November 29, 2023
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Madagascar’s Geopolitical Importance


By: Muktha Prasannan, Research Analyst, GSDN

Madagascar: source Internet

Madagascar is an island country situated off the southeast coast of Africa and is the fourth largest island in the world. Historically, Madagascar had a strong French presence, and contemporaneously, its strategic location bordering the Mozambique Channel has also attracted the attention of other great powers. Besides, the region is exposed to eco-power, which is essentially controlled by international actors which make the country more vulnerable to power competition in the Indo-Pacific. Notably, strategic islands have historically been utilized by developing nations to project power. It has been expected that islands, including Madagascar, will shape a new framework for security structure. However, it occupies a vulnerable geopolitical position in the Indo-Pacific, swaying in the swiftly charging currents induced by climate change.

The country is ranked 167 out of 182 countries on the 2022 ND-GAIN climate vulnerability index. Affected by an exceptional number of tropical cyclones such as Ana, Bastsirai, Emnati, Dumako, Gombe, Jasmine and Freddy, which led to significant infrastructure damage and increase in internal displacement. Despite having abundant natural resources, such as nickel, cobalt, and ilmenite, the island remains among the least competitive on the continent. This has made it feasible for foreign nations like Japan, China, and Russia to provide assistance and investments. Rain fed agriculture; inadequate infrastructure, had made constraints on development, along with weak economic growth and rapid population resulted in poverty in the population.

Having advanced in isolation, the island nation is notable for its distinctive flora and fauna. The population is Malagasy and is branched into about twenty ethnic groups. The majority of the population speaks the Malagasy language and French also being widely used and formally recognized. Traditionally, it is an agro-based economy, concentrating on the cultivation of paddy, rice, coffee, vanilla, and cloves.

Despite rich natural resources and wildlife, and the tourism industry driven by its unique environment, it remains one of the poorest countries with weak economic growth and rapid population growth, ultimately resulting in poverty in the population. The economic growth of the country is stagnant due to political instability and inadequate human and physical capital for development. Furthermore, the region is highly exposed to natural hazards like cyclones, floods and drought on account of its location in the South Western Indian Ocean basin.

Confronted with challenges from economic inequalities and domestic political instability, including violent coups and controversial elections, since gaining independence from France in 1960, with Philibert Tsiranana as President. The 2009 coup had led to five years of political deadlock, international condemnation and economic sanctions. Andry Rajoelina brought an end to a decade of political unrest by assuming the office of President by ousting Marc Ravalomanana in January 2019. President Andry Rajoelina and Prime minister Christian Ntsay have led the country since 2019.

Political unrest and the aftermath of the 2009 coup with successive natural disasters have made the country a center for geopolitics of Indo-Pacific due to glaring vulnerabilities, strategic location and resource potential. Historically, Madagascar had the presence of the French and contemporarily, its strategic location on the Southwestern Indian Ocean separated from the African coast by a 400km wide Mozambique channel, holds a precarious geopolitical focus. Madagascar serves as a development, economic, and security partner for nations in the Indo-Pacific, including France and India. It has a crucial role in guaranteeing freedom of navigation, particularly in the Mozambique channel, a vital chokepoint. As well positioned in Indo-Pacific, occupy the capacity to protect maritime interests and safeguard the naval assets of the partner nations. The country is influential in the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that have seen interest from the United States, Russia, and China. It has attracted investments and accepted aid from other countries like Japan, China and Russia. US remains to be one of the largest bilateral donors of Madagascar. US aid and peace corps are active in the country.

India and Madagascar association are essential to establishing as stakeholders in the emerging maritime security architecture of the Indo-Pacific. Both countries participated in Indian Ocean Naval symposium and were part of the first maritime India Summit in 2016. New Delhi attempts to use soft power influence through initiatives as Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR), Project Mausam, and Sagar Mala port development project. Both countries have cooperated in multidimensional areas of defense and renewable energy.

China’s multidimensional approach with investment in the development of the port of Toamasina, a deep-water port which is a vital resource of island nation. Beijing provided Sinopharm vaccine, healthcare aid and medical kits, oxygenators and ventilators during the Covid-19 pandemic. China focused on technical and humanitarian assistance.

Russia has bilateral relations with Madagascar. Madagascar has signed a military cooperation agreement with Russia, comprising collaboration on development of military products, training of personnel and maintenance of equipment.

Since obtaining independence from France, both nations remain to have diplomatic and cultural and political relations. France has provided funds for its initiative pore l’emergence de Madagascar (IEM). Likewise, US is involved in scientific projects the Deep Underground Neutrino experiments (DUNE).

South Korea has invested in the Toliara roads rehabilitation project and a national disaster management centre. Seoul has interest in food security and biofuel exports from Madagascar. Tokyo provides incentives via Japan international cooperation agency, a project of Asia-Africa growth corridor.

Madagascar is aiming for its third peaceful election with 13 candidates running since the upheaval of 2009 when Rajoelina ousted Ravalomanana. It is a semi-presidential democratic republic with an elected president, a bicameral legislature, prime minister and cabinet. The elections were scheduled to be held on 9 November 2023, with a second round on 20 December if required, later it was announced that elections postponed to one week to 16 November due to pre-political unrest. The High Constitutional Court is scheduled to certify the results on November 30. Full provisional results are expected on November 24.

Madagascar’s election matters as this election could be essential in cementing democracy and help strengthen its fragile democracy. As the state has a history of political instability. In fact, the region’s wealth of natural resources, fertile land, tourists’ hotspot, long coastlines, and young workforce, yet remains as one of world’s poor countries with more than three quarters of people living in extreme poverty. Further, the region has the least developed road network and struggles with frequent power-cuts.

According to the IMF, the spending on health and education is low compared to other sub-Saharan African countries; there aren’t enough schools and hospitals for the growing population. Meanwhile, environmental threats like slash and burn agriculture and illegal logging have destroyed a quarter of biodiversity in the last two decades. Recent cyclones, floods, and drought made it one of the most vulnerable nations to natural hazards. The stake for this election is about activating the capacity for growth in Madagascar.

The challenges and prospects faced in the region as great power competition intensifies, is affected by political instability. The weak governance and inefficiency of political parties remain key constraint to development. Environmental degradation and threats become vulnerable spot and liabilities that the great powers use to justify their engagement in the country. This could encourage the government to be more selective in forming associations with other countries.

Madagascar has signed agreement with the world bank to reduce poverty, deforestation, and carbon emissions and Emissions Reduction Payment Agreement (ERPA) which provided the aid of USD 50 million to ease poverty among forest communities. Madagascar can observe interactive relations with other powers and enhance cooperation through knowledge sharing, equipment transfers in the emerging realm of artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, undersea capabilities for shared purposes like intelligence surveillance target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR).

As the region remains in peril from natural hazard, which pushes the government to work with other countries, such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), which would extend assistance to the country with disaster risk management, maritime safety, and blue economy. For Madagascar, establishing multilateral security partnerships is paramount. The quad plus construct provides equal opportunity for African countries like Madagascar to join partnership, work toward national security and provide assistance in managing natural resources to protect the ecosystem and promote sustainable living.

Island nations count on global powers, who serve a crucial role in creating “regional security hierarchies.” As major powers foster cooperation and enhance interoperability in the areas of knowledge sharing and equipment transfer related to artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and underwater capabilities, such types of hierarchies are enforced. Additional initiatives have been made to reduce infrastructure gaps and increase climate resilience through the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility, particularly as Madagascar is still a prime example of the vulnerability of islands to climate change.

In an effort to gain influence in the region, major powers are also focusing on resolving Madagascar’s resource constraints. Moreover, the strategic use of island nations has allowed the emerging non-traditional actors an overview of the tremendous potential of these countries, which is likely to contribute to a shared goal with major powers to increase influence in the region. After a recent period of relative stability, it has a chance to consolidate its democratic status and fulfil its potential.

Bhutan’s China Tilt: Tough Implications for India and Regional Dynamics


By: Harshit Tokas, Research Analyst, GSDN

Bhutan-India-China: source Internet

The recent visit of Bhutan’s top diplomat to Beijing has ignited a complex geopolitical situation, placing the tiny Himalayan kingdom in an uncomfortable spotlight. Nestled between two Asian giants, China and India, Bhutan has long been recognized for its special ties with New Delhi. However, this historic relationship faces a potential paradigm shift as Bhutan engages in diplomatic overtures with China. The visit, which included boundary talks and discussions on establishing formal diplomatic ties, raises significant concerns in India and has broader implications for regional geopolitics.

Bhutan’s geographical location, sandwiched between China and India, has made it a crucial player in the geopolitical landscape of South Asia. Despite its small size, the kingdom’s unique position has made it a focal point for its neighbors’ strategic interests. Bhutan, unlike any other country in Asia, has refrained from formal diplomatic relations with Beijing, maintaining a distinctive closeness to New Delhi. However, the recent developments indicate a potential shift in this traditional stance.

The heart of the ongoing negotiations between Bhutan and China lies in the unresolved border issues, particularly the disputed tri-junction on the Doklam plateau, involving China, Bhutan, and India. The Doklam region gained international attention in 2017 when a tense 73-day standoff occurred between Chinese and Indian troops. The strategic importance of Doklam for India, especially its proximity to the Siliguri Corridor, adds layers of complexity to the situation.

During the recent talks in Beijing, Bhutanese Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji received a warm reception, signifying potential progress in border negotiations. The signing of a cooperation agreement on delimitation and demarcation of the boundary is viewed as a breakthrough. These developments, coupled with expressions of willingness to establish diplomatic ties, underscore a notable warming of relations between Bhutan and China.

China’s outreach to Bhutan extends beyond economic considerations, reflecting broader strategic ambitions. The potential establishment of an embassy in Thimphu would mark a significant departure from Bhutan’s historical aversion to big-power politics. The complex dynamics of allowing China into Bhutan’s diplomatic sphere raise questions about the kingdom’s autonomy and its ability to navigate the delicate balance between its powerful neighbors.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, seen as a China-friendly figure, has acknowledged the theoretical inevitability of bilateral relations with China. This acknowledgment, coupled with discussions about a possible land swap involving the strategically crucial Doklam area, indicates a nuanced shift in Bhutan’s foreign policy. The three-step road map on boundary delineation, agreed upon in 2021, includes demarcation talks, on-ground site visits, and formal boundary demarcation.

For India, Bhutan’s traditional ally, these developments raise significant concerns. The fate of Doklam has been highlighted as one of India’s red lines regarding Bhutan’s ties with China. The potential normalization of diplomatic relations between Bhutan and China, combined with progress on the border dispute, challenges India’s strategic interests in the region. The sensitive nature of Doklam, particularly its proximity to the Siliguri Corridor, adds a layer of complexity to India’s response.

In an editorial, The Hindu emphasized that the fate of Doklam represents one of India’s red lines in Bhutan’s engagement with China. New Delhi’s wariness about a possible border settlement and formal diplomatic ties between Beijing and Thimphu reflects the delicate regional geopolitics, where India has historically played a significant role.

The unfolding events in Bhutan carry broader implications for regional stability and the international system. The potential realignment of Bhutan’s foreign policy challenges established norms, especially concerning territorial disputes between smaller and larger neighbors. The outcome of Bhutan’s diplomatic engagements could reshape perceptions of China’s influence in South Asia and beyond.

The Doklam plateau, strategically positioned near the “Chicken’s Neck” holds immense significance for India’s security architecture. Any alteration in the territorial status quo, particularly involving a potential land swap, could have seismic implications for regional stability. The strategic importance of Doklam, highlighted during the 2017 standoff, adds a layer of complexity to the ongoing negotiations.

As Bhutan navigates the delicate balance between China and India, diplomatic nuances become crucial. The skepticism surrounding an imminent border settlement reflects the distrust and complexities involved. Tshering and Dorji’s assurances that no agreement will be made against India’s interests emphasize the continued significance of India’s role in the tri-junction matter at Doklam.

The possibility of a diplomatic agreement between China and Bhutan raises questions about the involvement of India in the negotiation process. The tri-junction area, involving all three parties – Bhutan, China, and India, requires consent from each for any deal to be reached. The resolution of the border dispute, if achieved, could potentially ease tensions between China and India, contributing to a positive regional development.

The evolving dynamics between Bhutan, China, and India underscore the intricate nature of geopolitical relations in South Asia. Bhutan’s delicate balancing act, historically leaning towards India, now faces the complexities of engaging with an assertive China. As negotiations progress and the potential for a diplomatic breakthrough loom, the geopolitical implications extend far beyond Bhutan’s borders.

The Doklam plateau, with its historical significance and strategic positioning, symbolizes the challenges and sensitivities of the region. India’s role as a regional power and Bhutan’s longstanding ties with New Delhi add layers of complexity to the unfolding narrative. The outcome of these diplomatic maneuvers will not only shape the future of Bhutan’s foreign policy but will also reverberate across the broader canvas of regional and international relations.

Kazakhstan’s Quest for Nuclear Power: Geopolitical Implications


By: Deeplaxmi Patil, Research Analyst, GSDN

Kazakhstan: source Internet

The Trajectory of Nuclear Power in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is a vast, resource rich state in Central Asia. At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the uranium-rich nation is becoming a more alluring player in the field of nuclear energy and strategic minerals, attracting attention from around the globe. Kazakhstan voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons and became a non-nuclear weapon state after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Prior to this, the nation had stored 1,410 Soviet strategic nuclear warheads in addition to an unspecified number of tactical nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Semipalatinsk, one of the main nuclear test sites used by the Soviet Union, was in Kazakhstan and was the scene of at least 460 nuclear tests.

Kazakhstan decided to denuclearize and eliminate the weapons on its territory and gave up its nuclear arsenal in a historic gesture. The idea of a more secure and safe world free from the threat of nuclear war served as the impetus for this decision. Kazakhstan’s commitment to disarmament has been widely praised, and the country has played an active role in advocating for global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament efforts. The closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site stands as a testament to Kazakhstan’s dedication to promoting peace and nuclear security internationally.

However, recently Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy has proposed the potential reintroduction of nuclear power to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, diversify its energy mix and reduce CO2 emissions. It has been actively pursuing the development of nuclear power to diversify its energy sources and enhance its energy securityTop of Form

. Kazakhstan showed interest in harnessing nuclear energy for purposes related to medicine and other peaceful fields, such as the production of electricity. Kazakhstan is one of the top producers of uranium in the world and has an abundance of the element, which is essential for nuclear fuel. The nation contributes significantly to the global nuclear sector and has large reserves of this material.

The Quest for Nuclear Power

According to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a referendum on building a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan would be held. This announcement was made at his state-of-the-nation speech. The voting date is not decided yet.

The announcement of a referendum in Kazakhstan regarding the development of nuclear technologies signifies a significant step in the country’s energy policy and its engagement with its citizens. Energy Minister Almasadam Satkaliyev’s statement underscores the government’s commitment to engaging the public in decisions related to the development of nuclear power. The approach to seek public input indicates a transparent and democratic process, allowing citizens to express their thoughts and concerns about the necessity of advancing technologies in the nuclear energy sector.

Ulken, in the Almaty region’s Zhambyl district, was chosen after significant consideration and planning as the possible location for Kazakhstan’s first nuclear power plant. Since that building a nuclear plant involves not only technical and financial viability but also local acceptance and support, community involvement is essential. Kazakhstan’s nuclear energy law emphasises the need for local agreement, which emphasises how critical it is to take into account the concerns and opinions of the local population living close to the laid-out plant.

The initiation of public discussions, as mandated by Kazakhstan’s Ecological Code, demonstrates the government’s commitment to transparency and openness in decision-making. These discussions provide a platform for residents to voice their opinions, ensuring that their perspectives are considered. It is noteworthy that, according to the ministry, the local residents have expressed support for the development of nuclear energy, citing potential social and economic benefits for the region. This positive response could be indicative of effective communication and education efforts by the government, highlighting the advantages and safety measures associated with nuclear energy.

The consideration of four reputable foreign suppliers, namely EDF of France, China National Nuclear Corporation, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, and Rosatom of Russia, indicates Kazakhstan’s seriousness in evaluating international expertise and technologies.

Kazakhstan has shown a commitment to democratic ideals and public engagement in important energy decisions by including its citizens through a referendum and public participation. The government’s commitment to making well-informed decisions in the growth of its nuclear energy sector is demonstrated by the choosing of an appropriate location and the consideration of foreign suppliers. Maintaining transparency, educating the public, and paying close attention to their concerns will be crucial as the process develops to foster confidence and guarantee Kazakhstan’s nuclear energy goals are carried out successfully.

Kazakhstan’s nuclear balancing act and international interests

The evolving energy landscape in Kazakhstan presents a complex scenario, marked by a delicate balancing act between economic interests, environmental concerns, and geopolitical considerations. With ambitious carbon neutrality goals set for 2060, the country aims to diversify its energy mix by incorporating more nuclear power, a move driven by the need to reduce its heavy reliance on coal, which currently accounts for 70% of its power generation and is economically advantageous.

However, this transition to nuclear energy is not without challenges, especially when viewed through a geopolitical lens. Kazakhstan finds itself at the centre of a geopolitical conundrum, navigating the interests of major global players such as France, South Korea, Russia, and China. The choice of a nuclear partner carries significant political implications, requiring astute diplomacy and careful manoeuvring to maintain a delicate balance.

The dilemma is particularly evident in Kazakhstan’s careful approach toward Russia and the European Union (EU). While there is a desire to avoid sanctions from the EU, the country also aims to maintain a balanced relationship with Russia, a key neighbour and historical ally. The memory of past geopolitical events, such as the conflict in Ukraine, adds complexity to Kazakhstan’s decision-making process.

France’s keen interest in Kazakhstan’s strategic minerals, particularly uranium, further intensifies the international competition for access to these valuable resources. President Macron’s visit underscores France’s eagerness to strengthen ties with Kazakhstan, highlighting the importance of Central Asia in the minds of European nations, especially in the wake of challenges faced in other regions. Moreover, China and Turkey are also actively seeking opportunities in Central Asia, intensifying the competition for influence and access to resources in the region.

In this context, Kazakhstan’s decision-making process regarding its nuclear energy future is not merely an economic choice but a multifaceted geopolitical strategy. The country must carefully weigh the benefits of international partnerships against potential political risks, ensuring that its energy transition aligns with its national interests, economic growth, and global diplomatic relationships.

As Kazakhstan moves forward, its ability to navigate these intricate geopolitical dynamics will shape the trajectory of its nuclear energy development and its broader role in the global energy landscape. This situation highlights the growing complexity of energy-related decisions in an interconnected world, where economic, environmental, and geopolitical factors are inextricably intertwined.

Geopolitical Implications

  • Regional Power Dynamics:

The advancement of nuclear power in Kazakhstan strengthens its position as a major regional force in Central Asia. Kazakhstan can become more influential in regional talks and negotiations and be able to influence more regional energy policies and partnerships if it possesses more effective nuclear technology and expertise.

  • Diplomatic Leverage:

 A nuclear program can provide Kazakhstan with diplomatic leverage in international negotiations. Being a nuclear-capable nation allows Kazakhstan to participate in discussions related to global nuclear governance, disarmament, and non-proliferation. It gives the country a stronger voice in international forums and strengthens its position when engaging with other nuclear-armed states.

  • Energy Cooperation and Alliances:

 Kazakhstan can participate in energy cooperation and alliances with other nations pursuing nuclear power by establishing itself as a producer of nuclear energy. Through cooperative research projects, energy trade agreements, and strategic collaborations, this collaboration can strengthen Kazakhstan’s political and economic relations with partner countries.

  • Nuclear Security and Non-Proliferation:

Kazakhstan’s international standing may be enhanced through its dedication to nuclear non-proliferation and its prudent management of nuclear technology. Kazakhstan can improve its standing as a responsible nuclear actor by actively taking part in non-proliferation programmes, guaranteeing the security of its nuclear facilities, and collaborating with international organisations on nuclear safety measures.

  • Regional Stability:

Through the diversification of Central Asia’s energy sources, Kazakhstan’s peaceful pursuit of nuclear energy can enhance regional stability. By diversifying the energy supply, the region becomes less dependent on any one provider, improving energy security and possibly lowering geopolitical conflicts associated with energy resources.

  • Strategic Balancing Act:

Kazakhstan’s nuclear aspirations require it to meticulously oversee its connections with major nations, neighbours, and international organisations. In order to prevent neighbouring governments from engaging in an arms race or regional tensions rising as a result of Kazakhstan’s nuclear ambitions, diligent diplomacy will be needed to navigate these ties.


Kazakhstan’s nuclear power trajectory demonstrates a commitment to disarmament, non-proliferation, and the development of peaceful nuclear energy. Kazakhstan demonstrated responsible stewardship of its nuclear resources by actively participating in international collaborations and adhering to severe security procedures. The country’s transition to LEU, as well as the possibility of future civilian nuclear projects, demonstrate a balanced approach to leveraging the benefits of nuclear technology while supporting global non-proliferation efforts. As Kazakhstan navigates the nuclear power landscape, continued attention, cooperation, and investments in nuclear security will be critical.

Israel’s Nuclear Capability: Impact on the Israel-Palestine War


By: Aasi Ansari, Research Analyst, GSDN

Israeli nuclear weapons: source Internet


Unlike the other eight nuclear states, Israel has not been fully transparent about its nuclear capabilities. Although it is well known that Israel possesses several weapons of mass destruction, United States overlooks the secrecy surrounding Israel’s nuclear weapons. The main reason is the deal between America and Israel in 1969, in which America would accept a nuclear armed Israel and keep it a secret. However, there is no official record of this deal.

In 1974, Iran and Egypt first proposed Weapon of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Till 2018, this resolution has been passed every year without any vote by UNGA. In November 2019, UNGA brought WMDFZ to a vote but United States and Israel didn’t attend the conference. This conference was planned again to be organized in November 2020 but due to the pandemic it was postponed. The absence of USA and Israel in this conference keeps them in suspicion regarding the nuclear capabilities of the Israel.

Israel’s Nuclear Capability

It is believed that Israel have up to 90 Plutonium Warheads. Simultaneously, having enough nuclear material stockpile for 200 more, i.e. 300 kg of weapon grade Uranium and 980 kg of weapon grade Plutonium. However, the number of Israeli nuclear warheads cannot be confirmed. The effectiveness of those warheads are questionable because of the lack of testing. Israel took help from other countries such as France, South Africa and Germany to develop its nuclear weapon program. Israel may have used data of nuclear weapon testing from France in early 1960s and might have tested a nuclear explosion in South Africa in 1979. Nevertheless, France broke off from the deal in 1967 as a result of the Six-Day War.

Israel is considered to have nuclear missiles in all three domains, i.e. aircraft based, submarine based and land based. Israel have bought many aircrafts from the US including A-4 Skyhawk and F-4 Phantom which are capable of delivering nuclear bombs. Israel also have fighter jet planes such as F-15, F-16, F-35 that are believed to carry a gravity bomb with minor changes. It is believed that 25 of these F-15 aircrafts has nuclear capability. The range of the F-15 is 3500 km and F-16 is 1600 km, making F-16 most likely to be used in Palestine and Iran, if it is ever used.

The origin of development of Jericho-1 missile technology of Israel goes back to 1960s with the help of a France company Dassault Aviation to produce surface to surface ballistic missile. Jericho-2 was developed in 1990s with the help of South Africa. Whereas, Jericho-3 was developed in 2008 and it entered into the Israeli Defence Forces in 2011. Israel tested ‘Rocket Propulsion System’ in 2013, which is believed to be related to Jericho-3 Missile. It is known that the Jericho missiles are capable of nuclear payload but the number of these missiles possessed by Israel cannot be confirmed. It is believed that up to 100 of these missiles could be nuclear capable. The approximate range of Jericho-1 is considered to be up to 5000 km, Jericho-2 is 850 km and Jericho-3 is 4000 km. With the help of these missiles Israel will not only be able to threaten Palestine but also any countries supporting Palestine like Pakistan or any Middle East nation.

Israel took help to produce submarines from the German company, Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW). Israel has five Dolphin class submarines, none of them are known to be nuclear powered submarines. Israel’s submarines are considered to be nuclear capable with slight modification. German Ministry of Defence authority Hans Rühle assumed Israel intended to equip the submarines with cruise missiles with nuclear payload. However, there is no official evidence. In recent years, Israel has purchased new Dragon submarine from Germany which is said to carry nuclear missile with Vertical Launching System (VLS). But has Israel equipping it with nuclear missile cannot be confirmed.

Impact on proliferation in Middle East

Israel and Palestine have been on a war for several decades, but the last month has been cruellest of them all. Since Hamas launched a brutal attack on Israel on October 07, 2023 leading to Israel launching a full-fledged war on the Gaza Strip, many conventional missiles has been used from both sides. President of United States, Joe Biden has promised to help Israeli Defence Forces in its fight against Hamas. United States has since sending arms to the crisis zone andhas moved two aircraft carrier groups and a Ohio-class nuclear submarine in close vicinity of Israel. Israel increased its bombing capabilities on the Gaza strip and has been bombing areas occupied by the Palestinians.

Just a couple of days after the Hamas attack, Israeli heritage minister Amihai Eliyahu has suggested the ‘Doomsday’ option and the use of Jericho missile. This puts the nuclear weapon in the lime light. Although, Israel has neither agreed nor declined the of possession nuclear weapon, but an Israeli official suggesting nuclear option, appeares to have confirmed the existence of weapon of mass destruction and that the Jericho missile has nuclear capability. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian suggested that the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency should take immediate action to prevent such a barbaric move by Israel.

It is assumed that Israel has nuclear or conventional weapon in order to deter Arab countries and terrorist organizations. This is because of the ‘Begin Doctrine’, which gives Israel the right to own its own nuclear weapons. This doctrine has fuelled many conflicts between Israel and Arab countries. This could lead in the development of nuclear weapons in the Middle Eastern countries such as Iran and many more. Thus, this doctrine could be considered to continue fuelling many conflicts in the upcoming future.

The biggest impact of the 2023 Israel-Palestine war is the end of Two-State Solution. It is close to impossible to revive the two-state solution because the quantity of people getting killed or getting relocated from their household in Palestine is excessively high that there might be no Palestinians left to make two States. However, it is very less likely that Israel will ever use a nuclear weapon on Gaza, they say “it’s too close”. By using the Weapon of Mass Destruction Israel’s victory is confirmed but it will have two effect. Either it will spread radiation all over the country and the bordering country or they use law yield nuclear missile, the occupied land will be highly contaminated with radiation for years to come. In either case Gaza will be left uninhabitable. Palestine on the other hand has signed, ratified and endorsed the ‘Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ (TPNW) on September 20, 2017. Palestine is one of the 50 states who has enforced this peaceful treaty since January 22, 2021.

The Israeli army is much stronger than any of the neighbouring countries who might possess a threat. For instance, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria are all either having limited military power or suffering economically. Many of these nations are trying to provide aid to Palestinians by different means such as food, water and medicine. Iran might be the only nation to possess series threat to Israel because of its resent nuclear development. Although, Iran is trying to help Palestine, they have not declared full scale war against Israel. On the other, Yamen is the only country that has officially declared war against the Israel to help Palestine, but they do not possess nuclear capabilities.

If Israel ever resort to use of nuclear missiles on Palestine, they will lose the image of a nation fighting against a terrorist organisation. All the neighbouring countries will oppose and the entire Middle East could be at war with Israel. Israel might even get nuclear threat from countries like China, Russia and Pakistan. Many countries such as Iran might accelerate their nuclear program to prepare for the war against Israel or to deter from any nuclear threats. This will force leading global power like United States to intervene and to prevent possible nuclear war.


Israeli nuclear monopoly in the Middle East could have a huge impact on Proliferation in the Middle East, promoting missile development program including nuclear missiles. How long this conflict will last cannot be confirmed, but the probabilities of Weapon of Mass Destruction being used in the Palestine or any countries in the Middle East is little to zero. Since Palestine has ratified the treaty on prohibition of nuclear weapon, Hamas will not use nuclear missile but they are armed with conventional missile. However, in the last month they have suffered big loss in the number of Hamas militants. Even if somehow Gaza wins the war, very less population of Gazans will be left with less economic and destroyed infrastructure and more area of the Gaza will be captured by Israel. Arab countries might not have nuclear capabilities but America does and it could deteriorate the relation between America and Arab world. Because victory cannot be achieved until unless America stops supporting Israel.

Peace could be achieved if Israel gives the responsibility of safeguard of their nuclear program to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and United Nations Security council (UNSC). Other than that, diplomatic efforts can be put upon Israel to sign peace treaty such as ‘Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapon’ or ‘Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’ (NPT). These options have the potential to stop the nuclear escalation and the killings on both sides.

Israel-Palestine War: The WANA Angle


By: Nandini Khandelwal, Research Analyst, GSDN

WANA Region: source Internet

Although the countries that make up the WANA region are often referred to as being around the Mediterranean and Red Seas, there may not be unanimity on this matter. Alternative terms for this region include WANA (West Asia North Africa), NAWA (North Africa and West Asia), SWANA (Southwest Asia and North Africa), and MENA (Middle East and North Africa). The precise nations that make up this region may vary depending on the context or the source. The Indian Ministry of Commerce describes the region as WANA, indicating its preference over the term MENA due to its lost relevance with the end of British colonialism and its geographic bias.

Owing to the region’s strategic importance, it has long been a geopolitical significance. Israel-Palestine conflict revolves around this region beginning with the flourishing civilisations such as Mesopotamia, the Persian Empire, and the Roman Empire known for being the birthplace of Jews in historical Israel and Judah, along with their long-drawn persecution. Its relevance for the origins of three religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, gave rise to the multiplicity of cultures, faiths, and ethnicity. However, this rich past has also become the source of the region’s current political turbulence and instability.

Thucydides, one of the most prominent ancient realists, stated in The Melian Dialogue, “The strong do what they have the power to do, and the weak accept what they have to accept.” This statement is especially relevant in this region, where over time certain religions and ethnicities have dominated others to maintain their power status quo. While the seeds were already sown by the inevitable power politics, external factors such as European colonialism, beginning with the Sykes-Picot agreement post World War I marked its entry into the modern international system. 


Modernisation theory argues that under-developed and developing nation-states should follow a universal Western path for optimal development. However, the response of the WANA region has proved it false. The Europeans’ arrival as torchbearers for the region’s economic development caused turbulence in practically every nation-state. The lone distinction consisted of whether there were positive impacts or solely negative ones. The notion that peace and development go hand in hand, proved paradoxical with the advent of the Europeans in the region.

While Israel at least saw some positive impacts after years of violent displacement due to European colonialism as a result of gaining a Jewish homeland for themselves, Palestine’s condition turned into a political wreck as a result of its experiences with Zionism, which proved problematic when it took a cultural nationalistic turn, committing Spacio-cide (coined by Sari Hanafi) on the Palestinians alongside genocide. Alongside, its socioeconomic graph displayed a decline over time, coinciding with the large-scale Jewish settlement in and around the region.


Proxy warfare refers to a military confrontation taking place in a proxy land, away from the homeland involving one or more players directly or indirectly supporting state or non-state actors to further their strategic goals while undermining that of their opponents.

Following European colonialism, the region was entrapped into the neo-colonialism of the United States and the European nation-states, beginning with the Cold War era. The British as a result of rising violence between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine post-Balfour declaration (1918) relieved themselves of the responsibility to shift it to the United Nations (the US, implicitly) to decide. This resulted in Pan-Arabism with key players of the Arab world, especially Egypt, and Syria forming the United Arab Republic against the creation of Israel by the UN mandate of 1948. With each following Arab-Israeli wars, Israel became militarily, and technologically richer with the relentless support from the United States.

This resulted in two blocs in the region, one included Israel supported by the US and the other bloc by Arab states supporting Palestinians like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar and the like. Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 provided roots to Hezbollah supported by Shiite Iran’s mobilisation in the country. This formed the present-day Axis of Resistance, a rebranded elite overseas arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) which includes Lebanon-based Hezbollah, the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad, Iraqi Shia militias and the Houthis of Yemen. The support to Arabs also witnessed an inevitable evolution of Russia (former Soviet Union) from supporting Israel’s creation to providing military aid to the Arab nation-states in their fight with Israel in the light of Cold War politics.


The blocs are relevant in the ongoing Israel’s wrestle with Hamas, which began on October 7, 2023. Repeating the history of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Hamas launched massive attacks on Israel taking advantage of the people celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The only distinction is different and multiple players, adding to the graveness. The bloc supporting the Arabs includes the revived Axis of Resistance. Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree blamed Israel for instability in the Middle East, saying the “circle of conflict” in the region was being expanded by its “continued crimes”. The Houthis would continue to mount attacks “until the Israeli aggression stops”. For Hezbollah, Naim Qassem stated its clear purpose, “We are trying to weaken the Israeli enemy and let them know that we are ready.” Hamas officials have said that if Israel starts a ground offensive in Gaza, Hezbollah will join the fighting.

Europe is showing many voices concerning the humanitarian pause in the conflict. Both inter-divide and intra-divide are visible. For instance, there are countries such as Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain and Sweden most critical of Israel owing to their domestic politics, stressing issues of human rights and international law while Germany, Austria, Netherlands, and the Czech Republic are among those condemning Hamas terrorism on Israel. Intra-divide is apparent in the United Kingdom between the political parties as well as the public, thereby accusing the government of failing to be a critical friend to Israel.

Israel has no right to defend itself as it is an occupying power, Russia’s representative to the United Nations (UN), Vasily Nebenzya, said at an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, along with stating that Israel as an occupying power doesn’t hold the power to self-defence according to the International Court of Justice ruling in 2004 and resolution of the Palestinian issue through the UN resolutions is the pre-requisite to Israel’s security. Russia’s continuing support comes at a time per the national interests when it is itself being condemned by the West for its invasion of Ukraine, referring to the US as a hypocrite. On the other hand, White House spokesperson John Kirby said “We are not drawing red lines for Israel,” pressing relentless support for Israel. The US also supports the “humanitarian pause”, however, for the captives held by Hamas alone. It’s interesting to note that the precursor to Hamas, the Mujama al-Islamiyah (Islamic Centre) was allowed to raise proxy funds through Israel with the West (US) overhead.

The proxy warfare continues to the extent that it is no longer about the original issue involving peace between Israel and Palestine but the assertion of the influence of different state and non-state actors in the region. The US’s aspirations to urge mediation and peace in the region while continuing to unconditionally support Israel years after the Cold War has ended, appears to be paradoxical. Iran, a US rival, is benefitting by promoting propaganda against Israel to achieve its interests at the cost of catastrophic violence. Russia is manoeuvring as per its interests and taking advantage as the conflict is putting a shadow over its actions in Ukraine. The UN appears to be defunct which is reflected upon by its recent resolution about the immediate ceasefire and humanitarian pause. After all, it is regulated by the P5 nation-states which never come to a consensus, vetoing around the bush. Perhaps, the proxy actions by the external actors wouldn’t have been conceivable if international organisations like the UN had been sufficiently trustworthy as a collective security mechanism.

Syria-Jordan Relations: Road of Recovery


By: Vaishnavi Verma, Research Analyst, GSDN

Syria-Jordan: source Internet

Jordan has made a significant effort to re-establish normalcy with Syria in recent months. There had been a diplomatic rift between Syria and Jordan before the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war bringing their relationship to an all-time low. Jordan withdrew its ambassador from Syria in 2012, but kept their embassy open, denouncing the activities of the Syrian government against their nationals. Jordan removed Bahjat Suleiman, the Syrian ambassador, on May 26, 2014 ostensibly as a result of comments he had made criticizing Jordan’s support of Syrian rebels. In reaction, because the Jordanian envoy was no longer physically present in Syria, the Syrians symbolically ejected him from the country.

First of all, even at the height of regional and worldwide condemnation of Syria’s harsh policies after the commencement of the uprising in the nation back in 2011, Jordan never severed ties with Syria. Jordan has always believed that severing ties with Damascus is not a useful strategy for influencing its practices and policies.

On the contrary, there was only going to be a chance to patch things up in Syria and put an end to the brutal civil war that resulted from continuing to have ties and communicate with the Syrian leadership.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees left war-torn regions at the same time and fled to Jordan. Opposition forces liberated the regions close to the triangle formed by the borders of Israel, Syria, and Jordan. The Syrian opposition also took control of the region on the outskirts of Swaida, east of the city of Daraa. The Syrian government-maintained control over Daraa up to the Nassib-Jaber border crossing. Parts of the city of Deraa and the border crossing were taken over by opposition forces in 2015.

At first, Jordan did not let Syrian opposition agents operate from Jordanian territory against Syria. Fears that the Muslim Brotherhood might seize power in the event of the Assad regime’s downfall and maybe deepen this trend in Jordan, endangering the stability of the Hashemite monarchy, were the primary cause of this.

Jordan’s concerns grew in 2015 as ISIS supporter Jish Khalid ibn al-Walid captured the border triangle between Syria, Jordan, and Israel. The expansion of Sunni radicalism within ISIS into Jordan was a major source of worry for Jordan.

Due to the opposition factions’ lack of cohesiveness on Syrian territory, the situation on the Jordanian-Syrian border deteriorated in 2014. Syria has developed into a hotbed of Islamic extremism, home to groups like ISIS and Al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda).

Jordan agreed to set up a joint operations and coordination centre with the several nations participating in Syria due to concerns about Sunni extremism seeping into Jordanian territory. This centre, known as the Military Operations Centre (MOC), included Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as Western nations like the United States, Britain, and France. Under the supervision of Jordanian intelligence officials, this operations room functioned inside Jordanian territory.

Jordan has advocated for a peace deal that would put an end to the Syrian crisis and permit Damascus’ readmission to the Arab League as part of its larger strategy for guaranteeing stability and security in the region.

A unified Arab committee that “would directly engage the Syrian government on a detailed plan to end the conflict” was one of Amman’s initiatives, which were made public in April. For Syria to reclaim its place in the region and rejoin the Arab League, a comprehensive plan addressing all the pertinent concerns must be addressed. Syria was eventually readmitted to the Arab League in May, ending a decade-long ban.

However, there doesn’t seem to have been much progress in the two countries’ bilateral ties since the first rapprochement. Instead, it seems to have stalled as a result of several issues that need strong bilateral collaboration.

The first problem is the ongoing drug smuggling from Syria into Jordan after the reconciliation. Drug trafficking may cause commerce between Syria and Jordan to become unstable. Another issue with drug trafficking is that it threatens a nation’s social, political, and economic stability, which in turn fuels an increase in other criminal activity. This problem may become especially dangerous in a nation like Jordan, where there are a lot of young people.

Since Damascus has regrettably turned into a centre for the manufacture of illegal narcotics, Jordan believes that the reintegration of Syria into the regional scene might help solve this problem.

It is now easier for criminal organizations to operate an underground economy and manufacture and transport illegal substances into other countries due to the civil conflict, lack of security, political vacuum, economic crises, and international isolation of the nation. The stated value of this multibillion-dollar economy in Syria is almost three times more than the total commerce of the cartels in Mexico.

A climate that is conducive to criminal gangs engaging in an illicit economy and producing and smuggling illegal substances into other nations has been created by civil conflict, lack of security, political vacuum, economic catastrophe, and isolation of the nation by the international community. According to reports, the overall value of the Mexican cartels’ trade is about three times that of this multimillion-dollar sector in Syria.

Jordan is working harder than ever to stop the flow of illegal narcotics out of Syria. Several drones bringing Syrian crystal meth into Jordan have been shot down by the Jordanian military.

Officials from Jordan and Syria have met on many occasions to discuss the illegal drug traffic, but little has been accomplished to address the problem. During their July meeting in Damascus, Assad and Ayman Safadi, the foreign minister of Jordan, reportedly discussed “the dangers posed by drug smuggling across the Syrian border into the kingdom, and the need for cooperation to confront it.”

The refugee crisis is the second barrier separating the two countries. Many Syrian refugees in Jordan have chosen to stay where they are, refusing to go back to their homes despite the re-engagement between Amman and Damascus.

One million and four hundred thousand Syrian refugees were predicted to exist in 2021, making up around 10% of Jordan’s population. The economy of Jordan is severely impacted by the influx of Syrian refugees, particularly in the areas of employment, social care, and the water sector. A nation that hosts the second-highest number of refugees per capita worldwide is under tremendous socioeconomic strain as a result of this.

Jordan is home to over 675,000 Syrian refugees who are officially registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The refugees fled their home country in 2011 when the situation there caused unfathomable misery for its residents. Jordan’s cities and villages are home to the majority of Syrian refugees. Only 17% of refugees dwell in the two biggest camps, Za’atari and Azraq.

This support persisted and even became stronger as long as Jordan was under attack from different opposition factions. This happened as Jordan hosted and cared for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who had fled to northern Jordan after the start of the conflict in Syria and were divided between the two camps at Zaatari and Mafraq.

Another important effect is the demographic issue. Jordan’s objective is to repatriate most, if not all, of the refugees to Syria. But marriages have developed over time. Young Syrian ladies wed nationals of Jordan. The kingdom’s internal security and stability are threatened by this population problem. The al-Rukban refugee camp, which is the easternmost on the Syrian-Jordanian border, is one example of the radical Islamic elements that the Jordanian government fears and has been the source of assaults against Jordanian security forces.

Russia’s military intervention in the Syrian civil war in 2015 served as a breaking point, assisting the Syrian army, Hezbollah, and the Iranian Quds Force in regaining control of all of Syria over time, including agreements on the Syrian-Jordanian border for peace in 2018. It was well understood in Jordan that Assad was here to stay, backed by Russia and Iran. Jordan therefore consented to the actions of Russia and the cessation of Western assistance to the resistance.

In Jordan’s bordering province of Deraa, the security situation is still unstable. However, Jordan has been working towards normalization, and relations with the Syrian government headed by Assad have improved recently. Jordan intended to reestablish diplomatic relations with Syria as early as December 2019.

Then, it was announced that a group led by Samir Habashneh, the minister of agriculture, and Tarek al-Masri, the former prime minister of Jordan, would go to Syria to restore ties between the two nations since they share interests. Against the backdrop, efforts to normalize ties with Syria have also been made by other Arab nations, like the United Arab Emirates.

King Abdullah paid a visit to the US in July 2021. During their meeting, US President Biden gave him a proposal for ending the Syrian conflict, which included normalizing relations with Arab nations and releasing Jordan from the “Caesar Act.”

A Syrian team went to Jordan in September 2021 to talk with the prime minister and his ministries about commerce, agriculture, economy, and water concerns. Many delegations from Syria came to Jordan in the weeks that followed to discuss security and economic matters.

To coordinate the security of the shared border and combat terrorism, particularly drug smuggling, which worries the Jordanians greatly, Syrian Chief of Staff Ali Ayoub travelled to Jordan on September 19, 2021 and met with Jordanian Chief of Staff Yusef Al-Huneiti.

King Abdullah and Bashar al-Assad talked over the phone on October 3, 2021. They spoke about ways to improve their collaboration as well as the relationship between the two nations. The King of Jordan emphasized that his nation supports initiatives aimed at preserving Syria’s territorial integrity, stability, and sovereignty.

Meetings with business delegations resulted in an agreement to restore the Jaber-Nassib crossing, which had been closed in April 2015 after the occupation of the region by Syrian rebels. The border was reopened in October 2018 with the achievement of peace accords; however, it was closed once again in 2020 due to the coronavirus. In practice, the crossings formally opened on October 29, 2021 together with the free trade zone. Flights between Amman and Damascus were also agreed to restart in October 2021 ((this has not yet been implemented). The opening of land and air border crossings will help to stimulate the Jordanian and Syrian economies tremendously.

Relations between Syria and Jordan are not inevitably moving towards complete alignment. Much remains to be seen in terms of the Syrian regime’s behavior towards Jordan, as well as regional and international policy towards Syria. Even if this is a new era in Syria-Jordan ties, it has only just started, and its future course is uncertain. Nonetheless, most indicators indicate that Jordan’s economy has already profited, if little, from stronger links with Syria. Jordan is also seeking to develop a new economic paradigm for itself. In this concept, Jordan would be more than just a market for Syrian products and a transit stop for them on their route to Gulf markets; it would also be an exporter to Syria and a connection connecting Syria to worldwide markets. Finally, although the strengthening of Syrian-Jordanian economic connections is a significant success, it may also help to foster collaboration on other concerns, such as water difficulties, border security, and, eventually, regional politics.

A Relationship Unique but Not Unusual: The Special Partnership Between India and Mauritius


By: Harshit Tokas, Research Analyst, GSDN

Mauritius: source Internet

The relationship between India and Mauritius is a testament to the enduring ties that can exist between nations, forged by shared history, culture, and mutual interests. Over the years, this unique bond has evolved, encompassing various facets of cooperation, including politics, economics, and security. While some critics may misinterpret their collaboration as a form of subservience, it is essential to acknowledge that such strategic partnerships are not unusual in the international arena. This article delves into the history, contributions, and the mutual security interests that underpin the special relationship between India and Mauritius.

The history of India’s relationship with Mauritius can be traced back to the colonial period when thousands of Indians migrated to the island nation. This migration, driven by diverse reasons, played a pivotal role in shaping modern Mauritian society. As people of Indian descent, belonging to different castes and creeds, continued to arrive over nearly two centuries, their contributions were significant in building the Mauritian nation.

During the struggle for independence from colonial rule, Mauritian political leaders found inspiration in the Indian freedom movement. Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Mauritius in 1901 left an indelible mark, and his legacy continues to be revered in the country. In fact, Mauritius chose March 12 as its Independence Day, commemorating the Dandi Salt March by Mahatma Gandhi in India in 1930. This historical connection serves as a strong foundation for the close relationship between the two nations.

After achieving independence in 1968, Mauritius received steadfast support from India across various spheres. This support was not merely political but extended to fields like health, education, agriculture, and consumer goods. Indian grants and concessional loan assistance have led to the creation of numerous iconic facilities in Mauritius, benefiting its citizens.

India’s economic partnership with Mauritius has been instrumental in the latter’s growth. India’s role in boosting the Mauritian economy, particularly through the textile industry, has been pivotal. The Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) signed in 1983 was a game-changer, enabling Mauritius to develop its financial services sector and establish itself as an international financial hub. Although the DTAC initially faced criticism for potential misuse, India and Mauritius negotiated a revised agreement in 2016, ensuring fair and legal economic cooperation.

The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) signed in 2017 further solidified their economic ties. India’s support in fostering Mauritius’ economic prosperity has been a silent but significant driver of their relationship.

The robust relationship between India and Mauritius extends to the realm of defense and security, a dimension that is often misinterpreted. It is essential to clarify that such partnerships, based on mutual trust and shared objectives, are not indicative of subservience.

India’s support in defense and security matters dates back to the period before Mauritian independence when the future of British colonial possessions in the Indian Ocean was under discussion. India’s consistent diplomatic support for Mauritius’s sovereignty over the Chagos archipelago highlights its unwavering commitment to the nation.

Mauritius recognized the need for maritime security in the Indian Ocean, especially after the British Royal Navy withdrew from the region. India, at Mauritius’s request, provided a naval patrol boat (AMAR) in 1974 and offered training for Mauritian maritime security professionals. This support has been invaluable in safeguarding Mauritius’ vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and ensuring its security.

Joint patrols by the Indian Navy and Mauritian Coast Guard have addressed challenges such as illegal fishing, piracy, drug trafficking, and poaching. Such collaborative efforts have played a crucial role in maintaining the region’s stability and security.

Recent discussions surrounding India and Mauritius’ joint development of infrastructure at Agalega have sparked controversy. However, a closer examination of the project reveals its genuine aim to improve the lives of the Agalega residents and enhance Mauritius’ maritime surveillance capabilities.

Mauritius has long sought to upgrade the infrastructure in its Outer Islands, including Agalega, to address transportation challenges and improve connectivity. India’s positive response to this request was based on a Memorandum of Understanding for the Improvement in Sea and Air Transportation Facilities, signed during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mauritius in 2015.

The bipartisan endorsement of this project, irrespective of the political party in power, demonstrates the consensus on its importance. The project seeks to provide better connectivity between Agalega and Mauritius, facilitate surveillance of Mauritius’ EEZ, and support the development of Outer Islands. The infrastructure development at Agalega is designed to benefit Mauritius in multiple ways, from maritime security to disaster response and search and rescue operations.

The special partnership between India and Mauritius is one of choice, not coercion. This partnership is based on mutual respect, shared interests, and a commitment to peace and security in the Indian Ocean region. It is essential to recognize that such strategic collaborations are common in international relations and do not imply subservience.

As Mauritius continues its efforts to secure sovereignty over the Chagos archipelago, the operational facilities at Agalega will play a vital role in facilitating transportation between Mauritius and Chagos. This aspect is often overlooked by critics who focus on unfounded fears of an “Indian military base” at Agalega.

The relationship between India and Mauritius is a testament to the enduring bonds that can develop between nations with shared history and interests. Their close ties encompass political, economic, and security cooperation, with each nation benefiting from this partnership. India’s support has contributed significantly to Mauritius’ growth and security, and it is crucial to dispel misinterpretations of their collaboration. The special partnership between these two nations is based on choice and mutual trust, and it is likely to endure as both countries continue to work together in the spirit of cooperation and friendship.

Yemen’s Houthi Movement Joins the Israel-Hamas Conflict


By: Harshit Tokas, Research Analyst, GSDN

Yemen: source Internet

The involvement of Yemen’s Houthi movement in the Israel-Hamas conflict adds a new layer of complexity to an already volatile and multi-faceted situation in the Middle East. This article delves into the background of the Houthi movement, their role in the Yemen conflict, their recent actions against Israel, and their alignment with Iran’s “Axis of Resistance.” By examining these factors, we can better understand the implications of the Houthis’ involvement in the broader regional context.

The Houthi movement, also known as Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), emerged in Yemen in the 1990s, driven by dissatisfaction with the Yemeni government’s alignment with Saudi Arabia and the United States. The movement has positioned itself as an anti-imperialist and anti-foreign intervention force, advocating for economic development and self-determination for the Yemeni people.

The Houthi slogan, “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam,” has drawn international attention. While some view this slogan as a literal threat, the Houthis claim it symbolizes their opposition to foreign interference by these countries. The movement is rooted in Zaydism, a Shiite sect that represents about 25% of Yemen’s population, with the majority being Sunni.

The conflict in Yemen began in 2014 when the Houthi rebels, backed by elements of the Yemeni military loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, seized control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. This action forced the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi into exile and escalated the conflict. In response, a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015 to restore Hadi to power and prevent Iranian influence from spreading in the region.

While the Houthi movement does not represent the officially recognized government of Yemen, it controls a significant portion of the country. This situation goes against Western efforts to contain the conflict within Yemen’s borders and prevent its spread to other parts of the Middle East.

The Houthi movement is closely aligned with Iran’s “Axis of Resistance,” an informal military coalition centered on anti-Western and anti-Israel sentiments. This alliance includes other militant groups like Lebanon-based Hezbollah, Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas, the Syrian government, and various Iraqi militant groups.

The Houthi movement’s alignment with the “Axis of Resistance” indicates its shared goals and strategic cooperation with these groups. In 2021, the Houthi leaders suggested a link with Hamas when they proposed swapping Saudi prisoners they held for the release of Palestinian prisoners. This move demonstrated their willingness to work in concert with other members of the “Axis of Resistance.”

The Houthi movement’s recent missile and drone attacks on Israel have brought the Israel-Hamas conflict to a new geographic and geopolitical context. While not the officially recognized government of Yemen, the Houthis have effectively declared their involvement in the Israel-Hamas conflict by targeting Israel with these attacks.

On several occasions, the Houthis have claimed responsibility for missile and drone attacks on Israel, signaling their intent to participate in the broader struggle against Israel. In the eyes of the Houthi military spokesperson, Yahya Saree, Israel is responsible for regional conflicts, and they have pledged to continue their involvement until Israeli aggression ceases.

The Houthi movement’s involvement in the Israel-Hamas conflict carries significant implications for regional stability and security. Here are some key points to consider:

(a) Regional Escalation: The Middle East is already a volatile region with numerous ongoing conflicts and geopolitical tensions. The Houthi attacks on Israel add another layer of complexity. While these attacks may, for now, be more about messaging than a military threat, there is a risk that an all-out engagement with multiple rockets launches from various directions could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. Such a scenario could lead to regional escalation.

(b) Broader Regional Conflict: The alignment of the Houthis with Iran’s “Axis of Resistance” raises the risk of a broader regional conflict. If Israel perceives a significant and sustained threat from the Houthis, it might respond in a way that escalates the situation. Israel has a history of preemptive military action when it believes it faces an existential threat. Moreover, if Hezbollah and Hamas coordinate their actions with the Houthis, the potential for a synchronized attack on Israel increases, which could lead to a wider regional conflict.

(c) Diplomatic Efforts: Diplomatic efforts to end the Yemen conflict and address broader regional tensions are crucial in preventing a wider war. The United States, as a key player in the region, will play a pivotal role in shaping the path toward peace and stability. Achieving lasting peace in a region with numerous competing interests and conflicts will undoubtedly be a formidable challenge.

The Houthi movement’s involvement in the Israel-Hamas conflict extends the reach of this already complex and interconnected regional conflict. The alignment of the Houthis with Iran’s “Axis of Resistance” underscores the broader regional implications of their actions. Diplomacy, prevention of regional escalation, and addressing the root causes of conflicts are essential steps in achieving lasting peace and stability in the Middle East.

The situation highlights the fragility of the region and the need for diplomatic initiatives to reduce tensions and prevent a broader regional conflict. International efforts must focus on de-escalation and fostering dialogue among key stakeholders to ensure the long-term security and stability of the Middle East. The recent Houthi attacks on Israel serve as a stark reminder of the intricate and volatile nature of the region and the urgency of finding diplomatic solutions to regional conflicts.

Poland’s New Government: Geopolitical Implications


By: Darshan Gajjar, Research Analyst, GSDN

Poland: source Internet

American President Abraham Lincoln famously remarked, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” Elections in a democracy are always interesting, especially when they have the potential to shape and change the geopolitical dynamics not only for the region but also for the world at large.

Recently, on October 15, 2023 the Republic of Poland held its parliamentary elections, which are being held on a regular basis four years apart. The Polish constitution does not mention any body such as the parliament; instead, it provides the composition of a bicameral legislature, with the Sejm being a lower house akin to the House of Representatives in the USA and the Senate being an upper house.

To be precise,Article 95 of the Polish Constitution states that, “Legislative power in the Republic of Poland shall be exercised by the Sejm and the Senate,” further the same article also mentions that, “The Sejm shall exercise control over the activities of the Council of Ministers…” During the October 15 election, seats for both houses were contested.

This piece aims to provide a geopolitical analysis of that election and its implications on the country’s politics, in addition to analysing Poland’s relationship with the European Union (EU), stance on the ongoing Ukraine conflict, and broader implications for populist policies in Europe.

Results of the Elections

The current elections saw the one of the highest turnouts of voters, nearly 74%, the highest since the fall of communism in 1989. As per the final count, the incumbent PiS (Law and Justice Party) got 35.4% of votes, with the centrist Civic Coalition securing 30.7% and the centre-right Third Way getting 14.4% of votes, in addition to the Left with 8.6% and the far-right Confederation with 7.2% of the votes.

In numerical strength, the Law and Justice party takes 194 seats in parliament, followed by the Civic Coalition with 157, the Third Way with 65, the Left with 26 and Confederation with 18 seats.

Although the incumbent PiS is the largest party, it did not garner enough seats to form the majority even with its coalition partners. Thus, paving the way for the change of government with PiS losing the reign of power for the first time since 2015. Former European Council President and Prime Minister Donald Tusk is expected to lead a new coalition with his Civic Coalition, which will partner with the Third Way and the Left, who together hold 248 seats.

However, it will not be a cakewalk for Mr. Tusk to become the Prime Minister. As per Article 154 of the Polish Constitution, the President will have to appoint a Prime Minister within 14 days after convening the first session of the newly elected Sejm. The current President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, has signalled picking up a person from the winning party, i.e., the party with the greatest number of seats, which is PiS in this case. In due course, however, Mr. Tusk is believed to be the new Prime Minister. Let’s look into the various policy changes and implications that Mr. Tusk has suggested during his campaign.

Ukraine Policy

Strategically the location of Poland makes it one of the most important countries in Europe. Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war last year, the former Warsaw Pact country has proven to be instrumental in many ways, from accepting refugees to sending important weapons to Ukraine from western countries.

Poland is not directly involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict; however, it has been actively involved in providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which includes providing shelter, medical assistance, and support for Ukrainian refugees.

Further, Poland has provided Ukraine with 320 Soviet-era tanks and 14 MiG-29 fighter jets in terms of military aid. However, in early August this year, a diplomatic rift emerged over the grain deal.

The European Union had brokered a deal between Poland and four other neighbouring countries to ban grain imports from Ukraine to protect their domestic farmers; with the condition that they must allow the grain to cross their territory into other countries. The agreement was set to expire on Sept 15, 2023 but Polish officials have called for extending the restrictions. Eventually, on September 21, 2023 Ukraine filed a complaint with the WTO, against Hungary, Poland, and the Slovak Republic over the ban and threatened retaliatory import restrictions.

This move did not go well with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who was facing an election just next month. Subsequently, Poland has suspended all military aid to Ukraine, citing military modernization plans. Experts believe that the populist Polish PM invoked the grain issue for the benefit of their rural voters rather than for them to solve it.

However, it is clear from the results that such a move failed to materialise and yield any results. Now, one of the prime tasks that the new government has to perform after being sworn in will be to make sure the engagement with Ukraine on all fronts is back on track.

Mr. Donald Tusk is believed to be pro-Ukraine and keen on resolving disputes and enhancing engagement. During his political campaign, he even called for unwavering military aid to Ukraine to defeat Russia in addition to moral and diplomatic support.

Under a new Prime Minister, Poland would likely have remained a key player in channelling humanitarian aid for Ukraine and supporting sanctions against Russia, among other things.

Relations With the EU

Due to the populist policies of PiS and the divergence of interests between conservatives in Poland and progressives in the EU, the relationship between Brussels and Warsaw saw a rough patch in the last few years, which is expected to hit a reset once former European Council President Mr. Tusk takes over the executive.

It is obvious that Mr. Tusk is deeply pro-European Union (EU). Many EU officials are keen on restoring liberal democratic principles in Poland. Mr. Tusk has promised to do so during his election campaign. Thereupon, the EU will most likely unlock billions of euros in EU funding that was allocated to Poland as part of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery fund, which was frozen due to the EU citing a threat to the independent judiciary in Poland, further increasing tensions between Warsaw and Brussels. “Poland must use all methods possible to access frozen European Union funds,” said Mr. Donald Tusk during his trip to Brussels on October 25, 2023.

Among other things, in last few years, Poland also criticised the EU’s centralised model, citing threats to its sovereignty. Additionally, it has refused to cooperate with the EU on the European Green Deal and has outright rejected the EU’s migration policies concerning the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Amid growing geopolitical tensions in the region, it becomes extremely necessary for Poland to amend its ties with the EU, strengthening overall European security vis-à-vis Russia.

Way Forward

The result of the election in Poland serves as a reminder for countries around the world that populism alone will not be enough to help them sustain power. PiS’s excessive authoritarian policies, along with interfering in the domain of the judiciary, a hyper-adversarial attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community, and blind opposition to the EU, were rejected by Polish voters.

As mentioned earlier, there may be some initial constitutional hindrances in front of Mr. Tusk, like the President calling PiS to form the government due to it being the largest party in the Sejm. Even after becoming Prime Minister for Mr. Tusk, the immediate reversal of policies will not be possible.

This election may be the first of many European elections that may take a pro-EU shift in the future. With due deliberation with his coalition partners, the new government has to make sure the relationship with the EU picks up from where it was raptured, in addition to making sure that support for Ukraine doesn’t fall short in the domestic population, for it is consequential since Poland is a NATO ally and plays a very crucial role in deterring Russia against the West.

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