Yesterday, the killing of Iranian general Quaseem Suleimani in an airstrike by the United States in Baghdad fueled the tensions between US and Iran. The United States stated security reasons, however, this doesn’t seem to satisfy the Iranian nationals.
The matter aggravated when earlier today, the US undertook another airstrike in Iraq, hitting the Iran-backed paramilitary forces and killing 6 people.
This incident has increased the speculations of World War III and the entire world is worried about the consequences. India has trade and bilateral relations with both the United States and Iran.
It is important to understand how India will react to this international conflict.
India’s Relations with the United States
Indo-American relations will play a very crucial role in this matter. India’s inclination towards USSR (now Russia) before and during the Cold War period never settled well with the United States. They weren’t a strong supporter of India until recently.
Several people of Indian origin, especially Hindus live in the United States and now, they heavily contribute towards the political and economic aspects of the US and this, therefore, affects bilateral relations between India and the United States.
During the first term of the Modi government, Indo-American relations became better. India and US include relations pertaining to trade and economy, space-cooperation and defence. This relationship has found some level of stability in the 2000s.
India’s Relations with Iran
India- Iran relations have been friendly. Indeed, PM Modi always attempts to give diplomacy a personal touch and he did the same for Iran as well. However, the relations between India and Iran have remained bumpy, without witnessing much change.
While both the countries have bilateral ties and agreements, India imports crude oil from Iran despite pressure from Europe and the United States. This trade aspect plays an important role in India- Iran relations and diplomacy.
India’s Relations With Israel and Iraq
Israel and Iraq will surely play a decisive role in the future of the US- Iran conflict. India’s relations with Israel during the Modi regime have been very warm and welcoming. Israel is a country with a Jewish population and due to their conflict with Muslim countries; they will surely side with the United States.
Iran and Israel have been in conflict and with Benajmin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel lauding Trump for the killing of Souleimani, there is no doubt that Israel will support the US rather than staying neutral.
Iran and Iraq are very close allies in terms of bi-lateral relationship because both the countries run on the Shi’ite rules of governance and share culture and history. Iraq will surely help Iran and since relations of Iran and India haven’t been dynamic, it is less likely to affect India’s stance.
Oil plays a crucial role in diplomacy, especially when it involves the gulf countries. However, it is not likely to affect India’s stance as our trade with Iran in terms of oil has declined.
Despite this, if the crude oil prices witness fluctuations in the near future due to the conflict, it will affect the Indian economy.
India’s Stance on the Conflict
With whatever knowledge I have gained so far, it would be fine to analyze that India would try to pacify the situation and urge both the parties to sit down and talk. If the same doesn’t happen and the conflict continues, India would either remain neutral or would take the side of the USA as a background player. It is very unlikely for India to come to the forefront and take an official stance supporting either party.
The neutrality will depend largely on Russia’s role, amongst that of other countries. If Russia will openly oppose the USA, India will try to stay neutral however, if Russia keeps mum, India may either remain neutral or may support the USA behind the scenes.
It would be safe to say that India won’t extend military support but may provide diplomatic support or good offices for negotiations.
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