— A certain coolness has settled over Washington-Delhi relations in recent weeks, although neither government is admitting it. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in both capitals report that the Bush administration has shelved plans to award India top rating as its strategic ally in the Indian subcontinent and put on ice the military understandings and accords they concluded in the aftermath of the Afghan War.
The Americans accuse the Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, of making exorbitant demands, namely, that Washington consult with his government over all its actions in the subcontinent and eastern Asia and rate Delhi’s interests second only to those of the United States.
Vajpayee counters that the Americans persist in lending the Musharraf regime their undivided support, which forces them to pull their punches in the global war on terror. The Indians are particularly indignant over the resumption of American heavy arms supplies, including missiles, to Pakistan.
— US-UK preparations for the London Conference of Iraqi opposition groups are in high gear. The event, expected to take place in early December, will most probably be the last such meeting before the US offensive is launched against Iraq. It was made possible by the Bush administration finally making up its mind about the leading figure of the opposition front. The honor did not go to an Iraqi general, as long expected, but to Ahmad Shalabi, head of the National Iraqi Congress.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Washington sources report that Shalabi received the appointment after he signed onto the American plan for post-war Iraq and its three main provisions:
1. Before the war, the opposition will not set up a government in exile or form a consultative assembly in place of the Iraqi parliament.
2. After the war, Iraq’s integrity will be preserved, and
3. A democratic regime will be installed in Baghdad
—On Thursday, November 21, television stations in Moscow revealed that President George W, Bush had promised President Vladimir Putin at the Prague NATO summit that post-war Iraq would honor all of Saddam Hussein’s economic and financial commitments to Moscow, including Russian-Iraqi oil contracts. Similar pledges were granted the French president Jacques Chirac whom the US president met in Prague, and Syrian president Bashar Assad, just before the Security Council vote on November 9 for a new resolution on Iraq.
It was this promise that swung Syria round to its surprise vote with the majority and made the passage of the resolution unanimous.