Why did the Indian Defense and Foreign Minister suddenly go to Iran?

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar’s recent visit to Tehran has given rise to a range of discussions. A BBC Bangla report raises the question whether India is worried about Iran-China. It has been said that these two top ministers of Modi government spent their days in Tehran last week silently. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Tehran from Moscow to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting. And Jaishankar was in Tehran on Tuesday on his way back from Moscow.

File photo: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on February 16, 2016 at a cooperation agreement ceremony

According to a report by BBC Bangla, two Indian ministers landed in Tehran instead of refueling in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, despite official arguments to refuel the aircraft. Observers say that India is deeply concerned about Iran’s relationship with arch-enemy China and Pakistan.

Sanjay Bhardwaj, a professor of international relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, told BBC Bangla that India was concerned about Iran’s economic and strategic relations with China. He said that Iran has great political, economic and strategic importance for India. India does not want to lose it in any way.

Professor Bhardwaj said that Iran has great importance for India in entering the markets of Afghanistan and Central Asia. That is why India was closely involved in the development of the Iranian port of Chabahar. He said that India was eager for energy and political support from an influential Muslim country like Iran on an issue like Kashmir.

But in the rapidly changing geopolitics of Asia and the Middle East, it is clear that India and Iran are at two different poles. In particular, Iran’s macroeconomic and strategic relationship with China, which has now become India’s biggest enemy, is a nightmare for India. However, the distance between Iran and India was not built in a day. As India’s economic and political relations with the United States have grown over the last 15 years, its distance from Iran has decreased. China has created a storm to fill that void.

China and Iran have reportedly finalized a 25-year “strategic partnership” agreement. According to reliable sources, China will invest at least 40 billion in Iran’s oil and gas, banking, telecommunications, port development, railway development and dozens of other key sectors over the next 25 years.

Iran has officially announced the expansion of the Chabahar port, a strategically important port in Iran that India has begun to develop, and assigns rail links with that port to several important Iranian cities. It is learned that China is now keen to make the port of Chabahar a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Former Indian diplomat Rakesh Sood said in an interview with BBC Hindi Service that Iran was angry at India’s delay in fulfilling its promise to develop the Chabahar port, mainly due to fears of US sanctions. Apart from this, there is an effect of radical change in coalition politics in Asia. Rakesh Sood said, “Russia and China have similar views on the Middle East. They are associated with Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. On the other hand, the countries with which India is maintaining close ties in the Middle East – UAE and Saudi Arabia are Iran’s biggest enemies.

Observers say that the growing interest in China’s relations with Pakistan over Iran is a headache for India. Because the extent to which India will maintain its influence in Afghanistan in the future depends to a large extent on Iran-Pakistan relations.

In an online discussion on Pakistan organized by the US think tank Woodrow Wilson Center, in the last week of last month, Ayesha Siddiqui, a well-known security analyst in Pakistan, said that there was growing interest in Pakistan to build new relations with Iran, Mainly for economic gain. “Saudi Arabia is re-enacting its interests in South Asia and India is more important to them than Pakistan,” he said. At the same time, Iran has become important for Pakistan.

Asked if India was completely losing to Iran, one of his close and important allies, Vardoz, told the United States, knowing it would be sad, to show two influential ministers of Tehran Sent how much they value relations with Iran. India wants to send a message that Delhi’s policy on foreign policy and strategic relations is still independent. They are not compromising in this regard.

He said that a market as big as India has always been attractive to Iran and Iran should know that China will not buy all its fuel oil. But there is no doubt that factionalism in Asian geopolitics centered on the rivalry between the United States and China is abandoning Indo-Iranian relations.

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