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Germany's Embarrassing Policy on Iran

Never has Germany been more isolated, wrote Former Foreign Minister Fischer regarding Berlin's position on Libya. The Merkel-Westerwelle government alienates our Western allies with its dealings with Iran as well. Apparently, Germany's foreign and economic ministries agreed to let India pay 9 billion euro to Iran via Germany's central bank.

The United States had pressured India's central bank to end previous business transactions with Iran via an Asian bank. Now Germany's government appears to be undermining these sanctions. India gets about 15 percent of its crude oil imports from Iran. Sources in German: Handelsblatt and Zeit. In English: New York Times.

According to Spiegel International the stands in connection to the release of two German journalists from Iran.

Are Germany and India new best buddies? Both abstained in the UN Security Council on Libya.

Dialog International writes about "The Westerwelle Doctrine", which "would seem to dictate that Germany will seek out different international partners depending on how the domestic winds are blowing.  Germany is happy to align with the US and Great Britain, as long as it doesn't require the use of force or the commitment of resources.  Otherwise it will join with Russia, Brazil or India." wonders how Germany can repair the damage to its international reputation and convince voters of the right course at the same time. Foreign policy makers and experts in Germany and around the world criticize Germany's position on Libya. However the majority of Germans seem to approve it.  Any ideas?

UPDATE (April 5, 2011): AP: "A plan for India to funnel oil payments to Iran through Germany's central bank at a time when Tehran faces international sanctions has been scrapped, a German government official said Tuesday."

Obama's Afghan Strategy: Regional Perspectives

The Atlantic Review is pleased to present this guest article by Dr. Shanthie Mariet D'Souza of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, India.

Dr. D'Souza (image file)President Barack Obama’s ‘new strategy on Afghanistan’, unveiled on December 1 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, linking additional troop deployment to a timetable of drawdown of forces and narrowly defined goals, misses out on the core essentials of counter-insurgency (COIN) campaigns which hinges on time, long-term commitment, institution building and larger political strategy. Ultimately, COIN campaigns are won in the political domain, where military is only one of the many essential elements to achieve the long-term solution.

As the debate on the troop surge raged in the United States following the controversial Afghan presidential elections and waning domestic support for the Afghan war, President Obama announced his decision to send 30,000 troops within the first half of 2010, nearly acceding to his top military commander General McChrystal’s request for an additional 40,000. President Obama banking on his approach of ‘multilateralism and diplomacy’ has requested NATO allies to pitch in another 10,000 troops. So far NATO appears to have managed to garner support for another 7,000. Combined with NATO troops, the top US Gen. McChrystal would eventually get the required number of 40,000. The amount spent on Afghan war will increase from an estimated $130 billion in fiscal 2010 to $160 billion.

With increased troop levels, Gen. McChrystal had promised to turn the tide of the Taliban momentum in 12 months. By adopting a ‘population-centric’ COIN strategy of ‘clear, hold, build and transfer’, the additional troop could help in ‘clearing and holding’ insurgency afflicted areas in the south and east. However, with focus of troop deployment being the South and the East, concerns abound regarding the stability of Afghanistan’s North and the West. The Taliban insurgency which works through various networks has the capacity to cause instability in these regions, as witnessed recently in Kapisa, Kanduz and Baglan. More importantly, the COIN strategy does not look at new measures of cutting the symbiotic nexus and sources of funding of the various strands of Taliban insurgency which is a huge motley of various anti government groups, followers of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s radical group Hizb-i-Islami, the Haqqani network, Al Qaeda and its affiliates, religious clerics, narcotic traffickers, bandits and tribal fighters in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. For instance, the Haqqani network, operating in Khost, Paktia, Paktika, and North Waziristan has now extended its activities to Ghazni, Logar and Wardak provinces.
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