TRUMP-PUTIN DALLIANCE COMES TO A BITTER END
“We waited for quite a long time that, perhaps, something will change for the better, we held out hope that the situation would somehow change,” Vladimir Putin said as he announced that the American diplomatic mission in Russia must reduce its staff by 755 employees.
From hoping that a Trump presidency would change everything to this announcement reminiscent of the Cold War years, Putin’s hostile response to the new American sanctions could be entirely built on his own frustration. The two leaders met only earlier this month in a meeting which culminated in Trump praising Putin and Moscow declaring that the stage had been set for improved US-Russia relations. But with Trump set to sign the legislation imposing sanctions on Moscow, the Kremlin seems to have realised that there may always remain significant gaps between what Trump says and what he can deliver.
‘CALL ME BY MY NAME’, AFGHAN WOMEN TELL THEIR HUSBANDS
“Mother of my children”, “my household”, “my weak one”, “my goat”, or “my chicken”, are some of the terms Afghan men use to refer to their wives in public, because revealing their names would besmirch their honour. But some young Afghan women wouldn’t have their basic identities concealed any longer.
Through a social media campaign which translates to #WhereIsMyName, they are seeking to not only urge women to assert their most basic identity, but also challenge men to break away from the antediluvian tribal logic, which is threatened even by the mention of a woman’s name. In order to turn the campaign into a ubiquitous conversation, activists are challenging celebrities and politicians to share the names of their wives and mothers. However, there is obviously no dearth of criticism being heaped on the campaign. From calling the campaign an onslaught on Afghan values to dismissing it for being too small, detractors are making their unease with the campaign clear.
A VOTE TO END DEMOCRACY
There was nothing democratic about the air in the country when Venezuelans, or at least a few of them, went out to vote in a widely condemned election. The election, which would leave the country with a puppet Congress with unprecedented powers to rewrite its constitution, could come as a decisive end to Venezuela’s democracy, making it the newest dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.
The government, which claimed that there was a colossal turnout, responded by firing teargas at the protesters. “I said rain, thunder or lightning, the 30th of July was going to come,” said the defiant president. Indeed, even as the elections left six, including one candidate for the constituent assembly, dead, the day of the election did come. Meanwhile, there were clusters of protests across the country with demonstrators chanting for democracy. All candidates, including Nicolas Maduro’s wife and son, in the election were government backers.
AN ANTOGONISED NEW DELHI COULD HURT BEIJING
In a rare warning to themselves against a hawkish approach to the stand-off with New Delhi, Chinese experts have said that a trust deficit in the Indo-China relationship could significantly hurt Beijing’s plans to expand its economic and diplomatic influence beyond the Asia-Pacific region.
While acknowledging that the possibility of going to war is slim, in an article in South China Morning Post, experts point out that Beijing’s psychological warfare could fuel the anti-Chinese sentiment in India even among those who have otherwise called for strengthening of economic ties with China. India, with its strategic location, remains crucial for China’s ambitious trade and infrastructure outreach plan, the “Belt and Road Initiative”, despite New Delhi’s sovereignty reservations with the initiative. And pushing it into the rival camp could be detrimental to Beijing than its aggressive posturing would allow it to see. The 10-day Malabar 2017 naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal this month, the US’ approved $365-million sale of military transport aircraft to India and a $2-billion deal for surveillance drone, are already reasons for China to worry.
SENATE TIGHTENS ITS NOOSE ON ISLAMABAD
After asserting its strength over Donald Trump in imposing sanctions on Russia, the US Senate is now urging the president to use sanctions on Pakistan. The US for long has warned Islamabad against providing support and sanctuary to terrorist and insurgent groups in Afghanistan. Now, the Senate wants Washington to pursue an integrated civil-military strategy to achieve this objective.
An amendment to the US National Defence Authorisation Act 2018, moved by Senator John McCain, recommends “imposing graduated diplomatic, military and economic costs on Pakistan,” until it mends its ways. The amendment is not the first instance of the US acting stern with Pakistan in the last few months. The US House of Representatives, only this month, adopted three legislative amendments, which sought tougher conditions if Pakistan wished to continue receiving defence funding. The two Congressmen who were behind the three amendments, in fact, have even sponsored a resolution declaring Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.