An India-Middle East Corridor Can Be a Counterweight to Both Iran and China

At last month’s G20 summit, President Biden announced an initiative to connect India to Israel via shipping and railroad links that would run through the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and other countries—and eventually link up with the European Union. Such a scheme would build on both the Abraham Accords and the warm relations at present between Jerusalem and New Delhi, and also serve American strategic interests. To Efraim Inbar, Washington and its allies should be thinking even more boldly:

It immediately comes to mind that the corridor could constitute one of the more ambitious counters to China’s own Belt and Road Initiative, which sought to connect more of the world to that country’s economy. . . . However, if the American goal is to circumvent Chinese influence, the announced corridor needs an eastern extension. This Western-oriented corridor neglects important U.S. allies such as South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. These states are essential in the ongoing American competition with China.

Any trade corridor needs to be defended militarily. The U.S. must control both straits via its allies or its own maritime power. That requires the U.S. to establish the military might to maintain the freedom of navigation along the extended corridor. An uninterrupted flow of goods from Europe and the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific is critical. Only an America that can supply security for the trade routes can reassure its allies and hedging states about American seriousness . . . in case of greater Chinese encroachment.

Nevertheless, both wings of the corridor are susceptible to hostile interference. Iran can act against free trade in the western corridor. It already does so by attacking even American ships in its vicinity in the Indian Ocean, and its presence in Yemen is also threatening. Similarly, China acts aggressively in the South China Sea and threatens to invade Taiwan.

The U.S. must demonstrate to [these] states that getting closer to China is unwise. In the Middle East, anti-American political entities such as Iran, Syria, and even the Palestinian Authority, which signed strategic partnerships with China, must realize that Beijing is not a reliable ally. The best demonstration is a strong American response to the Iranian challenges. In contrast, neither China nor Russia can project power in the Indian Ocean, signaling that China cannot guarantee security.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Abraham Accords, China, Iran, Israel-India relations, U.S. Foreign policy

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy