Global South leader India surprisingly sympathetic to Israel: Eurasia Chairman | EXCLUSIVE

NEW DELHI | Updated: 21 October, 2023 11:28 am IST
The Eurasia Chairman proivded an intricate study into the Israel-Palestine conflict

Israel and Hamas are currently engaged in a conflict following surprise cross-border raids by the Palestinian militant group from Gaza. These raids resulted in over 1,400 casualties and hostage situations. In response, Israel conducted extensive airstrikes in the territory, according to Palestinian authorities, resulting in thousands of casualties. The situation has left many residents in the densely populated and economically challenged territory in urgent need
of assistance. There are concerns that the crisis could escalate further, potentially involving neighbouring countries, as Israel is widely expected to launch a ground offensive. In an exclusive interview with The New Indian, geopolitical risk firm, Eurasia Group’s Chairman, Cliff Kupchan, extensively discussed India’s efforts to strike a balance between assisting its citizens and upholding diplomatic ties with the conflicting parties in the war. He also shed light on the war’s consequences for South Asia, global security, the US’ role in de-escalation, the EU’s role in peace mediation, and the support for Palestine within the Global South.

India Leader Of Global South:

In a show of support for Israel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on October 10, stated that he
had a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during which
Netanyahu provided him with the latest information on the situation.

“I thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his phone call and providing an update on
the ongoing situation. The people of India stand firmly with Israel in this difficult hour. India
strongly and unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," he

Shedding light on how India is navigating the balance between supporting its citizens and
maintaining diplomatic relationships with both the parties involved in the war, Kupchan said
India, often seen as a leader in the Global South, plays a pivotal role in what can be described
as a "swing state" in global diplomacy.

“India is a leader of the global south. I call India the leading ‘swing state’ of the Global
South. ‘Swing state’ because it is swinging between the US and China, and it is really closer
to the US. But by all accounts, it is a rising power. Now that means, India has lots of equities.
India traditionally has been the most non-aligned. I think in this conflict, as I have read Mr.
Modi's statements, he has been surprisingly sympathetic to the Israeli situation and to
American policy, especially compared to India’s stance on the Ukraine conflict.”

According to him, India’s approach in this matter stems from its commitment to strengthening
ties with Israel while also considering political dynamics and the impact of the war on its
diaspora. He further explained that Modi’s diplomatic skills are expected to come into play as
India navigates its complex diplomatic relationships and interests.

War’s Impact On India And South Asia:

Discussing the impact of this conflict on the geopolitical landscape in South Asia and India's
relationship with both Israel and Palestine, he said, “The conflict, I don’t think, is going toexpand significantly. Unless Iran gets involved in the war, that’s the key thing to watch. Or unless the West thinks Iran was more involved in the attack than it now thinks Iran was involved.”

“Then we’re looking at a world where Iranian oil production and free passage through the Strait of Hormuz could get questioned, and could become involved in the war. And that means spiking oil prices. So, Iran is the transmission belt to the global economy.”

He explained that Iran serves as a conduit for global repercussions, extending to regions like
South Asia. Without Iran’s involvement, the ongoing conflict will remain deeply distressing
and marked by substantial loss of life. However, it would not have an immediate and
significant impact on the rest of the world.

Therefore, the primary consequence would be the potential rise in oil prices, directly affecting
India is a major importer. He also stated that an imminent Israeli ground war, in some form,
will only exacerbate extremism in both Palestine and globally. This, regrettably, will have
repercussions for all countries in the medium term.

The situation, as per him, is not entirely clear at the moment regarding Iran’s direct
involvement in planning attacks by Hamas on Israel or potentially influencing Hezbollah to
open another front. However, if such scenarios were to unfold, there could be real
possibilities of Israeli actions against Iranian oil infrastructure and military facilities, leading
to a significant spike in insurance premiums and subsequently, oil prices. This would pose a
challenge for India, potentially requiring a re-evaluation of budgeting and government

Implications Of War On Global Security:

The European Union (EU) has demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all captives held by Hamas in Gaza. The EU has also denounced the actions of Hamas and expressed compassion for civilian casualties on both sides of the conflict. Highlighting the implications of this conflict for global security and international efforts to
combat terrorism, he said, “It opens a new front for international terrorism. As everybody knows, this was the bloodiest day for Israel since the Holocaust. Thousands of Jewish people were murdered. And it's important to use that word because this is not a war. This was murder.

“These were civilians. It wasn’t soldiers that died, most of them. And how that happened is mostly an Israeli story. How did Israeli intelligence fall asleep, or didn’t have the assets to find this out? So, this raises significant questions for international terrorism as a whole.” He underscored that Israel, renowned for its top-tier intelligence, was assumed to have extensive knowledge of Hamas’ activities. However, this event highlights the potential shortcomings in monitoring such threats, prompting a need for broader lessons and discussions about the implications of this intelligence failure in the context of global terrorism.

US’ Role In De-escalating War:

Recently, US President Joe Biden travelled to Israel to express his solidarity with the Israeli
people. The recent Hamas attacks in Israel have resulted in the tragic loss of more than 1,300 innocent civilians, including at least 31 American citizens. Earlier as well, Biden had reiterated that Israel is not alone and that with the support of the US, it will continue to be a secure, democratic, Jewish state.

Discussing the role of influential nations in escalating or de-escalating the war, Kupchan, despite being a “harsh critic of the Biden administration”, emphasised that the US has done a great job, so far.

“Biden has done a very good job, so far. He and Blinken are flying around the Middle East desperately right now, trying to moderate the Israeli response, trying to moderate the Arab response, trying to work on the hostage and options for Gazans too, for Palestinians to flee into Egypt, which so far President Sisi (Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi) has not agreed to. If you just look at that agenda, it's five or six extraordinarily tough agenda items. And I think the US administration has been all over this issue and is doing a good job, so far,” he said.

EU’s Role In Mediating Peace:

The EU’s Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Oliver Varhelyi of Hungary, declared the discontinuation of assistance to the Palestinians the day after the heinous attacks by Hamas on Israel.

Furthermore, standing alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz conveyed that during the challenging period in which the Jewish state is currently placed, his country’s sole position is one of standing by Israel.

Deliberating on the EU’s role in mediating peace and providing support in this conflict, he said that the EU’s position on the conflict in the Middle East appears to be somewhat unclear at the moment. While President Ursula von der Leyen delivered a notably pro-Israel speech recently, the broader EU stance seems to be more balanced, with a significant degree of sympathy for the Palestinians, except for Germany.

“Germany, on the other hand, is a special case because of the Holocaust and its ironclad support for Israel. Therefore, the Germans will be much more forward-leaning on Israel,” he stated.

Support For Palestine:

Religious Muslim leaders in India have joined together to demand an immediate halt to the violence in Gaza. They have strongly criticised Israel for the loss of human lives, the targeting of hospitals, and the withholding of essential provisions like food, water, and medicine from the people in the Palestinian territory.

They said in a joint statement, “We must remember that the Zionist government has been continuously evicting Palestinians from their homes and land for years and oppressing the native inhabitants of the land. The continuous settlement [of Israelis] in new localities of the Palestinian territories and the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other such aggressive policies is clear violation of international laws. They are the biggest roadblock in the way of
sustained peace and order in the region.”

During the interview, Kupchan also shared his opinion on “political leaders from the Global South openly supporting Palestine.” Calling it “a big problem” he claimed that sympathy for Israel appears to be much weaker in South Asia. On one hand, it holds the US accountable, and any diplomatic gains made in the Global South could be lost or significantly diminished if the situation escalates, particularly with a high number of casualties and distressing images from Gaza. The Biden administration had been working on improving relations with the Global South, but a negative reaction in this context could reverse recent progress.


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