Friday, June 21, 2024

The Hegemon’s bluff in West Asia isn’t fooling New Delhi

The United States never had it as bad in West Asia since World War II as it is these days. 

Syria was admitted this week in the Arab League; the US’ dirty tricks in the presidential elections in Turkey, due today, may not matter; Iran has forged an “axis of resistance” along with Iraq and Syria in the Levant, thumbing its nose on Israel; and good, old India is acting coy. 

Anyone for Abraham Accords? You must be joking. 

The fast-paced events of this week must begin with Syria, the nation which for 11 long years suffered the worst of lies and sanctions; loot and terrorism; thousands murdered and millions displaced. Syria has been welcomed in the Arab fold; inside the same Arab League which had suspended its membership 11 years ago followed by most Arab nations closing down their embassies in Damascus. 

The US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had rushed to Jeddah and met Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman last Saturday in a last-minute bid to retain Syria a pariah but Saudi Arabia is full of scorn for its big brother these days. 

Sullivan had also indulged in a gallery play in inviting officials from the UAE and India, besides Saudi Arabia, in a bid to project how the Hegemon could still shape the West Asia in its image.  

For good effect, the US mouthpiece Indian Express, in a front page screamer, gloated how the US would link West Asia with India, and South Asia, through rail and sea lanes, inarguably a dire need for New Delhi to have access to the vast Eurasian landmass in its north. 

Yet, all this shadow play was fooling no one. 

For one, India doesn’t need the US these days to reach out to Gulf. Two, why would New Delhi gang up against the SCO’s enlarging footprint in the region in which it itself has played a major role? 

Only days before the Jake Sullivan invite, India’s NSA Ajit Doval was in Tehran cosying up with Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi and lending an ear to foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. 

Then the day Sullivan was unrolling his fantasy plan for West Asia with India as an important plank, the charismatic Indian foreign minister Dr S Jaishankar was noting with delight in Goa how close Iran was to becoming a full-fledged member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). (Iran would become a formal member of the SCO in its Summit on July 3-4 in India).

The United States of course hopes to cobble together friends who could throw a spanner in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the region and relies on New Delhi’s disquiet with Beijing. 

Yet for good effect the foreign ministers of the two Asian giants, during the SCO ministerial last week, appeared cosier than they had been in a long time. (Foreign Affairs, in an article titled “The Wrong US Bet on India” wrote with palpable dismay that “New Delhi will not side with Washington against Beijing.”)

Then Washington have a thorn in Iran which is twisting its knife deeper in the US’  flesh by the minute. If it wasn’t a nightmare that Saudi Arabia and Iran now have embassies in each other’s Capitals, we now hear that Raisi was in Damascus, holding fort with the Palestinians amidst offering Syria goodies last week.

Syria was promised power plants, expansion of credit line, exchange of loan currencies, creation of banks, all to facilitate more trade and infrastructure, to go with military and oil support. A railway line between Syria, Iraq and Iran has been set in motion; the access of pilgrims to holy site in Iran and Syria agreed upon. 

So is the resolve of most Arab nations, led by Saudi Arabia, to restore Syria in the Arab fold and help it recover: Though the removal of the United States, occupying one-third of Syria in its northeast, and looting its oil and beefing Kurdish terrorists, looks a long shot. 

All this ought to have upset the United States and it surely has for Washington has condemned the return of Syria in the Arab League. Propagandists, such as The Economist, could keep going shrill: “Assad has done nothing to merit a renewed embrace…”

The US could issue endless rounds of sanctions against the defiant Arabs under the Caesar’s law for supporting Iran and Syria but nobody seems to care.

Under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, 2019, the US sanctions could be applied against individuals and institutions that help Damascus develop oil production and forge commercial relations. But the Arabs have chosen to bite the bullet. 

Arabs’ disdain to the US is also because be it Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE, not to say their leader Saudi Arabia, all are in line to become  the dialogue partners in the SCO. 

It’s a journey which could spread to Africa and you could understand the nightmare it is for the Washington. 

The US has relied all along to whip up anti-Iran hysteria but now Tehran occupies a high seat in vital manoeuvres on West Asia and most are embracing Syria with open arms. 

Presidential Elections in Turkey

The United States is heavily backing the six-party opposition coalition against Recep Erdogan in the presidential elections today. Turkey under Recep Erdogan has refused to join US sanctions against Russia on Ukraine Conflict. Ankara also isn’t inclined to violate the Montreux Convention which prohibits the passage of warships to and from the Black Sea in times of war. 

A coalition in power in Turkey could be easily manipulated—that’s the thinking in Washington. Yet the opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu could surprise the Hegemon.

Turkey’s foreign policy is rooted in its history and geography. It sees itself as a “civilizaitonal state.” It prefers autonomy than to be a vassal which Europe presently is to the Hegemon. 

It was Turkey only which risked the US sanctions to militarily intervene in northern Cyprus half a century ago. It hasn’t minded a bit that Cyprus and Greece continue to veto its accession to the European Union (EU). 

Turkey distrusts Washington from much before the failed CIA-backed coup attempt in 2016. The US alliance with separatist Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq is meant to destabilize Turkey. And then there is this nurturing of  Fethullah Gulen who works overtime against Erdogan, sitting in Pennsylvania. 

Further, Kilicdaroglu himself is pro-Assad. Erdogan’s exit won’t grow Turkey and Russia apart. Even during the Cold War, Turkey had largely kept an equal distance between Washington and Moscow. 

Turkey today can’t do without the $20 billion Akkuyu nuclear power plant, built thanks to Russian company Roastom. Turkish companies use cheap energy from Russia to make competitive products in the European market. 

So Arabs are finally wising up what Muammar Gaddafi once told the Arab League in a summit: One day the US would be trying to remove each leader sitting at the table. 

So ought to remember New Delhi for as in Turkey where the US is aiding the six-party coalition against Recep Erdogan, in India there would be ceaseless attempts by the Hegemon to have Narendra Modi lose the 2024 elections, replaced with a coalition which could dance to its tune. 

India, meanwhile, is forging ahead in positioning itself in world arena for tomorrow. India and Iran are learnt to be working out how to trade in their national currencies. 

So Saudis have warmed up to Iran; India is looking up to make up for the lost years with Tehran which in turn has played a pivotal role in making Syria join the Arab fold. 

The sequence of events of last two decades just flash by in mind: 9/11 followed by Iraq War; Yemen and then horrors on Syria; Iran spurned from the diplomatic table to today when all appear lost for the Hegemon and its grand game of controlling West Asia and its oil, and thus the world. 

The globalist world order is unravelling faster than we all thought. Do hold on to your seat belts. 

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