The West Asian monarchies are being forced to ‘look East’ due to a range of factors: the rise of the Islamic State, their need to boost falling oil revenues and doubts about the United States continuing to remain a guarantor of regional stability. Quite coterminously, India is looking towards the Gulf for energy security besides fulfilling other geostrategic goals: this is an ‘East’ and ‘West’ where the ‘twain will meet
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The choice of the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to be the chief guest at India’s 2017 Republic Day celebrations is an indication of the enhanced attention that the Indian government is according the Gulf countries. Many trade interests ally India to the UAE, but a deeper engagement is called for even as instability grows in the region
With a cessation of hostilities been brokered by Russia and the United States, the conflict in Syria has entered a tense pause. India has had a bystander attitude to the conflict in Syria. However, with the truce expected to be short, does India have the incentive or the option to depart from its current position, and deepen its engagement in Syria?
On 14 December, Saudi Arabia announced the formation of an anti-terrorism coalition of 34 Islamic countries. But with key potential partners such as Algeria, Lebanon, and Pakistan refusing to join, the hastily-assembled group has put Saudi credibility in the spotlight instead of deflecting western criticism of the kingdom’s inaction against Sunni jihadism
The GCC finds itself engulfed by a perfect storm – due to the oil price fall and the re-emergence of Iran on the world scene. While the GCC is forced to undertake politically challenging reforms and confront the regional challenge of Iran, there lies a great opportunity for India to strengthen their economic as well as security ties.
Today ISIS is the gravest international security threat. To defeat ISIS, the world should pay heed to India’s experience of the need to isolate state sponsors of terrorism. Ultimately, only when Saudi Arabia acknowledges the danger to its own survival from past policies of alleged support to extremist groups, can it be a reliable partner in the fight against ISIS.
The announcement in June of a Saudi-Israeli alliance against Iran has to be seen in the context of the strategic dimensions of India’s relations with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, and the U.S. And it has far-reaching implications for India’s policy towards West Asia
Currently, it appears that the Wahabbis have the upper hand over the "Sabahis" in the middle east. But the war for the hearts and minds of a people as gifted as the Arabs, is far from over.
The last ten years had signalled the Saudi intention of building closer relations with India based on their immense crude oil resources and India’s growing market and skill sets. With a new king on the throne and the on-going turmoil in West Asia it is in New Delhi’s interest to initiate high-level visits with Riyadh as soon as possible
Obama’s strategy to target the IS in Syria within the framework of a U.S.-led international coalition has met with a tepid response. There are reports that the U.S may offer India a non-NATO ally status during Modi’s upcoming visit in a bid to seek greater support – a gesture that India will do well to disregard.