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CWA # 89, 18 February 2019

The World this Week
US Emergency, Nord Stream-2 and Indo-Pak tensions

  GP Team

The World this Week witnessed three important developments. With Trump declaring the National Emergency, Congress is faced with a new crisis in dealing with the border wall funding.  Secondly, the opposition of US to the Russian backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Germany reached a new height when US Vice President Mike Pence hit off against Merkel at the Munich conference. Finally, the deadly Pulwama attack has once again brought the India-Pakistan relations to the fore.

Aparupa Bhattacherjee, Harini Madhusudan & Seetha Lakshmi Dinesh Iyer

International Strategic and Security Studies Programme (ISSSP), NIAS

 

Trump declares National Emergency

The US President, Donald Trump declared an emergency on 15 February on an issue that he described as “an invasion of drugs and criminals” from across the border with Mexico. Declaring a state of emergency is a crucial decision and it was announced once in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attack. The currently declared emergency has resulted in the longest federal government shutdown in US history in a total of 35 days. How will the emergency affect the institutional power dynamics in the US? Will the Congress be able to dissolve the President’s decision? 

The main reason for the emergency seems to be triggered from the fact that previously, Trump refused to sign a Congressional appropriation bill unless lawmakers agreed to hand over $5.7 billion to fund the wall's construction in US-Mexico borders.  But later the President backed out given the fact in late-January US economy dropped down to $11 billion. But he had warned the Congress regarding the funding and also stated, “I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the U.S. to address this emergency.” Hence it seems he is standing true to his statement by using his emergency power to achieve his goals. As during the state of emergency, US law authorizes the diversion of military and disaster relief budget fund for the given “crisis” for which the emergency has been declared. Hence, he has been criticised to be using the emergency power of the President to bypass the Congress to finance his building of the wall in on US-Mexico border.  

There have been lawsuits filed by 16 US states to challenge his emergency declaration. All states who filed the lawsuit have Democratic Attorney Generals. This emergency declaration has also enlarged the existing fracture between the House of Representative and the Senate with the Republican majority. Additionally, in case the House of Representatives which has the constitutional powers vote to terminate the emergency, do the same, it will make the situation worse. This would put the Senate on a tight shot as they will be required to clarify its position on the status quo, by either supporting or defeating such a resolution. 

 

Nord Stream 2: US and Germany face off at Munich

US Vice President Mike Pence on 16 February was seen taking a hard stance on the Nord Stream 2 project while speaking at the Munich Security Conference. He said Washington is not ready to accept defeat on the Nord Stream 2 and urged the EU member states to reject the project. Countering the US, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at the same conference defended the development of the project and expressed her concerns over further hardball tactics from the Trump Administration. She also dismissed the concerns raised by the US that the Nord Stream 2 will weaken Europe’s strategic position. Does the current face-off between Germany and the US indicate further weakening of Europe and US ties? How beneficial is the Nordic pipeline for Germany?

Nord Stream is an offshore natural gas pipeline from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany. The project includes two parallel lines and was further proposed to extend to four lines. Nord Stream 2 project is expected to have a total capacity of 55 bln cubic meters of gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic to Germany bypassing Ukraine.

In the past, the US has been increasingly aggressive regarding the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. US diplomats seem to be pushing the officials in Paris and Brussels to join their opposition to the Nord Stream 2 project in the past two weeks.

 

Pulwama Attack: A violent turn for India-Pak ties after an aerial strike?   

The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) orchestrated a suicide attack in the Pulwama district of Kashmir that reportedly killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. The attack has brought the India-Pakistan tensions to the fore. India has responded to the event by carrying out air strikes across LOC in Balakote sector. With a strong Indian reposition will India Pak crisis take a violent turn? How will the Pakistan government react after the aerial strikes?  

With elections around the corner and a Pakistani government which clearly supports the army at the other end, India’s response is sure to be gauged. As far as a military retaliation is concerned, clearly, with vain response from the Pakistani army on India’s surgical strikes in 2016, New Delhi might not consider the same this time. On the other hand, popular media has been pondering on India’s ability to launch an aerial attack on the JeM havens.

What remains for India would possibly be a peace talk arbitrated by the US or China. This could sometimes help in persuading the state to intervene and initiate a crackdown of the JeM havens. But, whatever be, with elections just weeks away, New Delhi’s decision could come as a political change-maker.

 

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