U.S.-India Relations On The Rise

Al-Etihad, UAE, January 12

On the very last day of 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into effect the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act that was passed by Congress earlier that month. The bill, which authorizes an additional $1.5 billion in spending on U.S. initiatives in Asia, is meant to strengthen the United States’ military, security and diplomatic ties with India. President Trump’s foreign policy stances have been confusing at best. He managed to alienate some of America’s closest allies and turn them against Washington. However, Trump seems to understand the importance of India as a key U.S. ally. The messages coming out of the White House, therefore, were very confusing to Indian officials. During the same time he signed the act, President Trump also took a jibe at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, complaining that the latter is busy “funding libraries” in Afghanistan instead of fighting the Taliban. But India has long held the belief that the Taliban should be included in peace talks in Afghanistan. Indeed, just a few months ago, India sent official delegates to Moscow, to participate in negotiations with the Taliban on a future peace deal in the country. And while it refuses to deploy soldiers on the ground, India has long supported peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan by providing authorities with helicopters, radars, and security equipment. It also built highways, hospitals and, as the American president noted, libraries. These initiatives have saved countless lives, including American ones. They should not be undermined. It seems strange that, as Trump decides to pull his own soldiers from Syria, he is preaching to Modi about the need to deploy Indian soldiers in Afghanistan. Trump would be wise to put his personal disagreements with Modi aside and reassure the Indian people of his commitment to their security. Both India and the United States view the rise of China as a major source of instability in the world. Both countries have an interest in eradicating terrorist infrastructure in Central Asia. Therefore, despite Trump’s whims, relations between India and the United States are expected to grow ever closer in years to come—with or without Trump’s blessing. –Zaker al-Rahman

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