Saturday, 16 May 2015

For India, it’s not either US or China, but both (Sunday Guardian)

MADHAV NALAPAT
ROOTS OF POWER
M.D Nalapat is the Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian.

Henry Kissinger was given the credit for the 1970s thaw between the United States and China by the simple method of ensuring that the history of that relationship post-1971 got written either by himself or by those dependent on him for information about the process. Neither National Security Adviser Ajit Doval or Foreign Secretary Subramanian Jaishankar, who have accompanied the Prime Minister to China, are likely to pen post-retirement tomes giving themselves, rather than Modi, the credit for what is on track to being a comprehensive re-engineering of the Sino-Indian relationship. Although for the record, the relationship between the two countries was warm during 1953-57, in reality this was because of Jawaharlal Nehru's surrender of crucial security and other interests during that period, an error Modi is not expected to repeat. Nor is he likely to make unilateral Vajpayee-style concessions to President Xi Jinping or to Premier Li Keqiang.
The relationship has become transactional, and to get, there must be "give". The interaction between Modi and Xi gives promise of eliminating from a relationship spanning a third of the globe's population several of the barriers created through an often wilful mutual incomprehension of motives by the bureaucracy on both sides, with consequent mistrust and stasis in policy. Early into his dozen years in office as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi understood the immensity of the China opportunity, which policymakers in Delhi had been ignoring out of a concentration on the China "threat". Certainly there are weighty matters on which there are disagreements between the two neighbours, but there exist as well several ways in which a harmonious relationship will be of benefit to both sides. Such paths have remained unexplored thus far because of the veto exercised by our security agencies, who have been trained by Washington, London and Paris to suspect anything Chinese even as these capitals fight each other to attract PRC investment and tourists.
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In several ways a harmonious relationship will be of benefit to both sides. Such paths have remained unexplored due to the veto exercised by our security agencies, trained by Washington, London and Paris to suspect anything Chinese.
For India's many Sinophobes, it is the robust manner in which Beijing has boosted Islamabad's missile and space programme that causes irritation, a negativism they fail to transmit when talking about the US, which has over the years been even more generous to Pakistan than China has been, and which continues to lavish treasure on that military-dominated state. And so, co-existing with wails from the Ministry of Commerce about the monstrous trade deficit this country has with China, the Ministry of Home Affairs has to date ensured that all but a trickle of Chinese tourists are kept out of India, in a world where around a hundred million citizens of the People's Republic of China (PRC) ventured beyond the boundaries of their country last year. Had China-specific tourist trails been allowed to be developed and visitors to that country welcomed with the same alacrity shown by the US, the UK and France, our trade deficit could have been reduced by at least a few billion euros. And if Chinese investment in infrastructure and manufacturing were permitted rather than — in effect — banned, it would have been Indian rather than Chinese nationals working in Chinese factories located in India and the Indian state which got the taxes levied on such units.
However, economic logic plays an insignificant part in the thinking of our security agencies, which continue to use Nehruvian cosmology to define and describe a world that has changed in a manner incomprehensible to them.
There are apologists for China who warn against closer ties with the US, seeking a return to what passed off as "non-alignment", but which was, in practice, Moscow-centric. Those wedded to US strategic interests rail against any accommodation with Beijing, unmindful of the fact that it is the "China card" which has been a primary motivator of Washington's slight tilt towards Delhi. The reality is that the Indian national interest mandates a robust — and cordial — relationship with both superpowers. India and the US need to work together, including in Asia, to ensure that the continent escapes domination by China, a country which from economic irrelevance has become the primary engine of growth in Asia.
In like fashion, China and India need to concert in certain situations in order to protect Asia from overlordship by NATO. That military alliance has inserted itself in the western and southern reaches of the continent, and wherever it has been active, chaos and suffering have been the most visible outcomes. NATO is straining to gain traction in Asia, and it is in the common interest of Beijing and Delhi to prevent this. India needs to act in a manner which enhances the autonomy of countries smaller than itself, China and the US, the way to achieve such a result would be to tango with both of them, rather than with one against the other.
http://www.sunday-guardian.com/analysis/for-india-its-not-either-us-or-china-but-both

Can Modi, Xi Bridge Trust Deficit (Pakistan Observer)


Geopolitical notes from India

M D Nalapat

Saturday, May 16, 2015 - NARENDRA Damodardas Modi has made China, Mongolia and South Korea his final ports of call during his first year as Prime Minister. Of the three,the most consequential visit is to Beijing, where the Prime Minister seeks to initiate a robust relationship built on trust. With the United States,such a chemistry developed during the second term of President George W Bush,and survived Hillary Clinton’s efforts to prise concession after concession out of India as a “reward” for Washington giving Delhi its due. 

During the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington nine months ago,it had been suggested by some experts that India should base a squadron of fighter aircraft in Damascus (with the cooperation of the Assad regime) and another in Baghdad (in partnership with the Iraqi government) and use these to wage war against ISIS bases and strongholds. By such a move,India would simultaneously signal its independence from Washington ( by taking the consent of the Assad regime) and join the US,Saudi Arabia,Jordan and other countries active in the air war against the terror organisation created out of the Libyan and Syrian post-2011 conflicts. However,the plan was shot down by influential individuals within the Modi government,who saw it as provocative and likely to make India a target of ISIS,who could for example kidnap or kill Indian citizens working in the GCC states. 

The problem with such a chain of reasoning is that there is no question of ISIS declaring war on India in future,the organisation has already done so,and is simply awaiting a suitable opportunity to strike. As for nationals within the GCC, the fact is that Egypt too has a large expatriate population within the sheikhdoms,yet that has not prevented Cairo from militarily joining the war against ISIS or led to any additional danger to its citizens working locally in Qatar,Saudi Arabia,Bahrain,the UAE,Oman and Kuwait. The fact is that India’s participation in the war against ISIS would have been a game-changer in Washington,silencing the anti-India group within the various branches of the US administration and boosting the country’s profile on the international stage. Prime Time calls for the acceptance of a calibrated degree of risk. If a country is risk-averse (as the USSR was during the period when Leonid Brezhnev was in charge), not using its military assets except against smaller foes or hesitating to deploy the full weight of its strike capability once it was in trouble,as in Afghanistan during the 1980s, that country will lose out in geopolitical arenas. 

However,just as Obama has finally shaken off the Clinton overhang which suffused his team, Narendra Modi appears to be gaining expertise in ensuring that the errors made in the past by an overly timid bureaucratic structure get avoided. This is evident in his approach to China,towards which his policy is very different from that of the bureaucracy. An example is in the granting of visas to Chinese tourists,many hundreds of millions of whom are Buddhists and therefore have an affinity to the land of the Buddha,India. Because of security concerns (or rather,excuses), only around 45.000 Chinese tourists visited India last year,out of a record 97 million going abroad,many millions to much smaller countries such as Thailand or France,which welcome such visitors by cutting away the red tape which blocks their smooth entry. If the US or France can deal with the “security” issues posed by huge numbers of tourists from China,surely India can as well,which is why Prime Minister Modi is implementing a liberalised visa regime for China,a demand of the tourism sector in India for decades. 

Security agencies,acting on cues supplied by developed countries hostile to a Sino-Indian rapprochement, have thus far blocked major Chinese investment in India. The consequence has been that it is factories in China that produce the billions of dollars of items imported by India ( whose trade deficit with China crossed $47 billion last year). Had investment been permitted,much of such goods could have been manufactured by plants located in India that employ Indian workers and pay taxes in India. Such logic is,however,alien to the bureaucracy in India,which gets tethered to an idea (in this instance,that India cannot deal with the threat perceived in Chinese investment,and hence it is best to block such a flow of capital into the country) and thereafter refuses to even adapt it to at least partly take account of changing circumstances, much less abandon such out of date concepts completely. 

Since the welcome given to President Xi Jinping and his charming spouse in Gandhinagar during the visit of China’s First Couple to India, there has developed a strong chemistry between the Head of State of the Peoples Republic of China and the Had of Government of the Republic of India. Both have achieved a familiarity with each other that enables them to be open about disagreements,but also to go the extra mile in taking advantage of the opportunities available for synergy between the two most populous countries on the globe. In a gesture of friendship,President Xi travelled to his hometown, Xian,to greet Prime Minister Modi and go with him to places such as an ancient temple built according to Indian traditions of two thousand years back. After that,a banquet hosted by Xi himself,with the two leaders spending hours together in an atmosphere warmer than that between any Chinese and Indian leaders since Rajiv Gandhi met Deng Xiaoping in 1988. 

During that meeting,the Chinese leader offered a border settlement which preserved the status quo,with small concessions by China in the western sector and equally minor concessions by India in the east. However, Rajiv Gandhi’s political advisors warned that such a deal would lose him votes in the elections next year,a specious argument that a cautious Rajiv accepted. As it happened, Rajiv Gandhi lost the election anyway,while a border settlement with China may have boosted both his image within India as well as internationally. Will the trust between Xi and Modi prove sufficient to ensure a border settlement during their terms in office? If so,history will mark that as a significant achievement,certainly deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.

http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=264067

Friday, 15 May 2015

Video: MD Nalapat on China-India cooperation (CCTV)


Studio interview: Importance of China-India cooperation

CCTV.com
05-15-2015 13:02 BJT

For more on Prime Minister Modi's visit to China, I'm joined in the studio by Mr. Chen Mingming, a communications advisor at the foreign ministry, and Professor M. D. Nalapat in New Dehli. Welcome both.
Q1 Mr. Chen, let's talk about the prime minister's first stop in China. The welcome Prime Minister Modi received in Xian, bears similarities to the reception President Xi received in Modi’s home state of Gujarat. As a former ambassador, in your view, is this a sign of warming ties between the two nations?
Q2 Professor Nalapat, what are Indian expectations from the visit?
Q3 Mr. Chen, what can the two countries do to take the relationship further?
Q4 Professor Nalapat, China and India are two powerhouses in Asia. Why is it important for the two countries to work harmoniously together?
http://english.cntv.cn/2015/05/15/VIDE1431666010154493.shtml

Sunday, 10 May 2015

For India, Cameron much better than Miliband (Sunday Guardian)

MADHAV NALAPAT
ROOTS OF POWER
M.D Nalapat is the Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian.

David Cameron has played a deft hand, reaching out to Narendra Modi within days of the 2014 election result.
David Cameron
Unlike in India, where the Election Commission takes days and sometimes weeks to announce the results of polls, even though using electronic voting machines, election outcomes in the UK are clear within hours of polling. In the US as well, except for anomalies, elections such as where George W Bush was selected as President of the United States by the Supreme Court, results are out equally quickly. In India, keeping alive the colonial tradition of secrecy, neither the Election Commission nor the government of the day lets on why the declaration of results takes so long when votes have been instantaneously recorded and tallied by the voting machines. Red wax seals that even a child can remove appear to be all that stands between fraud and a genuine result, while ballot boxes get taken away to undisclosed destinations. Given the glacial speed of processes in India, what we may term "Colonial Democracy" is a legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru that has been preserved with zest by each of his successors. The latest, Narendra Modi, will soon, hopefully, make into reality his vow of "Minimum Government, Maximum Governance".
Coming back to the United Kingdom, it is clear that enough voters in England voted Conservative out of the fear of both the Scottish Nationalists as well as a dysfunctional coalition. Edward Miliband paid the price for (in a sense) backstabbing his own elder brother to grab the leadership of the Labour Party.
If David Miliband had remained the leader of his party, the gap between Labour and Conservatives may have been closer than the 99-seat margin of this poll. Those who know Ed Miliband say that he will do more than eat a ham sandwich (done to show that he does not observe the dietary restrictions of his Jewish faith) to get to power, and that this includes cosying up to elements in the UK electorate who are — stripped of the verbiage used as camouflage — votaries of jihad.
Although he declared his love for this country in an interview to a television channel, his chumminess with those who follow the ISI agenda on Khalistan and Kashmir is not a secret, and hence there will be relief that he will not be the Prime Minister of a country that is still a significant international player because of its language, its history and its centrality in the global financial system.
David Cameron showed an appalling lack of judgement in following Nicolas Sarkozy in the manner of a poodle over the question of regime change in Libya, and he has been similarly short-sighted in going along with Qatar and Turkey in giving cash and weapons to Wahhabi extremists in Syria on the specious grounds that they are "moderate freedom fighters".
However, where this country is concerned, Cameron has played a deft hand, reaching out to Narendra Modi within days of the 2014 election result, and in refusing to go along with those who continue to behave as though it is India and not Pakistan where the "minority" population has dropped from 35% to less than 3%, and that it is Pakistan and not India where the population of minorities has risen substantially every year since 1947. Except for those who make money out of scare stories about India, it will be clear to any visitor that this diverse country is very far from the fascist state that Sonia Gandhi's father was a part of during the 1930s, and (which credible reports aver) he served in uniform during the next decade, until taken prisoner by the Red Army.
Britain has witnessed coalition politics. Indeed, during the 1939-45 war, Churchill wisely took into his government the main opposition parties, thereby forming a national government to face the threat emanating from Hitler.
During the past five years, the Conservatives have been allied to the Liberal Democrats, and a repeat of this experiment would not have alarmed the English part of the UK. What caused disquiet was the prospect of the Labour Party forming the government in alliance with the Scottish Nationalists and perhaps the Greens, a regime which would have rivalled the present Greek government in its left of centre approach to policy. Absent such a prospect, UKIP would certainly have got many more seats, as that party is closer than the Conservative Party is to understanding the uneasiness felt by many in Britain about the entry of millions from across the world. However, a vote for UKIP may have been the vote which brought about the election of a Labour candidate, and this most voters were unwilling to chance. Cameron has got the majority which eluded him in 2010 in large part because his party seemed about to do worse than the last time rather than better, and thereby bring Ed Miliband into office, so that he could consume as many ham sandwiches as his handlers told him to devour.
Hopefully, the Prime Minister will not forget the fact that this time around, a majority of those in the UK who are descended from the people of India voted for him rather than for Labour, and that they have done so because he has not thus far at least signed on to the Hate India brigade which paints this country as a den of extremists, unlike Miliband, who regularly breaks bread with this hate filled, hateful crowd.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Ford Foundation looks at Rajan as Saviour (Sunday Guardian)

MADHAV NALAPAT  New Delhi | 9th May 2015
The Ford Foundation is lobbying to use US economic leverage over India to get the Narendra Modi government to roll back the action taken against the organisation, high-level sources in Washington and New York say.They claim that financial entities with considerable influence in India, such as Goldman Sachs (which is known to have privileged access to North Block) and Citibank (which enjoys similar privileges with the Reserve Bank of India) have been contacted by senior Foundation officials to intercede with, among others, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Finance, Arvind Subramanian, to "persuade the Modi government to drop the measures" enforced against the prestigious body, including the transfer of responsibility for clearing of foreign donations from the Ministry of Finance (which to date has yet to look askance at a request from the well-connected US funder) to the less sympathetic Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). This was done through bringing the Ford Foundation into the "Prior Reference Category" (PRC), which in fact has been the only substantive action that has been taken in the case of the Foundation. However, this limited action has been sufficient to lead to US Secretary of State John Kerry (who according to sources in Washington had a meeting with Ford Foundation president Darren Walker hours after the Indian decision was announced) instructing his spokesperson to issue a strongly-worded statement against the decision by the Government of India. Soon after the rebuke from the State Department, the head of another major US-based foundation was sent back from Delhi airport after being refused permission to enter this country, in a message that Team Modi would not buckle to pressure the way the Manmohan Singh government was frequently accused of doing.
Sources in New York claim that the Ford-friendly US envoy to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has been lobbying hectically on behalf of Ford to get the UN Secretary-General to join the State Department in condemning India, although thus far, criticism from this quarter has been absent. However, six Senators are known to have interceded on behalf of the Foundation with the Obama administration, leading to open pressure from US envoy Richard Verma. Sources in Delhi say that the shift of the Ford Foundation to the Prior Reference Category is hardly a punishment. It must be added that the Ford Foundation has over the decades assisted several socially worthwhile projects, including several schemes under the Green Revolution of the 1960s, although in recent years it has focused less on such nation-building projects than on others which are societally interventionist on the model followed in Venezuela, Egypt and elsewhere.
Those close to Ford are in full battle cry, accusing the BJP government of "harassment of civil society" through a "crackdown" on NGOs. Lack of a structured communications strategy by Team Modi has thus far obscured the fact that only 16 of more than 35,000 FCRA (Foreign Contributions Regulation Act)-registered NGOs having around 3,000 foreign donors are in the Prior Reference Category (PRC). The impression sought to be created is that instead of acting in the matter of just 0.5% of the 3,000 foreign NGOs operating in India, the PRC condition has been imposed on an overwhelming number of such entities. Greenpeace is another agency that had escaped serious governmental scrutiny during the Manmohan Singh decade, but which has now been held to account for seeking to fund activities designed to block production of essential minerals in India in order to promote their import from Canada and Australia. These countries, whose nationals are active in the higher reaches of Greenpeace, are earning billions of dollars each year from exporting minerals such as iron ore, coal and now uranium to India, minerals that are in plentiful supply in this country, but which NGOs and their UPA allies had thus far prevented from getting extracted, and who are on track to earn much more in a context where China is cutting back on its purchases.
A prominent donee of the Ford Foundation has been Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who got a monthly scholarship of Rs 30,000 during 2004-7 from the US-based Ashoka Foundation, and who was given the Magsaysay Award, which is directly funded by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. Kejriwal had also received $400,000 in 2006 and again in 2009, while references to a third grant of $200,000 in 2011 seem to have been removed from the Foundation's website, perhaps owing to the possibility that it may have gotten linked to the street protests organised during that period on the lines of those in Egypt, Tunisia and other countries (which too received substantial funding from US-based entities that had close links with then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton). Interestingly, several politicians in India drawn from across the political spectrum have ties to such organisations, which is why it would be inaccurate to single out Arvind Kejriwal in this context.
Interestingly, the Ford Foundation now appears to have tasked a former employee, Amitabh Behar, to create a network of NGOs across India under the "Wada Na Todo" (Don't Break Promises) slogan. Behar has taken over the well-regarded National Foundation of India (NFI), and according to sources in Delhi, has received over $7 million from Ford, besides significant amounts from the MacArthur and Rockefeller Foundations for expanding his activities into directions that appear to veer into the political, exactly as they did in the case of some other donees of the Ford Foundation, especially in Gujarat, a state which seems to have been on the radar of several organisations during 2002-2013. Such a network would have the capability to launch within weeks "independent and spontaneous" agitations on the lines desired by donor agencies, and can therefore get used whenever there is a disconnect between the wishes of the governments backing such foreign NGOs and the Government of India. Extensive networking in media and even within government has added to the power of these agencies to channel public opinion in ways seen by their principals as beneficial to their interests.
Over the past decade, assisted by friends in politics and in the administration, identity issues have been the predominant concern of such foundations, which have collectively lavished funds on projects designed to separate into mutually exclusive compartments, religious and social groups in India. They have focused on projects involving race issues, religion and the alleged discriminatory treatment of particular sections, encouraging its donees to separate different segments of society from each other and to create a sense of victimhood in them. Had David Cameron been the Prime Minister of India, he would have received a rebuke from the Department of State (not to mention the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, that is USCIRF) for saying that his country was "Christian", or Barack Obama for the frequency with which he turns to the Bible in public, a freedom regarded as regressive in the case of Narendra Modi talking about the Bhagavad Gita, despite the fact that the Gita is, in the view of many, a classic of ancient India even as it is regarded by many as a religious text.
Given the small number of funding organisations affected by the PRC, and the fact that the Modi government is in no mood to back down in the face of pressure from within the country and outside, it would appear that Ford and other foundations may need to tread more carefully in domestic politics than has been the case thus far. "A small group of interested individuals ought not to hold India-US relations to ransom by demanding immunity", a senior official said, adding that "there needs to be mutual respect for policy autonomy in each country and this is missing when even routine bureaucratic decisions get impugned in such a sharp way". He ended by pointing out that "India will have a lot to say in future about such (US administration) inanities and insanities as the slapping of Super 301 or the USCIRF report under the pressure of big donors to political campaigns".
http://www.sunday-guardian.com/news/ford-foundation-looks-at-rajan-as-saviour

Friday, 8 May 2015

Iran-US Nuke Deal & Yemen Conflict (Pakistan Observer)


M D Nalapat

Friday, May 08, 2015 - Ariel Sharon, who in 1982 did immense damage to the security interests of his country and its people by assisting Maronite Christian thugs in Lebanon with logistics, weapons and intelligence while they were waging a war of extermination against large pools of Shia. Today, a like mistake is being committed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who regards Bashar Assad as a greater threat than Abubakr al Baghdadi and is consequently an ally of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar in their battle against Assad, a battle rooted in theology rather than politics. The four allies see an opportunity of using NATO to free Syria from the grip of the Assad family, the way Iraq was liberated from Saddam Hussein in 2003 and Libya from Muammar Kaddafy in 2011, the last two because they were in open opposition to the hereditary rulers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. 

For Netanyahu and his allies in Riyadh, Ankara and Doha, the signing of a US-Iran nuclear deal would be a nightmare come true, for from then onwards, it will not be possible for them to play up the Iran threat in order to gain strategic concessions from a Washington made credulous by targeted funding and lobbying of thinktanks and other decision-evolving locations. While the US would gain immense leverage in the region, besides damping down the possibility that it could join Israel in being a country under attack by Shia terrorists, so would Iran, a factor that causes severe heartburn in Tel Aviv, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha. Small wonder that anti-Obama groups across the US are suddenly getting fresh oxygen in the form of donors, and that so-called “Obama-friendly” agencies within the Beltway have become critical of the President’s foreign policy in the post-Hillary Clinton phase, when in fact Obama has been able to frame and to push policies far better suited to the overall interests of his country now that lobbyist-loaded Clintonites are no longer driving the agenda of his administration the way they did in his first term. 

Within weeks of each other, President Obama has achieved a breakthrough in relations with Cuba which could open the doors to engagement with that country strong enough to ensure a non-toxic (to US interests) trajectory once the Castro brothers relinquish power to their successors. Raul Castro has shown that he has the courage of a Deng Xiaoping, at least in the sphere of foreign policy. Were he to show a similar dynamism in economic policy, finally Cuba’s geographical proximity to the US would become the asset it can be, rather than the threat it has been since the 1960s.The Cuban people are as versatile as the Palestinian community of West Asia, and they would finally get the freedom they need to thrive in Havana that they have for decades enjoyed in Miami, where the Cuban-American community is known for its values and for its success in helping both themselves as well as their adopted country.

Obama has wisely gone ahead with signing a nuclear deal with Iran well before the 2016 Presidential elections, aware that in the course of a year, it will become clear that the doomsayers of the deal are bluffing, and that the agreement will enhance rather than degrade US security and other national interests. The problem for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey is that the deal would also significantly boost Tehran’s interests, thereby enabling it to compete more effectively within the region for influence, especially with Riyadh. The best hope for the four is that President Francois Hollande of France can scupper the deal by getting his representative to make unreasonable demands in a bullying manner, the way it has been the case ever since the Geneva talks began. Why France, Germany or Britain are present and not India or Indonesia is a question that does not worry a UN system led by Ban Ki-Moon, but the fact is that Paris does not any more have the heft to torpedo a deal unless Berlin and London cooperate, which they are unlikely to do. Neither is interested in selling more super-expensive Rafale fighter jets to the GCC countries, the way Hollande so obviously is. 

Clearly, the fact that the French have been the most obstructive on what is essentially a US-Iran nuclear deal has helped ensure that both Egypt (with Saudi money) and Qatar have ordered 24 aircraft each, although these are likely to see “action” only during parades, or against targets who would find it difficult to retaliate even against much less sophisticated flying machines. Given that Dassault Aviation makes less than a dozen aircraft each year, and that until now all of these get absorbed by the French air force, and that Hollande has committed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to supply 36 Rafale aircraft to the Indian Air Force in two years, it may be a while before Cairo or Doha see any aircraft. Should the nuclear deal get signed despite the obduracy of Hollande, the zest for buying French aircraft would considerably diminish within the GCC and those grouping keeps afloat through cash donations.

Hence the Plan B, which is to use the two month interregnum between the US-Iran understanding and an agreement in order to expand the space of Wahabbi interests vis-a-vis the Shia, such as through pumping in weapons and cash to miscellaneous groups in Syria on an unprecedented scale and the aerial bombardment of Houthis in Yemen by the Saudi Air Force. The assumption is that Rouhani (and Khamenei) have invested so much in a deal that they will stand by while their allies get clobbered. Should Tehran instead react with force to such a provocation, the situation on the battlefield will soon get messy for the four undeclared allies. Wisely, the Pakistan Parliament declined a Saudi request that ground forces be sent into the Yemeni quagmire. 

King Salman’s war in Yemen is as big a mistake as Gamal Abdel Nasser’s was. The five years of intense military intervention in Yemen by Egypt (involving more than 60,000 troops on the field) created conditions for the collapse of the Egyptian army when it was sent into battle against Israel in 1967. King Salman’s war is likely to last as long as Nasser’s war, and will within 2016 ensure that violent sectarian conflict erupt in his own country, as also in those who have been bold enough to join him in seeking to subdue the Houthis. Of course, this is in the event that better counsel not prevail and lead to a cease-fire. 

http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=263439