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India’s Stand on Iran-Israel Conflict

Why is it in the news?

  • Iran launched drones and cruise missiles against Israel under Operation True Promise (Also called Operation Honest Promise) in response to a suspected Israeli strike on an Iranian consular building in Syria’s Damascus.

India’s Response

  • India expressed “serious concern” over hostilities escalation, urging “immediate de-escalation.” The Iranian attack followed a suspected Israeli strike in Damascus, resulting in 12 casualties.

Significance of the Region for India

  • Indian community in the region: Around 18,000 Indians reside in Israel and 5,000-10,000 in Iran, with approximately 90 lakh Indians in the Gulf and West Asia, facing risks in case of conflict escalation.
  • Energy security: West Asia provides 80% of India’s oil supplies, potentially impacted by conflict, unlike the mitigated impact of the Russia-Ukraine war through discounted Russian oil purchases.
  • Investment and strategic importance: India has strategic ties with major Arab nations, Iran, and Israel, advocating for the India-Middle-East-Europe Economic corridor and investing in projects like Chabahar for economic and strategic benefits.
  • Defence relations with Israel: India maintains a deep strategic partnership with Israel, particularly in defence and security cooperation.

India’s Neutral Stand

Maintaining a Balanced Stand:

  • India has significant stakes in bilateral relations with both Israel and Iran, emphasizing restraint from Israel to prevent wider regional conflict.
  • India’s current position is perceived as balanced, promoting regional peace, unlike earlier perceptions of favouritism towards Israel.

Complex Regional Politics:

  • Middle East conflicts involve deep interstate and intrastate complexities, necessitating India to balance engagements with various regional actors like Egypt, Iran, Israel, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • India’s call for de-escalation acknowledges the intricate nature of regional politics.

Non-Ideological Engagement:

  • India’s involvement in the Middle East extends beyond ideological alliances, reflecting its expanding interests in the region.
  • Economic and political partnerships with Gulf Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, signify India’s diversified interests beyond oil imports and labour exports.

Way Forward

  • India’s strategic ties with both Iran and Israel pose a challenge in maintaining neutrality amid escalating conflict.
  • However, advocating for “immediate de-escalation,” “stepping back from violence,” and “returning to diplomacy” aligns with India’s national interest. This stance underscores the importance of peace and stability in the region for India’s strategic and economic interests.

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