It’s been about a week since the threat to Baghdad from ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) began developing into something serious. The greater Baghdad area also has the highest concentration of Indian expat workers in Iraq. While the militant sunni ISIS is facing a firmed up shia front with Iran sending in possibly the Pas Daran — Islamic Revolutionary Guard to join with the mainly shia army and, if there’s an agreement between Tehran and Washington – the air cover/air assault being provided by carrier borne fighter-bombers — two US Navy carrier task groups are presently in the waters off the Gulf, then the ISIS tide will be turned. Even w/o US assistance but with full Iranian involvement, the ISIS militants will be beaten and the wave they set off will begin receding.
The trouble is this may not happen soon and the thousands of Indian expat workers are in real danger of being lined up and shot — the sort of modus operandi of the ISIS designed to create uncontrollable panic as much among the shia ranks of the Iraqi soldiery as the local population. A people acting hysterically will make effective mobilization of resources and of counter military actions that much more difficult.
Understandably, members of the Indian expat community would hesitate to leave precipitately and endanger their livelihoods. Then again waiting until the ISIS are upon them would be equally dangerous.
Dispatching a Special Envoy to Baghdad is all very well. It will be more sensible though to prepare immediately to mount a massive airlift — nothing the IAF can’t manage, recall the orderly airlift of Indians from various such locations in the past, with the envoy only seeking permission from the al-Malliki regime for the Indian C-17s to land, etc. As a precautionary measure, GOI should also have a contingent of Special Forces secure the Baghdad landing strip and ensure safety of all Indians collected at an assembly point for embarkation. The last plane out of Baghdad should carry the deployed SF unit. There should be no delay in implementing these measures.