What a week! Here in SIA’s home-base, South Australia, we were hit by a severe storm that caused unprecedented state-wide power blackout. While many of us in metropolitan Adelaide have our power restored, our thoughts go out to homes still without power.
This roundup includes our latest publications, stories to watch for the week of 26-30 September.
Publications & Podcasts
The First Trump-Clinton Presidential Debate
Our CEO Dr John Bruni provides his analysis of the first US Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Read here.
Looking at World Events Through the Prism of Game Theory
SIA Associate, Dr Azhar Iqbal, writes for SIA about the value of using game theory in analysing world events. Read here.
Stories to Watch
Passing of Shimon Peres (28 September)
Former Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres died at the age of 93.
Peres was both hawk and dove, and while he fought hard to defend the state of Israel, once he believed that its borders were secure, he fought hard to create a basis for negotiation with the Palestinians on a final settlement to their interminable conflict.
It is unfortunate that Israelis and Palestinians who saw more advantage in continuing confrontation and war, scuppered the opportunities for peace that Peres created. This is important since now, with a political vacuum among the Palestinians, and a hard line Israeli leadership unable and unwilling to come to a just and fair settlement on the status of the Palestinian people, this grinding conflict will keep going.
Syrian War Entering a New and Dangerous Phase (28 September)
The civil war in Syria is entering a new and dangerous phase. As Syrian government forces and their Russian, Hezbollah and Iranian allies make a play for the key northern city of Aleppo, the carnage that is being aired on the international news is ghastly. President Assad is attempting to reassert his authority over the larger part of Syria from where he hopes to pick off his remaining opponents one at a time. So, from Assad’s perspective, he either wins decisively and takes the besieged city, or loses.
If he loses Aleppo, there will be no going back. It’ll signal the long retreat back into the Alawite heartland of Latakia province, and either Latakia’s secession from Syria proper, or to a jihadist-led pogrom of all Alawites, as well as their Druze and Christian allies.
That the Russians are helping in this military campaign and the imagery of killed and wounded, women, children, elderly is so disturbing, this week, US Secretary of State John Kerry signaled the end of all cooperation with the Russians in Syria.
Should this eventuate, the likelihood of American and Russian warplanes flying combat missions against each other over the skies of Syria cannot be discounted. It is unlikely that such a situation could be easily contained to the Syrian battle space. The Syrian government, however, has until January 2017 to conquer Aleppo as it is unlikely that outgoing President Obama will do anything to stop the ongoing Syrian government offensive.
Escalating Tension in Kashmir (29 September)
Tensions in the disputed territory of Kashmir escalated rapidly as a consequence of Indian ‘surgical strikes’ against Pakistani-supported separatist forces along the border of Pakistan and Kashmir, two weeks after separatists killed 17 Indian soldiers at an Indian Army base in Uri, Kashmir.
While the issue of Kashmir is an old one, and the conflict there is interminable as that of Palestine, threats of nuclear war were issued by Islamabad, while the Modi government in India threatened to review the critically important Indus Water Treaty (IWT) – a treaty that guarantees Pakistani access to the waters of the Indus river and its tributaries.
As a highly water-stressed state, Pakistan is right to see this as a major threat to its internal stability. The problem is that Pakistan may consider an Indian unilateral review of the IWT as an act of war. This flare up is unlikely to settle quickly and may well bleed into the term of the new US president in 2017, and if so, become that person’s first major test of their foreign policy credentials.