Between all the warnings and threats, none of America’s Middle East allies would want a war, even as they would like to see Iran weakened. Trump also wants to avoid war, embarking on the path of even harsher sanctions and building up a coalition to guard the Strait of Hormuz.
This year’s Shangri-La Dialogue was anticipated to display a region-shaking US-China clash or compromise. Indeed, several analysts predicted “fireworks”. But what actually transpired was “not a bang but an anti-climactic whimper”.
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.
Three US Senators have reintroduced the South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act. Its purpose is to “impose sanctions against Chinese entities that participate in Beijing’s attempts to assert its expansive maritime and territorial claims in these disputed regions.”
On April 12, 2019, North Korea leader Kim Jong-un finally uttered publicly he was open to a third summit with US President Donald J Trump. Trump himself does not appear to rule out the possibility of a third summit.
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.