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EDITORIAL: By Saeed Naqvi, Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer, TIO, NJ: The Ukraine war has already yielded one of its most important outcomes even though the western media does not dwell on it with enthusiasm. It is now confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt that US hegemony has been irreversibly replaced by a multi polar world. G7 are a grouping in decline; BRICS is the expanding reality.
In this altered order, nations are busy consolidating their slots. The Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan took another turn in his pirouette: he lifted his objection on Sweden joining NATO and received Volodymyr Zelensky. He repatriated five commanders of the neo-Nazi Azov brigade in clear breach of his understanding with Russia, agreed to support Ukraine’s membership of NATO. His recent alliance with Russia has been more or less discarded.
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He likes the multi polarity, but to play a regional role he would not like to be painted on the same page as, say, Iran. Russia is acceptable as a regional power but not as a victor over Ukraine. That would make the Black Sea its lake. Erdogan’s stakes in the Black Sea are considerable.
Turkey’s U-turn is not without reasons: economic crisis, spiraling inflation, unemployment, weakening currency and, above all, falling investments. Apparently his outreach to the Gulf States did not spur investments. Hence this westward lurch. There were speculations in Ankara that he would play the Swedish card if the issue of Turkey’s entry into Europe were reopened. This, if true, is a foolish dream. Former French President Giscard d’Estaing was blunt. “Western civilization is Christian; Turkey can have no place in it.”
Talking of Muslim states and their compatibility with Europe, consider this: when Richard Holbrooke, US special envoy to the Balkans, settled the issue of Bosnia’s statehood he tied a part of it to a district of Serbia – a sort of three legged state, its Muslim identity totally in check.
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An unadulterated Muslim Bosnia was not in order. Ironically, a Muslim Kosovo was carved out of Serbia. The Orthodox Church and the Slavic links with Russia create a special bond between Belgrade and Moscow. When Kosovo was being carved out of Serbia without as much as a Russian nod, Russian tanks gatecrashed the US supervised party and occupied Pristina airport.
Diverse policies in Kosovo and Bosnia were explained those days as part of bitter differences between Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Holbrooke.
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So proud was Albright of her Kosovo initiative that she asked her Director for Policy Planning, Morton Halperin, to commission a special study of “The Kosovo initiative”. Richard Ullman, a distinguished professor of International Relations at Princeton and a former editor of Foreign Policy Magazine, was provided with space in the State Department to embark on this research. No one has ever heard what happened to the research launched with such fanfare.
There is reason for this extended focus on the Balkans: should the conflict be expanded as a regional destabilization project, the Serbia-Kosovo section lends itself to much mischief. It is a maze of criss crossing interests involving the US, EU, Russia and Turkey which, in its Ottoman Avatar, ruled over large parts of the region. Troops from different European countries guard distinct parts of Kosovo, including the most revered monastery of Dejan.
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A daily ritual at Dejan is emblematic of the deep and abiding grudges in the region. Every evening a muscular young priest carrying a heavy rattle called the tallantone runs around the main church in the compound. The noise from the rattle is supposed to alert the inmates against the “Turk”, the eternal threat.
Recently, Zelensky, a Jew, ordered Orthodox priests to vacate Ukraine’s grand churches. The reason for this harsh order? The Orthodox Church has links with its counterpart in Moscow. This link can undermine Ukraine’s war effort, it is argued.
Even otherwise, there is enough conflictual material in the region. Just as Turkey unlocks the gate for Sweden to enter NATO, Sweden emerges in bold relief as the state authorizing Quran burning, enraging Muslims worldwide.
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Hezbollah’s supreme leader Hassan Nasrallah has already called for Sweden’s ambassadors to be expelled from Muslim countries. Provide fuel to this and Islamophobia may well be on the way to being resurrected. Are there powerful interests working towards this end?
All of this may be bleak speculation, but the recent NATO summit in Vilnius rubbished any positive spin the western media may have placed on the West’s gains in the war. Public fireworks lent themselves to photographs which were not flattering to NATO at all.
One photograph shows NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg virtually pushing Zelensky off the stage. Apparently Zelensky, angry because Ukraine had been denied immediate membership of NATO, had clambered onto the stage like an irate heckler.
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His protests caused British Defence Minister, Ben Wallace to virtually scold Zelensky. Wallace thought Ukraine should express more appreciation to its supporters.
The rejoinder from Zelensky was sharp. “He should write to me about how he wants to be thanked.” Wallace himself was none too happy because his candidature as the next Secretary General of NATO had been scuttled by the only authority more effective than Britain in the conclaves of NATO – the US.
A prominent Ukrainian activist, asked US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan a question, in these words, “how to explain to my son, who is sleeping in the corridor due to air raids, that Biden isn’t ready to accept Ukraine into NATO.” She added “Is he afraid of Russia – are there back channel negotiation with Russia and Ukraine’s NATO hopes are a bargaining chip?”
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Such scandalous talk plus the Anglo-American differences on Wallace’s candidature as the next NATO Secretary General must have been honeyed music to Putin.
Meanwhile, Putin revealed that reliable intelligence gathered by the Kremlin confirm US plans to insert into western Ukraine a Polish expeditionary force “for a subsequent occupation of these territories.” Should this happen, a part of Ukraine, to be absorbed into Poland, will automatically have NATO protection under chapter 5. What a development.
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Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai.
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