“Attack by Iran on anything American will be met with obliteration”, said US President Donald Trump to which Iranian President Hassan Rouhani replied, “Iran is not looking for war but we too are ready to fight back and defend our country”.
But why are the two leaders talking about attacks, obliteration and fights? What’s the reason behind this series of blame games and accusations? For that, let’s dive deep into the political and strategic relations between the two nations and try finding out reasons that lead to frequent conflicts.
US-Iran Relations and reasons behind the conflicts
A series of events have been responsible for the current conflicting relation between US and Iran. It started from the Hostage crisis of 1979-80, that involved releasing of 52 American hostages in the American diplomatic mission in Tehran. For insisting pressure for the same, US then suspended oil imports from Iran and froze billions of dollars in it’s assets.
Later in 1988, tensions once again rose in the Persian Gulf when US warships sank an Iranian frigate in response to a mine attack against one of it’s own. The Clinton Government in 1995 imposed economic sanctions on Iran just like the current times. 2001 brought both the nations together to form a new government and constitution for Afghanistan but by 2010, the countries have developed serious grudges against each other with regard to the issue of Iraq.
The above mentioned instances prove that tensions between US and Iran are not new. After so many conflicts over issues like terrorism, economic sanctions, political and military disturbances, one can hardly expect the relations to be cordial. All the peace and agreement talks end up in vain as neither of the two leaders are ready to settle on proposed terms.
What triggered the adversaries between the two nations recently was Trump administration’s decision to pressurise and isolate Iran due to it’s non fulfilment of nuclear commitments. Actually the US officials believe that Iran has become a terror base and is promoting terrorism in the region by allowing terror groups to flourish without any significant intervention.
Not just this, it is also breaching the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) agreement, also known as Iranian Nuclear deal in which it has promised to cut it’s stockpile of Uranium and stay aloof from production of nuclear weapons in exchange of relief from economic sanctions put by US over it.
However, American president Trump backed out from the deal claiming that Iran did not disclose about past covert nuclear weapons program during the deal and is still secretly involved in nuclear weapon production. He reimposed the American sanctions, majorly hitting the Iranian economy once again.
Trump believes that if economically handicapped, the country won’t be able to finance terrorism and unnecessary military weapons and this is the reason he wants all other countries that import goods and services from Iran including India to completely restrict such trades.
Now failing to receive any positive response from other signatories of JCPOA, Iran too is planning to withdraw itself from the deal, in response to which, US is continuously bombarding crippling economic sanctions on this gulf nation.
All the recent news of attacks over oil tanks in Strait of Hormuz, US military troop and tanks being deployed near Iranian borders, Iranian attack on US drones and American reply to it in form of a cyber- attack that crippled Iran’s ballistic missiles show the negative consequences of past disagreements that are now leading to increasing disturbances between the two countries.
The after effects of increasing tensions
Any causality between the two could have serious ripple effects on other nations and that’s why the war between them must be prevented at any cost. However, both the leaders are in no mood to wage war according to the recently recorded statements but a ray of hope with regard to cordial agreements could not be seen either.
While US is hardly facing any critical repercussions of these tensions except opposition from those few countries that are being dominantly suppressed to accept it’s orders of abstaining from Iranian trades, Iran, on the other hand, is severely hit in terms of economical development, political autonomy and international relations.
One of the most devastating crisis a country could get by hit by is an economic crisis. This is exactly what Iran is going through due to it’s issues with USA. Since US Dollar is the most powerful currency around the globe, the country holds some dominance over other nations as no county wants to sour it’s relations with this developed giant and hence prefers obeying it’s mandates.
Most of the countries that earlier purchased oil from Iran have stopped to do that and since oil was the main source of revenue for the country, it’s economic condition has been disturbed abruptly. Military threat is another way in which America is asserting pressure over it.
The problem for Iran is that it’s neither free to carry on with it’s nuclear projects nor it is being left in peace by US Authorities when it’s not engaged in such activities because US suspects it to be. It in fact, has already taken severe actions against Iran on the grounds of suspicion.
How is India affected
India has good international relations with both US and Iran and any strife between the two would have considerable implications on India too. In light of the recent issues signaling towards waging conflicts, it’s important to understand how India will be affected by it and how can it be safeguarded from any severe consequence.
USA and INDIA : Last year US has asked India to reduce it’s oil imports from Iran and find alternates to it. In May 2019, it issued another verdict asking India to put a full stop on it’s trades with Iran and accompany US in isolating it as it considers Iranians, a supporter of terror activities.
After helping in getting Masood Azhar listed as a global terrorist, America wants India to reciprocate on the same lines and lend support to Trump Administration’s verdicts and actions against Iran. Since India is not totally dependent on Iranian oil, it has managed to cut off it’s imports from the country.
USA, being a powerful developed nation, holds a great strategic and international importance for a developing nation like India. Many Indian students prefer studying from US and many Indians are already employed in various sectors in America and so we cannot afford to take unnecessary risks with regard to our relations with USA by not complying to it’s logical and reasonable verdicts that are not very much harmful to us in some considerable way.
Iran and India: India had been an oil customer of Iran since a long time. In fact, Iran and Tehran have been largest suppliers of oil to India as recorded last year. But recently, due to American sanctions, India had to curb it’s oil trade with the country. However, the decision is a major throwback to India as importing from Iran was convenient in financial as well as geographical terms.
India also has it’s strategic interests vested in Iran as it offers a link to Central Asia by surpassing Pakistan. The Chabahar port project between India and Iran is an example of developing strategic alliance between the countries which might face the negative consequences of current disturbances if not tactfully balanced.
US Secretary of State- Michael Pompeo is on visit to India for discussing the pertaining issues regarding Iran amongst other subjects with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was recently invited for vital discussions on trade relations by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani too.
Amidst such dialogues and discussions, what India needs to take care of is balancing it’s relations with both these nations and take the situation in it’s stride if not in advantage, at least.
Developing from the past unpleasant experiences, the US- Iranian relationship has come to a point where both of the countries have developed bitter opinions about each other and are continuously finding reasons to demean each other in all possible ways. It’s time for them to reassess what they are fighting for and what do they really aspire.
US needs to support it’s continuous imposing of sanctions and verdicts by proofs of agreement breach by Iran and not act on mere suspicions while Iran needs to be more transparent with regard to it’s nuclear activities. Both the countries should realise that their ultimate aim is to fight terrorism existing in the region and not terrorising each other by threatening the foundation of their relation.
India has always adopted ‘Soft approach’ with regard to it’s strategic and international relations and in this case too, it neither supports either of the sides completely nor wants the onset of war between the two. Over 8 million Indian migrants live and work in West Asia while 3.9 million are employed in America, and they could be affected by potential adversaries in the region. Hence, India prefers settlement of issues soon.
Indian government too has officially stated that it would be best if all the parties commit to resolve the issues peacefully through dialogue and negotiations since no war has ever been fruitful, be it have been fought through arms or cyber space. Instead of putting blame on each other, the two leaders need to commonly agree on settling lines. This would be in the best interests for US, Iran and all other related countries as well.