NIE Exposes America on West Asia

Coming on the heels of the disclosures of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a group of scholars, intellectuals and journalists on January 12 came in sharp criticism of the “incoherent” US policy in the West Asia, and the “directionless” foreign policy that India tags along, at the behest of super power.

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Coming on the heels of the disclosures of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a group of scholars, intellectuals and journalists on January 12 came in sharp criticism of the “incoherent” US policy in the West Asia, and the “directionless” foreign policy that India tags along, at the behest of super power.
Initiating the “Round Table” talk at India International Centre, New Delhi, Dr. Qasim Rasool Ilyas, Editor Urdu monthly Afkar-e-Milli, took the audience to the thick of the debate by detailing how the NIE report had brought about dramatic changes in the West Asia in particular and the world in general. He termed the release of the report by Washington on Iranian Nuclear programmes as the beginning of the “virtual decline of America in the West Asia,” leading to dramatic shifting of power equation in the region.
For instance, he said, the clouds of war that were hovering over Iran had been subsided, and the US allies had to begin to back out of the area.
The NIE exposure in November last year, which was first leaked to the media and then accepted as the official stand, had contradicted “persistent White House claims of imminent Iranian nuclear danger” and had undermined the case of war.
Dr. Ilyas said that in the wake of these dramatic changes, countries like Russia and China “have moved closer to Iran and are trying to establish strong bilateral and commercial relations with it.” They have also committed to supply nuclear fuels to Iran. Besides the member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as well as Saudi Arabia are redefining their diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic, which is of great strategic implication for the region as well as the United States. The GCC recently invited Mr. Ahmadinejad to its annual summit in Doha. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia again met him in Makkah during Hajj.
Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy of JNU, one of the organisers of the talk, outlined the contours of the debate that centred at America’s suicidal policy in West Asia and India’s precarious situation in the wake of NIE exposure that vindicated Iran’s stand on nuclear issue, which India had twice in the past voted on with the USA at IAEA against the Islamic Republic. Dr. Mitra also explained the nuances of the National Estimate and said that in 2003 too the NIE report had exonerated Iran of making the nuclear bomb, but that report was pushed under the carpet by George Bush. He further said that the NIE 2007 report was made public because of the mess the US itself created in Iraq and it was merely an opportunity that George Bush was looking for to extricate his country from. And therefore, Prof. Mitra said, the report was first allowed to be leaked to the media and then the President acknowledged its veracity.
The National Intelligence Estimate is prepared by the US government itself as a “strategic estimate of the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and probable courses of action of foreign nations produced at the national level as a composite of the views of the intelligence community.”
Prof. Achin Vinayak, a scholar from JNU and one of the organisers of the talk, was quite vehement and yet articulate on the US policy in West Asia. He discussed threadbare the entire US policy, which he described as a bundle of a series of lies that was responsible for the destruction of Iraq. When all the calculations and strategies, borne out of the Neo-Conservative lab misfired, Prof. Vinayak said, George Bush looked for opportunities to extricate himself from the mess.
Prof. Vinayak articulated the US policy on West Asia and said it was based on four assumptions: 1. Keep friends and foes out of the region; 2. control of the oil money; 3. maintain the dominance of Israel, which it had been doing since 1960s; and 4. not allow any regional power to emerge. To this goal, the Professor said, the US considers Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran as the major obstacles, and hence the “biggest enemies.” Prof. Vinayak said that America stood on a strategic stool in the Middle East, Egypt, Israel, Saud Arabia and Turkey were “the four legs of that stool.”
India’s position became further awkward after the release of the report. The speakers came down heavily on the country for its wavering foreign policy mainly because of the US pressure. That it twice voted against Iran at IAEA was in line with US policy, which put India at a shaky situation following the NIE exposure that vindicated the Iranian stand. The consequences were damaging, the speakers noted and observed that in the changed scenario India had to do a lot to mend fences with Iran. The Indian foreign policy, the speakers in general were of the view, is shorn of any meaningful, independent thinking that could stand on its own.
S.P. Shukla, a former finance secretary and also co-organiser of the talk, said: “We should have our own independent intelligence and we should form a foreign policy keeping our own interest first,” he added that India should focus on West Asia. Flaying India for voting against Iran at the behest of the US, Mr. Shukla said, “We cannot vote with US only because we wish to vote, but we have to see our own interest. Iran with 70 million people is important.
One participant, Mr. Ashok Rao, said that US was responsible for oil price escalation in the country and it was the “blatant underlying racism” that made US oppose nuclear enrichment programmes in other developing countries.
Seema Mustafa and other participants, most prominent of them, Tapan Bose, a human right activist, Ejaz Ahmed Aslam, Editor, Radiance Viewsweekly, Radha Chenoy (JNU), Dr. Begum Fatima Shahnaz (Jamia Millia Islamia), Ishrat Aziz, a former diplomat, were others who commented on the subject.
Prof. Mitra and Seema Mustafa concluded the discussion by terming the meet an explorative one, and assuring the gathering to have a series of such meetings in future.