There were great expectations for the annual Track 1.5 Shangri-La Dialogue that was held in June 2019 in Singapore. Many considered it to be a cautiously successful event all round. There were many reasons to support this view.
Following recent battlefield losses, IS has compressed its various wilayats (provinces) in Iraq and Syria into two and moved away from the proto-state model of the Caliphate. In other words, IS has pivoted from a territorial to a spiritual Caliphate.
The Philippines is undertaking a government-sponsored marine scientific expedition to the Spratlys area. While billed as an advance in scientific knowledge, it may be perceived to be a soft assertion of sovereignty.
According to the Philippines, the presence of about 275 Chinese vessels near Thitu between January and March 2019 violated its “sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction”. It filed a diplomatic protest to this effect.
There is certainly no shortage of warmongering blaring from both China and the US regarding the South China Sea. Indeed, a recent public tit-for-tat illustrates both the danger of such public advocacy and of taking it seriously.
After China issued formal diplomatic protests to Quad members asking their intention, Australia withdrew from the Quad and meetings ceased. Indeed, the concept is more likely to go the way of the dodo than rise from its ashes like a phoenix.
Many had expected some form of peace deal to be inked at the end of the second Trump-Kim summit, but were disappointed when both leaders left without having lunch, sparking off worries that the breakdown was less than amicable.