The Chabahar (Iran), which means four-springs, fiasco for New Delhi was quite in the making.  India invested in Chabahar to reach to the market in the Arab world and more significantly, to entail Pakistan in its wings, by keeping an eye from the ‘other’ side and also to counter Gwador-port of Pakistan. India’s betrayal of Iran had long become full-circle,  and if a small jog of memory might help, who can forget Iranian foreign minister Javed Zarif dashing to meet India’s then foreign minister Sushma Swaraj on May 13, 2019 1, when India had stopped buying the Iranian oil in the wake of US sanctions on Iran. Sushma Swaraj  had then tried to comfort her counterpart that India ‘would see’ once the elections were over.  Only six-months later India new foreign minister S Jaishankar was in Tehran, on December 22, 2019, where he disgraced himself by openly expressing  his gratitude to Pompeo to have allowed India to resume the stalled work in Chabahar 2 , something which was loathed by Iran 3.  Today India stands dropped from Chabahar railway project by Iran 4 . Courtesy: China.

There is a fast changing military preposition in the world today, particularly in the South China sea, where the two giants China-US are into for a confrontation.  US is roping into all its allies , including India, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, even UK along with Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia to drub China into its South sea,  and there is a growing concentration of US military presence along with its naval exercises, which India had been into from May 2019 5 .  India already has a military base in Indonesia  which was opened up to keep an eye on the Malacca straits, from where the bulk of Chinese ships pass, and which obviously had then evoked a hard response from China 6 and it is this Malacca straits where the war in zeroing into. India which is nursing the immediate loss of its  20 soldiers in Ladakh is now more likely to play alongside US to choke China into Malacca straits , for which China would obviously make Pakistan, its ally and India’s foe, to scuttle Indian ships at Gwadar, from where Indian goods reach the Arab world. Gwadar and Chabahar are 170 kms apart.  7

It is also learnt  that  US aircraft military, in the first week of July, for three consecutive days, conducted reconnaissance in China Southern Guangdong , and it was in June when US sent aircrafts near the island of Taiwan 8  ,which prompted China to deploy  one of its most powerful 052D destroyer to combat US growing transgressions  9.

China has played the masterstroke and as a counter measure to US belligerence has invited  US number-one adversary Iran to start military exercises with it, something which has started the ring alarm bells in New Delhi, as Ram Madhav, the RSS China hawk  and the figure behind the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K,  has called for as ‘particular concern for India’ 10.   China is now to invest 400 billion USD in banking system, ports, railways, telecommunications, weapon developement  of Iran apart from and intelligence sharing  in exchange to an uninterrupted oil supply from Iran for the next 25 years, which Iran would give at a heavily subsidised rate, has all been enumerated in a 18-page document ( in Persian Language)  released from Wizarat-e-Umoor-e-Kharja  by its  minister Javed Zareef  11  . This single-move is likely to change the political equilibrium in the world as Arab States will now have to choose between US and China, and moreover, what is likely to happen is that the erstwhile Indian project of Chabahar is now very soon to be part of CPEC 12 ! This was all bound to happen as India had stopped  buying Iranian oil  13 ,  on US directives and  China had replaced it.

What however, would be worth pondering, is that China has taken this step, keeping in mind that US would implement heavy sanctions on it and would also put sanctions on countries trading with China too, hence China would need to device a new strategy for it, which obviously, is going to finally divide the present uni-polar world into a bipolar China versus the US world.  The first for China is to pay to Iran in Yuan and not in Dollars, something which had been its standard practice since 2012. 14 . China, therefore, is planning to seal the fate of Dollar. The Indian rupee is around 10 times lower to Chinese Yuan.

This investment is being labeled as the highest ever in the world from any country, has come, after Iran rock-solid unwavering challenge to US from the last five-decades. It is estimated that it is almost seven-times to what China has sought to invest in CPEC.  How fast Iranian economy is to rivet-high can be gauged that China which buys 10 million barrels of crude oil per day 15 is likely to order around half of its supply from Iran, whereas, the fact is that today Iran relies only through selling its oil in the grey market, to counter the sanctions slapped by US after US had scrapped ( in 2018) the nuclear-deal of 2015. 16.

A powerful Iran is to be an anathema to Israel which is right now placed with an order of supply of 50,000 UAV Heron drones  from India 17 so as to face China and Pakistan.  India, Israel and US are now to be in a block and China-Iran-Pakistan is to make for another.  Iran and Israel have historic-issues the same way India has with Pakistan.  India claims the whole of Kashmir as its part, half of it is with Pakistan, and China has only in June last signed a 2.4 billion USD of Hydel Power Project with Pakistan in Kashmir of Pakistan side 18 which would make a dam as a part of CPEC. China, thus, is making its presence more and more visible for India which right now is quite trepid in its response as when India takes on Pakistan over its Kashmir it would mean thwarting Chinese interests too.

There were some contestations between Iran and Pakistan over Afghan Taliban who are set to replace US sponsored Ashraf Ghani government.   Afghan Taliban are seen as a protégé of Pakistan whose delegations have lately been visiting Iran 19 and this renewed bonhomie led to Iran to provide missiles to Afghan Taliban to bring down US Bombardier  E-11A in Ghazni on Jan 28, 2020, which had the mastermind of operation that killed Osama Bin Laden and Qasim Soliemani Michael D’ Andrea on board, which was denied by White House.  Andrea was also called as Ayatollah Mike.  The death of two US officers  Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss, 46, of Yigo, Guam and Capt. Ryan S. Phaneuf, 30,  was however confirmed 20  .

India  which had of late very deftly irked Pakistan over its Chabahar project by putting its foot on Pakistan’s tail has floundered its chances, its claim to have ‘civilisational-ties’ with Iran were smudged in May last year and what India faces now is a position in a quandary.  US had for long isolated Iran and in the wake of COVID-19 wanted to isolate China, has in a way, forced China and Iran to become close.  India’s only help is Israel with its ideology and military maneuverability.  US does not have a permanent foe or a permanent friend. It only has permanent interests.

The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner. He is also a lawyer based in Lucknow.

References:

 

1-(https://www.newsclick.in/Iran-India-US-Sanctions-Oil-Donald-Trump-Narendra-Modi-Foreign-Policy)

2-(https://www.mea.gov.in/bilateral-documents.htm?dtl/32224/Transcript+of+Press+Statements+at+India++US+2432+Ministerial+Dialogue++Washington+DC+on+18+December+2019

3-(https://www.newsclick.in/iran-loathes-pompeo-chabahar-gift-vi-jaishankar)

4-(indiatoday.in/india/story/iran-chabahar-port-rail-project-india-dropped-china-deal-1700370-2020-07-14)

5-(https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/navy-joins-exercises-in-south-china-sea/article27084481.ece)

6-(http://www.defencenews.in/article/China-warns-of-%E2%80%98military-race%E2%80%99-over-Indias-Naval-Base-in-Indonesia-558560)

7(http://distancebetween2.com/chabahar/gwadar)

8- (https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1193949.shtml)

9-(https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1194283.shtml)

10-(https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/india-neighbours-foreign-diplomacy-india-china-relations-narendra-modi-6507691/

11-(https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/defying-us-china-and-iran-near-trade-and-military-partnership/articleshow/76938110.cms)

12-(https://www.deccanherald.com/national/iran-goes-to-pakistan-with-chabahar-link-plan-736492.html

13-(https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/oil-gas/us-deadline-ends-india-stops-purchasing-iranian-oil/articleshow/69475495.cms?from=mdr)

14-(https://www.bbc.com/news/business-17988142)

15 (https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=43216#:~:text=China’s%20annual%20crude%20oil%20imports,the%20United%20States%20in%202017.)

16- (https://in.reuters.com/article/iran-usa-sanctions-oil/iran-using-all-resources-to-sell-oil-in-grey-market-deputy-minister-idINKCN1SB07W)

17- (economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/indian-forces-to-acquire-heron-drones-spike-anti-tank-guided-missiles-from-israel/articleshow/76959494.cms)

18(https://sputniknews.com/india/202006251079716103-china-forks-out-24-bln-on-hydel-power-project-on-pakistani-side-of-kashmir-amid-tension-with-india/)

19-(https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/taliban-delegation-visited-iran-discuss-latest-developments-190917140942411.html)

20-(https://asiatimes.com/2020/02/cia-mystery-did-the-taliban-kill-ayatollah-mike-2/).



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