Six reasons why India should join Russian air strikes in Syria

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Instead of always being a bystander during events of global import, it’s time India showed some spine and acted like a responsible power.

Air strikes in Syria

Two Russian SU-25 ground attack aircrafts take off from an airbase Hmeimim in Syria.
Warplanes from multiple countries are screaming through the skies over Syria. On the ground, terrorist groups are nibbling at Syria’s extremities. It is an environment that India should jump right into. Here are six good reasons why India needs to send its well-trained and ferocious military to defend beleaguered Syria.

India needs to show support for an ally
Currently, Russia is conducting airstrikes against ISIS, al-Qaeda and CIA-backed terror groups all by itself. The Russian Air Force has brought a strong detachment of jet fighters and bombers to Syria, but the fact remains that it is a solo act. Iran has provided shock troops to fight on the ground, but no aircraft. India should send at least a squadron of jets for joint air strikes with the Russian Air Force against terror groups. This is a matter that concerns India’s only strategic partner. When your friend is in a fight, you enter the fray.
India’s counter-terror expertise can be a game changer
India’s experience in counter terrorism could play a decisive role in combating ISIS as well as CIA supported terrorist groups such as the so-called Free Syrian Army. The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Army have been fighting extremists in Kashmir and eastern India for decades. India also stamped out separatism in Punjab after a take-no-prisoners campaign that lasted nearly 20-years. Such valuable counter terror experience is precisely what Russia would appreciate having on its side in the Syrian war.
India’s armed forces will gain invaluable experience
Significant events are happening over Syrian airspace and beyond. Turkish Air Force F-16s that attempted to come close to the action got a taste of Russian airpower when MiG-29s interceptors – providing top cover – achieved radar lock on the F-16s. Turkey’s military admitted that as many as eight Turkish F-16 jets patrolling the Turkish-Syrian border were “painted” by a MiG-29 as well as surface-to-air missile systems based in Syria in two separate incidents.
This is an eerie replication of the 1999 Kargil War when Indian MiG-29s – which were providing top cover to IAF jets targeting Pakistani intruders – achieved missile locks on Pakistan Air Force F-16s, forcing the latter to disengage from the battle.
The airspace over Syria is an environment that India’s MiG-29 and Sukhoi-30MKI pilots would relish. Not only would they be right at home in the Syrian cauldron, Indian pilots will also gain experience in a 21st century battlefield environment involving western air forces. The IAF can also test its ability to quickly airlift Indian troops into a war zone.
After the bombardment by Russian and Indian aircraft, the Indian Army would savour the prospect of mopping up the remnants of the ISIS as well as CIA-backed rebel groups.
Fight them in Syria, not at home
There will be plenty of naysayers who will argue India should not enter the mess because they fear the country will end up on the ISIS radar. But the point is to fight – and exterminate – ISIS in its home base than in India. ISIS should not be given any breathing space which would allow them to expand out of the Middle East. India – like Russia – faces a serious threat from these media and technology savvy terrorist organisations that are able to radicalise its citizens via the internet. India, therefore, has every right to destroy ISIS in its breeding grounds before it becomes a threat at home.
India’s stock will rise globally
Despite sending spectacular missions to the Moon and Mars and becoming an IT superpower, India is still known as the land of holy men, tigers and Gandhi. What the country needs is an image makeover. If India sends its armed forces to Syria, its stock will rise globally as one of the few countries able to hit the ISIS. We are talking about fighting the world’s most vicious rebel group, whose terror tactics have achieved the impossible task of making al-Qaeda look like a moderate bunch.
There is an ancient Indian saying – the brave shall inherit the earth. India’s leadership needs to bite the bullet.
India’s entry will be a landmark geopolitical event
The Russian airstrikes in Syria could be the beginning of a more assertive BRICS group. Until now it was the West which was enforcing no-fly zones and dictating terms. Now the Russian side is doing it – not against small, defenceless countries but against real terrorists who are a global menace. This is a significant development because Russia is finally taking decisive military action and has received wide support internationally.
Importantly, Russian air strikes against opponents of the secular Bashar al-Assad government have decapitated American foreign policy in the Middle East. People in the Middle East have front row seats to the wilting of American power in the face of a determined Russia.
India has rarely intervened outside the scope of the United Nations. The country is known as the reluctant superpower because it rarely ventures into global hot spots. If India sends its mighty defence forces to support Syria, it would have the weight of over 1.2 billion people saying no to terrorist groups holding a peaceful and secular country to ransom.
This is history in the making – don’t sit it out.

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