The first presidential visit from Iran since 2003 comes at a complicated moment in Tehran. For the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is the best of times and the worst of times. Iran’s regional influence has never been as expansive as it is today. Yet, there is a huge push back against Tehran from some of its Arab neighbours, Israel and the Trump Administration.
Increasing internal, economic and political volatility:
- The Iranian currency Rial is rapidly losing its value.
- High inflation and large-scale unemployment, as well as widespread corruption, triggered protests in Iran’s cities around the new year.
- There are also demands for social liberalization, with the women protesting the law on the compulsory wearing of the veil in public.
Delhi’s biggest current challenge in dealing with Iran?
- There is a conflict sharpening between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
- India’s public discourse on relations with Iran has for long been framed in terms of Tehran’s relations with Washington.
- During the early decades of the Cold War, India stayed away from the Shah of Iran, a secular modernizing ruler because he was too close to the United States.
- Today, one of the main problems is the unending enmity between Iran and the US.
Iran’s nuclear deal is a temporary relief?
- India was relieved when the US, under President Barack Obama, and Iran in 2015 concluded a nuclear deal.
- The deal opened up some space for international commercial cooperation with Tehran.
- But, President Donald Trump and his Republican party’s hostility towards the deal has created fresh complications for India recognizing the reality of regional conflicts in the Middle East.
- India would certainly want to see a serious effort to reconcile the current tensions between Iran and its Arab neighbors.
- Delhi does not have the power to mitigate the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia but Delhi can certainly encourage the emerging trends for political and social moderation in the Middle East.
- India has positively viewed the recent calls from the political leadership in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE for reclaiming Islam from violent extremists.
Three important Indian objectives in the Middle East?
- Promotion of mutual political accommodation within the region.
- Pressing for an end to the export of destabilizing ideologies from the region.
- The construction of a coalition against violent religious extremism that has inflicted so much suffering in the Middle East and the Subcontinent.