SOURCE: DINESH BEHARA/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
The onset of geopolitical unpredictability in the region is certain with the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan. Whatever the deal between the USA and the Taliban, India did raise its concerns in a timely manner, but the USA did not heed into those . Of course, we are not criticizing the decision of Pulling out American troops from Afghanistan, the decision was well taken to reorganize or reorient American posture keeping in mind the rise of China. But where it could have been better has become worse now, matters are now even more complicated than it was before. How is it complicated? Well, earlier USA, at least had some sort of influence, now it has lost even that very influence over the very state of affairs concerning Afghanistan with the abrupt exit and other players in the region trying to poke their nose .
Many experts are warning about the beginning of a new Cold War between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China . If that is the case then in coming days other countries will be coerced to pick sides, those whose interests are on the same page will align themselves thereby creating blocs or some countries will utilize the situation to their advantages by hopping between the blocs to achieve their own interest because in politics there are no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, only permanent interests.
Coming back to the present situation, the interests of India and the United States coincides presently – whether it’s related to Afghanistan, free and open Indo-Pacific, terrorism, etc.  . But what was very disappointing was the fact that like Afghanistan there were some instances where the United States tried or did constrain India but didn’t even realize that India’s concerns would also indirectly affect it. I would put the spotlight on two cases, the first one is Russia and the second one is Iran  .
In the case of Russia, the U.S. doesn’t like arms purchases and the U.S. wants India to strategically come out from its defence engagements with Russia . But most of the arms, equipment’s and weaponry for the Indian Military are from Russia. India and Russia are strategic partners. Also, Russia is a strong vocal supporter of India in most international and multilateral forums. Apart from defence, to move forward and to add more dimensions to the relations both countries are trying to engage in various sectors, Trade and Energy are prominent ones . India is also looking for alternative energy supplies other than the Gulf or Arabian region.Maybe the current pattern might change, but certainly, there is depth in the bilateral relations that cannot be eroded that easily.
In the case of Iran, the U.S. doesn’t like any major engagements that economically help Iran, and it is highly sanctioned by the USA. Also, sanctions make India hesitant to engage or invest more deeply. so, as a side effect, Iran has happily given the possible space of India to China (Indirectly hurting both India and USA) . We have realized the importance of Iran after the takeover by the Taliban. Iran plays a very critical role in Indian Afghanistan policy. Also, Iran is one of the Major Oil & Gas producers in the world and was a great supplier to India at a competitive price, but U.S. sanctions forced India to end its import – this has somewhat had upset Iran .
Well, this is where the U.S. fails to understand India’s concerns because Relations with both Russia and Iran are important.
Now, these are some of the precaps to the present scenario where it has become worse. Hope we are aware of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). It is a multi-modal transport corridor consisting of Sea route, Rail, and roadways connecting India to Europe (particularly to Moscow, Russia). The corridor includes India, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Armenia, Syria, and Oman as its members. The aim of this corridor is to enhance trade along the corridor . Along with India, Russia and Iran founded this proposal, but do observe that the latter two are at crossroads with the USA. Therefore, the of role INSTC has got diminished or still has not achieved its intended targets. Why? Because the United States is skeptical about any engagements of value with Russia and Iran. So, India’s activity is slow in this regard is slow,because who knows any time any objections or sanctions would appear from the United States. Delays are not good always, both Russia and Iran are strong partners of India, and relations with them will ensure stable Indian interests which will, in turn, be beneficial to the region.
China with its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects has expanded its influence on many countries, BRI is multiple economic corridors originating from China but BRI itself is contentious . Both the United States and India oppose the BRI due to its lack of transparency and sovereignty respectively . There are allegations that countries are trapped by heavy debts and in turn, China seizes the opportunity to its benefits later – a prime example being the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. The United States has explicitly taken Many initiatives to decrease the impact of BRI. Blue dot Network and Build Back Better World are some of them  .
INSTC was initiated by India, Russia, and Iran back in 2000, note this is before the Chinese-led BRI which came to the surface around 2013. INSTC complements these above-proposed initiatives by the United States, and it is in line with the United States’ pushback against the trap. INSTC also to some extent serves the purpose of Balancing Asia pivot Strategy. Therefore, the United States should not try to constrain activities related to INSTC, and instead, the USA should actively support INSTC which will help in enhancing India’s Interests also indirectly benefit the USA.
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