Topics of Interest

Netanyahu’s hard line on Iran: A four-point reality check

“Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday urged U.S. lawmakers to reject the nuclear deal being negotiated between Iran and world powers, warning that it would help Iran acquire nuclear weapons and threaten Israel’s survival. Iran’s regime could not be trusted to abide by any agreement, he warned, and he urged the United States to increase pressure on Tehran until it agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear program and change its regional behavior. The White House has long warned that abandoning the current negotiating framework would open a path to war — an argument he rejected. But the Israeli leader’s characterization of the deal and of Iran’s current nuclear efforts have long been challenged by Western governments involved in the talks.” – Al Jazeera America

Kazakhstan Takes Control Of Russian Military Testing Range

“Kazakhstan has reached an agreement with Russia to take over most of a Russian military training facility in far western Kazakhstan. The deal represents the latest step in Kazakhstan’s efforts to regain control over the many Soviet-legacy military and other strategic facilities that Russia still operates in the country.” – Eurasianet

Russia: With Progress On Nuclear Program, Iran Could Join SCO

“Iran may be admitted into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization this summer if it makes progress in resolving disputes over its nuclear program, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has said. It already seems clear that India and Pakistan, who have both long sought SCO membership, will be admitted at the organization’s summit this July in Ufa, Russia. Iran — which also has been trying for years to enter the SCO — has been hampered by the fact that it is under international sanctions related to its nuclear program.” – Eurasianet

Puncturing The Myths Of Radical Islam In Central Asia

“The notion that authoritarian governments and their enablers abroad cynically exaggerate the threat of radical Islamism in Central Asia has become widely accepted. But even well-meaning analysts of Central Asia tend to perpetuate similar myths about politics and Islam, two scholars argue in a new report.” – Eurasianet

Pakistan Has Launched the Real War on Terrorism

“While Europe pretends to actively fight against terrorism by rallying multi-million marches in the French capital and the US carries on air strikes against ISIL militants without much success, there are countries that face a persistent terrorist threat, therefore they are taking a lot of efforts to genuinely fight terrorism with certain degree of success, instead of attaining mere propaganda results.” – Victor Titov, MSNBC International

Russia Had Some Major Diplomatic Wins This Year

“Since Russia invaded Crimea last summer, the West has relied on a strategy of economic sanctions and international isolation to compel the Kremlin to withdraw its support for the rebels in eastern Ukraine. But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent series of diplomatic successes – in particular, with Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan – has all but negated the effectiveness of this strategy.” – Richard Weitz, World Economic Forum

Taliban Besiege Pakistan School, Leaving 153 Dead

” First the Pakistani Taliban bombed or burned over 1,000 schools. Then they shot Malala Yousafzai, the teenage advocate for girls’ rights. But on Tuesday, the Taliban took their war on education to a ruthless new low with an assault on a crowded school in Peshawar that killed 145 people — 132 of them uniformed schoolchildren — in the deadliest single attack in the group’s history.” – The New York Times

Islamic State’s Footprints in Bannu

PESHAWAR: Footprints of the militant group known as Islamic State have now also started appearing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s town of Bannu, days after similar reports of the extremist group’s presence were received from other parts of the country. – Zahir Shah Sherazi in Dawn

Moving beyond the new deal in Afghanistan

“The establishment of a national unity government in Afghanistan last month was a political deal, but was perhaps the only way out of the protracted electoral dispute in which both presidential candidates claimed victory amid allegations of fraud which had the potential of fracturing the country on ethnic lines. – Shanthie Mariet D’Souza, The Hindustan Times

India and Pakistan Head for Nuke War

“A crisis is brewing between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan that could be their most dangerous ever. India and Pakistan have fought four wars since 1947 and had several crises that went to the brink of war. Both tested nuclear weapons in 1998. Now tensions are escalating between the two again. It began in May, when a heavily armed squad of Pakistani terrorists from Lashkar e Tayyiba (Army of the Pure) attacked India’s consulate in Herat, in western Afghanistan. They planned to massacre Indian diplomats on the eve of the inauguration of India’s new Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi.” – Bruce Riedel, The Daily Beast