Israel has long had deep links with some ASEAN member-states, while its relationship with others are more fragile or less developed.
A small contingent of Israeli officials attended a conference in Malaysia, which has long retained a stiff anti-Israel posture. Post-visit, the Israelis spoke positively of the experience, with hopes for a thaw in relations; the Malaysians, not so much.
THERE is a group that was described by a senior US security official 15 years ago as the "A-Team of terrorists" and has only gone from strength to strength in the years since then. This group perpetrates violent acts against civilians, calls for mass murder and, by its own admission, doesn't differentiate between its political and military arms.
Yet Australians are effectively free to fly this group's flag, fill its coffers and offer it material support, even as its operatives undertake terrorist activities in our region.
With Malaysia's next national election due to be held by August this year, voters will have their say on a government that over the past five years has been wracked with financial scandals, a crackdown on dissent, the jailing of the popular opposition leader, and religious bigotry fed by Islamic hardliners, not to mention a leader - a scion of the establishment - accused of massive corruption.
Under Prime Minister Najib Razak, the Malaysian government has long touted the merits of a cohesive and inclusive multi-religious society in the Muslim-majority nation...
But a string of racial and religious incidents has brought concerns of rising Islamic conservatism to prominence, as the government plays on identity issues to widen not only its advantage ahead of the coming election season but also the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Lowy Institute analyst Rodger Shanahan bizarrely argued that "much of Iran's attraction in the Arab world is the result of discriminatory policies towards Shia populations in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, or the unwillingness of Arab states... to compete diplomatically or economically with Iran..."
Since the 1979 Iranian revolution the regime has run a foreign policy based on exporting its radical anti-Western pro-Shi'ite Islamism to the rest of the region. It has everything to do with Iran's hegemonic ambition for Iranian-led Shi'ite Islam to overwhelm the majority Sunni strand. It is therefore not popular, but overwhelmingly unpopular, among Sunni Arabs - that is, most Arabs.
Amidst the army crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine State that has seen about 300,000 of the Muslim minority Rohingyas flee to Bangladesh, there are signs that the conflict is set to steadily deepen as nationalist identities collide with ethnic and religious loyalties.
Narendra Modi's historic first time visit to Israel in July by an Indian Prime Minister was not unnoticed in Australia.
On ABC Radio National "Between the Lines" (Aug. 3), American Enterprise Institute fellow Sadanand Dhume explained the import of Modi's visit, saying, "This is really a revolution in Indian foreign policy... Not only did Modi visit Israel but he did not visit the Palestinian territories during that visit. He and Netanyahu were virtually inseparable during the course of Modi's visit and what Modi is essentially saying is that India is a big enough country, is a confident enough country to pursue its national interests with Israel and the Arab world and others are just going to have to suck it up."
After weeks of fighting, Philippine security forces still face stiff resistance from militant fighters spread across the sprawling city, which now lies in ruins. Government troops have suffered heavy casualties due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and snipers...
Although the fighting has now been contained to a limited area, a knockout blow appears impossible in an area awash with weapons and where militants can dissolve into jungle hideaways.