Tuesday, June 3, 2014

From middle-east with love

One simple map says it all. The bonds between India and the Middle East. Dramatic, really.

There are 3 lovely god-ladies bearing rich gifts- the first promises India access to Central Asia (Pakistan bypass), the second helps under-write the Kerala model by giving employment to millions of Mallus, and the third supplies India with critical (civ, mil) technology (and which may one day need India as an ally, as much as India needs her). All of them are ready and willing to supply India with oil and natural gas. 

The only problem is that these ladies insist on monotheism (they hate each other). It is just like Indian politics, if you love Nitish Kumar then you have to leave Lalu Yadav. Modi should be fine tackling this minefield.

Potential access to Afghanistan and Central Asia through Iran is another crucial reason for India’s ties with Iran. 

Since Pakistan is not currently a feasible transit option to the region, New Delhi finds the prospect of using an Iranian transit corridor attractive. India's desire to invest $100 million to upgrade the Iranian port of Chabahar is linked to this need...

The impending drawdown, if not withdrawal, of NATO troops from Afghanistan has made this Iran route—as well as potentially broader India-Iran cooperation in and on Afghanistan—even more crucial for the Indian government.

A fourth element in play is domestic. India houses 10-15% of the world’s Shia population, much of which is concentrated in electorally-significant areas. 

....even as India has ties with Iran, it also has a number of other key relationships in the region that will keep it from getting too close to Iran.  

Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Cooperation Council states supply a significant amount of the oil India imports. Qatar is also its largest source of imported natural gas. 

The large Indian diaspora in these countries, which is a major source of remittances, and the significant Sunni population in India (over 120 million) also make these relationships crucial. 

In addition, there are existing and potential trade and investment ties at stake with these countries. For Delhi, a relationship with Riyadh is also particularly critical because of the leverage the Saudi government is thought to have with Islamabad.  

There is an overall sense in India that these countries are taking it more seriously—partly thanks to Iran, partly in the Saudi case because of American urging, but also because of India’s potential as a market as other consumers drop off the list. 

These countries’ interest in India has been evident in the fact that in the ten days before Zarif’s trip, Delhi saw visits from the king of King of Bahrain, the Saudi crown prince, the Omani foreign minister and the chairman of the Kuwaiti national security apparatus. 

....India’s relationship with Israel has also become crucial. That country has become one of India's largest defense defense suppliers, and is also seen as a major source of agricultural technology and tourism revenue.  

Furthermore, Indian companies are keen to invest in Israel’s technology sector. The two countries are also negotiating a free trade agreement. Since the Mumbai attacks, shared concerns about terrorism have created additional space for bilateral cooperation. 

Link: http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/iran-at-saban/posts/2014/02/28-iran-india-complicated-relationship-madan



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