India ponders response to bomb plot in New Delhi
The car bomb targeted at an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi has accentuated the ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and the imposition of sanctions on its oil exports. India in particular is having a hard time responding to the ramifications of this attack. Today’s post highlights the variety of Indian viewpoints, as well as reactions from China and Russia.
This incident has castIndia’s diplomatic and strategic predicament in a harsh light. Indian commentaries reflect a deep anxiety and uncertainty over what this means for the future of Indian foreign policy toward the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as its energy supply and relations with theU.S.
- The Business Standard says New Delhi should not revise its current approach, and must reject the notion that it has to choose between Iran and Israel.
- But as C. Raja Mohan argues in The Indian Express, “Unlike in the past, India no longer has the option of doing nothing….While engaging all sides in a crisis is important, Delhi must recognize that circumstances will force its hand, sooner than later.” Yet even a great-power realist like Mohan is not outlining specific foreign policy prescriptions and instead suggests the need for domestic political unity, reflecting perhaps the enormous complexity ofIndia’s dilemma.
- Similarly, Bharat Karnad, a hard power nationalist at the Center for Policy Research only suggests that Indiashould tell Iranand Israelto keep their disputes away from Indian soil, and “publicly proclaim a policy that makes it clear that this country will not be made the site for a clash of strictly Western Asian interests.” An editorial in The Times of India makes a similar point.
A few analysts are more explicit in their foreign policy recommendations:
- Examining the pros and cons of India’s current support of Iran, Rajesh Rajagopalan of JawaharlalNehruUniversityconcludes that the possible negative reaction from some Arab states and the importance of Delhi’s relationship with Washingtonhas made India’s position increasingly costly to India’s “strategic balance sheet,” and it is time to change course.
- A different approach favoring multilateral diplomacy and opposing sanctions in general is espoused by Prakash Shah, India’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He suggests “a diplomatic initiative by India, China and Russia” to persuade the EU and theU.S. to withdraw their sanctions.
In contrast, the more isolationist and domestically-focused view of the “neo-nationalist” paper The Hindu instead blames India’s lax internal security (drawing many favorable responses from readers): “Indians ought to apply their minds to a more important issue nearer home: the dysfunction that continues to characterize the country’s counter-terrorism infrastructure.”
More broadly, Chinese commentary over the past two months has generally argued for a careful management of China’s position vis-à-vis Iran. Yin Gang of the ChineseAcademyand Social Sciences points out the possible disruption to China’s oil supply and says “China should persuade Iran back to the negotiation table.” Chen Ping, deputy managing editor of the Global Times also notes the need for a “Chinese roadmap for the peaceful resolution of the Iranian issue.” As the paper likewise argues in its editorials, “the U.S. is not ready for a war against Iran yet,” and the Iran issue gives “room for China to exert its diplomatic power.”
Press coverage in Russiais heavily focused on the upcoming presidential elections, but Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin took time to weigh in on Iranin a recent editorial outlining his foreign policy priorities. In the event of a military strike against Iran, “the consequences will be disastrous,” wrote Putin. “We propose recognizingIran’s right to develop a civilian nuclear program…in exchange for putting all Iranian nuclear activity under reliable and comprehensive IAEA safeguards.” If this is done, sanctions againstIran must be rescinded. Putin added that “the West has shown too much willingness to ‘punish’ certain countries.”
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