Salman Rafi Sheikh

Nord Stream 2 Signals American Decline in Europe

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The US ‘decision’ to not stand in the way of Nord Stream 2 is hardly a surprise. While the US officials made their decision to look like a diplomatic victory for them when they said that the US “will not tolerate Russia using energy as a geopolitical weapon in Europe or escalating its aggression against Ukraine”, it remains that the US did not have any leverage to force…

Washington Relocating from the Middle East to Southeast Asia

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With Joe Biden being one of the key architects of the Obama administration’s “Asia Pivot”, an increasing focus on Asia – especially, Southeast Asia – was/is inevitable. However, it is not just Biden’s obsession with the region that explains the on-going shift. America’s drastic failure in the Middle East despite decades of military…

The SCO Devises a ‘Regional Approach’ to Afghanistan

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Even though the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was expected to make the Afghan war less ‘international’, this has been far from the case. Contrary to the projections, even ‘civil war’ in Afghanistan has an international dimension, not because some international actors are militarily involved in it, but mainly because the fallout could destabilise the whole region…

Biden’s New Russia Sanctions Reverse the ‘Geneva Spirit’

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While there was a lot of optimism surrounding the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva as a big leap towards re-defining US-Russia ties in an era when the US is primarily engaged with China as its leading competitor, the post summit developments have clearly shown that the rivalry between the US and Russia is too deep to be simply overcome just because the US has another…

Saudia-UAE Rivalry Upends ‘Gulf Unity’

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With Saudia’s strategic partnership with the UAE largely unravelling in the face of a directly growing competition and rivalry between them — which in turn is an outcome of the UAE’s own bid to position itself as the new leader of the ‘Sunni Muslim world’, and Saudia’s bid to ensure its survival as the traditional hegemon – ‘Gulf unity’ is facing an unprecedented crisis…

The US Withdrawal Isn’t the End of the War in Afghanistan

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Even through the US/NATO forces have largely withdrawn from Afghanistan, and the Taliban (banned in Russia) are increasingly advancing towards the northern provinces to expand and consolidate their rule, war in Afghanistan in highly unlikely to end in the coming weeks and months. Whereas a number of Afghan militias have vowed to ally with Kabul…

How Different is Biden’s China Strategy from Trump’s?

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The Joe Biden administration has been withdrawing its troops, missile defense systems and fighter jet squadrons from the Middle East for past few months to focus more on southeast Asia to deal with what the Pentagon calls the US’ “number one enemy”, China. With the Biden administration, which came into power promising to start a new era of relations with China…

Why’s Europe Divided on Positive Ties with Russia?

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In a recent EU summit held in Brussels, the bloc overwhelmingly rejected joint French-German proposal to normalise EU-Russia relations. The bloc, instead of paying heed to the Franco-German message of redefining EU-Russia relations as a means to increase the bloc’s strategic autonomy in the international arena and reduce its dependence on the US…

Why Reiving the JCPOA is Difficult for the US

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While the election of Ebrahim Raisi, who is known as a “hardliner” and “conservative” as opposed to the “moderate” Raisani, as Iran’s president could make a compromise difficult in the on-going negotiations between the US and Iran for reviving the JCPOA, the election of Raisi has also added a new variable of fear to the equation that could alter the whole landscape…

Saudia’s Economic Transformation Eyes Riyadh’s Regional Dominance

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With Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ already in full motion, it has become increasingly clear that the purpose of this massive and multi-billion dollar economic transformation plan is not just to transform and diversify Saudia’s oil-dependent economy; rather a cardinal objective of this plan is to restore Saudia Arabia’s central position within…

Why’s the US Reinventing NATO/Europe against China?

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The recently held G7 summit in the UK and NATO summit in Brussels effectively demonstrate how the Western alliance under the US leadership is expanding its ideological horizon to counter China. While the alliance remains anti-Russia for reasons that are both historical and geo-politically relevant, the fact that NATO is now particularly focused on China shows how…

On Iran’s Expanding Ties with Russia and the EEU

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While the US is in initial talks with Iran to revive the JCPOA and there is a possibility of Iran’s re-entry in the European/western markets, it remains that a fundamental shift in the form of a ‘look East’ policy has already taken place. While China and Iran have already signed a multi-billion dollar deal as a means to integrate Iran with China’s Blet & Road Initiative…


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