India Spells out A Multi-Pronged Approach Towards West Asia

September 11, 2014

New Delhi: The two-day West Asia Conference on ‘Geopolitical Shifts in West Asia: Trends and Implications’ concluded here today with the panellists clearly putting forth India’s stand on West Asia that while it will continue to cooperate on common issues like terrorism, piracy, narcotics, trafficking and joint-multinational exercises, India does not wish to create parallel mechanisms or circumstances that affect its bilateral ties with countries in the region. The conference was organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on September 10-11, 2014.

‘Old order neutrality’ practised by India in no way suggests reluctance to take decisions or absence of leadership on the part of India, insisted the panellists on the concluding day. While India is not in the business of selling democracy, it is willing to assist nations in West Asia in building and strengthening their democratic institutions, if requested, reflected the panellists. Regional problems require regional solutions, they contended.

India will however, continue to work towards greater economic cooperation with West Asia with a more streamlined business approach and work towards strengthening defence and security cooperation with West Asia. A complex situation as in West Asia requires a ‘Multi-Thronged approach’ for policy formulation, reflected the experts.

Discussing the impact of regional instability on energy security, the panellists stated that energy has been central to the geopolitics of West Asia. However, with new sources of energy in Africa, South America and Central Asia, the energy geopolitics of the region could undergo major changes. Panellists also suggested for a ‘larger Asian Cooperation’ in developing a cooperative energy strategy for Asia.

Earlier, insisting that lack of robust institutions is a fundamental problem in the region, the experts advocated for new security architecture in the region. Speaking on the effectiveness of GCC in West Asia, the panellists urged for setting up a cooperative and inclusive security architecture in the region, focussing on CBMs, collective response systems, and a common minimum programme. The GCC has been ineffective in providing regional stability in the region for over a decade now, primarily because the body looks up to the US to mitigate regional security threats, it was stated.

Confronted with the dark side of globalization, it is difficult to tell where West Asia stands with regard to the process of nation building, reflected the panellists, while insisting on the need for an inclusive international coalition to deal with the current situation in West Asia. The role of external players and the primary role played by the US were deliberated in detail. Panellists argued that overdependence on external interventions for regional problems held long term perils for the region.

Delving into the growing threat by ISIS and other terrorist outfits in the region, the experts, agreed that that the ISIS terror in West Asia is a combination of nationalism and Jihadi ideology. The conflict is a mix of state and non-state ideology and no single state can solve it, insisted the panellists. The current order of the region is being challenged by trans national movements like al Qaeda and ISIS.

The conference was attended by scholars from India, West Asia, North Africa, Europe and The US. It deliberated upon the geo-political, security, economic and strategic issues unfolding in the West Asian region and discussed in greater details, the evolving trends and its implications for regional peace and stability in West Asia.