India and Iran plan to stage joint naval drills soon in the Indian Ocean. Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari made an announcement in this regard after his meeting with an Indian Navy delegation in Tehran on Thursday. Rear Admiral Sayyari said that the joint short term manoeuvres would help the Iranian Navy expand its tactical co-operation with the Indian Navy.
The Iranian Navy commander further said that New Delhi and Tehran decided to strengthen their combat capability in order to tackle any major threats in the Indian Ocean. He, meanwhile, hailed the close ties between Iranian and Indian Navies, stressing that the two forces are properly safeguarding the northern waters of the Indian Ocean.
The commander informed the media that the 38th flotilla of the Iranian Navy, currently in Tanzanian waters, would soon dock at the port city of Dar es Salaam. Later, an Indian flotilla will anchor at the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. They will participate in the manoeuvre in late April or early May, as naval officers of the two countries have agreed to arrange some short drills and rescue operations before establishing long-lasting bilateral tactical co-operation.
As Navy officers of the two “friendly” nations are taking necessary steps to bolster their co-operation, India is closely monitoring the outcome of Iranian Parliamentary Elections. On Friday, Iranian people cast votes to choose a new 290-seat Parliament (Majlis) and Assembly of Experts (a clerical body that appoints the Supreme Leader).
Initially, 12,000 candidates had registered their names to contest the polls. Also, there were 500 women in the final candidate list. Around 161 Islamic theologians, who stood for the 88-member Assembly of Experts, were approved out of the initial 800 who had registered their names.
The elections for the next Majlis and the Assembly of Experts are crucial for the West Asian country as it is a battle between reformists already in power (like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani) and hardliners. The election will serve as a vote of confidence in President Rouhani’s moderate government that was responsible for securing the nuclear agreement in spite of hardline opposition at home.
As per latest reports, allies of the reformist president are all set to register a landslide victory in Tehran in the first Parliamentary Election since Iran signed a nuclear deal with world powers. With 90% of the votes counted, the pro-Rouhani ‘List of Hope’ has taken lead in all 30 parliamentary seats in the capital.
On Sunday, veteran pro-reform politician Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani sent a strong message to the hardliners, who are handed an embarrassing defeat. In his tweeter message, the former president and close ally of President Rouhani said: “No one is able to resist against the will of the majority of the people and whoever the people don’t want has to step aside.” The reformists are in favour of expanding social freedoms and improving relations with the West.