Iran-Israel crisis tests India’s diplomacy : The Tribune India

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Iran-Israel crisis tests India’s diplomacy

New Delhi finds itself in a delicate spot to do the balancing act amid escalating tensions

Iran-Israel crisis tests India’s diplomacy

Iranians celebrate after the attack on Israel, in Tehran on Sunday. REUTERS



Tribune News Service

Ajay Banerjee

New Delhi, April 14

Amid the Iran-Israel flare-up, India finds itself in a rather delicate diplomatic spot. It has to maintain a balance in its ties with Israel and also its long-time civilisation ally — Iran — that has stood by New Delhi for decades.

Not only this, the United States, India’s partner in the ‘Quad’, offering cutting-edge technologies and military alliance, has sided with Israel. Iran has threatened to attack US bases if Washington aids an attack by Israel. India and the US are doing brisk business in space, semiconductors and military technologies.

Both nations long-time allies

  • India is reliant on Israel, which is its fourth-largest arms supplier, for military technology. In the last 10 years, India has imported combat drones, missiles, radars and other surveillance systems from Israel
  • Iran is India’s long-time civilisation ally that has stood by New Delhi for decades. New Delhi has a port at Chabahar that is used to route supplies to Afghanistan and also central Asia

New Delhi has ports at Chabahar in Iran and Haifa in Israel; the one is Iran is used to route supplies to Afghanistan and also central Asia. India’s ties with Iran, Israel and the US are vital. So far, India has balanced its equations, however, a flare-up of this scale is unprecedented.

Prior to 1991 or before the first Gulf war (between the US and Iraq), India need not have been worried to maintain a balance. It did not have diplomatic relations with Israel till 1992 while the Cold war period (1945-1991) meant India was not in either bloc, though it had deep ties with the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Today the Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement saying “We are seriously concerned at the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran which threatens the peace and security in the region. We call for immediate de-escalation, exercise of restraint, stepping back from violence and return to the path of diplomacy”.

India is reliant on Israel for military technology. The Sweden-based think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in its report on March 10 this year said India maintained its position as the world’s top arms importer. Israel was its fourth-largest supplier. SIPRI tracks arms sales globally and produces an annual report.

Over the last 10 years, India imported from Israel combat drones, missiles, radars and other surveillance systems. Elbit Systems, one of Israel’s largest military companies, now works with Adani Group to make Hermes 900 drones at a facility in southern India. Israeli parentage long range surface-to-air missiles are now on all India Navy warships.

In addition, New Delhi will have to battle with rising crude oil prices because of disruption in shipping in the world’s crucial maritime choke point — the Gulf of Aden the route to the Red Sea-Suez Canal. India imports 80 per cent of crude supplies, and the expected escalation in crude oil prices following the Iran-Israel flare-up would be known as markets open on Monday.

Also the other issue is over 25,000 Indians in the region with several thousand in Israel who find themselves caught in the crossfire. The MEA today said: “We are closely monitoring the evolving situation. Our embassies in the region are in close touch with Indian community.” The Indian Embassy in Israel issued an advisory asking all Indian nationals in Israel to adhere to safety protocols issued by the local authorities.

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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