14th Jan 2020 : The Hindu Editorials Mains Notes : Mains Sure Shot
Ques-Analysis the Reshaping the Gulf Events ,Fears of war in West Asia.
Heightened fears of war in West Asia.
- The tensions between the US and Iran peaked following the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, in a drone attack in Iraq and have heightened the fears of war in West Asia.
- If Iran has regional proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, the US has strong allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia in the region, in addition to its many bases and carrier forces. The U.S. Iran face-off would affect the whole West Asian region.
- An armed confrontation between Iran and the US would only deepen the faultlines between the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds and worsen the fragility in Iraq and West Asia.
- Russia and China have been supportive of Iran. Russia condemned the US attack as a violation of international norms and China has called it dangerous military adventurism.
- China remains Iran’s biggest oil market, an arms supplier and a top trade partner. Iran and Russia share similar interests in Syria.
- Pakistan would more likely gravitate towards any emerging grouping between Russia, China and Iran.
- Russia, China and Iran have come together for a four-day trilateral naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman, intending to send a strong message to the US that Iran was not isolated.
- This development is concerning given that it would only lead to the formation of Power blocs in the region and world.
- Given India shares a good relation with both U.S. and Iran and the importance of the bilateral relations, India cannot afford to take sides.
- India- U.S. ties have only strengthened over time with India moving closer towards the U.S. as a strategic partner.
- Energy supplies and the safety and security of its vast diaspora in the Gulf are of utmost importance to India. An increase in one dollar per barrel can result in a magnified surge in India’s import bill by about $1.6 billion.
- India houses a substantial Shia population, with sympathy for Iran.
- The U.S. attack on General Soleimani was followed by retaliatory missile attacks by Iran on U.S. bases in Iraq. Iraq claimed that it had undertaken the missile attacks as part of its proportionate measures in self-defence.
Efforts towards De-escalation:
- Iran despite having a range of options at its disposal, stopped at retaliatory strikes on US bases in Iraq.
- The U.S. has decided against further attacks claiming that the Iran missile attacks had not caused any American casualties.
- With both Iran and U.S. not seeking an escalation, the chances of war have diminished. This is a good development not only for the countries concerned but also the west Asian region and the world at large.
- For the U.S. the development of Nuclear weapon by Iran is a major concern.
- Iran when it publicly declared its intention to walk away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the aftermath of Soleimani’s killing, it was careful to reassure the international community of its continued commitment to the NPT and IAEA inspections.
Iran-Saudi Arabia relations:
- There has been a historical rivalry between the two countries for leadership in the Islamic world. There have been drone attacks on two Aramco oil facilities in September 2019 which was on blamed Iran.
- Saudi Arabia has been trying for a military victory in Yemen. Given Iran’s influence in Yemen, Saudi Arabia may be willing to explore a back channel deal with Iran that permits a face-saving retreat for it from Yemen.
- Proposals for regional security like Iran’s Hormuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE), the US’s International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) and Russia’s proposal for collective security in the Persian Gulf need renewed attention.
- Given India’s goodwill in the region and the large stakes in the extended neighbourhood, it is in India’s interest to activate its regional diplomacy in order to de-escalate the tensions and encourage dialogue.