As Iraq undergoes a tough challenge against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Levant) ISIS/ISIL, India must take a step back and watch very carefully. The Modi government now faces its first foreign affairs challenge wherein, it’s under pressure to evacuate Indians stranded in the country safely. India has opened channels of communication with Saudi Arabia, thought to have some sort of control over the hardened Sunni militants, who began as the Al-Qaeda’s little brother but have carved for themselves a niche in the world of terrorism.
ISIS plans to establish a joint Iraqi and Syrian Sunni Muslim state and also has eyes on world dominion. The US has denied any ground troops in Iraq after its earlier debacle and the high cost for maintaining the army in Iraq. Even soldiers of the Iraqi military have been deserting their posts amid deteriorating working conditions and fatigue. Shia clerics have been calling for the majority Shi’ite population to arm themselves and fight the Sunni militants along with the residual Iraqi forces.
India must hope for a reverse in fortunes of the Shi’ite led Iraqi forces, backed by the US for a multitude of reasons. Iraq has been one of the major crude oil suppliers of India and with the country being overrun by militants, crude oil prices are bound to skyrocket. This presents a bold challenge for the government as rising prices would fuel the already sky-high inflation figures, which can spell trouble for it amid rise in prices of train fares and a supposed rise in duty on sugar. The government must prepare itself for a huge public outcry as soaring prices will break the back of the middle-class Indian. After the fall of major Iraqi cities to ISIS, the Indian Sensex, which was soaring amid high hopes from the Modi government also crashed for consecutive days.
The bigger challenge though for the Ministry of External Affairs is the evacuation of Indians stranded in the country whose passports have been confiscated by the companies they work for. While some are hiding in war-torn areas, 40 others have been reportedly abducted by the militants. One cannot hope any kindness by them towards Indians as India has been on Al-Qaeda’s radar, which is evident due to the surfacing of a video by the militant organization calling for restart of Jihadist organizations in the Kashmir valley. Along with the 40 Indians kidnapped, trapped also are a few nurses working in militant-occupied Tikrit whose safety still remains a glaring concern. The Indian government must now sit back and hope for the best as more and more Iraqi cities fall to the militants and the death toll rises.