West Asia’s Diplomatic Resets

Synopsis: Factors responsible for the diplomatic engagements between West Asian rivals and India’s opportunity to assist West Asia in providing regional security.

  • In the last few months, many West Asian nations have made efforts to bridge their diplomatic ties with their rival nations.
    • One, the most significant one is the recent interaction between Saudi and Iranian officials.
    • Two, the removal of the diplomatic and economic blockade on Qatar. Saudi Arabia had imposed it on Qatar.
    • Three, similarly, the UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar has made efforts to bridge ties with both Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
    • Four, most recently Turkey and Egypt had their first diplomatic meeting in Cairo after they had broken diplomatic ties in 2013.
  • Diplomatic engagements have provided an opportunity for countries, to address their differences. It could realign the existing regional alignments and possibly end ongoing conflicts.
What are the reasons for resetting diplomatic ties between rival west Asian countries?
  • Firstly, the change in the U.S. approach towards West Asian affairs is a major factor compelling the need for diplomatic engagements. Some Changed US approaches are,
    • One, US’s non-lenient approach towards Saudi Arabia. For instance, the US has called for closer scrutiny of its human rights record and has strongly opposed the war in Yemen. Egypt too has concerns on the human rights issue,
    • Two, appeasing attitude towards Iran. The US could re-enter the nuclear agreement and sanctions on Iran could be revoked.
    • Three, increasing distrust in U.S – Turkey relations. Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has built close ties with Russia, while threatening U.S. allies in Syria, the Kurds, with military force. Compounding to the problem, the US recognition of the Armenian “genocide” has created more distrust between the two allies.
    • Four, S decision to depart away from its responsibility of providing regional security to West Asian nations. The US wants regional states to be responsible for their regional security.
  • Secondly, the novel coronavirus pandemic is devastating West Asia. The epidemic has severely damaged regional economies and has impacted oil prices creating uncertainties for the producer states.
  • Thirdly, the West Asian nations have recognised that Peaceful resolution of disputes is the better solution. For instance, the ongoing regional conflicts, in Syria, Yemen, and Libya, despite the massive death and destruction, have yielded no military outcome The priority for Saudi Arabia is to end the Yemen conflict.
  • Fourthly, conflicts impose huge economic costs on Nations. For instance, Iran’s role in Syria costs its exchequer a few billion dollars every month. Whereas Saudi Arabia has spent several hundred billion dollars in buying weaponry to sustain its partnership with the U.S.
Opportunity for India
  • Currently, West Asian nations are preparing to negotiate their strategic interests without outside intrusion.
  • However, there is inter-connectedness of regional contentions. Therefore, we need third-party facilitators to promote mutual confidence and prepare the ground for a comprehensive regional security arrangement.
  • This arrangement will have provisions for participating states to uphold regional peace and promote mutually beneficial cooperation in energy, economic and logistical connectivity areas.
  • Given India’s close ties with all the regional states, India is well-placed to build an association of like-minded states with Japan, Russia, South Korea to shape the West Asian peace process

Source: The Hindu

[Answered] “India’s relations with Saudi Arabia are one of the most important bilateral relationships in its extended neighbourhood.” Evaluate.

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