Arab news

Why India is in damage-control mode with Arab nations

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday suspended a spokesperson and expelled another official after his derogatory comments about the prophet of Islam sparked outrage in Arab countries.

“India was stunned by the response,” said Kabir Taneja of the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank in New Delhi. “Social problems are not new in India and we have not had such a response in previous cases. [from Arab states]”

On May 26, BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma told an Indian news channel that Hz. He made comments about Mohammed that were considered offensive and Islamophobic. Qatar, Kuwait and Iran summoned the ambassadors of India, and the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation issued statements of condemnation. So far, at least 14 countries have condemned the statements.

“If my words have offended or offended anyone’s religious feelings, I hereby unconditionally withdraw my statement,” he said.

Most Indian news outlets reporting the story did not directly quote Sharma’s original comments.

The BJP office said BJP leader Naveen Jindal was expelled from the party because of comments she made about Islam on social media.

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Analysts said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was walking a tightrope between keeping his international Muslim allies happy while pushing his party’s Hindu nationalist agenda at home.

“Modi has worked hard to prevent his party’s domestic political agenda from spilling over and poisoning India’s relations with the Gulf states,” said Hassan Alhasan, of the Bahrain-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and researching India’s foreign policy in the Gulf. . “The extent to which Sharma’s comments have overshadowed India’s relations with the Gulf states is unprecedented, and that is of course because she is or is the spokesperson for the BJP.”

Taneja said the Indian government has realized that a lot of religious discourse “has been emerging for a while and went unnoticed, but that’s not the way it is anymore”.

The hashtag “No one else than the Prophet, oh Modi” trended on Twitter in all six Gulf states and as far away as Algeria, with residents in Muslim countries calling for a boycott of Indian products. Chief Mufti Sheikh Ahmed Al-Khalili, Oman’s most important religious figure in the country, described Sharma’s comments as “a war against all Muslims” and “an issue calling upon all Muslims to stand up as one nation”.

Disturbing depictions of the Islamic prophet have led to mass boycotts, diplomatic crises, riots and even terrorist attacks in the past.
The controversy arises as Gulf states and India seek to significantly increase their economic partnerships. India, the world’s third largest oil importer, looks to the Middle East for 65% of its crude oil imports. On the other hand, the Asian country sends millions of workers to the Gulf countries and they send billions of dollars of remittances to their homes.
“There are more than 8 million non-resident Indians across the Gulf. Gulf countries are key sources of India’s oil and gas imports, and bilateral trade is over $100 billion,” said Alhasan. “So it’s a very important set of relationships from an Indian perspective.”

The UAE, home to just 3.5 million Indians, accounts for 33% of remittances to India, of more than $20 billion annually.

UAE has chosen India among seven other countries as its future economic partner. Indian Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said the Gulf country plans to invest $100 billion in its country, partly for manufacturing and infrastructure.
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According to reports, India signed a free trade agreement with the UAE this year for the first time in more than a decade, waiting for the rest of the Gulf states for similar deals. The UAE deal aims to increase annual trade to $100 billion in five years, contributing to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in India.

Abdulaziz Sager, head and founder of the Gulf Research Center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said the nature of India-Saudi relations gives Riyadh a political and economic advantage over the Indian government.

“As India is still an important country, I don’t think it will have a jeopardizing effect on economic or political relations,” Sager said. “It’s an important relationship, but Saudi Arabia will not accept any insult to the Prophet or undermining religious Islamic issues,” Sager said.

According to Indian officials, there are more than 2.2 million Indians in Saudi Arabia.

Taneja said that India is aware of its influence on the Gulf countries due to the diaspora in these countries. That’s why we’ve seen such a quick response from the government,” he said.

Esha Mitra of CNN contributed to this report.

summary

Biden’s meeting with Saudi crown prince postponed to July

A meeting between US President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), is expected next month, according to an administration official.
  • Background: CNN previously reported that Biden and the crown prince are planning to meet at the end of June as part of a broader Gulf states summit. Officials said the July trip would allow more time to plan and set a schedule and agenda. On Friday, Biden defended the possibility of meeting with MBS.
  • why is it important: face to face meeting With MBS, Biden has had direct contact with the de facto Saudi leader for the first time since taking office. Biden has so far preferred to speak directly with the crown prince’s father, King Salman. The meeting will represent a turnaround for Biden, who once proposed making Saudi Arabia a “pariah”. Two key deals were reached last week — OPEC announced it will increase oil production and extend the ceasefire in Yemen — laying the groundwork for talks between Biden and the crown prince.

Iran’s Khamenei says unrest caused by foreign ‘enemies’ trying to overthrow Islamic Republic

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that the latest nationwide protests were caused by foreign “enemies” trying to overthrow the Iranian regime.

  • Background: Protests have erupted in Iran in recent weeks due to the rapidly rising inflation. Anti-government demonstrations have also erupted after a 10-story commercial building in the city of Abadan collapsed last month, killing at least 37 people. “Today, the enemies’ most important hope to deal a blow to the country is based on popular protests. In a televised speech on the 33rd anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Khamenei said.
  • why is it important: Iran has suffered one economic blow after another, driven by a strong budget deficit, rising food prices and uncertainties about the main oil buyer, China, and the imminent sanctions on oil after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Protesters accused the government of negligence and repeatedly chanted slogans against the Islamic Republic and its rulers.

Briton sentenced to 15 years in prison for smuggling artifacts in Iraq

A retired British geologist was sentenced by an Iraqi court Monday to 15 years in prison for trying to smuggle artifacts out of the country.

  • Background: James Fitton, 66, was arrested by Iraqi authorities in March at Baghdad airport for carrying small pieces and ancient pottery in his luggage. Fitton’s lawyer said he did not know that the pieces were artifacts and would appeal the decision on the grounds that there was no criminal intent.
  • why is it important: Iraq’s ancient heritage has been damaged by years of conflict, and many artifacts in the country were looted during the conflict, especially after the 2003 US invasion. The Iraqi government is on a quest to find and recover many of its lost treasures, including Those who have been smuggled out of the country before.

around the area

Extreme drought wreaked havoc in Iraq and caused sandstorms that sent thousands of people to hospital. For some archaeologists, however, this has been a temporary boon.

When water levels dropped in the Mosul reservoir late last year, an ancient city emerged, and scientists rushed to study it before it disappeared again under the water.

A team of German and Iraqi-Kurdish archaeologists raced against time to unearth the 3,400-year-old city under the Tigris River in Iraq’s Kurdistan region this year.

As water levels began to rise again, scientists rushed to excavate and document what was believed to be the urban center of the Mittani Empire, which stretched from northern Iraq to Syria and Turkey.

Announcing their findings last week, the researchers were able to map a massive city wall, storage facilities and an industrial complex. The team was surprised at how well preserved the sun-dried mud-brick walls were.

“This good preservation is due to the fact that the city was destroyed in an earthquake around 1350 BC, during which the collapsed tops of the walls buried the buildings,” the researchers said in a statement. Said.

To prepare for the city’s upcoming re-flood, the excavated buildings were covered with plastic sheeting and gravel fill. The city is once again flooded, waiting to be rediscovered.

by Mohammed Abdelbary

Photo of the day

Samaritan worshipers raise the Torah scrolls as they gather to pray at the top of Mount Gerizim near the northern West Bank city of Nablus at dawn on June 5.  Worshipers celebrated Shavuot, which, according to Samaritan tradition, marked the delivery of the Torah to the Israelites on Mount Sinai, seven weeks after their biblical exodus from Egypt.  The Samaritans are a community of several hundred people living in Israel and the region of Nablus, who trace their lineage back to the biblical ancient Israelites.

This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Kabir Taneja’s name.

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