New Age Islam
Mon Oct 26 2020, 05:24 PM

Current Affairs ( 21 Aug 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Iran-Iraq Cooperation to Counter ISIS: New Age Islam’s Selection from Indian Press, 22 August 2015

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

22 August 2015

When Persian Gulf Meets Arabian Gulf against ISIS

By M Mahtab Alam Rizbi

Don’t Swallow Islamabad’s Bait and Break off NSA Talks

By Swagato Ganguly

Let’s Face It: Pakistan Does Not Want Peace with India

By Ashali Varma

Trucial States to Crucial States: Why Modi Has Smelt Great Opportunity in UAE And Gulf Countries

By Ashok Malik


When Persian Gulf Meets Arabian Gulf against ISIS

By M Mahtab Alam Rizbi

22 August 2015 |

There is an urgent need for regional cooperation in fight against the spread of extremism and ISIS’ tunnel vision in the West & South Asian region

Soon after Qatar’s top diplomat called for a “serious dialogue” with Iran in the wake of its nuclear deal with P5+1 (the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany) and the ongoing regional crises following unleashing of terror by ISIS or Daesh, Tehran has expressed its willingness to hold negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the proposal to hold a joint meeting between Iran and the GCC countries on the regional conflicts and rise of ISIS by September 22, 2015, is a welcome initiative and all regional countries should take it seriously.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khalid Al Attiyah had told that following the “nuclear agreement between the world powers and Iran”, there was now scope to work with Iran on other regional issues. He underlined, “We should have a serious dialogue with our neighbour, the Iranians, and ... lay down our concerns from both sides, and solve them together. We have to live together.”

He added, “We in the GCC are working towards a good neighbourhood. We want Iran to take this approach as well, and only then we can have a fruitful dialogue.”

From Iranian side Abdollahian pointed out that a dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia is an urgent need to resolve the regional crises.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appealed to the global players to join efforts to fight and uproot terrorism. Secretary to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani too asked for joint efforts by regional countries to fight against Takfiri terrorist groups in the region.

After a trilateral meeting with deputy heads of the Russian and Afghan national security councils in Tehran in August 2015, he said, “Regional cooperation and adopting joint initiatives by the concerned countries are the only way to successfully challenge terrorism and restore regional security and peace.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s appeal came after his three-leg visit to Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq late in July. Zarif also said that any threat to regional countries, including Saudi Arabia, will be considered a threat to Iran.

Iran considers Saudi Arabia an important country in the region and wants it to play active role to find solutions to regional problems, but it believes Saudi officials have impractical visions of the situation.

Gulf States got united against ISIS especially after the latest suicide attack that killed 26 people in Kuwait. More than 50 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in suicide attacks on three Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the past two months.

The Ministers of the GCC States underlined that the killing of innocent people and spread of ISIS can imperil the security and stability of the region. The GCC Ministers also agreed that activities of terrorist groups are not linked with Islam and its values.

All told, some the GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are deeply worried about Iran’s support to Shia groups in Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen. Moreover, Iran and the GCC countries have different stands on many regional issues, especially on finding a solution to the violence in countries like Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.

On Syria, the GCC countries have a strong stand on dislodging Bashar Al Assad, but Iran strongly supports the ruling Syrian regime.

On August 11, 2015, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said in Moscow, “Our position has not changed ... there is no place for Al Assad in the future of Syria.”

He also stressed that Assad is part of the problem, not part of the solution. On the other hand, Iran’s stand is very clear about the Assad regime. Iran has reiterated that Tehran will continue to support Assad.

Iran-Iraq Cooperation to Counter ISIS

Iran enjoys strong relations with Iraq especially after the fall of Saddam’s regime and formation of a Shia dominated Government in Iraq. Iran is always concerned about security situation in Iraq and rise of Takfiri near its border.

On July 27, 2015, the Iranian Foreign Minister visited Iraq and held talks with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jafari regarding spread of terrorism and extremism in Iraq. He claimed that Iran is committed to support Iraq for peace and territorial integrity. Iranian leaders believe that Iraq is in urgent need of solidarity and political partnership of all sects and tribes of the country in accordance with Iraq’s constitution.

In a meeting with the delegation of Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian pointed out that Iran will extend its support to the axis of resistance and campaign against terrorism.

Deputy Head of Iraq’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Barham Salih appreciated Iran for its strong support for Iraq in tough time especially in the campaign against Takfiri terrorists. Iranian officials have called for cooperative efforts of all regional countries to help resolve the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria, and emphasised Tehran’s continued support to these countries. Iran’s role to counter extremism and terrorism in the region in general and in Iraq in particular is undeniable.

Demand for Reforms

It is noteworthy to mention here that the Iraq Government must work on reconciliation and reform process to stop disintegration of the country. Recently Iraqi Parliament speaker Saleem al-Jubouri underlined that there is urgency of reconciliation especially for building police and military forces to fight against terrorist groups.

He said in the battle against ISIS, many Iraqi Sunnis have hesitated to fight against it, which particularly opposes Shia.

Al Jubouri pointed out that the spread of ISIS in the Sunni northwest “is a result of the policy of exclusion… during the past few years, Sunnis in those areas felt voiceless and ignored by Shia dominated Government.”

It is also believed by Sunni groups that the areas controlled by ISIS are a result of the administrative and financial corruption. Political reforms and public security must be implemented in Iraq as soon as possible.

President of Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani pointed out that there is the need for reconciliation and dialogue in Iraq. He said the fight against ISIS and the restoration of internal security and stability depends on a common effort and “peaceful co-existence.”

He was satisfied with his relationship with Kurds and Sunnis as well. He endorsed the Joint Coordinating Committee that has been formed by Iraqi Shia, Sunni and Kurdish forces to plan the operation to free Mosul from ISIS. He also stressed that for a while, a proposed referendum on Kurdistan’s independence from Iraq will have to wait, because the focus now is on crushing ISIS.

In response to political, religious leaders’ demands, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi announced the removal of 11 Cabinet posts on August 16, 2015, in the first practical step of a reform drive aimed at curbing corruption and streamlining the Government. Abadi’s move had come after weeks of protests and a call from the country’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani.

One of the most right steps taken by the Abadi Government was the abolition of the vice-president (the post was held by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki) and deputy premier posts.

India’s Apprehension

India too is concerned about the spread of ISIS in its neighbouring region. India has extended its support to the regional countries to fight against ISIS. On August 14, 2015, Indian leaders discussed the spread of ISIS and the threat posed by the group with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued a joint statement during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to the UAE on August 17, 2015. According to the joint communiqué, the two nations reject extremism and any link between religion and terrorism.

They also deplore efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and disputes, including in West and South Asia, and use terrorism to pursue their aims.

India has also expressed its concerns as some Indian youths have joined ISIS. Without doubt it can be argued that there is an urgent need for joint efforts to fight against spread of extremism and terrorism in the West & South Asian region.

M Mahtab Alam Rizbi is Associate Fellow, West Asia Centre, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi



Don’t Swallow Islamabad’s Bait and Break off NSA Talks

By Swagato Ganguly

August 21, 2015

At the moment of writing this talks between National Security Advisers (NSAs) of India and to Pakistan, scheduled for this Sunday, hang tenuously by a thread – as Pakistan insists that NSA Sartaj Aziz needs to talk with Hurriyat separatists first, which is unacceptable to India.

In truth the Pakistanis are not too keen to have the NSAs meet in Delhi – it knows it will be bombarded with details about Islamabad’s involvement in terror attacks on India, including the hard-to-ignore evidence of Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Naveed alias Usman who was caught red-handed.

Pakistanis are just like anyone else – they don’t like stonewalling ad nauseam. In this case it would suit them perfectly if they could get India to call off the talks, which is precisely why New Delhi shouldn’t let Islamabad off the hook.

Instead New Delhi should be willing to continue to parley at all levels – India is a vibrant democracy and this is not a game Pakistan can win — while at the same time being under no illusion that such parleys mean Pakistan’s army-ISI combine has abandoned the path of covert warfare.

That must await actual evidence, while New Delhi uses every means at its disposal to ensure such an outcome. This may not happen in a short while, in which case we must be ready for the long haul.

India’s point on Hurriyat is understandable — by including them in India-Pakistan talks and pretending that Hurriyat speaks for all of Kashmir Pakistan can stack the decks in its favour, since Hurriyat will always echo Pakistan. In any discussion Pakistan effectively speaks with two microphones and India one. There’s no reason why India should accede to this logic.

While New Delhi has every right to make this limited point, it can’t push this too far. In the long run, sunshine is the best disinfectant. Let Pakistan involve Hurriyat, India can also involve the whole spectrum of political opinion in Jammu and Kashmir including Kashmiri Pandits.

Let Pakistan call for a plebiscite in Kashmir, we can say we will hold one the moment Pakistan holds a plebiscite in Balochistan. The Pakistanis will immediately accuse us of aiding insurgency in Balochistan, but they are doing so already and this won’t make a difference.

Let Pakistan talk about the Indian army’s presence in Kashmir, and we can say the army will be withdrawn the moment Pakistan verifiably shuts down terror camps on its side of the LoC. Let Pakistan talk about Kashmir as the ‘core’ issue between India and Pakistan; we can say this is exactly right, which is why Pakistan ought to hand over all right away the parts of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir it has illegally occupied.

In other words, respond to maximalism with like maximalism – this is not an argument we can lose.

The cardinal error would be breaking off talks. This will allow Pakistan to paint India as the intransigent party even as Mufti Saheb – along with Obama Saheb – will be pressuring us to re-engage.

It costs us nothing to talk, no matter what TV anchors in a TRP contest may say. But if we don’t talk, we not only come across as intransigent but also as the party that has lost the argument.


Let’s Face It: Pakistan Does Not Want Peace with India

By Ashali Varma

August 21, 2015

It is like déjà vu. Our Prime Minister meets with the Prime Minister of Pakistan from the time of Vajpayee Government onwards, and they shake hands and make a joint statement of peaceful intent. They have talks on trade, on India giving even more evidence against perpetrators of 26/11, and on peaceful and development for both countries. But since the time of Vajpayee we should have learnt that while the prime ministers are shaking hands before the press, the Army and ISI are playing games in the background. So we have the Kargil War, the attack on our Parliament and 26/11.

When will we learn that the organisations that call the shots in Pakistan are the Army and ISI?

We know it. The world knows it. So who we are trying to make peace with?  Pakistan is clearly a sham democracy? The Prime Minister today in Pakistan really has no say on peace or the Army that calls the shots and the ISI that is still bleeding us with a thousand cuts.

Geelani, our very own Indian/Pakistani Separatist addresses a rally by phone invited by India’s number one enemy Hafiz Saeed. Asiya Andrabi, who should be parachuted into Pakistan ASAP flies the Pakistani flag in Kashmir and sings their national anthem and says, “Insha Allah, one day Kashmir will be part of Pakistan.” If this is not treason and sedition against India, than I really don’t know the meaning.

I am really not a hawk. I would like peace with Pakistan and stop them bleeding us with a thousand cuts. But the fact is that their Army and ISI have no other agenda. Everyone who is an expert on Pakistan from Christine Fair, Bruce Riedel, and Pakistan’s own very brave authors and journalists, who write openly about the Army and ISI and how they are calling the shots and the last thing they want is peace with India, tell India how it really is in Pakistan — not that Indian experts don’t know the truth and tell it often enough.

Why do we allow the Pakistani establishment to bring us to the brink of talks and then notwithstanding the realities on the ground, India actually tries to go forward with all good intentions.

This has really got to stop. India keeps taking the first step forward against a country that is clearly descending into chaos as Ahmed Rashid, the bravest Pakistani wrote in 2008. He was not only very perceptive but also very candid about the Pakistani Army and the ISI. His book, “Descent into Chaos,” is so frightening and so very true that it is like a doomsday scenario about Pakistan and the fact that it was written before 26/11 and Pakistan has gotten worse not better in the last seven years is even more scary.

The so called Pakistani experts who come out defying the truth on Indian television night after night seem to be in utter and complete denial. They are made to look like floundering fools and yet they come on and make the most outlandish statements.

I am tired of our brave soldiers trying to defend Kashmir externally and internally and getting caught in the firing line when all they do is their duty. I am tired of talks with Pakistan, which go nowhere.

I think we have only one option left. We need to talk tough not only to Pakistan but also to the world. Prime Minister Modi has the ears of world leaders now — they are just a phone call away. We need to tell them it is not business as usual. We need to speak to the US, the Chinese and Saudi Arabia and tell them that terror strikes may be in our backyard today but it could very well reach tomorrow. We need to convince them to bring on the sanctions against Pakistan; starve the funds; stop selling them arms; and let the Army in Pakistan and the ISI feel the pinch. Once they know they are completely isolated they may just come to their senses. It is one way that has never been tried stringently before and it is the only way left.

I think Christine Fair, Bruce Riedel, Ahmed Rashid and our very own Maroof Raza will agree. Actually, I am almost sure that our present government is also on board — they are just giving Pakistan enough rope to hang itself and to let the world know that although we make all the right gestures always and every time, our neighbour is stuck on the just one thing: To bleed India with a thousand cuts. This is what makes their Army relevant even when it actually bleeding its own country dry and encouraging terror both inside and outside its boundaries.

Can the world keep watching?


Trucial States to Crucial States: Why Modi Has Smelt Great Opportunity in UAE and Gulf Countries

By Ashok Malik

August 22, 2015

In the days of the British Raj, the Arab tribal principalities that now comprise the United Arab Emirates were known as the Trucial States. The word “trucial” is a rarely-used adjective derived from “truce”. Its use reflected the unique arrangement that British India had with the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms.

There was no direct rule, but an influence on those states was seen as necessary to maintain political stability in the broader west Asian region and in the Indian Ocean. In return, Calcutta and later New Delhi (the capitals of the Raj) provided a security umbrella.

It wasn’t just about security, though. Where the Trucial States really benefited was in capacity building. The origins of the armed forces and city polices of the modern-day UAE lie in training and knowledge sharing from British India. Gradually, the oasis of Dubai became a sort of western entrepôt to the Indian mainland, just as Singapore served the same purpose in the east.

In Dubai and Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, or even Oman for that matter and among other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, this made India a social and economic model. Indeed, Bombay (today’s Mumbai) was as much a glamorous holiday destination for old residents of the UAE as Dubai is for contemporary Indians.

It is useful to keep this history in mind while assessing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE and the expansive joint statement that flowed from it. India doesn’t have the same military and political reach in Asia that the British Empire did; the equation is far, far from that. Nevertheless India’s emerging doctrine for the Indian Ocean and its near-neighbourhood does borrow elements from the strategic architecture of the Raj.

To what degree this can be done in a more equal world, with no overarching suzerain, and with the Emirates being flush with capital that India needs (rather than the other way round) will be a test for the coming period. Of course, here, as in several other foreign policy bets that Modi has taken, much depends on how quickly the Indian economy returns to a high-growth path.

It is easy to see what the UAE relationship holds for India, from potentially freezing Dawood Ibrahim’s assets in Dubai to getting UAE sovereign wealth funds to invest in Indian infrastructure. Yet, what does the UAE want? What is the long view from Abu Dhabi and Dubai?

The UAE and GCC states are faced with three major challenges. First, they realise the American military and security umbrella – which almost seamlessly replaced the British umbrella – is receding. America’s appetite for west Asian oil and its appetite for foreign wars have declined simultaneously; the former will probably never return.

Second, the threat from forces such as Islamic State is of a different order from earlier Islamist radical militias that were either easier to manipulate and control or fought infidels far away. This time it is closer home.

Third, the UAE is preparing for a post-oil or more accurately an oil-plus economy. Dubai has aspirations of being recognised as an international business centre like Singapore.

Yet, this would require an upgrading of its justice and arbitration system; a clarifying of financial sources and of the reputation that UAE financial markets are just a gigantic money laundering mechanism; and investing the Gulf region’s impressive surpluses in productive assets (such as infrastructure and energy-intensive businesses in India) rather than simply more apartments in London and horse farms in Kentucky.

All three are pragmatic motivations: a response to changed circumstances. There is courage being displayed here as well as opportunities being offered that Modi has appreciated and grabbed. Each of the three drivers of new thinking in the UAE and its periphery opens up space for India.

For instance, the joint statement describes the UAE as “a multi-cultural society” and applauds India as a “nation of unparalleled diversity, religious pluralism and a composite culture”. To the UAE and Gulf States India is a modern, non-western participative political phenomenon that remains deeply religious and traditional, without compromising its diversity. Once more, but in very different circumstances, India has become a model for the Emirates.

This is more pronounced when the joint statement embarks on a serious rejection of using religion as a cover to “sponsor terrorism” and achieve political goals, or when India and the UAE commit to “coordinate efforts to counter radicalisation”. It is facile to see this as merely a snubbing of Pakistan; the implication is greater.

In the tectonic civil war in the Islamic world, UAE’s leadership has cast itself as a force for relative reform and moderation. Indeed, acceding to the demand for a Hindu temple in hitherto conservative Abu Dhabi and relaxing norms in Dubai that deny foreign investors the right to set up companies without the mandatory presence of a local partner are part of this process.

There are other areas of congruence as well. The UAE/Arab-Chinese relationship is economically weighty but culturally a non-starter. Further, the building of a Chinese port in Gwadar poses a potential commercial threat to Dubai, and in that sense unites the UAE and India against a project that has acquired totemic status in Pakistan. In all this, and in the perfumes of Arabia, Modi has smelt a chance.