Indian hot seat in Arab Spring

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by ejazr, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Indian hot seat in Arab Spring

    New York, Aug. 3: Between external affairs minister S.M. Krishna and his permanent representative at the United Nations headquarters, Hardeep Singh Puri, the world body is being shorn of its holidays.

    August is normally marked by a sense of somnolence at the UN, when its civil servants and envoys from member countries take their holidays and little other than emergency work is transacted on Turtle Bay, the part of Manhattan which houses the UN and its key permanent missions.

    But not this year. Puri, who assumed the presidency of the UN Security Council on Monday, will not have any opportunity to let the grass grow under his feet.

    Within hours of the Indian presidency, Puri received six requests in writing to call an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the raging violence in Syria between protesters demanding political reform and the government of President Bashar al Assad.

    By 5pm, the Council was in consultations and Britain reintroduced its two-month-old resolution on Syria with technical updates.

    But with India in the chair, none of the big powers want to take any chances and will want their ambassadors to forgo their August holidays, stay put in New York and not leave the business of running the Security Council to junior diplomats as they always did at this time in previous years.

    That is because India is not one of the cabal that is used to “managing” the Council as a relic of the post-World War II geopolitical equations. Nor is India anyone’s poodle in the Council, unlike some others who are prepared to play that role.

    Puri made it plain yesterday at the customary media briefing given by permanent representatives to outline the Council’s monthly work at the start of their rotating chairmanships that India is “deeply worried about the situation in Libya”.

    That, for instance, is not something the Council’s cabal wants to hear. That sort of talk is also new in this chamber because India is assuming the presidency of the Council after nearly two decades.

    The western powers which pushed Libya into its present predicament misled the Council in March into believing that popular discontent against Muammar Gaddafi was so pervasive that all that was needed to topple him was a little push from the UN.

    The Indian permanent representative revealed yesterday that he had warned the Council when it was passing resolutions to act on Libya that a “calibrated” approach, instead of headlong involvement, was called for. Otherwise, options would be exhausted creating a stalemate of the present kind.

    Yesterday, he warned against repeating the mistakes of March on Libya in the case of Syria. Some members are calling for fortnightly reporting to the Council by secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on the situation in that country, for example.

    But Puri asked what the Council would do if the Syrians simply failed to comply with the prescriptions by Ban and approved by the UN. He, therefore, called for caution in dealing with Damascus.

    Even as Puri advised caution in the Council, the external affairs minister used India’s influence in Damascus to propose that Assad’s government should “exercise restraint, abjure violence and expedite the implementation of political reforms taking into account the aspirations of the people of Syria”.

    At the same time, Krishna “expressed concern on the recent escalation of violence”. His meeting on Monday with Syria’s vice-foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, has brought India into reckoning in the crisis triggered by popular uprisings in the Arab world.

    Mekdad was on a tour of India, Brazil and South Africa, prompting questions at the UN yesterday if the three countries, the IBSA group, was trying to evolve a common position in the Council.

    Puri chose his words carefully and said the present composition of the Council was unique and “interesting”. It has five permanent members, five aspiring permanent members and the rest, “sovereign and independent states”.

    In a sign that India was following its independent line on Syria, Puri pointed out that more than 350 Syrian security personnel had been killed and the country’s infrastructure had been damaged, pointing to violence on both sides.

    It is clear that India would make every effort during its presidency to restore some of the lost authority of the Council. Decades ago, the Council took “decisions” instead of merely passing resolutions.

    The Indian permanent representative pledged yesterday to “find an innovative way of doing it” all over again because the UN Charter does not call for “resolutions”. It calls for “decisions” by the Council.

    As in the case of Syria, India has been active on Libya at a bilateral level. Libya’s foreign minister Abdel Aati al Obeidi was in New Delhi 10 days ago when the minister of state for external affairs, E. Ahamed, called for “immediate cessation of all hostilities and support(ed) peaceful resolution of the Libyan crisis through dialogue”.

    Ahamed also “expressed support for the African Union-High Level Ad-hoc Committee initiatives and the African Union Road Map for the peaceful and consensual resolution of the conflict”, according to South Block.

    Puri pointed out yesterday that Security Council resolution 1973 called for cessation of hostilities, but the Council now finds itself in a situation where “it cannot act on its own resolution”.

    A highlight of the Indian presidency will be a thematic debate on August 26 on UN Peacekeeping Operations, a subject in which India has an important stake.
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    www.outlookindia.com | The Pillars Of Hind

    Amidst convulsions rocking West Asia, a special, new role for India


    What Libya, Syria Want
    *Libya wants India to support steps for resolving conflict amicably
    *Gaddafi keen on ceasefire, lifting of sea-blockade and no-fly zones
    *In return, he is willing to keep away from the process to determine the country’s future
    *Syria wants India to counter talks of imposing sanctions on it

    Why India?
    *India is in the chair of the UNSC for the month of August
    *It believes it has the clout to dissuade the West from adopting a harsher measure
    *Western powers feel India, with its increased economic and military might, has an interest in the stability of the Arab world


    On July 21, ten days before India assumed the chair of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) according to its logic of rotation, the beleagured Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, sent his foreign minister, Abdel Aati Al Obeidi, to New Delhi with a pointed brief—enlist the UPA government’s help in finding an amicable, negotiated solution to the civil war convulsing his country. Ten days later, winging his way to New Delhi was Fayss Al Mekdad, vice-foreign minister of Syria, where a popular demand for democracy and regime change is being met with such ferocity that the regime’s diplomatic stock is sinking. His agenda was similar to Obeidi’s—request India’s assistance to preserve the status quo.

    Observers whose job it is to decode subtle signals in diplomacy ask: does the courting of India by Libya and Syria reflect India’s rising stock in the Arab world? Or have they come only because as a non-member of the UNSC, India opposed and ultimately abstained from voting on a resolution that sanctioned a limited armed intervention in Libya by western powers? Indian officials neatly sidestep such questions, and say India’s stand on Libya was taken both on the basis of principle and ground realities. An external affairs ministry (MEA) official says, “When we abstained from voting, we knew the situation in Libya will only deteriorate further if there was armed intervention by outside forces. That’s exactly what has happened.”

    The West’s decision to intervene in Libya, sources in the Indian establishment say, stemmed not only from the altruistic desire to protect innocent civilians but was also driven by oil politics. Cables from the US embassy, despatched from Tripoli to Washington between 2007 and 2008 and spilled into the public domain by WikiLeaks, testify to the growing concerns of western oil companies, including those of America, over Gaddafi’s proposal to renegotiate stiffer business terms with them. They feared other oil-producing countries might follow suit, as they had done in the early 1970s. An additional complaint was Gaddafi’s handing out lucrative contracts in this sector to countries like China, Russia and, to some extent, India.


    This doesn’t mean India is oblivious to the autocratic nature of the Gaddafi regime. They know its legitimacy has been greatly undermined after the Arab Spring, which has seen pro-democracy sentiments blow across the Arab world—and against its dictators and monarchs. It was in this context that the West’s intervention in Libya came, and India, a democratic country, couldn’t have openly ignored the popular demand for a representative and inclusive government.

    The armed involvement (airstrikes directed at regime forces and other targets), though, have failed to dislodge Gaddafi thus far, and signs of a grinding stalemate have injected a dose of reality into the expectations of contending parties. Claiming that Gaddafi now wants an “honourable exit” from the current crisis, South Block officials say they were given a peek into a new proposal that suggests an immediate declaration of ceasefire, cessation of hostilities, an end to the naval blockade and lifting of the “no fly zone” by western powers to create a situation for an amicable settlement. Officials here feel that Gaddafi is now not only willing to step down, but would also stay away from any process seeking to involve Libyans for deciding the country’s fate as well as his—such a course of events in fact constitutes the road map of the African Union (AU). New Delhi feels that either the AU or an independent outfit could oversee the transition in Libya.
    In a similar stand, India has also advised Damascus against using brute force to stifle popular opinion against the autocratic regime and suppress protesters on the streets. This could enable India to fine-tune its stance at a time when the West has begun to increasingly talk of imposing sanctions on Syria.

    As events unfold in these two countries, there’s no denying that it has opened space for India to play a more meaningful role in the region vital to it both politically and economically. India has over 6.5 m people in the region, which is also its main source for energy as well as being an important trade and investment destination. Former Indian diplomat R. Dayakar, who has spent many years in the Arab world, says, “India should use its soft power to play a more proactive role in this region.”

    Perhaps India can now employ its soft power and re-engage with the Arab world because of the overlapping of certain propitious factors—it’s in the UNSC, its economic and military might has increased in the recent past, and it has acquired a new importance for western powers in matters related to Asia. And it isn’t just the Arab world which recognises India’s new salience in the emerging world order. Even the US have begun to engage with New Delhi on the Arab world, as evident from last month’s first-ever dialogue between India and the US on West Asia. Similarly, most other powers—Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany—have entered into consultations with India on the future political landscape of the Arab world. Even the final document of the India-Africa Summit, held in Ethiopia in May, talked of participating leaders sharing their views and concerns for resolving the Libyan imbroglio.

    Chinmaya Gharekhan, who was till recently the prime minister’s special envoy for West Asia, told Outlook, “We shouldn’t look at our presence in the UNSC as a probationary period. We should look at the developments in this region from our national interest.” Gharekhan was referring to those in the West, particularly in America, who never tire of harping that India’s aspiration to get a permanent seat in the UNSC could depend on how it conducts itself and the stand it takes during its current two-year stint as a non-permanent member of the UNSC. In other words, the desire for a permanent UNSC seat shouldn’t lure India to dance to the American tune, at the expense of compromising its interests.
     
  4. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    I think we should use this position to even try tightening our leash at Pakistan. The iron is still hot as Chinese are licking their wounds off the recent jihadi love their all weather friends showed them.
     
  5. Godless-Kafir

    Godless-Kafir DFI Buddha Senior Member

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    This is a good challenge for India to step up and show its maturity, instead of being shy as it was before. However the great Kongress party is an epic fail.
     
  6. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    India's Arab Spring opportunity – Global Public Square - CNN.com Blogs

    New Delhi has a golden opportunity to assist in supporting democratic regimes in the Arab World. It’s in its own interests to seize this chance.

    The fall of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi stands as the latest, most dramatic episode in the explosive changes roiling today’s Middle East. As Libyans—and their counterparts in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and elsewhere—start down the difficult path of political change, India possesses a historic opportunity. In recognition of its growing global role and its status as the world’s largest democracy, India can play a unique role in supporting the democratic forces that have produced the Arab Spring.

    Identifying ways to do so would recognize a central geopolitical fact of our time: New Delhi is increasingly drawn into decision-making in the world’s most critical regions. Earlier this year, India voted with the other great powers on the UN Security Council to sanction Libya following Colonel Gaddafi’s brutal crackdown. Millions of Indians in the Middle East today are literal witnesses to history as Arab publics agitate for the same freedoms Indians themselves enjoy. And New Delhi’s posture toward developments in countries like Syria and Iran are of increasing consequence for decision-makers and publics alike.

    These developments position New Delhi to help shape the Middle East – home to five million Indian citizens and most of India’s energy supplies. India is in fact better placed to work with the people of the region than nearly any other power. As the Times of India has noted, recent events ‘present an opportunity to project New Delhi’s soft power, which is considerable in the region. (India) presents a working democratic model in a sociocultural environment far closer to the Gulf’s than Western democracies are—and with none of the political baggage of the latter.’

    Officials have been understandably modest about India’s possible contribution to the Arab awakening. ‘(D)epending on how the situation develops, India will certainly try to position itself to be of advantage to forces of democracy so dear to India’s heart,’ says External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. But he remains cautious: ‘India does not believe in interfering in the affairs of another country. We will take the cue at an appropriate time depending on how they want India to help. India will be willing to be of some assistance to them. But let the situation arise.’

    It would appear that the situation has indeed arisen. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has raised the possibility of Indian support for upcoming elections in Egypt. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, has approached India for help with conducting nationwide elections. Given India’s remarkable success in regularly organizing elections for hundreds of millions of its citizens, it’s uniquely positioned to provide this expertise.

    But might this be only the beginning, rather than the sum total, of India’s efforts on behalf of Middle East democracy? After all, the non-interventionist tradition is a relic of the time when India was weak and poor. It seems ill-fitted to the foreign policy of a country increasingly strong and prosperous.

    As demands for democratic change swell from Benghazi to Beijing, India’s liberal system gives it a unique strategic advantage that New Delhi should seize.

    India today brands itself on the world stage as ‘the fastest growing free market democracy’—drawing a none-too-subtle distinction with its Chinese rival. Acting on this belief, India already has worked to strengthen democratic institutions in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and, most prominently, Afghanistan.

    India was one of ten founding members of the Community of Democracies and a leading co-founder of the UN Democracy Fund, dedicated to promoting good governance and human rights around the world. India has participated in the multilateral activities of the Center for Democratic Transitions, the Partnership for Democratic Governance, and the Asia-Pacific Democracy Partnership.

    New Delhi hasn’t just a moral stake, but also a national interest in building on this record in the new Middle East. Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and the Gulf states will need to establish the institutions of good governance, from strong political parties to independent judiciaries. New Delhi’s advice and assistance would make these countries better homes for Indian workers, better allies in stabilizing a region of great strategic importance to India’s development, more reliable energy suppliers, and more prosperous trade and investment partners.

    The crisis of governance in the Arab world also presents an opportunity to strengthen US-India ties. Whether working together with India or independently toward similar ends, the world’s largest democracies bring complementary strengths to the hard task of building a culture of democracy across the Arab world.

    Arab publics are clamouring for reform. Supporting them isn’t a policy of regime change or the imposition of outside values. It is nothing more than pursuing at once our interests and our values.



    Richard Fontaine is Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Daniel Twining is Senior Fellow for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Each previously handled South Asia policy at the US State Department and served as Sen. John McCain’s foreign policy adviser in the US Senate.
     
  7. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Mani Shankar and Swapan in a healthy debate on should India be pro-west or take an independent stand on the Arab spring. Watch the video at the link below.

    India, Libya and the Arab Spring

    It has been just over a week since the violent street execution of Libya former dictator Moammar Gaddafi - the shocking climax of what's being called the Arab Spring which began in Tunisia, progressed in Egypt with the overthrowing of Hosni Mubarak, engulfed Yemen and sparked protests in Syria - popular uprisings that dramatically changed the political landscapes of the Arab world with three deeply entrenched regimes being toppled. India for its part has stuck to its non-interventionist position, but can it remain insulated from developments in West Asia, home to some five million Indian citizens and most of India's energy supplies. On Politically Incorrect, we ask if India has to be pro-west to be proactive?
     
  8. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

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    do we have so much of mobile assets to put in this arab mess. diplomacy is all what India can do in here. and yes safe exit for dictators so that we can have some share from the treasury of these nation('s dictators)
     
  9. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    If India knows a thing or two about Arabian revolutions,those brief spell of wet shower to relive an otherwise scorched political landscape,its that they usually are a prelude to the next.Revolutions in the Arab world do not always usher in lasting democracy and the mandarins in the foreign office this all to well to make any hasty policy shifts,posturing is all we can be expected to make at this time.

    The rising stock of the Islamists in the shaping of the future governance in key Arab states will make it extremely difficult for India to be sensitive to western stand on the Arab front.The Islamist led Muslim brotherhood is touted to be sure winner in a free election is held in Egypt and the Islamist have forged a united opposition to oust Assad in Syria.In Libyan the chairman of the transition regime has made statements to the effect that Libya will be Islamic state governed by Islamic laws.With the Arab spring taking on a distinctly Islamist hue,where does this leave the west.

    While International geopolitics often throws up strangest bed partners,Islamist and the west will arguably be the strangest and this current bonhomie between west and Islamist led opposition on the Arab street will not last beyond this spring.India traditionally has not had much problem hobnobbing with Islamist regimes(eg the Iranians) while we can keep our finger crossed on the Arab spring giving way to the summer of Arab democracy,we wont be too anxious over it.

    The way things are moving in Middle east,India is unlikely to find itself in the western camp,more likely we will be finding excuses to explain why we aren't.
     
    W.G.Ewald likes this.

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