US South Asia policy relieves India of sanctions over Chabahar port 

A security personnel looks on at oil docks at the port of Kalantari in the city of Chabahar, 300km east of the Strait of Hormuz, Iran, in this January 17, 2012 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 November 2018
0

US South Asia policy relieves India of sanctions over Chabahar port 

  • Pant underlines that “Chabahar is so crucial to Afghanistan that Americans must have realized this is not only beneficial for India but also for the long-term American interest in the region

NEW DELHI: The US decision not to impose sanctions on India for continuing the development of Chabahar port in Iran has not come as a surprise to foreign policy experts in New Delhi.
“According to Trump’s South Asia policy, India is considered as a strategic ally, which means that the US does not want its ally to look weak in any manner,” said Zakir Hussain, a New Delhi-based foreign policy expert.
“India has made it very clear to the US that the whole idea of a sound Afghan strategy would imply the development of Chabahar port in some way. So the exemption is not a big surprise,” said Harsh V. Pant of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a New Delhi-based think tank.
On Tuesday, the US State Department in a statement said that the Indian construction activities in Chabahar port will not invite any punitive action despite the kicking in of sanctions against Iran from Monday.
“This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan. These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan’s growth and humanitarian relief,” said a spokesperson of the State Department in a briefing on Tuesday.
The exemption granted by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will permit the construction of a railway line from Chabahar port to Afghanistan, and for shipments to the war-torn country of non-sanctionable goods, such as food and medicine.
“The president’s South Asia strategy underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan’s economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India,” the state department spokesperson said.
Pant underlines that “Chabahar is so crucial to Afghanistan that Americans must have realized this is not only beneficial for India but also for the long-term American interest in the region.”
He told Arab News that “this exemption underlines the point that Washington recognizes the challenges it faces in Afghanistan and the role both India and the US can play in putting pressure on Pakistan. Chahbahar not only provides alternative routes to reach Afghanistan but also reduces the salience of Pakistan in the region.”
Pant said that “the exception is a recalibration of the US policy in South Asia that gives primacy to India’s role in Afghanistan.”
Sujata Ashwarya Cheema, of New Delhi-based Jamia Milia Islamia University (JMIU), said that the “exemption shows the Trump administration is looking for a compromise on the Iran issue. It wants to craft a new arrangement albeit agreeable to its allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
Hussain argued that “in the future the US might like to use Chabahar port as an alternative route and limit its dependence on Pakistan. Besides, the port serves Washington’s strategic interest in containing China’s growing influence in South and Central Asia.”
However, Meena Singh Roy, of the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyzes (IDSA), a New Delhi-based think tank, called the whole exemption “vague.”
India has committed $500 million to the project and $2 billion to build a railway line from Chabahar to Hajjigaj in Afghanistan.
In December last year, the first phase of the Chabahar port in southeast Iran was inaugurated. The port opened a new strategic transit route between India, Iran and Afghanistan — bypassing Pakistan.
In an agreement signed in 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan agreed to establish a Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multi-modal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations.


11 people reported killed in gun attack at bar in Brazil

Policemen are seen at a site where, according to local media, an armed group entered and opened fire at a bar, killing and wounding its patrons, in Belem, Para state, Brazil May 19, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 min 39 sec ago
0

11 people reported killed in gun attack at bar in Brazil

  • Brazil hit a record high of 64,000 homicides in 2017, 70% of which were due to firearms, according to official statistics

RIO DE JANEIRO: A gang of gunmen roared up to a bar in Belem city in Brazil’s northern Pará state and opened fire, killing six women and five men Sunday afternoon, media reports said. State officials would confirm only that “a massacre” occurred but gave no details.
The G1 news website said police reported that seven gunmen were involved in the attack, which also wounded one person. The news outlet said the attackers arrived at the bar on one motorcycle and in three cars.
A Pará state spokeswoman, Natalia Mello, said only: “A massacre is confirmed.” State communications officials stopped answering phone calls. Military and civil police in Pará state also did not answer phone calls or respond to emails.
In late March, the federal government sent National Guard troops to Belém to reinforce security in the city for 90 days.
Brazil hit a record high of 64,000 homicides in 2017, 70% of which were due to firearms, according to official statistics.
Much of Brazil’s violence is gang related. In January, gangs attacked across Fortaleza, bringing that city to a standstill with as commerce, buses and taxis shut down.
Rio de Janeiro, the country’s second biggest city, experiences daily shootouts between rival gangs and also between police and criminals, battles that often result in the deaths of innocent bystanders. Fogo Cruzado, a group that monitors shootings in the Rio metropolitan area, says there were 2,300 shootings in Rio and its suburbs during the first 100 days of this year.
Killings attributed to police gunfire in Rio de Janeiro state have reached a record high, rising 18% in the first three months, in a spike partly attributed to a campaign of a zero tolerance for criminals being pushed by state leaders.
One of new President Jair Bolsonaro’s main campaign promises was that he would loosen Brazil’s strict gun laws, arguing that because criminals are well-armed with illegally obtained guns, “upstanding citizens” should have the right to defend themselves with legally bought guns. Bolsonaro has made good on that campaign promise with two presidential decrees that make buying guns easier, though federal prosecutors are seeking to get the courts to block that move.