In Looking to the West, India Is Increasingly Looking toward Israel

Jan. 20 2023

Two countries with vast differences but also many important similarities, India and Israel have been growing closer since the beginning of the century. Jonathan Spyer explains how New Delhi and Jerusalem are at present moving from a relationship based on military and civilian trade to a broader strategic alliance, which will ultimately benefit the U.S. as well:

India is now the largest consumer of Israeli military equipment—exports to India constitute 46 percent of Israel’s total arms exports. Israel, meanwhile, is the second-largest supplier of military equipment to India after Russia, New Delhi’s traditional arms provider.

Burgeoning India-Israel relations are not limited to defense spending. In agriculture and water management, Indian authorities have partnered with Mashav, Israel’s international development organization, to [find] methods to cope with an emergent water crisis. The purpose is to create structures for the rapid transfer of Israeli know-how in such crucial fields as drip irrigation, protected cultivation, and “fertigation” (the injection of fertilizers and water-soluble products into an irrigation system) to Indian farmers. The acquisition by the Adani group of Haifa port in 2022 is perhaps the most significant recent development in the commercial field.

India and Israel face a common challenge with other Western-aligned states as the U.S., the leader of the democratic world, is recalibrating and reducing its external commitments. . . . Indeed, it is within the overarching picture of India’s strategic transition from a non-aligned country to a U.S. ally, in the face of Chinese ambitions, that India’s improved relations with Israel [should] be seen.

Indian participation alongside Israel, for example, in the biennial Blue Flag air exercise in 2021 alongside U.S. and other Western air forces, is both an indication of the growing strategic relationship between Israel and India and of India’s broader strategy of “looking West,” and increasing cooperation with the U.S.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: India, Israel-India relations, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria