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  • 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

    Power vacuum and impending regional race in Iraq

    President Barack Obama’s announcement that the “American combat role in Iraq has ended” has created fresh challenges for the region. Iraq needs to meet the daunting internal and external challenges in the wake of the American withdrawal to ensure stability.

    September 09, 2010

    America Leaves Iraq: A Strategic Appraisal

    As the latest wave of deadly bombings across Iraq vividly demonstrates, the war-torn country has a long way to go before it achieves an acceptable level of stability.

    August 27, 2010

    End of Al Majid ‘Chemical’ Ali

    The execution of Chemical Ali might enliven the debate on chemical warfare. It should inspire the global community to revisit the threat from chemical weapons and renew cooperation to ensure chemical agents remain inaccessible to the non state actors like the al Qaeda and the Taliban. These militant groups are irresponsible and are forever looking for ways and means to induce maximum damage to innocent lives across the globe.

    January-March 2010

    The Game: A Rational Actor Approach to the US-led Invasion of Iraq, 2003

    This article employs game theory to explain the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, seeking in particular to improve the understanding of why the Iraqi dictator chose a path of action that ultimately led to his downfall. The main argument is that Saddam Hussein lacked information about his opponent's payoffs and was lured by the possibility of becoming the undisputed leading figure of the Arabic world. The analysis shows that even if the threat of an allied attack in the end proved credible, Iraq could - quite rationally - have chosen to stand firm.

    September 2009

    Iraq beyond the Troop Surge: Fragile Security Gains, Tenuous Political Stability

    The military commander most associated with executing President George Bush’s ‘troop surge’ in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, handed over command of US forces to Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno on September 16, after completing nearly 18 months of duty at the helm. He had taken over from the then commander Gen. George Casey in early February 2007, at a time when rising American and Iraqi civilian casualties threatened to engulf the whole region with its attendant negative consequences.

    September 24, 2008