(In this blog, Kartikey Srivastava, a second-year student of Dr. RMLNLU, is trying to shed some light on US-Iran relations)
There are two main regional powers in middle east Saudi Arabia and Iran, they both are rival countries but still they have not ever faced each other in war directly, but they are actually in a phase of proxy wars i.e. they use the tensions, warlike situation in nearby countries and fund one of the side and thus they fight indirectly. To name a few, proxy wars like these are ongoing in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. For example in a country there are a few protestors who oppose the government, so one of the country will aid the government side and the other one will be contribute to the protestors by funding them or even supplying them weapons.
Iran has majority of Shia Muslims whereas Saudi Arabia has majority of Sunni Muslims, so there is a kind of religious divide also present between the countries.As it is pretty evident that US is an ally of Saudi Arabia and if we go according to the famous quote “Our enemy’s enemy is our friend”, so US and Iran are also somewhat engaged in some rivalry.
Lately there has been an increase in the anti-government protest in iraq due to high corruptional practices, unemployment and several other factors. The government of Iraq is supported by Iran, whereas the rebels aka protestors are indirectly funded by Saudi arabia and US, recently some protestors were killed by the Iran government as they were shot down with the bullets.
History of US-Iran relations
The relations between USA and Iran have been in dirt since past 40 years but the present conflict has started after the election of Donald Trump as the president of USA. In 2015 Barack obama the then president of US signed a nuclear deal with Iran. But on 8th may 2018, donald trump backed off from the deal, he gave the reason that Iran supports terrorism and is the cause of bloodshed in the middle east. There is also an opinion that out of jealousy from Barack Obama, Trump backed off from the deal as he didn’t sign the deal in 2015. So trump declared economic sanctions on Iran and the relations which were somewhat healed by the former president were back to square one.
How did the current escalation start?
There was an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil tanker where US alleged that the same was done by Iran. Also on 20th June 2019 a US drone was shot down by Iran and the reason cited was that it was in the territory of Iran but according to US agencies it was in an international territory. On 8th April 2019, Trump declared an organization of Iranian army (Islamic Revolutionary Guard) as a foreign terrorist organization. It happened first time in the history of US that any military of other country was declared as a terririst organisation.
On 28th Dec 2019, there was an attack on US military base in Iraq where an american contractor was killed. US alleged that Iranian military and general Qasem Soleimani were responsible for the attack.
On 29th December 2019 US retaliated by conducting airstrikes on an Iranian weapon centre which resulted in more than 25 casualties.
This was again retaliated by Iran as a pro-Iranian mob attacked US embassy in Iraq.Though there was no harm done to any individual, Trump tweeted that iran will have to pay a heavy price and its a threat not a warning.
What are the Developments after the drone attack?
On 3rd Jan 2020 General Qasem Soleimani was killed by US airstrike. He was the general of the most elite force in Iran i.e. Quds force, trump gave reasons that Soleimani was planning attacks against Americans diplomats and army personnel. US even alleged that general supplied weapons to terrorist in Iraq but the same was denied by Iran. In fact General Soleimani was seen as a national hero because he fought against ISIS and helped securing the borders of Iran, it is interesting to note that one section of people treat the same person as a terrorist whereas he is a national hero in eyes of others.
Iranian government assured that this act of US will be retaliated but they stated they don’t envy the common people of US, there only enemy is Donald Trump and they even declared a bounty on him and the people of US must not worry. Iranian president advisor listed down all the real estate sites of trump so as to attack his business. To which trump retaliated that he will hunt down all the cultural sites in Iran including world heritage sites for which he was criticized a lot.
Iraqi parliament has voted that they do not ant any American on their land and want to remove each one of them, whereas Iran passed a motion to declare the US military forces as a terrorist organization.
What are the Implications for India?
US gave reply to Iraq that if they really want all the US military to leave the country, then Iraq must pay for the air force base made by US which amounts to several billion dollars and if it will not pay then heavy economic sanctions will be imposed on Iraq which will effect India in a very bad way. As of 2019 Iraq is the top supplier of crude oil in India so If sanctions are imposed on Iraq then US will force it allies to stop importing the crude oil from Iran which also includes India, so India will need to import oil from somewhere else which will be two to three times expensive. This will surely give a hard hit on Indian economy. The effect can be seen on the Indian markets as on the day of drone attack the markets crashed down by 3.5 percent and investors lost 3 lakh crores in total.
When US is getting so volatile against Iran and Iraq, US needs more allies. In 2018 Trump stopped a training which was imparted to Pakistan military as he said that Pakistan shelters the terrorist and help them but due to the need of allies, the training has been started once again.
The tension between the two countries is affecting the world at large as other nations are being affected by the aftermath of their rivalry. And it will be better that some third nation come and mediate the issue between the two countries as day by day the retaliation is getting bigger and bigger from both the sides. Not to forget that both the countries are in possession of nuclear weapons. So lets cross fingers and hope that world will never see any Hiroshima or Nagasaki in near future.