India an Important Partner for Gulf in Forging Security Partnerships

February 14, 2013

The second day of the 15th Asian Security Conference organised at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) witnessed an intense debate on the West Asian countries, highlighting the ‘Decline of the West and the rise of the Rest’.

It was discussed during the conference that the Arab Spring was the result of a lack of modernisation among the West Asian nations and they now need to embrace the same to move into the 21 century. Arab states like Turkey and Iran, who have dealt better with the challenges of modernisation have flourished.

Speaking at the session on ‘West Asia’s Security Dynamics-II: Role of Regional Powers’, Israeli scholar, Prof. Efraim Inbar of Israel said that the power differential between Israel and its neighbours is growing. There is a perceived decline of the US in the region, but it still exists. The new agenda, according to Prof Inbar, is Iran and it may be time for Israel to consider difficult actions. The Israeli isolation is growing and there may be several strategic surprises to be experienced, he asserted. He acknowledged that regional isolation of Israel was growing and that US could not be relied upon as a long term reliable ally.

The role of the new Egyptian elites in power is crucial in the regional stability although they may have miscalculated certain moves regarding the neighbouring countries. The Mediterranean has become ‘an Islamic Lake’ and Israel is keenly monitoring over the developments, concluded Prof Inbar.

Prof Mohammad Hassan Khani of Iran said that though the current situation in West Asia is full of turmoil, chaos and uncertainty, it will pave way to a more stabilised and integrated region in the longer run. The region would be less dependent on foreign powers and there will be an increase in the role of soft power, he insisted.

Speaking further Prof Khani predicted that the Islamists will gain and rise as substantial ruling force in the region. He said that there was a need for recognising, acknowledging and respecting the Islamic nature of the societies in the region, which has for long been forgotten. The people demand for freedom, democracy and the end of puppet regimes need to be recognised, he stated.

Prof Serhat Güvenç of Turkey said though his country has been transforming from a ‘Security state’ to a ‘Trading state’ since 1990s, it now is trying to balance between the two ends.

Dr. Adel Soliman of Egypt threw light on the Egyptian perspective as he dubbed cooperation between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the European Union (EU) and the US as vital for taking forward the Middle East Peace Process. The Israeli-Palestine issue must be resolved for any stability in the region and Egypt and India may play a leading role in this regard, he suggested and added that stability of Iraq is essential to peace in the Arabian Gulf region.

Later, during the session on India and Gulf region, the panellists comprising Ambassador Ishrat Aziz; Prof Girijesh Pant - Dean, School of International Studies, Jawahar Lal Nehru University; Ms Shebonti Ray Dadwal - Research Fellow, IDSA; Dr Sami Alfaraj - President Kuwait Centre for Strategic Studies and Dr Abdulkhaleq Abdulla of University of UAE, highlighted the mutual importance of both - India and Gulf - for each other, evolving much beyond merely ‘Trade in oil’.

The Gulf recognises the importance of India not only as an important trade partner but as an emerging partner in forging security partnerships, the panel concluded.

The three day conference has participants from most West Asian countries, as well as the US, UK, Australia, etc.