Reasons Behind Participation of India in Desert Flag exercise

Synopsis: India and South Korea participated in the sixth edition of the Desert Flag exercise. It is an indication of Increasing Asian security interest in West Asia.

  • The Indian Air Force for the first time is about to participate in the sixth edition of Desert Flag. It is a multi-nation exercise hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Other than India and the UAE, Bahrain, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United States are also participating.
  • Though the joint military exercise by Western countries and Arab countries is common, the involvement of India and South Korea showcases the growing interests of Asian economies.
  • The sixth edition of Desert Flag is important considering the recent developments in the West Asian region.
      • Mounting tensions between Iran and the U.S.
      • The signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020 between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain.
      • Ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen.

How West Asia’s stability is important for India and other Asian economies?

  1. First, as net importers of crude oil, the Asian economies are heavily dependent on the West Asian states for their supplies. For example, in April 2020, Saudi Arabia was India’s top supplier of oil followed by Iraq.
  2. Second, for the protection of vital sea lanes, such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea. For example, The Indian Navy has made multiple port calls from the UAE and Kuwait to Iran and Qatar in recent years.
Iran – US conflict and its impact on India and South Korea:

Both India and South Korea faced negative impacts of Iran sanctions. The West forced economic sanctions on Iran due to the issue of nuclear weapons. 

  • In 2013, an Indian oil tanker named MT Desh Shanti confiscated near the Strait of Hormuz by Iranian forces. It was seen as a pressure tactic by Tehran to make India pay for Oil Imports. India was unable to pay for oil imports owing to US sanctions.
  • Similarly, in January 2021, Iran confiscated a South Korean tanker, MT Hankuk Chemi, also from near the Strait of Hormuz. At that time, Tehran and Seoul were also in the conflict over billions of dollars worth of oil payments. It was frozen due to sanctions against Iran over its nuclear Programme.
The changing security nature in West Asia:
  • The US security support is eroding in the West Asian region. For example, January 2021 marked the first time since 1985 that the U.S. did not import oil from Riyadh
  • Hence, Regional states will become more responsible for their own security, and Asian economies such as India are strong stakeholders.\

Source: The Hindu


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