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Is India Now a US Ally?

India aligns with the US against China and Russia.

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India’s recent moves are putting India’s multipolar commitment in doubt and raise questions about whether India has defected to the US’s unipolar system.

India used to be universally acclaimed for being a multipolar pillar in the emerging world order.  The country played a pivotal role in BRICS and in the larger globally transformative processes that are currently underway.

Historically as one of the founder members of the Non-Aligned Movement India has been respected for its wise pragmatism and its ability to engage any partner on a win-win basis.

India now looks ready to abandon its geopolitical traditions.  It seems to be starting a new foreign policy trajectory openly siding with the US against China in the New Cold War.

Prime Minister Modi has made a series of moves over the past month which show that India’s strategic calculations have radically changed since US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter visited the subcontinent last month.

In this article I shall discuss the elements of India’s anti-Chinese pivot, with an emphasis on the “Logistic Service Agreement” and the consequences of the Azhar-Isa affair.

In a subsequent article I shall discuss the long-term consequences if India continues to abide by its new policies and how this will lead unavoidably to an intensified Chinese-Indian Cold War encompassing the ASEAN, Himalayan, and Central Asian theatres.

I will also look into the global stakes and how India by its realignment with the US may inadvertently be on the cusp of sabotaging the successes the emerging multipolar world order has managed to make up to this point.

India’s Anti-Chinese Pivot

In the course of only a single month, India has surprised the world by radically pivoting to an anti-Chinese policy that has Washington’s “Lead From Behind” fingerprints all over it.

The “Logistic Service Agreement”

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter visited India in April.

Whilst this visit was presented as a “routine visit” by most media outlets, Ashton Carter’s comments about the emerging US-Indian Strategic Partnership, which he predicted “will define the 21st century”, attracted a lot of attention.

Underpinning the rhetoric is the so-called “Logistic Support Agreement” (LSA) the US and India are currently negotiating with each other.  This is essentially a blend of the “Host Mission Support Agreements” that NATO has concluded with Finland and Sweden and the transit agreement that NATO has recently agreed with Serbia.

Reuters quotes US military officials as saying that the LSA “would allow the two militaries to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for resupplies, repair and rest”.   

What that means in practice is that the US has effectively acquired the right to deploy full-spectrum rotational forces anywhere throughout India on a preplanned case-by-case basis in order to “contain China”.

Although not yet signed, Ashton Carter’s major achievement was that the two sides agreed “in principle” to conclude negotiations for the LSA in the near future.  It is believed that only the amount of financial compensation and other related technical details remain to be agreed before the deal enters into force presumably later this year.

Aircraft Carrier Cooperation

In parallel with the LSA, the US announced that it would assist New Delhi to build its first domestically built aircraft carrier.

Ashton Carter revealed during his visit that the US will share state-of-the-art technology with its Indian counterparts, thus substantially deepening the emerging alliance between them.

It is an open secret that India’s navy will be used to “contain” China in the Indian Ocean Region.  The unprecedented level of naval cooperation between the two sides therefore has to be seen through the geopolitical prism of this shared objective to “contain” China.

If symbolism has any meaning, it’s also important that the Indian Defense Minister invited Carter onto India’s premier aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya.

Not only does this demonstrate India’s willingness to show the world just how good its relations with the US are right now, but it is also significant that this was originally a Russian-built ship making this a strong signal that India is diversifying its military-technical relations towards the West at the expense of its traditional Russian partner.

Raw data provides the proof.   Although Russia still provides the bulk of India’s weapons, the US has recently edged it out, becoming in recent years India’s largest vendor, indicating that Russia is gradually losing its strategic position in the Indian market.

Inviting Ashton Carter to step onto the deck of a Russian-built aircraft carrier rubs salt into the Russian defence industry’s wounds.

The Azhar-Isa Affair

I have previously discussed this event in detail in an article for the Moscow-based Katehon think tank.

Briefly, India extended a visa to Dolkun Isa, one of the most notorious “political” figures providing political cover for the Uighur terrorist movement. China had earlier accused this person of supporting terrorism and Interpol has a “red corner notice” on him. He was nonetheless invited by the Indian government to attend a broad gathering of anti-Chinese separatist and regime change groups hosted by the US-based “Initiatives For China/Citizen Power For China” – widely acknowledged to be CIA front organisation.

Just about all of the other anti-Chinese groups that were supposed to attend this conference – which included Tibetan, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolian, and “pro-democracy” groups – are also US-based and are equally hostile to the Chinese authorities.

The unavoidable conclusion is that India intentionally collaborated with the US to host US proxies in Dharamsala – a location provocatively close to the Chinese border.

The Indian media justified all this in articles heavy with nationalist rhetoric that argued that the visa was extended to Dolkun Isa because China had previously stonewalled India’s UN proposal to put accused Pakistani-based terrorist Masood Azhar on a UN terrorist list.

In my previous Katehon piece I pointed out that India – more so than any other country – knows China cannot interfere in a bilateral dispute between Pakistan and India and certainly cannot appear to side with India in a dispute of this sort.  I explained that New Delhi only brought up this issue in order to justify its decision to host a gathering of anti-Chinese separatist and terrorist groups in Dharamsala.

Though India eventually cancelled Dolkun Isa’s visa, since New Delhi still allowed the conference to take place this has the look of a classic bait-and-switch exercise.

The US-based “Initiatives For China/Citizen Power For China” umbrella group now favoured by India is also distinctly anti-Russian.  It previously organized a conference lobbying for the passage of the extra-judicial so-called “Global Magnitsky Bill”. It even prioritizes this Bill as its third most important project behind the “Tiananmen Massacre Memory of World Registrar” and “Finding 2 Tank Men” ahead of its “Hong Kong Occupy Central” movement.

By hosting this anti-Chinese organisation Indian Prime Minister Modi’s government was also hosting an anti-Russian organisation, making this look like a subtle anti-Moscow message as well as an open anti-Beijing one.

The Azhar-Isa affair exploded shortly after Ashton Carter’s visit.  Ashton Carter almost certainly discussed this affair in some way with his Indian hosts during his visit probably with a view to providing future ‘situational justification’ for the LSA and for the deployment of American air, sea, and land forces in India next to China’s Tibetan and Yunnan borders.

Hostility To The New Silk Road

India has been visibly upset ever since China announced last year that it would build the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

India’s media and academic community have issued mild condemnations of this over the course of the previous year.

New Delhi however has now stepped up its criticism after Ashton Carter’s visit with Colonel SD Goswami, a spokesman of India’s Udhampur-headquartered Northern Command, saying that “The government has conveyed its concerns to China…and asked them to cease such activities”.

This anti-New Silk Road rhetoric would not have been possible without behind-the-scenes encouragement from the US, which is clearly backing it as part of its global Hybrid War campaign to sabotage China’s Silk Road strategy.

China will not stop construction of this mega-project because of Indian complaints, no matter how strongly the US backs them.  India knows this.

It is therefore likely that the escalation of rhetoric around this project was initiated as part of a pre-planned information campaign to justify tightening the anti-Chinese US-Indian Strategic Partnership with the claim that India “has no choice” because “China just won’t listen”.

The US-Indian Naval Alliance

An important component of the larger US-Indian Strategic Partnership is the enhanced naval cooperation between the two countries, which – like every other part of their new alliance – is predicated on “containing China”.

Aside from the important aircraft carrier cooperation and other military-technical aspects that were discussed earlier, the two sides are reported to have discussed joint anti-submarine warfare strategies.

In addition India is expected to take part in US-led multilateral exercises in June, which will be held provocatively in the Philippine Sea.  Although not directly adjacent to the South China Sea, this location is adjacent to the East China Sea where Beijing and Tokyo are locked in a bitter dispute over contested island territories.

India’s participation in anti-submarine warfare exercises so close to a potential conflict zone in tandem with the US, Japan, and other anti-Chinese navies is a worrying sign that India is serious about confronting China both in the Indian Ocean Region and right on Beijing’s own East Asian doorstep.

Considering how important maritime trade routes are for the still-growing Chinese economy and its global One Belt One Road commercial network plans, the US-assisted rise of the Indian Navy as a trans-regional operating force between the Indian Ocean Region and the South China Sea/East China Sea could prove threatening to China in the coming years.

Not only is India doubling down on its strategic collaboration with the US, but it is also trying to “localise” its presence through multilateral cooperation with ASEAN’s maritime members under the ‘plausibly deniable’ aegis of promoting “freedom of navigation”.

India’s latest participation in ASEAN naval drills combined with its growing anti-Chinese strategic partnership with the US can be seen as signalling its intent to institutionalise its presence in the South China Sea.

Whilst China and Russia are also taking part in these exercises, Moscow obviously is not seeking to “contain” China, whilst Beijing’s role should be seen in the larger framework of its normal relations with countries which are its maritime neighbours.

By contrast India’s participation in naval exercises alongside Japan, the US, and Australia imply involvement in a prospective anti-Chinese naval alliance that will eventually involve Vietnam and the Philippines.

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Vi Qiong

What a sham? Cannot even differentiate between good and bad. Even as evil as US has demonstrated itself to be, there are still people lending support.

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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

The Duran

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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Converting Khashoggi into Cash

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The hazard of writing about the Saudis’ absurd gyrations as they seek to avoid blame for the murder of the late, not notably great journalist and Muslim Brotherhood activist Jamal Khashoggi is that by the time a sentence is finished, the landscape may have changed again.

As though right on cue, the narrative has just taken another sharp turn.

After two weeks of denying any connection to Khashoggi’s disappearance, Riyadh has ‘fessed up (sorta) and admitted that he was killed by Saudi operatives but it wasn’t really on purpose:

Y’see, it was kinda’f an ‘accident.’

Oops…

Y’see the guys were arguing, and … uh … a fistfight broke out.

Yeah, that’s it … a ‘fistfight.’

And before you know it poor Jamal had gone all to pieces.

Y’see?

Must’ve been a helluva fistfight.

The figurative digital ink wasn’t even dry on that whopper before American politicos in both parties were calling it out:

  • “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement,” tweeted Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince. It’s hard to find this latest ‘explanation‘ as credible.”
  • California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the new Saudi explanation is “not credible.” “If Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him,” Schiff said. “The kingdom and all involved in this brutal murder must be held accountable, and if the Trump administration will not take the lead, Congress must.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must think he’s already died and gone to his eternal recreation in the amorous embraces of the dark-eyed houris. The acid test for the viability of Riyadh’s newest transparent lie is whether the Turks actually have, as they claim, live recordings of Khashoggi’s interrogation, torture, murder, and dismemberment (not necessarily in that order) – and if they do, when Erdogan decides it’s the right time to release them.

Erdogan has got the Saudis over a barrel and he’ll squeeze everything he can out of them.

From the beginning, the Khashoggi story wasn’t really about the fate of one man. The Saudis have been getting away with bloody murder, literally, for years. They’re daily slaughtering the civilian population of Yemen with American and British help, with barely a ho-hum from the sensitive consciences always ready to invoke the so-called “responsibility to protect” Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, Xinjiang, Rakhine, and so forth.

Where’s the responsibility not to help a crazed bunch of Wahhabist head-choppers kill people?

But now, just one guy meets a grisly end and suddenly it’s the most important homicide since the Lindbergh baby.

What gives?

Is it because Khashoggi was part of the MSM aristocracy, on account of his relationship with the Washington Post?

Was it because of his other, darker, connections? As related by Moon of Alabama: “Khashoggi was a rather shady guy. A ‘journalist’ who was also an operator for Saudi and U.S. intelligence services. He was an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood.” This relationship, writes MoA, touches on the interests of pretty much everyone in the region:

“The Ottoman empire ruled over much of the Arab world. The neo-Ottoman wannabe-Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to regain that historic position for Turkey. His main competition in this are the al-Sauds. They have much more money and are strategically aligned with Israel and the United States, while Turkey under Erdogan is more or less isolated. The religious-political element of the competition is represented on one side by the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘democratic’ Islamists to which Erdogan belongs, and the Wahhabi absolutists on the other side.”

With the noose tightening around Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the risible fistfight cock-and-bull story is likely to be the best they can come up with. US President Donald Trump’s having offered his “rogue killers” opening suggests he’s willing to play along. Nobody will really be fooled, but MbS will hope he can persuade important people to pretend they are fooled.

That will mean spreading around a lot of cash. The new alchemy of converting Khashoggi dead into financial gain for the living is just one part of an obvious scheme to pull off what Libya’s Muammar Kaddafi managed after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing: offer up some underlings as the fall guys and let the top man evade responsibility. (KARMA ALERT: That didn’t do Kaddafi any good in the long run.)

In the Saudi case the Lockerbie dodge will be harder, as there are already pictures of men at the Istanbul Consulate General identified as close associates of MbS. But they’ll give it the old madrasa try anyway since it’s all they’ve got.Firings and arrests have started and one suspect has already died in a suspicious automobile “accident.” Heads will roll!

Saving MbS’s skin and his succession to the throne of his doddering father may depend on how many of the usual recipients of Saudi – let’s be honest – bribery and influence peddling will find sufficient pecuniary reason to go along. Saudi Arabia’s unofficial motto with respect to the US establishment might as well be: “The green poultice heals all wounds.”

Anyway, that’s been their experience up to now, but it also in part reflects the same arrogance that made MbS think he could continue to get away with anything. (It’s not shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, but it’s close.) Whether spreading cash around will continue to have the same salubrious effect it always has had in the past remains to be seen.

To be sure, Trump may succeed in shaking the Saudi date palm for additional billions for arms sales. That won’t necessarily turn around an image problem that may not have a remedy. But still, count on more cash going to high-price lobbying and image-control shops eager to make obscene money working for their obscene client. Some big American names are dropping are dropping Riyadh in a sudden fit of fastidiousness, but you can bet others will be eager to step into their Guccis, both in the US and in the United Kingdom. (It should never be forgotten how closely linked the US and UK establishments are in the Middle East, and to the Saudis in particular.)

It still might not work though. No matter how much expensive PR lipstick the spinmeisters put on this pig, that won’t make it kissable. It’s still a pig.

Others benefitting from hanging Khashoggi’s death around MbS’s neck are:

  • Qatar (after last year’s invasion scare, there’s no doubt a bit of Schadenfreude and (figurative) champagne corks popping in Doha over MbS’s discomfiture. As one source close to the ruling al-Thani family relates, “The Qataris are stunned speechless at Saudi incompetence!” You just can’t get good help these days).

Among the losers one must count Israel and especially Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. MbS, with his contrived image as the reformer, was the Sunni “beard” he needed to get the US to assemble an “Arab NATO” (as though one NATO weren’t bad enough!) and eliminate Iran for him. It remains to be seen how far that agenda has been set back.

Whether or not MbS survives or is removed – perhaps with extreme prejudice – there’s no doubt Saudi Arabia is the big loser. Question are being asked that should have been asked years ago. As Srdja Trifkovic comments in Chronicles magazine:

“The crown prince’s recklessness in ordering the murder of Khashoggi has demonstrated that he is just a standard despot, a Mafia don with oil presiding over an extended cleptocracy of inbred parasites. The KSA will not be reformed because it is structurally not capable of reform. The regime in Riyadh which stops being a playground of great wealth, protected by a large investment in theocratic excess, would not be ‘Saudi’ any longer. Saudia delenda est.”

The first Saudi state, the Emirate of Diriyah, went belly up in 1818, with the death of head of the house of al-Saud, Abdullah bin Saud – actually, literally with his head hung on a gate in Constantinople by Erdogan’s Ottoman predecessor, Sultan Mahmud II.

The second Saudi state, Emirate of Nejd, likewise folded in 1891.

It’s long past time this third and current abomination joined its antecedents on the ash heap of history.

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