December 6, 2004
India to 'unshackle' Iraq policy (INDRANI BAGCHI, DECEMBER 07, 2004, Times of India)
India is preparing for a strategic relook at its Iraq policy, striving to unshackle it from the self-imposed constraints of a 2003 Parliament resolution.
The trend, which became visible during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's first letter to US President George Bush after the latter's re-election, promises to find concrete utterance during the visit of Iraq foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari to India later this month. Manmohan told Bush India was ready to assist with the Iraq elections, scheduled to be held in January.
As a first step, India has offered to train 30 Iraqi electoral officials in India, but the government is clearly ready to go beyond making contributions in procedures and arrangements. The elections, the government feels, are a useful instrument for India tossing its hat into the Iraq ring yet again.
With a declared "hands-off" policy on Iraq surviving the NDA government, India has found itself increasingly marginalised in the global stakes in Iraq and clearly missing out on the action. The bedrock of India's shift comes from the realisation that Iraq's stability is in India's interest which is reaching out to West Asia in a new way. From energy to strategic stability in the Islamic world, India wants a more hands-on role.
On a more practical level, India finds itself isolated from the Iyad Allawi government in Baghdad. India had earlier delicately turned up its nose at the "interim" nature of the government which had been "imposed" by Washington. But in its desire to distance itself from US policies in Iraq, India may have shot to the other end of the spectrum, particularly as other countries, including Iran, EU, Arab League and even Pakistan, have engaged substantively with this government.
Is there a formula to express how much more they matter than France? Posted by Orrin Judd at December 6, 2004 4:00 PM