Iraq

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  • The Chilcot Report on Blair and the War on Iraq

    One cannot say that Chilcot has come up with any startling or original insight. But it is useful to have solid documentary evidence in a consolidated form for the conclusions generally accepted.

    July 11, 2016

    Is Iraq imploding?

    The government in Baghdad has lost control over a stretch of territory to ISIL. It follows that Iraq is at present inexorably moving towards dissolution. In any case, it will be a difficult if not impossible task to recover in full the territory under the ISIL and its associates.

    July 07, 2014

    Upcoming elections in Iraq: Prospects and Challenges

    Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite PM, seeking a third term in office, is facing growing opposition at home, including from his powerful Shia allies. There is also a growing rift within Maliki’s party members that his third consecutive political victory could marginalize them and strengthen his monopoly in the party as well as national politics.

    March 06, 2014

    How has the West responded to ‘gassing’ in West Asia?

    It is not so much because of the use of chemical weapons that will unleash US fire-power, but the fact that the Assad regime might be winning the civil war in conjunction with its Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

    September 04, 2013

    Vikas Kalyani asked: What is present state of relationship between India & Iraq, and what are the future prospects?

    Prasanta Kumar Pradhan replies: India and Iraq have enjoyed a very friendly relationship in the past. In the post-war scenario, India is trying to rebuild its ties with Iraq which was interrupted because of the war and instability in the country. India has sent an envoy to Baghdad and full fledged diplomatic ties are now in place. Though high level bilateral visits have not taken place in recent times, visits of officials do happen at regular intervals. Presently, India is deeply engaged in post-war relief and reconstruction activities in Iraq. In response to the UN Secretary General’s urgent appeal, India has committed US$ 20 million to Iraq. Additionally, India has also contributed US$ 10 million towards the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI).

    India’s economic engagement with Iraq is also increasing steadily with bilateral trade going up from US$ 7.1 billion in 2007-08 to US$ 19.7 billion in 2011-12. Iraq is also the second largest supplier of oil to India, supplying over 23 million tons of oil in the year 2011-12. As Iraq slowly makes moves towards peace and stability, the prospects for future cooperation in various fields also grows. There is huge scope for both the countries to further enhance their bilateral trade and business ties. Similarly, cooperation in the energy sector is also promising for both India and Iraq. India has offered its help in rebuilding Iraqi institutions as well as providing education and training to Iraqi students and officials. However, there is a long way to go before India and Iraq fully regain their old ties. It is time for both the countries to further engage each other and explore new areas of cooperation for mutual benefit.

    Iraq: Ten Years after the US-Led Invasion

    The US has spent over a trillion and a half dollars and this huge expenditure has nearly unhinged its domestic economic equilibrium. At the strategic level the results for the US have been even more disconcerting in terms of Iraq's Shiite-led government refusing to let US troops stay on as well as extending support for fellow Shiites in Syria.

    March 20, 2013

    Ganesh Pol asked: Well coordinated terror attacks in Iraq show substantial al Qaeda presence in the region. Has the nine year old US-led ‘global war against terror’ in Iraq failed?

    Prasanta K. Pradhan replies: Al Qaeda started its activities in Iraq after the American invasion in 2003. Throughout these years, al Qaeda has given a tough fight to the American as well as the Iraqi national forces in charge of the security. Though the US has withdrawn its forces from the country, it has not officially declared the war against terror in Iraq as over. Al Qaeda is far from being extinct in Iraq. It has lost many of its cadres and often looked weak, but has still managed to sustain itself and has undertaken terrorist attacks at frequent intervals. Thus, if one judges the success or failure of the war against terror in Iraq on the basis of sustenance of al Qaeda, and its ability to undertake high impact attacks, then clearly, the US-led war has not been successful so far. But one must understand that war against terror in Iraq is only part of a bigger geo-political canvas and it would take a long time for this war to end.

    Dinesh asked: Given the present situation what should be India's foreign policy towards Iraq?

    Sonia Roy replies: India and Iraq have always emphasised on their traditionally close political ties, especially since the 1970s. India and Iraq never had any hostility towards each other. The US-led invasion in 2003 and subsequent violence forced India to recall its ambassador in 2004. In March 2011, with improving internal situation following the 2010 elections, India has decided to resend its envoy to Baghdad. But at the same time, India opposed the US-led invasion.

    Since 2003, India has contributed US$10 million towards the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI), apart from providing training to Iraqi officials under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. In addition it has committed US$20 million under the United Nations framework for assistance to the Iraqi people. The goodwill aid to Iraqi reconstruction, while refraining from interfering in its internal affairs, would be a good gesture of India’s friendly approach towards Iraq.

    Since 2003, bilateral visits between the two countries have been rather limited. Iraqi Minister of Oil, Hussein Al Sharistani visited India in 2007 while the Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals Fauzi Franso Hariri came in 2010. There have been no reciprocal political visits to Iraq. India should look into improving political relations with Iraq and resume bilateral visits towards this end. Iraq is the third largest supplier of crude to India after Saudi Arabia and Iran and is slated to be world's biggest oil supplier by 2015. The re-construction opportunities are immensely beneficial for Indian companies. Also, the Indian government should tune its foreign policy, with emphasis on its historical ties to counter balance, or at least make a dent in China’s fast growing economic relations and the resultant influence in Iraq. With the stagnation of the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, it is in India’s interest to ensure unhindered energy supply from Iraq, and making it a strategic friend in the region.

    Sonia Roy is pursuing research at the Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

    Vikas Kalyani asked: Given the current state of affairs in Iraq, what should be India's policy towards its relations with Iraq?

    Prasanta K. Pradhan replies: Iraq continues to be in a state of fluidity as it is facing regular security challenges with terrorist incidents taking place frequently. India had called back its Ambassador from Baghdad in the wake of American invasion in 2003 but continued to support the reconstruction of the country. As the situation has started improving slowly and the parliamentary elections were held successfully in March 2010, India has decided to resend its envoy to Baghdad. Thus, in the current situation India should continue with the reconstruction efforts in post war Iraq. India has already committed $20 million for assistance to Iraq under the auspices of the UN and another $10 million towards the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) apart from providing training to Iraqi officials under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, providing scholarships and so on. As Iraq is slowly moving towards peace and stability, India should also take more steps to strengthen its ties with Baghdad. In this regard, announcing a new envoy is step in the right direction. Since 2003, high level bilateral visits between the two countries have remained limited. Iraqi Minister of Oil, Hussein Al Sharistani visited India in 2007 and Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals Fauzi Franso Hariri visited India in February 2010; while there have been no high level visits from India. It is time for India to look forward in this direction and resume bilateral visits as the situation improves. Similarly, India should look towards putting back on track the bilateral trade between the two countries which was hindered in the aftermath of 2003. In 2010, India imported 15 million tons of crude from Iraq. It would be in India’s interest to continue to ensure unhindered energy supply from Iraq. Thus, India’s policy should aim at restoring the old ties with Iraq which were disrupted due to external intervention and the internal instability.

    After Tunisia and Egypt: The mood in the Arab streets and palaces

    The events in Tunisia and Egypt have raised hopes among the people and, on the other hand alarmed the undemocratic and authoritarian Arab rulers. Time has arrived for the rulers to take note of the aspirations of the people.

    February 10, 2011

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