The US has decided to withdraw 7,000 out of its 14,000 troops from Afghanistan. The American troops contribute to training and advising local forces fighting the Taliban and ISIS. Trump’s sudden announcement has raised speculation that it could be linked to his pre-election promises to pull out from external wars to save money to consolidate internally. It also signals that the US has perhaps admitted being defeated in Afghanistan and that it had agreed to the Taliban’s demands. This decision is strengthened by the recent talks between the US and Taliban in Doha which has resulted in a framework for a peace agreement, focussed on ending the 17-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.
India’s participation in the mega-trade agreement, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has long been debated and sentiments around the subject are quite divided and divergent. Critics warned that India must exercise caution before signing RCEP which goes far beyond trade liberalisation to impose a common set of rules on investment and IPRs.
Recently, the Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks to ease norms for religious minorities from neighbouring nations (non-muslims) to get Indian citizenship by amending age-old Citizenship Act, 1955. However, it has polarised regions in border states such as Assam since the locals fear that it will result in demographic change due to immigration.
Recently, Indian firm “India Ports Global Limited” took over operations at the Shahid Behesti Port in Chabahar, Iran. The representative of India, Iran, and Afghanistan met and finalized the routes for trade and transit corridors between the three nations. An event has also been planned on February 26, 2019, to promote and popularise the potential of Chabahar port.
Recently, the new government in the Maldives expressed its indebtedness towards China due to the latter’s construction activities in the Maldives. However, Maldives also has fears over the unsustainable Chinese debts. Notably, the new president, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, wants to restore ties with India. Hence the situation in Male (Maldives’ capital) provides both opportunities and risks to India.
Recently, the European Union leaders formally agreed to a Brexit agreement at a Brussels summit urging Britain people to support Prime Minister Theresa May’s package, which faces stiff opposition in the British Parliament. Theresa May government is in favour of Britain exiting EU and she triggered the two-year process of leaving the EU on March 29, 2017.
The United States has broadly agreed to grant India and 7 other countries a waiver from the sanctions it re-imposed on Iran recently. This decision provides some temporary relief to India and avoids any major oil price shocks.
The United States President Donald Trump has recently announced that US will unilaterally pull out of 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which was signed by the US and Russia during Cold War era for banning all ground-launch nuclear missiles with the range between 500 and 5500 km. However, US accuses Russia to have developed a new medium-range missile and it has also been concerned about China which is not a signatory to the INF treaty, producing medium-range missiles.