Category: Asia

Tibet Recent History

Tibet Recent History

Tibet in the 18th and 19th centuries

In 1717 the Dzungar Mongols invaded Tibet, but were quickly driven from Tibet by the Tibetan army.

Due to the unrest in Tibet, the Manchu Emperor K’ang-Hsi managed to gain a foothold in Tibet. In order to secure Manchu influence in Tibet, the Manchu Emperor Yung-Cheng first appointed two civilian representatives of the emperor – known as Ambane – with a garrison under a military commander in Lhasa in 1728. The task of the two ambans was initially to advise the Tibetan government as an observer. Over time, however, the Manchus began to expand their influence in the Tibetan government. Tibet became a protectorate of the Manchu emperors under Tibetan administration.

In view of the increasingly weaker position of China as a semi-colony after the first opium war (1840/1842), the Mongolian Manchu emperors were no longer able to maintain their obligation to protect Tibet in the second half of the 19th century.

20th century until today

The political situation in Tibet changed in the 20th century. The British government in India showed a growing interest in Tibet around 1850. Tibet’s isolated position due to its geographical and religious location was exploited by the Manchus in the 19th century to claim rule over Tibet. In terms of foreign policy, they pretended that China represented Tibet in political matters. In order to determine the real status of Tibet, Great Britain asked the Manchu government in 1878 for permission to send a British research expedition to Tibet.

The Manchu government agreed, but the Tibetan government forbade the expedition to step on Tibetan soil. In 1890 Great Britain negotiated with the Manchu government of China over the border between Tibet and Sikkim, which was then a British protectorate. The Tibetan government refused to recognize this agreement on the grounds that treaties with China over Tibet were not binding.

To contact the Tibetan government, Great Britain sent a military expedition to Tibet in 1903. The British Army defeated the Tibetan Army and invaded Lhasa. In 1904, Tibet and Great Britain signed the so-called “Lhasa Convention of 1904”, in which Tibet undertook not to make any concessions of a territorial or political nature to foreign powers without the prior consent of the British government.

This convention between Tibet and Great Britain without the participation of the Manchu government of China meant the sovereignty of Tibet. However, it was revised by two other treaties signed by Great Britain in 1906 with China and 1907 with Russia without Tibetan involvement in favor of a recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.

The Manchu government took Lhasa by Chinese troops in 1910, which led to the flight of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso (1876-1933), to India. However, with the fall of the Manchu Dynasty and the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912, the political situation in Tibet changed radically. In 1911 the Tibetans drove the Chinese soldiers out of Tibet.

With this the supremacy of the Manchus over Tibet finally fell. In 1912, the Chinese president claimed that Tibet as a Chinese province was part of China.

After his return to Lhasa from exile in India, the 13th Dalai Lama proclaimed the independence of Tibet in 1913. In 1914 the Simla tripartite conference took place between the equal plenipotentiaries of Great Britain, Tibet and China.

The “Simla Conference” was the first real attempt to resolve the Sino-Tibetan differences and to define the border of Tibet. However, no concrete solution to this question could be found. In 1918 another border war broke out between Tibet and China.

From 1912 to 1949/50, Tibet was completely independent. Immediately after the founding of the People’s Republic of China under Mao Tsetung’s leadership in 1949, however, Tibet was forcibly occupied by troops of the People’s Liberation Army. Tibet protested to the United Nations against the Chinese occupation in vain. The People’s Republic of China appropriated Tibet during the reign of the current 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

In order to avoid a bloodbath, the Dalai Lama tried in vain to find a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict between his people and the invading Chinese troops.

Without consulting the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in Lhasa, the Tibetan delegation in Beijing had to sign the so-called “17-point agreement for the peaceful liberation of Tibet” in 1951 under Chinese dictates. This unequal treaty was based on the premise that Tibet was part of China.

Tibet was officially annexed by the People’s Republic of China. The Tibetan resistance movement reached its tragic climax in the open popular uprising on March 10, 1959 in Lhasa. According to official Chinese information, around 87,000 Tibetans were killed. On March 28, 1959, the Tibetan government was dissolved and the “Tibet Autonomous Region Preparatory Committee” was established. At the same time, the Tibetan currency was declared invalid.

At the urging of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama had to leave the Tibetan capital on March 17, 1959 under strict secrecy and flee to India. More than 85,000 Tibetans followed the Dalai Lama into exile.

The Dalai Lama made several requests for help from India to the world public and to the United Nations. The International Commission of Jurists accused the People’s Republic of China of committing acts of genocide in Tibet with the aim of eliminating the Tibetan population as a religious group.

The General Assembly of the United Nations then adopted a non-binding resolution in the fall of 1959 condemning the actions of the Chinese occupying forces in Tibet and calling on the Chinese government to respect the fundamental human rights and the right to self-determination of the Tibetan people. However, this resolution brought no results for the Tibetan people.

In 1981, for example, only around 300 visitors came to Tibet, while in 2005, according to official reports, there were already around 100,000. And still over 80% of the population are farmers or shepherds.

Before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, there were liberation campaigns in Tibet, particularly by Buddhist monks. China put down the uprising, leaving well over 100 dead and thousands sent to re-education camps.

Tibet Recent History

Before the trip to Iran

Before the trip to Iran

Alcoholic beverages and drugs are strictly forbidden to bring into the country; importation and trafficking in narcotics may result in the death penalty. Bringing in pork, printed matter, videos, cassettes, CDs, shortwave devices and religious material can be considered culturally sensitive and such goods can be seized by the police. There are some restrictions on the export of carpets.

Before the trip to Iran 2

Vaccinations and health
In good time before your trip to Iran, you need to contact their vaccination center for updated information. In general, you should review your basic protection against polio, diphtheria and tetanus. In addition, a vaccine against hepatitis A is needed and any vaccine against cholera may be considered. The air in Tehran is extremely dry and, in combination with the extensive air pollution, can cause airway problems. This can also cause discomfort for people with cardiovascular disease. Dental care and medical care, as well as maternity care, are considered to be of a high standard. Doctors and dentists are often trained abroad. A certificate of yellow fever vaccine is required if you have recently stayed in certain countries in Africa or South America.

Weather and clothes
Iran is a large country and you can therefore expect large differences in temperatures during your trip depending on the season and altitude. During the summer it gets very hot and during the winter it can be extremely cold. Iran is a Shia Muslim country where sharia law is applied. Women must cover their hair and wear clothes that do not reveal the shapes of the body, such as a foot side or ankle-length coat or knee-length coat / jacket and long trousers. However, one does not have to wear black even if many Iranian women, especially outside the capital, do so. In mosques and bazaars, you should be extra careful with your attire so as not to provoke. Men should also dress coveringly, for example. long trousers and long-sleeved shirt.

Customs and traditions
All types of tenderness between men and women should be avoided in public places. Man and woman who are not married are not allowed to sleep in the same hotel room. It should be possible to present proof of marriage. You have to be careful with what you photograph. It is not allowed to photograph anything at the airport, nor military installations, demonstrations or police. Homosexuality is banned and punishable in Iran. The Iranians are incredibly hospitable, helpful and caring about us tourists. Taroof is a complex system of courtesy for us tourists that is deeply rooted in Iranian culture. You can make it a habit to always refuse at least once before accepting to receive something.

Currency and exchange rate
The currency in Iran is called the Rial. When traveling to Iran, cash payment applies. Visa and Mastercard are not accepted. Currency exchange bank branches are located on the street level at Tehran International Airport IKIA. Bring cash in EUR or USD that can be exchanged at banks and exchange offices in the cities. The banknotes should not be damaged. Exchanging money on the street is illegal.

Transport and communications
When traveling from Iran, check-in for international flights from IKIA is recommended at least two hours before departure. Taxis in Iran are sometimes unmarked. In addition, taxis are often poorly maintained and sometimes lack seat belts. There is a functioning metro in the southern and central parts of Tehran. There is also bus traffic here, but it runs without a timetable. In the larger cities there is free Wifi at the airport, some cafes, restaurants and hotels. If you are going to call home, it is cheapest to buy a calling card for international calls. Your mobile phone is unlikely to work in Iran. You can buy an Iranian SIM card.

Security
The personal security of Tehran is relatively good compared to many other capitals in the world. The traffic is different and the risk of having an accident is significantly greater than in Sweden. Pedestrians do not have priority at pedestrian crossings. Passports, money, tickets and other valuables should be stored in a safe place.

Food & beverage
We recommend that you only drink bottled water during your trip to Iran. Drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden. The food in Iran is traditionally mildly spiced. They use fine ingredients and a lot of herbs such as parsley, saffron and mint. Rice and stews with, for example, beans, lentils, squash, nuts and lamb or beef are usually included in a meal. Always politely leave some food on the plate when you are done.

Shopping and gifts
In Iran, the colorful bazaars are full of shopping opportunities. Nice gifts to take home can be Iranian caviar, saffron, dried fruit or nuts. You can find gold, silver and precious stones if you know what you are doing. Iran is also world famous for its fine hand-knotted rugs and there are lots of beautiful fabrics, shawls, teacups, ceramics and glassware as well as regular tourist items and souvenirs.

General and mixed
Local time: Iran is 2.5 hours ahead of us during our winter time.
Electricity: 220 V / 50Hz and usually European sockets.
Baggage: It sometimes happens that the checked baggage gets lost. Therefore, pack important medicines with a certificate from your doctor in your hand luggage. The same goes for valuables.
Language: Persian (Farsi)

Before the trip to Iran

Sightseeing in Bali

Sightseeing in Bali

The dreamy Indonesian island of Bali is blessed with great beaches, lush green jungle, breathtaking volcanic areas and impressive temples. The grandiose nature, the sea and all the magical stretches of land are equally suitable for a beach holiday and an active holiday.

There is so much to explore on the island of the gods. Culture and religion are practically omnipresent on a Bali trip. It would therefore be more than a shame to only spend your vacation in your own hotel resort. Even if you are not planning a big round trip, you should still take a few trips into the hinterland.

In the following we present you the most exciting tours, most beautiful attractions and best sights in Bali.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple Bali

1. Monkey forests in a vacation paradise

On Bali there are several small monkey forests and three large forests where tourists can watch the animals strolling. This is an attraction for the whole family. Caution is always advised, however, because many species of monkeys are used to visitors and try all sorts of things to get hold of one or two delicacies.

The Monkey Forest in Ubud is the most famous monkey forest on the Emerald Isle. A real attraction in the monkey forest is a small, idyllic river. As a visitor, you should follow the central path through the forest. This path then leads the visitors over a small narrow bridge directly to the holy spring. Here the guests of the Monkey Forest can fully enjoy nature. Because the tranquility in this place has a heavenly touch.

2. Bali Botanical Garden

More than 2,000 plant species thrive and bloom on an area of ​​around 157 hectares. As a visitor, you have the opportunity to explore the park on foot. The Botanical Garden is also easy to cross with a moped or a car. The park offers the guests meadow and hill landscapes, deciduous and rainforests, small temples and palm groves as well as wonderful viewpoints.

Flower lovers will experience an abundance and splendor of countless flowering and leafy plants in the Botanical Garden. You can marvel at around 10,000 different specimens in the orchid garden, in the cactus greenhouse, in the aquatic garden and in the fern and cyathea garden. In 1959 the famous Eka Karya Botanical Garden was created. The park in the center of Bali achieved world fame through the diligently pursued botanical collection.

3. Lake Bratan and Temple

The well-known Bratansee is always a well-chosen destination. It is one of four crater lakes on the island. The lake is located in a very old volcanic crater at an altitude of around 1,200 meters. The water is deep and cloudy and it is not uncommon for the surrounding mountain slopes to be covered in mysterious mist. You can use the beautiful scenery at the lake very well as a photographic motif. It is one of the natural sights that is second to none.

In the 17th century a temple was built on the west bank of the lake. The two shrines of the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple seem to literally float in the lake. A picturesque picture, pure romance. Sports fans can practice water sports such as water skiing or parasailing. Romantic boat trips are also ideal for immersing yourself in the landscape with all your senses.

4. Gunung Agung – the highest mountain on the island

The active volcano is clearly visible from many points on the island. The high mountain has a permanent place in the Hindu world of gods. On the Agung you can visit holy shrines and several temples.

For the people of Bali, the 3,142 meter high volcano is a sacred mountain. The ascent is impressive and sometimes strenuous, but the sunrise high above the clouds is a stunner.

5. The magical bat temple

Goa Lawah, a Hindu temple, is located on the east coast of Bali. There is a bat cave behind the temple altar. Several thousand bats leave their inns every day at sunset. For the inhabitants of the Indonesian island, the animals that live in or near a temple are sacred.

This attraction attracts many guests from near and far every year. The bat temple was once dedicated to the god Maheswara. A trip here is always worthwhile for you. The idea that the cave is a direct connection to the underworld fascinates young and old alike.

Indonesia - Bali (Marc Veraart)

6. Museum of Balinese Culture

The famous Negeri Propinsi Bali museum gives visitors an excellent insight into the millennia-old culture of the island in a crash course mode. Ancient stone sculptures are exhibited in the main building. On the first floor, culture-savvy island visitors can marvel at traditional household items and original woodcut art.

In the south pavilion of the museum you will get an ideal insight into the Balinese dyeing methods and weaving techniques. The north pavilion houses theatrical and dance masks as well as traditional dance costumes. The central pavilion contains priestly clothing and religious exhibits such as ceremonial objects. For culture lovers, this is definitely a worthwhile visit, especially since the museum is one of the top sights in Bali.

7. Unforgettable sunsets in Kuta

According to DigoPaul, Bali’s beaches are perfect for sunbathing, all kinds of water sports, swimming, snorkeling and diving. Kuta Beach is one of the most international and lively beaches in Bali. If you are looking for deserted beaches, you will find it, but on Kuta Beach young and older people romp around with great joy in life.

The famous Kuta Beach with its restaurants, hotels, shops, cafes and clubs is considered the most legendary party center in Bali. Tours to all major sights can be started from here. Due to the reliable but moderate surf, Kuta Beach is particularly suitable for surfing beginners. Every evening the beach fills up for the dramatic play of colors at sunset.

8. Tegalalang & Jatiluwih rice terraces

The rice terraces in Tegalalang are one of the well-known sights of Bali. In terms of landscape, the island has a lot to offer, in addition to temples and the fantastic beaches, cultural landscapes in the interior are also among the natural attractions worth seeing.

The Jatiluwih equestrian breeds are also popular. You can take part in guided tours, so you can better see how much painstaking detailed work the Balinese use to cultivate and harvest their vital rice. The impressive rice terraces lie in the timeless beauty of the jungle.

9. Temple city of Pura Besakih

The largest and at the same time most important Hindu temple has become a real tourist attraction as a holy place for some time. You don’t need a guide to walk through the temple. With the background information, however, you will learn a lot more about the history and purpose of this temple city. This is not a single temple.

The site, built in the 8th century AD, consists of several temples and over 200 other associated structures. The temple complex is arranged in terraces, the buildings on the slope are connected by paths and stairs. When visiting the temple city, you should put on a sarong and a long shirt before entering, in order to pay the necessary respect to the devout Hindus.

10. Blahmantung waterfall

There are many great and admirable waterfalls in the holiday paradise. On the Indonesian island there are also sights that are not overcrowded with tourists from all directions. In the northeast center of Bali you will find the Blahmantung waterfall. At first glance it looks rather inconspicuous and suddenly appears on the way out of nowhere.

However, this natural attraction can be heard from afar. Once you have reached the entrance to the waterfall, you will see how big it actually is. The water literally flows out of the jungle roof and the plants. A spectacle that is sure to impress you. The vegetation at the waterfall is very strong, bamboo plants can sometimes tower up to 20 meters.

Rice paddies at Ceking (kayugee)

Karon Beach Travel Guide

Karon Beach Travel Guide

Karon Beach is a family-friendly destination in Phuket. Phuket’s Karon Beach is one of the most popular beach resorts on the holiday island. Versatile services and a long sandy beach guarantee a successful holiday.

KARON BEACH

Many tourists traveling to Phuket Island just end up at Karon Beach. The resort has all the prerequisites for a successful beach holiday.

Karon Beach is a family favorite

Karon Beach is located in Thailand , on Phuket island’s west coast. To the north is the island’s busiest beach Patong and to the south is the slightly calmer Kata Beach.

The long fine sandy beach of Karon Beach is washed away by the waves of the Andaman Sea. The wide beach is especially popular with families with children, but couples also enjoy it. The water sports opportunities in the Karon area, the rich offer of restaurants and shopping opportunities guarantee a successful beach holiday.

The actual attractions on Karon Beach are few. The most important places to visit are Karon Lookout and Wat Suwan Khiri Khet, or Karon Temple. Its central location makes it easy to explore day trips around Phuket and visit nearby islands from Karon Beach.

Karon Beach continues for a mile. There is no congestion everywhere despite the number of tourists.

Climate of Phuket

From a Finnish point of view, Thailand is always warm.

Due to the climate, the best time to travel to Karon Beach is from November to March, when there is little rainfall and the temperature does not rise too high. This is also the busiest season when the beaches are filled with vacationers.

The hottest time begins towards the end of the season in February and continues through May. The average temperatures are then 35-40 degrees. For many, the heat is too much, so the beaches are also less congested.

In May and September-October, Karon Beach receives the most rainfall. The deaf are plentiful and usually take place in the afternoons as well as at night. In rainy weather, some places close their doors and prices are at their lowest.

A classic beach holiday

The beaches of Phuket are said to be even the best in Thailand. Karon Beach is one of the three most popular beaches in Phuket. The approximately five-kilometer-long fine sandy beach attracts sun worshipers from all over Europe. In addition to Finns, it is especially popular with Russian tourists.

When lying on a sun lounger on the beach and swimming in the turquoise sea waves, time passes as if unnoticed. The long beach is also nice for a walk. Those looking for more activity can go on a snorkeling or diving trip or try paragliding.

There is a highway next to Karon beach with quite busy traffic. Buses and songthaew platform taxis to the airport and Phuket Town also run along this road. The road is lined with restaurants, shops and market stalls.

Karon Beach continues for a mile

Pampering treatments and shopping

In addition to lounging on the beach, you can treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure or massage. Prices are quite affordable in Finnish, although Phuket is slightly more expensive than other Thai resorts.

At Karon Beach, you should also fill your stomach well. The wide range of restaurants offers local specialties as well as international cuisine.

Shopping opportunities at Karon Beach are concentrated near the Karon roundabout. From there you can buy almost everything you need on holiday. You can also shop at Karon Plaza, where you can buy spices, clothes, handicrafts and ornaments as gifts. When shopping, compromising is important.

For those looking for branded products, take a shopping trip to Phuket Town or Patong, where the selections are better. There is a large shopping mall in both locations.

Excursions and things to do for all ages

If lying on the beach starts to get bored, a day trip will liven up your vacation. In addition to Phuket Town and the nearby beaches, it is worth heading inland. There it is possible to get acquainted with rubber tree plantations, attend a cooking course and learn more about culture.

For avid golfers, Phuket has several beautiful and well-maintained courses. It’s a good idea to head to the putting green right in the morning before the midday sun makes gaming a hassle.

In Phuket, you should avoid places where elephant riding is organized. Elephants are often mistreated, and when you participate in excursions, you support unethical activities.

From Phuket you can go on a day trip to the nearby islands. A favorite of many is the white sand beaches of Koh Phi Phi , where you can spend the day relaxing or snorkelling and diving.

Good to know about Karon Beach

During the busiest winter season, there are plenty of tourists on Karon Beach and it can be difficult to find your own peace on the beach. If you are vacationing at Karon Beach during the rainy season, it is good to note that the sea currents can be strong.

In Thailand, left-hand traffic and traffic culture are different than in Finland. Take special care when driving yourself. When riding a motorcycle, it is always advisable to wear a helmet, even if many locals ride in the air. In traffic accidents, the tourist is often held liable, even if not the culprit.

Large numbers of tourists always attract scammers and traders as well. You shouldn’t be too blue-eyed, but taking normal caution is enough.

Trips to Sumatra

Trips to Sumatra

Why travel to Sumatra?

Sumatra is the largest island in Indonesia, known especially for its unique nature and fauna.

The trip to Sumatra offers adventures that take you from tropical rainforests to lush volcanic landscapes and unique animals. One such is the beautiful sumatran ranch that lives on the island in the wild and is unlikely to be seen anywhere else.

Our tour in Sumatra

On the way to Sumatra, you will experience all the highlights of the island. You can also combine a tour with a wonderful holiday in Bali, where you can relax on the beautiful beaches of Sanur, explore the artistic life of Ubud or go hiking in Munduki. Click on a trip and explore the different possibilities.

Read more about the highlights of the trip below.

Bukit Lawang

The small village of Bukit Lawang is located north of Sumatra. Right next to the village is the Gunugn Leuser National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Sumatra’s main attractions.

The national park is known for its dense rainforests and diverse ecosystems, including rivers, volcanoes and lakes. The national park is home to more than 700 different species of animals, including an elephant, a rare Sumatran tiger and a highly endangered Sumatran tern.

“Oranki” means “forest man,” and the Sumatra jungle is one of the few places in the world where you can see these fascinating animals.

On the hiking trip you can see the entire fauna and flora of the lush rainforest. Under Ranger’s guidance, you can also get close to oranges.

Lake Toba and Samosir

Toba is the largest crater lake in the world north of Sumatra.

The island of Samosir is like a gem in the middle of a lake. Attractions on the island include the tomb of the ancient king Sidabutar in Tomok and the village of Ambarita, known for its local stone tables and chairs.

The trip will also include the Huta Bolon Simanindo Museum, which was once the home of King Rajah Simalungun of Batak and his 14 wives.

A visit to the traditional villages of Batak Karo

In Batak Karo villages, you can see traditional siwaluh Jabo long houses, which can accommodate up to 12 families.

The roofs of the houses are in the shape of a boat, and at each end is hung a buffalo horn, which serves as a status symbol and has traditionally been believed to protect the inhabitants from evil spirits.

Want to know more about our trips to Sumatra?

Sumatra offers countless experiences. You can read more about them on the travel-specific pages. Click on “Read more” next to the trip at the top of the page and check out the highlights, daily schedule and prices of the trip.

Trips to Sumatra

Yemen Defense and Foreign Policy

Yemen Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Yemen is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Sanaa. Following the terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, Yemen joined the Americans’ war on terrorism. Cooperation to fight militant groups in Yemen is a sensitive issue among Yemenis. The United States has also been critical of what the Yemeni government’s reluctance towards extremist groups is. Neighbors’ incursions into Yemen’s civil war can also be viewed in the light of concerns that Yemen’s internal problems will spread.

yemen military spending and defense budget

Yemen lacks functioning state power and the country is in several parallel civil wars. There are a number of armed groups in the country in addition to the regular army. Some are affiliated with the “government army”, others fight it.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Yemen for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

One reason for the widespread violence is that Yemen is one of the world’s most densely armed countries. Most adult residents have access to modern handguns. Some groups, including clan militia, also carry heavier weapons such as anti-tank robots, anti-aircraft guns and lighter artillery. Even when Yemen has been at its most stable, it has been possible for the government to govern without, in various ways, appeasing and negotiating with clan leaders and other local rulers. This has made it easy for foreign states to interfere, by financing or concluding agreements with local leaders themselves. This is particularly true of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran, which are fighting each other for influence in Yemen, and the United States, which is both involved in the Yemeni power struggles and has attacked al-Qaeda-linked groups inside Yemen.

Following al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, Yemen joined the US “war on terrorism”. The two countries’ cooperation to fight militant groups has been a sensitive issue for many Yemenis, who are critical of US influence in the Middle East. Since 2011, the United States has been a regular supporter of suspected supporters of terrorism. Hundreds of people have been killed by cruise robots and drones and the attacks have sparked protests in Yemen. The government had secretly approved them, even though it did not openly admit it.

Relations with Saudi Arabia have often been tense. The conflicts partly go back to the civil war in North Yemen in the 1960s, when Saudi Arabia actively supported the royalists. Yemen’s unification in 1990 meant that the new country gained almost as much population as Saudi Arabia, which was seen with the disapproval of Saudi rulers. Saudi Arabia also reacted negatively to Yemen’s support for Iraq in the Kuwait War 1990-1991 and the neighboring country attempted to weaken the Saleh regime, among other things, by supporting the south side in the 1994 civil war.

Clear boundaries between Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the al-Rub al-Khali desert area have been a constant source of conflict. A border agreement was concluded in 1934 and the countries agreed on another agreement in 1995, but new border conflicts were flared up. In 2000, an agreement was made that established how the border goes in the northwest. The settlement resulted in a political thunderstorm. Saudi Arabia increased its financial assistance and opened its labor market for Yemeni guest workers.

The difficulties in guarding the border have continued to create contradictions. From Saudi Arabia, consumer goods are smuggled into Yemen while weapons and refugees go the opposite way. The Saudis are also worried about militant groups coming in. In 2004, the Saudis started building a wall along the border. The building was halted, following protests from Yemen, but Saudi Arabia quietly continued to construct barriers and surveillance systems. The work gained momentum when the Shiite riots revolted in the border areas in 2004. Saudi Arabia supported the Yemeni government’s attempt to defeat the rebels, including through direct military intervention around the turn of the year 2009/2010. In 2011, Saudi Arabia decided to resume building the wall. Saudi unrest escalated from the rise of the Hutians in 2014–2015 as it was considered to strengthen Iran’s influence.

Iran probably played no major role in the skin movement in its earliest years, other than as an ideological source of inspiration. Over time, Iranian support seems to have grown. Since 2011, the conflict between the Houthis and Saudi-backed groups (such as the clan militia of the Islamist Party and the Ahmar family) has largely evolved into a war through agents – at least it seems to be perceived by both Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Hutians’ advancement prompted the Saudis and a number of neighboring countries to form an alliance that has carried out air strikes against the rebels since 2015. The warring countries have received sharp criticism for not caring about the suffering of civilian Yemenites. Therefore, after several years of devastating wars, Saudi Arabia 2018 launched a development program for Yemen to try to counter popular bitterness. Investments in schools, health centers and desalination have been announced.

In November 2017, Yemeni rebels fired a robot that reached far into Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis increasingly accused Iran of arming the Shiites. The conflict between the region’s great powers had also intensified by supporting opposite sides in the Syrian war, where Iran’s allies gradually strengthened their positions. In Yemen, the bombings and blockades continued to areas held by the huhirebells and sale hangers. From that point, Saleh came to the negotiating stage for the country’s internationally recognized government and its Saudi backers, but Saleh was instead killed in mutual fighting between the opposition forces. After Saleh’s death, the power play in and around Yemen has increasingly developed into a power metric between Sunni states led by Saudi Arabia and Shi’a forces with Iran in the back.

Yemen has not been allowed to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but since 2001, the country has been a member of GCC institutions that handle issues such as health care and education. Yemen wants to join in order to be able to receive financial support and investment from the rich oil states, but the GCC countries have been afraid of being drawn into Yemen’s crises.

Increasing violence in Somalia from 2006 has led to increased refugee flows to Yemen. Traffic over the Red Sea also includes smuggling, including weapons, and the Aden Bay has become notorious for pirate acts emanating from ports in Somalia. There are also fears that Somali militant groups will associate with Yemen’s Islamist phalanxes.

Defense

The military service is voluntary, but those who join must serve for at least two years. The defense forces are relatively large when it comes to manpower, but the equipment is outdated and maintenance is neglected. In 2011, the military was divided between supporters of various political leaders, including then President Saleh and his son Ahmed, Vice President Hadi and General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar. The government also recruited militias to strengthen the army in the fight against al-Qaeda’s Aqap depositor in southern Yemen. Throughout Hadi’s time as president (2012–2015; he has subsequently led an exile government), attempts to seek control over military units that were not loyal to him became an ongoing sequel.

After Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to resign, Ahmed Saleh sought to secure continued influence for his father via the Republic Guard. In 2012, therefore, newly-incumbent President Hadi reorganized the military’s military structure to marginalize the influence of Saleh and his family. Since then, the armed forces consist of five branches: the army, the air force, the navy (including the coastal defense), the border troops and the strategic reserve forces. At the heart of the reform was the transformation of the Republic Guard into strategic reserve forces, which were divided into special forces, missile defenses and the President’s protection corps.

Both military units and – to a greater extent – irregular militias and clan groups have recruited child soldiers. In 2011, a Yemeni children’s rights organization claimed that about half of those who took part in the fighting between the government army and the Houthi rebels in Saada province that year were under 18 (this included both government soldiers and rebels). A 2014 UN report accused all investigated parties (the Houthis, Aqap, government forces, Islah and government-friendly militia) of using children as soldiers.

In 2017 alone, 842 children were recruited as soldiers, according to a UN report 2018 which stated that there was documentation showing that 76 of the children had participated in combat.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 60,000 men (2015)

The air Force: 3,000 men (2015)

The fleet: 1 700 men (2015)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 5.0 percent (2014)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 14.3 percent (2014)

Vietnam Defense and Foreign Policy

Vietnam Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Vietnam is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Hanoi. Vietnam has relatively relaxed relations with the vast majority of countries, including the United States with which the country was at war with the 1960s and 1970s. An exception is China, which is a competitor for the right to territorial waters in the South China Sea. The relationship with Cambodia is also periodically strained.

vietnam military spending and defense budget

Vietnam’s relationship with the outside world has changed radically since the early 1990s. At that time, the country was internationally isolated, financially punished for its occupation of Cambodia and still ousted by the United States after the war. The only strong support came from the socialist countries with the Soviet Union at the forefront.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Vietnam for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

After taking back his Cambodian soldiers in 1989 and signing the United Nations Peace Plan for the neighboring country in 1991, Vietnam was able to re-integrate into the regional community. Trade with the countries of Southeast Asia increased, and in 1995 Vietnam joined Asean. The entry was an irony of history, since Asean was partially founded in 1967 as protection against what was then perceived as the threat of communist North Vietnam.

Complex relationship with China

Until the 1980s, relations with China were extremely tense, partly because of Beijing’s support for the Cambodian Red Khmer, and partly because of the harassment of the Chinese minority in Vietnam after the end of the war in 1975. It went as far as the 1979 war (see Modern history).

An approach began in 1989 when Vietnam acknowledged that the country’s Chinese had been treated poorly. In November 1991, the relationship was formally normalized at a Beijing summit. The need for better relations was reinforced by the uncertainty both countries felt after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. The two countries have also chosen the same ideological path, with market economy in a communist state.

In May 2017, Vietnam undoubtedly supported China’s infrastructure project BRI (the Belt and Road Initiative, or the New Silk Road), which will culminate in a network of roads, train lines and ports from eastern Asia to Europe. Some construction projects have yet to start in Vietnam.

The conflict over the Spratly and Paracel Islands

Despite normalization, relations with China remain sensitive. Both countries claim the largely uninhabited island groups Spratly and Paracel in the oil and gas-rich South China Sea. Screen savers have been involved with fishing and patrol boats involved, while politicians have often tried to dampen the contradictions.

When China placed an oil drilling platform in the Paracel Islands in May 2014, relations reached a bottom level. Popular anger led to riots and attacks on Chinese-owned factories in mainly southern Vietnam (although it was found that many affected facilities were owned by Taiwanese or South Koreans). The authorities initially seemed to tolerate the outbreak of violence but put a stop to it after a while. Several people were killed during the unrest and China evacuated thousands of citizens from the country. The enemy noises were sharp even at high level. The platform was later shipped off, but China has placed oil drilling platforms on the islands even at later times.

In early 2015, satellite images revealed that China had filled in reefs around the Sprat Islands to build a runway for flights. The intervention was condemned by Vietnam, USA with several countries. In January 2016, a Chinese aircraft lifted off the runway and a month later, China fired anti-aircraft missiles from the Paracel Islands.

The conflict has subsequently escalated, with more land fillings and military armaments on both sides. In 2017, China began cruising traffic in disputed waters. When Vietnam began to look for oil in the area, China threatened to attack with its fleet.

United States – from arch enemy to weapons supplier

The first approach to the United States came in 1986, when Vietnam offered to help find the remains of 2,600 fallen American soldiers who were still missing after the war in the 1960s and 1970s. In return, the United States promised humanitarian aid. After a few years of gradual approaching, the United States in 1994 abolished the economic boycott that has been in effect since the days of the Vietnam War. The decision was motivated by the willingness of the Vietnamese to cooperate in the search for the missing Americans. But behind the renewed economic ties also lay pressure from American companies that looked to be overshadowed by foreign competitors in the burgeoning Vietnamese market.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1995, the United States has become one of the largest investors in the country. In November 2000, US President Bill Clinton made a symbolically important state visit to Vietnam and in 2007 President Nguyen Minh Triet visited as the first Vietnamese head of state since the end of the Vietnam War White House in Washington. Relations have gradually strengthened with the rest of the Western world, although recent criticism has increased against violations of human rights.

The United States imposed a ban on all arms exports to Vietnam in 1984. Thirty years later, the US government partially repealed the arms embargo, enabling Vietnam to buy US marine security equipment. The United States denied that the easing of the embargo was a result of China’s advanced positions in the South China Sea.

At a visit to Vietnam in May 2016, US President Barack Obama announced that the United States had decided to lift the remaining embargo on arms sales to Vietnam. Obama said that the last lingering traces of the Vietnam War were thus gone. The US decision made it easier for Vietnam to gear up its defense. However, the United States emphasized that the decision was not related to the tense situation between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea, but that it was part of the normalization of relations with Vietnam after the war in the 1960s and 1970s.

Other important relationships

Vietnam’s relationship with Communist Laos is close, with close cooperation on both political and security issues. For Cambodia, relations are more complicated for historical reasons, although they are basically now relatively safe. However, the boundary between the two countries is not fully established, which has led to recurring inequality.

Vietnam has maintained good relations with Russia even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The countries cooperate primarily in the areas of trade, defense and energy.

From the end of the 1990s, Vietnam and India have been approaching each other, in line with China’s growing influence in Asia. In March 2000, the two countries signed a cooperation agreement in the field of defense: Vietnam trains Indian soldiers in the fight against insurgency and in warfare in jungle environments, while India assists Vietnam in the upgrading and modernization of the defense. The countries are also fighting piracy in the South China Sea together. In 2013, Vietnam gave India the right to look for oil in the South China Sea. In May 2018, India and Vietnam completed their first joint naval exercise, including that of the South China Sea.

With the EU (then EC; European Community), Vietnam established diplomatic relations in October 1990. A comprehensive cooperation agreement was signed in June 2012.

Defense

Vietnam has drastically shrunk its army since the early 1990s, when it consisted of just over a million men. The army has maintained its strong political position and is an important recruitment base for top positions within the party and the state. The equipment of the armed forces is being modernized. In addition to the regular armed forces with army, navy and aviation, Vietnam has a special air defense as well as semi-military forces, militia, in cities and in rural areas. There is a general duty of military service for at least two years for men between the ages of 18 and 35.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 412 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 30,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 40,000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.3 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 7.9 percent (2017)

Uzbekistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Uzbekistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Uzbekistan is a nation in Central Asia. Its capital city is Tashkent. Uzbekistan’s foreign policy is characterized by a desire to maintain stability and not become unilaterally dependent on a single partner. The country is claiming a leadership role in Central Asia, but the quest to develop regional cooperation has not always been so successful.

uzbekistan military spending and defense budget

The countries that cooperated with the Karimov regime (1991–2016) in Uzbekistan often ignored its lack of respect for democracy and human rights as long as stability could be maintained in an otherwise troubled region. Uzbekistan’s strategic location and the country’s assets in the form of natural gas, cotton and gold also contributed to this attitude.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Uzbekistan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

When the Soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were formed in the 1920s, the Fergana Valley was cut into a maze of complicated borders. The area is politically charged with ethnic enclaves, unresolved border disputes and conflicts over water and energy between the countries. The Karimov regime opposed Kyrgyzstan’s and Tajikistan’s plans to build hydroelectric power stations in the Amu and Syrian Darja rivers – plants that would curtail the flow of water to Uzbekistan.

Following President Mirzijojev’s accession in 2016, a gradual approach has taken place between Uzbekistan and the other former Soviet republics in Central Asia. In 2017, air travel between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan resumed, and in January 2018, ten border crossings opened, closed since 2001. When Mirzijev visited Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon in neighboring capital Dushanbe in March 2018, the two leaders agreed to abolish the visa requirement since 2000 travel between countries.

Unlike Karimov, Mirziajev and Tajikistan’s and Kyrgyzstan’s plans not to expand hydropower upstream from Uzbekistan do not oppose.

Border disputes with Kazakhstan were partially resolved in an agreement of 2001. However, problems remained and in 2005 Uzbekistan accused the neighboring country of hosting Uzbek armed hostile groups. Through an agreement in 2013, relations were strengthened in both trade and security matters. When Mirzijoev visited Kazakhstan in 2017, further cooperation agreements were signed.

There is disagreement with Turkmenistan about the water resources in the Amu-Darja border.

Fight against militant Islamism

The threat from the Islamic guerrilla Uzbekistan’s Islamic movement (IMU; see also Political system) played a central role in foreign policy for several years. During the 1990s, the regime sought help from Russia to guard its border with Afghanistan. The IMU had bases in neighboring countries and received support from the Taliban and terrorist leader Usama bin Laden to make raids into Uzbekistan and its neighboring countries. The guerrillas financed their activities through, among other things, drug smuggling and aimed to overthrow the Uzbek regime and establish an Islamic state in the Fergana Valley.

Around the turn of the millennium, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan joined forces militarily to stop the IMU. Russia, China, the United States and the EU supported military cooperation. Also, unrest in connection with the US-led war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001 forced Uzbekistan and Tajikistan closer cooperation. In addition, Uzbek and Kyrgyz security forces have made joint raids against radical Islamists in the Fergana Valley.

In 2001, Uzbekistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a counter-terrorism cooperation organization, which also includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Relations with Russia and China

Uzbekistan’s relations with Russia have at times been strained, but Russia has remained the most important defense and trade partner. After Uzbekistan was criticized by the western countries for the Andizyan massacre in 2005 (see Modern History), President Karimov and his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin came closer. In 2017, the first joint military exercise was held with Russia since 2005, in southeastern Uzbekistan. In March 2018, an agreement was also reached on the purchase of new Russian-made combat helicopters.

China has also shown a growing interest in Uzbekistan in recent years. Both Russia and China have increased cooperation with Uzbekistan through trade, investment and a joint fight against radical Islamism. In May 2017, Mirzijojev visited Beijing and the same month began a Sino-Uzbek collaboration to develop gas fields in Uzbek Karakul.

Relations with the western world

Uzbekistan’s relations with the United States were strengthened when the countries signed an agreement on defense cooperation in 1995. Uzbekistan joined the NATO Partnership for Peace (PFF) in 1994. Military exercises with American participation were organized in the Fergana Valley, where armed Islamists were active. The EU also tried to develop relations with Uzbekistan and in 1996 signed a so-called partnership and cooperation agreement. However, both EU and US enthusiasm cooled as the lack of democracy and respect for human rights in Uzbekistan became increasingly evident.

Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, Uzbekistan abandoned its territory for the US-led military alliance that expelled the Taliban regime from Afghanistan. Many of the IMU guerrillas are believed to have been killed in the fighting there. The US had to deploy combat aircraft and military personnel at the former Soviet air base Karshi-Khanabad. As a thank you, more than $ 150 million in financial and military aid was paid to Uzbekistan.

Relations with the United States deteriorated markedly in 2005, when the US, like the EU, criticized the massacre of the Uzbek military of about 500 unarmed protesters in Andizan. Karimov’s regime then terminated the agreement on the Karshi-Khanabad air base.

However, the US need for allies in the region was so great that criticism of the Karimov regime soon faded. In 2008, the United States was granted the right to use an air base in southern Uzbekistan with certain restrictions and the following year the US was allowed to transport non-military supplies through Uzbekistan to Afghanistan.

At a meeting between President Mirzijoev and US President Donald Trump in May 2018, Uzbekistan gave its “full support” to the US strategy in Afghanistan. The US government said that Uzbekistan has made “tremendous progress” in social, economic and political reforms since President Mirzijojev took office in 2016.

The EU imposed some trade and travel sanctions on Uzbekistan in 2005 because of the regime’s refusal to allow an international investigation into the shooting deaths in Andhizan. But even for the EU, Uzbekistan’s strategic importance is too great for the country to be isolated. Although political repression had rapidly increased, the EU gradually lifted all sanctions until 2009. Karimov visited Brussels in 2011 and met the EU and NATO leaders for the first time in almost six years. Among other things, an agreement was signed on energy cooperation with the EU.

Defense

At independence in 1991, Uzbekistan took over Soviet military facilities in the country. Citizens in military service abroad were called home and Uzbekistan built its own defense with army and air force. One year of military service applies.

There are also semi-military forces in the country of 20,000 men: 1,000 men are included in the National Guard, who are under the Ministry of Defense and 19,000 are under the Ministry of the Interior. The oversized police force was named during the Karimov regime as one of the world’s most corrupt and its brutality was a witness. Reforms of security forces and police are reported to be ongoing, but corruption and abuse are still widespread.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 24 500 men (2017)

The air Force: 7,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 0.5 percent (2003)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 1.6 percent (2003)

United Arab Emirates Defense and Foreign Policy

United Arab Emirates Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, United Arab Emirates is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Abu Dhabi. Arab unity is an important element of the United Arab Emirates’ foreign policy. In the Arab world, the country is usually on the side of conservative states. Long ago, the emirate has had close relations with Iran – but a territorial dispute is hampering contacts. In Yemen’s civil war, the emirate has participated in the Saudi-backed government’s military efforts against the Shiite Muslim Huthirbels.

uae military spending and defense budget

The United Arab Emirates’ most serious foreign policy dispute concerns the two Tunisians and the island of Abu Musa. These have been controlled by Iran since 1970, but the Emirate of Sharjah claims them. The conflict was exacerbated in 1996 when Iran opened an airport at Abu Musa and a power plant in Tunisia, and it has flared up at regular intervals, no later than 2012. Despite the dispute, the countries maintain strong trade relations.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in United Arab Emirates for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The United Arab Emirates has a defense treaty with Saudi Arabia. In recent years, however, the state leadership has tried to limit the neighboring country’s great influence over several of the emirates. For a long time, the countries also have a dispute about the border line north of the large oil field Shayba in the al-Rub al-Khali desert.

In 1981, the United Arab Emirates joined and formed a cooperative organization for the Gulf States, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), together with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The countries have a mutual defense pact and in 2008 the region became a common market with free movement. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, sent forces under the GCC to Bahrain to help the regime against Shiite protests in 2011. Disagreements between Qatar and the other GCC countries have later put the cooperation to the test, with trade boycotts included.

The United Arab Emirates was one of the countries that maintained diplomatic relations with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1996–2001. Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, carried out by, among other two emirates, the Emirates broke off its contacts with the Taliban. Between 2003 and 2014, Emirati elite soldiers assisted the United States during the war in Afghanistan. The state, on the other hand, was awaiting US plans to attack Iraq to overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein. US airbases in the Emirates played a marginal role when the invasion began in 2003.

The United Arab Emirates has purchased combat aircraft and other military equipment from the United States to a large extent. US military personnel are stationed in the emirate, and during the 2010s, cooperation has been strengthened by both countries wanting to counter both militant Islamism and Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities. A defense agreement between the countries entered into force in May 2019.

Following a 2008 agreement between France and the emirate, a French military base was opened in Abu Dhabi in 2009.

In 2013, the Emirate supported the military coup that deposed Egypt’s President Muhammad Mursi from the Muslim Brotherhood, then assisted the new Egyptian military government with $ 3 billion. In 2014, according to US sources, the United Arab Emirates has carried out a bomb attack with Egypt against Islamist militia in Libya. From 2014, the emirate also participated in air strikes against the jihadist extremist group Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria. After a Jordanian pilot was captured by IS when his plane was shot down that year, the Emirates stopped the bombing, citing that the United States must be better at rescue operations. But when the pilot was brutally killed by IS in early 2015, the attacks resumed.

In recent years, at the same time as the Emirate’s participation in the civil war in Yemen, the United Arab Emirates has also sought to expand the dialogue with other major religions. The head of the Catholic Church Franciscus was able to conduct the first pope visit in the Arabian Peninsula in early 2019 and meetings with Sunni Muslim leaders were followed by a large mass. Most of the Christians in the emirate are native to Asia, not least the Philippines, so the Pope’s visit also has symbolic value as a gesture towards the guest workers’ homelands.

In the Yemen war, the emirate has participated with ground troops, while Saudi Arabia has, above all, carried out air strikes and attracted sharper international criticism. However, it has emerged that the United Arab Emirates is responsible for prisons on Yemeni land, where, according to human rights organizations, there have been severe abuses. In the summer of 2019, the emirate announced that fighting alliances would be withdrawn, although it could create friction with Saudi Arabia, which was hired from the south by Yemeni Shi’ite belligerents.

In the civil war in Libya, the emirate has taken a clearer position, for warlord Khalifa Haftar, who from the east is fighting the government headquartered in Tripoli. For a major offensive against Tripoli that Haftar initiated in 2019 and continued in 2020, the emirate is reported to have recruited soldiers in Sudan, with the withdrawal of financial support as a means of pressure.

Since 1976, the seven emirates have a joint, federal defense with almost a third of foreign nationals. However, Dubai still has its own smaller force. Military service is mandatory for all men between the ages of 18 and 30. The defense is funded almost entirely by Abu Dhabi.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 44,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 4,500 men (2017)

The fleet: 2,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 5.6 percent (2014)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 17.0 percent (2014)

Turkmenistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Turkmenistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Turkmenistan is a nation in Central Asia. Its capital city is Ashgabat. A constitutional principle in Turkmenistan’s foreign policy is that of “permanent neutrality”. The large oil and natural gas resources make the country interesting for both Russia and the US as well as the EU and China. Relations with Russia and the western countries are often strained and Turkmenistan has been in conflict with the Caspian Sea countries regarding the right to oil and natural gas.

turkmenistan military spending and defense budget

The foreign policy line on permanent neutrality was introduced after the independence of the Soviet Union in 1991 and meant that Turkmenistan was in fact long internationally isolated.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Turkmenistan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The country was one of the founders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which gathers former Soviet republics, but since 2005 is only an associate member and, for example, stands outside the organization’s security cooperation and free trade union.

The relationship with Russia is complicated, mainly because of Turkmenistan’s export of natural gas. Turkmenistan was long dependent on the Russian gas export market and the country often accused Russia of taking advantage of its geographical position to buy Turkmen gas at underpriced prices and exporting it further west with good profits. Discussions about the price of natural gas often occurred. Turkmenistan has therefore strived to reach the world market through new lines, which do not go through Russian territory, to China, Iran and the EU, among others.

Turkmenistan chose not to condemn Russia for the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 (see Ukraine, current policy). The economic crisis that hit Russia in 2014 led to a sharp decline in imports of Turkmen. In 2016, it ceased altogether after the Russian gas company Gazprom accused Turkmen Turkmazaz of breach of contract. After a visit by Gazprom’s head in Turkmenistan in March 2019, gas exports to Russia resumed.

Iran and China are important

Nowadays, China is by far the largest buyer of Turkmen gas (see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment). In December 2009, a gas pipeline was opened from Turkmenistan to China. During the 2010s, cooperation with China has increased significantly, not least because China has increased its investments in infrastructure in Turkmenistan.

In 1997, a gas pipeline was opened between southwest Turkmenistan and the Iranian city of Kord Kuy. It was the first pipeline for the export of Turkmen gas outside the former Soviet Union and marked an important departure from the dependence on Russia. In 2010, the second gas pipeline was inaugurated to Iran. However, in early 2017, Turkmenistan ceased gas flow to Iran due to unpaid gas delivery bills. With the dispute still unresolved, in January 2018, Iran turned to the International Arbitration Court in The Hague for an opinion, whereupon Turkmenistan soon also filed a complaint. The verdict is expected to take a couple of years.

Tight contacts with the vest

Turkmenistan became the first Central Asian country in 1994 to join NATO’s Alliance for Peace Partnership Program for Peace (PFF). However, US and EU countries’ relations with the authoritarian Turkmen regime are strained.

The EU’s interest in natural gas is great, at the same time as it criticizes the lack of democracy in Turkmenistan and the violations of citizens’ human rights (see Democracy and Rights). A partnership and cooperation agreement was signed in 1998, but it did not come into force because of the above criticism.

For the same reason, relations with the United States are complicated. Relations with Washington were also weakened by the fact that Turkmenistan maintained diplomatic contacts with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 1996–2001 and that the country did not lend its support to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. During the ensuing war, however, Turkmenistan became an important transit country for aid transports to Afghanistan. Around one million Turkmen live on the Afghan side of the border.

In the spring of 2015, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan announced a collaboration that will bring gas from Turkmenistan via Turkey to Europe. In March 2019, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the EU agreed to build a transport corridor linking the port city of Türkmenbaşy with the Romanian Black Sea city of Constanta.

The Caspian Sea conflict

Turkmenistan has long had strained relations with all the countries around the Caspian Sea, ie Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. In August 2018, however, the five countries signed an agreement regulating the legal status of the water. The agreement was signed by the country’s leaders in the port city of Aktau, Kazakhstan.

The status of the Caspian Sea has been unclear since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The conflict has affected whether it is a lake or an inland sea. An inland sea would be subject to UN maritime law, while the right to a lake must be negotiated between the countries. The ambiguity has led to uncertainty about who has the right to extract the rich oil and natural gas resources.

The 2018 agreement stipulates that the Caspian Sea is neither a lake nor an inland sea, but has “special legal status”. This means that the surface water will be used jointly by the five states, while the seabed and its assets will be divided. How these boundaries are to be drawn does not say anything about (however, the interference fishing that produces caviar is regulated by means of quotas). The agreement also states that no other country may establish military bases on the Caspian Sea alongside the five states.

The years after the turn of the millennium, Turkmenistan’s relations with Uzbekistan were bottom frozen as a result of an alleged coup attempt in Ashgabat in 2002. The Uzbek embassy in Ashgabat was searched by police in search of evidence of Uzbek involvement in the coup attempt. Uzbekistan reacted strongly to the accusations and soon troops were assembled on both sides of the border. Through bilateral cooperation agreements and other confidence-building measures, relations between neighboring countries have gradually improved and are now normalized.

Defense

Turkmenistan’s defense is still under construction. Plans exist for a naval force in the Caspian Sea. Turkish military is training parts of the country’s armed forces. With Russia, Turkmenistan has entered into an agreement on defense cooperation; the two countries are jointly responsible for Russian forces deployed along the border with Iran and Afghanistan. The defense is based on general military duty for two years. President Berdimuhamedow has his own militia of about 2,000 men and other security units. There are around 5,000 semi-military soldiers in the country.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 33,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 3,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.9 percent (1999)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 15.0 percent (1999)

Turkey Defense and Foreign Policy

Turkey Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Turkey is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Ankara. In two rounds since the beginning of the 2000s, Turkey’s position in the world has changed dramatically. During the first decade of the century, a greatly improved economy coincided with an increased activity of Turkish companies abroad and an intense diplomatic activity characterized by great self-confidence and an ambition for “zero problems with the neighbors”. From the beginning of the 2010s, things started to go down. Conflicts arose with almost every country in the region and an increasingly authoritarian policy within the country created some anxiety in the western world.

turkey military spending and defense budget

For a long time, membership in the NATO military alliance has been the basis of Turkey’s foreign policy. For many years, the hopes of a future membership of the EU also got the country to emphasize its opportunity to build a bridge between west and east. Membership in NATO is not directly questioned, but not without problems.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Turkey for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The United States has two air bases in Turkey and, at least until Donald Trump’s term as president, has placed great emphasis on relations with NATO’s only Muslim member state. But although Turkey has mostly been loyal to NATO, there are fairly widespread anti-American sentiments and often an annoyance to the United States within the Turkish leadership. In recent years, disagreements have risen in view of the war in Syria, where the United States has supported the Syrian-Kurdish guerrilla YPG, which has been one of the most effective opponents of the Islamic extremist Islamic State (IS) movement. Turkey, on the other hand, has fought the YPG, which is considered a branch of the Turkish-Kurdish guerrilla PKK. Following the attempted coup d’état in Turkey in 2016, the United States was accused of failing to distance itself quickly from the coup attempt. It has also been suggested that the United States was somehow involved in the coup by letting pastor Fethullah Gülen, of Turkey designated as the brains behind the conspiracy, live in the United States. There has been strong irritation in Turkey that the United States has not extradited him.

Disappointment to the EU

Turkey’s disappointment with the EU is evident. After long wishing to become a member of the EU, Turkey was recognized as a candidate country in 1999, albeit with reservations. To negotiate membership, the Turks must first improve respect for human rights and correct political abuses. This was precisely what progress-friendly forces in Turkey wanted to do, with the support of the EU. Soon there was a demand that Turkey’s Customs Union must include all EU members including Cyprus. Despite opposition from several EU countries, Turkey was allowed to negotiate membership in 2005, but negotiations were slow. EU adaptation in Turkey lost momentum, while Germany and France, in particular, raised new barriers to the prospect of entering a large, Muslim country in what some considered a kind of Christian community.

The EU has also been criticized for opposing Turkey while it was in a phase of democratization, but relied on Turkish support to resolve the acute crisis that arose with the great wave of refugees to Europe 2015, even though Turkey was then perceived as the next next to a dictatorship. At that time, Turkey was promised billions of euros to take care of refugees that the EU did not want, as well as increased pace in member negotiations. The support to the refugees comes in several forms, including smaller cash grants, but mainly as humanitarian aid through large, international organizations.

The schism between the EU and Turkey deepened after the coup attempt in 2016, when the EU was also accused of dragging its legs by standing on the government’s side. Turkey complained that promised refugee support was not paid and threatened to terminate the agreement. At the same time, Turkey demanded visa freedom for its citizens to the EU, while the EU demanded that Turkey first change the broad definition of “terrorism” which, among other things, led to mass arrests of tens of thousands of people after the coup attempt.

Especially with Germany, which has a large population group originating in Turkey, relations have been put to the test. 900 mosques in Germany are run by the Turkish Religious Authority, which pays the parish leaders’ salaries. In several German states, legislative changes are discussed that could make parishes less dependent on outside financial support (there is a voluntary church tax for Christians proposed as a model).

While the EU has for several years already acted in a way that Turkey perceived as patronizing and ruthless, and the negotiations virtually stopped, the Ankara government was aiming for other alliances. The AKP government began to pursue active diplomacy and trade in virtually all countries that were once part of the old Ottoman Empire. Even with Turkish-speaking former Soviet states in Central Asia, close contacts were made.

Support for Islamist parties

During the “Arab Spring” of 2011, tens of thousands of regime opponents in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries saw the Turkish AKP as an example of the party’s ability to combine basic Islamic values ​​with democratic and secular politics and liberal economic principles. But when a short-lived Islamic government in the most important country, Egypt, was overthrown by a new military regime, Turkey suddenly faced an enemy in Cairo instead of a friend. Turkey has insisted on considering the deposed Islamist President Muhammad Mursi as the legal leader of Egypt.

The attempts to gain influence in Tunisia and Libya since the dictatorship of the countries were overthrown were also unsuccessful, at least in the short term.

In 1949, Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel. For decades, the countries had good relations, but in 2009 it happened when then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan resigned to Israeli President Shimon Peres for Israel’s actions in Gaza. In 2010, the crisis deepened when ten Turks were killed in an Israeli command raid against the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was part of an international convoy that would try to break the blockade of Gaza. Israel refused to apologize, which ended with Turkey canceling the military cooperation agreement and downgrading diplomatic relations. Following a new Israeli shooting of Gaza in 2012, Erdoğan described Israel as a “terrorist state”. Only in 2016 were relations normalized, since Israel agreed to pay damages to the ten killed Turks’ relatives. The relations were put to the test again in 2017 when the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. At the head of Sunni Muslim countries, Turkey then called for international recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

The settlement with Israel following the offshore events around the Gaza convoy was interpreted in the outside world as an attempt by Turkey to break the relative isolation the country has endured. This also applied to the reconciliation with Russia that happened at about the same time.

Relations with Russia had been relatively tense following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but when Turkey in 2015 cut down a Russian fighter aircraft in the border regions against Syria, the countries turned into enemies. Russia restricted trade with Turkey and stopped all charter tourism, which hit hard on the Turkish economy. The conflict also involved the most serious confrontation between NATO and Russia since the end of the Cold War. In 2016, President Erdoğan Russia apologized and met his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin. They agreed to try to restore normal relationships. The approach was facilitated by the fact that Russia had fared more quickly than the EU and the US from the coup attempt and that Putin did not criticize the mass arrests in Turkey. Normalization was considered to benefit both countries financially.

Worried leaders in the West feared that a new alliance between authoritarian leaders could be created and disrupt the balance of power in Europe. In the conflicts in Syria and Libya, Turkish-Russian relations have continued to arouse interest. Ankara and Moscow have supported opposite sides in both countries, but at the same time have tried to tie the grip on negotiations between warring parties in a way that has placed the Western powers and the UN alongside the development of events.

Hunting for Kurdish guerrillas

Turkey’s relationship with Syria has long been poor due to Syria’s support for the Kurdish guerrilla PKK and major Turkish irrigation projects that reduced the flow of water to Syria. Relations improved since Syria broke with the PKK in 1998, and Turkey saw itself as the only Western-friendly state that could talk to Syria. But when it failed to stop the bloody persecution of the Assad regime by the spring 2011 opposition, Turkey instead became one of the driving forces for power change in Syria. The disintegration of the Syrian state aroused strong concern in Turkey that Kurdish groups in Syria could establish some form of self-government along the Turkish border, similar to the conditions in northern Iraq. The Turkish government threatened to intervene if the PKK was allowed to establish new bases on Syrian land.

The civil war in Syria also affected Turkey in a concrete way through a strong current of refugees. The Turkish government estimated that the country would not be able to handle more than 100,000 refugees and proposed that the UN establish a protected zone for refugees on Syrian soil along the border. This rejected the Security Council as unrealistic. Turkey appealed to the EU for greater efforts. In 2013, the crisis in Syria worsened rapidly and the number of Syrians seeking protection in Turkey skyrocketed. In 2019, Turkey hosted more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, one-tenth of which were in the established refugee camps.

Turkey’s attempt to contribute to overthrowing the Syrian regime at all costs is believed to have long left the country’s border with the southern neighbor country open to Sunni Muslim extremists, among them jihadists who would later call themselves Islamic State (IS). Turkey was criticized internationally for devoting more force to fighting Syrian-Kurdish guerrillas than IS. Only in late summer 2016 did Turkey pledge to seriously join the fight against IS and until then accept a continued role for the regime in Damascus. When IS was defeated (in 2019 battles were fought in desert areas that knocked out IS’s last real mounts), it was Kurdish-dominated forces that accounted for the largest efforts, with assistance from the US and other countries. But Turkey has not let go of its focus on Kurdish state-building efforts on Syrian soil. Three Turkish military offensive between 2016 and 2019 have focused on the Kurdish forces that Turkey describes as terrorists. The 2019 invasion, when the president also declared his intention to set up a zone where refugees from Syria would be sent back, took place in the face of deteriorating economy in Turkey and reduced voter support for Erdoğan and his party.

Turkey’s hostile attitude to the Syrian regime has strained relations with one of its most important partners, Iran. The fact that since 2011 NATO has a radar station on Turkish soil as a link in its defense shield against Iranian robots has also deteriorated the relationship. Iran has also criticized Turkey’s support for Sunni groups during the “Arab Spring”, as well as in the civil war in Yemen. However, an agreement in 2014 on increased economic cooperation and trade exchange is considered to have thawed relations. In 2017, Turkey, Iran and Russia rallied behind joint initiatives to end the civil war in Syria, with the condition of leaving Bashar al-Assad as head of state.

Although hundreds of Turkish companies operate in Iraq, the political relations between the countries are cool. By contrast, the AKP government has established relations with the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq and has great trade exchanges with the Iraqi Kurds, but without supporting the idea that they should form an independent Kurdish state. The export of oil directly from Kurdistan to Turkey for a time was condemned by the Iraqi government as illegal.

The Iraqi government is also opposed to the Turkish army’s repeated raids against the PKK on Iraqi soil. At the end of 2015, Iraq turned to the UN Security Council to remove a larger Turkish force. Since 2014, each year the Turkish parliament has extended a scheme that allows Turkish troops to be sent into Iraq and Syria to fight organizations that in Turkey are perceived as terrorist groups.

Cyprus sensitive issue

For historical reasons, Turkey-Greece relations have long been strained, but mutual aid following earthquakes in 1999 near Istanbul and Athens created a rapprochement and was followed by Greece’s veto of Turkish membership negotiations with the EU. Relations have been improving ever since, although it angered the Turkish leadership that the coup attempt in 2016 resulted in opponents of President Erdoğan seeking asylum in Greece. Erdoğan visited Greece in 2017, as the first Turkish President in 65 years. But he astonished his hosts by advocating a review of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, in which modern Turkey’s borders were established after the fall of the Ottoman Empire (see Ancient History).

The most serious conflict with Greece concerns Cyprus. The island, located near the Turkish coast, is divided between Greek Cypriots in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north. The split was completed in 1974, when Turkey invaded northern Cyprus to prevent a military junta in Athens from uniting Cyprus with Greece. Only the Greek Cypriot government is internationally recognized, though not by Turkey. However, the republic proclaimed by the Turkish Cypriots is recognized only by Turkey, which has troops in northern Cyprus.

For many tour nationalists, the Cyprus issue is emotionally charged. Turkey has in the past sometimes threatened to incorporate northern Cyprus, but AKP has taken a softer stance in office. It was probably behind a crucial turn in Cyprus in 2003, when the Turkish Cypriots opened the border between both parts of the island. Among other things, following pressure from the Turkish government, a majority of Turkish Cypriots in 2004 voted in favor of the plan for the reunification of Cyprus presented by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. However, the Greek Cypriots rejected the proposal and thus the Greek Cypriot government came to represent Cyprus when it joined the EU in 2004. Subsequently, Turkey’s refusal to recognize the Greek Cypriot government, and the entry of Cypriot vessels into Turkish ports, has been a major obstacle to the Turkish EU. -membership. Turkey also protests that the Greek Cypriot government has entered into an agreement on the country’s economic zone in the Mediterranean with, among others, Israel, without consulting Turkey or the Turkish Cypriots. Talks about reunification of the island have been held occasionally but not led to agreements.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, new states emerged in Central Asia, inhabited by Turkmen. Turkey’s attempts to approach these peoples have had the greatest success in Azerbaijan, whose language is close to what is spoken in Turkey. Turkish companies are very active in Azerbaijan and Turkey supports the country in its conflict with Armenia.

History casts its shadow over the Turks’ relationship with the Armenians (see Population and Languages) and the Armenian issue also disturbs Turkey’s relations with other countries. A number of countries’ official recognition of the expulsion of the Armenians in 1915 as a genocide has always led Turkey to cool down diplomatic relations for a period of time. For example, this happened to Sweden in 2010.

Against China, the Turkish leadership has made sharp markings after reports of mounting repression against the Uighur people in Xinjiang.

In conjunction with the corona pandemic, Turkey 2020, despite the spread of infection in its own country, has contributed protective equipment to, for example, Italy, Spain and Palestine. And besides, sold drugs to Armenia.

Great defense and military exports

Turkey has one of NATO’s largest military alliances in NATO. It consists of around 600,000 men, including 500,000 conscripts. Since 2014, the general military duty for most people has been going on for twelve months.

Turkey has its own production of tanks, military aircraft, satellites and warships. Drones (unmanned vehicles) have been used by the Turkish military both against Kurdish guerrillas in the country and in warfare on the Syrian side of the border, both for reconnaissance and for assault against, for example, armored vehicles. Both state-run Turkish Aerospace and the company Baykar, run by the president’s US-trained sister-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar, are developing drones.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 260,200 people (2017)

The air Force: 50,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 45,600 Men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.2 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 6.4 percent (2017)

Thailand Defense and Foreign Policy

Thailand Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Thailand is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Bangkok. Thailand has always pursued a pragmatic foreign policy and adapted to new situations. The country can also be described as nationalist with a skepticism about foreign involvement in politics.

thailand military spending and defense budget

After World War II, foreign policy has been markedly Western-friendly, but Thailand is also striving to expand its cooperation with other countries in Southeast Asia. Asean is the most important regional cooperation organization, while Apec is rather aimed at dialogue with the outside world.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Thailand for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Under the military rule in Thailand after the coup in May 2014, contacts with China increased. The Beijing government was quick to express its support for the military junta, and as early as February 2015, an agreement on enhanced defense cooperation was signed. Trade relations have also been strengthened. However, Thailand’s leaders have been hesitant about China’s infrastructure efforts in the region.

Myanmar and Laos

Relations with Myanmar (formerly Burma) have long been strained. Several Myanmar guerrilla groups, not least rebels from minority people shan, operate near the border with Thailand. From time to time, they attack military sites and often reach the Myanmar military’s fire of fire into Thai territory. The Myanmar military junta, in particular, in the 1980s and 1990s accused Thailand of supporting the rebels, which are largely made up of various ethnic minorities. The many Myanmar refugees in Thailand as well as drug trafficking across the border help make the situation problematic.

The democratization process that began in 2011 in Myanmar has facilitated a rapprochement between the two countries, but Myanmar’s tough handling of the minority Rohingy population and the refugee flow to Thailand that has created this has caused new irritation. When Myanmar’s then-president Thein Sein visited Thailand in July 2012, the two countries signed a cooperation agreement. In October 2014, Thai dome leader Prayuth Chan-ocha visited Myanmar as the first country since he became head of government. The leaders of the two countries discussed cooperation in port development, the energy sector and border surveillance. In April 2018, more than 100,000 Myanmar refugees were in nine camps along the border between the two countries.

Relations with Laos have been greatly influenced by the fate of the Hmong refugees. Tens of thousands of members of the hmong folk group, who have experienced harassment and persecution in their homeland of Laos since the 1970s (see Laos, Modern History), have over the years moved to Thailand where they lived as stateless in large refugee camps. In 2006, Thailand and Laos agreed to work together to find a solution to the refugee issue. While thousands of hmong have been granted refugee status in the United States, Thai authorities have been trying to identify the refugees to find out where they come from. However, this work has been slow and the Doctors Without Borders organization has reported bad conditions in the camps. In 2009, Thailand deported about 4,000 hmong refugees to Laos, which received sharp criticism from the US and human rights organizations, among others.

Thailand invests in hydropower development in Laos and most of the electricity generated will be exported to Thailand.

Cambodia

The relationship with Cambodia is also strained. In the 1990s, the Phnom Penh government accused Thai security forces of indirectly supporting the guerrilla movement of the Red Khmer smuggling of timber and gemstones to less prominent Thai buyers. Thousands of Cambodians also fled across the border to Thailand as fighting erupted in the homeland between the military and guerrillas.

After the turn of the millennium, relations improved. In 2001, the countries decided to jointly raise security at the border to curb the smuggling of people, drugs and objects stolen from temples in the Cambodian city of Angkor.

The positive trend reversed when an old conflict over the Preah Vihear temple, located in the border region between countries, flared up in 2008. The triggering factor was the UN body UNESCO’s decision to place the temple on its list of World Heritage Sites in Cambodia. In 1962, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the temple is located in Cambodia, but Thai nationalists have found it difficult to accept. In addition, the boundary line is unclear in parts of the area around the temple.

In connection with the 2008 riots, Thailand and Cambodia mobilized troops at the temple. Soon there were around a thousand soldiers posted on each side. Through negotiations, the forces could be gradually reduced.

Relations deteriorated again in the fall of 2009 when Cambodia offered Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a post as economic government adviser. Thailand’s Abhisit government saw the play as a provocation. In August 2010, Thaksin resigned from the disputed post and full diplomatic relations were restored.

In February 2011, Cambodia turned to the UN with a plea that the World Organization would intervene to end the temple conflict by creating a buffer zone in the area. Following mediation by Asean the same month, an Indonesian observer group was placed on both sides of the border.

Still, new battles flared up in April. It was not until December of that year that the countries agreed on mutual troop retreat, under the supervision of the Indonesian observers. In April 2012, the two countries decided to jointly clear mines at Preah Vihear, and in July a gradual troop retreat was initiated.

In November 2013, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the disputed land areas around Preah Vihear belong to Cambodia. The court urged Thailand to withdraw all its soldiers, police and border guards from the areas.

Relations with Cambodia were strained once again in connection with the coup against Yingluck Shinawatra in May 2014, but strengthened again after Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen visited the coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha in Bangkok again.

Other Southeast Asian countries

The revolt among Muslim residents of southern Thailand (read more here) has periodically caused tension in relations with Malaysia, which has been accused by Thailand of supporting the separatists. Relations improved when Malaysia in 1998 promised to cease its support and a number of rebel leaders could be arrested. When the uprising escalated in 2004 and was met with harsh methods by the Thaksin government, relations with Malaysia again deteriorated.

The contacts gradually grew warmer during the military-led transitional government in 2007-2008 and during the Abhisit government in 2008–2011. The Yingluck government in 2011–2014 made new attempts to reduce tensions in the conflict area, but the results were slim. Relations with Malaysia were relatively unproblematic under military rule after spring 2014.

Thailand’s relationship with Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore is good. With Indonesia, Thailand collaborates primarily on agricultural development, energy and fisheries.

USA and Russia

Thailand has long cultivated good contacts with the United States and annually the two countries hold joint military exercises. Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, Thailand pushed for a regional anti-terrorism policy within ASEAN. When the US-led invasion of Iraq began in 2003, Thailand declared itself “neutral” but still sent 400 soldiers to Iraq.

More recently, Thailand’s relations with the United States have cooled down, partly as a result of other countries, such as China, increasing in importance to Thailand and partly because of the military coups in Thailand in 2006 and 2014. The coup against the Thaksin government in 2006 was condemned by the Western countries and the US withdrew its military support to Thailand for two years. The 2014 military coup was also criticized by the US and other western countries. The US again froze its military support for the country and EU foreign ministers canceled official visits to and from Thailand. In October 2017, Prime Minister Prayuth was invited to the White House by US President Donald Trump. In December of that year, the Union resumed political contacts with Thailand “at all levels”.

After the 2014 military coup, Thailand sought closer contacts with Russia, whose relations with the Western world as well as Thailand had deteriorated in recent times. As the first Russian head of government in a quarter of a century, Dimitri Medvedev visited Thailand in April 2015. The countries agreed to expand cooperation in a number of areas, including drug fight, tourism, trade and investment. The two countries also decided that Russia should help Thailand develop its energy sector.

Defense

The military is a political power factor and has intervened on a number of occasions in the political process through coups, most recently against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government in May 2014. Until then, the defense underwent a long-term reform aimed at creating a professional and unpolitical military power, to a slightly smaller size. than the previous one. Large sums are invested in modernizing the defense equipment through the purchase of new tanks, artillery and frigates. The equipment is mainly purchased from the US but in recent years arms imports from China have increased. The general military duty is two years.

In 2015, China and Thailand agreed to increase military cooperation through more joint exercises, increased technological exchange and cheaper arms exports from China to Thailand. China also promised not to interfere in Thailand’s internal affairs, something Thailand thought the US had done recently by demanding that the state of emergency be lifted.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 245 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 46,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 69 850 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.4 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 1.0 percent (2017)

2006

October

Military-led government takes over power

Retired General Surayud Chulanont is appointed acting prime minister for a military-led transitional government.

September

Thaksin is deposed in a military coup

The military deposes Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his government in a bloody coup. Thaksin is currently attending a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Tajikistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Tajikistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Tajikistan is a nation in Central Asia. Its capital city is Dushanbe. The world’s great powers have all interests in the security-unstable region in which Tajikistan is located. Russia and China belong to the immediate area, and the United States has an extensive military presence in the region. With the Central Asian neighbors, Tajikistan has a partially strained relationship.

tajikistan military spending and defense budget

Across the border with Afghanistan, much of the heroin that eventually reaches Europe is smuggled in, and the drug trade largely funds extremists active in the area.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Tajikistan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Following the terrorist attacks against the United States in September 2001, the US military was allowed to use air bases in Tajikistan for the ensuing war in Afghanistan. That cooperation brought economic benefits to Tajikistan.

Relations with Russia

The collaboration also disrupted relations with Russia, which opposed the US presence. It contributed to the withdrawal of the Russian border border against Afghanistan in 2005. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia had left a large border force to prevent drug smuggling and the infiltration of militant Islamists. Now, the Tajiks themselves took over the assignment, albeit with contributions from both Russia and elsewhere to accomplish the task.

Russia was also given the right to set up its first permanent military base in Tajikistan. With its 7,000 men, the military base in Dushanbe is one of Russia’s largest abroad. The Russians also regained control of a former Soviet space surveillance center in Nurek. Moscow also agreed to write off most of Tajikistan’s debt.

The countries agreed in 2012 that the Russian military may stay in the country until 2042. Russia will also help modernize Tajikistan’s defense. In 2017, cooperation with Russia strengthened again in guarding the border with Afghanistan. The backdrop was the Taliban’s success there.

The difficult situation of the Tajik guest workers in Russia creates some tension in relation to Moscow.

Relations with Uzbekistan

Tajikistan has cooperated politically and militarily with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to fight extremists. The efforts have been directed, among other things, at the Taliban-allied Uzbek Islamist movement (IMU), which has waged guerrilla war against several regimes in the region. Another extremist movement moving across borders is Hizb ut-Tahrir. The extensive troop retreat from Afghanistan launched by the United States and its NATO allies in 2014 raised concerns that Islamists in the region would be given new leeway and in the long term threaten not only the Kabul government but also the neighboring countries. However, a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan slowed the troop retreat and in 2017, US President Donald Trump pledged more troops to Afghanistan.

Relations with Uzbekistan were very strained until the death of Uzbek President Karimov in 2016. Uzbekistan saw Tajikistan as a weak link in the fight against terrorism. The neighboring country also protested against Tajik’s plans to build hydroelectric power stations that it believed would threaten downstream water supply, in Uzbekistan. It led from 2009 to recurring blockades of rail transport to Tajikistan across the border, to prevent equipment from reaching the dam project Rogun (see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment). From 2012, Uzbekistan also stopped the important supply of natural gas to Tajikistan, which protested against high gas prices. The countries have accused each other of espionage and environmental destruction across the border.

Following the change of president in Uzbekistan, a gradual approach has taken place between the two states. One of President Mirzijoyev’s main election promises when he was elected Uzbekistan’s president in 2016 was to improve relations with neighboring countries. In 2017, flights between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan resumed after a 25-year hiatus. In March 2018, a number of border crossings were opened which have been closed since 2001. When Mirzijoev visited President Rahmon in Dushanbe the same month, the two leaders agreed to scrap the visa requirement that has existed since 2000 for travel between the two neighboring countries. Uzbek and Tajiks should be able to spend 30 days in each other’s countries without a visa.

Unlike Karimov, Mirziojev does not oppose Tajikistan’s construction of the dam project Rogun. As a result, Tajikistan began to re-export electricity to Uzbekistan after an interruption since 2009, while Uzbekistan resumed gas supplies to Tajikistan. In September 2018, for the first time, the two neighboring countries conducted a joint counterterrorism exercise, in Tajikistan.

Other important relationships

Also with Kyrgyzstan there are tensions regarding water and land use along the largely unmarked border in the Fergana Valley and in two Tajik exclaves located in Kyrgyzstan. Smaller screen savers occur regularly.

With China, there has been a protracted dispute over the border crossing in the Pamir Mountains. It was reported to have been resolved in 2011, through an agreement that means that Tajikistan will relinquish more than 1,000 square kilometers or close to 0.8 percent of its territory to its neighbor. China has become Tajikistan’s largest bilateral lender. The neighboring giant has provided favorable loans for major road construction and expansion of the electricity grid, and has invested mainly in Tajik gold mining. During the 2010s, China has shown increasing interest in the security situation in Central Asia due to fears that militant Islamism will spread to the Uighur minority in the Chinese Xinjiang region.

Relations with Afghanistan improved significantly after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. To Iran, Tajikistan has strong ethnic and linguistic ties and the countries cooperate on economic and military issues. However, relations with Iran were strained from 2015 when the Iranian government received a notorious militant Islamist leader.

Tajikistan participates in several regional cooperation bodies, in addition to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which consists of the majority of former Soviet republics. The country was part of the Eurasec Economic Community (Eurasec), which was formed in 2000 between Russia, Belarus and four Central Asian states (Turkmenistan stood outside). Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed in 2014 to move forward and form the Euro-Asian Economic Union (EEU) from January 1, 2015. Tajikistan does not belong to the countries that are in turn to join the EEU. China (but not Belarus) also participates in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) security cooperation. However, the various attempts to increase integration in the region have so far not yielded a major dividend.

Defense

Tajikistan’s defense is poorly equipped. Two years of general military duty prevails, but those who can afford can often buy themselves free, which is why most of the soldiers are from poor families. It is reported that students who are really excluded and men who have passed military service are kidnapped and forced to join the army. Systematic violence against conscripts is also a problem. The military is often accused of involvement in the extensive drug smuggling operation.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 7,300 men (2017)

The air Force: 1,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.2 percent (2015)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 3.8 percent (2015)

2004

October

Russian military base

Russia opens a military base and takes control of the former Soviet space center in Nurek.

2003

June

Rachmonov can remain until 2020

A constitutional amendment is approved in a referendum, which means that President Rachmonov can remain in power for two more seven-year terms from the 2006 election.

2001

September

The United States is offered support

Tajikistan provides support for the alliance against terrorism created by the United States following the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11.

2000

February

Rachmonov’s party wins elections

Elections for a new two-chamber parliament are held. Rachmonov’s party The People’s Democratic Party wins big.

Taiwan Defense and Foreign Policy

Taiwan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Taiwan is a nation in Eastern Asia. Its capital city is Taipei. Taiwan’s situation is unique in the world. The Republic of China, as it is officially called, is recognized by only a few small states in the Pacific, Latin America and Africa. They thereby receive extensive assistance from Taiwan, and refrain from having relations with the People’s Republic of China. No country can simultaneously recognize and maintain official relations with both Beijing and Taipei.

Taiwan Defense and Foreign Policy

In practice, Taiwan acts as an independent country, with its own territory, its own government and its own unofficial foreign relations. Dozens of countries have representation in Taiwan, despite the lack of diplomatic recognition.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Taiwan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The Taiwan government – which until 2000 was constituted by the Nationalist Party Kuomintang – considered, like Beijing, that there was only one China, which includes Taiwan. But from Taiwanese point of view this China was the Republic of China with its 1947 Constitution and not the Communist-led People’s Republic.

However, the Democratic Party (DPP) has wanted to see Taiwan as independent and independent from the mainland. DPP President Chen Shui-bian’s distinctive independence policy (2000-2008) caused Taipei and Beijing to collide.

When Kuomintang returned to power, then President Ma Ying-jeou’s goal was to maintain the status quo in relation to China based on the promise “no independence, no reunification, no war”. However, the increased cooperation across the Taiwan Strait was based on continued agreement between the parties that there is only “one China” – but understood that there are different interpretations of what this means in Beijing and Taipei respectively. Beijing’s hope was that economic cooperation would lead to political rapprochement, which in turn would make the Taiwanese more positive to a reunification.

Diplomatic truce

In 2008, China and Taiwan agreed on a “diplomatic cease-fire” which meant that they would not try to steal each other’s diplomatic allies. When China allowed Taiwan to participate with observer status at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual meeting in 2009, it was a sign that new winds were blowing. Taiwan had long been completely excluded from the UN and its many sub-bodies. Since the early 1990s, Taiwan has repeatedly sought membership in the UN alongside China, with no results.

In the spring of 2017, however, the wind had returned. For the first time since 2009, Taiwan was not invited to attend the WHO Annual Meeting, which was because relations had deteriorated with Beijing since Tsai Ing-wen took over the 2016 presidential post (see below). In 2018, too, Taiwan was left outside the WHO meeting, despite intensive lobbying by the Tsai government.

Most Taiwanese are aware that neither reunification nor formal international recognition of Taiwan as an independent state is realistic or even desirable in a short-term perspective. If Taiwan were to declare independence, there is a clear risk that China would attack militarily. And if Taiwan were to agree to the form of reunification with the People’s Republic of China that applies to Hong Kong and that Beijing also advocates for Taiwan – under the formula “one country, two systems” – sooner or later it would mean a loss of actual sovereignty, and probably also the democratic freedoms.

The development of relations with Beijing

For close to 40 years everything connected with the mainland was forbidden. From the late 1980s, family visits as well as business, science and journalism trips were first allowed. Then direct mail and telephone connections were established. In 1990, the locks for mass tourism from Taiwan to the mainland were opened, and the following year the plan to formally recapture China was withdrawn. The trade, which was for a long time forbidden, but which was still conducted through middlemen mainly Hong Kong, was now completely open. In 1992, the governments established contact with each other through special semi-official organizations with high status that maintained relations over the Taiwan Strait.

The cautious opening was temporarily interrupted between 1995 and 1996, when a serious crisis in the Taiwan Strait reminded the outside world of the fundamental contradictions between China and Taiwan. The trigger was President Lee Teng-ho’s private visit to the United States in June 1995. Lee was considered too independent of Beijing. China conducted a series of demonstrative military exercises in the mainland-Taiwan strait.

The crisis gradually faded and when China returned to Hong Kong in 1997, Beijing reiterated its offer to apply the Hong Kong formula “one country, two systems” even in the case of Taiwan. However, the Taipei government emphasized that a reunion required a stable democracy with a functioning market economy on the mainland.

When Chen Shui-bian and DPP took power in 2000, relations with the mainland became more strained (see Modern History). In 2005, China passed a law that formally gave the country the right to take military means if Taiwan tried to declare its independence.

The approach to China

But despite the confrontations, cooperation was expanded across the strait. In 2005, the parties agreed to allow direct flights between China and Taiwan, for the first time since the end of the war in 1949.

The change of government in 2008, when Kuomintang returned to power, marked the beginning of a fast approach between Taiwan and China. A large number of agreements were entered into, among other things, airline connections were greatly expanded and investments across the strait grew. China sent panda bears to a zoo in Taipei, in a gesture of deep symbolic value, and in 2010, China and Taiwan signed a trade agreement, which in media was described as “historic” (see Foreign Trade).

In early 2014, the first official government-level talks between China and Taiwan were held since 1949 and in the fall of 2015, the presidents of China and Taiwan met for the first time in Singapore.

Tense position after change of power

After the change of power in Taiwan in January 2016, the climate between China and Taiwan became immediately cooler. DPP party leader Tsai Ing-wen said when she took office as president in May 2016 that she wanted a “positive dialogue” with the Chinese government. But she also stressed the importance of preserving Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, which was hardly appreciated by the Chinese leadership. Beijing highlighted its dissatisfaction with the new Taiwanese leadership by suspending official contacts with Taipei from the summer of 2016, while also beginning to counter Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and conferences. The main reason for Beijing’s dissatisfaction with Tsai Ing-wen has been her refusal to express her support for the one-China agreement.

Subsequently, the tension between Beijing and Taipei has increased. Beijing for a diplomatic war to isolate Taiwan, not least with the help of the wallet, which has led countries, which previously had official relations with Taiwan, terminated contact with Taipei to cultivate relations with the People’s Republic instead. In addition, Beijing has demanded that other countries send suspected Taiwanese to the People’s Republic instead of Taiwan and airlines, hotels, international clothing companies and others have been pressured not to list Taiwan as their own country outside China.

The security situation has also deteriorated and some observers again warn of the risk of a military conflict. China has conducted several military exercises near Taiwan and the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning has traveled in the Taiwan Strait. Beijing’s military demonstrations of power have, in turn, been met by military exercises from Taiwan and planned defense efforts.

Assessors have wondered how long Beijing is prepared to wait to achieve its reunification goal. The threat of military action remains. China has around 1,200 robots targeting Taiwan and has focused on extensive military armaments throughout the 2000s.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned Taiwan to act for independence, which would face a penalty “of historical proportions” and said it will not leave it to future generations to solve the Taiwan problem.

Relations with the United States

Until 1971, Taiwan was represented in the UN but was then forced to give up its place in the World Organization for the benefit of the People’s Republic of China. Most countries broke ties with the Taipei government at the same time, but its most important friend and ally, the United States, remained on Taiwan’s side for a few more years. However, in 1978, Washington also ended the diplomatic relations with Taipei and recognized the following year the People’s Republic of China. Despite this, ties between Taiwan and the United States remained strong. The US Embassy in Taiwan was replaced by the “American Institute”, which essentially functions in the same way, but lacks official status. Washington has been careful to highlight that hostile actions against Taiwan would be “a matter of concern” for the United States – without directly saying what that would mean. The United States has called on both Taipei and Beijing not to jeopardize the relative stability that currently exists. However, as China-US relations are strained by trade conflicts, China’s growing regional power and territorial claims in the South China Sea, concerns have increased in Taiwan for it to become a chip in a diplomatic game between the major powers.

Since the reciprocal security pact with the United States expired in 1979, Taiwan has been outside all military alliances but maintained close contact with the United States. The US Congress passed a special “Taiwan law” in 1979 that guarantees Taiwan’s security and continued arms supplies. The protests from China have been loud as the US conducted arms sales to Taiwan. The reactions in Beijing are considered by analysts to be one of the reasons why the US did not want to sell over-advanced weapons to Taiwan.

In connection with the US taking a more confrontational line with China under President Donald Trump towards the end of the 2010, Washington quickly approved two sales of military equipment – summer 2017 and autumn 2018 – to Taiwan. The business was heavily criticized by China.

Relations with Asian neighbors

Taiwan has a network of trade offices, cultural institutes, aviation and shipping offices and similar establishments abroad and is active in various forms of economic cooperation around the Pacific, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the economic cooperation body Apec.

Taiwan, like China, is involved in border disputes in the South and East China Sea with other countries in the region. However, in the spring of 2013, Taiwan and Japan found a way to deal with tensions around the Senkaku archipelago (called Diaoyutai in Taiwan) when an agreement was reached that Taiwanese fishing boats would be allowed to fish near the archipelago controlled by Japan. The initiative could be interpreted as a way for the Taipei government to assert Taiwan’s position as an independent, separate actor. The fisheries agreement was sharply criticized by Beijing.

Taiwan wants a modern defense with a smaller, efficient military and well-functioning weapons technology. But the weak economic development in the 2010s has meant that the government has not reached the goal that defense spending should amount to 3 percent of GDP.

The goal is to withstand attacks from the militarily significantly stronger China long enough for the US to come to the rescue and for an invasion to have a high enough price to deter it.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 130 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 45,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 40,000 men (2017)

Syria Defense and Foreign Policy

Syria Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Syria is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city Damascus. Syria has long had conflicting relations with the outside world, but the Assad regime has also skillfully exploited Syria’s influence in neighboring countries, in order to gain support and financial assistance. Relations with Lebanon and the conflict with Israel have long characterized the government’s foreign policy. Since 2011, however, the focus has been entirely on finding allies in the ongoing civil war.

syria military spending and defense budget

Syria has fought three wars against Israel, 1948-1949, 1967 and 1973, and also fought against Israel inside Lebanon during the 1980s. Formally, wars still exist between them. Many Palestinian refugees from today’s Israel live in Syria. President Hafiz al-Assad strongly opposed Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel in 1979, and Syria has continued to support Palestinian organizations that do not recognize Israel’s existence and refuse to participate in peace talks.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Syria for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The major dispute between Syria and Israel concerns the Golan Heights that Israel conquered in 1967. A total Israeli retreat from occupied territories is Syria’s basic requirement. There is also conflict between Lebanon, Syria and Israel about the so-called Sheba farms, which are at the intersection of southeastern Lebanon, southwestern Syria and northern Israel. The 25-square-kilometer area was occupied by Israel during the six-day war in 1967. Israel claims that the area belongs to the Golan Heights while the UN believes its maps show that Shebaa is Syrian territory, which Lebanon in turn questions.

During the 2011 civil war in Syria, Israel first pursued a cautiously neutral policy. Later, targets began to be bombed inside Syria, suspected of being Syrian and Iranian weapons deliveries to Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah, which occasionally conflicts with Israel and has also been actively involved in the civil war in Syria (see Calendar). Israel has also repeatedly opened fire on Syrian army forces following fires in the Golan area.

Long presence in Lebanon

Syria had long been unwilling to accept that Lebanon became a separate area of ​​mandate in 1920 (see Older History) and refused to diplomatically recognize the independent state of Lebanon in 1943. Not all parts of the common border are formally regulated either. In 1976, Syria intervened in Lebanon’s civil war and gradually strengthened the Syrian influence. In practice, no political decisions were made in Beirut that had not been approved by Syria. The Syrian security service persecuted and silenced oppositionists.

According to the 1989 Taif Agreement in Saudi Arabia, which ended the civil war, the Syrian army would withdraw within two years to the Bekaa Valley in the east, but Syria did not follow the agreement. The government justified this with Israel occupying the disputed area of ​​the Sheba farms.

Following the assassination of Lebanese politician Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005, the demands of the UN and many states were tightened on a Syrian retreat from Lebanon (see Lebanon: Modern History). From several directions, Syria and pro-Syrian forces in Lebanon were accused of being behind the murder. Following Arab pressure, Syria accepted UN demands and in late April, the last soldiers left Lebanon after 29 years of presence. However, the UN continued to criticize Syria, which was accused of sending arms to Hezbollah.

Only after a multi-year political crisis in Lebanon had been resolved and a new unifying government formed could relations between Syria and Lebanon be improved, in principle by Syria’s opponents giving up and accepting continued influence for Bashar al-Assad in Lebanon. In October 2008, for the first time, full diplomatic relations were established between the countries. Syria has liaised with various groups in Lebanon for different periods, but since the beginning of the 21st century, it has relied primarily on Hezbollah and other Shiite groups, as well as on certain Christian groups. About half of Lebanon’s population supports Assad-friendly parties, while the other half supports Assad-hostile parties, including most Sunni Muslims. Hezbollah is actively involved in the Syrian civil war.

Relations with the great powers

Syria worked closely with Eastern Europe, not least militarily, until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Contacts with Russia have been maintained since 1991 and during the civil war of 2011, Russia has served as an important ally to the Syrian regime. In early autumn 2015, at the request of the Syrian government, Russia launched anti-rebel forces. For Russia, it was about guarding Syria as Moscow’s oldest ally in the Middle East (Russia’s only foreign war base is located in the Syrian port city of Tartus), but also about building up its own superpower role in the region. The Russian efforts have intensified during the war and helped the government side recover land from rebels.

Damascus has also sought better relations with the western countries, not least the former colonial power of France and the United States, but Syria is on the US list of states that support terrorism and was thus excluded from US aid even before the civil war. In 2004, the United States resumed sanctions on Syria for the Assad regime hosting Palestinian terror groups, but above all for Syrian “volunteers” crossing the border into Iraq and helping to fight the US occupation forces there after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Syria’s close friendship with Iran was also a red blanket for the United States.

However, Washington has not been able to completely ignore Syria. For the United States, cooperation with Syria was a key to initiating the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s and to stabilize the situation in Lebanon. After taking office as US President in early 2009, Barack Obama attempted to initiate a dialogue with Syria. In 2010, he decided to send a new ambassador to Damascus, the first in almost six years. When the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, the United States first tried to call for a compromise solution, but Obama demanded in August 2011 Assad’s departure. Subsequently, the United States was drawn step by step into the conflict, but Obama resisted all demands for military intervention against Assad and tried to get the parties to conclude a unity government agreement. Since 2013, the United States has been openly supporting certain rebel groups to pressure Assad and try to increase its own influence over the rebels. In the fall of 2014, a US-led alliance began to bomb the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria. IS has since been driven away from most of its holdings, prompting Obama’s successor Donald Trump to make a decision to take home the US squad (despite opposition from both the US Defense Headquarters and Trump’s own party). In both spring 2017 and spring 2018, the United States initiated the bombing of places where the Assad regime was supposed to store nuclear weapons or substances that could be used for combat gas. which prompted Obama’s successor Donald Trump to make a decision to take home the US troops (despite opposition both from the US Defense Headquarters and from Trump’s own party). In both spring 2017 and spring 2018, the United States initiated the bombing of places where the Assad regime was supposed to store nuclear weapons or substances that could be used for combat gas. which prompted Obama’s successor Donald Trump to make a decision to take home the US troops (despite opposition both from the US Defense Headquarters and from Trump’s own party). In both spring 2017 and spring 2018, the United States initiated the bombing of places where the Assad regime was supposed to store nuclear weapons or substances that could be used for combat gas.

The EU was previously Syria’s most important trading partner and an association agreement had been negotiated but not signed by Syria when the war broke out. In 2011, the EU imposed sanctions on Syria and from August that year demanded Assad’s departure. Britain and France have been pushing for support for Syria’s rebels, while the majority of EU states, including Sweden, have been pushing a more cautious line. Germany, which has received a large number of refugees from Syria, has become the arena for some of the judicial trials that are taking place. This applies to both crimes committed by the Assad regime and atrocities staged by the Islamic State (IS), see Calendar.

Disputes with neighboring states

Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has been Syria’s closest ally in the region, mainly because they have shared interests in the view of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Israel and Lebanon, among others. Both countries have also been subject to US sanctions. In the civil war, Iran supports the government side with money, weapons and soldiers. For the Iranian government, it is also important that Syria acts as a willing transit country for deliveries to Iran’s key allied Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Relations with Iraq have swung back and forth. Until 2003, Syria and Iraq were ruled by competing branches of the Baath Party and there was fierce rivalry between the countries. During the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, Damascus stood on Iran’s side. Syria also participated in the UN-backed alliance that drove Iraq’s occupation forces out of Kuwait in 1991.

For financial reasons, however, some trade with Iraq was resumed in 1998, including those that violated UN sanctions on Iraq. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Syria received more than one million Iraqi refugees, including Saddam followers and Iraqi Christians. At the end of 2006, the states resumed diplomatic relations, which had been interrupted since 1982. Since 2011, Iraq’s Shiite-led and Iran-friendly government has kept a low profile on the Syrian issue, although over time its support for the Assad government has escalated. The two governments have been allied in the fight against the Sunni Muslim extremist group Islamic State (IS), which, having subjugated large areas in both Iraq and Syria, has now been displaced and lost most of its influence, although the group is still seen as a potentially threatening.

Relations with Turkey have long been strained for several reasons: Turkish irrigation projects that jeopardize the flow of water to Syria, the Kurdish issue and the role of Israel. Turkey’s military cooperation with Israel has been considered a threat in Syria. Turkey’s accusations against Syria for supporting the Kurdish guerrilla PKK, which operates in Turkey, threatened in 1998 to lead to armed conflict. Following pressure from the United States, Syria decided to stop PKK’s operations in the country and expel leader Abdullah Öcalan. Thereafter, relations between the countries improved significantly and Turkey sought to mediate between Syria and Israel. In 2011, however, Turkey swung and began to support the Syrian opposition. The divide between Turkey and the Syrian government increased when the Assad regime in 2012 allowed the Kurds to establish a zone in northern Syria where PKK-loyal Kurdish groups could operate (see Political system). The Turkish government has also aired claims on Assad’s case and the countries have been involved in several military incidents. Since Turkey began to engage militarily in the conflict on Syrian soil in 2014, including through air strikes, the country has focused primarily on fighting the PKK-loyal groups in Syria and the regions, called Rojava, where a form of Kurdish state building has been underway.. In 2019, Turkey’s defense force launched its third military offensive in northern Syria since 2016. However, the peace initiative with Russia and Iran that Turkey is involved in is in practice a support for the Assad government. Turkey’s efforts against Kurdish forces also benefit Assad, which has clearly stated its intention to reclaim the entire territory of Syria, including Rojava.

Jordan and Syria have historically often had tense relationships, as they have had different allies and belonged to different power blocks. Jordan has stood close to the United States, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the Sunni states of the Persian Gulf, and has pursued a cautious policy against Israel. During the 2011 civil war, Jordan has taken on a less prominent role than most of Syria’s neighboring countries, worrying about the large influx of refugees. However, the Jordanian leadership has accepted that the United States, Saudi Arabia and other countries finance and train rebels from Jordanian soil.

Defense

Before 2011, Syria’s defense force was one of the largest in the Arab world. Its leadership is closely linked to the political elite. From 1956 the defense was equipped almost entirely with weapons from the Soviet bloc and after the defeat of Israel in the October 1973 war, thousands of Soviet military advisers were stationed in Syria. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Syria no longer has access to the most modern equipment but still buys weapons from Russia and to a certain extent also from Belarus, China and North Korea.

Tens of thousands of soldiers have been killed, wounded or deserted by the Syrian army since 2011. Conscription soldiers are still used, but Assad is increasingly forced to rely on loyal special forces and militia, not least those recruited among Alawites, the religious group he himself belongs to. Russia has continued to support the Syrian army following the outbreak of the war in 2011, not least through aerial bombings against both IS and the rebel strongholds. Iran has contributed weapons, military training and financing of Syrian weapons purchases, and by mobilizing Shiite Muslim militia forces from Iraq and Lebanon in support of Assad.

For decades, Syria had built up a large stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the form of nerve gases. Following reports that nerve gas was used against the rebels in 2013, the United States threatened to intervene, which led Syria to abandon chemical weapons in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014. However, the government has been accused of using both sarin and improvised chlorine gas bombs even after this. Syria has also been accused of wanting to develop nuclear weapons. In 2007, Israel bombed what was claimed to be a nuclear reactor under construction in eastern Syria.

During the Civil War, a large number of militia forces have also emerged on the government side, many but far from all recruited from the religious minorities. The largest umbrella group that gathers such forces is called the National Defense Forces and consists of a variety of regional groups, which in many cases appear to have been funded and trained with the help of Iran. Other groups include, for example, the Baath Battalions, which fall under the ruling Baath Party. Foreign Shiite Muslim militias from Iraq and Iraq, such as Hezbollah, are also fighting the Syrian government, as well as some small Christians and other groups. Together, these militia forces now constitute a very significant part of the troops that Assad relies on.

Mandatory military service applies to all men from 18 years. The length of military service has been gradually reduced since the 1990s and in 2011 it was reduced to one and a half years.

For the rebel forces, see Political system.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 105,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 15,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 2,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 4.1 percent (2010)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 13.6 percent (2010)

Sri Lanka Defense and Foreign Policy

Sri Lanka Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Sri Lanka is a nation in Southern Asia. Its capital city is Colombo; Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte. Under the leftist Rajapaksa government (2005–2015), Sri Lanka gradually approached China and eventually became heavily indebted to Beijing. Cooperation continued under President Sirisena, who, however, initially sought to reduce dependence on China. After the end of the civil war in 2009, Sri Lanka has been on a collision course with the UN and the Western world, demanding that the country go to the bottom with allegations of serious war crimes.

sri lanka military spending and defense budget

During the Cold War, Sri Lanka was a leading country in the so-called alliance-free movement, although the principle of freedom of alliance has been interpreted in different ways by different governments. Right-wing UNP governments have usually had a more Western-friendly attitude than the more left-leaning SLFP governments, which have won a friendly relationship with China, among others.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Sri Lanka for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

After the end of the Cold War, the importance of alliance-free status diminished. Instead, Sri Lanka’s main foreign policy issue was to try to persuade the outside world to distance itself from the separatists in the country, the so-called Tamil Liberation Tigers (LTTE).

Tight relationship with the western world

In the US, Canada and the EU, there were large groups of exile Tamils ​​during the war, and the Lankan government believed that many of them contributed financially to the LTTE guerrillas. The United States labeled the “Tamil Tigers” as a terrorist group in 1997 and the EU followed after 2006. The terrorist stamp was a financial setback for LTTE, as economic assets were frozen and guerrilla leaders were barred from entering the countries in question.

After the war, the suspicions of war crimes have, above all, negatively affected Sri Lanka’s traditionally good relations with the United States, as the United States has been driving behind resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. In the spring of 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling on Sri Lanka to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations of war crimes at the end of the civil war. Since Rajapaksa rejected the UN injunction, the Council repeated its call for new resolutions in 2013 and 2014. When these were also rejected by Sri Lanka, the Council proposed an international investigation. Sri Lanka dismissed the claims as “neo-colonialism”.

When the Sirisena government took office in 2015, the US and the rest of the Western world came closer. On a visit to Sri Lanka in May of the same year, US Secretary of State John Kerry praised Sirisena’s quest for reconciliation with the Tamils. But despite promises of war crimes investigations, nothing concrete has happened during the time of the Sirisans in power.

Strong ties to India

Sri Lanka has strong historical and cultural ties to India which has a large Tamil population. Among the Indian Tamils ​​who mainly live in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, many are committed to the cause of the Tamil people.

Relations between the countries were long strained by India supporting the struggle of the Sri Lankan Tamils. However, after India’s failed involvement in the Sri Lankan civil conflict in the late 1980s (see Modern History), the New Delhi government took a more cautious stance. When the LTTE then ordered the assassination of the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the guerrillas lost their support and the two countries saw a common enemy in the Tamil extremist group.

After the war, India has been heavily involved in rebuilding the Tamil-dominated areas in the north, among other things by financing house construction and lending money for road, bridge and other infrastructure repairs. India is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner and has also invested in the energy sector.

In 2012-2013, the condition was strained by India voting for the UN resolutions mentioned above. India’s position was decided by then a Tamil Nadu-based party sitting in the Indian coalition government. India now stands on Sri Lanka’s side in the UN Human Rights Council polls.

President Sirisena’s first state visit in February 2015 went to India, and diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries have been strengthened during Sirisen’s time in power. India maintained a low profile during the political crisis that erupted in Sri Lanka in the fall of 2018, when a power struggle at the highest political level paralyzed large parts of the state leadership (see Current Politics).

Dependent on China

When relations with the West deteriorated during the Rajapaksa government, Sri Lanka turned its eyes on other countries, primarily China but also Russia and Iran.

Relations with China were significantly strengthened during Rajapaksa’s time as president. China has invested a lot of money in Sri Lanka, especially in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Among other things, a harbor and an airport have been built in President Rajapaksa’s home province of Hambantota.

The Sirisena government first tried to distance itself from China, including interrupting a major Chinese-funded infrastructure project in the port of Colombia. In 2016, however, the project was resumed, which was completed in 2019. At the end of 2017, China was allowed to lease the port of Hambantota for 99 years as part of Beijing’s major infrastructure initiative BRI (Belt and Road Initiative, or New Silk Road). In exchange, Sri Lanka got some of its loans to Beijing renegotiated.

When it comes to conflict with the UN, China is a reliable partner. China, as a rule, emphasizes the right of all countries to manage their own affairs without external interference. Consequently, China has voted against the resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on Sri Lanka.

Good relationship with Pakistan

Pakistan, too (like Russia) has stood on Sri Lanka’s side in the conflict with the UN. Pakistan assisted the Lankan government with large quantities of weapons during the war and, after the end of the war, has focused on strengthening ties with Colombo. Trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is great. The countries have also agreed to cooperate in export, education and research on agriculture.

Defense

Military service is optional. During the Civil War, defense spending was high and in connection with the final offensive many new soldiers were recruited. According to estimates, around 150,000 army soldiers participated in the battles against the LTTE guerrillas in 2009. The Tamil guerrillas are estimated to have had around 10,000 men under arms. After the war there were plans to lose the armed forces, but they have remained relatively large.

The military is not just devoted to defense. In the Northern Province, the military regulates large parts of daily life and throughout the country the military has obtained employment and extra income by engaging in tourism, agriculture and infrastructure projects. Since 2013, the army can be deployed to maintain the general order.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 200,000 Men (2017)

The air Force: 28 000 men (2017)

The fleet: 15,000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.2 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 11.0 percent (2017)

South Korea Defense and Foreign Policy

South Korea Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, South Korea is a nation in Eastern Asia. Its capital city is Seoul. The Cold War between the East and the West and the Korean Peninsula have characterized South Korea’s foreign policy since the state was founded in 1948. The Korean Peninsula is one of the most militarized areas in the world. Formally, war permits still exist between North and South Korea, as the 1953 ceasefire agreement was not followed by any peace agreement.

south korea military spending and defense budget

Both South Korea and North Korea aim to reunite the Korean peninsula. However, the political and military contradictions have been too great, and in South Korea the enormous financial burden it would take to take responsibility for the poor North Korea’s development.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in South Korea for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Attempts to dialogue between South and North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s produced poor results. After the end of the Cold War around 1990, a cautious approach began and in 1991 North Korea gave up its opposition to UN membership for both countries, and the two Koreas were elected to the World Organization. The following year, a broad cooperation agreement came into force.

Kim Dae-Jung, president of South Korea in 1998–2003, worked purposefully for better relations with North Korea despite a series of North Korean cross-border intrusions. In 1999, however, North Korean and South Korean naval vessels fired at each other for the first time since the Korean War, with many casualties as a result. Nevertheless, contacts between the two countries were not interrupted. In June 2000, a summit was held between Kim Dae-Jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang. Among other things, they decided on financial cooperation and meetings for families who lived apart for half a century. At the Sydney Olympics that same year, South and North Korea’s participants marched in together.

New tensions

After the turn of the millennium, tension in the Korean Peninsula increased. Many deaths were claimed in 2002 during a fire in the Yellow Sea. Following an apology from North Korea for provocation, work began on restoring road and rail links.

The international six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program begun in 2003 between North Korea and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States broke down in 2006, and the same year North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. Despite tensions, the countries’ economic cooperation projects in North Korea continued: the Kaesong industrial zone and the tourist resort on Kumgang Mountain.

The second Korea summit held in Pyongyang in 2007 paved the way for better relations, but promises of peace talks ran out in the sand. Under the conservative president Lee Myung-Bak, from 2007 a new hard line was launched against North Korea. South Korea demanded that the nuclear agreement be complied with in order to provide assistance and support. North Korea responded by closing the border between the countries, stopping tourist travel and freight by rail and expelling South Koreans from Kaesong.

North Korea lowers ships

North Korea’s second nuclear test in 2009 escalated war rhetoric between the countries. The situation worsened the following year when the South Korean warship Cheonan dropped after an explosion and 46 people were killed. After an international investigation, South Korea declared that a North Korean torpedo attack was behind. Trade with North Korea was frozen, and North Korean merchant vessels were banned in South Korean waters. President Lee declared that future attacks would be met directly with military response. Later in the year, North Korea shot down the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, near the disputed sea border between the countries. Two South Korean soldiers and two civilians were reported to have been killed in the attack. North Korea accused South Korea of ​​starting the fire. South Korea denied this but admitted that missiles had been tested in the area.

Following North Korea’s rocket launch in December 2012 and the third nuclear test in February 2013, relations between Seoul and Pyongyang deteriorated again. In connection with North Korea being punished at the beginning of March of the same year with new harsh UN sanctions, Pyongyang threatened with a nuclear attack on South Korea (and the US). The South Korean Defense Ministry responded by promising immediate merciless retaliation to North Korea’s highest military leadership. In the following years, the grim climate between the Korean states persisted as North Korea stepped up its missile and nuclear test (see Calendar).

Approaching the Olympics in South Korea

However, in January 2018, for the first time since Kim Jong-Un’s accession as North Korean leader, countries held high-level bilateral talks. The official reason for the talks was to discuss North Korea’s possible participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korean Pyeongchang in February of the same year. During the meeting, North Korea announced that it intended to send a delegation to the sporting event.

During the inaugural ceremony, North and South Korean competitors competed together and later met with President Moon Jae-In North Korea’s Former Head of State Kim Yong-Nam and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s sister Kim Yo-Jong. It was the first time since the end of the Korean War that so high-ranking North Koreans visited South Korea.

In April, a historic meeting was then held in the border village of Panmunjom, in the demilitarized zone along the 38th latitude, between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In. At the summit, the two leaders agreed to work to reach a peace agreement in 2018 and for total nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula. However, the process has stalled towards the end of the 2010s.

Relationship with the United States

South Korea has been heavily dependent on the United States since the Korean War. In 1954, Seoul and Washington signed an agreement to defend common security interests, and throughout the post-war era, the United States has had major troops in South Korea. At the same time, South Korea has been an important ally for the United States in Asia and the only country there that had major alliances in the Vietnam War.

Following the US-led alliance invasion of Iraq in 2003, South Korea sent troops to Iraq for five years. The operation was wound up after a South Korean interpreter was kidnapped and murdered. The last soldiers were taken home in 2008.

South Korea also contributed up to 2007 with a few hundred engineer soldiers and doctors to the NATO led Isaf force in Afghanistan.

The relationship between the United States and South Korea has been subject to both political and economic strain, including through large student demonstrations against the US military presence in South Korea. In 2007, both countries signed a free trade agreement, which in South Korea was seen as the most important event between them after the 1954 military agreement.

South Korea’s dependence on military strategic cooperation with the US declined over a period of time. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program forced Seoul to turn to China in 2002 to ask Beijing for help to influence Pyongyang, as US policy was considered too harsh. Since then, however, South Korea has sharpened its own line and once again approached the United States. North Korea has reacted sharply to South Korea’s annual military exercises with the US and the decision to set up the US missile defense system THAAD in South Korea (see below).

China and Japan

Relations with China have developed strongly, primarily through growing trade and investment. However, the relationship became colder after the 2016 joint decision by Seoul and Washington to deploy a US missile defense system THAAD in South Korea (see below). Beijing vigorously protested the decision, which is believed to disrupt the security balance in the region. South Korean commodity chain Lotte had to close almost all its stores, while sales of South Korean Hyundai were also reported to have hit sharply declining sales in 2017. When THAAD began to set up in South Korea in the spring of 2017, Beijing demanded that it be removed immediately. Chinese tourist trips to South Korea were suspended and Chinese authorities also imposed restrictions on South Korean group trips to China, which hit South Korean airlines and tour operators.

South Korea’s relationship with neighboring Japan has been complicated. The harsh colonial rule and subsequent occupation during the Second World War (see Older History) caused deep and long-lasting wounds in Koreans, who are still alive today. It was not until 1993 that the Japanese government acknowledged that many Korean women and girls were exploited as prostitutes on Japanese field brothels. Later, reports of continued discrimination against Koreans in Japan have rioted in South Korea. In 2015, an agreement was reached with Japan on financial compensation for the exploited women and the Japanese Prime Minister apologized for what had happened. Thus, the problem would be solved, one hoped not least from the Japanese side.

But after conducting an evaluation of the agreement, the new president Moon Jae-In decided three years later that it would be demolished because it had “major flaws”. The South Korean government would replace the fund set up with financial support from Japan to provide compensation to affected women and their families for their own funding. The decision helped to re-establish relations between the two countries.

In 2001, South Korea called home its ambassador from Japan in protest at the Japanese schools’ new history books smoothing over Japanese abuse during the occupation. Japan’s Prime Minister visited South Korea the same year and apologized for “the pain and sorrow” that Japan inflicted on the Korean people during the Japanese colonial empire.

An unresolved dispute over the sea border and the right to an uninhabited small archipelago (Dokdo; in Japanese Takeshima) flares up now and then. The area has rich fishing waters and in the depths of the sea there are large deposits of methane hydrates that are expected to be an important future energy source. As the first South Korean president, Lee visited Dokdo in August 2012. The visit led to a diplomatic protest from Japan as well as tensions between the two countries. South Korea’s critical attitude to Japan continued during the 2010s, but despite this line, South Korea and Japan’s cooperation has been strengthened in several areas, especially in the North Korea issue.

Defense

After the Korean War, South Korea was equipped with US assistance. The military was then ordained under UN command, and for a quarter of a century the UN command in South Korea was responsible for the country’s defense. The armed forces have since been subordinated to American control in the event of war.

In 2003 it was decided that the US ground alliance would be pulled south and that the South Korean army would take over at the front line to the north. By the end of the 2010, the United States had more than 30,000 people in South Korea. In the demilitarized zone there is a small base for neutral Swedish and Swiss officers who monitor the 1953 standstill agreement (see Modern History).

The defense was modernized in the 1980s and became one of Asia’s best-equipped military forces. North Korea has more soldiers and more weapons, but South Korea has just over 650,000 men under arms and a qualitatively stronger defense than its neighbor in the north. However, concern is high over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, missile holdings and suspected stockpiles of biochemical weapons.

South Korea’s previous plans to develop a nuclear weapons program were abandoned following pressure from the United States.

In July 2016, South Korea and the United States signed an agreement to place the US missile defense system THAAD in South Korea. It could shoot down short and medium-range missiles from North Korea, which by the mid-2010s significantly increased its missile and nuclear weapons tests. The system began to be deployed in the spring of 2017 on a former golf course, owned by the Lotte department store, in the Seongj district south of the capital.

READ TIP – read more about South Korea in UI’s web magazine Foreign Magazine :
The shadows of history rest heavily on South Korea (2019-09-23)

DEEP on South Korea also available in World Politics Day Issues Korean Reunification: An Impossible Dream (No 9 2019) South Korea and the Presidential Crisis: Opening for Reform (No 6 2017)

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 495 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 65,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 70,000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.6 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 12.1 percent (2017)

Singapore Defense and Foreign Policy

Singapore Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Singapore is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Singapore. Singapore has long had a complicated relationship with Malaysia in the north, but relations have improved since Lee Hsien Loong became Singaporean Prime Minister in 2004. Previously strained relations with Indonesia in the south have also become warmer. Singapore has a close relationship with the United States, while contacts with China are good on the economic level but tense on the political.

singapore military spending and defense budget

Relationship with Malaysia has been complicated since Singapore left the neighboring country and became an independent nation in 1965. The proximity means that mutual dependence is great and cooperation exists in many areas. The security services of both countries have cooperated in the arrest of suspected terrorists. However, conflicts over, for example, water supply, passport control, territorial water boundary, airspace and bridges across the Johor Strait have caused irritation.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Singapore for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

A meeting between Lee and Malaysia’s then Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in 2010 led, among other things, to a solution to the water problem and exchanged land areas were exchanged, which in turn laid the foundation for a common zone for passport control. However, the warmer relations became a thorn in 2013 when it emerged in leaked US intelligence documents that Singapore was intercepting the Malaysian telephone network.

Improved relations with Indonesia

After bad relations in the 1960s, when Indonesia strongly opposed the Federation with Malaysia, Singapore invested in developing good relations with the then Indonesian President Suharto. After Suharto’s fall in 1998, relations became worse again. One source of conflict was the lack of a foreign exchange agreement, which resulted in Singapore not disclosing corruption-accused Indonesian businessmen who fled to Singapore during the Asian crisis of 1997-1998. Indonesia, in turn, has not disclosed persons accused of terrorism.

Relations deteriorated in 2013 when it emerged in leaked US intelligence documents that Singapore was spying on Indonesia. In February 2014, Indonesia renamed two warships after Indonesian militias carried out a bomb attack in Singapore in 1965, which led to protests from Singapore.

Indonesia’s inability to put a stop to the forest fires that sometimes ravage within the country, and to the health-hazardous smoke that develops from these, has caused irritation in neighboring countries such as Singapore as the smoke spreads throughout the region.

Since Joko Widodo became president of Indonesia in 2014, relations have improved significantly. A border conflict has been resolved and collaborations have been deepened in trade, higher education, counter-terrorism and disaster preparedness. The countries are now also cooperating in the fight against smoke development from the Indonesian fires.

Singapore attaches great importance to cooperation with the other Southeast Asian countries within ASEAN. This cooperation is considered to create such cohesion between the countries that the existing political contradictions between them can be kept under control. During the 2010 century, the Asean countries created a common free trade area. The membership of Apec is also of great importance. In 1993, Apec established a permanent secretariat in Singapore.

China and the United States

Singapore established diplomatic relations with China in 1990. Singapore primarily sees China as a market for trade and investment, but it also sees concerns about China’s growing economic and military influence in Southeast Asia. Singapore has extensive bilateral relations with China, as well as cooperation through ASEAN. In 2008, the two countries signed a free trade agreement and they cooperate in infrastructure development. China is today Singapore’s largest trading partner. China, however, disapproves of Singapore’s good relations with Taiwan as well as Singapore’s military and security cooperation with the United States in Southeast Asia.

Singapore is investing in good relations with Europe and the United States, partly as a counterbalance to China and Japan’s influence in the region. Cooperation with the US is particularly important. But especially during the 1990s, the United States criticized the Singaporean government’s lack of respect for human rights. At the same time, the US military has access to facilities in Singapore for maintenance, and after the terrorist attacks against the US in 2001, security cooperation has been strengthened as part of the fight against terrorism.

During the Obama administration in the United States, relations were very good. Among other things, a decision was made to base four American warships in Singapore. The decision was seen as part of the US’s increased interest in Asia and was taken at a time when regional tensions in the South China Sea were strong. In 2004, the two countries signed a free trade agreement.

In 2017, Singapore suspended its trade relations with North Korea as part of the UN sanctions against the Pyongyang regime and its efforts to develop its nuclear arsenal. The initiative for the new sanctions was taken by the United States.

Defense

As a small, mainly Chinese, state surrounded by Malays and Muslims, Singapore feels security policy vulnerable. The country is investing heavily in a strong and modern defense. Military duty is mandatory for 24 months and annual training camps are conducted for reservists. Military exercises are done together with the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.

Cooperation between Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia since 2004, and with Thailand since 2005 and India since 2006, has led to virtually all piracy operations in the Strait of Malacca. It was previously a major regional security problem.

In 2015, Singapore signed an agreement with the United States on enhanced defense cooperation. The agreement was a result of rising tensions in the region over China’s territorial demands in the South China Sea. For the first time, the United States sent a spy plan to Singapore for a week.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 50,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 13,500 men (2017)

The fleet: 9,000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 3.3 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 17.2 percent (2017)

Saudi Arabia Defense and Foreign Policy

Saudi Arabia Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Saudi Arabia is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Riyadh. The status of Saudi Arabia as the place of Islam is characterized by relations with the outside world. Solidarity with other Muslim countries has long been a cornerstone of foreign policy. At the same time, the country is a regional superpower with Shia Muslim Iran as its counterpart. Security aspects and financial interests lie behind Saudi Arabia’s strategic and economically close cooperation with the United States.

saudi arabia military spending and defense budget

Tensions have recently intensified in the region. Oppositions between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, but also between authoritarian regimes and both liberal reformers and fundamentalist warriors, make the situation in the immediate area extremely unstable. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has actively participated in both Shiite and jihadist adversaries by assisting the government of Bahrain, participating in US-led air strikes in Syria and conducting air strikes in Yemen.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Saudi Arabia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The development is partly due to the popular democracy uprising in North Africa and the Middle East from 2011. The uprising caused domestic political unrest in Saudi Arabia and presented the country with a new security policy situation. An important ally was lost when Egypt’s authoritarian regime fell and for a time was replaced by a government dominated by the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia regards with suspicion. The relationship has improved since the Brotherhood overthrew in 2013 and Egypt was again given a military-controlled regime.

In the bloody uprising that began in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad, Saudi Arabia has supported arms rebels. Assad belongs to a Shiite Muslim minority and is closely allied with Iran, which competes with Saudi Arabia for dominance in the region. When the Islamic State (IS) extremist group – also opponents of Assad – took up large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, Saudi Arabia joined the US-led alliance that took up arms against IS. The development led to wear and tear in the relationship with the US. For the Saudi government, it was disappointing that the United States did not wholeheartedly endorse the Assad regime.

Approaching Trump

The cautious thunderstorm that arose between the US and Iran after the change of presidential post in Iran 2013 also worried. Saudi Arabia’s decision in October 2013 to reject the offer of a rotating seat in the UN Security Council was interpreted as indirect criticism of Washington and was seen as a signal that the country has now begun to pursue a more independent foreign policy. However, Donald Trump’s takeover as President of the United States in 2017 meant a new shift with strong mutual support. Trump’s first trip abroad began in Saudi Arabia and both he and King Salman then pointed out Iran as the center of Islamist terrorism.

Cooperation with the United States has been crucial since modern Saudi Arabia was founded and oil was found in the 1930s. The US has bought a large part of its oil from Saudi Arabia, which in turn is dependent on the US for its security. US strong support for Israel has not hindered cooperation. But the state of opinion at home and the development of the region made relations with the United States an increasingly difficult balancing act for the Saudi government after the turn of the millennium.

Disbelief against Iran goes way back in history. When the western-friendly regime in Tehran in 1979 fell for a US-hostile revolution that resulted in a Shi’ite regime in Iran, it was a blow to the US and Saudi Arabia’s joint strategy in the region. The government in Riyadh shares the Western world’s concern for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. When Iran signed agreements with the United States and other major powers on its nuclear energy program in 2015 (see Iran: Foreign Policy and Defense), Saudi Arabia worries that the arch rival would strengthen its role internationally. In 2016, Riyadh severed diplomatic relations with Tehran, since protesters in the Iranian capital stormed the Saudi embassy (see Calendar).

Concerns after the Iraq invasion

During the war between Iran and Iraq from 1980 to 1988, Saudi Arabia supported Iraq. But when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and positioned troops at the Iraqi-Saudi border, the situation changed. The Saudis requested international assistance, and the United States responded with military charging in the area. In February 1991, a US-led UN force had expelled Iraqis from Kuwait. Saudi Arabia broke with Iraq and resumed relations with Iran. Only in 2015 did relations with Iraq resume.

The war of 1990-1991 meant a severe loss of prestige for the Saudi regime because it had to ask the West for help. Several thousand American soldiers remained after the war, with the good memory of the government. Many Saudis and Muslims in other countries were upset that the soldiers were allowed to be stationed near Islam’s most sacred sites.

The terrorist attacks against the United States in 2001 and the subsequent US-led global war on terrorism further complicated the situation. Under US pressure, the Riyadh regime promised to cooperate against terrorism without formally joining the US-led anti-terror alliance. The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 also had a major impact on Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime had to deal with a growing hatred of the US at home; during the invasion, Americans were not allowed to attack from Saudi soil. After the war, US soldiers left the country. Riyadh feared a growing influence for the previously powerless Shiite majority in Iraq. Saudi Arabia has since seen Shiite government officials in Iraq almost like Iranian lackeys.

Following Saudi Arabia’s handling of the mildly oppositional journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brought to life at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, cooperation between Washington and Riyadh has instead been questioned from the US. Not least, President Trump’s friendship with the Crown Prince and Trump’s defense of the major contracts between Saudi Arabia and the US defense industry have been criticized.

Cooperation and cracks on the Arabian Peninsula

Out of concern for Shiite Muslim expansion, Riyadh took the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981, in which five other Arab states in the Persian Gulf are also included – Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman. The organization’s joint military force was used in neighboring Bahrain in 2011 to, at the request of the Sunni-dominated government, defeat Shiite Muslim insurgents.

A serious crack occurred in the GCC after the Arab Spring because of Qatar’s open support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In 2014, Riyadh stamped the Brotherhood, which has branches in several Arab countries, and brought home its ambassador from Qatar. So did the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In June 2017, the conflict intensified sharply, when Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of supporting terrorists and breaking diplomatic relations. Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and other countries in the region followed the Saudi example and Qatar was isolated. Consequently, GCC was also paralyzed.

Border disputes that go back decades have even to some extent disturbed relations with Qatar, as well as with the United Arab Emirates. A rapprochement between Kuwait and Turkey, which led to a joint defense plan for 2019, is also reported to have led to disapproval. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait disagree on two common oil fields.

Support to Muslim countries

Saudi Arabia has increased its influence in other countries in recent decades, including through large financial contributions and favorable loans to poor countries. The recipients are found mainly in the Arab world and Africa but also further afield. The Prime Minister of Malaysia was released in 2016 from suspicions of corruption in his home country, after it was found that the $ 681 million he received prior to a 2013 election was a gift from the Saudi royal house. A Saudi source stated that the purpose was to counteract the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Malaysia, and noted that this kind of payments to other countries were not uncommon.

The Palestinians have received much financial assistance, but at the same time, Saudi Arabia has countered Arab demands for total isolation of Israel. In 2002, Saudi Arabia presented a peace plan that offered normalized Arab-Israeli relations in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories. An attempt to breathe new life into the plan was made in 2007, with clear results. Riyadh has also sought to mediate between rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah, and in the domestic conflict in Lebanon. A certain rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel has been observed, especially as a result of both countries’ distrust of Iran. One question is how far that thawing weather can go. The US initiative during Trump’s presidency to push through a peace plan that strongly favors Israel has upset Arab countries,

Saudi Arabia’s relationship with neighboring Yemen in the south deteriorated after the Kuwaiti war in 1991, when Yemen did not support the Allies. Saudi Arabia expelled some 800,000 Yemenites and in the 1994 Yemeni Civil War, Riyadh supported the uprising in the south. Hostile Saudis find a sanctuary in the neighboring country, where al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqip) has its stronghold. But in the increasingly unstable situation in Yemen from 2011, it is especially the Shiite Muslims who are concerned about the Saudis. When the rebels pushed the president away and took control of much of the country (see Yemen: Current Politics) in March 2015, Riyadh launched air strikes against them along with several other Arab countries and with indirect support from the United States. Later in the year, the Saudis also joined ground troops in Yemen. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supporting the Huthir rebels and the war in Yemen has come to be seen as an indirect war, partly through agents, between Saudis and Iranians. The war has led to a severe humanitarian crisis in the already poor neighboring country.

In the United Nations, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly opposed reports of global warming, as the texts usually contain conclusions that Member States are not taking adequate action against climate change emissions. Climate scientists argue that it is necessary to drastically reduce emissions from fossil fuels – Saudi Arabia’s most important export commodity.

Defense

Political unrest in the Middle East has fueled a military upheaval in Saudi Arabia. The country had the largest military spending in the region and the third largest in the world in 2018, according to the Peace Research Institute Sipri. Military spending amounted to 8.8 percent of GDP, and they had nevertheless declined compared to the previous year. The weapons are mainly purchased from the US but also from Europe. In recent years, the country has put more resources on border guard and on counterterrorism forces.

Under the royal house is the National Guard, which is almost as large as the army. The National Guard will protect the royal family and defeat coup attempts or rebellions. An industrial security force was established in 2007 to protect primarily the oil industry. There is also a semi-military border force. The regional cooperation organization GCC had in 2014 At least 30,000 soldiers in a joint force, and according to a decision the year before, the force would be expanded to about 100,000 men, of which a large proportion of Saudis. However, the break with Qatar 2017 means that the future of GCC cooperation is unclear.

Military service is optional.

The United States no longer has troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, but there are a number of US military advisers. In 2013, it was revealed that for two years the United States had a secret air base in Saudi Arabia from which driverless aircraft, so-called drones, could attack targets in neighboring countries.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 75,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 2,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 13,500 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 10.3 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 30.4 percent (2017)

Qatar Defense and Foreign Policy

Qatar Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Qatar is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city Doha. It is important for Qatar to maintain stability around the Persian Gulf. The country seeks to increase its influence internationally and at the same time calls for good relations with as many states as possible; among other things, Qatar maintains close political and military contacts with the West, especially the United States. The regime is considered more liberal and Western-friendly in foreign affairs than many of the more conservative countries in the region.

qatar military spending and defense budget

Qatar joined the GCC in 1981, but the relationship with other members has sometimes been frosty. After a period of heightened tensions with mainly Saudi Arabia and its close allies, relations in June 2017 became directly hostile. Several countries in the region broke diplomatic relations and, among other things, banned Qatari flights from using surrounding airspace (see Calendar).

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Qatar for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, Yemen, the Maldives, Mauritania and – to some extent – Lebanon, Senegal and Chad joined the boycott.

In the past, contradictions with the neighboring countries have been due to border problems or that countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have seen with unblinking eyes on Qatar’s will to reform. The al-Jazira TV channel, which is based in Qatar, has caused irritation as it was considered the regime’s foreign language channel, rather than an independent broadcaster. The channel’s news offering includes inconvenient events for power holders in neighboring countries, such as extensive surveillance of the assassination of Saudi regime critic Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul 2018. Among the demands that Qatar’s neighboring countries made in connection with the crisis that broke out in 2017 were -Jazira would be closed.

After the Arab Spring of 2011, relations with the other countries in the region deteriorated due to Qatar’s support for and al-Jazira’s reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood, which several countries considered to be a threat to their security. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain called home their ambassadors in 2014 after accusations that Qatar had joined the countries’ domestic politics, but the dispute was resolved after Qatar agreed to cushion the Brotherhood’s operations in the country. However, dissatisfaction persisted and was one of the reasons behind the new break in 2017.

Qatar, on the other hand, has very friendly relations. Turkey has promised military and other support since the conflict with neighboring countries arose.

Qatar’s close relations with Shia Muslim Iran disturb the Sunni Muslim royal houses in neighboring countries. Several of the countries, mainly Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, have partially Shiite people who feel discriminated against and the authorities hold a high suspicion of Iran’s actions in the region.

American airbase

Following the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, Qatar gave up its territory to the Americans in the ensuing war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Qatar, on the other hand, opposed US plans for a unilateral attack on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, but when the Iraq war began in 2003, US, British and Australian aircraft were stationed in Qatar, as well as the US Combat Command Center. After the war, the US forces and the US regional headquarters were moved from Saudi Arabia to Qatar. The air base in al-Udayd is now the United States largest military facility in the region with an American staff of about 9,000 people and about 90 fighter aircraft. At the end of 2014, the US lease of the base was extended by ten years. Today, Qatar belongs to a small crowd close to US allies outside NATO cooperation.

Both Qatar and the United States have chosen not to speak so highly of their close cooperation, as there is criticism within Qatar against it. It is also known that groups in Qatar have contributed to funding more extreme Islamist groups, and that some of the cash flows to the Islamic State (IS) have been able to pass through the country. Yet, like other countries in the region, Qatar has supported the US fight against IS. Among other things, Qatar has participated in air strikes against IS positions in Syria. It has also been promised to stop recruits from going to IS and to stop making money contributions to the jihadist group. However, support for extreme groups was a major reason stated by Saudi Arabia and its allies to break relations in 2017.

Qatar signed a bilateral trade agreement with Israel in 1996. However, after the Israeli offensive in Gaza in 2008-2009, Qatar broke off trade contacts. At the same time, Qatar has always maintained good relations with Israel’s worst enemies: Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah. In 2018, a collaboration that attracted attention was reported when Qatar, with the Israeli government’s consent, was allowed to finance fuel for Gaza’s power plant and salaries to public servants in the Hamas-controlled area. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a minor government crisis, but earlier in the year had declared openly that he saw better relations with Arab countries as a target, and as a possible path to a settlement with the Palestinians.

The good relations with Iran mean, among other things, that Qatar has declared that the country would never agree to allow US flights to use its base in Qatar for a possible attack on Iran.

mediating Efforts

Qatar has mediated between warring factions from Afghanistan and hosted talks between the Taliban movement and the United States, which sought ways to end their efforts in Afghanistan after a war started in 2003 (in pursuit of the al-Qaeda terror network) that lasted longer than Washington imagined. On March 1, 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement in Qatar with the intention of withdrawing from Afghanistan for the US soldiers.

Doha has also tried to mediate in other disputes in the region: in 2008, the government hosted a successful mediation between disputed Lebanese politicians. In 2007 and 2008, Qatar brokered peace between government and rebels in Yemen, but failed to stop the fighting. In 2014, an attempt was made to mediate in a war between Israel and radical Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip and hosted meetings between Palestinian factions. Qatar also claimed the same year to have helped to release the release of 45 Fiji UN soldiers captured by Syrian rebels at the Golan Heights.

In addition, through “soft diplomacy”, Qatar has tried to put the country on the map, among other things by ensuring that a number of major international sporting events have been placed in Qatar, such as the short course World Cup in swimming 2014, the World Cup in handball 2015, the World Cup in athletics 2019 and football World Cup 2022. Not least the latter has been criticized for the poor working conditions for the many guest workers who build the arenas (see also Labor Market). Information that wealthy Qatar has defected to the host, since the hot and humid summer climate really makes the country unsuitable for many types of competition, is being investigated in, among others, France.

Relations with Russia deteriorated after the Chechen president Zelimtjan Jandarbijev was killed in 2004 by a car bomb in Qatar, which said this was done with the approval of the Russian leadership, which Moscow denied. However, in 2008, Qatar and Russia together with Iran – the world’s three largest gas exporting countries – formed the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) whose secretariat was placed in Doha.

General military duty was introduced in 2014 for men between the ages of 18 and 35. Anyone who has completed an academic degree is required to serve three months, the rest for four months. The military duty for men was extended in 2018 to a year at the same time as voluntary community service was introduced for Qatari women.

In 2019, Qatar received the first of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft ordered from French manufacturer Dassault. Previously, Qatar’s air force had, among other things, Mirage Plan. France’s interest in selling weapons to Qatar has been cited as the backdrop for Qatar’s applications for hosting major sports competitions to receive French support.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 8,500 men (2017)

The air Force: 1,500 men (2017)

The fleet: 1 800 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.5 percent (2010)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 4.9 percent (2010)

Philippines Defense and Foreign Policy

Philippines Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Philippines is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Manila. The strong ties to the US dominate foreign policy. The Americans had military bases in the country for a long time, but were forced to leave them in 1992, but military cooperation continued even after that. At the same time, contacts with other Asian countries have become more important. However, relations with China in particular are disturbed by a dispute over an island group in the South China Sea. After the change of power in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has both ended up on a collision course with the US and China, which has adopted a more conciliatory line vis-à-vis the two major powers. The Philippines has also approached Russia.

philippines military spending and defense budget

Assessors pointed out that the president often acted to try to gain benefits by playing the United States, China, and to some extent, Russia against each other.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Philippines for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

As long as Barack Obama remained as US president, contacts between the Philippines and the US were complicated, as Duterte reacted negatively to all criticism of the human rights crimes committed in the country. After Donald Trump took over as US President in 2017, relations improved, but even then, Duterte quickly swung between positions.

Since 2002, the United States has been military advisers in the country to assist the Philippine Army in its offensive against Abu Sayyaf and other militant Islamist groups (see Muslim separatists). However, the American soldiers have no right to participate in fighting. The soldiers also assist in development projects. Joint military exercises have also been held annually at various locations in the Philippines (see below). The Philippines also participated with a small force in Iraq in 2003, but it was withdrawn in 2004 a month earlier than planned, despite criticism from the United States.

When Benigno Aquino took over as president in 2010, in September / October he made his first official trip to the United States, signaling that he wanted even closer contacts with Washington, in an attempt to balance China’s growing influence in the region. During his US visit, Aquino was promised more aid and investment. American soldiers also assisted in the rescue work after the typhoon Haiyan 2013.

In 2014, the countries renewed their defense agreement. The new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)), gives the United States greater access to Philippine military bases. In the Philippines, the agreement has been criticized mainly by left-wing politicians. However, Duterte said in September 2016 that he wanted the United States to bring in his military advisers from Mindanao in the southern Philippines, as they contributed to tensions in the region rather than counteracting them. He also announced a stop for joint marine exercises. The course change was welcomed by China. However, the joint exercise was held as planned in 2016. One of the exercises was canceled the following year, but was not completely stopped. However, when a new Islamist group entered the city of Marawi in May 2017, the Philippine army was assisted by US military advisers. Duterte claimed he did not know this, but at the same time thanked the United States for the help.

Duterte has also made several drastic statements about breaking ties with the United States, including a state visit to China in October 2016, but the importance of this was later downplayed by several of his ministers. In early 2020, however, the Philippines announced that it would terminate one of the military agreements, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which, if nothing new, would end within six months, hamper any continued military cooperation between the countries (see also Calendar). The agreement, which enables military cooperation and states that US military cannot be prosecuted in the Philippines. was terminated via a document signed by Foreign Minister Teddy Locsin, who at the same time claimed that it was about getting a revision, not ending it. At the same time, Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana had briefly stated beforehand that all talk of terminating the agreement was “fake news”. It was pointed out that VFA was the basis for maintaining other defense agreements between the Philippines and the United States and that the decision to terminate it could have serious consequences. In addition, the Philippines continues to depend on the United States, not least because almost all defense equipment is American. Islamist terrorist groups. In June 2020, the government made a reversal, saying that no decisions on the issue would be made until the earliest. It is likely that China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea are behind the turnaround.

The Philippines also has defense cooperation with Australia.

Conflict over the Sprat Islands

Relations with China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei are disturbed by the countries claiming, in whole or in part, the Spratly Islands (in the Philippines called the Kayalaan archipelago), which is located in an area of ​​the South China Sea (which the Philippines began calling the West Philippine Sea in 2011) which is believed to be rich in oil. Tensions have emerged several times between the Philippines and China, despite pledges that the countries should try to find peaceful solutions in regional conflicts. The United States supports the Philippines’ demands on the Sprat Islands. The two countries have conducted several military exercises near the islands.

The unrest area has been growing since 2011. The Philippines has accused China of entering the oceans on several occasions known as Filipino. China, for its part, has criticized the Philippines for starting to search for oil and gas in areas claimed by the Chinese. One of the most serious incidents occurred in April 2012, near Scarborough Shoal, when a Philippine naval ship attempted to intervene on Chinese fishing vessels which they claimed were not allowed to fish in the area. In June, however, the Philippines decided to withdraw its vessels from the area, which was welcomed by China. Shortly thereafter, the Chinese fishing boats also left the area.

In 2013, the Philippines said that the diplomatic channels had been exhausted to resolve the dispute and that they had asked the UN to mediate between the parties. Both countries have signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The stance between the countries continued to be high and China threatened to impose financial sanctions on the Philippines. In 2014, President Aquino compared China’s actions with Hitler’s. His tough line against China received strong support at home.

After four years of work, the United Nations Permanent Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague in July 2016 announced its ruling in the Philippines-China conflict over China’s claim of 85 percent of the territorial waters of the South China Sea. The Court went on the Philippines’ line and ruled that the Chinese claims “have no legal basis”. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China rejected the verdict and would not accept any documents based on this decision. China also said it had the right to set up an air defense zone in the conflict area and announced that it would now begin regular air surveillance there.

The Philippines is approaching China

Having previously threatened to hold a hard line against China, Duterte announced at a summit in Asean in September 2016 that the Philippines would no longer patrol the waters around the Sprat Islands with ships of foreign power, that is, the United States. Duterte also tried in other ways to approach China. He tried to persuade the Chinese to slow down in the development of the Scarborough Shoal and to try to agree on common fishing rights.

He approached Beijing further in connection with a state visit to China in the fall of 2016. At that time, the countries signed 13 cooperation agreements dealing with coordination of coastguard, drug trafficking, infrastructure and more. In addition, China pledged $ 24 billion in loans. The following year, President Duterte made several statements suggesting a closer relationship between the countries. In November 2017, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang visited the Philippines and promised new Chinese loans for several infrastructure projects, later promises of even more money for various infrastructure projects. China also helped the Philippines with weapons and ammunition in connection with the Islamist siege of the city of Marawi in Mindanao (see Muslim separatists). The countries also agreed on a proposal on how bilateral Disputes in the South China Sea would be resolved, but nevertheless new word wars have flared up.

Relations with other Asian countries

The Philippines is part of ASEAN which has gradually developed into a significant political and economic force. Cooperation is important for the Philippines as it gives the country a regional identity that has nothing to do with the United States.

In 2013, tensions also increased between the Philippines and Taiwan since the Philippine Coast Guard shot to death a Taiwanese fisherman who they claimed had entered Philippine waters. President Aquino apologized for the shooting, which he said was unintentional, but Taiwan highlighted that the apology was insufficient. Taiwan took several measures, including stopping all new work permits for Filipino workers (about 87,000 Filipinos lived and worked in Taiwan) and a travel alert to the Philippines was issued. Taiwan also recalled its envoy to the Philippines.

Relations with Malaysia have been strengthened through the neighboring country’s role as mediator between the Philippine government and the Milf guerrilla. The relationship between the countries has been complicated to some extent by the so-called Sultanate of Sulu, in the southern Philippines, claiming the Malaysian state of Sabah. A Filipino clan’s attack on a village in Sabah was quickly defeated by the Malaysian military in early 2013. At least 70 people were killed. The Government of the Philippines highlighted that it had nothing to do with the attack. Concerns were then high about how the event would affect the approximately 800,000 Filipinos working in Sabah. In 2016, nine Filipinos were sentenced by a Sabah court to life imprisonment for their role in the attack.

Japan is also an important partner country and several large Japanese companies have interests in the Philippine industry. Japan is also an important aid provider, and in recent years, the countries have increased their cooperation on security and organized crime. In January 2017, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first foreign head of government to visit the Philippines after Duterte came to power.

In 2014, after many years of negotiations, the Philippines and Indonesia concluded a settlement as to where the sea border between the countries would go. A few years later, they started a collaboration, together with Malaysia, to better protect themselves from terrorist and pirate attacks. The following year they began to jointly patrol the Sulus and Celebs. In 2018, the three countries, Thailand, Singapore and Brunei, began to share intelligence reports.

In recent years, the Philippines has concluded a number of trade agreements with Myanmar.

In connection with the murder of a Filipino woman in Kuwait in 2020, the Philippine government decided to prevent its citizens from visiting guests in the country. A similar stop was introduced in connection with another murder of a Filipino guest worker in Kuwait (see Calendar).

Defense

Alongside the Army (Armed Forces of the Philippines, AFP) is the National Police (Philippine National Police, PNP) which also belongs to the defense.

In the mid-1990s, large parts of the defense equipment were old, some of the navy vessels were from World War II, and helicopters used by the United States during the Vietnam War were used. A modernization of the defense was initiated by Benigno Aquino, but although the appropriations for the military increased sharply, there was not enough money to complete the plans. However, since 2000, the Philippines has received military support for about $ 800 million from the United States, in the form of military equipment (including drones, helicopters and automatic carbines). Under Duterte, further defense efforts have been announced, and in 2018 submitted a five-year plan with a budget of $ 5.6 billion for the purchase of new equipment, including from South Korea and Israel.

Defense-political cooperation began with Russia in the fall of 2017. In connection with a Russian warship visiting Manila in October that year, the Philippines received 5,000 automatic carbines (kalashnikovs) and 20 army vehicles. The Philippines also signed an agreement to buy Russian grenade launchers, but no mention was made of the quantities involved. China, too, has donated weapons to the Philippines.

Both the army and the PNP are accused of human rights violations and corruption. This also applies to militia groups such as Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU), which are formally controlled by the military, and Civilian Volunteers Organizations (CVO) that are under police control.

There are also a large number of private armies, most of them in Mindanao, usually formed to protect the interests of provincial politicians and powerful landowners (both Muslim and Christian). Periodically, private armies have been able to register as CAFGU or CVO militia, which has meant that they have been able to obtain weapons from the government army.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 86 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 15,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 24 000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.4 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 6.9 percent (2017)

Pakistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Pakistan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Pakistan is a nation in Southern Asia. Its capital city is Islamabad. Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been characterized by the conflict with India which mainly revolved around Kashmir. Due to the perceived threat from India, huge economic investments have been made in the military, whose leadership is in practice considered to govern large parts of foreign policy. The United States regards Pakistan as an important party – but also a weak link – in the fight against Islamist resistance groups in Afghanistan. Pakistan has a close relationship with China, which provides support in the form of loans and weapons.

pakistan military spending and defense budget

The Kashmir mountain range was split at the British India division in 1947 into a Pakistani and an Indian part. The border demarcation has never been accepted by the two countries and on three occasions – 1947, 1965 and 1971 – the conflict over Kashmir has led to war (for more on the background see the conflict on Kashmir).

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Pakistan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Pakistan grants moral support to Kashmiri separatist groups but denies giving any military and financial support. In 2002, Pakistan banned the two most extreme separatist movements since the country was pressured to intervene against terrorists.

The Pakistan-India conflict is one of the most dangerous in the world because of the risk of nuclear war. Neither Pakistan nor India has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Both hold large armed forces along the standstill line and shooting across the border often occurs.

Fear of nuclear war

While India has assured that the country will never be the first to resort to nuclear weapons, Pakistan has not issued a similar guarantee. Therefore, there is a high risk that an Indian attack with conventional weapons would be countered by Pakistani nuclear weapons. Both countries have robots that are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and can reach most places in the neighboring country.

In the summer of 1999, a fourth major war broke out after several thousands of Kashmiri separatists and Pakistani semi-military police entered India at a sensitive border section. During the 2000s and 2010s, periods of escalating violence at the border were replaced by peace talks and confidence-building measures, which increased contacts across the border in trade, tourism, culture, sports and communications. However, no significant progress in the Kashmir issue has been made.

An attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 triggered an acute crisis, as did Islamic terrorist attacks in Bombay (Mumbai) in November 2008 and a suicide bombing in February 2019 by banned Jaish-e-Mohammad against Indian soldiers in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu nationalist government of 2014 has made some attempts at the rapprochement, but it basically feels deep distrust of Pakistan. And in Pakistan, leading military leaders do not want to give up support to armed extremists fighting Indian interests.

In August 2019, the situation in Kashmir was sharply sharpened when India withdrew the constitutional article guaranteeing the state of Jammu and Kashmir autonomy (see India, current policy). Pakistan called the decision “illegitimate” and turned to the UN Security Council for support.

Complicated relationship with the United States

India’s approach to the Soviet Union in the early 1950s pushed Pakistan into the arms of the US and the Western powers. Relations with the United States, however, have often been conflicting. There are strong anti-American sentiments among large sections of the population and the United States has often criticized Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons and human rights violations. During the 2010s, the United States also criticized what Washington believes is too powerless action against Islamist terrorist groups in the area.

Through the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan became a leading state in the United States’ fight against communism and the country received extensive military and financial support. Much of the Western support for the Afghan resistance movements was channeled through the Pakistani military.

Following the fall of communism in Afghanistan in 1992, US interest in Pakistan declined, but through its close contacts with the Afghan Taliban regime, the country again became at the center of US foreign policy. Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Pakistan became one of the US key allies in the “war on terrorism”. Between 2002 and 2010, Pakistan received $ 2 billion annually in US aid. Three quarters of it went to the military.

Under President Barack Obama, US contacts were more cautious than those of predecessor George W Bush. The Obama administration showed greater understanding of the dual command that characterizes Pakistani politics, where the government can say one thing and the military – especially the ISI intelligence service – do something completely different.

However, the US drone attacks on Pakistani territory provoked anger at both the government and the residents. The US military raid in 2011 that killed terrorist leader Usama bin Ladin led to a bottom-up relationship, as neither the Pakistani government nor the military had been informed in advance. This showed the United States’ lack of confidence in their allies and, conversely, led to increased suspicion of the United States in Pakistan.

The US is reducing military support

When Nawaz Sharif became new Prime Minister, he visited the United States in October 2013. The two countries agreed to continue the joint fight against terrorism, but the United States made no promises that the drone attacks on Pakistan would be stopped or reduced in number, as Sharif had demanded. When Pakistan launched a military offensive against the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other militant Islamist networks in the clan areas on the Afghan border in June 2014, it was supported by US drones.

When the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed by an American drone in Baluchistan in May 2016, the Pakistani reaction became strong. The military leadership accused the United States of violating the country’s sovereignty. The US, for its part, withdrew military assistance on the grounds that Pakistan’s efforts against militant networks such as Haqqani were ineffective.

In August 2017, US President Donald Trump declared that US policy towards Pakistan (and Afghanistan) would change. The rhetoric against Pakistan was fierce and Trump demanded increased efforts from Islamabad to fight the militant Islamists. In January 2018, Trump accused Pakistan of providing a haven for militant elements that US troops are fighting in Afghanistan, and the United States frozen parts of military support for Pakistan during the year.

Afghan mistrust

Relations with Afghanistan have been almost as important as relations with India. Since the colonial era, Pakistani Pashtuns have demanded their own state called Pashtunistan. The demand has been fueled by the Afghan governments. The fear that the communist Afghan regime would claim the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) was one of the reasons for the Pakistani support for the Afghan resistance movements. Another was Afghanistan’s good contacts with India and Pakistan’s concern about being surrounded by Indian interests.

The Pakistani military security service ISI, in collaboration with conservative religious groups and parts of the business community, played a major part in the creation of the Afghan Taliban movement. The reason was that the chaos in Afghanistan following the fall of the Communist regime in 1992 disturbed Pakistan’s contacts with the new Central Asian states.

Following the fall of the Taliban regime in the fall of 2001, Pakistan said it wanted a good relationship with the US-backed Afghan government. But the Afghans’ mistrust has persisted, since all three militant organizations that pose the greatest threat to the Afghan government are allowed to have their headquarters and military bases in Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban, the so-called Haqqani network and Hezb-i-Islami, all have direct or indirect support from ISI.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, on his take-up in 2014, advocated a fresh start for relations with Pakistan. However, it was uncertain whether the civilian Pakistani leaders would be able to take the initiative of the generals. In May 2015, signs of thunderstorms emerged in the relations when the two countries agreed to share intelligence information with each other as well as coordinate intelligence operations in order to combat terrorism. The agreement was concluded after Prime Minister Sharif, with army and intelligence chiefs, visited colleagues in Kabul.

However, in connection with military offensives within the Pakistani clan areas along the border, the level of violence increased and border crossings have been closed several times in recent years.

Relations with the Afghan government deteriorated further in 2018 when Pakistan contributed to the Taliban movement in peace talks with the United States, without the Afghan government’s participation. The peace talks stranded in the fall of 2019, which was a setback for Pakistan, hoping for US support both financially and in the escalated conflict with India over Kashmir.

Support from China

During the Cold War, when India was close to the Soviet Union, Pakistan made contacts with China. Good relations have continued even in modern times, despite China’s economic proximity to India, and they have been confirmed when Chinese leaders visited Pakistan.

In the face of widespread hostility to the United States, China is the majority of Pakistanis as the country’s only reliable friend. Enthusiasm is only partially dampened by reports of Chinese discrimination against Muslims in the Xinjiang region. Even during periods when the United States and Pakistan have worked closely together, Beijing has continued to provide Pakistan with both weapons and assistance, including several nuclear power plants being built with Chinese support. In 2016, China took over the US position as Pakistan’s largest arms supplier.

In the context of China’s huge infrastructure and development projects for large parts of Asia (the Belt and Road Initiative, the “New Silk Road”), Pakistan received extensive Chinese support during the 2010s, mainly in the form of cheap loans. Critics warn that Pakistan in this way has become too dependent on Beijing. In 2013, the two countries agreed to link the port of Gwadar in Pakistan with Kashgar in Xinjiang in western China through highways, railways and oil and gas pipelines, the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Islamabad in April 2015, the two countries signed 51 cooperation agreements under this infrastructure project. The CPEC should be ready by 2030 and is estimated to cost a total of $ 62 billion,

Frosty relations with Bangladesh

In 1971, East Pakistan’s (today Bangladesh) liberation from West Pakistan (now Pakistan) led to a year of civil war, which left bitter traces in relations. Only five years later, they were normalized when embassies were established and trade relations and communications resumed.

After a prolonged dispute with Bangladesh, Pakistan promised in 1991 that about a quarter of a million million-speaking Muslim bihars, who had openly supported West Pakistan in the war and who had lived in refugee camps in Bangladesh since the end of the war, could move to Pakistan. But the return of refugees was extremely slow, and in 2008 Bangladesh decided that around 150,000 Bihar refugees, who were minors in 1971 or subsequently born, would gain Bangladeshi citizenship.

In 2002, Pakistan’s then President Pervez Musharraf lamented the abuses committed by Pakistani soldiers during the war. In 2010, Bangladesh demanded a formal apology for this, something Pakistan rejected. Pakistan has strongly condemned a series of executions that Bangladeshi authorities from 2013 carried out by fellow runners to West Pakistan during the war. Several of them were senior leaders of an Islamist party. During the latter part of the 2010, relations remained frosty.

Other important relationships

Pakistan has had significant economic cooperation since the early 1990s with the five Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey. In December 2015, work began on building a natural gas pipeline (Tapi) from Turkmenistan to Punjab in India via Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Despite protests from the US, Pakistan and Iran agreed in March 2010 to build a gas pipeline from southern Iran to Multan in Pakistan, via Karachi. But while Iran had completed its part of the leadership in March 2016, due to economic and political problems, Pakistan has not yet begun its part of the construction. However, with Iran, Pakistan has long-term trade and economic cooperation agreements.

As the United States and India have grown closer, Russia and Pakistan have strengthened their military cooperation in recent years. In 2014, Moscow lifted its arms embargo on Pakistan and a year later an agreement was signed to sell Russian combat helicopters and combat aircraft engines to Pakistan. In September 2016, the two countries conducted joint military exercises for the first time, in Pakistan, then in Russia a year later. In February 2018, a new Russian-Pakistani Military Commission was set up to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to fight terrorism. The countries also signed an agreement that allows the Russian military to train Pakistani officers. With Russia, Pakistan has also entered into a series of agreements in the energy field.

Pakistan has good relations with Saudi Arabia and therefore ended up in a dilemma when the Saudis in spring 2015 asked Pakistan to contribute militarily to the Saudi-led coalition formed the same spring to fight the Iranian-backed huthi rebels in Yemen. Pakistan, which is also closely allied with Iran, chose not to participate in combat troops, but promised to assist if Saudi territory was threatened. In the fall of 2018, Saudi Arabia provided multi-billion dollar financial aid to Pakistan, which then ended up in a debt crisis (see Calendar).

Pakistan is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the South Asian Cooperation Organization Saarc, the Asian Development Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Central Asian Cooperation Organization SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and several other regional and international organizations.

defense

Pakistan’s defense is the most modern and effective part of the state apparatus and often contributes to the UN peacekeeping forces. When the United States has periodically refused to sell weapons, China has primarily been a loyal supplier. France and Britain have also helped to equip the Pakistani armed forces. About one-third of the state budget goes to the defense at the expense of education, health care and other social areas.

The disproportionately large budget allocation of the Armed Forces is reflected in the army’s great influence in society. For nearly half of Pakistan’s time as an independent state, the country has been ruled by military junta, which, according to many analysts, has been a major cause of the political instability, lawlessness and corruption that characterize the country.

The Pakistani Armed Forces also have major interests in business through a number of companies that own real estate, dairies, banks, factories and more.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 560 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 70,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 23 800 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 3.5 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 16.7 percent (2017)

Oman Defense and Foreign Policy

Oman Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Oman is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city Muscat. Oman for an independent foreign policy towards the countries of the Persian Gulf region. Sultan Qabus, deceased in 2020, tried to maintain good relations with all neighboring countries during his long-term power holdings. This balance has led to some irritation in the area, but the new Sultan Haitham bin Tariq has promised to stick to the neutrality. The country has at times played a mediating role in the region, not least in terms of conflicts with Iran.

oman military spending and defense budget

Oman has long had good relations and cooperation with both the United States and the United Kingdom. The country housed US Air Force during the 2000s that supported US military operations in Afghanistan. In 2019, a new agreement was signed to allow the United States to use ports and airports in Oman for its armed forces. In 2014, it was revealed that the UK had an intelligence base near Musqat that oversees data and telecommunications in the area. In addition, Oman has made large arms purchases from both countries.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Oman for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Oman joined the UN-supported alliance in the subsequent war against Iraq. Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Oman expressed support for the US war on terrorism. When the United States attacked Iraq in the spring of 2003, Oman chose to formally stand outside but reluctantly surrendered its territory for US flights. In autumn 2014, unlike many of its neighboring countries, Oman chose not to participate in the US-led attacks against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist movement in Syria.

Oman was a driving force when the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) regional partnership was formed in 1981; In addition to Oman, the GCC also includes Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Oman, which was itself hit by popular protests in 2011, stood behind when the GCC countries Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sent troops to Bahrain to assist the regime there during street protests in 2011. On the other hand, Oman refused to participate when the other GCC countries began in March 2015 air strikes against the Iran-backed Huthirbells in Yemen.

In 2011, Omani authorities revealed a spy network that was said to work for the United Arab Emirates. The neighboring country, with which Oman normally has good relations even though the common border was not finally established until 2008, denied all charges of espionage. Oman’s close relations with Iran were one of the areas believed to be of interest to the neighboring country.

Oman has a long month of good relations with Iran, with which it shares the inlet of oil traffic so important to the Persian Gulf while Iran supplies Oman with natural gas. Oman has served as a communication intermediary while being able to mediate in conflicts. Oman has succeeded in establishing prison exchanges in both directions between Iran, the United States and the United Kingdom in the 2000s and hosted negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program from 2011. Negotiations led to the international agreement in 2015 aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities.

The neighboring countries of the GCC have not always looked with open eyes on Oman’s contacts with Iran. Shiite Iran has been accused of supporting Shiite groups that have challenged Sunni Muslim regimes in Arab countries.

Even in relation to neighboring Yemen, with which Oman previously had a border conflict, Oman has tried to assume a mediator role and, among other things, contributed to the release of Europeans kidnapped by the terrorist network al-Qaeda’s local branch.

Relations with India and China have increased during the 2000s as trade and cooperation with these countries grew.

In 2018, it was noted that Oman was one of the countries that Israel approached during a diplomatic offensive to achieve better contacts with Arab states. However, countries do not have full diplomatic relations.

The military service is voluntary, but the state’s military spending is high. In 2018, they decreased compared to the previous year, but still amounted to 8.8 percent of GDP, according to the Sipri Peace Research Institute.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 25,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 5,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 4,200 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 12.1 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 26.3 percent (2017)

North Korea Defense and Foreign Policy

North Korea Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, North Korea is a nation in Eastern Asia. Its capital city is Pyongyang. The Korean War has characterized North Korea’s foreign and security policy for more than half a century (see Conflicts: Korea). War permits formally prevail with South Korea, as the 1953 ceasefire agreement was not followed by any peace agreement. Since the 1990s, international relations have largely been about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and the world’s attempts to put an end to it.

North Korea Defense and Foreign Policy

The pursuit of independence according to the juche ideology (see Political system) has been the official guiding principle in North Korea’s foreign policy. It has contributed to the country’s isolation, although in reality it has long been closely linked to China and the Soviet Union (see Modern History).

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in North Korea for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Nowadays, North Korea has diplomatic relations with most countries in the world, including most of the EU. However, diplomatic relations with the US are lacking and Washington’s interests are represented in Pyongyang by the Swedish Embassy.

Nuclear issue

Attempts to get North Korea to discontinue its nuclear weapons program have taken place with both carrot and whip. Pyongyang has also been attracted with oil, food deliveries and trade exchanges, and has been penalized with frozen bank accounts, delisted goods deliveries and other penalties.

The North Korean regime has promised numerous times to refrain from developing nuclear weapons, but has done so anyway. Since 2012, North Korea has inscribed in its constitution that the country is a nuclear weapons state. The country is also believed to have an active chemical weapons program and possibly biological weapons as well.

In light of the fact that the United States had nuclear weapons in South Korea, as early as the 1950s, North Korea initiated a program to develop nuclear technology, with the potential for both nuclear and nuclear weapons. The US nuclear weapons were removed in the 1970s. In 1992, North and South Korea agreed that the Korean Peninsula should be free of nuclear weapons.

North Korea refused, despite allowing the UN Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect facilities suspected of preparations for nuclear weapons. But in 1994, Pyongyang signed an agreement with the United States that the North Koreans would scrap nuclear reactors that could have been used for peaceful nuclear power – and for the development of nuclear weapons. In return, North Korea would get help with its energy supply through oil supplies and help with the construction of light water reactors.

In the years that followed, North Korea’s program of developing robots capable of carrying weapons long distances was also discussed. Promises and broken promises made each other succeed. In 2003, North Korea formally withdrew from the International Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – which it joined in 1985 but never followed. The decision prompted the United States to pressure North Korea into so-called six-party talks, in which South Korea, China, Japan and Russia also participated, to get Pyongyang to discontinue its nuclear weapons program.

First nuclear test

But in October 2006, the North Koreans for the first time blasted an underground charge. The reactions in the outside world became strong. The UN introduced sanctions that put an end to the import of military equipment.

The six-party talks continued and in 2007 a breakthrough appeared to be reached when, among other things, North Korea agreed to close its reactor in Yongbyon and other nuclear facilities and allow inspections by the IAEA. North Korea, in return, received promises of energy and food aid, normalized relations and enforced sanctions.

Nor did the pledges now lead to any major course change. In 2009, instead, the tone hardened. When the UN condemned the trial of a long-range robot, North Korea responded by jumping off the six-party talks. In May of the same year, the country again conducted a test of a nuclear weapon. In February 2013, a third underground explosion was conducted.

During the second half of the 2010s, North Korea increased the amount of robotic and nuclear weapons tests. A fourth nuclear test was carried out in early 2016 and shortly thereafter another rocket launch. According to the outside world, it was again a cover for the work of developing long-range missiles that can be equipped with nuclear weapons.

In response to the US and South Korea’s decision to deploy an air defense system in South Korea (see South Korea: Foreign Policy and Defense), with the stated purpose of protecting South Korea from missile attacks from the north, in July of the same year, North Korea fired three robots into the sea outside South Korea.

The same autumn, the country performed another nuclear test, the fifth in order. North Korean sources said that after the test, the country was now technically able to mount nuclear warheads on robots. Continued robot testing followed, resulting in new tensions and sharpened sanctions from the UN.

On US initiative, the United Nations Security Council in August 2017 adopted additional sanctions against North Korea. The sanctions, which completely prohibit the country from exporting coal, iron and lead, were estimated to reduce export revenues by more than a third.

After a sixth nuclear test took place in September 2017 – the first hydrogen bomb found – new sanctions were introduced for the eighth time since the country conducted the first nuclear test in 2006. This time, a limit was placed on how much oil was allowed to be exported to North Korea. This mainly concerned China, which is the country that mainly supplies North Korea with oil. Chinese oil exports could continue at the same level as last year, but no more. A ban on North Korea’s important textile exports was also introduced. In addition, new visas were also not issued for North Korean guest workers.

After a close relationship with South Korea and the United States (see below), in the spring of 2018, North Korea’s leaders announced that the country no longer needed to test nuclear weapons and long-range robots because they now had nuclear weapons that could deter the country’s enemies. He also said he was willing to work for nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula. No more nuclear and robotic tests would be done and the nuclear weapons testing facility destroyed, as witnessed by foreign journalists.

Relations with South Korea

North Korea has never acknowledged South Korea, but has the goal of reuniting the peninsula (the reverse also applies). Despite this, a cautious dialogue was initiated between the countries in the 1970s and in the mid-1980s group trips began with meetings between family members who had not met since the Korean War. After the end of the Cold War around 1990, trade and talks followed.

When North Korea released the requirement that only a reunited Korea could join the UN, both Korea were admitted as members there in 1991. The following year, a broad cooperation agreement came into force.

In June 2000, a historic summit was held in Pyongyang between Kim Jong-Il and South Korea’s President Kim Dae-Jung. They decided on financial cooperation, re-established rail links and reopened liaison office at the Panmunjom border station. At the inaugural Olympic Games in Sydney the same year, North and South Korea’s participants marched in together.

North Korea’s nuclear test in 2006 created new tensions. A second summit between North and South Korea in 2007 gave hope for more icing, but in practice did not lead far. In 2009, the rhetoric of war was escalated and after the second test blast, the North said it was no longer bound by the 1953 standstill agreement.

In 2010, the situation was further tightened. In March, 46 South Korean sailors died after the warship Cheonan exploded and dropped near the Yellow Sea border. An international investigation found that a North Korean torpedo dropped the ship. Pyongyang refused to interfere and broke all relations with Seoul. In November, a firefight broke out when North Korea suddenly fired artillery fire at the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, also near the border. Four South Koreans were killed in the attack, which also caused material destruction.

The situation remained predominantly tense between countries and worsened by North Korea’s rocket launch and nuclear test 2012-2013.

Following Pyongyang’s rocket launch in early 2016, South Korea made the decision to close the Kaesong joint industrial zone, which the countries have been operating along with some disruption since 2004 (see Industry).

Although the conflict was perceived as more frozen than ever towards the end of 2017, an iceberg occurred in early 2018. In January of that year, for the first time since Kim Jong-Un’s accession as North Korean leader, bilateral talks were held at a high level. The official reason for the talks was to discuss North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea next month. During the inaugural ceremony, North and South Korean contestants marched together and later met with South Korean President Moon Jae-In North Korea’s Former Head of State Kim Yong-Nam and Kim Jong-Un’s sister Kim Yo-Jong. In April of that year, a historic meeting was held, in the border town of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone, between Kim Jong-Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In.

The two Korean leaders then met on two more occasions in 2018 and agreed on concrete measures to reduce tensions and spur joint cooperation. These included removing land mines along the common border and reducing the number of guard posts. In addition, a reunion was held for families who split up in the Korean War and ended up on each side of the border. However, the continued international sanctions against North Korea have put a stalemate on closer economic cooperation between the states and investments in North Korea.

Relations with the United States

Relations with the United States are particularly closely related to the game around the core program. Pyongyang ideally wants direct negotiations with Washington and only reluctantly agreed that other countries in the region participated in the six-party talks that lasted until 2009. North Korea counts the United States as its main enemy and accuses South Korea of ​​being its puppet state.

The relationship was extraordinarily much in tune with then-US President George W Bush’s 2002 speech on the “axis of evil” – North Korea, Iran and Iraq. When Barack Obama took office as president in 2009, there were hopes of thunderstorms. Instead, North Korea provoked the launch of a long-range robot and then a nuclear weapon.

After Donald Trump took office as new US president in January 2017, the relationship between the two countries became increasingly hostile as North Korea expanded its robot tests (see Calendar). The same spring, in conjunction with the annual military exercises between South Korea and the United States, when North Korea’s leadership has traditionally protested openly with threatening statements, the turmoil in the Korean peninsula increased again. But the Trump leadership made it clear that the goal was for North Korea to be piloted again in a dialogue on the nuclear program. To achieve this, diplomacy and further sanctions would be used. At the same time, the American press had also increased the pressure on China (see below) to actively participate in attempts to get North Korea on the right path.

After Kim Jong-Un suddenly began a rapprochement with South Korea in early 2018, he also came in the spring with an invitation to President Trump. This man surprisingly agreed to hold a summit with Kim Jong-Un. The meeting finally took place on June 12 the same year in Singapore. It was the first time a US president met with North Korea’s leaders. The two leaders discussed nuclear disarmament and signed a document to promote the Korean Peninsula to be free of nuclear weapons. The United States pledged to safeguard North Korea’s security and would also stop the recurring military exercises with South Korea. In addition, it was agreed to endeavor to establish a formal peace agreement after the Korean War. However, how it all went to was very unclear and therefore further meetings were needed.

In February 2019, Trump and Kim Jong-Un met at a second summit, this time in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi. Expectations were high before the meeting, both of the parties as well as the outside world. But the summit was stranded and had to be canceled prematurely. The countries blamed each other. The US believed that the North Koreans demanded too much, according to President Trump, to lift all sanctions, against the partial dismantling of the Yongbyon nuclear facility. It was stated from North Korean sources that they had only demanded that the sanctions introduced in 2016-2017 be removed.

Relations with China

Since the end of the Cold War, China has been North Korea’s closest ally. A friendship agreement was signed in 1961 between the countries where China promises to come to the rescue of North Korea in an external attack. Almost all of North Korea’s trade is done today with China, which is also an important source of food and energy for the North Koreans. But the relationship is complicated and China’s influence seems more limited than before.

Beijing has tried to intercept North Korea’s nuclear weapons test blasts in the early 2000s and participated in its condemnations. At the same time, China is believed to be more concerned about instability in the Korean Peninsula than for the nuclear weapons themselves. Beijing has supported UN sanctions against North Korea, but Chinese leaders have not wanted to resort to overly harsh methods to avoid the collapse of the Pyongyang regime. Not least, in China, there is a strong concern about a refugee storm across the common border.

After Kim Jong-Un took over the leadership of North Korea, relations cooled. But in early 2018, just before the planned US summit, Kim Jong-Un made a train trip to Beijing, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The trip, Kim Jong-Un’s first official trip abroad as a North Korean leader, was perceived by observers as a way to assure Beijing that it was not excluded from the negotiations that had begun on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Relations with Japan

Japan has joined South Korea and the United States in the conflict on the Korean Peninsula and Japan also has a military alliance with the United States. This has made North Korea perceive Japan as an enemy. Relations have been further strained by the difficult experiences of the North Koreans during the former Japanese colonial empire and a dispute over North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2002, Pyongyang acknowledged that 13 Japanese were kidnapped, of which five were sent back, but according to Tokyo, hundreds of Japanese may be detained in North Korea.

Defense

North Korea has the world’s fourth largest military power and is the most militarized country in terms of population. Military spending in recent years has been estimated at around one quarter of gross domestic product (GDP). The military has over one million soldiers and several million reservists. The military service can last up to twelve years in the army and up to ten years in the Navy.

It is unknown how many nuclear weapons North Korea has available: estimates range from 15 to 60. It can produce both highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear bombs. The sixth nuclear test 2017 was a hydrogen bomb and the most powerful to date.

With its robot tests, North Korea has also shown that it has developed several different types of robots, from short-range, to medium- and long-range weapons.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 1 100 000 men (2017)

The air Force: 110,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 60,000 men (2017)

Mongolia Defense and Foreign Policy

Mongolia Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Mongolia is a nation in Eastern Asia. Its capital city is Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia’s foreign policy is characterized by its geographical location, squeezed between Russia and China. From the beginning of the 1920s to the end of the 1980s, Mongolia was heavily dependent on the Soviet Union. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has been labeled as neutral. However, Russia has remained an important trading partner.

mongolia military spending and defense budget

The relationship with China is characterized by mutual suspicion, although it has improved since the early 1990s. Many Mongols still fear today that history should repeat itself and that the Chinese will again have a dominant role in the country (see Older history). China, for its part, is worried that a growing Mongolian nationalism will spread to the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia. However, China is the country’s largest trading partner and represents the largest foreign investment.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Mongolia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

In order to reduce the influence of the two neighboring countries, Mongolia has grown contacts with, above all, the United States, but also with Japan, South Korea, India and a number of EU countries. All have provided significant development assistance to the country.

Relations with the United States have improved significantly since the fall of the Mongol Communist regime in 1990. Mongolia condemned the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 and welcomed the government that succeeded the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that year. The US and Mongolia began military cooperation in 2005, which included, among other things, financial support for the Mongolian armed forces and joint military exercises.

Mongolia is one of the few countries in the world to have friendly relations with North Korea. The capital, Ulan Bator, has hosted talks between Japan and North Korea on the North Korean nuclear weapons program. Like other countries in the region, Mongolia is advocating the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

The religious ties between Mongolia and Tibet (both have Lama Buddhism as the main religion) have become stronger since the Mongols rediscovered their Buddhist heritage in the 1990s. Despite protests from China, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has visited Mongolia several times.

Defense

Mongolia mainly has a defense conscience. There are also paramilitary forces as well as an army reserve. The country’s fighting forces were significantly reduced during the 1990s for economic reasons. In recent years, military cooperation with Russia has contributed to the country’s military equipment, which is originally Soviet, being upgraded and modernized, including through the purchase of fighter aircraft. Mongolian soldiers have participated in exercises with both Russian, Chinese and American forces. Mongolian allies have also participated in international coalition forces or UN troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 8 900 men (2017)

The air Force: 800 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 0.7 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 2.1 percent (2017)

Maldives Defense and Foreign Policy

Maldives Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Maldives is a nation in Southern Asia. Its capital city is Male. In the international context, the Maldives emphasizes the fight against climate change. The country is particularly concerned about a good relationship with the nearest neighboring countries India and Sri Lanka. During the Yamin government (2013–2018) relations with India were strained by the Maldives’ approach to China.

Maldives Defense and Foreign Policy

Climate issues are central to low-lying island nations like the Maldives, which risk being completely submerged if sea levels rise as a result of climate change. The country has hosted several regional and international conferences on the subject several times. Former President Mohamed Nashid held a particularly high profile on the issue (see Modern History).

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Maldives for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

The Maldives spreads across one of the world’s busiest waters and thus holds a strategically important position. During the 2010s, the Maldives became more and more important to the two Asian superpowers China and India. During Abdulla Yamin’s reign as president, ties and dependence were strengthened by China, and the country was heavily indebted to Beijing. Trade between the two countries increased rapidly, as did Chinese investment in infrastructure in the Maldives. The number of Chinese tourists visiting the Maldives also increased sharply.

Under President Solih, the Maldives has once again strengthened ties with India, providing extensive aid to the island public and funding military investments such as radar systems and training centers. India and the Maldives also cooperate against piracy, terrorism, organized crime and smuggling through the patrol of the waters, air surveillance and information exchange.

With Sri Lanka, the Maldives cooperates primarily in tourism, trade, energy, fishing and telecommunications.

Maldives’ contacts with the UN, the EU, the US and other western countries deteriorated during the Yamin government because of the growing democratic shortcomings. Relations improved rapidly after Solih’s entry.

Under President Yamin, the Maldives withdrew from the Commonwealth in October 2016 following criticism from the organization against the government’s growing authoritarian rule. In December 2018, Solih’s coalition government applied for re-entry into the Commonwealth, which was realized in February 2020.

In 2016, the Maldives broke diplomatic relations with Iran. The official explanation was that the Maldives considered that Iran was undermining the peace and security of the Persian Gulf. Behind the decision was also Saudi Arabia, whose relations with Iran in recent years have greatly deteriorated and which promised large sums of assistance to the Maldives. Iran and the Maldives established diplomatic relations in 1975 but have never held embassies or consulates with each other.

The Maldives lack a proper defense. There is a semi-military national defense force that consists of about 2,000 men and handles both internal and external security. The Maldives regularly conduct military exercises together with mainly India and cooperate in security matters also with Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles.

2010

December

Seven ministers are forced to step down

President Nashid is being pressured by the DRP-led opposition in Parliament and forced to replace seven of his ministers since the opposition demanded it.

August

UN experts to the rescue

The UN sends legal experts to the Maldives to try to help resolve the political crisis, where the opposition in Parliament opposes the government’s reform proposals (see June 2010).

June

Stalemate in Parliament

The MDP-led government is accusing the opposition, with the DRP at the forefront, for making the country impossible to rule by opposing any reform proposals by the government parties. All ministers resign since the opposition threatened to direct a distrust vote against each of them. The government is reinstated a week later but the deadlock in Parliament remains.

Malaysia Defense and Foreign Policy

Malaysia Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Malaysia is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Kuala Lumpur. The emphasis of Malaysia’s foreign policy lies on the Southeast Asian community within ASEAN. At the same time, the country is active within the UN and has participated in many peacekeeping efforts in the world. Malaysia also wants to be a bridge builder between the Muslim and the non-Muslim part of the world. During the 2010 century, contacts with China have been significantly strengthened.

malaysia military spending and defense budget

Malaysia’s most important bilateral relations are still those with neighboring Singapore, although China is now competing for the spot as its main trading partner. Singapore is the largest exporting country. Relations with the city state in the south have been periodically strained due to territorial conflicts. In 2008, the International Court of Justice in The Hague granted Singapore the right to the Batu Puteh Rock Island in the Singapore Strait. Both countries had been disputing the island since 1979. At the same time, Malaysia was granted the right to a rock formation called Middle Rocks in the same area. Some territorial disputes arose when Mahathir Mohamad, who has a history of strained relations with Singapore, again became prime minister of Malaysia 2018. These disputes a year later appeared to have been resolved through ministerial talks.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Malaysia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Relations with Thailand in the north have long been disturbed by a separatist uprising among the Muslim population in southern Thailand (see Conflicts: Southern Thailand). The uprising has escalated since 2006. Thailand has accused Malaysia of supporting the separatists by not doing enough to prevent them from finding sanctuary inside Muslim Malaysia. Malaysia, for its part, has criticized Thailand for not doing anything about many civilians fleeing from the unrest in southern Thailand to the neighboring country in the south. Following a military coup in Thailand in 2014, relations have improved and countries have agreed to build a more than a mile-long wall in the southern Thai province of Songkhla. The purpose is to stop rebels and refugees from moving across the border.

Malaysia has mediated in the Mindanao conflict in the Philippines between the country’s government and the Muslim guerrilla Milf (Moro’s Islamic Liberation Front; see Philippines, Muslim separatists). Relations with the Philippines have been complicated by the so-called Sulu state of Sulu in the southern Philippines claiming the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. In 1878, Sulu handed over control of Sabah to the British for an annual fee. Malaysia still pays an annual fee to the Sultanate. In February 2013, a coastal community in Sabah was temporarily occupied by a Philippine armed group on the grounds that it belonged to Sulu (see Calendar).

Comprehensive labor migration

Relations with Indonesia are also periodically strained. Malaysia has repeatedly complained that health-threatening smoke from huge forest fires in Indonesian Borneo is devastating the air in the region. A subject of conflict is also the many Indonesian guest workers who illegally enter Malaysia, where the pay situation is higher than in the home country. Malaysia has in turn deported paperless Indonesians. At the same time, Indonesian authorities have reacted strongly to data that Indonesian labor was being treated poorly in neighboring countries. Between 2009 and 2011, Indonesians were prohibited from traveling to Malaysia to work as domestic servants. The ban was lifted after the two countries signed an agreement on improved working conditions for women. Cambodia also banned domestic maids from traveling to Malaysia for a period of time after reports of abuse. The Philippines has protested against mass deportations of Filipino citizens. In February 2018, there were 1.8 million registered guest workers in Malaysia, of which 40 percent came from Indonesia, 22 percent from Nepal and 15 percent from Bangladesh. Estimates of the number of paperless migrant workers vary between 3 million and 4 million.

In the 2010s, Malaysia has expressed growing concern over how the Muslim minority Rohingy is being treated in Myanmar (see Myanmar, Rohingy situation). In 2019, there were just over 84,000 registered Rohingya refugees in Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur government has criticized Myanmar for the military offensive in the state of Rakhine, which in 2017 led to nearly 800,000 Rohingy people being driven out of the country, and former Prime Minister Najib Razak termed the ban as genocide.

Like the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam and China, Malaysia claims the uninhabited Sprat Islands in the South China Sea, where there is probably oil beneath the seabed. In 2002, the parties agreed on a Code of Conduct which means that they must abstain from actions that may aggravate the situation in the area. Despite this, tensions have occasionally increased. Malaysia has kept a fairly low profile in the conflict and has thus been able to maintain a balance in relations with the parties involved.

Close relations with China

Despite the dispute over the Sprat Islands, relations with China are good. Trade between the two countries has increased significantly in the 2010s, and now China is Malaysia’s largest importing country.

During Najib Razak’s time as prime minister (2009–2018), Chinese investment in infrastructure development in Malaysia increased significantly, while Malaysia’s government debt grew rapidly. A series of agreements were signed on joint initiatives under China’s huge infrastructure project BRI (Belt and Road Initiative, or New Silk Road), where a number of train lines, road systems and ports, from China in the east to Europe in the west, are linked. When Mahathir Mohamad took over the Prime Minister’s post in 2018, a review of the contracts with China was promised. Several projects were temporarily halted and an important agreement on a railway line through Malaysia was renegotiated with a 30 percent cost reduction for Malaysia as a result.

Cooperations with China in the field of energy and defense have been extended. China has also financially supported Malaysia in connection with the 1MDB scandal (see Current Policy).

Strengthened ties to the United States

The United States is another important trading partner and one of the largest foreign investors. Malaysia and the United States cooperate on a number of security issues, including in the fight against terrorism.

Relations between the two countries have traditionally been good, with a few exceptions. For example, during his first term as prime minister in 1981–2003, Mahathir Mohamad gladly criticized what he saw as the Western racism and moral decay. In particular, he turned to the attempts to “impose” on Asia the Western view of human rights and democracy. During the Asian crisis in 1997, Mahathir accused “foreign speculators” of deliberately undermining Malaysia’s economy. A special target was US financier George Soros, and anti-Semitic outpourings of Mahathir aroused strong anger in the US Congress.

Gradually, Malaysian-American relations were normalized, but a few years later Malaysia’s reputation was damaged by the prison sentences against Anwar Ibrahim (see Modern History) and by the 1MDB scandal.

In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Malaysia has taken a stand for the Palestinians and lacks diplomatic relations with Israel. Najib Razak, as prime minister, received harsh criticism from, among others, Israel when, in January 2013, as the first leader outside the Arab world, he visited the democratically elected but terrorist-labeled Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

From February 2017, relations with North Korea deteriorated significantly when North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother Kim Jong-Nam was poisoned by two Southeast Asian women at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The approach led the mind to North Korea’s security service. When the trial against the women began in October of that year, they both said that they had been tricked into believing that the murder was a joke that would be part of an entertainment program on TV. The conflict with North Korea included, among other things, the handling of Kim Jong-Nam’s remnants and a departure ban temporarily imposed on Malaysians living in North Korea and vice versa. Both women were released unexpectedly in the spring of 2019, probably following pressure from their home countries, Vietnam and Indonesia (for more details, see Calendar).

Defense

In July 2014, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore began to jointly patrol the Strait of Malacca in an attempt to stop the piracy operations there. Since 2016, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines have been conducting joint naval exercises, which a year later were extended to include air and ground combat forces. The main objectives of the exercises were to curb kidnappings and Islamic terrorism.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 80,000 men (2017)

The air Force: 15,000 men (2017)

The fleet: 14,000 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.1 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 5.0 percent (2017)

Lebanon Defense and Foreign Policy

Lebanon Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Lebanon is a nation in Western Asia. Its capital city is Beirut. Prior to the civil war of 1975-1990, when the Christian groups dominated politics, Lebanon tried to remain neutral in the region’s conflicts while close relations with the West, especially France. During the war, Syria gained a strong grip on the country and since then both domestic and foreign policy have been dominated by the question of how Lebanon should relate to Syria.

lebanon military spending and defense budget

Syria has had a hard time accepting that Lebanon had broken out of the Syrian mandate in the 1920s, managed by the United Nations’ forerunner of the United Nations. During the civil war, Syria gained a stronger position in the country and became in practice an occupying power. A 1991 cooperation agreement allowed Syria and its friends in Lebanon to rule over the appointment of both president and government. The situation changed radically again in 2005, when the Syrian army was forced to leave Lebanon (see Modern History). Lebanon was now given more leeway.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Lebanon for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Which line since then characterized foreign policy has depended on which political block dominated the government. From 2005 to 2011, the government was led by the west-friendly March 14 alliance, which is also backed by Saudi Arabia and has a critical attitude towards Syria and Syria’s ally Iran (which is Saudi Arabia’s arch rival in the region). During this time, however, there was a closer relationship between the Lebanese government and Syria, which had its basis in a temporary tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia tend to act kingmakers in Lebanon. The Saudi Arabian tendency to intervene was demonstrated in a crisis in the fall of 2017, when Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri (who is also a Saudi citizen) was detained on Saudi soil for weeks, judging by his will.

In 2008, Syria recognized Lebanon’s independence. It was agreed to resume work on defining the border between the countries, with the exception of the disputed Sheba area, which is at the intersection of southeast Lebanon, southwestern Syria and northern Israel. The 25-square-kilometer area was occupied by Israel during the six-day war in 1967. Israel claims that the area belongs to the Golan Heights while the UN believes its maps show that Shebaa is Syrian territory, which Lebanon in turn questions. The residents of the village of Shebaa on the Lebanese side have for many years – until 1989 – used the agricultural land in the area, which is now a closed military zone.

With Israel, Lebanon has been formally at war since 1948 when the state of Israel was proclaimed and immediately attacked by surrounding Arab states. In 1949, a ceasefire was concluded, but no peace agreement was ever reached. Instead, Lebanon has formed the basis for both Hezbollah’s and Palestinian guerrilla groups’ attacks on Israel. Retaliation attacks from Israel have on several occasions caused havoc in Lebanon. The countries are also involved in a dispute about where the sea boundary between them should go (see Natural Resources and Energy).

Lebanon’s most important partner in the western world is the former colonial power of France. Today, France not only has contacts with the Christian minority but with several groups; after 2005 mainly with the March 14 alliance. In the EU, France has countered that Hezbollah would be designated a terrorist group (see Political system). France has also been active in providing financial assistance to Lebanon in times of crisis.

Relations with the rest of the EU are also good. The EU and Lebanon have an association agreement and the EU is also an important aid donor, not least in terms of funding for dealing with the refugee situation (see Population and languages). The EU and Lebanon cooperate in a number of areas, including reforming Lebanon’s legal system, electoral system and increasing transparency and efficiency in governance. Strengthened human rights are also in focus.

The Lebanese also have extensive contacts with the United States, which calls for Lebanon to remain a cohesive and democratic state. Washington has contributed large sums to the post-war reconstruction of Israel in 2006, and to the Lebanese army that the United States sees as vital to keeping Lebanon together. The countries also have a trade agreement. However, the US embassy in Beirut must be closely guarded because of US support for Israel’s policy and past terrorist acts against US targets.

Defense

The army, which is a professional army, is dominated by Sunni Muslims but has nevertheless been seen as a national force in Lebanon where many political groups have moved with their own militia. The army is deployed if necessary to try to curb local violence and mediate between combatants.

One problem is insufficient and outdated equipment but this is changing. Following the Islamic Islamist (IS) extreme expansion of the Islamic State (IS) in Iran and Syria, primarily the United States and Saudi Arabia, but also other countries, have provided billions of dollars in grants to equip the Lebanese army.

The strongest military force in Lebanon is Hezbollah’s armed branch, which is estimated to have about 20,000 men under arms, of which 5,000 are considered elite soldiers. Hezbollah is dependent on Iran for funding, training and weapons. Israel is monitoring the relations between Hezbollah and Iran to the best of its ability. One of the aims is to prevent Hezbollah from accessing precision controlled robots if possible.

There is some cooperation between Hezbollah and the army. Army soldiers, among others, received training and training from Hezbollah.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), established in 1978 to monitor Israel’s retreat from Lebanon, is still in the country and has the task, among other things, of guarding the border between Lebanon and Israel. The force comprises more than 10,000 men.

About our sources

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 56 600 men (2017)

The air Force: 1 600 men (2017)

The fleet: 1 800 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 4.5 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 15.6 percent (2017)

Sources

2010

October

Call for boycott by UN tribunal

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah calls on Lebanon to boycott the UN tribunal, which is reported to be in mascot with Israel.

Iran’s President Visits Lebanon

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is making a controversial visit to Lebanon, ending with a demonstration in Hezbollah’s stronghold near the Israeli border.

August

Hezbollah suspected to be behind murder

Leaking media in the West argues that the UN tribunal investigating the assassination of Hariri is leaning on Hezbollah who organized the assassination that took the life of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri five years earlier (see February 2005). Hezbollah launches a campaign to discredit the tribunal and presents material to prove that Israel was behind the murder instead.

Several dead in clash at the border

Three Lebanese – two soldiers and one journalist – as well as an Israeli military are killed when the Israeli and Lebanese military collide at the disputed border. The incident is the most serious since the 2006 war.

July

Storayatollan dead

Storayatollan Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah dies (see Religion).

Laos Defense and Foreign Policy

Laos Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Laos is a nation in Southeastern Asia. Its capital city is Vientiane. Lao’s geographical location, sandwiched between more powerful countries with different political systems, has long characterized the foreign-political relations. However, the relaxation after the Cold War has meant that the country now has relatively good contacts with all neighboring states.

Laos Defense and Foreign Policy

Regional cooperation has become increasingly important for Laos. Since the mid-1990s, work has been underway to integrate the four countries around the Mekong River: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. With expanded infrastructure and joint projects around the Mekong, the economies of the four countries will be linked.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Laos for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

In 1997, Laos became a member of the Southeast Asian cooperation organization Asean. Membership accelerates Lao’s integration with the economically more developed countries of the region.

Improved relations with Thailand

Relations with capitalist and US-friendly Thailand were long overdue. In 1984 and 1988, short-term fighting broke out at the border. The main problem was that the Lao guerrillas had bases in Thailand from where the attacked targets in the home country. From the early 1990s, relations improved since Thailand intervened several times to prevent guerrillas from making raids into Laos.

In 1991, the two countries agreed to allow the majority of about 60,000 Lao refugees in Thailand, most of whom are native to Hong Kong, to settle in the United States. As the refugee camps were emptied, support for the Laotian insurgency groups in Thailand decreased. Since then, the two neighboring countries have cooperated in bringing thousands of remaining Laotian refugees back to their homeland, usually against their will; There are reports that many of these refugees are having a hard time.

Across the border of the Mekong River, several bridges have been built between Thailand and Laos, the first in 1994. The first rail link between the countries was opened in 2009. Thailand also contributes to several projects in Laos. Among other things, the neighboring country is the main financier for the controversial Xayaburi dam that was inaugurated in 2019. Thailand buys almost all electricity generated there (see Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment).

Close ties to Vietnam and China

Communist Laos has had close relationships with communist Vietnam as well since the Indochina wars between the 1950s and 1970s (see Modern History). The relationship has been strengthened by the fact that over the past 30 years, countries have encountered similar problems during the transition from socialist planning economics to market-adapted economic conditions, without sacrificing the political dominance of the ruling Communist parties. Vietnam has made extensive investments in Laos since 1989.

Lao’s relations with China have been stable since the mid-1980s and can now be said to be as important as Lao’s relationship with Vietnam. The Chinese investment in Laos is greater than the Vietnamese and the Thai. However, the regime in Vientiane has been careful to try to balance the relationships without favoring anyone. Laos receives technical assistance and loans from China to expand the infrastructure, as well as buy Chinese-made weapons and other military equipment. Not least, China is financing several road construction projects in northern Laos. Moreover, the exchange consists of both trade and aid.

Japan, India and the United States

The Lao Government signed bilateral trade and cooperation agreements with Japan in 2000 and with India in 2002. With India, a broad financial and technical assistance program was signed in 2010 in a number of areas, including electric power projects. In 2011, India and Laos signed a free trade agreement. Japan has provided loans and assistance for infrastructure and bomb remediation in the 2000s and 2010s. Laos also has good relations with Myanmar and Cambodia.

Relations with the United States and other Western countries have improved since the end of the Cold War. Laos has helped the United States find the remains of Americans killed in the country during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s. They have also worked together to stop the opium cultivation in Laos and to destroy the bombs that the US dropped over the country during the Vietnam War.

1995 repealed the United States a 20-year aid embargo against Laos in 2004 resumed trade relations between the countries, and in 2012 visited Hillary Clinton Laos, the first US Secretary of State since 1955. The US has also been critical to the Lao government’s treatment of the Hmong population (see Population and language).

In September 2016, Laos was visited by Barack Obama, the first US President ever. Obama spoke to the Lao State leadership about the problem of the undetected US bombs in Laotian land, and about China’s growing influence in Southeast Asia. Obama pledged $ 90 million to bomb remediation, saying the United States has a “moral obligation” to help Laos heal the wounds after the war.

Defense

Lao’s defense is based on general military duty for at least 18 months. Alongside the regular military forces, there are semi-military associations in the form of “public security forces” for self-defense of rural villages and towns.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 25 600 men (2017)

The air Force: 3,500 men (2017)

The fleet: 600 men (2015)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 0.2 percent (2013)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 0.8 percent (2013)

Kyrgyzstan Defense and Foreign Policy

Kyrgyzstan Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Kyrgyzstan is a nation in Central Asia. Its capital city is Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan strives for good relations with both the old ruling power Russia and the new economic giant China. With its strategic location in the middle of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is important to the great powers. From 2003 to 2014, the country was alone in the world to house both a Russian and a US military base on its territory.

Kyrgyzstan Defense and Foreign Policy

Kyrgyzstan was one of the smallest and poorest Soviet republics, and completely dependent on the rest of the Soviet Union. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, ties to Russia weakened. However, the entry of Islamist guerrilla groups into the country after the turn of the millennium led to closer military and security cooperation between Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian countries under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Kyrgyzstan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Kyrgyzstan was a member of the Eurasian Economic Community (Eurasec), together with Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan until January 1, 2015, when Eurasec dissolved. At the same time, another regional cooperation organization, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), formally entered into force between Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia. Kyrgyzstan joined the EEU in August 2015.

The terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001 led to Kyrgyzstan also forging closer security policy ties with the United States. Kyrgyzstan joined the US-led Alliance on Terrorism, allowed US soldiers at Manas Air Base outside Bishkek and opened its airspace for US military flights fighting the Taliban regime and the al-Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan. It was balanced with the fact that Russia was allowed to station combat aircraft and soldiers on the Kant military base on the other side of Bishkek. In 2003, the Kant base became the first new Russian military base in a former Soviet republic following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Islamic terrorism

Around the turn of the millennium, armed Islamists from the Uzbek Islamic Movement (IMU) moved several times into Kyrgyzstan via Tajikistan from bases in Afghanistan (see Modern History). They raised concerns in the Muslim Fergana Valley, where Kyrgyzstan borders on Uzbekistan. Following a hostage frame in 1999, Kyrgyzstan held a military exercise with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan with the support of Russian military advisers. The cooperation has since continued.

In the densely populated Fergana Valley live a number of ethnic groups competing for land and water. The lively border trade is made more difficult when drug trafficking and armed groups are to be stopped. There are also old and new border disputes. Kyrgyzstan claims an Uzbek part of the Fergana Valley, and Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan dispute the Osh area of ​​Kyrgyzstan. There is also conflict over the river water, which flows down from the Kyrgyz mountains to the Uzbek plains. Uzbekistan is dependent on the river water for its huge cotton crops.

After the 2005 massacre at Andizjan in the Uzbek part of the Fergana Valley (see Uzbekistan, Modern History), many Uzbeks fled to Kyrgyzstan, which sought to resist the Uzbek regime’s pressure for the country to return the refugees. Uzbekistan’s security service has been active in Kyrgyzstan, and joint military operations have been carried out at the border of the Fergana Valley.

Relations with Uzbekistan sealed significantly in 2017 following a presidential shift in the neighboring country. Following President Mirzijojev’s accession to Uzbekistan 2016, significant progress was made in attempts to resolve the Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan border conflicts, and the value of trade between the two neighbors almost doubled in 2018.

The border with Tajikistan is partially unmarked and violent clashes occasionally erupt between livestock keepers about access to land and water. Since 2018, government-level work has been underway between the countries to speed up the process of marking the border.

China and the Uighurs

With growing trade, aid and investment, China’s economic – and political – significance for Kyrgyzstan has increased, which has worried both Russia and the United States. Kyrgyzstan borders on the politically troubled Chinese province of Xinjiang, where there are Uighurs who want their own state or want their rights respected. This makes the important relationship with China sensitive. Tens of thousands of Uighurs live in Kyrgyzstan, and according to the Beijing government, Islamist separatists have made raids from Kyrgyz territory bases into China, which has asked Kyrgyzstan to fight this activity.

Turkey and the Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan cooperate on a number of issues and the summits are held regularly. Iran has tried to increase its influence in Kyrgyzstan, but without much success. Saudi Arabia and other Arab states support mosque construction and offer loans to industry.

Kyrgyzstan, together with other former Soviet republics, is part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Kyrgyzstan and several CIS countries have a joint force against Islamic terrorism in Central Asia. The force is located in Bishkek.

Defense

Kyrgyzstan participates in the OSCE and has joined the NATO Partnership for Peace (PFP). The Kyrgyz support behind the US war in Afghanistan from 2001 has been rewarded with generous US assistance, but among the Kyrgyz there is opposition to US influence in the region.

In 2009, Kyrgyzstan threatened to close the US base Manas, but non-military transport was allowed to continue for another five years after the rent was sharply raised. At the same time, Russia was promised to establish a second military base in exchange for loans and assistance to Kyrgyzstan.

In June 2014, the US’s use of Manas for transit transports from Afghanistan ceased, and the approximately 1,000 US soldiers left the base. At the Kant base there are about 500 Russian soldiers. Negotiations for a second Russian military base have stalled.

Kyrgyzstan’s defense forces are small. The country relies on Russian and Uzbek military support to prevent guerrilla cross-border activity. Kyrgyzstan has also signed a security agreement with China on border surveillance. 18 months of general military service applies.

FACTS – DEFENSE

Army: 8,500 men (2017)

The air Force: 2 400 men (2017)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 3.2 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 7.8 percent (2017)

2005

October

Resignation claim after politician murder

A number of politicians with alleged ties to organized crime are murdered, triggering demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Bakijev and Prime Minister Kulov.

August

Kulov becomes new head of government

President Bakijev appoints Felix Kulov as new prime minister.

July

Bakijev becomes regular president

Acting President Kurmanbek Bakijev is elected as Head of State. According to Western observers, the choice is largely free and fair.

April

President Akaiev resigns

From the exile in Moscow, President Akajev reluctantly submits his resignation application. Thus, the so-called tulip revolution has been implemented.

March

Bakijev becomes new interim president

Kurmanbek Bakijev, leader of the Kyrgyz People’s Movement, is appointed prime minister and acting president of a temporary government. Felix Kulov, leader of the Kyrgyz People’s Congress, is released from prison (see Modern History) and given responsibility for police and security matters. Roza Otunbajeva becomes Foreign Minister.

President Akaiev flies after protests

The second round is held. The Election Commission announces that the opposition gets 5 out of 75 seats. The election results trigger demonstrations in southern Kyrgyzstan, where Akajev is unpopular. When the protests spread to the president’s home region in the north, he is forced to flee to Russia. The Supreme Court annuls the election because of widespread cheating.

February

Parliamentary elections are criticized for cheating

The first round of the parliamentary elections is held. Several opposition politicians are prevented from running for office. The opposition accuses the Akajev regime of electoral fraud, which is confirmed by European election observers. A wave of demonstrations is being carried out against President Askar Akajev and his regime.