The coming together of the new “Quad” has been helped by the 2020 Abraham Accords - signed between the US, UAE and Israel in August 2020. Israel and the UAE normalised ties in September 2020, transforming the geo-political map of the Middle East
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NEW DELHI: A new Quad in the making? From the looks of it, possibly yes.
On Monday, the foreign ministers of India, US, the UAE and Israel are to meet in a virtual conference, the first of its kind. While Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar and Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid are to join from Israel where the Indian minister is on a visit, the United Arab Emirates foreign minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and US secretary of state Antony Blinken will join from their respective capitals.
While India has been developing closer ties with all the three countries individually, giving each bilateral segment a new momentum since 2014, the new “Quad" seems aimed at pooling the collective strengths of the four countries.
India already is in partnership with the US, Australia and Japan to ensure a “free, open and rules based" Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of a rising China.
The coming together of the new “Quad" has been helped by the 2020 Abraham Accords - signed between the US, UAE and Israel in August 2020. Israel and the UAE normalised ties in September 2020, transforming the geo-political map of the Middle East. While the pact to normalise Israeli-UAE ties helped bring diplomatic recognition to the Jewish state and more economic opportunities for the UAE (with some promise from the US to allow Abu Dhabi shop for advanced American military hardware if media reports are to be believed), there is also the common adversarial position vis a vis Iran that cements the pact. Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, Israel has established diplomatic ties with Bahrain as well.
India officially supported the Abraham Accords in September 2020 with the Indian foreign ministry saying that New Delhi “has always supported peace and stability in West Asia which is our extended neighbourhood. As such we welcome these agreements for normalization of relations between Israel and UAE and Bahrain."
New Delhi also added that it would “continue our traditional support for the Palestinian cause and hope for early resumption of direct negotiations for an acceptable two-state solution."
The new Quad gives India the flexibility to engage more freely with Israel and India’s partners in the Gulf region. Israel is a key security partner with defence trade between the two countries seen as valued at about $1 billion annually. Some of the Gulf countries with whom India has developed close are seen as key interlocutors on Afghanistan, Qatar being a case in point. The UAE has been an interlocutor for India when it comes to Pakistan.
New Delhi so far has been able to balance ties with Iran and its other partners in the region. Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar was the first to call on Ebrahim Raisi as president elect and also attended his inauguration in August. Cooperation with Iran is a key element of its strategy for Afghanistan given that Tehran has ties with the Taliban and is also crucial for the implementation of the Chabahar port.
Whether the new "Quad" actually takes shape will be interesting to see as will its future evolution. As they say -- watch this space.
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