Sunday, August 7, 2022

Why ‘India wants an affair, not a serious relationship with Israel’ is true

MOdi made a high-profile visit to Iran in May 2016. There, he signed an agreement for India to develop the Chabahar port and then, with the participation of the then Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, signed a tripartite agreement to connect Chabahar with Zahedan. by Rail. The approved projects were:

• A contract for the development and operation of two terminals and five berths at Chabahar, spread over ten years.
• Extension of a $500 million line of credit for the port and ₹3,000 crore ($500 million) for steel rail imports and port implementation.
• MoU on the provision of services by Indian Railways, including $1.6 billion financing for the Chabahar-Zahedan railway line – which is also a part of the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan on the Transit and Trade Corridor. However, within a year Donald Trump was in the White House and all these agreements failed.

Even though India’s relations with Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries have flourished, US sanctions on Iran have severely restricted Indo-Iranian relations. The Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ policy, which required imports of Iranian oil to zero from May 2019, meant the country moved from the number-two oil exporter to a non-supplier status in India.

Then, although the US granted exemptions for the development of the Chabahar port, it became very difficult to carry on with the construction activity, as international companies were afraid of being subject to US sanctions. These sanctions also curtailed trade ties with Iran, significantly reducing activity in Chabahar. Perhaps with no progress in developing this port, in July 2020, Iran announced that its own companies would be implementing the Chabahar-Zahedan railway line. Iran diplomatically said that Indian companies may rejoin the project later.

These negative developments have created new challenges for India. In July–August 2020, Iranian media and the New York Times reported on a comprehensive and ambitious twenty-five-year ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ agreement between Iran and China, which would involve Chinese investments of about $400 billion in Iran’s energy. , infrastructure, industrial and defense sectors. There are also reports of closer ties between Chabahar and Gwadar ports and even expansion of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects to connect Iran and Afghanistan.

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These reports, even if it is time for the US to project that the two countries on its hit list are forging significant ties with each other, should ring alarm bells in India. Former US diplomat Philip H. Gordon wrote that even a partial implementation of the agreement “would signal a major increase in US strategic competition with China and at the same time blow a hole in the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.” .40 US-based commentators on West Asia, Ross Harrison and Alex Watanka, noted that both Iran and China share the motivation to ‘back off against US efforts in the Middle East’, and that the two countries can cooperate in the Eurasian landscape. Huh. – From the Mediterranean Sea to Syria to Central Asia, the Caspian and the Gulf.

Read also: India says it is deeply concerned by developments in West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza

Israel: Defense and Beyond

Modi presented a long history of personal engagement with Israel. He visited Israel in 2006 as Chief Minister of Gujarat, and encouraged Israeli investment and technology in his state’s agriculture, dairy and irrigation sectors. As prime minister, he not only strengthened ties with Israel beyond defense, but also made negotiations more clear – ending the old practice of secret official engagement with the country.

Israel continues to be a major source of India’s specific defense requirements, particularly in the area of ​​missiles, including long-range surface-to-air missiles (LRSAM) and medium-range surface-to-air missiles for the Indian and Israeli navies. Including joint development of missiles. Air Missile (MRSAM) for the Indian Air Force. Beyond defence, India and Israel are partners in agriculture, health, biotechnology, nanotechnology, desalination, wastewater recycling, and other high-tech sectors related to waste management and reprocessing. From 2018, a new area for bilateral cooperation emerged that of energy with the signing of an MoU on cooperation in the oil and gas sectors.

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During his first visit to Israel as prime minister in July 2017, Modi indicated that India’s ties with Israel would be ‘de-hyphenated’ by talks with the Palestine Authority. He did so by not going to Ramallah, as was the custom of Indian leaders till then. But he tried to balance the two relationships: he received the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, in Delhi in May 2017, before his visit to Israel; He then made a separate, standalone visit to Palestine in February 2018, a month after Netanyahu’s visit to India.

Despite the apparent link between Modi and Netanyahu, some commentators have cautioned. On the eve of Netanyahu’s visit, the Israeli daily Haaretz published an article titled: ‘India wants a relationship when it comes to Israel, not a serious relationship’. Writer Orshit Birwadkar attempts to convince her readers that India has taken a ‘balanced position’ between Israel and Palestine as it seeks to assert its ‘political independence’ in international affairs. He also recommended that, while India’s relations with Israel enjoy bipartisan support, both sides should ‘be pragmatic in their engagement with each other and not let emotions cloud their decisions’. Along the same lines, Indian commentator Mohan Guruswamy wrote on the expanded bilateral defense ties just after Modi’s visit to Israel, “They [the Israelis] We are not doing us any favours. All this is hard cash and the rest is Israeli hoax. At this point, it would be useful to discuss a diplomatic initiative that has brought India into a new West Asian ‘Minelateral’ – Quad 2.

This excerpt from ‘West Asia at War’ by Talmiz Ahmed is published with permission from HarperCollins Publishers India.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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