Arab

You are here

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • SINAI: The Middle East’s New Hot Spot

    Since the revolution that toppled Mubarak, Sinai has become a no man’s land where jihadists from Egypt and Gaza as well as local Bedouins have begun to engage in militant activities.

    November 30, 2012

    Arab Spring: Aspirations Met Or Dreams Unfulfilled?

    As we move into the second winter of the Arab Spring, this Issue Brief attempts to take stock of the progress of the Arab Spring and examine whether the aspirations of people have been met or have they been handed a raw deal.

    October 26, 2012

    Aarti Panchal asked: Why has Syria been expelled from the Arab League? What were the key reasons cited in this regard?

    P.K. Pradhan replies: Syria has been suspended from the Arab League allegedly for its failure to comply with a previous order passed by the League to end the violent crackdown on the protesters. The decision to suspend Syria from the League was taken at an emergency meeting in November 2011 where 18 out of 22 members supported the decision while Lebanon, Yemen and Syria voted against and Iraq abstained. In the meeting, the members also decided to impose some economic and political sanctions on Syria and, at the same time, appealed the member countries to withdraw their ambassadors from Damascus.

    Syria says the decision of the League is biased and illegal. But beyond the reason cited by the Arab League, there seem to be a number of political factors working behind the decision. The Bashar al Assad’s regime is heavily unpopular among other dominant and powerful members in the organisation. Assad is a friend and an ally of Iran which poses a geopolitical challenge to its Gulf Arab neighbours. For them, fall of Assad will significantly reduce Iranian power and influence in the region. Also, Assad being an Alawite Shia does not get along well with the powerful Sunni Arab rulers in the region. They have differences of opinion over regional issues, such as, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, etc. The proximity of the Arab countries to the United States and the rivalry between the United States and the Assad regime are other factors which may have influenced the decision of the Arab League.

    The Wages of Naivety

    It is hoped that regrettable as the murder of Ambassador Stevens is, those in authority in Washington might be persuaded to do their ‘sums’ once again and take a second look.

    September 18, 2012

    Is the Arab spring over?

    Whatever may be the eventual outcome in Syria, there is no denying the fact that for all practical purposes the dream of establishing democracy and the rule of law and the institution of human rights in the Arab World is almost over.

    June 26, 2012

    Rajat Dubey asked: What will be the short and long term effect of Arab turmoil and growing confrontation with Turkey on the strategic position of Israel?

    Rumel Dahiya replies: Although Israel did not have many friends to count upon in the region, it was in a reasonably comfortable situation till 2009 in view of friendly relations with Turkey, stable relations with Egypt and Jordan, and fissures among the Palestinians and a weak Syria to contend with. Even other Arab countries were less hostile towards Israel than before. However, the "street" in the countries neighbouring Israel continued to be by and large hostile towards it. Deterioration of relations with Turkey weakened Israel's position in the region since Turkey was gaining in strength and influence. Israel still felt confident of its security because of its military strength and unstinted support of the US.

    The Arab Spring or Arab Turmoil has disturbed the geo-political balance in the region. Egypt has now come under the sway of the conservative forces. It is expected that the new dispensation in Egypt will be less accommodating of Israel's security and diplomatic concerns despite the fact that it will need external (read US) financial assistance to be able to improve economic condition of the masses. The Egyptian military's salience in decision-making is bound to come down over time and Egypt's policy towards Israel will be dictated more and more by the popular perception at home. However, an armed conflict between the two countries is not expected in short to medium term due to asymmetry of power between the two countries.

    The Iran factor, unless Israel decides to undertake strikes on Iranian nuclear installations, will work to its advantage. Israel may be hoping for fragmentation of Syria on ethnic lines following a civil war, but the outcome may be different and Muslim Brotherhood may assume power upon the fall of the current regime. This will not be a welcome development for Israel. Turkey's ambitions of gaining a leadership role in the region have met with some headwinds in past months and it will remain embroiled in diplomatic stand off with some EU countries and will have to make difficult choices with regard to Syria. It will also be in a difficult situation if Israel decides on striking Iranian nuclear facilities to slow down and disrupt its march towards nuclear weaponisation. Given the asymmetry of military power and the fact that its neighbours will be busy trying to establish internal security, it is felt that in the short-term Israel does not face any military threat or serious diplomatic pressure. However, if the Palestinian factions genuinely unite and once the conservative governments in countries surrounding Israel become stable, there will be serious diplomatic pressures on Israel. It will still be militarily powerful enough to deal with any threat and new gas finds off its coast in Eastern Mediterranean will help its economy, yet its diplomatic isolation is expected to grow. Sub-conventional threats are also likely to grow and hard response will invite universal condemnation. Though Israel can meet the threats that it may face, it is likely to come under growing pressure to resolve the Palestinian problem.

    Rajat Dubey asked: India has been equivocating in its approach towards the Arab turmoil. As Islamist parties gain power, what will be its impact on India’s position in West Asia in times to come?

    Ashok Kumar Behuria replies: What might seem as equivocation is in fact a measured policy vis-à-vis the developments in the Arab world. Indian statements are cautious and people-oriented. India has reasons to be circumspect in light of the uncertain political environment and therefore it has perhaps resisted the temptation to join party with forces taking on the incumbent regimes, even if they seem to be in the driver's seat. India's abiding concern for religious radicalism may have conditioned this thinking as well.

    Islamic parties coming to power in these societies should not be seen as boding disaster for India. The Islamist forces in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere are likely to be as nationalistic in their outlook as the regimes they displaced. Therefore, they are likely to retain their diplomatic links with India with as much fervour, if not more, as their predecessors. India must not allow its anxiety vis-à-vis the fundamentalists to affect its diplomatic dealings with these countries.

    In case, the Islamist forces show any reluctance, which is most unlikely, in strengthening their relationship with India - a rising economy with substantial Muslim population, and with decades of fruitful bilateral relationship - India must bide for time and push for better diplomatic relationship rather than push itself hurriedly into isolation. It must also coordinate its diplomacy with other important players in international politics.

    2011: A Strategic Survey

    The year 2011 will stand out in history as the year of the Arab Spring, when people in Northern Africa and West Asia rose up against tyranny and revolted for political emancipation.

    January 04, 2012

    2012: The Changing Geopolitical Environment and Tasks before Indian foreign policy

    While India’s ability to handle the challenges may be constrained by a slowing economy, it would need to manage them through requisite diplomatic skill and finesse.

    January 03, 2012

    The Arab Spring: A Year Later

    The Arab countries where people have successfully overthrown the dictatorial regimes now face the daunting task of moving forward with democratic processes, economic development and institution building.

    December 23, 2011

    Pages

    Top