Podcast: How US-Iran conflict reached this point and where is it heading
Donald Trump has said Iran seems to be standing down, after firing over a dozen missiles on a US base in neighbouring Iraq, in retaliation to killing its top military commander Quasim Suleimani. But several experts are worried about fresh confrontation and conflict. We spoke to Dr A.K. Ramakrishnan, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for West Asian Studies, and asked him a number of questions - from how the conflict reached this point, to how India could be affected by this conflict.
US President Donald Trump has stepped back from new military action against Iran after its missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops caused no casualties. But in a press briefing, he said that the US will tighten already crippling U.S. sanctions. Trump and Iranian officials looked to defuse a crisis that on Wednesday had threatened to spiral into open conflict after the killing of a prominent Iranian general in Iraq on January 3 in a U.S drone strike was followed by Iran's retaliatory attack.
The tit-for-tat military action, after months of rising tension since the United States withdrew in 2018 from Iran's nuclear pact with world powers, had stoked global concerns that the Middle East was heading towards another war. Trump said that Iran "appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned" but the United States would impose additional sanctions on Iran, adding to measures that have slashed its oil exports and crippled its economy.
Trump, who faces re-election this year and who accused predecessors of dragging the United States into unnecessary regional wars, did not say what the new sanctions would involve.
"The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer. It will not be allowed to go forward. Today I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process," he said.
These statements raised several questions on how global diplomacy and international security will be shaped in the days following the airstrikes. Of particular concern to India are the repercussions from West Asia, and how they impact our trade, security, and energy policies. This concern comes to the fore when considering the Chahabar Port Project, of immense strategic importance to India.
Asiaville spoke to an expert on West Asia, Dr A.K. Ramakrishnan, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for West Asian Studies, at the School of International Studies.
“India cannot afford a conflict within the (West Asian) region…“It is in India’s interest that the tension would not escalate,” he said.
Listen to our conversation here: