Thursday 19 Sep 2019 | 07:44 | 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.

Taliban factionalism rises after Mullah Omar's death

The recent confirmation of the death of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the symbolic leader of the Taliban, has added fresh uncertainty to Afghanistan's fledgling peace process.  There were already signs that Taliban unity was under stress, and the internal disagreements that have emerged since the

Turkey-ISIS: Safe zones open up new problems

Long resisted by the US for its impracticality and because it was considered too big a concession to Turkish interests, the concept of a 'no-fly zone' in northern Syria now appears to have morphed into a so-called 'safe zone'. The plan, as far as it appears to have been enunciated, involves US and

The growing militarisation of the South China Sea

It's increasingly clear that China intends to use its artificial islands in the South China Sea for military purposes. Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command, delivered this assessment on a panel that I was privileged to be part of at the Aspen Security Forum last week. Harris

Japanese defence normalisation: Progress on three fronts

Over the last two months, there has been noticeable progress on three separate fronts in Japan's 30-year process of 'renormalising' its' approach to external defence: Last week, the Abe cabinet approved the 2015 Japanese Defence White Paper after revisions were made to make it focus more

Interview: Sadegh Zibakalam on the Iran nuclear deal

Sadegh Zibakalam is a prominent Iranian intellectual and political commentator and a Professor of Political Science at the University of Tehran. I spoke with him from Tehran: Q. Is this a good deal for Iran? How significant are the concessions made by Iran to reach this agreement?  Obviously it'

Is the war on ISIS coming home to Turkey?

Monday's suicide bombing in the Turkish town of Sucuc on the Syrian border, blamed on militants from ISIS, marks a significant deterioration in Turkey's national security. While not the first attack blamed on Islamist militants inside Turkey's borders, it was the deadliest in two years, killing at

Talisman Sabre 2015: Bigger and more amphibious

Exercise Talisman Sabre is winding down, bringing to an end two weeks of high tempo US-Australia war games around the continent. Held on alternate years, Talisman Sabre is the most important bilateral set-piece exercise between the ADF and US forces. Beyond its training value, the exercise serves

Why Japan hangs tough on the history issue

In one of my previous essays for The Interpreter, I argued that Japan at some point needs to come around on the history questions that divide it so sharply from South Korea and China. I argued that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his coalition persist in interpretations of the empire and the war

Iran nuclear deal: Surrendering to grim reality

The conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal – or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to give it its formal title – has already guaranteed us one thing: mutually assured hyperbole. Barrages of outrage were being fired even before the deal was signed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Is China ready for global leadership?

Is China ready for a larger global role and should the outside world, in particular a regional partner like Australia, embrace this possibility? Evidently not, judging by remarks made by the Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department, Michael Thawley. 'China wasn't ready to take on the

Iran has made big nuclear concessions in Vienna

Another seven days to reach an agreement; that's what the P5-1 decided this week when they weren't able to meet their 30 June deadline for a final deal on Iran's nuclear program. While some differences remain, both sides have come too far to walk away. The potential agreement achieves Western

Is Egypt falling into an Islamist insurrection?

Islamist insurrection has returned to Egypt. There has been a significant growth in the sophistication of the targeting, conduct and lethality of terrorist acts, a crisis of political legitimacy for the Egyptian Government, and the virtual abandonment of any separation of executive and judicial

Peak box? Global container trade is slackening

In a little-noticed interview, the chief of Panama's Canal Authority concedes that 'the world and the canal were unlikely to ever again see the booming container trade that characterised the 1990s and early 2000s' due to shifting manufacturing patterns and American thrift. Obviously, he has

Rumours of a Turkish invasion of northern Syria

There is heightened speculation in Turkey about a long-debated military intervention in northern Syria, where Kurdish forces are battling militants from ISIS. Both pro- and anti-government newspapers are reporting that Turkey is mulling sending up to 18,000 ground troops into Syria. The two

Attribution is key to broader ISIS strategy

The suicide bombing of a Shia mosque in Kuwait, shooting of Western tourists in Tunisia, and a beheading and attempt to blow up a chemical factory in France. Three continents, three different attack methodologies and three different targets, but ultimately the same result. The death of innocent

Who are you calling radical, radical?

Fear of ISIS, faltering economies and resentment over rising immigration from war-torn Iraq and Syria has resulted in a surge in right-wing populism in Europe and the UK.  Here in the UK, following the departure of three sisters with their nine children to join ISIS, and the emergence of the first

How America failed the Waterloo test

Two hundred years ago last Friday, British and allied troops defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Exiled in April 1814 to Elba after his defeat by the Sixth Coalition, by March 1815 Napoleon had escaped and returned to Paris. Much of the army of Louis XVIII, the newly installed King of France, deserted to

Liberalism, China and the internet

'It's not that laws aren't relevant' said MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte during the 1990s, 'it's that the nation-state is not relevant...The internet cannot be regulated.'   Negroponte's assessment has not aged well, but to be fair, he was not alone in his belief. Digital activist

Shadow boxing on the Korean Peninsula

The report that Korean People's Army General Hyon Yong-ch'ol, Minister of the People's Armed Forces, has been shot for insubordination – by an anti-aircraft gun and before a crowd of officials, no less – raises troubling questions about both halves of the divided Korean Peninsula. While there

A way forward for Indonesia-Australia relations

It is hard to avoid a sense of déjà vu when one looks at Indonesia-Australia relations today. Our fundamental strategic interests mostly converge – from regional and maritime stability to managing China's growing power – even if our policy preferences diverge in various issue areas. And

US, EU and Russia compete over Black Sea

Some see recent trips by US officials to Russia — including a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi — as signs of a budding détente. Yet the north-western corner of the Black Sea remains the scene of a three-

Assad's regime is brittle, and it may fall fast

It is not yet possible to say whether, when and how the Syrian regime may fall. But recent military setbacks, and an objective analysis of the challenges the regime faces in the longer term, strongly suggest that its future is increasingly precarious. The momentum of the military conflict has

China-Russia: An uneasy friendship

The China-Russia relationship is the world's most important, and the best between any two great powers, Xi Jinping told Vladimir Putin a couple of years ago. Last week, at the Kremlin's V-Day celebration, their ties were reaffirmed in grand style. Some observers dismiss the partnership as an '

China's dangerous cyberwar strategy

There's an 'Uber for X', goes the little ditty, celebrating the ubiquitous infiltration of the online 'sharing economy.' It seems Uber's business model can be turned to virtually all our needs, and a global ecosystem of app buttons has popped up on our smartphones. As in so many things, however,

Jokowi hoping for good news from Papua

President Jokowi lifted an effective ban on foreign journalists reporting from Papua during his visit to the province over the weekend. Aside from being a positive step for press freedom, the move has been interpreted as an effort by Jokowi to boost his own image as a human rights defender and to

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