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Will Japan and India become permanent members of the UN Security Council?

By Petr Konovalov – New Eastern Outlook – 14.01.2023

On December 12, 2022 in London, during a meeting of the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, its head, James Cleverly, said that he was in favor of expanding the number of permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) by including Japan, India, Brazil and Germany.

The British diplomat believes that the current world order allows a much larger number of people to live much better than before, but today it needs some changes. According to Cleverly, the UK is interested in reflecting the needs of as many countries as possible in the UN. He also noted that the inclusion of Japan, Brazil, India and Germany would allow London to expand interaction with these countries and thus accelerate the growth of global prosperity.

The British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs said that the established system of international relations, which was approved as a result of the victory of the Allies after the Second World War, is allegedly outdated due to the fact that since 1950 the volume of world trade has increased by about 40 times, which has led to a radical change in the balance of power in the world. Furthermore, he emphasized that demographic changes had also made their own adjustments to the modern world order.

The rhetoric of the British leadership is quite logical. The UK no longer represents the military and economic power that it used to be during the second half of the previous century. London is aware that it needs allies to support it internationally. The countries listed by James Cleverly, which, in his opinion, should become permanent members of the UN Security Council, maintain close relations with the US and the UK and are highly likely to pursue a common policy with London and Washington on many issues.

In accordance with the norms of international law, the UN Charter can be revised only with the unanimous consent of all the permanent members of the UN Security Council. France, which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and is loyal to the policy pursued by Washington and London, will support the proposal of the UK, however, Russia and China, who are also permanent members of the UN Security Council, may not approve its expansion, as this may upset their geopolitical plans.

Russia welcomes the inclusion of India and Brazil in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council. The Russian Federation has fairly warm relations with these states, and it is unlikely that Moscow will have any international disputes with them in the foreseeable future. Back in 2010, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was serving as Prime Minister of the Russian Federation that year, during a meeting with Indian diplomats, said that India should be included in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council. Subsequently, the Russian president has always adhered to this rhetoric. As for Russian-Brazilian relations, they have always been at a high level, and Lula da Silva, elected for the third time as President of Brazil in October 2022, is known for his pro-Russian views. During the previous presidency of Lula da Silva, the international organization BRICS was created (in 2006), which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Consequently, the Russian Federation is likely to approve the inclusion of Brazil in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council.

However, the Kremlin has a negative stance when it comes to the inclusion of Germany and Japan in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council, since these states are pursuing an unfriendly policy towards Russia, and Tokyo completely casts doubt on the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, claiming control over the Kuril Islands.

It should be noted that the inclusion of Germany, Brazil, Japan and India in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council is not beneficial for China either, since these states maintain good relations with the United States and will adhere to a pro-American position in numerous international disputes.

Germany and Brazil are in close economic relations with London and Washington and therefore, with a high degree of probability, they will act in the interests of the US and the UK if they become permanent members of the UN Security Council. Of course, China will prevent such a development of events.

In China, the memory of Japan’s war crimes against the Chinese population during the Second World War is still fresh. Beijing also disapproves of Tokyo’s pro-American policy and is wary of the impressive number of US military installations in Japan.

Relations between Beijing and New Delhi are also at a fairly low level. India and China are competing for influence in places like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Chinese authorities do not want the strengthening of Indian international influence and will do everything in their power to prevent India from being included in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council.

It is important to emphasize that skirmishes have periodically occurred between Indian and Chinese border guards over the past 45 years. As recently as December 9, 2022, another conflict broke out between the military of China and India along the Indian line of actual control in the Tawang district in the west of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in an area of the disputed territory. As a result of the collision, the military personnel of the two countries were slightly injured.

Despite the rationality of the idea of expanding the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and China are unlikely to take such a step. Russia will not vote for granting this privilege to Germany and Japan, which today openly support the Ukrainian army participating in hostilities against the Russian Armed Forces. In turn, China is not interested in increasing the clout in the international arena of Tokyo and New Delhi, which are on cool terms with Beijing. Also, China will not give an opportunity to Germany and Brazil to become permanent members of the UN Security Council since both countries sympathize with the policies of the states of the Western bloc. As noted above, without the unanimous consent of all the permanent members of the UN Security Council, changes in the norms of international law are impossible.

The West is pursuing its own interests and engaging in geopolitical confrontation with China through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), which includes Australia, the US, Japan and India. Within the framework of this organization, annual military exercises of the participating countries are held.

On May 24, 2022, a QUAD summit was held in Tokyo, the main agenda of which, according to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, was to discuss how to counter the growth of China’s influence in East and Southeast Asia.

As it stands now, there will be no expansion in the number of countries that are permanent members of the UN Security Council any time soon, since this comes into conflict with the plans of several current permanent members of the UN Security Council. However, the absence of Japan and India in the UN Security Council is offset by their participation in the QUAD, as well as their close cooperation with the United States in the field of defense.

January 14, 2023 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Modi ignores West’s sanctions on Russia

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | DECEMBER 17, 2022

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday marks a new stage in the bilateral relationship between the two time-tested friends, both contextually and from a long-term perspective.

The media may find it alluring to link Modi’s call to Ukraine developments despite the Indian and Russian readouts (here and here) making it clear that Russian-Indian bilateral relations dominated the conversation. 

Nonetheless, it is very significant that Modi was not deterred by the fact that although this is not an era for wars, the Ukraine conflict in all probability will only escalate, and there is a greater likelihood than ever before that Russia may be compelled to seek a total military victory, as the US is leaving it with no option by doggedly blocking all avenues for a realistic settlement and is furtively climbing the escalation ladder. 

Without doubt, the Biden Administration’s reported decision to deploy Patriot missile in Ukraine is a major escalation. Moscow has warned of “consequences.” Again, Moscow has confirmed that the US planned, masterminded and equipped Ukraine with the military capability to attack deep inside Russian territory — hundreds of kilometres, in fact — including against the base at Engels where Russia’s nuclear-capable strategic bombers are stationed. The two superpowers never before targeted each other’s nuclear assets. 

So, there is no question that Modi’s initiative at this point in time to discuss “the high level of bilateral cooperation that has been developing on the basis of the Russian-Indian privileged strategic partnership,” including in key areas of energy, trade and investments, defence & security cooperation, conveys a huge message in itself.

It quietly underscores a medium and long term perspective on the Russian-Indian relationship that goes far beyond the vicissitudes of the Ukraine conflict. Put differently, India will not allow its long-standing ties with Russia to be held hostage to Western sanctions. 

For India, the reorientation of Russian economic diplomacy toward the Asian region presents huge business opportunities. Who would have thought nine months ago that Russia was going to be the largest supplier of oil to India, leapfrogging Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the US? According to Reuters, India purchased about 40% of all export volumes of Russian Urals grade oil transported by sea in November, when European countries accounted for 25%, Turkey 15% and China 5%.

The figures speak for themselves: in November, while Russia supplied 909,000.4 barrels of crude oil to India per day, the corresponding figures were for Iraq (861,000.4), Saudi Arabia (570,000.9), and the US (405,000.5) Suffice it to say that when Modi upfront listed energy as his talking point with Putin, it reconfirms that India is giving a wide berth to the G7’s hare-brained scheme to impose a price cap on Russian oil exports. 

But all good things have a flip side. As the volume of India-Russia trade shoots up — with Russia emerging as India’s seventh largest trading partner, rising from 25th place — the imbalance in the bilateral trade is also widening, as Moscow prioritises India (and China) as preferred trading partners. 

EAM Jaishankar’s recent Moscow visit focused on a list of 500 items that Russia would be keen to source from India. Importantly, this is also about a supply chain for the Russian industry / economy. Jaishankar reportedly gave an interim reply of India’s readiness to start supplying spare parts necessary for airplanes, cars and trains.

Some Russian experts have talked about India as a potentially significant “trans-shipment” state for Russia’s “parallel imports” — that is, Russia can buy not only Indian goods from India but also products from third countries.

Meanwhile, turning away from the European market, Russia also seeks business opportunities for its export basket that includes mineral products, precious metals and products made from them, aluminium and other non-ferrous metals, electric machines, vehicles, pharmaceutical, chemical, rubber products, etc. 

Clearly, there are systemic issues to be addressed such as transportation logistics; payment mechanism, collateral sanctions. However, for the near term, all eyes are on the Russian oil exports to India in the time of the G7 price cap. 

The Russian government daily Rossyiskaya Gazeta reported on Tuesday, “It is expected that Russia, in response to the price ceiling, will adopt an official ban on selling oil under contracts where the “ceiling” will be mentioned or the marginal price for our oil will be indicated.” That is, Moscow will insist on an embargo on supplies basically restricted to the G7 and Australia. 

China and India are not affected, as they haven’t joined the price cap. The following excerpts from the Moscow daily outlines the state of play:

“There are no real mechanisms that could enforce these [G7] restrictions… already, about a third of Russian oil exports leave Russian ports without indicating the final destination. That is, a so-called “grey trade zone” is growing before our eyes, which allows traders to purchase Russian raw materials without the risk of falling under secondary sanctions… discount [ie., fair prices] allows the Asia-Pacific countries, primarily China and India, to increase purchases of Russian raw materials.” 

The fascinating part is that not only is the so-called “grey zone” expanding steadily but alongside, other suppliers have begun to adjust to the prices of Russian oil in the Asia-Pacific region — that is, to the real equilibrium prices or discounted prices. Curiously, even Western countries are in a position to receive relatively inexpensive Russian oil through third parties.

The bottom line is that the Biden administration’s goal was not to limit the volume of Russian oil exports but focused on the revenues of the Russian budget from oil production and the world oil market. Rissyiskaya Gazeta concludes: “In fact, so far what is happening does not contradict either our aspirations or the desires of the United States.” [See my article Race for Russian oil begins, The Tribune, Nov. 28, 2022]

This new-found pragmatism in the US calculus about the limits to sanctions took a curious turn on Thursday when the US blacklisted the Russian billionaire-oligarch Vladimir Potanin but exempted two of his biggest assets from the purview of sanctions — MMC Norilsk Nickel and Tinkoff Bank — on the specious ground that his holdings are less than 50% in these two companies [but are only 35%!]   

Why so? Because, MMC’s share in the world market of high-grade nickel is 17%, palladium 38%, platinum 10%, rhodium 7%, copper and cobalt 2% each; and, sanctioning the Russian company could sharply aggravate the world market for non-ferrous metals and can hurt US manufacturers. 

Clearly, the law of diminishing returns is at work in the continued weaponisation of sanctions against Russia. Indian business and industry should pay close attention to Modi’s far-sighted initiative on Friday.

December 17, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

India denies Western fake news that Modi cancelled meeting with Putin over nuclear warning

By Ahmed Adel | December 12, 2022

According to “people with knowledge of the matter”, Bloomberg reported that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be holding an annual in-person summit with Vladimir Putin after the Russian president allegedly threatened to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine. The same article was shared on Twitter by Professor Derek J. Grossman, national security and Indo-Pacific analyst at RAND Corporation, who disingenuously wrote: “India isn’t pleased with Russia.”

But what is the actual truth?

“The relationship between India and Russia remains strong but trumpeting the friendship at this point may not be beneficial for Modi, said a senior official with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue,” Bloomberg claimed on December 9, before adding that Russia’s nuclear warning was a tipping point for India.

However, an Indian government source clarified on the same day to Reuters that the annual in-person meeting between Modi and Putin took place on the sidelines of an international event in September.

In addition, New Delhi-based WION reported that “sources pointed out that plans to hold the annual summit could not materialise in November and December because of the elections in the [Indian] states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.”

“Sources also deny western media reports that the Russian President’s nuclear threat had any role to play in India-Russia Summit not happening…” the report added.

For his part, former Indian Ambassador to Moscow Kanwal Sibal tweeted a response to Grossman, saying: “Article tailored to suit a narrative. India was treating Modi’s bilateral meeting with Putin at the SCO meeting at Samarkand as the annual summit between the two leaders in view of elections in Gujarat in December preventing Modi from visiting Moscow.”

This is not the first case of fake news attributed to India’s position on Russia concocted by Western media. In fact, the majority of 2022 has been defined by Western governments and media making fake claims on India’s relations with Russia, something borne mostly out of the frustration that the world’s second most populous country has deepened its relations with the Eurasian country instead, particularly in the energy sector.

Russia has even offered India help in overcoming the oil price cap being imposed by western countries.

“In order not to depend on the ban on insurance services and tanker chartering in the European Union and Britain, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Alexander Novak has offered India cooperation on leasing and building large-capacity ships,” the Russian embassy in New Delhi said in a statement on December 9. “In the first eight months of 2022, Russian oil exports to India grew to 16.35 million tonnes; in the summer, Russia ranked second in terms of oil shipments to India.”

Although India calls for peace negotiations over Ukraine, it still has to stand firm in the face of endless Western pressure to end its purchase of Russian oil. New Delhi has not capitulated to Western pressure and continues to stress that it will keep buying oil from wherever it gets the best deal, something that Russia, and not the West, is offering.

“We do not ask our companies to buy Russian oil. We ask our companies to buy oil, what is the best option that they can get. Now it depends on what the market throws up… Again, please do understand, it’s not just that we buy oil from one country. We buy oil from multiple sources, but it is a sensible policy to go where we get the best deal in the interests of the Indian people and that is exactly what we are trying to do,” Jaishankar told parliament on December 7.

It is the very fact that India pursues policies that it perceives to be best for its citizens that frustrates the West and leads them to fake news campaigns in a vain attempt to disrupt Russian-Indian relations. However, this fake news campaign does not change the reality on the ground, such as the fact that three top Indian ministers and officials have visited Russia since the war in Ukraine began —Heath Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Affairs Minister Jaishankar, or that bilateral ties have deepened in the energy sector.

Meanwhile, The Independent reported that Russia in December is on course to become India’s top oil supplier, a move “that will likely undermine the impact of a price cap imposed by G7 countries and their Western allies.”

“Russian crude oil loadings bound for India climbed to the highest level in November as refiners purchased more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd), according to data provided to The Independent by commodities tracking firm Kpler,” the British outlet reported.

Indian-Russian ties continue to deepen despite the West’s immense frustration.

Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.

December 12, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Iran, India look to reset ties, including oil trade, amid waning US influence

By Mehdi Moosvi | Press TV | December 9, 2022

The recent visit of Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, Ali Bagheri Kani, to New Delhi manifested a new chapter of relations between the traditional allies, India and Iran.

India, which used to be among the largest buyers of Iranian oil, stopped its crude imports from Iran in May 2019 after the US banned oil trade with Iran by lifting sanction waivers, a year after Washington unilaterally walked out of the landmark nuclear deal.

The imprudent move resulted in bilateral trade between the two countries nose-diving to $2 billion in the fiscal year 2021-22, compared to $16 billion in 2018-19.

Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine in late February, Russia has slowly edged past other oil-rich countries to become India’s largest crude supplier, with New Delhi refusing to join the Western charade of anti-Moscow sanctions and prioritizing its energy security.

That has opened a window of opportunity for Tehran and New Delhi to recalibrate their ties, and resume oil trade, in defiance of Western sanctions.

According to reports, New Delhi is strongly considering the resumption of oil imports from Tehran amid the simmering energy crisis in the country and no help from the Western countries.

India prioritizing energy security

Deepika Saraswat, an associate fellow at New Delhi-based Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, asserts that New Delhi prioritizes its energy security.

“New Delhi’s purchase of oil from Russia despite the Western sanctions on the country showed the importance of energy security given the context of high energy prices and supply constraints,” Saraswat told the Press TV Website.

“Therefore, India has been an important voice supporting the return of Iranian and Venezuelan oil to the market,” she hastened to add, hinting at the resumption of the Iran-India oil trade.

Bagheri, during his visit to New Delhi, reportedly delivered Tehran’s message to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the country’s willingness and preparedness to resume oil trade with New Delhi.

“Not a choice but a necessity,” Bagheri was quoted as saying on the importance of closer India-Iran ties.

“Both countries enjoy different types of cooperation in the economic sphere. They are partners and complete each other. Iran enjoys a huge energy resource, and thus it can provide energy supplies to India,” Bagheri told the Indian media.

Bagheri’s visit to New Delhi and discussion about oil trade came weeks after the Iranian ambassador to India, Iraj Elahi, stressed the importance of a close partnership between the two sides.

“There is no doubt that Iran and India were the best friends in dealing in oil. Iran was [meeting] the oil needs of India. But unfortunately, cooperation was affected by sanctions,” the envoy said.

“We always express our readiness to increase our economic ties with India. It’s up to India, we are ready to deliver oil.”

Oil trade and sanctions

In September, Tehran had called on New Delhi to resume oil purchases from the country, “ignoring unilateral” sanctions imposed by the US, similar to what New Delhi has done with Russian oil by skirting western sanctions.

Saurabh Kumar Shahi, a New Delhi-based journalist and commentator who mostly covers the Middle East region, is also of the opinion that New Delhi must go ahead with oil purchases from Iran.

“India should not be afraid of the illegal unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran by the US,” he told the Press TV Website in an interview.

Saraswat, referring to the new Iranian government’s ‘look eastward’ policy, said it means Tehran’s relations with regional countries will only improve.

“Since the new government came to power in Iran, its ‘Asian orientation’ in economic diplomacy means that relations with countries like China, Russia, and India have become a priority,” she stressed.

“Foreign Minister Abdollahian’s visit in June gave a much-needed boost to India-Iran ties, especially the commitment the two countries have shown in charting out a long-term roadmap for their relationship.”

Amid the changing geopolitical dynamics, New Delhi has begun to assert itself on the world stage, with top ministers defending the decision to continue importing oil from Russia.

India’s petroleum minister Hardeep Puri during his visit to Washington in October said New Delhi “will buy oil from wherever it has to”, pointing to the country’s new, vibrant foreign policy.

Saraswat said India has a “tradition” of independent foreign policy that is based on the country’s “own national interest calculus.”

What goes around comes around

Amid the raging Ukraine war and the end of the unipolar world order, the power center is gradually shifting towards Asia, according to observers, which means the death of the American hegemony.

The main protagonists of the new world order are Russia, China, Iran and India.

This political atmosphere could act as a perfect catalyst to resurrect different spheres of the relationship between New Delhi and Tehran, according to observers.

“The world is changing at a fast pace, and the Western order is slowly starting to collapse, under these circumstances India also wants to secure its interests in the region and beyond,” Shahi said.

“And in securing those interests, Russia and Iran are very, very important pillars as far as India is concerned,” he hastened to add.

With Iran set to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS grouping, of which Russia, China, and India are already core members, the future belongs to these countries.

However, not everything is hunky-dory as inimical forces are at play to prevent the partnership between New Delhi and Tehran from blossoming further.

New Delhi has a strategic alliance with the US and it is also part of groups such as I2U2 (India, Israel, US, and UAE), QUAD (United States, Australia, India, and Japan), which may act as obstructions.

“This relationship has not been performing as it should have, as India valued an alliance with the US, it dithered a lot about some of the responsibilities it had towards Iran,” Shahi explained.

Saraswat, however, believes that India has a “tradition of strategic autonomy”.

“It (India) does not believe in alliances against a third state, but partnerships based on mutual interests. In West Asia, India pursues a balanced policy of expanding relations with all key countries,” she said.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Amid the disruptions in international trade and transport routes caused by the Ukraine war and Western sanctions on Russia, Iran has emerged as a transit and transport hub connecting China and Central Asia to Europe, and also Russia with India along the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Iran’s geological location in the region is such that it becomes the gateway for India to the INSTC that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.

“The INSTC is an important route that links South Asia with Eurasia, it becomes important for India to be a part of it in a more proactive way,” said Shahi.

For India, the gateway to this route is the Chabahar Port in Iran’s southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province. It not only provides key access to India to reach landlocked countries such as Afghanistan but also acts as the gateway for  New Delhi and Tehran’s shared interests in the energy sector, in connecting resource-rich Central Asia to the Indian Ocean and their common security challenges in Afghanistan.

In New Delhi, Bagheri also stressed the importance of the development of the port, saying the project is not only important for Iran and India, but also for other countries in the region as it has a key role in the completion of the INSTC and connectivity in the region.

“In the last two decades, Iran has emerged as the pivot of India’s connectivity to Central Asia, wider Eurasia and also its development and humanitarian role in Afghanistan,” Saraswat said.

Shahi says India is now looking for its interests in the region, bypassing the threat of US sanctions.

In early November, during his address at the 21st Meeting of SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG), Jaishankar underlined the potential of the Chabahar port in Iran for the economic future of the grouping, saying India will “unlock” the “economic potential” of this (SCO) region in which Chabahar port and the International North-South Transport Corridor could become “enablers.”

“The SCO provides a multilateral framework for India to further cooperation on key issues of counter-terrorism, connectivity with Central Asian countries and regional stability,” said Saraswat.

“With Iran soon becoming a full member of the grouping, the two countries will benefit from their shared positions on several issues of connectivity via Chabahar, on Afghanistan among other things.”

Saurabh said as the world moves towards multipolarity, India and Iran “will need each other’s help”.

Mehdi Moosvi is an Indian journalist, presently based in Tehran. 

December 9, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Iran, India recalibrating ties amid geopolitical shifts

‘Not a choice, but necessity’

By Zafar Mehdi | The Cradle | December 1, 2022

“Not a choice, but a necessity.” That’s how Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani stressed the importance of closer strategic and economic ties between Tehran and New Delhi during his visit to India in November.

Kani had a message for Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Tehran –  strategic synergy is a win-win proposition for the two sides amid the shifting geopolitical and geo-economic landscape in the wake of the Ukraine war and the new world order.

Before the Trump administration reinstated sanctions on Iran in 2018, Iranian oil comprised nearly 11 percent of India’s total oil basket. However, New Delhi buckled under US pressure and stopped importing oil from Tehran in a move that hampered their cooperation in other strategic areas.

Three years down the line, amid rapidly changing geopolitical power dynamics and the end of “the era of the unipolar world,” as announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, India has become keen on recalibrating its ties with Iran, a traditional ally, in the midst of an energy crisis gripping the world.

It is worth noting that Russia became the biggest oil supplier to India in October, supplying 935,556 barrels of crude oil per day, according to energy cargo tracker Vortexa, making up for 22 percent of the energy-dependent country’s total crude imports, ahead of Iraq’s 20.5 percent and Saudi Arabia’s 16 percent.

Iran as an alternative energy supplier 

Faced with a burgeoning demand for oil and gas amid the global energy crisis and recent oil cuts by the OPEC+, India now looks poised to resume oil imports from Iran, defying US sanctions, The Cradle learned from sources in Tehran and New Delhi. 

Interestingly, India’s petroleum minister Hardeep Puri hinted at it during his visit to Washington in October, saying New Delhi will buy oil from wherever it has to. Russia, as we know, is already shipping oil to India, despite strong US pressures. 

Talks are currently underway between India and Venezuela, especially with the US easing oil-related sanctions against CaracasThis, by extension, has opened a window of opportunity for India and Iran to revive their energy trade. The good news is that both sides look interested. 

Iran has already expressed its readiness to resume energy trade with India. Last month, newly-appointed Iranian ambassador to New Delhi, Iraj Elahi, announced that Iran is willing to provide low-cost crude oil to India to ensure the country’s energy security, something top Indian officials have in recent months cited as the government’s priority.

A win-win proposition 

In 2018-2019, India purchased $12.11 billion worth of crude oil from Iran, which plummeted to zero in May 2019 after the significant reduction exemption (SRE) period ended.

Likewise, trade between the two countries dropped from $17.3 billion in 2018-2019 to $4.77 billion in 2019-2020. Although it has ultimately failed to achieve its objectives, Washington’s “maximum pressure campaign had a negative impact on India-Iran relations.

However, ties have since markedly improved, as evidenced by Bagheri Kani telling the Indian press that the Islamic Republic is ready to meet the country’s growing energy needs, while India can in turn contribute to Iran’s food security as a major food producer.

This, he asserted, would help in boosting the process of multilateralism in the international system, which essentially means the death of US unilateralism more than three decades after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the former Soviet Union that paved the way for the era of the unipolar world.

Suhasini Haidar, diplomatic affairs editor at The Hindu and a leading Indian analyst, termed Bagheri Kani’s visit to India as “significant,” saying it “shows a commitment to India-Iran ties by both governments despite geopolitical divides in the world on issues like the Ukraine war.”

Penalized by US sanctions 

Haidar described Iranian crude as “sweeter, lighter, cheaper, and easier to transport to India than other options,” calling the Indian government’s decision to cut Iranian imports “irrational.”

“It was irrational of the Modi government to have canceled India’s imports of Iranian oil under threat from the Trump administration, and it would make sense if they decided to restore the oil trade between the two countries,” she told The Cradle.

Haidar said it remains to be seen if the Modi government will be willing to resume oil imports from Iran, “despite several signals that both sides are exploring their options,” especially after the latest sanctions on an Indian company transporting Iranian oil.

Mumbai-based Tibalaji Petrochem Private Limited was sanctioned in late September for shipping Iranian petrochemical products to China. It was the first time an Indian company was sanctioned by the US for dealing with Iran.

In his meeting with his Indian counterpart Vinay Mohan Kwatra, Bagheri Kani pointed to the “necessity” of regional cooperation between the two countries, which he said would “take away the opportunity from foreigners to exploit the lack of cooperation.” 

The sentiments were mutual as India’s foreign ministry spokesman, in a statement following Bagger Kani’s meeting with Kwatra, said the two officials “discussed bilateral relations, including the development of Chabahar Port” and “regional and international issues of mutual interest.”

Time to shore up ties 

According to observers, the time is now ripe for the two sides to shore up bilateral ties and multilateral cooperation, with Tehran set to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as the BRICS group, given its close ties with Russia and China.

Notwithstanding existing challenges, Iran and India share mutual interests in trade and connectivity. Iran’s full SCO membership could prompt the two sides to focus more on connectivity projects like the Chabahar Port, which links with the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), the multi-mode network of ships, rail and roads for moving freight between India and Iran, among other countries.

“India and Iran have important trade needs, including in wheat, pulses and commodities, as well as oil reserves. And the connectivity engagement is very important for India through Chabahar and through the INSTC,” Haidar explained.

Importantly, in recent years, Chabahar Port in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province has emerged as a key area of cooperation between Tehran and New Delhi, which will provide India access to Afghanistan and Central Asia through Iran, ending its reliance on arch-rival Pakistan.

Rezaul Hasan Laskar, the foreign affairs editor at Hindustan Times, says the strategic port has “become more important following its growing use” but that “it needs to be connected to Iran’s railway network.” 

While the first section of the Zahedan-Chabahar railway line is nearing completion, official sources in Tehran said the agreement between the two sides to construct the 628-kilometer (390 miles) railway line had faced “serious impediments” due to New Delhi’s reluctance to start work fearing US sanctions.

“Despite India’s close ties with the US and Israel, its decision to build strategic ties with Iran, and Iran’s according special projects to India like Chabahar Port despite its ties with China are a constant reminder of this special relationship,” Haidar told The Cradle.

Map of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)

Joint cooperation with Beijing and Moscow 

Sources in Tehran and New Delhi said the use of rupee-rial trade was also “seriously considered” during Bagheri Kani’s New Delhi visit, with both sides agreeing that a banking mechanism that is not tied to the west is key to strengthening the process of multilateralism, and paving the way for the resumption of trade.

Laskar of Hindustan Times confirmed that the senior Iranian diplomat “reiterated Iran’s offer to resume oil supplies and raised the issue of trade in national currencies.”

The changing geopolitical landscape in the wake of growing anti-western mechanisms, including SCO and BRICS, led by China and Russia, is also likely to propel increased cooperation between Tehran and New Delhi.

Laskar, however, believes that the SCO has not been a particularly crucial grouping for India in recent years, “largely because of the tensions with China,” adding that India’s biggest concern about the expansion of BRICS is that “it shouldn’t become a China-centric grouping,” underlying Sino-India tensions. 

Meanwhile, Russia remains a common ally of India and Iran, which is evident in Moscow and New Delhi looking to ramp up trade via Tehran along the INSTC – the strategic route that has assumed tremendous significance since the start of the Ukraine war. 

The decision to boost INSTC trade, according to reports in Indian media, was high on the agenda during Bagheri Kani’s India visit, as Russia now looks set to invest in the Chabahar Port. According to sources, the war in Ukraine also figured prominently in Bagheri Kani’s talks with Indian officials. Both sides agreed on maintaining a “neutral stance” on the war and increased engagement with Moscow. 

“Russia is the new game-changer in the region, especially after the realignment of power centers, and that is good news for India-Iran ties,” an Iranian diplomat stationed in South Asia told The Cradle.

December 1, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli officials slam director over ‘propaganda’ claim

RT | November 29, 2022

Israeli officials tore into their countryman, filmmaker Nadav Lapid, after he condemned popular Indian film The Kashmir Files as “propaganda” and “vulgar” before an audience at the International Film Festival of India in Goa. Lapid had been invited to lead the jury of the festival, which is funded by the government and counts many politicians and other VIPs among its attendees.

“We were all disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, The Kashmir Files, that felt to us like a propaganda, vulgar movie inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival,” Lapid said during the closing ceremony. The film dramatizes the flight of Hindus from Kashmir in the 1990s amid an armed Muslim uprising, and has galvanized Islamophobic sentiment in the country.

“You should be ashamed,” Ambassador Naor Gilon chided Lapid via tweet on Tuesday, accusing the filmmaker of abusing “the trust, respect, and warm hospitality [the International Film Festival of India] have bestowed upon” him.

“It’s insensitive and presumptuous to speak about historic events before deeply studying them and which are an open wound in India because many of those involved are still around and still paying a price,” Gilon continued, suggesting that by publicly casting aspersions on The Kashmir Files’ version of history, Lapid was encouraging Indians to question the Holocaust.

Former ambassador to India Danny Carmon agreed, calling for Lapid to “apologize for the personal comments on historical facts without sensitivity and without knowing what he is talking about.” Consul General of Israel to Midwest India Kobbi Shoshani was quick to reassure local media that Lapid’s words were “not the opinion or the attitude of the government of Israel,” declaring “we completely don’t accept such speeches.”

While Lapid clarified he meant his comment as an artistic rather than personal criticism – “I feel totally comfortable to share openly these feelings here with you on stage since the spirit of the festival can truly accept also a critical discussion, which is essential for art and for life,” he said – that did little to blunt the attacks that came his way, from Indians as well as Israelis.

Lapid was denounced as “a Hindu-hating bigot who whitewashes ethnic cleansing” and as “not less than a Nazi enabler” by Abhinav Prakash, head of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha youth movement, while Aditya Raj Kaul, executive editor of the TV9 network, questioned whether the filmmaker would “call Holocaust a propaganda [sic]” or say the same about Holocaust films Schindler’s List and The Pianist.

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Film Review, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment

Washington Attempts To Bully India Into Cutting Ties With Russia

By Conor Gallagher | naked capitalism | November 13, 2022

For months the US has repeatedly tried to coerce India into cutting ties with Russia, thereby abandoning its national interests. New Delhi, however, continues to spurn American attempts to subject its economy to Washington’s dictates.

The latest fuss concerns the G7 price cap on Russian oil and EU and UK bans on shipping and related services for Russian crude. India continues to have no interest in joining the US-led initiative as it gets a steep discount on oil from Russia and wants to maintain the relationship with a long-time strategic partner. Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was just in Moscow on Nov. 8 to discuss continued sales of oil. From the South China Morning Post :

India’s foreign minister hailed New Delhi’s “strong and steady” relationship with Moscow on Tuesday, during his first visit there since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also declared India’s intention to continue to buy Russian oil, again disregarding the US appeal to allies and partners to isolate Russia from the global markets.

The G-7 plans are likely to send oil prices higher (despite US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claiming the opposite) and reduce tanker availability, both of which will threaten India’s energy security and hurt its economy as India is the third-largest consumer and importer of oil worldwide.

Russia has said it will not sell to any countries that participate in the price cap scheme, and Jaishankar has repeatedly stated that India cannot afford to buy oil at high prices – at least not without undermining its economic growth, which is forecast to be 6.1 percent in 2023, the fastest-growing major economy in the world. According to Energy Intelligence :

Russia emerged as India’s top crude supplier in October, shipping over 900,000 barrels per day or roughly a fifth of India’s demand. The two countries’ biggest concern is ensuring that Russian oil continues to flow after the Dec. 5 EU and UK bans and related G7 price cap.

But despite Jaishankar’s bullish stance in Moscow, India’s state refiners have not placed orders for crude lifting beyond Dec. 5 due to uncertainties about whether shipping and insurance will be available, Energy Intelligence understands. And a recent attempt by an Indian buyer to use the price cap in negotiations with a Russian seller prompted the latter to abandon the deal, market sources said.

The ongoing lack of clarity on the G-7 could be by design. Russian oil exports have already begun to dip, and Bruce Paulsen, a sanctions expert and partner at law firm Seward & Kissel, told American Shipper, “ If guidance on [price cap] compliance doesn’t come soon, some industry players may sit on the sidelines until they can determine that shipments under the price cap are safe.”

The US, in a neat sleight of hand, quit pressuring India to adhere to the price cap, and Yellen now says Washington is “happy” for New Delhi to continue buying as much Russian oil as it wants, including at prices above a G7-imposed price cap. But there are just a few caveats: India wouldn’t be able to use western insurance, finance, or maritime services to transport the oil.

“Russia is going to find it very difficult to continue shipping as much oil as they have done when the EU stops buying Russian oil,” Yellen told Reuters on Friday. “They’re going to be heavily in search of buyers, and many buyers are reliant on Western services.”

More from Energy Intelligence on why this amounts to a de facto price cap:

Indian refiners have the capacity to soak up another 600,000 b/d of Russian crude, provided it outcompetes the staple Mideast grades that are the lifeline of the country’s 5 million b/d refining base. But the availability of shipping and insurance — and payment channels — is key. From Dec. 5, tankers and shipping insurance linked to EU and G7 countries — which dominate oil shipping globally — will be barred from trading Russian crude unless those volumes are sold under the price cap, as yet undetermined.

About 90% of India’s liquids trade is shipped by foreign tankers, presenting challenges, independent energy analyst Narendra Taneja said. Insurance does not appear as problematic, and analysts say that Russian and Chinese firms can handle it.

This could leave Russia reliant on a shadow fleet of older tankers with opaque ownership that do not transact in dollars. According to Freight Waves :

Brokerage Braemar reported that 33 tankers previously handling Iranian or Venezuelan exports have carried Russian exports since April, mostly to China and secondarily to India.

Braemar defined the dark fleet as tankers that have carried Iranian or Venezuelan crude at least once in the past year. It put the current total at 240 tankers, mostly smaller and midsized, with 74% 19 years or older. Eighty of those vessels are very large crude carriers (VLCCs, tankers that carry 2 million barrels) that won’t fit in Russian ports but could be used for ship-to-ship transfers for Russian cargoes.

If the entire dark fleet switched to Russian service and were as efficient as the “mainstream fleet,” it would be more than enough to keep Russian exports flowing, but “vessels engaged in illicit trading are highly inefficient,” Braemar emphasized.

At the same time Washington is pressuring New Delhi to comply with the price cap, it is importing from India more vacuum gasoil, which is mostly used at refineries to produce other products such as gasoline and diesel. From Reuters :

Russia used to be a key VGO supplier to U.S. refiners before the Ukraine war broke out.

“Given that the U.S. is not buying Russian oil, they are looking for any and all alternatives,” said Roslan Khasawneh, senior fuel oil analyst at Vortexa…

U.S. and EU sanctions do not apply to refined products produced from Russian crude exported from a third country as they are not of Russian origin. In India, refiners boosted imports of discounted Russian oil to 793,000 barrels per day between April and October, up from just 38,000 bpd in the same period a year ago, trade data showed.

India joins a list of countries – including Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and Turkey – that are causing heads to explode in Washington for refusing to be bullied into submission.

This all must be coming as a shock in Washington as its Indo-Pacific strategy in recent years has always included a “like-minded” India helping to counter China and do the US’ bidding in southeast Asia. The possibility that India might pursue its own national interests didn’t seem to factor into the strategy.

The tension over the Russian price cap is just the latest in a series of disagreements between New Delhi and Washington. US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports deprive India of cheap Iranian oil, and force it to buy more expensive US energy exports. India is now the largest oil export destination for the US.

Similar to the way Washington is arming Greece and Cyprus in an effort to bully Turkey into breaking off its friendly ties with Russia, the US is doing the same in Pakistan to pressure India. The US has begun to accommodate Pakistan again after the ouster of former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, who blames his loss of power in a no-confidence vote on the US.

In September, the U.S. State Department enraged India when it approved a $450 million deal to upgrade Pakistan’s F-16 fleet. Shortly after, the US ambassador to Pakistan created more tension during a visit to the Pakistani-held part of Kashmir, which he called by its Pakistani name instead of the United Nations-approved name “Pakistan-administered Kashmir.”

On Nov. 8 US State Department spokesman Ned Price lectured India on what are in its best interests:

We’ve also been clear that now is not the time for business as usual with Russia, and it’s incumbent on countries around the world to do what they can to lessen those economic ties with Russia. That’s something that’s in the collective interest, but it’s also in the bilateral interest of countries around the world to end and certainly over the course of time to wean their dependence on Russian energy. There have been a number of countries that have learned the hard way of the fact that Russia is not a reliable source of energy. Russia is not a reliable supplier of security assistance. Russia is far from reliable in any realm. So it is not only in the interest of Ukraine, it is not only in the interest of the region, of the collective interests that India decrease its dependence on Russia over time, but it’s also in India’s own bilateral interest, given what we’ve seen from Russia.

We’ll have to wait and see if the Indian people get the message because as of now the opposite is true. India’s Observer Research Foundation released poll results on Nov. 2 that showed that 43 percent of Indians regarded Russia as their country’s most reliable partner, which was far ahead of the US at 27 percent.

Washington would be hard pressed to explain how New Delhi scaling back its economic ties with Russia would be a good thing for India.

Fuelled by a surge in import of oil and fertilizers, India’s bilateral trade with Russia has soared to an all-time high of $18.2 billion over the April-August period of this financial year, according to the latest data available with the Department of Commerce. That makes Russia India’s seventh biggest trading partner — up from its 25th position last year. The US, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Indonesia remain ahead of Russia.

India, Iran, and Russia have also spent the past twenty years developing the International North-South Transport Corridor to increase trade between the countries, and it took on increased importance with the western sanctions on Moscow. From The LoadStar :

RZD Logistics, a subsidiary of Russian railway monopoly RZD, has begun regular container train services from Moscow to Iran to serve growing trade with India by transloading.

This is aimed at maximizing use of the alternative International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a Central Asia cross-border multimodal freight network helping the two strategic partners work around supply chain challenges created by western sanctions on Russia.

The inland-ocean leg involves an estimated transit time of 35 days, compared with about 40 with previous traditional shipping, according to industry sources.

©Peter Hermes Furian

In much the same way that US heavy-handedness is backfiring elsewhere, the pressure applied on India seems to only be encouraging New Delhi to find a way around the dollar. The Loadstar adds that the Reserve Bank of India is also implementing new regulatory guidelines to help exporters settle shipments in rupees, instead of US dollars that had run into sanctions-related bottlenecks:

The Federation of Indian Export Organizations has also been pressing government leaders to extend the alternative currency method beyond Russian markets.

“While the Russia-Ukraine war is a setback to our exports in the short run, we are looking to increase our exports to Russia once the rupee payment mechanism gets operationalised,” FIEO noted.

While India has been benefitting from the discounted Russian crude, it also wants to maintain good ties with Moscow to avoid pushing Russia closer to China and potentially Pakistan, India’s biggest rivals in Asia.

Pakistan is also now asking the Russian Trade Ministry to introduce a currency swap arrangement to strengthen economic ties between the two countries.

November 14, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

New Delhi may sue Berlin over undelivered LNG – Bloomberg

RT | November 12, 2022

A diplomatic dispute is brewing between India and Germany after Berlin took over a former Gazprom subsidiary and halted LNG shipments to New Delhi.

The Russian gas giant’s former local subsidiary Gazprom Germania, renamed SEFE (Securing Energy for Europe), cut LNG supplies to India’s Gail back in May, citing sanctions Moscow imposed after the company was taken over by the German state. Under the sanctions, Gazprom stopped supplying SEFE with gas.

Gail had a 20-year contract with Gazprom Germania’s Singaporean unit, GM&T Singapore, for the supply of 2.5 million tons of LNG per year. According to Bloomberg, citing the association of LNG importers GIIGNL, the contract remained valid after Berlin took over Gazprom Germania, meaning SEFE was still required to meet its obligations to Gail.

In September, SEFE’s Singaporean unit said it could no longer fulfill its long-term contract with Gail and offered to pay compensation of 20% of the contract price for the failed LNG deliveries. Gail CFO Rakesh Kumar Jain last week said that SEFE had canceled a total of 17 LNG shipments since May.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, India is now demanding that SEFE find alternative gas suppliers in order to meet its obligations to Gail, as the Indian company has been forced to spend much larger sums to buy gas on the spot market. It also had to cut supplies to customers and lower production at its petrochemicals plant due to the LNG deficit. The company has also turned down the compensation offer for undelivered LNG as it prefers to retain the right to the cancelled cargoes, Reuters reported on Friday.

Bloomberg’s sources said that both Indian and German diplomats have been engaged to solve the dispute. A diplomatic solution is preferable for the parties, according to the sources, although they noted that Gail was also consulting lawyers about arbitration over the contract with SEFE, which means the dispute could turn into a lawsuit. Gail is also reportedly negotiating with Gazprom to buy LNG directly from the Russian company.

November 12, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Kashmiris mark 1947 murder of 200,000 Muslims by Hindu extremists

Press TV – November 6, 2022

Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control (LOC) are marking the 75th anniversary of the day when hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed in the Jammu region.

More than 200,000 Muslims were systematically killed by Hindu extremists when they were migrating to Pakistan.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders on Sunday paid tributes to the memory of those killed.

Detained senior APHC leader Shabbir Ahmad Shah, in a message from New Delhi’s Tihar Jail, said the massacre of Muslims was the most horrible incident of Kashmir’s history that continues to haunt the regional people.

Other APHC leaders, in a joint statement, said the Kashmiris “will always remember the great sacrifice of the Jammu martyrs”.

“The Kashmiris have been rendering sacrifices for a great cause for the last several decades and the day is not far when they will achieve their cherished goal,” the statement said.

They also urged the international community to press India to stop its “brutalities” in Kashmir and settle the dispute in accordance with the aspirations of its people and the relevant UN resolutions.

Between October and November in 1947, the majority of Muslims living in Jammu, Kathua, Reasi and Udhampur were uprooted from their homes during the days the genocide took place.

The crimes that were committed during that week included abduction and rape of Muslim women, mass slaughtering of Muslims including children and stealing of personal belongings.

In one of the many incidents that took place during that week, it was announced by the beat of the drum for all Muslims to assemble at the parade ground in Jammu.

They were later loaded on motor lorry convoys to be sent to Suchetgarh in India, but instead they were driven to Kathua road of the Jammu region and told to get off, after which they were killed by the Hindu forces that escorted them.

November 6, 2022 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 10 Comments

US scales back plan for Russian oil price cap – Report

Samizdat | October 27, 2022

President Joe Biden’s administration has reportedly been forced back to the drawing board on its plan to cap international prices for Russian oil, having failed to secure enough commitments to control how much Moscow is paid for the bulk of its crude exports.

The US and the European Union will likely have to settle for a “loosely policed” pricing cap, enforced by fewer buyers and at a higher price than envisioned, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified people familiar with the plans. The original goal was to drastically reduce Russia’s oil revenue – the latest effort to punish Moscow for its military offensive in Ukraine – by imposing a strict price lid to which a broad “buyer’s cartel” of nations would adhere.

Instead, only G7 nations and Australia have committed to honoring the price cap, Bloomberg said, attributing failure of the original plan to investor skepticism, volatile financial markets and efforts to tame inflation around the world. The cap level also might need to go higher than a previously targeted range of $40-$60 per barrel.

Biden’s administration has denied that its plan would fall short of throttling Russian oil revenue. “The White House and the administration are staying the course on implementing an effective, strong price cap on Russian oil in coordination with the G7 and other partners,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told Bloomberg in a statement.

Russian officials have said the country won’t sell oil or other commodities under price caps or unprofitable market conditions. Nor will Moscow supply energy to nations that adopt trade policies contradicting the terms of their existing oil and natural gas contracts, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak said earlier this month. A cap on crude wouldn’t be viable because prices are driven by the global supply-demand balance, he added.

The G7 price cap is scheduled to go into force on December 5, along with an EU ban on imports of seaborne Russian crude. Reuters reported last week that after December 5, Russia would still be able to ship the vast majority of its oil exports at market prices because it would have ample access to tankers and other services. The outlet cited a US Treasury official as saying that between 80% and 90% of Russian oil would continue to flow to buyers outside the cap mechanism.

Russia would have access not only to its own oil tankers, but also to Chinese and Indian ships, Reuters added. Traders and insurance companies from Russia, Asia and the Middle East would provide the necessary transactional services. Brent crude, a leading international oil benchmark, is currently selling for around $95 per barrel.

October 26, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Aussie PM Calls Quad ‘Piece of Strategic Nonsense’

Samizdat – 12.10.2022

The Quad was officially launched in 2007 but suspended in 2008 after Australia pulled out of the US-led grouping over concerns expressed by China. The grouping was revived in 2017, a year after the US announced its ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’. Beijing has labelled the Quad ‘Asian NATO’, accusing Washington of inciting tensions in the region.

Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating has slammed the US-led Quad grouping as “illegitimate” and a “strategic piece of nonsense,” as he advised Canberra to not be a part of the US-led efforts to “ring-fence” China.

The Quad, which comprises Australia, India, Japan and the US, says that its official goal is to maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific region”.

“We shouldn’t be stringing together the US, Japan, India and Australia to try to contain China,” Keating, a senior party colleague of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, said on Wednesday.

Keating argued that that Beijing’s “ambitions are in the west, not the east,” as he underlined the inroads made by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in regions outside Asia. “Everywhere between Wuhan and Istanbul, in the next 30 years, will have a huge Chinese influence.”

Keating pointed out that the BRI has already financed infrastructure projects in the Baltic states as well as in former Soviet countries.

The multi-trillion-dollar BRI initiative was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and strives to connect east Asia with Europe and beyond through connectivity and infrastructure projects. As of March 2022, a total of 147 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, South America as well as North America have been members of the Beijing-backed global initiative.

Keating also reckoned that the era of US “supremacy” as the pre-eminent global power has already passed.

“This idea that the US is an exceptional power… they have God’s ear and proselytizing democracy was fine in the 20th century. The 20th century was owned by the US. The 21st century belongs to someone else,” stated Keating.

He also expressed doubts whether the US would come to the help of Taiwan if Beijing went ahead with the re-unification of the island with the mainland through military means.

Beijing has doubled down on its commitment to “reunify” Taiwan with the mainland following the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei in August. Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that reunifying Taiwan is part of China’s goal to achieve “national rejuvenation”.

“China would see every amphibious vessel coming towards the United States, whether it is San Diego or Honolulu. They would see them and sink them,” the former Australian PM claimed, suggesting that the chances of an American “victory” in such a scenario would be “nil”.

Keating advised the Australian government not to get involved in the “geopolitical conflict” around Taiwan.

“We should be no more interested in the political system of Taiwan than Vietnam and Kazakhstan,” argued Keating.

October 12, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

US is recalibrating the power dynamic in East Mediterranean. Can South Asia be far behind?

File Photo
BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | OCTOBER 2, 2022 

A mild flutter ensued after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s recent meeting with his Turkiye counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York on September 21 when it came to be known that Cyprus figured in their discussion. Jaishankar highlighted it in a tweet 

The Indian media instinctively related this to Turkish President Recep Erdogan making a one-line reference to the Kashmir issue earlier that day in his address to the UN GA. But Jaishankar being a scholar-diplomat, would know that Cyprus issue is in the news cycle and the new cold war conditions breathe fresh life into it, as tensions mount in the Turkish-Greek rivalry,  which often draws comparison with the India-Pakistan animosity, stemming from another historical “Partition” — under the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) that ended the Ottoman Empire. 

The beauty about peace treaties is that they have no ‘expiration date’ but the Treaty of Lausanne was signed for a period of a hundred years between Turkiye on one side and Britain, France, Italy, Greece, and their allies on the other. The approaching date heightens the existential predicament at the heart of Turkiye’s foreign policy. 

The stunning reality is that by 24th July 2023, Turkey’s modern borders become “obsolete”. The secret articles of the 1923 Treaty, signed by Turkish and British diplomats, provide for a chain of strange happenings — British troops will reoccupy the forts overlooking the Bosphorus; the Greek Orthodox Patriarch will resurrect a Byzantine mini state within Istanbul’s city walls; and Turkey will finally be able to tap the forbidden vast energy resources of the East Mediterranean (and, perhaps, regain Western Thrace, a province of Greece.) 

Of course, none of that can happen and they remain conspiracy theories. Nonetheless, the “end-of-Lausanne” syndrome remains a foundational myth and weaves neatly into the historical revisionism that Ataturk should have got a much better deal from the Western powers. 

All this goes to underline the magnitude of the current massively underestimated drama, of which Cyprus is at the epicentre. Suffice to say, Turkey’s geometrically growing rift with Greece and Cyprus over the offshore hydrocarbon reserves and naval borders must be properly understood in terms of the big picture.

Turkiye’s ruling elite believe that Turkey was forced to sign the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 and the “Treaty of Lausanne” in 1923 and thereby concede vast tracts of land under its domain. Erdogan rejects any understanding of history that takes 1919 as the start of the 1,000-year history of his great nation and civilisation. “Whoever leaves out our last 200 years, even 600 years together with its victories and defeats, and jumps directly from old Turkish history to the Republic, is an enemy of our nation and state,” he once stated. 

The international community has begun to pay attention as Turkiye celebrates its centenary next year, which also happens to be an election year for Erdogan. In a typical first shot, the US State Department announced on September 16 — just five days before Jaishankar met Cavusoglu — that Washington is lifting defence trade restrictions on the Greek Cypriot administration for the 2023 fiscal year. 

Spokesman Ned Price said, “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken determined and certified to Congress that the Republic of Cyprus has met the necessary conditions under relevant legislation to allow the approval of exports, re-exports, and transfers of defence articles.” 

The US move comes against the backdrop of a spate of recent arms deals by Cyprus and Greece, including a deal to purchase attack helicopters from France and efforts to procure missile and long-range radar systems. Turkiye called on the US “to reconsider this decision and to pursue a balanced policy towards the two sides on the Island.” It has since announced a beefing up of its military presence in Northern Cyprus.  

To be sure, the unilateral US move also means indirect support for the maritime claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, which Turkiye, with the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, rejects as excessive and violates its sovereign rights and that of Turkish Cypriots. 

Whether these developments figured in Jaishankar’s discussion with Cavusoglu is unclear, but curiously, India too is currently grappling with a similar US decision to offer a $450 million military package to Pakistan to upgrade its nuclear-capable F-16 aircraft. 

Indeed, the US-Turkey-Cyprus triangle has some striking similarities with the US-India-Pakistan triangle. In both cases, the Biden administration is dealing with friendly pro-US governments in Nicosia and Islamabad but is discernibly unhappy with the nationalist credo of the leaderships in Ankara and New Delhi. 

Washington is annoyed that the governments in Ankara and New Delhi preserve their strategic autonomy. Most important, the US’ attempt to isolate Russia weakening due to the refusal by Turkiye and India to impose sanctions against Moscow. 

The US is worried that India and Turkiye, two influential regional powers, pursue foreign policies promoting multipolarity in the international system, which undermines US’ global hegemony. Above all,  it is an eyesore for Washington that Erdogan and Prime Minister Modi enjoy warm trustful personal interaction with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The photo beamed from Samarkand during the recent SCO summit showing Erdogan arm in arm with Putin must have infuriated President Biden. Modi too displayed a rare moment of surging emotions when he told Putin at Samarkand on September 16, 

“The relationship between India and Russia has deepened manifold. We also value this relationship because we have been such friends who have been with each other every moment for the last several decades and the whole world also knows how Russia’s relationship with India has been and how India’s relationship with Russia has been and therefore the world also knows that it is an unbreakable friendship. Personally speaking, in a way, the journey for both of us started at the same time. I first met you in 2001, when you were working as the head of the government and I had started working as head of the state government. Today, it has been 22 years, our friendship is constantly growing, we are constantly working together for the betterment of this region, for the well-being of the people. Today, at the SCO Summit, I am very grateful to you for all the feelings that you have expressed for India.” 

Amazingly, the western media censored this stirring passage in its reports on the Modi-Putin meeting! 

Notably, following the meeting between Modi and Erdogan in Samarkand on Sept. 16, a commentary by the state-owned TRT titled Turkiye-India ties have a bright future ahead signalled the Erdogan government’s interest to move forward in relations with India. 

India’s ties with Turkiye deserve to be prioritised, as that country is inching toward BRICS and the SCO and is destined to be a serious player in the emerging multipolar world order. Symptomatic of the shift in tectonic plates is the recent report that Russia might launch direct flights between Moscow and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a state supported and recognised only by Ankara. (Incidentally, one “pre-condition” set by the Biden administration to resume military aid to Cyprus was that Nicosia should roll back its relations with Moscow!)  

Without doubt, the US and the EU are recalibrating the power dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean by building up the Cyprus-Greece axis and sending a warning to Turkiye to know its place. In geopolitical terms, this is another way of welcoming Cyprus into NATO. Thus, it becomes part of the new cold war. 

Can South Asia’s future be any different? Turkiye has so many advantages over India, having been a longstanding cold-war era ally of the US. It hosts Incirlik Air Base, one of the US’ major strategically located military bases. Kurecik Radar Station partners with the US Air Force and Navy in a mission related to missile interception and defence. Turkey is a NATO power which is irreplaceable in the alliance’s southern tier. Turkey controls the Bosphorus Straits under the Montreux Convention (1936).

Yet, the US is unwilling to have a relationship of mutual interest and mutual respect with Turkiye. Pentagon is openly aligned with the Kurdish separatists. The Obama administration made a failed coup attempt to overthrow Erdogan. 

October 2, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment