By N.P. Upadhyaya (Aryal)
Biratnagar: This week I wish to bring into discussion about the “less talked” issues that demand albeit necessary world attention as the subject concerned has immense political significance globally more so to this part of the world, the Gulf included.
The first issue that has attracted world attention in recent days is the agreement signed in Delhi for the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC). The Corridor Scheme was just signed at the time of the G20 Summit held in Delhi, September 9-10, 2023.
The inking of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) and that too in Hindu supremacist Delhi assumes great diplomatic significance in that the signing of the Corridor-link speaks that in International relations, what is counted only is the primary interests of the countries concerned and “equations” keep on changing as per suiting to the needs and primary/security/commercial interest of the countries individually or for that matter on a collective basis.
What is of absorbing interest is that the initiative to this India-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor was taken no less than by US President Joe Biden himself.
Later the US president’s idea of the corridor was seconded by yet another unstable political personality Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman who had developed in recent years strained ties with its long-time security ally, the USA.
The MBS was, some say, not even on talking terms with Joe Biden as the latter grilled Saudi Salman over the ghastly killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a freelance Saudi Journalist and a sharp critique of MBS.
Jamal Khashoggi was killed mysteriously in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
It was this killing of Khasshogi that strained the uninterrupted seven decades-long US-Saudi relations.
According to Wikipedia, On 2 October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident/journalist was killed by agents of the Saudi government at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Khashoggi was ambushed and strangled by a 15-member squad of Saudi operatives. The consulate had been secretly bugged by the Turkish government and Khashoggi’s final moments were captured in audio recordings, transcripts of which were subsequently made public”.
A Flamboyant MBS:
And as revenge for the US meddling in Saudi’s affairs, the flamboyant MBS opted to inch closer to China, the bête noir of his long-time security ally, the USA.
It was this US-Saudi conflict which allowed China to enter into the Gulf/Middle East and in the process China won the hearts of the countries of the Middle East.
The Climax was China’s effective mediation between the arch-rival Saudis and Iran who have now restored their strained ties by opening their respective diplomatic missions in either country.
Needless to say, the US was perturbed by China’s entrance into a region that had traditionally been the sole preserve of the US, the US was in search of an opportune moment to defeat the designs of China.
The freshly concluded G20 meet held in Delhi allowed the US to restore the damaged ties with Oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
Finally, Joe Biden took PM Modi, MBS, and some European leaders into confidence and hence the idea of the Economic Corridor took a final shape at least for the moment.
This then reinforces the dictum that in international politics/diplomacy, neither there are permanent enemies nor permanent friends.
Who is Ms. Ganga Dahal:
This is how diplomacy works to which our India-bend duffer diplomats don’t understand.
The current foreign ministry leadership has almost legalized the presence of PM Dahal’s daughter, Ms. Ganga Dahal, in official/bilateral meetings assuming that her august presence was a must if Nepal were to take advantage of such meets.
Is she an international relations graduate from JNU, Delhi? Her father’s official abode then!
In which capacity, the foreign ministry’s leadership endures the necessary presence of Ms. Ganga Dahal at the official meetings is yet to be clarified.
Is Ganga Dahal the official of the foreign ministry? Ms. Dahal was present in the official level bilateral talks in Delhi with PM Dahal, the Delhi indoctrinated and exported Maoist leader to control Kathmandu politics and steer it the India desired way.
Nepal’s foreign ministry appears hand-in-glove with an aligned India.
Can the foreign ministry officials prove that Nepal is yet a non-aligned nation?
Prove it. It is an open challenge.
If not explained in clear terms then the population will be forced to believe that the current Foreign Ministry leadership either is incompetent or at best possesses a clear bend to the Maoists party led by “Lifetime” Chairman Dahal and by extension to India.
Indeed a smart move it was as regards the Economic Corridor.
The launching of the passageway was duly announced during the just concluded Delhi G20 summit that saw the convergence of several powerful world leaders.
Indian Prime Minister Modi was the host, the declared rival of China whose president Xi Jinping for some calculated reasons skipped the G20 meet for the first time. Vladimir Putin followed suit for some understandable reasons.
The initiation for this Corridor, we have been told, was primarily taken by the US President Joe Biden, this too we have already stated earlier, and presumably backed by PM Modi, as stated in the earlier paragraphs, who himself was assisted by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman-Al Saud (MBS).
The UAE ruler also backed the idea initiated mainly by India and the US.
What is notable is that both the US and India are declared rivals of emerging China more so India has already fought wars with China and one more is in the offing.
To cut the wings of China, the US and India are well placed in the Quad security mechanism designed by the US along with Japan and Australia.
So this Economic Corridor is meant only to neutralize China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), opine Nepali observers who do not have an India bend.
The Chinese reaction:
Commenting on the IMEC, the Global Times, September 11, 2023, (just a day after the IMEC was inked in Delhi), says that the IMEC is an ambitious “modern spice route”.
The GT further states that the “West clearly intended to challenge China’s “Belt and Road” initiative. It also quoted some unnamed analysts as saying that “IMEC may not necessarily achieve this objective.”
Well, it is just the Chinese reaction. As for Nepal, the current Foreign Minister N. P. Saud will abide by the orders of FM S. Jay Shankar with all certainty.
To recall, President Xi launched the BRI in September 2023 from Nazarbayev University, Astana (Kazakhstan) and from the Indonesian Parliament in October of the same year.
Since then the US and its allies including India have been in search of a suitable substitute to China’s BRI and finally, the G20 Delhi meet provided this opportunity this September.
However, how China has taken the new move by the opposing camps has not yet come to the fore which, as and when it becomes public, will be more than interesting.
Needless to say, the China and Russia alliance may have been working in this regard secretly and hopefully this alliance shall include all the countries deliberately left out by the US, India and the Gulf countries for example, Pakistan.
On Pakistan approaching elections:
Pakistan is pretty weak at the moment and let’s hope that this country gains a drive after the conduct of the approaching January 2024, elections.
Clarely speaking, the block of the Muslim countries housed in the Organization of the Islamic Countries have so far only awarded Lolly-pop to Pakistan be it in the issue of India-occupied Kashmir or some other issue of international importance wherein Indian highhandedness is distinctly visible.
The OIC and the Gulf Council thus are a farce for Pakistan.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan true friend of Pakistan:
Save Türkiye, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the entire Muslim world, he and his country are the ones who unequivocally support Pakistan on its Kashmir issue.
This time as well President Erdogan took to task the Indian regime for its atrocities against the caged/suppressed/repressed Kashmiri Muslims.
The rest of the Muslim countries, for commercial ties, are glued to Indian PM Modi.
Some even award him the country’s highest awards. This is puzzling.
One factor could be Pakistan being politically unstable in recent years, these countries ignore Pakistan and its nationals.
Pakistani nationals are treated in Saudi and the UAE, I am told, inferior to the Indians. This needs to be corrected.
The fact is that Pakistan is still a splintered State yet is a potential and formidable challenge to the Indian machinations.
Pakistan’s persisting instability perhaps is the reason to be treated like what has been stated earlier.
In Nepal informed citizenry say that Pakistan in some way or another will have to be a key component in the China-Russia alliance in that both the powerful partners of the alliance need Pakistan to play a key role in neutralizing the increasing India’s and the Quad’s influence in South Asia and now of the IMEC.
All that Pakistan needs to settle first is its internal political squabbles and stabilize the country politically.
The Pakistan Army perhaps knows how to keep the country politically constant against all the odds that there are in the immediate neighborhood.
US President Joe Biden too on his way back from Delhi to the US, had a brief stopover in Vietnam wherein he officially proclaimed in front of the Vietnam press that “we don’t need to contain China and instead want to see her succeed”.
However, intelligent brains in Kathmandu see Biden’s soothing expressions on China made in Vietnam as just to send signals to China that the US is not at all an enemy of China as perceived.
This diplomatic narrative too could be a part of the astute diplomacy of the US.
This means the US prefers to avoid direct confrontation with China. A positive gesture indeed. Joe Biden must avert direct tussle between the US and China.
However, how China may have taken Biden’s message from Vietnam is anybody’s guess and that too when India, the competing rival of China for ages.
In international politics, equations keep on changing. Countries align and realign as per their political/security interests and attune them to changing political contexts.
Now with the Israel-Palestine high-voltage conflict, countries appear to have begun siding with either Israel or Palestine.
While the allies of the US have sided clearly with Israel some from the ‘block’ of some Muslim countries engaged in the IMEC have sided with their Muslim brethren, the Palestinians.
Clearly, this Israel-Palestine conflict may delay or even damage the idea of the Corridor that links India with Israel via Arab Countries with whom India has excellent commercial relations.
Story of China and Russia’s entrance into the Gulf:
First China and then Russia entered the Arab world obviously with the objective of expanding and enhancing their respective influence in the entire area/Middle East.
Understandably, the ongoing Saudi-US friction at that time facilitated both China and Russia to build their visible presence in the entire region.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made several trips to Gulf countries and later experienced Sergei Lavrov following the Chinese footsteps which hinted that the Russia-China alliance was active in the Gulf to push the US out of the region.
To some extent this alliance worked, however, equations as said, altered speedily and hence the idea of the Economic Corridor cropped up at a meeting wherein President Xi Jinping had voluntarily skipped.
Rashid Mahmood writing for the Daily Times in one of his recent articles says in no uncertain terms that “the IMEC is a transnational rail and shipping route spread across the two continents which is a product of the US and India and will play the role of mediator.”
He writes further that the new trade route is a good omen for the USA and Saudi Arabia because they want to expand their trade with the European Union.
Some see the initiation of the IMEC project as the recreation of the historical ‘Spice Route’ that existed right from India to the Arab world and from there onwards to Vienna in Europe in the good old days.
From a Nepali perspective, the IMEC is nothing but an instrument that shall in all likelihood escalate China-US tension and further polarization of the countries across the world.
Nepal, the official servant equivalent to a monkey’s tail shall obey the dictates of the Indian regime and of the master PM Modi.
Thanks to the Archipelago Maldives has come out from the clutches of India’s direct machinations/interventions and a new President, a sharp critique of the Indian regime who favors the “Indian military out campaign” has been elected as the new Maldivian President.
The Maldivian elections:
In a surprising election result, the Opposition candidate engineer Mohamed Muizzu has won the Maldives presidential election, beating incumbent President Ibrahim Solih, the declared Indian stooge.
With this new development in Maldives, hope that China will find its space once again during the tenure of Muizzu who appears very close to Abdullah Yamin, the declared India hater.
Solih, who championed a highly regressive “India First” policy during his time in power, will remain as president until Muizzu’s inauguration on November 17, 2023.
The election results in Pakistan in early January 2024 shall in many more ways than one freshly shape the South Asian politics that at the moment is excessively dominated by the regional police deputed by the USA.
What else can a Nepali observer say of Pakistan more than expecting a grand revival of its original regional strength that was much taken note of by the rival-Indian regime?
Pakistan’s serious concerns:
Pakistan is annoyed with a UAE Minister sharing a video clip on the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor which depicted a map showing the entire UT of J&K as part of India. The map includes Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir over which Islamabad has administrative control.
To add insult to injury, one UAE minister in September published a map which included the entire J&K as part of India which brought instant rebuttal from Islamabad Foreign Office Spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.
The UAE minister reportedly belongs to the ruling clan of the Emirates.
Pakistan has urged its international partners to pay due attention to the lapses observed in the map issued by the UAE minister.
That’s all. See you all next week.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect People’s Review’s editorial stance.
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