WION Edit: US-Iran crisis - can India play peacemaker?

Delhi Jan 10, 2020, 01.42 PM(IST) Written By: WION

US-Iran Photograph:( AFP )

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India is the best poised to handle this crisis. India has a historic relationship with Iran and it also shares a strong equation with the US.

US-Iran conflict is a tricky situation for India. India maintains strong ties with both the US and Iran. This presents India an opportunity to broker peace in West Asia. 

Iran has welcomed any initiatives by India to de-escalate tensions.

This means two things for India:  One, an opportunity to play a bigger role in West Asia. Two, the ability to protect its own interest.

On WION Edit, we will explore can India play peacemaker?

First, there are over 8 million Indian workers in West Asia. Peace in the region is the top priority for India.

Two, the Chabahar port which is strategically very important. India is the top player there. Iran has now confirmed that China wants a larger role in developing the port. India must not cede ground to China.

Three, the economic impact - rise in oil prices is a major risk for the Indian economy, especially now amid the slowdown. Rice and tea exports from India to Iran have also been hit.

Four, safeguarding strategic interests. India is an old player in West Asia and we have cultural, people to people ties. Now China is pushing aggressively, with its money.

Earlier, Beijing did not pick sides in this conflict. But now it has changed its tune, especially after the US sanctions.

China, Russia and Iran have faced the wrath of American sanctions. A few days ago, these three countries conducted joint navy exercises in the Gulf of Oman, as well as, Indian ocean. 

India is the best poised to handle this crisis. India has a historic relationship with Iran and it also shares a strong equation with the US.

India has close, friendly ties with Russia, strategic ties with China, clout in Saudi Arabia and friends in Israel. If there's one neutral peace broker which can de-escalate this situation, it should be India. It's an opportunity that Delhi shouldn't pass.

India's initial reaction to the killing of Qasem Soleimani has been measured and mature. Iran's foreign minister Javed Zarif will visit India next week. This could be a chance to assess the situation from close-quarters.

Recently, the Indian Navy's warships and aircraft were deployed in the Gulf region. This was to secure India's sea-borne trade, reassure Indian merchants and plan response to an emergency

It's good that India is acting to protect its maritime interests, but prevention is always better than cure. India has to step up its role in West Asia.

If India plays an active role in playing the peacemaker in the US-Iran conflict, it will not only earn the goodwill of Iran and the US, but also establish India's prominence in the region.

(Disclaimer: WION Edit is the channel's take on the big events of the world)