Organisation of Islamic Cooperation- India relations
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Readers will be able to edit existing articles and post new articles directly
OIC and India: What happened in 1969?
From Tehran to Riyadh/ As in 2006
India’s bumpy ride from Tehran to Riyadh
Dawn Jan 2006
DEATH TO AMERICA, Death to Israel, Death to Saddam Hussein and Death to the Soviet Union — these are slogans as old as the Iranian revolution. Every Friday a huge congregation at Tehran University would end its prayers with loud chants of the nation’s battle cry, sometimes led by Hashemi Rafsanjani, sometimes by Mohammad Khatami, sometimes by the spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei, himself.
Two of the slogans have found their target. The Soviet Union and Saddam have passed into history. In the case of the Soviets, an entire nation that once strutted about as a superpower simply disappeared from the world. As for the former dictator of Iraq, he looks chastised, to put it mildly. The Western world applauded the spotless erasure of the Soviet Union and also the contrived end of Saddam’s rule. Iran may have had little or no hand in these episodes, but it must be satisfied that at least part of its prayers have been answered.
In recent days some people have expressed concern at Iran’s verbal diatribes against Israel as though these shrill warnings are something new. They should look again. These slogans were shouted by the West’s very own preferred ‘liberal’ Iranian president Mohammad Khatami whenever he found time to lead the prayers at Tehran University. And, again, Iran is merely shouting on television something to the effect that a new Israel should be created in Europe, arguably because Jews were persecuted in Europe. It’s a provocative argument even if it has many listeners.
Yet, when it comes to actually making nations disappear from the face of the earth, as opposed to the Iranian mullahs’ mere theories, is there any equal to the West? Where is Yugoslavia today? And where is Iraq headed with the active connivance of Washington’s occupation army to divide its people?
This is the background that the Saudi king and the Indian prime minister would need to bear in mind this week when they have a landmark meeting to discuss bilateral relations and key regional issues. Some would say the discussions are a cover for India’s diplomatic transition from Tehran to Riyadh via Washington. There is something else the two leaders would be well advised to do. They should read Patrick Bishop’s report from Damascus in Saturday’s Telegraph.
Instead of brooding farcically over Iran’s facetious comments on Israel, or speculating over Tehran’s wildly alleged nuclear weapons programme, the report highlights an unexplored area of interest to the world. It says: “The Arab street has a new poster boy. Whatever Europe and America may think of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president’s anti-western rhetoric is winning him heroic status among the Middle East’s masses.
“Strong men loom large in the recent history of the region. The prototype was Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian who inspired a generation of Arab nationalists.
“Then there was Saddam Hussein, whose defiance of America won admirers even among Arabs who detested his tyranny. The position of Middle East strongman is currently vacant. Mr Ahmadinejad may be a Persian, but that does not appear to disqualify him from the job.”
It is no coincidence that America’s biggest bugbears today — Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden — were once its key allies. If India were to follow Washington’s lead on global issues, particularly in the Middle East, it could end up being similarly trapped in a duplicitous bargain, most likely on the losing end of it. There are other good reasons to doubt the public postures of both Iran and the United States, particularly when they seem to be locked in a life-threatening standoff.
The Iran-Contra scandal was not the only occasion when the two were clandestinely cooperating while the rest of the world was jostling to take sides in an imaginary diplomatic war.
The Iran-Contra scandal can be traced to the 1980 presidential election between incumbent Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. In the fall of 1980, Carter was marginally leading Reagan in the polls with the election right round the corner. The release of hostages before election day presumably would have ensured the election for Carter.
The Reagan team conspired to negotiate a deal with Ayatollah Khomeini. Campaign manager William Casey and George Bush, who went on to become vice-president and president, met President Bani-Sadr in Paris in October, only weeks before the US election. At that time Carter had a slight lead over Reagan.
Part of the deal cut between the Reagan team and Iran was to provide military weapons which Iran desperately needed in its war with Iraq. As it turned out, the 52 American hostages remained captive in Tehran. Carter’s popularity continued to plummet, enabling Reagan to be elected in November, and ironically the hostages were returned at 12 noon on January 20, 1981 when Reagan was inaugurated.
So where would India figure in it if this duplicitous game of name-calling for public consumption and secret deal-making were to be repeated yet again?
In this game of wheels within wheels who is to be trusted more? Does the world have a full measure of what lies behind the veneer of either President Bush or President Ahmedinejad in their verbal duel with each other?
We were not privy to the deal between Bush Sr. and Bani-Sadr, but according to credible American accounts, while in Paris, the Republican team gave $40 million to the Iranian government as a gesture of good faith that the Reagan team was serious in dealing with the Khomeini government. The terms required that the American hostages should remain captive until after the November election. Therefore, consider the following fact. The Iranian New Year’s Day or Nowroze falls between March 19-21. On Nowroze of 2000 then US secretary of state Madeleine Albright was attending a party thrown by Iranian expatriates in Washington DC amid hopes of an early thaw with Iran.
Even at that time Iranian worshippers were chanting Death to America and Death to Israel. Also at that time Iranian scientists were carrying out their research on nuclear technology in their secret bunkers. What, if anything, has changed for to kick up the brouhaha today?
ON JANUARY 24, when he arrives as chief guest for India’s Republic Day parade, King Abdullah would become the first Saudi monarch to visit New Delhi in 50 years. That is almost as old as the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan has been raging. It could be a coincidence, and an important one for India, that the organizers of the parade are planning to stage a moving tableau depicting the Karavan-i-Aman (caravan of peace), the name given to the Muzafarbad-Srinagar bus. The tableau will have dancers and musicians from Kashmir and offer a clear opportunity to Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam to elaborate on India’s peace efforts with Pakistan with his honoured guest.
Foreign Minister Pulls Out, Will Send Officials
Angry over the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) refusal to rescind its invitation to India, Pakistan’s foreign minister skipped the meeting of the Islamic grouping which began in Abu Dhabi.
Though Pakistan was represented by a delegation, this was the first time in the OIC’s 50-year history that the country’s foreign minister had stayed away from the meeting of the important Islamic grouping.
Pakistan, one of the founding members of OIC, is upset that its insistence to keep India out was not heeded by other members of the group.
Incidentally, 50 years ago, the then Pakistan president, General Yahya Khan, had walked out of the OIC summit which was held in Morocco’s capital Rabat over the same issue — inclusion of India at the meet.