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The way in which the Russian intelligence services operate

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Obviously the security system of the Russian Federation was made up of the remains of the KGB, which had been deliberately and perhaps unreasonably disbanded in 1991.

 A large part of the “Committee” was destroyed without any plan and then some KGB elements were redistributed in other agencies or even in other non-intelligence offices, by always trying to put the offices and the security apparatus in competition with each other.

 A reasonable idea, but to be used in a non-exclusive way.

It should be noted, however, that after the Cold War the Russian Security Services were rebuilt and changed on the basis of the American model.

 Not because the United States had won the “Cold War”, but because it still had as many as 17 different services in operation – and this is was a mistake also there.

Nevertheless, even before 1989, the end of the global confrontation had already weakened and marginalized the Western structures.

 The political intelligence unit in the United States was abolished in 1985, as was the General Intelligence Division of the FBI.

 In Great Britain the unit against “subversive activities”, known as F Branch, shifted from MI5 to counter-terrorism. The basic criterion there – which seems questionable today – was to operate counter-espionage only domestically and espionage only abroad. The divide and rule strategy of politicians over the intelligence services. But also a guarantee of inefficiency and information “holes” one after the other.

Post-communist Russia, however, did the same: the KGB was dismantled, with the Border Troops assigned to another ad hoc Agency and the communication troops to FAPSI, another new Agency, while the secret bunkers were largely removed or assigned to a simple office of the Presidential Administration.

However, the system born of the KGB’s disintegration imposed authoritatively lasted until 1998.

 In 1991 Yeltsin also tried to establish a single Ministry for Security and Internal Affairs – an old reform that had been started by Stalin in 1953 before the Constitutional Court stopping it.

Certainly no country can currently afford such a concentration of power as the one resulting from a Single Service. Especially the kleptocratic ruling classes or, as often happens in the West, the completely incompetent ones. Or both.

In this case, the long war between the ruling classes and the intelligence Services would be won by the latter.

It is not necessarily always a bad thing.

 The threats to Russia, however, were not particularly strong in the early 1990s – hence the Russian intelligence Service could be changed quite radically, albeit with the due bureaucratic slowness. And without too much damage, except for the lack of news about the relationship between the operators of the klepto-liberal transformation of the economy and the ruling class. It is not strange since it was exactly the goal it was intended to be achieved.

 The “liberalization” of the post-Soviet Russian economy was the aim, while the mandatory silence of the intelligence Services or their participation in the klepto-system was the means.

Most of the KGB, especially the section related to counter-espionage, was rebuilt as Federal Security Service (FSB).

The First Central Directorate, dealing with foreign operations and espionage, became the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).

 The 6thand 8thChief Directorates of the KGB, already operating in electronic and signal intelligence, were merged and reorganized into a new Agency, the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (FAPSI), based on the explicit model of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

 The 15thChief Directorate of the KGB became the Presidential Directorate for Special Programs, responsible for the protection of the country’s most secret and sensitive infrastructure, while the First Directorate for Security, i.e. the 9th Chief Directorate of the old KGB, was aimed at protecting the country’s most important personalities.

As noted above, the Border Troops became an autonomous administration.

Yeltsin himself made sure there was maximum competition between the intelligence Services and Agencies, also to prevent his Ministers from knowing about matters before, only or better than him. But the problem lies in understanding, not “having information before the others”. If the statesman does not succeed in understanding, there is nothing that can make him perceive a new idea, initiative or operation from a note of the intelligence Service. Nothing.

 There are those who are born councillors for traffic, while there are those who are born statesmen. And we have far too many of the former ones, even second-rank ones.

 The SVR competed even with the GRU (the Military Service) and the FSB, which then really rivalled with FAPSI.

Within the Presidency, there were also the Services that Russia called “sociological”: the GAS to monitor the socio-political (and economic) situation in the regions farthest away from Moscow; the Vybory(“elections”), which served precisely to monitor the electoral processes; the networks in charge of monitoring administrative costs. Efficient even today.

 In 1993, the system of internal competition within the intelligence Services was even strengthened. In fact, in 1993 the Tax Police was also established, competing directly with the FSB’s Department for Economic Security.

 In Putin’s hands those structures, but above all the Tax Office, became the main, but very selective tool against the “oligarchs”. Friendly oligarchs were chosen, while the others were forced into exile or into a few visits to Siberia.

Such a rational and practical choice not to destroy the system, which would have been fatal, and a way to remain in power.

 Excessive competition between the intelligence Services, however, can lead to dangerous infighting for State stability and, above all, for information reliability. Hence the Presidency tried to put a limit to this “blame and killing game” as well.

 In 1998, in fact, the idea of putting back together all the numerous pieces into which the old KGB had been shattered was revived, so as to prevent the excessive competition between the Structures from destroying the very function of intelligence.

It was only in 2003, however, that – after rising to power – Putin abolished the Federal Tax Police Service, as well as FAPSI and finally the Federal Agency for Border Troops and some other offices.

 Instead, the “State Committee for combating Illegal Drug Trafficking and Trade” was created. The Border Troops became part of the FSB and FAPSI was once again divided between the FSB and the Federal Security Service, which had remained intact in the midst of the various and often very complex “reforms”.

 The FSB was immediately given full and almost direct control over the Interior Ministry.

Nevertheless, once again the reconstruction-fragmentation of the Russian intelligence services partly spared the 5th Chief Directorate of the KGB, led and invented by Yuri Andropov, dealing with “political investigations”.

 As Andropov himself used to say, the 5th Chief Directorate had been created to “fight ideological subversion inspired by Soviet enemies abroad”. Just think that when he became Secretary of the CPSU, some slovenly Italian daily newspapers told about his “passion for jazz” and “modern art”. Nothing forbids it, of course, but Andropov would not hesitate for a moment to send certain artists to the cold Siberia.

 The 1st Department of the 5thChief Directorate was specialised in the infiltration and control of trade unions; the 2nd one operated against the domestic and foreign centres which supported Soviet dissidents abroad; the 3rd one operated within the student world. There were as many as 15 Departments only within the 5thChief Directorate, with the 14thDepartment responsible for controlling foreign journalists, the 13thone for keeping an eye on punks and spontaneous groups and the 8thone for Jews. All of them employed as many as 2,500 people.

With a view to “cleaning up” the image of the 5thChief Directorate, in 1989 it was renamed “Chief Directorate for defending Constitutional Order”, but it was formally eliminated in August 1991.

 After seven years, in 1998, the new Chief Directorate for protecting the Constitution was established within the FSB.

As the Russian Presidency maintained, it operated in the “socio-political sphere” against “internal sedition” which – as Yeltsin said – had always been “more dangerous than external invasions”.

Later that Department was merged into the one for “Combating Terrorism”. Correctly, the Russian intelligence Services have always separated “terrorism” from “subversion” – a sign that their political analysis is subtler and more refined than the Western one.

In 2002, however, again for fear of concentrating too much power in one single Service, the Counter-Terrorism Service was divided in two.

 It is incredible how an Intelligence Agency could have worked with this continuous institutional fragmentation.

 The BT Service, i.e. the Counter-Terrorism Service, was incorporated again into the FSB but with a new name, i.e. the SZOKS and the BPeh, i.e. the “Service for protecting the Foundations of the Constitutional System” and the “Service for combating Political Extremism”, respectively.

 It should be noted that the fight against terrorism was always separate from the one for “protecting the Constitution”.

 In those years, a new Russian need emerged, i.e. the control of neighbouring foreign countries, namely the CIS.

 The Russia-Belarus Federation, which we currently see actually in operation, was developed in 1999.

In 2005, however, the need arose for the FSB to carry out serious operations also beyond the neighbouring foreign countries, for example in Europe and North America.

 From that moment on, the Russian Services have been above all very careful not to let the colour revolutions – typical of the Western Services’ current approach to the destabilisation/isolation of the Russian Federation – break out in their “buffer zone”. All this started -in the Serbian “democratic” transformation – with the OTPOR network, organized in the U.S. Embassy to Hungary, as well as in the U.S. foundations’ networks and – long live the unaware powerlessness – even in the European ones.

Meanwhile, also against the colour revolutions, the FSB became a real old-style intelligence agency, with its brand new “Directorate for the Coordination of Current Information” (UKOI) and the “Directorate for strategic planning, analysis and forecasting” (DAPSP) that both became the most important and powerful bodies of the Service.

Pending Putin’s rise to power and his first years of government, also the GRU and the SVR resumed their former function as real intelligence agencies.

 In 2005, however, in the post-Soviet elite’s enthusiasm for new names, the structure that organised relations with the CIS countries, within the FSB, was again renamed as “Current Information Service”.

As mentioned above, in 2003 the Border Troops had been definitively brought back into the FSB.

The Russian Federation always remained a “police state” and there were two other bodies that dealt with borders and were not led by the Kremlin.

 They were the “Counter-Terrorism Centre of CIS countries” and the internal control system of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

 In 2006, the Duma also approved the establishment of a special Service for eliminating terrorists abroad. I wrote “eliminating” since a Service also has to do with certain phases of life.

 We were always in the sensitive and long phase of the handover between Yeltsin and Putin, namely in 2000 – the year when Vladimir Putin placed part of the FSB within the Armed Forces, a stronghold of the excellent GRU which was never significantly manipulated by politicking.

 The FSB immediately organized a “Directorate for the North Caucasus” and for military counterintelligence in that region. That was the geographical and strategic objective. The Service’s modus operandialso changed: from 2003 onwards, the FSB and the SVR not only disclosed the confidential information they collected, but also interpreted it – something that the old KGB would never have dared to do.

 The “KGB” was excellent, like all the Services that have a real State behind them (a current issue for Italy to meditate and reflect), especially for operations abroad and for penetration in other regions of the world – as in Italy, for example – but it never dared to interpret the data it collected, thus hopelessly waiting for the para-Marxist and ossified blah-blah of the Kremlin.

 Given the pseudo-Marxist chatter, those working for the KGB did as they pleased. Good old days.

Hence information arrived, almost without being processed, but only on the desk of the Director of the KGB (and then, for a while, also of the FSB) and he was the only one to select the data he deemed important.

 The data collected by the Service was then sent to the various departments of the Central Committee and – reading between the lines – that was the Party’s control over the KGB.

In the 1990s, other Directorates were added to the Lubjanka, such as the Psychological Service, which was interested in mass phenomena and counterpropaganda.

The open source analysis, which is currently so important for all intelligence Services, did not exist as such at the time. Neither before nor after the fall of the Soviet regime.

 There was, if anything, the study of errors and exact evaluations made by the Service in previous years and for similar cases. Too little.

 There was also the new campaign, organized through the many complacent Western channels, to create the “myth” of the FSB – as years before that was dome for the KGB, certainly a very good Service, but not as extraordinary as the propaganda, including the Western one, let us believe.

For a Service, however, propaganda must always be well organized and supported, unlike what happens in Italy, where it seems that the intelligence Services are mainly represented by the militants of the extreme left organisation known as “Avanguardia Operaia”.

Just to make an example, one of those old militants was also Interior Minister for a right-wing party.

 With great irritation and anger of former President Francesco Cossiga, who voted an individual motion of no confidence against that political leader.

Still today, the Soviet Services – albeit excellent and efficient (especially from an operational viewpoint) – are born from this long odyssey between uncertain ruling classes, sectoral and often “biased” evaluations, incompetent politicians. Currently a fundamental role is played by Putin, who has revived competition between the Agencies, although in a more complex and Kremlin-controlled way. After Vladimir Vladimirovic’s leadership – and this is certainly one of the aims of current Western operations – the Russian Services will be plunged again into the chaos resulting from an often para-criminal political polyarchy.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Russia points to evidence exposing Kiev’s intentions to use biological weapons

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Documents uncovered in the special military operation in Ukraine corroborate the evidence exposing the Kiev regime’s intentions to use biological weapons, Head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Research Center for Chemical and Biological Threats Dmitry Poklonsky said in the run-up to the Ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention. “In some cases, the study focused on infectious disease agents that had never been registered on Ukrainian soil,” he said – informs TASS.

“We have obtained reports of investigations into a collection of microorganisms that indicate the accumulation of pathogens in unsubstantiated amounts. There are documents confirming the intentions to acquire unmanned delivery vehicles that could be used for employing biological weapons. Considering the non-transparent nature of this work and the absence of any substantiated responses from the United States and Ukraine, we, of course, regard the documents obtained as proof that Article 1.4 of the Convention was violated,” the defense official said.

The documents obtained in the special military operation in Ukraine, including reports by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense, corroborate that the nature of work carried out there frequently ran counter to pressing healthcare problems, he stressed.

“In some cases, the study focused on infectious disease agents that had never been registered on Ukrainian soil,” Poklonsky pointed out.

Neither Washington nor Kiev deny the fact of the existence of biological labs in Ukraine bankrolled by the Pentagon, he pointed out.

“It was confirmed by the 2005 agreement between the US Department of Defense and the Ukrainian Health Ministry. Far more questions arise from the nature of the studies being carried out in these biological laboratories and how this work complies with the Convention’s requirements,” the chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Chemical and Biological Threats said.

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Psychological Warfare (PSYOPS)- The Pandora’s Box of Security Issues

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The world, functioning in its numerous forms and dimensions, is primarily perceived and misperceived by individuals through the faculty of the human Mind. A factor that creates a significant difference vis-a-vis human beings and other species is the complex cognitive ability possessed by humans. The mind is fundamentally an expression of thoughts circulated and imbibed through various means of communication. Deconstructing it further, thoughts portray the information consumed by an individual. In other words, this complex combination of the human mind, thoughts, and information shapes and reshapes our psychology.

Psychological war, in this context, can be perceived as a strategically orchestrated arrangement of information derived from variables like history, polity, religion, culture, literature, and philosophy broadly to channel propaganda with the prime objective of influencing and manipulating the behavior of the enemy to further one own interest. The term Psychological war is believed to be coined by a British Historian and military analyst, J.F.C Fuller, in 1920. One can observe that psychological war as an instrument of strategic importance is not of recent origin. Instead, the evolution of this tactic can be traced long back in history since the emergence of the State. It is considered one of the fundamental tools of statecraft and quite often has been put into the application as an instrument of state policy. Drawing a logical parallel, it can be advocated that psychological war has a close resemblance with the ancient notion of the allegory of the cave when applied in the present context.

Relevance of Psychological War

Napoleon Bonaparte once said “There are two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the mind.”  With the gradual progress of human intelligentsia, the world is and will be shaped and reshaped through the use of technology. The hyperconnected nature of a modern globalized world broadly portrays the image of a collective human consciousness deeply engrossed in the overwhelming nature of technology that reverberates with every emerging aspect of human life. When viewed from the prism of the State as a governing body in the international forum, technology will be the emerging axis of geopolitics since no state and its citizen can exist in silos devoid of the influence of other states. This is primarily due to the free flow of data. In this context, due to the free flow of data, the power of propaganda as a significant dimension of psychological war would prove to be an effective instrument used by the State to further its national interest.

In this contextual framework, the role of conscious manufacturing of narratives under the larger ambit of the idea of psychological war must be given due consideration. In his famous book,The Ultimate Goal: A Former R&AW Chief Deconstructs  How Nations and Intelligence Agency Construct Narratives, Vikram Sood unfolds the idea of how narratives are created, propagated, sustained, and refined in domestic countries and abroad to further the national interest. He emphasizes not only the power of information but also the power of disinformation to de-track and mislead the collective consciousness of the nation. Therefore, it is of critical significance for a nation to enhance its understanding of psychological war, considering it a major security issue.

The cost and the expense of war are also major concerns for the State. In this regard, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval establishes the viewpoint that wars are gradually becoming ineffective in achieving political and military objectives and that they are also highly expensive and are gradually becoming unaffordable. He further puts forward the idea of the 4th generation warfare where the operational target of the objective would be civil society. A fair understanding of the 4th generation warfare is of critical importance due to the fact that the modus operandi to target civil society would primarily be through the perpetual use of psychological war. The cost of psychological war, when compared with other forms of war, is abysmally low and also highly effective in manipulating the behaviour of the State. The cost-effectiveness helps it be more sustainable, which can be continued for an extended period of time.

Materialisation of Psychological War

China

Psychological war is applied by many States as an instrument of state policy. China, in this regard, can be considered a prominent player that has materialized this idea. In the strategic book on statecraft, The Art Of War, Sun Tzu states that “All warfare is based on deception.” China has consciously tried to bridge the gap between the theory and practice of psychological war. The Dhoklam issue in 2017 substantiates how the Chinese government used psychological war as an instrument of state policy to further its national interest.

Pakistan

The hostile approach of Pakistan towards India is not of recent origin. Instead, it is a phenomenon that can be traced back in history during the early germination of the idea of Pakistan when the Muslin League was formed in 1906. After the materialization of this idea by a painful partition of India in 1947, Kashmir became the bone of contention right after Pakistan’s inception as a nation-state. Pakistan, over the years, has become cognizant of the conventional asymmetry between the two nations. Therefore, it has operationalized the path of psychological war in the Kashmir region with a more pinpointed approach of using Twitter as an operational instrument to create misperceptions at a low cost to achieve its objectives.

Psychological War and the Indian Perspective

Taking a momentary glance at the historical evolution of India as a civilizational State, it can be rightly stated that understanding the nature of the mind has been a perpetual theme in the philosophical construct of India. The use of psychological war is not a new phenomenon. The references to it can be prominently found in Indian mythology. In this regard, the epic story of The Mahabharatha is a prominent example.

In one of the instances, Krishna applied this idea of psychological war by disclosing a fact to Karna, which hitherto was kept secret and hidden from him. Krishna, just before the war, unfolded the fact to Karna that he is the eldest son of Kunti, his father is the Sun God, and the Pandavas his brothers. This very fact and the timing of the disclosure of this fact put Karna in a deep psychological trauma that depletes his mental strength. It was at this moment that Krishna offered Karna to join the battle from the side of Pandavas. A similar instance of psychological war used by India was found during The Bangladesh liberation war.

In the context of psychological war, Arthashstra is also a relevant text. It mentions the art of Kutayuddha. In Sanskrit, the word Kuta implies the application of deception, the creation of misperception, and misleading the enemy state; Yudh means war. Kautilya is a staunch advocate of establishing a network of espionage to initiate intelligence and counterintelligence measures as a major security initiative for a state. Therefore, it can be rightly perceived that India has a history of psychological war, which it has implemented to maintain security and stability.

Conclusion

Taking an analogical perspective, if the mechanism of psychological war is like a gun, then information is the potential bullets that are fired from it to target the enemy. The flow of Information can be considered the most important factor that makes psychological war lethal, precise, and effective. Therefore, there exists an urgent need for the establishment of an ‘Information Operations Command’ to tackle the issue of psychological war that is rapidly maturing and enhancing in its nature and methodology, fusing with the 5th generation warfare. 

Another area of critical importance in this regard is the pressing need for a ‘National Security Doctrine.’ A national security doctrine is primarily a broad vision of a nation in the domain of its security from an inclusive perspective. Strong inter-agency coordination and refined analysis of security issues are needed.

Psychological war, as a rapidly evolving tool of statecraft in the security domain, acts as a linchpin vis-a-vis the 4th and 5th generation warfare where civil society and citizens are targeted with a perfect blend of technology and information. This makes it a war that doesn’t have a start or an end date. It is fought every minute, and progress can be achieved, even though at a minuscule level, but on a daily basis. Therefore, India as a major player in international politics with two hostile neighbors on its eastern and western border, must hold into perspective the scope, significance, and emerging dynamics of psychological war to keep herself abreast with other states at the international level on the security front.

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Growing India Israel Relations: A Threat to Sovereignty of Gulf States

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India has developed remarkable ties with the Gulf nations, particularly the GCC, over the past few decades. The significant trade between GCC nations and India and Israel are the main cause.  This gradualist approach and efforts on part of India is to include Israel in a broader Middle East policy. Under the Namenda Modi administration, since 2017 Israel is “special and normal” because India has avoided the negative repercussions and no longer have fears opened relations with the Jewish state.  

However, the point of concern is that India and Israel’s growing ties must not result in a coalition against Muslims. Modi and Netanyahu have many good reasons to rejoice over their thawing ties. But the gulf countries must discredit them if they use that proximity to advance a common narrative of extreme nationalism, exclusion, and labeling Muslims as the enemy.

Since October 25th, 2022, news reports have been making the rounds in the media revealing India’s involvement in global terrorism. Eight former Indian Navy officers have recently been detained in Qatar on suspicion of espionage and terrorism supported by the Indian government. These spy-officers were arrested in August 2022 for their involvement in international terrorism, espionage, and spying while working in Qatar for a private company and providing training and other services to the Qatari Emiri Navy.

Purnendu Tiwari, a retired (Naval commander) who received the Pravasi Samman 2019 (Highest Indian Award Abroad), was the brains behind the transfer of data from a major Gulf Muslim nation to Israel and India. It has been reported in the media that these Indian officers had access to sensitive information while working with Qatar’s enemies and the Defense, Security, and other government agencies. This is not the first time; India has been involved in espionage operations that violate foreign governments’ sovereignty, though it continues to deny it. International terrorism perpetrated by India has also frequently targeted Pakistan in the past. One such instance is the Kalbushan Yadav case.

The relationship between India and Israel is frequently described as a result of a natural convergence of ideologies between their respective ruling BJP and Liked parties. The BJP’s Hindutva and right-wing Zionism are two ethno-nationalist political movements that naturally discriminate against other races and religions because they are based on the majority populations they serve. In comparison to earlier, more liberal iterations of Hindutva and Zionism, both parties have become more racist. Therefore, by all means, India’s continued close strategic, economic, and security ties with Israel are more ideological than pragmatic.

India should make an effort to protect itself ideologically from the threat of Hindutva becoming the state’s guiding principle and a vehicle for incitement both domestically and abroad. Its exclusivist and discriminatory belief that India is only the property of Hindus is dangerous, especially at a time when Muslim minorities are increasingly being lynched in the name of cow vigilantism.

Today, the Gulf is an integral part of India’s ‘extended neighborhood’, both by way of geographical proximity and as an area of expanded interests and growing Indian influence. However, as a result of escalating anti-Muslim sentiment and the Hindutva movement’s flawed ideology, the BJP, government is arguably facing its most difficult diplomatic challenge in its nine years in office. A few years ago in 2020, Muslim nations were outraged by Nupur Sharma’s (a BJP official) insulting comments made during a TV debate about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Islamic-majority nations voiced their opposition through tweets, official statements, and by summoning Indian diplomats. The BJP was compelled to take action against the party officials for posting a screenshot of offensive tweet.

Subsequently, Princess Hend al-Qassimi of the UAE then made a rare public statement in response to the rising Islamophobia among Indians, saying in a tweet, “I miss the peaceful India.” She did this after she specifically called out a tweet from an Indian resident of the UAE as being “openly racist and discriminatory,” reminding her followers that the penalty for hate speech could be a fine or even expulsion. These statements come after the Islamic world, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, urged India to act quickly to defend the rights of its Muslim minority and expressed concern about how the BJP treats Indian Muslims.

This suggests that the relationships New Delhi has worked so hard to build over the past few years drawing on the efforts of the previous administration is now seriously in jeopardy. India’s diplomatic achievement is starting to fall apart due to domestic developments that target its 200 million Muslims. The flagrant mistreatment of India’s Muslim communities now jeopardizes New Delhi’s carefully crafted Middle Eastern diplomacy, particularly with regard to the Gulf States.

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