close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

January 14, 2020

The year 2020 AD

Opinion

January 14, 2020

If a year ever started with a bang, it’s your cutely named Twenty20. Barely a week into the new year, Australia had been hit by a near cataclysm in the form of forest fires never seen before. In the same period, the world has been to the brink and back with the Iran-US standoff.

A major operator on the Middle Eastern chessboard was eliminated, and someone in Iran anxious to kill more American terrorists missed his shot and ended up shooting down a passenger aircraft in Tehran’s sky, killing 176 people onboard.

Are there some quick lessons to be drawn from these events? First, the world is ill prepared to avert environmental tragedies. Second, the big bully gets its man sooner or later -- whether he is Osama bin Laden, Mullah Akhtar Mansour or Qassem Suleimani. But these cases are not comparable, protested a scholar, saying that Suleimani was a state official. You could very well be right, I told him. But the International Court of Justice has no troops at its disposal. And the Security Council cannot act against one of its permanent members. Nor will the US accept the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction. To put it mildly, the superpower is literally getting away with murder.

Trump may have violated international law while engaging in hot pursuit of an enemy official in a third country. The Democrats can moan and groan or pass resolutions to prevent Trump from going to war against Iran without Congressional approval. We can still hope that Trump knows better than to attack Iran. He backtracked and in fact sounded reasonable after Iran’s missile attack on an Iraqi base with US troops.

In taking out Suleimani, the US has also conveyed a message to Iran that its plans to strengthen an arc of influence around the Gulf and Israel will not go unchecked. Nor will Washington tolerate Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. There are signs that the Iranian regime will not back down from its long-term goals in the region, once a part of the Persian Empire.

Trump may not know that Persia was the world’s first great empire and their modern-day descendants are very proud of their heritage. But the Iranians also need to recognize that the world today has two great powers, China and the US. India too is vying to be a great power. Then there are economic and technological giants like Germany, Japan and South Korea.

Iran’s ambitions may be directed at regaining its past primacy in the Middle East. However, it will continue to face tough resistance from the Arab states as well as Israel, which is like the 51st state of the superpower.

There is a common thread between the Hindutva brigade’s plans against India’s 200 million Muslims and Israel’s reign of terror in the occupied Arab lands. Trump, who has been raising the alarm about his “Islamic problem” may be content with Indo-Israeli plans to asphyxiate Muslims under their rule. Both are potential triggers for regional conflicts. Having destroyed Iraq, once engaged in a nuclear programme, Israel and the US now want to finish off Iran’s ambitions in that domain. Tensions in South Asia, and what may be loosely called West Asia, are likely to remain serious threats to peace and security in these areas in 2020 and beyond.

Matters have been complicated by the discriminatory policies of India and Myanmar towards Muslims in some parts of their territory. Uighur Muslims in western China too are reportedly facing assimilation by force. These crises lead us to the conclusion that, despite millions of Muslims having lost their lives and many more rendered homeless, some powers continue to blame Islam for terrorism. And this despite the figures showing that far more Americans have been killed by trigger-happy local gunmen than ‘Islamic’ terrorists.

While the Pakistan government is lending its good offices to lower tensions in the Gulf region, countering India’s brutal colonization of Jammu and Kashmir and denying millions access to the basic necessities of life like food and medicines is proving more challenging. Their only consolation may be that the Modi government’s efforts to drown India in a sea of communal hatred are slowly backfiring. We can still have trust in the Indian people’s commitment to democracy. In the final reckoning, it is the reaction of the Indian masses to the manic actions of the BJP/RSS combination that may lead to a review of its hate-based agenda.

In a telling commentary this week, the Eurasia Group that had earlier declared Modi as the best bet for India’s economy, now considers him a serious risk because he “has spent much of his second term promoting controversial social policies at the expense of an economic agenda.” According to this study, the impact of these policies “will be felt in 2020, with intensified communal and sectarian instability, as well foreign policy and economic setbacks”.

The Indians are not looking towards Modi as a hero anymore and they

have decided to show their rejection of his obsession with dividing the nation on the basis of caste and creed. This year – 2020 – may well hold the key to India’s future.

Email: [email protected]