Recently, Iran reeling under the Covid-19 onslaught and sanctions,has approached India for essential medical support. 

Current Scenario:

  • Currently cases in Iran have jumped to 23,049 with 127 new deaths. Pairing Iran like Italy, Spain and China is worst hit by the COVID-19.
  • Sanctions have stopped supply of essential medical supplies: Iranian leaders  are trying for the lifting of crippling U.S. sanctions which have apparently hampered the flow of essential overseas medical supplies, impeding containment of the pandemic in the Islamic Republic.
  • Iran’s foreign Minister is meeting the ministers of European Union, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa as well as the U.N. Secretary General for humanitarian assistance.
  • Iran has also stated that Washington is also interfering with the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) — a mechanism that would allow Tehran to access vital medical and humanitarian supplies from Switzerland under the supervision of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Medical diplomacy of various nations related to Iran:

  • Health diplomacy of China: Iranian officials have praised China for its support during the outbreak.  It has drawn admiration of everyone.
  • Japan’s humanitarian assistance: Iran has also praised Japan not only for offering cash donations, but also the Avigan (Favipiravir) drug, which has apparently shown promising results during clinical trials for treating the infection in China. 
  • Pakistan has also requested the USA U.S. to lift sanctions against Iran, in the wake of the pandemic.

Significance of Iran for India:

  • Iran is India’s long term energy supplier and long term partner: It is also India’s gateway to Eurasia, via Afghanistan and Central Asia through the India-run Iranian port of Chabahar.
  • To enhance connectivity: Iran is at the heart of the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) — a 7,200-km-long network of ship, rail, and road route used for transporting goods between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe. 
  • Role in Afghanistan: Iran has a very strong bond  both within the Hazara community in central Afghanistan as well as factions within the Taliban, which are not all backed by Pakistan.
    • In 2001 after the collapse of the Pakistan-backed Taliban in Kabul, India had worked closely and profitably with Iran.
  • Outreach to the community: Iran is a major player among Shia Muslims, with significant concentrations across the globe including India, Afghanistan,Pakistan, and the Arab world including Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Need of the hour:

  • Despite its limitations, India also needs to be sensitive to Iran’s pressing requirements.
  • India is champion of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) in the region. India must help SAARC countries to combat the disease as well as the other countries in the extended neighbourhood.

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Image Source: economic times