Indian PM Modi’s proposed visit to Mideast: India’s West Asian policy!

Indian PM Modi’s proposed visit to Mideast: India’s West Asian policy!

Indian PM Modi’s proposed visit to Mideast: India’s West Asian policy!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff


Upon visiting many countries in different regions, Indian PM Narendra Modi plans a first ever visit to Islamic world starting with oil rich Middle East. Modi is likely to visit Abu Dhabi  and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in August marking the first trip by an Indian prime minister to the country after Indira Gandhi.

It was earlier learnt that Modi is likely to visit the UAE on August 16 and 17, making him the first Indian prime minister to visit the country in 34 years. The last visit by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was in 1981.

However, a twist has been mad en his itinerary,. Modi will kick off his visit in Abu Dhabi and address the Indian community the next day in Dubai. An official announcement confirming the visit’s details is expected within days from New Delhi.

According to reports, the Prime Minister is also expected to attend a public reception hosted by members of Indian community, promoting cricket in Arab world, at Dubai Cricket Stadium on August 17. Modi’s trip will be significant in the backdrop of current political churning in West Asia.

The large Indian community which has tremendous influence in Arab world over years of  their employment  in Mideast , is planning a grand reception for Prime Minister  Modi who is set to visit the UAE later this month in the first trip by an Indian premier to the country in 34 years.

According to a statement released here, the Indian Community Welfare Community (ICWC) is organizing a public reception at the Dubai Cricket Stadium. “An organizing committee has been formed to make this a grand success. Transport arrangements are being made to make this a grand success,” ICWC said in the statement.

Historically India had close relations with Arab world. India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru was a friend of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and they both partnered in setting up of Non Aligned movement (NAM). India also strongly supported Palestine Liberation organization (PLO) and was almost antipathetic towards Israel. However, India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992, breaking its trust with Arab nations. Today, India, occupying Kashmir for years, supports Israel and its occupational crimes against its traditional pro-Palestine stance .India has maritime security arrangement in place with Oman and Qatar. India has signed a defense pact with Qatar stating protection of the country from “external threats”.

India and Israel were born within months of each other. While the former became an independent state on August 15, 1947, the latter was imposed in Mideast by UK and USA on May 14, 1948.

Many global statesmen including Mahatma Gandhi was opposed to the very idea of Israel being brought into Mideast to destroy peace in West Asia.

Earlier, India remained officially cold to the Jewish state. In May 1949, it even voted in vain against the admission of Israel into the UN. In early 1950, after recognising the state of Israel, a visibly reluctant New Delhi allowed it to set up an “immigration office” in the port city of Mumbai. This eventually morphed into a “trade office” and then into a consulate and in 1992  the two nations formally opened their respective embassies in Tel Aviv and New Delhi. Indian hidden ties with Israel have grown open as they now  collaborate on several military and intelligence matters.

India’s heavily pro-Arab foreign policy in after its independence is gradually vanishing. BJP and RSS now seek “greater” solid military ties with Zionist regime which is sworn to kill Palestinians and destroy Palestine in order to create greater Israel with US backing.

Indian foreign policy towards Middle East and West Asia in general is beginning to toe towards US foreign policy. As an “aspiring” superpower, India’s acts are under greater scrutiny.

 India’s strategy of “middle path” has greatly benefited it. But in an increasingly polarizing world, India risks “cooler” relations with Arab nations as it grows closer towards US and Israel. India’s Middle East policy is a delicate dance between securing energy supplies and extending economic links. This balancing act is necessitated by its need to establish close defense ties with Israel to counter Pakistan and “terrorism” and yet depend on Iraq and Saudi Arabia for oil.

India is walking on a tightrope with Iran. India has supported US sanction against Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time, India continues to remain one of the biggest oil importers from Iran. India has promised to reduce its oil imports from Iran. Predictably, India-Iran relations are turning sour.

India has previously suffered setbacks from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait on the issue of Kashmir. Solution to Kashmir conflict is necessary to further improve India’s relations with Middle-Eastern countries sympathetic with Pakistan’s claim.

As much as 70 percent of India’s oil imports come from the Middle East and North Africa. A large portion of our exports and imports pass through the Suez Canal. In recent years, a large number of Indian companies have set up businesses there.

As many as five million Indians live in the region where PM Modi is now casting his trade eyes.

Indians in the United Arab Emirates constitute the largest part of population of the country. Over a million Indian migrants (mostly from the southern state Kerala) are estimated to be living in the UAE, Indians form over 30% of the total population of the UAE. A majority of Indians live in the three largest cities of the UAE — Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. Indian contact with the emirates that now constitute the UAE dates back several centuries, as a result of trade and commerce between the emirates and India.

Relations between India and the UAE have traditionally been friendly, though recent incidents relating to the treatment of the Indian migrant labor force by companies in the UAE have been the source of friction and outrage in India.

More recently, the UAE has experienced a tremendous increase in the population of Indians who, having migrated to the country as a result of opportunities in petroleum, construction and other industries, far outnumbering the population of local Emiratis. While most Indian migrants support the manufacturing and transport industries, a sizable minority of migrants are involved in professional services and entrepreneurship.


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