The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its four partner countries in the Indo-Pacific—Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and New Zealand—have entered a period of increased engagement. This engagement is taking shape in the context of the war waged by the Russian Federation (Russia) against Ukraine, NATO’s growing awareness of the security challenges posed by the People’s Republic of China (China), and important structural changes in the international system, including the return of strategic competition between the United States and China and Russia. It is occurring not only in bilateral NATO-partner relations but also between NATO and these Indo-Pacific countries as a group.
In 2019, Malaita Province in Solomon Islands made geopolitical headlines when its former premier, Daniel Suidani, came out against the country’s closer bilateral relations with China. As a result of his stance, Suidani was removed from his position in February 2023.
Three U.S. troops were killed and at least 34 injured in a drone strike on a U.S. base in northeast Jordan on January 28. The attack comes against a backdrop of rising regional tensions since the outbreak of conflict in Gaza following the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.
In a surprising turn on January 16, Iran launched missile strikes into Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, claiming it had hit two strongholds of anti-Iran insurgent group Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice). Iran announced the attack in Pakistan concurrent to its strikes in Iraq and Syria. Less than two days later, Pakistan hit back with not only missiles but also fighter jets in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province — claiming to target hideouts of anti-Pakistan ethno-nationalist insurgents operating from Iranian soil.
The Pacific island nation of Nauru this week switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, a move that could seem of little consequence in a largely symbolic competition between Taipei and Beijing. But the move has a deeper significance for the United States.
Since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, Egypt has been heavily involved in efforts to end the military confrontations and wars that have periodically broken out in Gaza. However, the scope, scale and stakes of the current war is unlike any prior round of hostilities. In response to the massacre and hostage-taking of mostly Israeli civilians by Hamas and other militant armed groups during their devastating attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, Israel has launched one of the most destructive wars in its history. Indeed, this war will be transformational in numerous ways, with ramifications for several stakeholders beyond the parties themselves.
On January 12, the United States and the United Kingdom, supported by Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands, launched military strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen in response to the group’s attacks on civilian and military ships in the Red Sea. The U.S.-led strikes are a significant escalation and part of the growing regional impact of the Israel-Hamas war, which the United States has been actively trying to prevent from turning into a regional war.
After nearly 75 years of sustained conflict, Myanmar’s population has suffered devastating and compounding intergenerational trauma. But rather than address that collective trauma, successive military governments have terrorized the country while also disinvesting from systems of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS).
On December 3, militants placed a bomb amongst parishioners gathered for Catholic Mass on the floor of the Mindanao State University (MSU) gym in Marawi City. Minutes later, it detonated killing four and injuring dozens. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed that its East Asia affiliate was responsible for the attack. After a year of heavy losses, many had hoped that the threat posed by pro-ISIS groups was dissipating. Unfortunately, the violence that has characterized the six weeks since the bombing suggests that the Islamic State East Asia (ISEA) is attempting a resurgence timed for a critical 16-month period for the Philippines. The stakes are very high.
The historically fraught relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea is deteriorating once again. A seemingly momentous peace deal that brought the two sides together in 2018 now appears to have been a brief interlude in a longer arc of enduring rivalry. The sources of recent tension include Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s public posturing around sea access and dynamics seeded by the 2018 peace deal itself. Neither side can afford escalation, but open conflict remains a possibility and even outcomes well short of direct hostilities — perhaps a return to the “no war, no peace” situation of preceding decades — would be disastrous for the two nations and the broader region.