The United States piled pressure on India in full public view over the developments in Syria when secretary of state Hillary Clinton named India in an interview with CBS news. Clinton pointedly referred to Indian investments in Syria’s energy sector and suggested Delhi should join the US and Europe in imposing sanctions on Syria. She also seems to think India can use its influence with Damascus. But then, according to media reports, Delhi seems to be doing just that. The special envoy from Delhi apparently met with success in ‘pulling Damascus from the brink’ and eliciting a promise from Bashar al-Assad to introduce reforms that will transform Syria into a multi-party system. But Clinton seems unimpressed by India’s diplomatic coup.
Obviously, Clinton uses diplomatic language. She says: “We’ve issued more sanctions, tougher sanctions. We’re working with our European and other friends. But what we really need to do to put the pressure on Assad is to sanction the oil and gas industry, and we want to see Europe take more steps in that direction. And we want to see China take steps with us. We want to see India, because India and China have large energy investments inside of Syria.” But the message is loud and clear: ‘It’s about time India fell in line with the US strategy toward effecting ‘regime change’ in Syria.’
Unlike Clinton, David Bosco of the influential Foreign Policy magazine has no reason to be ‘diplomatic’. He is upfront that India’s “performance” on the global issues in the UN Security Council has “dampened American enthusiasm” for India’s bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. The warning is rather blunt: ‘Play ball, old chap, on Syria or forget about your UN dreams’. But Bosco is also an old ‘UN hand’ and he acknowledges that “US position on Council expansion isn’t all-important”, either.
With UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon doing his part dutifully by submitting a report on Syria, US is shifting gear. Ambassador Susan Rice’s statement on Wednesday demands that the security council takes ‘further steps to help resolve this crisis’ and ‘meets its responsibilities’. August has 18 days to go before India relinquishes its month-long presidency of the security council. Rice’s remarks are here.