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India - West Asia Relations

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September 26, 2023

Why in news?

Recently at the G-20 summit in New Delhi, U.S.-backed infrastructure project was unveiled to connect India, West Asia and Europe with shipping lanes, rail networks, pipelines and data cables.

To know more about the G-20 summit click here

West Asia Strategy of USA

  • Iran rise- West Asia strategy of US is to bring Gulf Arab and Israel closer to meet their common geopolitical challenges such as Iran’s rise.
  • Abraham Accords- It set the stage for the transformation of Israel’s ties with United Arab Emirates.
  • I2U2 strategy- It has been called as the “West Asian Quad” and comprises of India, Israel, the U.S., and the UAE.
  • India Middle East Europe Corridor- Through this economic corridor, US hopes that it could retain its channels of influence in West Asia.

Challenges

  • Arab tussle- The true potential of Abraham Accord would not be reached unless there is a deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, arguably the most influential Arab country today.
  • China factor- It is the biggest trading partner of America’s Gulf Arab allies and a major investor in the region and has shown a willingness to play a bigger role as peacemaker, which was evident in the Iran-Saudi reconciliation agreement.

What is India and West Asia relations all about?

  • West Asia- It has two distinct regions: Levant and Gulf region.
    • Levant region- It includes Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, and some would include the northern part of Iraq - the area that became part of the Islamic State.
    • Gulf region- It comprises the 6 Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iran, and Iraq.
  • Historical ties - India had a distinct unique historical relationship with Arab, Turkish, Jewish and Persian civilisations.
  • High profile diplomatic dynamism- West Asia is a region for India to augment its power rather than to display or assert.
  • Support Palestine cause- India has always supported the Palestine aspiration for Independent State since Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Comprehensive Security Partnership- It is a joint India-UAE initiative to promote security and stability in West Asia which was signed in 2017.
  • Economic cooperation- A Framework Agreement on Economic Cooperation between Republic of India and GCC was signed in 2004.
  • Maritime connectivity- Development of Chabahar port in Iran would help India bypass Pakistan and increase trade relations with Afghanistan and Iran.
  • Huge remittances- The remittances from Gulf States contribute a major chunk in India’s total share.
  • Abraham Accords-India’s presence in a grouping of the Abraham Accords countries was seen as a legitimate recognition of India’s presence in the region.
  • India-Middle East-Europe Corridor- Announced at the G-20 Summit, the corridor enhances India’s standing and also brings India and Europe closer.
  • Compete China- US wanted to bring India as a bigger, stable partner to write new rules of economic engagement and integration, to compete with China and India seems to utilise this opportunity.
  • International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)-  INSTC is a 7,200-km multi-modal transport corridor that connects Russia and India via central Asia and Iran.

west-asia

What lies ahead?

  • India’s overall policy towards the region should stay anchored in the idea of multi-engagement — not in appeasing or containing any great power.
  • With or without the U.S., or irrespective of China’s presence in the region, India should strive to play a major geopolitical role in West Asia, it extended neighbourhood, without upsetting its traditional balance.

 

References

  1. The Hindu| India and great power contest in West Asia
  2. Ministry of External Affairs| India and West Asia
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