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Analysis

What’s behind India’s Muted Response to Trump’s Al-Quds Decision?

Wednesday 20 December 2017
What’s behind India’s Muted Response to Trump’s Al-Quds Decision?

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Alwaght- Despite the fact that India was one of the first and bluntest supporters of the Palestinian cause during its presidency over the Non-Aligned Movement and the Palestinian cases had often been one of the priorities of the country’s foreign policy, New Delhi now and after Trump’s recognition of al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the Israeli capital has taken an unclear course in dealing with this important case.

Recently, 12 Arab states’ ambassadors have criticized the Indian government for declining to take a clear stance in condemnation of the American president’s al-Quds move. Responding to the criticism, the Indian foreign ministry released a short ambiguous statement saying that the Indian position is independent of any other party.

The Indian stance has given rise to some questions: Why is India shifting from a supporter of the Palestinians to a member of a circle of countries that are turning a blind eye to the anti-Palestinian oppression? Is the Israeli influence in India only factor affecting New Delhi’s stance, or the Indian geopolitical interests and regional disputes have a hand?

India is US strategic ally

The Washington-New Delhi relations have been strong and strategic since India gained its independence from the British colonialism in 1947. In past two decades when China has been thriving economically and threatening to take the US place as a global power, Washington has been viewing New Delhi as a frontline agent of the American policy to check Beijing’s fast-track moving. A powerful China, beside challenging the American hegemony worldwide, will be risky geopolitically and geoeconomically to allies of the US like India. This outlook is enough for Washington and New Delhi to agree on an unwritten strategy to contain Beijing. Various US administrations unwaveringly put a premium on backing the Indian government militarily, politically, and economically as a top priority in their Indian Peninsula policy. India is now breaking with the Cold War climate and its leadership of the non-aligned world. The rightist government of Narendra Modi is uninterested in opposing the American al-Quds agenda that could cost it the loss of the US developmental supports. The Trump administration has proposed to the Congress cutting down the US aids to India from $85 million in 2016 to $33.3 million in 2018. On the other side, adopting a policy independent of the US will mean a strategic win for China in the Indian Peninsula and South Asia regions, something that will totally demote India to a second-degree player in its contest with the rival Beijing.

From Israeli influence to countering Pakistan

Although the new American strategy in relation to India has helped review New Delhi’s Palestine-related policy, it is not the main factor behind the Indian shift of stance on the Palestinian cause. The Israeli regime is another actor, which deeply penetrated the Indian power structure and sold advanced military equipment to India to make up for the country’s shortcomings in the efforts to contain neighboring Pakistan. This has been crucial to the transformation of the Indian view. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only head of the Indian government to openly praise the Israeli technical and military advances. This is against the policy of the former Indian PM Manmohan Singh who avoided publically lauding the Israeli regime or visiting Tel Aviv. Modi in early July went to the Tel Aviv to be the first Indian PM to visit the Israeli regime. He discussed with the Israeli officials purchasing a range of Israeli weapons including the Barak air defense system, anti-tank rockets, drones, and radar systems. At the present time, India acquires a set of its sea-to-sea missiles, air defense radars, and military communications facilities from the Israeli companies, something making India the biggest market for the Israeli military exports. Reports suggest that New Delhi buys $1 billion worth military equipment from the Israeli regime on an annual basis. Additionally, in the regional Pakistani-Indian dispute, Beijing provides Islamabad with help in face of New Delhi. This has been a source of Indian security unease. On the opposite side, Tel Aviv, understanding the Indian side’s security and military needs, stood for the help of New Delhi in confronting Pakistan and its backer.

India’s key role in the American strategy of curbing China, Israeli influence in India’s power body, Modi’s openness to partnership with Tel Aviv, and the Indian military security needs to counter Pakistan have all been affecting the Indian policy shift that is marked by distancing from formerly-held decisive pro-Palestinian postures. Now, New Delhi is redesigning its regional and global policies in an apparent breaking with the Cold War-time role as a non-aligned actor. Instead, it redefines itself as an actor in the club of allies of Washington and Tel Aviv.

 

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