July 26, 2011

India Forms BRIC Wall Against Arab Spring

Last week Hillary Clinton took the stage at India’s largest library, the newly-minted Anna Centenary Library, to enunciate one her patented “visions.” America’s Secretary of State chose the perfect high-tech setting to herald India into the new millennium, declaring that, “the relationship between India and the United States will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”

She then wonders, “what does this global leadership mean in practical terms? And what does it mean for the relationship between the two of us? Well, for starters, it means that we can work more productively together on today’s most complex global challenges. For example, to advance democratic values, the world’s oldest democracy and its largest can both support the democratic transitions taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Clinton never brings up the Arab revolutions again, spending most of her time wandering through Afghanistan and China on “a new Silk Road.” This was no passing reference though. Like the similarly absent Kashmir, Clinton keeps moving away from the very help she’s requesting for a reason: India, “the world’s largest democracy,” has flagrantly opposed the Middle East’s blooming pro-democracy movements.

Days later Abdel Aati Al Obeidi landed in New Delhi to brief the government on the state of Libya’s war. Muammar Gaddafi’s Foreign Minister met with E. Ahamed, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, who promptly reiterated a position that calls for, “the immediate cessation of all hostilities in Libya and supports peaceful resolution of the Libyan crisis through dialogue, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Libya." With Libya in a full-blown war, the majority opposition doesn’t feel that dialogue alone will remove Gaddafi from power.

Those advocating a “dialogue only” course of action - Gaddafi's allies in Africa, Russia and China - wish to see the regime retain its influence.

The same BRIC wall also overshadows the United Nations Security Council’s ongoing deliberation as the U.S. and E.U seek a firmer resolution on Syria’s crackdown. India’s inclination to vote on the Chinese-Russian side of Libya and Syria demonstrates that Clinton wasn’t urging New Delhi to assist, so much as to politely reprimand its obstruction of U.S. policy in these spheres. The Secretary insists, “As India takes on a larger role throughout the Asia Pacific, it does have increasing responsibilities, including the duty to speak out against violations of universal human rights.”

However Clinton’s rhetoric functioned as a time-bomb. While New Delhi finds itself on the wrong side of these revolutions and U.S. policy, it has landed on Washington’s good side in Yemen by opposing democratic upheaval. On Saturday Interior Minister Mutahar al-Masri met with Indian ambassador Ausaf Sayeed to discuss an array of “security cooperation agreements,” supposedly dealing with piracy and terrorism. But Saba state media conceded, “Al-Masri and Sayeed also reviewed several security issues, particularly in counterterrorism areas.”

What these agreements entail remains unknown; intelligence sharing, equipment and training of local security forces offer several possibilities. Regardless, Al-Masri “hailed the Indian stances supporting Yemen in all international events,” meaning that New Delhi supports Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime and its attempts to remain in power through the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) vampiric initiative. Sayeed “praised the security efforts the ministry exerted to maintain security and stability in the country,” lumping its actions against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) with its lethal assault against peaceful protesters and anti-government tribesmen in the south.

Sayeed then “asserted the Indian government's support to the unity and stability of Yemen,” codewords that Saleh uses to negate the northern Houthis and secessionist Southern Movement. These groups wanted out of Yemen because of Saleh and, if engaged properly, are open to unifying Yemen without him. Yemen’s democratic elements cannot flourish with Saleh’s regime in power, thus the artificial demand for “unity” and “stability” impedes a stable, unified Yemen.

With no further updates, India’s “security agreements” appear to be little more than political support for Saleh’s regime and the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC). Although this stance positions New Delhi at direct odds with Yemen’s revolutionaries, it also aligns with U.S. interests in suppressing their freedom. The end result is that America, the European Union, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia - a seemingly impervious wall of power - all oppose regime change in Yemen.

Clinton was presumably referencing Libya and Syria when she implored India to “support democratic transitions taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.” Given the close proximity between her visit and Sayeed’s maneuvering in Sana’a, perhaps New Delhi believed that it was finally supporting U.S. policy in the Arab Spring.

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