Why ‘India wants an affair, not a serious relationship with Israel’ is true
Modi paid a high-level visit to Iran in May 2016. There he signed the agreement for India to develop Chabahar Port and then, with the participation of then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, signed a tripartite agreement to link Chabahar to Zahedan. by rail. The approved projects were:
• A contract for the development and operation of two terminals and five berths in Chabahar, spread over ten years.
• Extension of lines of credit of $500 million for the port and `3,000 crore ($500 million) for importing steel rails and setting up the port.
• Memoranda of understanding on the provision of services by Indian Railways, including $1.6 billion in funding, for the Chabahar-Zahedan railway line – also part of the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan on a transit and trade corridor. However, in less than a year, Donald Trump was in the White House and all of those deals fell apart.
Even though India’s ties with Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries have flourished, US sanctions against Iran have severely restricted Indo-Iranian relations. The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy, which demanded that Iranian oil imports be reduced to zero from May 2019, took the country from being the second-largest oil exporter to India to being the non-provider.
Again, although the US granted a waiver for the development of Chabahar Port, it became very difficult to continue construction activity as international companies feared being subject to US sanctions. These sanctions also reduced commercial ties with Iran, so activity in Chabahar was significantly reduced. Perhaps due to the lack of any progress in the development of this port, in July 2020 Iran announced that its own companies would run the Chabahar-Zahedan railway line. Iran said diplomatically that Indian companies could join the project at a later stage.
These negative developments have created new challenges for India. In July-August 2020, Iranian media and The New York Times published information about a far-reaching and ambitious twenty-five-year “comprehensive strategic partnership” agreement between Iran and China that would involve Chinese investment about $400 billion in Iranian energy. , infrastructure, industry and defence. There are also reports of closer ties between Chabahar and Gwadar ports, and even an expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects to connect with Iran and Afghanistan.
These reports, even if programmed to project to the United States that the two countries on its blacklist have significant ties with each other, should sound alarm bells in India. Former U.S. diplomat Philip H. Gordon wrote that even partial implementation of the deal “would signal a major escalation in U.S. strategic competition with China and at the same time would put a dent in the campaign of” maximum pressure “from the administration against Iran”. .40 U.S.-based commentators on West Asia, Ross Harrison and Alex Vatanka have noted that Iran and China share the motivation “to push back against U.S. efforts in the Middle East”, and that these two countries could cooperate across the Eurasian landscape. – from the Mediterranean to Syria via Central Asia, the Caspian and the Gulf.
Read also : India expresses deep concern over developments in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza
Israel: Defense and Beyond
Modi brought to ties with Israel a long history of personal commitment. He visited Israel in 2006 as chief minister of Gujarat and promoted Israeli investment and technology in his state’s agricultural, dairy and irrigation sectors. As prime minister, he not only strengthened ties with Israel beyond defense, but also made interactions more open – ending the previous practice of having secret official engagements with the country.
Israel remains a major source of India’s niche defense requirements, particularly in the area of missiles, including the joint development of long-range surface-to-air missiles (LRSAMs) for the Indian and Israeli navies, and medium-range surface-to-air missiles. – aerial missiles (MRSAM) for the Indian Air Force. Beyond defence, India and Israel are partners in other high-tech fields related to agriculture, health, biotechnology, nanotechnology, desalination, wastewater recycling, water management and waste reprocessing. From 2018, a new area of bilateral cooperation that has emerged is that of energy with the signing of a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the oil and gas sectors.
During his first visit to Israel as prime minister in July 2017, the first by a serving Indian prime minister, Modi signaled that India’s ties with Israel would be ‘severed’ from its interactions with the Authority. Palestinian. He did this by not visiting Ramallah, as had been the practice of Indian leaders until then. But he tried to balance the two relations: he received the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, in Delhi, in May 2017, before his visit to Israel; he then made a separate, stand-alone visit to Palestine in February 2018, a month after Netanyahu’s visit to India.
Despite the evident bonhomie between Modi and Netanyahu, some commentators sounded cautious notes. On the eve of Netanyahu’s visit, the Israeli daily Haaretz published an article titled: “India wants liaison when it comes to Israel, not a serious relationship”. Writer Orshit Birvadker tried to explain to his readers that India took “balanced positions” between Israel and Palestine because it wanted to assert its “political independence” in international affairs. She also recommended that while ties with Israel enjoy bipartisan support in India, both sides should “remain pragmatic in their engagement with each other and not let sentiment cloud their decisions.” Along the same lines, Indian commentator Mohan Guruswamy wrote of the expansion of bilateral defense ties immediately after Modi’s visit to Israel: “They [the Israelis] do us a disservice. It’s hard cash and the rest is Israeli trickery. At this point, it would be useful to discuss a diplomatic initiative that brought India into a new West Asian “minilateral” – the Quad 2.
This excerpt from “West Asia at War” by Talmiz Ahmad is published with permission from HarperCollins Publishers India.