Political tensions and rivalry between Iran and Israel have cast a shadow over India's bilateral relations with both these countries. While one offers energy security, the other provides military–security capability towards ensuring greater Indian influence in the Middle East. Conscious of their relative advantages and challenges, India has managed to maintain a fine balance in its relations with Iran and Israel.
In the two decades since the end of the Cold War, the Islamic Republic of Iran has emerged as one of the two most debated, contested and commented upon foreign policy issues in India. The other has been the US. The US has remained the pre-eminent global player, following the disintegration and demise of the USSR. Despite its preference for multi-polarity, India, like many other countries, had to recognise the new US-dominated world order and calibrate a policy that was radically different from the one it followed during the Cold War era.
The American inability to provide effective leadership in the Middle East is a sufficient incentive for Indian defiance over unilateral oil sanctions against Iran. Yes, this defiance has difficulties and problems, but it is worth the price to assert India’s independent foreign policy making.
Until I met Diana, the South Asian Diaspora in the Middle East meant six million Indians, $50 billion in annual remittances and the problems of evacuation during crises. Diana put a human face to that understanding.
By establishing an organized process of selection and factoring in contingencies, King Abdullah is hoping for a smooth and orderly transition. But age and health are not on his side and the current wave of political unrest in the region has only complicated the challenges facing him.