Gulf crisis set to escalate

Gulf crisis set to escalate

The strategy of Saudi Arabia and the UAE can paint the two countries in a corner with Qatar’s support for Sheikh Tamim complicating the suggestions made by a prominent Saudi journalist with close ties to the government and a Saudi-based lobbyist in Washington who The brutal coup ‘2013 Egyptian state that led to President-General-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to power, could be repeated in Qatar in one form or another.

The tactics of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as some of the claims including the suppression of support activists and Islamists, the closure of a Turkish military base in the Gulf state, which reduces relations with Iran and closure Of the media in Qatar, which includes the controversial Jazeera television network, could be a double-edged sword.

In a move that probably contributed to public opinion against them Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, citing baseless claims that the Gulf state supported the Houthi rebels, expelled from their enemies Saudi military coalition fighting insurgents In Yemen a day after six Qatari soldiers were wounded in defending the southern flank of the kingdom.

The two Gulf states have implicitly included Houthi rebels in Yemen calling on Qatar relations to break with activists and Islamists. While there is no doubt that Qatar was sometimes too much to nurture these relations, it is also clear that some of them have benefited from tacit Western and Saudi support.

For Huzis, Qatar has probably maintained clandestine contacts as they unite in the struggle against them Arabia, given Qatar’s repeated efforts for more than a decade to mediate between the rebels, the Yemeni government backed by the Saudis and the kingdom. Qatar has since 2004 negotiated several ceasefire in intermittent wars between the government and the Huzis to see them upset with the support of Saudi Arabia.

Former US diplomats on State Department cables during their service in Yemen and more recently in interviews suggested that Saudi Arabia’s obsession with Hizis is prior to the rebels’ close relationship with Iran since the invasion in 2015. Every case, the Arabian obsession Iranian hands.

In addition, a more detailed analysis of the requests from Saudi Arabia and the UAE creates the impression that, doubtless, in the case of the kingdom, the pot sometimes reproaches the kettle. Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad Abd al-Rahman al-Humayqani the only Yemen on the list of Arab-United Arabs suspected of terrorism associated with the requests of the two Gulf states, is a terrorist designated by the US Treasury. Bound for al Qaeda would have at least part-time in the Saudi capital.

The designation of the Treasury in 2013 did not prevent the Saudis to include Mr. Al-Humayqani in the government delegation with the support of the Arabs to peace talks stranded in 2015 or to serve as an advisor to Yemeni President Abd Mansur Hadi Rabbuh that is the Kingdom.

All this makes the hope of a negotiated solution to the Gulf crisis, but an illusion. Maintaining the status quo is not an option for Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The escalation of the crisis is a risk not only for the Gulf States, but also for the international community. However, eliminating the protagonists of the faceless loss front is a non-motor starter provided both sides of the absolute victory of the objective dividing at all costs.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior student at the School of International Studies, co-director of the Fan Institute of Culture of the University of Würzburg and the author of the turbulent Middle Eastern world football blog S. Rajaratnam, A book with the same title, comparative political transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Cruz-Teresita del Rosario’s next three books, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sport and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the creation of Frankenstein: the export of Saudi ultra-conservatism and China and Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom.

Emergency was perhaps an avoidable event

 

A few minutes before midnight on 25 June 1975, the President of India, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, pro­claimed a ‘State of Emergency’ under Article 352 of the Constitution. I was in Calcutta for my Rajya Sabha elec­tion, scheduled for 26 June, and got to know of this development on the morning of the 26th. Indira Gandhi asked me to return to Delhi as soon as the election was over and meet her at the earliest. D.P. Chattopadhyaya— who was then the Minister of State for Commerce and also in Calcutta | for the Rajya Sabha election—told me he had received similar summons from Delhi.

I got to the assembly building at about 9.30 a.m. It was teeming with state legislators, ministers and politi­cal leaders, some with questions and others with conspiracy theories. Some went to the extent of suggesting that, a la Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh, Indira Gandhi had abrogated the Constitution and usurped power for herself, with the army in tow. I cor­rected these prophets of doom, saying that the Emergency had been declared according to the provisions of the

Man behind the mess: Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency on the advice of Siddhartha Shankar Ray, the then West Bengal chief minister

Constitution rather than in spite of it. I argued that if the Constitution had indeed been abrogated, why would the Rajya Sabha election take place at all? The logic worked and people started to see reason. Around 11 a.m., Siddhartha Shankar Ray—the then Chief Minister of West Bengal- returned to Calcutta from Delhi and called me to his chamber. I met him there alongwithD.P. Chattopadhyaya and a couple of state ministers, one being Abdus Sattar, and discussed the developing scenario. Siddhartha babu briefed us about the happenings in Delhi the night before.

It is believed that Siddhartha Shankar Ray played an important role in the decision to declare the Emergency: it was his suggestion, and Indira Gandhi acted on it. In fact, Indira Gandhi told me subsequently that she was not even aware of the constitutional provisions allow­ing for the declaration of a state of Emergency on grounds of internal disturbance, particularly since a state of Emergency had already been proclaimed as a consequence of the

Emergency was perhaps an avoidable event

The Emergency was a crucial phase in our parliamentary democ­racy. The declaration, its operation and, finally, its withdrawal had a profound impact on India’s politi­cal structure as I have mentioned earlier. Those who had been scep­tical of a parliamentary democ­racy succeeding in India became gleeful at the thought that they had been proven correct. Those who had bought into the idea of democracy and were enchanted by the Constitution of India and the successful execution of electoral democracy since 1952 were rudely shocked.

I will discuss the impact of the Emergency on domestic politics in the subsequent narrative. At this point in the book, it will be sufficient to say here that many of us who were part of the Union Cabinet at that time (I was a junior minister) did not then understand its deep and far-reaching impact. While there is no doubt that it brought with it some major positive changes—discipline in public life, a growing economy, controlled infla­tion, a reversed trade deficit for the first time, enhanced developmental expenditures and a crackdown on tax evasion and smuggling—it was perhaps an avoidable event. Suspension of fundamental rights and political activity (including trade union activity), large-scale arrests of political leaders and activists, press censorship, and extending the life of legislatures by not conducting elections were some instances of the Emergency adversely affecting the interests of the people. The Congress and Indira Gandhi had to pay a heavy price for this misadventure.
No laughing matter: Kasu Brahmananda Reddy (centre), the home minister who signed a letter seeking the president’s assent for imposing internal emergency, with Maharashtra Congress leaders in 1977

Indo-Pak conflict in 1971.

According to Siddhartha Shankar Ray’s deposition before the Shah Commission (set up by the Janata government to investigate the ‘excesses’of the Emergency), he was summoned to Indira Gandhi’s resi­dence on the morning of 25 June 1975. He reached 1 Safdarjung Road and met Indira Gandhi, who said that she had received a slew of reports indi­cating that the country was heading into a crisis. She told him that in view of the all-round indiscipline and law­lessness, some strong corrective mea­sures needed to be taken. Siddhartha babu told the Shah Commission that Indira Gandhi had, on two or three previous occasions, told him that India needed some ‘shock treatment’ and that some ‘emergent power or drastic power’was necessary. He recalled to the Shah Commission that on one such occasion (before the announcement of the Allahabad High Court judgement on 12 June 1975), he had told her that they could
take recourse to the laws already on the statute books, and cited to her the success with which he had tack­led the law and order problems of West Bengal within the framework of the law. According to Siddhartha babu, Indira Gandhi then read out intelligence reports of Jayaprakash Narayan’s public meeting scheduled for that evening. The reports indicat­ed that he would call for an all-India agitation to set up a parallel adminis­tration network as well as courts, and appeal to policemen and those in the

Deposing before the Shah Commission, Siddhartha Shankar Ray ran into Indira Gandhi in the Commission Hall and tossed a sprightly remark: ‘You look pretty today/

‘Despite your efforts/ retorted a curt Indira.

 

armed forces to disobey what were supposed to be illegal orders. Indira Gandhi, he maintained, was firm in the understanding that India was drifting towards chaos and anarchy. Siddhartha babu then asked Indira Gandhi for some time to consider the possible courses of action, and returned later that evening, at about 5 p.m., to tell her that she could con­sider,

…if she so desired, Article 352 of the Constitution for the purpose of imposing internal emergency [whereupon] she asked Shri Ray to go along with her to the President immediately…She gave to the President a summary of what she had told Shri Ray with regard to the facts, that the President heard her for about twenty minutes to half an hour and then asked Shri Ray as to what were the exact words in the Constitution, that the President then told the Prime Minister to make her recommendation…

Siddhartha babu had been very close to Indira Gandhi ever since the days of the Congress split in 1969, and was at one point regarded as one of her most influential advisors. Indira Gandhi would seek his advice on diverse matters. As a member of the CWC and the Central Parliamentary Board, Siddhartha babu had consid­erable influence over the decision­making process of the organization and administration. His voice was prominent at the meetings of the National Development Council and at the conferences of chief ministers. He had a say in Congress policies at the national level from the early 1970s till the end of 1975. In matters relating to West Bengal, his was the decisive voice. So, it is not surprising that he was privy to considerable informa­tion, as the following incident indi­cates.

Man for all seasons: Mukherjee, then minister of state for finance, addressing Income Tax commissioners during the ‘raid raj’ in 1976
At the AICC session at Delhi in

through the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme as well as the number declarers. He was particularly viru­lent about my ‘high-handedness’ and ‘vendetta’ against Maharani Gayatri Devi who had been arrested during the Emergency. I was further accused of multiple misdemeanours—from beingthe author of the ‘raid raj’during the Emergency, to being responsible for removing the SBI Chairman, R.K. Talwar, because of his alleged refusal to give Sanjay Gandhi a loan, to even conducting a raid on Baroda Rayon merely to recover some incriminating documents. Raised by private mem­bers, these allegations were allowed to go on record, undenied, as the min­isters who were in possession of the facts (as custodians of government files and papers) did not bother to provide the correct and full informa­tion. It became clear that some of us would not get any protection either from the government or from our own party. I did occasionally try to defend myself through my interven­tions in the Rajya Sabha or through the media, but was not always suc­cessful.

In the House and lobby, I was avoided by almost everybody, apart from two CPI Rajya Sabha members, Bhupesh Gupta and Kalyan Roy, both good friends, and Congress leaders A.R. Antulay, Saroj Khaparde and Pratibha Singh. I became a common sight in the lobby as I whiled away time alone, smoking my pipe. To each his own share of woes.

★★★