In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

India carries BRICS flag on Syria

Posted by seumasach on April 16, 2012


15th April, 2012

It gives me great pleasure to study the document which just reached me — ‘Explanation of Vote’ on the United Nations supervision mission for Syria by Ambassador Hardeep Puri at the UN Security Council in New York a little while ago. Before Puri spoke, External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna telephoned UN’s joint special envoy for Syria Kofi Annan to underscore India’s support for his mission.

Puri’s speech marks new thinking in Delhi on Syria. The first question that occured to me was: Who was it who ridiculed that BRICS “lacks mortar”? What nonsense! Puri’s speech reflects the BRICS stance on Syria, as enunciated in the Delhi Declaration adopted at the grouping’s summit on March 28.
Puri made the following points:
A) India fully supports Annan’s mission. India appreciates that Annan’s mission has made progress and “resulted in cessation of violence.”
B) India welcomes Syrian government’s acceptance of the Annan plan. India hopes that the opposition too would “adhere” to the relevant action points in the Annan plan and “renounce violence and cooperate fully.” (Comment: The onus is on the opposition to show sincerity.)
C) India supports the UN supervision mission’s deployment and hopes that “all parties, including the opposition” will cooperate with the mission. Having said that, the UN supervision mission too should work “impartially, fairly and independently” and should give due respect to Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.”
D) India calls for an “inclusive Syrian-led political process”. The process should start as soon as possible. “We have noted the commitment of the Government of Syria to such a process. We expect that the opposition will also engage seriously in this process so that the crisis is resolved without any further bloodshed.” (Comment: Delhi’s endorsement of the Syrian government stance stands out.)
E) India feels that a special responsibility lies with “all countries in Syria’s neighborhood and beyond” to facilitate the success of the Annan mission. (Comment: A mild stricture of countries like Turkey or some Persian Gulf monarchies?)

The Indian stance on Syria has undergone a ‘makeover’, which is all for the good. To my mind, India never really belonged to the ‘Friends of Syria’. The ‘new thinking’ follows the BRICS summit in Delhi and theforeign-minister level Russia-India-China meet on Friday in Moscow during which the crisis in Syria figured in the discussions. In sum, India harmonized its position with the BRICS’s.
By the way, during the coming one-year period, India is holding the presidency of the BRICS as well as the RIC. I have no doubt EAM invited Annan to visit Delhi at an early opportunity. Of course, the road to peace in Syria is fraught with obstacles, but Syria needs Annan’s plan and India is right in unequivocally backing it rather than indulge in the corrosive scepticism about its prospects, as the Gulf monarchies and Turkey have been doing.
Curiously, one problem is the manner in which the secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon seems to be butting into Annan’s mission. A vanity fair? Good-cop-bad-cop? Washington’s voice? We don’t know. Each of that is a possibility.

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