A New Alliance among Israel, India, the U.S., and the UAE Can Reshape Western Asia

Aug. 29 2022

During his visit to the Middle East last month, President Biden attended a summit of what has come to be known as the I2U2: a four-way forum involving Jerusalem, New Delhi, Washington, and Abu Dhabi. Dov Zakheim presents the historical background of the relations of each country with the others, and then looks to the future:

This new quad evokes parallels to the Indo-Pacific quad consisting of the U.S., India, Japan, and Australia. . . . In particular, like the Indo-Pacific quad, I2U2 is not a military alliance, nor does it explicitly target any particular country.

Indeed, the four partners of I2U2 do not have a common adversary. Whereas the U.S. and Israel see Iran as a major threat—an existential threat in Israel’s case—the UAE maintains trade and diplomatic ties with Iran while India is ambivalent about Iran.

India’s relationship with Iran is cordial but complicated. India stopped importing Iranian oil in 2019 due to America’s “maximal sanctions” on Tehran. Iran also resents India’s close ties with Israel, while India is uneasy about the implications of the recently finalized Iran-China strategic partnership, which has a significant military component. India also is concerned about Iranian support for the Houthis [in Yemen], given its close ties to both the Emirates and the Saudis, who have been the targets of Houthi missile attacks.

At the I2U2 summit, the four countries committed to new cooperation in high-tech, initially on clean energy and food security. At least for the foreseeable future, coordinated military partnership, as opposed to bilateral arrangements between any two of the four countries, is off the table. Nevertheless, . . . the new I2U2 quad may see a tighter military partnership with the passage of time—especially if, as many anticipate, Iran will develop a nuclear bomb that will most certainly destabilize the region.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Abraham Accords, India, Israel diplomacy, Israel-India relations, U.S. Foreign policy, United Arab Emirates

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy