World View: Arab Spring - Should India have taken a more active line?

Suhasini Haidar, CNN-IBN | Sep 17, 2011 at 06:07pm


Suhasini Haidar: Hello and welcome to this week's edition of World View with me Suhasini Haidar. It has been nine months and counting the fires across the Arab world continue to burn and the Arab Spring as it is called is continuing to claim lives and in fact Governments. Today, we want to talk about what India could have done and can still do. Remember, it all began last December with Tunisia with the protests over there hardly watched by the world and then that finally forced Ben Ali to leave the country. There was a regime change there, three hundred people killed in protest. India stand at that time was to take no response, none was needed perhaps. And then it moved on to Egypt, President Mubarakh ousted from his position, 846 people killed in those protests. India's stand to begin with did not condemn President Mubarakh but as the protest in Tahrir Square continued it eventually went on to welcome the transition government that came in. Seven hundred Indian flown out for their safety, India still unsure what its position there should have been. In Libya, President Gaddafi has now been removed form his position but remember 30000 people an estimated number have been killed by both the protests as well as the NATO bombing of the past six months. India's stand was a little more clear over there, it began by backing Gaddafi's Government and abstained in fact from the United Nations Security Council Resolution in fact condemned the NATO strike. 15000 Indians had to be evacuated from Libya. The next challenge say many is really Syria, President Assad still very much in control, still in office but even so that death toll continues to rise. At least 2600 people have been killed according to the UN and according to the Government those include 600 security forces. India's stand has been to set itself apart perhaps from the west. It has sent its own envoy along with Brazil and South Africa at the Counsels Restraint to Syrian leaders who have visited New Delhi and it has opposed Western backed sanctions for the moment and any resolution on that subject. Finally we look at the other countries of the Arab Spring. Yemen, Bahrain that has the largest number of Indians there. Saudi Arabia there has been no regime change, small amounts of protest but for the moment it seems as if the Arab Spring in these places have been continued. The question one must ask again and again is should India have taken a more active line. That's a question we are going to ask tonight on World View. And joining us in our studio, we are very happy to have with us the Egyptian Ambassador to India, Khalid EL-Bakly, thanks so much for joining us Ambassador and also Ambassador Chinmaya Gharekhan, he has been the Prime Minister's special envoy to west Asia also we hope to be joined by Y. L. Awadh, he is a Syrian journalist but also the south Asian Bureau chief of Al- Arabia and Meenakshi Ganguli. She is in fact with Human Rights Watch. She is a South Asian director and has a fairly strong view on what India should do on Syria in particular. Perhaps we should start with you because the Egyptian revolution is what really has minds around the world Ambassador Bakly and as we looked at those Tahrir Square protests continuing to grow, India took a fairly middle position. In fact not really coming out one way or the other until it looked like President Mubarakh was about to leave, the question really would you have expected India to take a more strong line?