Crossfire War – India DM Antony Denies Reports of Chinese ‘Incursion’

Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=BEIJING – TEHRAN – ISLAMABAD WATCH – South Asia Theatre: Beijing – Riyadh – Tehran – Kabul – Katmandu – Dhaka – Islamabad/Arunachal Pradesh – Srinagar – Delhi; India DM A K Antony Denies Reports of Chinese Violation of Indian Territory – Visit/Briefing in Sikkim Continues – “The Real Barrage of Rockets Has Not Yet Begun” – Popular Resistance Committees – Gaza

Night Watch: GANGTOK – “The Chinese came, destroyed the posts and went back.” That is a quote from an Indian officer reported in an article Nov. 8 in an Indian newspaper that started the latest crisis on the Sino-Indian frontier in India’s northwest Arunachal Pradesh province. In response to these reports India Defense Minister A. K. Antony, who is conducting a two-day briefing tour of the tri-border area between Sikkim-Tibet-Bhutan, responded by saying, “Nothing has happened in Indian territory.” The Sino-India border has been separated by the ill-defined Line of Actual Control (LAC) and has been the subject of twenty-two years of non-stop negotiations between the two Asian rivals behind the diplomatic facade of regional cooperation. The Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh, on the eastern border of Bhutan, was invaded for one month by China in October 1962. Chinese units were successful and caused the fighting to extend further south into Assam state near the Bay of Bengal forcing India to fire its Defense Minister afterward. [WEBINDIA123]

Antony is fully aware of the recent history of conflict, which is why India is strengthening its defenses in the area, what Antony calls infrastructure. China is doing the exact same thing on its side of the border and India’s military leadership has stated recently there will be no repeat of 1962, but war in this regional theatre is not just between India and China. The fourth war between Pakistan/India actually began with the Islamic uprising in 1989-November but not yet full scale though there have been at least three occasions since then when (f)allout war almost began, most recently 2002, that has established the military standoff between Islamabad/Delhi across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. There are near constant infiltration efforts by Islamic militants supported by Tehran-Islamabad from Pakistan’s part of Kashmir into India.

Beijing deliberately increased and enlarged the regional tension by stating in November 2006, through its Ambassador to Delhi, that Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory and that is as much of a reason for Antony’s visit and briefing as the news reports last month. Regular readers of know I have always assumed it would be infiltration from Pakistan that sets off the fourth war, but it is quite possible Tehran-Islamabad-Beijing have instead planned a border conflict between China/India first, where India has fewer troops, then the Islamic infiltration from Pakistan increases to the extent India would be forced to use its hot pursuit policy and attack the Islamic bases inside Pakistan. In December last year, just one month after Beijing’s Ambassador’s statement, China-Pakistan had ground forces maneuvers just west of Kashmir.

Khan Younis – “The real barrage of rockets has not yet begun.” That is a quote from Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Palestinian militant group the Popular Resistance Committees, after several militants were killed, including Muhjahed’s brother, by an Israeli air strike near the south Gaza city of Khan Younis. Asharq al-Awsat/AP reported he then added ominously, “22 kilometers (13 miles) is not the ceiling” (range). Current reports indicate not only are Palestinian groups being supplied with a longer range and more powerful Qassam, but that they already have the deadlier Katyusha rocket with a range of 12-19 miles, which was used so effectively by Hezbollah from Lebanon last year. Islamic Jihad, which has taken the lead in rocket firing, states it has launched a dozen Katyusha’s from Gaza since March 2006 and have “many” in their possession. [ASHARQALAWSAT]

It would be a massive escalation when the Katyusha’s are fired. Israel’s oil terminal at Ashkelon would be the first target and it is less than 10 miles from northern Gaza. Though Qassams have hit buildings and factories in the industrial zone, the Katyusha’s can cause major damage and quite possibly disrupt the terminal’s operation. Israel would respond immediately, not only with larger and more frequent air attacks, but also with Jerusalem’s long planned invasion of Gaza. I suspect Tehran’s strategy would be to have Hezbollah then launch rockets from Lebanon including those with a longer range than the Katyusha’s and can reach Tel Aviv. Israel would then be unable to concentrate its entire military on just one front. There was a rehearsal of that last year when Palestinian militants began the war in June then Hezbollah attacked from across Lebanon, but this time Palestinians in the West Bank will become involved. As Jerusalem becomes engaged on three fronts Damascus-Tehran enter the war, under the glare of spectacular publicity, as the new military government in Beirut works more closely with Hezbollah than even in 2006, and prepares to welcome Syria-Iran’s military units, trapping the 12,000 European forces in UNIFIL in the crossfire.

Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.