Iraq, it is Yemen next
Iraq, Yemen will be the next target of the United States, says
Sundeep Waslekar, president of the Strategic Foresight Group, a
Mumbai-based think-tank on foreign policy, security and governance
Waslekar claims to have accurately predicted the US attack on Iraq
way back in September 2001 and has released two reports on the
future of India and Pakistan.
On Thursday, his group will release a third report, this time on the
future of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It is
titled ‘Shifting Sands: Instability in Undefined Asia’.
Here are excerpts from a conversation with Waslekar about the
possible effects of the US-Iraq war on India and her neighbours:
you do a report on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Saudi
We thought about this a year ago, after US action in Afghanistan
began. I had predicted the possibility of a US strike against Iraq
as early as September 2001. We decided to look at the possibilities
beyond war in this region.
particular group of nations?
They are a unique set. Together they don’t make any association of
nations but are linked together through war, terrorism, energy
routes and the US interest in them.
We call them undefined because we can’t classify them as west
Asian or north Asian countries and also their nature is not quite
These nations have also shown a rare economic feature — they have
registered a drop in income. Having a slow growth is one thing,
having a drop in income is entirely different.
that lead to?
They have a youth population of about 50 million. About 10 million
youths are unemployed, coming from an education system manipulated
by radical elements.
Most of them can’t find jobs in the modern economy and have
limited opportunities as preachers or priests. They would want to
create a radical Islamic order, which would have an elite place for
There is a huge turmoil among the youth, to be exploited by
radicals, as it is easy to create a sense of insecurity among them.
They will portray the US as an outside enemy. US intervention in the
region will work as a catalyst towards the rise of terrorism.
this affect India?
Not just India, it will affect the whole world. Terrorist groups
operating from these countries are in close touch. They share
seminaries, funds and even personnel. This will make our task of
combating terror difficult in India.
Today we know we have to fight the Pakistani terror network.
Tomorrow the network could be more complex. It is going to affect us
on the economic front, too. Oil prices will rise to more than US $40
per barrel if the US-Iraq conflict goes on beyond three months. It
will hit us very hard.
What can be
the action plan for India?
We must define our interests and see how best to protect them. We
need to take a careful approach. The Taliban and al-Qaeda
are getting stronger in Afghanistan. India must mobilise Europe to
bring about stability in Afghanistan and strengthen Hamid Karzai’s
Pakistan, in the past one year, is pretending to curb terrorism but
an overall tendency has been to cultivate terror. The
Lashkar-e-Taiba is now operating under the name of Jamaat-ud-Dawa
and Harkat-ul-Ansar has acquired the new name of Jehad-e-Islami.
The US is ignoring this as it doesn’t want to let Pakistan down.
But we need to counter it through diplomatic and stronger internal
security measures. There will be periodic terrorist attacks, like
the one we saw in Srinagar recently. We must also carefully plan our
energy needs and prepare for uncertainties.
Do you see
a link between the attack on Kashmiri Pandits and the US-Iraq
There’s not just one attack, there are two — the other one being
the murder of rebel Hizbul leader Majid Dar. They are unusual in the
sense that they came in a span of two days. The Indian government
must see if there is a pattern in this.
Pakistan be the next target of the US?
Actually, it will be Yemen. It has been a hotbed of terrorism. Of
the 15 Saudis involved in the 9/11 attacks, 11 came from the border
area of UAE and Yemen.
The Yemeni government is co-operating, but the US is not satisfied
with its efforts. The US is also possibly tightening its grip around
Saudi Arabia by first taking Iraq and then Yemen. It’s easier for
them that way.
Pakistan is not that important for the US. They may have an interest
in Baluchistan, which has rich gas reserves, and the Guadar port, as
it is their only sea link to central Asia.
an exclusive arrangement with Mid Day, Mumbai