India’s Growing Presence in the Middle East

After the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria, New Delhi rushed to send aid, which included a mobile field hospital fully supplied with medications, equipment, and staff. This response, explain Husain Haqqani and Aparna Pande, signifies not just humanitarian considerations but a desire to become more involved in the Middle East—made evident by a variety of diplomatic moves, among them warming relations with Israel:

India’s objective is to make sure that its interests are not left unguarded because of the vacuum created in the Middle East by Washington’s focus on peer competition with China and on Russia’s actions in Eurasia. The Middle East is a critical source of investment, energy, and remittances for India. The region also shares India’s security concerns, especially about Islamist extremism and terrorism. India wants to be ready to for any fallout from U.S. withdrawal from the greater Middle East.

Around 8.9 million Indians reside in the Gulf, with around 3.4 million in the United Arab Emirates and 2.5 million in Saudi Arabia. Fifty percent of India’s over $80 billion in remittances annually come from the Gulf countries. Trade and investment between India and Middle Eastern countries have grown exponentially over the last decade.

The United Arab Emirates is India’s third-largest global trading partner. Since the signing in 2022 of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), India’s trade with the UAE has increased by over 38 percent to $88 billion. India’s strategic partnership with the UAE is at the heart of I2U2, [a group that also includes the U.S. and Israel].

India has managed good relations with not just the Arab Gulf countries but also with Israel, Turkey, and Iran. Israel is one of the top three suppliers of defense equipment to India, with 43 percent of Israel’s arms exports being sold to India. At the same time, India has been careful not to disrupt its relations with Iran, despite geopolitical challenges.

Read more at Diplomat

More about: India, Israel-India relations, Middle East, United Arab Emirates

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict