In his latest column, C Raja Mohan has contended that the geopolitical realignment marked by the recent normalisation of ties between the United Arab Emirates and Israel intersects with the equally significant reorientation of the Subcontinent’s relationship with the region.
What does he argue?
- As Pakistan rediscovers its tradition of aligning with non-Arab powers, India must renew its defence of Arab sovereignty.
- He says that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the engagement with the Arab Gulf has become deeper. The last six years have also coincided with a significant deterioration of Pakistan’s relations with the region, especially with the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Why this change in Arab region?
- Saudis and Emiratis see sharpening existential threats to their kingdoms from both the Sunni Muslim brotherhood backed by Turkey and Shiite Iran’s regional expansionism.
- On the other hand, Imran Khan appears to be dreaming of a new regional alliance with Turkey and Iran. Pakistan is also betting that a rising China and an assertive Russia will both support this new geopolitical formation as part of their own efforts to oust America from the Middle East.
- For Turkey and Iran, the new non-Arab alliance backed by Russia and China is an instrument to advance their role in the Arab world at the expense of the Saudis.
- It is no secret that Russians would like to bring the US down a notch or two in the Middle East. Beijing will be happy to let the Russians, Turks, and Iranians be the anti-American vanguard, while consolidating China’s economic influence in the region.
- Islamabad is probably betting that America is on its way out of the Middle East, and that its all-weather strategic partnership with a rising China would give Pakistan new leverage in the changing Middle East.
What should India do?
- C Raja Mohan argues that “standing up for Arab sovereignty and opposing the forces of regional destabilisation must be at the very heart of India’s new engagement with the Middle East”.