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Ebrahim Raisi and India’s Bet on Iran

4 59 1
04.08.2021

The presence of Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the inauguration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran this week might simply be a matter of protocol and an unremarkable expression of mutual goodwill. But as Afghanistan descends into crisis following the withdrawal of U.S. forces, New Delhi’s long-term calculus on the regional balance of power is nudging it toward stronger strategic cooperation with Tehran.

Iran appears eager to reciprocate. When Jaishankar was in Tehran last month on his way to Moscow, Raisi received him—making him the first foreign minister of any country to get that opportunity—and signaled Iran’s interest in stepping up cooperation with India. And in recent weeks, New Delhi and Tehran have intensified consultations on the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan.

The presence of Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the inauguration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran this week might simply be a matter of protocol and an unremarkable expression of mutual goodwill. But as Afghanistan descends into crisis following the withdrawal of U.S. forces, New Delhi’s long-term calculus on the regional balance of power is nudging it toward stronger strategic cooperation with Tehran.

Iran appears eager to reciprocate. When Jaishankar was in Tehran last month on his way to Moscow, Raisi received him—making him the first foreign minister of any country to get that opportunity—and signaled Iran’s interest in stepping up cooperation with India. And in recent weeks, New Delhi and Tehran have intensified consultations on the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan.

Drawing India and Iran closer are common concerns about the Taliban’s Sunni extremism and their possible return to power in Kabul now that the United States is ending its military presence. So is the shared determination to prevent Pakistan’s hegemony over Afghanistan, which would not only profoundly alter the geopolitics of South and Central Asia, but have repercussions in West Asia as well.

On the flip side, New Delhi and Tehran have divergent perceptions on the U.S. role in the region. India’s strategic partnership with the United States has deepened in recent decades—at the same time as the confrontation between Washington and Tehran has escalated. Similarly, India’s relations with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have intensified in recent years, while Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbors have increasingly been in conflict. India has also gotten closer than ever before to Israel, even as the hostility between Jerusalem and Tehran has intensified.

For New Delhi, managing the many contradictions in the........

© Foreign Policy


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