Political Handbook of Asia 2007 (Regional Political - download pdf or read online

By David Hosansky

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Bhutan and the Maldives. With much smaller populations and less military strength, neither Bhutan nor the Maldives carries much weight in South Asia’s regional politics. Both are major tourist attractions and depend heavily on India as their major transit point both for the tourists and for the goods required to serve those tourists. Placed between India and China, the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, like Nepal, has been appropriately neutral in the conflicts that have emerged between those enormous competitive powers.

For example, Russia is dependent on energy resources it buys cheaply from Central Asian nations such as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and then sells for great profit to European customers. This limits its ability to exact political concessions from Central Asian supplier nations, as does China’s rapid rise as a potential competitor for these energy resources, which has given Central Asian nations a place to turn should relations with Russia become too difficult. Finally, Russia’s energy infrastructure is physically deteriorating and in need of great investment capital for its long-term ability to serve the country’s interests.

Not surprisingly, Nepal has tried to be one of the most nonaligned of nonaligned nations, conducting its own international campaign for making Nepal a “Zone of Peace,” an initiative not appreciated by India. Finally, Nepal’s recent troubles, which included the assassination of the king by his son and a Maoist insurgency, appear to have produced a revolution, with a Maoist group now sharing power with the traditional political parties, greatly reducing the new king’s role in governance. During an insurgency that killed some twelve thousand Nepalis, the Maoists finally isolated the king and his supporting army in Katmandu.

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