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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : A New Arab Tale

 

Source: Indian Express

  • Prelims: Current events of international importance, west Asia, saudi-Iran conflict, JCOP, IAEA etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global grouping and agreements involving India or affecting India’s interests.

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • The meeting between the Saudi Crown Prince and the NSA’s of the US, UAE, and India in Saudi Arabia underlines the growing strategic convergence between India and the USA in the Gulf.
    • It highlights India’s new possibilities in the Arabian Peninsula.

       

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

I2U2:

  • It was initially formed in October, 2021 following the Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE.
  • It was formed to deal with issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure and transport in the region.
    • It was called the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’, referred to as the ‘West Asian Quad’.
  • I2U2 initiative is a new grouping of India, Israel, USA and UAE.
  • Cooperation areas:
    • Security Cooperation
    • Technological Hubs
    • Food Security
    • Work Together in Different Fields like climate change, pandemics etc

 

Earlier stand of India:

Nehruvian foreign policy: India must either oppose the USA or keep its distance from it in the Middle East.

 

Role of the present government:

  • It transformed India’s uneasy relations with the two Arabian kingdoms, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, into solid strategic partnerships.
  • I2U2: It brought the US, India, Israel, and the UAE
  • Working with the US in the Gulf.
  • France has emerged as an important partner in the Gulf and the Western Indian Ocean.
    • Trilateral dialogue with Abu Dhabi and Paris.

 

Earlier role of Pakistan in Gulf:

  • Nehru’s India withdrew from its historic geopolitical role in the Middle East: Pakistan became the lynchpin of the Anglo-American strategy to secure the “wells of (oil) power” in the Gulf
  • Pakistan was a key part of the Baghdad Pact created in 1955 along with Britain, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey to counter the Communist threat to the region.
  • Iraq pulled out in 1958, the pact became the Central Treaty Organisation and moved to Ankara.
    • The regional members of CENTO — Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey — formed a forum on Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) in 1964.
    • CENTO was dissolved in 1979, and the RCD morphed into Economic Cooperation Organisation in 1985.

 

Challenges for Pakistan:

  • Pakistan’s continuing strategic decline makes it a lot less relevant to the changing geopolitics of the Gulf.
  • Pakistan in the 1950s was widely viewed as a moderate Muslim nation with significant prospects for economic growth.
    • It has now locked itself into a self-made trap of violent religious extremism.
  • Its political elite is utterly unprepared to lift the nation economically.
  • Pakistan has drifted too close to China: As the US-China confrontation sharpens, Pakistan is tempted to align with China and Russia in the region.
  • Recent leaks of documents from the Pakistan foreign office show that the current government might prefer to boost its “all-weather partnership” with China.

 

US’s middle east stand:

  • Contrary to the widespread perception, the US is not about to abandon the Middle East.
    • But it is recalibrating its regional strategy.
  • The US National Security Adviser highlighted several elements of the new US approach.
    • Building new partnerships, including with India
    • Integration of the Arabian Peninsula into India and the world.

 

Role of China:

  • China is an attractive partner.
  • It has substantial energy, trade, investment and technology-related ties with West Asia
  • It is the region’s largest buyer of crude oil
  • It is a major trade and investment partner, and rapidly expanding its role as a technology-provider in most countries.

 

Importance of West Asia for China;

  • West Asia is crucial for the realization of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Regional states being important for logistical connectivity, and investment, consultancy and contracting partnerships.
  • China’s interests require a stable regional environment.

 

Way Forward

  • China is now the second most important power in the world, and its diplomatic and political influence in the region will continue to rise.
    • China is nowhere near displacing Washington as the principal external actor in the Gulf.
  • The Anglo-American connection to the Arabian Peninsula dates to the late 16th century.
    • The Anglo-Saxon powers have no desire to roll over and cede the Gulf to Beijing.
  • Rising power of the Arabian Peninsula, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE: The Gulf kingdoms have accumulated massive financial capital and embarked on an ambitious economic transformation that will reduce their dependence on oil over the long term.
  • They have also begun to diversify their strategic partnerships, develop nationalism rather than religion as the political foundation for their states, promote religious tolerance at home, and initiate social reform.
  • Emerging Arabia opens enormous new possibilities for India’s economic growth.
    • India’s productive involvement in promoting connectivity and security within Arabia and between it and the abutting regions — including Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean — and the Subcontinent.
  • The engagement with the Gulf should help India overcome the dangerous forces of violent religious extremism within the Subcontinent.
  • The new opportunities in Arabia and the emerging possibilities for partnership with the US and the West position India to rapidly elevate its own standing in the region.
  • The new strategic opportunities for India in the Gulf would involve the long overdue modernisation of Delhi’s strategic discourse on the Gulf.
    • A conscious effort to change the outdated popular narratives on the Arabian Peninsula

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

How will I2U2 (India, Israel, UAE and USA) grouping transform India’s Position in global politics?(UPSC 2022) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)