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Asia Watch

As journalists it is our job to seek out information, report on stories that affect the lives of the average person and hold those in power to account by asking them the questions their people want answering.

 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s two-day visit to Dushanbe, Tajikistan where he met with his Tajik and Afghan counterparts was important not just because of the political significance of Nawaz and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani finally meeting but for the economic benefits we can get out of increased trade with the Central Asian Republics.

 

First there was the indignity of being outed for not being ‘straight’ on Iraq by the man who spent seven years finding out. Then, on the anniversary of the London bombings, which also happened on his watch, a British think tank published important findings. Namely, that Saudi Arabia is responsible for funding extremism on British soil.

 

After seven years, Iran’s Supreme Leader broke his silence on the Kashmir issue this week. Ayatollah Khamenei mentioned Kashmir as part of an appeal to look out for “oppressed Muslims” alongside Yemen and Bahrain, but this sudden interest in the plight of Kashmiris has led to speculation about the motive for this in both India and Pakistan.

 

Last month, Saudi Arabia and the UAE imposed a blockade on Qatar, arguing that the country was promoting terrorism. The irony is that Saudi and elite groups of nations in the Gulf have also been supporting Salafis and jihadis for a long time.

 

The city of Marawi in the south of the Philippines has been engulfed by a deadly, ongoing siege since late May, when government forces began to take on heavily armed militants linked to the Islamic State. Local media estimate the death toll to be above 300. Over 200,000 residents have fled what has effectively become an urban battlefield. 

 

While it is critical how Mohammed bin Salman — the new Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler as his father Salman has been slowed by age and reported illness — will handle the desert kingdom’s internal issues, the international community will be keeping a keen eye on how he handles Riyadh’s external relations.

 

The fact that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have handed over a list of demands to the Qatari regime should, on the face of it, indicate some progress in the impasse created after they cut ties with Qatar.

 

A list of 13 conditions for lifting the Saudi-UAE led embargo of Qatar handed to the Gulf state this week by Kuwaiti mediators offers a first taste of newly-promoted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s foreign policy approach that if endorsed by the international community would call into question fundamental principles governing international relations.

 

The rapid rise of Mohammed bin Salman, from one among many princes in the al-Saud royal family to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia within a span of two years, is an unprecedented development in the history of the Kingdom.

 


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History is told by the victors but in our modern age, even contemporary events get - or are given - a slant, where some contributors soon get eclipsed from the narrative or their images tarnished.

 
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