US accelerating arms shipments to Gulf coalition; US-Japan alliance shifts; Thailand and Russia to boost cooperation on drug trafficking, investment and energy sector; Mugabe visits South Africa; new bank in India to regulate microfinance lenders and help small businesses; and more
TOP OF THE AGENDA
United States to Expedite Arms Delivery to Gulf Coalition
The United States is accelerating (Al Arabiya) arms shipments and boosting intelligence sharing with the Saudi-led coalition that is fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday. The United Nations said that 100,000 people have been displaced and more than five hundred people have been killed in clashes. Houthi rebels mounted (BBC) a fresh offensive on Wednesday, advancing in the southern port city of Aden, a remaining stronghold of exile President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Twenty-six countries, including the United States, have asked India to help evacuate (Al Jazeera) foreign nationals from Yemen as the conflict escalates. Meanwhile, U.S. defense chief Ashton Carter warned (NYT) that the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is making gains due to the recent turmoil.
"The Yemen war has profound implications for the stability of the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia and the broader region. It is King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud's first test as custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Qaboos' last after 45 years on the throne. It is simultaneously a sectarian conflict, the unfinished business of the Arab Spring and part of the broader Saudi-Iranian struggle for regional hegemony. It is likely to draw in more players as it goes on and spill out of Yemen to other countries. For now, al-Qaeda is the only clear winner," writes Bruce Riedel in Al-Monitor.
"The new Middle East needs neither a nuclear arms race nor religious hatred, and it also does not need a foreign policy based on military intervention. Rather, it requires the strength to sit down together and negotiate, and to develop systems of collective security that do serve the legitimate interests of all parties involved," writes Joschka Fischer in Project Syndicate.
"The desire and ability of a large and well-resourced Houthi movement to fight a long war should not be underestimated, especially should Iran decide to double down in Yemen and drag Saudi Arabia and its other adversaries into a war of attrition. But it is likely that Tehran, whose major interests lie primarily in Iraq and Syria, will decide to deescalate and push its local allies to seek a political solution, writes Bilal Y. Saab in Foreign Affairs.
Carter Says New Defense Guidelines to 'Transform' U.S.-Japan Alliance
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, kicking off a tour of Asia Wednesday, vowed (Japan Times) to speed up the process of updating U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines, in the revision will be the first since 1997. Carter also warned (WSJ) against the militarization of China's land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea.
This CFR Contingency Planning Memo looks at recent concerns over China's maritime disputes.
THAILAND: Thailand and Russia pledged to boost cooperation (Bangkok Post) on drug trafficking, investment, and on improving the Thai energy sector Wednesday. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's visit is the first to Thailand by a Russian head of government in twenty-five years. He and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said they aim to double annual bilateral trade in 2016 to $10 billion.
Mugabe visits South Africa
New bank in India to regulate microfinance lenders and help small businesses
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org