Rising spectre of war in West Asia

Rising spectre of war in West Asia

This video grab shows explosions lighting up Jerusalem sky during Iranian attack on Israel.(AFP)

The worst of the world’s fears seem to be coming true. Israel’s war on Gaza may be about to expand beyond the confines of the Palestinian homeland. In retaliation to Tel Aviv’s killing of two Iranian generals in Damascus on April 1, Tehran launched drones and missiles into Israel early on Sunday. The United States (US), Israel’s foremost ally, has said “nearly all” the drones were taken down. The world needs to pull back quickly from such an escalation of conflict: It can’t afford one more war. The extended war in Gaza—35,000 plus casualties in over six months with thousands of homes flattened—was bad enough. It has forced additional costs on global trade with sea routes in West Asia coming under fire; 17 Indian sailors are trapped in an Israeli merchant ship seized by the Iranians on Friday. Moscow’s war on Kyiv has already imposed a significant cost on the global economy; an expanded war in West Asia could tip the economy over a precipice since it could force oil prices to skyrocket. There is an urgent need for all parties to halt hostilities.

Israel has to be told that its unilateral actions are hurting the world. The Hamas terror attack was unacceptable, but Tel Aviv has not served its interests by unleashing its military might on the hapless civilians of Gaza. Its targeting of Iranian officials in neighbouring countries, on the ground that Tehran is the sponsor of Hamas, is a blatant violation of national borders and international law. Both countries have to roll back their direct and indirect actions that have been roiling West Asia, which Delhi considers to be its extended neighbourhood. India has a particular interest in the region, given the historical ties with its nations and peoples. More importantly, the region is crucial to the country’s energy security and houses millions of Indian workers.

Ideally, the United Nations (UN) ought to take the lead. But, even as the UN has called for an emergency meeting, the current state of conflicts reveals its toothless character. Israel ignores international censure and is backed by the US, which uses its veto to secure its ally’s interests. Russia and China do the same to safeguard their interests. What the world is witnessing in West Asia and Ukraine is the failure of the old “rules-based” order in protecting the interests of all the people. Palestinians are a people without a nation, though the US had underwritten the promise of nationhood for Palestine in the Oslo Accords (1993). The immediate need is for all hostilities to cease.

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