West versus Rest
The world is no longer unipolar . A cluster of powers is emerging now .While US remains pre-eminent but it is not the same hyper power as before. As predicted earlier by SAI , alliances are now being formed with or against US. An analysis of basic global power equations indicates “West versus Rest” clusters emerging especially with respect to power games in West Asia . Arab spring, its fall out and pan Islamist ascendancy, promoted actively by the Muslim Brotherhood, and supported by Islamic nations in the Levant have provided opportunities to global and regional players. The ‘West and the Rest’ (SCO led by China & Russia ) are unfolding their “new great game” in the region where West is exploiting the anti Shia posture of Iran led Shia crescent through Sunni petro monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.The very pronouncement of these monarchies pitching for a regime change in Syria thus is ludicrous but part of this game.
Likewise, the West, through Turkey, has precipitated a new crisis in the region. Ataturk’s legacy and vision of creating and sustaining a modern Turkey by deliberate distancing from radical Islam now appears to be under immense pressure . The European nations are struggling to search for their national rather than European identity (courtesy Euro zone crisis ) while the pan Islamic movement led by Muslim Brotherhood is sucking Turkey into Islamic inferno emanating from Syria , Iran and Iraq . Voices for a Kurdistan have also gained momentum where the “ largest stateless” nation is seeking to unite .
Amidst all this international turmoil , Syria, the only secular democratic state in the region, appears to have become the guinea pig for the ‘West and the Rest’ to contain or support regime change . A change that is bound to be more violent and unpredictable than the current state in Syria with disastrous consequences for the region . Apparently , while the West is clamoring for regime change , there is no clear cut game plan to ensure stability in post Assad dispensation . If the “ regime change” theory is to discredit and marginalise the sanctioned Iran: China and Russia have dug their heels to ensure the West is not able to implement this . Their reasons emerge from their own political dispensations where they do not want the West to set precedence for regime change by international community .It is for this reason that any future dispensation in Syria be it regime change, balkanisation or a continued civil war would remain violent to serve these interests .
A similar contest is on in Asia Pacific though non Islamic in nature. The US “ rebalancing “ to the Asia –Pacific has unnerved China which is ensuring suitable flexing of muscle in South China sea and East China Sea (Senkaku Islands) to establish its supremacy in the region . Its annoyance at the US ‘pivot’ is evident in its political and Military postures , including it Anti Access Area Denial strategies (A2AD).
A new form of ‘cold war’ is thus emerging on the horizon where the machinations of the ‘West’ and the ‘Rest’ will continue to exploit the fault lines of Political Islam to serve their interests. In the bargain, both the West Asia and Asia Pacific shall see rise in level of violence, political uncertainties and military posturing .
The Islamic world of Shias and Sunnis have rarely been at peace with each other , However , the dangers to Global security posed by the efforts of US and Israel sponsored Sunni Arab tirade against containing Shia Iran may really not rest there. It has wider ramifications of escalating into a more serious conflict between the West and the Rest.
Indian policy planners have thus far maintained a pragmatic, through a bit confused stance, in this great game. To India, Iran is extremely crucial to peace in the region and to serve its interest in West and Central Asia . Likewise , it can barely afford to take sides in a Sunni – Shia conflagration with obvious dents in its energy and economic security. The choices are limited where all possible scenarios have to be evaluated from the perspective of India’s ability to maintain its strategic autonomy with a long term perspective in mind – this while astutely managing the deeper contours of the West and the Rest great game.