[Editorial Analysis] The regional great game

Mains Paper 2: International Relations

Prelims level: Chabahar port

Mains level: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Context

• Two neighbouring countries, Iran and Pakistan, which were trying to remain close, are today moving in opposite directions.

• This movement is partly pushed by circumstances India’s presence in Chabahar has been recently upgraded and the way Saudi Arabia is increasing its presence in Pakistan.

• Last month, on Christmas eve, India formally took over operations of the Chabahar port.

• India Ports Global company, a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Deendayal Port Trust, Kandla, is now functioning from its offices at Shaheed Behesti Port Chabahar.

• For New Delhi, Chabahar is important to reach out to Afghanistan.

Background

• In 2017, when this country was hit by drought, India had already shipped 1.1 million tonnes of wheat through Chabahar.

• Last month, senior bureaucrats of all the three countries, India, Iran and Afghanistan, held the first meeting for the implementation of the trilateral Chabahar agreement signed in 2016.

• They agreed on the routes for trade and transit corridors between the three countries and, according to the official communique, finalised the protocol to “harmonise transit, roads, customs and consular matters”.

• This achievement has something to do with the crisis affecting Iran vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan’s growth and humanitarian relief”.

• Iran needs India more than before in order to resist American attempts at isolating it.

Significance of this Indo-Iranian Relations

• Ironically, Tehran benefits from good relations between New Delhi and Washington waivers to eight countries including India for importing oil from Iran till March 2019.

• Iran’s isolation increase India’s leverage in the near future as Tehran will beforced to finalise deals for using local currencies in trade.

• India and Iran are already working on a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) that would reduce tariffs on 80 to 100 products.

• Pakistan pushed towards Saudi Arabia by the compulsions of financial circumstances.

• Saudis offering a $6 billion package, while the UAE $3 billion.

• Besides, Riyadh to invest $10 billion in a refinery in Gwadar.

• For Riyadh, this move precludes any Iranian presence in Gwadar, contrary to some of the plans talked about in Tehran and Islamabad.

• The Iranians missile technology branching the gas pipeline they have already built on CPEC at Gwadar and to connect Chabahar to CPEC too mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Way forward

• The Modi government invested in Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the first four years of his term invitation to Mohammed bin Zayed as guest of honour on Independence Day in January 2017 India expected massive investments from the UAE.

• Modi and Saudi King agreed to sign five MoUs regarding “exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, terrorism financing and related crimes amid the spread of Islamic State and threats from groups in Af-Pak region”.

• Such collaboration elusive if Saudi Arabia is even more strategically embedded in Pakistan and if both countries become more interdependent.

• The implications of this dynamic are particularly negative for Pakistan Baloch Afganistan Saudi/UAE.

• New regional game Pakistan closer to Saudi Arabia and Iran closer to India.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Which of the following is also known as Biodiversity Accord?

A. Aichi Targets

B. CITES

C. Nagoya Protocol

D. Cartagena Protocol

Correct Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) New regional game emerging in central Asia where Pakistan coming closer to Saudi Arabia and Iran a bit closer towards India. Critically Examine.

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