A new Taliban: US-OZ forge n-sub deal to tame Dragon

For centuries, France has been the fulcrum of European civilization, the  Holy Roman Empire, Catholicism, the Crusades, Revolution, culture, fashion, and innovations…until it became one of the 30 member-states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) after the World War II and lost its pre-eminence in world affairs first to Great Britain and then to the USA.

Even now, France is where Europe is still fighting its fiercest civilizational battle against a resurgent political Islam.

Those old wounds still ache across a narcissist France.

That is why Paris was so livid with the USA and a new challenger, Australia, this week that it recalled its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra in a huff. But France is also known to act in a haste and repent in leisure. It has done so multiple times in the past and returned to the table without taking back much.

On Friday, an angry Paris took the unusual diplomatic step against what it felt was the American-Australian ‘betrayal’. Its Foreign Minister even called it a “knife in the back’. The way it had failed to see in 1921 Germany’s anger at the Versaille Treaty, that sparked the World War II, it has failed in 2021 to visualize why America and Australia did something ‘behind its back’.

The issue at hand was France’s largest-ever defense deal, worth $60 billion, for the supply of a dozen traditionally-powered attack submarines, to strengthen Australia’s defence against China in the South China Sea and Beijing’s rising tension with Canberra, particularly after the pandemic.

China’s arrogance, expansionist designs and hegemony have, in the last couple of year, created an urgency for many nations, including the West, and they are drawing up emergency plans to meet the Dragon’s challenge in multiple war theatres. The sudden activation of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), and this week’s fresh alliance between the USA, Britain and Australia, are part of this geo-strategy, as was the last month’s ‘freedom’ accorded to the Taliban to keep a big chunk of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) pinned down in the Uyghur Muslim-dominated Xinjiang in the decades to come.

In other words, the way the US is pitting Afghanistan against China in the West, it is arming Australia in the East. Why? To keep Beijing away from foraying into global naval power politics on both the sides.

Apparently it was with this objective that, fearing the French reluctance to forgo its big business deal and thus delay decision-making in the face of mounting Chinese threat, that the US and Australia entered secret talks, keeping Paris out of the loop. The US promised Australia nuclear-powered submarines, media reports said.

That is why, as soon as US President Joe Biden announced the submarine deal on Wednesday during a news conference, all hell broke loose in France, which felt betrayed in 2021 the way Germany did in 1921.

Knowing this ‘French disconnection’ and idiosyncracy very well, and the possibility of the deal being sabotaged by a democracy-blinded and short-sighted Paris, the US and Australia went to extraordinary lengths to keep France in the dark while they secretly negotiated. The nuclear submarine deal, as expensive as the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), will be a key component of the West’s policy to keep Beijing pinned down in South China Sea, although it scuttled France’s mammoth contract.

The French-Australian deal was signed in 2018. Since then, geopolitical realities have undergone a sea change, literally and metaphorically. China has suddenly emerged as the single largest threat to the world. The Dragon is now the Devil.

Had the US and Australia waited for an easy-going and argumentative France to come around to this urgency, it would have been too late. The new deal so enraged, predictably, that French President Emmanuel Macron, on Friday, ordered the withdrawal of his country’s ambassadors from both the nations.

Macron’s decision was not unexpected, on a day that France and the USA had planned to celebrate an alliance that goes back to the defeat of Britain in the Revolutionary War of 1776.

A furious France realized that two of its closest allies, the US and Australia, negotiated secretly for months and betrayed it.

Even in the last months of the Donald Trump presidency, Australia had already told the US that it wanted to wriggle out of the agreement with a snail-paced France.

Australia feared, correctly, that the conventionally-powered French submarines would be obsolete by the time of their delivery, at a time China was becoming uncontrollable. Canberra should, instead, buy a fleet of quieter nuclear-powered submarines based on American and British designs that could patrol areas of the South China Sea with less risk of detection.

Canberra did find it difficult to terminate the French deal, which was already over budget and running behind schedule. But it had to take a decision in the face of a recalcitrant China. According to the US officials, Canberra had assured them to take care of the French concerns. Biden was reported to have concurred with Australia’s fears of China, and uncertainty about France.

 “Biden’s top aides finally discussed the issue with the French hours before it was publicly announced at the White House in a virtual meeting with Mr. Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia. The result was a blow-up that has now led to a vivid breach of trust with one of America’s oldest allies”, media reported.

Apparently, Washington realized that the new threat, present and now, to the West and Europe, may not come from a hibernating Russia but from a resurgent China. It is, therefore, scouting for new defense allies in Asia—Australia, Japan, India—in a bid to create an ‘Asian NATO’ on the European model via Quad.

Not only France, even China did not get a clue on the new deal, and the three-nation alliance that quickly followed.  Beijing’s first response to the new alliance, named AUKUS (Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States), was that it was “extremely irresponsible” and would start an arms race. The Chinese Navy has built a dozen nuclear subs, some of which can carry nuclear weapons. Australia had earlier vowed never to deploy nuclear weapons. No longer.

When Presiden Macron recalled the ambassadors, the US seemed taken aback by the ferocity of the French response, especially its Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s comment that it was a “knife in the back.”

But the US knows the French bark is fiercer than a feeble bite. Its anger would gradually subside, as in the past, Paris would acquiesce and come around after assessing the real threats being posed by China to the world.

How can France forget that America had opened the second front at Normandy in 1944 to liberate Paris from Berlin…

And that Paris had gifted the Statue of Liberty to America in 1886 to commemorate its contribution to the American Revolution in 1776 against Britain?

The Dragon’s nemesis: The Ghost of Genghis Khan!

New Delhi: Nothing scares China more than the ghost of Changez (Genghis) Khan, nearly eight centuries after the death of the world’s greatest warlord and empire-builder.

How paranoid Beijing is about a possible reawakening of this ghost became clear in October when it forced a French museum to postpone an exhibit about Genghis Khan. The museum cited ‘interference’ by the Chinese government, which is trying to rewrite history.

The museum on history, Château des ducs de Bretagne, in the western French city of Nantes, said it was putting the show about the 13th-century warrior on hold for more than three years.

Ashamed of being vanquished by the dreaded Mongols in the 13th century, Beijing is attempting to wipe out the nightmarish memory of Genghis Khan’s great empire the present-day China was part of. In Inner Mongolia, China’s autonomous region, Beijing is trying to strip the natives of their identity by enforcing the Mandarin script, the way it has been doing in Tibet and Xinjiang.

China also dreads the moment the separatist Mongols, Tibetans, and the Uyghurs join hands with Hong Kong. It could become a ticking dynamite for the very existence and unity of the People’s Republic of China.

The Mongols and the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang share the same script. That is what unites them—against China.

But why is China so scared of Genghis Khan?

Born as Temujin Borjigin (1158-1227), he was believed to have been fathered by a Sun Ray. Better known by his title, Genghis Huangdi (Universal Lord), he was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. His realm continued to expand for 150 years even after his death and emerged as the largest contiguous empire across Asia and Europe in human history.

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258, thus splitting Islamic unity and hegemony; they also destroyed the Han hegemony in China, which the current President-for-Life Xi Jinping is trying to restore.

Genghis had come to power by uniting several nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia, conquered most of Eurasia, reaching as far west as Poland in Europe,  and the Levant in the Middle East. His military campaigns were often accompanied by large-scale massacres of the civilian populations in vanquished areas. Because of this savagery, which left millions dead, the Mongols became highly dreaded in human history.

By his death, the Mongol Empire occupied a vast area of Central Asia and China. Due to his exceptional military genius and successes, Genghis Khan has been seen as the greatest conqueror of all time. As per his wishes, his body was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia.

Genghis Khan had introduced the Uyghur script as his Empire’s writing system. He encouraged religious tolerance in the Empire. All the Mongols, therefore, regard him as the founding father of Mongolia, one who brought the Silk Road under one cohesive political framework.

Even now, his directives, like simple living and strict discipline, are respected like divine commands by the Mongols. That is why not a single Mongol has died of the Covid-19 pandemic; only 608 were infected and 337 recovered.

China’s political, military and economic power in the 21st century has largely been camouflaged by its inherent insecurity. That is why it resorts to boasts and suppression.

Despite an unprecedented global unpopularity of China, President Xi Jinping has further pushed his country to the precipice: recently, he directed his Terracotta Army, officially known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), to “be prepared for war”. Sensing that the world is encircling China, he sought to put the PLA on alert.

How unpopular China has become was proved in October. Releasing a global poll, Pew Research Center said that unfavorable views of China across the world have climbed to historic highs in many countries, with the highest in Australia.

A majority of those polled in each of the 14 advanced economies had negative views of China. But in nine of them, China’s unpopularity was at the highest Pew had ever recorded since it started tracking it over a decade ago in Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Spain, Sweden, and South Korea, the report said.

Besides, at least 73 percent of those polled in these nine countries, as also in five others–Belgium, Japan, Italy, Denmark, and France–had unfavorable views of China.

Interestingly, many historians have concluded that, after Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad, Genghis Khan has been the greatest mover-and-shaker in the world in the last two millennia. In 2003, a research paper on genetics revealed that at least 16 million humans across many countries are direct descendants of Genghis Khan!

No wonder China so dreads the Great Khan!!

“Islam in crisis”: Macron only exposed the emerging truth

New Delhi: On October 2, when French President Emmanuel Macron remarked that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, all hell broke loose in the Muslim world. Many condemned him. Some took to violence, beheaded three, and wounded many others in France. It appeared as if Macron was villain-of-the-piece, a global pariah, especially for the non-Arab Muslims and their rent-seeking liberal-democratic-secular cohorts.

However, at a subterranean level, Islam, as we know it, is indeed in a crisis from modernity. The message, howsoever ugly or obnoxious it may appear is clear: Islam must either reform or perish.

Consider this: an atheist China has destroyed 1,600 mosques in its restive Xinjiang Province in three years, banned Haj for the minority Uighur Muslims, scrapped Arabic/Persian architecture of a mosque to make it look like any Chinese shopping complex, and even rewriting a China-friendly Qur’an in Mandarin.

And this: the United Arab Republic (UAE), Saudi Arabia’s alter ego, has just relaxed several strict Islamic personal laws to move on with modern times—at a time when Islamic militants, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, are baying for the French blood for alleged blasphemy, etc.

This new development has come within a month of the UAE and Bahrain signing the “Abraham Accords” with Israel, their medieval enemy, to normalize relations with the Jewish state, to the chagrin of non-Arab Muslim countries like Turkey and Pakistan, among others. Saudi Arabia, is currently tasting waters; it may also follow suit in the face of the threat from Turkey’s attempts to revive the Ottoman Empire.

This only means that the Arab world is realizing futility of its archaic Islamic heritage and wants to move on with modern times and geopolitical realities—something the non-Arab Muslim nations are not yet prepared for.

Last week, the UAE announced a major overhaul of its Islamic personal laws, which now allow unmarried couples to live together, loosened restrictions on alcohol and criminalized the so-called “honour killings”. These have been implemented with immediate effect to keep pace with the changing Arab society.

In the last few decades, the UAE has emerged as a global financial hub, and destination for tourists, fortune-seekers, and businessmen. Earlier, its strict Islamic laws were embarrassing for many of these foreigners and their countries and were seen as obstacles in realizing the full potential of the seven Arab sheikhdoms comprising the UAE.

These historic and progressive reforms are expected to attract millions of foreign tourists to boost the UAE economy and make it less dependent on traditional sources of revenue business-friendly ambience, and oil.

Accordingly, there will now be no penalties for alcohol possession, sales and consumption. There will also be no ban on cohabitation of unmarried couples. The beneficiaries include Muslims as well. The Arab nation will also better protect women’s rights by getting rid of the tribal custom of ‘honour killings’.

The UAE’s strict Islamic laws were equally applicable to the Arab natives and the expatriates. The expatriates outnumber local citizens nearly nine to one. The amendments will now permit foreigners to avoid Islamic Shariah courts on issues like marriage, divorce and inheritance.

Clearly, the Arab world is in for far-reaching changes in the near future.

Another change in the Muslims’ world affairs has surfaced in China where President-for-Life Xi Jinping is the driving force against ‘Islamic heritage’.

But nobody in China’s “all-weather friend” Pakistan, or for that matter anywhere in the world, dare question Beijing for its ‘Islamophonia’, as they do in the case of India, France, and other democratic countries. China routinely hangs Islamic terrorists, has for long been keeping a million Uighur Muslims in ‘re-education’ camps, and even banned their pilgrimage to Mecca.

Few have noticed how China has been effecting far-reaching changes even in mosque architecture, imposing various restrictions, and also ‘Sinicizing’ The Qur’an by getting it rewritten in its own language, giving no room to anyone and making sure the militant Muslims remained in check.

The latest example came in a mosque whose traditional ‘Arab-style’ domes were demolished and the shrine was rebuilt like a Chinese mall.

A recent Australian study, using satellite imagery, had found that China has systematically destroyed nearly 1,600 mosques in Xinjiang province alone since 2017.

As part of its ongoing project to ‘Sinicize’ Islam in China, a large mosque has been completely reconstructed by the government, removing all signs of Islam.

The Nanguan Mosque in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, was the largest in the province. It has so completely been rebuilt that—with no minarets or domes–that it no longer looks like a mosque at all. The mosque was built during the late Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and restored in 1981.

It was entirely renovated and changed by the Communist Party government of President Jinping.

The region, inhabited by the largest community of Hui Muslims in China, became a major target of the ‘Sinicize Islam’ drive of the Chinese Communist Party. In the last two years, a large number of mosques have lost their distinguishing features.

Now, all the five bright green colored domes and the golden minarets have been removed. The golden Islamic style filigree, decorative arches, and the text in Arabic script on the mosque have all been scrapped. Even the signboards are in Chinese, according to media reports.

The bright golden and green colored mosque with onion-shaped domes and Islamic style curved windows have been changed into a grey-colored rectangular structure.

The latest images of the mosque were posted by Christina Scott, the United Kingdom’s deputy head of mission in China, on Twitter. She wrote, “TripAdvisor suggested the Nanguan Mosque in #Yinchuan well worth a visit. Only this is what it looks like now, after ‘renovations’.  Domes, minarets, all gone. No visitors allowed either, of course. So depressing.”

The transformation was expedited after a recent visit to the city by  President Xi Jinping, who scolded officials for the slow pace of ‘Sinicizing’ Islamic structures. He remarked that “Ningxia has made some achievements in religious reform, but it was not thorough enough.” It meant that the work should be intensified.

He also visited the region on June 6-8. The demolition activity picked up soon after that. By June 26, the five green domes and the minarets were gone, and the remaining work was completed soon.

The militant Muslims could not do anything, not even expressed their dissatisfaction for fear of the government.

According to reports, the Covid-19 pandemic has come in handy to the Chinese government by giving it the opportunity to expedite the process of Sinicizing mosques in the nation. Imposing restrictions in the name of the pandemic, the government closed down many mosques, accelerated demolitions, and renovations.

Sunni leadership: Pakistan joins Turkey’s one-horse race

To say that ‘history repeats itself’ could be a cliché, even an understatement. But it should be said to see the latest developments in perspective.

To begin, let us say: the kettle is hotter than tea!

A century ago, Muslims of the Indian subcontinent had launched the Khilafat Movement for restoration of the Ottoman Empire in far away Turkey. It was basically an attempt of the Ali Brothers to create a Sunni bloc in the world. Even the then Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah VII Mir Usman Ali Khan, threw in his hat with the ambition of wresting the Caliphate from the Turks: he was a relative of the deposed last Caliph, Abdulmejid II, and fancied himself as the rightful heir to the high office.

Because of this ‘Indian’ support to the despised Ottomans, the Arab Muslims have since hated them. One by one, Arab nations finally broke away from the Ottoman yoke in the mid-20th century, but their hatred remained. After Partition of India, and emergence of Pakistan as ‘champion’ of India’s Muslims, the Arab dislike was gradually shifted to Islamabad.

At present, the growing bonhomie between the Arabs and ‘Hindu’ India, as also the Jews of Israel, is proof enough of this megatrend of a split between the Muslims of Arab and non-Arab origins.

But Pakistan has refused to learn any lesson from this subtle shift, even after the Arabs’ repeated snubs in the last one year itself, on the issues like Kashmir and the non-Arab axis it sought to create with Turkey and Malaysia within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), headquartered in Saudi Arabia.

So, even as the Arabs kept silent and moved closer to Israel, Pakistan aped Turkey again and condemned France for taking action against Islamists. France has the largest Muslim minority in Europe.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, who is fighting a grim battle for his own survival in the face of a united Opposition at home, criticised the French President for “encouraging Islamophobia” following the killing of a teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils.

“Hallmark of a leader is he unites human beings… rather than dividing them. This is a time when President (Emmanuel) Macron could have put healing touch, and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation and marginalisation that inevitably leads to radicalization,” he said in a series of tweets on Sunday.

Satan quoting from the Holy Book. See who is talking about a ‘healing touch’—someone whose country is the global breeding ground for officially-sponsored and funded, and army-supported terrorists of dozens of groups and whose over 7,000 members have been proscribed by the United Nations. A country continuously kept on grey list by the global watchdog on terror funding, Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Curiously, Niazi himself had admitted in the US last year that Pakistan was home to some 40,000 terrorists!

But this did not prevent him from his peace diatribe: “It is unfortunate that he (Macron) has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists.”

He claimed that the French President deliberately provoked Muslims, including his own citizens, through encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam, and Prophet Muhammad.
Without any understanding of it, he attacked and hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe and across the world.

Early this month, Macron had described Islam as a religion “in crisis,” and announced plans for tougher laws to weed out “Islamist separatism” in France.

His statement came after the gruesome killing of a teacher by a 18-year-old youth of Chechen origin. The youth beheaded Samuel Paty, 47, in broad daylight, near his school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb about 24-km from Paris, for showing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

Ironically, Paty had shown these caricatures during a lesson on free speech, according to reports.

The attacker posted a photo of the teacher’s decapitation on Twitter before being shot and killed by the police. The French media said the teenager had been in touch with Paty before the killing.

The killing suddenly made France boil with rage as anti-Muslim demonstrations were organized across the country. Subsequently, France closed several mosques in an unprecedented crackdown in hotspot areas and even posthumously conferred the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honour, on Paty in a ceremony attended by President Emmanuel Macron.

The French government also launched a crackdown against more than 50 Muslim organisations as agitated vigilante groups attacked mosques.

This was part of Macron’s October 2 plan against “Islamist separatism”. Last week, France said it was conducting multiple raids and would expel more than 200 Muslims from the country.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has also proposed to ban the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), an organization that claims to track anti-Muslim hate crimes. He lambasted CCIF as an “enemy of the republic” and hinted at dissolving several other organisations.

Fifteen people have been arrested as part of an investigation into the killing, including the assailant’s family members, reports said.

In September also, two stabbings were reported outside the former offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad at the start of the trial for those suspected with involvement in the January, 2015, attacks which killed 17 people.

With growing concerns about Islamic radicalization in France and the rest of Europe, Macron is mulling a new law to push religion further out of education and the public sector in the country, and aims to strengthen “laicite”, France’s strict separation of church and state.

It would, among other things, let the state monitor international funding coming into French mosques, limit home-schooling to prevent Muslims schools from being run by what Macron cited as “religious extremists”, and create a special certificate programme for imams to be trained in France.

France was where the Muslim expansion in Europe was halted in the eighth century.

And France was where the First Crusade began…

Is France now launching the Last Crusade?

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Macron needs ‘mental treatment’.

Watch this space!