How the West’s focus on COVID-19 is being used to further crises

Trauma in Afghanistan, turmoil in the Gulf and tension in Hong Kong – security crises have not stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, some powers are accused of using the COVID-19 distraction to their own advantage.

“Anyone who wants to get on with things without the West noticing will be exploiting this opportunity,” said Lord Ricketts of Shortland, a former UK national security adviser.
Here are some of the crises that have been going on during the pandemic:
Afghanistan

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The United States signed a peace deal with arch-foe the Taliban in February just as coronavirus was infecting the world.

It should have been a historic moment for Afghanistan after almost two decades of war.

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Image: Attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan have continued despite a peace agreement with the US being signed in February
But the ink had barely dried before attacks on US-backed Afghan forces ramped up again.
The problems are political as well. A contested presidential election delayed attempts to begin crucial talks between Afghan officials and the Taliban.
Hopes for a breakthrough remain low but US forces are still reducing in numbers.
Expect violence in Afghanistan to do the opposite.
Iran
Before coronavirus, a conflict between Iran and the United States threatened to be the defining crisis of 2020.
The relationship has been hostile since President Donald Trump tore up a nuclear deal with Tehran two years earlier. But the standoff nearly triggered a regional war after an Iranian-backed militia targeted US-led coalition forces in Iraq.

Image: Iran accidentally shot down a Ukraine International Airlines flight in January as it prepared for a US attack
The US responded by killing top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in January. Cue an outpouring of grief, rage and then an Iranian missile strike against US troops.
No soldier was killed. Instead Iran accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet as its air defences braced for a US counter-attack.
That never came but a new flashpoint remains likely.
Hong Kong and the South China Sea
Another part of the world to watch is China.
There is mounting friction with the United Kingdom over Hong Kong. London accuses Beijing of imposing a new security law that undermines the freedoms enjoyed by residents in the former British territory. China disagrees.

Image: Clashes on the disputed China-India border killed 20 Indian soldiers in June in the worst violence there for more than four decades
Regional disagreements are mounting too, including Taiwan and the ownership of islands in the South China Sea; and – most recently – between China and next door India.
Twenty Indian soldiers died and 76 were injured when they clashed with Chinese troops in the disputed Himalayan border region in June.
It was the worst violence between the two nuclear powers in more than four decades.

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Coronavirus is of course a crisis for everyone.
But world leaders ignore these other major challenges at their peril.

Source : Sky News