09-26-2020     3 رجب 1440

The China-Iran Link could be a Geopolitical Gamechanger : The Stakes for India — 2nd  

August 01, 2020 | Syed Ata Hasnain

Energy security appears to be at the heart of it. Guaranteed supply of energy from Iran enhances China’s economic confidence which has off late been under some strain. Although China also obtains energy from Saudi Arabia there always exists the possibility of denial by Saudi Arabia under US pressure.
An important consideration appears to have been the rising US interest to shift focus to the Indo Pacific to contest China’s apparent attempts at domination of the West Pacific.
Russia was already in support of Iran and Sino-Russian interests are in consonance. The US-Saudi-Israeli combine was threatening to dominate West Asia with only a token US military presence. For China it was strategically important to keep the US pegged to its West Asian interests.
West Asia is likely to be beset by Islamic sectarian conflicts. The rich Gulf States being Sunni are all ranged against Iran. Thus, while it appears strange that China is throwing its lot with Shia Iran what appears likely is that China is investing in what it assesses as the future power centre in West Asia.
Russian naval presence was only in the Mediterranean leaving space in the Persian Gulf for China whose interests anyway were deeply in favour of a strong naval presence in the North West Indian Ocean. With Djibouti and Gwadar already virtually ‘acquired’, China evinced much interest in Chahbahar.
Chahbahar assures access to Iran’s energy resources even if the Straits of Hormuz are closed to oil traffic due to tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Iran is the overland terminal region for China’s Belt & Road Initiative in West Asia with potential for expansion further west into Europe through Turkey and south west into Africa.
It would be an extension of the Sino-Pakistan relationship which also looks at Central Asia as an area of strategic significance. It would help stabilize Pakistan’s west and north leaving it to concentrate in the east against India. That would greatly increase Pakistan’s value as a strategic partner in an apparent joint coercion of India.
400-500 billion US $ as the contemplated value of such a deal is no small sum of money. It would revitalize China’s manufacturing hubs in the long supply chain which has ensured Chinese prosperity all these years.
Joint training, equipment provision and manufacture, as also intelligence would ensure presence of China’s long arm of security in the region.
Given the rising importance of all the above, especially when the stage is being reset for a return to fresh balance of power politics and the shifting focus to the Indo Pacific a revitalisation of the draft agreement helps to impose caution. China probably views Iran as a nation which could build nuclear weapons but it won’t, provided it is economically secure and retains its influence in the ongoing Shia Sunni struggle. China also wishes to further test the resilience of the European powers and the US staying the course knowing fully well how reluctant the former have been as regards the virtual scuttling of JCPOA 2015 by President. Two other reasons could be subscribed to the leak of the draft agreement and the change in China’s strategic approach. The first is the election scenario in the US with the polls still three months or more away. Failure to continue the imposition of sanctions if China goes ahead with the deal would weaken Trump’s ability to project his strong stance towards Iran; China would be far happier with Trump out of the way. Second with Russia and China both not adhering to the sanctions the stage would be set for writing new rules which do not necessarily adhere to US strategic needs. Whether there exists sufficient leeway for the Sino Russian combine to so decisively take the diplomatic battle to the US remains uncertain because US power looks weakened due to the pandemic, a potential economic downturn and internal political rifts. Yet the US is in no way down and out and retains the power to dictate the course of strategic events.

Likely Impact of the Deal on India

How will the signing of the deal impact India? Every Indian analyst calls Iran a most important nation for India. The importance can be described as under:-
There is a civilizational relationship which exists between India and Iran. However, Iran has a perpetual complaint that India never translates this link into anything strategic.
As Pakistan’s western neighbour a strong Indo-Iran relationship offsets the possibility of Iran’s support to Pakistan which could be detrimental to India’s interests.
Iran remains an important player in Afghanistan just like India but that importance is not allowed to be translated on ground due to Pakistani intransigence and efforts to keep both nations out of Afghanistan.
As a Shia dominated state it balances the larger extremist Sunni intent to dominate Islamic politics.
Iran can substantially contribute towards energy security of India provided geopolitical pressures are put to rest.
The port of Chahbahar is the crucial factor. As explained earlier the port lies outside the Gulf and thus could remain open even with the closure of the Straits of Hormuz. It also offers potential for being the start point for the construction of a rail link to Zahidan on the Iran-Afghan border. With the existence of the Indian constructed Delaram-Zeranj Highway the route from Chahbahar to Kabul can become an important artery for trade with Afghanistan and further with Central Asia. It will neutralize all Pakistan efforts to deny overland access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
The presence of 25 million Shias who are well respected in India, provides a clear cultural link to Iran as against the abhorrent way in which Shias are treated as apostates in Pakistan.
Ever since India’s decision to move closer to the US for various strategic reasons which include economic, military and technological aspects India has remained on the horns of dilemma. It has not been able to translate the obvious advantages that accrue from a strong Indo-Iran relationship due to the competing demand for an Indo-US Strategic Partnership which too has a slew of advantages. The need to safeguard its interests in a strategic environment which is witnessing the progressive rise of an ambitious China creates the competitive demand for such a strategic partnership with the world’s only superpower with which India has considerable convergence of interests. (To Be Continued)

 

 

 

 

Email:----atahasnain@gmail.com

 

 

The China-Iran Link could be a Geopolitical Gamechanger : The Stakes for India — 2nd  

August 01, 2020 | Syed Ata Hasnain

Energy security appears to be at the heart of it. Guaranteed supply of energy from Iran enhances China’s economic confidence which has off late been under some strain. Although China also obtains energy from Saudi Arabia there always exists the possibility of denial by Saudi Arabia under US pressure.
An important consideration appears to have been the rising US interest to shift focus to the Indo Pacific to contest China’s apparent attempts at domination of the West Pacific.
Russia was already in support of Iran and Sino-Russian interests are in consonance. The US-Saudi-Israeli combine was threatening to dominate West Asia with only a token US military presence. For China it was strategically important to keep the US pegged to its West Asian interests.
West Asia is likely to be beset by Islamic sectarian conflicts. The rich Gulf States being Sunni are all ranged against Iran. Thus, while it appears strange that China is throwing its lot with Shia Iran what appears likely is that China is investing in what it assesses as the future power centre in West Asia.
Russian naval presence was only in the Mediterranean leaving space in the Persian Gulf for China whose interests anyway were deeply in favour of a strong naval presence in the North West Indian Ocean. With Djibouti and Gwadar already virtually ‘acquired’, China evinced much interest in Chahbahar.
Chahbahar assures access to Iran’s energy resources even if the Straits of Hormuz are closed to oil traffic due to tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Iran is the overland terminal region for China’s Belt & Road Initiative in West Asia with potential for expansion further west into Europe through Turkey and south west into Africa.
It would be an extension of the Sino-Pakistan relationship which also looks at Central Asia as an area of strategic significance. It would help stabilize Pakistan’s west and north leaving it to concentrate in the east against India. That would greatly increase Pakistan’s value as a strategic partner in an apparent joint coercion of India.
400-500 billion US $ as the contemplated value of such a deal is no small sum of money. It would revitalize China’s manufacturing hubs in the long supply chain which has ensured Chinese prosperity all these years.
Joint training, equipment provision and manufacture, as also intelligence would ensure presence of China’s long arm of security in the region.
Given the rising importance of all the above, especially when the stage is being reset for a return to fresh balance of power politics and the shifting focus to the Indo Pacific a revitalisation of the draft agreement helps to impose caution. China probably views Iran as a nation which could build nuclear weapons but it won’t, provided it is economically secure and retains its influence in the ongoing Shia Sunni struggle. China also wishes to further test the resilience of the European powers and the US staying the course knowing fully well how reluctant the former have been as regards the virtual scuttling of JCPOA 2015 by President. Two other reasons could be subscribed to the leak of the draft agreement and the change in China’s strategic approach. The first is the election scenario in the US with the polls still three months or more away. Failure to continue the imposition of sanctions if China goes ahead with the deal would weaken Trump’s ability to project his strong stance towards Iran; China would be far happier with Trump out of the way. Second with Russia and China both not adhering to the sanctions the stage would be set for writing new rules which do not necessarily adhere to US strategic needs. Whether there exists sufficient leeway for the Sino Russian combine to so decisively take the diplomatic battle to the US remains uncertain because US power looks weakened due to the pandemic, a potential economic downturn and internal political rifts. Yet the US is in no way down and out and retains the power to dictate the course of strategic events.

Likely Impact of the Deal on India

How will the signing of the deal impact India? Every Indian analyst calls Iran a most important nation for India. The importance can be described as under:-
There is a civilizational relationship which exists between India and Iran. However, Iran has a perpetual complaint that India never translates this link into anything strategic.
As Pakistan’s western neighbour a strong Indo-Iran relationship offsets the possibility of Iran’s support to Pakistan which could be detrimental to India’s interests.
Iran remains an important player in Afghanistan just like India but that importance is not allowed to be translated on ground due to Pakistani intransigence and efforts to keep both nations out of Afghanistan.
As a Shia dominated state it balances the larger extremist Sunni intent to dominate Islamic politics.
Iran can substantially contribute towards energy security of India provided geopolitical pressures are put to rest.
The port of Chahbahar is the crucial factor. As explained earlier the port lies outside the Gulf and thus could remain open even with the closure of the Straits of Hormuz. It also offers potential for being the start point for the construction of a rail link to Zahidan on the Iran-Afghan border. With the existence of the Indian constructed Delaram-Zeranj Highway the route from Chahbahar to Kabul can become an important artery for trade with Afghanistan and further with Central Asia. It will neutralize all Pakistan efforts to deny overland access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
The presence of 25 million Shias who are well respected in India, provides a clear cultural link to Iran as against the abhorrent way in which Shias are treated as apostates in Pakistan.
Ever since India’s decision to move closer to the US for various strategic reasons which include economic, military and technological aspects India has remained on the horns of dilemma. It has not been able to translate the obvious advantages that accrue from a strong Indo-Iran relationship due to the competing demand for an Indo-US Strategic Partnership which too has a slew of advantages. The need to safeguard its interests in a strategic environment which is witnessing the progressive rise of an ambitious China creates the competitive demand for such a strategic partnership with the world’s only superpower with which India has considerable convergence of interests. (To Be Continued)

 

 

 

 

Email:----atahasnain@gmail.com

 

 


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Owner, Printer, Publisher, Editor: Farooq Ahmad Wani
Legal Advisor: M.J. Hubi
Printed at: Abid Enterprizes, Zainkote Srinagar
Published from: Gulshanabad Chraresharief Budgam
RNI No.: JKENG/2010/33802
Office No’s: 0194-2451076, 9622924716 , 9419400056
Postal Regd No: SK/135/2010-2019
Administrative Office: Abi Guzer Srinagar

© Copyright 2018 brighterkashmir.com All Rights Reserved.