FOR I2U2 TO BE CALLED AS THE WEST ASIAN QUAD, IT WILL TAKE SOME TIME

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CONTEXT:

The virtual summit-level I2U2 meeting between the leaders of Israel, India, UAE, and the US took place just nine months after the grouping was launched by the foreign ministers of all four countries in Israel.

BACKGROUND:

–India’s foreign office seems to have shed its earlier wariness about the US’s role in West Asia and the US’s confrontational relations with Iran.

–The Abraham Accords of 2020, under which the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, now have formal ties with Israel has altered the diplomatic calculus in West Asia.

–India, for a long time had viewed West Asia from the Pakistan angle. New Delhi had been wary of ties with the nations close to Islamabad. This is now changing.

FUTURE COLLABORATIONS OF I2U2:

–The first project of I2U2 relates to the food corridor. Under this project, the UAE intends to invest roughly US$ 2 billion to develop a series of Integrated Food corridors across India, which would deploy climate-smart technologies to reduce food wastage and spoilage, conserve fresh water at the same time, and also employ renewable energy sources.

–Crude Oil, strategic ports and straits, untapped mineral wealth, and rare earth elements, there are areas where India can gain a lot.

–Other areas are health, transportation, water management, and space.

COMPARISON WITH QUAD:

–The I2U2 has made a modest beginning, with cooperation on climate change and agriculture.

–The QUAD, too, began with cooperation on disaster relief after the 2004 tsunami — it now has a significant strategic dimension.

–The US and India would like the grouping to counter China’s growing influence in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the UAE and Israel would like broader support against Iran. But UAE and Israel are also close to China. At the same time, India will not like I2U2 to be an anti-Iran platform. When it comes to diplomacy, these angles and counter angles do play a role, especially during a crisis.

 WAY FORWARD:

–We should remain cautiously optimistic about strategic engagements with the new West Asia.

–We should for now pay attention to economic interests in the region focusing on reducing our trade deficit.

–Contemporary challenges are food and energy security and I2U2 can play a major role given the food and energy crisis that the world is facing post-Covid and Russia-Ukraine war.

–I2U2 can help build food corridors for even African nations reeling from hunger.

–The hybrid-energy project dovetails into India’s plans to have 500 GW of energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 and can be an opportunity to get advanced technology from the US and Israel. We can work on renewables and solar alliance in the future.

–Arab-Mediterranean corridor should strengthen Indo-Pacific without confrontation.

–BY YOGITA KADU

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