India’s new West Asia approach is a welcome break with past diffidence

Contact Counsellor

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.