Asian reactions to the death of Osama bin Laden

How is the Asian region responding to the death of Osama bin Laden? In this blog post, we examine the domestic viewpoints of India, Iran, Russia, China and Japan, especially their reflections on terrorism, U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and the role of Pakistan.


In India, most commentaries focused on India’s relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan, while some reflected on the ongoing democratization processes in the Middle East.

  • The Hindu described the revelation of bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan as a “moment of truth…similar to the discovery that the 2008 Mumbai attacks were launched from its territory,” but it nevertheless urged restraint in Indian diplomacy: “While it may be tempting to see bin Laden’s killing at Abbottabad as confirmation of India’s worst fears, New Delhi must resist the temptation to crow, and must push ahead with the peace process with the civilian government of Pakistan.” The Indian Express had a similar view, saying “India has to continue to be innovative and largehearted in engaging with as large a section of the Pakistani establishment as it can.
  • The Times of India wondered whether the U.S. would accelerate its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and expressed deep worry that this could “easily lead to chaos with serious security ramifications for the region, including India.” The Indian Express urged more cooperation with the U.S. on Af-Pak peace: “The death in Abbottabad is a reminder of the realism needed to negotiate the new great game being played for Afghanistan after the drawdown of American troop presence….Given its limited leverage within Pakistan, India must also be engaged with the US and the international community on steps towards Af-Pak peace, to prevent the re-emergence of Afghanistan as a hotbed for extremism and also to enable political stability in Pakistan.
  • Other commentaries in the Hindustan Times, Economic Times, and Indian Express all noted that al-Qaeda had originally sought to overthrow the regimes of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but now the pro-democracy movements of the “Arab spring” are showing the region’s disenfranchised youth an alternative to religious radicalism in pushing for political change.


An analysis by Semira N. Nikou of the United States Institute for Peace notes that the general reaction in Iran “discounted Osama bin Laden’s death while at the same time calling for a faster U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, since the pretext for going to war was eliminated.”

  • Ramin Mehmanparast, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson, said the “US and their allies have no more excuse to deploy forces in the Middle East under pretext of fighting terrorism.” In a similar tone, defense minister Ahmad Vahidi emphasized the casualties from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, commenting that Americans had “inflicted much damage to the region to kill only one individual.”  Read more of this post

Rising Powers Conference — Complete video recording on C-SPAN

Click here to watch a video recording of the entire conference on

Worldviews of Rising Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates

Monday, April 25, 2011
9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
City View Room
1957 E Street, NW, 7th Floor

8:30-9:00- Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00-9:30 am- Welcome and Introductory Remarks

  • Speakers: Henry R. Nau (GWU) and Deepa Ollapally (GWU)

9:30-10:30 amSession I: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China

  • Chair: Evan Medeiros, Director for Asian Affairs, National Security Council
  • Presenters: Professors David Shambaugh (GWU)
  • Discussant: David Lampton, Johns Hopkins University

10:30-11:30 am Session II: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in Japan

  • Chair: Michael Schiffer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia
  • Presenters: Professors Richard Samuels (MIT) & Narushige Michishita (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Japan)
  • Discussant: Sheila A. Smith, Council on Foreign Relations

11:30 am -12:30 pm Session III: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in India

  • Chair: Robert O. Blake Jr., Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs
  • Presenters: Professors Deepa Ollapally (GWU) & Rajesh Rajagopalan (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  • Discussant: Daniel Markey, Council on Foreign Relations

12:30-2:00 pm Lunch

  • Keynote Speaker: Walter Russell Mead, Bard College

2:00-3:00 pm Session IV: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in Russia

  • Chair: Jim Hoagland, Washington Post
  • Presenters: Drs. Andrew Kuchins (CSIS) & Igor Zevelev (MacArthur- Moscow)
  • Discussant: Thomas Graham, Kissinger & Associates

3:00-4:00 pm Session V: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in Iran

  • Chair: Barbara Slavin, The Atlantic Council
  • Presenters: Professors Farideh Farhi (University of Hawaii-Manoa)
  • Discussant: Gary Sick, Columbia University

4:00-4:15 pm Coffee/Tea Break

4:15-6:00 pm Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy

  • Chairs: Professors Henry R. Nau (GWU) and Deepa Ollapally (GWU)
  • Keynote Discussants: Thomas R. Pickering, Hills and Company and Career Ambassador; David Sanger, New York Times

The Sigur Center gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation for this Symposium.

Turmoil in Egypt: Views from Japan, China, Russia, Iran and India

As Washington is closely following developments in Egypt, what are other countries saying about events in Egypt and the Middle East? Read about the domestic viewpoints in Japan, China, Russia, Iran and India:


The press appears preoccupied with Japan’s domestic politics, paying surprisingly little attention to events in Egypt.



The Chinese government has blocked keyword searches of Egypt on the internet, while official reporting and commentary are downplaying any prospects of democratic change.

Tehran’s hardliners effectively declare nuclear talks dead

By Farideh Farhi

Few observers of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program anticipated a breakthrough from the Istanbul meeting between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the six major powers known as the P5+1 (five members of the Security Council plus Germany). Yet a swift breakdown was not expected either. The assumption was that a difficult negotiating path was possible and perhaps even desired by both sides.

The United States officials continue to insist that the two-track approach — seeking engagement while still putting pressure on Iran through sanctions and other punitive financial actions — will continue until an agreement is reached.

Yet Tehran’s hardliners, currently in charge, effectively declared the structure of negotiations over the country’s nuclear program obsolete.  If Tehran’s Istanbul posture does not change,  P5+1 may – and only may – maintain its utility as a vehicle for yet another round of American-led efforts to impose new UN sanctions on Iran but it will not be useful for negotiations with Iran.

Tehran’s insistence that talks should center on issues of “mutual” or “global” concerns and away from the country’s nuclear program is not new. This approach was initiated when the Bush administration relented in its final year and agreed to U.S. diplomatic presence in the talks. The novelty of Istanbul talks lied in the assertiveness with which Iran’s negotiating team, headed by the Supreme National Security Council’s Secretary Saeed Jalili, challenged the Western two-track approach of engagement and pressure.

By demanding suspension of sanctions and acceptance of Iran’s treaty rights to enrichment, which Jalili called “prerequisites” for further talks, Tehran effectively declared that it is no longer interested in talks in which only Iran stands accused of violations of international norms and rules. Read more of this post

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