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Asia Watch

Iran and Saudi Arabia may look similar on paper, but the former has an incredibly rich culture that can move into the column of freedom

 

For the first time since its creation in 1948, Israel is sitting pretty. For all practical purposes it has been let off the hook by once-hostile Arab governments who are now busy fending off internal turmoil or feuding with their fellow Muslim neighbours.

 

What we have not seen in 2015 — and would be lucky to see in 2016 — is a reversion to the Charter and an acknowledgement that conflict-prevention is the best diplomacy. What we have not seen in 2015 — and would be lucky to see in 2016 — is a reversion to the Charter and an acknowledgement that conflict-prevention is the best diplomacy.

 

As 2015 drew to an end, reports appeared in the Indian and Israeli press of an event of potentially far-reaching strategic importance, which went largely unmentioned in the mainstream media in the West.

 

India was in a tight spot, and not just in the metaphorical sense, during the tussle between Western powers led by the United States and Iran over the nuclear programme of the Shi’ite State.

 

It was a remarkable moment in international diplomacy. Until last year, it was unimaginable that there would be a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

 

Iran has begun its long march out of the cold, after economic sanctions related to its nuclear programme — imposed by the US, EU and the UN — were lifted, following the IAEA’s confirmation of Tehran’s compliance with the terms of last July’s historic nuclear deal.

 

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s two-day visit to Tel Aviv and Ramallah might end New Delhi’s discomfort with itself in dealing with Israel and Palestine. But India’s past problems in the Middle East pale into insignificance in comparison to the challenges staring at Delhi today.

 

Intervene! Stay neutral! Mediate! Think pipeline. Think oil. Don’t get involved. We’re already involved. Stay united. They’ve fractured us already.

 

The Arab Spring had deeply destabilised the Middle East. A new dimension was added to the existing instability on January 4, 2016, when the (Sunni) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) severed diplomatic ties with (Shia) Iran. 

 


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