The ongoing protests against undemocratic regimes in West Asia and North Africa have sent shockwaves throughout the region. This Brief analyses the protests in the Arab world and their implications for the region and India.
Continuing conflict, competition and rivalry have been a regular phenomenon in the Gulf region over the past few decades. Among other reasons, the troubled relationship between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Iran has been one of the major factors responsible for the present state of affairs in the region. The relationship has been marked by sectarian and ideological differences, clash of interests over the presence of the US in the region, concerns over the Iranian nuclear programme and territorial disputes between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The events in Tunisia and Egypt have raised hopes among the people and, on the other hand alarmed the undemocratic and authoritarian Arab rulers. Time has arrived for the rulers to take note of the aspirations of the people.
The Gulf region is important for India because of increased cooperation in the fields of trade, business, politics and security. The "Look West Policy" intends to further deepen India's engagement with its "extended neighbourhood."
Most of the countries in West Asia have expressed an interest in developing nuclear energy. For them their growing demand of electricity owing to the increasing population, growing industries, their eternal reliance on the desalinated water and environmental protection are the major drivers of their decision to produce nuclear energy. Importantly, they would like to use nuclear energy for domestic consumption and supply oil and gas to earn more revenues.
President Barack Obama’s announcement that the “American combat role in Iraq has ended” has created fresh challenges for the region. Iraq needs to meet the daunting internal and external challenges in the wake of the American withdrawal to ensure stability.