India and Judah-Emirati Amity

For Indian diplomacy, the Israel-Arab friendship and 
Iran-Arab enmity would be a back-breaking equation to solve.

What happens when our best friend befriends with another friends’ enemy, and that enemy happens to be another best friend. The situation is confusing and complicated, and the same happened when Israel made amity with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrein.

The implications of the above scenario for India are multifaceted, and we have to reconstruct the entire politico-economic relations with West-Asia.

The Camp-David accords with Egypt and Wadi Araba treaty with Jordan in 1979 and 1994 respectively had little complications for India as we do not have significant relations with both of them, but when coming to Abraham Accords, we have aspects look after.

Brownie points for India.

India welcomed the Israel-UAE treaty and supported ”full normalization’’, as per MEA, both nations are strategic partners of India. Good things first, now India can hide behind the Arab walls from Palestinian assertiveness. In protest on the Israel-UAE deal, Palestine withdrew from Arab League chairpersonship and blurred out that this step as a “stab at the back.”

India has always tried to balance the relations between Palestine and Israel. Now India’s relation, to a great extent will be overshadowed by Gulf relations with Israel.

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Secondly, Israel’s foray towards the Muslim world will have positive repercussions in domestic politics in India. As we have always witnessed protest from Muslim sections, whenever an Israeli official visits India.

Thirdly, UAE and Bahrein’s road to Isreal will most likely lead the other GCC countries towards Isreal, particularly Saudi Arabia. Now, this deal is also a bitter gourd for Pakistan. Pakistan’s leaning towards Turkey and its support for Malaysian centric Kuala Lumpur Islamic Summit have irked Saudi-Arabia.

This Pakistan adventure led Saudi to cut down the loan and oil supply towards Pakistan. Even Pakistan was asked to pay back $1 billion to Saudi Arabia, which was part of a $6.2 billion loan package. UAE also has a shaken relationship with Turkey, in the fronts like Syria and Lebanon. Hence, this Arab-Turkey rivalry has placed Pakistan in a difficult position.

Challenges ahead

The Arab-Israel relation is an inevitable phenomenon, as the emiratis especially moving away from an oil-backed economy to tourism and technology. This is evident in the latest space mission of the UAE in collaboration with Japan, and Israel is one of the world leaders in technology and start-ups. Hence there relation is going to ripen to a remarkable level. So, India becoming a trilateral partner with them would be a win-win situation.

So, instead of sitting in the gallery, India has an economic role to play. India can reap benefits from the tech momentum created by this relation. While building a commercial playground on its own, which China is executing and gaining ground in the Gulf nations, especially for the CPEC project.

Coming to our initial anecdote of triangular friendship, the third friend Iran, will be disturbed with this new deal. Iran’s arch-rivals, the United States, and Isreal’s cordiality with the Sunni Gulf region is a deadly combination for Persians. In the last three decades, Iran emerged as India’s second-largest oil supplier. More than oil, India has strategic interests in Iran like the joint infrastructure projects like Chabahar and Bander-Abbas ports. This will help India to overcome the logistics hurdle caused by the China-Pak geopolitical bond. Iran is also a crucial player in the North-South Transport Corridor, which provides India a gateway to Russia and Europe.

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Flowers and Thorns

Today, the UAE is India’s third-largest trading partner, total trade between the two countries stands at about $70 billion, and millions of Indians live in the UAE, more than any other country except Saudi Arabia. UAE is the second-largest export hub for India after the United States. India and Isreal have an extensive economic, military, and strategic relationship, which strengthened due to Modi-Nethanyahu bonhomie. So, for Indian diplomacy, the Israel-Arab friendship and Iran-Arab enmity would be a back-breaking equation to solve.

Israel-UAE deal
Israel-UAE deal and the ambitions of india

More than political rivalry, this new relationship of Isreal with the UAE has a religious rivalry angle. Iran is a Shiite nation, and the majority of the Gulf countries are a Sunni majority. Allegedly Israel may widen this Shia-Sunni division further to isolate Iran, and the US may support this action in the current situation. Isreal might become a player in Yemen, which makes the south Gulf a new arena for disturbance, which will affect India economically as well as politically.

Iran is important for us for its geopolitical presence, demographic dividend, national security, and cultural history, at the same time Israel-Emirati bonds have much more to give us, especially economically and technologically. Hence executing stable diplomacy with the Arabian peninsula and the Levantine coast would decide India’s strategic autonomy.

Guest Author : Atul Krishnan 
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