India’s new West Asia approach is a welcome break with past diffidence
- First summit of I2U2 (India, Israel, UAE and USA) is exploratory in nature.
- Launched: October 2021.
- Virtual summit will take place during US President’s visit to Israel but it is not the main objective of US President’s visit to Middle East.
Significance of I2U2
- The US bet that India can contribute to peace and prosperity in the region.
- The new political will in Delhi to break old taboos on India’s West Asian engagement.
- I2U2 marks consolidation of a number of new trends in India’s Middle East policy that acquired greater momentum under current PM.
India and Israel
- India: One of the first countries to extend recognition to Israel in 1950.
- Current Indian PM became the first Indian PM to visit Palestine when he visited Israel in 2018.
- Current govt. came with determination to impart a political character to the Israel ties.
- Govt.’s decisiveness in engaging Israel was matched by its effort to deepen India’s ties with the Arab world.
India and Arab world
- India’s traditional preference in Arab world was for engaging republics.
- India’s ties to the monarchies became important since the 1970s
- Main source of hydrocarbons
- Main destination for Indian labour exports
- Major source of hard currency remittances.
- No Indian PM visited Saudi Arabia between 1982 and 2010 and UAE between 1981 and 2015.
- Current PM build a personal rapport with rulers of Saudi and UAE and develop strong ties with these governments without a reference to Pakistan.
Indian and USA
- For Delhi, US and Western policies in region were a main part of the problem.
- Immediate focus of Nehru’s policy after independence was to actively oppose US moves in region in the name of promoting peace.
- It didn’t work as many regional countries sought active economic, political, and security cooperation with the US and the West.
- I2U2 marks a big break from the anti-Western tradition in India’s approach to the region.
- India’s participation in West Asian Quad brings Delhi in line with other major powers to try and engage all parties in the region.
- I2U2 sets the stage for a new and dynamic phase in India’s relations with Middle East.