“There will come a day that we will see far more radical extremists & terrorists coming out of Europe. Because of lack of decision making, trying to be politically correct or assuming that they know the Middle-East, they know Islam and they know the others far better than we do. Am sorry, but that’s pure ignorance.” ~ Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates at the 4th Tweeps Forum at Riyadh in 2016.
The words of the Minister left many West Asia watchers stunned. Especially from Europe and the US. This gave a sneak preview into that paradigm shift that is about to come in the next few years. Looking back at how things went, the reaction seems quite justified. Many times, people get confused about what is going on in Arab world. It is public perception that everyone is fighting everyone there. But then, the devil is in the fine print. The wars are moving up north and closer to Europe.
The war is slowly revealing the real enemy. The radicals. The pattern is evident. Whoever tolerates others, would survive. Rest would be decimated brutally. This is the pattern, from Saudi Arabia to Iran and everyone in-between. Globally too. Radicals are being crushed left right centre. Basically, music is stopping for radicals. They better mend their ways. This is exposing the game of those real radicals, those that are with power. With many magic hands shaping the feat of peacemaking from behind. Some are so important catalysts in the equation that are taking shape, that we simply can’t ignore them. Indian Government for example.
Many actions that seemed impossible a few years ago, are taking shape right now. It might sound totally disconnected. But, scratch a few layers, you would understand the tacit support that made it possible. In a way, the support has to be seen with transactional barter with a tinge of civilizational links. The way things are moving, we are expecting a non-radicalized Islam in West Asia, which would take path of becoming soft power in years to come. Giving importance to knowledge and contributing to human advancement. There are few well written pieces on New York Times on Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed a.k.a MBZ.
Few months ago, was it even possible to think of an Israel-UAE peace treaty? Few good men made it happen. And the effort was a regional effort. Many bad apples were cornered.
What we know today is that Turkey wants to become a trans-Asian Nation – like the USSR. Raccip Tayyip Erdogan is trying to make an impact and influence states from Armenia and Cyprus to the West to Xinjiang in the east. He claims all of it. His hypocrisy can be best explained in one single statement. That is, while condemning Chinese illegal detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, he deports them back to Beijing via a third country. There are media reports on this. Just one problem here. Arabs would oppose this idea tooth and nail. Result: We’re seeing opposition to Turkey growing stronger and stronger day by day. Therefore, the Azerbaijan – Armenia war got complicated with Turkey’s involvement. This is where the UAE led alliance (with almost all of GCC members) is in effect an anti-Turkey & anti-radical. This is where everyone else is seen working out their differences in the region, to take on Turkey.
One after another, Arab states would embrace Israel as a long-lost cousin. Palestine would ultimately choose to be Israel’s friend in the region. Change is inevitable.
On the European side, with President Macron not in a mood to relent on radicals domestically and giving a tough resistance to Turkey and is taking them heads on across the region – from Cyprus to Armenia to Qatar & Libya, things are only looking bad for Turkey & more specifically Erdogan. Ultimately spreading thin the money, effort and troops from Cyprus to Libya to Syria to Azerbaijan. Over the past few months, US & Israel started moving away from Turkey. The EU has announced that it stands by France in case there is a flare up leading to France vs Turkey in Europe or elsewhere.
It is in this context that it is rather surprising that Erdogan is not seeing what is coming up for him and people whom he supports in due course. Ever wondered why there was little to no ISIS in UAE, Jordan & Oman? Think about it.
As they say it takes few good men to change the future. Here too, few good men stood up to radicalism and are making a huge difference to lives of common people from that community. And they have full support from Indian Government along with key partners of GCC. From the prospect of doom, Arab Nations are today seeing a ray of hope.
Our policy towards Gulf countries hasn’t changed much since the 1960s. We say ups and downs together in business. But one thing stood out. There was a parallel track encouraging each other’s development – beyond religion and business. Take for example UAE. It stood with us – like France, when we did nuclear tests in the 1970s.
At this point, we can only observe from grandstand those key discussions have indeed deeper understandings with New Delhi. We can certainly note that the meetings, summits and visits of the leaders of the region give you good insight. Arab nations seem to have understood the meaning behind the 2014 mandate for PM Modi.
First two years of PM Modi were dedicated to immediate neighbours. Though successful to a certain extent, things moved to an extended neighbourhood in the following years. France and UAE are the two nations it went to woo very deep. French President was invited as Chief Guest to 2016 Republic Day. Following year, UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed was invited. Within a few months, as if it was waiting next to be catapulted, MBZ was invited to White House in May 2017. This was a week before President Trump was to visit Saudi Arabia. A month later, in June 2017, Modi visits White House. Then, in July 2017, Modi makes the historic Israel visit. First ever by Indian PM. Few months later in 2018, Modi visited Palestine. And, while coming back to Delhi, PM Modi met Sultan Qaboos, one of the key architects of what is shaping West Asia today. Not many know that Sultan Qaboos is anti-radical and has kept Oman free of radicals.
Meanwhile, India has been inviting troops from Oman and training them. It is not out of thin air that Israel was able to normalize relations with its neighbours. Jordan, Oman, Saudi & UAE along with India played a huge role in it. (Source: LSEBlogs.com) Meanwhile, latest that India has said at UN is this: “India has been unwavering in its commitment to the Palestinian cause & continues to remain supportive of a peacefully negotiated resolution to the issue; India has supported the two-State solution as just & acceptable. We welcome the agreements for normalization of relations b/w Israel and UAE & Bahrain. India has always supported peace & stability in West Asia, which is our extended neighbourhood: Permanent Representative of India at UN Security Council open debate on situation in Middle East.”
This is an indication that India would treat Israel as an equal to Palestine. Fair & just. This changes a lot of things. India has created a space also to be critical of terrorist attacks emanating from Palestine. What is worth noticing is that, since UAE & Bahrain normalized relations with Israel, and that Saudi Arabia and few other nations might follow suit soon, the rocket attacks have ceased. Reason solely being the loss of protection they used to get riding the anti-Israel wave. Now, the Palestine State would have to be formed. Not after weapons and terror attacks. But, through dialogue.
While GCC is doing its bit to contain radicals from the region, France is acting against radical ideology from Turkey & Lebanon and stopping them from entering Europe. The US & Russia are acting against ISIS. India has its own trouble domestically through Pakistan funded radicals. Afghanistan is fighting its own battle. Rest of the world is busy with Chinese support to radicals across these non-civil states that propagate radicals.
Turkey may also stop propagating expansionism and come to the real world. Laying claim to lands as far as Xinjiang when Turkish military is stretched from Cyprus to Libya to Azerbaijan to Syria, not sure if Erdogan is the right person to lead a nation. Erdogan’s single biggest contribution to Turkey is that of turning a once liberal nation which acted as a bridge between Europe & Asia, into a radical theocracy without any room for reasonable opposition in a democratic setup.
Conclusion is that, going forward, there would be no place for radicals in this world. All those radicals in the region, Taliban or Pakistan supported terrorists or ISIS or anyone else who fall into that category anywhere in the world in general, won’t survive longer than a couple of years. Writing is on the wall. Better mend your ways. India, US, France, UAE & Saudi Arabia have understood the reasons and are indeed trying to make the world a better place. India and other like-minded free nations are in support of this great effort. Hopefully, we shall have a much better world in the coming years.
Shreedharan Raman watches strategic moves by countries around the globe, especially China and writes his opinions occasionally on shreedharan.com & can be contacted at [email protected]