Singh, however, said the government is committed to taking all necessary steps to safeguard India’s interests on the basis of India’s national security requirements.
In reply to another question on alleged spying on Indian missions, he said government is aware of reports stating that US national security agency spied on 38 diplomatic missions of foreign countries, including the Indian Embassy in Washington, by implanting bugs and using specialised antenna. “Government has expressed concerns over the reports of monitoring of the Indian embassy and our mission to the UN in New York by US agencies. Government has raised these concerns with the US authorities at senior levels,” he said.
In reply to another question, Singh said that during the current financial year India has spent Rs 580.52 crore (till January 2015) on assistance to Afghanistan.
In the lead-up to the decision on committing troops to the war against Isis (Islamic State) in Iraq, that country’s foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, made a surprise visit to New Zealand to shore up support last week.
He looked earnest and kindly as he took the stand beside Murray McCully. The face of rational Islam, wearing a suit and glasses, and pleading for international help because Isis is a foe unlike any other. He didn’t need to say it, but the spectre of pilots burned in cages, women raped, summary executions and terror are the ever-present, horrifying backdrop to all and every comment on why America and her allies must rush to provide help.
Dr al-Jaafari represents the “right side” to support, as the Prime Minister forcefully emphasised in Parliament after the announcement of troop deployment had been made.
While living in London in the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, he visited the White House to petition the Americans to help overthrow Saddam. Some reports suggest he was part of a Shi’ite elite eager to seize control of Iraq’s enormous resources and wealth after the dreaded tyrant was overthrown.
Dr al-Jaafari was installed as Prime Minister of the transitional government of Iraq until May 2006, a period that was one of the bloodiest in the country after the Saddam era. Some believed Dr al-Jaafari’s government was, at the least, turning a blind eye to the sectarian cleansing which saw mainly Sunnis summarily executed, disappeared and beaten.
Could this be the reason Dr al-Jaafari completely rejected the idea of our troops in combat during “World War III” against Isis, as he calls it? Is it possible he is for the use of foreign capital to fund and arm and train his own people, but not for ongoing help from us for the establishment of democracy? Is that why our soldiers enter without badges – without legal protection?
On the one hand, there’s no doubt that Isis uses, and broadcasts the use of, the most extreme forms of violence in an attempt to horrify and mobilise Western involvement in Iraq; they dream not only of an Islamic caliphate but a killing field where they die as martyrs fighting the evil West, according to an article in the Atlantic published this month. If they can radicalise groups of impressionable young people to carry out the work of slaughtering infidels further afield, so much the scarier for us.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is set to address a joint session of Congress on the subject next week at the invitation of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio). The White House and Democratic leaders have expressed displeasure with the planned speech. Channel Two’s foreign affairs reporter said that the Saudis have asked Israel for “some kind of progress” on the Palestinian issue to make Riyadh’s cooperation with Israel more palatable in the Muslim world. There has been no Israeli reaction to the report.
Israeli warplanes have overflown Saudi territory at least once before when they bombed and destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981. The eight planes involved flew close to the desert floor in an attempt to avoid Saudi radar. There was no attempt to intercept them.
Meanwhile, Khalifa Haftar, a Libyan army general who is seen by many in Libya as a bulwark against Islamic militias in that country, is planning to meet Israeli officials in the Jordanian capital of Amman, according to the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi. The president of Libya’s elected parliament has proposed appointing Haftar as top military commander.
Until now, little has been known about the body. But in a series of interviews with Reuters, key Iraqi figures inside Hashid Shaabi have detailed the ways the paramilitary groups, Baghdad and Iran collaborate, and the role Iranian advisers play both inside the group and on the frontlines.
Those who spoke to Reuters include two senior figures in the Badr Organization.
In all, Hashid Shaabi oversees and coordinates several dozen factions. The insiders say most of the groups followed a call to arms by Iraq’s leading Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. However, they also cite the religious guidance of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, as a key factor in their decision to fight and defend Iraq.
Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Organization, told Reuters: “The majority of us believe that … Khamenei has all the qualifications as an Islamic leader. He is the leader not only for Iranians but the Islamic nation. I believe so and I take pride in it.”
Iraqi and Kurdish officials put the number of Iranian advisers in Iraq between 100 and several hundred – fewer than the nearly 3,000 American officers training Iraqi forces. In many ways, though, the Iranians are a far more influential force, the Reuters said.
The Iranians, the Iraqi officials say, helped organize volunteers after Grand Ayatollah Sistani called on Iraqis to defend their country days after ISIL seized control of the northern city of Mosul last June.
Prime Minister Abadi has said Iran has provided Iraqi forces and militia volunteers with weapons and ammunition from the first days of the war with ISIL.
They have also provided troops. Several Kurdish officials said that when ISIL fighters pushed close to the Iraq-Iran border in late summer, Iran dispatched artillery units to Iraq to fight them. Farid Asarsad, a senior official from the semi-autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan, said Iranian troops often work with Iraqi forces. In northern Iraq, Kurdish peshmerga soldiers “dealt with the technical issues like identifying targets in battle, but the launching of rockets and artillery – the Iranians were the ones who did that.”
“The U.S. stayed all these years with the Iraqi army and never taught them to use drones or how to operate a very sophisticated communication network, or how to intercept the enemy’s communication,” he said. “The Hashid Shaabi, with the help of [Iranian] advisers, now knows how to operate and manufacture drones.”