Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Russia-India Naval Exercises, Further on Operation Bite

In the forthcoming issue of The National Interest, former deputy National Security Advisor and ambassador to India Robert Blackwill cautions American policymakers not to expect that just because the U.S.-India relationship is taking off that India is always going to align with the United States. It's a useful point to keep in mind because I am sure that when Operation INDRA-2007 starts we are going to hear some "surprised" reactions from Washington. (Also because Russia seems to be moving into first position in terms of being able to sell 126 MiG-35s to India).

If Operation Bite--the story I have been following--was a "smoke them out" operation--then there have been some benefits. The rumor of an impending U.S. attack on Iran drove oil prices over $70 a barrel and it also forced key U.S. allies in the Gulf to publicly declare that they would not support any such attack and that diplomacy was the only way out. Last week the Qatarese
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmad Abdullah Al-Mahmud stated pretty clearly, "Qatar will not participate in any military actions against Iran." To some extent, this undercuts U.S. efforts to try and build regional support.

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