Thursday 15 Apr 2021 | 02:23 | SYDNEY
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Defence & Security

The strategic order and the nature of conflict are changing. Security competition between nations and military strategy are growing in complexity even as new transnational challenges deepen. The Lowy Institute’s experts in security and defence look at changing strategic relations, security architecture, nuclear strategy, military capabilities and defence and intelligence policy.

The Quad’s uneasy place in Southeast Asia

Last month, the leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – the United States, Japan, India and Australia – met for the first time. Promising to strive for a region that is “free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion”, the Quad

Iran-US-Israel: Boxing out of the shadows

Just as the negotiations between Tehran and Washington appear to be making some, albeit slow, progress over the United State rejoining the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, several incidents between Israel and Iran have again highlighted just how actively the two

The Quad (finally) delivers: Can it be sustained?

On 19 March, the leaders of four important democracies of the Indo-Pacific region – the United States, Japan, Australia and India – held (virtually) their first-ever “Quad Summit.” This meeting at the leaders’ level of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was significant on two counts. It

An interim government would bring ruin to Afghanistan

The Afghan government is fighting for survival as external and internal actors exploit its weaknesses in preparation for a US exit. The latest US initiatives to bring “a responsible end” to the Afghan war will likely have the opposite effect, pushing the Afghan government closer to a knife’s

The Mozambique Channel is the next security hotspot

The waters off Mozambique are becoming a major new security hotspot in the Indian Ocean. An Islamist insurrection in northern Mozambique that the government seems powerless to suppress has also increasingly led to disruption in the Mozambique Channel, a key global shipping route. The Quad countries

Lessons from Christchurch

The tragedy of 51 people murdered and many more injured two years ago by an Australian-born far-right extremist was commemorated in Christchurch this week by the New Zealand government along with family and friends of the victims. For the community – in New Zealand most importantly, but also in

The US and the Rules-Based Order: Testing the plan

US President Joe Biden this month issued an Interim National Security Guidance which will, in his words, “convey my vision for how America will engage the world”. He has directed departments and agencies “to align their actions with this guidance”. This document also provides some answers

The Quad gives a boost to India’s vaccine diplomacy

The most notable takeaway from the first-ever “Quad” leaders meeting involving the US, India, Japan and Australia at the weekend was the agreement on expanding the global vaccine supply. The vaccination capacity of India will be increased to produce 1 billion doses by 2022, the leaders announced

A new “concert” to govern the Indo-Pacific

The joint statement issued following the weekend meeting of the four “Quad” leaders was titled “The Spirit of the Quad”. This title could be read as either self-affirmation or self-praise. The Quad’s first summit of leaders was a somewhat informal affair, held virtually amid a global

An oil spill nobody owns

What does the continuing, low-intensity conflict between Israel and Iran have to do with the mysterious oil spill that has washed ashore along the coast of Israel and southern Lebanon in recent weeks, leaving a costly ecological disaster? Nothing at all was the first assumption. But as more

India must be realistic about Russia relations

The visit to Moscow by India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla on 17–18 February was his first overseas trip outside South Asia during the corona crisis, underscoring the importance India attaches to its strategic partnership with Russia. But it is a relationship where New Delhi must also be

Terrorism and New Zealand’s dual citizenship conundrum

Last week, the issue of depriving an individual of their citizenship because of terrorist activity made headlines once again. An alleged Islamic State member, Suhayra Aden, had been detained by Turkish authorities crossing from Syria into Turkey and was being readied for deportation to New Zealand.

Afghanistan: To leave or not to leave

The peace agreement between the United States and Taliban signed in Doha last February is likely to be scrapped if the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation unilaterally decide to stay in Afghanistan beyond 1 May, the withdrawal deadline set in the agreement.  With a presence of around 10

CCP governance comes to the South China Sea

Over the past decade, China has earned itself a reputation as a bully in the South China Sea. Its relentless coast guard patrols, frequent maritime militia operations and regular naval deployments are well documented. Using these capabilities, China harasses foreign fishing boats, disrupts energy

The Donbass conflict: Waiting for escalation

Europe’s “forgotten war” between the Western-backed Ukraine and the Russian-sponsored, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic over the energy-rich Donbass region of eastern Ukraine has been “on hold” for six years. Despite the formal truce declared in

Re-evaluating the military’s role in disaster response

Past global economic downturns have usually had a knock-on effect for military budgets, resulting in lower defence spending. After the global financial crisis led to the contraction of the world GDP in 2009, global military spending only recovered in 2015. With the World Bank predicting that the

Iran nuclear deal: Revenge of the diplomats

Joe Biden has so many competing priorities to address after four years of Donald Trump that it is hard to know where to start. Biden will naturally have an immediate focus on domestic issues but some foreign policy challenges will demand his attention earlier than others. One of the most urgent is

America’s troubles ahead in the Asia-Pacific

Donald Trump has now become the first US president in history to be impeached twice, this time for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in last week’s violence in Washington. Yet as the US reels from the storming of the US Capitol building – civil strife which some analysts had warned

Russia and China team up on the Indian Ocean

Two recent naval exercises demonstrate the potential for Russia-China cooperation in the Indian Ocean, and how the two present a much greater threat to a continued US role and influence in the region than either would individually. Last year, South Africa hosted a maritime exercise with

Joe Biden’s Pentagon pick sends a message

When President-elect Joe Biden announced retired General Lloyd Austin as his pick for Secretary of Defense this week, US experts were perplexed and decidedly unenthusiastic. Austin’s nomination will require a waiver from Congress, because he has only been separated from the military for four years

The Afghan inquiry and the question of responsibility

The politics in the fallout over the release of the long-awaited Brereton report into allegations of war crimes by Australian troops in Afghanistan threatens to overtake the actual subject of the inquiry. Even before China sought to insert itself into the issue, local introspection about what was

Al-Qaeda: The core problem

For year after year, the moustached face Abu Mohammed al-Masri has stared blankly from a photo on an FBI most-wanted poster. A founding senior member of al-Qaeda, al-Masri was responsible for the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that left more than 200 dead. Also known as Abdullah

The fallout of assassinating Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

Political assassinations require considerable preparation and planning. It is almost certain the killing last week of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the Iranian nuclear program, was timed to avoid cancellation of the hostage exchange involving Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert. The

Russia’s red star in the Red Sea

While the world’s attention in recent weeks has been firmly fixed on the United States’ presidential race, Russia under Vladimir Putin has made a number of surprising moves. One was a swift deployment of its peacekeepers to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, putting a stop for now to a bloody

The submarine capability gap

The 2020 Defence Strategic Update released by the Morrison government on 1 July concluded that Australia’s strategic environment is deteriorating – and deteriorating faster than was anticipated in the 2016 Defence White Paper. This grim finding, with warnings “coercion, competition and grey-

Jihadist attacks in Nice: The Tunisian connection

In the last five years, the French city of Nice has been targeted twice by jihadist terrorism. Both times the perpetrators were young men from Tunisia, the smallest country in North Africa, situated between Algeria and Libya. The first incident came on Bastille Day in 2016, when an attacker

The evolving threat from chemical weapons

The established system of chemical weapons control is showing signs of fraying. This pressure will only escalate in an increasingly uncertain and competitive world. Emerging technologies offer new methods of chemical agent use and logistical planning. Global manufacturing of chemicals is rapidly

Japan-Australia: The chance to sweeten the deal

Typically, much of the initial foreign policy interest in a new (or slightly revised) Japanese government tends to look towards the United States – to consider the adjustments necessary to the alliance, to plan the first face-to-face meeting, to determine the nickname that will characterise

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