Salman Rafi Sheikh

On the China-GCC Free Trade Agreement


Given how the US withdrawal from the Middle East has impacted Washington’s ties with the Gulf countries, an opportunity certainly exists for the latter to pursue their ties with Beijing more freely than was the earlier the case. There is, in fact, already signs that China and the Gulf may well be taking concrete steps towards the China-Gulf Coopertaion Council…

US Needs Fear of Russia to Keep Europe under Control


If NATO were to become irrelevant, the US would lose its influence on Europe. If Europe were to become an independent player in world politics, it will effectively defeat the US plan to prevent the systemic shift to multipolarity. Preventing both of these eventualities requires, from Washington’s perspective, a constant external threat to Europe that it cannot tackle on its own…

US Military: a Civilian Killing Machine


On August 29, 2021 when the US launched an air strike in Kabul supposedly on an ISIS hideout, it killed 10 innocent civilians. Victims included Zemari Ahmadi, who worked for a US-based aid organisation, and nine members of his family, including seven children. While the US officials back then were quick to affirm that the strike followed “solid intelligence…

Erdogan Works Up a Plan to Mend Ties with the US/EU


Even though the Biden administration did not invite Erdogan to the “democracy summit”, changing geo-political circumstances – in particular, the West (EU and the US) vs. Russia tensions around the former’s bid to expand NATO to Ukraine – seem to have changed, at least in Turkey’s eyes, Ankara’s importance for the West. From being a NATO pariah…

UAE Can’t Hide its War on Yemen behind Finehearted Conversations


Ever since the opening of Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, the UAE appears to have become the centre of tourism in the region, adding to its overall standing as a modern, peaceful state. The UAE’s image-politics also involves its legal reforms – in particular, those targeted at attracting foreign (non-Muslim) investors and residents…

The Biden Administration Heats Up the South China Sea


As part of its strategy to develop a global coalition against China in and around the Indo-Pacific, the US has been, for past many years, paying very close attention to what can be called ‘territorial flashpoints’ surrounding China – Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang – to demonise and delegitimise China as a global power. Tapping into existing internal/regional…

Turkey Eyes a Major Role in Africa through Arms Deals


Armed with drones and active diplomacy, Turkey is slowly – but surely – charting a path for a major role for itself in Africa. While Russia has historically dominated African arms market with 49 percent of market share, Turkey’s ambitious foray includes geo-political interests, especially with regards to how it sees itself as a natural player in the region as a ‘neo-Ottoman’ state…

Why is the US Stirring Up Tibet as an ‘Issue’?


More than a mere territorial and ethnic question, Tibet, for the US, is a geo-political opportunity to up the ante against China in Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. The US decision to appoint a ‘special envoy’ for Tibetan ‘issue’ comes at a time when the US’ anti-China rhetoric has persistently failed to drive a wave of countries weaning away from Beijing and rushing towards…

How China’s RCEP Undermines the ‘Asia Pivot 2.0’


Even though the Biden administration, following in the footsteps of the Trump administration, has been seeking to build a global anti-China coalition even since coming into power, its efforts in the Indo-Pacific region continue to fail to produce enough support for the US-led ‘war’ against China. To a large extent, a key reason for this failure…

Why the US Cannot Force China Out of the Middle East


The China-Middle East relations have grown multi-dimensional to the extent that Washington’s persistent efforts to unplug them have fell on deaf ears in Abu Dhabi and beyond. At the same time, Washington’s own troubles with other Middle East states, such as Saudi Arabia, have directly allowed China to expand its ties beyond economic cooperation, trade and investment…

UAE Embraces Beijing by Scraping F-35 Deal with the US


A major blow has been inflicted to the US standing and influence in the Middle East by the UAE that is scraping the F-35 deal with Washington. This decision comes on the back of some stubborn US efforts to dissuade the UAE from acquiring the Chinese 5G expertise. The US has been doing everything it could to force Abu Dhabi into sacrificing its relations…

The Geopolitics Surrounding Nord Stream 2


Multiple US interests continue to hinder the completion of Nord Stream 2 project and its uninterrupted supply of gas to Germany/Europe. For the US, Nord Stream project is, to a great extent, a tool to privatise European gas-markets for US gas supplies. While the Joe Biden administration was quick to waive sanctions on the project that…

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