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Escalation of military-political confrontation, trade wars likely in 2019: Eurasia Report

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New Delhi: Increased geo-political competition between Russia, the US and China, escalation of military-political confrontation and trade wars between these three nations and the possibility of a “Great War” in the Middle East are concerns for 2019, an international study has pointed out.

“The world faces major crises in 2019 with escalation of military-political confrontation and trade wars, humanitarian tragedies and environmental disasters,” according to the study ‘Global Risks for Eurasia in 2019’, conducted by 30 top global experts.

Highlighting the top 10 global risks for Eurasia in 2019, the study pointed out to escalation of the confrontation between China and the US; full-scale expansion of trade wars; the Great War in the Middle East; further degradation of relations between Russia and the West; “defrosting” of hotspots in Eurasia; growth of separatism and ethno-confessional conflicts; intensification of environmental and water challenges; strengthening and evolution of cyber threats; the beginning of a new arms race; and risk of major nuclear and technological disasters.

 

The study was prepared by the team of experts of the Institute of World Economics and Politics (IWEP) headed by its Director Yerzhan Saltybayev.

It was based on the opinions expressed by over 30 global experts and politicians, including several former heads of states and Nobel laureates. Additionally, more than 1,000 experts from 60 countries also provided inputs.

The study was presented recently as part of the fourth annual meeting of the Astana Club, an international discussion forum, held in Astana, Kazakhstan.

“The aggravation of geopolitical competition between Russia, the US and China is taking place not only in the global context, but also within the perimeter of the Greater Eurasia. It is necessary to realize: misunderstanding, miscalculations in crisis situations can potentially lead to military confrontation,” President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev said in his address at the meeting (November 12-13) of the Astana Club.

“We haven’t observed such confrontation in a long time. The so-called post-bipolar world order is being finally left in the past. We are now witnessing the formation of the ‘Greater Eurasia’ outlines.

“This process has been affected by the changing balance between global players as well as by the growing competition between regional powers. The fundamental disagreements in the main issue – the future format of the world order – cannot yet be overcome by all of them,” Nazarbayev said.

Notable authors of the study are geopolitical and strategic forecasting gurus and Nobel laureates, including Robert Kaplan, senior advisor at Eurasia group; Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI); Mathew Burrows, director of the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative; Samir Saran, President of the Observer Research Foundation; Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Centre; Rajendra Pachauri, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and president of the World Forum on Sustainable Development and Mohamed El Baradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (1997-2009) and Nobel peace prize winner in 2005.

The study has pointed out that the two most serious risks are associated with two areas of confrontation between the US and China.

“The first is in the military-political environment – involving mutual distrust and growing competition for dominance in Asia. The US will strengthen its policy of containing China, strengthening the anti-Chinese consensus in the Asia-Pacific region. This will provoke a response from China, which will seek to counteract the pressure.”

The second area relates to the trade war between the two giants which started in mid-2018.

“Tariff restrictions are sure to be extended, resulting in a slowdown in both countries’ economies. The effect of protective measures overflowing to other markets may be seen as a result also. A slowdown in global trade and investment will be caused by trade restrictions around the world.”

The consequences of the US withdrawal from a nuclear deal with Iran could trigger a largescale war in the Middle East, it added.


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Pakistan will be a very important country in coming future, says Saudi crown prince

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Islamabad :Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman expressed optimism about the economic future of Pakistan, saying his country had been waiting for a leadership like that of Prime Minister Imran Khan to partner with Islamabad in various areas.

Addressing a reception dinner at Prime Minister House hours after arriving in Pakistan, the crown prince — known as MBS for short — said Pakistan is a “dear country” to all Saudis and that the two countries “have walked together in tough and good times”.

He said Pakistan today had a great future in store “with a great leadership”, and noted that the country’s GDP grew by 5 per cent in 2018.

 

“We believe that Pakistan is going to be a very, very important country in the coming future and we want to be sure we are part of that,” the crown prince said.

Turning towards Prime Minister Khan, he said his country had been “waiting for that kind of a leadership” to partner with and “build a lot of things together”.

He noted that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan today signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for investment cooperation.

“We believe the amount of that kind of investment is US $20 billion,” MBS said. “It’s big, for phase one.”

He expressed the hope that the investment will grow to bigger numbers in the coming years and be beneficial for both the countries.

The Saudi royal said his country would collaborate with Pakistan economically, politically and in terms of security. “We believe in our region, that is why we are investing in it,” he added.

“This is my first trip [to the] east since I became the crown prince and the first country [that I have visited] is Pakistan,” the Saudi royal concluded.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his speech welcomed the Saudi crown prince and his delegation to the country, saying the Kingdom has always been a “friend in need” to Pakistan.

“For Pakistanis, this is a great day,” the premier said, adding that Saudi Arabia had always been there when Pakistan needed friends.

“I want to thank you for the way you helped us when we were in [a] bad situation,” Khan told MBS, adding that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were now taking their relationship to a new level, where investment agreements would be mutually beneficial for the countries.

The investment would revolve around minerals, tourism, petrochemicals, agriculture, food processing and other areas, he said.

Prime Minister Khan also invited Riyadh to avail opportunities that can arise from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Pakistan’s close links with Beijing. “It is an exciting future where we have Saudi Arabia participating in what is going to be, in the next 10 years, probably the country with the biggest GDP,” he added.
Khan told MBS that if it hadn’t been for security concerns, “you would have seen thousands and thousands of people on the streets welcoming you.”

The prime minister’s speech preceded the address of the Saudi crown prince, but once MBS finished, Khan rose again to speak about two issues.

One, he requested MBS to allow Pakistani Haj pilgrims to undergo immigration at the three major Pakistani airports before leaving for Saudi Arabia for their convenience.

Secondly, Prime Minister Khan requested the Saudi authorities to look into the hardships of the Pakistani labourers working in the Kingdom.

“There are some 3,000 [Pakistani] prisoners there and we just would like you to bear in mind that they are poor people who have left their families behind,” Khan said.
Terming it a “special request”, the premier asked MBS to “look upon them [Pakistani labourers] as your own people”.

In response, MBS told Prime Minister Khan he could consider him the ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia.

“We cannot say no to Pakistan … whatever we can do, we will deliver that.”

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Saudi crown prince orders release of over 2,000 Pakistani prisoners

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Islamabad:The morning after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman promised to deliver “whatever we can do” for Pakistanis living in the kingdom, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced that MBS had ordered the immediate release of over 2,000 Pakistani prisoners in Saudi jails.

Prime Minister Imran Khan at a ceremony held to welcome the crown prince at PM House had made a “special request” to MBS to look into the hardships of Pakistani labourers working in the kingdom, and to “look upon them as your own people”.

“There are some 3,000 [Pakistani] prisoners there and we just would like you to bear in mind that they are poor people who have left their families behind,” Khan had said.

 

MBS had responded by assuring the premier to consider him Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Prince Mohammad had continued: “We cannot say no to Pakistan … whatever we can do, we will deliver that.”

Prime Minister Khan in a tweet today said that the crown prince had “won the hearts of the people of Pakistan when he said, ‘Consider me Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia’ in response to my asking him to treat the 2.5 million Pakistanis working in KSA as his own.”

Read more: ‘Pakistan will be a very important country in coming future,’ says Saudi crown prince Fawad Chaudhry in a tweet today said: “As a sequel to Prime Minister of Pakistan’s request, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of KSA Mohammad Bin Salman has ordered the immediate release of 2,107 Pakistani prisoners from Saudi Jails.”

This was Prince Mohammad’s first state visit since becoming crown prince. Saudi Arabia has signed agreements worth $21 billion with Pakistan in various fields, including cooperation in power production, establishment of an oil refinery and petrochemical plant, promotion of sports and technical assistance in the standardisation sector.

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Taliban say unable to attend Pakistan talks; blame travel blacklist

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Washington:The Taliban have postponed an unscheduled round of peace talks with the United States set for in Pakistan saying “most” members of their negotiating team are unable to travel because they’re on the US and United Nations’ blacklists.

The statement offered no other details. It did not explain how several members previously were able to travel to meetings in the United Arab Emirates and Moscow.

The Taliban maintain a political office in Qatar, where members of the negotiating team reside.

 

The Islamabad talks were seen as significant, coinciding with the visit of the Saudi crown prince to Pakistan.

The Taliban 14-member team includes five former inmates of the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, and Anas Haqqani, the jailed younger brother of the leader of the militant Haqqani network.

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