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Rediff.com  » News » Syria vote: India falls for charms of 'green money'

Syria vote: India falls for charms of 'green money'

February 05, 2012 20:00 IST
India should have abstained from voting for the draft resolution backing an Arab League peace plan for Syria at the United Nations Security Council, opines former diplomat M K Bhadrakumar

The Indian decision to vote in favour of the Arab League's resolution on Syria at the United Nations Security Council is riddled with contradictions. India should have abstained, at the very least.

To be sure, India spoke up on the issues surrounding the complex and evolving Syrian situation with great clarity and perspicacity. India's permanent representative to the United States Hardeep Puri echoed more or less what his Russian and Chinese counterparts Vitaly Churkin and Li Baodong maintained during the debate on the Arab League resolution.

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Quite obviously, India empathises with the guiding principles that Russia and China are standing for. Thereafter, Puri inexplicably made a volte-face and voted for the AL resolution, while Russia and China 'double-vetoed' it. Why did Delhi instruct Puri to do such a trapeze act?

India's principled stance, as stated in Puri's speech, was that "Our [India's] support for the resolution is in accordance with our support for the efforts by the Arab League for a peaceful resolution of the crisis through a Syrian-led inclusive political process."

Puri also affirmed that: a) Delhi believes that any change of regime in Syria is a matter for the Syrian people to decide. b) All opposition forces should "peacefully engage in constructive dialogue" with Syrian authorities so as to "create a new environment for peace and facilitate a political process". c) The political dialogue in Syria should build on the reforms already announced by the Syrian leadership" with a view to reach a national consensus. d) The Syrian situation should be resolved through a "peaceful and inclusive political process" and abjuring violence of any kind.

Most important, Puri underlined that a political process for the resolution of the present crisis should be led by the Syrians themselves. He said, "We believe that the main role of the international community, including this Council, is to facilitate engagement of the Syrian government with all sections of the Syrian society for an inclusive political process, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians while ensuring respect for the country's sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity."

Indeed, if this is the real Indian stance on the Syrian situation, I'd give three cheers for it. But then, how did India end up voting in favour of the AL resolution, which everyone knows, was masterminded by the West in cohort with its client states in the Middle East?

The fact of the matter is that the Syrian situation at its deepest core is a geopolitical struggle for regime change in Damascus. Equally, it is a well-known fact that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries are arming and training the so-called Syrian opposition to create civil-war conditions in Syria to justify a western ("humanitarian") intervention. Reports have been pouring in that Libyan mercenaries, who were trained by the West to overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, have been inducted by the Turkish intelligence into the conflict zone in Syria -- with Saudi Arabia and Qatar generously bankrolling the operation.

Turkey has de facto become a base camp for the NATO intervention in Syria. Turkish leadership has made no bones about its readiness to launch an operation in Syria across the border once it gets the green signal from NATO.

This is not the stuff of polemics. Let me quote from the article titled 'NATO vs Syria' by Philip Giraldi, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, in the current issue of the American Conservative Magazine to illustrate how the level of the western intervention in Syria.

Giraldi wrote, "NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey taking the lead as US proxy┬ů Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum [eastern Turkey] on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi's arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi's army. Iskenderum is also the seat of the Free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the Syrian National Council. French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and US Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers."

Moreover, what is this so-called AL role in Syria all about? The AL has always been appendage of the Saudi establishment. In the case of Syria, AL has become the fig leaf for the Saudi-Qatari intervention in Syria to overthrow the regime of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. These two Arab oligarchies haven't hidden their intentions that they have visceral hatred toward Assad, which is rooted in Arab politics. And they openly espouse outside military intervention in Syria to overthrow Assad.

Finally, Syria happens to form a vector in a much bigger geopolitical struggle for perpetuating the century-old western hegemony in the Middle East. Its implications stretch far beyond that of an esoteric subject, as Puri's speech makes it out to be. What happens in Syria in the coming months could have profound impact on the geopolitics of West, Central and South Asia.

Put succinctly, the West's agenda also happens to suit the interests of its client states like the Saudi and Qatari regimes, which are archaic and lacking in political legitimacy in the 21st century and are buffeted by the forces of history. These Arab regimes are sub-serving the West's regional strategies as quid pro quo for the West's protection in these uncertain times when winds of change are sweeping across the Middle East.

The Arab league resolution, which has been piloted by the West in the United Nations Security Council, is a thin wedge in an attempt to extract a UN mandate in some form or the other for a Libya-like NATO intervention in Syria. The US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said it is "disgusting" that Russia and China 'double vetoed' the AL resolution. Understandably, she is upset. But how did she find the sodomy that was done on Muammar Gaddafi's anal tract with a knife twisted into it even as the US drone aircraft hovered above monitoring the historic operation? Wasn't it disgusting, too, that the West which prides itself as the inheritors of the Enlightenment could descend to such barbarity?

Alas, the only way to justify the Indian voting in the UNSC is that it has been a blatantly opportunistic move, caving into the entreaties of the Arab oligarchs of the oil-rich Persian Gulf region who have strong nexus with Indian political elites whom they can manipulate via the Indian ulema. It is the foreign-policy version of what the politicians did to keep Salman Rushdie away from visiting the Jaipur Literature Festival.

It is the ultimate in political cynicism to preach secularism to Rushdie or remind the world community about the high principles of inter-state conduct -- and then to sheepishly succumb to the charm of 'green money'.

The bizarre thing is that India and Pakistan sailed in the same AL boat in the UNSC. I can pardon the Pakistani politician for doing that, but not the leadership of my country. Delhi should have allowed Puri to do the logical thing after his fine speech on the AL resolution -- abstain during the voting.

The sheikhs in the Arabian Pensinsula would still have overlooked our sense of honour -- in the same large-hearted spirit of Arab-Muslim culture in which they are going to forgive Russia and China.

M K Bhadrakumar