The Trump administration’s repeated provocations lie at the heart of the growing confrontation with Iran in the Persian Gulf, a waterway through which a third of the world’s oil passes every day, and which remains vital, not just to the world at large, but to India’s strategic interests as well.
India relies heavily on the Gulf for its supply of oil and gas, but there are also roughly over 8 million Indian expatriates who live and work in the Gulf. Even the “short, sharp conflict” that US President Donald Trump is said to be planning at the behest of his two advisers, National Security Adviser John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo, could pose a huge risk to the Indian community; a risk, the new foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, set to rebuild bridges between Washington and Delhi, must not shy away from voicing.
Iran’s announcement Monday that its uranium enrichment level has crossed 4.5 per cent follows on from its earlier pronouncements that it would no longer stick to the enrichment cap, agreed to in the 2015 nuclear deal. A direct result of the US President’s folly, when he withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018, and re-imposed sanctions, Mr Trump has followed that up — without a defence secretary to advise him — by tightening the economic screws, and upping military deployments to the Middle East after deliberate provocations, such as blaming Iran for placing limpet mines on ships, sending a drone and a manned flight into Iranian airspace.
Mr Trump, accused by a British envoy of running a dysfunctional government, did step back from the brink when Iran shot down the drone. Can he now decide which campaign promise he intends to keep — scrapping the Iran nuclear deal or not starting another war in the Middle East?...