India is all set to find itself in an uncomfortable and peculiar position as the Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif is scheduled to visit India and address the Raisina Dialogues from January 14th to 16th. This comes after tensions spiked in the middle east after the United States carried out drone strikes on Baghdad International Airport, killing Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Also killed were four members of the Popular Mobilization Forces, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi-Iranian military commander who headed the PMF.
Qasem Soleimani was an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and from 1998 until his death on Friday, commander of its Quds Force, a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations carried out across the globe, particularly in the Middle East by Iran. He had been on US’ watch for quite some time and rang his death knell when he overlooked the attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad by the Iran-backed Iraqi Shia militia. President Donald Trump had then tweeted,” Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities,” Trump tweeted from Florida. “They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.”
The Raisina Dialogue is a multilateral conference held annually in New Delhi. Since its inception in 2016, the conference has emerged as India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geo-economics. The conference is hosted by the Observer Research Foundation, an independent think tank, in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs of India. It is held at the Raisina Hills in the national capital and witnesses influential diplomats, economists, academicians, heads of states among others gracing the occasion. Among those invited is Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister of Iran. In the audience, there will also be the Lieutenant Governor of California, USA– Eleni Koulanakis. Foreign Minister of Egypt, H.E Nabil Fahmywill also be speaking at the event.
H.E. Mohammad Javad Zarif @JZarif, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, will be speaking at the Raisina Dialogue.
— Raisina Dialogue 2020 (@raisinadialogue) December 16, 2019
A conglomeration of such a variety of people, in the present scenario, with so many conflicting views is bound to raise the temperatures.
Moreover, this will be perhaps the first powerful platform offered to Zarif to respond to the United States intellectually. Anger clouds Iran, and it presently does not know what the repercussions of retaliation from its side will be, and how then the US will climb the escalation ladder. For India to be hosting Zarif at such a crucial time can prove to be a gamble, as the United States will be closely watching for untoward and provocative statements from Iran’s side at the event. This will fixate India in an uncomfortable position. India has strategic and trade interests with both Iran and the USA. India’s Chabahar Port project in Iran also hangs in the balance as tensions continue to rise in the region. Last night, the Green Zone near the US embassy in Baghdad was hit by rockets, so was the Balad Air Base which has a substantial number of US troops. Kata’ib Hezbollah had yesterday asked Iraqi citizens and security forces to maintain a 1000 meters distance from US forces and military installations, indicating that it will be striking the same from Sunday evening. In such times, when the region is witnessing heightened military action, for the foreign Minister of Iran to be given a platform by India can be a slippery slope. India must be very cautious in the coming days, and make arrangements that the Raisina Dialogue is not used as a platform by either the US or Iran for bickering at each other.