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Middle East situation like India before Independence

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New Delhi: Middle east region expert Vali Nasr compared the existing situation in the region to the situation of Indian sub continent before independence. He said this situation is because of sectarianism and legacies of colonialism.

“Colonialism not only decided maps of the modern Middle East, but also fostered sectarianism in the internal structures it set up the Alawites in Syria, the Christians in Lebanon under the French, and so on.

“Colonialism and sectarianism conflicted with secular nationalism… sectarianism in the Middle East was like communalism in India during its freedom struggle and can be understood the same way… the issue of majority and minority rights,” Nasr, the dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at US’ Johns Hopkins University, said in an interview during his India visit for the Jaipur Literature Festival.

“The violence in Iraq is similar to the violence seen during the Partition of India,” he said.

Nasr, a Foreign Policy advisor to the Barack Obama regime (2009-11) and a scholar on politics and Islamic activism in the Arab world, as well as Iran and Pakistan, and sectarian identity in Middle East politics, notes sectarianism, between Sunnis and Shias, was not on points of theology but on distribution of power.

This was especially relevant in countries like Iraq and Bahrain which had Shia majorities but without any power, he noted, adding the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and then the Arab Spring further opened the door to sectarianism.

“The Arab Spring began a demand for democracy but what after that? That is the key issue,” said Nasr, citing another parallel with the Indian subcontinent’s example where the struggle against British rule also saw a bitter contest between the Congress and the Muslim League on the shape and nature of the political dispensation to follow.

The author of “The Shia Revival How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future” (2006) when the community seemed to be on an upswing with huge political gains in Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, Nasr contends rise of groups like the Islamic State is among attempts by Sunni hardliners to reverse Shia Iran’s gains in Iraq. But this comes at a time when Iran, long seen by the western world as the source of instability in the Middle East, is now being needed to manage the same instability, he said.

This image of Iran stemmed from the historic Shia-Sunni conflict, which however took shape of a proxy war after the 1979 Iranian Revolution raised a Shia threat for Sunni powers, especially Saudi Arabia which has had a relationship with the US, predating the US-Israel alliance.

“This proxy war between Shias and Sunnis, or between Iran and Saudi Arabia, even extended to south Asia and is still going on in Pakistan,” said Nasr, who also spent some time in the sub-continent in the late 1970s and experienced the sectarian hostility as far away in Lucknow, considered a bastion of Shia culture and faith.

Nasr, who also wrote “Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism” (1996), noted the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami and a proponent of propagating “true” Islam was not violent himself, but his “children have become more intolerant”.

On Iraq, he noted Shias and Sunnis look on its post-2003 politics differently the former see it as the first modern Shia Arab state, but the latter were disturbed at the loss of a country that contained the Shia “threat” and through the US, seen as their reliable ally against Khomeini’s Iran.

Matters were further complicated by the Arab Spring “which did to several Arab states what the US Army had done to Iraq broke down the state”, he said, noting the implosion in several authoritarian Sunni states, taken to its logical conclusion of democracy and elections would have disturbing consequences for Sunnis, especially in places like Bahrain given Iraq’s example.

“That is why the IS, which is trying to roll back Iranian gains in Iraq, and wrest Syria for the Sunnis, has struck a political resonance with its goal of a Sunni caliphate,” said Nasr.(IANS)(image: thesimmonsreview.com)

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Sony Mobile Exit India Market Owing to Hyper- Competition

Sony Mobile would continue to monitor the market situations and business feasibility in the country

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Sony Mobile, India
the pressure from Chinese brands and Samsung in the major price segment resulted in continuous decline of sales for Sony. Pixabay

Facing stiff competition from Chinese and South Korean players, Japanese conglomerate Sony Corporation has announced to quit the Indian smartphone market.

Sony had less that 0.01 per cent of the total Indian smartphone market share in the first quarter of 2019, according to Counterpoint Research.

Sony Mobile, however, said that it would continue to monitor the market situations and business feasibility in the country.

“Our focus markets are Japan, Europe, Hong Kong and Taiwan to drive profitability and future prospects in the 5G era,” Sony Mobile said in a statement on Wednesday.

Sony Mobile, India, Market
Sony Corporation has announced to quit the Indian smartphone market. Pixabay

“We have ceased sales in Central and South America, the Middle East, South Asia, Oceania, etc. in FY 18,” it added.

The company assured that it would continue its customer support operations including after sales support and software updates for existing customers in India.

The India smartphone market is currently dominated by Chinese players like Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo and OnePlus among others, besides South Korean tech giant Samsung.

According to Shobhit Srivastava, Research Analyst, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems, Counterpoint Research, the pressure from Chinese brands and Samsung in the major price segment resulted in continuous decline of sales for Sony.

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“With declining sales in India and other markets, Sony took the right decision to focus on the high ASP (average selling price) markets such as Japan,” Srivastava told IANS.

Sony India in July last year brought its flagship “Xperia XZ2” smartphone for Rs 72,990 to India that turned out to be its last launch.

“In a cut-throat market like India where Chinese smartphone brands rule the roost with industry-leading specs and having over 60 per cent market share, it’s tough for other brands to garner a meaningful revenue share. Sony has had a very miniscule market share in India,” Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, told IANS.

For Sony, the performance of its mobile business has lacked the sheen, and has been a clear outlier compared to its other divisions.

Sony Mobile, India, Market
Sony had less that 0.01 per cent of the total Indian smartphone market share in the first quarter of 2019. Wikimedia Commons

“It makes sense for it to cut its losses and refocus on other verticals,” Ram added. (IANS)