Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Palestinian Card

You probably think the flotilla is about the Palestinian people....

Well, yes and no.

For much of the last six decades, the Palestinian 'cause' has really been a Palestinian 'card' used by regional powers in the region aspiring for pre-eminence in the Middle East. This is the First Law of Middle Eastern Geopolitics-if you want to be the leader of region, you must first show your support for the Palestinian cause by poking Israel in the eye. The Second Law is that once you have played the Palestinian card, you can move on to your real agenda.

Egypt-once the "leader of the Arabs" in the 1960s-fought two wars with Israel before settling for a peace deal in the 1970s. It now gets large sums of money in aid from the United States. Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran then pressed its claims for leadership of the region, and promptly used Syrian and Lebanese proxies to strike Israel. Iran's Sunni Arab neighbours didn't like the idea of a radical Shia regime grabbing the mantle of regional leadership and Saddam Hussein stepped up to challenge the Khomeini's Islamic Republic. He even lobbed several Scud missiles towards the Jewish state, in return for which he received Yasser Arafat's endorsement. Iraq lost the war. So did the Palestinians actually, who became suspect in the eyes of the Kuwaitis and other Gulf Arab states. With both Iran and Iraq under sanctions in the 1990s, the mantle of leadership of the Middle East fell upon the sophisticated shoulders of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis, unlike previous claimants to Middle Eastern leadership, didn't launch tanks, proxies or missiles at Israel. Instead they launched a roadmap. It went nowhere-although, as they say in diplomatese, it is still on the table. Meanwhile the Iranians got caught working on a nuclear weapons project. The worried Saudis let it be known that they might not be averse to Israeli jets flying over their airspace just in case, you know, the Israelis want to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. That's because Riyadh calculates that balancing the Iranians is more important than is midwifing a Palestinian state. Despite appearances and rhetoric, the interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel are aligned over preventing Iran from dominating the region.
Neither Egypt nor Iraq qualify for a place at the top of the Middle Eastern league today. Thanks to the US wars that weakened its two big neighbours, Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran is certainly a contender. So is Saudi Arabia. Last week, Turkey announced that it has joined the race, and, in accordance with the diktats of the First Law, played the Palestinian card. The flotilla was a strategic masterstroke-the moment it set sail, Turkey won and Israel lost. If it had been allowed to pass through, Turkey would be seen has having broken Israel's will. If the flotilla were stopped, Turkey would be the leader of an international chorus condemning Israel for blockading the Palestinians.

"Turkey," Samuel Huntington wrote in The Clash of Civilizations, "has the history, population, middle level of economic development, national coherence, and military tradition and competence to be the core state of Islam. In explicitly defining Turkey as a secular society, however, Ataturk prevented the Turkish republic from succeeding the Ottoman empire in that role." One of the most astute -- if controversial-political scientists of the 20th century, Huntington noted that "[at] some point, Turkey could be ready to give up its frustrating and humiliating role as a beggar for membership in the West and to resume its much more impressive and elevated historical role as the principal Islamic interlocutor and antagonist of the West. But to do so it would have to reject Ataturk's legacy..." This was in 1996, six years before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP) came to power.

The AKP government is indeed engaged in a battle to overturn Ataturk's legacy-secularism is out, Islamism-of the 'mild' variety, we are assured-is in. Military dominance is out, democracy is in. And in foreign policy, alignment with the West is out, neo-Ottomanism is in. Ahmet Davutoglu, political science professor, AKP's foreign policy strategist and the current foreign minister, believes that Turkey must project power across its traditional sphere of influence. Last year, when the Chinese government cracked down in Xinjiang in the face of unrest between the Uyghur minority and the Han majority, the strongest international condemnation came from Ankara. Turkey has also sought a role in stabilising Afghanistan-Pakistan, ending the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme and brokering a deal between Israel & Syria.

Yet it was only when Turkey floated the flotilla to Gaza that people took notice. The successor to the Ottoman empire had announced its arrival. Turkey's move towards becoming the dominant power in the Middle East is, however, by no means guaranteed. As my colleague V Anantha Nageswaran told me, Western speculators can exploit Turkey's vulnerable bond and currency markets and bring the country down some notches. There is a small chance that the military-secularist old guard could yet eject the AKP from power. In all likelihood though, Turkey will be an important-if not the most important-player in the Middle East.

The re-emergence of Turkey as a major power offers India the opportunity to balance its relationships with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel. This calls for India to reorient its relationship with Turkey, identify common interests-managing China's influence in Central Asia, for instance-and convert them into cooperative initiatives. That will also require Turkey to look beyond its relationship with Pakistan. In fact, this is the issue that will answer the big question: is Davutoglu's neo-Ottomanism merely pan-Islamism or is it about Turkey's national interests? If it is the former, then Turkey will allow its relationship with India to be constrained by its ties with Pakistan. Not so, if it is the latter.

What about the Palestinians, you ask? Well, it took the Economist all of 74 words to describe the contours of a solution. That solution, which will give the Palestinians their own state, requires both Israelis and the Palestinians to compromise. To be constructive, international intervention must push both sides towards compromise. Demonising one side emboldens the other to be more inflexible than it might otherwise be. Yet that is what the flotillas have done. Turkey got its glory, Israel is in the dock and the United States doesn't know what to do. The people of Gaza don't get anything more than schadenfreude.

Do you still think it's about the Palestinian people?

[P.S.: This article is written by Mr. Nitin Pai. Nitin Pai is founder & fellow for geopolitics at the Takshashila Institution and editor of "Pragati - The Indian National Interest Review", a publication on strategic affairs, public policy and governance.]



24/7....This day has always been special for me.

Evey year it tells me that I've grown one more year in age, experience and probably learning too.

I like this day most in my life 'cuz some of my life's bitter experiences too have come my way on this day or the week in which this day appears.

Ah..Life..what do you have in store for me ??

"Tujhse Naaraz nahin zindagi....hairaan hoon main"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Indian Rupee to get a new sign..

So finally the news has come and the symbol made public..

Indian Rs. is getting a symbol (as shown above) which is a mixture of Devnagari script's alphabet "Ra"(Devanagari script is the script in which most of the Indian languages like Sanskrit, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Marathi, Gujarati etc. are written)and Roman Script's alphabet "R"(Roman script is the script in which English, German etc are written).

The growing Indian economic conditions led it to have a symbol to differentiate the Indian Rupees from the currencies used by Pakistan (Pakistan Rupee), Nepal (Nepali Rupee), Sri-Lanka (Sri-Lankan Rupee) and Indonesia (Rupiah).

Now, Indian currency will join the selected few currencies of the world which are having their own symbol. After US Dollar, UK Pound, Japaneese Yen and EU's Euro, Indian Rupee will be the fifth currency to have this distinction.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Octopus Paul..the soothsayer !!

The FIFA World Cup of 2010 has an unusual winner this time around and that too before the final wrap up of the events.
The Octopus..known as Octopus Paul.... has covered the limelight most in the world news and has been covered by almost all the news-channels across the globe.

Paul who is a two year old octopus..born at Sea Life Park, Weymouth, England and then shifted to Sea Life Aquarium at Oberhaussen, Germany has correctly foretold the results of matches invloving Germany. A 6 on 6 result by Paul has made him a superstar of this world-cup.

After correctly predicting the results of matches of Germany with Argentina, England, Ghana, Spain, Australia....Paul has come out with fresh predictions giving the third place to Germany and first place to Spain..

It is said that the two channels of German media stopped their programs to provide the live coverage of Paul's final matches' prediction whereby two food containers were lowered in Paul's container with his food. One of the container was having Spanish flag and the other was having Dutch flag (as Spain and Holland are in the finals).

Octopus Paul decided within 3 minutes and jumped on the food of the container bearing Spanish flag thereby predicting an easy win for Spain !!

P.S.: The westerners usually blame the south asians of being superstitious.... i dunno what they will call this phenomenon of theirs !!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Nationwide Bandh..

India and Indians are preparing themselves for a nationwide bandh which has been called on by all the opposition parties against the issue of "Price Rise" on 5th of July 2010.
According to the newspaper report which i read in the morning.. it is believed that the effects of Bandh will be felt mostly in those states which are governed by Non-UPA parties.

Generally i do not support these "Bandhs" but the ruling central government has miserably failed in controlling the issue of price rise even when they boast of having an Economist as a Prime-Minister (Dr. Manmohan Singh) and an extremely learned Finance Minister (Mr. Pranab Mukherjee).

Dr. Singh is the most learned head of state in the present times which is a fact and it can't be disputed. Even American President Mr. Barack Obama hears him silently as a student whenever they meet in bilateral talks. This thing has been reported by the American Media itself.

But, I feel Dr. Singh has failed miserably in controlling the food grain prices as well as the Fuel prices. It was reported by some of the news channels that Food grains are getting wasted up, rottening in the godowns but the government is not acting proactively to check all these. Some months back the Sugar prices jumped up to touch new heights and later it was found and reported by news-channels that a huge amount of Sugar is kept in the godowns at the sea-ports.

When the "aam-aadmi" ....the mostly used term by the Congress party was just gearing himself for the food grain price rise that suddenly Mr. Mukherjee came up with his statement that the Government is going to remove its control from Petrol, Diesel and LPG thereby suddenly increaing the prices of these essential commodities.

The government has done extremely wrong thing by taking this step when they fully understand that Petro price hike has a spiralling effect on every other thing.

I feel its a correct stance which is being taken by the Opposition parties in a united manner to campaign against such unyielding government.

Congress has a punch line which says: "Congress ka Haath.. Aam-Aadmi ke Saath" but now i feel that "Congress ka Haath is not Aam-aadmi ke saath but Aam-Aadmi ki Jeb ke saath"

June was a bit busy..

The reason for my mental block was the hectic June.. had some personal as well as professional trips last month coupled with some work at my home which didn't allowed me to update my blog that much.

It all started with a Professional trip to Nashik (Maharashtra) and then a personal trip to Bangalore..It had a mixed outcome..not that good and of-course not that bad either.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Issue of Stone pelting

For last few days it has been a common scene in the news bulletins all over..whenever there is some news about Kashmir.... the visuals generally show the so called "angry protesters" (mostly youths who even don't know what they are doing) pelting stones on the security personnels (Police and Paramilitary) who in turn try to prevent the mob from doing any harm to government properties with baton and tear-gas shells !!

It is very clear that these stone-pelters are being paid for doing this from various "agencies" (many from across the border too) as was stated by the State chief minister and many news papers. Hence their demands (stone pelters)are nothing but they are just puppets in the hands of these separatists who in turn are getting orders from their foreign masters.These stone pelters are just interested in earning money and for some else it has been justified by their religion. And if in cross stone pelting some kashmiri youth dies then these separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others get a chance to malign the security personnels.

Such stupids who eat and live in India but serve their masters somewhere else should not be given any mercy..those who support such mad stone pelting and compare it with Intifada and Palestine like protest should be ready to receive an Israel like repercussion from the Indian military.

There is only one solution for these stupids.... BULLET.