India’s Growing Presence in the Middle East

Feb. 22 2023

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

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada