Thought for the day

"The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they are realities, and are often even more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are." -- Niccoló Machiavelli, "The Discourses." 1517.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured the Philippines on Saturday that the United States would come to its defence if attacked in the South China Sea, seeking to allay concerns about the extent of the U.S. commitment to a mutual defence treaty.

In meetings in Manila dominated by discussion on simmering U.S.-China tensions over the Taiwan visit of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Blinken said a 70-year-old defence pact with the Philippines was "ironclad".

In the past few years, China's PLA-Navy has increased its activities in the Indian Ocean, the region primarily dominated by the Indian Navy so far. In 2020, the Indian Navy chased away a Chinese research vessel after it came near India's strategic Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Bangladesh has approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a multibillion-dollar loan, making it the third South Asian country – after Sri Lanka and Pakistan – to have sought financial help from the multi-lateral lender in the past two months.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s provocative visit to Taiwan is part of the U.S. escalation against China in what, in Pentagon geography, is referred to as the Indo-Pacific, i.e., the region stretching from the west coast of the United States to that of India. Here RIMPAC, the world’s largest naval exercise under U.S. command, is underway, with naval and air forces from 26 countries participating.

The Sri Lankan government has been accused of a draconian crackdown on protesters who were involved in toppling Gotabaya Rajapaksa as president, with activists facing intimidation, surveillance and arbitrary arrest.

Webmaster addition: You know, like the Jan 6 protesters!

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region has simmered for decades. In 2020, the two sides fought a bloody war for territory — one that ended with a fragile Russian-brokered truce.

On Wednesday, tensions flared again in the mountainous enclave, which is located inside Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists. Both sides accused each other of breaching the cease-fire and three soldiers, including two from Nagorno-Karabakh and one from Azerbaijan, were killed.

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The U.S and Indonesian militaries were joined by partner nations for the first time as they began nearly two week long drills on Sumatra Island and the Riau islands in Indonesia. 

The planned drills opened after China´s Defense Ministry said Tuesday night it would conduct a series of targeted military operations to 'safeguard national sovereignty' in response to U.S House Speaker Nancy Pelosi´s visit to self-governed Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory to be annexed by force if necessary. 

First Chair of the Military Committee to attend Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence Conference

From 25 to 27 July 2022, Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of the Military Committee attended the 24th annual Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence Conference in Australia. On the sidelines of the conference, he met with NATO Partners’ Chiefs of Defence of Australia, Japan and Mongolia, the Vice-Chief of Defence of the Republic of Korea as well as the Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not have any apparent plans to visit the island democracy of Taiwan after Chinese diplomats threatened 'unbearable consequences' if she visited the self-ruled island under Chinese occupation.

In a press release on Sunday, her office said she would visit four Asian countries — but Taiwan was not on the list. 

'Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a Congressional delegation to the Indo-Pacific region, including visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan,' the press release read.

Russia’s Caspian Flotilla is holding a final rehearsal of the naval parade in Kaspiysk on the Caspian Sea and the event that will take place on July 31 will also involve warships of the Azerbaijani and Iranian navies for the first time, a TASS correspondent reported from the scene.