Saudi Dilemma and a Way Out
from "West Asia News and Discussions"
ldev wrote:The Arabs are controllable, the Iranians are not. A weak India sided with Iran, because it was far too weak to control the Arabs, the West has found it easier to control the Arabs than the Iranians. A strong India will find it easier to control the Arabs than a less predictable Iran which has its own agenda. So India has to look beyond the immediate Pakistan problem and develop a strong equation with the Sunni Arabs. A strong India will find it easier to neutralize the Sunni Arab-Pakistan equation besides increasing its influence in the wider Middle East. One of India's biggest strength in the region is its reputation for not interfering in the internal affairs of each country unlike a fellow Muslim country, even one such as Pakistan but especially countries such as Egypt, Jordan etc which will try and influence internal developments. For that to successfully happen, India has to be able to become a net provider of security in the region with a matching economy and armed forces capability.
China, because of its economy and Russia because of its arms exports will always have more influence over Iran compared to India, not that either China or Russia will be able to ultimately dictate the direction of Iranian policy. India's soft power in the Gulf on the other hand gives it a unique advantage there. That has to supplemented by hard power to ensure continuing access to energy.
Also Iran's Grand Strategy
I would like to do a reevaluation of my/our current thinking on this.
Over the years, I have often favored a more Indo-Iranian rapprochement based on ancient cultural bonds, but if one really thinks about it, our relations with Iran have mostly been one of tension, from the Avestan period to the Mughal period to Ayatollah period. Sure the Arabs were interested in some puritanical version of Islam, and such ulema did adorn the courts of Islamic rulers in India, but the political Islamic colonization of India has been at the hands of Turks and Afghans riding on Iranian cultural and imperial memes.
Iranians in some ways see Pakistan as its cultural depth and in fact as the sword arm with which to expand eastwards. One just needs to see the level of support Pakistan received from the Shah of Iran, e.g. during 1971 war or for that matter Islamic regime's interference in Kashmir politics. The Arabs on the other hand have never attacked India, except for the brief campaign by Muhammad bin Qasim in Sindh, and often it had to do with their politics against Persians.
So I think, Indian wish to ally with Iran is actually a mirage!
Arabs, I feel, have two interests in the Indian Subcontinent - Islamization, because that is what they do and Sunnization for curtailing Iranian influence and trying to build up reserves who can support Arabs against the Persians.
The Yemen conflict is again bringing it to Arab awareness, that Sunnism alone would not save the day viz-a-viz Iranians. Neither the Turks nor the Persians see each other as enemies, but in fact see themselves as joint-partners to define Central and Sooth Asia, and look upon Arabs as weak and worthy of disposal. Turks want to establish a neo-Ottoman Empire, with control over Hejaz while Iranians may not be disinterested in a neo-Mughal Empire. So Turks as a Sunni power is not really helping the Arabs versus the Iranians. In fact Turks may be trying to making itself the predominant power in the region. First Turks tried to put Muslim Brotherhood in charge of Egypt and now they may be trying to buy out ISIS from the Gulf Arabs.
For Arabs, the alliance of Gulf countries with America is also coming undone after the approaching P5+1-Iran agreement, where USA may not support Gulf countries to the same extent against Iran. Nor can China really give the Gulf countries what they want, simply because China is more interested in securing Central Asia in cooperation with Iran than really interested in Sunni control over Arab lands.
Why is Iran actually Shia? I would say to underline its independence from Gulf Arabs. If the Gulf Arabs are beaten through a joint Turk-Iranian venture, and do not have the resources anymore to project their influence into the Indian Subcontinent, and India falls to Islam, as per the thinking of Iranians, then there is no real reason for Iranians to cling on to Shi'ism. If Sunnis take over Indian Subcontinent and reestablish the neo-Mughal Empire, then Iran would be more than willing to dump Shi'ism the same day, become Sunni and try to take over the reigns of such a neo-Mughal Empire. The DNA of Iran is more imperialist than Islamic, I think.
Gulf Arabs need a Sunni Pakistan first and foremost to checkmate Iran on Iran's eastern border, to stop a neo-Mughalistan emerging first as Iran-Pakistan combo and then expanding eastwards and westwards. So the Sunnization drive in Pakistan by Gulf Arabs is directed against Iran. Military strengthening of Pakistan by the Arabs was simply to receive military aid from Pakis when the need arises. Gulf Arab support to Pakistan is not directed primarily against India but against Iran. Yemen conflict is telling the Gulf Arabs, that that investment in Pakistan is not paying off sufficiently.
India's problem with Pakistan is not the level of Sunnization or Islamization of Pakistan. It is not about how green Pakistan is. Our problem with Pakistan is really that it has an imperialist center (Pindi) as well, just like there is one in Turkey and Iran.
A fully Talibanized Pakistan is not the problem for India. However a fully armed Pakistan is, because then it starts getting uppity and imperialist.
But 3½ friends of Pakistan have been continuously arming Pakistan, and that creates a difficulty for India. What India wants is the breakdown of the imperialist military center in Pakistan, and not necessarily some form of Islamic moderation. That is uninteresting!
So how to achieve it? I think we need to turn at least one of Pakistan's friends against it! It can be China, Gulf Arabs or USA. Indians have for decades hoped that USA would dump Pakistan. Some thought that common values between USA and India would lead to this. Others thought that the deaths of thousands of American troops at the hands of Pakistan-supported proxies would help USA to change its mindset. That is not going to be the case.
China would not dump Pakistan simply because of geopolitics in Asia. Our primary foe is China and they too know it.
Question is can the Gulf Arabs dump Pakistan? Yemen is providing some possibilities.
The thing we should not care about the Islamization or rather Sunnization of Pakistan! If the Gulf Arabs want to throw more money into Pakistan to make more Sunni drones, then that should be okay with us, AS LONG AS there is no imperial military center in Pakistan to make use of them to wage war against India. Sunnization of Pakistan only acts as a check on Iranian influence.
Question is can the Gulf Arabs dump Pakistani Army?
We Indians know that Gulf Arabs can be very "flexible" regarding political alignments - with USA, with ISRAEL!!!
So here is one proposal!
Indian demands from Gulf Arabs:
- Stop Islamization in India - no more funding.
- Bangladesh should be left by the Gulf as India's "core interest"
- Free Baluchistan
- Help India take down Pakistan Army
- Support India's takeover of PoK
- Provide intelligence on any anti-Indian Islamic plans
- Gulf monarchies channel their money locked up elsewhere into Indian infrastructure
Here should be what India could offer the Gulf Arabs:
- All Paki military personnel are sent back from Gulf
- Indians take over as protectors of Gulf Arab monarchies
- Indians build a special Afghan Regiment in the Indian Army consisting of Sunnis, for protection of Gulf Arabs
- Gulf monarchies receive Indian nuclear umbrella, though secret
This is a far better scenario for Gulf Arab monarchies, than their current arrangement. Paki Army wants to play the Arabs against the Turks and Iranians. Why? Because of their Neo-Mughalistan dreams! India would not have any such reasons.