2 May 2024

Why Indians Want Modi Again: Understanding the BJP’s Popularity

Akhilesh Pillalamarri

India has begun voting in its seven-phase general elections. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is widely expected to return to power in an electoral process that most international observers deem to be free and fair, despite some allegations to the contrary.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP is extremely popular in India. He is, in fact, the world’s most popular elected leader, with 75 percent of Indians approving of his performance in March 2024. Opinion polls show the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed for a major victory and a third term in power: a recent survey conducted by ABP News-CVoter projected that the NDA would win 373 out of 543 contested seats in the Lok Sabha, with 46.6 percent of the vote. The opposition Congress-led Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) is projected to win 155 seats with 39.8 percent of the vote.

It is strange, then, that much of coverage of India’s election in the West is focused on concerns about the alleged ill-health of India’s democracy, despite the fact that a healthy contest is about to occur, in which the opposition is projected to get only a few percentage points less of the popular vote than the incumbent.

India Can Do More to Protect Workers in War Zones

Swetasree Ghosh Roy

When 65 Indian construction workers landed in Israel on April 2 to start jobs once taken by Palestinians, they were flying into a firestorm. Eleven days after their arrival, Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles on Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities, as the six-month war in the Middle East threatened to spiral out of control.

The Indian laborers were the first of a planned 1,500 due to land in Israel in April, as part of a deal struck last November between Jerusalem and New Delhi after Israel canceled the work permits of about 90,000 Palestinian workers in the wake of the October 7 Hamas attacks and Israel’s subsequent invasion of Gaza.

Two days after the Iranian attack, India halted the dispatch of a second batch of workers. Yet the fate of 18,000 Indian caregivers and agricultural workers already working in Israel hangs in the balance with fears that the conflict might intensify.

How to make the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor happe

Alberto Rizzi

The complex birth of IMEC

At the September 2023 G20 summit in New Delhi, Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s no-show was upstaged by plans for a rival to his Belt and Road (BRI) infrastructure initiative: the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) – a grand US-led connectivity project that would link India to Europe via the Gulf.

The initial memorandum of understanding for IMEC – signed by the United States, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, India, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia – envisioned two sections: an eastern maritime link between India and the Gulf, and a northern section that would connect the Arabian Peninsula to Europe. These would be connected by a new railway network to link the Gulf with the Mediterranean via Jordan and Israel. Beyond the transport infrastructure, undersea cables would facilitate the exchange of data, while long-distance hydrogen pipelines would boost the participants’ climate and decarbonisation goals.

The memorandum was light on detail, but the corridor seemed to have the remarkable ability to fit well in each participant’s strategic agenda. It would serve the US in its rivalry with China and its goal to normalise relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. 

Myanmar: Mired In Military ‘Chaos,’ Junta Locked Into Struggle For Survival

Kyaw Lwin Oo, Ye Kaung Myint Maung, Zin Mar Win and Khet Mar

Just over three years since Myanmar’s military seized control of the country in a February 2021 coup d’etat, the junta’s grip on power is increasingly tenuous amidst a nationwide civil war that has spiraled out of control.

What began as a military campaign to solidify rule in Myanmar’s remote border regions has devolved into a struggle of survival for the military as rebel forces become more united and more adapted to the conflict, and have dealt junta forces a series of battlefield defeats. Experts say the military regime’s prospects are now more grim than ever.

Zachary Abuza, a Southeast Asia analyst at the National War College in Washington – who writes commentaries regularly for Radio Free Asia – said Myanmar’s military leaders are “denying the harsh reality” of what they have reduced the country to.

Is Myanmar's army reversing its losses? It's complicated

Jonathan Head

Two weeks after losing control of their base in Myawaddy, a vital border crossing, soldiers loyal to the military junta that seized power in a coup three years ago have retaken it.

The embattled junta, which has suffered a series of humiliating defeats in other parts of the country, appears to have held the line in Myawaddy. But the picture is a lot more complicated than this simple narrative suggests.

The sudden capture by the Karen National Union (KNU) of all the military bases near Myawaddy earlier this month seemed to herald a significant shift in the civil war which erupted after the junta seized power in a coup three years ago.

It was the first time in decades that the KNU, Myanmar's longest-running insurgent group, had controlled the town, a real prize as most of the country's trade with Thailand passes through it, and it is the location of several huge and very lucrative casino complexes.

How China Became the World’s Clean Tech Giant

Rakshith Shetty

China’s clean energy sector was the biggest driver of its GDP growth in 2023, contributing 40 percent (around $1.6 trillion) of its economic expansion. The country’s commitment to renewable energy is underscored by its substantial investments in the industry.

Take the solar sector as an example. Chinese investments in new photovoltaic (PV) supply capacity over the last 10 years exceeded $50 billion – ten times more than all of Europe. This investment surge has strengthened China’s energy independence and promoted substantial job creation, with over 300,000 manufacturing jobs across the solar PV value chain added since 2011. China now commands over 80 percent share in all manufacturing stages of solar panels, from polysilicon to modules, solidifying its global leadership in solar energy.

Moreover, China’s wind power sector continues to expand, evidenced by the addition of 37 gigawatts (GW) in wind capacity in 2022, including significant growth in offshore farms.

Why the US-China relationship is more stable than you might think

Ian Bremmer

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week. US Secretary of State Tony Blinken in the Middle East right now. But he just came from China, Beijing and Shanghai, and the US-China relationship is what I'm thinking about. Want to give you a state of play.

It continues to be better managed and more stable than we've seen in a long time. Now, not clear that would necessarily be the case, given the number of issues and places where we have friction between these two countries. Just over the course of the last couple weeks, you've got President Biden, putting new tariffs on Chinese steel, opening a new investigation into Chinese shipbuilding. You've got this anti TikTok policy that's coming down from US Congress. You've got $2 billion in additional military aid for Taiwan from the United States. You've also got lots of criticism from the Americans on ongoing Chinese support, dual use technologies for the Russians, allowing them to better fight the war in Ukraine.

Given all of that, is the relationship starting to become much more confrontational? And the answer is not really. It's true that the Chinese foreign minister said that the Americans need to choose between having a relationship of containment and a relationship of partnership, and it's certainly true that the Americans would rather have it both ways. They want to have partnership in areas where it suits the Americans, and containment in areas where it suits the Americans.

The Dark-Horse Alliance Racing Forward to Take On China

Niharika Mandhana

Four years ago, the U.S. and its oldest ally in Asia were close to breaking up.

The Philippines had declared it wanted to exit a cornerstone defense pact between the countries. Then-President Rodrigo Duterte favored a realignment toward Beijing.

Today, the alliance is at its strongest in decades. The striking turnaround is the result of a U.S. charm offensive, a new leader in Manila and forceful Chinese actions against the Philippines in the South China Sea.

Some 16,000 American and Filipino military personnel are training in annual exercises called Balikatan, which began on April 22 and will feature America’s Himars rocket launcher and Stinger antiaircraft missiles. The goal is to make sure they can smoothly operate side-by-side if they have to go to war together.

Apple needs China more than China needs Apple


Apple has slipped to fifth place in China’s cellphone sales ranking, outsold by local rivals Huawei, OPPO, Honor and vivo.

Chinese cellphones are closing the performance gap with Apple’s iPhone while US government harassment of Chinese tech companies has made buying local a source of national pride for some.

Chinese authorities have also imposed local restrictions on Apple, including bans on using iPhones at certain state agencies and state-linked companies in at least eight provinces due to security concerns.

Since last December, employees at the said agencies and firms, including in prosperous coastal regions, have been encouraged instead to purchase and bring local cellphone brands to work. Earlier this month, Chinese regulators ordered Apple to stop carrying Meta’s WhatsApp messaging service and Threads social media platform from its China app store.

The impact of those bans on Apple’s declining local sales is difficult to disaggregate. Apple has slipped in local rankings despite using more, not fewer, Chinese suppliers and Apple CEO Tim Cook’s frequent visits to China to tout his company’s commitment to China’s market.

Xi Jinping Has Tough Economic Choices Ahead

Raja Krishnamoorthi

Xi Jinping, the general party secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is in a bind. The economy of the People’s Republic of China is facing a once-in-a-generation crisis. The country’s real estate market is in free-fall, its population sank by 2 million people in 2023, and its stock markets have lost roughly $7 trillion since 2021. Numerous countries are cooperating multilaterally to take countermeasures against what they view as the CCP’s military and economic aggression. Xi’s grip on his rule is secure for the moment, but he is confronting unprecedented challenges to his leadership.



The Middle East problem is not going away. The region has become a proverbial Hotel California; the United States can check out anytime it likes, but it can never leave.

With a rising China and a major land war in Europe, many analysts have called for the United States to move on from the Middle East, penning articles like “The Middle East Isn’t Worth It Anymore,” “The Middle East Just Doesn’t Matter as Much Any Longer,” and “The End of America’s Middle East.” While the United States has recently shifted its efforts to the Indo-Pacific region and increased its military presence in Europe, the Middle East continues to demand attention. From the ongoing clash between Israel and Hamas to an uptick of terrorist attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria, actions in the Middle East are drawing the United States back to the region because instability or degraded U.S. influence comes with strategic consequences. Although the Middle East may no longer be the nation’s top priority, the U.S. military cannot afford to lose focus on a region that is historically ingrained into foreign policy, remains vital to national interests, and has become a competitive space for the great powers.

Yemen’s Houthis are going underground

Fabian Hinz

The Ansarullah (Houthi) movement in Yemen is digging in for the long term, literally.

The armed group, which controls much of the country and has been harassing shipping in the Red Sea, has undertaken a major expansion of underground military facilities, satellite images reviewed by the International Institute for Strategic Studies reveal. The building boom predates the ongoing United States-led Poseidon Archer military operation that has targeted the Houthis to counter their attacks on cargo and military vessels.

While the Houthis used caves and simple tunnels in their earliest days as an armed group, more recently, they have pursued much larger installations, refurbishing both pre-war Yemeni Army tunnel systems and building entirely new underground facilities.

Building blocks

Some of the first evidence that the Houthis were using underground facilities emerged in 2004, during the first of the so-called Saada Wars between the Yemeni government and what was, at the time, a peripheral northern Yemeni rebel group. In September of that year, the Yemeni army killed the group’s first leader, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi. According to Houthi sources, Yemeni army forces discovered the cave in which he was hiding and poured gasoline into it before setting it ablaze.

Winning in Ukraine Requires a Serious U.S. Energy Strategy

Stephen Blank & Peter Huessy

The U.S. leads the world in oil and gas production. This enabled Texas by itself to provide a natural gas lifeline to Europe after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine destabilized energy markets, in part due to a near ten percent decline in Russian oil and gas production.

The U.S. could then export significant gas supplies because the U.S. produces 13.3 million barrels a day of crude oil, and 17 million barrels a day of crude oil and condensates, the highest ever, a result in large part due to the new technology of fracking.

The benefits of “drill, baby, drill” are clear. The U.S. in 2023 annually produced 180 million more barrels of oil than the previous 2019 peak. However, with growth in population of 15 million people, and GDP growth of $5.1 trillion, and oil supplies up only 3.6%, oil prices still shot up.

With ATACMS In Hand, Ukraine Looks To Neutralize Putin’s Fortress In Crimea – Analysis

Todd Prince

Ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, his armed forces have pounded Ukraine with missiles and drones fired from the relatively safe confines of Crimea.

Following his occupation of the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula in 2014, the Kremlin leader poured billions of dollars into militarizing Crimea, expanding bases and constructing depots and other infrastructure.

Now fortress Crimea faces a significant new threat that could neutralize its crucial role in the 26-month-old war: U.S. long-range ATACMS, or Army Tactical Missile Systems. After nearly two years of hesitation, the United States earlier this month delivered versions of the powerful ballistic missiles that can travel 300 kilometers — essentially reaching any of the more than 100 military targets on the peninsula.

Israel Puts Gaza Ceasefire Ball In Hamas’ Court – Analysis

James M. Dorsey

Israel’s latest Gaza ceasefire and prisoner exchange proposal puts the ball in Hamas’ court.

The proposal, drafted in recent days by Israeli negotiators and Egyptian interlocutors, goes some way to address Hamas’ long-standing demands.

The proposal makes concessions Israel has rejected in the past but raises as many questions as it opens doors to possible breakthroughs in the long-stalled negotiations mediated by Qatar and Egypt.

In response, Hamas said it was “studying” the proposal and was “open to any ideas” but insisted that a deal must end the seven-month-old Gaza war. The group said it is sending its negotiators to Cairo for further talks.

Both Hamas and Israel want to be seen as being constructive in their efforts to revive the negotiations.

Missile Proliferation and Control in the Asia-Pacific Region

Dr Jeffrey Lewis & Kolja Brockmann

While the global arms-control architecture crumbles or comes under greater pressure, more countries in the Asia-Pacific region are importing or developing increasingly capable conventionally armed precision-guided missiles. The remaining fabric of regional stability is being further eroded by the confrontation between Russia and the United States, and by China’s apparent objective of reaching approximate numerical parity with Russia and the US in its deployment of nuclear warheads.

The first section of this report maps how states in the Asia-Pacific, particularly those in East and Southeast Asia and parts of Oceania, have acquired ballistic and cruise missiles, and in some cases subsequently established a domestic production capability. The second section analyses to what extent and how these countries have engaged with missile-control mechanisms and confidence-building measures.

Gaza war: US 'hopeful' Hamas will accept Israel's new ceasefire offer

David Gritten

Antony Blinken was speaking as a Hamas delegation discussed the new proposal with mediators from Egypt and Qatar.

A source close to the talks told the BBC they were cautiously optimistic.

The proposal includes a 40-day truce in return for the release of hostages and the prospect of displaced families being allowed back to northern Gaza.

It reportedly also involves new wording on restoring calm meant to satisfy Hamas's demand for a permanent ceasefire.

The Hamas delegation has now left Cairo and will return with a written response to the proposal, Egypt's state-affiliated Al Qahera TV said.

The Israeli government is coming under growing pressure from its global allies and the families of the hostages to agree a deal.

Don’t Bet on a British Revival

Matthias Matthijs and Mark Blyth

The United Kingdom is likely to hold a general election in the fall, and the outlook appears dire for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Conservative Party. In December 2019, the Conservatives were reelected with an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons on the strength of campaign promises to “get Brexit done” and “level up” those parts of the country that had not broadly shared in the benefits of economic growth and investment. But the illegal Downing Street parties during COVID-19 lockdowns, former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s fiscal meltdowns, and the creeping costs of Brexit have demolished what had seemed an unassailable lead. Since he became prime minister in October 2022, Sunak’s Tories have trailed the Labour Party in opinion polls by an average of 20 points.

When the election comes, the Labour opposition leader, Keir Starmer, is expected to cruise to an easy victory. Tory fatigue is widespread, which is perhaps unsurprising after 14 years of often chaotic Conservative rule in which five prime ministers—David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Truss, and Sunak—have served in quick succession. In Scotland, Labour’s prospects have been enhanced by the Scottish Nationalist Party’s fall from grace, caused in large part by its mishandling of transgender and free speech issues. Meanwhile, in England, the Conservatives are bleeding votes on their right flank to the Reform Party, the successor to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. All three factors have put the wind in Labour’s sails.

America is Losing Tomorrow’s War in the Indo-Pacific

Jonathan G. Wachtel

In 2011, the Obama administration declared a “strategic pivot” to Asia away from the Middle East. Nearly a decade later, in October 2022, the Biden White House published a National Security Strategy that stated, “No region will be of more significance to the world and everyday Americans than the Indo-Pacific.” In the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, the “sense of Congress” declared its goal to “strengthen United States defense alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region to further the comparative advantage of the United States in strategic competition with the People’s Republic of China.” Today, despite all of these grand declarations, 86 percent of the annual U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) still goes overwhelmingly, as it has for decades, to nations in the Middle East.

Within that overwhelming portion of the pie, the top beneficiaries of this largesse include long-time security partners Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. Of the roughly $13.2 billion Congress placed in the FMF account in Fiscal Year 2024, Egypt’s security assistance is roughly $1.3 billion, and Israel’s share is a tremendous $6.8 billion.

What We Know Amid Evacuation Talk

Brendan Cole

Israel is preparing for the evacuation of the population in Rafah in the Gaza Strip ahead of an imminent military operation there, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Context

Speculation has been mounting over what will happen in the next stage of Israel's war against Hamas following months of bombardment of Gaza after the Palestinian militant group's October 7 raid into southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed and 253 were abducted.

Since then, officials in Gaza say at least 34,000 have been killed in the territory. Netanyahu and his governing partners say Rafah is Hamas' last major stronghold, but it is also where more than half of Gaza's 2.3 million people are sheltering and the international community has warned against any offensive that risks civilians.

Putin and the Insanity Gambit

George Friedman

When I was in graduate school, a small group of my peers and I spent considerable time examining the circumstances under which it would be possible for one nuclear power to launch a nuclear attack against another. Since none of us could get dates, we spent a lot of time on this topic, using the Cuban missile crisis as the basis of our analysis. The criteria for such an attack was that the other side’s command system had collapsed and thus the country had no way to retaliate, or that the other side was simply lying about its nuclear arsenal to begin with, or some other scenario I don’t remember. Lonely Saturday nights bled into one another.

The problem we kept running into – whether the arsenals were matched, asymmetric in number or disproportionate in capability – was that nuclear weapons would almost never be used, except perhaps if there were a situation in which one side had superb and trusted intelligence on location and the status of the enemy. There were other, stranger concepts based on mutually assured destruction. If we could eliminate the potential of the enemy to retaliate, it was a go. (There were proposals for special operations forces to penetrate enemy command points, deploy poisonous gas to kill launch crews, and so on.) But inevitably, a nuclear attack on a nuclear power would almost certainly result in mutually assured destruction or in an attack on an ally of a nuclear power, which would risk a less certain but still probable nuclear response. It’s easy to understand why, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there has never been another nuclear attack.

Climate Policy Is Working

Kelly Sims Gallagher

Climate change is not just transforming the environment: it is also exacting a marked toll on mental health. In July 2023, scientists at Yale published a study of the psychological effects of climate change on adults in the United States and found that seven percent were experiencing mild to severe climate-related psychological distress. Among millennials and members of Gen Z, the figure is ten percent. A global study published in 2021 by The Lancet Planetary Health found that 59 percent of respondents between the ages of 16 and 25 were very worried or extremely worried about climate change.

These young people despaired of attempts by their governments to address the climate crisis and reported feeling that older generations had betrayed their generation and future ones: 77 percent of young Brazilians felt this way, as did 56 percent of young Americans.

Welcome to World War III

Michael Vatikiotis

A Russian foreign policy expert, Fyodor Lukyanov, stated the other day in Beijing that World War III has already begun. He argued that instead of one global conflict that would quickly escalate toward nuclear war, this world war is being fought in the form of a chain of regional conflicts. He may have a point.

From the war in Ukraine, to the war in Gaza, to tensions in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and the Korean Peninsula, regional conflicts have involved all the great powers, either as combatants or in proxy roles. Except for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Israel’s ghastly war in Gaza, the other regional hotspots have yet to erupt as full-blown conflicts; if they do, the two largest superpowers, China and the United States, could be at war.

The bad news is that these conflicts are escalating in the face of futile efforts to mediate. After a feeble Ukrainian counteroffensive over the summer, Russia is now on the offensive in Ukraine. Kyiv’s valiant resistance could lose vital support from the U.S., which is tiring of the war. 

How a Bureaucratic Change Helped Save Israel

Michael Makovsky

An obscure bureaucratic change enabled the extremely successful, coordinated defense of Israel against the recent Iranian attack. President Donald Trump’s January 2021 decision to transfer Israel to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) ensured the unprecedented Israeli-American-British-Arab collaboration that repelled 99 percent of Iran’s missiles and drones.

Prior to 2021, Israel was assigned to the U.S. European Command’s (EUCOM) area of responsibility. Based on geography and threats, Israel belonged to CENTCOM, the U.S. military’s Middle East command. Arab countries, however, did not want to be part of a forum with Israel, and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) leaders were satisfied and didn’t request a CENTCOM transfer. Until the last decade, the CENTCOM commander didn’t generally travel to Israel, his EUCOM counterpart’s turf, though the two American commanders began to meet periodically with the Israeli military chief.

As Israel’s relationships with Arab states began to warm quietly, a Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) 2018 report presciently argued that placing Israel within the U.S. combatant command responsible for the geographic region that Israel actually inhabits, the Middle East, would “enable improved strategic and operational coordination among the United States, Israel and our Arab partners throughout the region against Iran and other serious shared threats.” It repeated a similar argument in 2020.

No more 12345: devices with weak passwords to be banned in UK

Tech that comes with weak passwords such as “admin” or “12345” will be banned in the UK under new laws dictating that all smart devices must meet minimum security standards.

Measures to protect consumers from hacking and cyber-attacks come into effect on Monday, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology said.

It means manufacturers of phones, TVs and smart doorbells, among others, are now legally required to protect internet-connected devices against access by cybercriminals, with users prompted to change any common passwords.

Brands have to publish contact details so that bugs and issues can be reported, and must be transparent about timings of security updates.

It is hoped the new measures will help give customers confidence in buying and using products at a time when consumers and businesses have come under attack from hackers at a soaring rate.