The Growing Danger of Islamic Fanaticism in India

April 19 2018

Home to the world’s second-largest Muslim population, India has long been relatively immune to Islamic radicalism—as evidenced by the fact that only 75 Indians have joined Islamic State (compared to over 600 from Belgium, which has an exponentially smaller Muslim population). Yet in recent years, thanks in part to Saudi-funded proselytization, Wahhabi Islam has increasingly displaced the more moderate local traditions, as Abhinav Pandya explains. (Free registration may be required.)

[O]ver the last decade and a half, Saudi Arabia has become increasingly uncomfortable with the rising Shiite influence in India and with Tehran’s overtures. They therefore decided to provide a religious and cultural [counterweight by] pumping in money to promote Wahhabism in India. During a single two-year period (2011-2013), according to an Indian Intelligence Bureau report, 25,000 [Saudi] Wahhabis visited India for missionary work; over that period they brought, in installments, $250 million to propagate Wahhabism, $460 million to set up madrasas, and $300 million for miscellaneous costs, including alleged bribes to mosque authorities. . . .

It’s already noticeable in visiting the [southern Indian state of] Kerala that a process of Arabization among the Muslim population is already underway, as reflected in language, eating habits, belief systems, and dress code; more women are wearing the hijab or even the niqab. It may come as a surprise, but Salafist and Wahhabi ideologies in India appear to have won more appeal among the educated classes. [These denominations’] austerity acts as a way for [the educated] to differentiate themselves from rural Muslims with their “ignorant” and “superstitious” beliefs. . . .

[B]ecause of Muslim radicalization’s politically sensitive nature, and the lack of any national-level strategy and program to address it, most of the time it is left to the state police to deal with such matters. . . . But it’s clear that state police do not have the requisite skills and infrastructure to detect such trends and take effective action against them.

A properly thought-out counter-radicalization program for India also faces another obstacle: the prevailing sentiment in India’s mainstream academia and media that domestic Muslim radicalization has increased in reaction to the Narendra Modi government’s embrace of Hindu nationalism. However, it’s not clear that such a connection can be made. There have been no major inter-communal riots, busting of terror sleeper cells, or terrorist attacks within India since 2014, the year of Modi’s election.

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Read more at Haaretz

More about: India, ISIS, Islamism, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudia Arabia, Wahhabism

 

Will America Invite Israel to Join Its Multinational Coalitions?

From the Korean War onward, the U.S. has rarely fought wars alone, but has instead led coalitions of various allied states. Israel stands out in that it has close military and diplomatic relations with Washington yet its forces have never been part of these coalitions—even in the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi missiles were raining down on its cities. The primary reason for its exclusion was the sensitivity of participating Arab and Muslim nations. But now that Jerusalem has diplomatic relations with several Arab countries and indeed regularly participates alongside them in U.S.-led joint military exercises, David Levy believes it may someday soon be asked to contribute to an American expedition.

It is unlikely that Israel would be expected by the U.S. to deploy the Golani [infantry] brigade or any other major army unit. Instead, Washington will likely solicit areas of IDF niche expertise. These include missile defense and special forces, two areas in which Israel is a world leader. The IDF has capabilities that it can share by providing trainers and observers. Naval and air support would also be expected as these assets are inherently deployable. Israel can also provide allies in foreign wars with intelligence and cyber-warfare support, much of which can be accomplished without the physical deployment of troops.

Jerusalem’s previous reasons for abstention from coalitions were legitimate. Since its independence, Israel has faced existential threats. Conventional Arab armies sought to eliminate the nascent state in 1948-49, 1967, and again in 1973. This danger remained ever-present until the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords, which established peace between Egypt and Israel. Post-Camp David, the threats to Israel remain serious but are no longer existential. If Iran were to become a nuclear power, this would pose a new existential threat. Until then, Israel is relatively well secured.

Jerusalem’s new Arab allies would welcome its aid. Western capitals, especially Washington, should be expected to pursue Israel’s military assistance, and Jerusalem will have little choice but to acquiesce to the expeditionary expectation.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: IDF, U.S. military, U.S.-Israel relationship