Tuesday, Dec 12, 2017 | Last Update : 09:43 PM IST

Trouble brewing

Published : Dec 27, 2015, 5:44 am IST
Updated : Dec 27, 2015, 5:44 am IST

Myanmar Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi greets supporters as she leaves a ceremony to mark the 100th birthday of independence hero Aung San in the remote central Myanmar town of Natmauk. — AFP

PIC2.jpg
 PIC2.jpg

Myanmar Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi greets supporters as she leaves a ceremony to mark the 100th birthday of independence hero Aung San in the remote central Myanmar town of Natmauk. — AFP

Two developments stand out in 2015: The establishment of the ISIS in West Asia as a force capable of militarily resisting superpowers and the November terrorist attacks across Paris that proved how a small but suicidal group of terrorists could shatter the invulnerability of Europe. If these are portents, then 2016 will see the beginning of a new, more dangerous era.

3 regions of concern

South Asia South Asia remains the most heavily militarised region in the world and one where ethnic, religious and ideological fault-lines are deepening. In Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives, Islamic radicalisation is intensifying, pointing to years of future conflict. In 2016, the fissures within the region will only deepen despite political attempts to bridge them.

At another level, the Indian leadership’s initial attempts to build new channels of trust with neighbours appear to have faltered with India-Nepal relations hitting a historic low as Kathmandu accuses New Delhi of imposing an economic blockade. Relations with Sri Lanka and the Maldives too appear to be sliding. India’s foreign policy establishment seems exhausted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s whirlwind visits which added up to a record twenty-three in 2015, or about two a month on average.

The most discouraging development is the return to the traditional dynamics of India-Pakistan rivalry. It could be back to the future in South Asia in 2016.

West Asia Events in West Asia eclipsed everything else: The IS emerged as the world’s public enemy No. 1, far worse than last century’s threat of the “Red Peril”.

The self-publicised barbarity of the ISIS and its aim of cleansing the region of non-Sunnis and ethnic minorities such as the Kurds and Yazidis caused a seismic event in the region, uprooting millions and shaking the gates of Europe. The most sinister part of the entire crisis is the role of Turkey, a Nato ally, through which the ISIS has built a lifeline, funnelling stolen oil from Iraqi oilfields and receiving limitless quantities of weapons in exchange. Ankara’s attempts to bring down the Syrian regime at any cost led to Moscow’s military intervention in Syria.

Europe Europe is rattled as never before: millions of Muslims from conflict zones pounding on its gates and an internally disaffected and radicalised Muslim hard-core seeking to create mayhem from within. Dealing with Muslim immigrants and rising domestic terrorism will challenge the European polity and invariably draw it tighter into the West Asian cauldron. Any geopolitical miscalculation there could be catastrophic.