Iran, in surprising move upped its unwanted criticism of India following the dastardly Delhi riot and violence. “The hearts of Muslims all over the world are grieving over the massacre of Muslims in India. The govt of India should confront extremist Hindus & their parties & stop the massacre of Muslims in order to prevent India’s isolation from the world of Islam,”
The hearts of Muslims all over the world are grieving over the massacre of Muslims in India. The govt of India should confront extremist Hindus & their parties & stop the massacre of Muslims in order to prevent India’s isolation from the world of Islam.#IndianMuslimslnDanger
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) March 5, 2020
Iranian Supreme leader Ayotollah Khamenei tweeted on Thursday three days after Foreign Minister Javad Zarif criticized India for Delhi violence. “For centuries, Iran has been a friend of India. We urge Indian authorities to ensure the wellbeing of ALL Indians & not let senseless thuggery prevail. The path forward lies in peaceful dialogue and the rule of law,” the Iranian Foreign Minister had tweeted last Monday. Iran which India has all along considered its friend is on a hara-kiri mission with the unnecessary tweets and statements.
Iran condemns the wave of organized violence against Indian Muslims.
For centuries, Iran has been a friend of India. We urge Indian authorities to ensure the wellbeing of ALL Indians & not let senseless thuggery prevail.
Path forward lies in peaceful dialogue and rule of law.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 2, 2020
The Indian side and administration was quick to respond as the officials told the Iranian Ambassador Ali Chegeni, “Zarif commented on a matter which is purely internal to India.”
Even as an isolated Iran speaks about isolating India from the Islamic world over the events in India, the reason is more economic and strategic than meets the eye. While a Coronavirus outbreak poses a grave threat to its already sanctions-ridden economy, Iran is desperate to improve its oil trade. Further, with few friends that would go the extra mile for it, Iran is now taking to hostility against an India which has drifted closer to the US, in a historic shift.
The reason for Iran’s new-found hostility reversal is purely economic. Oil meets 84 per cent of India’s energy needs and more than 80 per cent of the country’s oil demand is met through imports, out of which 10 per cent used to be met by Iran. As tensions between the US and Iran escalated, the US, with its CAATSA law built pressure on India and several other nations to shed its oil imports from Iran or face sanctions. After prolonged sanction waivers, India has significantly reduced oil imports from the West Asian nation and shifted towards the US. In the current fiscal (FY20), oil imports from Iran have dipped to 1.97 mt down from 23.9 mt in FY19. At the same time, India exported $234 million of goods to Iran, establishing a seven-fold trade surplus.
India plans to more than double its oil imports from the US next year and if this level of oil imports achieved, the US will reach close to meeting India’s 10 per cent oil import needs, the same what Iran was meeting prior to the supply squeeze post the sanctions.
The US is also looking to offer concessions on such oil exports that could be at par with the terms India enjoyed with Iran, which offers cheaper freight and a 60-day credit period to Indian importers such as the IOC, MRPL and Nayara Energy. With such major developments in US-India oil relations in a rather short period of time, Iran has bound to get frustrated and the recent statements prove the same.
Losing a big trade-partner like India was always going to sting and it seems to be the case here. More than anything it’s the frustration of the Iranian government which is being vented out in the form of tweets.
When the USA killed Iran’s second most powerful man, General Qassem Soleimani, in early January, Iran was outraged and when Javad Zarif came to India for Raisina dialogue, he used the platform to flay the USA and criticise its presence and role in West Asia.
Told #Raisina2020 that Iran believes in diplomacy: but not in re-negotiating a UNSC Resolution we agreed on with 6 Governments & EU.
We did not sign an "Obama deal" to go for a "Trump deal" now. Even if we did, who's to say we won't need Biden, Sanders or Warren deal next year? pic.twitter.com/Lf1AovSINJ
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 15, 2020
At the time, Iran had also called for India to meditate, speak up, when tensions were high between Iran and the US. The Iranian ambassador said, ‘India is a part of the region’ and said that India has a say in these matters.’ Traditionally, India has never taken sides between Iran and the US. All other superpowers such as China, Russia, France, UK, and Germany are all stakeholders who, because of historical relations, are divided in blocs either favouring the US or Iran.
Another reason why India does not take Iran’s defence is because Iran has an indefensible record. The Muslim-majority nation has been trying to build nuclear weapons for decades. They fund a number of Shia terror and militants across the West Asian region, be it Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iraq, or the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The sanctions are slapped on Iran from left, right and centre. All these reasons are more than enough for India to not even feign its interest in taking Iran’s side.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has tilted towards Islamic extremism and has seen multiple oppressive regimes. India and the US in the last couple of years have started calling out ‘radical Islamist Terrorism” outspokenly.
Iran said that the spread of China’s new coronavirus had hit oil demand and called for an effort to stabilize oil prices. The outbreak of the virus has hit top officials in the Iran government rather badly.
Deputy Health Minister has the virus whose presser went viral when he struggled and constantly wiped the sweat off his face. Former ambassadors to the Vatican, and Afghanistan are dead, and there is a full-blown outbreak in the country. Some experts have said that calling out India can be a way to divert attention from local woes, as Corona can be the last nail in the coffin of its deteriorating and ailing economy
Khamenei has always stayed away from criticizing China for the maltreatment of its Uyghur Muslim minorities. On September 14, 2018, the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, lambasted Khamenei for failing to speak out over China’s reported detention of large contingents of its Muslim minority population.
Khamenei “fancies himself the leader of the Islamic world, but his regime has been totally silent as China — the top buyer of #Iran’s oil — has persecuted and detained hundreds of thousands of its Muslim citizens,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter.
.@khamenei_ir fancies himself the leader of the Islamic world, but his regime has been totally silent as China—the top buyer of #Iran’s oil—has persecuted and detained hundreds of thousands of its Muslim citizens. رژیم_ریاکار#
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 14, 2018
Iran’s irresponsible statement is ironic as India’s Hindu majority population has been a friend of Iran for decades, yet those Hindus who were tortured, shot at and killed in the communal riots of Delhi did not find any mentions in the Iranian officials tweets even once. Moreover, Islamic countries and sworn enemies of Iran like Saudi Arabia and UAE haven’t spoken a word against India for these nations.