees a better future for itself with Europe.”

The fallout from Russia’s incursion into Ukraine will have ramifications for both the West and Russia, which Dimitri K. Simes and Paul J. Saunders believe makes China the real victor in the Ukrainian showdown.

“For an Obama administration that often can’t handle individual challenges in isolation, it would almost certainly amount to a massive system overload. Meanwhile, during this global meltdown, leaders in Beijing could relax—waiting and watching for the right moments to act on their own ambitions.

In the end, China’s rise is much more significant than Crimea’s fate, and the United States should avoid reacting to the Ukraine crisis in ways that could severely undermine its ability to manage this paramount priority,” they write.

Der Spiegel reporters Marc Hujer and Christian Neef interview
Vitali Klitschko, a leading opposition figure in Ukraine, on his nation’s future and the current conflict with Russia.

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