- India’s strategic partnership with Middle-Eastern countries has evolved significantly over the years, driven by various factors that shape its relationships with key nations in the region. India’s engagement with the Middle East has been multifaceted, encompassing economic ties, energy security, diaspora connections, and diplomatic collaborations.
- UAE (United Arab Emirates):
- Economic Ties: The UAE is one of India’s top trading partners and a significant source of foreign direct investment (FDI). Both countries have signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which came into force last year.
- Diaspora: A large Indian expatriate community resides in the UAE, playing a crucial role in strengthening people-to-people ties and contributing to the UAE’s economy.
- Security Cooperation: Both nations cooperate on security issues, particularly counterterrorism. The UAE has deported several individuals wanted by India on terror charges.
- Saudi Arabia:
- Energy Security: Saudi Arabia is a vital source of crude oil for India. The relationship is driven by India’s energy security needs and Saudi Arabia’s role as a leading oil producer.
- Strategic Partnerships: India and Saudi Arabia have elevated their strategic partnership, collaborating in diverse areas, including defense, counterterrorism, and trade.
- Diaspora: The Indian diaspora in Saudi Arabia contributes significantly to the Kingdom’s development and is a bridge between the two nations.
- Energy and Connectivity: India has a long-standing relationship with Iran, driven by energy interests and connectivity projects like the Chabahar Port, which provides India access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
- Geopolitical Considerations: India maintains a delicate balancing act between its relations with Iran and its strategic partnership with the United States.
- Defense and Technology: India’s partnership with Israel extends to defense cooperation and technology exchange, including joint development of defense systems and agricultural technologies.
- Counterterrorism: Both nations collaborate on counterterrorism efforts and intelligence sharing.
- Balancing Act: India maintains a unique relationship with Israel while also engaging with Arab nations in the region, reflecting its efforts to balance its interests.
- Energy and Investment: Qatar is a significant supplier of liquified natural gas (LNG) to India. The two countries also collaborate on infrastructure and investment projects.
- Diplomatic Ties: Diplomatic relations have strengthened, with high-level visits and discussions on regional and global issues.
Factors Shaping India’s Relationships:
- Energy Security: India’s energy needs drive partnerships with Middle-Eastern countries, which are major oil and gas producers.
- Diaspora: The presence of a large Indian diaspora in the Middle East fosters people-to-people ties and contributes to economic growth in both India and the host countries.
- Geopolitical Considerations: India carefully navigates regional geopolitics and global alignments to balance its interests in the region.
- Economic Engagement: Economic collaboration, including trade, investment, and infrastructure development, is a key driver of India’s relationships with Middle-Eastern nations.
- Counterterrorism and Security: Cooperation in counterterrorism, intelligence sharing, and defense strengthens strategic ties.
- Connectivity Initiatives: India’s connectivity initiatives like the Chabahar Port enhance its presence in the region and provide access to Central Asia.
- Diplomatic Engagements: High-level diplomatic visits and dialogues foster stronger ties and collaborative efforts on regional and global issues.
- India’s evolving strategic partnerships with Middle-Eastern countries are shaped by a complex interplay of factors, including economic interests, energy security, diaspora connections, and geopolitical considerations. These relationships are essential for India’s regional influence, economic growth, and global positioning as it seeks to balance its diverse interests in the Middle East.