Topic: General Studies 2:
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
In News: Bahrain and UAE have signed a historic agreement with Israel aimed at normalising relations between the two sides. Termed as Abraham Accord this peace deal comes almost 26 years after a similar agreement between Israel and Jordan in 1994.
- Has been signed recently under U.S. President Donald Trump’s mediation.
- Marks a new beginning in the relations between the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdoms and the Jewish state.
- Under the agreement, the UAE and Bahrain would normalise ties with Israel, leading to better economic, political and security engagement.
- The agreements have the backing of Saudi Arabia, arguably the most influential Arab power and a close ally of the UAE and Bahrain. More Arab countries are expected to follow suit.
- This is the first agreement between Israel and Arab countries since the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty.
What are the clauses of this agreement?
- The deal states that UAE would recognise the state of Israel and establish formal diplomatic relations with it, while Israel would halt its controversial plan to annex swathes of the Palestinian West Bank.
- In the next few weeks, Israel and the UAE will finalise bilateral ties and cover areas of investment, tourism, security, technology, energy, environmental issues, and the establishment of embassies, in addition to other areas of cooperation.
- The joint statement mentioned that Israel and the UAE would also be “forging closer people-to-people relations”.
- The statement also said that Israel will focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world, and that the US and UAE would be assisting it in achieving that goal.
What are the politics behind this agreement?
- Domestic Politics of Israel: PM Netanyahu, who has been facing mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak and is on trial for corruption, may be banking on this agreement to revive his image.
- Domestics Politics of USA: This agreement brokered by US is seen as diplomatic win of President Trump ahead of the November elections, where he seeks re-election. His other foreign policy bets — Iran, North Korea or Afghanistan — were either disastrous or inconclusive.
- Politics of UAE: The agreement further burnishes its international campaign to be seen as a beacon of tolerance in West Asia despite being governed by autocratic rulers.
- To Alienate Iran: The agreement could pave the way for the region’s Sunni Arab kingdoms and the Jewish-majority Israel enhancing regional cooperation against their common foe, Shia Iran.
How is the September 15 reconciliation different from previous peace agreements (1979 & 1994)?
- Firstly, UAE and Bahrain do not have any territorial dispute with Israel, nor have they ever been at war with it.
- Although formally committed to an Arab consensus (two-state resolution of the Palestine cause) UAE & Bahrain have steadily moved towards having substantive links with Israel in recent years.
- Hence, the ‘Abraham Accords’ entered with the UAE and Bahrain are ‘peace-for-peace’ deals without any physical quid pro quo by Israel.
Implications of Abraham Accord for India
- India’s Stance: Geopolitically, India has welcomed the establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel, calling both its strategic partners
- Foreign Policy Significance: India has stronger, multifaceted and growing socioeconomic engagements with Israel and the Gulf countries. Therefore, any changes in regional dynamics will impact the India’s Strategic interests in the region.
- Eases India’s Balancing Act: The new accord widens the moderate constituency for peaceful resolution of the Palestine dispute, easing India’s diplomatic balancing act.
- New Arena of Proxy War: The possibility of the southern Gulf becoming the new arena of the proxy war between Iran and Israel cannot be ruled out, particularly in Shia pockets. India would have to be on its guard to monitor such conflicts.
- Backlash on Jihadi Fringe movement: The Israel-GCC ties may provoke new polarisations between the Jihadi fringe and the mainstream.
- Economic Challenges: India has acquired a large and rewarding regional footprint, particularly as the preferred source of manpower, food products, pharmaceuticals, gem and jewellery, light engineering items, etc. This position could be challenged by Israel which has niche strength in defence, security, solar power, horticulture etc.
- India–Iran Relations impacted: For decades, one of the main sources of instability in West Asia has been the cold war between Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shia). This accord may make the rift wider and more violent, thus testing India-Iran relations.
India should use this opportunity to give itself a bigger role in a region which is its strategic backyard. The deal opens up new opportunities for India to play a much larger role in the regional security and stability in the Gulf, where New Delhi enjoys special relations with both Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem. In the evolving scenario, there may be scope for a profitable trilateral synergy, but India cannot take its preponderance as a given.
Do You Know?
- Except with Jordan and Egypt, Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab states owing to its long-standing conflict with Palestinians
- Israel had signed peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994.
Connecting the Dots:
- Who are the signatories to the Abraham Accords. Will it have any meaningful impact on West Asia’s myriad conflicts? Comment.
- USA’s West Asia Peace plan