Tensions between India and Canada have risen following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement in Parliament, where he suggested that the Indian government might have “potential links” to the killing of Khalistani terrorist Harmeet Singh Nijjar in Canada. Trudeau further supported Canada’s accusation against India and urged India to allow the legal process to proceed and deliver justice.
As a consequence, India has temporarily halted visa services in Canada. This situation not only has ramifications for trade and immigration but also holds the potential to affect the relationships these countries share with their Western allies.
The United States, for the first time since diplomatic tensions, confirmed officially that there was “shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners” which informed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the Indian government’s possible involvement in the killing. But what is the Five Eyes, and why has it taken centre stage?
The Five Eyes Alliance is characterised by a unique multilateral arrangement where partner countries share a wide range of intelligence, united by common principles of rule of law, robust human rights, and a shared language, according to the The National Counter intelligence and Security Center.
This alliance plays a crucial role in safeguarding their shared national interests by facilitating information exchange.
The Five Eyes, often referred to as FVEY, constitutes a coalition consisting of five intelligence agencies:
Historical roots and evolution
The origins of the alliance trace back to World War II when the UK and the US decided to share intelligence after successfully breaking German and Japanese codes.
The UKUSA agreement, which Canada joined in 1949, and later New Zealand and Australia in 1956, solidified the alliance.
While its existence was known since the 1980s, the official acknowledgement of the UKUSA agreement came in 2010 when its files were released.
Functioning of the Five Eyes Alliance
The Five Eyes countries engage in intelligence gathering and security cooperation, aligning closely in recent years due to shared interests, such as addressing the rise of China.
They maintain this closeness through the Five Eyes Intelligence Oversight and Review Council, an entity that facilitates the exchange of views, best practices, and annual in-person meetings among non-political intelligence oversight and review agencies of the member countries.