Babri Masjid and the great Indian Muslim divide – Sandhya Jain

Babri Masjid (1991)

Sandhya JainThe Shia Board asserts that the Sunni Board has no stake in Ayodhya as the mosque was Shia property. – Sandhya Jain

In a stunning blow to the hitherto dominant Sunni sect, the Shia Waqf Board filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on August 8, 2017 fracturing the united front put up by the Muslim community since the dramatic fall of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992, asserting that the temple for Maryada Purushottam Sri Rama Chandra could come up at the Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya, and a mosque could be raised at a reasonable distance in a Muslim-dominated area.

As one of the parties to the dispute, the Shia Board claimed that the demolished mosque was a Shia mosque, as the alleged destroyer of the Rama Mandir was a Shia general named Mir Abdul Baqi; hence the mosque built upon the ruins of the temple was a Shia mosque. The Board indicated a desire for peaceful resolution of the dispute which the Supreme Court is not keen to adjudicate upon.

This is a stupendous development as hitherto, since 6 December 1992, all efforts to strike a deal with the Shia community have met with failure as community leaders in Lucknow always pleaded helplessness in opposing the strident Sunni community. The Babri Masjid Action Committee that spearheaded the movement against handing over the site to the Hindu claimants has been dominated by Sunnis. It was the Sunnis who reneged on the promise to the Government of India and the Supreme Court that they would surrender claims to the site if it was established that the mosque was built on the ruins of a temple.

That claim was conclusively proved in a Supreme Court-ordered and monitored excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India. But far from retreating gracefully, the BMAC dug its heels in and refused to retreat from the scene, resulting in a prolonged stalemate.

The sudden divergence of views between the Shia and Sunni Waqf Boards appears to reflect larger Shia-Sunni conflicts in the Muslim world, with Shias being targetted by jihadis in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, and their holy sites desecrated. Iran, the self-proclaimed protector of Shias worldwide, has facilitated the spectacular victory of the Syrian Arab Army against Islamic State jihadis in Syria, thus enabling the survival of the Alawite (Shia) regime headed by Basher al-Assad; it has also prevented Yemen from crumbling before the Saudi assault.

Now, the Shia Board explicitly asserts that the Sunni Board has no stake in Ayodhya as the mosque was Shia property; hence, “only Shia Central Waqf Board UP, is entitled to negotiate and arrive at a peaceful settlement with other remaining stake holders”.

The Board further opined that proximity of “place of worships should be avoided in as much as both denominations using loudspeakers tend to disturb the religious performance of each other often leading to conflicts and acrimony”. Therefore, “to bring a quietus to the issue, Masjid can be located in a Muslim-dominated area at a reasonable distance from the most revered place of birth of Ram.”

Reports claim that the Shia Board decided late July to stake claim to the Ayodhya site. Such a momentous decision could hardly be taken overnight. It seems likely that Yogi Adityanath, head of the non-communal Gorakhnath Peeth, was selected as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister by Prime Minister Narendra Modi precisely to accomplish an acrimony-free transfer of the sacred site for the Rama Temple. Should this be accomplished, it would be a far greater feat than rebuilding the Somnath Temple in Saurashtra, where the only resistance to be overcome was that of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

In Civil Appeal No. 10836-10867 of 2010, the Shia Central Waqf Board through its chairman, Syed Waseem Rizvi (Respondent No. 24), filed a counter affidavit asserting that the “Babari Masjid” was a Shia Waqf and not a Sunni Waqf as claimed by the Sunni Central Waqf Board UP. As the Allahabad High Court judgement stated that “Muslims” should get not less than one-third of the disputed area, chairman Rizvi asserted that this obviously alluded to “Shias” as the High Court had rejected the Sunni Board’s claim (based on Notification dated 16 February 1944 by the Chief Commissioner of Waqfs under the Muslim Waqfs Act, 1936) that Babari Masjid was a Sunni Waqf.

The High Court declared the said Notification of 16 February 1944 as illegal as it was issued in violation of provisions of the 1936 Act, as it was made without issuing a notice to the interested persons, which was a statutory requirement. It follows that the Waqf was a Shia Waqf as a waqf must always be Shia or Sunni, according to its creator (Waqif).

Certain Arabic inscriptions in the disputed structure, cited in previous judgments, establish beyond doubt that the mosque was built by Mir Baqi, a Shia Waqif, who created a Shia waqf. All mutawallis, including the last one (1949) were admittedly Shia and were descendants of Abdul Baqi, a Shia from Ispahan (Persia). It is notable that the Baqi family tree has not been seriously challenged. Verses engraved on a tablet in the central arch of the mosque describe Mir Baqi as an ‘Ispahani’, a resident of Ispahan.

On 30 March 1946, the Faizabad Civil Judge, S.A. Ahsan, ruled that it was inconceivable that a Sunni waqif would appoint a Shia mutawalli, or vice versa (Regular Suit No.29 of 1945).

The affidavit states that Muslims must ponder that the entire world wants to know the exact teaching of Islam in respect of the relationship of Muslims with others. Indian Muslims, it says, enjoy a unique position. They have been rulers, they have been ruled and now they are sharers in power. They are not in majority but they are also not a negligible minority and are in fact the most populous Muslim community in the world after Indonesia. As legatees of a huge corpus of religious knowledge, Indian Muslims are exceptionally placed to tell the world the true teachings of Islam, beginning with a resolution of the Ayodhya dispute.

The Allahabad High Court proclaimed Muslims, Hindus and Nirmohi Akhara as joint title holders to the disputed premises and allotted them one-third share each, with the stipulation that the portion beneath the central dome, where the murti of Sri Rama is installed, would be allotted to Hindus in the final decree. The Nirmohi Akhara would receive the portion including the Ram Chabutra and Sita ki Rasoi, and the parties could make minor and mutual adjustments while dividing their respective shares.

The Shia Waqf chairman observed that the intent of this judgment was that the parties amicably settle the dispute, and his sect was willing to do so. As there has been no dialogue in the matter in the past seven years, he urged the Supreme Court to appoint a Committee headed by a retired Judge of the Supreme Court and two retired Judges of the Allahabad High Court, with the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister (or his nominee) and a nominee from the Prime Minister’s Office. The nominees of the Shia Central Waqf Board UP, Nirmohi Akhara and Hindu sect, would offer suggestions for an amicable settlement to this committee.

The Shia leader added that the Sunni Central Waqf Board UP was dominated by “Sunni hardliners, the fanatics, and non-believers in peaceful coexistence, who have absolutely no stake in the present case”. As Babari Masjid was a Shia Waqf, the Shia Central Waqf Board UP alone is entitled to negotiate a peaceful settlement with other remaining stakeholders.

Chairman Syed Waseem Rizvi further informed the Court that after his views became known, he had received threats from the hardliners, and had informed the Government of Uttar Pradesh, which is reportedly taking steps for his security. He reiterated the keenness of the Shia sect for amicable settlement of the dispute.

Should the Supreme Court constitute such a committee, this could be a very different Diwali. – PGurus, 9 August 2017

» Sandhya Jain writes on political and contemporary affairs. She is a post-graduate in Political Science from the University of Delhi and a student of  Indian civilisation.

Ramlalla Temple on the Babri Masjid site after the demolition.

Saudi funded Rs 1,700 crore for Wahhabi influence in India – Vicky Nanjappa

Vicky Nanjappa“Saudi sponsored Wahhabis are aiming to set up their own education system in India. … Out of the total Rs 1700 crore that has been earmarked for the cause, Rs 800 crore is being spent on setting up universities in different parts of the country. One such university was seen in Andhra Pradesh as well. Over all they propose to set up 4 such universities which will only cater to Wahhabi preachings.” – Vicky Nanjappa

Bommanahalli MasjidLast year violence broke out near a mosque in Bommanahalli, Bengaluru and what was being termed as minor tiff was in fact a case of some youth trying to impose the Wahhabi preachings.

When the seniors in the administration of the mosque opposed these youth, there were clashes in which 4 persons were injured seriously.

In another incident that occurred in Maharashtra, Wahhabi scholars bribed some members of the mosque and attempted taking over the administration. While the Muslims in many states have opposed the Wahhabis tooth and nail, success for the Saudi Arabia sponsored Wahhabis was highest in Kerala.

These are instances that could be read with the recent Wikileaks documents which suggested that Saudi Arabia is worried about the growing influence of Iran over India and the outreach by Tehran to the Shia community was worrying. The Muslim World League also requests Saudi Arabia to establish Wahhabi centres in India to counter the threat from the Shias.

Salman bin Abdulaziz Al SaudHow Saudi Arabia set up Wahhabi centres in India?

Saudi Arabia realizes that the Shias in India are a threat to the dominance of the Sunni community. India houses a large number of Shias and this according to the Saudis gives Iran an upper hand in India. However for Saudi the Sunnis in India have not followed the violent Wahhabi style of Islam and there are many seniors in the Muslim community who will not allow that to happen.

The only way Saudi could instill a radical thinking in the minds of the Sunni Muslims in India was by the establishment of Wahhabi centres. The Wahhabis are an extremely orthodox set of Sunni Muslims. There are several Muslims in India who subscribe to the Wahhabi view [Muhammad Shams-ul-Haq AzimabadiSiddiq Hasan KhanSyed Nazeer Husain, Zakir Naik were and are adherents of this Salafi movement – Ed].

As a first step, Saudi sent in several Wahhabi preachers into India an Intelligence Bureau report states. The years 2011 to 2013 alone saw a record number of 25,000 Wahhabis coming to India and conducting seminars in various parts of the country. With them they brought in Rs 1700 crore in several installments and used it to propogate the Wahhabi style of Islam.

Salafi Masjid, Mudappallur, KeralaWahhabism found success in Kerala

The drive by Saudi to impose the Wahhabi culture in India has not been entirely a success. The highest rate of success that they have witnessed is in Kerala.

This is a lot to do with the fact that there is a large population of people who go to Saudi in search of employment. Many in Kerala have welcomed with open arms the Wahhabi style of preaching and this has let the Saudi controlled lot take control over nearly 75 mosques in the state.

The newer mosques that are coming up in Kerala are also constructed in the manner in which they done in Saudi Arabia.

This is just one small indicator of how much people of the state are willing to follow the radical style preached by the Wahhabi scholars. Moreover the inflow of funds into Kerala from Saudi is the highest when compared to any other part of the country.

It was in Kerala that one got to see posters mourning the death of Osama Bin Laden and also a prayer for Ajmal Kasab after he was hanged. Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia that a large number of youth appear to be attracted to this radical style of Islam, but also add that there are some elders who are trying to oppose it.

Muslims in IndiaThe Wahabi rule book in India

Each time a Wahhabi preacher comes to India, he comes in with a rule book. What they intend to do is ensure that the rule book is circulated in the Mosques.

However when the administration of the mosques have opposed this it has led to clashes. The rule book has a set of guidelines which need to be ahdhered to failing which the horrific Sharia law would be imposed.

Guidelines that have been set as per the Wahhabi rule book

  • Shrines shall be forbidden
  • Every Muslim woman should wear purdah or be subject to severe punishment
  • Men have to compulsorily grow beards
  • Women should not be allowed to work. Exception can be made only if the family is in need.
  • Men and women should not mingle together in public.
  • No weeping loudly at funerals.
  • Abide by the Shariat law; every offence committed shall be punishable under this law.
  • All men should wear trousers which are above their ankles.
  • No laughing loudly or listening to music; no dancing or watching television.

 Faisal Foundation on March 1, 2015 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (L) presenting Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, with the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam in Riyadh. Naik was honoured for being one of the most renowned non-Arabic speaking promoters of Islam. He founded the Peace TV channel, billed as the world's only channel specialising in comparative religion. AFP PHOTO / HO / King Faisal Foundation == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / King Faisal Foundation" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==Wahhabi universities being set up

The Saudi sponsored Wahhabis are aiming to set up their own education system in India as well. Out of the total Rs 1700 crore that has been earmarked for the cause, Rs 800 crore is being spent on setting up universities in different parts of the country. One such university was seen in Andhra Pradesh as well. Over all they propose to set up 4 such universities which will only cater to Wahhabi preachings.

With the take over of the existing mosques becoming extremely difficult, they have earmarked Rs 400 crore to set up 40 mosques adhering only to Wahhabi preachings in different parts of the country.

A sum of Rs 300 has been been earmarked to set up madrasas while the remaining Rs 200 crore has been set aside as miscellaneous costs which also would include bribes to paid off to mosque authorities as was seen in Maharashtra.

Muhammed ibn Abd al-WahhabThe birth of the Jamiat Ahl al-Hadith

The birth of the Jamiat Ahl al-Hadith took place in India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. As a first step they wielded their influence on the various mosques which began preaching the Sharia law as mandated by the Wahhabis.

The next stop was Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh following which they began wielding influence heavily in Kerala. The Jamiat Ahl al-Hadith was the umbrella body which oversaw the flow of Wahhabi scholars into India. The same outfit is also making efforts to spread their ideology into Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and until last year Karantaka. – OneIndia News, 25 June 2015

Update

25k Wahhabi scholars visited India last year – Vicky Nanjappa

Darul Uloom Deoband

Vicky Nanjappa“India’s 20 crore Muslim population today has 80 per cent of them subscribing to the moderate form of Islam. However the worry is the gradual rise in the number of Muslims subscribing to the Wahhabi form of Islam. Around 10 years back the number of such Muslims was around 8 to 10 per cent and today it has gone up to 20.” – Vicky Nanjappa

Muhammad ibn Abd al-WahhabA shocking report by the Intelligence Bureau suggests that last year 25000 Islamic scholars preaching the extremely ultra conservative form of Wahhabi Islam had visited India. The details of the report pertaining to the year 2013 show that many of them had come in the guise of visitors on a tourist visa from 20 different countries and had participated in events in 15 states which attracted a crowd of nearly 1,200,000 people.

Does India need to worry about this? Very much say the experts and security agencies and if one looks at the report these scholars have managed to visit states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. The statistics of 2013 would show a large number of such preachers visiting India, but the fact remains that these persons have been coming into India in large numbers since the year 2005. There has been a sudden surge in the visit by these hardcore who preach the harshest form of Islam which today is being practiced by groups such as the ISIS and the Taliban.

It is an indirect way to indoctrinate the youth and during their preaching they emphasis on the implementation of the Sharia law in its worst form. They speak about the importance of this law and also tell the youth that the only way to save the religion is through the implementation of this law. Surprisingly these sessions had a lot of takers and the estimated crowd that attended last year was around 12 lakh. The preachers who landed in India were mainly from Saudi Arabia where a good number of people subscribe to this ultra conservative form of Islam. Most of these preachers who came to India on a tourist visa move around in the hardcore Tablighi Jamaats who arrange for such meetings. These are all very powerful speakers and unfortunately several youth have been inspired by such talks.

Intelligence Bureau officials say that apart from the Tablighi Jamaat invitations to such scholars preaching Wahhabi Islam,  invitations were sent out by other organisations such as the Ahl-e-Hadis and Jamaat Nizamuddin Markaz.

Sunni Muslim MissionariesIf one takes a look at the interrogation report of the Indian Mujahideen operatives, they speak in great appreciation of the Wahhabi form of Islam. Yasin Bhatkal himself during the report said that the idea is to implement the Sharia law and the IM was formed with this intention in mind.

Apart from the security threat emerging due to the indoctrination of some of the youth through these seminars, there is also a chance of hell breaking lose between the Muslim community too. India’s 20 crore Muslim population today has 80 per cent of them subscribing to the moderate form of Islam. However the worry is the gradual rise in the number of Muslims subscribing to the Wahhabi form of Islam. Around 10 years back the number of such Muslims was around 8 to 10 per cent and today it has gone up to 20. What the security agencies fear is that on one hand some youth especially from hardcore belts such as Kerala and Bihar get attracted to these foreign preachers. One the other hand there is a good chance of India becoming a conflict zone such as Iraq between the hardcore and the moderates. The number of the hardcore is rising and needs to be stopped. For this the scrutiny process of such scholars visiting India should be enhanced. Seminars which they are part of should be looked into carefully and these indoctrination programmes should be brought under check says the Intelligence Bureau official. Further with the crisis in Iraq gaining supporters among the hardcore even in India, we need to watch out and if by any chance the same occurs in Afghanistan once the West leaves, then India will have a lot of trouble to deal with, the officer also says. – Vicky Nanjappa, 26 June 2014

The Wahhabi Islamist Project

Wahhabism: Saudi Arabia a British Colonial Creation

See also

 

Syria: US plans for West Asia will impact India – Gautam Sen

Dr. Gautam SenAmerican policy in the Middle East may offer India some respite from the mighty Jihadi storm brewing within the country, incited by Wahhabi ideology, Pakistani succour to terrorism, and India’s own appalling votebank politics. But like the best laid plans of mice and men, much can go wrong and America’s ambitious attempts to reorder the Middle East radically may come to grief. The biggest known unknown, as one American war criminal once inelegantly voiced, is the reaction of the ordinary masses of the Middle East to events. They are not all fools and zealously ready to sacrifice their lives for political goals.” – Dr. Gautam Sen

Bashar Al-AssadThe pointed US threats in the last few days to the Bashar al-Assad regime about the dire consequences of using chemical weapons against rebels suggest it is preparing to intervene directly in the Syrian civil war. The likeliest scenario could be the use of chemicals by the Syrian rebels themselves, which will, helpfully, provide a supposed casus belli for an aerial assault by the US and NATO. It will be specifically aimed against the political and administrative personnel of the Assad regime itself as well as key military formations. Evidently, the US and its allies, who have been baying for blood as well as equipping and financing its shedding for months, are determined to administer the coup de grace to Assad. Instigating a chemical-use incident through its proxies within Syria cannot be difficult, with Saudi and Turkish incitement to facilitate it.

The Israelis have rather preferred Bashar al-Assad who, like his father Hafez, has usually been long on talk, but restrained in action. The Golan Heights, despite all the nationalist breast-beating of the regime about foreign occupation, has been tranquil. It rather recalls that the regime had once declined to seize it militarily when the opportunity presented itself. At the critical moment, Hafez al-Assad had diverted crack troops to Damascus, instead of the Golan Heights, fearing a possible threat to his own rule. The Syrian regime, surely not the nicest people in the world, had also looked on with cold-hearted indifference while the Palestinians were being brutally slaughtered at Tal Al-Zaatar in 1976. And one might recall the unsparing bloodbath in Homs in the 1980s as well. The Assad family has often had its hands full and Israel was less of a threat to the survival of the family and its Alawite clan, the principal goal, than other domestic sectarian and ethnic realities.

Benjamin NetanyahuThe Israelis are nevertheless risking the extant peaceful life to deliver a potentially severe blow to both Iran and Hezbollah, the latter dependent on Syrian support to flex its muscles on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Both of them are a bigger headache for Israel than preserving the welcome quietude it has hitherto enjoyed in the Golan Heights. It must surely be aware that a new Syrian regime, of any stripe, will be under popular pressure to end this discreet bonhomie. However, the Iranian threat is fundamental for Israel because a nuclear-armed Iran will match its conventional check on Arab ambitions with the kind of Pakistani threat that has stymied Indian freedom to act against Jihadi terror sponsored by it. But Israel and the US don’t really want to attack Iran militarily, unless the clerical regime was on the verge of collapse and a well-timed armed nudge delivered, with due precision, would ensure its disappearance. The cost of a full-scale military intervention would be high, the outcome uncertain and a future that does not guarantee Iran would not resume its quest for a nuclear deterrent. It is regime change that Israel and its allies have been attempting to provoke from a distance. And the unexpected resilience of the clergy is an understandable frustration though they have come very close to unseating them. The implied US argument over the Syrian adventure is that the path to Tehran lies through the ruins of Damascus and it is a contention not without merit.

Mahmoud AhmadinejadRegime change in Iran is the most important contemporary strategic goal espoused by the US and its local ally, Israel. It would then make sense of the overthrow of the Baathists, which has, paradoxically, empowered Iraqi Shias sensitive to an Iranian clergy hostile to the West in general and Israel in particular. But the incumbent Iraqi government, emplaced at such high cost in treasure and lives, would be sympathetic to counsel from a new Iranian regime brought to power through US intercession. And both would surely be beholden to the US and the West for their political survival. This rearrangement of the Middle East and Persian chessboard has portentous significance for the world because it will allow the US to wield a resurgent, regional Shia coalition against the truculent Sunni Arabs, responsible for 9/11 and much turmoil across the world besides. And with the threat of worse to come, with one Sunni state, Pakistan, apt to wave its nuclear manhood at the drop of a hat, there is unfinished business for the US. It does not take kindly to being in a position of constantly reacting to events, initiated by countries of little consequence. In addition, it now has unexpected allies to possibly right this predicament once-and-for-all.

Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al SaudThe overthrow of regimes in Iraq and Libya also highlights a wily additional US venture that might be termed the “little Kuwait” syndrome. It entails, as it did with the original severing of Kuwait from Ottoman Iraq, the creation of small statelets, which are basically only oil fields, and turning them into full sovereign countries. The onset of this process is becoming visible in Kurdish Iraq and now Libya. Claimants to regional autonomy are poised to take control of oil fields in their area and are already entering into one-sided contracts with multinational oil majors. The deluded Saudis, who imagine they are playing a pivotal role remaking the world at present, while booking whole floors of the London Claridges hotel for a spot of sordid fun, are going to have a very nasty surprise once the Iranians became more manageable. The oil rich provinces in Saudi Arabia are dominated by Shia populations and removing them from Saudi control will be less demanding than relieving an ageing geisha of her silk purse! This will be the final pending payback for 9/11. It will also prevent any Chinese ‘smash and grab’ of oil resources in the way they are attempting in the South China Sea. These minor entities controlling much of Middle Eastern oil resources in the future, in largely Shia areas, will be beyond China’s manipulative reach and beholden to the US and its allies.

Shah Ismail IPolitical power has eluded Shias since the founder of Safavid Iran, Shah Ismail I, changed the sectarian loyalties of his Persian subjects by force in the early sixteenth century. He turned a Sunni population into Shias to ensure their political loyalty. But this was a brief interlude of Shia self-assertion, usually the historic privilege of Sunni potentates, which reached an apogee under his illustrious grandson, Shah Abbas. More to the point, the primordial grievance of the original betrayal of the Prophet’s descendants remains undimmed for Shias over the centuries. It is a phenomenon that modern sensibility cannot fully grasp, but held with equal ferocity by Shia nuclear scientists and uneducated Shia bazaaris, both displaying guileless certainty about supposed injustices that occurred thirteen hundred years ago.

This ineluctable truth of historic treachery and assassinations will cement a Shia alliance with the West against their sworn Sunni enemies for the foreseeable future. It is a vast underpinning of hatred which daily prompts the murder of innocent Shia women and children engaged in worship by the Sunni faithful in Pakistan and Iraq. Such divided loyalties and animosities will likely temporarily override Shia suspicions of the West and the fairness of the price paid for oil. This is the destiny American policymakers have discreetly arranged for the hapless Muslim faithful, stranded in the modern world of science and intrigue.

Mustafa Kemal AtaturkThe Islamist regime of Turkey, busy dismantling the secular legacy of its founder, Kemal Ataturk, has allowed over-confidence to overwhelm discretion. It threatens the European Union for denying it full membership while vying for leadership of the sectarian Islamic world in some sort of retaliatory pique. It apparently chooses not to remember the fate of a similarly deluded Ottoman Empire that crumbled and the religiosity that repeatedly curtailed reform, which might have salvaged the remnants of its imperial reach. But it has now turned against the two countries, Israel and Syria, though for different reasons, with which it previously enjoyed affable relations. It has jumped onto the American bandwagon against Syria with an opportunistic alacrity familiar in its recent history and that of the UK in relations with the US. But serious dangers portend for Turkey if US intervention leads to the establishment of more autonomous Kurdish authority in Iraq, where it is almost a reality, and then Syria. Were this to be followed by a resultant weakening of Iranian control over its own Kurdish population, Turkey might face a dilemma of greater severity than its Kurdish separatists have posed in the past. The price of one’s own duplicity might be its karmic retribution through the duplicity of a third-party only mindful of its own national interests.

Recep Tayyip ErdoganIndia would also be affected adversely in the short run because a sharp rise in fuel prices owing to conflict in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf will impact negatively on growth. Indeed it will pose a serious dilemma for the Indian government because it no longer has the financial resources to subsidize the price of fuel, which so many Indians have come to regard as some sort of birthright! In addition, unrest in the Middle East exposes India’s Achilles heel by underlining its real status as a poor, undeveloped nation that finances its balance of payments deficits by massively exporting labour to work in conditions that are shamefully scandalous. They also underline the desperate circumstances within India that drive so many into the arms of agents, vicious Middle Eastern employers and their governments, who all regard them as subhuman. Thus, a double whammy could be in prospect if the situation in the Middle East was to become dire for any length of time, which is possible. An Indian budgetary crisis will then combine with a balance of payments one. It will create an unprecedented situation for India that had apparently been relegated to the past once it begun traversing the path to sustained growth in the mid-90s, although that too has seemed doubtful lately. And how will India finance the 2G Pharaonic lifestyles to which its politicians and many bureaucrats have become accustomed?

Muhammad bin Abdul WahabYet, there is a silver lining if India can survive the immediate setbacks arising from Middle Eastern turmoil. The destruction of Sunni Arab financial power and its ideological fount in Saudi Arabia will bring respite from the insidious Wahhabi villainy that has been poisoning the serenity of Indian Muslims. Its retreat will likely curtail the funding of terror that originates in Saudi Arabia and the repulsive adjacent statelets of the Gulf, who will have their conceited wings smartly clipped. The ending of Wahhabi ideological incitement to truculence, mayhem and terror, that now routinely disrupts life in major Indian cities, including Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai, will impose a check on the resources available for mischief. In addition, there will be an impact on the self-confidence of Pakistan that stems from a bizarre belief in the timeless supremacy of its founding ideology and its alleged superiority to all other alternatives, despite the accumulating diabolical evidence to the contrary that is consigning the country to the flames of barbarity and oblivion. The end of Saudi funding and absence of Wahhabi incitement will indeed benefit Pakistan, by allowing it to dimly perceive the harsh reality of its modest place in the scheme of things. Perhaps it will then also behave with appropriate realism in its relations with India.

Putin & Obama: No agreement on SyriaAmerican policy in the Middle East may offer India some respite from the mighty Jihadi storm brewing within the country, incited by Wahhabi ideology, Pakistani succour to terrorism, and India’s own appalling votebank politics. But like the best laid plans of mice and men, much can go wrong and America’s ambitious attempts to reorder the Middle East radically may come to grief. The biggest known unknown, as one American war criminal once inelegantly voiced, is the reaction of the ordinary masses of the Middle East to events. They are not all fools and zealously ready to sacrifice their lives for political goals. But they are also easily distracted by unfathomable concerns of scriptural verity and dress codes for women, as the ongoing Egyptian revolution is demonstrating right now. They may revolt and force pliant regimes to sing a different tune, even if they were brought to power by US and Western imperial designs. The immediate Iranian reaction to the overthrow of Assad’s Alawite Shia regime is also relevant though they may suspect a trap inviting them to intervene. The Hezbollah have stronger cause to join the fray to protect their Syrian lifeline and both Assad and the Iranians may wish to spread the violence to Lebanon to complicate the situation for the US. It is not clear what Russia can do in the event of the aerial bombardment of Syria by NATO, short of having their own troops man anti-aircraft missiles and batteries in Syria. However, they are likely to baulk at the option. Much bloodshed and drama are now promised in the Middle East and India needs to watch and wait, doing little and hoping for much. – Newsinsight, 10 December 2012

» Dr. Gautam Sen taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science for more than two decades.