Recently, India’s Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi visited three Middle Eastern countries. And now, he is hosting the Iranian President in Delhi. After all, Modi has been able to establish good relations with the countries of the Middle East.
The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reached India on Thursday on a 3-day tour. In this tour, he will try to push energy- and infrastructure-related deals (which are supposedly worth billions of dollars) between the two countries. This includes the modernisation of the Chabahar Port of Iran.
According to reports, Rohani will go to Hyderabad where he will meet Muslim scholars and visit many religious and cultural sites. On Saturday, he will be in Delhi, where he will meet Modi. On this occasion, businessmen from the two countries will also meet.
Iran wants India to invest in projects related to petrochemical plants, railways and industrial development. This comes in the backdrop of Iran being concerned about the possibility of the United States (US) repealing the 2016 nuclear deal again. Furthermore, they are worried that the US may impose stringent economic sanctions, thereby putting pressure on the investors and the projects there.
India is one of the key buyers of oil from Iran. From 2012 to 2016, when the US and the European Union imposed sanctions on Iran, India had also reduced the purchase of oil from Iran, although it did not completely shut down. Back then, Modi visited Iran in 2016 and promised to invest $500 million in the project related to the development of the Chabahar Port.
Modi has also signed six agreements with Palestine and agreed to invest $50 million in Palestinian territories and help them. Reportedly, there is a plan to open a hospital and educational institution there with this money. After meeting with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Modi said, “I have assured President Abbas that India is bound by a promise to take care of Palestinian people’s interests.”
Some observers believe that Modi’s visit to Palestine is an effort to balance its relations with Palestine, against the backdrop of growing defence and economic ties with Israel. After all, India has for long voiced its support for a separate Palestinian nation and has recognised Palestine as a country since 1988.
In addition to Palestine, Modi also went to Oman and the UAE. Earlier, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured India for six days. Modi’s diplomatic negotiations show that he is able to take advantage of India’s neutral stance in the many crises in the Middle East region, so that he can get the best results from Indian investments in the region.
Traditionally, India and Iran have shared a friendly relationship. Although India has to face American pressure on this issue many times, it has maintained a balance in its relations with both sides. A US Congressional report even stated that India had supported the implementation of the sanctions imposed on Iran. Even then, Iran retained its economic relationship with India.
The important thing is that India’s strong relationship with Israel has, to the best of my knowledge, never been interrupted by its relations with Iran, Palestine, or any other Middle Eastern nation. In my opinion, there are strategic reasons for the relationship between Iran and India – and they have nothing to do with India’s relations with Israel.