[op-ed snap] Gathering clouds over West Asia

source:

Note4students:

Mains Paper 2| Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: JCPOA, Levant region

Mains level: Implications of the Iran-US nuclear deal on India and Indian interests in the West Asia.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the possibility of US violating the US-Iran nuclear deal and why is it necessary for the US to NOT do so.

 

Current scenario in West Asia-

  1. In the Levant, regional powers are scrambling to fill the vacuum created by the steady dismantling of the Islamic State’s caliphate across Syria and Iraq.
  2. Kurds have held an independence referendum which has drawn ire of their Iraqi, Turkish and Iranian neighbours.
  3. Turkey’s relations with the Europe are growing sourer every day.
  4. Qatar crisis– A crisis within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), pitting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against Qatar, has entered its sixth month, with no sign of resolution.
  5. UK, France, Germany and the EU all have expressed their categorical support to the nuclear deal.

The EU-Iran connection-

  1. EU-Iran trade is 30 times larger than US-Iran trade and it has increased by 95% the first half of this year itself.
  2. European banks, manufacturers and energy companies have also signed dozens of major agreements with Iran over the past year.
  3. EU has jurisdiction over the SWIFT network for cross-border banking transactions of which Iran is also a member.

What the US must do-

  1. Under U.S. law, the president must certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the terms of the nuclear agreement. The next deadline is October 15. On this day the US must certify Iran’s compliance. If it refuses to do so then it might pave the way for the US Congress to re-impose sanctions on Iran.

Probable reactions from the world if US re-imposes sanctions-

  1. Europe would most likely take legal and diplomatic steps to protect its substantial commerce with Iran, even at the cost of a transatlantic crisis.
  2. China, Iran’s main trading partner, and Russia, Iran’s military ally in Syria, would defy U.S. sanctions with even greater enthusiasm.

Probable reaction from Iran-

  1. Even if the deal collapses Iran is unlikely to expel inspectors (inspecting its nuclear reactors) entirely, as it did in 1997, or pull out of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This is because such actions would undercut Iran’s profession of peaceful intent and it stands to lose the moral high ground.
  2. The bargaining chip: Iran would try to restart accumulating centrifuges and nuclear fissile material that it had halted owing to an interim deal in 2013.

Uncertainties that could lead to war-

  1. It is difficult to gauge the future path of Iran’s segmented leadership which is divided between an elected president and an autocratic supreme leader.
  2. The erratic and impulsive behaviour of the US President makes things more unpredictable.

In the eventuality of war-

  1. Iran’s Shia militia could unleash war against US troops in Iraq and expand support to Afghan insurgents.
  2. Saudi Arabia-Iran tensions and the probability of US-Russia confrontation in the West Asia would increase dramatically.
  3. Pulling out of the Iran-US nuclear deal would be detrimental to the credibility of future US diplomacy.
  4. Implications for India
    i) India’s ambitious Chabahar project, scheduled for completion next year, could face fresh obstacles.
  5. ii) Iran- Pakistan relations may shift unpredictably.

Conclusion-

  1. Tehran would have to have to balance the support it has garnered from the Europe while bargaining with the US, such that it would not provoke Europeans into siding, reluctantly, with Washington, and that it may push the U.S., Israel, or both, into a preventive war.
  2. In short, it would be virtually impossible to rebuild today the broad, multinational sanctions regime that helped push Iran to the negotiating table during 2013-15. Hence, it is better to persuade Iran that its economic integration into the world economy could continue regardless and therefore it should abide by the deal.
  3. The US must not risk its diplomatic credibility and push the West Asian region into spate of war which is still trying to recover from the gradual fall of the ISIS.

Back2basics:

  1. Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA): This is the technical name for the nuclear deal agreed between Iran and six major powers (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany).
    i) It recognised Iran’s right to enrich uranium in exchange for a battery of tough, but time-bound, limits on nuclear activity for non-peaceful purposes.
  2. ii) However, critics of the deal said– it did not address Iran’s non-nuclear behaviour, such as support for Hezbollah and other militant organisations, and that the “sunset” clauses, which progressively relax the constraints on Iran over the next three decades, were too generous.
  3. Levant: The term refers to states or parts of states in Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey.
  4. SWIFT Network: The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) provides a network that enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardized and reliable environment. (Headquarters: La Hulpe, Belgium)

 

Israel President to visit India II

  1. Warm relations: Recently, in a dramatic turn, India changed its vote at UNESCO on a pro-Palestine resolution
  2. The resolution had questioned Israel’s claim and criticized it for excavations inside the walled city
  3. Although earlier India had voted in favor, in October it changed its vote to an abstention
  4. A visit to Palestine this week by Minister of State M.J. Akbar for the first ever Joint Commission meeting was also seen as a move to smooth ruffled feathers

Israel President to visit India I

  1. Event: Israel President Reuven Rivlin will visit India from November 15 to 20
  2. His visit is expected to pave the way for PM Modi to become the first Indian PM to visit Israel
  3. In January 2017, India and Israel will mark 25 years since they established full diplomatic relations
  4. The period till then will witness intense diplomatic exchanges between India and Israel

R-Day invite for Abu Dhabi Crown Prince

  1. Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is likely to be the chief guest of Republic Day in 2017
  2. The Ministry of External Affairs described him as a dear friend of India and announced invitation extended to him
  3. Background: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed paid a visit earlier in February to Delhi during which both India and the UAE sealed a number of agreements

Significance of el-Sisi’s visit

  1. Declaration of a robust defence and security partnership is likely to further energise the Joint Defence Cooperation which was set up in 2006 and has held six meetings so far
  2. Mr. el-Sisi’s latest visit to Delhi was part of his second personal engagement with India
  3. Background: His first visit to India was to participate in the India-Africa Forum Summit of October 2015 when the government had invited him for a bilateral visit
  4. His two visits, have been interpreted by experts as a sign of Egypt’s interest to re-invent its friendly ties with India which stretch back to the days of non-alignment and bonhomie between Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Gamal Abdel Nasser

Egypt for ‘robust defence, security cooperation’ with India

  1. News: Calling for joint efforts to counter sizable challenge of extremism and terrorism, Egypt and India will build a robust defence and security cooperation
  2. Context: India visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
  3. Maritime transport agreement: Signed between two sides will be an important enabler for increased trade and commerce
  4. Upgrade: Economic and trade ties, increase mutual visits, intensify counter terror cooperation, and work on renewable energy
  5. PM Modi: Announced that both sides will intensify cultural exchanges and appreciated Egypt for its work as a non-permanent member in the UNSC
  6. Welcomed Egypt’s participation as a special invitee at the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China

India, Qatar to share data on terror financing, hawala

  1. Need: To isolate the sponsors and supporters of terrorism & urgent action against all such entities which support terrorism and use it as an instrument of policy, must be taken
  2. Committee: To constitute an inter-ministerial high-level joint committee to regularly review all bilateral matters, as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest
  3. Hawala: An MoU was signed between the Finance Intelligence Unit-India (FIU) and Qatar Financial Information Unit to share intelligence on illegal movement of money
  4. Info: Also an agreement to exchange financial intelligence to combat terrorism financing and other economic offences

After West Asia, PM sets his sights on Israel

  1. Context: PM Modi is expected to visit Israel & Palestein in early 2017
  2. This will be a few months after the visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who is likely to come to Delhi in September 2016
  3. The visit will make Mr. Modi the first Indian Prime Minister to ever visit Israel
  4. This could come close to the 25th anniversary of establishment of full diplomatic ties on January 29

Gulf remittances fall 2.2%, offset by slide in oil imports

  1. Context: A report on remittances by CRISIL
  2. Remittances from the Gulf nations to India declined for the first time in six years
  3. Fall: By 2.2% in 2015-16
  4. Reason: Falling oil prices have had a sweeping impact on the oil producing economies of GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council)
  5. This has severely dented their oil revenues and spending by both governments and households
  6. Balance: But the slide had also resulted in a contraction of oil imports, which has offset the drop

India, Saudi Arabia ink pacts

  1. Context: Signing of five pacts between India and Saudi Arabia after talks with King Salman on Modi’s Saudi visit
  2. Pacts: Between the Financial Intelligence Unit of India and its Saudi counterpart
  3. It relates to cooperation in the exchange of information on money laundering, terrorism financing and related crimes
  4. On investment promotion
  5. On further strengthening cooperation in combating terrorism, both at the bilateral level and within the multilateral system of the UN

India-UAE agreement for $75 billion investment in NIIF gets clearance

  1. News: Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for a MoU between India and the UAE
  2. Context: MoU was signed in February during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to UAE
  3. Objective: To mobilise up to $75 billion long-term investment in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)
  4. Will help establish a transparent and high-level framework and collaboration platform
  5. Under which countries intend to explore ways to facilitate and expand the participation of UAE’s investment institutions in appropriate infra projects in India

Learn about NIIF

  1. Objective: To maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects
  2. Fund aims to attract investment from both domestic and international sources
  3. Govt’s contribution: Limited to 49% of the subscribed capital
  4. Partnership: From strategic investors such as sovereign fund, multilateral or bilateral investors, which can help leverage this fund to many times
  5. Cash-rich PSUs, pension funds, provident funds, National Small Saving Fund will be able to pick up stake in the fund
  6. Budget: Govt has budgeted to contribute Rs.20,000 crore to the fund in the current fiscal year

UAE calls for more reforms in India

  1. Context: The visit of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
  2. The News: The MoU between India and the UAE on Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) could not materialise
  3. The Gulf nation has demanded more reforms from India
  4. Challenges: Complex tax policies and cumbersome processes for doing business in India
  5. UAE also wanted the Indian govt to be a “strategic partner for safety” of their investments
  6. Benefits: India’s access to UAE’s Sovereign Wealth Funds will increase investments in India

India, UAE sign nine agreements

  1. Agreement in fields: currency swap, culture, investments in infra, renewable energy, space research, insurance supervision, cyber security, skill development and information sharing
  2. Context of Terrorism: We have common interest in fighting terrorism and, therefore, we have an agreement to counter terror in the cyber field.
  3. What’s remain? The much anticipated agreement on India accessing UAE’s Sovereign Fund was not declared
  4. Changes Needed? India should carry out some structural changes in its economy to facilitate such an agreement
  5. FTA Dialogue: India and the UAE had begun a dialogue that would firm up a Free Trade Agreement between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

For A More Fruitful Future

Pranab Mukherjee and Sushma Swaraj visits reflect today’s tighter India-Israel bond.

  1. Though we have made powerful strides in the 24 years since we opened full diplomatic relationship.
  2. We need to truly broadbase our partnership to sectors such as S&T, R&D, innovation, water technology trade etc.
  3. Not just limited to security, counter-terrorism, and agriculture.
  4. Israel is a “start-up nation”, a hub for new technologies, hi-tech and start-ups, and “Startup India” provides opportunities for meaning collaboration.
  5. We are both vibrant democracies, with ancient civilisational histories.
  6. Jews in India never faced persecution or anti-Semitism — indeed, Jews facing persecution around the world often fled to India.
  7. All of this makes the case for a stronger and more fruitful relationship in future.

Owning a friendship

Swaraj’s Israel visit took place against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean’s growing significance for bilateral security.

  1. Visit comes on the heels of one by President Pranab Mukherjee last October, and ahead of a speculated visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  2. It signifies that India no longer feels the need to keep its burgeoning ties with Israel discreetly low-profile.
  3. The wish to avoid angering India’s large Muslim minority and concern for the considerable expats working in the Arab Gulf states kept relationship discreet and low profile .
  4. Trade has grown more than 20-fold since formal diplomatic ties were established , $5 billion today.
  5. Barak-8, brimming with cutting-edge technology, is the product of a joint Indo-Israeli development endeavour.
  6. Spectre of a resurgent Iran unencumbered by international sanctions and its coffers replenished by the nuclear deal, the waters of the Indian Ocean have assumed critical significance for Israel’s security.

Raja-Mandala: Re-imagining the Middle East

Persisting with its traditional political timidity in the region will cost India dearly.

  1. After Independence, India’s mental map of the Middle East had two axes.
  2. One was the conflict between the Arabs and Israelis. The other was anti-imperial solidarity.
  3. Establishment of full diplomatic relations with Israel after the Cold War did not help move Delhi decisively towards an interest-driven regional policy.
  4. India’s interests demand an open and transparent engagement with all sides in the Middle East.
  5. China is moving gingerly on a pivot to the Greater Middle East and is now the biggest oil importer from the region.
  6. The emerging Middle East has little in common with India’s outdated perceptions of the region.*(point no. 2)
  7. To secure India’s vast and vital interests in the Middle East and to prevent the fires there enveloping the subcontinent.
  8. Delhi needs to liberate its policy from narrow domestic political considerations, look beyond oil and diaspora, and embark on a substantive strategic engagement with the region.

Syrian invite for Sushma hints at Delhi’s role in peace talks

  1. Sushma Swaraj, who has visited several Arab countries in the past, has now been invited to war-torn Syria.
  2. It is a clear sign that Syria is eager to include India within the ambit of direct political consultation to help in bringing a closure to the destructive civil war.
  3. Analyst point that it shows the broadening international consultation that can end the international terrorism from Syrian soil.

India turns to Israel for armed drones

  1. India has accelerated plans to buy drones from Israel that can be armed, allowing the military to carry out strikes overseas with less risk to personnel.
  2. The plan to acquire Israeli Herons was first conceived three years ago, as Pakistan and China develop their own drone warfare capabilities.
  3. The plan to buy Herons in a deal estimated at $400 million would open the option of covert cross-border strikes.

India, UAE resolve to combat radicalisation

  1. India and Abu Dhabi discussed steps to check radicalisation and deal with terror threats from transnational organisations.
  2. UAE stressed on adopting India’s proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the UN.
  3. The two sides discussed pending extradition requests.
  4. The countries signed MoUs in the areas of telecommunications, tourism, higher education and scientific research.

A New Chapter Could Unfold After Modi’s UAE Visit

  1. Two countries have agreed to cooperate against terrorism, radicalism and organised crime, and to promote maritime security and “inter-operability” in regard to “humanitarian assistance, natural disasters and conflict situations”, strengthen defence ties through exercises, training and in coastal defence and a high-level “Strategic Security Dialogue”.
  2. It is important to widen our perspective beyond South Asia and recognise that the forces of extremism and violence have become much more broad-based since the Mumbai attacks.
  3. Blue-print for action makes UAE side to the setting up of a $75 billion bilateral infrastructure fund.
  4. India’s economic well-being and the resilience of its political order and institutions is closely linked to continued stability in West Asia.

Now,India faces the challenge of shaping and pursuing a diplomatic initiative to promote dialogue and enhance confidence between the various estranged powers in West Asia so that the regions’ resources can be used for national development and to combat jihad.



:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.







Highest Rated App. Over 3 lakh users. Click to Download!!!