Indian-Tajik air base negotiations expose India’s limited regional influence

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by black eagle, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. black eagle

    black eagle Senior Member Senior Member

    Nov 22, 2009
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    Indian-Tajik air base negotiations expose India’s limited regional influence

    New Analysis by Martin Sieff

    WASHINGTON, DC - Tajikistan’s foreign minister has publicly confirmed that India will not be allowed to operate a combat air force squadron from the country’s Ayni Air Base. This will end a nine-year dream for New Delhi of projecting its air power in Central Asia.

    The news, reported by the Calcutta Telegraph newspaper on January 1, came as no surprise. The Tajiks had signaled their decision to the Indians months ago and Indian staff who had renovated Ayni left in early 2010. But the Indian government had hoped against hope that they could reverse the decision. Instead, Tajikistan has publicly underlined the firmness of its initial decision.

    The affair is small but highly significant. The Indians had hoped that getting permission to use Ayni on a regular basis, as the Russian air force does, would give them a foothold of military influence in Central Asia.

    They also wanted to use the base to provide air support to the government of President Hamid Karzai fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    The affair, instead, proved to be a classic example of India’s limited ability to boost its power in Central Asia relative to other regional and global powers.

    One reason India failed in its efforts was that the Indians lack the financial clout that has allowed the United States to stay on the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, despite continued Russian efforts to have them evicted.

    Another reason is that although Tajikistan’s government is secular, it is facing a new wave of growing Islamic extremism across the country. Allowing predominantly Hindu India to operate out of Ayni, just six miles outside the capital Dushanbe in support of the Afghan government, would risk giving an emotional cause to the extremists.

    It would have also displeased China, one of the two dominant powers in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), of which Tajikistan is a member state. Though the SCO’s other major power, Russia, does not object to India joining the SCO -- which projects power across the heart of the Asian landmass – China has consistently blocked India’s accession to the organization.

    Ultimately, it was Russia that put its foot down leading the Tajiks to reject Indian access to Ayni.
    The Indians would have been aiding the U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan. And though Russia has been an Indian ally for decades, Russia wants more immediately the United States out of Afghanistan.

    The Indian effort to gain access to the base was also a bad political move.

    The Indian Foreign Ministry’s obsession with getting a squadron of Russian-supplied Mi-17 helicopters and MiG-29 fighter-bombers based at Ayni reflected a focus on superficial appearances rather than real interests. Such a small force would not have had an appreciable impact on the rise of Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Instead, it would have played into their hands by further discrediting Karzai as the puppet of Indian as well as U.S. forces.

    Also, Tajikistan is by far the poorest, weakest and least influential of Central Asia’s five former Soviet republics. It has no access to Caspian Sea hydrocarbons, little strategic interest and a level of silver deposits not yet worth putting in the effort to exploit.

    Having a small air force presence at Ayni would neither have raised revenue for India nor provided extra security for Tajikistan or Afghanistan. And it would not have contributed to India’s own defense or national interests.

    By trying too hard for too long to make that unnecessary dream come true, the Indian foreign ministry instead only demonstrated to the region, and a wider Asian audience, how limited its influence is in Central Asia compared to the other major power players on the Asian continent.
  3. JBH22

    JBH22 Senior Member Senior Member

    Jul 29, 2010
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    When defeat comes accept it as a signal that your plan were not sound,rebuild your plans and set sail once again towards your much coveted goal~Napoleon Bonaparte
  4. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

    Aug 20, 2010
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    Gangtok, Sikkim, India
    Partially correct. It is not about financial clout but about saving one's own house before playing fireman for a neighbouring country. India's internal problems that are there today, merit that we should not be having any clout at all--forget air force bases.

    U-t-t-e-r b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t. Tajikistan was a base for non-Muslim Russians even after USSR fall. What does he expect? Us to convert to their religion (which is not theirs originally) to gain a base? Eff off. India has better ties with Muslim countries than Muslim countries have with each other. And no one can deny that despite being Hindu majority. It is our historical identity and we of no matter what faith today, are proud to be historically that. Take it or leave it.

    This has been the main reason I believe and the most plausible factor behind our failure to access a base. China was smart in first solving internal conflict brutally by showing "The Finger" to bigoted Human Rights. Now that entire China is peaceful and progressive, they can set their eyes on outside world. In our case it is:

    आग घर में लगी है और बालटी लेकर पड़ोस में जा रहे हैं "।

    This government cannot solve matters inside our country. I am glad that Tajikistan refused because if they had agreed, rather than solving existing problems, this vile government would only try to show its stupid ceremonial so-called clout and make a joke out of us.

    Again rubbish. Russia was the first powerful region who supported US stay in Afghanistan since she herself is too weak to return back after Soviet collapse. Why the heck does the author think that it offered NATO the CAR alternative supply route? Russians know and understand that as long as US is there in Af-Pak, the curb of Jihad and its evil ideology is possible via blocking out local extremist bodies in CAR countries funded by Salafists in Saudi. Remember that the Uzbek military has already started facing jihadi attacks.

    Last thing Russia wants is a Taliban loving outlook under its belly.

    Regarding their refusal, I am disappointed. But this is a blessing in disguise with regard to the Hindi saying I mentioned above. This government is not worthy of getting a base outside without having the gonads to solve internal problems.

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