Neither security nor economic interest can be promoted or looked at from the narrow prism of a single country. In the case of India, the security and the growth trajectory of the world’s most populous democracy are inextricably linked to other major powers, most notably the United States, which has for long been and still remains the pre-eminent power on the globe. The people of India understand this reality, which is why so many of them are interested in what goes on in a country where there are more than four million Indian-Americans and counting. The new rules introduced in order to ensure that immigrants with skills get preference over the unskilled will assist further migration to the US, given that our country has an abundance of skilled human power, much of which remains either unutilised or underutilised. While there may be occasional spats between Washington and Delhi, both capitals have a common interest in ensuring that primacy within the entire Indo-Pacific remains with the democracies. In such a context, expanding naval exercises within the Quadrilateral Alliance is welcome. It is incomprehensible why Australia, for example, has been kept out of several such exercises thus far, when this continent-sized country is crucial to the safety of shipping in a large expanse of water. Another crucial area of concern is the growing radicalisation of elements of the population. Irrespective of the faith that a citizen of India or the US belongs to, radicalisation within the population represents an existential threat to the civilised world. It has, therefore, been heartening to see how the Muslim community has been fighting the waves of well-funded Wahhabism that for so long have usurped institutions and positions of responsibility. Wahhabis speak in the name of the Muslim community when, in any country, they form at most 15% and usually below 5% of the Muslim population. Muslims, like Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists, are overwhelmingly moderate and have accepted the imperative of modernisation through efforts at ensuring 21st century education.
Despite the legacy of Kemal Ataturk, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has moved his country closer and closer to the very Wahhabism that was used by the British more than a century ago to extinguish the influence of his country across the Arab world. Fortunately, more and more people in Turkey, a country with a people distinguished for their tolerant spirit and ancient lineage, are beginning to understand the direction in which some of its leaders are heading their country, and are mobilising to ensure that the moderate majority once again return to office. In such a context, a heavy blow to President Erdogan would have been the passage into law of legislation designed to impose sanctions as a consequence of the manner in which armed groups that have extremist tendencies are being propped up by Erdogan to subdue the Kurds in Syria, a people that have done great service in fighting ISIS. Senators Graham and Van Hollen introduced in the US Senate S.2644, the Countering Turkish Aggression Act of 2019 in October 2019. This legislation sought to sanction Turkey under Erdogan for its aggression against the Syrian Kurds. Information from Washington indicates that Senator Van Hollen in particular repeatedly pressed for its passage, but has been rebuffed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is known as “Moscow Mitch” within the Beltway. Why Senator McConnell is so solicitous of Erdogan and of other Wahhabi leaders is unknown. The influence of “Moscow Mitch” at the White House has evidently been a factor in the disastrous agreement by President Trump with the Taliban. This was shamelessly signed with a Taliban representative in Doha by US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, whose role in furthering the interests of the Taliban was evident even in the 1990s, while he was working for an oil company that regarded the Taliban as the gateway to their accessing the mineral wealth of Afghanistan. Even Senator Graham seems to have gone along with Senator Van Hollen in trying to sanction Erdogan. At Senator Graham and Van Hollen’s urging, elements of their stalled legislation were incorporated into S.2641, the Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act of 2019, which passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last December. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, functioning on behalf of his unseen patrons, has thus far blocked both pieces of legislation from receiving a vote on the floor. Why he has done this is unclear. Perhaps “Moscow Mitch” needs to be renamed “Wahhabi Mitch”. By his lobbying against the Graham-Van Hollen and other legislation, Senator McConnell is not only damaging the security interests of the US but of the entire world. Damage is being done all faiths, including Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims. The world’s over a billion Muslims comprise an essentially moderate community that is conducting a courageous fight-back against radicals, who have long strutted around the world claiming to represent a billion believers, when less than a hundred million are actually adherents to the tenets taught by Abdul Wahab nearly four centuries ago.