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Thanks To Covid-19, RSS Cadres, Sympathizers Exposed In The Middle-East: Pak Writers

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OpEd// Muslims in India have always had an uneasy relationship with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu voluntary organization. The RSS has often been blamed by Muslims and sections of Indian media for fanning hatred against Islam and the Muslims.

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In an OpEd shared with the EurAsian Times, written by Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar and published in the Pakistan Tribune claims how a section of Indian Media, RSS and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party along with their business affiliations have fanned hatred against Muslims in the Middle East.

The OpEd claims that the smear campaign began after the CAA and NRC protests and gained impetus after the Tableeghi Jamaat, an Islamic organization, congregation emerged as the super spreader of coronavirus in India.

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It also said that the Indian community working in the Gulf region promoted hate speeches and even went to the extent of blaspheming Islam and even the Prophet.

The OpED cites an article published in Gulf News on April 13 titled “COVID 19: And now it is ‘Corona Jihad’ in Modi’s hate-filled new India” by Swati Chaturvedi which underlined how India was communalizing the coronavirus at a time when the world was ravaged by the pandemic.

The OpEd asserts that the ruling BJP Government had published separate figures for people infected by Tableeghi Jamaat congregation and mentions that the BJP Government received flak from the World Health Organization (WHO) for communalizing the issue.

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The OpEd also accused BJP’s Muslim leaders of promoting the hate narrative, like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who had stated — “The Tablighi Jamaat committed a “Talibani crime” by allowing gatherings at its Nizammudin center in the capital and encouraging members to travel across the country when India was trying to contain the spread of Covid-19.”

Also according to a Gulf News report of April 9, Rakesh B Kitturmath, an Indian working as a team leader at Emrill Services in Dubai, is facing police action after being fired for blaspheming Islam on social media.

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Kitturmath is not alone; there are many Indian expats who have spread anti-Muslim hatred claims the OpEd. Some weeks back, Mitesh Udeshi, an Abu Dhabi resident, was sacked for posting a sacrilegious cartoon about Islam on his Facebook page while a police complaint was filed against Sameer Bhandari of Future Visions Events & Weddings in Dubai after he asked a Muslim job-seeker from India to “go back to Pakistan”.

The OpED further claims — while many in the Arab Gulf region may be unaware of the RSS, the Hindu organization has spread its tentacles in the Arab world through business and Bollywood. As reported by Business Today in August 2018, another Indian expat and billionaire — BR Shetty who had expanded his business empire in the UAE through a healthcare system called NMC Health had reportedly embezzled billions of dollars and had escaped to India to avoid legal action in the Gulf.

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According to Arabian Business magazine, a report by Carson Block of Muddy Waters Research had exposed the fraudulent transactions which had resulted in NMC’s shares being suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange. BR Shetty had also promised to invest in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election campaign claims the author.

Abdul Majid Zargar a regular contributor for Kashmiri and international newspapers had spoken about the RSS ties to the Gulf in his article published in Kashmir Watch magazine in 2018. Extracts from the article are posted in the succeeding paragraphs:

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Business and service sectors are dominated by nationalist Hindus based in oil-rich Gulf countries. Most of them are South Indians, Gujaratis and Maharashtrians, including BR Shetty, the Managing Director of the UAE-based NMC group of companies; Sudhir Kumar Shetty, the President of UAE Exchange; N Balakrishna, the Chairman & Managing Director of Prakurti Nest Builders, a company dealing in real estate business.

Furthermore, the jewelry and diamond trade in the whole Middle East is controlled by Gujarati Hindus. These are the same people who form the backbone of the RSS and its tributaries which have spread their tentacles in these countries with the overt and covert support of these nationalist Hindus and are continuously on the lookout for shoring up their presence there.

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It is also said that every year, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat holds a closed-door meeting with all of these Hindu business tycoons operating in Dubai, UAE, and other Middle East countries at nondescript places beyond the media glare where the businessmen are believed to be instructed on how to further spread RSS’ agenda.

According to Amir Ali a professor at Jawaharlal National University, who spoke to Times.com, Islamophobia has been transposed onto the coronavirus issue. As EurAsian Times had earlier reported, even as the details about the Tabligh Jammat congregation were emerging #CoronaJihad, #NizamuddinIdiots, #Covid-786 began trending. #CoronaJihad was shared 300,000 times and potentially seen by 165 million people on Twitter as per the data shared by Equality Labs with Time.com.

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#CoronaJihad tweets had falsely shown a Muslim man from Delhi intentionally coughing on somebody when in fact the video was shot in Thailand. However, that did not stop some from labeling Muslims as ‘vile minded people’ and referring to the virus as #TabighiJamaatVirus.

Another video purportedly showing Muslims intentionally sneezing on another was debunked by AltNews as reported by Times.com. Memes showing China as the producer and Muslims as the distributors have also surfaced.

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While the RSS has been using the cover of business and Bollywood in the Gulf region, Covid-19 has somehow exposed its nefarious designs as well as anti- Muslim sentiment in the Arab World.

OpEd: Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar. Published in the Pakistan Tribune.

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India can ‘no longer’ choke China at the Strait Of Malacca as Beijing finds solution

The Strait of Malacca is a strategic waterway between Indonesia and Malaysia through which the majority of Chinese imports pass. The narrow waterway also makes the perfect chokepoint from the perspective of India, and should tension between Beijing and New Delhi rise, the Malacca Strait can be blocked easily by India. 

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Could the advantage that India enjoys over China due to the Strait of Malacca be coming to an end? Does China have a way to tackle the Indian plans of chocking Beijing at the Malacca Straits – the strategic waterway, in case of a war?

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India’s position at the mouth of the Malacca Strait has created panic amongst Chinese officials as they try to find an alternative route, writes the Forbes.

The Strait of Malacca is a strategic waterway between Indonesia and Malaysia through which the majority of Chinese imports pass. The narrow waterway also makes the perfect chokepoint from the perspective of India, and should tension between Beijing and New Delhi rise, the Malacca Strait can be blocked easily by India.

India’s natural position in the Indian Ocean, with basing capabilities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at the mouth of the strait, would allow its navy to cut it off in the event of a crisis or war with China.

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Keeping in mind the recent flare-up between India and China, Larry Bond, renowned naval author and creator of the Harpoon war game series, says that if India wanted to block trade with China, all it has to do is its park ships at the mouth of the Malacca Strait.

The vast majority of China’s oil imports, from the Persian Gulf, Venezuela and Angola, pass by this route. Due to the strategic importance of the waterway, there is fear amongst Chinese officials that India could block the Malacca Strait in case of war.

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Experts at EurAsian Times believe that the strategic importance of the Malacca Strait and the advantage it gives to India will likely reduce over time as Beijing find alternative routes.

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The fact India enjoys a strategic advantage over China because of the Malacca Strait has forced Beijing to explore other options and find ways around the waterway.

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One such option is Gwadar Port in Pakistan. As part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Beijing has developed the port in Gwadar so that goods unloaded there will be shipped overland to China.

On June 8 the Pakistani government approved a $7.2bn upgrade to a railway which will connect Gwadar to Kashgar, China. The port is not yet operating at capacity, but the direction seems clear.

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While Gwadar is still susceptible to an attack by the Indian Air Force (IAF), it adds political and military risks as it is in a third country’s territory. The Indian Navy could try and block this port but it would require ships to move away from the Malacca Strait.

The other option Beijing is exploring is Northern Sea Route in the Arctic which could create a ‘Polar Silk Road.’ The importance of this is underlined by China’s 2018 Arctic policy. It asserts, “Geographically, China is a “Near-Arctic State”, one of the continental States that are closest to the Arctic Circle.”

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The policy statement goes on to say, “China hopes to work with all parties to build a “Polar Silk Road” through developing the Arctic shipping routes.”

Due to accelerated global warming, ice sheets are receding, thus making it possible for ships to travel via this route. Having sent its first ship through the region in 2013, Beijing is now investing in port infrastructure in the Arctic which connects to Europe.

China is also investing in designing ice breakers, vessels that would ease navigation through the Arctic. With help from Finnish Aker Arctic, China launched its first locally built ice breaker the Xue Long 2 in 2018.

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Apart from exploring new waterways and developing strategic ports, Beijing is developing a land route directly to Europe, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), mainly as a way to export goods.

Thousands of trains are transversing across Asia in recent times, the modern-day version of the ancient Silk Road. Land routes are one way China can reduce the criticality of Chinese sea routes.

The strategic importance of the Strait of Malacca to China will lessen over a period of time. India will still be in a position to throttle Chinese supply lines there, but it will not have the same impact that it once had.

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Americas

India Bets Big On Nikki Haley To Emerge As Vice Presidential Candidate Under Trump

Nikki Haley has echoed some of the same arguments Donald Trump has made on national topics such as cancel culture, defunding police forces and statue removal, although the tone and frequency between Trump and Haley differ dramatically.  

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India has pinned hopes on Nikki Haley to become the US Vice President (VP) should Donald Trump get re-elected this November. Haley, a first-generation Indian American, is expected to strengthen Indo-American relation and also attract a lot of voters including women and minorities.

According to the reports, there is speculation that Trump might switch out Vice-President Mike Pence for Nikki Haley as his running mate in the hopes of boosting his lagging approval numbers among the broader electorate.

Despite resigning as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Haley has been active in politics. She has been fundraising for Republican congressional candidates as well as in the Senate and gubernatorial arena.

She has set up a non-profit organization to boost her policy priorities and has continued to pen editorials on foreign policy. And Hailey has retained a small, tightly knit orbit of advisers.

The former governor of South Carolina, Haley is one of the people who left the Trump Administration on good terms. She has even promised to campaign for the President for his re-election bid.

Haley has echoed some of the same arguments Donald Trump has made on national topics such as cancel culture, defunding police forces and statue removal, although the tone and frequency between Trump and Haley differ dramatically.

According to experts at EurAsian Times, Haley’s recent moves can be seen as a carefully executed plan to stay involved in key Republican policy circles and the national discourse. Haley has fundraised for almost a dozen Republican Senate candidates, many of them in tough re-election races, and has been a special guest at Republican Governors Association (RGA) events.

While Haley has dismissed reports about her running for VP, her being an influential person of colour could help Trump win constituencies he is currently losing.

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The US Presidential elections are a spectacle observed globally and India would be hoping Trump wins and Haley gets elected as the VP. Haley enjoys nationwide popularity amongst Indian-Americans and her election as VP could lead to stronger ties between Washington and New Delhi.

She has natural links to India with her parents having emigrated to the US in the 1960s from Punjab. Haley has often pointed out that India is an example of a free government and recently even applauded New Delhi’s decision to ban 59 Chinese applications and for standing up to China.

With an Indian-American at the helm of affairs, New Delhi would see it as an opportunity to get closer to Washington. It could lead to India benefitting in the areas of trade, defence and investment and would be a huge blow to neighbours China and Pakistan.

US Presidential elections are scheduled to take place in November and will be contested between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. While Biden’s re-election does not mean that India and the United States will have weak relations, having Trump in the White House and Haley as VP would definitely lead to stronger Indo-American ties.

Armaan Srivastava. Views Personal

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Americas

Russian T-14 Armata Tanks Now On Sale; Hopes To Challenge US’ M1 Abrams

The T-14 is part of the Armata’s heavily tracked standardized platform, which serves as the basis to develop the main battle tank, an infantry fighting vehicle, an armoured personnel carrier and other armoured vehicles.

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Russia’s T-14 Armata tank will be up for sale from 2021. This was announced by Denis Manturov – Industry and Trade Minister of Russia. He said that they are already receiving requests for the deadly T-14 Armata tanks from several foreign customers.

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The T-14 is part of the Armata’s heavily tracked standardized platform, which serves as the basis to develop the main battle tank, an infantry fighting vehicle, an armoured personnel carrier and other armoured vehicles. It has fully digitized equipment, an unmanned turret and an isolated armoured capsule for the crew.

“Russian producers are ready to offer potential buyers both air defence systems, such as the S-300 and the S-400 and advanced aircraft and helicopters,” explained Dmitry Shugayev, Head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation.

“We are preparing the MiG-35 light fighter for sale and are promoting the latest T-14 ‘Armata’ tank,” he added.

The Armata T-14 was first demonstrated during the Victory Day Parade in May 2015 in Moscow. The actual production of the tanks was delayed. The first nine T-14 Armatas were originally planned to be handed over to the Russian Ground Forces (RGF) in 2018. This date then got pushed to 2019 and then to 2020.

Russia hopes that the T-14 Armata tank will give a tough competition to America’s M1 Abrams that destroyed thirty-seven of the Soviet-designed T-72s during the 1991 Gulf War.

T-72s remain Russia’s primary battle tank, supplemented by turbine-engine T-80s and four hundred more advanced T-90s. According to Sébastien Roblin, an expert on security and militarywhile Russia may finally have a 125-millimetre sabot round that can threaten Western main battle tanks at the range, only its handful of new T-14s tank are capable of actually using it.

Experts claim that the 2A82 gun could be retrofitted to numerous older T-90s and T-72s so far appear not to have materialized.

Despite Russia’s defence spending, the Russian military has continued with the production of the new tank. The production is overseen by Rostec Corporation, the Moscow conglomerate that specializes in consolidating strategically important companies in Russia’s defence sector.

It has undergone field testing in Syria. Although the extent of testing and the results are still unclear, a Russian media outlet suggested that “one Armata was completely destroyed.” There’s no confirmation on that but it might not look good to its buyers.

“It [the T-14 Armata tank] is expensive because it is still undergoing extra trials and modernization after the defence ministry requested additional technical solutions in order to begin serial supplies starting from the next year under the existing contract,” said Manturov in April this year.

He further said that next year, when serial supplies of these tanks to the defence ministry are launched and an export certificate is obtained, they will begin to work with foreign clients. “Preliminarily, bearing in mind that we cannot provide all the documentation to our foreign clients. We do have preliminary orders,” he added.

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