24 November, 2020

Smoke From An Old Peace Pipe

Given that India had no direct quarrel with Saddam, his arrest evoked a muted response

Smoke From An Old Peace Pipe
New Delhi was among the few important world capitals which did not join the international chorus welcoming Saddam's arrest. At least not publicly. No one quite knows what precisely transpired between foreign minister Yashwant Sinha and US secretary of state Colin Powell, who called up New Delhi two days after the event. What was revealed was quite bland: India hopes the development would "contribute to the stabilisation of Iraq". Ditto the mea spokesman, who said, "We've taken note of the arrest of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. We hope for early improvement of the security situation in Iraq leading to early transfer of sovereignty to the friendly people of Iraq."

What explains New Delhi's reticence? Says a senior diplomat: "We are in an awkward situation. We are not a coalition partner, we have no axe to grind with Saddam. We were against the US intervention. We are neutral to the fact that Hussein has been detained by military action."

This is largely because India had good relations with Saddam, particularly during Indira Gandhi's time. Holding her in great esteem, he...


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