In recent weeks, Chinese and Indian soldiers have been fighting on their long-disputed border. USIP’s Vikram Singh says these skirmishes are not new—but that the latest hostilities echo China’s aggression in other parts of the region, saying, “It seems like China is flexing its muscle in every direction.”
In early May, a fistfight broke out between Chinese and Indian soldiers along the disputed border between the world’s two most populous, nuclear-armed nations. A few days later, Chinese soldiers confronted Indian soldiers at several other points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which has served as the de facto border between the two countries since the 1962 Sino-Indian war. Both countries have more recently ramped up their military presence in the region. This escalation of tensions comes as China has turned increasingly assertive in its neighborhood, and as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. USIP’s Vikram J. Singh, Jacob Stokes, and Tamanna Salikuddin look at the causes behind the flare-up and its potential consequences.
Protests erupted in Lebanon last year over the country’s lagging economy and sclerotic, sectarian-based political system, but slowed amid the global pandemic. The small Mediterranean nation’s economy is in free fall, with the World Bank estimating more than half the population living below the poverty line. Protesters were forced to switch tactics amid the coronavirus and the lock down measures have forced even more Lebanese into poverty. But protesters are planning to return to the streets as COVID precautions ease. USIP’s Elie Abouaoun and Osama Gharizi discuss how the government has responded in the months since protests erupted in October 2019, how the protesters adapted during the pandemic, and the role of Hezbollah.
Protests during the 2011 Arab uprisings triggered one of the deadliest wars of the early 21st century. It produced one of the gravest humanitarian crises, as hundreds of thousands were killed, millions fled their homes, and more than half the population relied on aid for daily sustenance.
Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar over a year ago launched his offensive to seize Libya’s capital, Tripoli, from the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). The battle for Tripoli had been at a stalemate for months until late May when hundreds of Russian military contractors, supporting Haftar’s Libya Arab Armed Forces (LAAF), retreated from fighting on the frontlines. The role of outside powers continues to drive Libya’s conflict, with Turkey, Egypt, the UAE, and Russia all heavily involved. Just yesterday, the U.N. mission in Libya said that the two sides agreed to resume cease-fire talks but did not say when these renewed talks would start.
After Saddam Hussein’s ouster in 2003, Iraq’s new leaders struggled to chart a democratic course after decades of dictatorship. It suffered through a civil war, political turmoil, widespread economic corruption, sectarian tensions and an extremist insurgency, led by the Islamic State, that seized a third of the country.
In Hong Kong, protesters have once again taken to the streets to push back against China’s efforts to assert further control over the territory. After a year of intense demonstrations calling for greater autonomy from the mainland, Hong Kong is now facing proposed legislation from Beijing that would broadly curtail citizens’ rights and freedoms. USIP’s Patricia Kim and Rachel Vandenbrink examine the proposed legislation, how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the situation, and what the U.S. can do in response.
It was just over a year ago, in March of 2019, that the United States and coalition forces declared the territorial defeat of ISIS following the fall of its last stronghold in Baghouz, Syria. Male fighters over 15 were placed in Kurdish run detention centers throughout northeast Syria, while tens of thousands of women and children who were living among the terrorist organization streamed into the al-Hol camp, giving rise to an unprecedented mix of humanitarian and security challenges. If left unaddressed, the camp could easily serve as the breeding ground for the next generation of ISIS, which is already beginning to reemerge in parts of Syria and Iraq.
A three-day cease-fire between the Taliban and Afghan government over Eid al-Fitr expired on Tuesday. This was only the second such cessation of hostilities in the nearly two-decade war. And just two weeks ago, President Ashraf Ghani and his rival, Abdullah Abdullah, agreed to share power after a monthslong dispute over the 2019 presidential election. These developments have injected renewed hope that a political solution, negotiated among Afghans, is still possible. USIP’s Scott Smith looks it all means for the peace process, when we can expect the vital intra-Afghan negotiations to begin, and what, if any, impact COVID-19 has had on peace.
From almost the moment Myanmar detected its first case of COVID-19 on March 23, China jumped to aid its neighbor to the south. China’s army, navy, and government agencies, as well as companies, showered nearly every level of Myanmar’s government and military with health assistance. The question for Myanmar civil society groups was whether the help came with strings attached. On May 21, they got their answer: After a phone call between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Myanmar’s President U Win Myint about COVID-19 response and Chinese assistance, Xi moved to a second agenda item—the implementation of 33 cooperative economic agreements signed during his historic visit to Myanmar in January. Of particular concern: co-construction of the multi-billion-dollar China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.