NEW DELHI: India is being dragged into Middle East tensions following US President Donald Trump’s claim that an Iranian general was behind a terror attack in New Delhi, foreign policy experts have told Arab News.
Qassem Soleimani, who was head of the overseas Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was among those killed in Baghdad last Friday by a US airstrike.
Trump, who ordered the hit, said the slain general had contributed to deaths worldwide: “Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London,” Trump said on Saturday referring to the bombing of an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in New Delhi almost eight years ago.
India called for restraint and calm after Solemani’s death came to light.
Anil Trigunayat, a former diplomat who served as India's ambassador to Gulf nations, told Arab News that any negative developments in the region would have a direct effect on India and its interests.
The Middle East is the closest extended neighborhood for India and New Delhi was reliant on the region for almost 70 percent of its hydrocarbon requirements, he said.
But India’s strategic neutrality in the region would not be compromised because it had friendly relations with all countries there, he added. “India also remains the next big economic opportunity for the region and the world. These provide India with the credibility to be an honest interlocutor.”
Pranay Kotasthane, from the Bangalore-based Takshashila Institution, said it would not be easy for India to maintain non-adversarial ties with Middle Eastern countries.
“India's stance of maintaining a non-adversarial relationship with all major West Asian powers will come under strain in a crisis situation,” he told Arab News. “Every decision made by India will be seen by a few countries in zero-sum terms — if you are not with us, you are against us. India should continue to keep away from the many conflicts in that region and pursue parallel diplomacy with all sides.”