India’s Expansion in West Asia – OpEd – Eurasia Review

The inaugural I2U2 Leaders’ Summit held between India, Israel, the United States and the United Arab Emirates marked the building of the security architecture in West Asia that spans from Strait of Malacca to the Suez Canal to create a balance of power in the three countries. polar region of West Asia by including India as an extra-regional balancer and manager.

The 2020 Abraham Accords, signed between Arab states with the United Arab Emirates in the lead and Israel, extended normalization and partnership agreements between Israel and extra-regional middle powers; particularly in the field of defense and military technology, and economic connectivity; under a new power dynamic. India is the main enabler and beneficiary of this ongoing US-led strategic engineering called minilateralism. Minilateralism is the strategic alignment in which issue-specific partnerships are developed to deter transitioning multilateralism in the global order.

Previously, the world order had capitalism at its heart; currently, its democracy. In the changing global order, democracies have pledged to form a security web by collaborating on non-security issues. Therefore, I2U2 also indicates a security framework by taking into account six non-security cooperation areas, including energy, space, transport, food security, water and health.

India’s designated identity as the world’s largest democracy, despite the subjugation of human rights to religious and political extremism, makes it the police state of the United States in bilateral negotiations relative interests in strategically important regional Indian Ocean theaters including South Asia, West Asia with the Middle East in particular, the East African coast, and the islands of the Indian Ocean from the East (Sri Lanka) to the West (Archipelago of the Comoros). Notably, India is a member of six out of the nine militaries for defense and security cooperation from 2016 to 2021. They include the India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue 2020; Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) 2017; Australia-Japan-India Trilateral (AJI) 2015; Trilateral India-Italy-Japan 2021; Australia-India-Indonesia Trilateral 2017; and Japan-US-India 2018. India’s membership in these multilateral forums, especially in the areas of defense and security, gives India decision-making power, even though India has none in international forums such as the UNSC or the NSG.

Responding to the objective of I2U2, India and the United Arab Emirates are tasked to function as American partners in building regional consensus on defactoring engagements with Israel, thereby impacting Palestinian interests and Iranians based on their non-engagement with the US-run media. power partnerships. I2U2 is similar to the minilateral partnership in the Indio-Pacific like the QUAD, which balances the balance of power in favor of the democratic bloc and the United States by building consensus towards international treaties such as the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea that the United States would otherwise not have been able to maintain since it is a non-signatory to the treaty.

Consequently, India in the Indian Ocean, and now in West Asia, has assumed the burden of one of the American facilitators in promoting its policy of a free and open Indo-Pacific and freedom of navigation, in particularly with regard to the Strait of Harmuz. it is the transit route to 30% of the world’s total oil trade. In June 2019, the Indian Navy launched maritime security operations named ‘SANKALP’ in the Gulf to ensure India’s safe transit through the Strait of Hormuz and also indicates the strategic presence of the Indian army, but not its deployment, in West Asia. Notably, India meets nearly 80% of its oil needs through oil imports.

India’s approach as an international manager for the United States in the Middle East benefits India with the assertion of Indian strategic autonomy beyond South Asia. Moreover, it is in line with India’s global ambitions. I2U2 also provides India with military footprints in the Middle East. Significantly, it provides India’s economic and energy security and protects the Indian diaspora in the Gulf.

I2U2 is expected to contribute to the Indian economy in the long term through stand-alone economic agreements on India’s terms rather than the terms set by multilateral economic forums such as the RECP. The immediate economic effect of the partnership is a two billion dollar investment and provision of technologies for agriculture; and financial support for renewable energy in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujrat. India and the United Arab Emirates have also entered into a free trade agreement under the emerging partnership to increase their bilateral trade from fifty-nine billion dollars to one hundred billion dollars until 2027.

I2U2 gives India access to Israel’s advanced defense technologies. Given that Israel is the main defense technology supplier to India which saw a significant 175% increase in arms imports between 2015 and 2019 under Modi, I2U2 reports a substantial accumulation of defense and military technology of India, thus contributing to the strategic imbalance in South Asia. The United States has a responsibility to provide Israel with India as a replacement for China as a potential buyer of Israel’s arms, because since the 1990s the United States has vetoed the arms trade of Israel. Israel with China. Israel’s surveillance and operational capabilities were used by India in Kashmir and on the LOC and LAC against Pakistan and China. Amid the military standoff between India and China in 2021, Heron drones leased by Israel were deployed to the LAC.

Regarding Indian military deployment in West Asia, India’s military projection beyond Asia is undermined by India’s strategic rivalry in South Asia on two fronts, namely China and Pakistan. Even in the case of the QUAD, India is reluctant to engage militarily with the United States because it cannot afford a confrontation with China and Pakistan as it aims to pursue its economic ambitions and global level. . India would only resort to the military option in the Indian Ocean which serves India’s vital national interests. Other main factors that would determine India’s calculated engagement in West Asia would be India’s escape from a deliberate strategic rivalry with Iran in the Strait of Harmuz and, more specifically, with China. near Djibouti and Bab-el-Mandeb.

However, India in the I2U2 is a source of concern for regional states in South and East Asia as this partnership strategically benefits India by fulfilling it as an international player in maritime theaters strategic areas in the world which are the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean.

*The author works as a research officer at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), a nonpartisan think tank based in Islamabad, Pakistan. His areas of research include Indo-Pacific security and international strategic competition.*

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