The Lowy Interpreter

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Raising the Stakes in the Gulf’s Game of Reprisals

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-09-17 20:24:54

[By Rodger Shanahan] Last weekend’s attack on the Saudi oil facility at Abqaiq is the most dramatic escalation of the Persian Gulf tensions since the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. At the time of writing, the weapons used have allegedly been traced to Iran, while the Yemeni Houthi movement has claimed responsibility. This latter claim has been rejected by Riyadh and Washington, which leaves the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi’a militias (known collectively as Popular Mobilisation Units,...

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The Philippine Standoff Over China

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-08-28 14:08:15

[By Malcolm Cook] Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to arrive in China on Wednesday for his fifth presidential visit to China in less than three years. His predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III, made only one trip to China, in 2011. China is Duterte’s most visited presidential destination. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s 2017 invitation for Duterte to visit the US remains unrequited. The sharp increase in visits to China reflects the very different nature of Philippine-China relations under the two...

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Op-Ed: For U.S., Buying Greenland Might Make Strategic Sense

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-08-21 21:21:34

[By Donald R. Rothwell] Suggestions by the Trump administration that the United States is exploring the acquisition of Greenland have been greeted with global derision. Greenland politicians have pointed out that the island is “not for sale” and are insulted to think that they would become part of just another Donald Trump real estate deal. However, is the notion of the United States acquiring Greenland that absurd? Throughout history, there are many examples of territory being transferred, and the United States has...

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Vanguard Bank Tensions Show That China Remains Undeterred

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-08-16 13:43:19

[By Trinh Le] For weeks, Chinese and Vietnamese coastguard vessels have been involved in a confrontation after the Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 entered waters near the Vietnam-controlled Vanguard Bank on 3 July. The incident has upset both Hanoi’s leadership and the Vietnamese public, and led the U.S. to criticise Beijing for “bullying behavior” in the area. The ship briefly left the region to resupply, only to return in recent days. This latest stand-off harks back to a similar...

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Iran: The White House Calls on Australia

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-08-05 13:02:48

Washington has asked for Australian support to participate in a coalition maritime Persian Gulf security force. The request was formally announced as part of Sunday’s AUSMIN talks. It is the type of request that Australia would prefer not be made. Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and its subsequent pursuit of a “better deal” – without actually saying what kind of “better deal” was envisaged – only served to open a Pandora’s box. It was a tactic...

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China's Spy Ships Change Equation in the Pacific

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-07-31 16:56:44

[By James Goldrick] Exercise Talisman Sabre has finished, and the Australian, American and Japanese units involved have dispersed to their bases or operational deployments. So has the Chinese ship which monitored their activities. The Type 815G intelligence gatherer (AGI) No. 853 Tianwangxing (in English, Uranus) was not the first of its class to conduct such operations. Its sister ship No. 852 Haiwangxing (Neptune) deployed in the same way to monitor the last Talisman Sabre exercise in 2017. It could be a Chinese joke to...

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Tanker for Tanker

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-07-24 21:34:08

[By Rodger Shanahan] The most perplexing question following Iran’s capture of the MV Stena Impero on Friday is why the British were unable to foresee this action as a natural response to Britain’s earlier seizure of the Iranian-flagged tanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar and make appropriate preparations. The Grace 1 was impounded earlier this month as part of a crackdown on Syrian sanctions-busting and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had even publicly flagged a response would be coming. Some would argue that the UK...

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The Danger to Taiwan's High Seas Fishermen

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-05-05 11:09:28

[By Nick Aspinwall] On February 20, the Taiwan-flagged Wen Peng became the site of an alleged double murder at sea. According to Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency, a conflict broke out about 900 nautical miles off the south coast of Sri Lanka between fishermen and the boat’s chief officer, who allegedly killed one Filipino and one Indonesian. Six other foreign crew members were reportedly forced to jump into the sea and were never found. The incident happened just days after five Filipino fishermen went missing after the Taiwan-flagged Jung...

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The Strategic Consequence of the Diego Garcia Dispute

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-03-28 15:07:57

[By Dr. Bec Strating] At the end of last month, the African archipelago nation of Mauritius secured an important legal victory in its territorial and maritime disputes against its former coloniser, the United Kingdom. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) produce an advisory opinion that rejected the UK’s claims to sovereignty over the Chagos Islands, a small group of atolls in the Indian Ocean. It found instead that the UK had unlawfully separated the islands from the former colony of...

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Brexit Scenarios for the UK's Fisheries

By The Lowy Interpreter 2019-03-13 18:09:12

[By Martin Gellerman] Despite accounting for a mere 0.12% the UK’s overall economic output, fishing is one of the most contentious issues in the Brexit jumble. Highly politicised, negotiations on the future fisheries regime could tarnish the overall outcome of British departure from the EU. Issues of British identity have made fisheries an incredibly difficult point of negotiation between Britain and the European Union. At the heart of the dispute is the EU’s “Common Fisheries Policy” (CFP). Originally devised in 1970, the policy...

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