With the geopolitical engagements on a surge, General Qassem Soleimani’s death has posed challenges for Ministry of External Affairs of India, but not as just another nation, the late General’s cause has a strong vote from history and policy to substantiate the claim of support.

Ever since the George W. Bush administered Iraq Skirmish surpassed the thirty year long Vietnam War to clinch the title of the biggest geopolitical blunder by the United States; the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Iran Nuclear Deal in July 2015 was deemed to be a progression towards stability in the Middle East and the world at large. But, the Donald Trump government’s withdrawal from this historic advancement in global peacekeeping in May 2018 escalated tensions through out the world including the United States.

Just three days after the entry into the ultimate year of the decade sets the world forth with World War 3 trending; despite the expert’s sacking the chances of one in the first place, the United State’s air strike on Iranian Military Base to assassinate Iran’s topmost official & commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) General Qassem Soleimani, the attack has aggravated tensions through out the Middle East ensuing severe repercussions for the entire world. With, the killing of a military officer like Soleimani who was viewed as a ‘hero’ inside the Iranian Republic, the United States identified him as a ‘terrorist’ dangerous for US Troops and Ambassadors through out the globe.

As, the man in charge of the proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, General Soleimani was to be credited for limiting the influence of Islamic State of Iraq & Levant (ISIL)/(ISIS) in the area and played a crucial role in fighting terrorist from Iran, and more from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Lebanon. Soleimani was the chief architect in saving Basshar Al Assad’s regime in Syria whose survival was on the line and helped him take back the control of important cities & towns from ISIL, the process did cost thousands of Syrian civillians their lives and loss to public property.

But, General Soleimani’s presence wasn’t confined to Iran or the Middle East, the highly influential leader has been a strong ally of India at multiple fronts and occasions; exercising deep influence in administrative and cultural life of Iran, under his leadership India has continued to enjoy Iran’s support economically, strategically and generally. Iran continues to be the second largest supplier of Crude Oil to India with an average supply of 425,000 barrels per day. A poll conducted in 2005 found out that, 71% of Iranians viewed India’s influence positively, counting as the most favourable rating of India for any country in the world.

In the same year, India had voted against Iran’s interests at the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), casting hindrances on Iran’s claim of peaceful nuclear research. The Indian vote against Iran came as a surprise to Iranians as they considered India to be one of their closest friends with a strong historical linkage. Later at the diplomatic dialogue with the Iranian armed officials, India cleared it stance citing politico-military consideratios and it’s larger interest in the peace of the region. To this, the Iranian general positively responded by respecting India’s concerns and assuring India of Iran’s unaffected support and friendship. Further, it was General Soleimani who assisted India in operating with the Northern Alliance later despite the IAEA votings at Vienna.

These reasons might have probed the rejection of Trump’s claim with regard to plan of attacks extending to New Delhi, which wasn’t received to be credible with experts and former diplomats.

Soleimani and Iran have often even objected to Pakistan’s attempts to engage in activities and resolutions against the interests of India at international organisations such as the Organisation of Islamic Countries(OIC) and the Human Rights Commission. One of these was observed when Soleimani backed India at The International Court of Justice in Pakistan’s case against Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian Commander who is allegedly charged for spying for Research & Analysis Wing of India in Balochistan, Pakistan.

“Be it the negotiations on the Chabahar port or Islamabad’s case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Kulbhushan Jadhav, he had been been a backer of India on issues of national interest,” says veteran defense expert Qamar Agha.

Soleimani was even instrumental in the construction of Chabahar Port which is expected to boost the Indian economy by giving passage for Indian Goods in Central Asia and imports from Iran & other states. The joint interest construction between India and Iran is resultant of the favourable policies by both countries in which General Soleimani had a huge role to play.

To honor this veteran general and ally India needs to be more proactive in the persian region for its economic and strategic interests and abandon its stance of neutrality. This might pose as a serious examination for New Delhi to balance between Tehran and Washington DC, the Ministry of External Affairs needs a very comprehensive action to withstand country’s honor and fulfill its interests.

Faizan Salik

[email protected]

Image Credits: Vox.com

Singularly depressing choices generally between letting your girlfriend die or seeing the world engulfed in flames may not send a cult superhero into a cold sweat but they can easily be considered avoidable. The superhero for his part has the consolation that by the time the credits start rolling in, the girlfriend would be in his arms and the world free of doomsday plotting villains (at least for the time being). Unfortunately, India caught up in a similarly precarious situation has no such assured ending to fall back on.

With an ever increasing energy demand, managing oil imports has become the first priority for India. Around 13% of these imports come from Iran. Under such circumstances, one can forgive India for wishing that Iran had not courted the wrath of India’s long time ally, Israel and the almighty West. But that is exactly what Iran has done by refusing to cut back on its ambition of becoming a nuclear capable state.

Recent events have only made matters worse. Iran has publicly expressed delight on the progress of its nuclear programs. If that wasn’t enough, a terror attack on an Israeli diplomat’s wife in India has conveniently been linked to Iran by the ever so enterprising Israel. All this has left India ropewalking an increasingly thinning rope with no safety net what so ever.

Up until now India has successfully managed to continue importing Iranian oil despite the increasing number of sanctions against the same. According to the latest Indo-Iranian deal, Iran is willing to accept 45% of the payment for oil in rupees. This will further strengthen trade ties between the two countries. Iran will probably use the acquired rupees on Indian goods.

USA and Europe have already placed an embargo on Iranian oil and NATO is continually encouraging other allies to follow suit. This, along with India’s professed commitment to the Non Proliferation Treaty, has politically obligated India to support NATO in its endeavours. Economically and practically, India cannot do without Iranian oil.

India has been at its non committal best on the issue and this for once seems to be the right policy to follow. It will be fool hardy now to cut off trade relations with Iran and equally suicidal to extend support to its operations. It therefore seems best to play the waiting game and while we are at it, we better send out the oil scouts. And ask them to hurry up.