By M K Bhadrakumar, Opinion Maker
There are grave security implications for both Russia and India. What happens in Syria holds the potential to impact a wide swathe of the so-called Greater Middle East, stretching from the Levant to the Central Asian steppes – a region that forms the ‘extended neighborhood’ of both Russia and India’s.
Drawing by Alexey Lorsh
If the Russian vote against the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly over Syria last week was predictable, India’s abstention was fortuitous.
This Russian-Indian ‘divergence’ arose because the two countries so far pursued specific interests. For Russia, Syria has been a strategic ally, whereas India took a pragmatic stance imbued with the alchemy of its equations vis-à-vis the protagonists spearheading ‘regime change’ in Syria – the United States, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
However, that has become a priori history. The die has been cast and it emerges that Russia and India have a strong commonality of interests. That is how the voting pattern at the UN last Thursday needs to be interpreted. The heart of the matter is that certain bigger issues of immense consequence to the international system and the regional and global politics have surged to the centre-stage and India and Russia have shared concerns over their interplay.
Drawing by Dan Pototsky
Syria’s curse could as well be India’s
Principally, there are five key issues involved here.
One, the concerted external intervention to force ‘regime change’ in Syria drives a dagger into the heart of the Westphalian system that historically put primacy on the sovereign nation-state, big or small, as the basic unit of international order. The violation of the established order requires careful explanation, and yet no such explanation is forthcoming. This violation runs contrary to international law and negates the very idea of a democratic world order that Russia and India are working for.
Second, where do we draw the line, assuming the Arab Spring is about the advent of democracy, reform and change in countries with authoritarian rule? More pertinently, who draws the line? The two diehard proponents of democracy and reform in Syria happen to be the regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are archaic oligarchies themselves. In sum, what is happening over the Syrian situation is selective intervention for geopolitical reasons, which is camouflaged as ‘humanitarian intervention’. The irony deepens when we factor in that the humanitarian situation itself has largely been precipitated through instigation of violence from outside to destabilize the Syrian state structures, economy and society systematically with impunity through the past several months, violating the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter.