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Vietnam, China lurch towards crisis

As China and Vietnam move closer to an economic crisis, jingoism and an urge for confrontation are rising in both countries, with provocateurs foreseeing a shooting war between Beijing and a US-backed Hanoi over South China Sea resources. Moves by Premier Wen Jiabao and Vietnam's leadership to respond independently to economic difficulties raise hopes that political and nationalistic mischief will be trumped by a shared desire to keep economies on track. - Peter Lee (Aug 30, '12)

Egypt navigates non-aligned currents
A need for hard cash has helped to drive Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's efforts to make his country's presence felt on the international stage. However, his new assertiveness, on display at the Non-Aligned Movement summit, may force Cairo to play a larger military role in conflicts such as the Syrian civil war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. - Victor Kotsev (Aug 31, '12)

Cairo and Tehran, new twin pillars
Disagreement between Iran and Egypt over the Syrian crisis at the Non-Aligned summit was overshadowed by positive chemistry that raises the prospects of the Middle East's two biggest states pooling resources to reshape the region's political landscape. As President Mohammed Morsi charts a "turn to the east", Tehran and Cairo's overlapping interests will increasingly come to the fore.
- Kaveh L Afrasiabi (Aug 31, '12)

A middle-way solution for Syria

All players in the Syrian crisis have maximalist scenarios for its resolution, and all clash, thus prolonging the civil war.What is needed is a solution that satisfies the most important concerns of all, while coming short of their dreams. The first step in such a solution would be the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad while keeping the regime in place.
- Kayhan Barzegar (Aug 31, '12)

Delhi police fumble 'Iran' bomb probe
The Delhi Police Special Cell's past reliance on planted evidence and false confessions appears again evident in its efforts to implicate an Iranian state agency in the February bombing of an Israeli embassy car. The irregularities are so blantant that the court has admonished the public prosecutor over Special Cell leaks designed to generate a trial by media.
- Gareth Porter (Aug 31, '12)

The nudists and the diplomat's daughter
Midnight in Peking
by Paul French

Written in a racy style that occasionally veers too close to parody, this is a fascinating look at the brutal slaying of a young Englishwoman in Beijing during the run-up to World War II. The victim herself now lies under the modern city's Second Ring Road, but the author has told her tragic story, and that of her bereaved father who never accepted the official investigation into the murder, vividly and expertly.
- Michael Rank (Aug 31, '12)

Much ado about nothing in Tehran
Iran's efforts to paint its hosting of this week's Non-Aligned Movement summit as proof that it is not internationally isolated will garner limited political and economic gains. Despite NAM's supposed focus on redressing inequalities in the international political order, its prominent members share no long-term and reliable solidarity with Iran on its security and strategic concerns. - H Aghaie (Aug 31, '12)

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Morsi delivers
his calling card

First call Beijing, then Tehran - it's clear that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has taken to the world stage determined to restore Cairo, historically the intellectual hub of the Arab world, to its leadership position, too long usurped by the oil-rich House of Saud. Next up for discussion - Camp David? - Pepe Escobar (Aug 30, '12)

Egypt joins China club
President Mohammed Morsi's state visit to Beijing has sent Washington a double-edged message: Cairo can no longer be taken for granted, and China is ready and able to take advantage of stronger ties with Egypt. The US, blind to the fact the basis of the "Arab Spring" is economic, is seeing newly democratized nations turning east, where cash-rich China is hungry for resources and markets.
- Brendan O'Reilly (Aug 30, '12)

The remapping of the Middle East
The Sykes-Picot treaty of 1916, which set out the geostrategic parameters of the modern Middle East, no longer works, essentially being torn up and reworked to suit Western and Israeli interests. The outcome of the struggle for Syria, Jeremy Salt tells Claudio Gallo, will shape the future of the Middle East, with the local actors still mere pawns in this game. (Aug 30, '12)

Old allies, new dynamics in US pivot

United States efforts to reinvigorate Southeast Asian security alliances as part of its "pivot" to Asia are feeling the influence of domestic politics in the Philippines and Thailand. Manila is open to military cooperation that strengthens its public face against China's maritime assertiveness; Bangkok resists Washington's overtures in order to preserve blossoming ties with Beijing.
- Julius Cesar I Trajano (Aug 30, '12)

Indonesia short of naval muscle
Jakarta's diplomatic role in shoring up Southeast Asian unity against China's assertiveness in the South China Sea must be backed up by defensive capabilities if Indonesia is to fulfill the potential for regional leadership created by its size and strategic location. The Indonesian navy has been expanding, but remains short of what is needed to project power.
- Vignesh Ram (Aug 30, '12)

Mitt's secret weapon may keep bombing
Ann Romney's disappointing speech may not be the last disappointment she delivers. Even if she had delivered her words with perfect execution, the decision to feature Mitt Romney's spouse underscores parts of the presidential candidate's story and platform that may harm the campaign.
- Muhammad Cohen (Aug 30, '12)

Tehran jumps to Assad's rescue
This week's Non-Aligned Movement summit provides Iran with an opportunity to give its ally in Damascus diplomatic breathing space as the Syrian regime loses support in Arab countries and suffers high-profile defections. While Tehran will pursue all politico-diplomatic means to support the key member of its "axis of resistance", military involvement is a step too far. - Richard Javad Heydarian (Aug 30, '12)

How quickly will the US leave Afghanistan?
Whether its a 15-year-old tea boy or 70-year-old volunteer turning their guns on US Army trainers in Afghanistan, the message to US leaders is emphatic: attempt a lengthy Iraq-style drawdown and you'll pay dearly in blood and treasure. Yet instead of trying to fathom the underlying anti-colonial instinct behind "green-on-blue" attacks, Washington sees them as a surmountable obstacle to occupation. - Tom Engelhardt (Aug 30, '12)

China's cash: Take it or lose it
China's foreign direct investment in North America and Europe is unrelenting even as the United States maintains roadblocks against this trend. Washington cites national security concerns, but it and its Western allies must take advantage of the economic opportunities China's interest presents. - Ting Xu (Aug 30, '12)

North Korea on the Nile
The recent advances of President Mohammed Morsi signal a changed, albeit increasingly impoverished, Egypt. As the Muslim Brotherhood turns the country into a North Korea on the Nile, Washington is confronting an unwelcome set of new alliances in the Middle East. China will feel at home with the new regime - although an Israeli strike on Iran would change all that. (Aug 27, '12)

Wanxiang purchase upsets US legislators
The purchase of US-based battery maker A123 Systems by China's Wanxiang would normally pass unnoticed, but this is election year in Washington and A123's earlier receipt of taxpayers' cash makes the deal an easy target for Republican politicians. - Benjamin A Shobert

Who's afraid of China Inc?
Concerns by Canadians over an increased Chinese corporate presence in their country is best addressed through domestic regulations that apply to all companies rather than by discriminating against state-owned enterprises. - Yuen Pau Woo


Pay day for Apple
The number of US consumers who have parted with good money for a mobile phone unaware of whether they bought an Apple or a Samsung model is tough to quantify. The US$1 billion in damages awarded by a US court to the California-based company suggests more than one would imagine.
Martin J Young surveys the week's developments in computing, science, gaming and gizmos.

Do whatever it takes
Bombing of civilians during World War II escalated from something to be avoided to a commonplace slaughter, culminating in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That "do whatever it takes" mentality is only too evident in central bankers' disastrous expansion of credit, with innocent civilians again the victims.
Doug Noland looks at the previous week's events each Monday.

TONY ALLISON (1953-2012)
Asia Times Online's Editor-in-Chief Anthony Allison died on June 20 after a short illness. We extend our sympathy to Tony's family for their tragic and premature loss.



Obama returns to Afghan war
The "green-on-blue incidents" in Afghanistan will henceforth be called "insider attacks" by the Pentagon commanders. It is a bold decision to call a spade a spade...
- M K Bhadrakumar

[Re: The Iran-India-Afghanistan Riddle, 28 Aug, '12] Instead of continuing to invite and provoke the very Pakistani retaliation it so deeply resents and fears, Afghanistan can rid itself of its worries by recognizing the Durand Line and forever renouncing all claims to Pakistani territory.
Shayne Wilson
Dubai, UAE
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. Morsi delivers his calling card

2. Egypt joins China club

3. The remapping of the Middle East

4. How quickly will the US leave Afghanistan?

5. Mitt's secret weapon may keep bombing

6. Old allies, new dynamics in US pivot

7. Tehran jumps to Assad's rescue

8. Indonesia short of naval muscle

9. China's cash: Take it or lose it

10. North Korea on the Nile

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Aug 30, 2012)


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