No one has appointed me to offer simplified, almost semi-literate, explanations of profound geostrategic forces and currents that cross and clash around the world. I have just assumed that role until such time as I am out of my depth or I am called out, whichever comes first. It has been 30 years of doing that so far without either happening.
This self-deprecating preamble is quite unnecessary but I had to get it out of my system otherwise it would have distracted me all day.
Speaking of complex geostrategic forces and currents, the other day I wrote about India charting an unusually independent course while dealing with Iran. New Delhi has stepped up its trade relations with Tehran in the face of U.S. and European sanctions and pressures over Iran’s nuclear program.
So driven India is to ensure an uninterrupted supply of its crude oil from Iran, which accounts for 12 percent of its total oil imports, that it has even signed an agreement that permits Indian companies to pay 45 percent of their import bill in rupees. That helps Iran go around having to deal with dollar or euro-based payments.
There are also reports that New Delhi wants to help Tehran build the Chah Bahar port in the country’s southeast as well as a railway line with direct access to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Chah Bahar is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean. It opens on the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman.
India could have explained all of this in the name of enlightened self-interest but a car bomb attack on Monday against an Israeli diplomat’s wife in New Delhi is threatening to upend it. Israel has accused Iran of carrying out the attack. If that indeed turns out to be the case, India’s diplomatic coitus is likely to be rudely interrupted. (I had to slip that in).
India’s Home Minister P. Chidambaram is now calling the bomb attack that injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat a “terrorist attack.” A total of four people were injured after an apparently sulfur-based explosive device slapped on to the diplomatic vehicle by a motorcycle rider exploded.
While Iran is denying the Israeli accusation as lies, India has so far refused to point any fingers.
"We condemn this incident. At the moment I am not pointing any finger at any particular group or organization. Whoever did it, we condemn it in the strongest terms. We have friendly relations with Israel, just as we have very friendly relations with other countries," Chidambaram has been quoted as saying.
It is possible that the attack may not eventually affect India’s long-term strategy in Iran but, in the event that it shows any Iranian involvement, it could seriously slow down the current pace of bilateral engagement.
On a side note, a very side note really, what’s the point in saying after any such attack that the attacker/s were “well-trained”? Doesn’t that go without saying? Unless, of course, bikers in India, on their way to a 9 to 5 job, routinely attach such devices on random diplomatic vehicles.