By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
The state of Israel came into being on May 14, 1948. Mr Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian Prime Minister supported the creation of this Zionist state at the heart of Arab world. However, owing to its relationship with Arab world, India took some time in the formal recognition of Israel, and later recognized it in 1950. Besides, maintaining good relations with Arab world, India also maintained covert relationship with Israeli state. The former Israeli Defense and Foreign Minister, Moshe Dayan, is regarded as the linchpin of the Indo-Israeli relationship. Since he has also been the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, therefore, he propped up the politico-military dimension of the bilateral relation between India and Israel.
Ever since 1950, both countries have been interacting covertly, while keeping their strapping bilateral relationship at low profile. It was only in 1992, that India established its formal diplomatic relationship with Israel. Thereafter, both countries are enjoying an excellent relationship at economic, military and strategic level. Both countries are considered to be the strongest and most trusted allies mainly based on common values and security interests. Apart from other fields, Indo-Israel military collaboration has rapidly expanded over the years. By 2009, bilateral Military trade between two countries has touched US$9 billion. Currently India is the largest customer of Israeli military hardware and second largest economic partner. Both are undertaking joint military exercises/ training and cooperating in space technology. With over 150 defence firms, including three major state’s owned firms (Israeli Arms Industry (IAI), Israel Military Industries (IMI) and the Rafael Arms Development Authority) Israeli defence economy generate 3.5 billion USD as annual revenue.
Indeed, Indian arms procurement from Israel has enabled it to become one of the world’s five top most arms exporters. Some of the major Indian arms purchases from Israel include: Phalcon Advanced Airborne Early Warning Systems; Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles; Green Pine early-warning and fire-control radars; Barak Naval anti-missile defence system; Upgradation of 130 mm M-46 field guns by Israeli firm Soltam; Super-Dvora Mk II fast attack craft and Star Night Technologies Night Vision Goggles. Besides, both countries have US$2.5 billion joint collaboration in Spider quick-reaction surface to air missile (55 km range). In 2006, Indian Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) concluded a five years contract of US$480 million for the development of missiles. This deal was later enhanced to 2.5 billion USD and included in its scope the missile development cooperation, which includes both air, and land based missile system. The deal also includes; unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and satellites.
While reciprocating, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has helped Israeli IAI in launching its five TechSAR radar satellite system. It is all weather, high-resolution radar satellite, which Israel is using for spying against Iran. It is worth mentioning that India and Iran are the strategic allies. Now India is also strengthening its strategic relationship with Arab world and Central Asian states. This indeed is a unique combination of establishing relationship with the enemy of Arabs and vice versa. India has already purchased four Phalcon early warning radar planes from Israel. It has been revealed that lobbying for this deal was done by; a coalition of US-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), America-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) and American Jewish Committee (AJC). India also has acquired two Green Pine early warning and fire-control radars, which has the capability to detect and track the hostile missiles at a distance of over 500 Km. It is also finalizing the deal for the procurement of Arrow-II anti-ballistic missile defence system, jointly developed by Israel and United States.
In the recent past, there have been extensive visits of Indian services chiefs to Israel and vice versa. Israel is playing a significant role in the up gradation of Indian Air Force (IAF). The US$6.5 billion deal, for the procurement of 126 multi-role combat aircraft for IAF, will have an “Israeli imprint”. It has been learnt that, “whichever fighter — F-16, F/A-18, Rafale, Typhoon or MIG-35 — is selected, the aircraft will be fitted with Israeli avionics”. Israel is also upgrading 300 T-72 MI tanks and BMP2 infantry combat vehicles for Indian Army. There have been a number of joint meetings of Indo-Israeli Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism. Both countries are sharing intelligence through the close collaboration of MOSSAD and RAW.
In the recent years, there emerged another angle of this collaboration. This angle includes; the Indo-Israel joint collaboration with Afghanistan. In the garb of re-construction, India has already made lot of inroads and investment in Afghanistan. In order to lure in the Afghan masses and Afghan National Army (ANA), India has started lot of developmental projects in Afghanistan. Over 90 vacancies were allotted to the officers of ANA for training in India during 2009-10. Presently 27 officers and 37 cadets are undergoing training in India. In April 09, India offered to train 129 senior officers of ANA. India has promised to provide 450 military vehicles of all types to Afghanistan during the ANA Chief of General Staff’s visit to India in July 2009.
In collaboration with India, an Afghan Military delegation comprising of Afghan Defence Minister and high ranking Military officers paid a visit to Tel Aviv in July 2009. In connection with modernization of Afghan Army and to counter the Taliban threat, the visiting Defence Minister asked Israeli defence establishment to render maximum assistance. The host military establishment promised the Afghan delegation for the provision of a number of modern weaponry. The promised equipment include; 'SUFA' jeeps (armoured version) to Afghan military for US$1 billion. Besides, US Army in Afghanistan is purchasing armoured vehicles made by two other Israeli firms named "Arotech" and "Kibbutz Sasa". Israeli IT/Telecommunication firm named "Radwin" will collaborate with British Military operating in Afghanistan to deliver wireless broad-based technologies to facilitate British troop's communication in Afghanistan. Radwin has been selected for this job in Afghanistan due to its high-capacity 2000 technology to address the overload problems in the existing system. The firm reportedly will also monitor the signals communications of Pakistan Army operating near Pak-Afghan border.
Otherwise, there is a reported presence of Israelis-MOSSAD operatives particularly in the northern and northwestern provinces of Afghanistan, bordering Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Most of these elements are having dual nationalities and passports of countries other than Israel, using US and UK passports to conceal identity. Owing to its excellent performance, Australia has acquired Israeli Aerial vehicles (UAVs) named Heron for use in Afghanistan. Meanwhile Germany has also struck a deal with Israel to acquire 4x UAVs by the end of May 2010 for exclusive use by German Forces in Afghanistan. Canada and Spain are already using Israeli UAVs in Afghanistan.
Indeed, the Indo-Israel collaboration with Afghanistan is aimed to; enhance ingress in Afghan society specially the youth and political leadership to shape their mindset against Pakistan. Furthermore, it is designed to make ingress in ANA for stimulating them to act against Pakistan for creating a threat on our western borders. It also aims at further reinforcing the RAW network to destabilize Pakistan through covert intelligence operations. RAW and MOSSAD along with Northern Alliance and Afghan intelligence set up are helping anti Pakistan terrorists and extremists to destabilize Pakistan and project her as a state unable to protect her strategic assets.
The massive Indian investment in Afghanistan is aimed at a long term gains to encircle Pakistan. It is pertinent to note that Indian defense collaboration with ANA has not been able to guarantee the security of Afghanistan, but it has destabilized Pakistan to the utmost. In the same way, Israeli collaboration with Afghanistan is aimed to selling defense products and intelligence gathering with the help of occupation forces and India with multiple objectives.
Through Indo-Israel nexuses, both countries are finding new markets for their defence products. Along with their major allies, both are for a hunt to secure strategically and economically significant areas. The geo-political location of Afghanistan provides such a leverage. It would give Israel, sufficient space to manipulate against Iran, whom Israel considers as its stanch enemy. The location would also give them a capability to block any future integration of the Muslims by implanting the seeds of hate, as done in the case of Afghanistan and Pakistan. India has already run through this by creating mistrust in the bilateral relationship of Pakistan and Iran.
Now it is up to the people of Afghanistan to recognize their friends and foes. After all 30 million Afghans have the right to question their government that why India and Israel have all of a sudden becomes so sympathetic to them. There exists neither any religious affinity nor any other parallel between them and Afghanistan. Rather, both countries have a poor record of accomplishment of Muslim’s massacre in Kashmir and Palestine alike.
Dr Raja Muhammad Khan is a PhD in International Relations from Karachi University. Presently he is Associate Professor at National Defence University, Islamabad. He is a regular contributor to www.Opinion-Maker.org
His area of focus is South Asia and Middle East.