By Rajeev Sharma
The Libyan War
Has the Libyan war ended finally? The answer is a resounding “No”. Though the Libyan war may seem to be nearing an end, it is far from over. Muammar Gaddafi, who has been ruling the north African nation for the last 42 years with an iron hand, is down as of now, but he is definitely not out. The rebel forces may be so near, yet they are so far. The reason is that forces loyal to Gaddafi are still controlling important cities like Sirte and Sabha. Gaddafi has deliberately projected a ‘mystery wrapped in an enigma” kind of a persona as he hardly appears in public. Though the post-Gaddafi administrative arrangement is being talked about and a National Transition Council (NTC) is going to run the country after Gaddafi’s exit, the NTC itself is mired in controversies and is not a homogenous body. Another red line for the post-Gaddafi Libya is that so many diverse political and ethnic groups from different parts of the country contributed to the armed struggle against Gaddafi and each one would be eyeing the lion’s share of the political gains. The confusing scenario is further compounded by the fact that some Islamist militias contributed in a big way to fighting government forces in the east and secured Benghazi for the rebel forces. These militias are potential unguided missiles as they may get an idea of usurping the political power in Libya in entirety, not leaving even crumbs of power to their fellow rebel groups. Gaddafi has proven to be far more resilient and defiant than the world expected – and that too against the combined might of the Americans and the Europeans. America’s prominent enemies Iran and North Korea must be chuckling!
US bans Indian Mujahideen — finally
The September 15 decision of the US State Department to add India’s home-grown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen to its list of terrorist organisations has come at least four years late. Though the IM has been active since 2005, it was from 2007 onwards when the outfit started playing havoc with the Indian law and order system, exploding bombs at public places across the country with impunity and a remarkable consistency. However, the relevance of the ban is largely diplomatic and symbolic. The US ban would not have much impact operationally. It won’t blunt the claws and paws of IM and will not in any manner reduce its capability to unleash more terror attacks in future. Entities banned by the US cannot operate on the American soil, people associated with them cannot travel to the US and the banned entities’ accounts are seized. The IM hasn’t been operating from the US anyway, nor does it have any bank accounts there. The IM in any case has been operating on shoe string budgets as is evident by its signature bomb attacks which are neither spectacular nor expensive like 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008.
No hot pursuit against pirates
India does not favour following a policy of hot pursuit against Somalian pirates, Defence Minister AK Antony said on September 26 at a meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to his ministry. This is perhaps the first time when the government has made this clarification at such a high level. He said twenty Navies of the world are operating in the Gulf of Aden and India is also cooperating with them and emphasised that a joint effort under the aegis of the United Nations may yield better results. While the UPA government’s decision of giving a long rope to the Somalian pirates can be argued for and against, it denotes two things. One, the international community is far from posing a united front to deal with the alarming increase in the frequency and ferocity of sea pirates. Two, India does not want to bell the piracy cat single-handedly as the pirates have in the recent past taken on Indian interests in international waters because of some stupendous successes against the pirates by Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. Now the Indian security agencies are no longer interested in arresting and prosecuting the pirates. Instead they just let them off after taking away their ropes, harpoons, arms and ammunition and other material used for seizing vessels in the high seas.
PM visits Bangladesh
Manmohan Singh is the first Indian Prime Minister in 12 years to have paid a bilateral visit to Bangladesh and indeed his September 6-7 visit proved to be ground-breaking, though more could have been achieved had there been perfect synergy between the Centre and the West Bengal government. The biggest outcome of his just-ended Dhaka visit is that for the first time India has been able to finally demarcate its boundary with a neighbour. With Bangladesh, India shares its longest boundary of over 4100 kilometers. Manmohan Singh’s Dhaka visit would have been perfect but for the last-minute complications between the Centre and the West Bengal government over the issue of sharing of river waters because of which he could not take forward the proposed agreement on Teesta River with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Apart from Teesta, the two sides could not sign the agreement on Feni River, though both agreements were being worked for last two years and the drafts have long been ready and awaiting signatures. One should never forget that India’s northeast is Bangladesh-locked.