The growing Indo-Franco-Jewish nexus? | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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The growing Indo-Franco-Jewish nexus?

THE Indo-Franco-Jewish nexus seems to strategically develop.According to the Jerusalem Post, New Delhi and Tel Aviv have decided to form a task force that will build a 10-year cooperation plan to identify new areas in defence cooperation between the two countries.

The plan, which will include defence procurement, production, research and development, was agreed upon during last month’s visit by Ajay Kumar, the Director General of the Indian Ministry of Defence.

Last week, the Indian Chief of Staff General MM Naravane paid a five- day visit to Israel. And yet, India-France military to military relations also seem strengthened.

It has been Naravane’s first visit to Israel, during which he met the Jewish state’s senior military and civilian leadership to discuss avenues for further enhancing Indo-Israel defence relations, said a statement from the Indian Ministry of Defence.

Israel is the second largest arms supplier to India and provides cyber-security solutions to secure its critical infrastructure.

Israel also trains Indian special forces on counter-terrorism. In Kashmir, Israel trains Indian police officers and equips security forces with surveillance technology and foliage-penetrating radar.

India’s Consul General in New York, Sandeep Chakravorty, summed up the bilateral security relationship when he called for the replication of the “Israel model” in Kashmir.

Today, despite the departure of Netanyahu, the New Delhi-Tel Aviv relationship seems sound in the Naftali Bennett regime.

In another development, India and France resolved to expand their defence ties at a meeting of India-France strategic dialogue in Paris on November 07 that was co-chaired by NSA Ajit Doval and Emmanuel Bonne, the Diplomatic Advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron.

In the Strategic Dialogue and other meetings, France stressed its continuing commitment to the Indo-Pacific region as a resident power, and partnership with India as a major pillar of its strategy for the region.

“Doval reiterated that France is one of India’s premier global and Indo-Pacific partners,” the embassy said.

France’s resolve to expand strategic cooperation with India came nearly two months after the unveiling of a new security alliance (AUKUS) by the US, UK and Australia that had infuriated the French government.

It was the French President Jacques Chirac who firstly tried to set up a strategic group with India ‘to facilitate a better understanding of [their] defence doctrines and an increased military cooperation’.

This new Indo-French dialogue was ‘broad enough to allow bilateral and international issues to be discussed with the concept of “security” covering much more than the strict defence field.

As part of this decision to share their experiences and opinions on the concept of global security, India and France decided to extend their already existing defence ties beyond formal relations.

The establishment of the strategic dialogue in 1998 took Indo-French defence ties much further and since then both countries have been continuously working to make it become a real multi-level cooperation.

The Indo-Franco partnership generated special cooperation in areas such as space, security, defence and civil nuclear cooperation.

France’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, is a frequent visitor to the Indian Ocean, notably during the 2002 India-Pakistan crisis, but more commonly as part of the Varuna naval exercises where Indian and French carrier groups regularly exercise together.

France remains the only country to have been invited to India’s Republic Day celebrations on five separate occasions with President’s Nicholas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande guests of honour in 2008 and 2016 respectively.

The fifth session of the Franco-Indian maritime cooperation dialogue was held in Paris on 11 October 2021, in the presence of Pakaj Saran, Deputy National Security Adviser to the Indian Prime Minister, and, on the French side, M Marcel Escure, Ambassador Delegate for Regional Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Zone, Mme Alice Guitton, Director General for International Relations and Strategy, Ministry for the Armed Forces, and M Alexandre Vulic, Deputy Director for Strategic Affairs and Disarmament, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Recently, New Delhi’s order for the HAMMER (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) missiles from France for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas was placed under the emergency procurement powers as was done for the same missiles to be equipped on the Rafales.

Under a major order, a few hundred missiles would be added to the Indian Air Force’s arsenal, sources said.

The Indian claim is that the French HAMMER missiles will boost India’s capabilities to take out targets in high-altitude areas, such as Eastern Ladakh.

The Indians also claim that France also desires to be a technology partner with India for the development of the latest military technologies in air, sea, land and cyber domains.

Though in terms of international relations, there seems no surprise so far as the breaking and making of new alliances are concerned, the history is evident from the fact that an evil nexus between Israel and India remained engaged in destabilizing Pakistan. The Mossad — Raw share intelligence networks.

During the Kargil War (1998), Israel had supported the Indian air force. The Indian-Israeli evil nexus has never been a mystery, albeit it has posed a serious threat to regional and Pakistan’s national security.

The Indian dream of regional supremacy and global military power has brought India closer to Israel and the US. Yet, India-Israel-US collaboration has endangered the regional strategic balance.

As for France, though Pakistan intends to promote bilateral relations with France, yet because of the fact that France has had adopted a non-cooperative and illiberal policy toward the Muslim world, Pakistan — France relations still seem rusty and foggy over the caricatures of the Holy Prophet (M) (PBUH).

The French government legislation against Muslim women wearing scarves is indicating its marginalized policy vis-à-vis Islamic cultural norms.

On the other hand, to counter the strategic imbalance accompanied By India’s zero-sum game in the region, Pakistan is rightly and befittingly getting its enhanced military ties with China, Russia and Turkey.

Whilst trying to restore its good ties with the US and revitalise its ties with the UK and Germany, Islamabad is also enhancing its strategic ties with the Muslim states in Central Asia.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.

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