United Nations, Jan 27: India has called for united action against extremist and radicalized organisations operating in northern Iraq and Syria in order to stop the "dangerous trends" endangering peace and stability in the Middle East and Gulf regions. It also called for a "comprehensive political resolution" of the conflict, bringing all parties to the negotiating table, but said it should be a "Syrian-led process".
Speaking at a Security Council debate Tuesday on the Middle East, India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin expressed India's "deep concern with the activities of proscribed outfits, radicalized and extremist groups in the West Asia and Gulf region especially in northern parts of Iraq and Syria." They "are critically impacting on peace and stability in the region," he said. "Efforts must be taken by all parties and stakeholders in the region to curb these dangerous trends."
Although he refrained from naming the groups, it was a reference to the the principal operator in the region, the Islamic State, which is also known by the acronym ISIS, and others like the al-Nusra Front.
Opposition to these organisations, which control parts of Syria and Iraq and draw supporters from as far away as the United States, is fragmented. The US, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are ranged on one side and Syria, Russia and Iran on the other.
"We believe the consolidation of political processes and solutions while building durable state institutions will be the effective way of addressing such extremism and radicalism in the region," Akbaruddin said.
"India has consistently called for a comprehensive political resolution of the conflict, bringing all parties to the negotiating table," he added in a nuanced statement. "It has to be a Syrian-led process, taking into account the legitimate aspirations."
He expressed support for the UN-sponsored Syrian peace conference that was to have started Monday but was postponed because of questions over who should represent the opposition to al-Assad.
"We remain hopeful that the UN's mediation efforts will yield results," he said. "We urge all parties to demonstrate the requisite political will, exercise restraint, and commit to seeking common ground in accommodating their differences."
Akbaruddin said that India had donated $4 million in humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees and would contribute more at the Syrian Donors Conference for refugee assistance next month in London.
Turning to the other regional hotspot, Yemen, Akbaruddin said, "We have been urging all concerned parties in Yemen to amicably resolve their differences and we hope that the UN-mediation efforts would assist the people of Yemen in finding a consensus-based solution."
Speaking about the long-running Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Akbaruddin said, "India remains firmly convinced that dialogue remains the only viable option that can effectively address the issue."
Straddling a middle path between traditional friend, the Palestinians, and Israel, with which India has developed closer ties more recently, he said, "The imperative need is for restraint, to avoid provocation and unilateral actions and to return to the peace process. We remain hopeful and urge both sides to resume the peace process soon, for a comprehensive, just and lasting resolution of the Palestinian issue."
He added, "India supports a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side at peace with Israel."
Reiterating India's support for the Palestinian cause, Akbaruddin said, "India has always played a proactive role in garnering support for the Palesfinian cause in multilateral fora."
He referred to visits by President Pranab Mukherjee and and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and said, "These visits and interactions reinforce and renew our political and diplomatic support to the State of Palestine in its endeavours to realize an independent and sovereign State of Palestine."
During those journeys, they both also visited Israel.