The G-20 summit was primarily meant to discuss the reshaping of the world economy in the face of continuing recession but the terror attacks in Paris forced the world leaders to deliberate as to how to halt the depredations of the Islamic State (IS). But the most important confabulation in this respect took place on the sidelines, just before the summit opened on Sunday when US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin put their heads together. It is a mystery why the US air force and its allies, including France, had so far spared the biggest source of funding for the IS even though they have been bombing the region for months. However, US jets swung into action a day after Putin displayed photos of IS vehicles waiting to tank up in lines stretching for dozens of kilometers.
Despite this development, nations will continue to be suspicious of each other. Nearly everyone has propped up a militant group operating in West Asia and North Africa. The IS receives funds from 40 countries, including many G-20 countries. There is also embedded distrust between the Western military bloc and the rest — the US had rejected Russia's pre-Paris offer for jointly combating the IS. Even if Moscow and Washington can see a convergence, the drive against Islamic radicals will remain incomplete unless Saudi Arabia and Iran, perennial Shia-Sunni rivals, also join forces. Only that will preempt radical camps from gaining sympathy by claiming the world is targeting Muslims from a particular sect.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ploughed a lonely furrow. He continued to lament the continued use of terror as a state tool even as the world, dreading more attacks on metropolises, is now completely focused on combating the IS by intelligence sharing, coordinated military action and keeping a close eye on indoctrination techniques. Unsurprisingly, the West found the terror threat a convenient cover to give cursory attention to reforms in the world financial system. For that the developing world will have to wait for the next G-20 summit in China.
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