Issues

Iran-Israel Conflict and India

The terrorist attack on the car of an Israeli diplomat on the Indian soil has in a way dragged the Indian government into the blame-game between Iran and Israel. The very fact that the attack occurred in a high security zone in the heart of Delhi has once again showed that India, even though has suffered similar attacks in the past, has not yet prepared itself to counter them. The Indian security apparatus continues to fail miserably in countering such attacks.

Immediately after the attack, Israel did not mince words in straightaway blaming Iran. And, no doubt, Israel has the backing of the entire Western world, especially the US. But these accusations do not come as a surprise, especially after the spate of killings of Iranians including its Nuclear Scientists. Iran has all along been blaming the Israeli Intelligence Agency for these killings.

The Indian government, inadvertently, is caught in the middle of this blame game because the attack happened in New Delhi. The dilemma for India is that it has friendly as well as strategic relations with both Iran and Israel. While India has strategic Defense ties and trade relations with Israel, Iran has been a long-standing friendly neighbor to India. For India, Iran is the “gateway’ to Afghanistan and a supplier of about 12% of its oil requirement. Besides, Iran also accommodates a huge number of Indian manpower. 

The scenario that has emerged after the New Delhi attack brings us to an important question: what will be the Indian government’s posture in the middle of this blame game involving not only Iran and Israel but also the Western powers who have almost always sided with the US and with Israel? 

The US, obviously tried to coax India to follow West’s own decision on the matter pertaining to Iran. But, much to the chagrin of the US and the Western countries, India has strategically ignored towing their line. Although time and again India has voiced concern over the proliferation of nuclear arms, it has not severed its relations with Iran, as the US would have wanted India to do. India is continuing with its trade and cultural relations with Iran and is also importing the amount of crude oil it needs. India understands that since it has not towed the US line vis-à-vis Iran, the latter would not use India for any of its clandestine activities.

India, while adopting a neutral posture in view of its good relations with both the bickering countries, has issued well studied diplomatic statement that since the investigations into the attack are underway, no particular country could be blamed for the attack on Israeli diplomat. India would wait till the investigations are concluded and the report points out a finger at some specific terrorist group or country. Otherwise also, India has never taken any step under pressure from either the Security Council or the US. India had clearly shown its displeasure with the West on issues of Libya and Syria, and it has also urged for restrain in dealing with Iran. India has openly opposed severe sanctions against Iran.

It is true that this terror attack is different from the ones India has seen in the past, even though it is alleged that the Indian attack has some glaring similarities with the ones that occurred in Georgia and Thailand. But the question is whether the new kind of device or explosives used in the bomb have an Iranian stamp or they point towards an Iranian connection. Unless some authentic and sufficient proof of Iran’s involvement is found, pointing fingers at it would not only be futile but may also create a situation harmful for the entire world. As it is, Iran is already under tremendous pressure from the Western world, and hence, quite touchy!

However, India will be in for a major embarrassment if, tomorrow, some evidence is found suggesting Iran’s involvement in the New Delhi attack. Its not that Israelis have not been targeted earlier on the Indian soil -- they became a specific target during Mumbai attack as also in Kashmir where some Israeli tourists were kidnapped. But these attacks were purely from terror groups, some of them Pakistan-based and Pakistan-sponsored.

The tempers may have gone up after the New Delhi attack, but the world knows it well that a full-fledged war at this juncture is undesirable and unaffordable. Iran needs peace because it is just half way through its nuclear programme and has travel to go a long way. The US needs to come out of recession and a war may result in a disaster for it. The European countries are yet not able to overcome their individual financial crises, and hence, will not be able to help the US.   

On its part, India needs to be on its guard. It should first think and weigh its own interests before making any statement or taking any action. The Western Press will, no doubt continue to look at things from the Western angle but Indian circumstances are very different. In fact situations do differ from country to country. India must, therefore, be careful at every step it takes. But till the time the outcome of the investigation into the Delhi attack is known, India should better wait and watch.

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