10 August 2019   Leave a comment

We need to keep a close eye on what’s happening in North Korea. In the last few weeks it has conducted five short-range missile tests, but the more recent tests seem to be of a different kind of missile. We do know that the Trump Administration believes that as long as North Korea does not test a nuclear bomb or launch a long-range ballistic missile, it does not violate the understanding reached between leader Kim and President Trump in Singapore last year. But it appears as if leader Kim is threading a very small needle of understanding. North Korea believes that the US is preparing to violate the Singapore Agreement by conducting military exercises with South Korea tomorrow, and these tests are expressions of discontent with the US actions. If the war games occur, then it may be the case that North Korea considers the Singapore Agreement null and void. If that is the case, then we should expect North Korea to reciprocate by either testing a bomb or a long-range missile. How President Trump responds to that move is a matter of conjecture: President Trump will likely downplay its significance, but National Security Adviser Bolton and Secretary of State Pompeo, both of whom have argued for regime change in North Korea. will likely push for a more robust response. While the US and North Korea continue to dance, South Korea seems to be increasingly worried about the reliability of the US as an ally. It recently announced that Lee Soo-hyuck, who has described Mr. Trump as “treacherous”, will be the next South Korean Ambassador to the US.

We have virtually no hard information about what is happening in Kashmir. The Indian government has cut off all internet connections with the territory, controls all flows of information, and has reportedly sent a large number of troops into the region. The Straits Times reports that India has arrested 300 Kashmiri politicians. The New York Times reports:

“On the streets of Srinagar, Kashmir’s biggest city, security officers tied black bandannas over their faces, grabbed their guns and took positions behind checkpoints. People glanced out the windows of their homes, afraid to step outside. Many were cutting back on meals and getting hungry.

“A sense of coiled menace hung over the locked-down city and the wider region on Saturday, a day after a huge protest erupted into clashes between Kashmiris and Indian security forces.

“Shops were shut. A.T.M.s had run dry. Just about all lines to the outside world — internet, mobile phones, even landlines — remained severed, rendering millions of people incommunicado.”

The fear is that India wants to shift the demographic balance in the Muslim-majority province:

“A swing of about 2.5 million residents would shift Jammu and Kashmir from majority-Muslim to majority-Hindu. In a nation of 1.3 billion, that’s not such a stretch. The BJP forcefully advocates for in-migration of Hindus to the state. Officially, this applies only to those who fled Kashmir in the violence of the 1990s, but there is now no legal barrier to a full-bore program of government-sponsored in-migration. Such a move would solidify the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist agenda of redefining India not as a multireligious secular state, but as a Hindu rastra in which 200 million Muslims are tolerated only so long as they remain on good behavior.”

It is difficult to see how Pakistan can effectively respond to this move. It has recalled its ambassador, but the Indian government of Narendra Modi has unquestionably committed to this course of action. I suspect, however, that there is no stable outcome without a dramatic reversal by India.

Posted August 10, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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