BACKGROUNDER: Indian intel warns of terror attacks on U.S. sites after diplomatic row

The Indian government has sent an official diplomatic note to the U.S. embassy demanding that the U.S. shut down all social clubs and all commercial activities including tax-free alcohol inside its large embassy compound in New Delhi by Jan. 16.

Devyani Khobragade.
Devyani Khobragade.

This is apparently in retaliation against the arrest and alleged rough handling by New York police of Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general last month, which has caused an uproar across India. The Indian diplomat was accused of exploitative treatment of her housekeeper and nanny, and visa fraud.

A far more ominous development over the U.S.-India diplomatic row is the increasing possibility of terrorists taking advantage of the rising anti-U.S. sentiment to conduct terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities across the nation.

The Indian media is reporting that India’s Intelligence Bureau [IB] had issued a warning that attacks on U.S. offices in five Indian states were more likely now.

The five states where the U.S. maintains diplomatic and consular offices include New Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

Khobragade was indicted by a federal grand jury but granted diplomatic immunity allowing her to leave the U.S., which she did last week, arriving in India on Jan. 10 to a hero’s welcome.

Corresponding to her arrest, the Indian government expelled a U.S. diplomat from Washington’s embassy in New Delhi. The day Khobragade left for India, the U.S. State Department complied with India’s expulsion demand and withdrew that U.S. diplomat.

The U.S.-Indian relationship had been on an upswing before this incident. There is much at stake for Washington to develop a stronger relationship with India in an overall strategic shift of U.S. military and political assets to the Asian Pacific, largely in response to China’s rise. India and China have historical and geopolitical enmity.

“We expect and hope that this will now come to closure, and the Indians will now take significant steps with us to improve our relationship and return it to a more constructive place,” pleaded Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the State Department.

However, that plea was met with New Delhi’s new demand to shut down U.S. embassy activities covered by mutual diplomatic protocol agreements.

Russia blasts China, EU with war act in ship’s seizure off W. Africa

Moscow is furious over the seizure of a 400-ft Russian fishing ship called Oleg Naidenov by the navy of Senegal off the coast of West Africa.

The government accused international forces, chiefly the European Union, China and Greenpeace, of instigating a conspiracy against Russia’s political and economic presence in Africa,

Russian Fisheries Agency chief Andrei Krainy called the seizure an “act of economic warfare” over natural resources in Africa and focused blame on the European Union and China.

“Our colleagues, partners and competitors don’t like that Russia is actively returning to Africa after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Krainy was quoted by the state-run RIA Novosti as saying.

Apparently, a French military helicopter provided photos of the Russian ship fishing in a prohibited area, alerting the Senegalese authorities who took action to board and seize the Oleg Naidenov on Jan. 4.

Aboard the Russian trawler were 62 Russians and 20 Guinea Bissau nationals. The vessel and the crew are all in the custody of the Senegalese authorities at the Dakar maritime facilities.

Senegal’s Fisheries Minister Haidar El Ali said that the Oleg Naidenov was a repeat offender in the area.

Fishing in Africa is vital to Russia’s fishing industry and accounts for about half of Russia’s annual fishing catch in international waters. Each year, Russian fishing fleets catch about 230,000 tons of fish outside of Russian waters.

The Senegal government is expected to fine the Oleg Naidenov $3 million for its illegal fishing.

China, Japan attack each other over economic approaches to Africa

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trips to Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Mozambique touched off fierce mutual accusations between Beijing and Tokyo over the models of investing in Africa.

“Countries like Japan, Britain and France cannot provide African leaders with beautiful houses or beautiful ministerial buildings…Japan’s aid policy is to really aid the human capital of Africa,” said PM Abe’s spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi, clearly jabbing at China for Beijing’s influence peddling in Africa through pleasing dictators or corrupt officials.

But China’s way of marching into the vast African markets of natural resources and economic development has outdone Tokyo’s much less effective approach, something the Abe government is trying to change.

During his visits to the three countries, Abe announced an aid package of $14 billion, mostly aimed at helping these countries to acquire Japanese technologies and industrial skills.

Japan in the past focused on a few key spots or relatively more developed countries in Africa, such as South Africa, Egypt and Kenya. But a string of recent terrorist attacks in the hinterland and less developed areas in North and West Africa, killing a dozen Japanese nationals, plus China’s unabashed penetration into the less developed area of Africa, rekindled Japan’s competitive spirit in the vast continent.

Abe’s visits to these impoverished nations were the beginning measures of that re-adjustment of Tokyo’s African policy.

China treated Abe’s African trip with suspicion and jealousy, dispatching its foreign minister, Wang Yi, for a hurriedly scheduled trip to Africa immediately before Abe’s arrival to grab the spotlight away from Mr. Abe.

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