March 10, 2007
Geopolitics/ Is Turkey Lost ?
Under Atatürk, Rumelia (European Turkey) took over Anatolia (Asiatic Turkey). Now, the Anatolians are claiming their country back.
By Michel Gurfinkiel.
Until very recently, Turkey was everything an American would want a place in the Middle East or East Asia to be: an ally of the United States; a member of NATO; a quasi-democracy, enlivened by occasional military coups aimed not at disposing of but rather at reinforcing democratic rule; a country with a booming (if chaotic) economy and a vibrant civil society; and, last but not least, a country both Muslim and modern, enjoying a secular constitution and confident enough to maintain a friendly relationship with Israel.
These considerable achievements were compensated in kind. Throughout the cold war, the United States provided for the core of Turkey’s national security and welfare. More recently, both the U.S. government and influential Americans of every stripe lobbied for Turkey’s accession to the European Union, despite much European resistance.
Now, however, the romance looks over. If one were to name a single turning point, it would be the sweeping electoral victory of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development party (AKP) in late 2002. Overnight, the most marginal group in Turkish politics, people with very limited experience in international affairs, scant knowledge of English, and very little understanding of or sympathy for the West—people, moreover, displaying an alarming affinity for Islamist fundamentalism—had been placed in charge. Or so it seemed.
To any outside observer, it was clear that the turning point was soon translated into harsh facts. Turkey did not support the Iraq war in 2003. Nor did it support the American-French intiative to restore an independent Lebanon after 2004. Nor, at least at first, did it share Western concerns over a nuclearized Iran. Turkey’s relations with Israel also began to erode.
Finally, Turkey undertook a reassessment of its European ambitions. Having finally secured EU approval of their country’s candidacy for membership, Prime Minister Erdogan and his foreign minister, Abdullah Gül, proceeded to warn the Europeans that Turkey would not forever make adjustments and concessions to EU demands on matters like human rights or the status of Cyprus. Some foreign-policy intellectuals began to float alternatives to EU membership, including an alignment with the oil-rich Arab states, or with Russia, China, India, South Africa, and Latin America, or with the “emerging Islamic Far East,” that is, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Even more telling has been the rise of a rabid anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Christian mood within every level of Turkish society. The first sign of this was the official treatment of Eric Edelman, the U.S. ambassador to Ankara from 2003 to 2005. Both Erdogan and Gül kept him at bay throughout his tenure. The press, both Right and Left, both Islamic and secular, reveled in Edelman-baiting. A columnist for The New Dawn, a pro-AKP newspaper, accused him, absurdly, of behaving like a “colonial governor.” In Hürriyet, a leading secular paper, a columnist wrote that “If Turkey happens today to be one of the foremost America-hating countries, it is mostly because of him.”
After eighteen months, Edelman resigned. But anti-Americanism hardly abated. In 2005, a sensationalist novel, Metal Storm, featured characters drawn from real life—George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, etc.—and a plot set in the near future that was sheer paranoia: a surprise American invasion of Turkey complete with the bombing of Anit Kabir, the majestic mausoleum in Ankara of Mustafa Kemal, the founder of modern Turkey. The book sold heavily—450,000 copies in less than a year.
Hard on the heels of Metal Storm came a movie: Valley of the Wolves, Iraq. Taking off from a popular TV serial, it depicted the U.S. presence in Iraq as a nightmare of brutality. According to the movie, the U.S. was engaging in mass murder and then trafficking in the victims’ organs. Much of the action was devoted to a supposed joint American-Kurdish operation to “cleanse” northern Iraq of its Turkmen (i.e., Turkish) minority. If Metal Storm was a best-seller, Valley of the Wolves could be the Turkish film industry’s biggest commercial success ever.
Then there is anti-Semitism. Kavgam, a Turkish translation of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, was published at about the same time as Metal Storm. Almost two years ago, as I and other European and American visitors saw on a fact-finding trip sponsored by the Nixon Center, it was on prominent display in airports, shopping malls, academic bookstores, at the archeological museum in Ankara—everywhere. And Kavgam is hardly the only example of the new anti-Semitism in the Turkish media. The worst character in Valley of the Wolves is an American Jewish doctor who supervises organ traffic from Iraq to the United States and Israel. Another recent best-seller is a book called Hitler’s Leadership Qualities. Turkish newspapers are rife with anti-Jewish innuendo and worse.
No less salient is anti-Christian prejudice. Both Metal Storm and Valley of the Wolves “explain” alleged American designs on the Turkish people as part of a Christian crusade to convert Muslims or to restore Istanbul to its former status as Constantinople, the Byzantine metropolis. The Turkish government has sought to curtail the missionary activities of American Protestant organizations, and last year a Roman Catholic priest from Italy was shot in Trabzon in the wake of the controversy over the publication of the “Muhammad cartoons” in a Danish newspaper. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Istanbul in late November, the press indulged in an orgy of verbal abuse.
The American analyst Zeyno Baran, who led the Nixon Center tour in 2005, published her reflections on Turkey’s mounting xenophobia and enmity toward the West in the National Interest. In the Istanbul theater where she watched Valley of the Wolves, she writes,
I was wondering what the young men sitting in the row behind me must be thinking. There were seven of them, ranging in age from fifteen to eighteen. With their formative years shaped by the Iraq war, Metal Storm, and now this film, they and other members of their generation are beginning to believe that the portrayal of the Americans on screen is reflective of American society as a whole.
Baran asks whether the “paranoid fears” propagated by works like these will not “be reflected in government policy sooner than anyone might think.” There is another way to pose the question—namely, is the new mood a cause, or rather a consequence, of government policy? Or is the whole picture much more complex—and, possibly, more promising—than either of these propositions suggests? To grasp the main currents and cross-currents roiling contemporary Turkey, some history is in order.
The modern Turkish state was created by one of the most extraordinary men of the 20th century, Mustafa Kemal. Old Turkey, also known as the Ottoman empire, had been collapsing for decades. The final blow came in the wake of World War I, when the Sèvres treaty of 1919 reduced the empire to the environs of Constantinople and some parts of Anatolia to the East.
Kemal, who had been the most effective Ottoman general in the war—it was he who defeated the British at Gallipoli—rallied the Turkish population against both the treaty and the sultan who had signed it. In less than five years, he managed to set up a new army; crush the royal Greek forces who had ventured into Ionia and northwestern Anatolia; convince the British, French, and Italians to withdraw; and win a new peace treaty at Lausanne that restored a sizable Turkish state on both sides of the Sea of Marmara and eastward over all of Anatolia.
Even more importantly, Kemal transformed a hitherto multiethnic and multireligious country into an almost monoethnic, Islamic one. He accomplished this by “trading” 1.5 million Christian Greeks, the largest minority still to be found in Anatolia, for a parallel transfer of the few hundred thousand Turks still living in continental Greece. (The large Armenian population of Anatolia had been murdered or driven away earlier, in 1915, when the imperial Ottoman government was still in charge.)
Kemal then embarked on a drastic exercise in social engineering, recasting the country he had salvaged into a Western nation-state, the Turkish republic. He abolished the sultanate in 1923 and then the caliphate in 1924. Over the next five years, the new government was secularized; the Anatolian city of Ankara replaced Constantinople as the capital; traditional Arabic writing, clearly impractical for the Turkish tongue, was replaced by a Latin phonetic alphabet; European dress was made compulsory; women were emancipated; and “brotherhoods,” the backbone of Islam as a social force, were banned. In 1935, by a unanimous vote of parliament, he was anointed Atatürk, “father of the Turks.”
Most of the country had supported Kemal as a charismatic military leader or “holy raider”—a Gazi, in Turkish parlance, from the title bestowed upon the earliest Ottoman sultans in the Middle Ages—against the Western invaders. Very few resisted actively as he overhauled their way of life and enforced modernization from above. And yet, most Turks would have settled for a much less radical process of Westernization. Some secretly prepared to revert to a more traditional way of life at the first opportunity. Morevover, this passive resistance to Kemalism dovetailed with a longstanding geographic and social divide.
From the 14th to the early 20th century, Ottoman Turkey had been a polity with two separate centers of gravity. On the one hand, there was the Balkan peninsula, known as European Turkey or Rumelia (“the Land of the Romans”). On the other hand, there was Anatolia, or Asiatic Turkey. Rumelia, the cradle of the imperial elite, was rich, sophisticated, ethnically half-European; two-thirds of its population was neither Turkish nor Muslim. Anatolia, which provided the bulk of the imperial armies, was poor, backward, and Eastern, with a largely Turkish and Islamic population.
As long as the empire as a whole remained militarily formidable, the demographic imbalance in Rumelia could be largely ignored. But once the Ottomans lost their military edge, by the beginning of the 19th century, a very different situation emerged: large parts of Rumelia were progressively chopped away to become autonomous and then independent Christian states, with the Turks or other Muslims forced into what remained of Rumelia or into Anatolia and beyond. Finally, in 1912, a short, bitter war between the new Christian nations and the Ottoman empire wiped Rumelia off the map (except for Constantinople and Andrinople). Legendary Ottoman cities like Salonica, Üsküb, and Monastir (now Thessaloniki, Skopje, and Bitola) were overrun. The remaining Turkish gentry and upper class were forced to flee, while Turkish peasants were given four years to accept a debased minority status or sell their property and leave; most left.
The Jews, a sizable minority in Rumelia, were hit too. In the late Ottoman period, they had enjoyed support as the only loyal non-Muslim community in the Western part of the empire, and especially in Salonica. Now they were at the mercy of Christian Orthodox governments that (with the exception of Bulgaria) were largely anti-Semitic: many upper-class Jewish families fled to Constantinople, just like their Muslim peers. There was also a very active and influential community of Sabbateans or Dönme, who combined an outwardly Turkish-Muslim identity with crypto-Jewish traditions. It, too, had to go.
All in all, several hundred thousand refugees flooded Constantinople and the largest cities of Anatolia on the eve of World War I. They were an elite group. In the prevalent chaos, they were also the only ones with a clear political project. From their own tragic fate, they had learned that in order to survive, the Turkish people had to Europeanize in full and, for the first time in their history, become ethnically and even racially exclusive. And they believed this should be achieved at any cost, including revolution and coup d’état.
The first radical Rumelians to seize power were the “three pashas” (generals): Ismail Enver Pasha, who as minister of defense in the Ottoman empire had helped turn Turkey into a Germanic protectorate on the eve of World War I; Mehmet Talat Pasha, minister of the interior from 1913 to 1917 and then grand vizier; and Ahmet Cemal Pasha, a ruthless and quite effective warrior. All of them believed the Turkish race was essentially European—if not Aryan—and thus destined to effectuate a final synthesis between Islam and European civilization. They also believed that the Great War was a God-given opportunity to rebuild Turkey as a “Panturkic” empire: a homogeneous entity reuniting the western Turks of Anatolia with their more distant brethren of the Caucasus, the Volga, and Central Asia.
One wonders where these policies—which explain in part the tragedy that befell the Ottoman Armenians—would have led had the Central powers prevailed in 1918. What happened instead was a further decline in Turkey’s fortunes and the second Rumelian dictatorship—the one to last, the one led by Mustafa Kemal.
The Gazi was born in Salonica, the very capital of Rumelia. He was a pasha, but his background was different from that of the others. For one thing, it has been long thought that his family was linked either to the Dönme or to the Bogomils, a Manichean group who had nominally converted to Islam in the 15th century while retaining much of their old faith. (At his school in Salonica, almost all the pupils were Dönme or Jews.) For another thing, he preferred France over Germany, and French secular rationalism over German romantic vitalism. Once the master of Turkey, he showed no patience either for the Islamic heritage or for pan-Turkish daydreaming.
In Atatürk’s new nation, the Rumelians and those who wished to identify themselves with them were represented by the Republican People’s party (CHP), the one and only legal political group in the country. Any activists brazen enough to enter into real dissent or to express the cultural and religious aspirations of the Anatolian populace at large were dealt with by the national gendarmerie or the political police. As for the economy, the bulk of it was either seized by state trusts or put under direct state control. These new state assets were quickly allocated to managers who happened to be CHP members—and Rumelians. “For the people, in spite of the people,” Rumelians and quasi-Rumelians used to say half-smilingly. The real meaning of this motto was: for Anatolia (the new Turkish homeland), without and in spite of the Anatolians.
While Kemal himself remained above explicit criticism (like most “good” dictators, he was shrewd enough to chastise his own followers from time to time), there was a lot of popular resentment, if not hatred, directed toward the CHP regime. Some Turks clearly regarded it as a kind of foreign occupation. Others saw it as an “oppressor regime” (zalim) that preyed on the oppressed and downtrodden.
Kemal passed away in Istanbul on November 10, 1938. He died of cirrhosis: heavy drinking and womanizing had been his private vices or safety valves. His successor was Ismet Inönü, a Smyrna-born pasha with a Rumelian background who had been, among other things, his very loyal and effective prime minister. The CHP nation-state was now quickly transformed into a near-fascist system. With Atatürk posthumously given the title of Eternal Leader and turned into a semi-god, Inönü was made party leader for life.
Plans were drawn up to redesign Ankara as a Mussolini-style capital, with Atatürk’s mausoleum at its center. The old racial and pan-Turkic element in Turkish nationalism, strong under the three pashas but downplayed by Kemal, was now revived with a vengeance. Discriminatory measures were passed against non-Muslim minorities, including a 1942 capital tax targeting Jews specifically. (Many, unable to pay, were sent to labor camps in the East.)
It went on like that for most of World War II. Then Inönü, who had hitherto kept his country strictly neutral, initiated an effort at rapprochement with the Western democracies. This culminated a few years later in Turkey’s entry into NATO and the Council of Europe and a turnabout in the country’s political and ideological profile. Blatantly fascist or racist aspects of the regime were dropped, an internal purge disposed of the most pro-fascist elements in the armed forces and the civil service, and steps were taken toward a multiparty democracy. In 1950, free elections were held in which the opposition Democratic party (DP) won 53 percent of the popular vote and 408 out of the 487 seats in the national assembly. Inönü resigned.
In practical terms, the Democrats were the party of Anatolia, and their agenda was to reclaim the country for the Muslim Anatolian majority, restore some aspects of the traditional way of life, and reallocate wealth from the statist elite to the ordinary bourgeoisie and even the peasants. In no small measure this succeeded, despite the fact that the Democrats’ tenure ended in 1960 in a pro-CHP military coup and the hanging of DP Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and some of his ministers.
Over the following half-century or so, from the mid-1960’s to the 2000’s, Turkish life has constituted a never-ending reenactment of both the trends and the tensions of the DP era. In the course of this drama, the DP’s heirs have constantly offset their CHP or post-CHP rivals, up to and including the crushing victory of Erdogan’s AKP in 2002.
Demographics has played a key role in these developments. The rural areas of central and eastern Anatolia had enjoyed strong growth under Atatürk and Inönü, and were primarily responsible for the rise in the Turkish population from 14 million in 1923 to 21 million by 1950. Since then, the overall population has more than tripled to 70 million, with most of the growth occurring in the rural areas or among first-generation rural migrants to the big cities. As a consequence, the political heirs of the Democrats—they include Süleyman Demirel’s Justice party in the 1960’s and the 1970’s, Turgut Özal’s conservative Motherland party in the 1980’s, and finally the Islamists—have enjoyed an ever-growing edge over the old CHP and its heirs.
Turkey’s big cities, once strongholds of Kemalism, have thoroughly “Anatolized” and gone Islamic. Istanbul, which once held a million inhabitants, is now a conurbation of some 15 to 17 million, stretching from the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea area. Ankara has risen from fewer than 300,000 inhabitants in 1950 to 5 million today. Both cities have had Islamist mayors since the 1990’s, and their landscapes blossom with twin-minaret mosques. Even Ankara now has a huge Ottoman-style Great Mosque, just opposite Atatürk’s mausoleum.
The second factor that has shaped Turkish political life since the days of Menderes has been the country’s gradual involvement with the United States, an emerging united Europe, and even Israel. The thrust of Ankara’s foreign policy under Atatürk and Inönü had been to keep Turkey away, as much as possible, from foreign alliances and even foreign trade. They wished to maintain strict neutrality and to turn Turkey into an economically self-supporting, if not autarkic, nation.
Though Inönü had started the drive toward Western integration, it was Menderes and the Democrats who finalized Turkey’s alliance with the United States in the 1950’s. That alliance produced in turn Turkish participation in the Korean war and a local economic boom that lifted the fortunes of private entrepreneurs and small businessmen. As a result, the conservative Anatolian parties have been strongly anti-statist and often more pro-American than the rest of the political class. By the same token, they developed a keen interest in joining the European Common Market, to which Ankara applied in 1963, and then the European Union, to which it applied even more insistently in 1999.
No less stunning has been Turkey’s opening to Israel. In its relations with both the United States and Western Europe, Turkey was countered by the influential Greek and Armenian diasporas and had no diaspora of equal standing of its own to act on its behalf. On the other hand, Israel—whose independence Inönü recognized from the outset—was enormously interested in relations with a big Muslim neighbor like Turkey. An informal deal was reached. Many pro-Israel leaders and activists started to lobby for Turkey in the West. Turkey, in turn, quietly started cooperating with Israel. At a certain point, the relationship with Israel not only became one of the Kemalists’ dogmas but was also put forward as a priority by many Anatolian conservatives. These included Turgut Özal, the prime minister and then president in the 1980’s and early 90’s.
A third factor that goes back to the Menderes years is the steady rise of a very particular brand of Sunni Islam. Menderes outdid Inönü in enshrining the memory of Atatürk as a secular leader, and formally upheld the separation of state and mosque. At the same time, however, a religious comeback was allowed, or even encouraged. Religious instruction was made compulsory in school, and the “brotherhoods” were once again legalized, albeit as “cultural” or “educational” rather than as religious organizations.
The first groups to benefit from this were the traditionalist brotherhoods dating back to Ottoman times or rooted in other Islamic countries, especially the powerful Naksibendi order. Soon enough, though, new and fully Turkish brotherhoods emerged, among them Said Nursi’s “Enlightened,” or Nurcu, and the followers of Fettullah Haci Gülen, known as the Fettullahci. Using various loopholes, these new groups gradually set up an enormous private educational system, from preparatory schools to universities and business schools, which today parallels and at times overshadows the state system. They went on to found newspapers, television stations, and American-style foundations. Since the 1990’s, the new brotherhoods clearly have become Turkey’s leading cultural power, both at the academic and the popular level.
Hardline Kemalists see these new groups as the Trojan horse of a coming Islamic revolution—or regression—and have tried on various occasions to disband them or to close their facilities. But what strikes foreign observers is how different these brotherhoods are from standard revivalist groups in the rest of the Muslim world. They seem less interested in enforcing shari’a law in the public sphere than in fusing Islam and modern civilization. The foundations of the Fettulahci, for example, foster interfaith dialogue in earnest, and have sent scholars and students to the West and even to Israel. Their newspaper, Zaman, is arguably the best and most balanced in the country.
The Turkish establishment, and what has come to be known as the Derin Devlet or “deep state”—influential networks in the army, the senior civil service, and the security apparatus, as well as parts of the intellectual elite and even some mafia-like groups—have tried in many ways to counter the gradual disruption of the Kemalist model and the Anatolization of Turkey.
One strategy has been to resist the political effects of population growth by promoting “quality democracy” as against “big-numbers democracy.” This odd doctrine was the rationale for the military coups of 1960, 1971, and 1980. It led to the present constitution of Turkey, drafted in 1982, under which the National Council of Security (MGK), an unelected monitoring body drawn largely from the “deep state,” enjoys supremacy over the parliament and the government and almost exclusive control of the armed forces and the internal security apparatus.
A second strategy has been to coopt Anatolians into the establishment. After the 1980 coup, General Kenan Evren embarked upon a systematic redrawing of Turkish politics, banning all then-existing parties. He then encouraged the emergence of two new parties that were to be politically and economically moderate while eschewing the old Kemalist/Anatolian divide: the Social-Democrats on the Left and the Motherland party on the Right. Having arranged for himself to be elected president, Evren cast his lot with the Motherland leader Turgut Özal, who became prime minister.
A devout Anatolian Muslim, Özal (who succeeded Evren as president in 1989) engineered Turkey’s final economic big bang, transforming it from a developing third-world nation into an emerging modern economy. A shrewd privatization program allowed many Kemalists to secure their positions in the statist economy while, at the same time, also giving the Anatolian newcomers a share of the pie, often with some help from Saudi or Gulf Arab investors. Both sets of interests supported Özal’s bid to have Turkey join the European Union. Both acquiesced in a vigorous pro-American, pro-NATO, and pro-Israel policy. A new concept of Turkish conservatism was in the making.
But there were problems. The banning of the old parties could not be sustained indefinitely. By 1990 they were permitted again, and the bipartisan system devised by Evren instantly collapsed. This, in turn, triggered the growth of more radical groups on both sides. Among the Kemalists, chauvinistic ultranationalism reemerged, marching under the parliamentary banner of the National Movement party (MHP). In the opposite corner of Turkish politics, an explicitly Islamist movement gained even more dramatic momentum, despite the deep state’s repeated efforts to suppress it. By 1996, the electoral tide could no longer be resisted, and the Islamist leader Necmetin Erbakan was appointed prime minister over a coalition cabinet. Erbakan’s behavior, however, was so gratuitously provocative—for instance, he called for mass demonstrations against the army’s ties with Israel—that within a year the Kemalists of the National Council of Security had evicted him from office and banned his party.
The Islamists’ failure in 1997 had a profound impact on their strategy, and by 2001 they had deserted Erbakan and founded a more moderate party, the AKP, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Whereas Erbakan had been linked to more traditional Islamic organizations, and even to radical Arab groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Erdogan and other leaders of the AKP were closer to the new, modernizing brotherhoods of Turkey, and appealed to a larger swath of the electorate. Many former supporters of the moderate Özal rallied to their cause. In 2002, the AKP won 44 percent of the national vote, which translated into an overwhelming parliamentary majority.
According to Zeyno Baran (who is now associated with the Hudson Institute), the AKP’s “key concern” is to stay in power as long as possible, and to that end the party has shown “a lot of pragmatism.” As an Istanbul businessman recently told me, Prime Minister Erdogan “certainly comes from the Islamist fold, but he has matured a lot. He understands by now that Özal was right, and that Turkey’s real challenge is to get the entire population, not just the elite, out of underdevelopment and poverty.”
Over the past four years, Erdogan and the AKP have indeed managed the economy remarkably well, with the help, until the beginning of 2006, of a talented central-bank director. During Erdogan’s tenure, Turkey’s GDP has grown at an average rate of 7.5 percent, reaching a remarkable 9 percent in 2005. A new currency, the New Turkish Lira, was introduced in 2005, and has helped to cut inflation to under 10 percent. Annual exports from Turkey now amount to $70 billion. What is most significant about the present Turkish boom is that it is not based on natural resources like oil or natural gas but rather on manufacturing and services. To use George Gilder’s famous distinction, it represents “wealth” rather than “riches.”
With respect to foreign policy, the government’s record has been more worrisome. Relations with Israel have been especially problematic. Erdogan and Foreign Minister Gül have extended full support to the Palestinian Arabs, even under the leadership of the terrorist organization Hamas, and have rolled out the red carpet in Ankara for Khaled Meshal, the group’s exiled hardline leader. During the recent war in Lebanon, the AKP government sided with Hizballah and routinely accused Israel of “state terror.” It also canceled a $500-million deal with Israel Aircraft Industries to upgrade the Turkish air force.
Still, Erdogan has also made noteworthy efforts to keep the relationship with Israel alive—no small feat when only 10 percent of Turks express sympathy for the Jewish state and Zionists are routinely described as ruthless oppressors by the country’s religious Muslims. Both Erdogan and Gül, the foreign minister, have visited Israel and insist that bilateral cooperation must go on. Erdogan also intervened on behalf of an Israeli businessman who had been barred from important contracts in Turkey. Even more telling was an incident at the annual convention of Müsiad, the Council of Muslim Business, this past fall. The organizers had displayed a large picture of the Palestinian father who lost nineteen members of his family in Israel’s counterterrorism attack at Beit Hanoun in Gaza. Erdogan, the guest speaker, was incensed. “You should come down from your high platform and help the victims on the ground,” he told the conference, “rather than engage in such rhetoric.”
Later this year, two elections will take place in Turkey in quick succession and may force Erdogan to make clear whether he is a shrewd Islamist revolutionary, biding his time, or an heir to the moderate Anatolian conservatism of Turgut Özal. In April, a new president will be elected, and Erdogan himself is the leading contender. The present head of state, the secular Ahmet Necdet Sezer, has so far checked the Islamist-dominated parliament. If Erdogan wins the job, the stage could be set for an Islamist sweep when parliamentary elections are held in November.
It is rumored that hardliners in both the AKP and the “deep state” are preparing for a dramatic confrontation. Such is the fear expressed by Orhan Pamuk, Turkey’s leading writer and the 2006 Nobel Prize laureate. Indeed, in a scene foreshadowed in Pamuk’s novel Snow, a young Islamist entered a Turkish courtroom last May and shot a judge who had ruled against women who wished to wear Islamic veils in public places. Thousands of secularists took to the capital’s streets to protest the assassination, and the army, which had hitherto refrained from interfering with the Erdogan government, also made known its unhappiness.
Erdogan seems aware of such dangers and determined not to give in to provocations. Last year, he approved the appointment of General Yasar Büyükanit, a staunch secularist and the most pro-American and pro-Israeli officer in the Turkish armed forces, as military chief of staff. More recently, he has implied that he may not run for the presidency after all, and would rather concentrate on his current job as prime minister. Both moves have been calculated to defuse Kemalist anxieties over the prospect of a monolithic Islamist regime.
As for Turkish-American relations, there is no getting around the fact that the romance is indeed over. Special relationships do endure between nations, but once there is a feeling of betrayal or a breach of trust, they must be reconsidered and downgraded to less fervent connections. This is what has happened between America and France since de Gaulle, and the same estrangement is now occurring between Turkey and the United States.
Regrets can be found on both sides. Whatever the reasons for the crisis with the previous American ambassador, the new one, Ross Wilson, has been treated in a friendly, respectful manner. As for American policymakers, they may have been naïve to expect Turkey to serve in the war on terror as an unquestioning ally against other Muslim countries, especially in light of the Iraq war’s exacerbating effect on Turkey’s problems with the Kurds. All the same, Turkey remains a very important partner in a crucial region, and there is much to be learned of a useful nature both from the recent crisis and from Turkish history.
What Erdogan and the AKP stand for is not some passing phenomenon in Turkish politics. Whatever the achievements of Atatürk and the secular republic, they belong to a different period in the country’s development. Demographics and the inner workings of Turkish society have brought Islam back. What remains to be seen is the extent of this revival. In particular, the real faultline within Turkish politics may no longer lie between Kemalists and Islamic traditionalists but rather between contending varieties of an authentically Turkish conservatism, with the status or (as the Turks say) vision of Islam as the key point of division.
Is the AKP regime a danger to the West? Certainly there are disturbing elements to be found within it, as in every contemporary Islamist party. But there is also the possibility, if no more than the possibility, that Erdogan, the AKP, and their allies in Turkish civil society represent a check on radical Islamism. Nor, in considering the balance of internal forces, should one underestimate the contrary danger of Turkish fascism. If Turkey should indeed leave the Western fold, it might well be the work not of Islamists but of a hypernationalist, secular-minded military determined to align the country with the post-Communist regime of Russia or China. It is worth noting that in January, after the assassination of a Turkish-Armenian editor by a nationalist fanatic, the AKP took a more conciliatory stand toward the country’s aggrieved Armenian populace, and toward Armenia itself, than the Kemalists would ever contemplate.
For Turkey itself and for Turkey’s Western friends, the best outcome is evident: a fusing of the most dynamic elements in Turkey’s modern heritage—Rumelian openness with Anatolian traditionalism, cosmopolitan modernism with the mores of Turkey’s indigenous brand of Islam. The question to be decided is whether the country’s current leadership is equipped for this difficult but essential task.
March 09, 2007
Posted online: Friday, March 09, 2007 at 0000 hrs
Anti-conversion law: Himachal Pradesh Act a 'breach of faith' by the secular Congress, say minority groups
New Delhi, March 8: When the Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed the anti-conversion Freedom of Religion Act 2006 last December, the Congress party could not have imagined the adverse reactions it would bring from minority groups, especially Christians, even from outside the state.
They say the law, the first ever to have been passed by a Congress government, goes against the party's commitment to allow Indians freedom to "practise, profess and propagate" their faith. Usually seen at the forefront for defending the party, the groups now say the law amounts to a breach of faith.
Several Christian clerics, heads of Christian organisations and even the Vice-Chairman of a State Minorities Commission have written to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in the past few weeks in this regard. (COMMENT: The 'HARVESTERS' are wrong in stating 'THE FIRST EVER TO HAVE BEEN PASSED BY A CONGRESS GOVT.' It was MADHYA PRADESH to have FIRST passed the anti-conversion' law following the findings of the Justice Neogi Commission Report in the 1950S!!Madhya Pradesh then was under CONGRESS RULE!!Then followed Orissa,also under CONGRESS RULE!!)
In a letter dated January 12, Abraham Mathai, Maharashtra Minorities Commission vice-chairman, wrote: "It may be recalled that even in your capacity as the chairperson of the UPA government and president of the Congress party, you had condemned these Bills publicly and also written to the All-India Christian Council about the same in a letter dated 27th July 2006. It was encouraging to know that the Congress party in all these five states under your able leadership had vehemently opposed these Bills and even demonstrated against them."
Mathai goes on to express his disappointment saying: "Such a Bill that undermines the very spirit of democracy especially in a Congress-ruled state is an embarrassment to the party, which is seen as the only hope and champion of secularism in this nation. Besides negotiating and contradicting the integrity and the stand of the Congress on this issue, such a trend when allowed to continue will even weaken our resolve in fighting against communal forces and their repressive policies."
In a separate letter to Sonia, the president of the National United Christian Forum, Archbishop Vincent M Concessao, writes that this is "the last thing that the citizens, particularly the minorities, expected from the Congress."
All those writing to Sonia have cited the other four states (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan), which had passed similar anti-conversion laws and the Congress party's opposition to those laws.
In a strongly-worded paragraph in his letter to Sonia, secretary of All-India Christian Council Sam Paul has requested the Congress president to "constitute an inquiry against the Himachal Pradesh chief minister for anti-party activities and set the record straight by repealing this anti-human rights law of the Anti-Conversion Bill."
The law passed by the Himachal Pradesh Assembly, and given his assent by the Governor on February 10, prevents conversion by coercion or allurement — by "inducement direct or indirect", something already defined as illegal by the law of the land. Christian clerics say the law makes Christian groups vulnerable by presuming that they engage in "forcible" conversions and hampering other work they may attempt to do.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, on his part, has said he "has not banned conversions, but only laid down a procedure for it, and prevented fraudulent conversions" .
The Bill was brought in after the CM assured the House that it would be enacted after a BJP MLA wanted to bring in a Private Member's Bill on the subject in the last Budget session. When finally presented in the House, it was supported by the Opposition BJP and amendments brought in by them were also passed.
There are about 10,000 Christians in Himachal out of a total population of 64 lakh.
The pastor reveals the truth
Reconversion to Hinduism
By Ajai Srivastava from Shimla
(Tulku Ram said, "I spent nearly ten years in Christianity and eight years as pastor, but my conscious never allowed me for that fake healing, although I converted around fifty people. I very well knew that nobody could be cured by that way and the Pope John Paul, who was suffering from Parkinson, was a great example before me.")
Nobody could imagine that he was the pastor who himself converted dozens of poor and hapless men, women and children in to Christianity in the calm and picturesque hills of Himachal Pradesh. Quite young and dynamic, wearing yellow Ramnami muffler around his neck, the tilak on his forehead and singing spiritual songs with a large number of people in the Sanatan Dharam Mandir at Shimla, Tulku Ram had a entirely new look. He was one of the hundred and fifty persons, who after experiencing the reality of the faith of Jesus Christ for several years, had got opportunity to come back to the faith of their forefathers. Braving heavy snowfall at that time all around, people gathered there for the cause. They had nothing but to tell the story of deception with him or her by those who once became their savior in white cloak.
Talking to Organiser, Tulku Ram became very emotional. He said, "I was literally cheated. In 1997 when I was doing graduation, they (missionaries) contacted me and assured for a good job provided I get converted. But after conversion, they sent me to Agape Bible College, Ludhiana for one year training and then to G.F.A. College, Kumbnad (Kerala) for further one year training. I had little options with me at that time due to my fragile economic condition. Having appointed as pastor, I started converting poor people, mostly ailing by giving them assurance that they will be cured by bringing faith in Jesus and prayers." He also raveled that his outfit 'Masihi Sangati' belonging to the protestants had converted more than one thousand persons in Himachal Pradesh.
Tulku Ram said, "I spent nearly ten years in Christianity and eight years as pastor, but my conscious never allowed me for that fake healing, although I converted around fifty people. I very well knew that nobody could be cured by that way and the Pope John Paul, who was suffering from Parkinson, was a great example before me. Now I was fed up with all these frauds and was ready to return in the fold of the faith to which my forefathers belong when Mr. Tarsem Bharti, President of All India Scheduled caste and Scheduled Tribes Mahasangh, H.P. contacted me."
Replying a pointed question, he said, "This was no religion but business. They used hapless people like me as tool to collect gathering and would take snaps of them. By sending those photographs to their mentors abroad, they would fetch a lot of money to spend for the welfare of neo-converts. But fact is that they never spend that money for that purpose."
The tale of two brothers, Kishor (46) and Ashok (49) and two young sisters Sanam and Safar Samta are not much different from the story of former pastor. They were allured to convert by fake healers. In 1988 Kishore and Ashok got converted along with all members of the family by one Sister Sony who assured them that their younger sister Indu, who was suffering from an ulcer in her stomach, will be cured by prayers. Now nineteen long years have passed, the patient is still suffering. The very same thing occurred with the family of Sanam and Safar. Their grandmother was seriously ill and the fake healers in white cloak taking advantage of that got the whole family converted. The condition of that old lady did not improve by prayers in the Church. One Deepak was lured for free education to her daughter and one Chandan Pal was assured for a job. But the promised were not kept. Now they all, after coming to their original home, are feeling good.
The programme, first of its kind in the history of this hilly state, was organised under the aegis of All India SC and ST Mahasangh, H.P. and its president Shri Tarsem Bharti played a key role in bringing them all to their original home. It was a very touching moment when Mahant Surya Nathji and Swami Lalji Maharaja along with Sri Niwas Murti, the Prant Pracharak of RSS and others washed the feet of all one hundred fifty persons with their hands. After havan and shuddhi, all were presented with pictures of Gods and Goddesses apart from religious books and Ganga Jal. Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Sanatan Dharam Sabha, Sri Guru Singh Sabha and other nationalist organisations supported the cause.
(The correspondent can be contacted at ajaisri02@yahoo. co.in)
Is India slowly losing the United Nations with a diminishing presence and a weaker voice at policy-making levels? There was a time when Indians headed UN agencies, shaped policy and exercised greater influence, but today the story is different. India recently lost two major attempts at securing a higher profile but there is much more to the UN than the post of the secretary general and a permanent seat. An organization is not merely a head but body and limbs, fingers and toes as well.
Mourning period over, New Delhi must develop a strategy for an effective multilateral presence that embraces a wider arena spread across all cities where UN agencies are located, not just the shining skyscrapers of Manhattan. A fresh look at the United Nations system might help if India wants to grow political muscle to match its obvious economic strength. You can’t become a great power merely on the basis of large foreign exchange reserves. Both experienced and younger candidates need to get into the system for India to be heard. And India has much to offer to specialized UN agencies dealing with agriculture, food and health.
The United Nations may be much reviled and abused by powerful countries, but it remains the only playing field for the rest. It is the forum often of the first and always the last resort where the less powerful can debate the giants. Sometimes even fight and stymie them. The UN is still a noble idea even though it has been used for ignoble means. But over the years, India has been losing senior positions within the system and with the departure of Shashi Tharoor as UN under secretary-general for communications and public information and the retirement of Phrang Roy, assistant president of UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development, there are hardly any Indians at the second level. True, there is the newly appointed Vijay Nambiar, chef de cabinet of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon but his role will be more that of a confidant than a policy maker. Ban and Nambiar have been friends for more than three decades since the time when they were both in Delhi as diplomats. The other senior Indian is Atul Khare, who was appointed UN’s special representative to Timor-Leste last December, making him the only person with an independent charge.
Go back to the 1970s and the picture was quite different when senior Indian experts headed at least three independent UN entities and India was well represented. C.P. Srivastava was the director-general of the International Maritime Organisation for four terms from 1971 to 1989. He was awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth for his service to the world of shipping. Then there was S.S. Gill, director-general of UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation while Arcot Ramachandran was executive director of the UN Centre on Human Settlements from 1978 to 1991 where he is remembered for launching several new initiatives on shelter for all and sustainable cities. He is now chairman of Tata Energy and Resource Institute.
Fast forward to 2007 and there are no senior Indians at UNHCR or UNICEF. There is one assistant director general at UNESCO. In Rome, where three major UN organizations are based – Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – there are no Indians in the first or second tier. There "Indian quota" at mid- and lower- levels may appear full at UN agencies across the board but many of them have graduated to professional services by taking an internal exam. They are not a pool from which senior positions can be filled. Those are awarded after governments stake a position.
In the game of political give and take, lobbying behind the scenes and cutting deals, India is lackadaisical.
Even when positions are offered on a platter, New Delhi can’t get its act together to search and offer a candidate. Or it shies away from grabbing power because of outdated calculations. A western ambassador in Rome told me India was asked to propose a candidate for the director general ship of FAO in 2005 because of discontent against Jacques Diouf, the incumbent whose style of functioning was seen as questionable. Diouf had already served two six-year terms and many countries felt a change was needed. Support was promised but India stayed silent and Diouf went on to win a third six-year term. As one senior Indian in the UN system said, "Now our relations with the United States are such that we can talk about these things candidly."
Indian diplomats on the UN beat say that Delhi is disinterested in UN agencies other than the headquarters in New York. One former official told me how despite careful reporting of prospects and positions in three Rome-based organizations, not a paper moved in Delhi, forget a systematic effort to spot a candidate. Another Indian working in New York said that "most government officials don’t push for an Indian unless it is themselves." There are other problems as well. Many senior officials consider postings other than New York to be "punishment" and don’t want to relocate from their comfortable fiefdoms. The younger brains are more attracted to the private sector. Besides, the vacancies are usually announced in The Economist, a magazine not accessible to many in India. But as a retiring official suggested, the government of India can always re-advertise in Indian papers.
And as always, the Chinese are ahead of the curve. They have been getting more and more qualified people into the system. China won the director generalship of the World Health Organisation last year with the appointment of Dr. Margaret Chan and recently Ban Ki-Moon chose Sha Zukang, China’s permanent representative to UN in Geneva, as the UN under secretary general for economic and social affairs, a key position. It is apparent China flexed some muscle in securing Sha’s appointment, placing a key man in New York to watch the other permanent members while tending the "developing world" constituency. It is a double whammy for India because Sha was one of the fiercest and most acerbic critics of Indian nuclear tests in 1998. He beat down American doors to punish and isolate India, arguing vehemently for maximum outrage.
India is also nowhere to be seen in the lucrative consultancy corridors of the UN. Western consultants scandalously dominate the business, grabbing short-term positions to advise poor, needy African countries at hundreds of dollars a day on management, agricultural, computer. It is a cartel that needs to be broken and some real altruism brought in. India can send eminent people like Narayanmurthy to advise UN agencies. They will do a better job at a fraction of the cost. A panel of experts, who have retired from their jobs, could be created and offered as advisers to specialized UN agencies. As a bonus, UN members would get some real developing country-solutions for their development needs.
And finally, India could offer to increase its contributions to agencies where clout is directly proportional to the amount of money you put in. What good are huge foreign reserves if they don’t buy you something?
March 08, 2007
In a manner eeriely reminiscent of GoI officials in the 2002 period, Americans are telling Musharraf that they want Dadullah or Zawahiri to be arrested. You may recall that for the longest amount of time the Indian government wanted to see key Jihadi group leaders like Masood Azhar extradited, it appears that the Americans are now handing the Pakistanis some similar sort of list of wanted criminals and rogues.
I am getting tired of this nonsense from the mouthpieces and the talking heads.
There appears to be a concerted effort underway to solicit India's participation in American defence R&D projects. As some of you may be aware, a number of Indian expats work in this sector already and what is apparently being suggested is an expansion of such interactions.
Prima facie this may seem like a good idea, but you have to take into account the fact that places like DRDO are already losing manpower to the higher paying civilian software sector and any direct research arrangement of this kind will amount to the Americans effectively strip mining our intellectual property.
Please understand, in this kind of an arrangement, the employees will be Indian and they will have no IPR over their work. They will work under non-disclosures and for a fraction of the cost of American labour. This may seem profitable from the perspective of investors in US defense R&D for the reasons described below.
Firstly US defense R&D is without doubt the most advanced in the world. It is also frighteningly expensive both in terms of manpower and money. It is impossible for even a casual observer in the US to miss the fact that though the US has the highest number of science and technology graduates in world, numbering in the millions, it still imports a sizable number of high tech labourers from other countries each year. It is not like the US high tech labourers are unemployed either, the American unemployment numbers are actually quite low. So where does this manpower go? it can only go to one place - the US defense industrial sector. There is considerable expense involved in hiring people for these jobs in the US and salaries in this sector tend to be higher than the civilian sector. There is a natural imperative to keep the costs down.
Secondly, the US defense R&D sector is currently enmeshed in two main areas of activity; they are maintaining an absurdly obese nuclear arsenal and they are trying to develop disruptive technologies which will enable their side to prevail in various battle environemnts. The large nuclear arsenal will have to be restructured lest it sink the economy, and disruptive technologies are being viewed as the key American national survival, especially in a time when the US may need to fling its forces far across the globe to dominate key trade routes and natural resources, every American is aware of the costs of having troops in Iraq, and people are pushing hard for developing disruptive technologies.
Thirdly I am of the opinion that American policymakers are seeking ways of moving away from a carbon fuels dependence over the next decade. This transition will require the entire might of the American government and the full attention of their R&D sector. This kind of R&D activity will place considerable demands on money and manpower, drawing both away from the defense sector. This enhances the desire to keep costs down in the US defense R&D sector.
An outsourcing of R&D activity in certain sectors to a friendly country like India might help cut costs and free up American R&D manpower.
Again on the face of it, this may seem fine, and it is so long as there is something in it for India.
As the defense technology through such outsourcing will obviously not be shared. We need to have something else in return.
A few people might express a childish enthusiasm for bigger toy guns on spaceships and shiny new American airplanes but...
I do not have the authority to negotiate or comment in any level of detail on what India as a whole might want. That is solely the prerogative of the GoI... but incidentally, I seem to recall that Ambassador Saran had clearly said some things about the supply of nuclear fuels for Indian reactors and the reprocessing rights for imported fuel.
by B. Raman
I have been repeatedly cautioning in my writings and speeches that the Pakistani authorities would misuse this mechanism to discredit the Baloch freedom struggle by projecting it as an Indian-sponsored terrorist movement just as they sought to have the Sindhi freedom struggle discredited during the dialogue of the late 1980s and early 1990s. That seems to be exactly what they did at the just concluded first meeting of the new mechanism. They tried to keep the focus of their presentations, publicity and propaganda concentrated on their so-called dossier on Balochistan after having derisively dismissed Indian requests relating to the terrorist strikes in Mumbai's suburban trains in July last year in which 184 Indian nationals were killed and in the Samjauta Express near Panipet last month in which 22 Pakistani nationals and 27 Indian nationals were killed.
I have written many articles on the so-called India-Pakistan Joint Counter-Terrorism Mechanism. In the article written on October 23, 2006, (), I had, inter alia, stated as follows:
"Does the Havana Agreement indicate a change in the policies hitherto followed by Pakistan? From a study of the statements and comments of Pakistani officials on the significance of the Havana statement, the following points are clear:
There has been no change in Pakistan's policy of not co-operating with India in respect of terrorism in J&K. It continues to insist that what has been going on in J&K is a freedom struggle and that participants in the freedom struggle cannot be projected as terrorists.
There has been no change in Pakistan's policy of denying the involvement of Pakistani nationals in acts of terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K.
There has been no change either in denying the presence in Pakistani territory of the Indian Muslims and non-Muslims involved in terrorist acts of the past for whom red corner notices have periodically been issued by the INTERPOL.
However, Pakistan has an open mind in respect of the Mumbai blasts of July 11, 2006, and future acts of terrorism and might help in the Indian investigation if the evidence produced by India is satisfactory.
Even this would depend on India's reciprocity in instances in which Pakistan seeks Indian assistance. There have been hints that Pakistan would expect this reciprocity in respect of its investigation of the acts of violence by the Baloch nationalist elements."
2. In the article written on November 16, 2006, ( ), I had, inter alia, stated as follows:
"Rushing into important decisions affecting national security without a careful examination of their implications and subsequently tying itself in knots while seeking to provide ex post facto justification for the decisions, when they prove controversial, have been among the defining characteristics of the present Government in New Delhi.
"One saw an example of it in respect of the Indo-US nuclear deal of July, 2005. We are presently seeing another example of it in respect of the setting-up of a joint count-terrorism mechanism with Pakistan "to consider counter-terrorism measures, including through regular and timely sharing of information.
"At a time when, as a result of the public diplomacy systematically mounted by us, the international community has started agreeing with us that what is happening in J&K is also terrorism by Pakistani organisations, we have failed to specify in the statement that the joint mechanism would cover all acts of terrorism wherever they take place. Pakistan would now contend that the mechanism is meant to deal with only terrorism and not what it projects as the freedom-struggle in J&K."
3. The first meeting of this mechanism was held at Islamabad on March 6 and 7,2007. Each delegation was headed by an officer of the rank of Additional Secretary from their respective Foreign Offices and included two intelligence officers of the rank of Joint Secretary representing the internal and external intelligence agencies of the two countries. Before discussing the outcome of this meeting, certain observations relating to the past would be in order. This is the third attempt by the two countries for a dialogue on counter-terrorism. The previous two attempts were made when Rajiv Gandhi and Shri Chandrasekhar were Prime Ministers between 1988 and 1991.
4. Rajiv Gandhi adopted a two-track approach. The first track consisted of secret meetings between the heads of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), India's external intelligence agency, and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Three meetings were held---two under Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 and the third under Chandrasekhar in 1991. The second track consisted of periodic open meetings between intelligence---internal and external--- officers of the two countries, with the Home Secretaries leading the respective delegations. Two meetings were held under Rajiv Gandhi. In the second and last meeting held in 1989, the Indian delegation was led by Shri Naresh Chandra, the then Home Secretary.
5. When Rajiv Gandhi initiated this exercise, the only complaint of India against Pakistan related to its sponsorship of Khalistani terrorism in Punjab. Widespread terrorism had not yet broken out in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Dawood Ibrahim and his mafia gang were operating from Dubai and had no base in Pakistani territory. Pakistan had given shelter in its territory to hijackers of the Dal Khalsa, who had hijacked Indian planes to Lahore between 1981 and 1984, Lal Singh alias Manjit Singh of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), Canada, who, according to the US' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was involved in a plot to kill Rajiv Gandhi in the US in June,1985, and Talwinder Singh Parmar of the Babbar Khalsa, Canada, who was involved in the blowing-up of an Air India aircraft (Kanishka) off the Irish coast in June,1985, in which nearly 300 innocent civilians perished. It had set up training camps in its territory for the Khalistani terrorists. It had diverted to the Khalistanis some of the arms and ammunition and explosives given by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for issue to the Afghan Mujahideen.
6. The meetings held under Rajiv Gandhi and Chandrasekhar were, therefore, confined to asking Pakistan to extend mutual legal assistance as required under the INTERPOL by handing over the hijackers, Lal Singh and Parmar for trial and prosecution in India and to stop training and arming Khalistani terrorists in Pakistani territory. Pakistan admitted the presence of the hijackers in its territory. It could not have denied it because the whole world had watched the arrival of the hijacked aircraft in Lahore and the pictures of the hijackers on the TV secreen. However, it refused to hand them over to India. It contended that under the International Civil Aviation Conventions relating to hijacking, it was its responsibility to prosecute and try the hijackers. It claimed that it was doing so. It did hold a sham trial in which they were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment, but instead of sending them to jail, it allowed them to live in the Nankana Sahib gurudwara in Lahore. Pakistan totally denied the presence of Lal Singh and Parmar in its territory or of training camps for the Khalistani terrorists. The only outcome of this exercise was that the ISI pushed back into India four Sikh deserters of the Indian Army, who had crossed over into Pakistan and sought asylum.
7. After peremptorily dismissing the Indian complaints and requests, the Pakistani authorities presented to the Indian officials what they described as a detailed dossier on alleged Indian sponsorship of terrorism in Sindh. The Pakistani authorities manipulated the discussions in such a manner that most of the time was taken away by their dossier. At that time, the movement for an independent Sindhu Desh led by the late G. M. Syed was in full swing all over Sindh. The Pakistan Army was having difficulty in controlling it. The ISI gave a copy of this dossier to Hussain Haqqani, then a journalist close to the Pakistani intelligence and now an academic living in the US, and asked him to go to India and persuade the "India Today", a respected weekly, to publish it. Haqqani came to India, contacted a journalist of "India Today" and requested him to have it published. He also promised more details. The journalist contacted the R&AW and asked for its comments. It pointed out to him that the whole dossier had been fabricated by the ISI in order to divert attention from India's complaints relating to Khalistani terrorism. It was not published by the journal.
8. Hussain Haqqani also contacted a number of old Indian friends of Benazir Bhutto, who had studied with her in the UK and the US, and allegedly made enquiries about her personal life and her contacts in India. Her Pakistan People's Party came to know of his alleged enquiries through its sources in the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi. Its Executive Committee met in Islamabad and strongly condemned his activities. The Government of India realised that instead of co-operating with India in counter-terrorism, Pakistan was misusing the mechanism to discredit the freedom struggle of the Sindhis as terrorism sponsored by India and also to discredit Pakistani political leaders, who were critical of its army, by projecting them as Indian agents. The entire exercise for a counter-terrorism dialogue was called off.
9. Almost 14 years later, we have repeated the mistake exactly in the same way as we did in the late 1980s and early 1990s.In December, 2005, the Baloch nationalists launched their third freedom struggle. Their first struggle was launched immediately after the partition of India in 1947. The second after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. Both those struggles were ruthlessly suppressed by the Pakistan Army and the ISI. The third freedom struggle has been picking up momentum despite similar suppression and air strikes. The Pakistan Army and Air Force brutally killed Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the Baloch nationalist leader, and some of his followers through an airstrike in the Bugti area of Balochistan in August, 2006. This led to widespread anti-Punjabi and anti-Army agitation all over Balochistan by the Balochs. Since then, the Pakistan Army and its ISI have mounted an exercise to discredit the freedom struggle and the Baloch nationalist leaders by projecting it as a terrorist movement sponsored by India and the nationalist leaders as Indian agents.
10. After Dr. Manmohan Singh, our Prime Minister, agreed with Gen.Pervez Musharraf during their meeting at Havana in September last year, to set up this joint counter-terrorism mechanism, I have been repeatedly cautioning in my writings and speeches that the Pakistani authorities would misuse this mechanism to discredit the Baloch freedom struggle by projecting it as an Indian-sponsored terrorist movement just as they sought to have the Sindhi freedom struggle discredited during the dialogue of the late 1980s and early 1990s. That seems to be exactly what they did at the just concluded first meeting of the new mechanism. They tried to keep the focus of their presentations, publicity and propaganda concentrated on their so-called dossier on Balochistan after having derisively dismissed Indian requests relating to the terrorist strikes in Mumbai's suburban trains in July last year in which 184 Indian nationals were killed and in the Samjauta Express near Panipet last month in which 22 Pakistani nationals and 27 Indian nationals were killed.
11. They tried to divert attention from the Mumbai terrorist strikes of July, 2006, which was the third major mass casualty terrorism suffered by Indians since Pakistan started sponsoring Indian terrorist groups. The first was the blowing up of the Kanishka aircraft in June,1985 and the second the Mumbai explosions of March,1993. What they did was to have a terrorist strike by jihadi terrorists carried out in the Samjauta Express before the meeting of this mechanism and then exploit it as an example of Indian inaction against terrorism endangering Pakistani lives.
12. There was another worrisome aspect of the meeting of the mechanism and the events preceding it. Those closely monitoring comments in Pakistan would have noticed a wave of orchestrated insinuations that the alleged Indian inaction was due to the fact that so-called Hindu extremists were involved in the attack in the Samjauta Express. This mischievous campaign has two purposes--- to create a divide between the Muslims and the Hindus in India and tro prepare the ground for a Pakistani stand that Musharraf's implementation of his commitment of January, 2004, not to allow any terrorism against India from any territory controlled by Pakistan, would depend upon a similar Indian commitment not to allow its territory to be used by the so-called Hindu extremists against Pakistan and its nationals.
13. One continues to feel disturbed by the kind of spins being disseminated by the Government and Delhi-based analysts projecting the first meeting of the mechanism in a positive light while willfully suppressing the worrisome aspects of it.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com)
March 07, 2007
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Romanov) - If we call a spade a spade, all the efforts to settle the Iranian problem over many months have been reminiscent of a counterproductive confrontation between irrational individualism and just-as-irrational collectivism.
On the one hand, two individuals - Iran and the United States - were doing all they could to rule out any solutions but a military one. On the other hand, the "collective wisdom" of the mediators in the conflict was locked in the maze of its own contradictions, and did not even remotely call to mind a think tank resolving a serious problem.
By and large, the alternating threats and evasive peace-loving protocol statements of Tehran and Washington may be ignored altogether. This was a clash of two mutually excluding egoistic interests, and the much-discussed nuclear predicament was not even the main issue.
The truth is that Tehran wants international recognition of its status as a regional power playing first fiddle in the Greater Middle East. Nuclear weapons are merely the general's insignia on the new uniform and additional trump cards in any political game. Tehran's ambitions are not unfounded - Iran feels that it is ready to play a new role, and renunciation of the current course would mean a serious setback. This is why it is so adamant in pursuing its interests.
In turn, although the United States is unhappy about the prospect of Iranian nuclear weapons, they are far from being the main issue. After all, Washington does not mind a nuclear Pakistan. The main point is that Iran's desire to become a regional power runs counter to American interests in the Middle East. As a superpower, America does not want to share any of its influence with Iran.
Finally, the United States is bound to consider the fact that Iran's turning into a regional power has not been accompanied by fundamental domestic changes. Nobody has abolished the regime of ayatollahs in Iran. In this context, the U.S. views Iran as a potential enemy and does not want to let it build up its strength. The Americans want to resolve the inevitable problem as soon and with as few losses as possible because any delay would make this task much more difficult.
In a way, Tehran and Washington look like two mad drivers in a game of chicken. A collision is inevitable if one of them does not make a turn. But he who makes it will lose in the end. Needless to say, both will lose if they crash.
A war would prevent Iran from dominating the region for a long time and make nuclear weapons development totally unrealistic. For the United States its consequences would not be so tragic but would still be painful, especially considering the current unsolvable problems in Iraq.
It is clear why this war has not started already. The bitter reaction of the world community to the Iraq war has taught the U.S. to feign that it has been doing all it can to resolve the problem peacefully through the UN and mediators. But the deadline of this demonstration of respect for international law is about to expire.
Tehran is involved in a charade as well. It has been changing its position three times per day, but it will not be able to maneuver endlessly. Some analysts think that Tehran wants to stall for time until the presidential elections in the United States. I don't believe so. The Iranians are bound to attribute Washington's current pacifist slogans to pre-election rhetoric. There will be some post-election changes in foreign policy but regardless of party affiliation, the U.S. elite has a uniform understanding of American interests in the Middle East. Iran will face problems regardless of who replaces Bush. Besides, he is not going to retire tomorrow.
I do not want to claim simply that war is bad and peace is good. But I'd like to say that talk about peace does not guarantee it. Irrational attitudes are current not only among individualists. A group of mediators has to find a common language themselves before persuading a potential fighter to be quiet. They don't always succeed. The group of six countries negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program have managed to formulate only one sensible proposal, when Russia offered Tehran to enrich uranium for it under IAEA supervision. But Iran turned down even this rational suggestion.
The very attempt to reconcile the United States and Iran over a secondary nuclear issue is irrational. This is primarily a clash between an emergent regional power and an old superpower. Likewise, it is absurd that being a participant in the conflict, the U.S. is also an interested party and a go-between all in one. It is no surprise that the group of six cannot come to terms with itself.
Understandably, a potential U.S.-Iranian confrontation will not benefit the Middle East, the UN, or ordinary people. But has this realization ever averted a war?
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
Posted at Wednesday, 07 March 2007 20:03 IST
Chandigarh, March 7: The Indian Air Force today gave an awesome display of its power before the President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who visualised that it would become a "model airforce" for the rest of the world by 2025.
"By the year 2025, the IAF will be a model air force for the rest of the world to emulate, endowed with the very best of technology in the world, alert and agile strategic planning capability and, above all, the most professional and dedicated air warriors," he said during his address at the Presidential review of the IAF fleet here.
The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces visualised the IAF of 2025 to be based on scientific and technological competence in development of communication satellites, high precision resource mapping satellites, missile systems, unmanned supersonic aerial vehicles and electronics and communication systems.
"This capability will enable the air force to succeed in electronically-controlled warfare in the midst of space encounters, deep sea encounters and ballistic missiles encounters," he said.
Kalam saw the winner of future wars as those who "can visualise the strength of the enemy" based on the current scientific and technological capabilities and develop suitable strategies to meet any eventuality.
He said the Central government was committed to continuously modernising equipment and adding force multipliers to enhance the operational performance and improving flight safety of the IAF.
Was Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MP Sunil Mahto killed by Maoist guerrillas, who have denied their role in the incident? Or was he the victim of a plot hatched by the mafia? As investigators try and solve the sensational murder, the view here seems to be that it could be both. The theory doing the rounds in the state is that the killing of Mahto might be an outcome of his feud with the mafia groups.
Informed sources said contractors were unhappy with Mahto, seen as a successor to the ruling party's chief Shibu Soren, who is undergoing life sentence for murder, as most contracts were going to his close associates.
'We cannot rule out the possibility of the mafia engaging some lower rank Maoist activists to kill Mahto. Lower rank Maoist activists sometime carry out killings without informing their higher authorities,' said an intelligence department official.
'Maoists find it difficult to extort levy from an MP and his men; lower rank Maoists could have joined hands with the mafia to kill the MP. The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) will inquire into every aspect of it,' said the official.
The central government has so far termed it a handiwork of the Maoists but the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has denied its involvement in the killing. Mahto was killed along with four others in Jamshedpur Sunday evening while watching a football match.
'We have no role in the killing of the JMM MP. We condemn such incidents,' said Jeetan Marandi, a senior activist of the CPI-Maoist.
The CPI-Maoist had also denied its hand in the killing of Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) legislator Mahendra Singh in early 2005. But the police believe that junior Maoists killed him.
The probe into Mahendra Singh's murder was also handed over to the CBI but no breakthrough has been achieved by the agency so far.
Mahendra Singh was killed in the jungles of Giridih district Jan 16, 2005.
The manner in which both the killings were carried out are identical -- Singh was addressing a small gathering when he was killed from close range by motorcycle borne assailants and Mahto had seven bullets pumped into him while watching a soccer match.
Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaisawal also said that the killing could an outcome of a conspiracy. And Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda has not ruled out the possibility of a revenge killing either.'We are investigating the conspiracy angle,' said J.B Mahapatra, the director general of police
By Easwaran Nambudiri
What is more, while the External Affairs Ministry was seeking confirmation of Quattrocchi’s arrest, it was playing host to the fugitive’s son Massimo as part of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s high-powered business delegation to India.
The spectre of Bofors has once again come to haunt the ruling Congress, exactly a year after the UPA government led by the party unashamedly and surreptitiously allowed the de-freezing of fugitive Italian businessman Ottavio Quattro-cchi’s London accounts.
It was on February 6 that the Bofors pay-off case accused was detained at an airport in Argentina following a red corner alert issued by Interpol. Two days later, the International Police Organisation officially informed its Indian counterpart CBI about the detention but India’s premier investigating agency, which goes to town and shouts from the rooftops even if it gets a bank clerk convicted for taking a Rs 50 bribe, sought to keep the information under the wraps.
In a brazen act of suppression of information, the CBI did not utter a word about the detention before the Supreme Court when the latter on February 13, 2007 sought its response to a petition for retrieving the money withdrawn by the Italian fugitive from the two ‘defreezed’ accounts in London.
Bofors: Yet another cover-up by Congress
When the Swiss authorities formally communicated to the Government of India that the kick-backs in the Bofors case were deposited in Mr. Quottorochi’s accounts, the Congress Government then headed by Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao was asked by prominent members to immediately impound Quottochi’s passport to prevent him from fleeing the country. This was not done and he was allowed to leave the country. Since then the CBI has been involved in a legal battle to extradite him from Malaysia where he found his new home. The case against him both for extradition and for receipt of kick-backs in the Bofors case are still pending. It is for the CBI and appropriate judicial authorities to take a view in the matter. Even the CBI without permission of the Court cannot close the case. Notwithstanding this legal position, for a Law Officer of the Government of India to request the authorities in Britain to de-freeze his accounts is scandalous. It is an attempt to use unconstitutional means to help a person who has caused wrongful loss to the Government of India. What is the hurry to pass on to Quattrochi the illegal receipts of the Bofor’s deal? Did this money have to be passed on by Quattrochi to some one else?
The history of the Congress Party in relation to the Bofors case is a history of cover up. Even though disclosures were made in April 1987 by a Swedish Radio broadcast, that kick-backs had been paid in the case, no FIR was registered as required by law to freeze the accounts and no action was taken to seek legal assistance from Swiss government. It was only when the Rajiv Gandhi Government was defeated in December, 1989 that the National Front government then supported by the BJP and Left Parties allowed the CBI full permission to file a FIR and make request to the appropriate authorities for legal assistance and freezing of accounts. The Congress Governments have made repeated cover up efforts some of which are indicated below:
• Non-registration of FIR when the facts of the case came to light.
• No request being made to the Swiss authorities for legal assistance and for freezing of accounts.
• In December,1990 the then Law officer of the Govt.of India headed by Shri Chandrashekhar (which was supported by Congress Party), namely, Shri KTS Tulsi, made a statement that the facts of the case did not disclose an offence and therefore should be quashed. The Court cast every doubt of the case, which was set aside by the Supreme Court.
• The High Court subsequently quashed the charge sheet in a judgment delivered by Justice GC Mittal and Justice Sat Pal which was later set aside by the Supreme Court.
• In 1992 Shri Madhavsinh Solanki, the then External Affairs Minister handed over a memorandum to the appropriate Swiss authorities requesting them not to render assistance to Indian authorities. This was exposed by a journalistic investigation and Shri Solanki had to be sacked from the Government.
• After the charge sheets were filed in 1999 and proceedings started, the Delhi High Court delivered an erroneous judgment in the year 2004 holding a case of prevention of corruption was not made out. When the UPA came back to power, it prevented the CBI from filing an appeal in the case and let the erroneous judgement stand. Pursuant to the said judgement some other accused were also discharged. Those orders were allowed to remain unchallenged by the CBI before the court. A public interest petition in this regard to continuing the case is now pending before the Supreme Court.
• Now a formal request is illegally made through a Law Officer of the Government of India to appropriate authorities to even release the illegal funds which were lying frozen in Quottrochi’s accounts. Even under the allocation of business rules the law Ministry has nothing to do with this case.
It has been the argument of the Congress Party and their President, Smt. Sonia Gandhi that there was nothing in this case and therefore no evidence was forth coming. The truth of the matter is that despite such cover up attempts, the fact that kick-backs were paid in the name of A&E Services, a company of which Shri Quottrochi was the beneficiary was a strong indictment of the Congress Party and the Gandhi family and those close to Quottrochi. The fact that Quottrochi was allowed to flee and still being helped itself is a scandal.
If Quottrochi requested the appropriate authorities to de-freeze his account the CBI would oppose it, but why should the political executive of the Government of India make such a request? Why is the government over anxious that this money be paid to Quottrochi.
Two questions arise. Firstly, is it within the knowledge of CBI that the political executive is making a request for de-freezing the accounts? Secondly, is it with the approval and authority of the Prime Minister that a Law Officer and the Ministry of Law not authorized in the matter were acting towards de-freezing of these accounts. The answer to the first question will expose the legal infirmity of the action. The answer to the second will put the Prime Minister in a dock and raise several issues of ethics and morality for him?
March 06, 2007
Chinese interests in Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Sitwe in Myanmar have serious security implications for India
Very few would have heard of Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Sitwe (Akyab) in Myanmar before 2002. These were essentially fishing harbours used by the fishermen of these countries. Sometimes, there used to be references to these places in articles on fishing rights, but rarely in articles on possible threats to India's national security. Since 2002, studies on maritime security have started making references to these places. Initially, the focus was on Gwadar. Now, it is on Ham-bantota. In the months to come, it will be on Sitwe too.
What made these sleepy fishing harbours suddenly become areas of strategic concern to India's maritime security experts? The growing Chinese interest in these places and China's offer of assistance to these countries for converting these fishing harbours into maritime ports of international standards. What explains the Chinese interest in these places?
China's economic and strategic interest in Gwadar and Sitwe is obvious. It is worried over the possibility of disruptions in the movement of oil and gas tankers to China from the Gulf and Africa through the Malacca Straits due to attacks by pirates and/or terrorists. It wants to reduce its dependence on the Malacca Straits for the movement of its oil and gas supplies. It, therefore, makes eminent sense for it to develop alternate routes. It has prepared two contingency plans for this.
Under the first plan, some of the oil and gas tankers will go to Gwadar and from there the supplies will be sent to Xinjiang by pipelines via Pakistani territory, including Kashmiri territory under the occupation of Pakistan. The second plan envisages sending some of the supplies to Yunnan by pipelines from Sitwe.
In addition to reducing the vulnerability of energy supplies, Gwadar would also serve as an outlet for the external trade of Xinjiang and the neighbouring provinces of China. Sitwe would serve as an outlet for the external trade of Yunnan and the neighbouring areas. Pakistan has also agreed to let China set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Gwadar, exclusively for the use of Chinese industries manufacturing goods for export to Africa. The manufacturing and transport costs would be less if these industries are located in Gwadar, instead of in China. There is presently no proposal for a similar SEZ in Sitwe.
The Chinese interest in Gwadar is not just economic and energy supplies related. It is much, much more.It is of immense interest to its Navy - as a port of call, as a refuelling halt and as a listening and watch tower to monitor developments in the Gulf, particularly the movements of the US Navy.
Pakistan's interest in having Gwadar developed as a major international port and a naval base dates back to 1971. The successful raids by the Indian Navy into the Karachi port during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 made the Pakistani military planners realise the folly of over-dependence on Karachi. Their plans for developing Gwadar into a naval base, which would give a strategic depth to their Navy, were drawn up in the years after the war. These plans did not have an economic component at the time they were drawn up. The economic component was integrated into the plans only after the collapse of the USSR and the emergence of its Central Asian provinces as independent states.
The economic component of the integrated plans provided for the construction of an international port, which could serve as an outlet for the external trade of the Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan and the Xinjiang region of China. The military component provided for the construction of a naval base, which would provide a strategic depth to the Pakistani Navy.
These plans could not be taken up for implementation till 2002. Pakistan did not have the funds or the technical expertise to implement them on its own. There were no takers for the plans in the Gulf countries. The Governments of Ms Benazir Bhutto and Mr Nawaz Sharif were reluctant to approach China for assistance, lest US concerns be aroused. Even at the risk of causing concern to the US, Gen Pervez Musharraf sought Chinese assistance for the implementation of the plans when Zhu Rongji, the then Chinese Prime Minister, visited Pakistan in 2001. China immediately responded positively and started the implementation.
The construction of the international commercial port at Gwadar was completed ahead of schedule by Chinese engineers in the beginning of 2006 and handed over to the Pakistani authorities. It is expected to be commissioned later this month by Musharraf. The construction of the naval base by the Chinese engineers has started and it is expected to be completed by 2010.
The initiative for the development of Sitwe as an international port would seem to have come from China and the Myanmarese Government, facing economic difficulties due to Western economic sanctions, readily agreed to it. Details of the plan for the Chinese-aided development of Sitwe are not yet available. As of now, it seems to have only an economic component and not a military component too.
The initiative for a Chinese role in the development of Hambantota would seem to have come from Sri Lanka during the tenure of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1995 when Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabo visited Sri Lanka. Its implementation, which did not make much progress since then, has now picked up momentum during the recent visit of her successor President Mahinda Rajapakse to China
WHY THE HINDU is cycling Congress lies ????
HERE ARE FACTS
1) In 1956, the first Prime Minister of India, late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru , had supplied a list of 45 countries with which India had established extradition treaties. Argentina was at number 2 alphabetically in that list.
2) The Extradition Act, 1962 further, in clause 2 (d) explicitly defined "extradition treaty" to include treaties which had been entered into before 15 August, 1947.
3) Thirdly, the United Nations document reaffirms that the extradition treaties that had been entered into by the then Government of India before 15 August, 1947 continue to hold after that date as India is the successor State.
4) Finally, as per a publication of the Ministry of Home Affairs, CBI "Countries with whom we have pre-Independence Treaties are still valid according to our law", Argentina is again listed at number 2.
Massimo Quattrocchi was camped in India for the last seven months. His company has an office in Bangalore
According to the membership records of the Italian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IPEVCA), Massimo owns a company called ci partners in Milan, which provides consultancy services to mncs to help them establish commercial presence in different countries. The records state that CI partners has in depth knowledge of international markets, especially India, and that it has an office in Bangalore.
The fact that Quattrocchi Jr chooses to do business in a country where there is a court case, a non-bailable arrest warrant and several litigations pending against his father is remarkable. It is also remarkable that he left the country just a day before news of his father’s arrest in Argentina became public knowledge.
WHAT is missing in TEHELKA'S article is to point out is : CI stands for "Club Invest" and its website http://www.clubinvest-europe.com/ listed Mr.Ottavio Quattrocchi as BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ADVISORS
Massimo Quattrocchi, 33 - CI Partners S.r.l (Advisory Company to Clubinvest)
Prior to founding Clubinvest, Massimo was working as a freelance consultant undertaking business development and investment assignments for a number of investors in the Energy, Real Estate and Tourism sectors. Until December 2001, Massimo worked on supply chain, broadband and wireless initiatives at antfactory (Madrid & Milan), a venture capital fund with over US$600 million to invest in technology ventures. Massimo spent a total of two years until antfactory was liquidated and was responsible for initiatives covering the supply chain, broadband and wireless space. Prior to antfactory, Massimo worked at AT.Kearney, Management Consultants for 3 years in Milan/London and two years as an Economist for the World Bank in Washington. Massimo has an MSc in Development and International Relations from the London School of Economics, a BSc in Economics from City University London and is fluent in Italian, English and Spanish
Why CI clubinvest which is operating in India has a fugutive Mr.Ottavio Quattrocchi as Business Development Advisor ? Did
Did Massimo Quattrocchi stayed with Rahul Gandhi on December 3rd , 2006 in Amethi Guesthouse?
He said that as soon as the person was detained by the Interpol in response to a red corner the picture of the detainee along with the entire description, including the colour of eyes, was flashed, accompanied by a short telex to the initiating agency.
http://www.clubinvest-europe.com/. ''Why has the CBI been searching in vain all over the world when the son, in partnership with the father, regularly does business in India and was here for most of this month?'' he asked.
Mr Fernandes said Quattrocchi's son Massimo also had business links with EATI, set up by his father, which operates in India. The website of the company is
The former Defence Minister said UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi must clarify whether she or her family had any contacts with the Quattrocchi Jr during his stay in India.
BELOW IS TRANSLATED VERSION OF ITALIAN INTERVIEW OF Massimo Quattrocchi , who spoke about INDIA
One culture only to the far, amazing appearance for predisposition to the finance and the able globalization and of one rapidity of chosen we disowned. And then, as they must be moved the Pmi Italian, that they mean launch itself in the Indiana adventure?
The 24Ore.com Sun of it has spoken with Massimo Quattrocchi, 35 years, managing director US Partners, society specialized in fusions and acquisitions between Europe, in particular Italy and Spain, and India. Of recent Quattrocchi it has followed the acquisitions of Italian companies from part of the Indians Endurance Techologies (aluminum) and Varroc Group (automotive). Quattrocchi, son of a leader of the Eni, is been born to Delhi, where it has lived vent'anni. Bachelor and master in Great Britain, to the London School of Economics, has been economist to the World Bank to Washington and adviser in At Kearney for three years. India is the next economic power, but the value of the interscambio with Italy is still seventh of that one with the Switzerland neighbor. How never? The problems of the interscambio have had partially to the fact that our companies stretch to being small. From the other Countries are movements essentially heavy caliber, task to United States, Japan and Germany. France and England more specifically on the defense. Lately Korea. The Pmi of norm is more provincial, hard work to understand the context, accusation of the gap cultural. And then there is from remembering that India has been and remains a nation that imposes enough high custom offices, until 300% on the cars and sure assets of wide consumption. Theirs protectionism history is one.
In that sense can be spoken about gap cultural for the Italian companies?
An Indiana company from 100 million euro turnover, to the comparison with one Italian of equal entity, is more ready to the globalization. They are more ahead they, from this point of view. Our small and averages, that they have a beautiful product, task to blots of it tools with solid technology, they make hard work to make the jump from leader of niche to ready society to the comparison with a world in which the emphasis it is placed on the structure of the company and the Ag, with one strongly propensione to the transparency. Nevertheless also the Indiana economy is founded on the familiar dimension. It is true, the greater part of the Indian companies are familiar, also in the event of the most large groups, but extremely managerializzate and they are opened to the markets, and in fact they are a lot oriented to the acquisitions in order to strengthen the positioning in a context of greater understanding of the strategic and total context, even if must make still much road on the depositor of the product. An other problem, then, is the language. The Italians in average do not speak English well.
Which are the best opportunities to pick?
In perspective India is a great market, even if for via of the custom offices in the manifacturing one producing for the local market. Asia and Middle East sometimes can be the only choice for being competiti to you. Various it is the speech of the services, task also to research & development, as an example in medical field. Sure, the public administration to the times is complicated, but the legal structure gives certainties to the investor. In more characterized labor to low cost, qualified engineers equally to low cost, diffuse understanding of the English language and, repeat, predisposition to the globalization are found. The Information field technology of Bangalore more is integrated with the United States that with India. In what the Italians in the subcontinente can eccellere? Essentially in the mechanics of precision and in he blots of it tools, in the constructions, infrastructures, in the defended field, task to the helicopters, and instrumentation to satellitare, but also in the floor tiles, the great distribution and the food processing, where India is much devoid one: approximately 40% of the cultivated one he does not arrive not even on the markets for lack of infrastructures and technology. The chain lacks the value and this reflects the deficiency of the organized distribution. An example. One exists only marks on a national level of butter and the cheeses come import to you. How it convene to move?
In India it can be invested liberations and be stopped without problems the hundreds for hundreds of understood them of one the society, to part that in some fields like defense, mining and retail. An Italian company can therefore buy a company that operates in the same field or to constitute one joint venture in which the Indian associate door distributive and operating ability. They said that the acquisition is the first choice, jv the second best in terms of Time-to-market. From last there is always the opportunity to leave from zero, that it implies long times obviously. More in general terms, it is necessary to be more dynamic on the depositor cost-opportunity.
In India in this moment the things make a lot fastly. To lose time means to lose opportunity and moneies. The Ag has tripled the capitalization in last the three years. Instead I see that in the European and Indian negotiations between they are first to refrain. In India sometimes there is even too much precipitation and the errors will be looked at soon, but also the excessive slowness could reveal a handicap for Italian we.
Una cultura soltanto al http://www.ilsole24ore.com/ l'apparenza lontana, sorprendente per predisposizione alla finanza e alla globalizzazione e capace di una rapidità di scelta a noi sconosciuta. E allora, come si devono muovere le Pmi italiane, che intendano lanciarsi nell'avventura indiana? Il Sole 24Ore.com ne ha parlato con Massimo Quattrocchi, 35 anni, managing director di CI Partners, società specializzata in fusioni e acquisizioni tra Europa, in particolare Italia e Spagna, e India. Di recente Quattrocchi ha seguito le acquisizioni di aziende italiane da parte delle indiane Endurance Techologies (alluminio) e Varroc Group (automotive). Quattrocchi, figlio di un dirigente dell'Eni, è nato a Delhi, dove ha vissuto vent'anni. Laurea e master in Gran Bretagna, alla London School of Economics, è stato economista alla Banca mondiale a Washington e consulente in At Kearney per tre anni.
L'India è la prossima potenza economica, ma il valore dell'interscambio con l'Italia è ancora un settimo di quello con la vicina Svizzera. Come mai? I problemi dell'interscambio sono dovuti in parte al fatto che le nostre aziende tendono a essere piccole. Dagli altri Paesi si sono mossi essenzialmente i grossi calibri, penso a Stati Uniti, Giappone e Germania. Francia e Inghilterra più specificamente sulla difesa. Ultimamente la Corea. La Pmi di norma è più provinciale, fatica a capire il contesto, accusa dei gap culturali. E poi c'è da ricordare che l'India è stata e rimane una nazione che impone dazi abbastanza alti, fino al 300% sulle auto e certi beni di largo consumo. La loro è una storia di protezionismo.
In che senso si può parlare di gap culturale per le aziende italiane? Un'azienda indiana da 100 milioni di euro di fatturato, al confronto con una italiana di pari entità, è più pronta alla globalizzazione. Sono più avanti loro, da questo punto di vista. Le nostre piccole e medie, che hanno un bel prodotto, penso a macchine utensili con solida tecnologia, fanno fatica a fare il salto da leader di nicchia a società pronta al confronto con un mondo in cui l'enfasi è posta sulla struttura dell'azienda e sulla Borsa, con una forte propensione alla trasparenza.
Eppure anche l'economia indiana è fondata sulla dimensione familiare. È vero, la maggior parte delle aziende indiane sono familiari, anche nel caso dei più grossi gruppi, ma sono estremamente managerializzate e aperte ai mercati, e infatti sono molto orientate alle acquisizioni per rafforzare il posizionamento in un contesto di maggiore comprensione del contesto strategico e globale, anche se devono fare ancora molta strada sul versante del prodotto. Un altro problema, poi, è la lingua. Gli italiani in media non parlano bene l'inglese.
Quali sono le migliori opportunità da cogliere? In prospettiva l'India è un grande mercato, anche se per via dei dazi nel manifatturiero produrre per il mercato locale. Asia e Medio Oriente a volte possono essere l'unica scelta per essere competitivi. Diverso è il discorso dei servizi, penso anche a ricerca e sviluppo, ad esempio in campo medico. Certo, l'amministrazione pubblica alle volte è complicata, ma la struttura legale dà certezze all'investitore. In più si trovano manodopera qualificata a basso costo, ingegneri qualificati ugualmente a basso costo, comprensione diffusa della lingua inglese e, ripeto, predisposizione alla globalizzazione. Il settore Information technology di Bangalore è più integrato con gli Stati Uniti che con l'India.
In cosa possono eccellere gli italiani nel subcontinente? Essenzialmente nella meccanica di precisione e nelle macchine utensili, nelle costruzioni, nelle infrastrutture, nel settore difesa, penso agli elicotteri, e strumentazione satellitare, ma anche nelle piastrelle, nella grande distribuzione e nel food processing, dove l'India è molto carente: circa il 40% del coltivato non arriva nemmeno sui mercati per mancanza di infrastrutture e tecnologia. Manca la catena del valore e questo riflette la carenza della distribuzione organizzata. Un esempio. Esiste solo una marca di burro a livello nazionale e i formaggi vengono importati.
Come conviene muoversi? In India si può investire liberamente e detenere senza problemi il cento per cento del capitale di una società, a parte che in alcuni settori come difesa, minerario e retail. Un'azienda italiana può quindi comprare un'azienda che opera nello stesso settore oppure costituire una joint venture in cui il socio indiano porta capacità distributiva e operativa. Direi che l'acquisizione è la prima scelta, la jv il second best in termini di time-to-market. Da ultimo c'è sempre l'opportunità di partire da zero, che implica ovviamente tempi lunghi. Più in generale, occorre essere più dinamici sul versante costi-opportunità.
Ovvero? In India in questo momento le cose si fanno molto velocemente. Perdere tempo significa perdere opportunità e soldi. La Borsa ha triplicato la capitalizzazione negli ultimi tre anni. Invece vedo che nelle trattative tra europei e indiani sono i primi a frenare. Magari in India talvolta c'è troppa precipitazione e gli errori si vedranno tra un po', ma anche l'eccessiva lentezza potrebbe rivelarsi un handicap per noi italiani.