Category: Current affairs

If Beirut bomb in Hezbollah stronghold is indeed ISIS, explain why?

  • Hezbollah is Lebanon-based Shia political movement & Islamist militant group.
  • They back Shia Syria leader Assad who is fighting ISIS.
  • ISIS is an extremist Sunni movement, and hence don't like Hezbollah.

Airspace concern for US in S-China Sea?

  • In attempt to to demarcate sovereignty over waters, China has been building artificial islands for last 18 months.
  • Next concern is establishment of an air identification zone.
  • i.e. China attempting to claim control of the airspace in the region.

Macrosnap Modi in India?

  • Narendra Modi is India's PM and head of ruling BJP - landslide election win 2014.
  • His dominance of the party has been unchallenged since then, and he has moved to centralise power.
  • But BJP defeat in the state of Bihar this last weekend resulted in unprecedented criticism from within his own party - Modi magic is waning - he's accused of being divisive instead of consensual.

Russia angers Sunnis?

  • No cogent Western strategy - Russia steps into vacuum.
  • Putin turns Assad's minority-based Alawite (Shia) regime into a Russian protectorate.
  • Chance that Sunnis, of all persuasions, ISIS and non-ISIS, will now target Russia (1980s Afghanistan-style, anti-Russian mujahideen jihad) not inconceivable.

Macrosnap Saudi oil strategy?

  • Oil price has more than halved in the last year, so as OPEC cartel leader, one would expect Saudi Arabia to cut output (and hence force the price up).
  • But instead they have chosen to maintain supply, despite the financial pain this is causing domestically.
  • Strategy is to prioritise its own long-term market share, and perhaps to inflict pain on fellow OPEC members Iran and Russia (who Saudi Arabia believes have destructive geopolitical ambitions in the Middle East).

3 main international challenges for the US?


What is the “nine-dash” line in the S-China Sea?

  • Self-declared maritime border that asserts China's claim to territorial waters.
  • Contested locally by Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
  • China & Japan locked in separate dispute over the East China Sea.

ISIS twice – real and virtual?

  • Real: Controls territory (in Iraq and Syria).
  • Virtual: Dominates social media, inspires, motivates.
  • If Russia plane incident in Egypt turns out to be an ISIS offshoot act of terrorism, signifies how dangerous the virtual ISIS can be.

Obama blocks Keystone Canada-US Pipeline?

  • Debate and decision were largely political.
  • i.e. both the democrat-against argument (bad for environment) and conservative-for argument (creates jobs) were exaggerated according to energy & policy experts.
  • Major victory for environmental movement, gives US credibility ahead of Paris December climate talks + boosts Obama's environmental credentials during last year in office.

Macrosnap this weekend’s China-Taiwan summit?

  • First meeting between leaders of Chinese Communist party and Taiwan's Kuomintang since 1945.
  • Chinese motivation: Good for international image + concerned about strength of pro-independence opposition party in Taiwan.
  • Taiwanese motivation: Current president wants to boost image domestically as opposition party looking poised to defeat him in January.
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