India urges US and Iran to maintain peace after US strike in Baghdad

indica News Bureau-

After  USA’s attack on Iran, killing General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), along with 7 others, India has urged the two countries- Iran and US to maintain peace.

A statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs of India read, ” It is vital that the situation does not escalate further. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so”, reported India Today on January 4.

India has asked the US and Iran to exercise “restraint” in order to avoid destabilizing the region after the attack that lead to the death of Soleimani, considered to be a ‘hero’ by many in Iran. Soleimani, was killed on Friday following air raids by the American forces at Baghdad’s International Airport.

“We have noted that a senior Iranian leader has been killed by the US. The increase in tension has alarmed the world. Peace, stability and security in this region are of utmost importance to India”, said the MEA statement.

The MEA statement further read, “It is vital that the situation does not escalate further. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so.”

Being ally of both countries, India is in a fix. As India was pushed by US sanctions into a corner in not doing business with Iran, any further escalation could put India’s Chabahar project – that focuses on improving connectivity to expand trade links with Central Asia via Iran’s Chabahar Port – in jeopardy.

“For India, it impacts India’s sea-link communication and energy flows from the region. If there is a dramatic escalation that would lead to spike in oil prices which would have a negative impact on an already slowing down, sluggish economy”, Harsh Pant, Director at Observer Research Foundation,  opined while talking to India Today.

If tension escalates further, it will have a huge impact on the Indian economy as the price of oil, along with supply form the region would be effected.

Former diplomat Ranjan Mathai, who was the former foreign secretary as also the ambassador of India to Iran said, “The only immediate impact would be if oil prices go up in anticipation of a conflict. That would be damaging for the Indian economy. Much depends on Iran’s response. Serious escalation and action on Strait of Hormuz could impact supplies. But, for us, the immediate concern is oil prices.”

What led to the attack

US President Donald Trump in his tweet, right after the attack wrote that the general was “directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of millions of people”. Trump said Soleimani had “killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans… and was plotting to kill many more” and “should have been taken out many years ago”.

“While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country,” he said.

Statement issued by the Pentagon said that the strike was retaliatory in nature after the US embassy in Baghdad came under attack and was directly sanctioned by the US.

“He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months – including the attack on December 27th – culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week,” the statement said. “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” it added.

The Pentagon statement said: “At the direction of the president, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani.”

It added: “The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”

The drone strike comes days after protesters attacked the US embassy in Baghdad, clashing with US forces at the scene. The Pentagon said Soleimani approved the attacks on the embassy, reported BBC.

Iran’s Reaction

The Iranians have already threatened the US of “consequences” to the action. Soleimani, 62, was very close to the Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei who said “severe revenge awaits the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood”.

Foreign Minister of Iran Javad Zarif is due to visit India for a bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart Dr. S. Jaishankar on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue being held in New Delhi on January 8-10. For now, the visit has not been cancelled.