The Crisis In The Middle East

The Crisis In The Middle East

Arab League demands UN Peacekeepers in Palestine

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Arab League; its members

Mains level: NA

Why in the News?

The Arab League called for UN peacekeeping forces in the Palestinian territories during a summit in Bahrain’s Manama. The “Manama Declaration” issued by the league sought UNPKF in the occupied Palestinian territories” until a two-state solution is implemented.

Back2Basics: United Nations Peacekeeping

  • UN Peacekeeping is a collective effort by the international community, led by the United Nations, to maintain peace and security in regions affected by conflict.
  • UN peacekeepers are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets) can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.

History:

  • The concept of UN peacekeeping emerged in the aftermath of World War II, with the establishment of the United Nations in 1945.
  • The first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, following the Arab-Israeli War, to monitor the ceasefire between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
    • This mission, known as the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), set the precedent for future peacekeeping operations.
  • Since then, the scope and complexity of UN peacekeeping have evolved significantly, with operations conducted across the globe in regions affected by conflict, civil war, and humanitarian crises.

Operations:

  • UN Peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles:
  1. Consent of the parties
  2. Impartiality
  3. Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate
  • UN peacekeeping operations are deployed with the consent of the main parties to the conflict. It can be deployed at the request of the parties involved in a conflict or with the authorisation of the UN Security Council.
  • The objectives may vary depending on the specific context but often include monitoring ceasefires, disarming combatants, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid, promoting human rights, and supporting the establishment of democratic governance structures.
  • UN peacekeeping operations operate under the principles of impartiality, consent of the parties, and non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.

India’s Role:

  • India has been one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations since their inception.
  • India has contributed nearly 195,000 troops, the largest number from any country, and participated in more than 49 missions and 168 supreme sacrifices while serving in UN missions.

About Arab League

Details
Establishment Founded on March 22, 1945, in Cairo, Egypt.
Founding Members Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria.
Objective Promote economic, cultural, political, and military cooperation among member states. Safeguard independence and sovereignty.
Functions 
  1. Operates on consensus among member states. Decisions are made through consultations and discussions.
  2. Regular meetings among Arab leaders to address regional issues, formulate policies, and coordinate actions.
  3. Specialised committees and councils address specific areas of cooperation, such as economic affairs, social affairs, and defence.
Member States Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Observer Nations
  • Non-Arab countries with observer status include Brazil, Eritrea, India, Venezuela, and others.
  • No voting rights are accorded to Observer nations.
Important Achievements
  • Proposal of the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002.
  • Coordination of military efforts in various conflicts.
  • Promotion of economic cooperation through initiatives such as the Arab Free Trade Area.
  • Facilitation of cultural and educational exchange programs among member states.
Challenges Internal divisions, Differences of opinion over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict etc.

 

PYQ:

[2014] Recently, a series of uprisings of people referred to as ‘Arab Spring’ originally started from

(a) Egypt

(b) Lebanon

(c) Syria

(d) Tunisia

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: IMEC Project, Various ports mentioned

Mains level: NA

Why in the News?

An Indian inter-ministerial delegation visited the UAE to discuss the operational aspects of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), marking a significant step forward since the signing of the agreement.

About IMEC Project

  • IMEC is part of the broader Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), which focuses on infrastructure development in economically developing regions.
  • The MoU for IMEC was formally endorsed on September 10, 2023, during the 2023 G20 New Delhi summit.
  • Signatories to this agreement: India, United States, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union.
  • Aim: To integrate Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, enhancing economic cooperation across these regions.
  • Objectives:
    • Improve transportation efficiency, lower costs, and promote economic cohesion among participating nations.
    • Generate employment opportunities and reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
    • Facilitate trade and connectivity, thereby reshaping regional integration among Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Corridor Configuration:

IMEC comprises two primary corridors:

  1. East Corridor: Linking India to the Arabian Gulf.
  2. Northern Corridor: Connecting the Gulf region to Europe.

Key ports integral to the project’s success include:

  • India: Mundra, Kandla, and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (Mumbai).
  • Middle East: Fujairah (UAE), Jebel Ali (Dubai, UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Dammam (Saudi Arabia), and Ras Al Khair (Saudi Arabia).
  • Israel: Haifa port.
  • Europe: Piraeus (Greece), Messina (Italy), and Marseille (France).

Additionally, it encompasses various infrastructure components such as railway networks, ship-to-rail connections, road transport routes, electricity cables, hydrogen pipelines, and high-speed data cables.

Significance:

  • IMEC, upon completion, will establish a dependable and cost-efficient cross-border ship-to-rail transit network, complementing existing maritime and road transport networks.
  • The IMEC Project holds significant promise in redefining regional trade dynamics and fostering sustainable economic growth and cooperation among the involved countries.

PYQ:

[2018] The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is viewed as a cardinal subset of China’s larger ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. Give a brief description of CPEC and enumerate the reasons why India has distanced itself from the same. (150 Words, 10 Marks)

[2016] ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is sometimes mentioned in the news in the context of the affairs of:

(a) African Union

(b) Brazil

(c) European Union

(d) China

 


Back2Basics: Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment (PGII)

  • The PGII was first announced in June 2021 during the G7 (or Group of Seven) summit in the UK.
  • The G7 countries include the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the European Union (EU).
  • US President Joe Biden had called it the Build Back Better World (B3W) framework. However, it did not register much progress.
  • In 2022, during the G7 summit in Germany, the PGII was officially launched as a joint initiative to help fund infrastructure projects in developing countries through public and private investments.
    • Objective: To mobilise nearly $600 billion from the G7 by 2027 to invest in critical infrastructure.
    • It is essentially in response to the infrastructure projects being undertaken and funded by China under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at a global level.

 

Present Maritime Routes between India and Europe

Trade Route Route Issues Advantages
Suez Canal Route Indian Ocean -> Arabian Sea -> Red Sea -> Suez Canal -> Mediterranean Sea -> Europe
  • High traffic causing congestion.
  • Potential for piracy, especially near the Horn of Africa.
  • Most efficient and shortest maritime route.
  • Well-established with advanced port facilities.
Cape of Good Hope Route Indian Ocean -> Arabian Sea -> Indian Ocean (southern tip of Africa) -> Atlantic Ocean -> Europe
  • Longer transit time compared to the Suez Canal.
  • Higher fuel costs and longer journey duration.
  • Avoids congestion and security risks of the Suez Canal.
  • Suitable for large vessels unable to transit the Suez Canal.

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

India backs Palestine’s bid for full UN membership

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UN and its membership; Rights and privileges enjoyed by UN Member

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

India has voted in favour of a UN General Assembly resolution recommending Palestine’s admission as a full member of the United Nations.

Arab push for Palestine’s Membership

  • The emergency special session was convened by the Arab Group, with the UAE presenting the resolution in support of Palestine’s full membership.
  • The resolution calls for the Security Council to “reconsider” Palestine’s membership favourably, based on its determination that Palestine is qualified for UN membership.
  • The resolution received overwhelming support, with 143 votes in favour, including India’s, nine against, and 25 abstentions.
  • As an observer state, Palestine currently lacks voting rights in the General Assembly and cannot nominate candidates to UN organs.

India’s Stance on Palestine:

  • In 1988, India recognized the State of Palestine.
  • In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the Palestine Authority in Gaza, later relocating it to Ramallah in 2003.

About United Nations

Details
Background  Resulted from the devastation of World War I and II

Highlighted the need for a more effective international body to maintain peace and prevent future conflicts.

Predecessor The League of Nations, created in 1919 after World War I, aimed at peacekeeping but failed during World War II.
The Atlantic Charter Issued in August 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (USA) and Prime Minister Winston Churchill (UK), this document outlined principles for a post-war world and set the stage for the UN’s creation.
Naming The term “United Nations” was coined by President Roosevelt in 1941 to describe the allied nations opposed to the Axis powers.
Declaration by United Nations On January 1, 1942, representatives from 26 Allied nations, including India under British colonial rule, signed this declaration in Washington DC, formalizing their alliance and war objectives.
Official Formation UN was officially established on October 24, 1945, when its Charter was ratified by 51 member countries

It included 5 permanent Security Council members: France, Republic of China, Soviet Union, UK, and US.

First General Assembly The inaugural meeting of the UN General Assembly took place on January 10, 1946.
Core Goals
  1. To maintain international peace and security.
  2. To foster friendly relations among nations.
  3. To cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights.
  4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these common ends.
India’s Role India was a founding member of the United Nations, having signed the initial Declaration alongside 25 other Allied nations during World War II.

 

Rights and Privileges:

  • The rights and privileges of member states in the United Nations are designed to ensure that all members can effectively participate in the organization’s activities and benefit from its resources.

PYQ:

[2022] With reference to the “United Nations Credentials Committee”, consider the following statements:

  1. It is a committee set up by the UN Security Council and works under its supervision.
  2. It traditionally meets in March, June and September every year
  3. It assesses the credentials of all UN members before submitting a report to the General Assembly for approval.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 3 only
(b) 1 and 3
(c) 2 and 3
(d) 1 and 2

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

[PREMIUM] Conflict Regions in West Asia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Conflict areas in West Asia

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The resurgence of West Asian rivalries has been reignited by the ongoing Hamas-Israel War, which commenced on October 7, 2023.
  • With a backdrop of historical conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq War and Israel’s engagements with Hezbollah and Hamas, the current conflict is escalating tensions in the region.

About West Asia

[A] Political Overview:

  1. Countries:
  • West Asia comprises 17 countries, including:
    • In Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has 6 countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
    • Middle Eastern countries like Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and Yemen.
    • Egypt is sometimes included in the definition of West Asia due to its geographical proximity and historical ties.
  1. Geopolitical Dynamics:
    • The region is characterized by complex geopolitical dynamics, including conflicts, alliances, and power struggles.
    • Ongoing conflicts include the Syrian Civil War, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Yemeni Civil War, among others.
    • Strategic interests of global powers, including the United States, Russia, and China, contribute to the region’s instability.

[B] Physical Features:

  1. Terrain:
    • West Asia encompasses varied terrain, including vast deserts like the Rub’ al Khali in Saudi Arabia and the Syrian Desert in Syria and Jordan.
    • Mountainous regions include the Zagros Mountains in Iran, the Taurus Mountains in Turkey, and the Anti-Lebanon Mountains along the Lebanon-Syria border.
    • Fertile river valleys, such as the Tigris-Euphrates in Iraq and the Nile in Egypt, have historically supported agriculture and civilization.
  2. Climate:
    • The region experiences diverse climates:
      • Arid and semi-arid climates prevail in much of the interior, with hot summers and mild winters.
      • Mediterranean climates along the coastal areas, characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.
      • Highland climates in mountainous regions, with cooler temperatures and higher precipitation.
  3. Natural Resources:
    • West Asia is endowed with abundant natural resources, notably oil and natural gas reserves, concentrated primarily in countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf states.
    • The region also possesses significant mineral deposits, including phosphates in Jordan, sulfur in Iraq, and metals like copper and iron in various countries.

[C] Physiographical Details:

  1. Biodiversity:
    • Despite its predominantly arid climate, West Asia supports diverse ecosystems, including desert, mountain, and coastal habitats.
    • Unique species of flora and fauna, adapted to harsh environmental conditions, inhabit the region, including desert mammals like the Arabian oryx and mountain species like the Persian leopard.
  2. Water Resources:
    • Water scarcity is a pressing issue in West Asia, exacerbated by population growth, urbanization, and climate change.
    • Countries rely on shared river basins, such as the Tigris-Euphrates and the Nile, leading to water disputes and conflicts.
    • Desalination plants along the coastlines provide an alternative source of freshwater, particularly in Gulf countries.
  3. Human Geography:
    • The region is home to diverse ethnic and religious communities, including Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Persians, Jews, and Christians, among others.
    • Urbanization is on the rise, with major cities like Riyadh, Tehran, Istanbul, and Cairo serving as economic, cultural, and political centers.

Flash Points in West Asia

Conflict 

Areas

Description Flashpoints
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict A protracted dispute over territory, borders, and self-determination between Israel and Palestinians. Gaza Strip: A densely populated coastal enclave with sandy beaches, urban areas, and limited agricultural land. It is approximately 41 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide.

 

Netzarim Corridor: The Netzarim Corridor is a just under seven-kilometer-long corridor that is set to cut Gaza City from the rest of the enclave, running east to west from the Israeli border south of Nahal Oz to the Mediterranean Sea. Israel has previously bisected the Gaza Strip to create a Buffer Zone.

West Bank: Diverse geography including mountainous terrain, fertile valleys, and the Jordan River Valley. It covers an area of approximately 5,655 square kilometers.

East Jerusalem: Hilly terrain with historic landmarks and religious sites, including the Old City with its ancient walls, mosques, and churches.

Syrian Civil War Complex conflict involving multiple factions, resulting in immense humanitarian suffering. Aleppo: Surrounded by fertile plains and agricultural land, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It covers an area of approximately 190 square kilometers.

Damascus: Situated in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, it is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. It spans an area of around 105 square kilometers.

Homs: Located along the Orontes River, it is an important industrial center with a history dating back to ancient times. It has an area of about 165 square kilometers.

Idlib: Mix of agricultural plains, hills, and urban centers, covering an area of approximately 6,097 square kilometers.

Iraqi Conflict Various conflicts including the Iraq War, sectarian violence, insurgency, and fight against ISIS. Baghdad: Flat terrain surrounded by fertile agricultural land, situated on the Tigris River. It covers an area of around 204 square kilometers.

Mosul: Surrounded by plains, historic landmarks, and the Tigris River, it is one of Iraq’s largest cities. It spans an area of approximately 370 square kilometers.

Fallujah: In the Euphrates River valley with arid landscapes and urban areas, it is strategically located near major highways. It covers an area of about 139 square kilometers.

Kirkuk: Oil-rich region with diverse ethnic populations and mountainous terrain, it covers an area of approximately 9,679 square kilometers.

Yemeni Civil War Involves the Yemeni government, Houthi rebels, and other factions, leading to a dire humanitarian crisis. Sana’a: Surrounded by mountains and valleys in the Yemeni Highlands, it is one of the highest capital cities in the world. It covers an area of approximately 73 square kilometers.

Aden: Coastal city with a strategic port and urban areas, located on the Gulf of Aden. It spans an area of around 50 square kilometers.

Hodeidah: Major port city with coastal plains, mountains, and urban areas, situated on the Red Sea coast. It covers an area of about 192 square kilometers.

Lebanese-Israeli Tensions Sporadic clashes and occasional escalation over territorial disputes and Hezbollah’s presence. Southern Lebanon: Rugged terrain with mountains, fertile valleys, and coastal plains along the Mediterranean Sea. It covers an area of approximately 929 square kilometers.
Kurdish-Turkish Conflict Involves the Turkish government and Kurdish separatist groups, focusing on Kurdish autonomy. Southeastern Turkey: Mountain ranges, plateaus, fertile river valleys, and urban areas, covering an area of approximately 190,534 square kilometers.

Northern Iraq: Zagros Mountains, valleys, rivers, and urban centers, with an area of about 198,956 square kilometers.

Iranian-Israeli Tensions Fueled by Iran’s support to militant groups and its nuclear program, leading to regional security concerns. Golan Heights: Plateau region with rocky slopes, volcanic hills, fertile agricultural land, and urban settlements. It spans an area of approximately 1,800 square kilometers.

Southern Lebanon: Rugged terrain with valleys, plains, and urban areas, covering an area of about 929 square kilometers.

Gulf States Tensions Rivalries among Gulf states are driven by ideological differences, political alliances, and economic interests. Qatar: Peninsula with desert terrain, low-lying coastal areas, and urban development, covering an area of approximately 11,586 square kilometers.

Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia: Desert landscapes, oasis areas, oil fields, and urban centers, with an area of about 672,522 square kilometers.

 

PYQ:

[2015] Which one of the following countries of South-West Asia does not open out to the Mediterranean Sea?

(a) Syria

(b) Jordan

(c) Lebanon

(d) Israel

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Tensions grow in West Asia, a heavily militarised region

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Map of West Asia

Mains level: Reason behind the west Asia is a heavily militarised region

Why in the news? 

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers 2023’, four of the top 10 largest importers of arms last year were from West Asia, with the U.S. being the main supplier

SIPRI Report: Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2023

  • India’s Arms Imports: Increased by 4.7% compared to 2014-18.
  • European Arms Imports: Saw a staggering 94% increase between 2014-18 and 2019-23, likely influenced by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • Russia-India Arms Trade: Russia remained India’s largest arms supplier, accounting for 36% of total imports.
  • Top Global Importers: India, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar emerged as the top three importers globally.
  • Ukraine’s Arms Imports: Became the fourth largest arms importer during the specified period.
  • China-Pakistan Arms Trade: Pakistan, the fifth largest arms importer, obtained 82% of its arms from China.
  • France’s Arms Exports: Emerged as the world’s second-largest arms supplier, after the United States.
  • French Arms Exports to India: India was highlighted as the largest single recipient of French arms exports.

 

West Asia has largest expenditure in Defence as per GDP %

Reason behind the west Asia is heavily militarised region:

  • Regional Conflicts and Tensions: The region is characterized by ongoing conflicts and tensions, such as those in Yemen and Syria, leading countries to seek advanced weaponry to address security challenges
  • Oil Boom: The oil boom in West Asia has led to increased military spending as countries seek to protect their oil resources and maintain regional stability
  • Internal Factors: The presence of Western arms and personnel in some Persian Gulf countries has contributed to internal resurgences, leading states to invest in military capabilities for self-defense
  • Diversification of Arms Suppliers: West Asian states have adopted the principle of diversifying sources of arms supply, leading to a broader range of arms imports from various suppliers globally
  • Client-Supplier Relationship: The relationship between client states and arms suppliers is often favorable to the recipient, with the recipient receiving the arms they wish and the supplier bowing to their demands
  • Regional Disputes and Border Skirmishes: Border disputes, threats, and wars have made it imperative for West Asian states to resort to modern and efficient national defense systems like conflict between Iran and Israel

Conclusion: 

Encourage diplomatic efforts to resolve regional conflicts and tensions through dialogue and negotiation, aiming to reduce the need for excessive military spending. Advocate for the establishment of regional arms control agreements to limit the proliferation of weapons and promote stability in the West Asia region.

Mains PYQ 

Q How will I2U2 (India, Israel, UAE and USA) grouping transform India’s position in global politics?

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Premium – Conflict Areas of African Continent

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Locations mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: NA

Why in the News?

The places discussed in this article are pertinent to conflict zones either due to Geopolitical conflicts or Climate change impacts.

Political and Ethnic Conflicts:

  • Darfur Region, Sudan:
    • The Darfur region constitutes Western Sudan, present-Eastern Chad, and the present-Northern part of the Central African Republic Region. 
    • This conflict involves clashes between government forces and paramilitary groups, resulting in widespread violence and displacement, particularly in regions like Darfur.
    • Darfur has experienced conflict for years, with ethnic tensions and government-rebel clashes leading to violence and displacement. 
    • The conflict has been characterized by allegations of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses.
  • Somalia:
    • The Conflict zone of Somalia is situated in the South-Eastern part (Mogadishu).
    • Al Shabaab is an Islamist militant group that has been engaged in a prolonged insurgency against the Somali government. 
    • The conflict has led to widespread violence, including attacks on civilians, and has contributed to significant displacement within Somalia
  • Nigeria:
    • Groups like Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), have carried out attacks, including suicide bombings and kidnappings, targeting civilians and security forces. 
    • This conflict has led to widespread displacement (Due to infringements of Human rights), particularly in northeastern Nigeria.
    • Nigeria is traversed by several major rivers, including the Niger River and the Benue River. 
    • The Niger River flows from southeastern Guinea through Mali, Niger, Benin, and Nigeria. It is the third-longest river in Africa behind the Nile and the Congo. 
    • Niger River tributaries include the Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue, and Bani Rivers.
  • Tigray, Ethiopia:
    • The conflict in Tigray erupted between regional forces and the Ethiopian government in late 2020, leading to widespread violence, displacement, and allegations of human rights abuses.
    • Ethiopia has experienced internal conflicts fueled by ethnic divisions and political grievances, leading to sporadic violence and displacement in various regions.
    • The region is part of the Nile River Basin.

Resource-based Conflicts (Climate Change Impact):

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC):
    • The DRC has been plagued by multiple armed groups operating in different regions, often vying for control over territory and resources
    • The M23 rebel group is one of several militias involved in the conflict, leading to displacement and humanitarian crises.
    • The DRC is home to the Congo River, one of the largest rivers in Africa. 
    • The Congo River drains a total watershed area of 3,690,750km 2, covering all of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as parts of Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and Angola.
  • Burkina Faso:
    • Burkina Faso (landlocked in West Africa) has experienced a rise in violence perpetrated by groups affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State, leading to displacement and insecurity, especially in the northern regions.
    • This conflict is often seen as a spillover from instability in neighboring Mali.
    • This region lies on the Prime Meridian
    • As it is landlocked, it does not have any significant rivers or lakes within its territory. However, it is part of the Volta River Basin, which includes rivers like the Black Volta and the White Volta.
  • Sahel Region:
    • The Sahel is a 3,860-km transitional belt stretching between the Sahara Desert and sub-Saharan Africa, extending from Senegal to Eritrea. It consists of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea, and a portion of southern Algeria.
    • Climate: Characterized by semi-arid conditions and features barren landscapes, making it susceptible to desertification.
    • It serves as a historical and cultural crossroads, where Arabic, Islamic, and nomadic cultures from the north intersect with indigenous and traditional cultures from the south.
    • The region faces numerous challenges, including ethno-religious tensions, political instability, widespread poverty, natural disasters, and the proliferation of criminal and political movements. 
    • Its vast, ungoverned spaces make it a hotspot for various illicit activities.
  • Notable water bodies in the Sahel region:
    • Niger River: It is a major waterway that traverses through countries such as Mali, Niger, and Nigeria, providing water for irrigation, transportation, and fishing.
    • Senegal River: The Senegal River forms part of the northern border of Senegal and Mauritania. It provides water for agriculture, supports ecosystems, and is used for transportation and hydropower generation.
    • Bani River: A tributary of the Niger River, the Bani River flows through Mali during the rainy season, supporting agriculture and wildlife in the region.
    • Koumoue River: This river, located in Burkina Faso, is a tributary of the Niger River and plays a crucial role in providing water for agricultural activities in the region.
    • Logone River: The Logone River, flowing through Chad and Cameroon, is an important water source for communities living along its banks, supporting agriculture and providing habitats for wildlife.
    • Mare aux Hippopotames: This seasonal lake, located in Niger, fills with water during the rainy season and serves as an essential habitat for wildlife, including hippos and migratory birds.
    • Lake Chad: Although Lake Chad has significantly diminished in size over the years due to factors such as climate change, overuse of water resources, and population growth, it remains an important water body for countries like Chad, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon.
  • Afar Triangle:
    • The Afar Triangle, also known as the Afar Depression or Afar Rift, is a geological depression in the Horn of Africa. It encompasses parts of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti.
    • It is said to be world’s Sixth Ocean in making.
    • It is located at the tri-junction of the African, Arabian, and Somali tectonic plates, making it one of the most geologically active regions on Earth. 
    • Border disputes between countries have occasionally involved the Afar region, particularly along the border areas.

 

Previous Year Questions:

[2013] Which one of the following pairs is correctly matched?

Geographical Feature Region
(a) Abyssinian Plateau Arabia
(b) Atlas Mountains North-Western Africa
(c) Guiana Highlands South-Western Africa
(d) Okavango Basin Patagonia

 [2020] Consider the following pairs:

Rivers Flows into
1. Mekong Andaman Sea
2. Thames Irish Sea
3. Volga Caspian Sea
4. Zambezi Indian Ocean

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2 and 4 only

 

[2022] The term “Levant” often heard in the news roughly corresponds to which of the following regions?

(a) Region along the eastern Mediterranean shores

(b) Region along North African shores stretching from Egypt to Morocco

(c) Region along Persian Gulf and Horn of Africa

(d) The entire coastal areas of Mediterranean Sean

[2022] Consider the following pairs:

Region often mentioned, in the news Country
1. Anatolia

2. Amhara

3. Cabo Delgado

4. Catalonia

Turkey

Ethiopia

Spain

Italy

How many pairs given above are correctly matched?

(a) Only one pair

(b) Only two pairs

(c) Only three pairs

(d) All four pairs

 

[2023] Consider the following pairs:

Area of conflict mentioned in news Country where it is located
1. Donbas Syria
2. Kachin Ethiopia
3. Tigray North Yemen

How many of the above pairs are correctly matched?

a) Only one

b) Only two

c) All three

d) None

[2023] Consider the following pairs:

Regions often mentioned in News Reason for being in News
1. North Kivu and Ituri War between Armenia and Azerbaijan
2. Nagorno-Karabakh Insurgency in Mozambique
3. Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Dispute between Israel and Lebanon

How many of the above pairs are correctly matched?

(a) Only one

(b) Only two

(c) All three

(d) None

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Israel, a two-state solution, some recent perceptions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Why Israel position is so strong in conflict?

Why in the news?

Writings and statements from Israel give us an understanding of what “a Jewish national home” means and the ongoing conflict it involves.

Historical origins and evolution of the concept of a Jewish national home

  • Historical and Religious Context: The concept of a Promised Land for the Jewish people dates back to biblical times, with references in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) to the land of Canaan as a homeland promised to the descendants of Abraham. The idea of returning to this ancestral homeland remained significant in Jewish religious and cultural traditions throughout centuries of diaspora.
  • Zionism: The modern movement for Jewish nationalism, known as Zionism, gained momentum in the late 19th century. Zionist thinkers and leaders, such as Theodor Herzl, envisioned the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
  • Theodor Herzl and the First Zionist Congress: The publication of Herzl’s book “Der Judenstaat” (“The Jewish State”) in 1896 is often considered the starting point of modern political Zionism.
  • British Mandate for Palestine: During World War I, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917, expressing support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
  • Settlement and Immigration: Jewish immigration to Palestine increased significantly during the early 20th century, as Jewish communities sought to establish settlements and build infrastructure in the region.
  • United Nations Partition Plan: In 1947, the United Nations proposed a partition plan for Palestine, which would have divided the territory into separate Jewish and Arab states, along with an internationalized Jerusalem. While Jewish leaders accepted the plan, Arab leaders rejected it, leading to the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 and the establishment of the State of Israel.

Continue Struggle after Arab-Israeli War 1948 

  • International Response and Recognition after 1967 war: UN Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) addressed the aftermath of the 1967 war. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was recognized by the Arab League and the UN General Assembly as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The Arab League Declaration/Initiative of 2002 and the Palestinian Non-Paper outlined visions for a solution, including reference to the 1967 Armistice Line as a border.
  • Annexation of West Bank Settlements: In 2018, Israel’s ruling Likud Party unanimously endorsed a resolution calling for the annexation of West Bank settlements, indicating a hardline stance on territorial claims.

Why Israel’s position is so strong in conflict?

  • Military Might: The military success of Israel in the 1967 war shifted the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict, convincing Arab states that they could not achieve victory through military means. However, it did not lead to a recommendation for a political settlement based on compromise.
  • Madrid Conference of 1991: The Madrid Conference was a significant event in the peace process, though the phrase “territories for peace” was not explicitly mentioned in the invitation letters. It marked a diplomatic effort to address the conflict.
  • American Support : The United States has provided unprecedented support to Israel, both diplomatically and militarily.And Israel’s conduct and efforts to shape the post-war situation have been growing.

Conclusion: The idea of a Jewish national home emerged from historical and religious roots, gained momentum through Zionism, and was furthered by international recognition. Resolution requires diplomacy, acknowledgment of historical grievances, and genuine efforts towards mutual understanding and compromise to stabalise the situation.

Mains PYQ

Q “India’s relations with Israel have, of late, acquired a depth and diversity, which cannot be rolled back.” Discuss (UPSC IAS/2018)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Where India’s trade with Israel and Iran stands, and whether regional tensions could impact it

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: How could Middle East tensions impact the Indian economy?

Why in the news? 

Iran’s attack on Israel earlier this week has sparked tensions in the Middle East and beyond. India, which has friendly ties with both the countries, has expressed “serious concerns” about escalation of hostilities.

India-Israel trade has doubled in the last five years

  • India established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Since then, trade between two countries has been rising significantly, from around $200 million in 1992 (comprising primarily of diamonds), to $10.7 billion (excluding defence) in the Financial Year 2022-23.

What are the main components of India’s trade with Israel?

  • Based on India’s 8-digit Harmonized System code, under which trade items are classified, the most valued items exported by India to Israel included diesel, diamonds, aviation turbine fuel, radar apparatus, Basmati rice, T-shirts, and wheat.

Value of India-Iran trade came down in the last five years

  • India’s trade with Iran has seen a contraction in recent years, before an uptick in the FY 2022-23. It increased by 21.77 per cent — from $1.94 billion in 2021-22 to $2.33 billion in 2022-23.

Israel and Iran do not have significant FDI in India

  • Israel’s FDI in India: Israel’s contribution to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India is relatively low, accounting for just 0.4% of the total FDI inflows between April 2000 and December 2023. FDI from Israel to India amounted to $288 million during this period.
  • Indian Investment in Israel: Conversely, Indian firms have invested more in Israel, with cumulative Overseas Direct Investment (ODI) reaching around US$ 383 million from April 2000 to May 2023.
  • India’s Investment in Iran: India is involved in developing the first phase of the Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar in Iran. This initiative aims to enhance India’s connectivity and trade relations with the Middle East and Central Asia.

How could Middle East tensions impact the Indian economy?

  • Impact on Trade Routes: Tensions in the Middle East, particularly in the Red Sea region, could disrupt crucial trade routes connecting Europe and Asia. Roughly 12 percent of global trade depends on this route, potentially affecting India’s trade.
  • Shipping Disruptions: Yemen-based militants, known as the Houthis, have targeted ships passing through the Red Sea since November 2023, leading to shipping disruptions. This could exacerbate India’s trade problems.
  • Stability Concerns in West Asia: The conflict between Iran and Israel adds to the instability in West Asia, potentially delaying projects like the Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC).
  • Impact on Petroleum Prices: While the ongoing conflict may not significantly disrupt crude oil and gas production, shipping disruptions in the Red Sea could lead to higher oil and gas prices. However, the impact on Indian consumers may be minimal as the government could offset price increases by reducing taxes.

Conclusion: India’s friendly ties with both Israel and Iran provide an opportunity for diplomatic engagement to mitigate the escalation of hostilities in the region. By actively participating in diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and promote dialogue, India can contribute to regional stability and safeguard its economic interests.

Mains PYQ 

Q There arose a serious challenge to the Democratic State System between the two World Wars.” Evaluate the statement. (UPSC IAS/2021)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Explained: A short history of Iran-Israel ties and why they soured after 1979

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Iran and Israel

Mains level: Middle East countries; Iran and Israel

Why in the news? 

Iran has said that its April 12 attacks on Israel were in response to Israeli war jets targeting an Iranian consulate in Syria earlier this month, leading to the death of its senior military commanders.

Context:

    • The Iran-Israel relationship has not always been as fraught as it is today. Iran was one of the first countries in the region to recognise Israel after its formation in 1948. It was only after 1979 that their diplomatic ties ended.
  • Iran–Israel Relations: This can be studied through four major phases: 
    • Ambivalent (1947-1953);
    • Friendly (1953-1979);
    • Worsening (1979-1990);
    • Open Hostility (1991-present);

1953 to 1979 Iran–Israel Relations:

  • From 1953 to 1979, during the rule of the Pahlavi dynasty in Iran, the relationship between Iran and Israel was relatively friendly.
  • Iran recognized Israel as a sovereign state in 1950, making it the second Muslim-majority country to do so after Turkey.
  • Despite occasional tensions, Iran and Israel engaged in significant economic, political, and military cooperation during this period. This cooperation extended to various sectors and included joint projects.
  • Iran supported Israel during conflicts with Arab nations, indicating a level of alignment in their geopolitical interests.
  • One notable joint project between Iran and Israel was the construction of the Trans-Israel oil pipeline, showcasing the depth of their cooperation, particularly in the economic sphere.

Post 1979 Iran–Israel Relations:

  • After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran became a religious state, with a significant shift in its foreign policy and worldview.
  • Iran, under the new regime, viewed Israel as an occupier of Palestinian land and referred to it as “Little Satan.” This represented a significant departure from the previous regime’s stance.
  • Iran, under Ayatollah Khomeini, also labeled the United States as the “Great Satan” and saw both Israel and the US as interfering in the region’s affairs.
  • Iran sought to expand its influence in the region, challenging traditional powers such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, both of which were US allies.
  • Initially at odds with pan-Arabism championed by leaders like Gamal Abdel Nasser, Iran’s relations with Arab countries, such as Egypt, warmed after Nasser died in 1970.
  • The signing of an accord between Iran and Iraq in 1975, which included Iran’s agreement to cease support for Kurdish-Iraqi separatists, led to a temporary easing of hostility between the two nations.
  • These shifts in Iran’s foreign policy and its improved relations with neighboring countries, as well as Iraq, led to a decrease in Israel’s strategic importance to Iran.

India’s Stance:

  • India’s Neutral Stance: India has adopted a neutral stance on the conflict between Iran and Israel, emphasizing the importance of peace and stability in the region.
  • Strategic Partnership with Israel: Despite its neutral stance, India maintains a strategic partnership with Israel, characterized by significant military and economic ties, including a substantial trade volume of around $7.5 billion.
  • Cultural and Linguistic Ties with Iran: India also has cultural and linguistic ties with Iran, along with strategic economic interests, such as the Chabahar port project, which connects India to Central Asia through Iran.
  • Focus on Citizen Safety: India’s primary focus amidst the escalating conflict is ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens, with approximately 10,000 Indian nationals in Iran and an additional 18,000 in Israel.

Conclusion: Iran-Israel ties, once friendly, soured post-1979 due to Iran’s religious revolution. India maintains neutrality, balancing strategic partnerships with both nations while prioritizing citizen safety amid escalating tensions.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

ICJ’s Interim Ruling on Gaza Genocide Case

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Mains level: NA

gaza icj

Introduction

  • The recent interim ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding South Africa’s case against Israel has sparked global attention.
  • While the court did not pass judgment on the core issue of whether Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, it did issue six provisional measures.

ICJ’s Interim Ruling: Six Provisional Measures Ordered

  • Prevention of Genocidal Acts: A 15:2 majority mandated that Israel take all necessary steps to prevent acts defined under Article 2 of the Genocide Convention, encompassing actions with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.
  • Immediate Military Restraint: Israel was directed to prevent its military from committing any genocidal acts “with immediate effect.”
  • Incitement to Genocide: Sixteen out of 17 judges ruled that Israel must prevent and punish direct and public incitement to commit genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: The court instructed Israel to provide humanitarian aid and basic services to Palestinians in Gaza, recognizing them as a protected group under the Genocide Convention.
  • Preservation of Evidence: Israel was entrusted with preserving evidence related to alleged acts under the Genocide Convention in Gaza.
  • Reporting Requirement: By a 15:2 majority, Israel was asked to submit a report on measures taken to implement the ruling within one month.

Decision on Jurisdiction

  • Jurisdiction Confirmed: The World Court clarified its jurisdiction, stating that there exists a prima facie dispute between the parties concerning the application of the Genocide Convention.
  • Article 9 of Genocide Convention: Referring to Article 9, the court emphasized that South Africa’s concerns and Israel’s dismissal indicated a genuine dispute.

Comments on Israel’s Actions in Gaza

  • Genocidal Acts: The court suggested that “at least some” of Israel’s acts and omissions may fall within the contours of the Genocide Convention.
  • Impact of Military Operation: Israel’s large-scale military operation in Gaza, causing civilian casualties and displacement, was highlighted.
  • Statements by Israeli Officials: The court pointed to concerning statements by senior Israeli officials, including orders for a “complete siege” of Gaza and dehumanizing remarks about troops.
  • Humanitarian Concerns: Expressing deep concern, the court warned of a potential deterioration in the humanitarian situation before the final judgment.

No Call for Ceasefire

  • Court’s Limitations: The ICJ refrained from ordering a ceasefire, with legal experts explaining that such an order could render Israel defenseless and fall outside the court’s purview.
  • International Impact: While the court’s rulings are legally binding, enforcement is lacking. However, its opinions carry weight with the UN and other international institutions.

Also read:

ICJ: Doing Justice without power

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Funding Pause for UNRWA: Allegations and Implications

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNRWA

Mains level: Not Much

unrwa

Introduction

  • Britain, Italy, and Finland have recently halted funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) amid allegations of its staff’s involvement in the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.

About UNRWA

  • UNRWA was established to aid Palestinian refugees displaced during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.
  • It provides education, health, and aid services to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
  • It operates schools, health clinics, and infrastructure projects for millions of Palestinians across the Middle East.

Israel’s Criticisms

  • Israel accuses UNRWA of tolerating or collaborating with Hamas and perpetuating the Palestinian refugee crisis.
  • It alleges misuse of aid by militant groups and teaching anti-Israel sentiments in UNRWA schools.

UNRWA’s Response

  • It denied allegations, takes swift action against accused employees, and asserts no links to militant groups.
  • It sought to undertake an external review to address accusations and determine political motivations.

Impact of Funding Cuts

  • The U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Finland suspend aid.
  • These nations contribute nearly 60% of UNRWA’s budget in 2022, impacting day-to-day operations.
  • Humanitarian crisis deepens in Gaza, with one in four facing starvation, and aid operations hampered by the ongoing conflict.

Conclusion

  • The pause in funding for UNRWA raises concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the potential long-term impact on the region’s stability.
  • The accusations against UNRWA and the subsequent funding cuts underscore the complex challenges faced in delivering aid amid geopolitical tensions.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Why are Conflicts spreading in West Asia?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: West Asia

Mains level: Read the attached story

west asia

Introduction

  • What initially began as a localized conflict between Israel and Hamas has rapidly spiralled into a regional security crisis, casting a shadow of uncertainty and instability over West Asia.
  • This evolving crisis involves a complex web of state and non-state actors, each with its own objectives and strategies, making it a highly volatile and unpredictable situation.

Escalation beyond Borders

As Israel launched its military campaign in Gaza in response to Hamas’s cross-border attacks, concerns grew that the conflict could spill over beyond the borders of Palestine. The involvement of various actors has further complicated the situation:

  • Hezbollah’s Solidarity: Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group backed by Iran, fired rockets at Israeli forces in solidarity with the Palestinians. This action marked an extension of the conflict beyond the immediate theatre of operations.
  • Exchange of Fire: Israel and Hezbollah engaged in multiple exchanges of fire, with both sides exercising restraint to prevent a full-scale war. Nevertheless, these incidents escalated regional tensions.
  • Iran-Backed Militias: Iran, a key supporter of non-state actors in the region, provided backing to groups such as Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Houthis, and Shia militias in Iraq and Syria. This support has contributed to the widening of the crisis.
  • Houthi Disruptions: In a bid to express solidarity with the Palestinians, Houthi rebels in Yemen began targeting commercial vessels in the Red Sea. Controlling significant portions of Yemen, including the Red Sea coast, the Houthis disrupted maritime traffic in a crucial international waterway.

Global Ramifications

The crisis in West Asia has not remained confined to the region; it has global implications:

  • U.S. Airstrikes in Yemen: The United States, in support of Israel’s actions, conducted airstrikes in Yemen, directly involving itself in the regional conflict. These airstrikes added a new dimension to the crisis.
  • Hashad al-Shabi’s Escalation: The Shia Mobilisation Forces of Iraq and Syria, backed by Iran, launched over a hundred attacks against U.S. troops stationed in these countries. These attacks were seen as retaliation against U.S. support for Israel.
  • Spread of Instability: As instability spread across the region, extremist groups, including the Islamic State, sought to exploit the situation. Iraq and Syria, in particular, remained vulnerable to internal and external challenges.
  • Cross-Border Retaliation: In response to Iran’s actions, Pakistan carried out airstrikes in Iranian territory, further escalating tensions in the region.

Key Players and Their Objectives

Understanding the crisis requires an examination of the key players and their objectives:

  • Israel’s Aims: Israel’s primary objectives include dismantling Hamas and securing the release of hostages held by the group. Israel enjoys unwavering support from the United States in pursuing these goals.
  • Iran’s Backing: Iran plays a central role as the primary supporter of various anti-Israel non-state actors in West Asia, offering support to groups such as Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Houthis, and Shia militias.
  • U.S. Interests: The United States, with a significant military presence in the region, seeks to ensure Israel’s security, protect American troops and assets, and maintain the U.S.-led order in West Asia.

Implications for Regional Security

The crisis in West Asia has ushered in a period of heightened insecurity and instability:

  • Widespread Security Crisis: Unlike previous conflicts that often involved nation-states or specific non-state actors, this crisis encompasses a broader range of powerful states and non-state actors, creating a highly volatile environment.
  • Disruption of the Old Order: The crisis has exposed the fragility of the old U.S.-led order in the region. Iran-backed proxies directly target Israeli and American positions, while Iran flexes its military muscle through cross-border attacks.

Looking Ahead

As the crisis continues to unfold, several key factors warrant consideration:

  • No Clear Resolution: With more than 100 days of conflict, Israel’s objectives in Gaza remain unfulfilled, and there is no apparent path to a resolution. The ongoing war fuels retaliatory attacks by Hezbollah and Houthis.
  • Effectiveness of U.S. Airstrikes: U.S. airstrikes against various groups have not proven effective in deterring them from launching new attacks. The region remains volatile.
  • Potential for Further Instability: The ongoing instability in West Asia creates opportunities for extremist groups, including the Islamic State, to exploit the situation. Iraq and Syria remain particularly susceptible to internal and external challenges.
  • Changing U.S. Role: Historically, the United States played a dominant role in the region, but it now appears more as a disruptor than a guarantor of peace and stability. Restoring stability and ending the war present significant challenges.
  • A Glimmer of Hope: Amid the ongoing crisis, a positive development is the maintenance of the Saudi-Iran détente and the Saudi-Houthi peace, providing a ray of hope amidst the turmoil.

Conclusion

  • The escalating regional crisis in West Asia underscores the intricate interplay of state and non-state actors in a highly volatile environment.
  • As the situation continues to evolve, its implications for regional stability and global security remain a subject of concern and vigilance.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Houthi Rebels and Regional Dynamics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Houthi Rebels

Mains level: Read the attached story

Houthi Rebels

Introduction

  • The United States and the United Kingdom have initiated military strikes against Houthi groups in Yemen on January 11.
  • This action is a response to the Houthis’ continued aggression towards maritime vessels in the Red Sea, a crucial global trade route.

Background of the Conflict

  • Houthi Attacks on Shipping: Since November 2023, Houthi forces have targeted ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, disrupting one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes.
  • Israeli-Hamas Conflict: The Houthis’ actions are in response to the Israeli military’s bombardment of Gaza following an attack by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in significant casualties.

Houthi Group and Regional Dynamics

  • Who Are the Houthis?: The Houthis are a Shia militant group engaged in the civil war in Yemen, controlling significant parts of the country, including the capital Sana’a.
  • Regional Rivalries: The conflict reflects long-standing regional rivalries, with Iran backing the Houthis and Saudi Arabia supporting the Yemeni government. The Houthis’ involvement in the Israel-Hamas war is also seen as part of these broader regional dynamics.

Concerns for Global Trade

  • Impact on World Trade: Approximately 12% of global trade passes through the Red Sea and Suez Canal, making the security of this route critical.
  • Alternative Routes: Due to safety concerns, some ships have been rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope, leading to increased transit times and fuel costs.

Implications for the Region

  • Operation Prosperity Guardian: Launched by the US, this coalition aims to ensure maritime security in the region, but partner countries have shown reluctance to contribute significantly.
  • Risks of Wider Conflict: There are concerns about the conflict spreading beyond Israel and Gaza, with the potential for unpredictable outcomes in the Middle East.
  • Impact on Yemeni Peace Negotiations: The strikes may affect ongoing peace negotiations in Yemen, mediated by Oman and the United Nations.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Red Sea Crisis: Impact on Global and Indian Trade

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Red Sea

Mains level: Read the attached story

red sea

Introduction

  • Houthi Militia Attacks: Since November, attacks by the Houthi militia of Yemen have rendered the Red Sea, a crucial marine route via the Suez Canal, unsafe for cargo ships.
  • Alternative Route: This has led to a significant rerouting of cargo, with ships now taking the longer Cape of Good Hope route, affecting global trade and increasing costs.

About the Red Sea

Details
Location Between Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti) and Asia (Saudi Arabia, Yemen).
Connection Connects to the Indian Ocean via the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden.
Length Approximately 2,250 km long.
Width Varies from 355 km at its widest point to 20 km at the Strait of Tiran.
Maximum Depth About 7,254 feet (2,211 m) in the central median trench.
Unique Features – One of the world’s saltiest bodies of water.

– Notable for its rich ecosystem, including extensive coral reefs.

Climate Generally hot and arid; surrounding desert and high evaporation rates contribute to its high salinity.
Economic Importance Major shipping route; oil-rich region with significant petroleum deposits on the sea’s borders.

Impact on Indian Trade

red sea

  • Shift in Shipping Routes: Following the attacks, about 90% of India’s western hemisphere cargo is being rerouted through the Cape of Good Hope.
  • Contractual Implications: The impact varies based on the type of buyer-seller contract, with some consignments being held up due to increased freight costs.
  • Freight Cost Surge: Freight costs have risen significantly, by up to six-fold in some cases, affecting all consignments, especially low-value, high-volume cargo and perishables.

Implications for India’s Imports

  • Increased Import Costs: The longer transit time and crisis could lead to costlier imports and necessitate better inventory management.
  • Effect on Fuel Prices: The crisis might impact plans to reduce fuel prices in India, given the country’s high dependence on crude oil and petroleum product imports.
  • Tanker Market Dynamics: Despite increased freight rates for affected routes, there hasn’t been a widespread rerouting of tankers.

Global and Indian Response

  • UN and US Stance: The UN condemned the Houthi attacks, and the US is seeking more support for ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’ to ensure safe sea lanes.
  • India’s Monitoring: The Indian government is closely observing the situation, with the Commerce Secretary discussing potential impacts with officials and trade bodies.

Sector-Specific Impact

  • Commodities Most Affected: Sectors like chemicals, plastics, and petrochemicals are severely impacted due to their inability to absorb freight hikes.
  • Alternatives for High-Value Goods: For high-value, low-volume commodities, airlifting is an option, but most affected goods are large in volume.

Conclusion

  • Continued Uncertainty: The situation in the Red Sea presents ongoing challenges for global and Indian trade, with no immediate resolution in sight.
  • Adaptation and Monitoring: Businesses and governments are adapting to these changes, with a focus on monitoring developments and mitigating impacts.
  • Long-Term Implications: The crisis underscores the vulnerability of global trade routes to geopolitical conflicts and the need for diversified shipping strategies.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Genocide Convention invoked in Israel-Palestinian War

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Genocide Convention, 1948

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • South Africa has petitioned the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to declare Israel in breach of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Genocide Convention, 1948

Details
Full Name Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
Adoption Date December 9, 1948
Primary Aim To prevent and punish the crime of genocide
Definition of Genocide Acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group
Key Provisions Includes killing or causing harm to members of a group, deliberately inflicting destructive conditions, imposing measures to prevent births, and forcibly transferring children
Punishable Acts Genocide, conspiracy, incitement, attempt, and complicity in genocide
Implementation and Enforcement States must enact legislation to give effect to the Convention’s provisions and provide penalties for perpetrators;

Genocide recognized as a crime under international law

Historical Context Created post-Holocaust and World War II as a global commitment against atrocities
Legal Framework Impact Established legal basis for defining and prosecuting genocide, influencing international criminal law
India’s Involvement Ratified by India on August 27, 1959;

Principles incorporated into India’s domestic legal system

South Africa’s Stance and Actions

  • Preventive Obligation: Following its application to the ICJ, South Africa stated its obligation to prevent genocide, seeking urgent provisional measures to halt violence in Gaza.
  • Israel’s Response: Israel has strongly condemned South Africa’s accusations, terming them as “blood libel.”
  • Potential Impact of ICJ Ruling: Even if the ICJ issues provisional measures, Israel, like Russia in the Ukraine case, may choose to ignore them.

Historical Roots of South Africa’s Position

  • Longstanding Criticism of Israel: South Africa has a history of criticizing Israel, including suspending diplomatic relations and expressing solidarity with Palestine.
  • Colonialism and Empathy for Palestine: South Africa’s own history of colonialism and apartheid has fostered empathy towards the Palestinian cause.
  • Influential Figures: Leaders like Nelson Mandela have historically supported Palestinian rights.
  • Resistance to Western Influence: South Africa’s stance is partly influenced by a desire to resist Western-dominated worldviews, evident in its approach to global issues like the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Economic and Political Considerations

  • Trade Relations with Israel: Despite being Israel’s largest African trading partner, South Africa has maintained its support for Palestine.
  • Shift in African Nations’ Stance: While many African countries have softened their stance towards Israel, South Africa remains steadfast due to the ANC’s anti-discrimination roots and resistance to Western hegemony.

Conclusion

  • Balancing Trade and Ideology: South Africa’s actions reflect a complex interplay of historical empathy, political ideology, and economic considerations in its foreign policy.
  • Global Implications: This move at the ICJ underscores the ongoing tensions in international relations, particularly in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and broader geopolitical dynamics.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

In news: Mediterranean Sea

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mediterranean Sea

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • Iranian Revolutionary Guards has warned that the Mediterranean Sea could be closed if the US and its allies continued to commit “crimes” in Gaza.

About Mediterranean Sea

Details
Location Between Europe, Africa, and Asia
Size Approximately 2.5 million square kilometers
Depth Average depth 1,500 meters ; Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea, over 5,000 meters deep
Climate Predominantly Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters
Bordering Countries Europe: Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey

Asia: Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel

Africa: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco

Major Water Bodies Connected Connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar; links to the Black Sea via the Dardanelles Strait
Islands and Archipelagos Includes several islands and archipelagos like Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Cyprus, and the Balearic Islands

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Bab El-Mandeb: A Strategic Choke Point

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bab El-Mandeb

Mains level: Read the attached story

Bab El-Mandeb

Central Idea

  • The war between Israel and Hamas in October raised concerns about Hezbollah’s involvement, but the focus shifted when the Houthis in Yemen expanded the conflict to the Red Sea.
  • Despite tensions, Hezbollah and Israel avoided full-scale war, with Israel concentrating on Gaza.

Houthi Involvement and Shift in Tactics

  • Initial Actions: The Houthis, aligned with Iran, initially targeted Israel in solidarity with Palestinians, using drones and missiles, which were intercepted.
  • Change in Strategy: Later, they shifted focus to attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea, threatening global shipping routes.

Understanding the Houthis

  • Background: The Houthis, known formally as Ansar Allah, are a Shia militia group in Yemen, named after their late leaders Badr al-Din al-Houthi and Hussein al-Houthi.
  • Iranian Support: They receive direct support from Iran and have significant military capabilities, including drones and ballistic missiles.

Strategic Importance of Bab el-Mandeb Strait

  • Geographical Significance: The Strait of Bab el-Mandeb is a crucial maritime chokepoint, connecting the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
  • Impact on Global Shipping: Houthi actions near the strait have led to a significant decrease in Red Sea traffic and increased shipping costs.

Global and Regional Consequences

  • Effect on Israel: Israel’s southern port traffic, particularly in Eilat, has been severely impacted.
  • Broader Trade Implications: Approximately 12% of global maritime trade passes through the strait. Disruptions here could exacerbate inflationary pressures worldwide.
  • Alternative Routes: Shipping companies are rerouting around Africa, significantly increasing travel time and costs.

International Response

  • US Naval Task Force: The U.S. has established a naval force to counter the Houthi threat.
  • Arab World’s Stance: Many Red Sea countries, including Egypt, have not joined the U.S. task force, reflecting regional discontent with U.S. policies.
  • Potential Offensive Measures: The U.S. has not ruled out bombing Houthi targets in response to continued attacks on shipping lanes.

Conclusion

  • Continued Houthi Threat: The Houthis vow to persist in their actions as long as Israel’s conflict with Gaza continues.
  • Challenges for Global Trade: The situation underscores the fragility of global shipping routes and the potential for regional conflicts to have far-reaching economic impacts.
  • Need for Diplomatic Solutions: This complex scenario highlights the importance of diplomatic efforts to resolve regional tensions and protect vital maritime trade routes.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

US launches ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’ to secure Red Sea

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Red Sea, Operation Prosperity Guardian

Mains level: Read the attached story

red sea

Central Idea

  • US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the creation of Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect Red Sea commerce.
  • This follows missile and drone attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis.

Operation Prosperity Guardian

  • Countries Involved: The U.K., Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, and Spain are participating.
  • Joint Patrols: These nations will conduct joint patrols in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Houthi Rebels’ Stance

  • Continued Aggression: Houthi rebels declared their intention to persist with attacks on Red Sea shipping.
  • Rebels’ Claims: They claim the US-led coalition aims to protect Israel and militarize the sea.
  • Attacks Beyond Yemen: Houthis have targeted vessels in key shipping lanes and launched attacks towards Israel.
  • Recent Drone Attack: Prior to Austin’s announcement, Houthis claimed a drone attack on cargo vessels in the region.

Significance of the Operation

  • Impact on Suez Canal Traffic: About 12% of global shipping traffic through the Suez Canal is affected by the unrest.
  • Rerouting and Economic Consequences: Shipping firms are diverting routes, leading to increased costs and delays.

About Red Sea

Details
Location Between Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti) and Asia (Saudi Arabia, Yemen).
Connection Connects to the Indian Ocean via the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden.
Length Approximately 2,250 km long.
Width Varies from 355 km at its widest point to 20 km at the Strait of Tiran.
Maximum Depth About 7,254 feet (2,211 m) in the central median trench.
Unique Features – One of the world’s saltiest bodies of water.

– Notable for its rich ecosystem, including extensive coral reefs.

Climate Generally hot and arid; surrounding desert and high evaporation rates contribute to its high salinity.
Economic Importance Major shipping route; oil-rich region with significant petroleum deposits on the sea’s borders.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Article 99 of the UN Charter

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 99

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The UN General Secretary wrote under Article 99 about the escalating threats to peace and security due to the situation in Gaza.
  • He mentioned the human suffering, deaths, and destruction in Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territory, emphasizing the need for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Understanding Article 99

  • Charter as an International Treaty: The UN Charter, the founding document of the United Nations, functions as an international treaty binding member states.
  • Article 99’s Provision: It allows the Secretary-General to bring any matter to the UNSC that may threaten international peace and security.
  • Discretionary Power: This article is seen as a discretionary power, requiring the Secretary-General to exercise political judgment, tact, and integrity.

Historical Invocation of Article 99

  • Rare Usage: Article 99 has been seldom invoked, with notable instances including the Congo upheaval in 1960 and Tunisia’s complaint against France in 1961.
  • Current Context: It is indicated that Guterres’ invocation of Article 99 over Gaza is a significant constitutional move.
  • Details of the Crisis: He mentioned the human suffering, deaths, and destruction in Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territory, emphasizing the need for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Potential Impact

  • Draft Resolution by UAE: Following Guterres’ letter, the United Arab Emirates submitted a draft resolution to the UNSC demanding an immediate ceasefire.
  • Voting Dynamics: For the resolution to pass, it requires at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the five permanent members.
  • Challenges in Reaching Consensus: The likelihood of unanimous support from permanent members is uncertain, given the US and Britain’s support for Israel’s military actions since October 7.

Conclusion

  • Guterres’ appeal underscores the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
  • The outcome of the UNSC’s actions, influenced by Guterres’ appeal, remains pivotal in addressing the ongoing conflict and humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

What is the BDS movement, led by Palestinian groups against Israel?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BDS Movement

Mains level: Anti-Semitism, Racism, Apartheid

bds

Central Idea

  • An article in a German newspaper accused Indian poet Ranjit Hoskote of “anti-Semitism” and supporting the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.

What is BDS Movement?

  • BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement was launched in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian groups.
  • It aims to garner international support for Palestinian people’s rights.
  • BDS describes itself as an “inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement” opposing all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
  • It draws inspiration from the South African anti-apartheid movement.

BDS Goals

  • BDS calls for nonviolent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law, with three key demands:
    1. Ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.
    2. Recognizing the rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
    3. Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as per UN Resolution 194.

Strategies of BDS

  • BDS involves boycotts of Israeli government, associated institutions, and companies involved in human rights violations.
  • Divestment campaigns urge institutions to withdraw investments from Israel.
  • Sanctions campaigns seek to pressure governments to fulfill legal obligations to end Israeli apartheid.
  • BDS focuses on a smaller number of carefully selected companies and products for maximum impact.

Israeli Government’s Response

  • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has linked BDS to anti-Semitism.
  • BDS argues that criticism of Israel’s violations of international law should not be equated with anti-Semitism.
  • Israeli Minister Gilad Erdan led efforts against the economic boycott of Israel but downplayed the threat.

Economic Impact of BDS

  • BDS has led to some brands and celebrities refusing to work in Israel.
  • Impact on an entire state’s economy is challenging to measure due to various factors.
  • BDS aims to become a powerful tool in ending western support for Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Ben Gurion Canal Project: Joining Red Sea with Mediterranean

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ben Gurion Canal Project

Mains level: Not Much

Ben Gurion Canal Project

Central Idea

  • Israel’s aspirations to gain full control over the Gaza Strip and eliminate Hamas may be linked to an ambitious economic opportunity—the creation of the Ben Gurion Canal Project.

Ben Gurion Canal Project

  • Vision: Named after Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, the Ben Gurion Canal Project remains an ambitious infrastructure proposal.
  • Route: It envisions cutting a canal through the Negev Desert to connect the Gulf of Aqaba with the Eastern Mediterranean, challenging Egypt’s dominance over the Suez Canal.
  • History: A declassified 1963 US government memorandum explored the idea of using nuclear explosives for digging the canal.
  • Need: It would offer an alternative route to connect Europe and Asia, bypassing the Suez Canal.
  • Transformational Impact: If realized, this project could reshape global trade dynamics by breaking Egypt’s monopoly over the shortest trade route.

Bypassing the Suez

  • Historical Significance: The Suez Canal, opened in 1869, revolutionized global maritime trade by reducing travel distances between Europe and Asia.
  • Congestion Issues: Despite expansion efforts, the Suez Canal remains congested, causing significant delays and economic losses.
  • Political Conflicts: Egypt’s control over the canal has led to conflicts and wars, impacting global geopolitics.

Logistical and Political Challenges

  • Complexity and Cost: Building the Ben Gurion Canal is a massive and costly endeavour, potentially exceeding $100 billion.
  • Route Length: The proposed canal route is over 100 km longer than the Suez Canal, primarily due to terrain limitations.
  • Security Concerns: Constant military threats, such as Hamas rockets or Israeli attacks, would pose a significant challenge to the canal’s operation.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Places in news: Dagestan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dagestan

Mains level: NA

Dagestan

Central Idea

  • A recent incident involving anti-Israel protesters storming an airport in Makhachkala, Dagestan, has drawn international attention.
  • This incident highlights the unique position of Dagestan, which, while sounding like a country, is actually a province within Russia.

About Dagestan

  • Dagestan, officially known as the Republic of Dagestan, is a province within the Russian Federation, dispelling any confusion arising from its name.
  • Situated in the southernmost part of Russia, it holds strategic importance for the country.

Geographical Location

  • Land of Mountains: Dagestan’s name translates to “land of the mountains,” emphasizing its mountainous terrain.
  • North Caucasus: Located in the eastern part of the North Caucasus, it shares borders with Georgia and Chechnya to the west and Azerbaijan to the south. To the east lies the Caspian Sea.
  • Inaccessible Terrain: Some areas within Dagestan’s mountains are so remote that reaching them requires helicopters.

Ethnic Diversity

  • Over 40 Ethnicities: The province is home to at least 40 different ethnic groups.
  • 30+ Languages: More than 30 languages are spoken in this region.
  • Prominent Ethnic Groups: The largest ethnic group in Dagestan is the Avars, comprising approximately one-fifth of the population. Other significant groups include Dargins, Kumyks, and Lezgins.
  • Ethnic Russian Presence: Despite the ethnic diversity, around 10% of Dagestan’s population is ethnically Russian.

Capital: Makhachkala

  • Strategic Coastal City: Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, is situated along the Caspian Sea coast.
  • Historical Significance: Once a major trading port, Makhachkala was conquered by the Russian Imperial Army in the 19th century.
  • Oil and Gas Hub: Today, Dagestan serves as a crucial conduit for oil and gas pipelines connecting the Caspian Sea to Russia’s heartland, possessing its own reserves of these resources.
  • Challenges: The region has grappled with organized crime and instability, with Russian security forces combating armed insurgencies and militant groups in Dagestan and neighboring areas.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

UNGA Vote on Gaza War, and why India abstained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UNGA Resolutions

Mains level: India's stance on Palestinian War

unga hamas israel

Central Idea

  • The recent United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) vote on a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce in the Israel-Hamas conflict saw India abstaining from the vote.

What are UNGA Resolutions?

UNGA Resolutions and Voting
What is it? Cover diverse global issues, including disarmament, climate change, and humanitarian aid.
Types Include regular, consensus (adopted without a vote), and procedural resolutions.
Who can initiate? Originates from member states, UN committees, or regional groups after negotiations and debates.
Nature of Enforcement Non-binding but hold moral and political influence on member states and UN bodies.
Significance Shape international norms, public opinion, and state behavior despite lacking legal enforcement.
Features of UNGA Resolutions Discussed and adopted during annual sessions, with possible special sessions when required.
Equal Voting Rights Each member state has an equal vote, ensuring equality regardless of size or influence.
Majority Requirements Typically adopted with a two-thirds majority of present and voting member states (e.g., 128 votes if all 193 are present).
Varied Majority Types Some require a simple majority, while others, like UN Charter amendments, need a two-thirds majority of all member states.
Abstentions Member states can abstain, signifying neutrality without supporting or opposing.
Challenges and Divisions Resolutions may face opposition or receive no votes, leading to international discussions and divisions.

Resolution over Israel-Hamas War

  • The resolution, titled “Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations,” was proposed by Jordan on behalf of the Arab League and co-sponsored by approximately 40 countries.
  • It called for an immediate humanitarian truce, cessation of hostilities, and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza.
  • However, it did not specifically refer to the cowardly terror attacks by Hamas, which resulted in numerous Israeli casualties and hostages.
  • Ultimately, the resolution passed with 120 votes in favor, 14 against (including US and UK), and 45 abstentions, with India among the abstaining nations.

India’s Abstinent

  • India defended its abstention by citing the absence of “explicit condemnation” of the October 7 terror attacks in Israel in the resolution.
  • Since India’s concerns regarding these omissions were not addressed in the final text of the resolution, abstaining was the chosen course of action.
  • The government emphasized that there should be no ambiguity when it comes to condemning terrorism and that its position on this matter remains “steadfast and consistent.”
  • Key elements of India’s statement include-
  1. Condemnation of violence, including the October 7 attacks by Hamas.
  2. Acknowledgement of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and support for international de-escalation efforts.
  3. Concern about the security situation and a call for all parties to exercise restraint.
  4. Reiteration of India’s support for a negotiated two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine issue.
  5. Encouragement for diplomacy and dialogue to create conditions for peace negotiations.

Why so furore over India’s action?

  • India’s abstention differed from its previous vote in favour of a UNGA resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in 2018 and other similar votes in the past.
  • Opposition parties in India criticized the government for refusing to take a stronger stand on the humanitarian issue.
  • They argued that India’s abstention stood alone among countries in the Global South, South Asia, and BRICS, all of which had voted in favour of the resolution.

Significance of India’s action

  • Balanced Position: India’s abstention mirrors its approach to other global conflicts, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, where it seeks to maintain a diplomatic balance between opposing sides.
  • Not Legally Binding: Unlike UN Security Council resolutions, UNGA resolutions are not legally binding, meaning that Israel and the US are not obligated to act on it.
  • Weight and Moral Authority: Despite its non-binding nature, the resolution carries significant moral weight, with 120 votes in favour signifying support for international law and proportionate use of force.
  • India’s Principled Stand: India reiterated its support for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue and called for diplomacy and dialogue to resolve the conflict.

Conclusion

  • India’s abstention in the recent UN General Assembly vote reflects its balanced and nuanced approach to international conflicts.
  • While it has drawn criticism from some quarters, it underscores India’s commitment to principles of diplomacy and its focus on a negotiated resolution to complex global issues.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Places in news: Rafah Crossing

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rafah Crossing

Mains level: NA

rafah crossing

Central Idea

  • Palestinians have been gathering at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip.
  • Meanwhile, Egypt has opened the borders for UN humanitarian aid for Palestinians.

What is Rafah Crossing?

  • The Rafah Crossing is a border crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, located in the southern Gaza Strip.
  • It serves as one of the few access points for people and goods to enter or exit the Gaza Strip, which is a Palestinian territory along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Egypt has maintained strict movement restrictions at the Rafah crossing for years, raising concerns that it indirectly supports Israel’s Gaza blockade, which began in 2007 after Hamas took control.

Egypt’s Role and Restrictions

  • Security Concerns: Security concerns in North Sinai, where Egypt has battled jihadists linked to Al Qaeda, have largely justified these restrictions.
  • Avoiding Exodus: Egypt may be reluctant to open the crossing without clear conditions and guarantees to avoid a mass exodus of Palestinians from Gaza.
  • Responsibility Concerns: Egypt is concerned about being responsible for a large influx of Gazans if the crossing is opened indefinitely.
  • Permanent Resettlement: Egypt is reluctant to facilitate a permanent resettlement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

The Gaza War and Its Ramifications

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Gaza conflict and its impact on the geopolitics of the region

What’s the news?

  • The recent series of deadly attacks launched by Hamas on Israel has had profound implications for the dynamics of the Middle East.

Central idea

  • The recent lethal attacks launched by Hamas on Israel on October 7 have had significant repercussions, particularly in the realm of Israeli-Saudi relations and the broader Middle East geopolitical landscape. These attacks have effectively overturned Israeli efforts, backed by the United States, to foster normalization of relations with Arab states while neglecting Palestinian concerns.

Israeli Diplomacy

  • Normalization Agreements: Israel, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pursued a strategy of normalizing relations with Arab countries. This strategy aimed to establish diplomatic ties with Arab nations that had historically been hostile or distant from Israel. Notable agreements included those with Egypt and Jordan, which were signed in the late 20th century.
  • The Abrahamic Accords: A significant milestone in Israeli diplomacy was the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020. These agreements, brokered by the United States, led to the normalization of relations between Israel and several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and later Morocco. These agreements marked a shift in regional dynamics and signified growing acceptance of Israel in the Arab world.
  • Strategic Goals: Israel’s diplomatic efforts aimed to enhance its security, strengthen its regional influence, and broaden economic and technological cooperation with Arab states. These agreements also served to isolate Iran, which was seen as a common regional rival.

The role of the United States

  • Mediator and Facilitator: The United States has historically played a central role as a mediator in Israeli-Arab conflicts. It has facilitated peace talks, negotiations, and agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The U.S. has acted as a neutral party, using its diplomatic clout to bring parties to the negotiating table.
  • Broker of the Abraham Accords: In the case of the Abraham Accords, the United States, led by the Trump administration, took a proactive role in brokering these agreements. The U.S. actively encouraged Arab nations to establish diplomatic ties with Israel and provided political support and incentives to make these deals happen.
  • Strategic Interests: The United States had strategic interests in promoting Israeli-Arab normalization. These interests included strengthening its regional alliances, countering Iranian influence, and promoting stability in the Middle East.
  • Security Assistance: The U.S. has provided substantial military aid and security assistance to Israel, reinforcing its position in the region and ensuring its qualitative military edge. This support has been a cornerstone of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The Gaza War and Its Ramifications

  • Reemphasis on the Palestinian Issue: The Gaza War has once again thrust the Palestinian issue to the forefront of regional politics. It has drawn attention to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the unresolved grievances of the Palestinian people.
  • Regional Instability: The conflict in Gaza has contributed to regional instability and heightened tensions. It has the potential to spill over into neighboring countries and exacerbate existing regional conflicts.
  • Impact on Israeli-Saudi Normalization Efforts: The Gaza War has had significant implications for Israel’s efforts to normalize relations with Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia. It has disrupted the momentum of normalization, as Saudi Arabia, like other Arab nations, has faced domestic pressure to condemn Israeli actions in Gaza.
  • Saudi Arabia’s Shift: Saudi Arabia’s response to the Gaza War represents a notable shift in its stance. While previously open to normalizing relations with Israel, the kingdom has now emphasized the importance of addressing Palestinian interests and rights. This change in stance may have lasting implications for Saudi foreign policy and its relations with both Israel and the United States.
  • Iran’s Role: Some observers have speculated about Iran’s role in instigating Hamas attacks to undermine Saudi-Israeli normalization efforts. However, it is essential to note that Saudi-Iran relations had already undergone a degree of normalization before the Gaza War, reducing the likelihood of Iranian involvement as a primary motivator.
  • Humanitarian Crisis: The conflict has led to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with casualties, displacement, and infrastructure damage. The international community has been called upon to address the immediate humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population.
  • Impact on Regional Alliances: The Gaza War has influenced the alignment of regional alliances, with countries taking positions based on their historical relationships and geopolitical interests. This could potentially reshape alliances and cooperation in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia’s Evolving Foreign Policy

  • Pursuit of Strategic Autonomy: Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has demonstrated a growing willingness to pursue an independent foreign policy. The kingdom has sought to assert its strategic autonomy and reduce its reliance on traditional allies, including the United States.
  • Refusal to Align with Anti-China or Anti-Iran Coalitions: Saudi Arabia has rejected U.S. efforts to build global anti-China coalitions and regional anti-Iran alliances. Despite U.S. pressure, the kingdom has maintained its own strategic interests and relationships.
  • Stronger Ties with China: Saudi Arabia has deepened its relations with China, particularly in the areas of trade, investment, and energy cooperation. The kingdom recognizes China’s increasing global influence and sees it as an important economic partner.
  • Multifaceted Engagement Across Asia: Saudi Arabia has actively pursued multifaceted relationships across Asia, including with countries like India and Pakistan. These engagements encompass economic, diplomatic, and security cooperation, reflecting the kingdom’s aim to expand its influence in the Asian region.

Way forward: Concrete Actions for Palestinian Interests

  • Commitment to a Two-State Solution: Both Israel and the Palestinian leadership should unequivocally reaffirm their commitment to a two-state solution, recognizing the need for an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.
  • Freeze Settlement Expansion: Israel should halt all settlement construction activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settlement expansion remains a significant obstacle to peace and threatens the territorial integrity of a future Palestinian state.
  • Cessation of Violence: All parties involved must commit to ending violence and terrorism. This includes a complete halt to rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and measures to prevent violence on both sides. A comprehensive ceasefire agreement should be sought.
  • Support for Palestinian Elections: The international community should support transparent and inclusive Palestinian elections to strengthen the legitimacy of the Palestinian leadership. These elections should adhere to international standards.
  • Address Core Issues: Negotiations should address core issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and the delineation of borders for a future Palestinian state. These issues must be resolved through peaceful negotiations based on international principles.
  • International Mediation and Oversight: International actors, including the Quartet, should actively mediate and oversee the peace process to ensure accountability, adherence to agreements, and a fair and balanced negotiation environment.

Conclusion

  • The Gaza conflict has had a profound impact on the geopolitics of the region, particularly by reemphasizing the importance of addressing Palestinian concerns. While Israel’s efforts to normalize relations with Arab states face challenges, Saudi Arabia’s renewed focus on the Palestinian cause marks a significant shift in its foreign policy approach, underscoring the evolving dynamics in the Middle East.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

War Crimes Laws invoked in Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 1949 Geneva Conventions

Mains level: Read the attached story

war crime

Central Idea

  • The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian forces, triggered by Hamas’ barbaric assault, has resulted in a distressing and increasing death toll on both sides.
  • This conflict operates within a multifaceted international system of justice that has evolved since World War II.

Various War Crime Laws

  • 1949 Geneva Conventions: Internationally accepted rules of armed conflict emerged from these conventions, ratified by all UN member states and complemented by decisions at international war crimes tribunals.
  • “Law of Armed Conflict”: A series of treaties collectively known as the “Law of Armed Conflict” or “International Humanitarian Law” governs the treatment of civilians, soldiers, and prisoners of war. It applies to both government forces and organized armed groups, including Hamas militants.
  • ICC Jurisdiction: The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague holds the authority to bring charges against alleged perpetrators if domestic courts do not or cannot do so.

Role and Jurisdiction of the ICC

  • Establishment: The ICC, a permanent war crimes tribunal, was established in 2002 in The Hague. It has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed in its 123 member states or by their nationals.
  • Notable Absences: Major global powers like China, the United States, Russia, India, and Egypt are not ICC members. Israel rejects the court’s jurisdiction and does not formally engage with it.
  • Ongoing Investigation: ICC prosecutors have been investigating allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied Palestinian territories since 2021, although no arrest warrants have been issued.

Acts Potentially Violating War Crimes Law

  • Deliberate Targeting of Civilians: Human Rights Watch identified potential war crimes, including the intentional targeting of civilians, indiscriminate rocket attacks, and the hostage-taking of civilians by Palestinian armed groups.
  • Israeli Counter-Strikes: Israeli counter-strikes in Gaza, resulting in the deaths of numerous Palestinians, could also fall under scrutiny as potential war crimes.
  • Geneva Conventions Prohibitions: The Geneva Conventions explicitly prohibit acts such as taking hostages, murder, and torture, regardless of the conflict’s complexity.

Application of the Geneva Conventions

  • Right to Respond: US President Joe Biden acknowledged Israel’s right and duty to respond to the conflict while emphasizing the importance of acting within the rule of law.
  • Siege Considerations: A siege may be considered a war crime if it disproportionately targets civilians rather than undermining Hamas’ military capabilities or if it is found to be disproportionate.
  • Proportionality: Attacks on military targets must be proportionate, meaning they should not result in excessive civilian casualties or damage compared to the expected military advantage.

Conclusion

  • The Israel-Palestine conflict unfolds against a backdrop of intricate international legal frameworks and considerations.
  • Navigating the complexities of determining war crimes in this context requires a meticulous examination of actions on all sides, considering proportionality, deliberate targeting of civilians, and adherence to the Geneva Conventions.
  • As the conflict’s toll continues to rise, scrutiny of potential violations of international humanitarian law remains essential for justice and accountability.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

India’s Evolving Diplomatic Stance on Palestine

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-Palestine Relations

palestine

Central Idea

  • India’s diplomatic position on the Israel-Palestine conflict has witnessed significant shifts over the years.
  • While PM recent expression of solidarity with Israel during a period of heightened conflict has sparked debate, it is essential to contextualize these developments in India’s historical foreign policy.
  • This article delves into India’s stance on the Israel-Palestine issue, the factors shaping its policies, and the implications of its evolving approach.

Historical Background

  • India’s Early Stance: India’s initial position on the Israel-Palestine issue was shaped by leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. In 1947, India voted against UN Resolution 181, advocating for the partition of Mandatory Palestine. Nehru favored a federal state with wide autonomy for Arabs and Jews, influenced by Gandhi’s opposition to a Jewish state.
  • Recognition of Israel: Despite recognizing Israel in 1950, India did not establish diplomatic relations until 1992. Factors such as a sizable Muslim population, Cold War dynamics, and the need to maintain Arab support influenced this delayed recognition.

Impact of Establishing Diplomatic Relations

  • End of Cold War: India’s decision to establish diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992 marked a shift after the end of the Cold War. The government of P.V. Narasimha Rao took this bold step, focusing on national interests and strengthening economic relations, particularly in defense.
  • Ongoing Support for Palestine: India’s recognition of Israel did not signal abandonment of its principled support for Palestine. India continued to voice support for the Palestinian cause while developing closer ties with Israel.

Contemporary Developments

  • India-Israel Relations: Presently, India enjoys a strong and multifaceted relationship with Israel. Prime Ministers Modi and Netanyahu have cultivated personal rapport, and both countries collaborate closely, especially in the defense sector.
  • Change in Rhetoric: India has adopted a more measured approach in its rhetoric regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, especially in international forums like the United Nations. Some argue that India’s pro-Palestine stance has not yielded commensurate benefits in terms of national interest.
  • Ideological Shift: India’s support for Israel’s response to attacks from Gaza is sometimes misinterpreted as anti-Islamic action. Israel’s approach to cross-border terrorism resonates with some in India, although the situations differ significantly.

India’s Formal Position

  • Support for Two-State Solution: India officially supports the two-state solution, envisioning Israel and Palestine as peaceful neighbours coexisting harmoniously.
  • Official visits: PM Modi’s visit to Ramallah in 2018 underscored India’s commitment to this position.
  • Public perception: A large section of Indian society is supportive of the Palestinian cause due to religious affinities.

Potential Implications of Current Escalation

  • Palestinian Reaction: While the Palestinians may express dissatisfaction with India’s growing proximity to Israel, it is unlikely to result in significant backlash. Popular sentiment may revive support for the Palestinian cause.
  • Arab World’s Perspective: Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, have shifted their focus from the Palestinian issue. They are increasingly open to normalizing relations with Israel. India’s stance is unlikely to disrupt its relationships with these nations.

Conclusion

  • India’s evolving stance on the Israel-Palestine issue reflects its pragmatic approach to foreign policy.
  • While it maintains support for Palestine, India has strategically developed robust relations with Israel, grounded in national interests.
  • The recent expression of solidarity with Israel amid conflict highlights the complexities of India’s diplomatic balancing act in the region.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Operation Ajay to evacuate Indian nationals from Israel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Operation Ajay

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • India has initiated Operation Ajay to evacuate its citizens who wish to return from conflict-ridden Israel.
  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar announced this operation, emphasizing the safety and well-being of Indian nationals abroad.

Operation Ajay

  • Evacuation Plan: Special chartered flights and other arrangements are being organized for the return of Indian citizens from Israel.
  • Second Evacuation: This marks the second evacuation operation this year, following Operation Kaveri, which brought back several thousand Indian citizens from strife-torn Sudan in April-May.

Significance: Indian Jewish Community

  • The Indian Jewish community, with an ancestry spanning over 2000 years in India, has a unique history.
  • India has been a welcoming home to them, where they thrived without encountering anti-Semitism, making it a distinct place on the global map.
  • However, the landscape changed with the independence of India in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
  • This transformation marked the beginning of a new chapter in India-Israel relations, leading to the migration of Indian Jews to their religious homeland.

Diverse Indian Jewish Groups

Indian Jews can be categorized into four main sects, each with its own historical origins and cultural traditions:

  1. Cochin Jews: Tracing their arrival to India back to 50 CE, they primarily settled in the southern region.
  2. Bene Israel: The largest group among Indian Jews, they settled in and around Maharashtra and Konkan.
  3. Baghdadi Jews: This group, part of the most recent wave of Jewish migration, established communities in port cities like Calcutta, Bombay, and Rangoon.
  4. Bnei Menashe: Settled in the North East, they are another significant segment of Indian Jews.

Complex Reception in Israel

The migration of Indian Jews to Israel was not without challenges. Israeli society struggled to embrace them due to several factors:

  • Internal Divisions: The four Indian Jewish groups had substantial differences and disagreements among themselves. These internal divisions, combined with bias from Jews of European origin, complicated the reception of Indian Jews, especially in the initial years of migration.
  • Discrimination: The Bene Israel, primarily from Maharashtra, faced significant discrimination upon their arrival in Israel. Reports in the 1950s highlighted instances of racism and unequal treatment, including job and housing discrimination.
  • Differing Motivations: Indian Jews’ motivations for migrating varied. While the Cochin Jews were seen as driven by religious reasons, the Bene Israel were often perceived as seeking better economic prospects, leading to different treatment based on perceived motives.
  • Economic Disparities: The economic differences among the four groups fueled animosity. Some attributed the Cochin Jews’ messianic aspirations to poverty, while the Baghdadi Jews considered the Bene Israel as lacking proper religious traditions.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Gandhi’s Stance on Israel and Palestine: A Closer Look

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Israel-Palestine Issue

gandhi israel

Central Idea

  • Mahatma Gandhi’s perspective on the Israel-Palestine issue has been a topic of extensive debate over the years.
  • His article, ‘The Jews,’ written in 1938, offers insights into his complex views on the matter.
  • Gandhi’s sentiments regarding the Jewish people, the Holocaust, and the creation of a Zionist state in Palestine are subjects of scrutiny and admiration, shedding light on his unwavering commitment to non-violence.

Gandhi’s Sympathy for the Jewish People

  • Historical Persecution: Gandhi expressed deep sympathy for the Jewish people who had endured historical persecution due to their religion. He likened their mistreatment by Christians to the plight of untouchables in Hinduism.
  • German Persecution: Gandhi went further, describing the German persecution of Jews as unparalleled in history. He voiced concern over Britain’s appeasement policy toward Adolf Hitler and asserted that a war against Germany, if necessary to prevent Jewish persecution, would be justifiable in the name of humanity.

Opposition to a Zionist State in Palestine

  • Violence and Settlement: Gandhi firmly opposed the imposition of Jews on Arabs in Palestine, condemning it as inhumane. He believed that the settlement of Jews, facilitated by Britain, was inherently violent and could not be achieved through force.
  • Need for Arab Goodwill: Gandhi insisted that Jews could only settle in Palestine with the goodwill of the Arab population, without the assistance of British military force.
  • Antithetical to Jewish Rights: He argued that the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine contradicted the Jews’ struggle for rights in other parts of the world. Gandhi questioned whether Jews, who had settled globally, would appreciate being compelled to leave other regions for a singular homeland.

Influence on India’s Foreign Policy

  • Wider Anti-Imperialist Sentiment: Gandhi’s stance on Palestine resonated with leaders across the Arab world and anti-imperialist movements globally. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, promising Jews a homeland in the British Mandate of Palestine, drew criticism.
  • Impact on Nehru: Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, was profoundly influenced by Gandhi’s views. Gandhi’s anti-imperialism and his perspective on the Israel-Palestine issue shaped India’s foreign policy for decades.
  • UN Resolution and Recognition: India voted against UN Resolution 181, which proposed the partition of Palestine between Jews and Arabs. Although India recognized the state of Israel in 1950, it was not until 1992, under Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, that official diplomatic relations were established.

Conclusion

  • Mahatma Gandhi’s complex and empathetic stance on the Israel-Palestine issue reflects his unwavering commitment to non-violence and his deep sympathy for the Jewish people.
  • His opinions on the matter, rooted in anti-imperialism and a profound sense of humanity, played a pivotal role in shaping India’s foreign policy and continue to be subjects of historical significance and debate.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

India’s Evolving Relations with Israel and Palestine

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Israel-Palestine Conflict

Mains level: Read the attached story

israel

Central Idea

  • The recent attack by Hamas (Arab sponsored Jihadist outfit) on Israel has prompted PM Modi to express solidarity with Israel, highlighting the complex nature of India’s relations with both Israel and Palestine.
  • Over the past seven decades, India’s stance on these nations has undergone significant shifts, reflecting its evolving foreign policy priorities and diplomatic considerations.

About Israel-Palestine Conflict

  • Historical Background: The land of contention was under the Ottoman Empire and later the British Empire.
  • Anti-Semitism as Official Policy: Several Islamic countries, including the Arab world, Turkiye and Pakistan, have officially expressed hatred against Jews citing reference to religious scriptures.
  • Denial of Access: Jews, as a micro-minority of the world, have been denied access to their historic homeland.
  • Arab Resistance: Arabs resisted, claiming the land as their own, known as Palestine at the time.
  • Balfour Declaration: In 1917, the United Kingdom expressed support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
  • Violent Resistance: Arab resistance to the declaration led to violence and further tensions.

India’s quest for Balancing Relations

India’s Post-Independence Stance

  • Nehru and Gandhi’s Stand: Post-independence, India was staunchly pro-Palestine as Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi opposed religious exclusivity and supported the Palestinian cause.
  • UN Votes: India voted against the partition of Palestine and Israel’s admission to the UN but recognized Israel in 1950 after Turkey and Iran did so.

Era of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi

  • Support for Palestine: During Indira Gandhi’s rule, India continued its support for the Palestinian struggle, elevating the PLO to the sole legitimate representative of Palestine.
  • Solidarity and Diplomacy: Strong ties were forged with Yasser Arafat, and India hosted the NAM summit in 1983, emphasizing solidarity with Palestine.

Changing Dynamics

  • Critics and Shifts: Critics within India raised concerns about its pro-Arab stance, given Arab countries’ neutrality during India’s wars with China and Pakistan.
  • Indian-Israeli Relations: India recognized Israel in 1992, establishing full diplomatic relations after the end of the Cold War and BJP’s rise to power.
  • Kargil Conflict: During the Kargil conflict in 1999, Israel provided crucial military support, strengthening bilateral ties.

Recent Developments

  • PM Modi’s Approach: Prime Minister Modi’s approach has balanced India’s ties with Israel and Palestine. He visited Israel in 2017, signaling a shift in focus.
  • De-hyphenation: Modi achieved a de-hyphenation of the relationship by separately visiting Palestine in 2018.
  • Wider Regional Engagement: India has deepened ties with Israel and West Asian nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and Iran over the past decade.

Current Dilemma

  • Diplomatic Tight Spot: Recent hostilities in the region have placed India in a diplomatic dilemma. The conflict tests India’s relations with Israel and Palestine against the backdrop of the Abraham Accords and shifting Middle East dynamics.
  • Dividends at Stake: India had hoped to benefit from the newfound peace in the region, given its significant diaspora, connectivity, and energy imports from West Asia.

Conclusion

  • India’s relationship with Israel and Palestine has evolved significantly since independence, influenced by domestic politics, global shifts, and regional considerations.
  • While India continues to support the Palestinian cause, it has also strengthened its strategic ties with Israel.
  • The recent escalation in hostilities in the region poses challenges for India’s diplomatic balancing act and its aspirations in the Middle East.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Israel-Hamas War

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Israel-Palestine crisis, Impact on the region, India's relations and its Impact

Israel

What’s the news?

  • The recent escalation of violence between Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group, and Israel has resulted in a significant loss of life and raised concerns internationally. At the heart of this conflict is Operation Al-Aqsa Deluge, initiated by Hamas, which has led to a series of events with far-reaching implications for the region.

Central idea

  • The recent Hamas operation, Toofan Al-Aqsa (Al-Aqsa Flood), bears uncanny similarities to the launch of the 19-day Yom Kippur War that occurred 50 years ago. While the Yom Kippur War had inconclusive results, it led to a significant regional shift, ultimately resulting in Israel’s acceptance of the ‘land for peace’ formula at the Camp David Accords six years later.

Quick recap: Understand the conflict

  • Muhammad Deif’s Statement: Muhammad Deif, the military commander of Hamas, delivered a recorded message, characterizing the operation as a moment for people to regain their revolution.
  • The Significance of Al-Aqsa Mosque: Central to this conflict is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam after Mecca and Medina. Situated on a hill known as Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims, the mosque is located in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City. It houses two important Muslim holy sites: the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque (also known as the Qibli Mosque), dating back to the 8th century AD.
  • Historical Context: The Al-Aqsa Mosque complex overlooks the Western Wall, a sacred site for Jews believed to have been constructed 3,000 years ago by King Solomon.
  • Capture by Israel: In 1967, during the Middle East War, Israel captured the site and later annexed it, actions not recognized internationally.
  • Triggering Tensions: The Al-Aqsa Mosque has been a long-standing focal point of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, leading to clashes and conflicts.
  • 2021 Conflict: Recent clashes in 2021 resulted in a 10-day-long war, leading to casualties on both sides.
  • April Clashes: In April of the same year, Israeli police clashed with Palestinians at the site, sparking cross-border exchanges of fire.
  • International Concern: The ongoing violence, particularly centered around Al-Aqsa Mosque, has raised international concerns and has broader implications for regional stability.

Hold On! Don’t scroll past this

An overview of major flare-ups and significant events (2005 to October 2023)

  • August 2005: Israel unilaterally withdraws from the Gaza Strip, leaving it under Palestinian Authority control.
  • January 25, 2006: Hamas wins a majority of seats in Palestinian legislative elections, leading to a cutoff of aid by Israel and the U.S. due to Hamas’s refusal to renounce violence and recognize Israel.
  • June 25, 2006: Hamas militants capture Israeli army conscript Gilad Shalit, leading to Israeli air strikes and incursions. Shalit is released more than five years later in a prisoner exchange.
  • June 14, 2007: Hamas takes over Gaza in a brief civil war, ousting Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
  • December 27, 2008: Israel launches a 22-day military offensive in Gaza in response to rocket attacks. A ceasefire is eventually agreed upon after casualties on both sides.
  • November 14, 2012: Israel kills Hamas’s military chief of staff, Ahmad Jabari, leading to eight days of conflict involving Palestinian militant rocket fire and Israeli air strikes.
  • July-August 2014: The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas lead to a seven-week war, resulting in casualties in both Gaza and Israel.
  • March 2018: Palestinian protests begin at Gaza’s border with Israel, leading to clashes and casualties.
  • May 2021: Tension during Ramadan leads to clashes at the Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem. Hamas launches rocket attacks from Gaza, and Israel responds with airstrikes, resulting in an 11-day conflict.
  • August 2022: Israeli airstrikes target an Islamic Jihad commander, leading to rocket attacks from Islamic Jihad in Gaza and a limited escalation.
  • January 2023: Islamic Jihad fires rockets into Israel in response to Israeli actions in a refugee camp.
  • October 2023: Hamas launches a major attack on Israel from Gaza, combining a border crossing with rocket barrages. Islamic Jihad joins the attack.

Potential Outcomes of the Ongoing Conflict

  • Israel’s Military Superiority: Israel is not under an existential threat from Hamas, and the outcome of the conflict is expected to favor Israel. A massive ground incursion into Gaza may follow to restore morale, re-establish strategic dominance, and rescue captives.
  • Reevaluation of Israeli Strategies: The conflict’s experiences, including intelligence failures and overreliance on high-tech missile defense and artificial intelligence, may compel Israel to revise its strategic doctrines.
  • Impact on Non-State Arab Militias: Depending on the conflict’s endgame, it could potentially boost the standing of non-state Arab militias such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and others in the region.
  • Geographic Confinement: The crisis is likely to remain geographically confined to Gaza and its immediate surroundings, due to limited support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the region.
  • The Palestinian Authority’s Dilemma: The Palestinian Authority is divided between the West Bank and Gaza, with Fatah losing credibility. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are capitalizing on this to establish their presence in the West Bank.
  • Regional Non-Support for Hamas: Regionally, there is little support for Hamas, except for Turkey. Egypt, in particular, does not favor Hamas, given its past ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Gulf monarchies, except Qatar, strongly disapprove of Hamas.
  • Iran’s Involvement: Iran has been a mentor to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and has attempted to supply weapons to Gaza. Iran’s involvement could escalate the crisis further.

Impact on the Region

  • Risk of Delay in Regional Diplomacy: The crisis may delay regional diplomatic efforts, including the potential rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, due to Israel’s reluctance to make concessions sought by Riyadh.
  • Repercussions for the Abraham Accords: The Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and some Arab states, could face challenges due to the ongoing conflict.
  • Potential Iranian Gains: Iran may feel emboldened by the conflict, potentially affecting regional dynamics and tensions.

Impact on India

  • While India is not directly affected, it could feel some indirect effects, such as an oil price rise, impacts on the Indian diaspora, and potential setbacks for regional economic initiatives.
  • However, India’s reputation as a stable and fast-growing economy may be enhanced in this context.

Conclusion

  • The Toofan Al-Aqsa crisis has regional implications that could alter the dynamics in the Middle East. As the situation evolves, it remains essential for stakeholders, including India, to monitor developments closely and prepare for potential repercussions while seeking avenues for diplomatic engagement and stability in the region.

Must read:

India’s Evolving Relations with Israel and Palestine

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Azerbaijan launches crackdown against Armenia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict

Mains level: NA

armenia_azerbaijan

Central Idea

  • Azerbaijan announced the continuation of military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh for the second consecutive day, describing it as “anti-terror” operations.
  • The government asserts that these operations will persist until ethnic-Armenian separatists’ surrender.

Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict

  • Persistent Tensions: The South Caucasus region has experienced prolonged tensions over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
  • Lachin Corridor Blockade: Over the past nine months, Azerbaijan has effectively imposed a blockade on the Lachin Corridor, the sole route from Armenia into Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh: The Epicenter

  • Historical Conflict: Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
  • Ceasefire in 1994: A ceasefire was established in 1994 after significant casualties and displacement occurred.
  • Frequent Accusations: Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.

Economic Implications of Conflict

  • Global Diplomacy: The clashes have spurred diplomatic efforts to prevent a new outbreak of a long-standing conflict between Christian-majority Armenia and mainly Muslim Azerbaijan.
  • Energy Pipelines: Pipelines transporting Caspian oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan to global markets pass near Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Regional Instability: The conflict raises concerns about instability in the South Caucasus, a vital corridor for pipelines facilitating the transport of oil and gas to international markets.

India’s Role: Interests and Challenges

  • Asymmetric Relations: India maintains a friendship and cooperation treaty with Armenia (signed in 1995), which restricts India from providing military or any other assistance to Azerbaijan.
  • Investments in Azerbaijan: Indian companies, such as ONGC/OVL and GAIL, have made investments in oilfield projects and LNG exploration in Azerbaijan.
  • Connectivity Potential: Azerbaijan lies on the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), linking India to Russia via Central Asia. It also offers connectivity to Turkey through the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars rail link.
  • Kashmir Dynamics: While Armenia unequivocally supports India’s stance on the Kashmir issue, Azerbaijan opposes it and aligns with Pakistan’s narrative.
  • India’s South Caucasus Policy: India lacks a publicly articulated policy for the South Caucasus, and the region remains on the periphery of its foreign policy focus.

Balancing Act for India

  • Conflict of Principles: The conflict centers on two international principles: territorial integrity, advocated by Azerbaijan, and the right to self-determination, supported by Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
  • India’s Dilemma: India faces a dilemma as it cannot openly endorse Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, considering Azerbaijan’s disregard for India’s territorial integrity in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Avoiding Misuse: However, India must be cautious not to publicly support Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to self-determination, as it could have implications for India’s territorial integrity and be exploited by adversaries like Pakistan.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Armenia and Azerbaijan Conflict

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nagorno-Karabakh region

Mains level: Usual crisis in the middle east and caucasus region

Central Idea

  • Three Armenian soldiers have been killed in firing from Azerbaijan as tensions between the two countries persist.

Consider this PYQ:

Q.The area is known as ‘Golan Heights’ sometimes appears in the news in the context of the events related to: (CSP 2015)

a) Central Asia
b) Middle East
c) South-East Asia
d) Central Africa

Post your answers here.
4
Please leave a feedback on thisx

What is the dispute?

  • Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians, declared martial law and mobilized their male populations.
  • Armenia said Azerbaijan had carried out an air and artillery attack on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Epicentre: The Nagorno-Karabakh region

  • Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
  • A ceasefire was agreed in 1994 after thousands of people were killed and many more displaced.
  • Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.

Economics behind the clashes

  • The clashes prompted a flurry of diplomacy to prevent a new flare-up of a decades-old conflict between majority Christian Armenia and mainly Muslim Azerbaijan.
  • Pipelines shipping Caspian oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan to the world pass close to Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • The clashes have raised concerns about instability in the South Caucasus, a corridor for pipelines transporting oil and gas to world markets.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Israel Judicial Reform Explained: What is the crisis about?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Constitutional crisis in Israel

israel

Central Idea

  • On July 24, the governing coalition in Israel’s Parliament (Knesset) passed a critical part of its judicial overhaul plan, aimed at curbing the Supreme Court’s oversight powers over government decisions.
  • This has sparked months of protests against the right-religious government’s plans to transform the judiciary.

Judiciary Overhaul: The Crisis Trigger

  • Abolishing the “Reasonability Doctrine”: The Knesset legislation abolishes the “reasonable doctrine” used by the Supreme Court to assess government decisions and ministerial appointments. This doctrine allowed the court to determine the sensibility and fairness of government decisions and nullify them if deemed necessary.
  • Reasonability Doctrine in Other Countries: The reasonability standard is a legal standard used in several countries, including Australia, Canada, and the U.K., by top courts to evaluate government decisions.
  • Criticism and Justification: Supporters of the government argue that the reasonability standard is too abstract and prone to judicial overreach, justifying its removal. They claim that this change will prevent courts from interfering in executive decisions.

Other Proposals in the Overhaul Plan

  • Curbing Judicial Review: The original overhaul plan included proposals to limit judicial review over legislation and empower Parliament to override court decisions with a majority vote of 61 out of 120.
  • Greater Control of Judicial Appointments: The government seeks to replace members of the Bar Association in the nine-member panel responsible for selecting judges with “public representatives” chosen by the government. This change would give the government a majority vote in the committee and more control over judicial appointments.
  • Ministers’ Autonomy from Legal Advisers: Another proposal seeks to remove the legal obligation for Ministers to follow the advice given by their legal advisers, including the Attorney-General’s guidance.

Motivation behind the Overhaul

  • Right-Wing Government’s Agenda: Israel’s current government, composed of right-wing, ultra-Orthodox, and extreme-right parties, aims to strengthen its control over the judiciary. The right-wing leaders have criticized the judiciary for impeding their legislative agenda and settlement expansion in Palestinian territories.
  • Shift in Israel’s Polity: Over the years, Israel’s polity has shifted rightward, while the judiciary remained relatively independent. The right-wing has long advocated for bringing the courts under the Parliament’s ambit.
  • Influence of Think Tank: The Kohelet Policy Forum, a think tank backed by American and Israeli billionaires, has played a significant role in formulating the judicial reforms. Kohelet seeks to advance right-wing policy reforms in Israel and has pushed for the overhaul of the judiciary.

Protests and Concerns

  • Undermining Democracy: Critics, including the Opposition and civil society, argue that the government’s actions are an attempt to undermine Israel’s democracy. They fear that concentrating power within the government, controlled by right-wing and religious parties, could lead to an authoritarian theocracy.
  • Tensions between Liberal and Orthodox Jews: Protests have spread to different groups, including military reservists, amid concerns that religious parties may undermine the courts and empower religious sections.
  • Supreme Court Review: Civil society groups have filed petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the legislation on the reasonability doctrine. The court, facing a constitutional showdown, will review the challenges, even though the law curtails its own powers.

Conclusion

  • The passage of the judicial overhaul plan in Israel’s Knesset has significant implications for the country’s governance and democratic fabric.
  • The concentration of power within the government and curtailing the Supreme Court’s oversight powers has raised concerns about checks and balances.
  • Civil society’s petitions and the Supreme Court’s subsequent decisions will be crucial in determining the future course of Israel’s judiciary and its democratic institutions.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Israel targets West Bank

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: West Bank, Gaza

Mains level: Israel-Palestine Issue

west bank

Central Idea

  • Israel conducted a military operation in the occupied West Bank, resembling past large-scale operations.
  • This strike has resulted in casualties among Palestinians.

West Bank and Its Significance

  • The West Bank: A landlocked territory in Western Asia, forming the main part of the Palestinian territories.
  • Geographical Borders: Bordered by Jordan, the Dead Sea, Israel (south, west, and north), and the Mediterranean coast.
  • Anti-Semitism as Official Policy: Several theocratic countries, including the Arab world, the self-proclaimed caliphate ‘Turkiye,’ and even Pakistan, have officially expressed hatred against Jews.
  • Denial of Access: Jews, as a micro-minority of the world, have been denied access to their homeland.

Understanding Israel-Palestine Conflict

  • Historical Background: The land of contention was under the Ottoman Empire and later the British Empire.
  • Palestinian Aspirations: Palestinians, Arab people from the area, seek a state named Palestine in the region.
  • Conflict over Land and Control: Dispute over territorial ownership and governance between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • Jewish Aspiration for Homeland: Jews fleeing persecution in Europe sought to establish a Jewish state on what they believed to be their ancient homeland.
  • Arab Resistance: Arabs resisted, claiming the land as their own, known as Palestine at the time.
  • Balfour Declaration: In 1917, the United Kingdom expressed support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
  • Violent Resistance: Arab resistance to the declaration led to violence and further tensions.

Jewish Immigration to West Bank

  • Migration Statistics: Thousands of Jews migrated to Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Arab Opposition: Palestinian Arabs demanded the UK to halt Jewish emigration, leading to violent incidents.
  • The British Mandate for Palestine: Issued in 1923 by the League of Nations, giving the UK the responsibility to create a Jewish national homeland.
  • Partition Proposal: In 1936, the UK recommended the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

Escalation of the Conflict

  • Involvement of the UN: In 1947, the issue of Palestine was referred to the UN, resulting in a partition plan.
  • Peace Proposals: The UN suggested two separate states with economic cooperation or a single bi-national state with autonomous Jewish and Palestinian areas.
  • Arab Invasion and Israeli Independence: In 1948, Israel declared independence, leading to immediate invasions by Arab countries.
  • Territory Changes: Israel gained some territory designated for Palestinian Arabs under the UN resolution, including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Resolving the Conflict: Two-State Solution

  • Idea: The two-state solution aims to establish Israeli and Palestinian states coexisting in the region.
  • Elusiveness of the Solution: Over the decades, the two-state solution has not been realized.
  • Importance: Establishing separate states for Israelis and Palestinians addresses the root cause of the conflict.

Challenges to the Two-State Solution

(1) Borders:

  • Drawing the Lines: No consensus exists on how to define the borders.
  • Pre-1967 Lines: Some argue for using the borders before the Israeli-Arab war in 1967.
  • Israeli Settlements: The presence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank complicates the border issue.

(2) Question of Jerusalem:

  • Capital Claims: Both Israel and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.
  • Complex Division: Dividing Jerusalem into Israeli and Palestinian sectors proves challenging due to the overlapping of holy sites.

(3) Refugee Issue:

  • Palestinian Refugees: Large numbers of Palestinians became refugees during the 1948 War.
  • Right of Return: Palestinians and their descendants, numbering around 5 million, demand the right to return, which Israel rejects.

(4) Security Concerns:

  • Harassment by Hamas: Israel faces security threats from Hamas, a terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip.
  • Palestinian Attacks: Palestinians also face security concerns, seeking an end to foreign military occupation.

Importance of the Two-State Solution

  • Fulfilling Aspirations: The two-state solution provides both Jews and Arabs with their respective states.
  • Alternative Limitations: Other solutions, such as a single state, would lead to a minority status for Jews or an unhappy Arab majority.

Moral Reasoning for a Two-State Solution

  • Balancing Aspirations: Advocates argue against subordinating one group’s aspirations to another’s vision.
  • Jewish Minority: A single state would diminish Jews to a minority, potentially compromising their aspirations.

Way Forward

  • India’s Perspective: India believes that a negotiated two-state solution is essential for long-term peace in Israel and Palestine.
  • Establishment of a Palestinian State: India supports the establishment of a sovereign, independent, and viable State of Palestine within recognized borders.

Conclusion

  • Understanding the Israel-Palestine conflict and the significance of a two-state solution is crucial for achieving lasting peace in the region.
  • By addressing the challenges and considering the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, a negotiated settlement can lead to a sovereign and independent Palestine living alongside Israel.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Operation Kaveri to evacuate stranded citizens from Sudan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Op Kaveri

Mains level: Not Much

kaveri

India has launched “Operation Kaveri” to evacuate its citizens from war-torn Sudan.

What is Operation Kaveri?

  • It is the recent series of evacuations held by India over the last few years to rescue its nationals in crisis-hit countries. India rescued its nationals last year from war-hit Ukraine and Afghanistan.
  • The operation was launched in response to the conflict and breakdown of essential services in Sudan that had brought the country to a standstill.
  • India has positioned two transport aircraft of the IAF in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah and a naval ship at a key port in Sudan as part of its contingency plans to evacuate its stranded nationals.

Behind the name ‘Kaveri’

  • The choice of naming this operation as ‘Operation Kaveri’ has a lot of significance.
  • Kaveri is one of the major Indian rivers flowing through the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • The river is sacred to the people of the region and is worshipped as the Goddess Kaveriamma (mother Kaveri).
  • Rivers reach their destination irrespective of barriers. It’s like a mother who will ensure she will bring her children back to safety.

About Sudan

kaveri sudan

  • Sudan is a country located in North Africa, bordered by Egypt to the north, Libya to the northwest, Chad to the west, the Central African Republic to the southwest, South Sudan to the south, Ethiopia to the southeast, and Eritrea to the east.
  • It is the third-largest country in Africa and has a diverse population of around 43 million people.
  • According to the World Bank, around 46% of the population lives below the poverty line, and many Sudanese people struggle to access basic services such as healthcare, education, and clean water.

What is the crisis all about?

  • Sudan is facing a crisis due to fighting between two rival military factions.
  • The conflict involves the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
  • The fighting began in April 2022 after tensions rose following the coup that saw the two factions topple a civilian government in October 2021.
  • The conflict began when an internationally-backed plan to launch a new transition with civilian parties was floated.
  • Under the plan, both the army and the RSF had to cede power, but two issues were contentious: the formal placing of the army under civilian oversight and the timetable for the RSF to be integrated into the regular armed forces.

Global Implications of the Conflict

  • The volatile region, which borders the Red Sea, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa, could be destabilized if the fighting continues.
  • The conflict in Sudan has the potential to cause a refugee crisis, with people fleeing the country to escape the violence and instability.

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your personal mentor for UPSC 2024 | Schedule your FREE session and get Prelims prep Toolkit!

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

The Crisis In The Middle East

Israel-Palestinian violence on West Bank soars

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: West Bank, Gaza

Mains level: Israel-Palestine Issue

west bank

US has urged Israel and the Palestinians to ease tensions amid a spike in violence that has put the West Bank region on edge.

Where is West Bank?

  • The West Bank is a landlocked territory near the coast of the Mediterranean in Western Asia that forms the main bulk of the Palestinian territories.
  • It is bordered by Jordan and the Dead Sea to the east and by Israel to the south, west, and north.

Point of discussion: Anti-Semitism

  • Anti-Semitism (hatred against Jews) is an officially stated policy of many theocratic countries (created by divine orders of religion).
  • This includes entire Arab world, the self-proclaimed caliphate ‘Turkiye’ and even Pakistan.
  • Jews, the micro-minority religion of the world were denied access to their homeland.

What is the Israel-Palestine Conflict?

  • The land to which Jews and Palestinians lay claim to was under the Ottoman Empire and then the British Empire in early 20th century.
  • Palestinian people —the Arab people from the same area— want to have a state by the name of Palestine in that area.
  • The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is over who gets what land and how it’s controlled.
  • Jews fleeing the persecution in Europe at the time wanted to establish a Jewish state on the land which they believe to be their ancient homeland.
  • The Arab at the time resisted, saying the land was theirs. The land at the time was called Palestine.
  • In 1917’s Balfour Declaration, the United Kingdom declared its support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.
  • Arabs resisted it which led to violence.

Jews into West Bank: Arab hinterland in Israel

  • Some 75,000 Jews migrated to Palestine from 1922-26 and some 60,000 Jews emigrated in 1935, according to a history published by the University of Central Arkansas.
  • It adds that Palestinian Arabs demanded the UK to halt Jewish emigration, but the UK ignored such calls. There were violent incidents, leading to deaths of some 500 people.
  • In 1923, the British Mandate for Palestine came into effect.
  • The document was issued by the League of Nations, the failed predecessor of the United Nations (UN).
  • The mandate gave the UK the responsibility for creating a Jewish national homeland in the region.
  • In 1936, the UK government recommended the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

How did the issue escalate?

  • In 1947, Britain referred the issue of Palestine to the UN, which came up with a partition plan.
  • It put up two proposals. One, two separate states joined economically —the majority proposal— and, two, a single bi-national state made up of autonomous Jewish and Palestinian areas, the minority proposal.
  • The Jewish community approved of the first of these proposals, while the Arabs opposed them both.

Israel’s independence

  • In May 1948, Israel declared its independence. This was eye-pricking development for Arabs.
  • The Arab countries of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt invaded the newly-declared country immediately.
  • When the war ended, Israel gained some territory formerly granted to Palestinian Arabs under the UN resolution in 1947.
  • It also retained control over the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively.

Resolving the conflict

Ans. Two-state solution

  • The two-state solution refers to an arrangement where Israeli and Palestinian states co-exist in the region.
  • However, such a solution has not materialised over the decades.
  • As outlined in the beginning and in the briefly explained roots of the conflict, the two-state solution means two separate states for Israelis and Palestinians.

Why it hasn’t worked out?

There are four main reasons why the two-state solution has not materialized by now:

[1] Borders

  • There is no consensus as to how to draw the lines dividing the two proposed states.
  • Many people say borders should have pre-1967 lines.
  • In 1967 Israeli-Arab war, Israel captured Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem, and Golan Heights.
  • Israel is not willing to give up these gains. It returned Sinai to Egypt in 1982.
  • Moreover, there is the question of Israeli settlements in West Bank.

[2] Question of Jerusalem

  • Both Israel and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and call it central to their religion and culture.
  • The two-state solution typically calls for dividing it into an Israeli West and a Palestinian East, but it is not easy to draw the line — Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites are on top of one another.
  • Israel has declared Jerusalem its ‘undivided capital’, effectively annexing its eastern half, and has built up construction that entrenches Israeli control of the city.

[3] Refugees

  • A large number of Palestinians had to flee in the 1948 War.
  • They and their descendants —numbering at 5 million— demand a right to return. Israel rejects this.
  • The return of these people would end the demographic majority of Jews, ending the idea of Israel that’s both democratic and Jewish.

[4] Security

  • Security concerns are also central to Israel as it’s constantly harassed by terrorist group Hamas that controls Gaza Strip.
  • Hamas and other Islamist group in Gaza launch rockets into Israel time-to-time.
  • Moreover, there are also concerns of Palestinians’ attack inside Israel.
  • This year in March-April, at least 18 Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks inside Israel.
  • A total of 27 Palestinians were also killed in the period, including those who carried out attacks inside Israel. Palestinians too have their concerns.
  • For Palestinians, security means an end to foreign military occupation.

Why the two-state solution is needed?

  • Besides fulfilling the basic desire of both Jews and Arabs of their own states, supporters of two-state solutions say it must be backed because its alternatives are simply not workable.
  • A single state merging Israel, West Bank, and Gaza would reduce Jews to a minority.
  • At the same time, in such a state, Jews would be a significant minority which would mean that the Arab majority would be miffed.

Moral reasoning for a two-state solution

  • It says that the aspirations of one person should not be overridden for others’ aspirations.
  • It’s a struggle for collective rights between two distinct groups of people.
  • Jews are the global micro-minority with a very small piece of land to exist.
  • Depriving Israeli Jews of a Jewish state or Palestinians of a Palestinian state would represent a subordination of one group’s aspirations to someone else’s vision.

Way forward

  • India opines that long-term peace in Israel and Palestine can be achieved only through a negotiated two-State solution leading.
  • This can be done with the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders.

 

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now