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07 Jan 2020: The Hindu Editorial Analysis

1) On US-Iran tensions: Exit Iraq

  • The vote by Iraqi parliamentarians in favour of a resolution seeking to expel American troops on Sunday was the first blowback the U.S. faced after it assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani inside Iraq on Friday. 
  • The outcome of the vote was expected as the lawmakers were under pressure from both the public and militias to act against the U.S. after the killing. 
  • The U.S. troops, which are in Iraq on an invitation from the Iraqi government to fight the Islamic State, have carried out air strikes against Iraqi militias in recent weeks, without the approval of the Baghdad government. 
  • This triggered public protests and led to the siege of the American Embassy last week. In an already explosive situation, the killing of Soleimani acted as a catalyst.
  • The anger among Iraqi lawmakers towards U.S. actions was on full display inside the Parliament hall on Sunday when they chanted, ‘America out, Baghdad remains free’, before the voting. 

  • Parliament itself doesn’t have the authority to expel foreign troops. But a resolution passed in Parliament is a call to the executive branch to act. Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who condemned the killing of Soleimani, has stated unambiguously that it is time for the Americans to go home. 
  • Government officials have already started working on a memorandum on the legal and procedural formalities to expel U.S. troops, according to him. Iraq is a crucial ally for the U.S. in the war against terrorism in West Asia, and the Trump administration has nobody to blame but itself for the setback.
  • It pushed the Iraqis to a point where they had to choose between Tehran and Washington. And understandably, they picked their powerful neighbour. But U.S. President Donald Trump still doesn’t seem to be in a mood to listen. 

  • He has threatened Iraq with sanctions and a bill for billions of dollars if the U.S. troops are forced to pull back. This approach not only violates Iraq’s sovereignty, it also escalates the situation to a three-cornered crisis involving the U.S., Iraq and Iran. Mr. Trump is primarily responsible for today’s situation. 
  • His decision to pull the U.S. out of a functioning Iran nuclear deal was the trigger. When the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran, it was up to the other signatories of the deal - European countries, Russia and China - to save the agreement. 
  • Iran waited for a year before taking countermeasures. But they did nothing, barring issuing occasional statements in favour of the agreement. Europe, which has good ties with both the U.S. and Iran, should wake up at least now. 
  • It should use its diplomatic channels to rein in Mr. Trump and pacify Iran to prevent an all-out war. As a first step of de-escalation, what Mr. Trump could do is to order his soldiers to pack their bags and leave Iraq.


2) On the mask of anarchy: JNU violence

  • Chilling and brutal, the visuals of the rampage of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi on Sunday night by a mob of masked criminals will torment the country’s conscience for a long time to come. 
  • The mob ransacked hostels and grievously wounded students, professors and staff, going about it all in methodical madness for several hours. Not a single attacker was detained by the Delhi police, deployed in large numbers outside the campus. 
  • The street lights were turned off and the police personnel appeared to have given cover for the mob that leisurely walked away with abusive slogans. 
  • This evil will outlive its perpetrators and facilitators; and the night will continue to haunt India’s dreams to mature itself as a democracy and as a society that treasures its institutions. 
  • The masks notwithstanding, it is not difficult to see the faces behind this outrageous assault on one of India’s premier institutions where access is not limited by pedigree or purse. 
  • The Hindutva dispensation’s extreme intolerance towards intellectualism in general, and institutions in particular, has been on naked display since 2014. JNU has been a special target, and that itself is telling. 

  • JNU recruits from India’s vast diversity, and offers its students the best opportunity to develop critical thinking and excel in their chosen paths of life.
  • This liberating potential and the questioning spirit of JNU has long been reviled by a political project that seeks to erase the distinction between myth and history; faith and fanaticism; and criticism and subversion. 
  • The charge that the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student outfit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), led this violence is credible, unless the serious injuries suffered by the students and teachers were self-inflicted. 
  • The list is long of those who stood behind the masks, and some of the faces are recognisable. The JNU’s administration and its Vice Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar have not merely failed in their duty as teachers and guardians; they have come across as desecrators of a place whose sanctity they were ordained to protect. 
  • The Delhi police, under its current Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, which had shown such alacrity in enforcing order recently that they stormed the library of Jamia Millia Islamia, stood by not as bystanders but as collaborators. 
  • Though they did not wear masks, they had their identities concealed by not wearing name badges. The Delhi administration apparently concluded that they had no responsibility whatsoever. 
  • The JNU attack couldn’t have been carried out without the connivance of those in power. There is little credence to the vague words of protest coming from some BJP functionaries and Ministers. 
  • The only way the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi can prove that this mayhem was not sanctioned is to come down heavily on the police inaction and bring the mobsters to exemplary justice.